Biba

February 3, 2014

Tip of the Week

Winning with Ball Control.

Topspinny Backhands: When to Learn?

Yesterday was a pivotal moment in one young player's table tennis career. One of the tougher decisions for some coaches is when to have their up-and-coming junior players begin to topspin more on the backhand in rallies. At the start, you teach basic backhand drives. But at the higher levels, most players these days topspin the ball, basically a backhand loop with a shorter swing, often right off the bounce. It's not easy to learn to do this in a rally, where it's tricky enough playing a regular backhand, but to topspin the ball off the bounce, practically a backhand loop, against an often fast incoming ball?

Some coaches advocate teaching this starting at around the 1800 level; others do so much earlier. But everyone's different. If a player seems to have a knack for it, and is training regularly, then perhaps he can start earlier. The problem is that in a fast rally, you have little time to topspin the ball, and players who try to do so before they're ready will make lots of mistakes.

I've got several students who are reaching the stage where they're ready to really topspin on the backhand in faster rallies. Yesterday's breakthrough was for Sameer, 12, rated 1378 after the Teams in November. He's developed a pretty nasty backhand drive, especially in drills, though he sometimes still has trouble getting the drilling backhand into games. Sameer already has a pretty decent backhand loop against backspin, but was he ready to do this over and over in rallies?

We tried it out yesterday, and he surprised me on how quickly he picked it up. We did it first in multiball, and then live, and in both cases he seemed comfortable doing so. He's also ready for the rigors of reality - that he'll probably have some bad losses over the next few months as he incorporates this into his game, especially against players who rush him on the backhand. (If you are an opponent of his, please use go ahead and rush him on the backhand - it gives him the practice he needs!) But we have a longer-term goal - the U.S. Open in July. He's going to focus on just training until then, with the plan to show up with a devastating backhand topspin, as well as (hopefully) a few other devastating shots. Maybe he'll be a true basher by then. (See Tip of the Week article above.)

Banana Flip

This video (3:22) may be the best tutorial I've seen on the backhand banana flip. Lots of slow motion and clear explanations.

Pushing

Here are two videos from PingSkills on the Backhand Push (3:14) and the Forehand Push (3:19).

Table Tennis Strategy Page

Here's a new page, Table Tennis Strategy. It includes pages on Strategy, Fun Facts, Jokes, and others.

Superbowl Ad with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Here's the complete ad (3:44), which ran in several parts. The table tennis starts exactly two minutes in. "Prepare to be crushed in tiny tennis," says the long-haired wigged Arnold.

CNN Features Table Tennis

Here's the video (1:57), which ran on Friday, and is on the growing trend to play table tennis. Features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Susan Sarandon, and Soo Yeon Lee, and with clips of Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Biba Featured

Here's a feature article on Biba Golic in Women's Fitness Magazine.

Bounce Back Shots

Here's a video (57 sec) that compares a desperation backspin shot by Ding Ning that unreturnably bounces back over the net to win the point to a similar shot by Roger Federer in tennis.

Table Tennis on a Boat

Here's video (12 sec) of two men playing table tennis on a boat that's not much bigger than a canoe.

Hit the Card Trick Shot

Here's video (24 sec) of a trick shot where the player smacks a card out from under a ball without knocking the ball off.

When Table Tennis Gets Angry!

Here's the video (1:41) of some very angry players.

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February 11, 2013

Tip of the Week

Winning with Backspin for the Non-Chopper.

Now Available - Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

It is with great happiness (and irritation!) that I announce that Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is now on sale at amazon.com. So now's your chance to buy it - $17.95 for 240 pages, 21 chapters, 102,000 words, 90 photos!

Let's make that bigger:

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers - Now on Sale!

 

Why the irritation? It's hard to believe, but after all the proofing I'd done, I found a minor typo on the first page near the start. I've already uploaded a new version, fixing that and one other minor change (bolding the names of the six members of the Editorial Board). Apparently I can upload new versions whenever I want, but it'll take a few days for the new version to go live. So here's your chance to get the very short-lived version v02-05-03 (that's the version listed in the title page) before version v02-10-13 goes live. Possibly a collector's item!

There's also a text-only kindle version. I expect to have a new version with photos in a few weeks, and amazon should allow a free download of the new version to anyone who bought the text-only version. (I can't guarantee this, but they said they would if there were major changes, and going from a text-only version to adding the 90 photos is a major change.) As noted in previous blogs, I ran into technical problems with the photos in the kindle version, but have figured out how to fix it, when I have time. (Don't have time right now since I'm working all day with Tim Boggan on the page layouts of his new History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 13. We expect to finish in about a week.)

Here's the Table of Contents:

Introduction
Chapter 1............................................................................... Tactical Thinking
Chapter 2............................................................................... Strategic Thinking
Chapter 3............................................................................... Your Tactical Game
Chapter 4............................................................................... All About Spin
Chapter 5 .............................................................................. Beginning Tactics
Chapter 6............................................................................... Conventional Tactics
Chapter 7............................................................................... Tactical Examples
Chapter 8............................................................................... Service Tactics
Chapter 9............................................................................... Receive Tactics
Chapter 10............................................................................. Rallying Tactics
Chapter 11............................................................................. Different Grips
Chapter 12............................................................................. Pushing
Chapter 13............................................................................. Loopers
Chapter 14............................................................................. Blockers, Counter-Drivers, and Hitters
Chapter 15............................................................................. Choppers
Chapter 16............................................................................. Fishers and Lobbers
Chapter 17............................................................................. Non-Inverted Surfaces
Chapter 18............................................................................. Hardbat Tactics
Chapter 19............................................................................. Doubles Tactics
Chapter 20............................................................................. Tournament Tactics
Chapter 21............................................................................. Coaching Tournament Matches
Afterword.............................................................................. Tactical & Strategic Thinking Revisited
Glossary Table Tennis Terminology
Appendix............................................................................... Recommended Reading
About the Author
Index

USA Team Trials Results

The Trials are DONE! Here's the home page, with complete results and other info. Who made the team? It's a bit complicated. Here are the USATT rules on this, from the Trials page:

  • The size of the Worlds team will be 5 (five) athletes/gender. USATT will fully fund 3 athletes/gender qualified through the above mentioned criteria/order
  • The 4th and 5th athlete/gender will be self-funded 
  • The 5th athlete/gender will be coach’s pick

And here is the actual order of finish:

Men's Final Placement

  1. Wang, Timothy (ICC) 10-1 
  2. Zhang, Yahao (TWUTTC) 9-2
  3. Nguyen, Khoa Dinh (TopSpin) 9-2
  4. Li, Peter (iTable Tennis) 7-4
  5. Butler, Jim (Houston TTC) 7-4
  6. Hazinski, Mark (TWUTTC) 6-5 
  7. Dubina, Samson David (Strongsville TT) 5-6
  8. Jha, Kanak (WCTTA) 3-8 
  9. Chodri, Kunal (WCTTA) 3-8 
  10. Cretu, Razvan (TWUTTC) 3-8 
  11. Tran, De C. (Wang Chen Table Tennis Club) 3-8
  12. Ding, Billy Xu (Seattle Pacific TTC) 1-10

Women's Final Placement

  1. Zhang, Lily (ICC) 11-0
  2. Wu, Erica S. (Gao Jun TTC) 10-1
  3. Hsing, Ariel (iTable Tennis) 9-2
  4. Jha, Prachi (WCTTA) 8-3 
  5. Lin, Tina (Lily Yip TTC) 6-5 
  6. Guan, Angela (ICC) 6-5 
  7. Jiang, Diane (iTable Tennis) 3-8 
  8. Li, Joy (XTTS) 3-8
  9. Ma, Lucy (Seattle Pacific TTC) 3-8 
  10. Chu, Isabel (WCTTA) 3-8
  11. Leitman, Marina (TopSpin) 3-8
  12. Malek, Amanda (Power Pong) 1-10 

Zhuang Zedong

Three-time World Men's Singles Champion (1961, 1963, 1965) and Legend Zhuang Zedong died of colon cancer yesterday. Here's an article in the Washington Post. Zhuang not only dominated table tennis for most of the 1960s, he was also a key figure in the lead-up to Ping-Pong Diplomacy in 1971.

New ITTF Coaching Courses in USA

There's another ITTF Level 2 Course scheduled in the U.S., in Atlanta. Below are all three now scheduled for 2013. (There might be more.) All are taught by Richard McAfee. Here is more info on the courses.

Chinese Team Celebrates Chinese New Year

Here's an article about it. (Yesterday was the Chinese New Year.) And here's an article on why Zhang Jike might not be home for Chinese New Year.

Biba!

Here's a dramatic table tennis music video (1:35) on Biba!

Peanut-Shaped Table Around the World

Here's the picture!

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November 5, 2012

Tip of the Week

Developing Your Forehand Smash. (Note - this is a greatly expanded version from a blog entry from Oct. 19, 2012.)

USATT's Newsletter Blog and a Possible New USATT Partnership with Clubs

My blog on Friday about the USATT's Newsletter and ways USATT could promote themselves and non-USATT table tennis programs around the country, was by far my most read blog ever, with 1690 reads (so far), versus 605 for the day before. It also led to some helpful email exchanges among USATT officials and myself, leading to a possible new emphasis on promoting leagues and junior programs around the U.S. with the newsletter and web page. The last paragraph of the blog was the key part, so I'll reprint it here:

Why not use the USATT eNewsletter (and webpage) to systematically promote the leagues and junior programs from around the country, even if they are not USATT programs? This brings players into the sport, and these players usually become USATT members. Specifically, they could have a central online listing of these leagues and junior programs, and use the eNewsletter to refer readers to them. (They already have this for tournaments, so they just need to refer to them in the eNewsletter. But there's far greater membership potential in leagues and junior programs, as demonstrated in Europe.) If a kid or parent gets the USATT eNewsletter (or goes to the USATT web page, for that matter), they don't learn about the great junior programs at clubs around the country. They don't learn about the great leagues in SF, LA, NY, and other regions, or in individual clubs. They don't even know these things exist. And so we lose them. Tennis and European table tennis actively refers people to these programs as their central focus. Why not use these non-USATT programs to promote table tennis, referring to them constantly in the eNewsletter and webpage, leading to a more prosperous USATT?

I think the key is that new players who come to the USATT home page or receive the newsletter have no idea there are leagues and junior programs out there, often right in their backyards. USATT doesn't have the resources to set up and run these programs, but others are already doing them - so a natural partnership is practically slapping us in the face, where USATT promotes these programs on their highly-trafficked web page, and these programs bring in USATT members. (In my emails, I explicitly pointed out I have a conflict of interest in this, since I run junior programs at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which also has leagues.)

Developing Your Deep Serves

Here's an article "Your Deep Serves Should be a Weapon" by Olympian and three-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion Jim Butler. This is a must read for anyone who wants to turn their serves - long or short - into a weapon. Jim not only talks about how to make the long serve effective, but how it makes your short serves effective. (I find it almost astonishing how his thinking on this topic parallels my own - and he has the "moral" authority of someone who's beaten many of the top players in the world - including Waldner - with these serving tactics.) Here's my own article on the topic, "Turn Opponents into Puppets with Long Serves," the Tip of the Week on Oct. 22, 2012.

World Cadet Challenge

The World Cadet Challenge in Guam ended yesterday. Here's the ITTF page where you can get full results, articles, and pictures, and see how the players from your country did. (Here's another page that has lots of pictures from the event.) And here's a highlights video (2:52) that features USA Cadets Jonathan Ou and Allen Wang.

Biba

Here's a video feature (1:35) of USA's table tennis star and model Biba. When you only need one name to be known, you're good!!!

That is Table Tennis

Here's a new table tennis highlights video (14:54) from ttGermany. The second point shown (between Kalinikos Kreanga and Tokic Bojan) might be the best counterlooping point of the year.

"Ping Pong Summer"

The filming in Ocean City for the upcoming movie "Ping Pong Summer" (starring Spin NY owner Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, John Hannah, Robert Longstreet, Amy Sedaris, and of course the great Judah Friedlander - who I've coached several times!) just finished. Here's an article on it, and here's the IMDB page. "The story is a coming-of-age tale involving one boy's love of hip-hop and ping pong during a summer in Ocean City in the 1980's."

I'm Running for President of the United States

Yes, I, Larry Hodges, am throwing my paddle into the ring. Here is my platform where I answer the hard questions facing our illustrious nation. I'm ready to debate Obama and Romney anytime (today) and anywhere (within driving distance of my house in Maryland) - or we could just settle it, mano-a-mano, on the table.

  1. Foreign Affairs. We're too soft on the Chinese. Next time I see Zhang Jike I will punch him in the nose. This will show the world we're serious about these foreign affairs thingies and gain us respect so other countries will cower in fear and do our bidding.
  2. Immigration. If your name is Wang, come on in. (Penhold or shakehand?) If your name is Rodriquez, sorry.
  3. Economy. I will require all Americans to play table tennis for one hour every day. With 300 million people regularly buying exorbitantly priced table tennis sponge, rackets, shoes, and other table tennis necessities, it will spur the economy.
  4. Health Care. Who needs it when everyone's getting in such great shape from an hour of ping-pong every day?
  5. Energy Independence. I've tried oil, coal, even radium, and all it did was get my paddle all gooey, dusty, and gave me cancer. We'll just have to rely on Japan for our tenergy needs.
  6. Taxes. I will neither raise nor lower taxes. I believe taxes should stay right where they are, at street level, ready to transport Americans from airports and hotels to tournament playing halls every weekend. You should tip your hats to these hard-working Americans, and tip them well.
  7. Bi-partisanship. I am willing to work across the aisle with anyone, except those stupid pen holders who can't shake hands without jabbing you with their pen. Pen holders should be banned; we have things called word processors.
  8. Vice President. I want a vice president who is level-headed, thoughtful, and without ego. Marty Reisman is my choice. (We'll ignore for now that his name is an anagram for "Misery Mantra," "Remain Smarty," "Martyr is Mean," and "My Rat Seminar.")
  9. Service. I have nothing but praise for the service, whether it be pendulum, tomahawk, or backhand. The service is our front-line defense, and I have nothing but contempt for those who receive the service aggressively rather than give it the respect it deserves.
  10. Hard bat. I am very much in favor of the hard bat movement. In fact, I keep a toy plastic bat on my desk. Go ahead and wrap your knuckle against it, it's hard as rock.
  11. Core Values. Unlike some candidates, I do not flip based on the situation just to score political points. I pledge to you that I will only push against short balls. Let my opponents be the flippers we all despise.
  12. National Debt. We've been building up a national debt for many years, while China, Japan, Sweden, Hungary, and other countries have had an imbalance with us. I figure we should sweep the next ten World Championships, and we'll call it even.
  13. Self-sufficiency. There's an old saying, "Give someone a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime." It's true - some of the best fishers play in the European leagues, and with their topspin defense, make hordes of money. They'll never go hungry.
  14. Capitalism or Socialism? Yes.
  15. Table Tennis or Ping-Pong? Yes.
  16. Size of Government. I want government to keep their dirty hands off our social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and off our streets and out of our schools and libraries. Why can't they just build ping-pong centers and leave us alone?

***

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