January 24, 2022

Tip of the Week
Focus on the Next Point.

Weekend Coaching
Had a pretty busy weekend coaching group sessions with my fellow coaches, Wang Qingliang and Lidney Castro. (Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang were also there, but doing private coaching.) I had an interesting experience on Sunday. I was only scheduled to coaching one session that day, 12:00-1:30 PM. Afterwards, I went to Panera's to do some writing. I left my playing bag in the trunk of my car. It was cold out, below freezing. At 3:40PM I got a text from Wang, asking if I could come in at 4PM. The problem was that my racket was now ice cold! What did I do? I cranked the heat on full blast while driving back to the club, and held my racket in front of it most of the way! I roasted both sides, and the racket was nice and toasty by the time I got to the club. (A cold racket plays dead.)

I had an interesting thought. A good coach should be able to name every player's shoes at the end of a session! Okay, not really, since he's not paying attention to that specifically, but we do spend much of our time just watching players' feet to make sure they are moving and moving properly. After thinking about this, I started to notice all the different shoe types and colors. One good thing - there were about 20 kids in the session I was coaching at the time, and every one of them had on table tennis shoes.

Some things I focused a lot on include:

  • Keep the ball to wide angles. If you do this in practice, you'll do it in games. Some of the players were letting their balls wander in to the middle backhand or middle forehand, which makes things easy for the opponent. Go to the very wide corners on every shot unless you are going for the middle (opponent's playing elbow).
  • I reminded several of the kids that you NEVER have to decide whether to move. You only decide where and how far. (Maybe once in a hundred shots you move zero inches, but the key is that you are prepared to move, whether it's an inch or five feet.
  • A spinny serve that misses in practice is better than a weak serve that's consistent. The latter is just practicing bad serves, while you can learn to keep a spinny serve on the table.

How to Teach Beginning Kids
The question came up on Facebook, and so I wrote the following (with a few minor edits). Here's the process I've used for decades with younger beginning kids. 

  • Make sure they have a good grip. A bad grip is like twisting a rubber band - it warps everything.
  • Do some ball bouncing on the paddle, to develop hand-eye coordination and control.
  • Shadow practice the shot to be learned, so they can learn the strokes without also trying to hit the ball.
  • Then move to multiball and robot play. Put the ball in the same place over and over and they'll quickly be able to hit it on the table, even as young as age five. (Their arm muscles will tire quickly on backhand, so go back and forth.) 
  • Put targets on the table. Watch their eyes light up as they try to hit them. While they are having fun, they are learning the strokes, timing, and ball control. I often use Froggy and water bottles.

I also like to finish sessions with beginning kids by asking if they like to build things ("Yes!") and asking if they like to destroy things ("YES!"). Then I have them stack paper cups into pyramids and walls, and they take turns knocking them down as I feed multiball. 

Some of the current top junior stars who started out in my beginning classes or in my summer camp groups include Stanley Hsu (13, 2400), Mu Du (13, 2289), and Ryan Lin (12, 2216), and many others from the past. 

Butterfly Training Tips

JOOLA Coaching Videos
Here's the page.

Learn the Basic Backhand Drive Table Tennis Technique
Here's the video (1:22) from Matt Hetherington.

New from Ping Sunday/EmRatThich

New from Samson Dubina

How to Play Backhand Drive for Beginners
Here's the video (5:06) from Reynald Table Tennis.

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Ask the Coach
Here's the latest questions for PingSkills.

Training Experience in Taiwan
Here's the article by Darryl Tsao.

Houston/World Championship Report
Here's the article by Sally Moyland.

Sean O'Neill in Action, 1978 to Present
Here's the video (4:12) by Jim Butler.

Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy on TV
Here's the video (9:43) from FOX 8 News.

Ping-Pong Diplomacy Player Discusses Significance of Sports Exchange
Here's the video (3:20) featuring Judy Hoarfrost, a member of the US Team during Ping-Pong Diplomacy in 1971-72.

New from Coach Jon

New from USATT

  • Updated Contact Information for USATT National Headquarters. "USA Table Tennis has relocated its National Headquarters office to the US Olympic & Paralympic Sport House in Colorado Springs, Colorado."
  • Marguerite Cheung of Austin, Texas, Named USATT Volunteer of the Year. "Here's what I wrote about Marguerite in my Dec. 29 blog about the US Open: "However, when problems arise, sometimes a hero emerges. In this case, it was experienced volunteer Marguerite Cheung at the control desk. Many of the volunteers at the control desk were inexperienced, and when things fell behind, they weren't sure what to do. Marguerite is an experienced tournament director, and when things fell behind, she was the one who basically started getting matches out, calling them individually on the loudspeaker. I watched, and she was doing the work of about five others. I told her that, if not for her, instead of four hours behind it would have been eight! (This is not to disparage others, who also worked hard, including some experienced ones. But Marguerite was like Wonder Woman this tournament.)"
  • USATT Announces the ‘Everyone In’ Umpire Development Program. (This went in late in last week's blog.) One thing I don't get - it says the program encourages everyone to be an umpire "Regardless of Age...." But then it says it's "targeting all genders under age 40."

New from Steve Hopkins

WTTC Interviews


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

Come-Back Serve and Cup Smash
Here's the video (41 sec)!

Bob The Ping Pong Hitman
Here's the video (3 min)!

Great Point with Unbelievable Ending
Here's the video (29 sec)!

Wanna Buy a $7000 Ping-Pong Table?
Here you go - with some as cheap as $5115!

Wanna Buy Some Interesting Table Tennis Posters?
Here's the Zazzle page! (No, I don't get any percentage from this!)

The Founding Fathers Were Clear, You Must Win By Two
Here's the cartoon!

You're Not Taking This Policy Meeting Seriously Enough
Here's the cartoon!

I Wish This Game Gave Me Some Opportunity for Cardio
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!