Harry Potter

April 26, 2012

Staying low

A low stance lowers the center of gravity while bending the knees. Both of these allow for quicker movements as well as added power. This is important, especially at higher levels where quick footwork and power dominate. At the beginning stage it's not as comfortable, but once you get used to it it's hard to imagine playing without a low stance. So it's a good idea to get in the habit early in your playing career. (If someone plays most of their life but are not professionals, like 99.9999% of us, is it a "playing career"?)

Many players say they can read spin better when they stay low, especially when returning serves. Many players adopt an extra low stance for receiving serve, and then go to a less low stance the rest of the rally. I've always suspected that the low stance doesn't really help read the spin better so much as it allows them to react to the spin faster.

When players think about footwork, they mostly think about moving to the ball in a rally, where they move mostly side to side as they run down each shot. Footwork for returning serves is way underestimated, which is one reason players often return serves awkwardly as they reach for balls they should move to. In that split second as the ball leaves the opponent's racket a receiver has to make a snap decision on whether to step under the table and move in to the forehand, backhand, or middle for a short ball; whether to step off from the table if the ball is extra deep; whether to move to the wide forehand or backhand for a deep serve there; whether to move left or right to receive a deep ball to the middle with the forehand or backhand; whether to use a forehand from the backhand or (mostly against short balls) a backhand from the forehand side. A low stance that gives a quick start makes this a lot easier.

U.S. Nationwide Club Team League

Just the below via email about the U.S. Nationwide Club Team League. I'll know more tomorrow as I'm going to be in an online meeting about it tonight. Already 104 clubs have registered, including my club, MDTTC.  

Teams enrolling by April 30th will save $75.

Who can enroll teams?

Table tennis clubs, college teams, schools and corporations who have registered with USNTTL.  

In order to grow table tennis in the U.S. table tennis must become a team sport where clubs are taking care of their players. Existing clubs need to be the center of table tennis activities in their local areas. 

This league with the $100,000 prize money will provide free publicity and will bring in new players and increased revenue for the clubs. 

What do I need to do? 

  1. Create one or more team rosters.
  2. List the players in order from the highest level to the lowest level.
  3. Ask players to remove their name if they want to be left out of the club team competition (10 players in a roster would cost only $30/player for the whole league)
  4. Go to our website (www.usnttl.com) and enroll your team/s.

How do I get additional teams?

  1. Send a press release to your local papers.
  2. Create a new roster for players who respond to your press release.
  3. Ask your club members if they play table tennis at work or school?
  4. Ask them to form a team to compete against other companies or schools in their area.
  5. Go to our website (www.usnttl.com) and enroll your team/s.

Remember, the home court advantage goes to teams in order of registration.

The more teams you enroll, the more funds you'll generate for your club.

If you have any question please contact Attila Malek at 714-677-0048 or attila@usnttl.com

Best Regards,

Attila Malek

USNTTL Director

ITTF Initiatives Shortlisted Four Times for SportAccord Awards

Here's the article.

Highlights video

Here's a great highlights video (7:56) set to music - enjoy!

Harry Potter plays table tennis

Table Tennis Nation brings us news of Harry Potter, I mean Daniel Radcliff, playing table tennis.

Funny table tennis pictures

Here are eight hilarious table tennis pictures from Eric Jenson's Facebook page:

  1. A "tennis" table
  2. Ping-pong soup
  3. Ping-pong cake
  4. The human chipmunk
  5. What the knights around King Arthur's round table do on break
  6. Warren Buffett talks softly and carries a big stick
  7. Outdoor table tennis
  8. A curvy, portable table

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July 18, 2011

Tip of the Week - The Mental State of a Looper Against a Push

When you are getting ready to loop a push, are you thinking forehand, backhand, or something in between? This Tip of the Week covers the four mental states you should be in.

Hitting at 100% versus 80-90%.

How hard should you hit the ball when attacking? Even when you have an easy winner, most coaches will tell you never to hit at 100%, that you lose too much control. I have a slightly different take on that. I agree that you should rarely use 100% effort with all the muscles that are used for smashing or loop-killing. It's essentially impossible to time all those muscles at 100% so they work together properly. The key is not so much not hitting at 100% as much as it is using all the muscles smoothly in a progression from down up - the legs, waist, shoulders, arm, and wrist. If any of the muscles tries too much, it throws everything out of synch and you end up with just one spastic muscle trying (and usually failing) to provide all or most of the power. (There are rare freaks who can throw nearly everything into every shot and still do it smoothly and with control. They are called world-class players.)

Here's another way of looking at it, the way I like to teach it. No matter how hard you smash or loop, you should be able to do it and carry on a conversation at the same time without gasping or hesitating in any way. If you can't, then you are not smoothing using all the muscles properly. I always demonstrate this by explaining it while tossing a ball up and smashing or looping it at near full power.

Week two of MDTTC camp

This morning we start week two of the MDTTC July Camp. Let the madness begin! Main worry - my back is killing me, apparently two discs rubbing against each other, i.e. a degenerative disc. However, I won't know for sure until I see a specialist (orthopedist) this Wednesday afternoon.

Harry Potter Ping-Pong Week

The Truth about Harry Potter and Ping-Pong will shock the wizarding and muggle worlds, as told by He Who Shall Not Be Named, alias Dark Lord Marty Reisman and his elicit hardbat wand.

Ping-pong ball prank

That's a lot of balls in a car

Ping-pong ball car

That's a lot of balls on a car.

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July 14, 2011

MDTTC CAMP HAPPENINGS

  • Day Four
    We're in the middle (well, 30% in) of a two-week training camp at Maryland Table Tennis Center, Mon-Fri this week and next week. Coaches at the camp are myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, and Sun Ting.
  • Knocking off cups
    We had a competition yesterday where I set up ten paper cups on the table, bowling pin fashion, and players were given ten shots to knock off as many as they could, with me feeding the balls mult-ball fashion. Whoever knocked off the most would win a free drink. Two players knocked off nine, and so they had a playoff. One kid again knocked off nine in the playoff. The second kid, Chetan Nama, had knocked off eight, and had one shot left. Then, with everyone screaming, with his last shot nailed the last two cups to knock off all ten and win a free Gatorade!
  • I'm a bad influence
    What else can I be when the kids at camp spent much of break time today playing with clipboards and my oversized racket. I take on challenges with these "rackets" during break, and now it's spreading like a disease.
  • Seriously Black Sirius Black
    I wore all black yesterday. I was quickly nicknamed Seriously Black Sirius Black. If you're an old fuddy-duddy (or more specifically, a muggle), and have no idea who that is, Google it.
  • Harry Potter
    Several of the kids are planning seeing the midnight showing of Harry Potter tonight, and still make camp tomorrow morning. That means they'll get to bed around 3AM. I look forward to working the sleepy little wizards wands, I mean rackets, off.
  • Actual table tennis stuff
    The focus yesterday was on backhand attack - backhand smash, backhand drive against backspin, and backhand loop. (How do you teach someone to attack a backspin? Tell them to arc the ball with topspin way off the end.) Today's focus is footwork - though as I'll explain, all table tennis is footwork.

Thoughts on grip

In general, I strongly recommend new shakehand players use a neutral grip, i.e. the thinnest part of the wrist should line up with the racket. This allows a natural stroke - the racket and the arm face the same way. If you start with a forehand grip (top of the racket tilts to the left for righties) or backhand grip (top of the racket tilts to the right for righties), it will probably mess up your stroke development. However, once your game is developed - say, 1800 level, where you can execute proper shots in a game consistently - some players switch to a forehand or backhand grip to enhance their game. There's nothing wrong with this. Timo Boll, #2 in the world and the best European player, uses a forehand grip, for example, and many top players use backhand grips to enhance their backhands, such as Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece, a former top ten player. 

Many kids have trouble gripping the racket "properly," putting their index finger almost down the middle, sort of like 1967 Men's World Champion Nobuhiku Hasegawa. While that worked for him, that type of grip tends to leave the racket less stable, plus the finger is in the way on the backhand. So I don't normally recommend this. However, many kids with smaller hands have trouble holding the racket with the index finger along the bottom of the blade. So I often compromise with them, with the finger someone up, but not straight up. For one thing, with a shorter index finger, it doesn't really interfere with the backhand. As they get older and bigger, the index finger naturally migrates down into a more stable position.

Another problem is many kids (and adults) hold the racket too tightly. The racket shouldn't be so loose that it moves around on its own, but it should be loose enough so that if someone were to grab the racket out of their hand, it would come right out. Any tighter and it means the muscles are too contracted to move naturally.

Funny ping-pong pictures

Yes, funny ping-pong pictures.

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