December 5, 2017

Injured a Lot?
Someone recently asked me why I seem to be injured a lot. And it’s true – I have a revolving door of injuries, including problems with my right knee, upper back on right side, right shoulder (two spots), and right arm. Those with right-minded thinking may have rightfully noticed an outright pattern, and they are right. (We’re not talking rightwing politics, though I am a right-winger in table tennis since I am right-handed . . . in case you hadn’t figured that out.)

Years and years of long hours training, playing, and coaching have led to these problems. Somehow I don’t think any doctor ever saw an injured patient and prescribed, “Rest and twenty hours of table tennis per week.”

The knee problem has its roots in the fact that MDTTC, which opened in 1992, had cement floors for a number of years before going to red rubberized flooring. Playing on cement regularly is like banging your knees with a hammer. My left knee used to bother me at times as well, but not in recent times.

However, the simple reality is I’m 57 (gosh that sounds old…), and the muscles aren’t as tight as they used to be – they’re tighter. I’ve always been way too stiff, and now I’m older and stiffer. Worse, when I do have minor injuries, I have to keep going and continue coaching, because, you know, it’s my job! And when the minor injuries become not-so-minor, I still have to continue, because, you know, it’s my job! It’s only when they become rather severe that I take time off. The result, of course, is that minor injuries sometimes turn into no-so-minor ones.

My right knee is about 90% better, but I still wear a knee brace when I play to make sure. As I noted in my blog, last week was the first time since the U.S. Nationals in July that I was able to walk up or down a stairway with both legs – for four months I’d been stepping up or down with the left, then bring up or down the right, but never step up or down with the right unless I had a railing to help support my weight.

I haven’t had back problems in a year (cross fingers), but when they come on, I know what stretches fix that problem. One of the two shoulder problems hasn’t bothered me in about year as well. I still have arm problems, but the arm brace I wear when I play pretty much fixes that. I originally hurt the arm playing baseball when I was 12.

However, the other shoulder problem, a spot on the back of the shoulder, is a serious problem right now. I can’t really extend my arm to reach for a shot, or even for a ball that’s near the net. It doesn’t affect 90% of my playing, but there are certain things I struggle to do right now. Hopefully it’ll be better at the U.S. Open, which starts Dec. 17. While I’m there to attend USATT meetings and coach, as usual I’m also playing in the hardbat events. (I normally use sponge, but retired from sponge tournaments a while back.) We’ll see. (And since much of the U.S. Open is on cement floors, my knees have already scheduled some serious problems. I hope most of my matches are on the rubberized flooring.)

ITTF Coaching Course in Portland
Here’s info on the ITTF Level 1 Coaching Course to be held at the Paddle Palace club, Jan. 8-12, run by Christian Lillieroos.

Reverse Pendulum Backspin Serve
Here’s the video (3 min) from Elizabeta Samara of Romania, world #26.

When to Pivot
Here’s the podcast (32:24) from Pingskills, which covers: Joke of the Week, Ariel Hsing's Birthday, Tournament Wrap, The World Junior Table Tennis Championships, Tip of the Week, Keep your head still, Drill of the Week, Backhand or Pivot Forehand, Setting Goals, Flick vs Counterhit, and Sponge Thickness.

Wealth of International Experience Leads Names at 2017 US Open
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Timo Boll Delighted with German Progress
Here’s the ITTF article.

African Table Tennis in Diaspora hosts 3rd Tournament
Here’s the USATT article.

2017 World Junior Championships Highlights: Sun Yingsha vs Wang Manyu (Final)
Here’s the video (5:18) of the Junior Girls’ Final.

Steffen Mengel Completely Freaks Out After Losing a Match
Here’s the video (21 sec) of the German, world #84, losing to Jakub Dyjas of Poland, world #61.

Solo Pong
Here’s the video (56 sec) from the Junior Worlds as USA team members Adar Alguetti and Nikhil Kumar challenge each other! (How can you challenge another in “solo” pong? See the video!)

Mrs. Met vs. Serena Williams
Here’s the repeating gif image as the New York Mets mascot and the legendary tennis player have a preliminary “dance off” before their table tennis match.

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