Table Tennis Robots

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December 7, 2012

Breaking News - Marty Reisman Passes Away

(Added Friday afternoon)  He will be missed. 

Warming Up

When players warm up at a club or tournament, they invariably start out by hitting forehand to forehand and backhand to backhand. And there's nothing wrong with that as it gets the timing going while loosening the muscles a bit. However, often they do this for a long time. There's no reason to do this more than a few minutes. Instead, after about two minutes, why not do some footwork, which will really get you warmed up?

If you are just warming up, then 1-1 footwork is plenty. Your partner hits the ball alternately to your forehand and the middle of the table, and you move side to side, hitting (or looping) your forehand. You'll find moving and hitting not only is more like what you'll do in a game, it'll get you warmed up much faster.

Some will argue that it'll also tire them out quicker. Then hit less! What's better, spending 30 minutes trying to get warmed up, or getting a better warm-up in 15? But it's not that tiring since half the time your partner will be doing the footwork. That's where you not only rest, but work on your ball control. You'll get more practice on that hitting side to side then repetitively hitting to one spot.

Now do the same thing on the backhand. Don't just hit backhand to backhand - have your partner move you side to side some! Yes, a backhand footwork drill. In a match, you wouldn't just stand there and expect your opponent to hit to one spot, so why warm up for that? Have your partner hit one to your wide backhand, and one toward the middle. You might only want to cover, say, 1/3 of the table when you do backhand footwork, if that's what you'd do in a match. On the other hand, 2001 USA National Men's Singles Champion Eric Owens told me that he attributed his winning the title to his improved backhand, and he attributed that to doing drills where he'd cover over half the table with his backhand loop in footwork drills - saying that after doing that, covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the table with his backhand in a real match was easy.

Make sure to use the shot you'd use in a match. If you are a looper, go to looping once your drives are warmed up.

MDTTC Shirt on 30 Rock!

At the very start of 30 Rock last night at 8PM on NBC, Judah Friedlander ("Frank Rossitano") wore a blue Maryland Table Tennis Center shirt! I'd given him the shirt a few months ago. Judah is from Gaithersburg, Maryland (near MDTTC), and comes to MDTTC semi-regularly. I've given him a few lessons, though of course he's the World Champion, so nobody really gives him a lesson! Here are pictures I have of Judah playing table tennis, from the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page:

photo1 photo2 photo3 (with Spider-man) photo4 (Anna Kournikova on right) photo5 (L-R: Table Tennis Superstar Mikael Appelgren, Judah Friedlander, Actress Susan Sarandon, Table Tennis Superstar Jan-Ove Waldner)

Table Tennis Robots

In my blog on December 5 (Wednesday), I wrote about table tennis robots. I've since done some updates - added a couple videos for Newgy and Butterfly. So I thought I'd link to it again so you can have a second chance to go out and buy these robots for Christmas!

Peter Li Teaches the Basics

Reigning USA Men's Singles Champion teaches the forehand push in this short video (41 seconds).

Forehand Pivot Footwork

Here's a video from PingSkills (2:25) on Forehand Pivot Footwork. "The key to all footwork is balance." I say the same thing in all my footwork lectures. This is one of the more valuable coaching videos to watch. Too many players don't pivot correctly, and they pay for it in balance and recovery. (Often players have no trouble stepping around to attack with the forehand, but cannot recover for the next shot because of a poor pivot move.)

PingPod #34

Here's a PingPod video from PingSkills (7:23). "In this episode of the PingPod, Alois and Jeff discuss the Ping Pong Zone. This zone is what you enter into the first time you venture into a club. There are often unorthodox players who don't look very good but are extremely difficult to beat. Watch this video to see what we are talking about and how to overcome the Ping Pong Zone."

Attack vs. Defense

Here's a video (8:28) of Tan Ruiwu (Croatia, formerly of China) vs. Joo See Hyuk (KOR) in a vintage attack vs. defense/offense match-up in the first round of the ITTF Grand Finals. Time between points has been removed so it's non-stop action.

Animals Playing Table Tennis

In my collection of Animals Playing Table Tennis pictures, I've just added an orangutan. He's not actually playing, but waving a ping-pong paddle about is good enough for me. It's called shadow practice. He's going to be good! (So who wins between him and the chimp?)

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December 5, 2012

Table Tennis Robots

It's that time of year again - time to buy table tennis player table tennis stuff for Christmas! And what better table tennis present than a table tennis robot? Below are some videos describing the various robots that are out there. (You can also buy Butterfly and Newgy robots from Maryland Table Tennis Center - contact Wen Hsu.)

There are basically two types of robots - programmable and non-programmable. Programmable ones cost a lot more, but are a lot more valuable. They allow you set the robot to go side to side, for example, putting the ball alternately in two spots. Or perhaps two to one spot, then one to another. Or just about any other combination. Some can even give backspin and then topspin. With these robots, you can do just about anything.

Non-programmable robots are fun, and good for basic training. They generally can only hit the ball to either one spot, or randomly. I think some may be able to go to two spots - if so, get that one, so you can do side-to-side drills. But you can also do footwork drills with the ball going to one spot. For example, put the ball to your backhand, and alternate backhands and forehands.

You can also have a non-programmable robot hit the ball randomly all over the table by having it oscillate. However, I don't value that too much. In table tennis, you react to the ball coming off the opponent's paddle. Here you have to react to the ball coming out of the robot, which is quite different - and so you could actually develop the habit of hesitating in a real game, where instead of reacting quickly to the direction of an opponent's stroke, you hold back and don't react until you actually see the ball coming at you. So I find robots best when doing more rote drills, where you practice the strokes and footwork, and do the random and more game-type drills with a practice partner or coach.

I use robots regularly in my beginning junior class - the kids love them. They are good for the following:

  • Drilling the basics for beginning and intermediate players. You can practice every shot in the game, from loops and drives against both topspin and backspin, to flipping or pushing against short backspin, to chopping, and pretty much anything else.
  • Footwork drills and physical training (especially if it's a programmable robot that can do various footwork drills).
  • Serve practice (with the convenient net to catch the balls).

Readers, any comments on any of these robots?

Paddle Palace Robots

iPong from JOOLA (3 types)

Newgy Robots (5 types)

Smartpong from Butterfly


AMDT and Oukei (and others) from Megaspin

Amicus and TTmatic (and others) from Ping Pong Depot

2013 North American Cup Host City/Club Bid

Here are the bid specs to bid for this first-time tournament, to be held April 20-21, 2013.

Ariel Hsing Receives American Flag

Here's a picture of USA Women's Singles Champion Ariel Hsing being presented the USA flag that flew at BAGRAM Air Force Base in Afghanistan on the eleventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, during Operation Enduring Freedom, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Highlights Video

Here's a nice highlights video (2:08) that'll get your blood going - lots of action and stirring music.

Don't Shorten the Table, Raise the Floor!

But I'm worried what happens if this kid has to move to cover the wide corners.

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