USA Sandpaper Team

September 11, 2013

Practicing with Weaker Players

Reader Allen Lin asks me how best to practice with lower-rated players. This comes up regularly at clubs. In a practice match, a lower-rated player cannot consistently push a stronger player. However, just because a player is lower rated doesn't mean everything they do is weaker. There are two ways to get the most out of playing or practicing with weaker players.

First, do practice drills where you play into the weaker player's strengths. Perhaps he can't loop, but can he block? Or perhaps he can't block, but he can loop? Or maybe he has a very good push to practice against. Or good serves. Examine his game and find the best of it, and that's what you can practice against. It's not all one-way, however - he wants practice as well, so take turns. In fact, if you look long turn, you can turn that "weaker" player into a peer that'll give you even more practice and competition. Even if he doesn't reach your level he'll get used to your shots, and at least when he plays you he'll be a good practice partner.

Second, play practice matches where you intentionally play into the weaker player's strengths. If he can't handle your best serves, hold back on them. (Unless, of course, he objects.) Find ways to play what you need to practice against his strengths.  You may risk losing this way, but this is practice. When I play weaker players I often just serve short backspin over and over, and when they push it, I go for a forehand loop on the next shot over and over. It's great footwork and looping practice for me, especially as the opponent realizes what I'm doing and begins to push quicker, wider, lower, heavier, and with last-second changes of direction. He doesn't have to be very good to learn to do this, and it makes me play my very best to get to all these pushes with my forehand. Or if your partner can't block or attack well but has a nice counter-hitting game, serve lots of topspin and go at it with him.

ITTF Level 2 Course

Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF Level 2 I took last week and blogged about yesterday. It includes the following: "Special congratulations to Larry Hodges who scored a rare perfect score of 20." (The article is also linked from the USATT web page.) In the classroom picture I'm on the very far side. The names in the group picture are, L-R, Richard McAfee, Simplice Sourou, Jeff Smart, Larry Hodges, Lily Yip, Nelson Gore, Barry Dattel, Sydney Christophe, Doon Wong, Roger Yuen, and Mieczyslaw "Matt" Suchy.

USA Sandpaper Team

Want to go to the $100,000 World Championships of Ping Pong in London in January, 2014? Here's the info page. "Dr. Mike Babuin, World Championship of Ping Pong USA Qualifier Director, announced today the format for USA players to qualify for the 2014 World Championship of Ping Pong to be played in London, England in January 2014. There are spots for two USA players."

Effective Service Practice

Here's a short article on Serving Practice from Table Tennis Master.

ITTF Trick Shot Showdown

Think you can do trick shots? Then enter the Stiga ITTF Trick Shot Competition! I'm toying with entering something...

Ola from New Zealand

A Piotr "Peter" Ratka from New Zealand is trying to raise money for his 15-year-old daughter Ola Ratka's training. (She is a member of the New Zealand National Women's Squad.) To do so he's created and is selling the Kiwi Ball Picker for picking up balls, with all profits going to her training.

She's also entered in the AMP "Do Your Thing" People's Choice Scholarship. Piotr is asking for your vote - so if you like table tennis and want to support her, go to Ola's Page and vote!

Ma Long is Chinese Men's Singles Champion

He defeats Fan Zhendong in the final, 7,-9,7,-9,-7,9,6. Here's the article, which includes a link to video of the final.

Three Futuristic Ping-Pong Tables

Here they are, from UBERPONG.

Insane Backhand

Here's video (32 sec) of an insane backhand!

History of U.S. Table Tennis

USATT has been running weekly excerpts from Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis. Up right now is Chapter 15 of Volume 13, the most recent one, from 1984. (About 2/3 through there's a long excerpt from an article I wrote back then on serving short and returning short serves. Yep, I was writing coaching articles way back then!)

Manga Ping Pong Comic Books

Here they are!

Non-Table Tennis on the 12th Anniversary of 9-11:

The jets soared down from high and bright,
Tumbling towers in the darkest night,
3000 died in this crazy blight,
Who brought forth this unspeakable sight?

Towers toppled from a monster’s spite,
Bodies crushed with no chance of flight,
What was, to a madman, the highest height,
For the rest brought forth just rage and fright.

The world exploded in a bigger fight.
We bombed and killed in a show of might.
We avenged the act because we were right.
But when will humanity see the light?
-Larry Hodges

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December 3, 2012

Tip of the Week

The Backhand Loop and Hit One-Two Punch.

Time-Wasting Stuff

This last month I've had so many things to do, and so many didn't get done because of too much time-wasting stuff. This has had a detrimental effect on finalizing my new book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (which should be done before the Nationals, but I probably won't have copies there), doing some video coaching and analysis, and various MDTTC and other table tennis activities. Here are some of the things that have wasted my time the past few weeks.

  • I spent much of last week with a cold.
  • Thanksgiving, the Teams (three days), and the exhaustion that comes from it.
  • I'm always getting requests for table tennis info. Some of it is easy and doesn't really take up time. Others are more time consuming. For example, someone wanted to know what year the USATT ratings started. That took some research - as near as I can tell, the plan came out in 1972, and they were published for the first time in 1973. (I started in 1976, so this was just before my time.) Even Tim Boggan didn't know of the top of his head, so I did the research myself, mostly by going through his history books.
  • A guy on Facebook posted a note attacking Chinese students. Apparently there's this group that believes that the vast majority of Chinese college students in the U.S. are infiltrators sent here by the Chinese government, they are nearly all economics majors, and that they are here to take over the U.S.  I asked what his evidence was, and pointed out that I work with many of these Chinese students, and they seem pretty normal to me. The response was about two days of all-out attacks on me by two idiots, who claimed I was a backer of the Chinese and Korean governments and other made-up stuff. What a waste of time that was. I can no longer even see the attacks as the two later blocked me. Much of it was later deleted by Facebook after I complained - there was some nasty stuff.
  • Christmas shopping.
  • Working and reworking out dates for the MDTTC Tournament schedule. We actually worked them out a while ago, but there were some conflicts, and we had to change most of them.
  • It seems every time I'm about to get some work done, I get an unexpected coaching request. Well, at least they are paying for it!
  • Too many good movies out there. You can't seriously expect me to continue to exist without seeing Argo, Flight, Killing Them Softly, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Red Dawn, Rise of the Guardians, Skyfall, and Wreck-It-Ralph? (We can ignore the Twilight saga, of course.) Yeah, I use movies as a break, and see about one a week. (Always with a small popcorn, easy on the butter, and a small cherry coke.)

The Physical Side of Table Tennis

Here's an article by Seth Pech, The Physical Aspect of My Table Tennis Game. He talks about endurance, speed, and strength, why they are needed, and how to develop them.

Mike Dempsey Memorial Open Page

Here's the home page, with results, articles, and photos.

USA Junior Girls Reached #2

In November, the U.S. junior girls team, led by Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang, were tied with Japan for #2 in the world in junior girls teams, behind China. Here's the world team ranking list (set it for U18 Girls and for November). In the new December rankings, they dropped to a tie for fifth with Hong Kong

USA Sandpaper Team

Sandpaper stars Ty Hoff and Adoni Maropis (yeah, the actor who nuked part of California in "24" and later became a national hardbat champion) will represent the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships of Ping Pong, Jan. 5-6, 2013, in London. Here's the news release.

Dr. Phil vs. Billy Bush

Here's the ping-pong battle of the Titans (4:06) - the two TV talk show hosts go at it here. Check out Dr. Phil's ping-pong ball shirt!

Tower Table Tennis

If you thought lobbing was a dangerous way to score a point, try lobbing in this high-altitude game!

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