July 15, 2013

Tip of the Week

Adjusting to Weird Serves and Shots.


On Friday we finished week four of our ten weeks of summer camps, all Mon-Fri. In the morning I gave lectures and demos on pushing - fast & quick; heavy backspin; sidespin; and short pushes). As usual, Friday was "player's choice," where the players chose what they wanted to work on in the morning multiball sessions. The beginners mostly worked on basics; the more advanced ones worked mostly on looping or serving.

I introduced the "Loop and Smash" drill to several players. It's very simple: I feed multiball, usually a backspin ball to the middle, then a topspin ball to the wide forehand. The player has to loop the first, and then either loop or smash the second. If they make both shots, they win the point. If they miss either, I win the point. (If they miss the first shot, the second one is practice.) Game is usually to 11. One kid (Victor) struggled with this, losing several times to his dismay. He came to the junior session on Sunday (yesterday), and we did it again. He lost the first two times. The second time I was leading 7-1, and he came back to tie it 10-all - only to lose 11-10. (We have sudden death rather than win by two.) We played one more time - and lo and behold, he made 22 straight shots to "beat" me, 11-0!!! That was a nice breakthrough.

During one session I demonstrated my "no look" multiball skills. When feeding multiball it's important to be able to watch the player you are feeding balls to, but most coaches look down as they are feeding the ball to make sure they do a good feed, as I usually do. But I don't really need to; I demonstrated doing it while looking backwards and chatting with players doing ball pickup.

During a break many of the kids were playing video games on small hand-held devices. I pointed out that "Video games are better than table tennis. All the kids hunch over video games, bringing them together. Table tennis pulls them apart, at least nine feet."

With so many players in the camp (both last week and this upcoming week, starting today, week #5), the turnout for the weekend junior program I run was rather small, so I got to do a lot of one-on-one work with several of the players.

Orioles and Table Tennis

Here are excerpts from the Saturday, July 13 issue of The Washington Post on baseball team Baltimore Orioles - here are the first three and the last paragraph of the article:

The noise is a mainstay of the Baltimore Orioles' Camden Yards clubhouse: the constant "pop" of a ping-pong ball bouncing off a table, a paddle and (sometimes) the table again, punctuated by roars of joy or eruptions of frustration from participants or onlookers.

The Orioles play table tennis pregame and postgame after both wins and losses, a display of Baltimore's rare chemistry and the casual certainty each player has in the efforts of his teammates.

In that tight-knit clubhouse where long-term confidence outweighs daily doubts, no one seems too concerned about the struggles of an Orioles starting rotation that has at times been more consistent on the ping-pong table than the mound, a departure from the late-season dominance that carried Baltimore to the American League Division Series in 2012.

"As a collective group — you can ask any of us — we definitely underachieved," Hammel said over ball bounces and shouts of a heated set between Manny Machado and Troy Patton on the ping-pong table a few yards away.

Todd Sweeris into Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame

Here's an article on Todd's induction. Todd, who is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, moved to Maryland right after graduating high school circa 1994, and (as noted in the article) thereupon made the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Teams while winning Men's Doubles at the USA Nationals in 1996, 1999, and 2000. (Not mentioned in article: he also made the final of Men's Singles at the 1998 USA Nationals, and before that he been USA National Collegiate Men's Singles, Doubles, and Team Champion. I was on his team - as a graduate student - twice when we won the national college team championships.)

Wisconsin Family's Table Tennis Trip to China

Here's the article.


Here's a visual table tennis video (1:12), full of special effects.

Table Tennis as it Should Be Played

Here's a vintage image of how the game should be played, with a classic backhand player on the near side versus a classic all-out forehand player on the far side, both using the same surface on both sides of their racket as they play in front of a local crowd. (If you can't see the Facebook image, try this.)

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