Tip of the Week
Play Both Weaker and Stronger Players.
Sundays are my busiest coaching day, and yesterday was no exception. Of course, compared to some of the Chinese coaches at MDTTC (and other clubs), it was just another average day. It started with two one-hour private sessions and then a 45-min one. Then I fed multiball for 30 minutes for our "Talent Group" (MDTTC's top kids, mostly in the under 10 age group). Next came the 90-minute Beginning Class I teach every Sunday. (I also have one on Thursday nights.) And finally came the 90-minute adult training session. Technically, that was only six hours and 15 minutes, but it always seems like 16 hours.
How do I prepare for a long coaching day like this? My Sunday "ritual" is a big plate of spaghetti, extra sauce, for lunch before I start, and a granny smith apple halfway through. And lots of water.
One of the private students had been up late the night before due to homecoming, and showed up half asleep. That's always a challenge, getting them to wake up. One "technique" I often use is an old-fashioned one – I send them into the bathroom to splash cold water down their face. In this case, we did a lot of very physical looping and footwork drills to wake him up. At the end of the session we played games, and I decided to take a different approach here – I rarely attacked, just looked for ways to win "cheap" points. As he pointed out after I won the first game, "You didn't earn a single point!" But of course I had – learning to win "cheap" points is one of those things many players never learn, and so never reach their potential.
Another private student has good timing, but keeps jamming up against the table, and often slaps at the ball instead of stroking it. We did a lot of shadow-practice to fix that, and I made him rally very slowly to get it right. He got a bit impatient, and so after I figured he was doing it pretty well, I "rewarded" him by letting him smash, where I fed multiball, side to side, so he was both smashing and moving. So yes, I tricked him into thinking this important and rather difficult drill was a reward!
For the Talent Program – which has 18 kids, all invitation only – we did a series of multiball drills. I had five in my group. I'd do multiball footwork with one, and the other four followed along behind him, shadow-stroking. About one-third of the kids in the group have discovered I keep a bag of hard candy – "Jolly Ranchers" – in my playing bag, and surreptitiously gather around to "borrow" pieces during breaks. The purple ones are king.
In the adult training session, about halfway through I called them together and gave a talk and demo on backhand attack against backspin – drives, flips, banana flips, and most important, backhand loop. The focus was on good technique and contact, because if you get those two, consistency follows. Then we did drills where they served backspin, partner pushed to backhand, and they backhand attacked (mostly loops), and played out the point. Of course, not everything goes according to plan. Two players had trouble pushing effectively so I had them do a straight pushing drill.
The Power of Shot Placement (Precision and Power)
Here's the video (5:31).
Warming Up in India
Here's the video (37 sec) as players warm up for a tournament, about a zillion to a table.
Daddy, Can You and Me Play Ping-Pong?
Here's the video (9 sec)!
Teddy Bear Pong
Here's the video (59 sec) from NBC Sports of a dog dressed as a teddy bear playing table tennis! (I put this up late in my last blog, so here it is again for those who missed it.)
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