Greg Letts

December 6, 2012

Video Analysis

On Tuesday I did a video analysis for a top USA junior player. I've been doing this for $150, but I just raised the price to $200 - it just takes too long to make it worth the time otherwise. This one took over six and a half hours, and ran 18 pages (single spaced in Times Roman 12 point) and 8653 words, my longest one to date. (I'm not doing any more until January - too busy.) The one I did yesterday covered seven games against four opponents, plus video of him practicing. (One of the games he played ended 25-23!!! Yes, in a game to 11.) Here's my video analysis page, which includes two samples of ones I've done.

I break my video analysis into four parts:

  1. Point-by-point analysis of several games or matches.
  2. Analysis of the games, both on how the player can improve and tactical suggestions against that player.
  3. Player analysis, where I analyze the player's game and what he needs to work on to improve.
  4. Drilling suggestions, where I describe drills for this player.

When I do the point-by-point analysis (the most time consuming part), I write about what happened in every point, usually watching each point 2-3 times. Then I go over those notes to analyze the match itself. Then I go over each match analysis to analyze the player's game, and work out what drills he needs to work on.

In the one I did yesterday, some of the things I found (and gave recommendations on how to improve) included:

  • The player's serves were too high, due to a high contact point. Needs to serve lower.
  • Too often serve and pushed rather than serve and looped.
  • Feet were often in a backhand position when looping forehands.
  • Had trouble covering wide backhand in fast rallies - wasn't stepping to the ball.
  • After strong first forehand loop, often played soft with second loop.
  • Because often rushed, player backhand looped from the side erratically, but in practice did it more in front (more conventional). So he was practicing one way, executing another.
  • Backhand receives were too soft and tentative.
  • Didn't step in well for short balls to the forehand.
  • Held racket too high when receiving, leading to a tendency to push against side-top serves.
  • Plus plenty of strengths to build on.

Peter Li Teaches the Basics

Reigning USA Men's Singles Champion teaches the basics of the grip, stance, and forehand in this short video (1:10).

Playing the Middle

Here's a coaching video (8:26) from Greg Letts on playing the middle.

Magnifique Moment de Tennis de Table

Here's another highlights video (11:21)!

Under 21 Europeans

Here's a good match between the #2 and #4 Europeans under age 21 (#15 and #19 in the world under 21), Simon Gauzy of France versus Kristian Karlsson of Sweden. The future of European table tennis? The time between points is removed so the whole match takes place in 5:26.

Ultimate Ball Control

Here's a video (53 seconds) of a kid who has incredible skill in getting the ball into a cup of . . . water. (So it's not beer pong, it's water pong.)

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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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