May 5, 2011


Coaching breakthroughs

Yesterday two of my students - who shall remain nameless - had nice breakthroughs. One, who we shall call "Sammy," who's about 10, has had trouble with his backhand. Yesterday he suddenly figured out how to hit it with topspin (rather than sort of a flat, almost backspin contact), and just like that had a steady backhand. Once he figured that out, his forehand also came alive, and for the first time, we had really decent backhand and forehand exchanges. He also made a breakthrough on service spin. We spent some time serving on the floor, and for the first time he was able to create enough backspin so that the ball would return back to him. You wouldn't believe how fun it is to serve on the floor with spin and make the ball do tricks - use backspin to make it come back, or sidespin to make it go around objects.

Another, who we shall call "Ryan," who's 11, went topspin crazy yesterday. His forehand loop really came alive. For the first time, he was able to really battle with me in backhand-to-backhand exchanges. (I had to really get down low and into "match mode" here.) Even more impressive, right after I explained that it takes a rather high level to backhand loop against a block over and over, he immediately backhand looped against my block over and over! Okay, okay, I'll stop trying to limit my students to low-level stuff. His serves also took a big jump, especially his sidespin. He was able to do what I call "The Journey," which I wrote about recently. You stand on your forehand side, and put a box on the far side of the table, down the line. Then you serve sidespin so the ball bounces on your backhand court, curves around, bounces over the net, and continues to curve until it bounces into the box.

Table tennis going corporate?

Here's a table tennis article that bounces around between Warren Buffett, Susan Sarandon, and Nicolas Sarkozy (with playing pictures of all three!); former U.S. and China table tennis stars Kim Gilbert, Glenn Cowan, and Zhuang Zedong; the "Clash of the Hedge Fund Titans" tournament at Spin Table Tennis; the 19.5 million recreational players in the U.S., a 53 percent increase over the past decade; and has quotes from promoter Alan Williams like, "Everyone should play table tennis. They’ll live longer, they’ll be smarter, they’ll be more attractive," and "I'm talking about Olympians. How often do you get to meet Andre Agassi? You can’t do it. Pete Sampras? Not going to happen. But I can have you in front of a national ping-pong team in, like, five minutes." How can any table tennis player not read this, and still look themselves in the mirror later in the day? It's what everyone will be talking about at work around the water cooler. Well, my water cooler; I don't know about yours.

USATT Coaching Certification

Dear USATT Certified Coaches: Good for you!

Dear Non-USATT Certified Coaches: What are you waiting for?

Of course, you can also become ITTF certified, but for that you'll have to wait until the next ITTF Coaching Seminar in the U.S. (I'll announce them here when they come up.)

Tom the Universe

In non-table tennis news, my science fiction story "Tom the Universe" went online recently at Escape Pod, the largest circulation audio science fiction market. You can either read it or have it read aloud - take your pick! I'm told that about 30,000 will read or listen to the story. Here's a short description: "A romp through singularities, universes, and just about everything else as our hero goes from common man to vengeful supreme being. He has a valuable lesson to learn about forgiveness; will he learn it in time?" (I've sold 48 science fiction and fantasy short stories and recently completed two novels which are making the rounds of publishers. Here is my science fiction & fantasy page, which includes links to many of my published stories.)


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