January 17, 2023

Tip of the Week

Weekend Coaching and the Ohio Elite Camp
Another busy weekend coaching group sessions! Here are some issues that came up.

  • Serve placement on fast, deep serves. I had some of our beginning/intermediate players practice serving fast and deep not just to corners, but fast and deep to an opponent’s middle. I lined them up first to take turns receiving them and showed them how hard it is to react to them. Then I put four targets on the table for them to aim for – one on each wide corner, and one each for where a righty and a lefty’s elbow would normally be.
  • Recovering from forehand step-arounds. In a drill that started with serve and forehand loop from the backhand corner, when players were unable to cover the wide forehand they thought they were too slow. I worked with them to show them that it really came down to recover and balance from the previous shot. If you follow through back into position and stay balanced, it’s not so hard to cover that wide forehand.
  • Light on feet. Keep those feet moving!

But the players aren’t the only ones who need training. I gained weight during the pandemic, and since I don’t train anymore, I’m out of shape. So I’ve decided to fix the problem. I could, of course, find someone to train with at my club, MDTTC, or even pay other coaches for training. But it’s a lot easier in a group setting. (At MDTTC, I coach at the group sessions, and if I did play, I’d be a practice partner, mostly blocking.) I saw Samson Dubina’s upcoming elite camps in Akron, Ohio, Feb. 13-23 and Mar. 21-31, and thought, why not? They are for players rated at least 2000, and have a strong group of players already signed up. So I’ve signed up. I’ll fly there on Sunday night, Feb. 12, right after a weekend of coaching. I’ll miss one weekend at MDTTC.

I’ve had some recent knee problems, though it’s a lot better now. However, just in case, I googled the best knee braces, and found and bought the NEENCA Professional Knee Brace. I’ve tried it out, and it seems pretty effective. I’ll be wearing that, along with my BandIt Arm Band for my arm, and a thinking cap on my head so I can figure out how someone my age is training in a room full of people mostly 1/3 or 1/4 my age. But I’ll do every footwork drill to the bitter end.

One sort of interesting thing – this will be the first camp I’ve been to in over 40 years where I’ll be one of the weaker players in the camp! But I’m hoping to get back to 2200+ level, not easy since I’ll be 63 next month and play a rather physical forehand attacking style. But for this camp, I’ll be hitting mostly with the 2000-2200 players.

What do I need to do to get back to 2200+ level? Main things:

  • General fitness.
  • More aggressive backhand – it’s gotten too soft. While I can backhand loop, I’m better playing an aggressive hitting/blocking backhand.
  • Receive practice – it’s the first thing you lose when you don’t play regular matches. This used to be a big strength, but now it’s a weakness.
  • I may also work on my backhand banana flip, which I mostly learned as a coach. My normal instinct is to do regular backhand flips against short serves and pushes.
  • Practice matches. But I won’t do well at first.

I recently had to another SafeSport refresher course, required for SafeSport compliance for coaches, umpires, tournament directors, and others who organize or work at events. (Here's the USATT SafeSport Policy.) It’s required annually. As I’ve blogged in the past, I think they put way too much in these things. Rather than trying to turn us all into experts (it doesn’t), wouldn’t it make more sense to have a one-page thing that gives general guidelines of abuse that would be easy to remember, where if we suspect something is wrong, we go to the appropriate SafeSport page to find out what to do? (In cases where abuse is happening live, we would, of course, have the common sense to stop it, and in other cases, we’d have time to research it.) Of course, for most of us, most issues that would be a SafeSport violation are obvious if you have common sense – and those that don’t probably aren’t going to change by watching the SafeSport video and taking a multiple choice test. (I ran into some technical issues on the refresher, but Tina Ren from USATT headquarters was helpful in fixing them.) 

Some things from SafeSport I disagree with. If a parent says it’s okay for a coach to pick up and drop off a student in their car, then that should be okay – but not according to SafeSport. (But no, I don’t pick up students in my car, though that was a regular thing years ago.) I also don’t think we need to take these “refresher” courses every year. Every two years should be enough.

So, I took the test. It says to allot 30 minutes. But there were 55 pages to go through (many of them short), and five videos (about two minutes each). I’m the academic type, and I can safely say the large majority of people will take longer on this than I took – and it took me 58 minutes, and I was rushing it. In the end, I got 9 out of 10 on the test, but only because I impatiently clicked a wrong button and got one obvious one wrong.

Perhaps it would make sense for USATT to arrange a group session at the US Open or Nationals where lots of coaches, umpires, club directors, and others get together and take the test as a group thing?

University of Maryland Table Tennis Club Fundraiser
Here’s their GoFundMe page to help them raise funds to go to the 2023 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships! Little-known fact – I founded the University of Maryland Table Tennis Club in 1982, and at one point, turned it into arguably the busiest club in the country, with 14 tables, seven days a week. It wasn’t a professional club, just two large rooms in the main gymnasium building with seven tables in each that we could put up any time. During the day, the rooms were used for other sports. At night, the place was packed with students playing table tennis! How did this happen? We did an exhibition every week for about a year in just about every major building on campus – I’d bring in another player and we’d roll a table to the math building, the physic building, the computer building, the journalism building, and so on, and give out flyers. On a campus of 40,000 people, filling a club every night isn’t hard if you put in the time and energy. (Okay, it is hard because it takes time and energy!)

2023 World Veterans Championships
Here’s the ITTF home page for the event, Jan. 15-21 in Muscat, Oman, with news and results. There are 1,181 players, including 41 from USA.

Carl Danner Presidential Award
Here’s the video (8:39)!

New from USATT

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Taco Backhand

New from PongSpace/Angela Guan

Reverse Backhand Serve
Here’s the video (6:03) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis. “A great tool for players with pimple rubbers.”

World’s Fastest Table Tennis Serve
Here’s the video (2:54) from Pingispågarna.

Wiki-How Table Tennis

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Bowmar Sports Tournament Highlights

New YouTube Channel By Los Angeles Table Tennis Association (LATTA)
Here it is!

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


The Difference of the Stroke Effect between Two Types of New Material Seamed Plastic Table Tennis Ball: A Case Study of Nittaku and DHS
Here’s the abstract. (Loads slowly.) Click “Download This Paper” to see full paper. The five authors are all from the China Table Tennis College of Shanghai at the University of Sport CN.

Ping-Pong Bar Co-Founded by Susan Sarandon to Replace NYC Comedy Club Carolines
Here’s the article.

Why Table Tennis Balls Can't Always Be Carried In Hand Luggage?
Here’s the video (53 sec)!

Zits – Donut Hole Ping Pong
Here’s the cartoon from Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023!

Biggest Ping Pong Fails
Here’s the video (8:15) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!