North American Olympic Trials

April 20, 2012

Get your feet moving by lobbing

The large majority of players rarely lob. It's not that they don't like to lob - just about everyone finds lobbing fun - but most simply do not have the mobility to effectively lob, and so they don't. (Many of these players stand like a tree when they should be moving like a squirrel.) But isn't this backwards?

If you don't have the mobility to lob, why not practice lobbing to develop that mobility? It's not a hard concept; if you practice moving, you learn to move better. And the nice thing is that if you develop mobility off the table lobbing, you will also improve your general mobility, both close to the table and away. Not only that, but if you learn to lob, you add a new tool to your table tennis toolbox. Plus lobbing is just one step away from counterlooping, a more offensive and valuable off-table weapon.

Here's an article on lobbing, an article on smashing lobs, a more general article on topspin defense, and an article on counterlooping. Study these articles; you will be tested! (If not by me, then by your opponents in matches.)

North American Olympic Trials

They start today in Cary, NC, Fri-Sun, and here's the page where you'll find Draws, Live Streaming, Participants, Prospectus & Schedule. Here's an article about it. Here are 14 pictures from Thursday's practice and meeting day.

Werner Schlager Special

Here's a 53-minute video on 2003 World Champion Werner Schlager, still a member of the Austrian National Team. Schlager is speaking German, and the commentators Japanese, but there's a lot of nice table tennis footage.

Table Tennis Artwork

Here's Mike Mezyan's latest table tennis artwork. Of this one he wrote, "My Latest Artwork 'Prehistoric Paddle' (Paddle Sounds Like Battle) Inspired By Larry Hodges, I Read This Line in His Blog 'Our Ancestors Carried Around Ping-Pong Paddles To Fend Off Arial Attacks From Large Man-Eating Eagles' the rest was history..or was it?" (The line was from my blog on April 17, in the "Close the Racket!" segment.) If you click on the picture and subsequent ones you'll see about twenty other works of table tennis art he's done.

Funny table tennis pictures

Let's finish today with some funny table tennis pictures. Have a good weekend!

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March 19, 2012

Tip of the Week

Fixing the Biggest Weakness in Your Game.

Cary Cup

Unfortunately I barely saw any of the big matches since I was coaching throughout the tournament. So I have little to report on that. In fact, I'm trying to find the results online, and haven't been able to find much of anything.

Here are some tidbits.

  • I got to watch the Butlers, Scott and Jim, go at it backhand to backhand, when they were warming up. They can really hit those backhands. And yet it shows how the game has changed as modern top players would be topspinning those backhands while the Butlers were cracking in mostly flat backhands.
  • There was a rather small bag sitting on a chair next to a court I was about to coach at. I nonchalantly picked up the bag with my right (playing) arm so I could put it aside so I could use the chair. I strained the arm slightly when this rather small bag turned out to weight about 50 pounds. I have no idea what was in it - gold bars?
  • There were two water fountains next to each other near the front door. One was at a regular height for adults, the other a very shortened one for little kids. A very tall man, about 6'4", came in with his son, who looked about four years old. Without hesitation they walked to the fountains and the tall man leaned over the kids fountain while the little kid stood on tiptoes and barely was able to use the tall one. I don't think either noticed the humor of the situation. (Anyone remember the similar scene in the movie "The Lion King," when the small weasel-like Timon takes the big bed, forcing the large warthog Pumbaa to squeeze into the tiny one?)
  • After visiting my water fountain I returned to the playing hall to discover my playing bag was missing. I searched the area for five minutes before realizing I was in the wrong hall. (There were two large playing halls and two smaller ones.)

I played the hardbat event on Friday morning. I'd won the event the last two years, but alas this year it was not to be. There were two groups of about eight, with the top two advancing. I went 6-1, losing to Bin Hai Chu, the 2300 player I'd beaten in the final last year. (I didn't lose a game in the other matches.) In the final RR (with the Chu match carrying over), I lost to Ty Hoff while winning against Dmitri Moundous, and so finished third. Ty led both games against Chu, but lost at 19,20, so Chu won the event and $400. (Second was $300, third $100, and all four finalists received huge trophies.) Later in the tournament, using his regular pips-out sponge penhold racket, he'd have double match point on 2647-rated and defending champion Jeffrey Zeng Xun.

I was mostly coaching Derek Nie, who is probably the best pound-for-pound player in the U.S. with a rating of 2080 at 64 pounds. (He looks about 8 or 9, but actually just turned 11.) He looped his way past opponent after opponent, and ended up beating everyone below him while losing to everyone above him in 14 matches. He did give some scares. Against Gabriel Skolnick (2259), he won the first and was up 11-10 in the second when they had a great point, with Derek smacking in a series of backhands and then looping four forehands in a row. The third, to Gabriel's wide forehand, seemed to win the game, and I actually started to jump up to cheer, but Gabriel reached out and barely brought it back. Derek ripped another forehand to the wide backhand, and again Gabriel just got it back, and Derek finally missed. Against Tao Lin (2304) Derek won the first 11-7, and led much of the second game, but Tao came on strong to win that game and the match. Against Richard Doverman (2298) he led much of the first game before losing 11-9, and was up game point in the second before losing at deuce.

This is very promising for Derek, as you'll know if you've read my Tip of the Week on "Larry's Six-month Law."

Some of Derek's most successful tactics this tournament were to focus on really wide angles and attacking the middle; last-second change of direction on his receive; and lots of varied serves. He needs to work on depth control of his serves (too many went long under pressure, and were looped), and his backhand loop often fell apart when he was rushed.

North American Olympic Trials

You can buy tickets now for the U.S. versus Canada showdown at the North American Olympic Trials, April 20-22.

New ping-pong table to the White House

Here are two stories on it, both from England's The Telegraph:

Non-Table Tennis: Two more short stories published

I had two new fantasy stories published, one on Friday, and one this morning.

This morning my short-short story "The Kitchen Debate" was published on Quantum Muse. The 600-word story is a mystical debate between science and religion. Here's the opening:

The impossible object lay on the kitchen table. My life, my work, my very existence was dedicated to the fact that it did not, could not, exist. And yet there it was, in all its implausibility.

The Hand of God.

On Friday my 99-cent ebook "Willy and the Ten Trillion Chimpanzees" (4000 words, about 18 double spaced pages) was published at Musa Publishing. You can download it for 99 cents - so BUY IT NOW!!! Here's the opening:

The demon Willy Shakespeare returned home late one night from a showing of King Lear, and approached the door to his basement where he kept a full-sized replica of North America, populated by ten trillion chimpanzees, all randomly typing away.

With a glance, he turned off the enchanted timepiece that sped time up in the basement a trillion-fold. He'd been away since lunch, about ten hours, so ten trillion hours had gone by in the basement--about a billion years. He allowed himself a small grin. If they hadn’t created at least one masterpiece for him, there'd be serious pain for a lot of chimps.

Here is my science fiction & fantasy page, and here's where you can buy "Pings and Pongs," an anthology of my 30 best published stories ($14.95). BUY IT NOW!!!

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