September 7, 2020

Tip of the Week
Tactics Early In a Match: Explorers and Dominators.

My Interview at Butterfly
Here's my PongNow video (30:46) by Steve Hopkins at Butterfly! We covered a lot of material - enjoy!

Weekend Coaching
This was my first full day of coaching at MDTTC in six months. I started at noon and didn't leave until 7:15PM!!!

Because of the pandemic, our elite junior program - the "Talent Development Program" - is now divided into three levels, no more than twelve players at a time. At noon I helped coach the Level 3 group (along with John Hsu), which also is mostly the youngest group. One girl (age 7) has mostly been doing regular forehands and backhands, and lots of footwork, but has barely worked on pushing - so I spent much of the session working with her on both backhand and forehand pushing. She got pretty excited when she would pull off ones that were heavy enough that they'd stop bouncing and even bounce back into the net! Only problem was when she discovered that it was easier to get them to bounce back if she pushed high. I let her do a few like that, but then emphasized that they needed to be low.

I mostly observed and took notes the next two sessions, since I hadn't seen the players in six months. They, however, had been taking private coaching all along. They'd also developed a new, interesting habit - after a match or practice session, instead of the usual shaking of hand (a no-no these days!), they'd tap feet. Masks were worn except when they were at the table.

I can't give names, but I did see some things that needed work. In the highest group, one player had three forehand serves - pendulum, reverse pendulum, and hook (which people used to call the "shovel" serve). However, he set up differently for all three, showing his opponent which one he was going to use. Instead, I showed him how you should set up the same for all three, bringing the racket behind your back (which he already did), and not let the receiver see which serve you were doing until the racket re-appeared just before contact.

Another player had trouble with deep, breaking serves into the backhand. I talked to him and his coach about "saturation training" - the need to not just let him practice against this serves for a few minutes in a practice session, but to do it for ten, even fifteen minutes straight, in multiple sessions, over and Over and OVER, until the player has it down so well that he'll never miss another, and this type of receive becomes a strength. I had to remind another player, during practice games at the end, that he needed to attack the middle more with his backhand, not just go to corners.

There were others - I was pleased that our chopping junior was playing much more aggressively (which really throws opponents off - it should be illegal for choppers to attack, don't you think?), and another who was almost mindlessly learning to loop or counterloop any hard-hit ball to his forehand, but only because he was able to "let go" and not anticipate, just react. (And he spins the backhand off the bounce most often as well.)

On Saturday I did a one-hour session with Navin Kumar. (I'd have to cancel the previous Saturday due to a muscle pull in my back from that car accident on Aug. 21.) We worked a lot on his forehand, especially the idea of quick, punishing blocks and smashes if opponent's go to his wide forehand. I had him work a lot on smashing weak loops. Here are two videos:

  • Video 1 - smashing lobs (24 sec)
  • Video 2 - side-to-side footwork (51 sec)

RIP: Jack Howard
I just heard the news yesterday that USATT Hall of Famer Jack Howard had died. Haven't heard how. He was a big US star for many years, and could have won a number of US Opens if not for Korean immigrant D-J Lee, who he lost to in the final of Men's Singles in 1968 and 1972, in the semifinals in 1969, and the quarterfinals in 1971. (Here's the USATT obit, added on Thursday.) 

A Day with Dan Seemiller and a Digital Scoring System for Table Tennis
Here's the info flyer for the free event, to be held Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10AM to 4PM at the Donner Center in Columbus, IN. (Here's Dan's Facebook posting on it.) It's really a two-fold event - as explained by Dave Elwood:

  • First, we wish to honor Dan's many achievements by sponsoring "A Day with Dan Seemiller" event in which young players (and older players as well) may meet Dan, play a game with this great champion, receive some coaching tips from him, and, for those who would like to have one, receive an autographed picture of Dan.
  • Second, and equally important, I am writing to invite you to attend the inaugural, public introduction of the Seemiller-Elwood-Buuck Table Tennis Scoring System (SEBTTSS). The SEBTTSS is an automated scoring system that keeps count of and displays names of players, their ratings, the event in which they are competing, the type of match they are playing (2/ 3, 3/ 5, etc.), whose turn it is to serve, the current score for each player, whether or not a player needs to change table ends, the number of games won by each player, and the SEBTTSS determines when a game and/or a match has been won.

USA Table Tennis Elections
Here is the USATT Elections news item. It's timely as the deadline to apply is Sept. 10, this Thursday. The elections are for one or two At-Large Representatives (it's not clear) and one Club Representative. USATT really could use some new people on their Board of Directors, so why not run? (As I noted in my blog last week, they neglected to link to the USATT bylaws that they cited, plus it's not completely clear if the election is for two At-Large Reps, as required by the bylaws, or just one, as the news item seems to imply since it uses the singular. I've emailed USATT about the latter last Thursday morning, but no response yet.) I know of at least one person who is running for an At-Large position who absolutely should not be on the board, so I hope we can get qualified candidates to run for these positions.

BREAKING NEWS (added on Tuesday) - USATT told me that the election is for TWO positions. I recommended the news item be reworded, and it has now been changed to make this clear. 

Table Tennis - Chinese Footwork
Here are six short videos on Chinese footwork, which came out about the time I started this blog back in 2011, but I don't think I ever linked to it. Steve Hoch sent them to me and here they are!

Chorei Swing Tracker Promotion Video
Here's the video (2:47). This seems like a new invention, the world's first "Smart Swing Training Device," which comes with a computerized screen and analyzes your swing and gives statistics on your play.

New Table Tennis Book
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak on his new book, "SPIN: Tips and tactics to win at table tennis."

New from Samson Dubina

How to Generate More Spin in Your Serves
Here's the video (5:31) from Yangyang TT.

7 Best FREE Online Resources to Learn Ping Pong
Here's the article from The Games Guy.

4 Big Beginner Mistakes in Table Tennis
Here's the video (9:44) from Jin Jeon Ping Pong.

Ace Serve by Fan Zhendong
Here's the video (16 sec) - I've never seen this type of an ace! But with players more and more focusing on receiving with backhand banana flips, they are vulnerable to sudden deep serves to the backhand.

New from Steve Hopkins

August Westchester Little Open
Here's the article by Will Shortz.

Starter Paddles Don't Have To Be Boring
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Li Chunli's Decorated Table for One
Here's the article on the New Zealand star, with link to video (8:34).

Ibrahim Hamadtou, Egypt's Mr. Impossible
Here's the ITTF article on the guy who plays with no arms.

Hou Yingchau - Chopper Extraordinaire
Here's the video (5:05).

USATT Continues Thursday Night Live
Here's the info page! It's every Thursday at 9PM Eastern Time.

New from USATT
Here's their news page - but only two items since last week, on the Westchester Open (which I link to separately here) and their newsletter (which links to other news items that I also linked to). This page no longer seems a priority with them.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

New from the ITTF
Here's their home page and news page. Two items of special note:

September Challenge
Here's the video (23 sec) from PingSkills, where they challenge you to, "Try to roll the ball from one side to the other."

115 Funny Ping Pong Premium High Res Photos
Here they are, from Getty Images.

Ruff and Ready - British Comedy Show Features Table Tennis
Here's the video! Link takes you to 12:54, they get into it more at 13:17, with table tennis segment ending at 17:42.

Unreal Ping Pong Trickshots
Here's the video (52 sec)!

Ping Pong Best Trick Shots #13
Here's the video (2:16)!

Luckiest Serve of All Time?
Here's the video (5 sec)!

Top Ten Luckiest Points
Here's the video (3:17)!

Funny and Embarrassing Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (4:13)!

Wheelchair Table Tennis ft. Pro Player
Here's the video (3:13) from Pongfinity!

Trillion Dollar Bills
Long-time readers of this blog might remember that I often give out "trillion dollar bills" as rewards in training sessions. I tell them they should get their parents to videotape them as they try to use them to pay for things at stores or restaurants. This came up several times recently - I gave out several of them at the Ohio Mega Camp - so here are two videos from four years ago where I tried paying with a trillion dollar bill! (It's also good for their math skills, as I explain to the younger ones that a trillion is a million times a million, and that a million is a thousand times a thousand.)

  • Here's the video (23 sec) taken by Allen Wang as I tried to do so at a convenience store. I also tried to do so when I treated the kids to ice cream at the camp –
  • Here's the video (1:45) taken by Arcot Naresh where I treated the kids at the USATT Super Camp to ice cream, and tried paying with the trillion dollar bill.
  • Regarding ice cream, on the last day, just before I left the camp, I stocked the freezer at the house we were staying at with ice cream. Here's the video (15 sec) of the kids eating it and thanking me for it.

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