April 5, 2017

The Three Types of People and Long Pips
This past weekend at the Cary Cup Open in North Carolina, one of my students, just-turned-11 Jackson (that’s his first name) went in rated 1416, but pulled off a series of upsets, including a win over a 1939 player with long pips on one side. There’s an interesting story behind this.

About a month ago I’d watched him lose a practice match to a 1500 chopper with long pips. In our next session, I pointed out that throughout the match, he’d served and just stood in the middle of the table, waiting to see what return he’d get. Since most of the returns came to his backhand, he mostly followed up with soft backhands, and so both lost his serve advantage and took his strong forehand out of play. I explained that when you play a chopper (or most players with long pips on the backhand who receive defensively), you essentially get one “free shot” off your serve. (This assumes the chopper is willing to chop your serve back.) So I pulled out my chopping racket (with long pips) and had him practice against it, where he’d serve and follow almost exclusively with his forehand. He picked up on this pretty fast.

I also explained to him that there are three types of players in this world:

  1. Those who like to serve no-spin to long pips, so they get no-spin returns to attack.
  2. Those who like to serve backspin to long pips, so they get a light topspin return to attack.
  3. Those who like to serve light topspin to long pips, so they get a light backspin return to attack.

Now the above isn’t an exact thing – a good long pips player can often brush against a backspin serve enough so their return isn’t topspin, but at most it’s a no-spin or very light backspin. They can rush you by taking the ball quick off the bounce. And of course they don’t have to just push or chop the serve back. But many do, and the above is a general synopsis of the possibilities. Jackson liked #1, and that’s what he practiced against me, and that’s what he did down at the Cary Cup against the 1939 player.

I’m mostly a #3, since I love it when I get that light backspin that I can jump all over with a loop kill. When I serve no-spin or backspin, the no-spin or light topspin return seems to jump at me (since I’m more used to reacting to inverted returns), and I find it easier to time my shot if the return instead has a light backspin. But I throw all three variations at long pips, while favoring the light topspin. Others should experiment with all three and find what works for them. (If you do serve backspin or no-spin and get passive returns, you should be able to loop these right at the top of the bounce, so the opponent has little time to react to a wide-angled shot or one at their playing elbow.)

What’s most important is to understand that the concept above isn’t really about long pips or what to serve to them, though it has helpful hints on this. What is it primarily about? There are three types of players in this world:

  1. Those who think the above is primarily about how to serve against long pips.
  2. Those who rushed through the above and really have no idea what it’s about.
  3. Those who understand that the above is primarily about understanding and taking advantage of any situation in table tennis – and uses serving to long pips as an example.

$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC April Open
If you are in the Maryland region, then why not enter the MDTTC April Open I’m running this weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg? Here is our tournament page and here is the entry form. You can also enter online at Omnipong. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12. Deadline is 7PM on Friday.

Roger Federer: “"Staying the same means going backwards"
Here’s the video (1:41). There are more gems here in the 90 seconds he talks than many people learn in a lifetime. Here’s a recap - 11 pointers that'll win you an 11-point game!

  1. “I can’t stand it watching me throw rackets and embarrassing myself so I tried to change.”
  2. “It’s very important to move on.”
  3. “I think losses make you stronger. I think it’s important you learn from those mistakes and then you become better.”
  4. “A light goes up in your head, and you go like, ‘You know what? I think I now understand what I need to improve.’”
  5. “I always questioned myself in the best of times.”
  6. “What can I improve? What do I need to change?”
  7. “If you don’t do anything, or if you just do the same thing over and over again, you stay the same, and staying the same means going backwards.”
  8. “It’s important for me to actually hear criticism because I think that’s what makes me a better player.”
  9. ‘If you never set goals, you can never question yourself.”
  10. “When things are going great, what more can I do? How much better can I become? How much harder can I train?”
  11. “All I can do is give my best and then it’s going to be fine.”

Backhand Technique for Beginners – Push and Drive
Here’s the article with links to video from PingPoolShark.

Slump...How do I GET OUT of a slump?
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

Inaugural Teams Day Coming to 2017 US Nationals
Here’s the USATT info page.

2017 World University Games – Want to Help Angela Guan?
Here’s the GoFundMe page where she’s trying to raise money to attend. “My name is Angela Guan, and I am a member of the US National Table Tennis team. I will be representing Team USA in the World Championships in Germany this May. In addition, I will be representing USA and UC Berkeley at the World University Games in Taiwan, which is a self-funded trip. I am looking for support for training and my trip to the World University Games. Please support me! Thank you very much! Go Team USA!”

Hoping to Return in Early June to Same Hall, Timo Boll and Petrissa Solja
Here’s the ITTF article.

The Best Defender EVER: Koji Matsushita, Extraterrestrial
Here’s the video (4:45) – some great chopping points!

7-Year-Old Dhatri Gundlapally in Action
Here’s the video (22 sec) – 345 forehands and 235 backhands in a row!

Bay Area Major League Baseball and Table Tennis
There are three new postings about the San Francisco Giant and Oakland A’s table tennis players in the Fremont TTC blog! I really wish Major League Baseball (and NFL and NBA?) would have a real table tennis championship. I’m betting on Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who I’ve coached and can verify is close to 1900 level. (He only spent one day at MDTTC a few years ago where he played practice matches, beating an 1808 player and getting to deuce one game with Nathan Hsu, who was about 2400 at the time.)

Why You Shouldn’t Sit on the Table
Here’s the repeating gif image (5 sec)!

The Truth About Table Tennis
Here it is!

Non-Table Tennis – “The Many Heads of Mr. Krup”
Even though my primary income is from table tennis coaching and writing, I still get a huge kick out of selling a science fiction story to a market, seeing my name on the cover, and getting a paycheck for it! (I wrote about this recently, when the cover image came out, but now the magazine is out.) It’s my 20th “cover story” in the science fiction & fantasy world, that other universe I attend when I’m not doing TT. (Here’s my bibliography there.) It’s a time travel story about (spoiler alert!) the world’s greatest female hunter/greatest hunter period (there’s some argument about that in the story), who is forced to hunt the ultimate game - herself! Sorry, no table tennis, though lots of kills! Space and Time will be on sale nationwide at Barnes and Noble.

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