June 15, 2017

Preparing for Nationals
It’s that time of year again. So . . . how does one go about preparing for a big tournament? Well, first of all, you read my article, Top Ten Ways to Play Your Best in a Tournament. Well, duh!!! But from a coach’s point of view, here is how our coaching changes.

First, in the age of nearly unregulated plastic balls, where the balls play very differently, you have to switch over to whatever ball is being used. For the upcoming Nationals, that’s the Nittaku Premium ball. I keep a supply of each of the major types, and just yesterday I tossed a bag of these balls into my playing bag.

Second, there’s more emphasis on game play, less on basic rote drills. The time to perfect shots is mostly past; now’s the time to practice what you have in game situations. That means more free play, more points starting with serve or receive, and lots of random drills. It means more emphasis on receive, sometimes playing out points, sometimes not. For top players, it sometimes means mimicking the shots of rival players they will likely play so they can prepare for them.

Third, there’s a lot of emphasis on serves. Now is not the time to develop new ones, but to hone and perfect the ones you have. The coach or player need to decide what serves they will be using in the tournament, and make sure those serves are ready and at their best. Deep serves especially need to be practiced as they are the toughest to pull out under pressure, and the easiest to miss.

Fourth, sports psychology is emphasized more and more. All the training is wasted if a player goes out there and isn’t mentally at his best. I sometimes work out in advance with players how to prepare this way. For example, I had one student for years who liked the Baltimore Ravens football team and the TV show NCIS – and so I’d come prepare to talk about those two topics to help relax him before matches. Then, about five minutes before the match would begin we’d talk tactics, reviewing the tactics we’d gone over earlier.

Fifth, coaches and players are making coaching plans for the tournament. Often this means studying playing schedules to see who is playing when, and which coaches are available. (My club, MDTTC, will have seven or eight coaches at the Nationals.) Coaches also have to make sure players are ready for coaching – how best to prepare for each match, who to warm up with, when to call timeouts, what serves to use at various times in a match, etc.

Maryland State Championships
I’ve added links to photos for most of the events – see yesterday’s blog.

We Need You - World Veteran Championships Las Vegas 2018
Here’s the USATT call for volunteers – this means YOU! The event will take place in July in Las Vegas, with something like 3000 players – and you’ll be right in the middle of the action!!! I’ve already been recruited to do daily coverage, though I plan to also play in it.

USATT Insider
Here’s the new issue that came out yesterday.

ITTF North America
Here’s their home page. USA Table Tennis works with them on a number of issues.

Match Analysis: Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong Men's Singles Final
Here’s the article, with links to video. Here’s the article about the Men’s Final at the recent Worlds – somehow I missed this when it first went up.

Target Drills
Here’s the video (18 sec) from Coach Me Table Tennis, where the player has to react to the command on which target he should aim his attack at.

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

Ideal Pairs But Where Have the Right Handers Gone?
Here’s the ITTF article on Men’s Doubles at the Japan Open (currently underway in Tokyo). They are down to the final 16 teams – and 15 are lefty/righty combos! The other team? A pair of lefties!!! This reminds me of the time many years ago when many of the top right-handed USA players were lobbying to play doubles with lefty stars Quang Bui and Brian Masters at the 1985 USA Nationals. It got so heated that Quang and Brian said forget it, and they played together. Quang was an all-out attacker, while Brian played with the Seemiller grip and favored his backhand, so he could play almost like a lefty – and the two won Men’s Doubles! They won again in 1987.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Ask A Pro Anything - Jeoung Youngsik
Here’s the video (5:31) with the world #15 (previously #7) from South Korea, from Adam Bobrow.

Nathan Hsu in China - Getting a SIM Card is Such a Pain
Here’s his newest Vlog (9:27).

Strolling Pong and Four-Table Pong
Here’s the video (40 sec) with Adam Bobrow at the Worlds – the future of our sport?

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