November 17, 2017

Three Examples of Why Table Tennis is So Mental
I did three hours of private coaching last night, and all three featured the mental side of table tennis.

  • My first session was with a Lucy, age 9, a beginner. Last week we spent much of the session trying to get that elusive 20 forehands in a row (live, not multiball), but she wasn’t able to do it. Last night she again struggled for a time. The part that jumps out is that over and over she’d get close, and then miss. At one point she had hit 17 in a row three times, and ten or more in a row about 20 times, but each time as she approached 20, she’d get nervous and miss. This was similar to an experience I had with another student, Sameer, about age 12, that I once blogged about. In three consecutive rallies, Sameer, who was trying to hit 100 in a row for the first time, hit 99 in a row and missed (!), then 97, then 93. At this point he was almost in tears. The very next rally? Once he hit 100 he relaxed and we just went on and on until I finally caught the ball when he hit 1000 in a row! So, back to Lucy – we spent some time focusing on clearing the mind, not trying to guide the shot, and finally she got 24 in a row. The very next rally we did backhands, and in the first rally she got 38 in a row, also a new record for her. It’s all mental.
  • In the next session, with Matt (age 16), who loops very hard from both sides (about 1800 level), while warming up my blocking seemed a bit erratic. So I used a standard mental trick, and imagined it was back in the 1990s and I was practicing with Han Xiao, a star junior I probably hit with for 1000 hours as he won every junior event, made the U.S. Men’s Team, made the final of Men’s Singles at the Nationals, and won Men’s Doubles there four times. Back in those days I could block his loops in drills like a wall, and as soon as I imagined Matt as being Han, the muscle memory of those days came back, and I became a wall again. It’s all mental.
  • My final session was with Ron, and older relative beginner. We’re working hard on his basic shots, and his forehand and backhands are really coming around now. However, he has a few bad habits he’s overcoming. So I stressed the idea that you have to remember the feel of good technique, so that when you don’t do it properly, it won’t feel right, but if you do it right, it feels right. I explained how once you do this, the shot pretty much does itself, and all you have to do is watch the ball and let the subconscious (i.e. muscle memory) take over. I demoed by putting a water bottle on the far side and from my side of the table tossed up ball after ball and smacked it mostly dead center about ten times in a row. The key? I kept up a steady dialogue with him as I was doing this, making absolutely certain not to think about the shots or even to aim them – that’s the job of the subconscious. It’s all mental.

U.S. Open Deadline is TODAY
Here’s the new promo video (36 seconds), and here’s the home page for the event, Dec. 17-22 in Las Vegas. Yes, TODAY is the DEADLINE to enter. There are currently 737 entries (set dropdown menu to “2017 US Open”), and if YOU do not enter, YOU will pay for the wall. Or at least a net set.

Seamaster Swedish Open
Here’s the home page for the ITTF event in Stockholm, Sweden, Nov. 13-19, finishing this Sunday. They are currently to the Final Sixteen in Men’s and Women’s Singles. Follow the action this weekend! Here’s a great game match from the round of 16 - Harimoto Tomokazu (JPN) vs Jens Lundqvist (SWE) (14:08). SPOILER – Harimoto comes back from down 1-3 to win, 11-8 in the seventh, and will now face Xu Xin.

Top Ranked Players Compete at the 20th Anniversary JOOLA North American Team Championships
Here’s the article. I'll be there. Will you? (I'm coaching two junior teams from MDTTC.) 

Pong Road: Episodes 1-4
Here are the episodes. On August 8 I linked to and blogged about Episodes 1-3; #4 (about ten minutes) just went up.  Like them at their Facebook page for future updates. Here’s the description from their About page:

“After years of living in New York and scraping by on tournament winnings, coaching and event gigs, professional ping pong player Rocky Wang decides to leave the big city and weave his way through the United States. With little money and his trusty van (Myrtle the Turtle), he's exploring what American ping pong is really like and the colorful characters that play across the country.” “This is a completely self-funded indie series made by two friends and shot entirely with an iPhone. It's a labor of love made with a lot late nights, sweat and ping pong balls, so please SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel and help support our project!” 

ITTF Job Opportunities
Here’s the info page. “Seeking passionate individuals who are interested to join the ITTF in promoting Table Tennis to the World.” Current openings are:

2017 Star Awards Male & Female Table Tennis Star Nominees Announced
Here’s the article. Finalists for men are Ma Long, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Tomokazu Harimoto, and Timo Boll. Finalists for women are Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling, Miu Hirano, and Cheng I-Ching. (Their credentials are listed.)

No Matter How Good You Get, There’s Always Someone Better…
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

China’s Table Tennis Coach
Here’s the article by Eli Baraty.

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

Zhang Jike Forehand Training WTTC 2017
Here’s the video (65 sec).

Contenders for ITTF Point of the Year
Here's the video (1:51). 

Joo Se Hyuk: A Tribute
Here’s the video (7:02).

NFL’s Cardinals RB David Johnson Loves Table Tennis & PGA Players Play for Bragging Rights
Here’s the article and videos.

Some Robot Play?
Here’s the video (56 sec) – watch out, Ma Long!!! “The Chinese have introduced the new ping-pong robot to the world.” (But I’d recommend throwing some spins at it.)

Sidespin Backhand Loop Around Net Through Duct Tape
Here’s the video (54 sec) of Matt Hetherington having “another fun morning.” There are two other variations (reverse hand and sidespin backhand chop, both around net and through the duct tape), all shown in regular and slow motion.

Paw Patrol Cartoons Chase Plays Table Tennis
Here’s the video (10:33, but the crazy table tennis scene starts 16 seconds in and ends at 2:11). There’s also this somewhat gory table tennis picture with these characters, but it doesn’t seem to be in the video.

Well, Kid, Ya Beat Me
Here’s the all-time classic table tennis cartoon from The Far Side, never gets old. I don’t think I’ve ever linked to it – it’s just too iconic. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

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