April 6, 2018

What It Takes to Be Great - and How to Beat the Chinese
Here's a nice video showing what it takes to be a top player: Coming-of-Age of the Ping Pong Kiddo (12:15). It features a kid in China - one of many thousands - who is striving to be the best, and what type of training this means. (Thanks to John Olsen who sent the link to me.)

This is the type of training that goes on all over the world, often out of sight of even local players, who often don't realize how many hours these kids with their coaches are training. I see it on a daily basis at my club, Maryland Table Tennis Center, and it's happening all over the U.S. in training centers, and all over the world. But the sport is more "serious" in China, and so there are far more kids training full time, and making it their top priority, then anywhere else in the world. Even the best U.S. players have to focus more on school (or at most, equally so), and so it's hard to compete against a system where table tennis is the central focus, with numbers far larger than anywhere else. But it can be done! (See below where the Japanese 14-year-old whiz kid, Tomokazu Harimoto, just beat the world #1, China's Fan Zhendong. But Japan might have the second most kids training in the world after China.)

Here's an example of how players are often developed in China. Cheng Yinghua, one of the head MDTTC coaches, from age 5 to 12 trained eight hours a day at table tennis (also training in badminton before that was dropped), with only one hour of school. After that, starting at age 12, he was full-time table tennis, no more school. He became one of the best players in the world, and was on the Chinese National Team from 1977-1987.

These days school is considered more important in China, and fewer players go the extreme route of someone like Cheng. But long hours with top coaches - this is how top players develop and how they are made.

How can USA develop its own players and turn into a powerhouse - maybe even competing with China? Here are five keys.  

  1. Keep opening up training centers. That is a BIG key. MDTTC was the first successful full-time table tennis training center in the U.S. when it opened in 1992, and as of 2007, there were only eight. Now there are 93. This is why our top cadets and juniors are now competitive with the rest of the world, where before they were rarely so. This is what leads to the level and depth of players needed to reach the highest levels.
  2. Develop and bring in more and more and better and better coaches. Neither quantity nor quality will do it; you need quality AND quantity in coaches. Here's the algorithm:
    Many Great Coaches + Many Kids Training = Great Players
  3. Focus first on reaching #2 in the world. Then we can turn it into a USA vs. China battle, and go for #1. Yep, that means we have to catch up to the rest of the world, other than China. But that's at least foreseeable, while beating China isn't at this time. But once you reach #2 and have just one more barrier to break through, it becomes foreseeable.
  4. Don't be pale copies of the best Chinese. We need to take what they and the other best players in the world do and expand on it. That's what every new generation of players has done since the 1920s. We tend to coach players to match the current best players, which is mostly successful, but it's the ones who expand on what the current best players are doing that will become the next generation of best players. Serve and receive are especially areas open for innovation.
  5. Sometimes learn from the past. For example, Waldner could tie up opponents in every rally - no one was comfortable against his variety of deceptive and change-of-pace shots. Take that, add the best of modern top players, and you have someone who will beat the best Chinese. But because such "unorthodox" play develops outside of "orthodox" training, that type of variation game is often forgotten, despite its obvious success.  

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 21 - 1994-95
You can order your copy now! This volume is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! (Plus a good portion of the volume is from articles I wrote back then - I was editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine.) Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed!

Maryland Table Tennis Center April Newsletter
Here it is - I'm the editor for the 71st issue in a row.

World Table Tennis Day
Celebrate 2018 World Table Tennis Day on 6 April! (44 sec)

Asian Cup
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking pace April 6-8 in Yokoyama, Japan. There's already one shocker - Bigger they are, harder they fall; Tomokazu Harimoto beats Fan Zhendong. Here are highlights of the match (1:29).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Otocec, Slovenia, April 2-6. The dates caught me off guard this morning - I assumed it was this weekend, but they are already past the preliminaries (Mon and Tues) and into the main draws starting yesterday.

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Oxenford, Australia, April 5-15.

Ping Sunday
Here's their home page. While I've been linking to their articles as they come up, they have a lot of material there, from EmRatThich. Here are the sections on the web page. (There's another menu lower down that breaks it down into eight categories.)

Ma Long Backhand Loop
Here's the video (67 sec) as he rips ball after ball with Liu Guoliang feeding multiball. This is one of the best videos I've seen of it

Ma Long in Kiehl's, China Unicom, Audi and MONTBLANC Commercials
Here's the video (4:26). "Which commercial do you like the best?"

USATT Training Camp in Davie, Florida
Here's the USATT Facebook page, which links to video and pictures from the national training camp going on there this week, Mon-Fri, ending today. Most of the top junior players in the country from ages 9 to 14 or so are there. Here's a link to video of practice matches yesterday (53:51).

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup

Table Tennis Therapy for Alzheimer's
Here's the video (2:51). "Very few sports work the game, researchers will tell you, as much as the game of ping-pong."

Table Tennis Pins
Is this the world's biggest collection?

Baby Pong
Here's the video (9 sec), with Dimtrij Ovtcharov and Super Baby!

Attacking a Beehive with Ping-Pong Paddles
Here's the video (3:20, with "table tennis" only in the first six seconds) - this is NOT a smart thing to do!

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igorponger's picture

Re: April 6, 2018


Web-held gallery of the ITTF Museum was discontinued recently. There is a great collection of table tennis memorabilies in the museum, we cant reach to this collection since recently. Sorry.