Mini-Table Tennis

February 25, 2014

Want to Improve? Compete with a Junior!

Here's a little tip for those who want to improve. Every club has some up-and-coming junior who practices regularly and keeps getting better. Well, why not grab his coattails (even if you are currently better), and try to stay with him? It gives incentive and can lead to great improvement. Make a friendly rivalry out of it, perhaps practice with and play the kid regularly. As he improves, he'll push you to improve.

It may be counter-intuitive, but even if you are better, and practicing with the kid seems to help him more than you (and thereby make it "harder" to stay with him), it works both ways. His improvement will push you to higher levels, either to stay ahead or to stay with him. He probably plays faster than you; his speed will push you to rally and react at a faster pace. As he gets better, he'll push you to find new ways to win points, and suddenly you'll be thinking more about the aspects where you should have an advantage due to experience: serve, receive, heavy spins (topspin and backspin), placement, or just plain consistency. You'll have incentive to develop these aspects in ways you might not do against other players who are not improving so much. The more he adjusts to you and improves, the more you'll adjust to him and improve. And you can ride his improvement as long as you can, right up to a pretty high level. And if he does finally pull away, with you metaphorically kicking and screaming all the way as you try to stay with him, you'll both have improved dramatically, and will be able to point at this star in the future and say, "I was his practice partner." He may even remember you someday during his USATT Hall of Fame induction speech!

Beginning/Intermediate Class

We had the second meeting of the new class yesterday. (Ten Mondays, 6:30-8:00 PM.) There are eleven in the class, ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties. We started with a forehand review and warm-up. I had most hit among themselves. Two players were complete beginners, so I put them with my assistant coach, John Hsu, who did mostly multiball with them.

Then I called everyone together and John and I did a backhand demo, and I lectured on the intricacies of the shot - foot stance, racket tip (sideways or 45 degrees), contact (flat or topspin), etc. Then they paired off for practice again (with the new players with John again). Later I called everyone together again to demo and explain down-the-line shots (on forehand, line up shoulders properly and take the ball later), and then they practiced down the line. Then I called them together again and did a review of serving with spin, which I taught last week. Then we went over service deception. (One key concept I explained is that even if you can't come close to doing it now, it's important to know what's possible so you can work toward it.) I went over the three main types of service deception - sheer spin, semi-circular motion, and spin/no-spin combos.

After serve practice we played a little game the last 5-7 minutes where we stacked ten paper cups in a pyramid, and everyone had ten shots (fed multiball) to see how many they could knock over. (We used two tables, so John and I both fed shots.)

Two players had missed last week session so I stayed 30 minutes afterwards to recap for them what had been covered the previous week - grip, ready stance, forehand, and serving with spin.

USATT Minutes and Reports

Lots of breaking news from USATT. Below are the minutes from the USATT's two-day board meeting at the USA Nationals and from their January teleconference, the news item on the new tournament sanctioning procedures (no more tournament protection, i.e. pure free market), and the 2014 budget. My last two blogs were mostly about an interview with the ITTF president and about the chair of the USATT board's report, so today I'm going to go back to blogging about the emphasis for this blog - coaching - and save my thoughts on the below for later.

Top Ten Shots at the 2014 Qatar Open

Here's the video (4:40).

Mini-Table Tennis

Here it is! Anyone know who Kosto and Zik are?

Exhibition Tricks from Scott Preiss

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February 7, 2013

Last Night's Coaching

After I finished working all day on Tim's book (see below), I went to the club to coach from 5-8PM. However, my 6PM student hurt his arm playing basketball and had to cancel. The 7PM came in early so I was able to do him from 6-7PM.

The 5PM student was Audrey Weisiger, the Olympic Figure Skating coach I blogged about on Jan. 17. She's coming along pretty well, can hit regular forehand to forehand and backhand to backhand pretty well. She still has a few bad habits on the forehand when she starts a session, but she gets over them quickly. She sometimes tends to rotate her body rigidly into the shot, and also often finds herself either jammed at the table or backing off, so I have to remind her to find that spot in between, about arm’s length from the table. Halfway through the session while doing multiball she suddenly caught fire and did side-to-side forehand footwork really well, hitting about 50 solid drives in a row.

I also introduced her to pushing, something she badly needed since she's been losing badly to a fellow figure skating coach who serves backspin, which she puts in the net over and over. (Now you know her incentive for taking coaching!) She's mastering backspin, both with her push (she learned quickly), and is getting some decent backspin on her serves now.

Here's the really interesting thing about this particular session. We started early, at about 10 minutes to 5PM, and went for 70 minutes. Now we weren't creaming the ball back and forth as she's still a beginner, but in the entire 70 minutes, excluding nets and edges - brace yourself - I didn't miss a shot!!! Not one. She'll verify this. (About 25 minutes of the session was multiball, the rest "live.") I also went ten minutes into my next session (where we were going at a faster pace) before finally missing.

The 6PM student was a 12-year-old who's beginning to master the loop. He still tends to use too much arm when looping (both forehand and backhand), but after a few minutes gets it right. His backhand loop in multiball is especially getting steady. One big breakthrough for him yesterday - he discovered that if he faked a smash to my forehand, then at the last second rotated his shoulders back and smashed to my middle or backhand, he could finally get the ball past me. (I'd told him about this before, but it didn't register until now.) Before all his smashes were predictable and easy to counter or fish back. This makes him a bit more dangerous!

After the two sessions, I showed another player how to use the robot, then left for home. Since I was done nearly an hour earlier than expected, I was able to put together the first draft for the upcoming ad in USATT Magazine for Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. I may also place the ad in other table tennis magazines. I also started work on the flyer for Tim Boggan's History of Table Tennis, Volume 13.

Status: Table Tennis Coaching for Thinkers

I got word from Amazon that print copies will be on sale in "5-7 business days." But I got the same note about Pings and Pongs, and they were online in two days. I'll post when they are up. Meanwhile, I ordered 110 copies for myself - ten to arrive next week, and 100 more the following week (to save on shipping).

Status: Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13

We've done the covers and the first five chapters out of 29. This puts us to page 86. Tim's been going crazy with the pictures - I've placed 218 of them so far on only 90 pages (including the outside and inside covers), or about 2.4 per page!!! The last volume had a record 837, but we're on pace for about 1100. Nearly all need fixing up in Photoshop, and many practically need surgery before they can be used. It's a long tedious process. We're working roughly from 7AM to 5PM each day, but while he's then done for the day, I'm off to coach, plus I need to do the blog each night, plus about ten other things that seem to come up each day.

New Table Tennis App

Here's a new table tennis app from Google. Here's how they describe it: "This is an info tool and mainly for trained table tennis players to check ratings, sanctioned tournaments, clubs, umpires as well as some basic info from USA and ITTF world rankings and events. It can also be used as a scoreboard and a simple coaching pad." So who wants to be our beta tester?

Timo Boll  vs. Chuang Chih Yuan

Here's video (5:26) of their match in the Champions League.

Mini-Table Tennis?

Here's a picture. Is it a game or statues?

Office Table Tennis

Ready for your Monday morning meeting?

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