ITTF Level 2 Seminar

November 9, 2012

Random Drills

Recently I've been introducing a lot of our new juniors to random drills. Until you have the fundamentals down, it's important to focus on rote drills, where you do the same thing over and Over and OVER again until you can do them in your sleep - forehands, backhands, loops, blocks, pushes, etc. But once you have the stroke down pretty well, you have to be able to do them in match situations, where your opponent doesn't put the ball to the same place over and over - instead, you have to react to the shot. That's where random drills come in.

There are two basic types of random drills. The more basic one is where you have a choice between two spots. For example, the coach or practice partner (often using multiball) puts the ball either to the forehand or backhand, and you have to react to the shot with either your forehand or backhand. The key is that you don't anticipate; just react until this becomes second nature. Your first move should be the right move; you don't want to start to your forehand side and then have to recover to hit a backhand, or vice versa. Make sure to move to each ball (don't reach), and focus on balance - no leaning.

The other way is where the ball goes more randomly anywhere on the table or within a restricted area. For example, the coach or practice partner might put the ball randomly to the forehand side, and you have to move about driving these balls back with your forehand, moving to each one. Or, or in the ultimate random drill, the coach or practice partner puts the ball anywhere on the table, and you drive the ball back.

If you just do rote drills where you know where the ball is going, you are not matching what you will face in a game. So put some randomness into your drills, along with rote drills to hone your strokes. What you develop with random drills is called neuromuscular adaptation, where your brain learns to react properly and quickly to any shot. Not only is this the key to high-level play, but it's fun to say! (An expanded version of this might become a Tip of the Week.)

MDTTC Junior Team, Ratings, and Rankings

I thought I'd give a shout-out today to the juniors at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. (Some also play at other local clubs.) They're a great bunch of kids whose sole goal is to beat me, um, I mean to win Olympic Gold Medals. Here's a listing of those over 1600 with some of their ranking/best title(s).




Best Ranking or Titles


Wang Qing Liang


#1 Under 18 in the U.S., U.S. Open Men's Singles Semifinalist


Chen Bo Wen


#1 Under 15 in the U.S., #3 Under 18


Tong Tong Gong


Member of USA National Cadet Team (#3 on team)


Nathan Hsu


2011 Junior Olympic Under 16 Boys' Singles Gold Medalist, 2012 Southern Open Doubles Champion


Anthony Qu


#5 Under 13 Boys in the U.S.


Roy Ke


#12 Under 14 Boys in the U.S.


Derek Nie


U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion


Crystal Wang


#1 Under 11, Under 12, and Under 13 Girls in the U.S. (was 2166 before inadvertently playing two tournaments with a fractured wrist!!!), member of USA Cadet Girls' Team


George Nie


2012 Junior Olympics Under 18 Boys Doubles Silver Medalist


Michael Ding




Karl Montgomery




Lily Lin


#20 Under 16 Girls in the U.S.


Jackson Liang


2012 Junior Olympics Under 18 Boys Doubles Silver Medalist


Amy Lu


#3 Under 12 Girls in the U.S., 2012 Junior Olympics Under 12 Girls' Singles Gold Medalist


Lisa Cui


#14 Under 14 Girls in the U.S.

1769 Michael Li 11 #21 Under 12 Boys in the U.S.


Princess Ke


#8 Under 13 Girls in the U.S. (was 1877 a few months ago, #3 in Under 12 Girls)


Jason Wei




Adam Yao


#10 Under 11 Boys in the U.S.


Wesley Duan


2012 Junior Olympics Under 14 Boys' Team Bronze Medalist


Kaylee Zou




Tony Li



SPiN for the Cause Charity

Here's the Facebook page for "Susan Sarandon presents: SPiN FOR THE CAUSE - Hurricane Sandy Relief Fundraiser," which is being held tonight at Spin NY.

TopSpin Charity

Here's an article in the Huffington Post that features TopSpin, the table tennis charity that has raised $750,000 for educational non-profits.

2013 USA Team Trials Bids

Want to run the 2013 USA Team Trials, Feb. 7-10, 2013? The deadline to bid is Nov. 15. Here's bidding info.

ITTF Level 2 Coaching Seminar

Here are two articles on the ITTF Level 2 Coaching Seminar held in Colorado Springs, Oct. 30 - Nov. 6. Here's the USATT article by Richard McAfee, and the ITTF article by Ian Marshall. Alas, I wasn't able to make the seminar - too busy coaching and writing in Maryland.

People's Ping Pong Party

Here's the Facebook page of this exhibition of table tennis and art (or something like that), starting Nov. 10 (tomorrow). One of the two running this is Rocky Wang, alias "LiL Big Wong," a 2300 (formerly 2400) player originally from Maryland (a junior star from the 1980s) but now living in New York. I'm having a hard time describing this, so I'll just cut & paste their first two paragraphs.

Present Company is delighted to announce the inauguration of the People’s Ping Pong Party (PPPP) and introduce their two leaders Madame WuWeiWoo and LiL Big Wong. WuWeiWoo, an unbeknownst time traveller, was born in Cuba from a union between a Buffalo Soldier and a young Martial Artist during the Spanish American War. LiL Big Wong’s lineage comes from an ex-Black Panther mother and a Chinese Ping Pong champion, but given his strict Chinese upbringing, he has no clue that he’s actually Black.

A collaboration between artists iona rozeal brown (WuWeiWoo) and Rocky Wang (LiL Big Wong), PPPP serves as an artistic and proto-political paradigm based on the Venn intersections of the radical politics of the Black Panther Party, Ping Pong Diplomacy of the 1970’s, the ethnic stereotypes of not only Chinese and African Americans, but a host of other offbeat characters and the B-movie antics of Kung Fu Saturday Matinee.

Wide-eyed with Happiness or Disbelief

This is what most people looked like after the presidential election. The only difference was whether the mouth was concave up or down.


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