Dogs

August 21, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge - My Video

I was challenged to do the ice bucket challenge by Nathan Hsu, who will rue the day. For those of you living under a ping-pong ball or lost in a forest of long pips, this is a charity for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Find out more at the ALS Association home page.

I put together a skit for my ice water dousing. Dumping a bucket of ice water on my head wasn't enough for me. Special thanks to Leon Bi and Darwin Ma for their help.

I have challenged three others: Todd Sweeris, Jim Butler, and Dan Seemiller Sr. They have 24 hours to complete their assignment of either dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads or donating $100 to ALS!

While we're on the subject, here are a few others that have come up since yesterday (when I posted others) in the table tennis world:

USATT's July Meeting

Here are the minutes to the meeting, which went up yesterday. A few items I found interesting:

  1. In D-Magazine, it says, "About $10,000 in advertisements were sold in the Spring Issue, which resulted in a $4,000 shortfall to projections." In my blog on February 11, 2014 on the cancellation of the print magazine and going digital, I wrote, "But they'll lose money on advertising and membership." I also wrote, "I'm told they are budgeting advertising to stay the same, which of course won't happen." Of course it was going to drop - anyone in the industry knows you get more ad revenue from print than online. But for some reason USATT budgeted something that they should have known wouldn't happen. Roughly multiply this time six, and at the end of the year they are going to have a roughly $24,000 shortfall. Or maybe, just to spite me, they'll focus on advertising and get ad revenue back up!

    This isn't me retroactively criticizing; I wrote this as soon as they cancelled the print version and went all-digital. It was an easy prediction. I still believe they messed up badly here, and should have kept the print magazine, added the online version (which is easy to produce once you have the print version), and simply increase ad rates because of the added online exposure. This would have substantially increased revenue without cancelling the print magazine that was such a valuable tool to clubs for promoting our sport, as well as for the roughly 1/3 of our membership who get nothing from USATT except the magazine. The loss in ad revenue is verified, but we may never know how many members we lost (or will lose) when they discover they no longer get the magazine.

    But even before the drop in advertising they were only getting $14,000 in ad revenue. That's almost exactly what I'd brought it up to when I resigned as editor at the end of 2006 (though I did two more issues in 2007). Adjusted for inflation, I was bringing in about $16,500/issue. (When I first took over in my first tenure as editor, ad revenue was running at $2300/issue. I brought that up to $5500/issue. When I took over for my second tenure, ad revenue had dropped a little - forget the exact amount - but over the next eight years I brought it up to $14,000.)

    One thing I'm confused about. In these minutes, it says that the Spring issue received about $10,000 in advertisements, about $4000 short of projections. But in the May 19 minutes, it says, "The digital magazine generated $9000 in ad revenue for the Spring 2014 issue, constituting a $6,000 shortfall to budgeted revenue." So one says there was $10,000 in revenue, the other $9000; one says a $6000 shortfall, the other $5000. It can't be both. (I blogged about this on July 15. But there is a discrepancy in their numbers.)

  2. There are two items of direct interest to coaches, so I'll paste them both here.  Coaches, take notice! (Here's the link to the SafeSport info page - you have to click on the attachments at the end to do the background checks.)
    1. K. USATT's SafeSport Program - Background Checks, RailStation Rollout
      ​​USATT is fully committed to implementing the SafeSport program as mandated by the U.S. Olympic Committee ("USOC").  Our SafeSport program now appears on USATT's website, with 50 coaches completing background checks.  It is reasonable to give coaches notice of an August 1st deadline to complete their background checks. Mr. Scudner suggested that USATT provide a "SafeSport" informational packet to its clubs which includes a notice that their coaches must complete background checks.  Mr. Gheorghe will send an email to coaches containing an easily accessible website link to the SafeSport program. 
    2. V. Fede Bassetti - Coaching Presentation
      Mr. Bassetti presented a coaching education program based upon the ITTF curricula (i.e., levels 1, 2, and 3) to the Board.  Under his program, coaches receive certification at the end of a two year program, consisting of 40 credits of continuing education. Under his approach, schools are categorized as competitive, developmental, recreational, and business.  Each school is divided into 4 levels of coaches.  He seeks USATT's and ITTF's endorsement of his program and $2500 to $5000 to create each course.  Coaches would maintain their teaching credentials on two year cycles, with background checks every two years. Mr. Danner recommended that he speak with professional table tennis coaches/training centers for their feedback.

      The COB said that the USATT will send its questions to Mr. Bassetti via email, and the Board then will revisit this program after Mr. Gheorghe and Mr. Basetti review the certification system we now have in place--this should not occur until after the new CEO has been recruited.  Additionally, all USATT coaches must complete their background checks by August 1st, or they will be removed from the list of active coaches.  Tentatively, the Board may address the coaching issues at its December meeting.

    3. Here's info on upcoming U.S. Opens and Nationals.
      Y. Future Tournaments
      Currently, the 2015 U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open are planned to be held in Las Vegas.  Dallas submitted a bid for the U.S. Open, and a Dallas information packet was distributed to Board members.  
    4. I blogged about the National Volunteer Coordinator position before, but here it is in the minutes. I may blog more about this later. This is a great idea - why not apply? Even if you don't become the National Volunteer Coordinator there'll be plenty of volunteer positions they'll be looking to fill.
      MOVED that the Board adopt the proposal to develop the position of National Volunteer Coordinator and request that the CEO proceed as soon as possible to find a volunteer to fill this position.
      Movant: Han Xiao
      Second: Anne Cribbs
      Discussion:  The USATT, with its limited resources, should create an organized volunteer organization. When the Board has tasks to be performed, expertise is needed to carry out these tasks.  A National Volunteer Coordinator position should be created, reporting to the Board.  The Coordinator's job will be to work with staff and volunteers, perhaps on a daily basis, to accomplish the Board's assigned tasks.  Expenses for this Coordinator will be minimal at first--the Coordinator will present an annual report once a year to the Board and occasionally report progress at Board teleconference meetings. 

Forehand Loop Technique - Correct Use of Legs and Waist

Here's the video (13:37) by Gregg Letts.

USA Youth Olympic Games Home Page

The page now has a number of quotes from Lily Zhang, Coach Lily Yip, and a slideshow at the end featuring Zhang and Krish Avvari, the other USA player.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety down, 10 to go!

Day 11: Michel Gadal Urges Worldwide Table Tennis Family to Embrace P5 Plan

People in Sports Who Are Unexpectedly Ripped

Here's Wang Liqin in the listing. But this is true of essentially every top table tennis player. "Unexpectedly"? Only to the non-table tennis person.

Beat the Best, Beat Jean-Michel Saive

Here's the ITTF article on the contest, sponsored by Stiga, where you challenge the competitive Saive to various contests.

Floor Table Tennis

Here's the article and video (1:11). "If your kids aren’t quite tall enough to see over a table tennis table yet, consider floor table tennis."

Berlin Style Ping-Pong

Here's the article and pictures of this new type of table tennis that's sweeping the world!

Clayton Kershaw Plays Table Tennis

Here's a new video (5:24) of the Dodger superstar pitcher where he talks about his table tennis and his charity table tennis event.  

Jorgen Persson, Chef

Here's the picture from the Youth Olympic Games. I mean, gee whiz, the guy hasn't been World Men's Singles Champion since 1991, the last of his World Team Champion titles was in 2000, and he hasn't been world #1 since 1991-1992. He obviously needs a new line of work.

Dogs Playing Table Tennis to Music

Here's the video (15 sec)! This is hilarious. Can someone translate the Asian words that come up right at the end?

Non-Table Tennis: Baltimore Orioles

They now have a nine-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays, 9.5 games on the Yankees. As some readers know, I often get published at Orioles Hangout, mostly with humorous stories or top ten lists. I just created this image for them that shows the state of the American League East.

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October 10, 2012

Coaching in the Wilderness and Run-ins with Animals

I do some coaching each week on the road, including a trip out into Virginia. They pay me double to do this, otherwise I wouldn't want to leave the safe confines of the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which is eight minutes from my house. The kid I'm coaching in Virginia is five years old, and like most kids his age has an attention span of roughly from now to now. So I find all sorts of interesting ways of keeping him interested during our one-hour sessions - mostly with targets on the table (giant rubber frogs, stacks of cups, etc.) or by setting up imaginary scenarios where he has to do something or the world will explode. This kid lives in a mansion in the middle of woods - a great place to grow up.

Yesterday after I drove down their front driveway (about two hundred yards) and pulled into the street out front, I found myself surrounded by six deer. I'd driven right into their midst and then stopped my car, and rather than run, they all just stared at me as if they were used to this. I stayed absolutely still, and after a minute they ignored me. Four more joined them, and now ten deer surrounded me. As if that weren't enough, I very large hawk sat perched on a telephone cable just over the street, looking down on us like the specter of death.

After about five minutes the deer all took off suddenly as another car came by. (Apparently my car wasn't as scary.) As I drove out, four more deer came out onto the road, blocking my path. They froze for a moment, and then they too took off. A minute later, as I drove home, I passed a large horse farm with dozens of grazing horses.

I've had other run-ins with wildlife in my years as a coach. Many years ago, while spending a summer coaching in Oklahoma, I woke up in the middle of the night with a searing pain, and discovered a scorpion perched on top of me that had just stung me. Numerous times I've had birds flying around in clubs and tournaments, including this segment from the Maryland Table Tennis Center (starring a very traumatized bird and Nathan Hsu, Derek Nie, Raghu Nadmichettu, Tong Tong Gong) just a few weeks ago. A kid once brought a box turtle to MDTTC and let it walk about the club all afternoon while he played. We've had numerous dogs visit the club, though all seemed well trained. One woman at one of our training camps brought her dog, which was so well trained it would sit quietly by the table as her owner trained, never interrupting anything until she gave the okay, I think by snapping her fingers or something. The kids had a blast with it as it would lie quietly as they covered it with ping-pong balls.

Here are lots of animals playing table tennis!

Exhibition and Teaching in Guam

Australian player and coach Alois Rosario puts on a show for the kids in Guam (2:05).

Great Point at World Cup

Here's a great point (1:09) from the 2012 Men's World Cup between Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Chuang Chih-Yuan of Taiwan. The point took place with Samsonov leading 9-8 in the seventh, and gave him match point. Chuan would win the next two points, but Samsonov would win 12-10 in the seventh.

Ariel Hsing vs. Matthew Perry

USA Olympian Ariel Hsing was on The Ellen DeGeneres show yesterday (3:12). DeGeneres was playing actor Matthew Perry when she faked a back injury, and said someone else would have to play for her. Then she called in Ariel, who proceeded to clobber poor Perry, who was actually pretty good. DeGeneres had told Ariel not to hold back, and she didn't.

Three-Way Table Tennis

This looks like someone's homemade table, but they decided it needed three sides. And they are playing outdoors.

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February 6, 2012

Tip of the Week

Hooking and Slicing Loops.

U.S. Olympic Trials

Here's a short article on the U.S .Olympic Trials in Cary, NC this Thur-Sun, including the playing schedule. I'll be there coaching Han Xiao, John (and possibly Nathan) Hsu - see you there! (Here's the official home page for the Trials.)

Nets & Edges

Convention wisdom says that nets and edges even out. As I've pointed out before in this blog, this simply isn't true. Some players get more or less than others, either because of their playing style or because of their precision. It doesn't always even out.

As I've done many times, I'm willing to put it to the test - and did so again this weekend. And the results are inevitably the same - I'm one of those players who gets very few nets and edges. During coaching sessions with players rated 1750-1900, we kept track of nets and edges. (We didn't count edges at the start, but started counting them partway into the first session.) Here are the results. In the first session, my opponent got 18 nets or edges to my 7. In the second, one, it was 14-3. So I was net-edged 32-10 for the two sessions.

In the past we've kept track of nets & edges during matches, and the results are the same. I may be the only person in history to lose two consecutive tournaments matches to the same player (hi John W.!), where that player got two consecutive net or edge winners both times at 9-all in the fifth to win.

Hitters, blockers, and especially players with less bouncy surfaces (long pips, anti, short pips, hardbat) tend to get more nets than other styles because they tend to hit lower shots than loopers and most inverted players, whose ball has a higher trajectory. Blockers who go for wide angles tend to get more edges. Players with great precision tend to have very clean shots and so rarely get nets or edges.

Overseas scam

There's a common scam to use table tennis clubs to get foreigners into our country. Over the years, the Maryland Table Tennis Center has been contacted dozens of times by individuals who wanted to set up "coaching sessions" for "foreign players." All they want is an invitation letter, and they'll be here. We fell for this a few times in the past, and actually were contacted by the State Department about it back in the 1990s.

According to the State Department, there are people who make a living getting people into the United States any way they can. They find places like table tennis clubs that have real events or programs that they might invite foreigners to come to, and try to get an invitation letter. They sell their services to people trying to get into the U.S. by pretending they are table tennis players (or whatever else is needed). They say they will pay in advance, though they will inevitably agree to do so only after receiving the invitation letter, after which you never hear from them again.

I received one of these requests a few days ago. The guy used every trick in the book trying to set up "lessons" for his "son," a top junior player from Europe. (The guy ignored my questions about where in Europe.) When I pointed out that if he was a "top junior," I should be able to look him up in the rankings, the guy said he'd made a mistake, that his son was a beginner interested in becoming a top player. Then I did something I started doing in the 1990s - I told him he'd made a mistake, that I teach tennis (not table tennis), and asked if he'd be interested in tennis lessons. The guy then said yes, his "son" was very interested in becoming a top tennis player, asked me to set up lessons and send an invitation letter, and he'd send the money right away. I then emailed for him to send payment, and if I didn't receive payment within one week, I'd turn over his emails to the State Department. I didn't hear from him again.

USATT also fell for these scams back in the 1990s, though I'm not sure if "fell" is the right word, since they made a lot of money off it. Players from Africa, usually Nigeria, would enter the U.S. Open in droves, often 30 at a time. Each would enter one event, and they would pay. USATT would then send out an invitation letter, they'd be entered into the tournament, and they would never show. The State Department contacted USATT about this, and I think they had to take measures against this.

European Top Twelve

Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Wu Jiaduo won the Europe Two Twelve.

Chinese National Team in Training

Here's the Chinese National Team training in 2010 (4:59), with commentary in Chinese (though you don't need to understand Chinese to see the training - we all speak ping-pong). Featured players include Ma Long, Ma Lin, Qiu Yike, Wang Liqin, and Guo Yue. See the chalk rectangles on the table when you see Ma Lin practicing with Qiu Yike? I think they are there as targets for service practice.

Going to the dogs

Once again the sport is going to the dogs, in 49 seconds. Can someone please give Tessie a high chair? You can see other dog, cat, and other humorous table tennis videos in the Fun & Games section of TableTennisCoaching.com.

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January 10, 2012

My todo list and coaching schedule

After careful calculations, I have concluded that my todo list, single spaced in 12-point Time Roman, would circle the earth three times. And I'm subbing for Coach Jeffrey (in China for almost two months), so my coaching schedule has doubled. And I've got a cold. So if you are one of those people waiting for something from me, it's coming, but it might take longer than usual.

It's also come to my attention that due to my subbing for Jeffrey, for the next two months I'll be coaching SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. My back: R.I.P.  

Lagging rackets

Two players I coached yesterday had a similar problem. (One was a relative beginner, the other relatively advanced, both right-handed.) And they had the same problem on both the forehand and backhand. They let the racket tip lag behind in their strokes, and so their crosscourt forehands and backhands tended to go to the middle. It's important to have the tip lead the stroke as you drive the paddle crisply through the ball. The racket should aim toward where you are aiming well before contact. If the tip lags behind, you lose control as well as power.

Backhand-backhand games

Here's a good practice game I used several times yesterday. Put a box or towel on your side of the table so that the left edge is on the table's middle line, so your forehand side is blocked off. Do the same on the other side. (This is for two righties; lefties should adjust accordingly.) Then play a backhand-to-backhand game where whoever has the ball serves straight topspin, and the rally is all backhand-to-backhand crosscourt. By doing this you'll learn to play strong but steady backhands, to move the ball around on the backhand court, and to play aggressive backhands when you see the chance. Players of different levels can play this game by spotting points - I was giving my students yesterday anywhere from 6-8 points per game, and we had some epic battles.

Forehand step around footwork

Here's a slow motion video (4:56) that demonstrates and explains forehand step around footwork (i.e. forehands from backhand corner).

"Making it Easy"

Here's a two-minute highlight video that shows the rackets used by the best Chinese players in the world, and set to music.

Table tennis goes to the dogs

Two corgis play "doubles" (1:09).

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December 12, 2011

Tip of the Week

Depth control of serves.

The USA Nationals, Christmas Vacation, and a Sabbatical

After today, I'm taking a short sabbatical from blogging. My next blog will be next Monday, Dec. 19 (right after I return from the USA Nationals), and my next one after that will be when I resume blogging regularly (Mon-Fri) on Dec. 27. 

I'm leaving for the USA Nationals this morning, returning next Saturday. Then on Monday I leave for Santa Barbara, CA, for Christmas with family, returning on a red-eye flight on Christmas night that lands back in Maryland about 8AM on Dec. 26, in time for the MDTTC Christmas camp I coach at that starts that afternoon.

Yes, I know, the Nationals is exactly the time I should have lots to blog about, but I'm going to be extremely busy there, coaching, playing, and attending meetings, and expect to be leaving for the playing site early each morning and returning late.

I'm primarily going to the Nationals to coach, but I'm also entered in three hardbat events: Hardbat Singles (which I've won twice at the Open or Nationals), Over 40 Hardbat (I'm four-time and defending champion) and Hardbat Doubles (I'm 11-time and current champion, and playing with Ty Hoff - we've won it seven times).

I've spent way too much time in recent weeks working on my new table tennis book, watching videos of players that students of mine might be playing, and other sedentary projects at my computer, and now my back has stiffened up again, alas. Hopefully it'll loosen up when I play. However, as is the norm for me (since stiff muscles and coaching regularly don't mix well), I'm continually in a state of various injuries. Currently there's something in the back of my left knee that's hobbling me; my left Achilles tendon feels strained; and there's a strain in my right side. And why is my left big toe hurting? (I think I stepped on something sharp.) Par for me.

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

I finished editing it this weekend. The "final" version is 81,066 words, with 21 chapters. In Courier New, double spaced, it prints out at 352 pages. I have a few people who are reading/critiquing it, and I'll probably do one more proofing. I have a publisher interested, though I'm toying with self-publishing. I'll look into the options in January.

Upcoming ITTF Coaching Seminars in the USA

Thirtieth Anniversary Ping-Pong Diplomacy in China

There's a U.S. contingent touring China - and here are links to a number of articles on it. And here's another that features Dell & Connie Sweeris.

Ma Long

Here's an article on the personal side of China's world #1.

Ma Lin's unbelievable (but illegal) serve

Here's a 19-second video of an unbelievable serve by China's Ma Lin. The ball curves so much not because of sidespin, but because of corkscrewspin, with the axis of rotation aimed away from Ma toward the server. (With sidespin, the axis would be up and down.) You can only get this much corkscrewspin with a high-toss serve, such as this one - see how high he tosses the ball. Some other world-class players probably have similar serves, you just don't see several bounces like this because the receiver normally hits the ball after the first bounce - and in this case, Ma has completely fooled the receiver, world champion Zhang Jike, who didn't see the sudden break coming, and thought the serve would go long.

Fantastic serve, but how many people noticed that he illegally hid contact with his arm? Freeze the video at contact and you'll see - you may have to make several attempts to get it. Or just see the image I took from the video. The arrows show the ball and his hand and arm. The rules say:

"From the start of service until it is struck, the ball shall ... not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry."

"As soon as the ball has been projected, the server’s free arm and hand shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net."

"It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws." 

It's possible that the receiver, Zhang, can barely see contact, but it's close - Ma's arm is rapidly moving out of the way, and the split second before this picture, the arm was completely in the way. It's the server's responsibility to serve so the umpire is satisfied that he is serving legally, and no umpire could possibly say that he is satisfied that this serve was not hidden. But we don't even have to go that far - the serve is blatantly illegal since he has left his free arm and hand between the ball and the net.

Table tennis going to the dogs

Let's watch 52 seconds of a Pekingese playing floor table tennis.

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November 30, 2011

Angelica Rozeanu

Angelica Rozeanu of Romania was World Women's Singles Champion six straight years, 1950-56 - and believe it or not, she was the last European to win that title! (The Worlds were held annually through 1957, every two years since then.) From 1957 to present, women from China won it 19 times, Japan seven times (all the titles from 1956-69 except the 1961 win by Giu Zhonghui of China), and three times by Korea (Pak Yung Sun of North Korea in 1975 and 1977, and Hyun Jung Hwa of South Korea in 1993). China has won six in a row, 12 of the last 13, and 14 of the last 16.

So how good was Rozeanu, a hardbat chopper, who also won Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles at the Worlds three times each? Judge for yourself in this video (4:51) from the late 1950s when she was at her peak.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Table Tennis Players

I wrote this a while back, but I was thinking about it recently during the Teams, since it seems to fit the profiles of so many top players. Does it fit you?

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

I'm 67,000 words into the first draft, with 18.5 of 20 chapters completed. (I've also done the Introduction, Glossary, and yep, even About the Author.)  I'm halfway through the chapter on Hardbat Tactics (yep, I'm doing that!) and haven't started Mental Tactics (tactics to get yourself into the right frame of mind to play your best). Soon I'll be going over all my past articles to see if there are more items I should add. Here are some excerpts:

Opening to chapter on Tactical Thinking:

"What are tactics? Tactical thinking is how you figure out the best way to use what you have to win. Pretty simple, right?

"The goal of tactics is to mess up your opponent. That's all there is to it.

"Tactical thinking is a habit. Many highly intelligent people are not good tactical players because they never developed the habit. And I've seen some not-too-bright people who were good tactical players because, yes, they spent a lot of time watching and observing, and learned what to do to maximize their games - and so became very good tactical players.

"Tactical thinking takes place in five settings: Between tournaments, after matches, before matches, between games, between points, and during practice. The one time you don'tthink is during points."

Opening to chapter on Strategic Thinking:

"Strategic thinking is how you develop the tools you will use tactically. If you don't have the proper tools, you can't get the job done. It's like having a nail and a screwdriver - wrong tools."

Here's the tentatively final table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One               Tactical Thinking
  • Chapter Two               Strategic Thinking
  • Chapter Three             All About Spin
  • Chapter Four               Your Tactical Game
  • Chapter Five                Beginning Tactics
  • Chapter Six                  Conventional and Non-Conventional Tactics
  • Chapter Seven             Service Tactics
  • Chapter Eight               Receive Tactics
  • Chapter Nine                Rallying Tactics
  • Chapter Ten                 Different Grips
  • Chapter Eleven             Pushing
  • Chapter Twelve             Loopers
  • Chapter Thirteen           Blockers, Counter-Drivers, and Hitters
  • Chapter Fourteen         Choppers
  • Chapter Fifteen             Fishers and Lobbers
  • Chapter Sixteen            Non-Inverted Surfaces
  • Chapter Seventeen       Hardbat Tactics
  • Chapter Eighteen          Doubles Tactics
  • Chapter Nineteen          Mental Tactics
  • Chapter Twenty            Tournament Tactics
  • Glossary
  • About the Author
  • Index

The Ping-Pong Workout - on FOX News!

Yes, they did a special on table tennis and fitness (2:21, starts with a 30-sec commercial), and concluded that it was good for fitness. Almost makes me want to vote Republican. :)

Table tennis going to the dogs

This tailless dog just wants to join in, while this one actually does join in, though I think you lose the point if your non-playing paw touches the table.

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July 12, 2011

Tip of the Week

Where to Put Your Putaways answers the age-old question of (drum roll please) where to put your putaways. It doesn't answer the even older question of whether putaways should be hyphenated. (This was ready to go up Monday morning, and then I forgot to put it up before leaving to coach. So it went up Monday night.)

Whitewashing your opponent

Suppose you and your opponent are roughly equal, so that either will tend to score about half the points. Then your chances of winning 11-0 are 1 in 2 raised to the 11th power, or 1 in 2048. (Call it 1 in 2000 for you math phobes.) That means there's about 1 in 1000 chance that any given game will end 11-0 (including times you lose 0-11), though in reality it's more likely since a player could get hot or cold.

What are the chances of a 3-0 whitewashing, i.e. 11-0, 11-0, 11-0? That would be 2 raised to the 33rd power, or about 1 in 8.6 billion. (1 in 8,589,934,592 to be exact.)

Now let's suppose you are better than your opponent, and win 60% of the points. (I won't bore you with the math, but it involves 0.6 or 0.4 raised to the 11th  or 33rd  power, then inverted.) Now your chances of winning 11-0 are about 1 in 276, and your chances of winning 11-0, 11-0, 11-0 are about 1 in 21 million. More scary is that roughly 1 in 24,000 chance of losing 0-11, and (shudder) 1 in 13.6 trillion of losing 0-11, 0-11, 0-11!

With Winning in Mind

I just reread "With Winning in Mind" by Lanny Bassham, the classic on sports psychology. I read it - or at least parts of it - back in the 1980s, but had forgotten about it until local player/coach John Olsen mentioned it to me this past weekend and lent me the book. Now I remember that it was the basis for much of the sports psychology for table tennis ideas I've taught over the years. It was also mentioned by sports psychologists at the Olympic Training Center. The book covers in highly readable fashion the interrelationship between the conscious, the subconscious, and the self-image, with systematic ways to develop each through mental management. Bassham, an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion in shooting, pretty much shows the way champions thinks, using shooting (and sometimes other sports) as examples. I highly recommend this for any ambitious athlete or coach in any sport. I ordered several copies to give out to some of the top cadets/juniors at our club.

To summarize: if you are a serious table tennis player, read this book.

Two dogs join in the table tennis action.

Because a day without a dog or cat table tennis video (1:09) is like a day without ice cream.

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June 17, 2011

Use it or lose it

Yes, I'm talking to you, the aging table tennis player reading this article. Or the young but lazy one. You both have the ability to move when you play, but you don't do it enough. Sure, you gradually slow down as you age, and so many older players become more backhand-oriented rather than attacking with their forehand, which takes more footwork. Sure, younger players may find that if they use less footwork and simply stand at the table, they won't get caught out of position. Both of these are defensible positions. But guess what? The loss of footwork begins with a single non-use of your footwork. The more you don't use footwork, the faster you lose it, which gives you more reason not to use it, which accelerates the loss of footwork, which . . . you get the idea.

It's not just footwork. When I was younger, I liked to counterloop off the bounce, or back up way off the table to counterloop. (Strangely, I was better at the two extremes.) Now that I'm older (read: stiffer and slower), these shots are harder to pull off. So it'd be best to stop using them, right? Then they'd become even harder to do from lack of use, making it even more important that I stop using them, accelerating the loss of these shots, which . . . you get the idea.

Let me rephrase what I said above: The loss of any part of your game begins with a single non-use of it. Because you can't stop using it without a first non-use. So keep using it, even if it leads to a few short-term losses.

And if you do have any complaints about your footwork, let me tell you about the . . .

One-legged nine-year-old table tennis player

The title explains the article and short video. Now, you were complaining about your footwork woes? (Ironically, the kid has little problems with his footwork with the nice prosthesis.)

40th Annual Ping-Pong Diplomacy Festivities - Twice

Yes, the 40th Anniversary of the iconic U.S. team's trip to China in 1971 is this year. (At the 25th Anniversary festivities, I met and shook hands with Henry Kissinger.) Here are two festivities that I know of.

Want to read more about Ping-Pong Diplomacy? Try Tim Boggan's two online books on the subject, "Ping-Pong Oddity" (covering the U.S. Team's trip to China in 1971) and "Grand Tour," covering the Chinese team's trip to the U.S. in 1972. Better still, buy the books, along with Tim's other table tennis history books, at TimBogganTableTennis.com! (Disclaimer: I do the page layouts and fix up the photos for these books, and created and maintain his web page.)

China Open

The China Open is going on right now, and let's face it, we might as well call it the "80% of the World Open," since probably 80% of the best players in the world are from China. Here's coverage of it.

Cats and table tennis.

Why do they go together? (Answer they don't, but play along.) Here's 33 seconds of cats and table tennis. Want more? Then see the Humorous Table Tennis Videos section of the Fun and Games section here at TableTennisCoaching.com, and scroll down to "Ping-Pong Cats." Or, if you prefer, "Ping-Pong Dogs." Where else can you find 74 videos of cats and table tennis, and 17 of dogs? Answer: only here! (Send us your own videos!)

Busy on my end

With summer coming up, I'm hitting a really, Really, REALLY busy time. Private and group coaching . . . five different five-day camps (one starting Monday, two others each in July August) . . . U.S. Open in Milwaukee (June 30- July 4) . . . this Blog and other stuff here . . . regular table tennis articles for various outlets . . . a new table tennis book (outlined, first chapter done, but may go on hold for now) . . . my non-table tennis science fiction writing . . . plus a major SF writer (known to any SF fan, but who must remain nameless for now) asked me to proof his latest novel, which I'm working on.

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