March 10, 2017

More Table Tennis Tips
The book is almost done! This is a compilation of all 150 of my Tips of the Week from 2014-2016, put in logical progression. It’s the sequel to Table Tennis Tips, which did the same for 2011-2013. Yesterday I finished inputting the edits and suggestions from the Terrific Trio of Mark Dekseyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who read the first draft. So the text is now done. Today I’ll be formatting the pages. I also have to do the back cover. (Front cover is done.) If all goes well, it’ll be ready for final proofing in a few days. When it comes out (by the end of this month), I may put together some sort of special where you can get both volumes at a discount. Or why not buy Table Tennis Tips and read it now, so you can go straight to More Table Tennis Tips when it comes out?

Shadow Practice
I’ve been encouraging some of my students to shadow practice. This is a big part of the Talent junior program at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, where the coaches lead the players in shadow-stroking drills, and then feed multiball to each player, with the others in the group lined up behind and shadow-stroking. (Parents take turns picking up the balls so it’s continuous, with short breaks.) Here are three videos I sent to them as examples.

Full-time Clubs
On Wednesday, I wrote about how we had reached 90 full-time clubs in the U.S. Well, now we’re at 92, with the additions of the New York City Table Tennis Academy and the Houston International Table Tennis Academy. I’m not sure how these two were left out before, but now we’re just eight away from that magic 100 mark. I hope to focus on developing more of these centers over the next couple of years. (If you know of any not on the list, let me know.)

It was at the December 2006 USATT board meeting that I urged USATT to make it a goal to have 100 full-time centers in the country within ten years. I created a plan and made the proposal where we’d actively recruit and train people to set up these training centers, focusing on how they could make a full-time living coaching table tennis. (At the time there were about eight such centers, with perhaps a couple dozen full-time coaches in the U.S.; now we have many hundreds.) The program would be paid by the coaches themselves, who already were paying to attend USATT certification clinics. My point was that we were only teaching them how to coach, not how to be professional coaches, and so few of them extensively used the skills we taught them.

The idea was scoffed at, with the eternal argument that there aren’t enough table tennis players in this country – but here we are. It was the primary reason I resigned early in 2007 as USATT editor and programs director. Two board members in particular ridiculed the idea, and others sort of quietly looked the other way. Now imagine where we would be if USATT had helped out by recruiting and training people to set up and run these centers? Instead, people have had to do it on their own, one by one, with experienced people like myself advising informally. Instead of 92, we’d probably have twice that many. If that seems like a lot, remember that back then eight seemed like a lot, and the idea of having 100 seemed a joke. I once calculated that we should have about 500 in this country.

I get scoffed at a lot. When I co-founded the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992, it was the first successful full-time training center of its kind, and we were also told it couldn’t work, that there just isn’t enough table tennis activity in this country for something like that to work. What they were missing, of course, is that you develop the interest. We’re the same species of human as people overseas, and it works there, so why not here? But every step of the way the idea of full-time training centers has been scoffed at, with people believing each step of the way that we had saturated the market and there was no room for more.

I was toying with creating a comprehensive lists of all the things I’ve been scoffed at for, but then I’d be here all day. (Do you play in a rated table tennis league, using the USATT League ratings? When I co-founded that with Robert Mayer as an attempt to break away from “winner stay on” mentality of most clubs, it was scoffed at. In both of my tenures as editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine I was told that they had saturated the table tennis advertising market – and each time I tripled the ad revenue. Heck, I didn’t start table tennis until I was 16, and guess how many people believed someone could start that late and reach top 20 in the U.S.?)

How to Plan a Third-Ball Attack
Here’s the article and podcast (7:50) from Expert Table Tennis. I thought I’d comment on one statement, where it says, “If you’re a player with a really strong forehand, but a weak backhand attack, then it doesn’t make sense for you to do loads of pendulum forehand serves when you’re playing matches. Because you’re just increasing the chance that you’ll need to use your backhand for the third-ball.”

I believe this was written more for beginning and intermediate players, where it’s generally true. At the higher levels, among those with fast footwork, it actually changes, and forehand-oriented players (like myself) favor the forehand pendulum serve. Why? Because it allows us to attack with the forehand from the backhand side, which puts us in position for a second follow-up forehand. If we used sidespin to put the ball to the forehand (say, a backhand serve, tomahawk serve, or reverse pendulum serve), then the ball might tend to go to the forehand side, giving us a forehand shot, but pulling us to the wide forehand side – and then the opponent could block to the backhand, taking away the forehand.

MH Coaching Blog
You’ve got a long weekend ahead, so why not curl up with a few good coaching articles at MH Table Tennis (by Matt Hetherington)? They’ve accumulated over the years, so there are a lot of nice ones!

Adam Bobrow 'The Voice of Table Tennis' on Board for the Next Four Years
Here’s the ITTF press release.

2017 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge Collegiate Players & Alumni Dominate Rating Events
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei.

MasterChef rivalry: Heston Blumenthal’s Table Tennis Battle Royale with George Calombaris
Here’s the article from the London Daily Telegraph.

LIVE NOW: The Marvellous 12 - Stage 2 Finals
Here’s where you can watch the Chinese Team Trials – live! (Presumably you can go back and watch them afterwards as well.)

War of the Worlds Pong?
Here’s the picture of these tripod beings taking up table tennis!

Humorous Table Tennis T-Shirts
Because only a really boring table tennis player doesn't have at least one humorous table tennis shirt in his collection!

Ping-Pong in Kong!
When you see Kong: Skull Island, watch closely early in the film when they set out on the big boat - there's a ping-pong table on deck! As to the movie itself (non-table tennis aspects), this is what I posted on Facebook after seeing it last night (with a few minor edits): “Kong: Skull Island is basically Apocalypse Now + Jurassic Park + Moby Dick + Robinson Crusoe + Beauty and the Beast + Godzilla (as King Kong played by "Caesar" from the Planet of the Apes) all in one. Great movie, very different from past King Kong movies. 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. Stay for the after-credits scene.”

And since we’re on the topic of King Kong, here are King Kong/Gorilla table tennis pictures!

Non-Table Tennis: Funny Horror
The recent anthology Funny Horror has a story I wrote in it, “Happily and Righteously,” a parody of paranoia. The first review of the book is out, from Imagine Books, where my story is listed as one of the favorites. The reviewer then went over each story one by one, and gave the story the shortest review of all: “Brilliant!”

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