August 17, 2017

Most Common Mistake
I’ve been thinking about what are the most common mistakes players make, and came to a surprising conclusion. There are lots of common problems that gradually decrease as players improve, but what one thing seems somewhat more prevalent than most as players move up? I think it’s contact on the serve is too high.

If you contact the ball too high, the ball bounces higher on the other side. But it’s a subtle thing, and so there’s not a lot of feedback that forces a player to lower his contact point. Instead, players just generally return the serve more consistently and more aggressively. The server often doesn’t notice this as it often just means the receiver, given a slightly higher ball (and so a larger target on the other side), may just push better than otherwise, or perhaps attack just a little better. Instead, learn to contact the ball lower on the serve, perhaps at net height. This leads to a lower serve, which forces the opponent to lift the ball upwards instead of driving it forward, which leads to weaker and more erratic receives.

When I see players at our club practicing their serves I think about 80% of the time I’m calling out, “Lower contact point!” Here’s my Tip on Serving Low.

They come in bunches. I’m taking tomorrow off from everything to rest, so no blog tomorrow. (Friday is my off day for coaching.) Here’s a rundown.

  • Neck. As I type this I can barely hold my head up due to a neck injury. I’m resting it against the back of my office chair since it hurts if I lean it forward. I also can’t look to my left – I’m not sure if I can drive safely because of this. How did I hurt my neck? I have no clue – my best guess is while moving boxes around a couple days ago while doing a major house cleaning. But I don’t remember doing anything that would affect my neck. Yesterday it was also hurting, but I was able to coach two hours. Today – I’m not so sure as it’s much worse. We’ll see. I have three hours scheduled tonight.
  • Right knee. It’s been injured since the Nationals over a month ago. I wear a knee brace, which helps. But I can’t put weight on it when moving to my right, so (as I blogged last week), all of my students take great glee in going to my wide forehand. It also makes walking up and down stairs difficult. One big worry here is that because I’m favoring the right knee so much, I could injure the left.
  • Shoulder. On the very last shot I did coaching on Monday I smashed in a loose ball from a student – and reinjured my shoulder. It’s an old injury that comes back about once every year. So now I have to be careful on smashing or looping as it puts pressure on this.
  • Arm. I still wear an arm brace to protect against recurring arm injuries – and probably because I’ve been trying to avoid hurting the shoulder, the arm is getting sore again. (I blogged about this on May 19 and May 21 in 2015.)
  • Left thumb. On top of all this, I have an infected ingrown thumbnail that hurts more than all of the above put together, other than the neck.
  • Back problems. I periodically have them, but nothing right now. Yay. 
  • General exhaustion. From Aug. 2-12, while working with USATT Historian Tim Boggan on his new book, I literally worked 14-16 hours per day for ten straight days. Since then I’ve had almost as long hours catching up on things. I think I’ve just used up my lifetime quota of energy – or is that just a Trump theory? :)

Coaching DURING the Game
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina. It covers three types: Encouragement, Informative, and Secretive.

Ask the Experts: Pushing Question
Here’s the question and answer from Jon Ebuen.

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

USATT’s YouTube Channel
Here’s the page. “Since overhauling our YouTube channel 4 months ago we have uploaded over 65 new videos.”

2017 Hopes – Swathi Giri (USA)
Here’s the ITTF article featuring the USA junior star.

Table Tennis and a Dose of Faith
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

Glenn Tepper and his 19 Years with ITTF
Here’s his posting. (It’s on Facebook, but I think it’s set so anyone can read it.)

Table Tennis: Little Ma Long of Brazil
Here’s the video (3:36). “There are many fans of Ma Long - one of the greatest table tennis player in the history. However, this is the first time, I've seen that a dad has named his son as ‘Little Ma Long’. So amazing! We all love this sport.”

Olympics Dream of Lee Ho Ching - Hong Kong
Here’s the video (23:38).

Craziest Chinese Points
Here’s the video (12:25).

Zhang Jike in a Singing Contest
Here’s the video (12:54) – it’s in Chinese, with Zhang singing in Chinese.

Epic Ping-Pong Match
Here’s the cartoon video (1:29:04) – apparently it went up a week ago.

Split a Ball by Hitting It at a KNIFE I Challenge Pongfinity
Here’s the video (4:16)!

An Eye for an Eye, a Ball for a Ball
Here’s the video (37 sec) of a sore loser getting his comeuppance!

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