June 16, 2017

Living a Life of Pong
Sometimes I get so busy from all my table tennis work that I barely can find time to do anything else. I somehow make time for my other interests – science fiction reading & writing, movies, and a few other things, but those are like smoke in a hurricane of table tennis activities. When things get so busy that there’s barely time to breathe, us table tennis people have to remind ourselves that this is the business we have chosen. After all, if we weren’t doing table tennis, what would we be doing? Not table tennis!!! (Horrors!!!)

<Start non-Table Tennis Paragraph.> In my case, I’d likely be a math professor in that other lifetime that never happened. Instead, recently, in my SF writing sideline, I’ve begun writing stories that feature Mad Molly, an 80-year-old autistic black retired math professor who regularly saves the day with math, though she usually does in humorous fashion as she has her own separate motives – such as, in one story, her determination to get an ice cream pie sent to her sister in Paris before it melts, and to make it happen she has to save Washington DC from a nuclear attack. I actually get paid for these stories! Just this morning I received $315 via PayPal for a short story I recently sold. </End non-Table Tennis Paragraph.>

Admittedly, I’m busier in table tennis than most. I often envy my fellow full-time table tennis coaches, who get to focus on coaching and little else. They are often split into two types: Those who just coach table tennis, and those who coach table tennis and still train as players. (I’m sure they have more going on in their private lives.) Alas, I’ve dropped the latter, but double alas, I’ve got a lot more on my ping-pong plate than most.

With USA Table Tennis, I’m on the Board of Directors and chair the Coaching Committee. (I’ll be doing a USATT news item soon on upcoming USATT/ITTF coaching courses and other coaching matters. And the amount of email correspondence is huge.) With MDTTC, I run many of the group sessions, run the tournaments, do promotional work, and do the monthly newsletter. As the founder and coach at TableTennisCoaching.com, I do the daily blog, weekly Tip of the Week, and other upkeep. As the founder and member of the board of directors for the Capital Area Table Tennis League, I . . . well, admittedly and guiltily, I actually do less there than others on the board, as I’m just too busy on other things. But I am volunteering three hours this weekend to help run the upcoming meetup!

Of course, the interesting details of the below can get lost in the maelstrom of info, so the flavor is lost. For example, I mention my private coaching, but leave out the daily details. As noted in yesterday’s blog, many of our players are preparing for the Nationals, so we adjust our coaching for that. There are also various techniques that come up more in any given week. For example, I’ve spent a surprising amount of time this past week coaching fast no-spin serves, both to the middle and wide corners, and other deep serves. There’s also been an emphasis on recovering into ready position – too many players, when moving to the wide forehand or stepping around the backhand to play forehand, don’t follow through back into position, and so don’t recover for the next shot. So I’ve been demonstrating that all week. Another student keeps learning and unlearning how to loop, and so we have to get over this so he doesn’t have to spend 5-10 minutes of each session relearning the same thing each time. And lots more – I could write a book on a week’s coaching activities and the trials and tribulations of each player. I also got to watch many students in action at the Maryland State Championships, which gives us things to work on.

Here’s a chronicle of my recent and upcoming TT activities.

  • Saturday and Sunday (this past weekend): Ran the Maryland State Championships. Also gave a one-hour clinic for a group that came in from some local church group. Then sent in all the tournament results to USATT for processing. I was at the club at 7:45AM both mornings, and didn’t leave until about 9PM on Saturday, 11PM on Sunday.
  • Monday: We had a USATT teleconference, from 7PM to roughly 9PM. There were updates and reports from the Worlds and ITTF meetings, and on the upcoming USA Nationals. We went over the minutes of past meetings – six of them – and after some edits, approved them all. The actions and motions from these meetings are already online at the USATT Minutes and Actions page, with the approved minutes going up soon. We went over bylaw proposals, and approved one which increased the number of ads a player can wear on his shirt. Another one on whether USATT can force testimony from members on disciplinary matters was I believe tabled for now – I’m really hesitant on that one. There was discussion of committees, a memo from the Ethics and Grievance Committee, and of the Pan Am Junior Team and Coaches. And then we adjourned!
  • Monday: What, did you think all I did on Monday was attend the USATT teleconference? I did the write-up of the Maryland State Championships, compiled results, and formatted photos linked to the results (with a caption on each), which I posted in my Wednesday blog. I wrote a separate news release which I sent to all the local media. Then the rating results from the tournament came out early in the afternoon – and there was a computer glitch! The results for the Under 15 event results were all wrong, with numerous results that hadn’t taken place, including a number of fictional 50-point losses (and wins). I’d sent in the correct results, but somehow what they received was jumbled up. It didn’t get fixed up until late Wednesday, and so I spent 1.5 days explaining the situation approximately 100,000 times via phone, email, and to kids, parents, and coaches surrounding me at the club. You can find the ratings at the USATT ratings page.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: I had three hours of private coaching on Tuesday, four on Wednesday. But probably the biggest headache was working out the big transition to summer hours. Most of the year I begin coaching at 4:30PM or so, as kids get off school. But we have camps at MDTTC all summer starting next Monday, and they need all the tables until 6PM. So I’ve been emailing and discussing the schedule with my students, and as of late last night I finally have my new schedule worked out, with students now starting at 6PM or later, Mon-Fri, or on weekends. Also did a huge amount of USATT work – got to check off a lot of stuff on my todo list.
  • Thursday: I taught the final class of our Thursday Beginning Class last night. It starts up again in the fall, with the kids mostly going to our camps all summer or signing up for private coaching. (We have nine full-time coaches at MDTTC.) But I spent much of the day also working on the two seminars I’ll be running at the USA Nationals, one on Serving, one on Setting Up and Running a Junior Program. I’m also beginning plans for the creation of a one-day six-hour USATT club coach certification camp we might start running.
  • Friday: Today, after I finish this blog, I need to finalize the Hall of Fame Program booklet. It’s due Monday, but I’ll be too busy this weekend to work on it. Last night Sean O’Neill, who became the new Hall of Fame Committee Chair in January (succeeding Donna Sakai) sent me the last info needed, on the Boosters Club (donations to the Hall of Fame), which are published in the program. If you are interested in donating (and getting published in the program and online, and getting a personal thank you from Sean), here’s the USATT Hall of Fame Donations page! Get it done by Monday, as I’ll be making any last-minute additions then before sending it in for publication.
  • Saturday: Normally I coach 5-7 hours on Sundays, but due to a strange configuration in the stars (students away or competing in the Capital Area League), I only have three hours of coaching this time. So I had a fit of madness and volunteered to help run the Capital Area League. I finish coaching at 2:30PM, then I’ll be helping out from 3-6PM. It’s the final meetup of the season, then it starts up again in the Fall. This season we have 116 players on 24 teams. This meeting is at MDTTC, but the league also meets at two other local clubs, Smash TT in Virginia and the Washington DC TTC.
  • Sunday: 8.5 hours of coaching, both private and group. Nuff said.
  • Monday: The MDTTC summer camps begin! They are Mon-Fri all summer, June 19 to Sept. 1, for eleven consecutive weeks (except July 3-7, when the coaches and many of the players will be at the USA Nationals). Hours are 10AM-1PM, 3-6PM, followed by private coaching. Guess what time I have to get up each morning in order to get my blog done? Plus I finalize and send in the Hall of Fame program, and three hours of private coaching. 

Japan Open
Here’s the home page, with news, results, photos, lots of video, and more. It’s taking place right now in Tokyo, June 16-18, Fri-Sun (with a qualification tournament held June 14-15).

How Long Does It Take to Get Really Good at Table Tennis?
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak. I found this to be really interesting – see what you think.

Table Tennis Placement and Free Parking
Here’s the article, with link to video “The Best of Oh Sang Eun” (3:16), from Coach Jon. “YouTube videos of Jan Ove Waldner have introduced the value of great blocking to a new generation of players. No less impressive are the blocks by Oh Sang Eun. The veteran Korean player maneuvers the best players in the world into awkward positions and manages to finish points with perfectly placed, often uncontested, backhands.”

Consistency Equals Confidence
Here’s the new podcast (28:34) from PingSkills.

Ask the Coach
Questions Answered at PingSkills.

Zhang Jike Backhand Flick Training 2017
Here’s the video (6:01).

Indian Prodigy, Mudit Dani Sets Sights on USA
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. Mudit will be attending New York University starting this fall, focusing on economics and math. He is “Just the third player in India's history in the sport to reach the top 10 standings of the ITTF World Junior Circuit.” He said, “I wanted to pursue my education at a place which is flexible and will allow me to continue to pursue table tennis.”

USATT Top 10 - National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships
Here’s the video (5:05).

Lunch with the Iranian Women’s Team at the Worlds
Here’s the video (2:21) as Adam Bobrow practices his Farsi. Not much table tennis, but interesting to watch!

Ultimate Table Tennis Commercial
Here’s the video (30 sec) for the upcoming Ultimate League in India.

Left-Handed Inside-Out Sidespin Pendulum Forehand from Outside Backhand Corner Around-the-Net to Smack Small Ball in Target
Here’s the video (14 sec) – of course Matt Hetherington is left-handed, but still….

ZHANG Jike vs FAN Zhendong Funny Point Asian Championships 2017
Here’s the video (60 sec).

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