Arm problems

December 12, 2013

Developing Training Centers

The best thing that's happened to table tennis in recent years is the rise of full-time training centers. I predicted this for years, but most thought there simply weren't enough table tennis players to support more than a few of these. In December 2006, when there were no more than eight to ten full-time TT centers in the U.S. (including my club, the Maryland Table Tennis Center), I even gave a presentation to the USATT Board, urging them to get involved by using their resources to recruit and training coaches to set up these full-time centers and junior programs. I wanted them to set a goal of 100 full-time training centers in five years. The response was a room full of eyes staring back at me as if I were crazy, with two board members bluntly telling me that there simply aren't enough players in this country to support more than a few full-time centers. Others nodded in agreement. They also didn't like the idea of setting a specific number as a goal, since they thought they'd be considered failures if they didn't reach the goal. (This last was crazy, as if you have ten centers and make a goal of having 100, and get, say, 80, you are an incredible success, going from ten to 80 - and then you continue to strive for the 100.) I made a similar challenge at the 2009 USATT Strategic Meeting; same result. 

In the seven years since the 2006 meeting, we've gone from ten to 64 full-time professional table tennis clubs in the U.S., with more popping up every month. (There's a new one opening up in Houston that'll soon join the list, and another here in Maryland that's opening soon, and others I probably don't know about.) The ones who thought there weren't enough players to support full-time centers simply did not have the vision, experience, or knowledge to understand why this is happening - that when you open these centers, you develop the players needed to support them. They were stuck in the old-fashioned thinking that you opened a club if there are already enough players to support it, which is backwards. Professional clubs develop their own player base.

The result has been mind-boggling to those who have been paying attention. The number and depth of junior players who are now training regularly is so far beyond where it was just seven years ago as to be incomparable. The players who lose in the semifinals of major junior events would have dominated the events back then, especially up to the cadet level (under 15). There used to be one or two kids who'd dominate their age group for a decade; now there are a dozen of them in each age group, all battling for supremacy and at levels that approach or match the best in the world outside China. It bodes well for the future of U.S. table tennis.

The huge weakness in the growth of these centers is there is no manual on putting together a full-time table tennis center. Every time someone wants to do it they have to reinvent the wheel, or go to current centers to learn how to do it. What's needed is such a manual to grease the wheels, not just to make it easier, but to encourage those considering setting up one to do so.

I already did half the job, with my Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook, which covers the professional side of coaching - recruiting and retaining students, setting up and running a junior program, etc. But more is needed on the specifics of opening an actual center, from the finances to the specifics of what's needed to open one. It's a rather long todo list.

So here's my offer to USATT: If they bring in someone or put together a committee to create such a manual (and I'm not volunteering, don't have time, though I might help out), they can incorporate my Handbook, and create a manual, which can tentatively be called "Professional Table Tennis Center Handbook." (Can you think of a better title?) We can then put it on sale at Amazon.com (created via createspace.com, which is how I now create my books), where it can be published "print on demand" at a cheap rate. And that will greatly encourage coaches and promoters to create even more of full-time table tennis centers.

The nice thing about this is that USATT doesn't really have to do much work. They just recruit the person or persons to create the manual, either from volunteers, with a small payment, or (my recommendation), whoever creates it gets the profits from sales, as well as the fame and prestige of being a published author.

Arm Problems

My first physical therapy session for my arm was scheduled on Tuesday. Someone also scheduled a snowstorm on that day. So the session was cancelled. Since I'm leaving for the Nationals this Sunday, I won't be able to get another session scheduled until afterwards. So I'll probably just rest it, and if all goes well, I'll be fine by January.

The Hobbit and Friday's Blog

I may see the midnight showing of "The Hobbit" tonight. If so, I won't get home until around 3AM, and probably not to bed until 4AM - which means tomorrow's blog will probably go up late, probably noonish or so. Brace yourselves!

Table Tennis Funding and the Lottery

For so many years people have wondered how to fund table tennis, when it was so obvious. The Meg-Millions lottery is now up to $400 million, with the drawing tomorrow, which is Friday the 13th. So I'm going to buy a few tickets, and use the winnings to fund table tennis. It's so obvious, why hasn't anyone thought of this before? What can possibly go wrong?

Nervousness and "Winning Ugly"

There's a great piece of advice for dealing with nervousness in the book "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert and Steve Jamison. (I'm referring to the 1994 edition, which I have; there are newer editions.) Chapter 5 is titled, "Four "Nervebusters": Overcoming Pre-Match Nervousness." While he is talking about tennis specifically, all four relate to table tennis as well. The four items are:

  1. Breathe like you've got asthma (take smooth, rhythmic, deep breaths)
  2. Get happy feet (stay on your toes and bounce up and down between points)
  3. Read the label (watch the label on the ball to help you focus)
  4. Sing a song (hum a relaxing song under your breath).

USATT Assembly

In my blog yesterday I wrote, "Unlike past years, there doesn't seem to be time set aside for those who wish to address the assembly." Some seemed to think I was accusing USATT of breaking Article 15.1 of the Bylaws, which includes the statement, "Individual and organization members and other constituencies may be permitted to pose questions to the Board and Chief Executive Officer for response." Technically speaking, this is fulfilled by the 30 minutes set aside in the Assembly this year from 8:15-8:45PM for "Interaction with the Board and Staff." There's just one problem - I never accused USATT of breaking their bylaws. I said exactly what I meant, so I'll repeat it again: "Unlike past years, there doesn't seem to be time set aside for those who wish to address the assembly." I didn't say they didn't get to pose questions to the Board and CEO for response; I said they no longer seem to have time set aside to address the assembly, as had been done in past years.

Aerobic Table Tennis Official Launch

Here's the ITTF article. "After two years of detailed preparation, Aerobic Table Tennis will be launched in January 2014. Aerobic TT is an alternative way to keep fit. Music is played throughout the session to create a high energy zone. The session includes, warm up and stretching, table tennis movement to music, speed agility and quickness exercises plus of course table tennis."

Fan Zhendong Tribute

Here's video (6:16) of a tribute to the 16-year-old Chinese player, who's already winning ITTF Pro Tour events.

2036 U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team

Here's video (1:23) of Fiona (3) and Kenzie (1) demonstrating the beginnings of the forehands that will totally dominate the world in 23 years, care of Coach Samson Dubina.

Non-Table Tennis - "Satan's Soul"

On Tuesday I sold my humorous fantasy story "Satan's Soul" to Stupefying Stories. A depressed Satan knows he's going to lose at Armageddon - until a superbeing appears and offers to have him win, in return for his soul! Satan negotiates seemingly favorable terms regarding his soul, and even gets to keep possession of it though he loses ownership. Jesus and the anti-Christ will soon go at it in a UN parking lot, with the Anti-Christ throwing modern military hardware at Jesus in a somewhat over-the-top scene, while Jesus fights back while listening on an iPod to Beatles music. Oh, and a penguin is central to the story! Sorry, no table tennis in this one.

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December 5, 2013

Post Teams Coaching

Now that the North American Teams are over my coaching changes focus. The last few weeks before the Teams I was preparing players for the tournament. Now comes the long period where we focus on developing their games for the longer haul. In particular, I have several players who I'll be working on topspinning their backhands more. I also want to greatly improve serve and receive. And as noted yesterday, we're going to work more on sports psychology. But in general there's going to be a lot more work on fundamentals while setting and aiming to achieve long-term goals.

Arm Problems

HERE WE GO AGAIN!!! But it makes no sense. None. Nada.

I think it was a couple of months ago that I had serious arm problems and had to take two weeks off. I've had minor problems since then, but nothing serious. Then, last week, just before the North American Teams, the arm started hurting again. Part of it might have been the extra coaching hours getting players ready for the Teams. But it wasn't that bad, and I knew I'd be able to take a week off to rest the arm during and just after the Teams. (I coached at the Teams, but except for one session warming up a player for ten minutes didn't play any.) So I rested the arm for exactly one week, from last Wednesday until yesterday.

About five minutes into the session I was grabbing my arm. At first it just seemed tight. Then it began to hurt - badly - especially when I hit backhands. It was the same injury as two months ago, and the same one I'd had as a recurring problem in the 1980s, but not in between. HOW DID MY ARM INJURY GET WORSE WHILE RESTING IT FOR A WEEK???

I finished the session, doing lots of multiball and avoiding hitting backhands. I started my next session - I only had two hours scheduled fortunately - but could barely continue. "Fortunately" (in quotes) my student (Doug) was also having some shoulder problems, and we agreed it'd be best to take the rest of the night off.

I iced the arm last night and again this morning. I've already cancelled my session today. Tomorrow I'm a practice partner from 5-6PM, and have a private session afterwards. I'll skip the 5-6 session, but I think I'll try to do the 6-7PM one - but no backhands. When needed, I'll play forehands from the backhand side. Hitting backhands is what really causes the problems, but once I hit backhands repetitively for even a few minutes the arm swells up and I can't do much of anything. Fortunately, most of my weekend coaching is group sessions, where I don't have to use my arm except for multiball. But I have a few sessions in there.

I'm also going to (finally) make an appointment to see a doctor or trainer.

The good news? My knees seem totally healed from the problems I've had there this past month. The week off really helped. Also, with the Teams over, and with the Nationals and Christmas coming up, my coaching schedule isn't very heavy right now. (I leave for the Nationals Sunday, Dec. 15, returning the morning of Sunday, Dec. 22.)

New World Rankings

The new World Rankings are out. On the men's side, the big change is Fan Zhendong of China jumping from 11 to 5. Chinese men now hold the #1-5, 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 22, 43, 58, 61, 91, and 100 spots. Germany has #6, 8, 24, 25, 49, 60, and 78. Taiwan has #9, 23, and 88. South Korea has #19, 26, 27, 35, 36, 39, 46, 56, 65, 68, and 83. Hong Kong has #21, 31, 96, and 98. USA's top three are #352 (Yuan Xiaojie), 367 (Timothy Wang) and 393 (Wang Qingliang).

On the women's side, the only major change near the top is Ai Fukuhara of Japan jumping from 14 to 9. Chinese women now hold the #1-3, 5-8, 11, 15, 22, 29, 34, 36, 51, 52, 65, 66, 83, 88, 89, and 97-99 spots. Singapore has #4, 20, 69, and 74. Japan has #9, 10, 26, 37, 50, 57, 63, 64, 75, 76, 78-80, 90, and 94. South Korea has #12, 17, 21, 24, 25, 35, 47, 66, 72, 73, 85, and 91. USA's top three are #80 (Ariel Hsing), 110 (Lily Zhang), and 171 (Zheng Jiaqi).

World Junior Championships

They are going on right now in Rabat, Morocco, Dec. 1-8. You can follow all the action at the ITTF World Junior Championships page. USA players are: Boys - Kanak Jha, Theodore Tran, Kunal Chodri, and Allen Wang; Girls - Prachi Jha, Tina Lin, Ariel Hsing, and Erica Wu

Yao Ming Playing Table Tennis

Here's the article, interview, picture, and link to a video (1:48) of the basketball star hitting with members of the Chinese Team, with commentary in Chinese. He's a penholder.

Table Tennis Doll

Here it is!

Head Table Tennis

Here’s the bizarre video (5:05, with the “table tennis” starting about one minute in) of a new version of table tennis, where players head mini-volleyballs back and forth.

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October 3, 2013

MDTTC Newsletter

I'm the editor of the monthly Maryland Table Tennis Center Newsletter, cleverly titled the MDTTC News. Yesterday the October issue was emailed to MDTTC members and those on our mailing list. (If you want to be on the list, email me.) Here's the archive of past issues.

Each issue covers a number of topics. The key is to make it interesting, informative, and link it to the club's programs. The last item is key - there's little point in a newsletter that features interesting stuff but doesn't link to programs that the club is trying to create interest in. Below is the table of contents for this issue. (I'm especially looking forward to the new afterschool program where I get to switch from my table tennis hat to my tutoring hat. I can tutor in just about any school subject outside foreign language.) Each issue also has a feature picture at the top. This issue has a group picture from one of our summer camps.  

Does your club have a newsletter? Why or why not? It's a great way to promote the club and its programs!

  • NEW! Afterschool Program
  • Upcoming Butterfly MDTTC October Open (Oct. 26-27)
  • Fall Sales - Passo Butterfly track suits
  • North American Teams - Discount available till October 23rd ONLY
  • Adult Beginning Class
  • Ongoing Programs
    • Junior Classes
    • Group Sessions
    • Private Coaching
    • Leagues
  • Ernie Byles - Saved by Table Tennis
  • Rental Space for Corporate and Private Events
  • MDTTC Web and Facebook Pages
  • Tip of the Month: Real Tactics vs. Parroting Tactics

Arm Problems and Novel Sequel

Arm is hopefully getting better. As noted yesterday, I've had to cancel or get substitutes for all my private coaching sessions since Saturday, including three hours yesterday. I'm still doing group sessions (including one from 6-7PM tonight), and I did do one private session that was all multiball. I'll test out the arm tonight and see how it is. Either way I'm still resting it one more day on Friday, and I'm pretty sure I'll be fine by the weekend.

Meanwhile, having a few days off gave me a lot of time to plan out the sequel to my upcoming novel, "The Giant Face in the Sky," coming Nov. 15. I've now got a rough outline for the sequel, and pages of notes. The first novel was a humorous fantasy that satirized the U.S.-Soviet space race in the 1960s, with sorcerers instead of astronauts, and with main character Neil (Armstrong, though last name is never mentioned) a 13-year-old sorcerer's apprentice, with his sidekick Buzz (Aldrin), essentially a talking, floating meteor. The sequel (also starring Neil, who is now president of the United States and magically disguised as an adult) will satirize the civil rights movement and Vietnam. (It's not easy combining the professions of table tennis coach & writer and science fiction & fantasy writer!)

Table Tennis Training in Korea

Here's video (7:55) of a table tennis camp in Korea. There's no actual table tennis in the video - just physical training to develop the legs. Take a look and remember this is how you should start your day for now on!

Slow Motion Table Tennis

Here's a video (48 sec) showing some great TT play in slow motion. Can you name all four players? (Comment below!)

Ma Long's Slow Spinny Sidespins and Topspins

Here's a video (4:02) showcasing world #1 Ma Long's spinny loops.

KIPP Ping Pong Smackdown Fundraiser

Here's the article and photos. "We raised $625K to provide quality education to students from the Bay Area’s low-income communities." Was this the largest fundraiser in table tennis history?

Spam Applications

I've had an ongoing battle with spam since I opened this site. As time went on it got worse and worse. Originally I let people register automatically. A growing number of spam accounts were created that posted spam in the forum and as comments in the blog, and I spent a lot of time deleting them until it got way out of hand. Starting April 23 this year I had to approve all registrations. When people register they get a note asking that they use a real-sounding name (since most spam uses various types of randomly created jumbles of letters and numbers) and to put something in the bio section that mentions table tennis. This allows me to rapidly go through them and approve only those that sound human and mention table tennis. This morning I broke 5000 spam account applications in the 133 days since April 23 - 5011 as of this moment. That's about 38 per day I've had to handle, one at a time. (Oops, make that 5012, got another one!) Thanks spammers. They should be lined up and smacked with cement-filled ping-pong balls.

Government Shutdown Ping Pong

The talking heads of TV news have christened the government shutdown as ping pong. Don't believe it? Here are the results when you put "Shutdown" and "Ping Pong" into the Google search engine! I think CNN's Wolf Blitzer calls it this about once every five minutes.

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October 2, 2013

Wider Stance

Because of my arm problems (see below), I only gave one lesson yesterday, and it was an all-multiball session. The 12-year-old player (hi Sameer!) has a tendency to stand up too straight when he plays. This leads to some awkward strokes. At first glance some would say he needs to loop more forward, or use less arm, or something similar, but that would be treating the symptoms. The problem was how straight he tends to stay, with his feet too close together. So much of the session was focused on not just staying down, but on keeping the feet wider. This gives extra stability and power. The results were good - his looping form was perhaps the best ever. It also helped when he took the ball a little later so he wouldn't be rushed. As he gets used to the wider stance he'll get quicker with it, along with the increase in stability and power. (Stability increases both the consistency as well as the recovery from the previous shot.)

This is true for most players. Watch videos of the top players and see how wide their stance is when they play. It does take some leg muscle, but not as much as you'd think; it's more a habit you have to develop. Once you get in the habit, I think it's actually less tiring as the extra stability means you aren't tiring yourself recovering from shots over and over.

Here's a video (5:37) of the Chinese team training earlier this year before the Worlds. Watch the very first drill sequence, and see how wide the players keep their feet - both the player moving and the one blocking. A few key things about a wider stance: feet should point slightly outward. Knees should be bent. Body should be bent slightly forward at the waist.

I spent some time this past weekend watching some of our top juniors train, especially Nathan Hsu and Derek Nie, whom I'll be coaching at the Nationals. Their stances were plenty wide, but the interesting thing they and our other top juniors all pretty much do is keep their feet mostly parallel to the end-line even on forehands, as they've been trained to do. In the past it was standard to have the right foot back some when playing forehands (for righties), and that's still how beginners are taught. But as players advance, more and more they keep the feet parallel, and rely on the wide stance (for stability and power) and flexible hips and waist to rotate around for most forehand shots. This has several advantages: it means they are equally ready to play forehand or backhand; it makes it easier to loop forehands close to the table; and it makes it easier to rotate the hips and body into the shot. They do bring the right foot back for some shots, but mostly when they have extra time. They also bring it back of course when stepping around the backhand corner, but not as much as players in the past.

Arm Problems

As expected, I had to cancel my three hours of private coaching scheduled today (Wednesday). The arm is still very sore, though I hope it'll be okay by the weekend. Other than a one-hour class I teach on Thursday (where I'll only feed multiball) I've cancelled everything until Saturday. The good news is two of the kids I normally coach today have made arrangements to meet to practice and play matches.

60 Full-time Table Tennis Clubs in the U.S.

I just added the King Pong TTC from NYC to the list of full-time table tennis clubs in the U.S. Let me know if there are any I missed! How did I find out about them? From this article in the Tribeca Citizen, "Our Friendly Neighborhood Ping Pong Parlor."

The Most Common Mistakes Made by Beginners

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

ITTF on Waldner and Waldner Stamp

Here's the ITTF article on Waldner and the new Waldner Chinese stamp.

Synagogue Welcomes Government Workers to Ping-Pong

With the government closed, this Synagogue is attracting "government refuges" for ping-pong and West Wing reruns. Here's the article.

Adam Bobrow Takes on San Francisco Mayor

Here's a video (17 sec) of Adam Bobrow and a partner (jumpy guy in striped shirt) he apparently chose at random from the crowd taking on San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and 11-year-old William Bai (rated 1970) in a doubles match. 

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October 1, 2013

USATT Taking Over U.S. Government

With the U.S. government shutting down, there's a huge power vacuum. So USATT is stepping in to save the day. Obamacare will now distribute health insurance and a wide variety of ping-pong products. Social Security now means that if you are 65 or older, you no longer have to pay membership at your ping-pong club. And the NSA will no longer spy on Americans; they are now secretly taping the Chinese National Team as they train.

Mike Babuin, chair of the USATT Board of Directors, has been sworn in as the new U.S. President. CEO Mike Cavanaugh has been sworn in as Vice President.

The rest of the USATT Board of Directors replaces congress as the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government. They are Anne Cribbs, Peter Scudner, Jim Kahler, Kagin Lee, Edward Levy, Attila Malek, and Han Xiao.

USATT pro bono lawyer Dennis Taylor has been sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The President's Cabinet has 15 departments - and by a strange coincidence, there are 15 USATT Committees. Effective immediately:

  • Agriculture Department will be taken over by the USATT Editorial Committee, chaired by Jim McQueen. A lot of what the Agriculture Department does is sending out written info to farmers. First release will be instructions on the growing of table tennis sponge, a highly lucrative crop whose street value is higher than crack cocaine.
  • Commerce Department will be taken over by the USATT Marketing and Fund Raising Committee, chaired by Jim Kahler. The dollar bill will be replaced by the ping-pong ball, the new international monetary standard.
  • Defense Department will be taken over by the USATT High Performance Committee, chaired by Carl Danner. The current secret plans to invade Syria, Iran, and North Korea have been shelved; instead, we will invade China and kidnap Zhang Jike, Ma Long, Wang Hao, and Xu Xin and make them practice partners for the U.S. Team.  
  • Education Department will be taken over by the USATT Junior Committee, chaired by Rajul Sheth. We'll finally get table tennis into the schools by executive order.
  • Energy Department will be taken over by the USATT Coaching Committee, chaired by Federico Bassetti. (It takes a lot of energy to coach!) With Big Oil now dominating the coaching committee, all coaches will be required to wear logos signifying which oil company controls them, i.e. ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, PetroChina, etc.
  • Health and Human Services will be taken over by the USATT Ethics and Grievance Committee, chaired by Jim Coombe. First step will be to bring back speed glue, right?
  • Homeland Security will be taken over by the USATT Hardbat Committee, chaired by Alberto Prieto. Hardbat people have a lot of experience defending their game.
  • Housing and Urban Development will be taken over by the USATT League Committee, chaired by David Del Vecchio. New housing law: all houses must contain a ping-pong table.
  • Interior Department will be taken over by the USATT Club Committee, chaired by Attila Malek. First act will be to declare the U.S. one big ping-pong club. The U.S. has an area of 3.794 million square miles, or about 4 x 10^14 square feet. Assuming 40'x20' courts, that's enough room for 132,213,312,000 ping-pong courts.
  • Labor Department will be taken over by the USATT Compensation Committee, chaired by Mike Babuin. Henceforth all government payments shall be made in ping-pong balls.
  • State Department will be taken over by the USATT Nominating and Governance Committee, chaired by Bob Fox. Why? Because Bob's been the USATT Team Manager at about 10,000 international events, and so has traveled the world and personally knows all seven billion people on earth.
  • Transportation Department will be taken over by the USATT Tournament Committee, chaired by Larry Rose. You have to travel to tournaments. Plans are coming for bullet trains to connect all the major tournament cities.  
  • Treasury Department will be taken over by the USATT Audit Committee, chaired by Peter Scudner. First act will be to look into how a sheet of table tennis sponge can cost $80. Second act will be to sell enough sheets of $80 sponge to raise the money to import the 132,213,312,000 ping-pong tables and nets from China needed for the Interior Department's plan to turn the U.S. into a ping-pong club (see above). Third act will be to raise the debt ceiling to one zillion ping-pong balls (see Commerce Department above) so that we never have to deal with it again.
  • Veterans Affairs will be taken over by the USATT Seniors Committee, chaired by Gregg Robertshaw. Everyone over age 50 must now use long pips.
  • Attorney General will be taken over by the USATT Officials and Rules Committee, chaired by Roman Tinyszin. Congress shall be red-carded.

Oh, and since they have nothing else to do, the U.S. government is taking over USATT. I'll let readers decide who is now in charge of each USATT function. (It's times like this that I have to bite my tongue and not write my views on this whole government shutdown. This is a table tennis blog, not a political blog, and so I'll restrain myself.)

Arm Problems

My arm is still bothering me. I have a 90-minute coaching session scheduled today which I was going to cancel. However, the student agreed to do 90 minutes of multiball and serve practice, so I'm going to go ahead and do the session. I'm 90% that I'm going to have to cancel my three hours of private coaching on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure the arm will be fine by the weekend.

2014 USA Junior & Cadet Team Trials

Here's info on the Trials, to be held at the USA Nationals in December.

Make Your Serves More Effective

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

The Amazing Block of Kenta Matsudaira

Here's the video (1:50). He's world #18. Note how his normal block has good topspin.

Krazy Table Tennis

Someone just sold a 1920s Krazy Table Tennis set! For just £49.99 (that's $81.15) they got net and brackets, 4 original branded balls, 6 different and really strange shaped wooden bats, and instructions.
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September 30, 2013

Tip of the Week

Mid-Match Technique Adjustments.

Arm problems

Old, tight muscles strike again. Alas.

On Friday night I was a practice partner in our Elite Training Session. I played a practice match with a 2000 chopper. Going into the match I felt a bit stiff, but what else is new? But I was even stiffer than usual. I lost the first game. Bearing down, I won the next three games pretty easily. Many of the points I'd serve no-spin or light-spin to his long pips, or roll his serves back soft to the pips, and in both cases I'd usually get no-spin or light backspin returns, and then I'd win the point with an explosive, off-the-bounce loop to the middle or extreme angles. The tactic worked, but it apparently took a toll on my arm, which afterwards felt extra tight. I played one more match, where I struggled a bit as the arm felt like it had a broken arm cast on it. Then I stopped for the night.

On Saturday I spent the morning wearing the arm down feeding multiball as I ran 2.5 hours of junior programs. That afternoon I had a two-hour private coaching session - and literally minutes into the session I was grabbing my arm. I had to stop playing 15 minutes into the session, and we switched to multiball. However, at this point the arm was so inflamed I had to stop feeding multiball after maybe 15 more minutes. We spent the next hour working on serves, and then I got Raghu Nadmichettu to do the last 30 minutes. I went home and iced it several times that night.

On Sunday I had four hours of private coaching scheduled, but I had to cancel them. I did a 90-minute junior session, feeding multiball, and it probably aggravated the arm a little bit. I did more icing.

Today (Monday) is my day off. I have two hours scheduled tomorrow, but I'm probably going to get Raghu or someone to substitute. I'm wondering if I'll be able to coach on Wednesday, when I have a full night of private coaching scheduled. Thursday I have another junior session (mostly multiball, which I should be able to handle by then), and fortunately my private session scheduled after that just got cancelled - the player can't make it. I'll probably opt out of the Friday elite session as well, and hopefully will be ready for the long hours of coaching I do on weekends.

I believe the injury is a strain to the Brachioradialis muscle. (Here's a diagram.) This is in the lower arm (between elbow and wrist), just below the elbow. If you touch your hand to your shoulder, it's the muscle in the lower arm that touches the bicep in the upper arm.

I had this same arm problem during much of the early 1980s, and on and off since then. It's mostly been okay in recent years, but I've had a few reoccurrences of it, including one just a few months ago. Fortunately I've learned to stop aggravating it when it begins to hurt, something I didn't do well in the 1980s, leading literally to years of lost play as I regularly rested the arm and then tried to come back too soon. However, it's not nearly as bad as it was in the 1980s, and I should be okay in a few days.

On Saturday night I was planning to borrow a video camera and create my entries to the ITTF Trick Shot Competition. I have several ideas, though I have to try them out first. However, I had to cancel those plans, and won't be able to do this until the arm gets better. Adam Hugh and the rest of the entries - you have a temporary reprieve!

Writing Plans

Sometime this week I plan to start work on my next major writing project - but I haven't yet decided between doing Table Tennis Fundamentals (essentially a rewrite and update of my previous book Table Tennis: Steps to Success) or the sequel to my upcoming humorous fantasy novel "The Giant Face in the Sky" (coming Nov. 15). It's not easy having two writing careers while also trying to coach full time!

Double Bounce Serve

Here's an article from Table Tennis Master on why this is the "best" serve. (I'm not sure about #3.)

Learn and Improve - Table Tennis with Gary Fraiman

Here's Gary's new coaching page - pretty nice looking! He used to coach in Maryland, but now he's down in Clearwater, FL. Here's his matching Facebook page.

Three Reasons Ma Long is the Worlds Most Overrated Player

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

Waldner on China Stamp

Here's the article and picture.

Troy Polamalu Plays Pong

Here's a video (24 sec) showing footage of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Troy "Mane Man" Polamalu playing table tennis apparently for a commercial for Head and Shoulders. The first person who thinks the rallies are real, may your head explode and your ping-pong paddle break. (The rallies look like the ones from Forrest Gump!)

Quadruples Table Tennis

Here's a different version of table tennis, with up to four players and four "mini-tables," as shown by Table Tennis Nation a while back.

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February 27, 2012

Tip of the Week

Opening Up the Forehand Zone.

Opening Up the Forehand Zone, Part II

The following happened on Saturday night - and I swear it happened after I wrote this week's Tip of the Week. (And now you know what I do on Saturday nights.)

I had a new student, around age 40, with some serious technique problems. His level was somewhere under 1000 in USATT ratings. He'd had a few lessons before at another club, but things hadn't gone well there. As soon as we started hitting forehand to forehand, you could see he had a serious problem with his grip, which seemed to lead to an awkward forehand. His finger pointed upward on the blade, his wrist fell backward, and he more or less punched at the ball in front of him instead of from the side. The obvious and easiest solution was to fix his grip, and then work on the stroke. And that's exactly what others had tried to get him to do. It hadn't worked.

At the USATT coaching seminar I taught last year I regularly harped on the idea of fixing the root cause of problems, not the symptoms. And that's what others had tried to do - the grip wasn't the cause of his problems, it was a symptom of the root cause, which was that he was playing his forehand with a backhand stance, feet parallel to the table, with little waist or shoulder rotation. He was only using about the front one-fourth of his forehand hitting zone, while facing forward. This forced him to adjust his grip to compensate. It took only a few minutes to fix the problem in practice: move the right (back) foot back some, rotate the waist and shoulders, and contact the ball toward the middle of the hitting zone. The key was to start out by hitting forehand to forehand very slowly, focusing on proper technique and timing, until the stroke became ingrained enough to speed up some.

The player still has a lot of practice to do in order to ingrain this new and better forehand technique. If he puts in the time, his stroke will be fine.

Happy Birthday to Sheeba and Me

Today's my 52nd birthday, so people can no longer say I'm not playing with a full deck. (It's also Chelsea Clinton's 32nd birthday. We always go out together and celebrate with root beers.) It's also Sheeba's 78th birthday. Okay, Sheeba is my dog, about 3/4 corgi, 1/4 some sort of hound, and she's actually only 14, though we only know that she was born in February of 1998 (that's from the form about her when I adopted her from a shelter in 2002 when she was four) , but we celebrate it on my birthday. According to the Dog Age Calculator, as a 30 pound dog, she's 78. Here's her picture (from a few years ago, but she looks almost the same), and here she is straining to eat bacon snacks.

Arm problems

With age comes physical problems. Or perhaps they aren't related. My arm has been bothering me for several days, and sometime during yesterday's mornings three hours of coaching it got much worse. That afternoon I was playing matches in a group session (where I'm a practice partner), and had to stop. The injury appears to be a muscle strain, on the forearm, just below the inner elbow, on the right. Here's a picture, with a black dot marking the injury. Any doctors, trainers, or others with suggestions on rehabbing it, other than rest and icing it?

USATT Paralympic Program Manager

USATT has hired Jasna Reed as the Para Program Manager for 2012, a new USATT position. Jasna, two-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion, Olympic Bronze Medalist in Women's Doubles, and head table tennis coach at Texas Wesleyan University, has extensive experience in Paralympic table tennis. Here's an interview I did with Jasna back in 2001, with picture.

2012 USA Table Tennis Budget

Here it is: Income Statement Summary | Income Statement Detail | Programmatic Summary

Table Tennis in New York Times

Here's an article in the New York Times on Saturday on Ariel Hsing's Olympic dreams.

Interview with Jorg Rosskopf

German great Jorg Rosskopf was interviewed just yesterday as he prepares for the 2012 Worlds.

2012 Kuwait Open Final

Jun Mizutani (JPN) defeats Ryu Seung Min (KOR) in the Kuwait Open Final on Feb. 18, 2012. Time between points is taken out, so it's non-stop action with the whole match shown in 6:37. Here are results and articles on the tournament.

Hilarious exhibition

Here's an exhibition between Jean-Michel Saive (on left at start) and Andrzej Grubba at the 1996 Gilbert Cup in Beverly Hills (7:36).

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