January 25, 2017

Alex's Blocking
Between coaching sessions at the club I was watching Alex Ruichao Chen, one of our top player/coaches (rated 2713) working with one of our top junior players. Alex is a lefty, and was blocking backhands while the player forehand looped crosscourt. The part that was interesting was not his blocking, but what he did between the blocks. Most players in a drill, and especially coaches who do this hour after hour just keep their racket out there in backhand or forehand block position. (I plead guilty.) But not Alex! Between each block he'd not only return to a ready position, but he almost went into a forehand ready position. (He's a very forehand-oriented player, with perhaps the strongest pure third-ball attack in the country - serve and forehand rip - though he's worked hard the past year or so on his backhand.)

I looked around and watched the other coaches, and verified that they also mostly kept their rackets in blocking position when blocking for students. Alex himself would sometimes do this, so perhaps he is in the transition from hard-working player to one of us lazy coaches?

This is key for all players. When you drill, why would you keep your racket out there for the next shot? You'd be practicing something you never do in a match. Instead, go to ready position after each shot. Not only will you develop good habits, but you'll be ready for mishits, as well as become better at the transition from ready position to the shot you are practicing. When you are ready to become a coach . . . then you can get lazy.

Han Xiao Elected Chair of U.S. Olympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council
Here's the USOC article. He's come a long way from that 7-year-old who showed up at MDTTC circa 1994! Let's see, he won every age group (often two or three at a time) on his way up, was on the National Team many years (representing USA in four Worlds), won three Men's Doubles titles, made the finals of Men's Singles, made the 2007 Pan Am Team (bronze in Men's Teams), and spent many years as Athlete Rep on the USATT Board of Directors and co-chair of the USATT Athlete's Advisory Committee.

From Flat Hit to Topspin
Here's the new coaching video (2:22) from PingSkills. I also started out as a hitter my first few years (reached 1900 level) and had to transition to looping.

Ma Long Training Backhand to Backhand Technique Slow Motion 2017
Here's the video (4:21).

2017 USA National Team Trials Information
Here's the USATT info page.

Japan Announces World Championships Line-up
Here's the ITTF article. The big surprise - 13-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto, already World Junior Champion (that's for under 18) and world #64 - I'm certain the youngest ever to reach that ranking - is on the five-player squad, though he's only #9 among Japanese players in the world rankings.

Zhang Jike Set to Return, Bound for Doha
Here's the ITTF article.

Prep Table Tennis Popularity on the Rise in Metro Area
Here's the article on Minnesota TT.

"I was amazed," Remembering a Maine Table Tennis Champion
Here's the USATT article and video (2:43) on the tragic loss of Fouad Abdullah.

Another Beetle Bailey TT Cartoon
Here it is, found by Marv Anderson. It's dated 6-16, but I don't know the year. I've added it to the listing I put up in my Sept. 28, 2016 blog.

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