December 4, 2023

Tip of the Week

USA Table Tennis Election
This is it, the final week for USATT members to vote – voting ends at 7PM Eastern time on Friday, Dec. 8. If you don’t vote, you cannot gripe about ANYTHING that USATT does for the rest of posterity. (Worse, you may be fined 100 rating points.) On Monday, Nov. 6, at 11AM eastern time, if you were a USATT member for at least the previous 60 days and are age 18 or over, you should have received the election email. Open it and VOTE!!!

I blogged about this on November 6, 2023 and November 13, 2023. There are five candidates running. While all may be excellent candidates, I strongly urge you to vote for Dennis Taylor. Here is his Campaign Flyer, which gives you his background and why he’s running. I’ve known and worked with him for 25 years. He’s a former board member, chaired the High Performance Committee, was on or advisor to eleven committees, was USATT secretary and took minutes for over one hundred USATT board meetings, and was the pro bono USATT lawyer for 18 years. He helped me run the Eastern Open one year and was a student in my adult training sessions for years at MDTTC. He is a rock of integrity and will bring that, experience, and vision to our sport. Some of the others running may be fine candidates as well, but none stand out for me as Dennis.

The election is being run by YesElections, which appears to be fair.

Weekend Coaching
I coached in three group junior sessions over the weekend, plus a one-hour session with Navin Kumar. With the juniors, this gets repetitive, but yes, the focus was on fundamentals, as well as on fundamentals, and we also worked on fundamentals when we weren’t working on fundamentals.

I worked with a number of them on recovering from wide-angle shots. It’s fundamental (though many players and even coaches forget this) to follow through back into position. That means if you play a forehand from the wide forehand, you don’t just finish there; you follow through back into position, i.e. to your left if you are a righty. If you play a forehand from the backhand side, you don’t just finish there; you follow through back into position, i.e. to your right if you are a righty. When players play a forehand from the backhand side and have trouble recovering against a block to the wide forehand, it’s rarely because they are too slow; it’s because of their poor recovery from the previous shot.

I did multiball one entire session, often two players at a time, with a third doing ball pickup and a fourth practicing serves, with the players rotating every two minutes. One of my favorite drills is alternate backspin and topspin, where player has to adjust to each, looping the first, and (depending on level and style) looping or smashing the second. For the two players, I had a range of drills, and it allowed to players to practice and move almost continuously. Two examples (all righties):

  • Player A stands on forehand side. I feed a forehand, a backhand, and a forehand in rapid succession as player moves to hit each shot. Player B starts on backhand side, a few feet back so Player A has room to hit backhand. As Player A moves to hit his third shot (a forehand), Player B moves in, and he gets backhand, forehand, backhand. Then he steps back, and we repeat with Player A’s forehand, backhand, forehand. When we rotate, Player A becomes Player B; Player B moves to ball pickup; Ball Pickup player moves to servers, and Server becomes Player A.
  • Player A and B line up on backhand side. Player A does the “2-1” drill – a backhand, a forehand from backhand side, then moves to play a forehand from the forehand side. Then Player A circles around as Player B does the drill. Then it’s Player A’s turn again.  

With Navin, we did a lot of work on forehand smash, and on attacking with his backhand long pips. There are two fundamental ways to attack with the long pips, mostly against backspin. (You can also attack against no-spin and topspin, but it’s trickier, especially since he plays with no sponge under the pips.) You can attack with a conventional backhand drive. Or you can do a quick, off-the-bounce “bump,” essentially a quick and aggressive block. We also did a bunch of down-the-line work. I also challenged him with my forehand attack (my strength) against his backhand block (his strength) drill, where I really went after him at full power. It was good practice for me as well!

CAS Arbitrator Confirms Table Tennis Athlete Kanak Jha Violated Provisional Suspension
I feel really bad about posting this one, but it is major news. I’ve known Kanak since he was a kid, have coached against him numerous times (always in friendly fashion), and even taught him my “blow the ball in the air” trick when he was about ten. Alas, they say he violated his suspension by taking part in an official TT activity way back on Dec. 14, 2022, and so his suspension, which was supposed to end on Dec. 1, 2023 (three days ago) has been extended to March 15, 2024. I am looking forward to seeing him back in action.

Major League Table Tennis

Butterfly Training Tips

5 Table Tennis MISTAKES and How to Fix Them - Important for ALL Players
Here’s the video (5:54) from Nick Rudd.

Incredible Serve Tactics!!
Here’s the video (3:34) from Pingispågarna.

World’s BEST Table Tennis Server vs TTD Team!
Here’s the video (5:29) from Table Tennis Daily.

How to Properly Chop Block
Here’s the video (2:48) from PongSpace. “Women's WR# 13 Yang Xiaoxin teaches you how to properly chop block with long pips on the backhand.”

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Enjoy Gameplay of World Number One
Here’s the video (1.25) featuring Fan Zhendong from Taco Backhand.

The Best Rallies Of Tibor Klampar | Hungarian Legend
Here’s the video (9:53). In the mid-1970s, he was the first of the great close-to-table backhand topspinners and the first to use speed glue – a bicycle glue that made the sponge much bouncier and spinnier. He was two-time World Doubles Champion (with Jonyer), was one of the three Hungarians who won the 1979 World Team title over the Chinese (along with Jonyer and Gergely), and was generally ranked in the top five or so for a decade – I think he reached #2.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

From Their Illinois Basement to the World, Brothers Sid and Nandan Naresh Are Rising Stars in Table Tennis
Here’s the news item from Oct. 30 from TeamUSA, the Olympic news page. 

New from USATT

New from ITTF
Note the item on Henry Kissinger. I met and talked to him once at one of the Ping-Pong Diplomacy anniversaries. Like many, I have mixed feelings on him. His understanding of international situations and foreign leaders made him a valuable advisor, but his Realpolitic recommendations were often problematic. 

Scary Ping-Pong Balls
Here they are!

We All Know Someone Like This
Here’s the video (40 sec) of the typical Slow Server.

I Grew Up Playing Ping-Pong
Here’s the standup segment (60 sec) by comedian Jimmy O Yang!

Send us your own coaching news!