May 15, 2017

NOTE - As mentioned in the last paragraph below, I'm taking a "LORD" on Tuesday - "Larry's Occasional Rest Day." Here's your chance to explore the 102 Best Table Tennis Animated Images or the original "Matrix Ping-Pong" video (1:43)!

Tip of the Week
Towel for Fast Serve Practice.

Fast Serves and Ready Position and Looping, Oh My!
Another super-busy weekend – and I’d like to think I’ve improved the worldwide level of table tennis perhaps a little bit. I coached nine players in private sessions, and another 16 in group sessions, so that’s 25 players. Let’s suppose, on average, they are all ten rating points better – that’s 250 points in level we just added to the world! So yes, the world is not better at ping-pong – by an average of 0.00000003 ratings points per person. I made a difference!!!

Normally I run two group sessions on weekends and assist with another, but one was cancelled in advance and the others had small turnouts due to Mother’s Day and the Capital Area League, which met on Sunday at the Washington DC TTC.

I worked with Serguei on his fast serves, bringing out a towel to help him get the first bounce near his end-line, which inspired the Tip above. (I’ve done this many times before.) As noted in the “Fast Serve” articles linked at the end of the Tip, it’s not really just about the speed of the serve; you have to do something else with it, either making it very flat, giving it a big sidespin break, or pulling off a quick one down the line to catch an opponent off guard (which is where straight topspin can be most effective).

I worked with Todd (age 12) on returning to ready position. He can sometimes pull off nice shots, but finishes in some of the most awkward positions! He also tends to stand in a backhand position, so it’s no wonder he can be awkward on some forehand shots, often forehand blocking back balls that should be smashed. (Maybe he can be a member of the Forehand Blocking Initiative mentioned below?) His two-winged attacking is starting to get better, but a lot of it will come down to his ready position.

I had two great sessions with Jackson (age 11, recently rated over 1750), on Saturday and Sunday. I say great because he did something we’ve been working toward for a while – his forehand loop suddenly came alive! It was as if a light bulb had gone off over his head. He could already loop pretty well, but it was never very clean, and he’d often back up too much, stand up too straight, and stroke mostly with his upper body. Trying to fix these problems is difficult because if you change one, it affects the rest, so you really have to address them all at the same time. On Saturday I had him loop down the line to my backhand while staying close to the table. This can force a player to loop more efficiently – and it worked!!! I even called over another coach at one point to see. So we’re excited for him now. Of course, doing it in practice is not quite the same as doing it in a match, so that’ll be the next step.

And now it’s Monday, where I always wake up stiff and tired after a long weekend of coaching. But guess what? Due to a series of (fortunate?) events, two of my three students tomorrow are away, and the third agreed to move to Wednesday this one week. So I’ll have a rest day on Tuesday. I’m probably going to take the day off from blogging as well – we’ll call it Larry’s Occasional Rest Day (LORD - never forget that Hodges is just an anagram of “He’s God”!) I’ll put up a note if I do. Normally my only off day is Friday, but at age 57 trying to coach six days a week catches up to me - around this time each week I feel like I’ve run a marathon, and now have to run it again.

The Common Theme - Learn to Maximize Your Tournament Performance!
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina

Top 5 Tips to Improve Fast in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (13:05) from EmRatThich.  The five are:

  1. Focus on Feeling
  2. Hit by the Legs
  3. Fix the *Hitting Position
  4. Relax, Explode and Relax
  5. Learn the Tactics

Ask the Coach
New questions answered at PingSkills.

Xu Xin's Left-Handed Lessons
Here’s the ITTF article. “Have problems playing left-handed opponents? Don't feel too bad, Xu Xin is struggling too.”

Table Tennis Serve and First Attack - Yan An Teach
Here’s the video (16:53), in Chinese with English sub-titles.

Table Tennis Earth
Here’s a table tennis blog I hadn’t seen before. The entries aren’t dated so I don’t know how recent they are or how often they go up.

Ma Long Practice with Ren Hao 2017
Here’s the video (5:32).

Looping Board Invention
Here’s the video (39 sec) of this new invention to help players learn to loop.

These Adorable Mother’s Day Posts Will Melt Your Heart
Here’s the ITTF article. It turns out even top table tennis players have moms!

Cities Announced for 2018 ITTF World Tour
Here’s the ITTF article.

Behind the Neck Serve
Here’s the video (29 sec, including slo-mo). I believe Simon Shtofmakher use to do this serve in tournaments. As done in the video it’s illegal because the ball is hidden (nobody does that!), but you could make this legal with a higher toss. Contact is almost visible – move it back a couple inches, toss the ball higher so it’s not hidden by the head, and presto! A legal serve. But of course half the fun of the serve is doing it behind the head, right?

Phenomenal Rally
Here’s the video (23 sec)!

No Look Shot and Pirouette Spin By Steve Bovenisty
Here’s the video (47 sec, with slo-mo replay).

The Rally Ain’t Over Until It’s Over
Here’s the video (16 sec).

This Morning’s Note
On Mondays the blog generally goes up later than usual, due to extra stuff to write about (three days instead of one), the Tip of the Week, and staying up late on Sunday night, my one major “TV night” each week. When it’s going to be late I generally put up a note around 10AM about it. Here was this morning’s note:

As usual, the Monday blog goes up later than others. It’ll be up by noon or I will become the new FBI Director. As the director of this new Forehand Block Initiative I will revolutionize the sport by training players to block with their forehand instead of counterlooping everything. Oh, and I’ll look into that Russian thing – I heard they putin a lot of time developing new forehand blocking techniques that could trump our current methods, perhaps helping players like Lily Zhang to spicer game up in her training sessions. But we shouldn’t russian to these things.

Hippo Penholder Pong
Bet you didn’t know they were penholders! Don’t believe me? Here’s video (30 sec) of another penhold hippo, playing a dog!!! (I linked to the video before.)

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