May 20, 2024

Junior Trials #2 and No Blog Next Week
I’ll be out of town this next week, coaching at the US Junior Trials Part 2, May 24-27, at the 888 Table Tennis Center in Burlingame, CA. (The broke the trials into two parts this year, with results from both used to finalize the US junior teams.) Here is full info and the player listing. I fly out on Thursday, May 23, and return on Tuesday, May 28. So no blog next week, but there will be the usual Tip of the Week on Monday.

Tips of the Week
I was out of town last weekend, so no blog, but the Tip of the Week went up as usual. In case you missed it, here is that tip and this week’s tip.

Weekend Coaching
Only one group session this weekend. I spent parts of it working with two girls who each had a separate stroke issue. One of them tended to cut her backswing short and so had maybe a six-inch forward swing before contact, with a long follow-through. You want your contact point at the middle of the forward swing. The solution was shadow-practice, where she also (at first) had this six-inch backswing and long follow-through. So I had her exaggerate the backswing. The idea here is if you are in the habit of a too-short backswing, then if you shadow-practice the correct backswing, you’ll likely end up doing something in between the two when you start real hitting. But if you shadow-practice a longer backswing then you really want, then you’ll likely end up doing it more correctly (with some adjustment) when you actually hit the ball.

The other girl had this habit of raising her racket tip before contact, and so meeting the ball with the racket tip pointed almost straight up and just blocking the ball. Again, the answer was shadow-practice first, and then stroking. But the key was that her backswing was too low, and so she felt forced to raise the racket tip up to meet the ball. Once we raised her backswing a bit, her stroke was fixed.

After the session, one of the kids presented me with this Certificate for Best Forehand!!!

As mentioned in past blogs, I have an ongoing thing where I have a different name each weekend. When I was asked my name, I told them I come from the Bad family – Grandma and Grandpa Bad, and my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Bad. My first name was Iam. So, my name was Iam Bad, and if they needed help on something, they just needed to say, “Coach Iam Bad”!

Non-Table Tennis - South Dakota (Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Black Hills, and Dinosaurs and Reptiles and Bears, Oh My!)
I took a vacation last week in South Dakota, flying out on May 11 and returning on May 14. In between I had two action-packed sightseeing days. The first day (Sunday) was the nine-hour Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, which I strongly recommend. That included Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Black Hills State Custer Park. We had a great view of Mount Rushmore (picture by me), especially with my binoculars. There was also a nice museum next to it featuring its history, where I spent another 45 minutes.

We spent much of the day driving through Black Hills Custer State Park, including Custer State Park Resort (the “Western White House” for President Coolidge), Iron Mountain Rd, Needles Highway, and Sylvan Lake. There were lots of great views. I kept track of animals – final totals were 3 bighorn sheep, 1 deer, 1 golden eagle, 5 geese, a herd of cattle, dozens of horses, and 2 cats. (However, those numbers would be greatly topped the next day.) The final stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. It was a good distance away, and in profile, so couldn’t see the face as well as I’d like. Also, it’s not finished – I may have to come back in about fifty years. That night I visited Dinosaur Park (eight large but simplistic dinosaur statues, but little kids seemed to like them) and the Berlin Wall Memorial (small but interesting, with a large segment of the old Berlin Wall and lots of info plaques).

On the second day I visited:

  • Dinosaur Museum - not large but great stuff, spent an hour there.
  • Reptile Gardens - lots and lots of spectacular reptiles, including many huge snakes (pythons, king cobras, etc.), alligators, crocodiles, giant tortoises, and so on, plus lots more, from prairie dogs to a large bald eagle. Even a snake show and bird show. Spent over two hours there.
  • Museum of Geology - both paleontology and geology, and free. Was there for over an hour.
  • Bear Country USA - wow, you stay in your car as you drive through the park, and the animals are right next to you! I spent half an hour surrounded by black bears and other large animals, often within five feet! Here’s a picture of a black bear just outside my car – he was often no more than three feet away. And lots and Lots and LOTS of other animals, many running free and so just outside my car, and others at the end in cages, such as wolves, mountain lions, lynx, badgers, anteaters, skunks, racoons, otters, and others. Running free included bears, reindeer, bighorn sheep, rocky mountain goats, elk, pronghorn, bison, and mule deer.

As is my custom, I collected souvenir magnets at each of the attractions – here’s my catch! Then it was time to fly home. On the spur of the moment, I did something I’ve never done before – I spent $130 and upgraded my flight home to first class. Result – I was able to work on my laptop the whole flight home. I’d already written the Tips of the Week for May, so I wrote four new ones for June, and still had time to work on a new science fiction story.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Review
Here’s a new review of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, from Tampa Bay Table Tennis! You can also read the 212 ratings and reviews at Amazon, where it has a 4.7 out of 5 average.

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions – An Interview With Larry Hodges
In case you missed it - here’s the interview and feature on my recent book, from Racket Insight (by David Bruce), where I answer twelve questions about Table Tennis Doubles for Champions, ranging from questions about the book, doubles strategy, and modern doubles play. (It mentions my other books – here they are!)

Kanak Jha and Nikhil Kumar Seek Olympic Qualification in Lima, Peru
Here’s the USATT article. They are a little behind. I haven’t followed it closely, but I believe they had four SE events in the ITTF Americas Olympic Qualification in Lima, Peru, with the winner of each going to the Olympics. Kanak won his and will be going. Nikhil lost in the final of his. Here are complete results – Nikhil is in KO1, Kanak is in KO3. (We didn’t have any women entered.)

Here’s ITTF Americas Qualifier: Kanak Punches Ticket to Paris by Steve Hopkins.

News from All Over
Since I’ve been away two weeks, rather than try to list every interesting article, here are links to some of the main news and coaching pages that have been active in that time, and you can pick and choose.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Table Tennis Ping Pong Beer Vintage 1942 Ad
Here’s the ad!

Mutt and Jeff
Here’s the cartoon from 1943!

Gentleman's Ping Pong
Here’s the video (11:13) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!