ITTF Coaching Seminar - Part 1
This weekend was the first half of the ITTF Coaching Seminar I'm running at Maryland Table Tennis Center, Sat & Sun from 9-4. (Part 2 is next weekend, same times.) It's been great fun so far - easier, in fact, than a regular table tennis camp where I would spend half my time feeding multiball. Here all I had to do was spend half the time talking, and the other half walking around and coaching the coaches in the current activity. When you've spent 35 years playing a sport, have coached it for 30 years, and have run 120+ five-day training camps and countless other group and private sessions, it's not hard to know what to say - the hard part is deciding what not to say.
I've learned a lot as well just from thinking about and preparing for the seminar. In practice matches tonight afterwards, I remembered my lecture on counterlooping with sidespin by hooking the ball rather than taking on the incoming topspin directly - and realized I'd been doing that too often. Bingo, my counterloop came alive when needed. Even my forehand flip has gotten better just from thinking about and demonstrating it. I've also learned some interesting stuff from comments from the coaches, a very insightful group.
The funnest part is imitating common mistakes and challenging the coaches to figure out the problem. Pretty much all of them can see the "obvious" problem, but usually that's a symptom of the problem, not the root cause. The challenge is to figure out what is actually causing the problem, which often is something seemingly unrelated, such as the foot positioning or grip. (These latter two are often the root cause of most technique problems.) Also key is not to just memorize how to fix every problem, but to get in the habit of analyzing a technique problem and figuring out what is going wrong.