Spin NY

November 9, 2012

Random Drills

Recently I've been introducing a lot of our new juniors to random drills. Until you have the fundamentals down, it's important to focus on rote drills, where you do the same thing over and Over and OVER again until you can do them in your sleep - forehands, backhands, loops, blocks, pushes, etc. But once you have the stroke down pretty well, you have to be able to do them in match situations, where your opponent doesn't put the ball to the same place over and over - instead, you have to react to the shot. That's where random drills come in.

There are two basic types of random drills. The more basic one is where you have a choice between two spots. For example, the coach or practice partner (often using multiball) puts the ball either to the forehand or backhand, and you have to react to the shot with either your forehand or backhand. The key is that you don't anticipate; just react until this becomes second nature. Your first move should be the right move; you don't want to start to your forehand side and then have to recover to hit a backhand, or vice versa. Make sure to move to each ball (don't reach), and focus on balance - no leaning.

The other way is where the ball goes more randomly anywhere on the table or within a restricted area. For example, the coach or practice partner might put the ball randomly to the forehand side, and you have to move about driving these balls back with your forehand, moving to each one. Or, or in the ultimate random drill, the coach or practice partner puts the ball anywhere on the table, and you drive the ball back.

If you just do rote drills where you know where the ball is going, you are not matching what you will face in a game. So put some randomness into your drills, along with rote drills to hone your strokes. What you develop with random drills is called neuromuscular adaptation, where your brain learns to react properly and quickly to any shot. Not only is this the key to high-level play, but it's fun to say! (An expanded version of this might become a Tip of the Week.)

MDTTC Junior Team, Ratings, and Rankings

I thought I'd give a shout-out today to the juniors at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. (Some also play at other local clubs.) They're a great bunch of kids whose sole goal is to beat me, um, I mean to win Olympic Gold Medals. Here's a listing of those over 1600 with some of their ranking/best title(s).




Best Ranking or Titles


Wang Qing Liang


#1 Under 18 in the U.S., U.S. Open Men's Singles Semifinalist


Chen Bo Wen


#1 Under 15 in the U.S., #3 Under 18


Tong Tong Gong


Member of USA National Cadet Team (#3 on team)


Nathan Hsu


2011 Junior Olympic Under 16 Boys' Singles Gold Medalist, 2012 Southern Open Doubles Champion


Anthony Qu


#5 Under 13 Boys in the U.S.


Roy Ke


#12 Under 14 Boys in the U.S.


Derek Nie


U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion


Crystal Wang


#1 Under 11, Under 12, and Under 13 Girls in the U.S. (was 2166 before inadvertently playing two tournaments with a fractured wrist!!!), member of USA Cadet Girls' Team


George Nie


2012 Junior Olympics Under 18 Boys Doubles Silver Medalist


Michael Ding




Karl Montgomery




Lily Lin


#20 Under 16 Girls in the U.S.


Jackson Liang


2012 Junior Olympics Under 18 Boys Doubles Silver Medalist


Amy Lu


#3 Under 12 Girls in the U.S., 2012 Junior Olympics Under 12 Girls' Singles Gold Medalist


Lisa Cui


#14 Under 14 Girls in the U.S.

1769 Michael Li 11 #21 Under 12 Boys in the U.S.


Princess Ke


#8 Under 13 Girls in the U.S. (was 1877 a few months ago, #3 in Under 12 Girls)


Jason Wei




Adam Yao


#10 Under 11 Boys in the U.S.


Wesley Duan


2012 Junior Olympics Under 14 Boys' Team Bronze Medalist


Kaylee Zou




Tony Li



SPiN for the Cause Charity

Here's the Facebook page for "Susan Sarandon presents: SPiN FOR THE CAUSE - Hurricane Sandy Relief Fundraiser," which is being held tonight at Spin NY.

TopSpin Charity

Here's an article in the Huffington Post that features TopSpin, the table tennis charity that has raised $750,000 for educational non-profits.

2013 USA Team Trials Bids

Want to run the 2013 USA Team Trials, Feb. 7-10, 2013? The deadline to bid is Nov. 15. Here's bidding info.

ITTF Level 2 Coaching Seminar

Here are two articles on the ITTF Level 2 Coaching Seminar held in Colorado Springs, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6. Here's the USATT article by Richard McAfee, and the ITTF article by Ian Marshall. Alas, I wasn't able to make the seminar - too busy coaching and writing in Maryland.

People's Ping Pong Party

Here's the Facebook page of this exhibition of table tennis and art (or something like that), starting Nov. 10 (tomorrow). One of the two running this is Rocky Wang, alias "LiL Big Wong," a 2300 (formerly 2400) player originally from Maryland (a junior star from the 1980s) but now living in New York. I'm having a hard time describing this, so I'll just cut & paste their first two paragraphs.

Present Company is delighted to announce the inauguration of the People’s Ping Pong Party (PPPP) and introduce their two leaders Madame WuWeiWoo and LiL Big Wong. WuWeiWoo, an unbeknownst time traveller, was born in Cuba from a union between a Buffalo Soldier and a young Martial Artist during the Spanish American War. LiL Big Wong’s lineage comes from an ex-Black Panther mother and a Chinese Ping Pong champion, but given his strict Chinese upbringing, he has no clue that he’s actually Black.

A collaboration between artists iona rozeal brown (WuWeiWoo) and Rocky Wang (LiL Big Wong), PPPP serves as an artistic and proto-political paradigm based on the Venn intersections of the radical politics of the Black Panther Party, Ping Pong Diplomacy of the 1970’s, the ethnic stereotypes of not only Chinese and African Americans, but a host of other offbeat characters and the B-movie antics of Kung Fu Saturday Matinee.

Wide-eyed with Happiness or Disbelief

This is what most people looked like after the presidential election. The only difference was whether the mouth was concave up or down.


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July 18, 2012

MDTTC Camp, Week Five, Day Two

The schedule yesterday was similar to the day before, except that the morning's focus was on the backhand, and my lecture after the break was on return of serve.

I did a lot of coaching on serves, where the focus was on creating spin. One thing I introduced was a way to practice spin with just the racket and ball. You toss the ball into the air and try to sidespin it straight into the air, catch it, and repeat. It's a simple exercise any player can learn to do, and it's a great way to practice your spin contact as well as control (since you have to hit the ball straight up).

One serve especially has gained interest - the reverse forehand pendulum serve, especially short to the forehand. I've explained that this is probably the most effective serves against junior players (because of their shorter reach, making it hard both to handle the serve or to return it anywhere except crosscourt to a righty's forehand), and this seems to have sparked interest. Here's a video (1:22) that features Men's Singles World Champion Zhang Jike doing the serve, with slow motion. Normally I'd recommend the serve to go wider to the forehand, but at the advanced levels that gives the receiver a very wide angle into the forehand, so at that level it is often done more to the middle. Learn the serve and experiment on what works best in your matches against different opponents.

Things weren't all lovey-dovey in the camp; we had our first real fight of the season. One kid wanted to share a chair with another (both about 9), for some reason didn't want to use the open chair five feet away. I had to pull them apart. Amazing how such little things can escalate at that age level. (I previously blogged about a fight over paper cups, I think about who got to stack them for knocking down with ping-pong balls.) But an hour later they were happily taking turns on the robot together, and later were teammates in Brazilian Teams, cheering for each other. I wish my memory were that short.

In the ongoing clipboard challenge matches during break, I haven't yet lost to anyone rated under 2200, and am now 5-0 against players rated between 2000 and 2200. However, I believe players are now conspiring together by studying videos late into the night, comparing notes, consulting with coaches, and doing early morning training, all for the express purpose of beating me and my clipboard.

Fundraising for Topspin the Movie

To do the documentary on Michael Landers, Ariel Hsing, and Lily Zhang, they need to raise $75,000. As of this writing, 405 people have donated a total of $44,771. It's all or nothing - so they need you to donate! Here's the movie webpage, here's the fundraising site, and here's a link to the 48-hour Top Spinnathon they started Tuesday at 3:30 PM.

Ariel Hsing on CNN

Here's an article with a link to a two-minute video that ran on CNN yesterday. The person hitting with Ariel in the video is coach and practice partner Anol Kashyap.

Timothy Wang in the News

Here's an article on USA Olympian Timothy Wang.

What Vikash Learned at the U.S. Open

Vikash Sahu blogs about what he learned at the U.S. Open, in particular about attacking, playing different styles, and physical conditioning.

History of U.S. Table Tennis

Chapter 14 of Volume 12 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis was featured yesterday on the USATT web page. The heading: "1983: New USTTA Editor Tom Wintrich Replaces 50-Year-Old 'Table Tennis Topics' with 'SPIN.' 1983: Boggan's Fury at President Schiff's Public Explanation as to Why Tim was Fired as 'Topics' Editor. 1983: Boggan Immediately Begins Renegade 'Timmy’s North American World of Table Tennis.'  1983: Initial Responses to SPIN and 'Timmy's' from readers."

Why not buy a copy of this volume and/or the preceding eleven? Perhaps pick and choose the years you are most interested in. Here's Tim Boggan's table tennis page, where you can buy the books or just read about Tim. Here's his Hall of Fame profile.

Wheel of Fortune

Table tennis was on Wheel of Fortune yesterday, as related online by "jj4tt" at the about.com table tennis forum. As he narrates about "Round 2 - Same Letter" (and I presume Wheel of Fortune aficionados can make sense of this?):

Sarah instantly duds out w/ T while Karla goes BANKRUPT. Jed picks up that MDW with three N's. That's followed by $7,000 worth of L's, but he blows it with the C. Back to Sarah who finds the SL of four P's; that allows her to pick up a 1/2 KIA. She narrows the puzzle down to this...
P R O _ E S S I O N A L
P I N _ - P O N _
P L A _ E R
She solves PROFESSIONAL PING-PONG PLAYER for $2,500. Jed left a total of $8,300 on the table in this round.  ...

A Table at Spin NY

I think it's a drowning woman - the table top seems to be blocking her from surfacing. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be posting about Murder at Spin NY.


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