March 8, 2021

Tip of the Week
Experiment with Serves and Receives Early.

Sports Psychology, Weekend Coaching, and Ohio, Oh My!!!
I may have to go back to college and get another degree, this one in psychology. I’m starting to do more sports psychology sessions with our up-and-coming juniors. I wrote about this in my February 15 blog, under “Weekend Coaching.” As a match coach, I’ve been both learning and teaching sports psychology for about 40 years (including many group sessions with the sports psychologist at the US Olympic Training Center during my four years there), but now I’m doing one-on-one sessions on it. From those years of coaching and learning, I have a whole basket full of mental tricks to help players overcome almost any sports psychology problem - but rather than deal with it during a tournament, it’s best to address it and solve the problem before the tournament begins.

I’ve actually found a unique mix - the sessions are actually joint sports psychology and serves. For the sports psychology, I’m using Dora Kurimay’s book Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros! - here's my review. (So she’s getting a bunch of sales from Maryland - a number of them have ordered copies now.) While the whole book is valuable, for our specific purposes I’ve picked out about 2/3 of the book that I assign the player to read. Our first session is before they read it, where I outline what they are going to go over - in particular, the four R’s covered in the book: Reaction, Recover, Ready, and Ritual. While I’d never formulated it that way specifically, I’ve always done the same four things she teaches, as do most top players. In the second session we go over the four R’s, one by one. I also pick out specific parts of the book that apply specifically to the player - that’s the advantage of knowing the players as I do. For these sessions, I have to do some prep work each time.

The serving aspect is both to teach serves and a release. (And it’s easy for me - I don’t even have to prepare since I’ve been coaching serves for many decades.) All our kids have what I would call well-developed third-ball serves. These are serves that somewhat consistently set up their attacks, and are the main serves top players should use. However, it’s valuable to have some “off” serves as well - trick serves that might give you one or two “free” points a game (and probably far more below the 2000 level) - but perhaps even more importantly, they give the opponent something else to worry about, thereby making your regular serves more effective. I start off by throwing all my trick serves at the player, and unless he’s over 2200, he’s going to have a terrible time at first! (I always go in early to practice my serves before such a session.) But pretty much by definition, trick serves only work when used sparingly - but as I point out, think of the value of a few “free” points per game, and how much better it makes your other serves as the opponent guards against the occasional trick serve! I tend to go over fast no-spin to the middle and wide backhand; big breaking serves to the backhand; fast down-the-line to the forehand; tomahawk or reverse pendulum serves short or half-long into the forehand, and ways to make a side-top serves look like backspin (by having racket tip go down during contact, but contact is on other side of paddle, going up, as paddle rotates in a circle; plus exaggerating the downward motion). There are others, but these are my favorites.

I may end up doing group Zoom sessions for a bunch of the kids. This might be more efficient, but I’m leery because 1) it means giving less personal attention to each player in the group session, since each is different, 2) I’ve never taught a class on Zoom, and 3) I wouldn’t be able to do the “fun” serve session we finish with.

On Sunday, I ran one junior session and assisted in another. In the one I ran, we did a lot of serve practice, and I brought out the two serving devices. One is the serving bar (here set high for beginners) created by John Olsen. The other was the TT-Serve (search on the page for it) created by Samson Dubina. Both have adjustable heights. They force servers to serve low, so that the ball goes under the bar or screen. The kids enjoy this challenge, especially when I put Froggy on the far side, so they have to serve under the bar and hit the poor frog. I also spent some time with one of the kids who was trying to learn to serve effectively, since he’d discovered I could loop all of his deep serves. If I do a good job on this, someday he’ll beat me. If I do a bad job of this, he’ll never beat me. Either way I win!!! (But let’s go with the former.)

I also had a session with Navin Kumar. Here are two videos he put up.

  • Blocking (35 sec). I’m feeding multiball loops to his backhand or forehand, and he has to react to each. He’s doing well with the footwork here - note the bouncing between shots and moving to each ball - but he needs to chop down more on the backhand where he deadens the ball with his pips. I should have caught that while doing the drill - earlier he was chopping down much more, returning all my topspin as backspin.
  • Smashing lobs (25 sec).

This next weekend I’m off to Ohio for The Patty and Si Wasserman Junior Table Tennis Tournament. Cheng Yinghua and I will be going there to coach Stanley Hsu, Ryan Lin, and William & Winston Wu. (I’m in charge of Stanley and Ryan, while Cheng has the Wu’s.)

USATT’s T2 Challenge: Season Two
Here’s the home page - they just completed week one, where Jimmy Butler defeated Deng Zhen. Here’s the upcoming schedule:

Matches Team Omega   Team Alpha Premier Date Watch

Match 1




4 March 2021

Watch Now

Match 2

LI Kewei


Shahin Akhlaghpasand

11 March 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 3

LIN Jiaqi


WANG Huijing

18 March 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 4




25 March 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 5



LIANG Jishan

1 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 6

LIU Juan



8 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 7

Matilda EKHOLM



15 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 8



LI Jian

22 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 9

Jon Ernesto EBUEN



29 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 10

Jayden ZHOU


Massao Kohatsu

6 May 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 11

Nikhil KUMAR


Angie TAN

To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 12

YE Tian



To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 13

William BAI


WEI Dianren

To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 14

PU Zheng


LYU Boliang

To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 15

ZHANG Xiangjing



To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 16

Ted LI



To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips, by Dan Seemiller
I blogged about this last week. The book is actually done, but before going public, Dan did one more proofing, and has a number of corrections/changes that I’ll get to after finishing this blog. If all goes well, it’ll be ready and available this week! When it is, besides Dan and I announcing it on Facebook, I’ll add a note and link to it here. It’ll be on sale both at Amazon and by Dan, who will sell autographed copies at a lower price than Amazon!

Ball Picker-Uppers
You may have noticed a new ad on the left here, for Babo Ball Pickers. They have two types - a tube version, and a multiball picker that picks up a whole bunch at once. I tried out the tube one with the kids yesterday, and they had a lot of fun with it. Here are some of the common ball picker-uppers. If you have one or know of one I should add to the list, email me. (I may run this again if I missed some - and I know I did.)  

Junior Representative Poll and Discussion
Here’s the poll and Discussion, on Facebook, put together by USATT board member Thomas Hu. “Your overwhelming response on the previous poll is to add a new director to the USATT board to represent the junior membership. A large group that has never been represented in the USATT at all. Now, I’d like to ask you to help me by answering what type of representative you’d like to see. I have offered four options, if you have another please add it in the comments!”

New from Samson Dubina

New from Seth Pech

New from Ti Long

Training Tips: Loop Against Underspin
Here’s the video (3:16) from Zelin Ye.

Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: Tips for Receiving Serves
Here’s the article by Vikash Sahu & Rajko Gommers. “Service and receive are at the essence of competing at a high-level in table tennis.”

The Overwhelming Speed of Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins
(See also his articles under Middle East Hub.)

Table Tennis Talk Podcast - Episode 22 - February 2021
Here’s the video (56:37) from Joey Cochran. “In this month’s episode of Table Tennis Talk, we cover the All Japan 2021 tournament and Ryan’s first tournament in VR with Eleven Table Tennis VR. Then we profile notable Black US Table Tennis players including George Braithwaite, Norman Bass Jr, Jennifer Johnson, and Marcus Jackson.”

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

91-Year-Old Senior Plays Ping Pong to Stay Active and Mentally Fit
Here’s the video (2:31). “Eileen Greene is 91 years old and enjoyed a lifetime playing tennis, but once she was diagnosed with diabetes, she had to find a way to stay fit safely. That’s when her son Richard got her a ping pong table.”

Massachusetts SQT - Westford TTC, Qiumars Hedayatian
Here’s the USATT news item.


International Women’s Day: Online Conference Open to All
Here’s the ITTF info page. IT’S TODAY!!! (Monday, March 8.) Here’s the USATT news item on it, with various links.

Middle East Hub Articles by Steve Hopkins
“The first ITTF event of 2021 is officially underway in Doha, Qatar.  The “Middle East Hub” is a series of four events that begin with the WTT Contender Event this week, then the WTT Star Contender Event on March 5, then the World Singles Qualification Tournament on March 14, and finally the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament on March 18.”


Why Did Ma Long Choose Table Tennis as His Sport?
Here’s the article by EmRatThich at PingSunday.

Man in China Plays Ping-Pong with Elderly Mother Using Rolling Pin and Other Objects
Here’s the video (4:26). They make bats out of novel objects and practice two hours per day for the past 20 years.


Virtual Reality Table Tennis | Eleven | The Most Realistic VR Game!
Here’s the video (9:14) from Table Tennis Daily.

XOLAY Table Tennis
Here’s a site that features lots of funny and weird table tennis videos!

Ping Pong Legend Tommy Lee Jones Vs An Amateur Challenger
Here’s the video (5 sec) which seems to be someone smashing balls at actor Tommy Lee Jones, who effortlessly returns them, and then the challenger screams.

Ping Pong Trickshot 2 (quarantine edition)
Here’s the video (42 sec)!

Frozen Table Challenge
Here’s the video (9:26) from Pongfinity!

Ping-Pong Can Be Funny
Here’s the video (8:58) of what seems the best of Pongfinity!

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