Ping-Pong Balls in Space

September 20, 2012

Preparing for Tournament This Weekend

When I say this, I mean both for my students and for myself.

Students: Yesterday I had one-hour coaching sessions with two junior players who are about to play in their first USATT tournament. (I had a third session with another who might play in our October tournament.) How does one prepare someone for their first tournament? First off, I direct them to this article I wrote a while back, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your First Table Tennis Tournament … But Didn’t Know Where to Ask!"

But you are probably more interested in how to prepare a player to play well? Here's my article "Ten-Point Plan to Tournament Success." In the case of these two students, we did about 30 minutes of regular drills (footwork, steady stroking drills, multiball), and then went to game-type situations. For example, I'd rally steady into the student's backhand, and he'd pick a shot to either step around and smash, or hit his backhand down the line. As soon as he did one of these it was free play. Then we got to even more game-type drills, such as straight serve and attack (he serves backspin, I push it back, he loops, then free play). We did a lot of pushing and loop against push drills. I also had them do a lot of serve practice, always the most under-practiced aspect of a game, especially just before a tournament.

We also talked a bit about tactics, stressing keep it simple - use serve and receive to get their strengths into play and avoid the opponent's strengths while going after their weaknesses. You'll note I didn't emphasize guarding their own weaknesses. That's something more experienced players should do, but at this stage I don't want to enforce in their minds that they have weaknesses they should be guarding since we want those weaknesses to become strengths. The other three aspects are enough for now, and if you get your strengths into play, then you are not using your weaknesses so much.

Me: I'm getting ready to run the tournament with a new software, Omnipong. So far I've set up the tournament (setting all the events, how they should be run, etc.), inputted entries received (47 so far, expecting a bunch more today), and got the new printer to work with it (don't ask, but thanks to John Olsen who figured out that I was trying to print using a printer driver for a 32-bit computer but I had a 64-bit computer . . . or something like that). Today I'm going to test other aspects of the software, such as setting up draws, printing them out, and printing match slips. I've already done some of this, but want to make sure everything's set.

Two Days Till the MDTTC September Open!

Have you entered yet? Or are you part of the 47% who are dependent on USATT to protect their ratings, who believe that they would be victims if they entered the tournament, who believe that they are entitled to their high rating without defending it . . . people who do not compete? (Now if I could only charge all of you $50,000 each for reading this.)

Note that official deadline is 5PM today. But I'll take entries until I do the draws sometime on Friday. Send your entry in NOW!!!

Zhuang Zedong Battling Cancer

Here's an article about Zhuang Zedong (often called Chuang Tsetung, the three-time World Men's Singles Champion from 1961-65, often called the greatest player ever, who initiated the events that led to Ping-Pong Diplomacy) and his battle with cancer and his other passion, calligraphy.

Ping-Pong Balls in Space!

Here's the article. That's one small roll for a ball, one giant spin for ballkind.

Now That's a Forehand!!!

Like father, like son - here's little Nick Schlager showing incredible form as dad Werner (2003 World Men's Singles Champion) looks on in amazement. And the form looks strikingly like Daddy's.

My Big Forehand

I have a big forehand too, just like little Nick above. Really, it's true. Here's the picture to prove it.

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May 21, 2012

Tip of the Week:

Forehand Deception with Shoulder Rotation.

Potomac Open and Chinese Juniors

I had to miss the tournament as I was busy coaching at MDTTC. However, the results were profoundly interesting as they were the first tournaments for the three new MDTTC kids from China. The three, all from the Shandong Luneng Table Tennis School in Shandong, moved here a few weeks ago and plan to learn English and stay through college. They will be training at the Maryland Table Tennis Center as well as acting as practice partners. Here are their rough results.

Wang Qing Liang, 17, is the oldest and strongest. He plays a modern chopper/looper style, very similar to 2003 World Men's Singles Finalist Joo Se Hyuk of South Korea. This means that he mostly chops on the backhand with long pips, and both chops and attacks all-out on the forehand side, where he's ready to counterloop anything. In the semifinals he defeated current U.S. Men's Singles Champion Peter Li 4-2. In the final he faced MDTTC coach Jeffrey Xeng Xun, where after a long battle he lost 4-2. He's about 2550-2600 level, and when the tournament is processed he'll be one of the top two or three resident juniors in the U.S. (along with Michael Landers and Yang Liang), as well as the highest rated chopper. We haven't had a chopper this good since the days of Derek May, Arun Kumar, and Insook Bhushan, but none of those three could attack like this kid.

Chen Bo Wen, 14, is a two-winged penhold looper with a reverse penhold backhand loop that is nothing short of extraordinary - except when compared to his forehand loop, which is even better. He reached the semifinals where he lost to eventual champion Jeffrey Xeng Xun. He's about 2450 level, and when the tournament is processed he'll be one of the top two under 15 resident juniors in the U.S. along with Li Hangyu.

Wang Guo Cong, 12, is a lefty shakehands looper. He upset Raghu Nadmichettu (2408) three straight, but had a bad loss to a 2250 chopper. He's about 2400 level, and when the tournament is processed he'll be one of the top under 13 resident juniors in the U.S. (The U.S. has a surprising number of very strong under 13 players right now - five of them from 2366 to 2420. He'll fit somewhere in there.)

All three will be competing at the U.S. Open, including the junior events.

U.S. Nationwide Table Tennis League Promotional Video

The USNTTL has created a promotional video (5:21), and it is required viewing of all table tennis players. This means you. Yes, you, the one drinking coffee and about to move on to the next item below.

Jim Butler on the Comeback Trail

With recent tournament wins over U.S. National Men's Champion and Runner-up Peter Li and Han Xiao, three-time U.S. National Champion Jim Butler is back in training after eight years away. He also talks about changes to the sport, especially the growing popularity of the reverse forehand pendulum serve, the backhand loop, and backhand receives. Here's the article!

Table Tennis Town

Here's a new table tennis page with lots of links.

Ping-Pong Balls in Space

How'd they get there? Here's the article!

Top Ten Behind the Back Shots of All time

And here they are!

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