October 24, 2017

Coaching, Injuries, Volume 20, and All That Pushing in Class
I spent much of last week with a cold, but was mostly over it by the weekend. Meanwhile, the right knee I injured way back in July at the Nationals, and re-injured several times since, is about 70% okay now, though I still wear a knee brace just in case. The back is fine - it's been a year or so since that's been a problem. And my arm is okay, though I also still wear an arm brace. So I'm the peak of health, right?

Except for the dumb moment last Thursday (first day back while still fighting the cold) when I found a celluloid ball mixed with the plastic training balls, and tried to backspin smack it all the way across the club to a court where they were being used. Ow!!! I tore my shoulder up doing so. It's the same shoulder injury I've had in the past, but I think it's been okay for something like two years. So it was due. 

So since Thursday I've haven't been able to really extend my arm, whether going to my wide forehand to loop or even on some forehand pendulum serves. I can’t smash high balls. When students loop to my wide forehand I can't reach out to block - I have to completely step over. In theory, I should be able to do that, but in reality, when someone loops aggressively to the wide forehand, you have to be able to reach out to cut it off to block, and if I do that now it's another Ow!!! Anyway, I'll survive if I manage to rest it. On Saturday while coaching I strained it three times - twice inadvertently reaching for balls to my wide forehand, and once, while feeding multiball, just reaching for a loose ball on the table. 

Anyway, I still managed to make all my sessions. Fortunately, on weekends a lot of the coaching is group sessions, where at most I'm feeding multiball. As long as I don't reach for those loose balls, I should be okay. Unfortunately, it's hard to ignore 41 years of conditioning to reach for balls that need to be reached for. 

On Sunday we had a big party at MDTTC for the Talent Development Program, which is our top junior players, ages 7 to 13. Over 20 kids attended, along with parents and coaches. Lots of great Chinese food was delivered to the club in a huge cafeteria-style banquet. I pigged out on Sesame Beef. They ordered a LOT of food, and I was able to take a large supply of the Sesame Beef home, and had it for lunch and dinner yesterday, and still have enough to do the same today. I'm lucky - when I like something, I can eat it over and Over and OVER!!!

Afterwards, the kids spent an hour divided into two groups, with the younger kids having a long, non-stop ping-pong ball fight, while the older ones played Jungle Pong. This is a favorite of the kids, who often play this non-stop on break. You get a group together, and number themselves in order, so each player knows who he goes after. Then player 1 serves. Player 2 (and all subsequent players) have to let the ball come off the table and bounce on the floor, then he hits it back on the table, on either side, and the next player does the same. When a player fails to make a return, he’s out. This continues until you have a champion. There are a lot of tactics - sometimes they loop aggressively off the floor, other times they smash it into the net so it rebounds backwards. In all cases they are trying to get it to bounce on the floor twice before the next player can get to it. The kids are really good at this and the rallies surprisingly long.

Now comes the big problem - all that pushing and shoving in class. Okay, there was no shoving, but lots of pushing as I introduced our Beginning Class on Sunday afternoon to pushing. New players are fascinated by spin, especially backspin. The hardest part is sometimes convincing them to push low, since they discover if they push high, they can get the ball to bounce backwards!

Yesterday's big project was getting all 28 chapters of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 20 (!) ready for online publication by USATT. That meant breaking the original PDF into 28 pieces, and then doing a series of filters to get them so each chapter is under 10MB. Alas, I've run into technical problems with four chapters, but I'm working on it. 

Chinese National Team Accused of Doping?
Here’s the article by EmRatThich. He has serveral sources for it. All I can say is Wow! “Chinese doctor Xue Yinxian (former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team) has revealed 2 days ago to German Media: ‘If you refused to dope, you had to leave.’” This could be a huge story - since doping is illegal, wouldn't that mean anyone caught doping would have to give up, for example, their Olympic medals, World Championships titles, etc.?

A Busy Month for US Players Internationally
Here’s the article by Bruce Liu.

2017 ITTF World Cadet Challenge
It’s being held right now in Suva, Fija, Oct. 21-29. Here’s the ITTF page with results, articles, pictures, and video. USA players are Nikhil Kumar, Michael Tran, Rachel Sung, and Amy Wang. Here’s an article, “Early upset; North America on the rise,” featuring Rachel and Amy.

Butterfly Southeast Open
The 4-star event was held this past weekend at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina. Below are some links. The articles are all by Barbara Wei.

Review Day Three: German Stars Impress on Final Day in Liège
Here’s the ITTF article and video (4:35).

Timo Boll Swaps Hands Against Ma Long
Here’s the video (39 sec) as he does this in the semifinals of the Men’s World Cup this past weekend, on the way to winning, 12-10 in the seventh. Here’s another video, from 2013. Here are some related videos.  

Insane Table Tennis Point!
Here’s the video (34 sec), with Keenan Southall against the top seed on the far side, Tung Pham.

2017 World Series: LA Dodgers, Jose Altuve, and Ping-Pong
Here’s the article and video (2:52) by Shashin Shodhan.

Pong Cupcakes
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) The picture was sent to USATT Hall of Famer Dell Sweeris for his birthday, which is today.

Crazy Ping-Pong Drawing
Here it is! (It’s actually on sale here.)

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