May 3, 2021

Tip of the Week
Team Lineup Strategies.

Weekend Coaching
On Sundays, I did sports psychology sessions with four of our junior players. The sessions range from 45-60 minutes, which usually include up to ten minutes of serve practice at the end. Two of them were first timers; the other two were follow-ups. I generally meet with each of them three times, and then after that play it by ear, but perhaps review sessions before major tournaments. I am running into "session creep" - I keep thinking of more examples and other things to add to the sessions, and so they get longer. So I'm going to move some of those to follow-up sessions.

One of my group sessions on Sundays is a group of five girls, all 7-8 years old, that meet for 90 minutes every Sunday at 5:30PM. They are improving fast! I think all are also signed up for private coaching, but it is the group sessions that they really look forward to. The first hour is practice, then we do 30 minutes of games. But I keep the practice part fun. For example, I usually rotate them around, and often have two taking turns on the robot. For that, I put Froggy on the table as a target, and warn them to NEVER hit the poor frog. Of course, they take great joy then in pelting it. I also have a ping-pong ball with a picture of a cat on it, and sometimes I'll balance that on Froggy's head, and warn them not to hurt poor Kitty, with the expected result. I regularly bring in different targets for them. (Meanwhile, they are developing their forehand technique, consistency, and accuracy.) For serve practice, I no longer have to bring out the two serving low devices - they clamor for them, and bring them out themselves. One is the serving bar (here set high for beginners, but usually set much lower) created by John Olsen. The other was the TT-Serve created and sold by Samson Dubina. I challenge them to serve under the bar/serving net and hit a target, and they take to the challenge - while developing low, accurate serves.

Their favorite game is always "Cups" - they build pyramids and walls of paper cups, often building a "fort" around Froggy, and then, while I feed multiball (usually two shots each, taking turns), they knock it down! Another game I introduced them to is the Serving Game. If there are five, then four of them stand on one end of the table, without their rackets. I put a paper cup in front of each, about a foot from the edge - but they can't touch that. The fifth player gets to do ten serves, where they serve fast and deep. If they can serve so the other four can't catch the ball (so the ball hits the floor), they get a point. If the ball hits one of the cups and then the floor, they get three points!

They had another fun thing to do this past Sunday - one of them had a smart phone where she could take pictures of me, and then write doodles and other nasty stuff on my picture. I'm pretty sure I don't have a nose that goes down to my stomach and those tattoos they put on me are fake. Every break they got together for another selfie. Yes, we also did table tennis.

The scary thing is it looks like all five may sign up for our summer camps, and I've already been asked if I could take charge of them. Five little girls, once a week - survivable. Five little girls, 3-6 hours/day? AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! (Just kidding - I'll survive. Probably.)  

On a related note, I'm vaccinated! So should you.

USATT Coaches Meeting, Goals, and Sports Psychology
We had our weekly USATT coaches meeting this past Friday at noon eastern time. (These are open to all coaches - info is posted each week on the US Table Tennis Coaches Facebook Page.) Here's the video (59 min). The primary discussion was about sports psychology - specifically on goal setting, recall, rehearsal, and affirmations, plus a few other tangents on related topics. Attending were Larry Hodges (me, a member of the USATT Coaching Committee), Sean O'Neill (USATT High Performance Director), Jasna Rather (USATT Director of Para Programs), Dave Fullen (member of the USATT Coaching Committee), Daniel Rutenberg (member of Para High Performance Committee), Britt Salter, and Samson Dubina.

Regarding goals, it's common for coaches to recommend short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals, and these are important. Note that these goals can be about achieving specific results, but they can also be about attaining various levels of proficiency in specific techniques. (For example, until I was 1900 I was primarily a hitter; my long-term goal at that point was to break 2000 as a looper.) However, I've found I've needed to add a fourth - super-long-term goals. What do these four terms roughly mean?

  • Short-term goals: What you want to achieve in the very near future, usually in the next 1-4 weeks.
  • Intermediate-term goals: Usually your next major tournament, perhaps 1-6 months away.
  • Long-term goals: A major event you are training for that's perhaps a year or more away.
  • Super-long-term goals: What you want to be at your peak - an Olympian, National Champion, State Champion, Club Champion, Rating Over 2000, etc.

How do you get good at sports psychology? In my case, it's from:

How To Defeat Your Table Tennis Nemesis
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Gameplay Exercise With Yu Di
Here's the article and video (3:09) from Yu Di.

How To Handle Balls To The Middle
Here's the video (1:47) from Huijing Wang.

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Swerve Table Tennis Zoom Fitness: Shadow Play and Reaction Training Sessions
Here's the Facebook info page, and here's video (1:44) of one of their sessions with Stevie Brunskill. They meet each week on Wednesdays at 6:30PM English time, which is 1:30 PM Eastern Time in the US. (The other well-known table tennis aerobics site is Aerobics Table Tennis.)

How to Watch the China Olympic Scrimmage
Here's the article from Edges and Nets. "The China Olympic Scrimmage has begun and will finish on May 7. It likely has major implications for which one of Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong (assuming Ma Long is a lock) play in the Olympic men’s singles event, and who out of Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, Wang Manyu, and Liu Shiwen play in the women’s singles and team events. May 3 and 4 are the group stages, in which the star players will not play each other."

UPDATE: You can see many of the Chinese Olympic Trials matches here

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the ITTF

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Westchester Table Tennis Club
Here's the video (3:44) - not sure if it's a newscast or promotional, but it's pretty well done.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs Kay Stumper | MS-QF | 2021 Düsseldorf Masters IV
Here's the video (10:23).

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

Pyramid Pong
Here's the picture of the famed armless Egyptian Ibrahim Hamato playing in front of the Great Pyramids. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) It's almost like the cover of my book, Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper! Yeah, that's me on the colorful camel (named "Michael Jackson"), taking a camel trip around the Great Pyramid - that's not Photoshopped. 

Ping-Pong Diplomacy
Here's the cartoon!

Unluckiest Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (4 min)!

Top 10 Pongponita Crazy Shots
Here's the video (5:46)!

Amazing Ping Pong Trick Shots With Ole
Here's the video (3:52) from XOLAY!

Pongfinity Ball With 100 Holes
Here's the video (5 min)!

Non-Table Tennis - Nanogod
The May/June issue of Dark Matter Magazine is out - and it includes my humorous science fiction story, "Nanogod"! What happens when a microscopic nanobot is damaged and becomes an egomaniac, and travels from star to star forcing civilizations to worship it and build huge monuments in its honor - including the Great Pyramids 4600 years ago! And now it's returned to earth! (You have to subscribe to read it. Alas, no table tennis in this one.) "The alien ship landed in early morning sunshine on the grounds of the United Nations Building in New York City, the de facto capital of Earth. It had been nearly forty-six centuries since its last visit, back when the Great Pyramid of Giza had been completed in 2560 BC, accompanied by the unfurling of a "Mission Accomplished" banner made of papyrus. The banner had long been lost to the mists of time. The Great Pyramid had been the tallest man-made structure in the world for nearly 4,000 years after its creation. Modern humans erroneously believed it was created as a tomb and monument to the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Cheops. Actually, the Pharaoh only commandeered it after the fact. The true creator had returned."

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