September 4, 2023

Tip of the Week
Tactical Confidence.

Weekend Coaching
A lot of the focus in the lower groups is teaching them to practice together. At lower level, kids don’t have the ball control to really do sustained rallies, and so don’t get much systematic practice unless they hit with a coach or do multiball. When they hit together, their shots often don’t go where they are supposed to, and their practice partner – also novice or just above – can’t adjust to it like a coach would, and so the rally quickly ends without any serious systematic practice.

One way to make this transition is to do random drills with a coach. This allows the player to adjust to any incoming ball, not just ones that come to where they are waiting. For example, with multiball, the coach feeds the ball randomly all over the forehand side, and the player has to react and move to each ball. With live play, the coach would similarly move the ball around on the forehand side. Then do the same thing on the backhand. Soon the player will learn to react to incoming balls that aren’t right where they are expecting them, and so can rally with each other. Then (if doing multiball), put targets on the far side so they not only practice against slightly random balls, but also have to adjust and hit it back to the same spot. This is where I bring out Froggy! He’s the perfect size for this.

I also worked on smashing with some of the kids. This is surprisingly easy to teach as long as you have them do a three-step process each time: 1) backswing the same as if the ball were low; 2) raise the racket and wait for the incoming ball; 3) and smash when the ball is a little over the head. It’s also important to stress turning sideways for this shot.

We also practiced fast, deep serves, using targets I put on the far corners. Key thing here is that the first bounce must be as close to the server’s end-line as possible, so as to give the ball the full table to drop.

USATT Magazines I Edited
I was editor of USATT Magazine for two tenures, 1992-1995 and again from July, 1999 to June, 2007, where I did a total of 71 issues. The were typically 72-100 pages, and went to all 8,000 or so USATT members during that time. Alas, in this modern age, it was discontinued for USATT Insider, which has a lot less content and doesn’t seem to have a separate link or info page on the new USATT webpage.  (I just spent ten minutes trying to find it, but it’s just not there. It’s only mentioned as a benefit for members.)

A few years ago I tried to raise interest in getting all 556 past USATT Magazines scanned and online. Alas, it’s expensive and time consuming, and there was little interest. So I went ahead and spent $700 of my own money to get all 71 of the ones I’d done scanned and online. Originally, USATT stored them, but at some point in the last year or two the link disappeared, and it’s not in the current USATT webpages either. So, for now, I put them online myself. Here they are!

I also maintain a USATT Leaders page, which lists every USATT Executive Director/CEO, President, and Editor. From the Editor’s listing, maybe someday we’ll put together that comprehensive online listing. There are a few people who have many or most of these old issues, but they are disappearing and crumbling away every year.

Table Tennis History Magazine
Speaking of magazines and history, here’s issue #1 of Table Tennis History Magazine! It’s free, from Steve Grant, author of Ping Pong Fever: The Madness That Swept 1902 America. The first issue is 41 pages, and includes:

  • Two extraordinary new "earliest-ever" discoveries from the 1800s.
  • "B-Team Tour, 1959: The Chinese Greats Emerge," featuring the teenage Chuang Tse-tung and teammates.
  • "A Lover of Table Tennis: Fred Perry," showing the surprising length and breadth of this Wimbledon champion's table tennis career.
  • and Much More!

There are two other shorter documents you might also find interesting, both relating to table tennis history: “Boris Johnson is Tied to French Cover Girls (2 pages) and “1950s Arms Race” (12 pages).

George Brathwaite Table Tennis League
Here’s the info page for the Brathwaite League. Last week I blogged about Major League Table Tennis, which is for elite/professional players. The Brathwaite League is for the rest of us! “The legendary ‘Chief’ George Braithwaite had spent decades of his life visualizing and promoting a team league concept in the United States similar to what’s held in Europe; he started this league when he was vice president of the USATT in the 1990’s. With an experienced team of thirty years of proven track records on team-based league competitions, PongSpace is committed to carry out his vision and turn its dream into reality.”

Developing Forehand Power in Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Wang Cheng.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Ti Long

Three Different Variations of Backhand Drive Depending on the Situation
Here’s the video (3:05) from Damien Provost at PongSpace.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Xu Xin Slaughters Opponents From the Best Angles
Here’s the video (3:08) from Taco Backhand.

Temporary Adjustment to USATT Event Referee Requirements to Support Member Clubs
Here’s the USATT article.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from ITTF

Are You the Table Tennis King?
Here’s the shirt!

Are You the Ping Pong Queen?
Here’s the shirt!

Tears of My Ping Pong Opponent
Here’s the mug!

“Table” Tennis?
Here’s the repeating video (23 sec) as Federer (far side) takes on Djokovic! One strange thing – Federer is using a tennis racket while Djokovic has a ping-pong paddle.

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