April 19, 2011

Knocking off cups and other table tennis games

We're about to start day two of our five-day Spring Break Camp at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Guess what's one of the most popular games at our training camps? Knocking off cups. We do this with the younger kids near the end of a session. I put ten plastic cups on the table like bowling pins. I feed ten balls to each kid (multi-ball style), and see how many they can knock off. Then we get creative with the placement of the cups. An alternate version is the kids line up and each gets two shots and then rotate, and we see how long it takes for them, as a team, to knock off all the cups. We also do this with my bottled drink - whenever someone hits the bottle, I have to take a sip. (I do my best to convince them it's squeezed worm juice.)

We also play Brazilian Teams. We put them into teams of 3-5. One player from each team goes to the table and plays a point. The winner stays, while the loser goes to the end of the line for his team, and the next player goes to the table. The new player always serves. Games are usually to 41. If there are players who are much stronger than the others, we handicap them, usually by requiring them to end the point with one shot when serving (serve and end the point), and two shots when the other player is serving (receive and end the point). If a player is a complete beginner and can't really compete, we handicap it by letting them score if they can make two or three consecutive shots (so opponent has to end the ball quickly).

At the end of many sessions we play 11-point games, where the winner moves up a table, the loser moves down, with the goal to reach the first table. We do this with both singles and doubles.

Xu Xin's footwork

Now here's some fast footwork and looping! That's China's Xu Xin, world #6.

At the movies (non-table tennis)

I've seen most of the major movies recently. Last night, while in line to see the movie Hanna, the man and woman in front of me went to the single ticket woman and spent roughly forever asking her about every movie playing. This went on so long I was about to complain, and even the ticket woman glanced at me and shrugged her shoulders. Finally the two got their tickets and I got mine. Then I found myself behind them in line for refreshments - and they grilled the person there on just about every item sold! They finally bought drinks and popcorn. Then, after paying for it, they asked more questions about candy, and decided to buy some. After paying for that, the man decided he wanted another type as well, and so bought that. I missed half the previews because of these two.


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