Air Ping-Pong

January 21, 2013

Tip of the Week

The Backhand Banana Flip.

Bringing Back the Forehand

It's harder and harder to play an all-out forehand attack as I approach age 53 next month. But sometimes the stars - or is that ping-pong balls? - align just right. On Friday and Saturday I played as a practice partner in two-hour match sessions with our top juniors. On Friday, I did a little of everything - looping, hitting, blocking, fishing & lobbing, even chopping. And nothing worked.

So on Saturday I decided to bring back the 1980s and play all-out forehand attack, mostly looping, as well as lots of smashing. To do this, I focused on staying very low, with a much wider stance than I've used in recent years, but probably the same stance I used back in the 1980s. And lo and behold, I started to move pretty well, and the shots started to hit pretty well, and guess what? I played pretty well, going undefeated. Most of the players I played were lower, including a horde of 1900 to 2000 players, but I did beat one 2250 player, losing the first game and then dominating three straight. It wasn't until my very last match that my muscles suddenly realized that I'd been coaching or playing since 10AM (it was now almost 6:30 PM), and that's when they let out. Since we were running out of time, the last match was a best of three to 11 against a 1600 player, and after a barrage of misses where my legs and back were on strike, it went deuce in the third before I pulled it out against a very hot but (even though he lost) still pretty excited kid. I almost feel sorry for how hard I plan to play him next time, assuming I'm a bit more rested!

Even though I won, I was impressed with several of the kids on how much better they are getting at returning my serves. Some are still returning them passively with deep pushes (often popping up my side-top serves for easy smashes), but others have been playing more advanced shots, flipping and dropping them short, and one has developed what seems like a 100 mph quick push that is almost unloopable.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Update

I'm now 2/3 through the tedious line-by-line proofing of the book. (Unfortunately, I probably won't get much work done on it today - huge todo list - but I'll get back to it Tuesday.) Then I have to input all the corrections - including a few new paragraphs here and there - and then get everything properly formatted for final submission to the online printing and ebook formats. So far I'm still on schedule for it to be on sale online by Feb. 1 in Print on Demand and Kindle ebook formats.

The Table Tennis Playbook

Here's a free online 26-page "playbook" that lists tactical plays used by Coach Ben Larscombe of Expert Table Tennis.

China Adds Online Popularity to World Team Trials

Here's the article on how China used online voting to put three players into the final qualification round for the World Team Trials for the upcoming World Championships in May in Paris. China's top two, Zhang Jike and Ma Long, were not in the top three. The three players voted in were, in order, Ma Lin, Wang Hao, and Tianjin player Hao Shuai.

Ma Lin and Wang Hao training

Here's a video (4:28) of Chinese team members Ma Lin and Wang Hao in training. Wang Liqin and Chen Qi are seen doing some drills next to them.

Table Tennis on Grey's Anatomy

There was a table tennis scene in the episode last Thursday, Jan. 17, titled "The End is the Beginning is the End." Here's the video (1:02)! Turns out ping-pong is a recurring theme in the show -  two years ago in another episode (titled "Something's Got to Give"), they saved a life by using a ping-pong ball in surgery!

Air Ping-Pong

Here's 42 seconds of air ping-pong, featuring the worst table tennis strokes ever to fester around a ping-pong table. 

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