April 30, 2014

Butterfly and My Personal Equipment

Here's some news on the equipment front. First, I'm sponsored by Butterfly again. (They haven't put me up yet in their sponsored list - that'll come later.) I was sponsored by them for something like two decades, but was a casualty of the 2008 financial crisis. I had two great years sponsored by Paddle Palace, but they are moving in a different direction, which freed me to reapply with Butterfly. My club, MDTTC, has been sponsored by Butterfly for many years.

I've used a Butterfly Timo Boll ALC flared blade the last few years. I believe it's the most popular high-end racket right now. I discovered it almost by accident. I was coaching Tong Tong Gong about 3-4 years ago while he was on the USA National Cadet Team (and about to try out to make it again) and sponsored by Butterfly. I needed to warm him up, but my racket was in my bag a distance away, so I borrowed his spare blade. After I hit one ball my eyes shot up - it just felt right. Tong Tong later made the National Cadet team for a second straight year, and as a reward for my coaching him at the Trials they gave me his spare racket, which I'd come to really like. (Butterfly had given him a new backup.) I've been using that blade ever since. You can still see where Tong Tong had etched his name into it!

For the last few years I've been using Tenergy 05 FX 2.1 black on my forehand and Roundell 2.1 red on my backhand. Tenergy is the most popular high-end sponge, but it comes in so many types it's hard to keep track - 05, 25, 64, 80, and all in regular and FX, which means a softer version. You can read about each at the Butterfly site.

I use the FX on the forehand for embarrassing reasons - at 54 and very tight muscles, I don't swing as hard as I used to in a fast rally, and FX is more forgiving, but with less power. It means when someone hits the ball aggressively to my forehand it's easier to loop - the sponge practically does it for me as I just stick my arm out and swing a bit. (It's not quite that simple - you still have to have decent technique and timing, but it sure makes it easier.) With harder sponge you have to swing harder to sink the ball into the sponge, and I don't do that in a fast rally as well as I used to. Against a slower ball, I can still swing hard, but a harder sponge would give even more power. FX is also good for players developing their loop. Having said all this, I'm planning on trying out the regular 05 for a time and see how it works.

On the backhand I mostly counter-drive and block, though I do loop sometimes. Roundell is more of an all-around sponge that allows you to do anything. It's a good looping sponge (though not quite like Tenergy), and very easy to rally with. However, I'm toying with going to one of the Tenergy sponges on my backhand. Tenergy 25 is supposed to be better for close-to-table play, so I'm going to give that a try.

Here's the problem. I had a sheet of Tenergy 25 sent 2-day priority mail last Thursday, nearly a week ago. (It's actually coming from Paddle Palace, the last sheet of sponge they owe me.) According to the tracking number, it was sent out for delivery at 1:35AM on Saturday morning (i.e. late Friday night). It was never delivered. Then it was apparently sent out for delivery again at 1:21AM Tuesday morning (i.e. late Monday night), but again it was never delivered. And here it is Wednesday morning, and still nothing. Apparently there's some drunken delivery guy who's been zigzagging about the last four days with my Tenergy in his truck. If anyone sees him, please flag him down, tackle him, taze him, or whatever it takes.

World Championships

I was debating whether to do Worlds coverage here in my blog, but they are already doing an excellent job elsewhere, so I'll just link to the following two places, where you'll find results, articles, and lots of video. (I'll probably run this segment daily throughout the Worlds.)

MDTTC Coaching Staff

Here's a group picture of the MDTTC coaching staff (including names), taken during our Spring Break Camp two weeks ago.

When to Call Timeouts

Here's the article from PingSkills. One of the things they stress is you should call a timeout whenever it would best help you win a game - even if it's in the first game. I've argued the same thing, but some players are resistant to a timeout in the first game. I'd rather do it when it could make a difference than as a desperation tactic near the end when you are already out of the match. Here's my Tip of the Week on this, and here's a blog entry where I talk about timeouts.

Internet Lag Demonstrated with Table Tennis

Here's the article and video (2:58).

Ping-Pong Tapestry

I have no idea what's going on here, but the guy in the middle appears to be holding a ping-pong paddle. It appears to be some sort of historical Chinese thing, but the guy's a shakehander. Should that be penhold? Can anyone translate?

4er Table Tennis

Here it is! I'd call it Giganta Pong. With four tables and a barrier (with something to prop it up higher), anyone can play this. The sport for the masses.

Player Catches Ball in Mouth

Here's the video (24 sec, including slow motion). After catching it in his mouth in this exhibition the player spits it out on the other player's side for the point. I can't quite tell who the ball-catching lefty player is, but I think that's Jorgen Persson on the other side. (Edit: I didn't recognize him from the video at first, but Bernard Lemal emailed that the one on the right catching the ball in his mouth is '93 World Men's Champion Jean-Philippe Gatien! Now that he's pointed it out, it's kind of obvious. Even his strokes are a giveaway.)

Send us your own coaching news!

Actually, Larry, I would advise you  to use T-25 FX on the backhand... but that is of course a matter of taste, technique and style. Still...

Does Roundell feel as grippy as Tenergy 05 FX to you? Have you ever tried turning the paddle over and using Roundell on FH and T-05 FX on BH? Might be interesting because in my humble opinion T-05 FX really shines as a backhand rubber.

In reply to by JimT

It's been a long time since I've tried the Roundell on the forehand. I did try the Tenergy 05 FX on the backhand - easy to loop, but wasn't so good for my mostly counter-hitting backhand. Still waiting on the Tenergy 25. I'm going to stop by the post office tomorrow to check on this.