May 18, 2017

82 Forehands
Yesterday I was coaching an 8-year-old girl who’s a relative beginner. In our last session we had set a goal of hitting 50 forehands in a row (live, not multiball), but despite spending 20 minutes on the quest, she wasn’t able to do it, though she got 43 one time. We tried again yesterday, and made it past 20 a few times, but couldn’t break 30. (She did manage to get 54 backhands in a row.)

The problem was obvious – she’d get nervous and try to consciously guide her stroke rather than let her subconscious – i.e. muscle memory – guide the shot. So I made it my goal to fix that. As is well known at the club, I keep a bag of candy in my bag (Jolly Ranchers) which I give out as rewards. So while hitting with her I asked her about her favorite flavor. The discussion continued, branching off into gummy worms and chocolate, and various foods she liked. Meanwhile, she completely forgot about the forehands, which she continued to do mindlessly (i.e. subconsciously) as we chatted. When she finally missed one, I asked her how many she thought she’d hit in a row. She guessed 15! Actually, she did 82 in a row. And was quite excited!!!

Next week we’ll go for 100. We’ll probably set aside about 20 minutes of the 60-min sessions for this, if necessary, and perhaps we’ll discuss her other interests – soccer, basketball, and dancing. She’s working hard as she wants to get into the Talent Development Program at MDTTC, with tryouts in August. Besides working on forehand and backhand, we do pushing, serves, and footwork. Her backhand push is coming around – yesterday she pushed one that bounced backward on my table! – and yesterday I introduced her to the forehand push. I think next week I might introduce her to blocking, and see if she can block my (as I’ll explain it) unbelievably powerful forehand loop.

The trick I used above doesn’t mean you should normally be chatting about things as you hit, but it’s one way to learn to get the conscious mind out of the way so the subconscious can do its job, just as it does when you are absentmindedly walking or driving, or tying your shoelaces. And the nice thing is that while the subconscious does the work, you get the credit!

Tournament Tough in 20 Steps - Learn how to train your mind and body!
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

Footwork Technique: How to Improve Footwork for Beginners
Here’s the article (with links to video) from PingPoolShark.

Ma Long - Service Training
Here’s the video (4:16 sec – starts with an ad, so skip to 12 sec in). You wouldn’t hurt yourself to study this. Watch his contact closely, and then see which way the ball curves – often it looks like one type of sidespin when it’s the reverse.

China Men's Team Training WTTC 2017
Here’s the video (4:41), which starts with them standing for the national anthem, then some lecture, warm-up, and finally table training.

Victor Barna vs. R.D. Jones (1933)
Here’s the video (2:28). Five-time World Men's Singles Champion Victor Barna is introduced as “The greatest table tennis player the world has ever known.” (He would win his fourth title the year of the video.) Jump to 52 sec in to see them play. That’s a pretty nice first rally!

Spinning Forehand Counter-Smash
Here’s the video (32 sec, with slo-mo replay).

Goofy Swallows the Ball!
Here’s the cartoon.

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