December 11, 2023

Next Blog: January 15
I’ll be out of town Dec. 15-27 for the US Open and then Christmas, and again Jan. 2-10 for the $36,600 Ping Pong World Cup in Mexico City (plus some sightseeing afterwards). So next blog will be Monday, Jan. 15. There will be a Tip of the Week on Monday, Dec. 18, and Monday Jan. 8. Have a great holiday season!

Tips of the Week
Dec. 11: Why Aren't You Pushing Heavy?
Dec. 18: Are You Too Backhand Oriented?

“Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers” Featured in Table Tennis England
Here’s the article. “If you are looking for a stocking filler for a table tennis fanatic, then a book on tactics by a leading coach may be right up their street.” (That’s Stanley Hsu I’m coaching in the picture they used.) Here’s where you can buy the book on Amazon – and note the 206 reviews and ratings! Get your order for that or any of my other books in today! (Makes a great Christmas present – I get almost as many sales in November and December as the rest of the year combined.) Meanwhile, I’ve finished writing the primary text for my next book, “Table Tennis Doubles for Champions.” I still have to arrange some photo sequences and graphics, which I’ll probably do in January, and then do writeups of those sequences.

Weekend Coaching and a Funny Conversation with an Eight-Year-Old on Looping
It was a slow weekend – I only coached in two group sessions. In the first, the focus was on attacking backspin. I fed multiball for 90 minutes. It’s always interesting to watch how kids pick things up differently. Many are natural mimics and have nice technique almost from the start. Others get into a bad groove and you spend most of your time trying to fix their technique up. I had a fascinating discussion on looping with an eight-year-old girl I hadn’t fed backspin to before.

  • Larry: “Do you know how to loop?”
  • Girl: “What’s a loop?”
  • Larry: It’s a way to attack against backspin.”
  • Girl: “What’s a backspin?”
  • Larry: “That’s when the ball moves like this.” (I demonstrated.)
  • Girl: “That’s a push spin.”
  • Larry: “A push is a backspin against backspin. Do you know how to topspin against a backspin?”
  • Girl: “You mean this?” (She shadow-practices a perfect forehand loop.)
  • Larry: “Exactly! Let’s try looping against backspin now.” (I feed her backspin balls and she loops every one of them perfectly. She’s been doing this for months with her coach but didn’t know what it was called.)

The next kid up didn’t want to move his feet or body, would just drop his arm without dropping his shoulder and, using just his arm, kept putting the ball into the net. I decided my project for the day was to fix up his loop. We went through many baskets of balls, rotating between him and two others – one on ball pickup, one practicing serves – but by the end of the session he was doing it pretty well.

In the other session I spent over an hour as a practice partner, putting them through numerous footwork drills. After the session was done, I went off to the side and practiced my doubles serves, in preparation for playing Over 60 Men’s Doubles at the US Open, and then a 30-minute practice session with Kosta Nikopoulos and his big two-winged looping game.

US Open
I leave for the US Open this Friday, Dec. 15. This will be my 39th US Open in a row – I’ve been to every US Open and Nationals starting in 1984, and several before that, going back to the 1976 US Open. (It would be 40 in a row except they skipped 2020 due to Covid.) In recent decades I’ve mostly coached and played hardbat events on the side, though I’m normally a sponge player. However, our local MDTTC juniors mostly go to the US Nationals in July and North American Teams in November, and we only have two of them at the US Open this year. Since MDTTC Wang Qingliang is also going and will be coaching them, I’ll mostly be just playing this year. I’m in five events:

  • Over 60 Men’s Doubles with Stephen Yeh. We’re seeded second. I was a little leery of playing this event as I’m a bit rusty when it comes to match play, especially when it comes to receive. But doubles serves are a bit simpler, and I practiced my flipping a bit to prepare, as well as practicing my doubles serves.
  • Hardbat Doubles with Bin Hai Chu. We’re the top seeds. I’ve won this event 14 times with four different partners, but it gets harder every year since I’m older. This is my first time playing with Bin. But hardbat is one of the few events where older players can sometimes compete a little more closely with younger players.
  • Over 40 Hardbat. I’m top seed and have won the event eight times.
  • Over 60 Hardbat. I’m second seed, which is ironic because I’m top seed in Over 40 Hardbat. But that’s because Jian Zhuang isn’t in Over 40 Hardbat. (He’s in lots of senior events with regular sponge.)
  • Hardbat Singles. I’m seeded seventh. I’ve won the event two times, but that was a while back when I was faster. But who knows – I can dream of winning again, right? When faced with the overwhelming power of my forehand, maybe my opponents will collapse in fear.

I just took the annual SafeSport refresher course, required of all USATT coaches and other officials or leaders. The course is called “SafeSport Trained - USA Table Tennis.” It says to allot 90 minutes. I’m a professional writer and read hours every day, and I am well above average in reading speed and comprehension. And yet it took me 2 hours 26 minutes to complete the course, or 146 minutes, which is a LOT more than 90 minutes. There were 107 segments (!), including 16 videos that take up close to 40 minutes by themselves. There are three tests, which I aced – 6/6, 6/6, and 7/7. Only one question had me scratching my head, but I figured it out. (It is open book, so I just Googled it.) I also think there was a lot of useless material. I learned that hitting, slapping, and kicking an athlete are physical abuse, and that calling players names is verbal abuse. Really? Lots of things like that. I wish they’d make it a lot shorter and simpler, with an emphasis on looking things up on their webpages when there’s a potential problem rather than memorizing all the problems. But we’re in a country where I’ve seen warning labels that say, “Do not eat this label.” But seriously, if the point was to educate coaches on when to take action when they suspect abuse, the course would be better if it were about 25% as long, with the focus almost entirely on recognizing possible abuse (which mostly comes under the category of “duh!”), and then looking up what to do.

Major League Table Tennis

Butterfly Training Tips

Mastering the Short Game in High Level Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Zheng Pu.

Patience, Placement and Pressure
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

Short Pips vs Long Pips – What Are The Similarities and Differences, and Which Should I Play With?
Here’s the article at Racket Insight by Xinyu.

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep6: The Atmosphere at Live Table Tennis Events with Ryan Willard
Here’s the video (36:30) from Matt Hetherington.

New from PongSpace

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from TT Crunch

Seth Pech vs Haase Konrad + Backhand Flip BONUS TIP
Here’s the video (11:36) from Seth Pech, with his usual comments and analysis.

Improve Topspin vs. Topspin
Here’s the video (2:38) from Pingispågarna.

The Unreturnable Table Tennis Serve
Here’s the video (7:27) from Nick Rudd Table Tennis.

Ma Long and Fan Zhendong Training
Here’s the video (70 sec) from Taco Backhand.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

World Youth Championship’s Trip
Here’s the article by Sally Moyland

NCTT Top 25 List
Here’s the article from NCTTA.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from ITTF

Ping Pong Evolution Shirt
Isn’t it time you got one?

Banned Ping Pong Technique
Here’s the video (5 sec) – headhunting!

I Challenged a World #1 - Xu Xin
Here’s the video (12:23) from Adam Bobrow!

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