September Open

September 21, 2012

Table Tennis Tactics

This past week I've been jumping back and forth from working on the page layouts of "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide" and 246 other things. Here's an excerpt from the book:

Table tennis is a game of utter complexity and utter simplicity. If you get too caught up in the myriad of complex strategies available, you'll be lost in a sea of uncertainty. Think KISS—"Keep It Simple, Stupid." On the other hand, if your thinking is too simple, you aren't maximizing your play.

There's no conflict here. Much of tactics involves simplifying things so the game becomes simple and easy. If you use tactics that force your opponent into predictable returns that feed into your strengths, you've won the tactical battle and made the game simple and easy. In this book we'll cover the tactical and strategic ways of doing this, as well as the tactical frame of mind that makes tactical play come naturally.

Most matches are tactically won on at most two or three tactical things, not the zillions that are possible. It's finding those two or three out of the zillions that's key. (Hey, I may add this to the book! Addendum - just did.) And if you can't think of zillions of tactical things to do, you need to start thinking tactically! To further quote the book:

Tactical thinking is a habit. I know some brilliant people who do not think at the table, and some not-so-brilliant ones who know exactly what they are doing out there. Which do you choose to be? It’s a choice.

Help is on the way! The book should be out by December in time for the USA Nationals, and perhaps sooner. (If I get going on it, it might be ready by November.)

One Day Till the MDTTC September Open!

Have you entered yet? Deadline is past, but for only $5 late fee you can still enter until 7PM tonight, and avoid others talking and making cracks about you behind your back. This weekend could be the beginning of your professional career, the big breakthrough where, out of nowhere, you suddenly are looping and smashing like a pro, and nobody can stop you, allowing you to drop out of the drudgery of work and join the elite athletes who spend their days sipping tea by poolside (after training eight hours/day) while you are slaving away at a desk.

USA's Ariel Hsing wins Intercontinental Title at World Cup!

Here's the ITTF Story. This puts her in the Final Sixteen. 

Drill Your Skills with the Chinese National Team

Here are three coaching videos. I may have posted the first two in my blog sometime in the past, but the third one (Forehand Receive) is definitely new. (It has four parts - Pushing Short, Pushing Long, Looping, and Flipping.) They are in Chinese with English subtitles.

  1. Forehand Serve (7:42)
  2. Backhand Serve (6:36)
  3. Forehand Receive (7:47)

Journal of My Paralympic Journey

Tara Profitt's journal about her time at the Paralympics and the table tennis competition.

Table Tennis on a Gigantic Rock Slab

This is great (4:16) - but it's practically tennis! Now we know how to handle short balls - don't step in like coaches teach you, just crawl on the table! Can anyone recognize the language they are speaking?

White Ping-Pong Table

We have a White House, white chocolate, and Gandalf the White (yeah, he didn't stay grey long). Now we have a white ping-pong table - and it looks snazzy! White balls, anyone?

Batman!

Yes, that's Batman with a ping-pong paddle, in an illustration used at the Buenos Aires Grand Prix by the Argentina Table Tennis Federation.

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September 17, 2012

Tip of the Week

Why Table Tennis Really Is Chess at Light Speed.

Table Tennis Music Video

On Saturday night the Edie Sedgwick music group came to the Maryland Table Tennis Center to do a table tennis music video. The gist of the video is the group shows up at a nightclub to play table tennis, and then, one by one, they get destroyed by a kid. Starring in the video is Derek Nie, 11, the U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion. (Here he is warming up with me at the Open, and here he is in his full green wig and striped sunglasses outfit. And here he is at the Eastern Open last year!)

The band had been planning this video already, but were apparently going to just bring in some kid actor and fake the table tennis scenes. Then they saw Derek in the Washington Post video, and contacted me about hiring him.

The table tennis portion of the taping took four hours, from 7-11PM, though the band members came in around 5PM to start setting up. Also in attendance were Derek's parents and older brother, George (15, a 2050 player), and lots of pizza. In order, here's what happened:

  1. Taping of Derek and the band members arriving by limousine. Yes, they hired a white limousine for this part, and they actually picked Derek up at his school in the limo! (He said it was rather embarrassing explaining this to everyone there.) The chauffeur, Nas, a Pakistani immigrant, just last week drove Clint Eastwood, and has also driven Michael Douglas, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, LL. Cool J, Erin Burnett, and Jon Huntsman.
  2. They rearranged the barriers at the club to create a long, diagonal entrance from the doorway to the playing area set up in the back of the club. Then they taped the four band members walking/sauntering in over and over. Then they did the same with Derek.
  3. Then came the table tennis scenes. They taped Derek mostly hitting and looping forehands while I blocked. Because of the extremely bright light they put behind Derek I couldn't see the ball when blocking forehands, but I made the fortuitous discover that I could block backhands from the forehand side without the light in my eyes. George Nie also joined in for some of the rallies. (George and I won't be in the video, we were just blocking for Derek.)
  4. Then they taped the band members playing. I fed them balls multi-ball style as they smacked shots all over the place, sometimes hitting the table. Two of the four were actually pretty decent. One could barely hit the ball, but after some practice we put on a decent show.
  5. Then each of them taped their "losing" scene. I'd hit a ball hard at them, they'd flail at it and miss, and then each had their own sore loser reaction - throwing paddle down (we used a cheap one for that!), kicking the wall (not too hard, I warned), looks of disgust, and each ending with the band member storming out of the club in some way. (So when you see them losing, remember that it was me who hit the winning shots, not Derek!!!)
  6. Then we filmed Derek's victory scenes, where he'd raise his arms in triumph, shadow practice forehands and backhands in celebration (sometimes left-handed), and other celebratory maneuvers. There was one very complex scene that Derek nailed in a few tries where he'd go through a series of these maneuvers (including his brother tossing him his striped sunglasses, and Derek cleanly snatching them in mid-air and putting them on) and going through a true actor's scene where he started out all happy, gradually realized he'd beaten everyone and was alone, looked crestfallen, and then tosses aside his paddle and sunglasses and runs off. Oscar scene!!!
  7. They also did several short scenes in front of a green screen. They will add in scenes from a night club later on. This saved Derek from having to go there, plus the night club they were going to use doesn't open until midnight (!), well past Derek's bedtime.
  8. We also had several humorous scenes of the band members preparing to play, including one member dressed in an all-white outfit who was constantly preening for the camera. In one scene, after he finished straightening his hair and clothes, we all threw ping-pong balls at him.
  9. Then we all had to spend some time putting the club back together, moving barriers and chairs back into position.

They said the taping for the video will complete next weekend (at the night club), and the video should be done in about a month. They have lots of video editing to do. I'll post when it's up.

Five Days Till the MDTTC September Open!

Have you entered yet? If you aren't there, we'll talk about you behind your back. We'll make Youtube videos about you. There will be rioting in the streets. It won't be pretty. So enter and stop the mayhem. (Tournament is at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, and I'm running it. I've run over 150 USATT tournaments, but this will be my first one in over ten years.)

Lily Zhang and Barack Obama

Here's a picture of Olympian Lily Zhang shaking hands with President Obama at the White House.

ITTF Coaching Program

Here's an article on the ITTF web page about the ITTF coaching program. It mentions USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee, who is currently running seminars in India.

Great Point at the Russian Open

Here's a great point by Xu Xin of China against Russia's Alexey Liventsov. (26 seconds.)

Ping-Pong Record Covers

Here are two:

Penguins Use What For Rackets?

Here's a penguin table tennis cartoon.

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