September 11, 2023

Tip of the Week
The "No Net" Rule Against Heavy Backspin.

Weekend Coaching
For the lower junior groups, the multiball focus was on preparing them for practicing with each other. Right now, for example, if they try hitting forehand to forehand, within a shot or two one will mishit slightly, the other will move, lunge, or reach for the ball, and mishit even more, and the rally ends quickly. So they need to learn two things: 1) React and move to the ball properly, and 2) Control the return after moving. To do this, I put Froggy on the table where they should hit the ball, and then fed them random balls to the forehand side. Their goal was to move to each ball and then hit Froggy, though all that really mattered was that it be close. Then we did the same thing on the backhand side. (I wrote about this last week as well, but it’s an important transitional drill.)

I also had a session with Navin Kumar. Here’s video (20 sec) – no, that backhand smash didn’t happen! He’s getting ready to compete in the Parkinson’s World Championships in Austria in two weeks. He’s so used to playing his long pips backhand mostly crosscourt to righties, and so has some trouble playing lefties when he has to go more down the line. So we did a lot of down-the-line drills, his backhand to my forehand. Then a similar drill, except after a few shots I’d suddenly go to his forehand, he attacks or quick-blocks (with forehand inverted), and then it’s free play. We also worked on his backhand smash, where he flips the racket and uses the inverted.

Similarities Between Table Tennis and Science Fiction Writing
As regular readers know, I split my time between table tennis (writing and coaching) and science fiction and fantasy writing. (What’s the difference between science fiction and fantasy? Science fiction comes under the realm of what’s possible, while fantasy doesn’t – so the latter can include magic, talking animals, and so on.) Here is my science fiction & fantasy writing page and bibliography. I’ve sold four novels and 144 short stories, but am focusing on short stories these days. (Short story generally means up to 7500 words, which is about 30 pages double spaced.) I manage to work table tennis into some of my stories. (More on that below.) I get paid pretty well for my short stories - for my last five sales, all in the last six weeks and totalling just over 21,000 words (a little over 80 pages), I was paid $3,250. And while writing is work, they are fun to write!

There are a number of similarities between SF and TT. Here are three.

  1. In TT, if you get the grip and foot positioning correct, everything else tends to fall into place. If you get one of them wrong, then everything in between becomes twisted like a rubber band. (Here’s my tip on that, Grip and Stance.) In SF, if you get the start and end right, everything in between also tends to fall into place – but if you get one wrong, the whole story can become twisted like a rubber band.
  2. Both TT and SF tend to have a lot of intellectuals. Table tennis is an intellectual sport, often called “chess at light speed.” (It’s why I put “Thinkers” in the title of my best-selling TT book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.) Science fiction is the fiction of intellectuals, as it explores scientific ideas.
  3. In both TT and SF writing you have to find ways to clearly communicate ideas, whether it’s Playing Choppers or how a time machine might work.
  4. Both TT and SF are creative. TT is most creative when serving, though that’s underdone by most. But creativity is important in many tactical aspects. (Here’s my tip, Fundamental versus Creative Tactics.) And SF writing is the very definition of being creative!

Here’s a novel and novelette where I combined both!

  • The Spirit of Pong - Fantasy Table Tennis Novel (100 pages)
    Andy “Shoes” Blue wants to be a table tennis champion, but he’s just another wannabe American. And so he goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. He is trained by the mysterious Coach Wang, and begins an odyssey where he learns the secrets of table tennis from the spirits of Ichiro Ogimura (who helped spawn China’s greatness), Rong Guotuan (China’s first world champion in 1959, whose tragic story Andy must relive), and others, and must face the mysterious “Dragon.” Can he overcome treachery and learn the final secret of table tennis in time to defeat his ultimate nemesis?
  • First Galactic Table Tennis Championships (Novelette – 42 pages)
    Li Yi is a member of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team and the best woman in the world. She has trained long hours since she was a child. But now she faces her biggest challenge – aliens! Table tennis has spread to the galaxy and alien players now dominate the sport. The best are the giraffe-like Ith, with their dominating champion Egrayu. But Earth isn't part of it, not since the cowboy Americans colonized a moon in the Ith home system, which led to a blockade of Earth. The Chinese hope to reopen trade with the galaxy by using "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" – by running the first Galactic Table Tennis Championships in Beijing. Li, her teammates, and the American champion Danny See – a literal cowboy – play aliens of all shapes and sizes, including the seemingly unbeatable Egrayu, as they battle for the biggest cash prize in table tennis history. But Li is drawn into a corrupt conspiracy that will shake the very foundations of honor and sportsmanship. Plus, there's that problem with the Chinese dumplings…

New from Major Ponghead - THE Major League Table Tennis Blog

Asian Championships
Here’s the home page. They were held Sept 3-10 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Other Major International Events

Butterfly Training Tips

The Most Important Thing in Having Solid Footwork for Transitioning Between Forehand and Backhand
Here’s the video (5:12) from Damien Provost/PongSpace.

New from Ti Long

Table Tennis Quickness Training
Here’s the video (6:04) from Dr. Table Tennis.

New from TT Crunch

Tom’s Top 10 Challenge
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
58 new videos this past week!

New from Pingispågarna

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Mobile Table Tennis Museum
Here it is! (It’s in German but I have Google Translate can automatically translate it all into English.)

The Goat from the Best Video Angle
Here’s the video (2:28) of Ma Long from Taco Backhand.

New from ITTF

Ping Pong . . . Ping Pong . . . Ping Pong . . . With Many Objects
Here’s the video (10 sec) – I can’t get that voice out of my head, and now neither can you!

Prehistoric Pong
(You can just click the arrow from the first and it’ll take you to all six.)

Iz’s Army of Broken Ping-Pong Balls
Here’s the image from Isabelle Wu! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) Now you know what to do with all those broken ping-pong balls – Halloween’s coming up!

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