January 28, 2015

Busy Day

I'm leaving to coach at 1PM, finishing at 7:15PM. It's going to be a long coaching day! (It's not all coaching; I have to pick up four kids from school for our afterschool program, and I have a meeting from 5-6PM.) Then, when I get home, I get to go to work on USATT and MDTTC stuff. Besides finalizing a Regional Association proposal for USATT (which includes state & regional associations, state championships, team leagues, and training centers & coaching programs), I have to put together the monthly MDTTC Newsletter.

Blogging Policy on USATT Issues

I'm putting together a "Blogging on USATT Issues" policy that I can use as a guideline for what and when I can blog about USATT issues, since I'm on the USATT board. (This is primarily a coaching blog, but I do of course blog about other issues, including USATT.) I'll share this with the USATT CEO for his input. (I also have to check the USATT bylaws for anything on this, as well as the Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest forms I signed to run for the board.) It's not just for me - others from USATT sometimes blog (here's the USATT blogging page) and I think there should be some policy on this, with specific guidelines. I get the final say on my own policy (as long as I'm not abusing my USATT position), though of course if there's a more general one for USATT people then USATT would have to approve that. Hopefully the two will be identical and so we can have just one set of gudelines.

For example, we had a USATT teleconference last Wednesday night. There was at least one major thing that happened (some might say more than one), but I haven't blogged about it as I'm waiting for USATT to put out a press release first. (There were some other interesting things, but for now I'm waiting for the official minutes to come out before blogging about them.) But it's not always that simple. Meetings in person are mostly open, and so anything that goes on there can be blogged about except for what happens in closed "executive" sessions, mostly on confidential, personnel, disciplinary issues. But a teleconference is only for board members and invited guests, and so might be considered "closed." So I'm more hesitant to write about what happens there. Can I blog about general things that are on the agenda? There are many questions like this that I'll discuss with the CEO before finalizing my policy.

I also don't want board members to think I'm using this blog as a weapon against them, or that they have to watch everything they say around me. At the same time if I agree or disagree with something that happens (such as official USATT business, as opposed to just discussions), I'm likely going to blog about it. They can also blog about it if they choose, and in fact I'll allow them to do a guest blog here. A key thing is that even if I disagree with something, I'll try to blog about it in a respectful manner.

I've got at least two major proposals going before the board soon, for the teleconferences in February and March. Do I blog about them in advance? Since they are coming from me, I can. More on these when they are coming up. When others have proposals, what and when can I blog about them? That's the tougher question.

Winning 161-2

[Bonus if you catch a curious thing I'm doing in this paragraph!]

A coach is facing a backlash and a ban for running up points in winning 161-2 in what was obviously a mismatch. Was it right to do this? I thought a lot about this all morning - is such a display okay? I don't want to win 11-0 and so I usually allow scoring by popping a ball up at 10-0. But should you do this? You almost always will win if up 10-0 or 10-1, so why not allow a point at 10-0? Many will say this is wrong, and say go for 11-0 - and that's okay; if you want to, go for it! I just don't want to do it on my own. Many say that losing 11-0 builds "grit." What do you think?

[Count the e's - yep, I'm having a little fun here. And see this.]

All right, enough e-foolery. In general, I actually would say play every point at your very best unless it's an obviously complete mismatch. If I'm playing a 7-year-old kid who I can beat 11-0 every game, I may still win 11-0 - but I'll put some balls up so he can take shots, and I won't use serves he can't return. But I might give him a spinny serve, the same one over and over, until he figures out how to return it - that's a challenge for him.

In a more serious match that's also a mismatch, I'll mostly try every point (though I'll likely have a few "fun" lobbing points), but I may practice certain shots, such as forcing my third-ball attack or certain types of receive, rather than play tactically. I might also hold back on my trickier serves, unless I feel like the opponent needs practice against them - it depends on their level. Letting an opponent face tricky serves is good practice for them, but if their level is too low and I throw all sorts of tricky serves at them (as opposed to perhaps one or two, so they have a serious chance of figuring them out), that won't help except as an occasional reminder of what's possible so they'll also try to develop such serves. Against some weaker players I'll just keep the ball in play and let them practice their attack while I focus on consistency - but I'm fighting hard to be as consistent as possible.

Since I've got a very strong third-ball attack, one thing I often do with students is play games where I force the third-ball attack, sometimes even playing with the rule that I have to end the point on the first shot after my serve. This forces them to really focus on good receives. Since I’m not nearly as fast as I used to be, they have a fighting chance once they realize I can't cover both corners with my forehand like I used to, and so if they can play both wide corners without telegraphing it, I'm in trouble!

In practice against an obviously much weaker player, if I'm up 10-0, I almost always put a ball up slightly to give them a decent chance of winning that point. In a tournament I might consider doing this if it's really a mismatch, especially if it's match point. But I won't give the point away for free - they have to make the shot, and get through my defense as well. Some of course disagree with this philosophy, and say go for blood every time.

Bottom line - it's a judgment call, not a one-size-fits-all thing.

Capital Area Super League

Here's the home page for this new team league in the Washington DC area. Please sign your team up early, so the organizers can have a sense of how many teams are going to be part of the league. There is no downside for signing up – rosters can be adjusted and fees are not due until March 1. The deadline will be extended until Feb 15, but, please sign up early. If you don’t have a home venue, contact the organizers. They can help you with that.

Samson Dubina Articles

The Secret to Long Pips

Here's the coaching article from Pong Universe.

Ask the Coach

Episode #65 (15:51) - Contact Points

  • Previous #PQOTD  - 3:07: How many different types of rubber have you tried?
  • #PQOTD  - 4:14: How old were you when you started Table Tennis?
  • Question 1 - 4:45: How can i play a offensive stroke on a short side spin serve? Pratap
  • Question 2 - 6:04: What is an ideal contact point for BH and FH? Because BH the bat is close to the stomach. FH the bat travels from far from the back. Ashok
  • Question 3 - 8:23: I’ve read the chinese put the forefinger not along the bat but near the middle ? I have tested and I find the control is better and the feeling is also better when the ball arrives on the bat. What do you think? Martin and
  • Question 4 - 11:16: Is there a way to make the ball spin backwards and while spinning backwards have the ball curve sideways when serving? Tyson
  • Question 5 - 13:17: In your previous video, you said not to use the backhand smash that frequently but since I'm a left handed player, I receive most of the shots on my backhand so should I use the backhand smash more often or do you have another strategy? Aiyan

Master of Table Tennis

Here's the new highlights video (7:19), featuring Wang Liqin, Ma Lin, and Ryu Seung Min.

Triangle Teams

This past weekend MDTTC players Ruichao "Alex" Chen and Nathan Hsu won the 4-star Triangle Team tournament in Cary, NC. No online results yet, but here's a picture. (Click on it to see other team pictures.)

4 Healthy Habits to Play Table Tennis Forever

Here's the article from Pong Universe.

Brother & Sister Duo Prachi and Kanak Jha Focused on Pan Am and National Team Trials

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Indian Hand Helps US Progress in Table Tennis

Here's the article in the Times of India that features ICC Coach Rajul Sheth.

7th Annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC Tournament of Champions Pong

Here's the video (60 sec). "A recap video of the JOOLA sponsored Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC 7th Annual Tournament of Champions Pong. This year's tournament helped to raise over $95,000 dollars."

Three Media Internships Available at the Qoros 2015 World Table Tennis Championships

Here's the info page.

Adham Sharara: Zhang Jike Should Be Disqualified

Here's the article. Note the dissenting comment at the end by Barry Meisel.

A "Muscular" Adam Bobrow Directs Airline Traffic with Paddles

Here's the picture! (Here's the result.)

No School Because of Snow

Here's the video (20 sec) of MDTTC junior star Klaus Wood's "reaction" to learning there was no school yesterday due to the two-inch blizzard.

Snow Pong

Here's the picture.

A "Hot" Serve

Here's the fiery video (5 sec)!


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