January 27, 2015

Tables for Kids

One of the problems table tennis coaches face is that kids aren't really big enough to play table tennis on a regular table until they are about 6 or 7 years old. Before that the table is simply too high, often about shoulder height. Tennis had a similar problem in that their courts were too big for kids, who were expected to cover the same amount of ground as Roger Federer. They solved it with QuickStart Tennis (5:35). As a long-time tennis player on the side, I've actually helped with these tennis programs, where they often have a court full of kids in the 3-5 year old range. There's no reason why table tennis can't also start in that age range - except for the size of the table. In fact, with smaller rackets and courts, table tennis should be easier than tennis for these kids!

Sean O'Neill has been a strong advocate for shorter tables for younger kids. He argues that shorter tables is both good for very younger players (such as the 3-5 age group) as well as for slightly older ones (such as under 10), where the height of the normal table might lead to bad habits while a shorter one would lead to better technique. Here's his article (with pictures) on the subject, Helping Young Kids Learn to Play with Correct Technique, Balance, and Power.

Here are two videos he has on this, where the DHS Rising Star Table is featured. It adjusts to four inches lower than a normal table (from 30 inches down to 26).

I've got several students with younger brothers or sisters whose parents are asking when they'll be old enough to learn. With our current tables, not until they are at least five and probably six. With a shorter table, like tennis, they can start in the 3-5 age range. (I'm told that overseas many clubs do have such tables for their younger players.) I'm now debating whether to try to get one of these tables for my club, or get a cheap table somewhere and shortening it by chopping off part of the legs!

Meanwhile, schools are closed here in Maryland due to snow - three inches!!! Call out the National Guard! So no afterschool program or coaching for me today. I'll get a lot of other stuff done.

15 Ways to Identify Bad Leaders

Here's the article. I found this especially informative now that I'm on the USATT Board of Directors. I actually emailed them the link in the midst of a discussion. Hopefully we'll avoid these 15 bad habits! (I could write volumes on each one of these and how it pertains to past USATT problems.) I believe the very first item, on vision, is the most important for board members:

  1. Leaders who can’t see it, probably won’t find it: Leaders without vision will fail. Leaders who lack vision cannot inspire teams, motivate performance, or create sustainable value. Poor vision, tunnel vision, vision that is fickle, or a non-existent vision will cause leaders to fail. A leader’s job is to align the organization around a clear and achievable vision. This cannot occur when the blind lead the blind.

And so I'm especially interested in what other board members have as their vision for the future of our sport, so we can work together on programs to achieve it. Those without a vision for the future of our sport shouldn't be driving the car - you have to know where you are going to get there. As I posted yesterday, here's my vision: "I see a USATT with huge membership, where our top players and juniors are competitive with the best players and juniors in the world, and where our U.S. Open and Nationals are premier money and TV events."

Learning Good Mechanics: Weight Transfer and Using Your Legs

Here's the new coaching article from Han Xiao. Includes links to great videos of Timo Boll and Ma Long looping. I'm showing this to my students.

Serve Tutorial - Confuse Your Opponent with This Serve!

Here's the video (2:45), about getting different spins with the same motion. Here's another video (2:38) by the same coach on "How to Produce More Spin."

Top Tournament Tactics - Top Tactics Against Defensive Players

Here's the new video (2:59) by Brian Pace.

Exhibition at Smash Table Tennis

Here's the video (25:08), with a great opening, of the demo and exhibition I did January 19 with Stefano Ratti at Smash TT in Sterling, VA - with a great opening!!! Lots of trick shots and humorous exchanges. (I posted this in my blog one day late before going on my writing sabbatical, so many may have missed it.)

Westchester Table Tennis Center to Host 2014 North American Tour Grand Finals

Here's the USATT press release, and here's the info flyer. I'll be there - can't wait for the handicap contest at the Friday night party!

Butterfly North American Tour

Here's their schedule.

A Revisionist's Cultural History of Ping-Pong aka Table Tennis by William Shakehand

Here's the online booklet (in verse) by Hermann Lueuchinger - it's great!

USATT News Items

Here are eight more since yesterday!

World's Fastest Archer Shoots a Ping-Pong Ball

Here's the article and video from Table Tennis Nation. (Full video is 5:52, but they show a very short recurring image of the ping-pong ball shooting.) On a side note, the video of the archer has gone viral, but there's huge backlash from the archery community, who say much of what is said on the video isn't true. But I'm not expert on the topic, though a resident archer at the Olympic Training Center (where I lived for four years) once let me take a picture of him as he aimed an arrow at me (circa late 1980s), and got in all sorts of trouble for it. The picture, alas, has been lost to the mists of history.

Tennis Pong for Mini-Men

Here's the cartoon.

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