Christian Laettner

April 8, 2013

Tip of the Week

Covering and Recovering From the Middle.

Stellangie Camp

Who/what is "Stellangie"? That's the combination of Stellan and Angie Bengtsson's first names. Who are they? Stellan is the 1971 World Men's Singles Champion and hugely famous coach from Sweden. (I went to one of his camps for two weeks, and can verify it's well deserved.) Angie's a U.S. Hall of Fame player (formerly known as Angelita Rosal) who married Stellan and moved to Sweden for many years. Now both are coaching in San Diego. ITTF Coach John Olsen went to their camp last week, and here's his report, which he wrote for this blog.

I want to give people some idea of what a great table tennis camp is like. I recently attended the Stellan/Angie Bengtsson Training Camp at the Willamette Table Tennis Club, Salem Oregon from March 27-31, 2013. If you ever get the chance to attend one of these camps I highly recommend it.

There were 14 player slots for the camp. The camp had 2 sessions a day, 3 hours each session with a 2 hour break for lunch. A 3 hour session contained 5-6 drills. Most drills had multiple components, such as initially hitting cross court and then down the line. Each player did the drill, Stellan and Angie would tell you when to switch.

At certain times one or two people (depending on whether the camp had an odd or even number) would be taken over to do multiball drills. Angie did multiball in the morning and Stellan did the afternoon sessions. During these multiball sessions you worked on specific things you had asked to improve (in my case return of serve).

Each day followed a similar pattern:

  • 10 minutes of warm-up stretching
  • Find a hitting partner, warm up forehand (FH) for 5 minutes, then backhand (BH) for 5 minutes. Stellan stressed that you should be using the shots you use in a match during warm-ups and drills. It’s OK to hit FH drives for a bit to find your rhythm, but don’t continue to use a drive if you are a looper, go ahead and loop. Players alternated looping and blocking during warm-ups so both partners got practice. At the end of warm-up the players would gather together as Stellan and Angie talk and give us the next drill and explain where it fits into the overall parts of the game.
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • Halfway through a 3 hour session take a 5 minute break and switch hitting partners
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • Do 10 minutes of cool-down stretching at the end of the 3 hour session (different  from the warm-up stretches)
  • 2 hour break for lunch
  • 10 minutes of stretching
  • Find a new hitting partner, warm up FH 5 minutes, BH 5 minutes
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • 5 minute break, switch hitting partners
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • 10 minutes of cool-down stretching

So on any day you would hit with 4 different players. On most drills the level of your partner was not that important. I never had an issue with doing these drills correctly, whether the player was above or below my level. Certain drills, like serve/receive Stellan and Angie would make sure that you were paired with someone close to your own level. Stellan or Angie would circulate during the drills correcting technique, answering questions and make suggestions. Angie would also record you with an iPad and be able to instantly show you what she was talking about regarding your technique.

Every drill related to some aspect of match play. Stellan would explain not only how to do the drill, but what specific skill that drill was designed to help you improve. He would also tell us what bad habits to watch out for so that we were doing the drills correctly and getting the most benefit from them.  I have to say that I have never experienced this kind of detailed information about training drills before.

At times Stellan would substitute competition for a drill. We played Brazilian Teams twice and King of the Table once during the camp.

Also note that you do 4 stretches a day. Normally when I play I do a few minutes of warm-up stretching. What we did at the camp was much more extensive. The point of the cool-down stretches is to not just prevent injury but to relax your muscles and reduce soreness. I am 56 years old and not in the best of shape, but I had fewer sore muscles the entire camp than I normally have from a single casual 3 hour playing session.

What I Told a Student Before a Tournament

I coached a junior player on Sunday morning before he played in the MDTTC tournament. He seemed a bit nervous, so this is what I told him. "If you lose, there will be earthquakes and tornadoes, the polar ice caps will melt and kill off the polar bears, there will be pestilence and hunger, the earth will spin out of orbit and into the sun, and the sun will go supernova, spewing radiation throughout the galaxy and killing off all intelligent life. So the galaxy is depending on you."

I often say things like this to help relax players. Before big matches we often talk about TV shows or sports teams, anything but tactics until maybe five or ten minutes before the match. (We do, of course, discuss tactics well in advance; what we do just before the match is a review.) People often see me in animated discussion with players before a match and assume we're talking high-level tactics when we're really discussing the Baltimore Ravens or Orioles, the TV show NCIS, the latest movies, or who knows what else.

Stefan Feth a Finalist for USOC Developmental Coach of the Year

Here's the article.

Who is the Greatest Celebrity Table Tennis Player?

Table Tennis Nation has been running this online voting contest recently, and they are down to two finalists: Standup Comedian/Actor (of 30 Rock Fame) Judah Friedlander vs. former basketball star Christian Laettner. Who will win? Who should win? You get to vote! (Since I've coached Judah a number of times - he lives near MDTTC when he's not in NYC acting - I voted for him.)

Olympian Iulia Necula Helps Take Aerobic TT to Another Level

Here's the article.

Wang Liqin Demonstrates His Rubber's Tackiness

Here's the video (22 sec).

Korean Open

Here's a video (8:24) of the all-Chinese Men's Final, where Xu Xin defeats Ma Long. Here's an article on it from Table Tennista. Here are the Men's Semifinals, Xu Xin vs. Yan An (4:03), and Ma Long vs. Wang Hao (7:15). Here's the Women's Final (13:22), Seo Hyowon vs. Kasumi Ishikawa - and see the serve Seo pulled out at the end to win! (Time between points has been removed in the videos, so non-stop action.) Here's a video (5:40) of the Korean Open's Top Ten Shots.

Table Tennista

There are more international articles at Table Tennista, covering the Korean Open, the German Bundesliga (Timo Boll injured!), and others.

Albert Einstein Table Tennis Picture

Here it is!

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