June 2, 2017

Service Practice
In preparation for the Serving Seminar I’ll be running at the USA Nationals, I did something a few days ago that I only do about once or twice a year these days – I practiced my serves! I’m retired from tournaments (except for occasional hardbat events at the Nationals and Open, and sometimes doubles), and so practicing my own game just isn’t high on my priorities list. But I did about 30 minutes of serve practice this past weekend, and it paid off.

At my peak I had pretty good serves. I practiced them regularly my first three years (1976-1979, ages 16-19), and from 1979-1981 (ages 19-21), I practiced them 30 minutes/day, six days/week, for two years. I continued practicing them regularly until the early 1990s. (Yes, I didn’t start playing until I was 16 – a very late starter, but I still reached 18th in the U.S. at my peak.)

I have a huge variety of serves, mostly centered around forehand pendulum serves. My best serves were a variety of short side/top serves, which looked like backspin, and various deep serves, including fast down-the-line, fast no-spin to the middle, and big breaking serves into the backhand. I also had a nice reverse pendulum serve short to the forehand that caused havoc if I used it sparingly. Then there were the backspin/no-spin combos, the forehand tomahawk serve, the windshield wiper serves, and others.

But without practice, they have gradually deteriorated. They still give fits to “weaker” players, but my students face them regularly and so have little problem with them. Until now.

I played a number of practice games with my more advanced students this past week, and my serves were alive! Maybe not as good as they were 25 years ago, but suddenly they were no longer able to catch the subtle racket changes between my side/top and backspin serves, and so their returns shot off the end or to the side, or into the net. My deep serves were shooting at them like torpedoes or jumping like kangaroos. Anyway, I left a trail of frustrated kids behind this past week. I feel very guilty.

So . . . have you been practicing your serves? I have many articles on serving, but here are two of the better ones:

For more, why not try out one of these books?

World Championships
The Worlds are going on right now, May 29 – June 5 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Alas, USA is finally out of everything, with Lily Zhang/Wu Yue losing in the quarterfinals of Women’s Doubles to the #3 seeds from China, Chen Meng/Zhu/Yuling, at -12,6,9,5,7. But can you imagine the excitement after they won that first game? Below are some links. (And don’t miss “The Lighter Side of the Worlds” at the end of the blog!)

China's Grand Slam Table Tennis Sensation - Interview with Ding Ning
Here’s the interview from Matt Hetherington.

Learn How to Counter-Attack (and take your game to the next level)
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak.

How to Improve Reflexes in Ping Pong
Here’s the article with links to video, from PingPoolShark.

Planning Your Week of Practice
Here’s the article with links to video, from PingSkills.

Ask the Coach
More Questions Answered at PingSkills.

USATT Insider
Here’s the issue that came out Wednesday.

Sid and Nandan at Little Big Shots
Here’s the video (7:36). The show was actually taped last year, but just came out yesterday. They’re great kids – I worked with both of them at the two-week USATT Supercamp last year.

Ping Pong of the Future
Here’s the article. “There are only two annoying things about playing pingpong… setting up the net and keeping score. Smart Net takes care of both in one simplistic solution!”

Here’s an interesting table tennis shirt. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) I wondered what the meaning of MrThePortal was and googled it, and discovered it was a youtube site dedicated to table tennis videos!

The Lighter Side of the Worlds

Send us your own coaching news!