Junior Olympics

August 1, 2013

MDTTC Camp

Yesterday's focus was on forehand looping. We didn't have most of the beginners do this, though a couple of them badly wanted to and so I taught them the shot. Normally you give players at least a few weeks at least of regular forehand and backhand drives before introducing them to looping. The six-year-old I blogged about yesterday who had a pretty good backhand loop (at least in multiball) had an even better forehand loop! Very smooth and rather consistent. However, he's not ready to do this effectively in a game yet - he still loses head-to-head to other beginners who don't have his techniques, but are a couple years older and are more consistent.

One of the important points that came up several times yesterday is the importance of rotating mostly in a circle when forehand looping. Imagine a rod going through your head; you should rotate around it. The left side (for righties) should pull back and around as much as the right side goes forward. This doesn't mean you never move your head and upper body (i.e. follow through sideways), but that's usually done to create power when rushed, especially when stepping around the backhand corner. By rotating mostly in a circle you stay balanced and immediately ready for the next shot - which is how top players can pull off a series of powerful loops in quick succession, while intermediate players often struggle to do two in a row.

The younger kids in this week's camp absolutely have gone bonkers over Froggy. All they want to do is put it on the table so they can try hitting it while I feed multiball. I'm starting half the sessions by saying various versions of, "If you work hard for the first hour, I'll bring out Froggy and you can take turns hurting the poor amphibian." It's good target practice, as long as they use good form when hitting.

Over break I was challenged by a 2139 player to a clipboard match. We played best of three to 11. I won the first, 11-9. He won the second, 11-8. He was leading 6-4 in the third when we ran out of time and had to go off break. We plan to finish the match at break today. We're having great points - wish this were on video. (There are a couple videos of me playing clipboard matches on youtube, but neither are among my better-played matches.) Earlier that morning, before we started, another junior (about 1100) also challenged me to a match, so I played him with my cell phone, and won, 11-9.  He wants to play me again today - rematch!

(Note - I have to run over to the club an hour and a half earlier this morning for something, so this blog is shorter than normal - not as much time to scan the Internet for interesting articles and videos.)

The Art of Decisiveness

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

International Articles

Here's my periodic reminder that there are lots and lots of international articles at the ITTF and TableTennista sites!

Junior Olympic Results

I've been unable to find any online results from the Junior Olympic Games, which were held the last three days in Detroit, finishing yesterday. One of the parents there put together this listing of medalists from my club (MDTTC). I have a listing now of the results and if I can't find an online listing soon I'll probably format and post that. (They normally put the results online.) So . . . Congratulations to the following MDTTC'ers at the 2013 Junior Olympics!

GOLD
Girls U10 Singles - Lisa Lin
Girls U10 Doubles - Lisa Lin & Jessica Lin
Girls U10 Team - Lisa Lin, Jessica Lin & Helen Yao
Boys U12 Singles - Adam Yao
Girls U16 Doubles - Kaylee Zou & Shirley Hu
Boys U18 Doubles - Chen Bowen & Nathan Hsu
Division I - Sameer Shaikh
Division J - Jessica Lin
SILVER 
Girls U10 Singles - Jessica Lin
Boys U16 Singles - Chen Bowen
Girls U18 Singles - Lilly Lin
Boys U18 Team - Leon Bi, Chen Bowen, Nathan Hsu
Division H - Lisa Lin
BRONZE 
Girls U12 Singles - Helen Yao
Girls U14 Singles - Amy Lu
Girls U18 Doubles - Lilly Lin & Amy Lu
Girls U18 Team - Amy Lu, Kaylee Zou & Lilly Lin
Boys U16 Team - Jason Wei & Adam Yao

Table Tennis Balls - Never Leave Home Without 'Em!

Like this. (No, it's not my car!)

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July 26, 2012

Last Blog for a Week

I leave early tomorrow morning to coach at the Southern Open (Sat & Sun) and the Junior Olympics (Mon-Wed), both in Houston. As I've learned in the past, blogging while coaching and keeping track of numerous hordes of table tennis juniors is not an easy mix, so no more blogs until I return. (Next blog will be Friday, Aug. 3.)

Long Night

After coaching much of yesterday, I went to work on finalizing both the "MDTTC Junior Medals Listing, 1992-2012" file and the Coach Jack Huang for the U.S. Hall of Fame Application. I finished both a little after 5AM. It's now 5:20 AM as I write this, and in a few hours I'm off to the MDTTC camp to coach. And then I have to do laundry, go to the bank, get a haircut, pack, finalize and send off the application, and then watch videos to prepare for matches I'll be coaching in Houston the next five days. (See above item.) Yes, I study videos of prospective opponents and take extensive notes. Why don't you?

Yesterday was a wild day. Both the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun came in. The Post sent a writer, a photographer, and a videographer - besides a regular article with pictures they are doing a video feature on the club, which I believe will feature Derek Nie, Wang Qing Liang, Nathan Hsu, Amy Lu, and Timmy La. The Sun is featuring Derek Nie. I spoke with them about Derek for about half an hour. Derek, you're my buddy, but I'm getting sick and tired of talking about you!

The videographer filmed me as I fed multiball to beginning kids as they tried to 1) knock down pyramids made of paper cups; 2) smack a large rubber frog I placed on the table in a team competition; and 3) hit my "Gatorade bottle," which I'd convinced them was actually full of squeezed worm juice - I had to drink it whenever they hit it. He also videoed us using the robot. (But he spent most of his time videoing our top juniors in action, especially doing multiball.) I'll post a link to the video and the articles when the are up. (The Sun article is supposed to be in this Sunday's paper.)

Today will be even more fun - I'm bringing loads of candy, and at the end of the morning's sessions I'll put it all on the table, near the end, and the kids take turns trying to hit it. Whatever they knock off they get. Meanwhile, I have to figure out a way to stay awake. It's now past 5:30 AM, and I still haven't gone to bed. Yikes. (But I'd rather get the blog done before I go to bed for a few hours.)

Olympic Draws

They are posted on the ITTF home page. Table tennis starts Saturday. 

Chinese Domination in Table Tennis

PingSkills brings you this video (7:12) where they are mostly goofing off in London before the Olympics. They play ping-pong with a Panda. About three minutes in they start to talk about why China is so good.

Ben Stiller Talks Ping Pong with Jimmy Kimmel

Brought to you by Table Tennis Nation! Includes links to two videos (4:15 and 3:10).

Nathan's Guide to Table Tennis

This long awaited Guide is finally out! Brought to you by Maryland junior star Nathan Hsu, and assisted by visiting New Jersey junior star Allen Wang (12:33). And here's a hilarious 60-second video by Nathan that shows that if you don't play ping-pong, you might get bitten by a rabid rabbit.

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July 11, 2012

Coach Jack Huang, the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Junior Olympics

I spent last night going through old USA Table Tennis Magazines and online results, from 1992 to present, going over junior results from Junior Olympics, Junior Nationals, the U.S. Open, and USA Nationals. The reason? I'm putting together an application for fellow MDTTC Coach Jack Huang as a member of the Hall of Fame. So far I've identified 124 MDTTC juniors who medalled at the Junior Olympics or Junior Nationals, with over half of them winning gold medals. Next step is to figure out how many of them were Jack's students. Then I'll put this together with the rest of his coaching resume, and send it in to the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame Committee.

If Jack were inducted, it would be as a "Contributor," for his coaching. (The guy averages about sixty hours coaching per week - no exaggeration! - and has kept this up for over twenty years, producing a steady progression of top juniors.) I was also inducted as a Contributor, for my coaching and writing, while our other longtime MDTTC coach, Cheng Yinghua, went in as a player, though he likely could make it as a coach as well. Of course, if Jack were playing in the U.S. during his prime (he was on the Chinese National Team from 1976-83), he'd have dominated table tennis in the U.S., and would have gone in as a player long ago.

I haven't done a final count, but I believe MDTTC juniors have won over 300 gold medals in its twenty years. From around 1992 to about 2005 MDTTC won over half the gold medals. For various reasons we haven't been sending full teams since then. (For one thing, many of our top juniors spend their summers training in China.) For about twelve years we'd always show up with a team of about thirty kids, always the largest contingent, and compete in every age group in singles, doubles, and teams. However, like little league baseball, most give up the sport once they enter college. A few stay around as players, like Han Xiao (who's also a player rep on the USATT Board), or as organizers, such as many of the North American Table Tennis and JOOLA USA crew (Richard Lee, Katherine Wu, Michael Squires).

I've coached at about fifteen Junior Olympics. It's been a few years since I last went, but there's a good chance I'll be going this year. I'll know in a few days. It's in Houston this year. Cheng and Jack didn't go to all of the past Junior Olympics, while I went to all of them in the 1990s, and coached about 250 of our gold medallists in their medal matches.

CCTV at MDTTC

This morning CCTV America, a Chinese TV Network, is coming to MDTTC to do a feature. They'll be here around 11AM, as well all our top junior players, hopefully in their MDTTC uniforms. I'll post here when their broadcast goes up.

Michael Mezyan Table Tennis Artworks

Michael now has about a zillion of his table tennis masterpieces - why not check them out? They've been featured in Matt Hetherington's blog and on the ITTF Facebook page.

Two-Time USA Olympian Khoa Nguyen

Here's a story (with pictures) where Khoa reflects on his Olympic experiences.

U.S. Open Recap

Here's a recap (1:37) of the recent U.S. Open. Plus you get to see Ronald McDonald play Captain America!

Old Spice and Timothy Wang

Old Spice is teaming up with USA Table Tennis Olympian Timothy Wang! It's all part of their new campaign: "Believe in Your Smellf." (That's not a typo.) "For world-class athletes like Timothy Wang or ordinary guys, believing in your scent can truly be a powerful personal motivator," said Josh Talge, brand manager for Old Spice North America. "Old Spice Champion captures the essence of manhood, confidence and a sense of achievement, and celebrates the true champion in every man. It's designed to give guys the self-assurance that they can do anything if they put their Smellf into it." Check out the article to read Timothy's quote.

Wavy Table Tennis

The new wavy ping-pong table, which will become the standard for table tennis throughout the world in January, 2013. Start practicing!!!

Non-Table Tennis - The Wonderful Wizard of Os

My fiction story "The Wonderful Wizard of Os" was featured yesterday on Orioles Hangout, the web page devoted to Orioles baseball. It's the story of five Oriole players (i.e. Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion) traveling to see the Great and Wonderful Os to solve their baseball problems (They want a bat, a glove, an arm, and one just wants to go home, i.e. score runs). There are a number of inside Oriole jokes, so you might not get it all. Also a takeoff on "Damn Yankees."

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