Forehand Push

April 18, 2013

No Blog Tomorrow (Friday)

I'm off to the Hopes Trials in at the Westchester TTC in Pleasantville, New York. See you on Monday!

Hopes Trials at Westchester TTC in NY

I'm going up to coach the two Maryland players who qualified, Crystal Wang and Derek Nie. We've been training for this for weeks! I did a 90-minute session with Derek just last night, while other coaches worked with Crystal. What is it?

Every year the ITTF has Hopes Week. This year it's going to be at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria, June 10-16. (I think it was there last year as well.) The best 11- and 12-year-olds from around the world will be invited there for a week of training, culminating in a tournament. The North American Hopes Trials are this weekend, coinciding with the North American Cup. Here are some info links:

For the Hopes Trials, USATT chose the top four boys and girls born in 2001 or 2002, so they are all 11 or 12 years old. Canada did the same. (USA is only sending three girls - I don't think others applied - but the top two girls are going, Crystal Wang and Amy Wang, as are the top four boys. No, Crystal and Amy are not related.) Because ITTF requires a joint Trials for each continent, the Trials are combined. The top finishing player from each country then qualifies for Hopes Week. (So if USA players finish first and second, and a Canadian third, then the Canadian goes, not the #2 USA player. At least that's my understanding.)

BOYS
Gal Alguetti (NY, 2283)
Sharon Alguetti (NY, 2271)
Victor Liu (CA, 2226)
Derek Nie (MD, 2215)
Edison Huang (CAN)
Alexander Bu (CAN, 2093)
Edward Ly (CAN)
Boris Kalev (CAN)

GIRLS
Crystal Wang (MD, 2292)
Amy Wang (NJ, 2203)
Estee Ackerman (NY, 1721)
Benita Zhou (CAN)
Laura Yin Lai (CAN)
Sophie Gauthier (CAN)
Christian Lin (CAN)

Backswing Practice

Having trouble smashing against medium-high balls, or (for more advanced players) low topspin balls? One of the keys is to have the exact same backswing every time. Here's a way to learn to do that, as shown to one of my students last night. This is also how I developed my smash many years ago.

First, do a few smashes with someone (ideally have them feed multiball, or just serve topspin, they return the ball, and you smash), and when you make good ones, note where you backswing to. The question is how to repeat this over and over? Go near a wall and shadow practice the shot. Do your backswing just like you did in the good smashes. Then find a mark on the wall and move so the mark is just above where your racket is when you backswing. (You might have to put a mark on the wall yourself, alas.) Once you've done this, you can backswing to that same spot over and over. Get a feel for where the backswing should be. If you do this enough, it'll become so automatic that backswinging any other way will feel awkward.

Expert Table Tennis

Two new articles are up at Expert Table Tennis:

Table Tennista

Lots of new international articles at Table Tennista, mostly featuring China. Here are the current front-page stories:

Table Tennis Spectacular

Here's a new video (1:54) of some nice exhibition play between Jan-Ove Waldner and Jorgen Persson, with Dan Seemiller giving animated commentary.

Ping-Pong Ball in the Face

Here's a new video (25 sec) of someone getting smacked in the face by an opponent's mis-hit smash. Shown in slow motion!

One Twisted Table

Maybe they Hopes Trials should be held on these tables?

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December 7, 2012

Breaking News - Marty Reisman Passes Away

(Added Friday afternoon)  He will be missed. 

Warming Up

When players warm up at a club or tournament, they invariably start out by hitting forehand to forehand and backhand to backhand. And there's nothing wrong with that as it gets the timing going while loosening the muscles a bit. However, often they do this for a long time. There's no reason to do this more than a few minutes. Instead, after about two minutes, why not do some footwork, which will really get you warmed up?

If you are just warming up, then 1-1 footwork is plenty. Your partner hits the ball alternately to your forehand and the middle of the table, and you move side to side, hitting (or looping) your forehand. You'll find moving and hitting not only is more like what you'll do in a game, it'll get you warmed up much faster.

Some will argue that it'll also tire them out quicker. Then hit less! What's better, spending 30 minutes trying to get warmed up, or getting a better warm-up in 15? But it's not that tiring since half the time your partner will be doing the footwork. That's where you not only rest, but work on your ball control. You'll get more practice on that hitting side to side then repetitively hitting to one spot.

Now do the same thing on the backhand. Don't just hit backhand to backhand - have your partner move you side to side some! Yes, a backhand footwork drill. In a match, you wouldn't just stand there and expect your opponent to hit to one spot, so why warm up for that? Have your partner hit one to your wide backhand, and one toward the middle. You might only want to cover, say, 1/3 of the table when you do backhand footwork, if that's what you'd do in a match. On the other hand, 2001 USA National Men's Singles Champion Eric Owens told me that he attributed his winning the title to his improved backhand, and he attributed that to doing drills where he'd cover over half the table with his backhand loop in footwork drills - saying that after doing that, covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the table with his backhand in a real match was easy.

Make sure to use the shot you'd use in a match. If you are a looper, go to looping once your drives are warmed up.

MDTTC Shirt on 30 Rock!

At the very start of 30 Rock last night at 8PM on NBC, Judah Friedlander ("Frank Rossitano") wore a blue Maryland Table Tennis Center shirt! I'd given him the shirt a few months ago. Judah is from Gaithersburg, Maryland (near MDTTC), and comes to MDTTC semi-regularly. I've given him a few lessons, though of course he's the World Champion, so nobody really gives him a lesson! Here are pictures I have of Judah playing table tennis, from the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page:

photo1 photo2 photo3 (with Spider-man) photo4 (Anna Kournikova on right) photo5 (L-R: Table Tennis Superstar Mikael Appelgren, Judah Friedlander, Actress Susan Sarandon, Table Tennis Superstar Jan-Ove Waldner)

Table Tennis Robots

In my blog on December 5 (Wednesday), I wrote about table tennis robots. I've since done some updates - added a couple videos for Newgy and Butterfly. So I thought I'd link to it again so you can have a second chance to go out and buy these robots for Christmas!

Peter Li Teaches the Basics

Reigning USA Men's Singles Champion teaches the forehand push in this short video (41 seconds).

Forehand Pivot Footwork

Here's a video from PingSkills (2:25) on Forehand Pivot Footwork. "The key to all footwork is balance." I say the same thing in all my footwork lectures. This is one of the more valuable coaching videos to watch. Too many players don't pivot correctly, and they pay for it in balance and recovery. (Often players have no trouble stepping around to attack with the forehand, but cannot recover for the next shot because of a poor pivot move.)

PingPod #34

Here's a PingPod video from PingSkills (7:23). "In this episode of the PingPod, Alois and Jeff discuss the Ping Pong Zone. This zone is what you enter into the first time you venture into a club. There are often unorthodox players who don't look very good but are extremely difficult to beat. Watch this video to see what we are talking about and how to overcome the Ping Pong Zone."

Attack vs. Defense

Here's a video (8:28) of Tan Ruiwu (Croatia, formerly of China) vs. Joo See Hyuk (KOR) in a vintage attack vs. defense/offense match-up in the first round of the ITTF Grand Finals. Time between points has been removed so it's non-stop action.

Animals Playing Table Tennis

In my collection of Animals Playing Table Tennis pictures, I've just added an orangutan. He's not actually playing, but waving a ping-pong paddle about is good enough for me. It's called shadow practice. He's going to be good! (So who wins between him and the chimp?)

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August 10, 2012

MDTTC Camp, Week Nine, Day Four

Yesterday's focus was forehand loop and pushing. That was supposed to be the focus on Wednesday, but because of my car accident (see yesterday's blog), it was postponed a day. Friday's focus is usually pushing and "Player's Choice," and while we'll give that option, today's focus will be Backhand Attack, which is usually the focus on Thursday. I gave my lecture on pushing yesterday, which I normally give on Friday. Yes, these traffic accidents can throw an entire camp schedule off!

I think the loop is the shot that coaches are most picky about getting right. Most players can get away with, say, minor technical problems with the forehand smash because, by the intermediate level, most players are mostly looping on the forehand side, and when they smash, it's mostly against easy balls where you don't need technical perfection. The same is true of many other techniques. But the loop needs to be done really well or it can become the limiting factor in your game. There are two kids I'm working with right now who are probably a bit exasperated on how much I'm harping on some minor technical changes in their forehand loops, but they also understand the importance of getting it just right.

Teaching the backhand push to beginners is relatively easy since it comes naturally to most. Teaching the forehand push is trickier. Beginners almost always want to take the ball from way off to the side (i.e. way to the right for a righty) when you actually should be facing the ball when you forehand push. It's also trickier to teach because you really want players to push only against a short ball, since deeper ones should be looped, but to learn the forehand push beginners have to push long to each other. (This is also true on the backhand, but you can get away with pushing more on the backhand side since at least you have an angle into the opponent's backhand if you push wide, and most opponents are weaker looping on the backhand side.) Here's a good tutorial with pictures and video of the forehand push, and here are three articles I've written on pushing.

Today is also candy day. That means that at 12:30 (half hour before lunch break), I bring out several bags of candy (Jolly Ranchers and Hershey Kisses), pile them all over the table, and the players line up taking turns trying to knock them off the table (two shots each, then go to the end of the line and wait for next turn). Anything they knock off the table they win. It's the single most popular thing we do; heck, it's the single most popular thing done anywhere in the universe, based on the reaction of the kids in the camp.

It's also going to be an exhausting day. Last night I discovered some moron had trashed me in an online video. It was a straight personal attack, calling me names I won't repeat here (is this kindergarten?), making up stuff about me, and done in front of an audience for laughs. I was pretty irritated, and couldn't get to sleep until well after 3AM, giving me less than four hours of sleep. It even "quoted" a friend of mine trashing me, though like much of the other stuff he said he probably made that up.

The good news is that we have a smaller than usual number signed up for next week (week ten out of eleven weeks of consecutive camps), so I may get some of next week off to rest, work on my Table Tennis Tactics book (see below), visit the zoo, and perhaps write a new SF story that'll no doubt feature morons who go after others in online videos. (On an interesting side note, one of the top junior players in the U.S. has begun writing SF, and I'm helping him with his stories.) 

Car Crash

Yesterday in my blog I wrote about the car accident I was in Wednesday morning. Here are two pictures of my poor car, which is now in intensive care at the auto body shop. To survive it's going to need a massive infusion of life-giving cash. Hopefully the insurance company is of the right cash type.

  1. Picture One
  2. Picture Two

Status of Table Tennis Tactics Book

My own upcoming book, Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide, has been done for a couple of months, but due to the summer camp schedule at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (i.e. complete exhaustion each day) I haven't been able to work on the page layouts. I decided to self-publish it rather than spend a long time going through publishers, who'll want to change it for the mass audience, rather than keep it as it is, written for all levels, including advanced players. Plus, of course, I'll get a much higher percentage of the profits, since I'm doing all the work.

How to Win at Table Tennis

Australian player and about.com table tennis moderator Greg Letts has come out with a new ebook, "How to Win at Table Tennis" - and it's FREE!!! (It's 145 pages, 16MB in PDF format.) Greg, sometime soon I'll explain the basics of capitalism to you. :)

Chinese Unbeatable in Table Tennis?

Here are two Associated Press article that were published in the Washington Post, with a self-explanatory titles.

Olympic Photos

Here are some nice photoshopped table tennis images (19 total) from the Olympics.

A Man Eating a Ping-Pong Ball

I may have linked to this once before, but here is a video of a man eating a ping-pong ball (0.31), in honor of the moron who trashed me in an online video (see above), who symbolically here is eating his words.

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