November 8, 2013

Playing at a Club with Great Conditions

One of the problems with playing at a very nice club with very nice conditions is you get used to it. So when you go to tournaments, where the conditions often aren't so nice, you have problems. For example, at my club we have this nice rubberized red flooring, which is great for moving on, as well as having enough give so that it doesn't hurt your legs from the constant movement. But many of us will be playing at the Teams in three weeks, where we'll spend three days playing on somewhat slippery and unforgiving concrete. How do we prepare?

Recently I've been doing "shoe checks." I've been checking the bottoms of everyone's playing shoes to make sure they are in good condition. On our red floors you can wear your shoes down and it doesn't affect the grip on the floor. But on concrete floors (and most wood floors) the floor is more slippery, and you need grippy shoes. So I've been urging those with worn-out shoes to get new ones. Otherwise they'll be sliding all over the place at the Teams.

There are other ways of adapting. You've probably seen players on slippery floors step on a damp cloth between points to increase traction. There are also non-stick sprays you can put on your shoes - in table tennis, I think only Butterfly sells these. (I just ordered a bottle to try out, though I'm not playing in the Teams, just coaching.)

Of course, if you are not from my club, I urge you to show up with nicely worn-out shoes. I mean, c'mon, don't you want shoes you are used to? You'll have three days to learn how to slide into position.

On a side note (and I think I once blogged about this but can't find it), it is a huge advantage to play at a club with nice conditions. The conditions are conducive to high-level play, leading to, yes, high-level play, which helps you improve faster. If your club has poor conditions (bad lighting, bad background, slippery floors, bad tables, etc.), it limits the level of play, and so you don't improve as fast. There is the benefit that if your club has poor conditions, you are ready for tournaments, but that benefit pales in comparison to the higher level of play you'll be able to reach in good conditions.

Non-Table Tennis: Novel and Philcon

If all goes well, I should have copies of my novel "Sorcerers in Space" sometime this morning. Then I drive up to Philcon, the annual Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention, to spend Friday afternoon and night attending panels and (hopefully) promoting the novel. I come back late Friday night as I'm coaching at the Potomac Open on Saturday all day. (On the other hand, I'm still feeling the effects of that slight cold I wrote about yesterday, so I'm considering spending the day in bed. I'll decide later.)

Addendum added 20 minutes after posting blog: I got a phone call, and discovered my voice is completely hoarse this morning. So I'm apparently sick again. No Philcon, but I'll get a lot of reading in bed today....

USA Cadets at the World Cadet Challenge

Here are results and pictures.

Interview with USA's Kanak Jha

Here's the ITTF's interview (1:45) with Kanak at the World Cadet Challenge.

Coaching Articles from Table Tennis Master

Crazy Point Between Wang Liqin and Oh Sang Eun

Here it is (38 sec).

USATT Tips of the Day

USATT has been putting up as "Tips of the Day" the 171 Tips of the Week I wrote for them a few years ago as "Dr. Ping-Pong." I was going to put up links each Friday to the previous week's Tips, but forgot last Friday. So below are the 16 Tips since the last time I linked to them all - enjoy!!! (Click on link for complete tip.) 

Nov 07, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Backhand Attack Placements
The strength of most backhand attacks is that they usually involve a quicker, shorter stroke, and so are harder for opponent’s to react to.

Nov 06, 2013 - Tip of the Day - How to Vary Your Receive Against Short Backspin Serves
Most players return short backhand serves with a simple push, without much thought to it.

Nov 05, 2013 - Tip of the Day - How to Win
You can't win unless you can find tactical match-ups where you are better than your opponent.

Nov 04, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Placement of Aggressive Shots
When attacking, you should generally put all your shots to one of three places: wide forehand, wide backhand, or middle (opponent’s playing elbow).

Nov 03, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Inside-out Backhands
Want to really tie your opponent in knots not to mention win a lot of points? Aim your backhand crosscourt with a normal backhand stroke.

Nov 02, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Place Your Quick Backhand Attacks
When attacking a ball right off the bounce with their backhands, most players automatically go crosscourt to the opponent’s backhand. That’s not usually the most effective place to go.

Nov 01, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Blocking Tips
One of the most common reason players have trouble blocking against heavy topspin is because they hold the racket too high.

Oct 31, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Anticipate an Opponent’s Direction
Get in the habit of watching how an opponent hits the ball. Does he change direction at the last instant ever?

Oct 30, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Use Practice Matches to Practice
Exactly as the heading says this is the time to try out new things, develop new techniques, and generally improve your game.

Oct 29, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Play the Middle Against a Two-Winged Hitter
Some opponents hit well from both sides, seemingly taking a big swing and smacking in everything, both forehand and backhand.

Oct 28, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Don’t Give a Quick Player a Short Ball
If your opponent is quicker than you, than the last thing you want to do is let him rush you.

Oct 27, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Playing the "Unique" Style
You’ve probably all had the experience of playing someone who plays "different."

Oct 26, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Watch Top Players to Raise Your Own Level of Play
One of the best ways to improve your shots is get a good visual image of what your shots should look like just before playing.

Oct 25, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Footwork Against Off-Table Player
A player with good footwork doesn’t wait to see where the ball is going before he prepares to move.

Oct 24, 2013 - Tip of the Day - On Short Serves to the Forehand, Challenge the Forehand, Go Down the Line
Assuming two right-handers play, a common rally starts with a short serve to the forehand. Many receivers don’t understand the strategies in receiving this shot.

Oct 23, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Fool Your Opponents - Forehand Position for Backhands?
When playing close to the table, you have very little time to make a transition from forehand to backhand shots, and vice versa.

Octopus Table Tennis

Yes, that's an octopus playing table tennis, and yes, you can put it on your shirt.

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July 24, 2012

Table Tennis Shoes

In my SF novel "Campaign 2100" (which covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, and is currently making the rounds of publishers and agents), one of the characters was a championship table tennis player who quit the sport to run the election campaign. I stuck in three table tennis scenes. One of the innovations I used was that his shoes had adjustable traction, which he'd vary based on the floors. Why don't we have that?

Okay, the answer is we don't have the technology. But more specifically, why don't we use different types of shoes for different conditions? I see two main variations: grippiness and support. On slippery floors you'd want grippy shoes, but on grippy floors a grippy shoe might be too grippy, making it grippingly difficult to move. (Isn't that a gripping sentence?) Older and overweight players, and those playing on cement, would want shoes with more support, while others might want a shoe with little support so they can "grab" the floor better with thinner, more flexible soles.

I envision a scatter plot on a square graph where the higher on the graph you are, the more support; the more to the right, the more grippiness. Then players could choose the shoe that fits their condition and the playing conditions.

I used to have both my regular playing shoes, and these "suction cup" table tennis shoes from China that were super grippy. On slippery floors I'd pull out the suction cup shoes. Also, when I had knee problems, I started using shoes with more support. But now that I play almost exclusively on red rubberized flooring designed for table tennis (at the Maryland Table Tennis Center), and my knees seem fine, I prefer shoes with little support and thin soles. They don't need to be grippy - you can move on the red flooring with iced soles. However, I never wear the low-support table tennis shoes outside the club. (You do carry your table tennis shoes to the club in a shoe bag, right? NO ONE in their right mind would wear them outside the club, where you might hurt your feet or get the shoes dirty!)

What I Did Yesterday

  • Wrote the Tip of the Week
  • Wrote the Tip of the Week for next Monday
  • Wrote Monday's blog
  • Did three hours of coaching at MDTTC Training camp. (Spent much time with three new beginning juniors.)
  • Took the kids during lunch break to 7-11 (after they'd eaten lunch).
  • Changed sponge on both sides of my racket
  • Weeded yard, then went to Home Depot and bought new mulch, and put it in.
  • Did two rewrite requests on SF stories, one for a story already sold, and one for a story that's a "finalist."
  • Submitted seven short stories to markets (I'd let it go for a while)
  • Responded to about ten emails
  • Watched tapes and took notes on several prospective opponents at upcoming Southern Open and Junior Olympics in Houston. I'll be coaching there Fri-Wed, July 27 - Aug. 1.)

How Ping Pong Saved the World

Here's the trailer (2:18) for the upcoming documentary "How Ping Pong Saved the World." It includes short statements on how they got started in table tennis by Connie Sweeris, Tim Boggan, Errol Resek, Jack Howard, Judy Hoarfrost, Rufford Harrison, George Brathwaite, John Tannehill, and Olga Soltesz.

And here's an email I received regarding the documentary and the book series that features table tennis by Jerome Charyn.

I'm Lenore Riegel, partner-in-crime of Bronx author Jerome Charyn, the well-known player who wrote Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins: Ping Pong and the Art of Staying Alive.  Charyn is featured in the upcoming documentary, How Ping Pong Saved the World

Ping-pong figures heavily in the first two of his ten Isaac Sidel crime novels, recently re-released, and soon to be an animated adult TV series, Hard Apple

I know you already have a picture of Charyn on your site, but it occurred to me that you might like to read Charyn's ping-pong books - I'd be happy to send them.

Meanwhile, the book trailer features ping-pong.

I've attached a sketch from the animated TV series based on Charyn's crime novels - there will be lots of ping-pong in them.  I've also attached a few pictures you might enjoy for your site.

Here is the Facebook page and the Tumblr page

Charyn plays regularly at SPIN in NYC.

Table Tennis Rulez

Here's a new table tennis promotional video with lots of great points (7:12). It starts off with two very long and great points, then the music starts.

Ford Uses Ping-Pong Balls to Measure Vehicle Space

Now we'll know how many ping-pong balls fit in the glove compartment.


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