September 25, 2023

Tip of the Week
To Hit or to Loop?

Weekend Coaching
This was one of those times where I wished we had a video camera running! I’d recently worked with some of the kids in the Intermediate group on backspin serves. I’d given them a challenge – serve so that the ball came back into the net, the infamous “ghost serve.” It’s a great serving exercise, as it teaches them to finely graze the ball, create great backspin, and control it so that they can do a legal serve. It also perks their interest, one of the most important things when working with younger kids. A key aspect is that they don’t need to serve the ball too low at first – they can learn to do that later. So, what happened?

A girl, about eight, tried and Tried and TRIED, but she couldn’t get the hang of grazing the ball. I showed her how to keep the racket completely open (parallel to the floor) and let the ball fall onto it, even scoop it up (with front of racket higher than the back). And then, suddenly, it all clicked. First, she served a couple that came to a stop over the table. And then, as I was watching, she served one that came back into the net! If only there’d been a camera to record her excitement. In the next five minutes she did it about ten more times – she can do it about 1/4 of the time now.

But that didn’t end it – a boy, about the same age, was also trying to do it, and just as with the girl, it suddenly clicked – and he too served so the ball bounced back into the net. He too was excited. As I explained to them, they now have magic powers – they are Jedi.

Now that they have figured out how to serve with spin, the next step is to learn different types of spins. After that, different spins with the same motion. Eventually they’ll essentially become sorcerers, practitioners of the dark arts of service spin and deception.

I worked with a number of kids in my groups on random drills. Kids are good at mimicking good technique, but reacting to a ball where they don’t know where it’s going is tougher. As I explain to them, there are three keys: ready position; don’t guess, just react; and move to the ball. (This will likely become a Tip of the Week.)

Another drill I did with some of them was a simple forehand-backhand drill, where I put the ball side to side (either live or with multiball), and they just do forehands and backhands. Simple, right? But this is one of the best drills to develop quickness in your attacks, especially with looping. As players advance, they should focus on taking the ball quicker and quicker, often on the rise. When they can do that in this drill, it’s a lot easier doing it in a game. I credit this drill with much of my improvement when I was coming up so long ago. (This will also likely become a Tip of the Week.)

2,200 Published Articles
This week’s Tip of the Week (which is not only self-published here, but will go up later today in the Butterfly news (as with all of my Tips of the Week), is my 2,200th published article. (Here’s the complete listing – I update it on the first each month, so it still has it at 2,196.) I also have an even 20 books. So lots of twos and zeroes! Table tennis dominates the list, 1,927 of them, but there’s also 206 short story sales (science fiction and fantasy), and 63 non-fiction/non table tennis (including nine science articles, seven on writing, and, surprisingly, 33 on the Baltimore Orioles baseball team).

The Larry Hodges Historical Table Tennis Collection
Here’s the updated listing. Note that, with a special thanks to Vince Mioduszewski, I am now only one magazine short of a complete collection of USATT Magazines from 1976 (the year I started) to 2014 (when they stopped printing them). We’ve been trading various old TT magazines, and he recently sent me two of the three I was missing – Nov/Dec 1986 and Apr/May 1988. That leaves:

=>WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE: The May, 1989 Table Tennis Topics<=

Email me if you have a copy!!!

Major League Table Tennis
They had more action this past week. Here are some links.

US Women's Table Tennis Team Qualifies for Paris 2024 Olympics
Here’s the USATT article by Barbara Wei.

Asian Games
They are in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 22-Oct. 2. Here is the table tennis page. (Click “Events” to see the results of each event.) Here are Reports. There’s been one HUGE upset – in the quarterfinals of Men’s Teams, Iran upset Japan, 3-0! In match #1, Iran’s Nima Alamian (world #208) upset Tomokazu Harimoto (world #4), 16-14 in the fifth! Then Noshad Alamiyan (world #53) upset Shunsuke Togami (world #41), 11-8 in fifth, and Seyedamirhossein Hodaei (world #130) upset Maharu Yoshimua (world #79), 12-10 in the fifth! Also see Asian Games Update: Alamian and Iran Biggest Story So Far by Steve Hopkins.

Butterfly Training Tips

Who Has Better Technique Ma Long or Fan Zendong?
Here’s the video (3:59) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

How to Play Longpips Backhand
Here’s the video (1:20) from Angela Guan/PongSpace.

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Taco Backhand

We Went to the European Championships in Malmö | Interviews | J-O Waldner
Here’s the video (16:38) from Pingispågarna.

I Played Vs Olympic Champion Jan Ove Waldner
Here’s the video (12:30) from Table Tennis Daily.

New from TT11TV

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep1: A Newcomer's Introduction to Pro Table Tennis Ryan Willard
Here’s the Podcast (37:44) from Matt Hetherington.

2023 Butterfly September Tournament Recap
Here’s the article by Amy Karpinski

New from ITTF

Greatest Table Tennis Hits of All Time - Vol. 3
Here’s the video (9:43) from World Table Tennis. Here’s Volume 1 (9:46) and Volume 2 (9:50).

Roger Federer Shows Off His Table Tennis Skills | Laver Cup 2023
Here’s the video (24 sec)! Here's my blog from August 12, 2019 - skip to the end and you'll see lots of links of Federer playing table tennis.

Skeleton Pong

Non-Table Tennis
I just put up a new blog in my science fiction page

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