Ball Placement

August 22, 2012

USA Nationals Entry Form

Here's the home page for the 2012 USA Nationals, with a link to the entry form. I'll be there mostly to coach, though I'll probably enter one event - Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff, which I'll try to win for the 14th time, including ten with Ty. (I'd like to play other events, but there are just too many conflicts with all the junior events I'm be coaching in.)

Neck Problems

As I noted in my blog on Aug. 9, I was in a car accident on Aug. 8, two weeks ago. The other driver was at fault (she pulled right in front of me as I was driving to the club), and their insurance will be paying to repair my car. I also said no one was hurt.

Not so fast.

About a week ago (I'm not sure exactly when) my neck started bothering me. At first it was more an irritation, and I kept massaging the neck muscles, trying to get them to loosen up. But it got worse and worse. By Monday, the first day of the last MDTTC camp of the summer, it was painful, and by Tuesday morning it was excruciatingly painful just to hold my head up - meaning it was excruciatingly painful ALL THE TIME. I went to see a doctor during lunch break on Tuesday, but had to leave before seeing him when things ran late and I had to get back to the camp. But I found one who saw me that night at 7PM. The x-rays were negative, and there's no apparent nerve damage, so it's probably muscle and tendon problems.

I'm now wearing a neck brace, along with various medications (pain relievers and muscle relaxants). When I go to the camp this morning, there'll be some stares because of the neck brace, but it should allow me to at least do multiball and complete the camp through this Friday. The odds are I'm going to have to cancel all coaching for at least a week after that, though I may be able to do multiball - we'll see.

I'm starting to miss the back problems I had last year.

MDTTC Camp, Week Eleven, Day Two

Yesterday I gave lectures on the backhand, on receive, and on ball placement. For ball placement, I talked about the three or four placements for nearly all shots: to the forehand corner, to the backhand corner, and the middle. What's the fourth placement? Against a ball that goes to your wide forehand or backhand, you have an angle outside the opponent's wide corner, so you can go down the line, to the middle, to the crosscourt corner, or crosscourt wide outside the corner. You should normally go for such extreme angles only if you use lots of topspin to pull the ball down, or against a short ball. I also talked about moving players in and out, and how to be deceptive with your placement by aiming one way, and at the last second rotating your shoulders to change directions. (Here's a Tip of the Week on Forehand Deception with Shoulder Rotation.)

The afternoon session had me with two tables (one with a robot) and eight kids, and was excruciatingly painful - see "Neck Problems" above. Most of the kids understood what I was going through and were on good behavior - not only was the pain obvious, but I told them that today was not a day to give me any flak. (But you'll note I said "Most" above. Maybe my wearing a neck brace today will get through to the one or two not in the "Most.")

A relatively new ritual is the daily five-minute trek to 7-11 after lunch. Yesterday 15 of us made the trip; on Monday we had 13. The 7-11 manager gives me a small mini Slurpee each time I bring in all these kids.

Table Tennis Music Video

On Saturday, Sept. 15, we'll start (and hopefully finish) the band Edie Sedgwick will be filming a table tennis music video at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. The video will star 11-year-old Derek Nie, who will play and defeat the band members in the video. I'll be along as a consultant, and will be well paid in pepperoni pizza. Here's an example of another music video they did.

Team USA in London

Here's a video (1:50) of USA Olympians Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu doing interviews, exhibitions, and promotional work in London.

Top 50 Points

Here's a video (18:36) that shows the "Top 50 Table Tennis Points."

Justin Bieber Playing TT in Commercial

Here's a commercial (2:01) starring Justin Bieber for a medicated cleansing bar that shows him playing table tennis. He says, "After a concert or playing ball I use the bar to shower." He's playing table tennis as he says this, for about two seconds starting at second 21.

Table Tennis Rules

Here's a video (6:26) from PingSkills that explains the rules - with a panda. Really! I like it.

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July 25, 2012

MDTTC Camp

I won't bother giving you the week and day number (okay, yesterday was week six, day two), since they start to blend together when you are doing eleven straight weeks of camps.

This week we have about 30 players, mostly advanced, with only 4-5 "beginners." Since it's a more advanced group (and since I could work with the beginners separately), I decided not to bother my usual stroke lectures. So yesterday I gave a talk on ball placement - playing the corners and middle, when to go for the extreme wide angles (outside the corners), opening up the wide angles by playing the middle, taking away the forehand by playing to the forehand first (often short) and then going to the backhand, moving players in and out, etc. After the break I gave short talk on doubles strategy - what types of serves to use (mostly short and low backspin and no-spin) and where to place them (mostly toward the center of the table), how to receive (forehand or backhand, as long as you can loop the deep ball), where to place the ball, etc.

Last week a reporter from the Washington Post came in to do a feature on Derek Nie, the U.S. Open Boys' 11 and Under Champion. (It looks like they are featuring Nathan Hsu as well, and other MDTTC players.) He's coming back this morning, along with a photographer. Not sure yet when the story will run.

On top of that the Baltimore Sun is doing an interview with Derek this morning for a feature in this Sunday's paper. I don't think Derek even knows about this one yet. We also have a local TV station that arranged yesterday to come in and do a special on us on Aug. 16. Plus the local Gazette is doing a special on us, not sure when they are coming in. Plus there was that CCTV American special on us last week. So it's been a busy media week. Meanwhile, I'll be coaching at the Junior Olympics next week (Mon-Wed), and will send out a whole new slew of press releases afterwards.

On break I saw Derek, Allen Wang, John Hsu, and Leon Bi playing a winner-stay-on game where they started each game at deuce, and you didn't have to win by two. (In other words, first to win two points. Leon, who's about a thousand points lower, only had to win one point.) I joined in, and did surprisingly well, winning at least the first game all five times I went on the table, and winning three in a row one time. I had a nice counterlooping point with Derek, and won a point chopping against John.

Larry's Law

This has come up several times recently, so I'll give it again. "Larry's Law" is a law I came up with years ago. Often as a player trains and improves they start challenging stronger players, but still lose most of these matches close, though they'll occasionally win one. The reason is that while they may now be playing at the same level as the other player, the other player has more experience at that level, and so is tactically and mentally more prepared to win the close games. In other words, if you are challenging stronger players and keep training and playing matches against players at that level, it means that in six months or so you'll have the experience to consistently win at that level

Interview with Jerome Charyn

Here's an interview with Jerome Charyn, table tennis player and author of the table tennis book "Sizzling Chops and Devilish Spins: Ping Pong and the Art of Staying Alive" (2001). The book is "part memoir and part history," and "...bounces from Manhattan in the 1940s (where unheralded lions of the game, like Marty Reisman and Dick Miles, hustled their way through the ping-pong underworld) to China in the 1960s (when Nixon used ping pong as a tool of diplomacy) to present-day France (where Charyn, our faithful guide, battles his way through the lower-division tournaments)."

Table Tennis Center Sprouts Up in South Carolina Mall

Here's an article about a table tennis center that opened up Richland Mall in Columbia, South Carolina.

Jan-Ove Waldner Tribute

I don't think I've posted this Waldner Tribute Video (4:21), with lots of great points from the Master.

Table Tennis as It Should Be

On a makeshift wooden table balanced on barrels.

Uberpong: Table Tennis Paddles Artwork

Here's an article and video (3:52) on Uberpong's numerous table tennis paddle artworks.

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