January 25, 2018

Coaching on Wednesday and Other Musings

  • Celluloid Balls. When I went in to coach yesterday I found all the baskets of plastic balls were being used by other coaches – we had eight of them coaching already. There was one filled with the old celluloid balls – we still have them – but I didn't think my first student (Todd) would want to use them, and was about to go to the back room to get some new ones, along with a box to hold them in. But Todd said he didn't mind, he'd been using them in some of his matches anyway. So we started the session with the old Butterfly celluloid training balls, which were pretty much identical to what I'd been using since I started back in 1976 until they went to plastic a few years ago (other than the change from 38 to 40 mm in the early 2000's). Wow, were they strange!!! The lack of sound, compared to the "ping" of the plastic balls, was weird. I remember hating that sound when we first went to plastic, but after coaching almost exclusively with plastic balls for about a year, I'd grown used to that plastic sound. However, about ten minutes into the session I found out the celluloid balls had been reserved for someone who wanted them, and so I traded them in for a box of plastic ones for the rest of the night. (The following two students were under 1000 level and wouldn't care which ball we used.)
  • Backhands and Butler. Two of my students are working hard on his backhand smash. So I gave both an assignment – go to Youtube and type in "Jim Butler table tennis," and watch any of his matches. You'll see a steady barrage of vintage backhand smashes.
  • "Are you tired?" When a coach asks that question, don't answerIT'S A TRAP! Recently I've had fun asking students this late in a footwork drill. No matter how they answer they can't win. If they say they are tired, then that means they are out of shape and so I need to work them harder. If they say they are not tired, that means I'm not working them hard enough and so I need to work them harder. Evil, isn't it?
  • Box on Table. Too many of my students are spraying balls around the table in drills, when they are supposed to hit to a designated spot (usually the forehand or backhand corner). So recently I'm doing a lot of coaching with a box on the table that blocks off the middle of the table, so players have to hit to the corner. Depending on their level, I give them roughly 8-18 inches of table from the corner to aim for.
  • 1500 to 1800. I'm starting to think that the two most important drills to make this jump are very simple: 1) Side to side footwork, where you alternate aggressive forehands and backhands; and 2) the same drill, except the balls are random. If you become proficient at both of these drills, then you will improve a lot, as long as the rest of your game doesn't lag too far behind.

Capital Area League
The Capital Area League has their final team matches of the season this Saturday at the Maryland TTC. The place will be jammed all day, with matches scheduled from morning until night, but I won't get to watch – I have a table reserved for six hours of coaching.

USATT Releases 2018 National Team Point System for Qualifying Tournaments
Here's the USATT news item. (I put this up late, at 3PM on Thursday.) 

USATT and World Veterans Clothing on Sale
Time to buy something snazzy!

Humbled By a 40mm Ball ….
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Yijun 'Tom' Feng in Training
Here's the video (54 sec) from the USATT Training Camp in December at the Triangle TTC.

FH Topspin Technique of Viktor Yefimov
Here's the video (5:26). The Ukrainian may be "only" world #323 (previously #148), but he has great forehand technique.

New Club, New Blood, Ma Asserts High Position
Here's the article featuring Ma Jinbao, by Matt Hetherington.

Potsville Senior Aiming for High School Sport Recognition
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Pets, Surround Sound Speakers and Ping-Pong Tables: Take a Virtual Tour of This Modern Office
Here's the article and video (2:36) that features table tennis in the workplace (from 0:54 to 1:10). They've already done this in Dilbert!

Can Ping Pong Make You Smarter, Happier and Relieve Your Stress?
Here's the video (8:08).

Jase & PJ Attempted a 20 Hour Non-stop Table Tennis Rally
Here's the article and video (3:55).

Dinosaur Doubles!

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