U.S. Open

July 9, 2013

No-Coaching Policy Against Countrymen at ITTF Pro Tour

There is an unofficial policy at ITTF Pro Tour events that when two players from the same country play, there is no coach for either player. This makes sense in Europe and Asia, where the top players train together, often under the same coaches. But in the U.S., where players mostly train on their own with private coaches in private clubs, it doesn't really make sense. I was hired to coach MDTTC players at the U.S. Open, but didn't do so in many of the ITTF pro tour matches because of this. The following isn't really a complaint, but more of an observation of the problems that arose because of this that I hope can be resolved in the future.

Complications arose because it wasn't a rule, just a guideline. All ITTF Pro Tour participants received an email from USATT requesting that they not have coaches when playing other USA players. However, since it wasn't a rule, we would never know in advance if the other player would follow the guideline. And so I had to be available to coach these matches, just in case. The problem was that to do that, it meant someone else had to coach other players from MDTTC, and often that meant I wouldn't be coaching a player I normally would coach because someone else was assigned that match since we didn't know if I'd be available.

The first time an MDTTC player went up against another USA player I tentatively went out to coach, at the request of the parents. The umpire immediately told me it was against the rules, which was incorrect. Then an ITTF official came over and asked me not to coach, that it was against protocol. Then the USA Men's Coach, Stefan Feth, asked me not to coach the match. I agreed (he meant well and made a good argument about us all being USA players and the ITTF protocol against coaching against countrymen) and instead watched from the stands. (Meanwhile, another match in a non-ITTF Pro Tour match that I could have been coaching was instead coached by someone who had never coached that player before.)

Later an MDTTC player played a player from China I'd never seen before, a non-USA citizen, from a club 3000 miles from us, and again I was asked not to coach. The player did live in the U.S. and had entered through USATT (as all USA players were required to), but somehow there seemed something strange about my not being able to coach this match. But I decided not to create an "international incident" and so didn't coach.

Then things go tricky in another match. The ITTF Pro Tour referee, Bill Walk, sat down near me. He noticed I wasn't coaching an MDTTC player who was playing a U.S. player from another club, and asked why. I explained. He got very angry, said it was not a rule, and encouraged me to coach the match. He said he had explained this to the umpires in the official's meeting, and didn't believe coaches should be asked not to coach their players against USA players. I was tempted to coach the match, but not wanting to cause problems, decided not to. Obviously we're not all on the same page on this guideline that isn't a rule.

I hope that the powers that be can get together and either make this a rule or drop it as a guideline completely. I don't see how it's different coaching a Maryland player against a California player in a junior singles event as opposed to an ITTF event. However, I also know it's easy to make an argument for or against this guideline - but if we're going to do it, please make it a rule, and not a guideline that we never know will be enforced. And if we are going to not allow coaching against USA players in these big matches because we're all on the same "team," then we need to actually train together as a team and play as a team, rather than just pretend we are when we really are not at this time.

This reminded me of problems in the past in international events. In Europe and Asia, most top juniors train under the national coaches for at least several months a year, often year round. When they play at international events, the national coaches know the players. In the U.S., this doesn't happen; at most, the USA national coaches have a few days per year working with the National Junior and Cadet Teams. And yet, when USA plays international matches, our top juniors and cadets are normally coached by the national coaches, who don't always know their games, rather than their private coaches, who do, even when the private coaches are available. Our top juniors and cadets reached the levels they did with the work of their own coaches, and it doesn't make sense to then send them on the international stage and handicap them by using coaches who don't really know their games. This isn't a rap on the national coaches, but on the situation where our top juniors and cadets don't train together with the national coaches. I'm all for the national coaches coaching our top juniors and cadets in international events once USATT is able to have them work together for at least a month per year. Until that happens, why handicap our top juniors and cadets when they reach the international stage?

MDTTC Camp

We just started week four of our ten Mon-Fri camps this summer. I missed week three because of the U.S. Open. Yesterday's focus was the forehand; today it'll be the backhand. I'm missing four of the weeks because of travel (see below).

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Here's USATT Board Member Kagin Lee's blog on the U.S. Open.

Best of Asian Championships

Part 1 (8:29) and Part 2 (7:50). And here's a video of one of the semifinals (3:25, with time between points taken out) between Ma Long and Kenta Matsudaira, with Chinese commentary. Originally I listed this as the semifinal, as the video says it's the "Final 2," but that's incorrect. In the final Ma Long defeated Yan An.) 

Playing to Win

Here's an essay on the topic from Table Tennis Master.

Best of Penholder Players

Here's a video (5:56) of the best penholder plays.

$6600 Luxury Ping-Pong Table

Here it is!

Despicable Me 2

I saw it last night. The movie features a very short TT scene. Here's the description from IMDB: "There's a brief shot in the film in which Edith is playing ping pong with a minion, but uses a pair of nunchaku as opposed to a ping pong paddle. This is a reference to a famous Chinese Nokia commercial in which a Bruce Lee impersonator in a mock "lost home video" also plays a game of ping pong using only a pair of nunchaku." There's also a party scene where the minions are sitting about on the ping-pong table.

Here's an online video (11 sec) of the minions playing table tennis (tennis-style) that's not in the movie.

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June 28, 2013

Last Blog Until After U.S. Open

I'm off soon to the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, returning on Sunday, July 7. As usual, I don't blog when I'm at tournaments - just too busy. I'll start up again on Monday, July 8. (It'll be a hectic time as I also have a new Mon-Fri training camp starting that morning.)

U.S. Open

It looks like a record number of entries. There are currently 913 players listed as entries for the U.S. Open, but this does not include entries to the ITTF U.S. Open World Tour. (The actual U.S. Open doesn't include Men's or Women's Singles or Under 21 Boys or Girls, which are part of the ITTF World Tour.) The ITTF U.S. Open World Tour Page shows 181 entries, but there are overlaps between that and the regular U.S. Open entries. However, it looks like there'll be more entries in all than the 1000+ from the 1974 and 1975 U.S. Opens in Oklahoma City and Houston. However, the 1990 U.S. Open in Baltimore included the World Veteran's Games and a special Junior Championships, and in all had something like 2700 entries if I remember correctly, though I may be off. (Anyone have better numbers for 1990?)

You can follow the action of the World Tour events at the U.S. Open at the ITTF U.S. Open World Tour Page.

MDTTC Camp, My Back and Foot, Fortune Cookies, and White House Down

Yesterday's focus was the backhand loop. I gave a short lecture on that as well as on the backhand drive against backspin and the backhand smash, and used Roy Ke as my demo partner. I also introduced the beginners to returning serves, mostly with a return serve game where they'd line up and try to return my serve. If they did, they stayed until the missed. Then I explained the way to return the various spins I was giving them. If I told them in advance what the spin was, most were able to return the serve about half the time. I also gave them fast serves (they did not like those!) as well as my infamous backspin serve that bounces back over the net to my side. (I let them do a takeover when I do that. Top players see it coming and smack it in from the side of the table.)

Unfortunately, my back hasn't gotten much better. I tried giving a private lesson, but after hitting two minutes I went to multiball, and then brought in Raghu Nadmichettu to do the last 30 minutes. The problem is the back has really stiffened up, and when I try hitting, I'm like a block of granite. Worse, this put a strain on the rest of me as I compensated - and in those two minutes I managed to aggravate the back problem as well as hurt my foot. Yes, I'm limping now. But I've got substitutes for my coaching sessions today and this weekend so I'll have three days off (Sat-Mon), other than one session with a six-year-old on Sunday where hopefully I'll survive.

For lunch, I created another fake fortune that I snuck into my fortune cookie, which said, "A giant panda will sit on you and crush you." The day before I had one that said, "A giant wolverine will eat you today." Previous ones included "A meteor will kill you in five minutes" and "A ping-pong player will kill you this afternoon." Today's says, "Today you will be shot, electrocuted, burned, drowned, eaten, and a giant squid will choke you. Have a nice day." I create these in Photoshop, and have mastered the art of surreptitiously opening the plastic around a fortune cookie, breaking the cookie in half, replacing the real fortune with the fake one, putting it back together again so it looks unbroken (with the fake fortune sort of holding it together), and sneaking it back inside the wrapper. I think the kids are getting suspicious!

After the camp finished at 6PM I took five of the players (Derek Nie, Roy Ke, Leon Bi, Raghu Nadmichettu, and Allen Lin) to see the 7PM showing of White House Down. (Three others - Crystal Wang and Princess & Tiffany Ke - went separately and I believe saw Monsters University.) It went over really well - a nice action movie. As an amateur presidential historian, I loved the White House scenes, including recognizing all the presidential pictures and statues.

How to Cut Table Tennis Rubber

Here's a new article from Paddle Palace on this.

Pong XT - Europe on Fire

Here's a great new video (4:05) set to music that showcases the best points from the 2013 World Championships. Edited by Canadian star Xavier Thérien!

Saving Norman

Here's a great short film just out (10:30, actual movie is about 9 min) on table tennis, starring Willem Dafoe. It actually takes table tennis seriously. Spoiler Alert! It's about a former table tennis star who missed his big chance at the World Championships 25 years before, who's become a recluse, and how someone helps him resolve these issues - and how it all affects his parrot, Norman. From a serious table tennis player's point of view, the actual table tennis scenes are pretty weak - the first one because the level is obviously very low with poor technique, the second because the computer special effects are poor and obviously fake, as are the actors attempts to fake real table tennis strokes.

Ping-Pong Ball Mouth Juggling

Here's a video (1:04) of a guy setting the record for the most consecutive pong-pong ball juggling with his mouth - 212.

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June 28, 2012

Last Blog Until After U.S. Open

This will be my last blog until I return from the U.S. Open in Grand Rapids. I should start blogging again on Friday, July 6. I know it will be difficult, but there must be other stuff on the Internet to read. I've heard rumors.

I'm mostly coaching at the Open (primarily Derek and George Nie), though I am entered in one event, Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff. (I've won it twelve times at the Open or Nationals, eight times with Ty, four times with Steve Berger.) There's just too many time conflicts in trying to play multiple events while coaching multiple players, and I had to make a choice on whether I'm primarily a player or a coach. (Duh!) Normally I'd also coach Tong Tong Gong, but he's on the National Cadet Team, and so will be mostly coached by the U.S. National Cadet Coach, Keith Evans.

I'm driving up with the Nie family on Friday morning, leaving around 7AM, and should arrive by 5PM or so. I should arrive in time to attend both the ITTF Jury Meeting at 6PM (where they make the draws and go over rules, etc.) and the USATT Coaching Committee Meeting at 8PM (I'm on the committee). The Nie's are staying in Michigan after the Open for a few days of vacation, so I'm flying back on the fourth of July.

MDTTC Camp - Week Two, Day Three

The focus yesterday was on the forehand loop, though as usual we varied this depending on each player's level and playing style. I also gave a lecture and demo of various racket surfaces (pips-out sponge, hardbat, antispin, long pips with and without sponge), grips (penhold, both conventional and with reverse penhold backhand, as well as the Seemiller grip) and how to play choppers.

One 12-year-old beginner really liked the antispin, and asked to borrow it for the day. He's now using it on his backhand in all his drills and matches, dead-blocking with the backhand, attacking with the forehand. I've converted him to the dark side!!! If he stays with this style, most likely he'll eventually "graduate" to long pips (no sponge) on the backhand and become a pushblocker.

There is also a kid, about ten years old, who is developing a chopper/looper style. He spent a lot of time yesterday with Wang Qing Liang, our 17-year-old 2567-rated chopper/looper.

Today's focus will be the backhand attack, especially the backhand loop. Then we'll have the ever-popular "How many paper cups can I knock down in ten shots?" challenge, where we stack the cups in a pyramid and I feed them the balls multiball style.

China and the Timo Boll-Zhang Jike Rivalry

Here's an article that discusses these two players, with insight from Chinese Coach Liu Guoliang.

Top Table Tennis Points

Here's a video (14:12) of top table tennis points. Included in the video are players Adrien Mattenet, Chuang Chih Yuan, Kaii Yoshida, Ryu Seung Min, Jun Mizutani, Chen Chien-An, Fengtian Bai, Christian Suss, Zhang Jike, Ma Long, Alexey Smirnov, Michael Maze, Timo Boll, Jean Michel Saive, Robert Gardos, Christophe Legout, Chen Weixing, Tiago Apolonia, Taku Takakiwa, Patrick Baum, Seiya Kishikawa, Andrej Gacina, Vladimir Samsonov, Gao Ning, Feng Tianwei, Ding Ning, Zoran Primorac, Jan-Ove Waldner, Ding Song, Chen Qi, Lee Jung Woo, Roko Tosic, and Romain Lorentz.

Wanna see a ping-pong ball spin at 10,000 rpm?

Here it is (0:40), care of liquid nitrogen!

Adam Bobrow Reviews the New Plastic Ball

In this new video (0:31), Adam breaks through the window of silence and discovers the shattering truth about the new plastic ball.

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June 27, 2012

MDTTC Camp - Week Two, Day Two

Yesterday was Day Two of the second week of our summer camps. The focus was on the backhand. After the break I gave a talk on return of serve, and then the players practiced serve and receive.

There was a lot of interest in the fast serves I demonstrated. This has always been a strength of mine, but for some reason my fast serves yesterday seemed amped up a bit, and were going out like guided missiles. During break I told the story of the time I opened a match against 1986 U.S. National Champion Hank Teekaveerakit with three aces down the line, one of my proudest moments. He was a penhold forehand looper who tried to loop all deep serves with his forehand. My fast down-the-line serve always looks like it's going crosscourt, and so he got caught going the wrong way three times in a row. After the third, he looked at me, and said (and this was how he always pronounced my name), "Lally, Lally, nobody serves down the line three times in a row!" The rest of the game he received with his backhand, and he came back to win the game. In game two, he went back to trying to loop all my serves, and we had a great time playing sort of cat and mouse as I threw fast serves both down the line and crosscourt, and he tried (and mostly succeeded) in forehand looping them all. He won, and said it was a great practice session. 

Three Days until the U.S. Open in Grand Rapids

Are you shadow practicing your strokes?

PingSkills Videos

Here are three more PingSkills coaching videos:

Jim Butler on Scorekeepers

Here's an article by three-time U.S. Men's National Champion and two-time Olympian Jim Butler on scorekeepers.

Jeffrey Wins JOOLA Open in Newport News

Fellow MDTTC coach Jeffrey Zeng Xun won the JOOLA Open in Newport News this past weekend. Here's the article!

Topspin, the Documentary

Here's the latest on this video project, including a video (3:33).

Pings and Pongs

I'm putting all my books in ebook and POD (print on demand) formats so I can sell them directly on line. For "practice," I started with "Pings and Pongs," an anthology of my 30 best science fiction & fantasy stories, all previously sold stories to various markets. (It includes "Ping-Pong Ambition," a fantasy table tennis story, and a few other stories have table tennis references.) Since it has few pictures, it was relatively easy to do as a test. Here's the page - make sure to buy a few dozen copies! Later on all my other books will be sold in these formats: Table Tennis: Steps to Success; Table Tennis Tales & Techniques; Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis; Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook; and the upcoming Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide. (I'm creating the pages myself in both formats, but it's a slow process since we're also in the middle of the summer camps season at MDTTC.)

Exhibition Picture from 1990s

Here's a picture from an exhibition at the USA Nationals, I believe in the late 1990s, between Chen Xinhua (standing on table) and Cheng Yinghua (sitting on table), with USATT President Sheri Pittman also joining in. As Jim Butler points out above, with no scorekeeper we have no idea what's going on here . . . right?

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June 26, 2012

MDTTC Camp - Week Two, Day One

Yesterday we started another week of camps. As we usually do, the first day we focused on the forehand, though we personalized this for more advanced players. In the second half I gave my service lecture. The players had a good time doing some of the service spin drills I demonstrated: serving on the floor and making the ball curve sideways (toward a target) or backwards into their hands; serving from wide backhand or forehand and making the ball spin around so it bounced in all four quadrants of the table, and ending up down the line from where the serve started and hitting a target set up there; or serving backspin so the ball bounced back into or over the net.

As I was about to do multiball with one new 12-year-old, he walked over and said, "Let me apologize in advance." Before he could continue, I asked him if he'd stolen my car or wallet. He laughed, then said, "No, I'm just apologizing because I can't play at all." I explained to him that everyone started out as a beginner. Then we started, and to be honest, he was rather ragged at the start, with a short, jerky stroke that ended right at contact. It took a while to get him to follow through smoothly, but by the end of the morning session he was hitting decent forehands.

Four Days Until the U.S. Open in Grand Rapids

Have you practiced your serves today? I have. (But I'm only playing hardbat doubles. I'm going primarily to coach.) I recently discovered a new variation of my reverse pendulum serve that's going to create havoc . . . I hope.

Ready Position

In this article and video (4:36), ICC Head Coach Massimo Constantini explains the importance of stance and posture to the "Ready Position." (Seems to be audio only.)

Amateur and Pro Ping-Pong Players Wanted for Reality TV Game Show

Yes, you can be a TV ping-pong star! All you have to do is be willing to look silly. Okay, my bias against reality shows is showing, so here's the actual description:

Amateur heroes take on the pros under extreme conditions in order to score points, win money, and to elevate the sport. WIN MONEY! You don't have to beat them, just score a few points. We believe the time has come, for the very best amateurs to compete head-to-head against the best table tennis players in the world. Submit an online application and upload a video to get on the show.

Non-Table Tennis: Those Onerous Overdone Outlines

Musa Publishing (no connection to Nigerian star Atanda Musa!) recently published a blog item I wrote for them on outlining science fiction stories. The funny thing was they were supposed to notify me when it went up, but they forgot. I just discovered it - it went up on June 14. Here's the blog entry, entitled "Those Onerous Overdone Outlines." They also published my eStory "Willy and the Ten Trillion Chimpanzees" (only 99 cents!). Here's the story description from their web page: "What if William Shakespeare was a demon with ten trillion captive chimpanzees in his basement, where time is sped up a trillion-fold, and where they are forced to randomly type as they produce the works of Shakespeare? And then the chimpanzees rebel…." They also bought another story from me that'll be in their upcoming July issue of Penumbra Magazine, "The Dragon of the Apocalypse" - here's the cover. (And here's my science fiction & fantasy page.)

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October 27, 2011

When to react

Have you ever studied your opponent to see exactly when in his strokes he commits to a specific placement? If not, you are handicapping yourself. Most players commit to a direction before they start their forward swing, and you should be moving to the ball as they start their forward swing. But most players don't react until the opponent has hit the ball, thereby wasting a lot of valuable time. More on this in this Monday's Tip of the Week.

Chinese footwork

These six short videos are perhaps the best videos I've ever seen on footwork, as well as a great example on proper stroking technique. Coach Wang Wen Jie of China explains Chinese footwork - which is pretty much the way all world-class players move, Chinese or otherwise. The various footwork techniques are shown both a regular speed and in slow motion, and explained by the coach.

Physical training for table tennis

A blog reader (who wished to stay anonymous) sent me these videos of physical training for table tennis. I think the titles are in French. There's a bunch of them - enjoy!

Table tennis at its "worst"

I'm not sure why they call it this, but this is a great highlights reel (4:16). It starts off with Samsonov and some magical graphics, then goes on to highlight Samsonov and most of the Chinese and European top players. 

Final of 1973 Worlds

Here's the final eight points (2:59) of the Men's Singles Final at the 1973 World, Kjell Johannson versus Xi Enting. Enting leads 17-14 at the start, then at 19-18, wins on two edge balls in a row!

 

Your next opponent

If you can handle this guy, then you are ready for anyone. Sure, he's bigger than you, has big teeth and bad breath, and will probably eat you if you win, but you're playing for pride. He's a defensive player - he likes to chop things - so be patient and play his middle.

Attendance figures, U.S. Open and USA Nationals

Recently I posted the attendance figures for the USA Nationals, 1994 to present. I've done the same for the U.S. Open. Below are the raw stats (which now includes location) and two graphs. Figures do not include players who played only in doubles, hardbat, or sandpaper. (Hardbat was added in 1997, sandpaper in 2010.)

U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships

USA Table Tennis Nationals

Year

Participants

Location

Year

Participants

Location

2011

548

Milwaukee, WI

2011

?

Virginia Beach

2010

645

Grand Rapids, MI

2010

686

Las Vegas

2009

610

Las Vegas, NV

2009

597

Las Vegas

2008

663

Las Vegas, NV

2008

604

Las Vegas

2007

769

Las Vegas, NV

2007

730

Las Vegas

2006

455

Charlotte, NC

2006

837

Las Vegas

2005

694

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2005

829

Las Vegas

2004

664

Chicago, IL

2004

755

Las Vegas

2003

624

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2003

707

Las Vegas

2002

626

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2002

678

Las Vegas

2001

664

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2001

672

Las Vegas

2000

691

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2000

686

Las Vegas

1999

613

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1999

658

Las Vegas

1998

524

Houston, TX

1998

592

Las Vegas

1997

785

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1997

650

Las Vegas

1996

670

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1996

613

Las Vegas

1995

580

Anaheim, CA

1995

660

Las Vegas

1994

667

Anaheim, CA

1994

598

Las Vegas

 

 

 

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July 1, 2011

It's pretty hectic here at the U.S. Open in Milwaukee and I have to leave shortly to play & coach, so I won't have time to write too much. I'll write more next week after I return home. Here are a few tidbits:

  • Richard McAfee ran a nice 30-minute clinic for new players. Just before that they ran a tournament for new players, with about 50 entries.
  • Comedian Frank Caliando did a comedic exhibition with five-time U.S. Men's Champion Sean O'Neill.
  • Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki at Subway is GREAT.
  • Had to call an umpire in a team match I was coaching because an opponent was hiding some of his serves. It's very frustrating to have to do this. (The umpire gave him a warning on the second serve he did after she went out, for holding his arm out, which is how he was hiding serves - with the arm and thrust-out shoulder. I think he did this under pressure, and probably didn't even realize it. I don't think he did this at the Nationals, the last time I saw him play.) The father of the one who was hiding his serve . . . let's just say he didn't take it very well. 'Nuff said.
  • Because I was busy coaching I had to default out of Hardbat Singles. I'm still hoping to play Over 40 Hardbat and Hardbat Doubles, but we'll see. (Ty Hoff, my partner in doubles, knows that if there's a major conflict we'd have to default, but decided to go for it - we've won it together a number of times.)
  • Did I mention how good Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki is?
  • I introduced USA Cadet Team Member Tong Tong Gong to movie & TV star Adonis Maropis. I'm not sure who was more in awe of the other.
  • Greg Mascialino pulled off not one, but two around the net loops that basically slid on the table - in the same point! The opponent somehow got the first back.
  • Tomorrow I'm coaching Tong Tong Gong against a top player with the Seemiller grip. FINALLY I get to make use of all my knowledge of tactics against this grip!
  • Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki at Subway is very good. Thought you should know.

I know you want more, so…

here's three minutes 45 seconds of spectacular beer pong shots.

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June 30, 2011

USATT Paralympic Camp

I landed in Milwaukee for the U.S. Open around 8AM on Wednesday, and was at the Hyatt Hotel at 8:40AM. At 8:45 I was told that the room wouldn't be available until sometime between noon and 3PM. So I hopped in a taxi and went to the USATT Paralympic training camp, which was being held in a local high school. Dan Rutenberg was the head coach, assisted by Keith Evans. I had coached one of the players, Timmy La, for much of the last year. So for two hours (9:30-11:30 AM) I helped out as a practice partner, coach, and ball-picker-upper. I believe there were 16 players, a mix of wheelchair and standing disabled. Newgy was also there for a robot demonstration, and for an hour the players took turns going through a series of robot drills on four robots.

Visit to Spin Milwaukee

The playing hall wasn't open Wednesday for practice, so I visited Spin Milwaukeewith Tong Tong Gong, the cadet player I'm coaching at the Open. For $16 we rented a table for an hour of practice. I played great at the start, but toward the end - especially when we started playing points - he came alive and things became far more difficult from my end. Since I'm a coach, that's a good thing, right? Then we went out for mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Hyatt Hotel and Roosevelt (non-table tennis related)

There's a plaque at one of the hotel entrances that declares it to be the site of the Oct. 14, 1912 assassination attempt on Theodore Roosevelt by saloonkeeper John Schrank, who'd been plotting the attempt for three weeks. As an amateur presidential historian, I spent some time reading over the old newspaper clippings on the wall. The hotel was then called the Hotel Gilpatrick. Roosevelt was saved by his thick coat, eyeglass holder, and the 50-page manuscript of his speech - folded over once, so really 100 pages - which slowed the bullet down before it entered his body. Before going to the hospital, Roosevelt read the entire speech, taking 90 minutes. The bullet was lodged in the muscles of his chest, and doctors concluded it would be more dangerous to remove it than to leave it in, so it remained there until Roosevelt died in 1919.

Woman in bed playing table tennis

Here's a continuous video of a woman playing table tennis in bed by herself, holding one racket in her hand, the other with a her feet. Enjoy!

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June 28, 2011

U.S. Open

I leave for the U.S. Open tomorrow morning. Since my flight out of BWI is at 7AM I'll be leaving around 4:30 AM - it's an hour away. (Guess I have to get up really early tomorrow to do my blog.) I'll try to blog about tournament while I'm there, though between coaching and playing in hardbat events, I'm not sure how many of the "big" matches I'll get to see. I'm also going to attend some USATT meetings.

If you are at the Open, come by and say hello. And before you go there, make sure to get lots of sleep, eat well, and PRACTICE YOUR SERVES! Service practice and match play are the two most important table tennis things you can do just before a tournament. On the other hand, I may have to play or coach against you, so stay up late, eat potato chips, and watch plenty of TV.

U.S. Open Table Tennis Dream

About an hour ago I woke from the strangest table tennis dream possible. I grabbed a notebook and wrote it down.

I was at the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships, which starts in two days in Milwaukee. I was coaching Tong Tong Gong, a member of the U.S. cadet team who I'll be coaching there. His opponent complained about his racket, pointing out that Tong Tong was using a book as a racket. The referee, an extremely old man with a white beard that dragged on the floor, examined the book, and declared it illegal, saying the racket needed to be made of wood. He handed it back to Tong Tong, who started to cry. (Sorry Tong Tong, I'm just reporting the facts!) I argued that paper comes from wood, but the referee just smiled and then dissolved into nothing. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger, wearing a black raincoat and dark sunglasses, walked over, followed by eight others. The eight also wore black raincoats and carried black umbrellas, though it wasn't raining. Right about now I realized that we were outdoors, with hundreds of table tennis tables set up on railroad tracks. Arnold snatched the book out of Tong Tong's hand, and then leaped into the air and flew away like superman. The other eight black raincoat-clad umbrella-waving men flew after him. I leaped into the air and flew after them, holding a ping-pong paddle. I landed next to a railroad car, and looked inside, and found Arnold and the eight there. They came out and attacked me with their umbrellas on the railroad tracks. I knocked each one out with my paddle with a forehand or backhand stroke. Each time I knocked one out I said, "Happy birthday." I knocked out Arnold with a backhand and grabbed the book from his hands. Then I saw Tong Tong lighting fire to an old jeep that was apparently Arnold's. We pushed it down a road that paralleled the railroad tracks, and it slammed into a cliff and exploded. Then I woke up.

The Grip

Here's a nice article on the shakehands grip by German National Coach Richard Prause.

Ping-pong without a partner or a ball.

The Japanese have developed a table-tennis game that you play by ear. Make sure to play the two-minute video demo. And to think it all started with a simple video game called "Pong"!

Milwaukee Brewers versus the Chinese National Women's Table Tennis Team

Guess who won? (Former Chinese team member and all-time great Zhang Yining also "competed.")

Allstar Challenge

Here are the results, pictures, and other info on the International Table Tennis All-Star Challenge held this past weekend in Markham, Ontario, Canada. The winner was a blast from the past - Zoran Primorac, who defeated Wang Xi in the final. Here are the (somewhat convoluted?) results.

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June 27, 2011

Gmail problem

This weekend I was hit with a virtual avalanche of spammers on both the Forum and Blog comments. They all came with varied (and apparently random) gmail addresses. I ended up spending many hours personally deleting several hundred postings and blocking (one by one) over one hundred gmail addresses. Finally, rather than put into place more stringent requirements for registration - something I may have to do later on - I simply blocked all gmail accounts.

If you have a gmail account, you probably can't post or comment right now, and probably can't register. If you have an alternate email, please use that. If you only have gmail, please email me and let me know; it would be helpful to know if many real people are affected by this. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Since I'm leaving for the U.S. Open on Wednesday, I'm probably going to have to leave gmail blocked until I return. Then I'll decide if I have to use more stringent registration procedures. (Which I haven't really researched yet.) The last thing I want to do is spend the U.S. Open deleting spam and blocking individual posters all day long.

Speaking of the U.S. Open...

I leave in (checks watch) exactly 46 hours and six minutes. It's in Milwaukee; here's the info page. I'm there primarily to coach, but I'm also entered in three hardbat events: Open Hardbat (I'm two-time champion), Open Hardbat Doubles (I'm ten-time and defending champion from the Nationals), and Over 40 Hardbat (I'm four-time and defending champion from the Nationals). (Note that when I list how many times I've won I'm including both the Open and Nationals.) If there's a conflict between playing hardbat and coaching an important match, I'll have to default and coach - that's my primary purpose there. (I'll mostly be coaching Tong Tong Gong, a member of the USA Cadet team from my club.) I'm normally a sponge player, but I've been playing hardbat on the side for a few decades. I also expect to attend a few USATT meetings.

Complex Versus Simple Tactics

This week's Tip of the Week is on [read headline, duh!].

The Dominating and Limiting Factors in Your Game?

What are the dominating and limiting factors in your game? Too often players only look at what they do well, and forget the latter, the things they don't do well, i.e. the things opponents go after. I remember watching a player with great footwork and a great loop lose a match because he couldn't effectively return the opponent's simply short backspin serve. Over the next week, the player practiced every day, focusing almost exclusively on his strengths, footwork and looping. He never addressed the problem of his weak return of a short backspin serve. 

A player's level is really based on three things. There are the things he does well (i.e. the things you dominate with); the things he doesn't do well (i.e. the limiting factors that hold you back), and everything else (things you don't dominate with but don't hold you back). I generally advise players to practice everything you do in a game, but focus on making the strengths overpowering while removing any weaknesses. At any given level you need to have at least one thing that scares the opponent while not having any glaring weaknesses the opponent can easily play into.

Great exhibition points

Here's a montage of great exhibition points (4:31), to the tune of "Sweet Home Alabama." You can always turn off the sound.

Forehand Pendulum Serve

Here's an interesting two-minute video that shows ten different forehand pendulum serves, both in real time and in slow motion.

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