September 28, 2020

Tip of the Week
Use Quickness, Ball Placement, and Variation Against Short Serves.

Two Zoom Coaches Meetings
I was on two coaches Zoom meetings this past week.

  • Meet the Coaching Committee (26:57). This was on Wednesday, with USATT COO Mark Thompson interviewing Pieke Franssen (chair), Gao Jun, Dave Fullen, and Larry Hodges (me).
  • USA Table Tennis Coaches Catch-up (33:48). This is a new bi-weekly meeting for USATT coaches, held every other Friday at noon eastern time. Come join us! Attending this first one were Sean O'Neill (USATT High Performance Director), Doru Gheorghe (USATT High Performance Manager), Jasna Rather (USATT Director of Para Programs), Samson Dubina, Dora Kurimay, and Larry Hodges (me). For this meeting, topics of discussion were Club Status; Group and Private Lessons Status; USATT Thursday Night Challenge Update; USOPC Grants (in particular, robots and software for analysis); USATT Hopes Finals for 2020 (likely in December at Samson Dubina TTC in Akron, OH)

Weekend Coaching
Due to the pandemic, we have a limit of 12 players in a session. And so the roughly 36 players in our advanced junior program are divided into three groups. On Sunday I helped coach Group 1 and Group 3.

Group 1 was pretty strong for their ages - their ages and ratings were 12/2286 (Stanley Hsu, US #1 in Hopes Boys, turned 12 on Friday), 13/2059; 17/2038; 13/2027; 14/2022; 12/2020; 13/1986; 10/1955; 10/1901; 14/1762. (The last spot is often a rotating one from players from Group 2.) However, most of them haven't played tournaments in six months, but have been training throughout, and so are under-rated. I spent part of the session essentially standing over two players, saying, "Stay down!" over and over - both stood up too straight, and coincidentally were playing each other. (None of the others had that problem.) One player was having trouble with the humidity - the ball kept sliding off his damp sponge. I explained to him that when it's humid, you need TWO towels - one for you, and one just for the racket. They played improvised games at the end, such as one player serves short backspin, receiver pushes short, server flips or pushes aggressively long, and then play out point - but if the server won the point with his flip or push, he got two points. One kid played perhaps the best he's ever played--totally "In the Zone"--so I made sure he remembered his mental state during his play - relaxed and focused, and pretty much having fun out there.

In Group 3, I worked with three players at a time - one with me (some live practice, some multiball), with one on the robot, and the third picking up balls. We did mostly foundation work on forehands, backhands, footwork, and pushing, with serve practice at the end. The players I worked with rotated throughout the session.

On Saturday I coached Navin "Bionic Man" Kumar. He had a breakthrough on movement and smashing lobs - the latter has always been a weakness, so we've been working on it. Here's a video (22 sec).

USATT's Thursday Night Live - Joanna Sung vs. Ved Sheth
Here's the video (53:28). Sean O'Neill and Mark Thompson do the pre-game show and commentating. The actual match starts at 23:53. (It's every Thursday at 9PM - here's the info page.) After this match, Butterfly leads Nittaku 5-3. Here's an interview with Joanna and Ved (22:38, starts at 1:40) in advance of the match. Joanna is 16 and rated 2305, #9 in junior girls. Ved is 14 and rated 2303, #8 in cadet boys. 

Joanna has several serve motions, and often serves from the middle or forehand, to get an angle into the short forehand to force a forehand receive. Ved mostly served from the backhand side, also often short to the forehand. Neither wanted to give the other too many backhand flips. Neither tried to force the backhand flip as some do - so many rallies began with a forehand flip from the receiver.

Much of the match played like the previous week's match, with Joanna similar to Lily Zhang, and Ved similar to Adita "Adi" Godhwani. Like Lily, Joanna has a strong backhand, stays close to the table, and relentlessly attacks from both wings with quick topspins. Like Adi, Ved has a strong forehand and looks to end the point with it every chance. In rallies, Joanna tends to go after the wide corners, while Ved tends to attack the middle and wide forehand - just like Lily and Adi. Adi often serves long to Joanna's backhand, looking for a relatively soft topspin return, which he attacks with his forehand from the backhand side. Ved also has a similar receive to Adi on the backhand side, often dropping short to the forehand or flipping deep to the backhand or middle.

In the first game, Ved seemed tentative on the backhand, and often backed up. He did well from off the court, and throughout the match won a number of lobbing points, often by counter-attacking with the forehand. Joanna went up 7-3 and 9-7, then is down 9-10. At 10-all (with no deuce), Ved served long to the backhand, but Joanna saw it coming and stepped around and RIPS a super gutsy forehand winner! So first game to Joanna, 11-10.

As the match went on, Ved became more aggressive with the backhand, often attacking down the line to Joanna's forehand (so Joanna couldn't pin him down on the backhand with her strong backhand), just as Adi often did against Lily the previous week. This paid off as he began to win points from both wings. When Joanna attacked his wide forehand, often with strong backhands, Ved relentlessly counter-attacked, forcing Joanna to block as Ved attacked. Point after point, Ved is the aggressor, and his shots are hitting from both wings, including a lot of big forehands. Ved's attacks to Joanna's forehand from both wings especially pay off.

When Ved served short to Joanna's forehand, she often flipped aggressively crosscourt, but Ved is usually waiting and counter-attacked with big forehand loops. Ved also forehand flipped many of Joanna's short serves to the forehand, but her counter-attack wasn't as strong or as consistent.

After almost coming back to win game one, Ved dominated the rest of the way, winning the match at -10,6,6,6,7.

USATT Continues Thursday Night Live
Here's the info page. It's every Thursday at 9PM Eastern Time. This week it's Rachel Sung of Team Butterfly vs Aziz Zarehbin of Team Nittaku.

Tim Boggan Turned 90
Over 50 people wished Tim a Happy Birthday on Facebook for his 90th on Friday. Tim had no idea until he received the printout I expressed to him on Thursday. I spoke with him on the phone that afternoon, and was quite pleased! If you want to see them on Facebook, here's the main page, and here's another (from Sheri Rose Soderberg Cioroslan). On a related note, I discovered on that Friday that as Tim turned 90 on Sept. 25, US #1 Hopes player Stanley Hsu (rated 2286) turned 12! (He's from my club and I was his coach his first year before I turned him over to our 2600 coaches/practice partners. He was in Group 1 of the Sunday session above.)

USATT Board Meeting
Here is the USATT Minutes page, which includes a link to the minutes of their Sept. 14 Zoom meeting. I usually attend these meetings as a spectator, but missed this one because I didn't know about it - I guess I need to check the USATT Agenda & Notices page more often. (Nothing scheduled there at the moment, but they seem to meet once a month, so there'll likely be a meeting in mid-October.) Main issues in this meeting were the CEO Report, Audit Committee Report, Nominating and Government Committee Report (voting for two At-Large positions will be from Oct. 29 to Dec. 13 - I'll blog about this in my Oct. 26 blog); and an Executive Session (closed, presumably about legal or personnel matters).

Coaches Who Do Online Coaching
Here's an updated list. (Coaches - email me if I should put you on the list.)

  • LearnPong, with Kai Zhang, Brad Robbins, Chase Bockoven, Vlad Farcas, Andrew Williams, Christian Stelting, Bjorn Stelting, and Alfred Dela Pena.
  • Samson Dubina (OH), USATT Certified National Coach and multiple Coach-of-the-Year awards, and 2009 US Men's Singles Finalist. See his web page (scroll to the bottom of the products page).
  • Cory Eider (NJ), former USATT High Performance Director and 2013 US Men's Singles finalist, 2014 Men's Doubles Champion.  
  • Kevin Finn (NJ), Peak Performance Table Tennis
  • Pieke Franssen (CA), USATT Certified National Coach and chair of the USATT Coaching Committee. See his USATT about page
  • Matt Hetherington (NJ), member of New Zealand National Team, now coaching in the US, ITTF Level 2 coach. See also his web page.
  • Judy Hugh (NJ), former member of US National Team. See her USATT about page
  • Christian Lillieroos (CA), ITTF Level 3 coach. See his web page.
  • Sean O'Neill (OR), five-time US Men's Singles Champion and two-time Olympian, USATT Certified National Coach, and current USATT High Performance Director. See his USATT about page
  • Tim Wang (CO), three-time US Men's Singles Champion. See his USATT about page

LIVE: First Ever Online ITTF AGM!
Here's the ITTF info page. "The ITTF's Annual General Meeting (AGM) is taking place on Monday 28th September 2020 and, for the first time ever, it is being held virtually to enable the safest possible solution amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in from 13:00 CEST to watch the AGM live on the ITTF’s official YouTube channel or itTV!" (NOTE - 13:00 CEST time is 7AM Eastern Time, so it's already started and probably over by the time you read this - but I believe you can see the video from earlier.)

Breaking News - Durban, South Africa will hold the 2023 Worlds, the first time in Africa. Here's the ITTF news item. They won over Düsseldorf, Germany (which ran it in 2017), 90-39. (Singles and Doubles are held in odd-numbered years, Teams in even-numbered years.) Here is more info on the World Championships, including past results.

New from the ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Paragon Table Tennis.

8 Forehand Loop Mistakes YOU Make
Here's the video (18:33) from PandaPong.

Tom in Training…Help Me Improve! (Sep 2020)
Here's the article and video (11:02) from Tom Lodziak.

Personalized Online Performance Coaching for Table Tennis
Here's the page from Peak Performance Table Tennis.

When Have You Thanked Your Coach?
Here's the video (47 sec).

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Name That Serve OR Stealing Table Tennis Serves For Fun and Profit
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Putin Aide Named President of European Table Tennis Body
Here's the article from AP News. "An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin was named the new president of the European Table Tennis Union on Wednesday."

USA Table Tennis Invites Nominations for Athletes' Advisory Council
Here's the USATT news item.

United States Table Tennis Athletes Association
Here it is - but I'm not sure how active it is yet.

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

Best Points 2018-2020 Seth Pech
Here's the video (3:24). (Seth is currently rated 2414, has been as high as 2479.) Check out the lefty power loop in the point starting 33 seconds in!

Ping Pong in Qatar
Here's the video (17:52) from Adam Bobrow.

Play Table Tennis Images
Here's a page of them.

Ping-Pong Paddle: "I Lost!"
Here's the image!

Beer Can Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Ping-Pong Cat Shirts
You can buy them at Amazon!

Cat Playing Ping-Pong
Here's the video (7 sec) - okay, he's playing with a ball on the table.

Types of Table Tennis Players
Here's the video (75 sec)!

A Dog's Table Tennis Journey
Here's the video (89 sec) from PingSkills!

Send us your own coaching news!