Bojan Tokic

April 24, 2013

Looping Placement

Here's something interesting I noted at the Hopes Trials, which I've also seen in the past. When a player backhand loops, he is roughly facing his opponent, and so can see where the opponent's middle is. When a player forehand loops, he faces more sideways, and the opponent is no longer in clear view. Result? Especially at the junior level and below the elite level, players seem to have far more difficulty in attacking the opponent's middle when forehand looping then when backhand looping. (The middle, in table tennis terms, is the switchover point between forehand and backhand, roughly at the playing elbow.) I watched one player nail the opponent's middle over and over with backhand loops, but when forced to do forehand loops, the player was unable to do so. (This is all true as well for basic forehands and backhands, but to a lesser extent, since players tend to turn more sideways to forehand loop than for forehand hitting.)

The solution? Practice. Look to loop at the opponent's middle at least half the time, usually the weakest spot, and see how often you can nail it. Few opponents are actually moving as you are hitting the ball, so you should be able to see where he is just before you take the shot. With practice, you'll be able to hit the middle over and over. (If an opponent is moving, then usually aim behind him, since he'll have to stop and change directions. Unless, of course, he's way out of position, in which case go for the open area.)  

Table Tennis Commentating at the North American Cup

No, I didn't get to hear any of it - I was there coaching. (I'm told I was on video at least one time, coaching Crystal Wang in the Girls' Hopes Trials.) What I've heard and read over and over was what a great job Barbara Wei did through most of the tournament - and how she was then replaced for the "big" matches at the end by someone who spoke broken and heavily accented English, and various officials. C'mon, people, Barbara was on the U.S. Junior Girls Team, trained nearly full-time for years, and speaks very clearly and intelligently. Listeners raved about her performance. What were you thinking??? (Disclaimer: Barbara came from my club, Maryland Table Tennis Center.)

I've been asked numerous times over the years to do table tennis commentating for TV. I've always turned it down. Why? I don't think I have a good speaking voice for TV. When I first began doing group coaching many years ago, I also had trouble. My solution was to take a course in public speaking. This greatly helped for those group sessions. However, I don't think I could do hours of commentating with my "public speaking" voice. I'd fall back into my normal habits, which tends to be somewhat fast and not the type of voice you want on TV. I'm far better writing.

Answers to Brain Teasers

Here are the answers to the four brain teasers from yesterday:

  1. The opponent was a fish and they were playing underwater.
  2. When you play an opossum, you play possum.
  3. There isn't any room over the net for the ball to go over.
  4. The single hair was a hare.

Table Tennista

Once again they have more international articles. Perhaps the most interesting one is the eyebrow-raising first item, where European Table Tennis Union President Stefano Bosi, who is running for ITTF President, accuses the incumbent, Adham Sharara, with this: "We found that Adham Sharara has been involved in a long-term and serious breach of the ITTF regulations and ethical standards. It is even possible that he also has civil violations. In particular, he is involved in serious violations on the Olympic charter. In addition, Sharara has established a complex system to aid him and his relatives to seek benefits from the ITTF." It also accuses him of "abuse of power and malversation of funds amounting to 20 million US dollars." I'll post Sharara's response when/if it comes out.

Testing the Large Hadron Collider with a Ping-Pong Ball

Here's the article from The Atlantic.

Receiving Options

Here's a video from PingSkills (2:07) on your basic options when receiving.

ITTF Ping Pong Paix at the 2012 WTTC

"Ping Pong for Peace" was a program at the Worlds in Dortmund, Germany, where kids from Burundi were brought in to learn about table tennis. Here's the video (7:58).

Ryu Seung Min vs Bojan Tokic (German League 2012/2013) Play-Offs

Here's the video (7:58).

Justin Bieber Table Tennis

Here's an article and a new short video (about 12 sec) from Table Tennis National of Justin Bieber playing table tennis. Yep, he's still using a two-handed backhand.

Ping-Pyong

Here's a nice cartoon of the U.S. and North Korea playing ping-pong on a nuclear missile, from the Washington Post, the result of a contest, with the caption, "Ping-Pyong: A high-stakes game in which two countries smack threats back and forth with lobs, spin and backhand shots."

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February 4, 2013

Tip of the Week

Super Spinny Slow Loops.

Tactical Matches

Here are two examples of tactics used in matches this past weekend.

Last Thursday I wrote about a chopper who had spent much of the last year learning to forehand loop, going from an almost exclusively defensive chopper to having a very aggressive forehand. This weekend it paid dividends for him - well, almost. I usually eat choppers alive, but he wasn't really a "chopper" this match, as he kept attacking. The score went to 9-all in the fifth before I won the last two points. The key to what made him so difficult to play wasn't just his attacking; it was the threat of attacking. Besides his usually defensive play, he won points with his attack three ways:

  1. Directly by attacking;
  2. By my playing overly aggressive to avoid his attack;
  3. By my overplaying into his backhand chop to avoid his forehand counterloop, thereby letting him almost camp out on the backhand side and chop everything back with ease.

The problem I had with his forehand counterloop is that it would catch me close to the table, and so I'd almost always block it. (I tried looping into his middle and wide forehand, but he ran them all down to counterloop over and over.) Then he'd swoop in and keep looping, and I'd usually end up fishing and lobbing. At 9-all in the fifth, he suddenly counterlooped - and I counterlooped off the bounce for a winner, a shot I used to be good at, but that I don't do nearly as often anymore. I may have to go for that shot more against him. Or I might work on dead-blocking the ball. I also probably need to go after his middle more in my first loop, where he's not as ready to counterloop. As it was, I was somewhat lucky to pull off that shot at 9-all, and could easily have lost this match.

In another match I played a really good two-winged hitter who, until now, simply couldn't return my serves. However, we've played a lot recently, and for the first time ever he did a decent job of returning my serves, and once in a rally, could hit really well. At this point I'd been at the club coaching and playing for eight hours, and I found myself unable to go through him with my attack, nor could I outlast him in rallies since I was too soft against his strong hitting due to exhaustion. (I had just finished playing the extremely tiring 11-9 in the fifth match against the chopper - see above.) After losing the first game - the first game I'd ever lost to him - I went to a simple strategy of pushing or chopping his serves back as heavy as I could. He had a nice hitting game, and could loop against normal backspins, but against these ginzo backspins, he fell apart. When he did manage to lift one up, it was too soft and usually short, so even exhausted I could smash them or block them hard to his middle. I won the next three games. The key was to commit to the heavy backspins so I knew in advance I would be doing them, and so could really load them up and control them.

More tactical examples coming tomorrow.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers - Kindle Situation

Two notes:

  1. As noted previously, and in the Amazon.com Kindle description of the book, the current version is text only. In a month or so I plan to put together a Kindle version with all 90 photos that'll be in the print version. (Unlike the print version, these photos will be in full color.) I checked with Amazon on whether those who had already bought and downloaded the text-only version could get the new version, and they wrote back: "If the changes made to your content are considered critical, we’ll send an email to all customers who own the book to notify them of the update and improvements made. These customers will be able to choose to opt in to receive the update through the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com." I'm fairly certain going from a text-only version to adding 90 color pictures would be considered "critical," though of course I can't guarantee that.
  2. I wrote that the Kindle edition cost $9.99. However, I've since learned that that is only in the U.S. For "International wireless delivery" the cost is higher - I'm told in one location outside the U.S. the cost was $14.39.

I should have the proof version of the print version tomorrow. I'm already planning a few changes, so after I check to make sure everything's coming out (I already wrote that I'm worried about the photo resolution), I'll upload the "final" version. It should be available a few days after that.

USA Team Trials

They start in three days, Thur-Sun, Feb. 7-10, at the Top Spin Club in San Jose, CA. They had a press conference on Saturday. Here are pictures and other info on the Trials. And here is the USATT's info page on the Trials.

Bojan Tokic Interview

Here's an interview with Bojan Tokic of Slovenia, world #25. Includes video.

The Awesomeness in Table Tennis

Here's a new highlights video (8:40).

Wang Liqin vs. Xu Xin

Here's video (3:59) of for world #1 Wang Liqin's incredible comeback from down 0-8 and 3-10 against world #1 Xu Xin at the 2013 Chinese team trials.

Table Tennis in Lagos

Here's two kids in Lagos playing table tennis using an old door balanced on stools as their table. Remember this next time you complain about your playing conditions!

The Table Tennis Collector

Here's issue #67 of The Table Tennis Collector. Here's what Editor and ITTF Museum Curator Chuck Hoey says about it:

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce the publication of issue number 67 in the Table Tennis Collector series. This is the 20th year of publication, beginning with 16 pages in black & white, and evolving to a 50-page issue in full color, free to all.

Many interesting articles in this issue, and a special report on missing World Championship scores that are needed to complete the historical record - please help!

Special thanks to our many contributors for sharing their research, including Alan Duke, Steve Grant, Fabio Marcotulli, Jorge Arango and John Ruderham, and our dedicated phiatelic collectors, Hans-Peter Trautmann, Winfried Engelbrecht, Tang Ganxian and Marc Templereau.

The pdf download is 10MB in size, so please allow extra time for the download to complete. This is a direct link: http://www.ittf.com/museum/TTC67.pdf

This issue, along with the entire series, can be accessed via my website: www.ittf.com/museum
Click the TT Collector icon and then select an issue to view.

Hope you enjoy the new issue. As always, constructive feedback is welcome.
Best wishes from Switzerland.

Chuck Hoey
Curator, ITTF Museum

Xu Xin Multiball

Here's video (37 sec) of world #1 Xu Xin doing multiball. See if you can match him!

Xu Xin and Ma Long Fooling Around

Here video (41 sec) of the current #1 and #3 players in the world goofing off. See if you can match their tricks! (Xu is the penholder, who starts out on the near side.)

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October 16, 2012

Tidbits

  • The MDTTC October Open is this weekend, and once again I'm running it. Enter now, or at least by 5PM Thursday, the deadline. (Though I'll take entries at least until 7PM on Friday, and probably on Saturday until 6PM for Sunday events.) You can enter via email to me, and pay upon arrival - but if you don't cancel by 5PM Thursday, you are responsible for payment even if you don't show. If you don't enter, we will talk about you - we'll mock you and your personality, and discuss tactics on beating you.
  • As promised in a blog a few weeks ago, as soon as the Baltimore Orioles baseball team were out of the playoffs, I'd start weight training again. I did my first session yesterday since early this year. This is both to keep my back from acting up again and also to get my playing level back. When you get older, without weight training it gets harder and harder to race around the court making crazy shots.
  • When local juniors have birthdays, I've started the tradition of giving them "Get Out of Lecture Free" cards, applicable one time when they find themselves cornered and unable to escape as I lecture on the errors of their table tennis ways.
  • Sometime soon a well-known actor will wear an MDTTC shirt on a highly-rated TV show watched by six million people each week.
  • Someone's coming to MDTTC this Saturday and Sunday night to do a video special on us. More on this later.
  • In "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the argument is made that the single most important item to have around is a towel. However, to a table tennis coach, the most important thing to have around is a box. It gives you something to hold balls when you feed multiball; a target for beginners to hit with their drives and serves; something to put in the middle of the table so students can learn to hit the ball to the corners (i.e. avoid hitting the box); something to pick up balls with; a way to narrow down the table so you can have backhand-to-backhand or forehand-to-forehand games with students; and, in a crunch, they make a nifty blocking and chopping racket.
  • Yesterday a player told me he was going to the Nationals in Las Vegas, and mentioned that he usually goes to the Nationals when it's in Las Vegas (2400 miles away) but avoids going when it's in Virginia Beach (226 miles away) because "Virginia Beach is impossible to get to." (He was referring to the lack of flights there - it's much easier getting a direct flight to Las Vegas.) This year it's in Las Vegas, but I've heard through the grapevine that it'll be back in Virginia Beach next year. I don't know for sure, however.
  • Am I the only coach who keeps a large rubber frog around ("Froggy") as an on-table target for kids in the 5-8 age range? Or a stack of paper cups to make pyramids out of that the kids can knock over as I feed multiball, including one specific cup named Scar with a mark on it that everyone goes for? (He's a nasty cup, I explain, always picking on me.) Note that I only pull Froggy and Scar out at the end of a session; if you start kidding around early in a session, not much gets done that session.
  • "Hodges" is an anagram for "He's God." "USA Table Tennis" is an anagram for "Satan But Senile." Coincidence?

Volkswagen 2012 China VS World Team Challenge

Here's the poster. The tournament is Nov. 24-25, 2012, in Shanghai, China. Here's the ITTF home page.

Incredible Counterlooping Duel

Here's a great counterlooping point between Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece and Bojan Tokic of Slovenia.

2012 China National Championships Xu Xin - Ma Long

Here's a great match from the Chinese Nationals Men's Team Final, with the time between points taken out so it's only 8:14 long. (Xu Xin is the lefty.)

Ping-Pong Wedding, Part 2

Yesterday I linked to a picture of Dana Hadacova at her "ping-pong wedding," which showed her hitting with her groom with wooden bats on a mini-table. However, I didn't know who the husband was, or why Dana seemed to have two names - Hadacova, and Cechova (the latter is how she is listed in the ITTF world rankings). However, super-sleuth Aaron Avery found out that the husband is Roman Cech, hence the new last name - Cechova. (Actually, it's Čechová, but I'm not sure if the tilda and accents will come through properly on all browsers.) There's no evidence he's a ping-pong player (she lists him as a "physical coach," but he's like this hockey player. Here's a picture.

New Penhold Blade?

Interesting grip - when you hold it in front of you, you stand behind the eight-disk?

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