Xu Xin

June 5, 2012

Bad Sportsmanship and Cheaters

Yesterday I blogged about the Eastern Open, including the extremely bad sportsmanship of one player. Here are some examples of really bad sportsmanship or cheating I've experienced in the past.

  • I was coaching a top 13-year-old against a much higher-rated player in a best of five to 21. The 13-year-old won the first two games. The opponent won the first point of the third game. He then walked over to the 13-year-old's side of the table, put his fist in the kid's face, and screamed very loudly, "Yeah!" He then walked back to his side of the table. The kid was stunned, and didn't want to play. I called for the referee, who actually had seen it, but all he did was give a warning and send out an umpire. The kid barely tried the rest of the way, saying before they started up again, "If he wants to win that bad, then let him."
  • Back when foot stomping was illegal when serving (since players were using it to cover up the sound of contact with combination rackets), a player I was about to play convinced the umpire in advance that if a player lifts his foot during the service motion, it's an illegal foot stomp. The umpire fell for it, and since I do lift my foot up slightly on my forehand pendulum serve, he faulted me on the very first point. I called the referee, who explained to the umpire that it was a foot stomp only if, in the umpire's opinion, the stomp was loud enough to cover the sound of contact. The umpire then tried to change his call to a let, but my opponent insisted it was a judgment call, and an umpire can't change a judgment call after the fact. The referee reluctantly agreed, and the point stood. (The opponent admitted he'd planned the whole thing.) This is still the only time in 36 years and probably over 500 tournaments that I've been faulted.
  • I discovered an opponent had great difficulties with my forehand tomahawk serve. When I served it to him at 19-all (games to 21), he caught the ball saying he wasn't ready. I served it again, and again he caught the ball. This happened four times in a row! I called for an umpire. Again I served the tomahawk serve, and the opponent again caught the ball saying he wasn't ready. The umpire then asked him specifically if he was ready before each of the next two points, the opponent reluctantly agreed, I gave him two tomahawk serves, and forced to actually return them, he missed both. He admitted afterwards he'd decided he was going to catch it and say he wasn't ready anytime I gave him that serve.
  • Two top players were battling it out, and the score reached 17-12 in the third (best of three to 21). Both agreed on the score, but both claimed to be up 17-12. Havoc ensued. The referee finally had them replay the game from scratch.
  • In the 1980s there was a player who was notorious for cheating. Opponents basically called an umpire against him nearly every match. I played him once, and he kept calling lets whenever I hit a winner even if there was no ball anywhere ("Yes there was!" he'd claim), and then he simply called the score wrong, giving himself a lead when I was winning. I had to call an umpire, and then beat him easily. (Fortunately, there were a number of spectators who were watching, who all verified to the umpire what the score was.)
  • I was watching play from a balcony on a hot and humid day when Dan Seemiller called me over and pointed at a top player who was about to serve. The player was a chopper who, surprisingly, had long pips on both sides of his racket. Just before serving, over and over, he'd turn his back on his opponent, spit on the ball (!), and then serve. The opponent would put it in the net, and thought it was just the humidity.
  • There have been a number of times I've watched grown men berate little kids throughout a match in an attempt to intimidate them, such as the example I blogged about yesterday at the Easterns. One time I was playing Perry Schwartzberg a match, and we kept getting interrupted by the antics of a grown man on the next table, who kept badgering the little kid he was playing. Finally Perry walked over and let the guy have it. I wish I had done it.
  • Here's a controversial one. In the final of Men's Singles at the 1987 World Championships, defending champion Jiang Jialiang of China was up 2-1 in games on Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden. Waldner led 20-16 game point, and it seemed they were about to go into the fifth and final game. Jiang won four in a row to get to 20-all. He then did his infamous walk around the table: With his fist in the air, he circled the table, walking right in front of Waldner on his side of the table. Waldner later admitted this bothered him, and Jiang won in deuce to win the championship. Here's the video of the match (17:26). At 10:07 Waldner is leading 20-16. At 11:27 they start the spectacular point where Jiang deuces it, and then you see him walk around the table. Poor sportsmanship, over-exuberance, or basic gamesmanship?

Fast Serves

How many players have confidence they can pull of a very fast serve at a key moment in a match? It's risky, since most players don't practice this serve just before a tournament to get the timing down. Key phrase: "most players don't practice this serve just before a tournament." Fast serves need more precision and timing then spin serves or they are easy to miss, and so they need more warm-up and practice before a serious match. So, how do you think you can fix this? Duh!!! (When I warm up a player I'm coaching at a tournament, I almost always finish by having them practice their serves, including the fast ones.)

Want to Find Your Record Against Anyone?

Go to the TTSPIN ratings page, search for your name (see "player search" at top, since it seems to have David Zhuang as the default), choose your opponent, and your complete record (going back to 1995) will appear! (Green means you won, red you lost.)

Final of the China Open

Here's Xu Xin defeating Ma Long 4-2 (-6, 5,10,-9,7,4) in the final of the China Open in Shanghai, May 23-27. Time between points is taken out so entire match takes just nine minutes. (Xu is the penholder.)

Easterns and Meiklejohn Results

There were two major 4-star tournaments this past weekend, the Eastern Open at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and the Meiklejohn Senior Championships in Laguna Woods, California. Here are the results:

100 ping-ping balls. 100 mousetraps

Here's the result (34 seconds).

***

Send us your own coaching news!

May 29, 2012

Tip of the Week

Make a game of your weaknesses.

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Maryland

I will be running my second annual ITTF Coaching Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center on two consecutive weekends, Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 18-19, with an optional Paralympics session on Aug. 25. The seminar runs from 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM each day. This is your chance to learn both how to coach as well as inner knowledge of how to play the game.

Here's the info flyer. If you are interested or have any questions, email me.

The seminar is featured this morning on the USATT web page. Yes, that's me on the left lecturing. There were 14 in the seminar - the rest are off to the right, no doubt spellbound by my oratory. My review of the book "Breaking 2000" is also highlighted on their home page, below and to the right.

Saturday - in the Zone

On Saturday I was coaching almost non-stop from 10AM to 4:00 PM, and then we had a 4:30-6:30 junior session, and then I had another one-hour coaching session from 6:30-7:30. It was an exhausting day. But an interesting thing happened.

During the 3-4PM session, I had a student working on his forehand block. So I did a LOT of looping to him. Before that I'd been playing poorly all day, feeling stiff and tired. The looping should have tired me out even more, but instead it sort of woke me up. But it eventually also wore me out, and when the session ended I collapsed on a sofa and pretty much lay down for an hour. I wasn't needed the first half of the junior session. In the second half I came out to play practice matches.

Based on how poorly I had been playing earlier, I was a bit leery of the junior I was about to play, even though he was "only" about 2050. He'd been giving me difficulties, and had recently won a deuce-in-the-fifth match. But something happened. All the play I'd done that day, combined with the hour of rest, seemed to put me in the zone, physically and mentally.

In the first game, up 8-0, I told him I wasn't giving him any points, if he wanted to score he'd have to earn it. Up 10-0, my reverse forehand pendulum serve to the forehand went slightly long, and the junior absolutely pulverized it. 10-1, he jokingly celebrated. I sort of fished and lobbed the next two points before winning 11-3.

I won game two 11-0. (There was one point where the junior literally creamed three balls in a row, which came at me in sort of slow-motion 100mph. I blocked the first two easily, then backhand counter-smashed the third for a clean winner. The junior screamed, "God!!!")

Between games I jokingly told a junior on the sidelines that "Right now, I'm the single greatest player in the history of the universe." Then I fell behind 4-5 in the third, mostly because I went for a few wild swats, plus a couple nets and edges. The junior on the sidelines said, "Larry, you're not playing so well now." I said, "Watch the rest of this game." I scored the next seven in a row with ease, despite some crazy rallies. (The rest of the session I played younger, beginning juniors, and so didn't get to test out my suddenly brilliant play, alas.)

How would I describe the way I played? I couldn't miss anything, not even my normally erratic backhand loop. The ball was traveling in slow motion. When my opponent ripped the ball, the ball came at me like a tortoise. Everything was easy.

I may try this again sometime, i.e. play hard all day, take an hour off, and then play.

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

When I announced on Friday that the book was "done," it was 97,768 words. I've added another 500+ words (about two pages), so it's now at 98,304. I'll probably keep adding bits here and there. I'm fairly confident it'll end up breaking 100,000.

Over the weekend I went over it page by page, listing photos and graphics needed. Then I went through my own photo files to see which ones I had. (I have to get permission from photographers to use their photos.) Soon I'll be contacting one of the regular table tennis photographers to see if I can use some of their photos, with a listing of photos needed. (I'm willing to pay, but not too much!)

I also learned how to create an index in Word. Soon I'll be starting the page layouts.

New Coaching Video from PingSkills

Forehand Counterhit (4:04)

Cary selected for North American Championships

Cary, North Carolina has been selected by USATT to run the North American Championships on Sept. 1-3. Here's the article. Cary is rapidly becoming a center for table tennis, having run both the U.S. and North American Olympic Trials this year, as well as the annual 4-star Cary Cup.

Xu Xin wins China Open

And here's the story!

U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Collectible Cards

Topps has created Olympic Table Tennis cards for USA Olympians Timothy Wang and Ariel Hsing. (Not sure why they haven't done Lily Zhang and Erica Wu.) The Ariel one is already listed as "out of stock," but you can still get Timothy for $2.95.

Ethan Jin

Here's a nice article on junior star Ethan Jin. (Go to page 28.)

Table Tennis joins Occupy Wall Street

Yes, table tennis joining the fray - and here's the Table Tennis Nation picture and article to prove it!

Non-Table Tennis - I share a table of contents with Asimov!

Wildside Press just put out their fourth Science Fiction Megapack, with 30 stories. They included a story of mine, "Tom the Universe." Look at the list of my "colleagues": Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Sturgeon, Murray Leinster, Ayn Rand, Philip Dick, and Harry Harrison!!!

Meanwhile, Flagship Magazine just started selling their magazines at Amazon (Kindle editions), including several issues with stories by me - including the Nov. 2010 issue, with my story "ggg.earth.gxy" the cover story.

And if you want to see a wild cover, here's my ebook "Willy and the Ten Trillion Chimpanzees"!

***

Send us your own coaching news!

July 22, 2011

Topspinny backhands (Topspinny ®2011 by Larry Hodges)

Yes, I'm trademarking the term "topspinny." Any time you say it, you have to pay me a quarter. (To the humor-challenged: I'm joking.) I like to use the term to describe players who use a lot of topspin on their backhands, as opposed to others who hit flatter, such as myself. Flat backhands used to be the norm, but these up-and-coming junior players are mostly taught topspinny backhands, sort of half drive, half loop, right off the bounce. I can demonstrate the shot easily, but I don't naturally use it in a match, not after 35 years of hitting "normal" backhands. The shot is highly effective; the ball just jumps at you like a normal backhand loop, with all the quickness of an off-the-bounce flat backhand.

Adjustable height device

On Wednesday, I blogged about new training tools, including a serving height device made by local player and coach John Olsen, with adjustable brackets that hold a pole over the net. We've used it as an exercise both for serving and stroking low to the net. Here are two pictures, set high and set low.

100 degrees

That's how hot it got yesterday here in Maryland, and it's supposed to get a touch hotter today. Aren't we glad table tennis is an indoor sport, and that the Maryland Table Tennis Center bought a new $8000 air conditioning system a month ago? For the last twenty years our air conditioning left something to be desired, but now it's nice and cool inside. Then you step outside and it's like walking into a furnace.

When humidity strikes

However, with lots of players training, it still gets a bit humid inside sometimes, and of course it often does so at tournaments. What does one do when their inverted sheet becomes slick with moisture? First, always have two towels - one for you, and one for the racket and ball only. (Hitchhiker's Guide had that half right.) You could just wipe the racket off every six points or so, and you'd get most of the moisture off. However, since the moisture doesn't form evenly over the surface, I've found that you can dry it off better by first blowing on the racket surface, giving the entire surface a light moisture. Then the towel slides evenly over the surface, drying it much more thoroughly. Yes, it sounds counter-productive to blow on the surface, adding moisture when the goal is to remove moisture, but I've found that it works. This is also good for general cleaning of your racket. 

Xu Xin multiball training

Here's a 39 second segment of Chinese Team Member Xu Xin doing multiball. He makes it look so easy; try this yourself.

First back, then neck

In my ongoing attempts to find a comfortable position to sleep at night with my back problems (I blogged about that yesterday), all I've managed to do is hurt my neck. (I think I slept on my stomach, with my head on its side on a pillow.) When I woke up on Wednesday, it was hurting, but it gradually went away. This morning I woke up in agony; I can't turn or tilt my neck in either direction. So today I answer the age-old question that's been pondered since the time of Aristotle and Confucius: Can one feed multiball in a table tennis training camp when he can't move his back or neck and is in constant agony? (Today's the last day of the two-week MDTTC training camp.)

Confluence (non-table tennis)

Tomorrow morning at around 5AM I'm hopping into my car (or rather gingerly lowering myself into the driver's seat after a bowl of Ibuprofen and milk for breakfast, due to back and neck problems) and driving to Pittsburgh (four hours away) for the Confluence Science Fiction Convention. They seem to have two websites, this and that. I'll return late that night. The guest of honor is Robert J. Sawyer, who was the writer in residence at the Odyssey Writer's Workshop I went to in 2006, and a best-selling SF writer. (Here's my SF writing page.)

***

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content