Boris Johnson

April 4, 2013

Different Serving Motions

I had a long, animated discussion last night with a pair of our top juniors and their parents about serves. It's always bothered me when a junior spends so much time developing high-level strokes and footwork, but not a strong serving or receiving game. The discussion ended with a mutual agreement on specific service goals for one of the players - certain serves that he'd have ready by specific major tournaments. The other player had to leave to play a match during the discussion, but I'll speak with her later on her own service goals. (When I say "ready," this means done at a high level with lots of variation and control, which takes many hours of practice. Control means keeping it low while controlling both the direction and, even more important, the depth of the serve.)

It's so easy to fall into the habit of "simple" serves, where a player masters a few basic serves that sets him up for his game, at least against lower-level players, and perhaps against peers - but of course part of the reason they are his "peers" is because they haven't developed their service game, and so aren't really controlling play when they serve.

The part that is most often missed isn't that these simple serves aren't effective, to a certain extent; it's all the points being thrown away by not having a bigger service threat. Often their "peers" are only playing them close because they are winning 2-3 points a game on tricky serves. The irony is that players often complain about losing to an opponent's serves - but make no serious effort to learn these serves themselves.

The classic example is players who develop forehand pendulum serves, with simple backspin and side-backspin, and perhaps a pure sidespin or a no-spin serve - and not much else. Maybe they have a deep serve to throw at opponents, often with a different motion that telegraphs it because they haven't spent the time developing it out of the same motion. (This happens all the time; often the server thinks he's using the same motion for the deep serve, but usually is not.)

At a recent Worlds (I can't remember which one) there was a study that showed that there were more reverse pendulum serves then regular pendulum serves at the world-class level. And yet how many players develop these serves below the top levels? It's not that hard. It allows a player to serve sidespin both ways with the same motion until the racket moves forward. With the most advanced serving technique, you can use the same motion until almost the split second before contact before committing to which sidespin. (Note - a forehand pendulum serves is a forehand serve, racket tip down, where the racket moves from right to left for a righty. A reverse pendulum serve is when the racket moves from left to right, and is often more awkward for players when they first try it. If you have trouble, get a coach or top player to help out, or watch videos at youtube.)

When a player can do a reverse pendulum serve (mostly short to the forehand or long to the backhand), with sidespin, side-top, or side-backspin (this last is the trickiest to learn, but is hugely important), and combine it with the same spin variations of a regular pendulum serves, as well as no-spin serves that look spinny, then an opponent has so many things to watch out for that he'll often fall apart. And yet so many players spend years developing a nice loop but never develop these most basic serves.

It doesn't have to be just pendulum serves. There are all sorts of backhand serves, tomahawk serves, windshield wiper serves - the list is endless. Watch what the best servers do, practice, and experiment. Turn your opponent into the one saying, "If not for his serves..."!

USATT Seeks Junior Committee Chairperson

Here's the article. Interested?

Table Tennista

Here are three more interesting articles.

Photos and Other Info from the Korean Open

Here are photos from the Korean Open, care of the ITTF, which started yesterday in Incheon City, South Korea. Here's the ITTF home page for the event, with results, articles, and photos. In the preliminaries, USA's Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang both advanced with 2-0 records. They also won their first match in the Women's Doubles Preliminaries against a Korean team. Both are also entered in Under 21 Women's Singles. (The only other USA player, Wally Green, was eliminated in the Men's Singles Preliminaries.)

Target Practice

Here's a video showing a player doing multiball and aiming at targets. How long does it take to hit 20 targets? Apparently 38 seconds.

Pippa Middleton Challenges Boris Johnson

Pippa Middleton, a British socialite and the younger sister of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has issued a ping-pong challenge to London Mayor Boris Johnson. The latter is known for his table tennis; Pippa is known for her cross-country skiing. Here's the article in the London Telegraph, where she at one point calls table tennis "whiff whaff," and dismisses the sport as a "less demanding hobby" than cross-court skiing. "My only stipulation is that I can use my favourite Dunlop Blackstorm Nemesis bat, which I used when I played in the Milton Keynes U13 National Championships, don’t you know. Bring it on, Boris." The article includes a picture of Mayor Johnson playing table tennis. 

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April 19, 2012

Ruing the Rise of Redundant Rubber Releases

It has recently come to my attention that there are just too many types of table tennis rubber. At the U.S. Open or Nationals the racks of rubber reveal a ruinous range of revolutionary renown. (Okay, I've used up my quota for R's today.) What am I, a full-time professional coach of some renown, supposed to say as my eyes glaze over when someone looks at me with big brown eyes and asks, in all innocence, "Coach Larry, could you explain the differences between Sapphira, Selvid, Solcion, Speedy P.O., Spin Art, the ten types of Sriver, Stayer, Solo, the nine types of Sonex, the three types of Supersonic, Special Defence, Super 729FX, Samba and Samba N-tec, Shark, Snabb, Spring Thunder, the five types of Scramble, Spark, the four types of Spinspiel, Screw One and Screw Soft, Spiral, the three types of Specialist, Samurai, Serie 2000, the three types of Sinus, the eight types of Speedy, Standard, Storm, the two types of Super Defense, and Supra?"

And these are just the ones that start with an S. (See, I've moved on from the R's. Soon I'll make it to the T's, where we can discuss table tennis, topspin, and tomahawk serves.)

I remember the good old days, circa mid-to-late late 1970s (I started in 1976), when everyone used Sriver or Mark V, with the occasional weirdo who used some strange stuff from China or an old-fashioned sheet of D-13, or even some orthodox hard rubber. You could buy Sriver or Mark V (then the top-of-the-line stuff) for about $6/sheet. And then along came Tackiness, the first of the specialized rubbers ("super sticky!") and then long pips, and the floodgates opened. (Where do they get these names? I think they use the Fantasy Name Generator.)

Here's a listing of USATT approved equipment. Reading it either makes you laugh out loud or fall asleep. And just to make you suffer (or lol?) as I, here's the complete rubber listing, with the admonition that this blog does continue afterwards, so you have no choice but to read through it entirely so as to get to the really good stuff in the blog below. (Or you could just page down, but that wouldn't be nearly as fun.)

Butterfly - Addoy, Allround-C4-A002, Allround-C4-A003, Allround-D13, Bryce, Bryce FX, Bryce Speed, Bryce Speed-FX, Catapult, Catapult Hard, Cermet, Challenger-Attack, Challenger-Chop, D'or, Ekrips, Ekrips Soft, Feint FG, Feint-Long II, Feint-Long II-OX, Feint Long-III, Feint-Long III-OX, Feint-OX, Feint-Soft, Flarestorm, Flarestorm II, Flextra, Impartial, Large 44DX, Magnitude, Magnitude-Kawa, Morim, Orthodox, Pan Asia, Raystorm, Rein, Relop Attack, Relop Attack-OX, Resilon, Resilon-Flex, Resilon-Kawa, Roundell, Roundell Hard, Roundell Soft, Sapphira, Selvid, Solcion, Speedy P.O., Speedy P.O. Soft, Spin Art, Sriver, Sriver-EL, Sriver-FX, Sriver-G2, Sriver-G2-FX, Sriver G3, Sriver G3-FX, Sriver-Kawa, Sriver Killer, Stayer, Super Anti, Super Anti-Special, Super Sriver, Tackifire-Drive, Tackifire-Special, Tackifire-Special Soft, Tackiness-C, Tackiness Chop, Tackiness Chop II, Tackiness-C-Kawa, Tackiness-C Soft, Tackiness-D-Kawa, Tackiness-Drive, Tempest, Tenergy 05, Tenergy 05-FX, Tenergy 25, Tenergy 25-FX, Tenergy 64, Tenergy 64-FX, Wakaba, West Will

Donic - Acuda S1, Acuda S2, Acuda S3, Akkadi L2, Akkadi Taichi, Alligator Def, Alligator Soft No Sponge, Anti A40, Baracuda, Baxster D25 Short Pips, Baxter F1-A, Blues, Blues F5, Coppa, Coppa JO, Coppa JO Gold, Coppa JO Platin, Coppa JO Platin Soft, Coppa JO Silver, Coppa Speed, Coppa Tagora, Coppa Tenero, Coppa X1, Coppa X1 Gold, Coppa X1 Turbo Platin, Coppa X2, Coppa X3, Desto F1, Desto F1 HS, Desto F2, Desto F3, Desto F3 Big Slam, Gallardo Power Sound, Gallardo Sound, Gallardo Speed, J.O. Waldner, Liga, Pirania Formula Tec Slice 40, Quattro, Quattro A'Conda Medium, Quattro A'Conda Soft, Quattro Formula, Solo, Sonex 40, Sonex Formula, Sonex Formula X40, Sonex Formula XF45, Sonex Formula JP Soft, Sonex JP, Sonex JP Gold, Sonex X40, Sonex X45, Supersonic M40, Supersonic S40, Supersonic SG40, Twingo, Twister, Vario, Vario Big Slam, Vario Cooper S, Vario Cooper ST, Vario Gold, Vario Soft, Vario Soft ST, Vario ST, Zicco

Dr. Neubauer - A-B-S, Anti-Special, Boomerang Classic, Diamant, Domination, Domination Speed, Domination Tuned, Fighter, Goliath, Gorilla, Gorilla Special, Grizzly, Grizzly ABS Sponge, Inferno Classic, Leopard, New Gorilla, Pistol, Special Defence, Tornado Ultra, Pistol, Monster Classic

Friendship - 563, 563-1, 729 40H, 729 40S, 729 Dr. Evil, 729 Cream, 729 FX (EL), 729 Faster, 729 Faster 2, 729 Faster 3, 729 FX Lightening, 729 GeoSpin, 729 GeoSpin Tacky, 729 Higher, 729 Higher 2, 729 Higher 3, 729 SP, 729-08, 729-5, 729-AAA, 755, 755-2, 799, 802, 802-1, 802-40, 804, 837, Focus 1, Focus 2, Focus 3, RITC 2000 Tack Speed, RITC 729, RITC 729-2, RITC 729-3, RITC 729 Tackspeed, Super 729FX

Gambler - Aces, Four Kings, Outlaw Pre-Tune, Peace Keeper, Reflectoid, Shadow, Six Shooter Pre-Tune, Wraith

Hallmark - Friction Special 2, Frustration, Green Power, Half Long, Magic Pips, Mirage, Panther, Phoenix, Podium, Power Spin

JOOLA - 4 All, 4 You, Air, Amy Anti Classic Version, Amy Anti Control Version, Antitop Toni Hold, Badman Reloaded, Brave, Drum, Drum CWX, Energy, Energy X-Soft, Energy Xtra, Express One, Express Two, Express X-Soft, Mambo, Mambo C, Mambo GP, Mambo H, Octopus, Orca, Phoenix, Samba, Samba N-tec, Shark, Snabb, Spring Thunder, Tango, Tango Defensive, Tango Extrem, Tango Ultra, Topspin, Topspin C Express Ultra, X-plode, X-plode Sensitive

Juic - 889, 889 Neo, 889 Neo, 889 SV, 999 Attack, 999 Defense, 999 Elite, 999 Elite Defense, 999 Elite Hardtype, 999 Elite Nano, 999 Elite SV, 999 Elite Ultima, 999 Elite Ultima SV, 999 Hardtype, 999 Turbo, Air Condle, Air Condle Sound, Air Condle Speed, Anti Super Spin, Dany III, Dany V, Dany V Ultima, DrivaSmash, DrivaSmash Ultima, DrivaSmash Ultima SV, Hirubia, Kaiza, Leggy Defense, Masterspin 40, Montjuic Super, Montjuic Super SV, Nano Cannon, Nano Spin, Neo Anti, Offense, Offense Ultima, Patisuma, Patisuma II, Patisuma 3, PipsAce 03, Scramble, Scramble 21, Scramble 21 SV, Scramble 21 Ultima, Scramble EX Ultima, Shenron, Spark, Spin Spiel, Spinspiel Hardtype, Spinspiel SV, Spinspiel Ultima, Varites, Diva Smash SV, Couga and Masterspin Special

LKT - Black Power, Pro XP, Pro XT, Rapid Power, Rapid Soft, Rapid Sound, Rapid Speed, Recoil, Red Diamond, Torrent-Gold

Newgy - Omega

Nittaku - Best Anti, Express, Graffiti, Hammond, Hammond FA, Hammond FA Speed, Hammond Pro Alpha, Hammond Pro Beta, Hammond X, Hurricane II, Hurricane III, Magic Carbon, Magical Spin, Micro, Midship, Midship SC, Milford, Moristo, Moristo 44, Moristo 2000, Moristo 2000 NX, Moristo DF, Moristo FG, Moristo LP, Moristo LP One, Moristo RS Hard, Moristo RS Soft, Moristo SP, Narucross, Narucross Ex Hard, Narucross Ex Soft, Narucross GS Hard, Narucross GS Soft, Narucross GS Super Soft, Narucross Tension, Nodias, Pimple Mini, Pimple Mini One, Refoma, Renanos Bright Hard, Renanos Bright Soft, Renanos Hard, Renanos Hold, Renanos Soft, Screw One, Screw Soft, Spiral, Specialist One, Specialist Soft, Specialist Soft HS, Tracer

Stiga - Almana, Almana Sound, Almana Sound SynergyTech, Boost TC, Boost TP, Boost TS, Boost TX, Calibra LT, Calibra LT Sound, Carbo, Carbo MC, Carbo Sound, Cenno, China Extreme, Chop & Drive, Clippa, Cobra 2000, Destroyer, Doer, Energy Absorber, Evo, Future, Innova, Innova Premium, Innova Ultra Light, Innova Ultra Light SynergyTech, JMS EVO 1, Magic, Magna, Magna TC 2, Magna TS 2, Mendo, Mendo MP, Mendo Energy, Neos, Neos Sound, Neos Sound SynergyTech, Neos Synergy Tech, Neos Tacky, Optimum MP, Premium, Radical, Syncro 45, Royal, Stream, Taiphoon, Triumph, Tween

Tibhar - Black Techno, Cata-Inazuma-Spin, Cata-Spin, Control Spin, Dang, Defense, Ellen, Extra Long, Genius, Genius+Optimum, Genius+Optimum Sound, Genius Sound, Grass, Grass Defense, Grass D-Tec, Grass Flex, Grass Offense, Grass Spezial 2000, Grass Spezial 3000, Grass Ultra, Grip-S, Intra, Learn Cont, Learn Spin, Legend, Makss, Mythik, Nianmor, Nimbus, Nimbus Medium, Nimbus Soft, Nimbus Sound, Nimbus VIP, Norm, Primus, Rapid, Rapid D. TecS, Rapid D. TecS Soft, Rapid Soft, Red Power, Rookie D. TecS, Samurai, Serie 2000, Sinus, Sinus Alpha, Sinus Sound, Speedy S/L, Speedy Soft, Speedy Soft D. TecS, Speedy Soft D. TecS VIP, Speedy Soft Pro, Speedy Spin, Speedy Spin Premium, Spico Speedy Spin, Standard, Storm, Super Defense, Super Defense 40, Super Defense 40 Soft, Supra, Torpedo, Torpedo Soft, Vari Spin, Vari Spin D. TecS, VHP Speedy Spin, Volcano

Yasaka - A-1.2, Anti Power, Cobalt, Do Up, Fusion, Mark V, Mark V30, Mark V GPS, Mark V HPS, Mark V HPS Soft, Mark V M2, Mark V XS, New Era, Original, Original Extra High Grade, Original T-Version, Orthodox, PB-1, Phantoom 0011, Phantoom 0012, Phantoom 007, Phantoom 008, Phantom 009, Pryde, Pryde 30, Pryde 40, Rally, V-Stage, Xtend, Xtend HS, Xtend SG

The Michael Landers Kellogg's Video

Here's a video from Kellogg's (3:47) on Michael Landers. Best quote: "The secret sauce is a lot of hard work, some luck, determination, and of course a great breakfast." (Hey, it's for Kellogg's!) As noted here on Monday, he's going to be on the Wheaties box.

101-year-old Dorothy Delow

"Scientists are mapping the genomes of centenarians to help unlock the secrets of longevity and a 101-year old Australian table tennis player is helping." ABC did a story on Dorothy Delow, the world's oldest active table tennis player at 101.  Here's the article and video (6:07).

London Mayor Boris Johnson's ping-pong speech

Here's a video of his hilarious 59-second speech given after he took possession of the Olympic flag in Beijing. Here are two quotes from the video:

  • "I say this respectfully to our Chinese hosts who have excelled so magnificently at ping-pong. Ping-pong was invented on the dining tables of England."
  • "The French looked to the dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner. We looked to the dining table and saw an opportunity to play Wiff Waff. And that is why London is the sporting capital of the world."

And here are eight photos of Mayor Johnson playing table tennis, from the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page: photo1 photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5 photo6 photo7 (only the back of his head; author Howard Jacobson on far side) photo8 (on left, Sebastian Coe on right)

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