Warming Up

February 20, 2014

Warming Up

One of my junior students had a sort of bad experience yesterday. He came in a bit early while I was coaching another junior player, who was a friend of his. They wanted to play some, so at the end of the session with the first player I let them play some games - but I was bit worried since the second player had no warm-up. I was right to be worried.

The first player was all warmed up and playing really well, but the second player wasn't. He was rated a bit higher, but while the first player mostly kept the ball in play, the second was an attacker who couldn't attack because he hadn't warmed up. (Both were around 1500 level or so.) With just five minutes warm up he might have played okay. Instead, the second player played horribly, and after a while was reduced to swatting backhands from his forehand side since he had no confidence in his forehand anymore, which was normally his strength. He lost a series of games, and was pretty depressed.

When we started our session (15 minutes late, but I had told him I could go 15 minutes extra at the end), he couldn't play, mentally or physically. He couldn't get himself to care after the drubbing he'd just taken, and his shots were all messed up. It took about 15 minutes before he could play serious. But gradually he got back into it, and by the end of the one-hour session he was back in full form. The other kid was long gone, so no rematch.

I told him a story about my "best" tournament ever, from way back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. There's a reason "best" is in quotes. At the U.S. Team Championships in Detroit many years ago (it's now the North American Teams in Washington DC), after two days I had only one loss (to a 2600 player), and I had hordes of wins against 2250 players, a bunch of wins against 2350 players, and several 2400+ wins. I'd gone in rated 2272, and if I'd stopped after two days, I might have been adjusted to 2500. On the third and final day, my teammates didn't show up until the last minute. Back in those days I always needed a good warm-up, but didn't have anyone. Finally, about ten minutes before we had to play I found a 1700 player, a lefty with long pips who swatted shots all over the table, and left more messed up than I would have been if I'd simply played without a warm-up. So what happened? On that day I went 0-6, with all six matches upsets, including three against players rated over 100 points lower. Instead of that adjusted 2500 rating I came out . . . 2273, one point higher than I'd gone in.

So the lesson is to always warm up properly. It's important to practice against all styles, but warming up for a serious match is different. For that, you want someone who plays somewhat orthodox (or can in a warm-up), preferably someone you are used to playing. I encourage all my players to arrange in advance who they will warm up with at tournaments, and arrange when and where they will meet.


A lob is a high, defensive shot with topspin and sometimes sidespin. Fishing is a somewhat high defensive topspin. What about defensive topspin shots that aren't high enough to be lobs, but are too high to really be fishing? I hereby trademark the term "fobbing." I "invented" the shot yesterday while letting a student practice against lobs and fishes (he'd been having trouble in matches), and that's when I discovered and unleashed the power of the fob.

USATT Magazine

I'm wondering how I'm going to read it from now on, now that it's only going to be online. I do not like to read extensively at a computer; reading is something that should be done in a comfortable lounge chair or even in bed. More importantly, extensive reading on a computer screen hurts my eyes. So there's no way I'm going to read the magazine on a computer, other than perhaps selected articles. So I guess I'm going to have to either skip most of it, or print it out to read. (Addendum - I'm all for the online magazine; it's just not for me. As I've blogged, they should have added the online version - leading to increased advertising - but kept the print version.)

No Table Tennis at Junior Olympics

I just saw this. I immediately sent out queries. I just got this response from the Junior Olympics people (AAU):

"Unfortunately Table Tennis will not be a part of the 2014 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa. Due to facility and staffing we are unable to hold the event this year. We hope to have it return in 2015 in Hampton Roads, VA. Stay tuned for more information regarding next year. Once again we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."

Physical Training for Table Tennis

Here's a video (11 sec) of what 13-year-old Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico doing some physical training. She's ranked #9 in the world in Under 15 Girls. (All but one of the eight ahead of her are from Asia - three from China, three from Japan, one from Korea, and one from Romania. Of course, these rankings only include those who play in ITTF events.)

Western Open

Here's a video (1:35) of highlights from the Western Open this past weekend. And here's a photo gallery. (I linked to the results on Tuesday.)

Anagrams of the Stars!


Ma Long: Man Log, Am Long
Wang Hao: Ha Wagon, A Hag Now, A Hag Won, Own a Hag
Dimitrij Ovtcharov: Vivid Major Rich Tot, Vivid Major Rot Itch
Timo Boll: Mi Lob Lot
Chuang Chih-Yuan: China Guy Can Huh?
Vladimir Samsonov: Invalid Savors Mom
Waldner: Law Nerd


Liu Shiwen: Uh - Lie Wins
Feng Tianwei: Wee Fainting, We Fine Giant, Negate If Win, A Fine Twinge, Win Eaten Fig, Win Fine Gate, We Gain Feint
Guo Yan: Nag You


Timothy Wang: I Won That Gym, I Own That gym, Win at Hot Gym, Hit a Town Gym, A Mighty Wont, Goat Myth Win, Into What Gym?, Not With A Gym, Got a Win Myth, Win Toga Myth, Why Man Got It
Corey Eider: I Eye Record
Dan Seemiller: Reels in Medal, Learned Smile
Michael Landers: Me Learn as Child, Handles Miracle, Lame Child Nears, Me Child Arsenal
Ariel Hsing: Irish Angel, Shinier Gal, A Shine Girl, A Relishing
Constantini: Instant Icon
Larry Hodges: Holy Regards, Godly Sharer, He's Gray Lord, Shy Lord Rage, Oh Sly Grader,
Hodges: He's God!
USA Table Tennis: Satan but Senile

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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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