July 12, 2011

Tip of the Week

Where to Put Your Putaways answers the age-old question of (drum roll please) where to put your putaways. It doesn't answer the even older question of whether putaways should be hyphenated. (This was ready to go up Monday morning, and then I forgot to put it up before leaving to coach. So it went up Monday night.)

Whitewashing your opponent

Suppose you and your opponent are roughly equal, so that either will tend to score about half the points. Then your chances of winning 11-0 are 1 in 2 raised to the 11th power, or 1 in 2048. (Call it 1 in 2000 for you math phobes.) That means there's about 1 in 1000 chance that any given game will end 11-0 (including times you lose 0-11), though in reality it's more likely since a player could get hot or cold.

What are the chances of a 3-0 whitewashing, i.e. 11-0, 11-0, 11-0? That would be 2 raised to the 33rd power, or about 1 in 8.6 billion. (1 in 8,589,934,592 to be exact.)

Now let's suppose you are better than your opponent, and win 60% of the points. (I won't bore you with the math, but it involves 0.6 or 0.4 raised to the 11th  or 33rd  power, then inverted.) Now your chances of winning 11-0 are about 1 in 276, and your chances of winning 11-0, 11-0, 11-0 are about 1 in 21 million. More scary is that roughly 1 in 24,000 chance of losing 0-11, and (shudder) 1 in 13.6 trillion of losing 0-11, 0-11, 0-11!

With Winning in Mind

I just reread "With Winning in Mind" by Lanny Bassham, the classic on sports psychology. I read it - or at least parts of it - back in the 1980s, but had forgotten about it until local player/coach John Olsen mentioned it to me this past weekend and lent me the book. Now I remember that it was the basis for much of the sports psychology for table tennis ideas I've taught over the years. It was also mentioned by sports psychologists at the Olympic Training Center. The book covers in highly readable fashion the interrelationship between the conscious, the subconscious, and the self-image, with systematic ways to develop each through mental management. Bassham, an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion in shooting, pretty much shows the way champions thinks, using shooting (and sometimes other sports) as examples. I highly recommend this for any ambitious athlete or coach in any sport. I ordered several copies to give out to some of the top cadets/juniors at our club.

To summarize: if you are a serious table tennis player, read this book.

Two dogs join in the table tennis action.

Because a day without a dog or cat table tennis video (1:09) is like a day without ice cream.


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