Chinese Training

May 7, 2014

Classes and Clinics vs. Training

On Monday we had the last session of a ten-week beginning/intermediate class I taught. The twelve players in the class ranged from beginner to about 1500. During those ten weeks we covered pretty much every major aspect of table tennis - forehand and backhand drives, forehand and backhand loops, blocking, smashing, pushing, flipping, ready stance, footwork, grip, serve, receive, equipment, tactics and playing styles, and even chopping and lobbing. And yet many of the players weren't really ready for some of the more advanced things I taught. As I explained to them, there's a difference between a class or clinic, and training sessions or a training camp. 

For the class, I wanted everyone in the class to have a good idea of most of the techniques. They might not be able to do some of the advanced serves I demonstrated, but now that they know what's possible they can systematically practice until, someday, they might be able to do so. The same is true of other "advanced" techniques, such as looping. If I had not shown them these more advanced techniques, they wouldn't even know what's possible, and wouldn't have something to work toward. I even prepared them for various racket surfaces with talks on each of the major ones - short pips, hardbat, antispin, and long pips (with and without sponge).

There's a difference between a class and a clinic as well. A class is something that you do more than once, such as what we did - every Monday from 6:30-8:00 PM for ten weeks. A clinic is more of a one-time thing, where you cover whatever you can in one day, or perhaps a weekend, or even a week. 

So what's the difference between a clinic and a training camp? There's a lot of overlap, but basically, in a clinic, you teach new techniques. In a training camp, you emphasize the training itself, with lots and lots of training drills and few lectures. In clinics you give a number of lectures to the group; in training your coaching is mostly one-on-one as each player trains.

I discussed with the members of the class continuing as a training program on Mondays, but two things happened. First, several said they couldn't do it right now, but would be available in the fall. And second, probably more important, I realized that with our summer training camps coming up, I'm going to be incredibly busy this summer. The camps are 10AM-6PM each day, and are in addition to my regular private coaching and three junior training group sessions each week. So I postponed it until this fall. Then I'll try to get a group together for training each week, probably on Monday nights. If it's popular, we can go to twice a week.

We'll have training camps all summer for ten consecutive weeks, Mon-Fri each week, starting June 16. (Here's the info flyer. I'll be at eight of the camps, missing June 30-July 4 for the U.S. Open, and July 28-Aug. 1 for a writing workshop I'm attending in Manchester, NH.) While the emphasis is training, they are really both training camps for the more advanced players, and clinics for beginning/intermediate players. I give a few lectures/demos each day, and then we go into groups - usually three main groups, for beginning, intermediate, and advanced players. And they are then trained accordingly. 

Here's a good example of the difference between a clinic and a training camp. I went to a number of Seemiller clinics in the late 1970s. They were really both clinic and training camp, and I learned and improved a lot. Then in 1980, when I was 20 and only about 2000 level, I went to a two-week training camp held by Zoran Kosanovic. (Also at the camp were 12-year-olds Sean O'Neill and Scott Butler and 9-year-old Jim Butler.) I expected it'd be the same thing, with a mixture of lectures and practice, and perhaps a little physical training. Boy was I wrong!!! It was all training. We did at least an hour of physical training each day, plus two three-hour training sessions. It was exhausting, but it was exactly what I needed at that time, since I'd pretty much absorbed knowledge of the game until that point faster than I could learn the techniques. I improved dramatically during and after the camp. (For me, the focus was on forehand looping and on proper footwork when stepping around the backhand corner - I wasn't rotating around enough on my step-arounds.)

ITTF Legends Tour

It starts tonight in Belgium. Here's the home page for the event, and the Facebook page. Here's the ITTF article that came out this morning. Here's the draw for the six legends. Click on it to see a group picture, L-R: Jorgen Persson (1991 World Men's Singles Champion), Jean-Michel Saive (former World #1), Jiang Jialiang (1985 & 1987 World Men's Singles Champion), Jean-Philippe Gatien (1993 World Men's Singles Champion), Mikael Appelgren (former world #1), and Jan-Ove Waldner (1989 & 1997 World Men's Singles Champion). Here are more pictures as the Super Six prepare for the event by playing . . . golf. Breaking news - Waldner golfs left-handed!

USATT Teleconference on March 17

Here are the minutes.

Table Tennis is Serious Business at Texas Wesleyan College

Here's the article.

Chinese Training for the Worlds

Here's a video (4 min) set to music showing their training.

Interview with Kong Linghui

Here's the video (1:52) with the head coach of Team China and former superstar player.

Find a Coach (in the UK)

Here's a new site for finding a coach - but it's only for the United Kingdom right now. The creator told me he hopes to open it up to the rest of the world later on.

Choked by a Billionaire

For those who missed it from a group of photos I posted a few days ago showing Ariel Hsing playing Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, here's one where sore loser Uncle Warren (current worth: $58 billion) chokes the life out of Ariel.

Non-Table Tennis - Sorcerers in Space

My novel "Sorcerers in Space" got a pretty good review at Abyss & Apex. (It's a humorous fantasy that covers the U.S.-Soviet space race in the '60s, but with sorcerers instead of astronauts. The protagonist, 13-year-old Neil, is forced to give up his dreams of table tennis stardom to save the world.) "Reading this book had me humming tunes from the 1960s, and smiling, for days. I don’t recommend reading Sorcerers in Space in bed next to your spouse. You’ll keep waking them up when you laugh." You can buy copies at Amazon or save a few dollars and buy it directly from Class Act Books.

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May 13, 2013

Tip of the Week

Beat Weaker Players with Fundamentals.

Coaching Opponent to Victory

I had an interesting practice match with one of our top juniors this past weekend. Going into the match he appeared irritated and tense. Against someone like that all you have to do is vary your shots like crazy - placement, depth, spins, etc. - and watch him fall apart. He was too irritated to even think, and served short to my backhand over and over, which isn't smart - I'm very good there, where I can push short or long, and flip either regular or banana flip (with extra topspin or sidespin). I often messed him up by faking a long push to the backhand and at the last second dropping it short to his forehand. When he guarded against the short ball to the forehand I'd flip to his backhand, taking his service game away. I won the first game 11-3. (I'd also beaten him I think 3-0 the last three times we'd played.)

Between games I went over and asked him what was wrong. He said he'd just lost to someone else and was playing poorly. I told him the obvious - that he had to forget previous matches and focus on his current match. However, more important, I gave him practical ways to do this. I told him to take a walk around the court and not stop walking until his head was clear. Then I told him that once his head was clear, he needed something else to think about so he wouldn't be thinking about his previous match - and of course in table tennis the best thing is to think about tactics. So I told him focus on what serves he was using against me, since the way he'd been serving obviously wasn't working. (Note that you should think about tactics between points, but once the point starts, you have to stop thinking and let the subconscious take over, including tactical play. Serving is the one time where you can easily make a conscious tactical decision, i.e. what serve to use.)

Three things happened. First, the rest of the match he played the best I'd seen him play in months. Second, he began to use smarter serves, mixing in short serves to my forehand and long ones to my backhand, and once I was focused on those two (not easy), he mixed in short ones to the middle, often no-spin. He also pulled two new serves on me he'd been working on, a reverse backhand serve and a reverse forehand pendulum serve. And third, he won three straight games. (And I was playing pretty well!)

JJ Hardy

Today I'm giving a private lesson to the Baltimore Orioles star shortstop, JJ Hardy. When and where I won't disclose until afterwards so the place won't be swarmed by paparazzi, not to mention table tennis/baseball fans. (Only exception - junior players who contact me can come watch and get autographs.) I'll give a full report tomorrow.

Spam Count

As noted in my blog last Tuesday, I was getting hit with so much spam that I had to finally institute a registration system where I had to approve all accounts before they went active. For perspective, since I started this one week ago, I've had 377 account requests, of which about ten were legitimate. Without the approval system, all the rest of those would have registered and started posting automatic spam all over the place, in the comment section of the blog and in the forum.

Three Reasons Not to Serve Short

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

World Championships

They start today, in Paris, May 13-20. Here's the ITTF World Championships page, where you can follow all the action - results, articles, pictures, etc.

Chinese Training Before the World Table Tennis Championships

Here's great video (1:56) of the Chinese team training at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria as they prepare for the Worlds. (From 1:27 to 1:32 you can see Donn Olsen, a USA coach, taking notes in a corner.) Here's another page at Table Tennis Daily with a number of videos of the Chinese team training.

U.S. Open Deadline Extended

The deadline is now May 21, with a late deadline of May 24 (the latter requiring a $75 late fee). Here's the U.S. Open page. You can also see the list of currently entered players, either by event or alphabetically.

Bill Gates to Help Promote Table Tennis in U.S.

Here's the article in the China Daily's USA version (in English) - but why is it in a Chinese paper?

Lindenwood Head Coach Wanted

Want to be a College Table Tennis Coach? Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri, is looking for one. Info is here. Strangely it doesn't give salary offered or any contact info, but I found that separately - if interested, you contact Mike Elam, Director of Student Life Sports.

USATT CEO Blog

Here's the blog of USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh for the week May 6-10. I think this is new - I don't see previous entries. (He has been doing a bi-monthly CEO Report, which was published in USATT Magazine.)

ITTF President Sharara to do United Nationals Presentation

Adham Sharara, ITTF President, has been invited to attend the Third International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development to be held at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th June 2013. He will make a presentation during Session IV which is dedicated to the theme Sport and Social Development Legacies; the scheduled time for the address is from 10.00am on Thursday 6th June. Here's the article.

Lefty Ma Long

Here's a video (56 sec) of China's Ma Long (a righty) smashing left-handed against teammate Wang Liqin's lobs (he's playing his normal right-handed), where they change sides twice, during practice sessions as they prepare for the Worlds. Yes, Chinese team members like to goof off during practice breaks.

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August 27, 2012

Tip of the Week

Movement in Doubles.

MDTTC Camp, Week Eleven, Day Five

The eleven week camp marathon is over - each camp Mon-Fri, with a total of 55 days of camp. We averaged over 30 players per camp.

On Friday, the final day, I gave lectures on flipping short balls, on equipment (inverted, short pips, long pips, antispin, hardbat) and on how to play certain styles (choppers, penhold, Seemiller grip). We ended the morning with the candy game, where I put piles of candy on the table (jolly ranchers and Hershey kisses), and the kids took turns trying to knock them off as I fed multiball, three shots each. There was a stack left at the end so I distributed that among everyone.

Then we had lunch, and then 17 of us walked to the 7-11 down the street. (They keep giving me free small Slurpees for bringing in so many customers!) In the afternoon we had a practice tournament. I also had an informal awards ceremony for Wesley Fan and Kyle Wang, who had won bronze medals at the Junior Olympics a month ago for Under 14 Boys' Teams, but had left without getting their medals (or even knowing they had won them!). The medals had been mailed to me to give to them. We also sang Happy Birthday to Daniel Zhu, turned ten that day.

Things I Learned This Summer

  • The human head weighs a lot. You don't know this until you have a neck injury. According to the kid in the movie Jerry Maguire, the human head weighs eight pounds. According to Wiki Answers, it's 8-12 pounds. My own subjective belief is mine weighs 100 pounds. (Here's that picture of me in the neck brace. Tong Tong Gong took the picture.)
  • The amount of Slurpee that a kid can fit into his stomach after a table tennis training session is larger than the volume of his stomach. (This is true even after he has eaten lunch.)
  • When you walk to 7-11 during break, you have to go outside, and it's HOT outside in the summer.
  • The most accurate forehand in the world is from a kid who's told he can have the candy on the table if he can hit it off.
  • If you eat Chinese food for lunch during camps all summer, you gain weight. I went from 175 to 183, and now begins the torturous journey back to 175. My diet starts today.
  • When driving through an intersection, watch for Metro Access Buses on the left that suddenly pull in front of you.
  • The grip and foot positioning are still the core problems with most bad technique. If both are done properly, everything in between tends to fall into place, though there are a few common problems that still persist - not using shoulder rotation, muscling the ball, hitting shots too flat, etc.

The Backhand Block

Here's an article by Tom Nguyen on improving his backhand, with tips from Steven Chan.

Tahl Leibovitz: Saved from Homelessness by Table Tennis

Here's an article in the Times of Israel about how table tennis saved Paralympic Champion Tahl Leibovitz from homelessness.

Chinese Training

Here's a video from two years ago (7:54) that shows the Chinese team in training.

1958 U.S. Table Tennis Nationals

Here's a video (9:59) with clips of matches from the 1958 Nationals (now usually referred to as U.S. Opens), with commentary by Marty Reisman, who also appears in many of the clips. (He would win Men's Singles.)

Bryan Brothers Play Table Tennis

Here's a video (1:23) of the Bryan Brothers (twins Bob and Mike, #1 tennis doubles team in the world and recent Olympic Gold Medalists) playing table tennis in a charity to benefit the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Note the two-handed backhand by Mike! You also get to see Bugs Bunny (or a very large rabbit) playing. Really.

Real Table Tennis!

Here are six pictures of vintage table tennis as it should be played. (Click on each picture to see the next.)

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