May 31, 2017

Tip of the Week
Contact Point on Racket When Serving.

Habits and Homework
One of the kids I coach has a nasty habit of standing up straight, both when receiving and in rallies. You’d think this would be an “easy” habit to break, but no – it’s like the minute he goes out on the table, he forgets what he’s been practicing and he stands up like a giraffe stretching for leaves on a tree. We’ve videotaped him to show him the problem, and he understands it, so that’s not the problem. He also tends to reach for balls rather than move to them, another bad habit that mostly comes from standing up straight. Central to these problems is that he has good ball control and very nice rallying skills, and plays at a high level despite these problems – but he pays for them when he plays stronger players. (He’s about 1700, age 11.) So how to you get someone to break such a seemingly simple bad habit?

We’ve given him homework. Four days a week he is to spend about fifteen minutes shadow-practicing, with four specific exercises assigned, all involving footwork. Staying low and moving are stressed. He’s agreed to do these, and seems enthusiastic, so we’ll see if it works.

His serves aren’t every strong either, so along with the above he’s supposed to practice serves for 15 minutes after doing the shadow-practicing, i.e. 30 minutes total, four days a week. (This is in addition to three private sessions, one group session, and three nights of match play each week.) The good thing here is that at first I told him to practice serves 10 minutes, and he thought he could do 15. I’m too lenient!

He’s splitting his serving practice into three parts: Short spinny serves; long, breaking serves; and doubles serves, since he’ll be playing doubles at the upcoming Nationals. We spent some time yesterday going over the serves he should practice.

At the end of our session, we played points, and he was on fire! It was about the best I’ve seen him play – he stayed low and moved to the ball, just as we’d been practicing. Then he played in the MDTTC Tuesday night RR. In his first match, he continued to be on fire, staying low and moving, and won easily against probably the strongest player in the group. But after that he fell into old habits, and his level dropped as he stood up straight and reached for balls. When I motioned him to come over to talk after one match, he knew exactly what I was going to say, said he sort of realized after the match that he had gone back to standing up straight. The sad thing is he still managed to win all his matches – but I think he realizes that if he wants to go up another level, he needs to overcome this.

If you have a bad habit, you have to do the same – find ways to overcome it by practicing the correct movements until they are a habit. It’s either that or accepting the bad habit forever!!!

World Championships
Here’s the home page where you can get news, draws, results, photos, and video. For USA Coverage, see the USATT news page, though I’m also linking to them below. The Worlds are May 29 – June 5 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Here are some links.

DoorTricks Challenge at the Worlds with Pongfinity
Here’s the video (2:17)! I thought this deserved a segment by itself.

ITTF Coaching Courses
Here is the page where the ITTF courses in the U.S. are listed. They not only will make you a better coach, but you will then become ITTF and USATT certified as a coach. There are currently four scheduled:

2018 Youth Olympic Games Selection Procedures
Here they are.

Here’s the article by Coach Eli Baraty.

Memorial Day at NYCTTA 2017
Here’s the video (11:08) from Jules Apatini.

Sit Down and Smash
Here’s the video (6 sec)!

Solo Pong
Who says you need a partner to play?

Non-Table Tennis - Balticon
This past weekend I was at the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention, where I was on four panels, plus a reading and a book signing. (Sold a bunch of my SF books!) Here’s a picture of me on the “How to Write Snappy Dialogue,” where I was the moderator. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) That’s me second from the right – I’d have sat in the middle but a fellow panelist was already there when I arrived. I was at the convention all day Friday and Saturday. Here’s my Balticon Bio. (The convention continued through Sunday and Monday, but I had to go back to coaching.) I went out for dinner with a number of other writers on Friday night, and at one point pulled out a ping-pong ball (never leave home without one!) and demonstrated my blowing-the-ball-in-the-air trick.

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