Ping-Pong Action Figures

September 13, 2012

Forehand Foibles:
Wrist Flopping, "Smashing Like a Girl," and Returning to Ready Position

In my blog yesterday, I wrote about an article in the Washington Post entitled "You Throw Like a Girl," and wrote about how this applies to table tennis. Last night was a perfect case.

I was coaching an 11-year-old girl who had taken ten classes in my beginning junior class, and was now taking her second private lesson. She already has a pretty steady forehand and backhand, and can hit 50-100 in a row. However, she had two problems on the forehand. The first was a tendency to flop her wrist back as she stroked the ball, leading to a lack of control, with the ball often spraying out to the right. We spent some time on that, and she's mostly fixed up that problem. (I had her keep the wrist back and firm, and focus on driving the racket tip through the ball instead of letting it hang back.) I assigned her to shadow-stroke the shot correctly 50 times each day. That problem is, or will be, fixed.

The second problem was right out of the Post article. When we went to smashing, she couldn't hit the ball hard because, to quote the article, "Her shoulders and hips rotate at the same time." This meant she didn't have much acceleration in her forward swing, which should get the arm moving, and so wasn't able to snap her forearm into the ball much either. Unlike the wrist flopping back problem, which we fixed immediately (and practice will make it a habit), this will take some time as she gradually learns to rotate properly into the shot for power. I have no doubt she'll develop enough power to put the ball through most players, but it'll be interesting to watch as it develops.

Another player I coached last night had a different forehand problem - he had great difficulty recovering from a smash so he could hit the next one if the ball came back. This was because he followed through off-balance, with his head and whole body moving too much forward. We spent some time focusing on rotating more in circle, as if there were a rod through the head and you rotate around it. By doing this, you finish the stroke more balanced, and can return to ready position almost instantly, even after a powerful smash. I demonstrated how to hit at full power and be back at the ready position before the ball even hits the far side of the table.

Extras for Ping Pong Summer

Here's an article about all the extras that came out for parts in the upcoming Susan Sarandon movie Ping Pong Summer, coming out next summer. According to the article, "The film is set in Ocean City in summer 1985, and revolves around a boy on vacation with his family. Ping-pong and hip-hop music are said to figure prominently in the script." Here's the IMDB.com entry, which describes the movie as "A family vacation during the summer of 1985 changes everything for a teenage boy obsessed with ping pong."

Americans Are Better Than Europeans at Table Tennis

At least that's what English golf star Lee Westwood (world #4, and #1 for much of 2010 and 2011) said in this article about the players getting together after the Ryder Cup. ''Unfortunately, the Americans are slightly better than us at table tennis. I think the Europeans have the edge on the drinking.''

Great Points from the Worlds

Here are the best points from the 2012 World Championships (10:57). I don't think I posted this one before.

Ping-Pong Action Figures!

Here they are! Yes, you can order yours online. You can also order them at here at Amazon.com, which says there are only 9 left. (Make that 8 - I just ordered a set!)

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