April 18, 2017

Tip of the Week
Serving to the Backhand Flipper. (This is similar to a Tip I did a few years ago, but with a different perspective and expanded. I linked to this yesterday in my “shortened” blog.)

Down the Line
This past weekend I emphasized down-the-line shots in much of my coaching. Players habitually drill crosscourt so much that they often forget there’s that other direction. I once realized in my match coaching that about one-half of players at the intermediate to advanced levels automatically cover the crosscourt angle when an opponent is attacking – meaning they are wide open down the line. The reason players don’t take advantage of this is 1) they are so used to going crosscourt; 2) there’s more table if you go crosscourt; and 3) they are worried about leaving themselves open to a crosscourt angled return if they go down the line.

While these are legitimate reasons, all are easily overcome. If you practice attacking down the line, it becomes almost as easy as crosscourt, which takes care of the first two objections above. As to leaving themselves open to a crosscourt angle, that’s may be a problem, but if the opponent is so used to players going crosscourt that he leaves the down-the-line side open, then you don’t have much to worry about as the opponent will either miss or be lunging for the shot. Worse, if you don’t go down the line when it’s open, you let the opponent camp out on the crosscourt angle, making things much easier for him. That’s not a good idea.

I’ve seen so many players lose matches, even at the 2600 level, because they predictably went crosscourt to end points, allowing opponents to camp out there and so win points they would not otherwise have won – while leaving the down-the-line open. I’ve also seen players lose because they were helpless against a smart opponent who punished them for guarding the crosscourt and leaving the down the line open.

It does take training. A few years ago, in preparation for the Cadet Team Trials, we had Tong Tong Gong train regularly in counter-attacking down the line, to prepare him for the top seed in the Trials, who was rated over 200 points higher – but videotape showed that he always guarded the crosscourt in fast rallies. Sure enough, when they played, he struggled with Tong Tong’s down-the-line counter-attacks, and Tong Tong pulled off the upset (and made the team).

It just comes down to practicing it, and then using it in matches until you gain enough experience to reflexively go to the right spot – and jumping all over any part of the table the opponent leaves open. And there’s an added benefit to practicing down the line – if you can attack that way consistently, then going crosscourt is easy.

Here’s my Tip from last month, Everything You Wanted to Know About Down the Line.

By the way – you hyphenate it when it refers to something (“He has a good down-the-line attack”), but don’t hyphenate it when it is the subject (“You need to attack down the line!”).

Capital Area Table Tennis League
The Capital Area Table Tennis League (for players in the DC, MD, and VA area) had a meeting this past Saturday, with all 24 teams competing at various times from noon until 10PM on Sunday. Click on the division to see the results! I was coaching on the back tables much of the day, and had to stay to close, so ended up spending 12.5 hours at the club. That was a long day!

New Full-Time Club - Spin & Smash TTC
The Spin & Smash Table Tennis Club opened yesterday in Columbus, OH. Coaches listed for the club are Dave Fullen and John Tannehill. This makes 93 full-time professional clubs in the U.S., a big jump from around eight such clubs just ten years ago. There should be such clubs in and around every metropolitan area in the U.S. – I once calculated we should easily be able to accommodate 500 such clubs.

Pro Tip Blog: Pioneering the Backhand Banana Flick with Petr Korbel
Here’s the article, with link to video (6:28), from MH Table Tennis.

How to Return Spin Serves
Here’s the article, with links to video, from PingPoolShark.

Ask the Coach
Here’s the page where PingSkills has answered 24 more questions just since Friday!

Playing in High Altitudes
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina. (Note that Las Vegas is high altitude at 2000 feet above sea level.) 

Practice Table Tennis Drills Alone: Without the Table
Here’s the video (7:26) by EmRatThich.

Ma Long Serve Technique
Here’s the video (10:03).

Ma Long Reflects On Losing First Match In 5 Years!
Here’s the article with links to video. (It was his first loss to a non-Chinese player in five years.)

NYISC Hold Successful ITTF Coaching Course
Here’s the article of the course taught by Sydney Christophe.

Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships
Here’s the home page, with results, articles, photos, and video. They were held in Wuxi, China, April 9-16.

Teen Sensation Challenges China's Table Tennis Dominance
Here’s the article on Miu Hirano of Japan winning Women’s Singles at the Asian Games, ending China’s long-time dominance.

Westchester TTC Presents “Chip and Gus”
Here’s info on this table tennis play to be held at the Westchester TTC in New York on Friday, April 28. “Chip and Gus, oddball acquaintances meet once a month in the back room of a rundown bar to play ping pong.  But on this funny, smart, sad, and surprising night, something will change their relationship forever.”

ITTF Working Group discusses strategies to promote full participation of all member nations in World Championships
Here’s the ITTF article.

RIP: Jack “Buddy” Melamed, June 27, 1928 - April 13, 2017
Here’s the obit of this long-time table tennis player and promoter.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter four! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

Now That’s a Backhand!
Here’s the video (25 sec) – it happens so fast that you have to see it in slow motion to verify it actually hit.

World Mini Pingpong Festival
Here’s the video (1:41).

Smack Your Sidespin Serve
Here’s the video (20 sec) of Allen Wang pulling off this trick shot.

Trick Shot Rally
Here’s the video (35 sec) as the player (apparently using sandpaper) does behind-the-back shots, alternates hands, and lobs/chops while sitting on floor.

Happy Girls on Table
Here’s the picture from Samson Dubina. “Cloudy with a chance of Nittaku Premiums.” (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Arizona Closed: No Snow-Trees Allowed
Here’s the cartoon! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!