May 12, 2017

Recent Doings
Has only 24 hours gone by since yesterday’s blog? I think time must have stopped; it seems like I’ve put in about 80 hours since then, mostly in one long binge since last night. I did a lot of arrangements for upcoming events, took care of a backload of emails, and can now sit back and relax on Friday (my “off” day) until something comes up. (3-2-1 – “Larry, can you do something for me?”…) Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Thursday Junior Class and Footwork. As I told them at the start of the class, “Today’s focus is getting from Point A to Point B, otherwise known as what?” It took two seconds for one of the kids to cry out, “We’re doing footwork today!” And that’s what we did, lots and lots of it. (Of course we do footwork every session, but more in some sessions than others.) Then we went to games – King of the Hill for the older kids, building pyramids on the table out of paper cups and knocking them down as I fed multiball for the younger ones.
  • Coaching at the Nationals. Working out my coaching plans for the Nationals turned out to be much harder than developing a comprehensive health care plan for America. Who knew it could be this hard??? But I think I have things worked out.
  • Coaching Seminars and Meetings at the Nationals. Pending confirmation from a few others, I plan on running or arranging two seminars at the Nationals – tentatively, one on advanced serves, and one on setting up and running a junior program. They will likely be held on Monday and Wednesday nights. More info on these as they come up. I’ll also attend the Thursday night Hall of Fame Banquet, and several other planned USATT seminars.
  • Private Coaching Schedule. Arranging it each week is like trying to rally with a smoke ring on a windy day. I had several changes this week, so I’ve had to redo the schedule for some days. It’s really like doing a jigsaw puzzle as I try to keep the sessions back-to-back so I’m not stuck at the club between sessions.
  • Emails. They have a way of accumulating. I went through them last night like a ping-pong paddle cutting through soft margarine. (What, you’ve never cut margarine with a paddle??? It’s a blade, right?) But my inbox is now empty, no more unread ones. Let’s keep it that way for a few minutes, okay? (I think I spent two or three hours just responding to emails.)  
  • Sat & Sun – 16.5 hours of Coaching, Oh My! Or as some of our Chinese coaches would say, just another weekend. You’d think I’d be exhausted at the end, but the truth is that it’s hardest getting started. Once I’m into it it’s easier. It’s a lot easier if my first session is with a relative beginner so I don’t have to go full speed right from the start. It’s also exhausting afterwards – on Sat & Sun nights I might as well schedule muscle cramps. (Recently I’ve had a series of really bad toe cramps!!!)
  • Non-Table Tennis - Writing Workshop in July, New Short Stories, and Balticon. Yep, that’s my idea of a vacation and “fun.” I finalized plans last night for my trip to Manchester, NH, July 21-29 for my annual science fiction writing workshop vacation. I’ve already finalized three stories that will be critiqued there, and am already critiquing stories by others who will be there. Stories are due way in advance! I’ll be at the Balticon SF convention May 27-28 as a panelist, plus doing a reading and book autograph session.
  • Non-Table Tennis - King Arthur and Disappointment – 23% on Rotten Tomatoes??? But I’m seeing it tonight anyway. I recently wrote a SF version of King Arthur, where the sword was actually the petrified remains of an alien creature (who is actually still conscious, but paralyzed), and the stone the petrified egg of a terrible invader that the alien had pinned down to save humanity – and when Merlin sprinkles acid on the sword so that young Arthur is able to pull it out, the egg awakens, hatches, and things get really, really bad! It’s making the rounds of the major SF magazines, and will hopefully sell soon. (The story actually starts in ancient China, 2200 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Qin, who is a character at the start when the egg is “laid” on Earth, and the alien goes to battle with it. It’s one nasty egg, shooting out nasty pink rays!!!)
  • Two Days of Distractions and an All-Nighter. I mentioned in my blog yesterday how I pretty much wasted all of Wednesday due to an online “discussion” (via Facebook and Facebook Messenger) about various USATT matters pertaining to the national team coaches. I was drawn into it again Thursday morning and into the afternoon, not by “trolls,” but by people I’ve worked with for years who have firm opinions on the horrors of certain USATT people, and let’s just say don’t trust what I say about it or agree with my logic. I was so aggravated by some of this that I didn’t get any work done during the day on Wed or Thur – and instead I caught up on everything by pulling an all-nighter on Thursday night. As I type this it’s 8:45AM, and I’ve been working at my desk since “Big Bang Theory” ended at 8:30 PM last night. (I count five 7.5 oz cans of Mountain Dew in the trash. I try to restrict myself to one per day…) The only question is whether, after I post this, I’ll go to bed or just stay up around the clock. I used to do that sometimes when I was younger, but it’s not so easy anymore.

1001 Table Tennis Tips
Here’s the article – technically, there are only 27 short tips, but there are some really good ones. Make sure to check out #21! “Practice what you do in a match” by Larry Hodges (Professional USA Coach and Hall of Famer): “Practice what you need to do in a match (strokes, footwork, serve, and receive). If you work hard at each of these in practice, you’ll become proficient at them, and then it’s just a matter of time before you are equally proficient with them in a match.”

Ask the Coach
Here are new questions answered at PingSkills.

Footwork with Dmitrij Ovtcharov
Here’s the video (31 sec) as he does short-to-forehand/long-to-backhand multiball.

Footwork with Xu Xin
Here’s the video (33 sec) as he does 3-spot footwork – at lightning speed!

Footwork with Stevie Sloth
Here’s the video (79 sec) as he demonstrates moving to the wide forehand with a technique similar to Xu’s above.

Table Tennis Spinning Wheel
Here’s the video (58 sec) – I really have to get one of these things.

New Jersey State Championships
They are this weekend!

Form Maintained, No Stopping Japanese Teenagers
Here’s the ITTF article.

Dr. Miriam Stoppard: Why playing ping pong is great for the brain and could help prevent dementia
Here’s the article.

Table Tennis Pins
Here’s the page. “Dear friends, My name is Tonino Solazzi and being a big fan of table tennis, I had set to myself the task to make a catalog of badges/PINS of TABLE TENNIS (WTTC, ETTC, FEDERATION , TEAM, ...) The purpose of this site is to help to table tennis badges collectors to organize they collections. I had the problem of lack of badge's / PINS images for many tournament ... federation .... I've about in my collection 4000 different pins of TT (List collection downloadable)”

Some Doubles Action!
Here’s the video (28 sec) of this great point from Men’s Doubles Final at the Qatar Open in February. That’s Adam Bobrow doing the commentary.

Moose Pong?
Here’s the picture – help choose the name of the mascot for the 2018 World Championships in Sweden! (Here’s the non-Facebook version – but you can’t vote with that.) Here’s the home page for the 2018 World Championships – this year it’s the Team event. (They alternate each year between Singles and Doubles, and the Team events.)

Ping Pong is a Metaphor for Life
Here’s the hilarious video (3 min)!

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