Oh Sang Eun

November 8, 2013

Playing at a Club with Great Conditions

One of the problems with playing at a very nice club with very nice conditions is you get used to it. So when you go to tournaments, where the conditions often aren't so nice, you have problems. For example, at my club we have this nice rubberized red flooring, which is great for moving on, as well as having enough give so that it doesn't hurt your legs from the constant movement. But many of us will be playing at the Teams in three weeks, where we'll spend three days playing on somewhat slippery and unforgiving concrete. How do we prepare?

Recently I've been doing "shoe checks." I've been checking the bottoms of everyone's playing shoes to make sure they are in good condition. On our red floors you can wear your shoes down and it doesn't affect the grip on the floor. But on concrete floors (and most wood floors) the floor is more slippery, and you need grippy shoes. So I've been urging those with worn-out shoes to get new ones. Otherwise they'll be sliding all over the place at the Teams.

There are other ways of adapting. You've probably seen players on slippery floors step on a damp cloth between points to increase traction. There are also non-stick sprays you can put on your shoes - in table tennis, I think only Butterfly sells these. (I just ordered a bottle to try out, though I'm not playing in the Teams, just coaching.)

Of course, if you are not from my club, I urge you to show up with nicely worn-out shoes. I mean, c'mon, don't you want shoes you are used to? You'll have three days to learn how to slide into position.

On a side note (and I think I once blogged about this but can't find it), it is a huge advantage to play at a club with nice conditions. The conditions are conducive to high-level play, leading to, yes, high-level play, which helps you improve faster. If your club has poor conditions (bad lighting, bad background, slippery floors, bad tables, etc.), it limits the level of play, and so you don't improve as fast. There is the benefit that if your club has poor conditions, you are ready for tournaments, but that benefit pales in comparison to the higher level of play you'll be able to reach in good conditions.

Non-Table Tennis: Novel and Philcon

If all goes well, I should have copies of my novel "Sorcerers in Space" sometime this morning. Then I drive up to Philcon, the annual Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention, to spend Friday afternoon and night attending panels and (hopefully) promoting the novel. I come back late Friday night as I'm coaching at the Potomac Open on Saturday all day. (On the other hand, I'm still feeling the effects of that slight cold I wrote about yesterday, so I'm considering spending the day in bed. I'll decide later.)

Addendum added 20 minutes after posting blog: I got a phone call, and discovered my voice is completely hoarse this morning. So I'm apparently sick again. No Philcon, but I'll get a lot of reading in bed today....

USA Cadets at the World Cadet Challenge

Here are results and pictures.

Interview with USA's Kanak Jha

Here's the ITTF's interview (1:45) with Kanak at the World Cadet Challenge.

Coaching Articles from Table Tennis Master

Crazy Point Between Wang Liqin and Oh Sang Eun

Here it is (38 sec).

USATT Tips of the Day

USATT has been putting up as "Tips of the Day" the 171 Tips of the Week I wrote for them a few years ago as "Dr. Ping-Pong." I was going to put up links each Friday to the previous week's Tips, but forgot last Friday. So below are the 16 Tips since the last time I linked to them all - enjoy!!! (Click on link for complete tip.) 

Nov 07, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Backhand Attack Placements
The strength of most backhand attacks is that they usually involve a quicker, shorter stroke, and so are harder for opponent’s to react to.

Nov 06, 2013 - Tip of the Day - How to Vary Your Receive Against Short Backspin Serves
Most players return short backhand serves with a simple push, without much thought to it.

Nov 05, 2013 - Tip of the Day - How to Win
You can't win unless you can find tactical match-ups where you are better than your opponent.

Nov 04, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Placement of Aggressive Shots
When attacking, you should generally put all your shots to one of three places: wide forehand, wide backhand, or middle (opponent’s playing elbow).

Nov 03, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Inside-out Backhands
Want to really tie your opponent in knots not to mention win a lot of points? Aim your backhand crosscourt with a normal backhand stroke.

Nov 02, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Place Your Quick Backhand Attacks
When attacking a ball right off the bounce with their backhands, most players automatically go crosscourt to the opponent’s backhand. That’s not usually the most effective place to go.

Nov 01, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Blocking Tips
One of the most common reason players have trouble blocking against heavy topspin is because they hold the racket too high.

Oct 31, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Anticipate an Opponent’s Direction
Get in the habit of watching how an opponent hits the ball. Does he change direction at the last instant ever?

Oct 30, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Use Practice Matches to Practice
Exactly as the heading says this is the time to try out new things, develop new techniques, and generally improve your game.

Oct 29, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Play the Middle Against a Two-Winged Hitter
Some opponents hit well from both sides, seemingly taking a big swing and smacking in everything, both forehand and backhand.

Oct 28, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Don’t Give a Quick Player a Short Ball
If your opponent is quicker than you, than the last thing you want to do is let him rush you.

Oct 27, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Playing the "Unique" Style
You’ve probably all had the experience of playing someone who plays "different."

Oct 26, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Watch Top Players to Raise Your Own Level of Play
One of the best ways to improve your shots is get a good visual image of what your shots should look like just before playing.

Oct 25, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Footwork Against Off-Table Player
A player with good footwork doesn’t wait to see where the ball is going before he prepares to move.

Oct 24, 2013 - Tip of the Day - On Short Serves to the Forehand, Challenge the Forehand, Go Down the Line
Assuming two right-handers play, a common rally starts with a short serve to the forehand. Many receivers don’t understand the strategies in receiving this shot.

Oct 23, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Fool Your Opponents - Forehand Position for Backhands?
When playing close to the table, you have very little time to make a transition from forehand to backhand shots, and vice versa.

Octopus Table Tennis

Yes, that's an octopus playing table tennis, and yes, you can put it on your shirt.

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September 5, 2012

Los Angeles Open and Exhibitions

Here are the results, and here's a video of the final (14:53) between Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany (a bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics in Men's Singles and Teams) and Oh Sang Eun of Korea.

If you watch the match, it becomes clear early on they are basically playing an exhibition. There's been much discussion of this on online forums, and few experienced players disagree with this verdict. (Many lesser-experienced players couldn't tell.) Many have condemned it, and I have to grudgingly agree that it was completely out of line for them to play this way in the final of a major tournament, and right from the start. I have no idea why they did this.

USATT has rules that cover this, under 3.5.3 Good Presentation (and ITTF has nearly identical rules):

3.5.3.1 Players, coaches and officials shall uphold the object of good presentation of the sport; in particular players have to do their utmost to win a match and shall not withdraw except for reasons of illness or injury.

3.5.3.2 Any player who deliberately fails to comply with these principles may be disciplined by total or partial loss of prize money in prize events and/or by suspension from USATT events.

In this particular match, it is obvious the two did not "do their utmost to win [the] match." Are there cases where it is okay to play exhibition in a tournament match? Some would say never, citing both the USATT rules and the general idea that you should always fight to the end. However, many European players have a long history of playing exhibition at the end of a lopsided match, usually instigated by the player losing badly, and usually their opponents (often Chinese) go along with it, since in essence the one losing has given up on the match. (So technically speaking, both sides are playing exhibition, in violation of the rules.) I remember a women's singles final match at the USA Nationals between Gao Jun and Jasna Reed (now Jasna Rather), both known for their backhands, where (if I remember correctly) Gao had already won the first two games in the best of three to 21, and in game three they essentially had a backhand-to-backhand contest (won by Gao in deuce). I don't think anyone complained; that last game was riveting.

I'm guilty as well. About twenty years ago I played David Zhuang in the quarterfinals of the New Jersey Open in a best of five to 21. He won the first two and was well up in the third when I switched to exhibition. We put on a good one (lots of lobbing and counter-smashing, and I jumped the barriers several times while lobbing), but the umpire was very upset at us, even jumping out of his chair and trying to grab the ball while it was in play near the end when I blew a ball back, and again a few points later when David kicked one back. I also once played an impromptu exhibition match with Eric Boggan in front of an audience after I was well down, and once took on Scott Boggan in a pure exhibition-style counterlooping duel. (Note that between them, David, Eric, and Scott have won nine Men's Singles titles at the USA Nationals.) I've played plenty more exhibition points in matches, almost always at the end of lopsided matches.

So I'm on the fence about this one. I think there are circumstances where it's okay for players to play exhibition . . . except there are those pesky USATT rules. . . .

Does Time Slow Down in Table Tennis?

Here's an article in Discover Magazine entitled "Ready steady slow": time slows down when we prepare to move. I've experienced the same phenomenon, especially when returning serves, but also at other times, right as they say - when I'm about to move. How about you?

Is Tahl Leibovitz the Greatest Jewish Athlete You’ve Never Heard Of?

Here's an article in the Jewish Journal about Tahl Leibovitz.

Ping-Pong Cover for iPhone

Want a table tennis cover for you iPhone4? Well, here they are! They come in legal red and black, and illegal green and blue, but only in hard rubber (i.e. pimples out, no sponge). Sorry inverted loopers!

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