Grip Problems

March 26, 2013

Spring Break Camp - Grip Problems

Once again it's obvious that the biggest problem when working with beginning juniors is the grip. If they get the grip right, the rest of their strokes tend to come together. But no matter how many times you correct it, about half of beginning juniors will immediately go back to whatever weird-fangled grip they were using, leading to weird-fangled strokes that can drive a coach to dark, weird-fangled places as they try to keep smiling as they correct the grip for the zillionth time.

A poor playing stance usually leads to a poor grip, and a poor grip often leads to a poor playing stance. Most kids can fix one problem at a time, but here you have to correct two problems at once. If the kid fixes one problem but not the other, he'll almost immediately unfix the first problem and go back to the bad grip or stance, since you have to fix both together. It's a difficult cycle to break out of.

I spent much of yesterday working with five beginners, ages roughly 7-9. Three are picking things up pretty fast. Two are not. These two are still falling back into these bad habits. One insists on using sort of a "claw" grip, where he faces the table perfectly square on his forehand shots, grabbing the racket with his index finger up the middle, and his other fingers wrapped tightly around the edges in a way that tightens his forearm. Until I can get him to turn at least slightly sideways, it's going to be difficult for him to develop a real forehand. The other has limp-wristitis, where he flops his wrist all over the place on all his shots. He doesn't seem to want to fix the problem, but I'll keep trying.

Two other items came up several times when working with these beginners. All have timing problems, but when I tell them to start their forward swing when the ball hits their side of the table, they improve dramatically. It's a great timing mechanism. It's also helpful when feeding multiball to sometimes change the rhythm, so they have to time their stroke with the ball coming toward them, rather than just doing it automatically in rhythm to the rate I'm feeding the balls.

Another helpful hint was to keep reminding them to aim the racket where they want the ball to go. It's one of the more amazing things that younger kids often really don't associate these two together - you have to really harp on this before it really dawns on them that yes, the ball's going to go where the racket aims. (We're not dealing with spin yet - these are beginners.)

I'm writing this at 4AM. My dog, Sheeba, 15, a corgi mix, has taken to waking me up around 4AM each morning to go out. If I don't let her out, she makes a mess.

Finding a Service Spot

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

Table Tennista

Some more interesting articles from them on Chinese players.

ITTF World Team Classic Promo

Here's a video (5:05) promoting the Classic, which starts on March 28 (Thur) in Guangzhou, China. Lots of highlight plays and scenic views, done to music.

Kids Making Their Own Rackets

Here's the picture, where an industrial arts teacher has students make their own paddles. If you click on the picture, you get another rather interesting "leaning" picture.

Real Madrid Soccer Stars

Here they are, posing with their rackets

Table Tennis Is Our Drug

Here's a funny "table tennis" video (1:55). I put table tennis in quotes because you don't actually get to table tennis until the last 30 seconds - the rest is build up. But it's a pretty good build up!

Harlem Shake Gangnam Style

Here's a video (30 sec) starring the Alguetti brothers (junior stars from New Jersey) and others in the hilarious table tennis version of this dance.

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October 29, 2012

Tip of the Week

The Falkenberg Drill.

Malware Illusion

If you are using Chrome as your browser (as I do), you may still be getting some malware warnings when you come to this site. It's an illusion, since Google inadvertently listed this (and many other sites I've found) as having malware problems recently, and Chrome is still picking up on this for some reason. (Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers are not.) I'm calling my server today to find out how best to fix this problem quickly. It turns out the site never had any malware at all. None. Zilch. Clean as a fresh sheet of table tennis sponge.

Hurricane Sandy

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy approaches with the sole purpose to disrupt my table tennis coaching schedule. Yes, that's my theory, and I'm sticking with it. The winds haven't reached here yet, but it's pouring rain outside. So here's a special hurricane section.

  • HHH: In the junior class I teach on Saturday and Sunday I asked everyone which of the three H's they found most exciting, Hurricane Sandy, Halloween, or Hodges Table Tennis Class. Alas, I didn't fare well in the voting. (John Hsu, who assisted on Sunday, pointed out that he's also an H, so I guess the class was a 4-H meeting.)
  • Hurricane Sandy Anagrams: Insured Anarchy, Rude Anarchy Sin, Rich Nerdy Sauna, Rush Rainy Dance, and Dry Insurance? Ha!
  • Hurricane Sandy Paddle: Yes, They've already got a Hurricane Sandy Paddle!

Grip Problems

Perhaps the biggest problem with coaching younger beginning kids is getting them to stick to a good grip. This weekend I found five different problematic grips various kids were using. The problem is that even when you correct their grips, they go back to the bad one almost immediately, often without even knowing it. Here are some of the grip problems the beginning kids had this weekend:

  • Hasegawa grip. This is where they put the index finger straight down the middle of the paddle. This leads to tight muscles and awkward, wristy strokes.
  • Low grip. With this grip, there's a big gap between the hand and paddle. (It's a less extreme version of the Hasegawa grip.) Developing players who use this grip often end up with wristy problems and a lack of control.
  • Seemiller grip. This very short kid kept rotating the racket so that he'd hit his forehand with nearly a Seemiller grip, with his thumb off the racket and pointing at his opponent, and essentially block the forehand. Then he'd change his grip to normal for his backhand.
  • Thumb grip. This is where they put the soft part of the thumb on the paddle, essentially an extreme backhand grip.
  • Hunched shoulder grip. This kid hunched up his playing shoulder, and to compensate, held his racket with the top rotated to his forehand side (an extreme backhand grip). I'm not sure if the hunched shoulder led to the grip or the grip led to the hunched shoulder.

Olga Feingold Kahan - R.I.P.

We've lost one of our illustrious members and a hard-working volunteer. Here's Tim Boggan's tribute to Olga Feingold Kahan, who died over the weekend.

World Cadet Challenge

The World Cadet Challenge is going on right now in Guam, Oct. 27 - Nov. 4. Here's the ITTF World Cadet Challenge page, with schedules, results, articles, and pictures. Here's a picture of the North American Team, which includes USA players Allen Wang, Jonathan Ou, Isabel Chu, and Diane Jiang.

Four Tips from a Teen Olympian

Here's an article in Forbes Magazine that features advice from U.S. Women's Champion and Olympian Ariel Hsing. The short version? 1) Master the fundamentals; 2) Take risk; 3) Be willing to fail; and 4) Practice, practice, practice. Pretty good advice for table tennis, business people, or life in general.

Changing Your Grip

Here's a video from PingSkills (1:51) on changing the grip from forehand to backhand.

Pongcast Episode 18

Here's their latest episode (16:25), showcasing the 2012 European Championships.

Ping-Pong Dance

This video can best be described as a mixture of table tennis and break dancing (4:07).

I don't know how to describe this dance (4:07), which seems a mixture of table tennis and break dancing.

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