September 3, 2014

Playing Off-Table Two-Winged Topspinners

A top player messaged me asking me how to play against a player who is relatively solid on both sides and takes a step back from the table, allowing him to deal with opponent's attacks. Here's my response. It's a general response as I haven't seen the opponent in question, but is the general way to play these types of players.

  1. Bring him in with short serves and short receives, and then get him with your first attack before he can get into his comfortable off-table pocket. Since these players hang off the table, attacking their serve often plays right into their game.
  2. Because he plays off the table, you have more time to get your forehand into position, especially into his wide backhand and middle. He's unlikely to beat you in a counterlooping duel between his backhand and your forehand. [Note - or any other forehand attack against his backhand off the table.] However, don't relentlessly go after the backhand - make sure to go there and to the middle. Players like this often seem vulnerable to the corners, but in reality they usually cover that area pretty well. So often really go after their middle until you have a clear winner to a corner. This was one of the reasons Lupulesku was so successful for years despite backing off the table so much - players relentlessly went after his wide backhand and didn't go after his middle nearly enough.
  3. Change the pace, with either softer loops or soft blocks. Find out early which side he's more vulnerable to a change of pace. This is where a chop block can be valuable.

While this was addressed for a top player (2400+), it's true for all levels. At lower levels this type of player backs off the table and more or less fishes the ball back over and over with soft and late counter-drives with a little topspin, and can seem like a wall, but the principles above follow just as much as for top players - except there's less threat of counter-attack, and so changing the pace (#3 above) is probably even more effective. 

"I am Groot"

On Friday I had a coaching session with an 8-year-old. He hadn't seen the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy," but had seen some sort of cartoon version of it, and so knew the characters - and in particular, knew the catchphrase of the giant tree creature Groot. (For those of you who have lived under a ping-pong table the last month, the only thing Groot ever says is, "I am Groot" - but that's only to human ears. In reality, by varying the inflection, it's an entire language.) So for the last ten minutes all of my coaching commands were "I am Groot," but with inflection and hand motions so he understood, once he got over his initial giggles. 

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan just finished doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. And yesterday she finished - one hundred down, zero to go! However, she had two more articles she wanted to put in regarding new ITTF President Thomas Weikert, and so here they are - Days 1+ and 2+!

As of Monday, the Deputy is the President

Besides the two articles above, here is another ITTF article on new ITTF president Thomas Weikert.

Thomas Weikert

So what do we really know about new ITTF President Thomas Weikert? As usual, we turn to anagrams. And what do they tell us? We know he's going to try very hard to be worthy, since "Make Worthiest" is an anagram of his name. But we must be cautious as some believe he and Sharara worked together to bring about his presidency - as "Teamwork Heist" is another. He may not be worthy of the role as "Shoemaker Twit" is another. In fact, he might not be the best person named Tom for the job as "This Weaker Tom" is another. (And the ITTF Board of Directors does have a Thomas Kiggundu from Uganda.) We might even worry that he'll bring decay to the presidency as "Him Weakest Rot" is another. And the guy might not be a hard worker since "Hate Work Items" is another. Finally, for religious table tennis players, beware the new direction of our sport - for "Ow - Atheist Trek" is another!

North American Championships - Juniors

Here's a new ITTF article about the North American Championships this past weekend that features the Under 18 winners - Jack Wang and Crystal Wang. The article also talks about Crystal's training at MDTTC, my club. I'm one of the other coaches who has worked with Crystal over the years, though I worked with her more when she was younger than in recent times, where she works mostly with her primary coach (Jack Huang) and one-on-one with our top practice partner/coaches. (I do coach her in some major tournaments, such as when she won the North American Hopes Trials last year.) On a side note, for those of you who read this article when it first went up yesterday morning, there was a mistake in the original version, where it had Crystal as being from the LYTTC - but that was corrected as the player from LYTTC was Amy Wang, not Crystal. (I emailed them about this almost immediately after the article went up!)

Butterfly North American Champions

Here's a Butterfly photo layout that features 14 of their players/champions from the North American Championships. (Disclaimer: I'm also sponsored by Butterfly.)

Easy Table Tennis Essentials

Here's a table tennis music video (1:57) from a couple of years ago that I don't think I ever ran.

Mime Your Own Business

Here's another video (3:06) from the Tumba Ping Pong Show. It features table tennis (see background, where someone is smacking people with balls) for the first 35 seconds, but no table tennis after that.

Send us your own coaching news!