May 22, 2017

Tip of the Week
Looping to the Forehand, Backhand, and Middle.

Another Brutal Weekend
Sixteen hours of coaching on a weekend is brutal. I can personally attest to this – and as usual, I’m feeling the aftermath on Monday. Okay, it’s brutal for me, but just another couple days at the office for many of my workaholic fellow coaches, who do this six days a week and have this much energy.

What made things worse was a silly sort of mishap on Saturday. After doing five hours of private coaching, we had the Saturday night junior league, 6:30-8:30PM. It’s really sort of a misnomer as it’s a combination of league and coaching. For me, it was a nice break – after standing up for five hours, I got to sit down for most of the first hour, watching and taking notes of our players for future use. But here’s where the silly mishap happened – I stood up. Yes, I was sitting in a chair, and I stood up, and pulled something in my left leg. Really.

So I hobbled about for a while, and then we finished the session with doubles. Surprise – to even things out, they put me down for doubles with one of the players! I had neglected to mention to them that I’d hurt my leg. I decided I could do it, so went out and played – and of course aggravated it a bit. (Add the fact that I had no warm up, and let’s just say it took me a game or two to get going, and then it was hobble and loop.)

So on Sunday, where I had even longer hours, I found myself favoring the leg – which led to me straining my back. Yes, that’s how it starts – one injury leads to another. I went through most of the day okay, but toward the end I almost brought in another coach to substitute. However, I made it to the end, which fortunately ended with 4.5 hours of group sessions (so I could hobble about without having to run down balls).

Fortunately, I only have two hours of coaching on Mondays. Still more fortunately, one of them is going out of town for ten days. So I cancelled the other, with Navin, who was understanding, and so I will spend most of today resting.

We had an interesting time in the beginning junior class on Sunday. It’s a small group, just eight kids – but when it started at 4PM, only two had shown up. At 4:20, it was still only two. But we learned there’d been a terrible accident on Highway 270, and all traffic was completely blocked for a time. After 4;20 they started trickling in, but I had to postpone my main topic and demo for the day, which was attacking backspin. Instead, we did a lot of stroking drills. With junior star Ryan Dabbs helping out, plus the robot, myself, and Coach John Hsu, we rotated the players around so they got lots of hitting.

Other than that, it was a normal weekend. I spent half of a one-hour session with one player working on nothing but staying at the table – he likes to back up. Another is hard at work developing a backhand banana flip. Another younger kid has finally learned how to smash lobs, and so we spent some time on that – I was already hobbling about on my bad leg at this point, but managed to run them down. Two others have basically made the transition from hitting to mostly looping on the forehand side. One seven-year-old was practically glowing at his new-found ability to flip in short balls, both backhand and forehand – and with surprising topspin! (He’d been told by a coach recently that he was “too young” to need to flip, which he took as a personal challenge.) Another player was struggling with quick blocks to the forehand, so we spent a lot of time on that – it’s all about recovery on the previous shot, ready position, first step, and balance.

New from Samson Dubina
Here’s been busy this weekend! Regarding the first item, about guessing, I’ve been doing this for so many decades I sometimes think I can read an opponent’s serve before he even has the ball. Yes, most players are that predictable from various mannerisms. But these mannerisms are so varied and unique to each player that writing an article outlining them would be very difficult. For one thing I’m often not even always consciously aware of which mannerisms give away what as you really pick these things up on the subconscious level, from years of experience.

Ping Sunday
Here’s a great coaching site – “Free table tennis coaching videos every Sunday.”

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

Table Tennis Strategy to Win
Here’s the video (11:48) from EmRatThich

Zhang Jike Training Backhand Flick and Attack
Here’s the video (10:27).

How the Russians Stole My Rating Points
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

China Dominates Table Tennis Like No Country in Any Other Olympic Sport
Here’s the article.

Major Contenders
Here are two new ITTF articles – a new series?

World Champions Ma Long & Ding Ning Head Seeding for World Championships
Here’s the article.

Li Jiawei Wants to Groom the Next Table Tennis Star
Here’s the article.

Today, May 22, is Final Registration Date for America’s Team Championship
Here’s entry info.

Lily Zhang – Back in Training
Here’s the video (38 sec) – “My first week training full time after the busy school year! Still super out of shape and slow, but it feels amazing to be back! World Championships in 10 days!”

Crazy Rally at the SPiN SF Opening Party
Here’s the video (58 sec) – “Winner was Lily Zhang, the youngest table tennis player at the 2012 Olympics, playing against Jiaqi Zheng. This was match point!”

Pong Universe Point of the Week
Here’s the video (13 sec). “Having good footwork is one of the most important elements in being a good player. Check out Portugal's Marcos Freitas vs. Nigeria's Quadri Aruna as they square off in the French Pro League.”

The Table Tennis Roommate Who Ruins Your Date
Here’s the video (2:04)! Yes, it’s about a table tennis roommate with a certain unique skill.

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