January 31, 2022

Tip of the Week
Use Top Players as Models For Your Technique.

Weekend Coaching, Placement, and Receiving a Short Serve
I coached in four group sessions this weekend. I focused a lot on placement. I remember something Ricky Seemiller (eight-time US Men's Doubles Champion with brother Danny and a long-time US team member) once told me at one of my first training camps: "Amateurs practice to the middle forehand and middle backhand. Professionals practice to the wide angles." What does that mean? Many players get in the habit of practicing their shots to exactly what Ricky said - the middle of their partner's forehand or backhand sides, typically 6-12 inches inside the corner. Top players don't generally practice or play to this area - why would they make things easy for their opponents? Instead, keep the ball to the wide corners in drills, with just as many balls landing outside the corner as inside. If you do it in practice, you'll do it in matches. (A version of this will likely become a weekly Tip.)

A mom and her son (about 1750, just turned 13) had a question for me. He had been struggling in practice matches against a player who would serve short to the middle, he'd push it back long to the backhand, and no matter how good the push was, the opponent would step around and forehand loop it. The problem, of course, was that while the push was "good," it was predictable and very loopable. I went over the options with them. Here are ways to improve and vary the push:

  • Make sure any long pushes went very wide to the corners so opponent has to move more.
  • Push quicker off the bounce so as to rush the opponent.
  • Load up the backspin.
  • Long pushes should go as long as possible, to jam the opponent.
  • Aim to the backhand and at the last second quick push to the wide forehand.
  • Aim to the wide forehand and at the last second quick push to the wide backhand.
  • Learn to push the serve back short, so that (given the chance) it would bounce twice, and opponent couldn't loop it.
  • Learn to flip the serve, to the wide backhand, wide forehand, and middle (opponent's elbow).

Omnipong and the US Open & Nationals
I keep hearing rumors about whether or not USATT will continue to use this software at the US Open or Nationals. I think some people might be misunderstanding the scheduling lessons from the last three US Opens and Nationals, where things didn't go well. The problem isn't primarily what's in the current software, which I've used to run about a hundred tournaments - the software works great at that level. (There are a few small issues that would streamline the software, but those are smaller issues.) The problem is the lack of scheduling software or procedures to recover when an event falls behind. Without that, in a tournament with 700 players and dozens of events, it often cascades into other events, and pretty quickly everything falls behind. So what's needed are some additions to the software or procedures. Switching to another software that also lacks this scheduling software or procedures doesn't help; it's just reshuffling the chairs on the Titanic and hoping things magically improve. The reality is the best answer is probably to simply work out procedures for how to deal with these issues so they don't cascade. They were able to do this for nearly every US Open and Nationals going back to the time I started in 1976 (we'll ignore the 1990 and 1994 US Open disasters), since those running those tournaments understood and dealt with the problem in advance.

Table Tennis and Science Fiction - Stop Conflicting!!!
As readers here know, I live in two worlds, the worlds of table tennis and science fiction, which I also write professionally. Last year the World Science Fiction Convention was held 30 minutes from my house, in Washington DC - but at the same time as the US Open Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas!!! Since I'm committed to coaching our kids at these big tournaments (as well as playing for my own titles - I won Hardbat Doubles for the 14th time and made the final of Hardbat Singles, which I've won twice before) I had to miss the World SF Convention. (And as I always remind people, I'm primarily a sponge player and coach, but play hardbat on the side.)

Well, they've done it again! The 2022 World Science Fiction Convention is in Chicago, Sept. 1-5 - which coincides with the 2022 Global Table Tennis Championships in Orlando, FL, Sept. 1-4!!! Since I'll be coaching at the latter, I'll have to miss another World SF Convention. Meanwhile, they've also scheduled the 2022 Cary Cup Championships in Cary, NC, March 17-20, with the 2022 St. Joseph Valley Open in in South Bend, IN, March 19-20. AAAAAHHHHH! Most of our kids go to the Cary Cup every year, which is driving distance (4.5 hours), while we'd have to fly to Indiana, a nine-hour drive. So I guess it'll be Cary Cup. Alas. (One strange thing - the Cary Cup has $10,000 in prize money and is played in a huge facility with dozens of tables. And yet it's listed as a USATT zero-star tournament, both on the entry form and info, and on the USATT tournament listing! It really should be 4-star, of course, but who knows what's going on.)

Want to Work for Paddle Palace?
Here are two help wanted notices they just put out.

Inside Truls Möregårdh's Run to the World Championship Finals: Interview with Coach Stellan Bengtsson
Here's the interview from Edges and Nets.

Training with Stellan Bengtsson
Here's the video (2:28) from Victor Moraga Table Tennis. If you aren't in awe as you watch Stellan rally or feed multiball, you don't know table tennis history. (He's the 1971 Men's Singles World Champion from Sweden and one of the most celebrated coaches in the world. He now coaches in San Diego.)

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

Upgrade Your Game The Backhand Flip
Here's the video (15:16) from Seth Pech.

Fan Zhendong's Reverse Serve and Strategy
Here's the video (8:43) from Ti Long.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Gym Free Home Workout for Table Tennis
Here's the video (9:21) from Kevin Finn from Peak Performance Table Tennis.

The Most Basic Ping Pong Serve for New Beginners or Recreational Players
Here's the video (1:42) from Matt Hetherington.

New from Coach Jon

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins


How China’s Ping-Pong Prowess Explains Its Economy
Here's the article by Tom Orlik at Bloomberg.com. Tom is a USATT member with a 2055 rating, and plays at my club, MDTTC. His daughter, Josephine, is part of the MDTTC junior program that I coach at. (Somehow I missed this article when it first came out.)

8 Minutes of Backhand Fireworks from Lin Gaoyuan
Here's the video (8:08) from Street TT.

Jimmy Butler Takes on the 2021 US Open Women's Doubles Champions
Here's the video (4 min). Nikki Deng also made the final of Women's Singles while teaming up with Amber Lin to win Women's Doubles. Both attend Texas Wesleyan.

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

FastPong Featured on BBC
Here's the video (3:33).

Bob The Ping Pong Hitman Funniest Match
Here's the video (2:59)!

Toddler on Table Pong
Here's the video (18 sec)!

Funny Table Tennis Fails
Here's the video (7 sec)! Yes, that's former world #1 Xu Xin of China looking like an acrobatic basement player.

Ping-Pong Funny Moment
Here's the video (26 sec) from Matt Hetherington (far side). US #1 13-year-old Stanley Hsu's reaction is hilarious!

Trick Shots
Here's the video (24 sec)!

Adam vs. USA Top Chopper
Here's the video (14:28) from Adam Bobrow. The chopper is the entertaining Kazuyuki "Kaz" Yokoyama, currently rated 2298 but once as high as 2563.

Cat Pong
Here's the video (9 sec) - this cat's pretty good! It's been a while since I've linked to a cat table tennis video, but this one seems a new one.

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