October 26, 2017

A Song of Celluloid and Plastic
For many weeks now I've been coaching exclusively with Butterfly plastic training balls. Most players I work with still prefer celluloid, but accept plastic balls since they have no choice – it's what's used in nearly every tournament and league. In the MDTTC Tuesday and Friday night leagues they only made the final switch to plastic about a month or so ago. (Until then it had been optional, and most had still preferred celluloid.)

Yesterday I went in to coach. (I had four scheduled, but one called in sick, so only three.) At the same time I was coaching we were running our afterschool program with a bunch of kids, and they, and other coaches doing private coaching, were using all of the plastic training balls. There was only a basket of celluloid balls. Since my students had mostly been lamenting their not being able to use the preferred celluloid, I thought, what the heck, and grabbed that basket rather than check if we had more plastic ones in storage.

Instant problem. My first student, Todd, had recently gone over 1500 in league ratings, which closely match USATT tournament ratings. But when they switched over to plastic, he had trouble adjusting at first and immediately dropped 150 points. He is now working himself back up, and felt like he was finally used to the plastic balls. So when I brought over the celluloid balls, he was rightfully unhappy. "I just got used to the plastic balls!" he said. We decided to stick with the celluloid balls. They do play similar to the Nittaku Premium plastic balls he'll be using at the Open in December, though quite different from the plastic ball used in the league and in the upcoming North American Teams during Thanksgiving Break. These days we all need to be able to adjust back and forth.

But he had a point. I'm going to make sure to use only plastic training balls for coaching from here on, except perhaps with beginners. I'll go in a little early today to make sure to get them – if necessary, going to the back room where I believe we have more plastic training balls stored.

Shoulder Update
My shoulder has not gotten better. While I've done a reasonably good job of avoiding anything that hurts it, about once every hour while coaching I seem to strain it. I'm avoiding stretching out to my wide forehand to block, hit, or loop, and certain serves that aggravate it. I've also learned not to reach out to pick up balls from the table with my playing arm – it's surprising how many times I've strained the arm doing that. But yesterday I hit a new low as the shoulder began to bother me when I fed multiball backspin – and that I NEED to do. I had to stop doing it during a multiball segment as my shoulder began screaming at me. If it doesn't get better soon I might have to take a week off. We'll see. (Meanwhile, when I got up this morning my hip was killing me.)

Bronze Medallists Found in Fiji
Here's the ITTF article that features Team North America getting the bronze in Cadet Boys' Teams at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge. North American Girls are in the final of Cadet Girls' Teams against Team Asia. Next up: Team Finals, and then Singles and Doubles.

Training with Ma Long-Lin Gaoyan, Part 1 (World Cup 2017)
Here's the video (19:46) from BelgiumTV.

Subtle Variations: Variations at 100 Balls/Min
Here's the article and video (36 sec) from Samson Dubina.

Loop It Like Larcombe
Here's the article from Epic Table Tennis, which features Ben Larcombe from Expert Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach Show #294: Ma Long's Birthday
Here's the podcast (30:36). Topics covered include On This Week; Joke of the Week; Tip of the Week; Drill of the Week; Tournament Wrap; Improving Topspin Against Backspin; Spin on Fast Shots; and Slow and Fast Footwork.

Looping Against HEAVY Backspins (from a chopper) with Chinese National Player - Sun Jianfei
Here's the video (4:02).

Loops For Those Who Don’t Loop
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Competitive Brain Food: Milwaukee Teens Passionate about Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (2:50) from FOX6 that features Austin Cherian, Emma Canga, and Milwaukee TTC president Linda Leaf.

The Best 5 Table Tennis Robots of 2017
Here's the article from PongBoss. (I normally avoid equipment review articles, but I'll allow this one on robots.)

Table Tennis Legend Michael Maze is Back!
Here's the video (20 sec).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: My Little Princess
Here's the video (24 sec) as Dimitrij's baby daughter hits 16 forehands in a row. Ding Ning, you are in serious trouble.

Circling Table
Here's the video (37 sec) – no, not players circling a table, a circling table!

Send us your own coaching news!