USOC Athletes of the Month

August 5, 2013

Tip of the Week

Blocking Tips.

Back Stiffness

My back is now so stiff I've been offered money to use it to carve stuff on diamonds. There's a rumor it's made of collapsed matter.

I spent most of July feeding multiball and hitting with beginners, then spent nine days at a writers workshop (mostly sitting down), and then another week at another camp mostly feeding multiball or hitting with beginners. When I finally had several sessions with more advanced players this weekend (John, Kevin, Sameer) I could barely move. At some point in the last month or so the wide forehand has moved another three feet away. The backhand corner is now somewhere way off in the distance to the left. And looping with power is like trying to lasso someone with a hundred-pound dumbbell.

If I weren't so busy with MDTTC camps, private & group coaching, a new tenant just moving into my townhouse (I live on third floor, rent out first two floors), battles with previous tenant (who left without paying rent, cleaning the place, and left numerous damages), plus an incredible amount of time now devoted to my novelist career (my first one's coming out Nov. 15 - see my July 30 blog), this blog and Tip of the Week, a pair of upcoming ITTF coaching seminars, promoting Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (as I just did!), and a few jillion other things, I'd focus on getting back in shape and back to my normal 2200 level - not easy at age 53.

This morning we start another camp, Week Eight of our ten weeks of camps. We have stronger (i.e. younger) coaches who act as high-level practice partners, so most of my coaching time will likely be giving the usual group lectures, demos, and feeding multiball.

Seven Days, Seven Trophies!

One of my students, Sameer Shaikh (who just turned 12) had an incredible week. At the Northern Open in Detroit last weekend, he won Under 800, Under 950, and Under 1100, and made the final of Under 1250. (That's four trophies.) On Monday, at the Junior Olympics (also in Detroit), he won Division I (that's five). This past Saturday he won Under 1200 and Under 1400 at the Maryland Circuit (that's seven). So how many of you have won seven trophies, six of them for first place, in one week? (Disclosure - while I'm his primary coach, I wasn't at the Northern Open or Junior Olympics, where he was coached by John Hsu. Also, while I was away at a recent writers workshop he had several sessions with Raghu Nadmichettu.)

He's mostly been taking one lesson a week this past year, but recently upped that. Yesterday I gave him a two-hour lesson. His shots have really smoothed out. I think much of it is confidence - he now knows he can make his shots. He's even challenging me in these backhand games where we go backhand to backhand only - and we do that because that's his weak side. (He's primarily a forehand attacker, both looping and smashing.) We're now working hard on the backhand attack, especially backhand looping, as well as more serve variations. Yesterday I started him on reverse pendulum serves to go with his normal pendulum serve.

Here's a picture of Sameer with the four trophies from the Northern Open, with Coach John Hsu.

Breaking Bad Footwork Habits

Here's a new coaching video from PingSkills (2:13).

The Pyramid Rule - Playing Close to the Table

Here's a new coaching article from Table Tennis Master.

USOC Athletes of the Month - USATT's Nominations

Here's your chance to vote for Lily Zhang and Tahl Leibovitz! Here are their credentials, from the article:

Lily Zhang (Palo Alto, Calif.) reached the women’s singles semifinals at the 2013 U.S. Open, held July 2-6 in Las Vegas. Zhang defeated current Pan American champion Mo Zhang of Canada, 4-3, in the quarterfinals before losing to top-seeded Elizabeth Samara of Romania, 4-1. The 17-year-old also claimed the 18U singles title with a 3-1 victory over Ge Chi of China, and concluded her impressive campaign by earning the bronze medal in the U21 singles, eventually losing to teammate Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.), 4-1. 

Four-time Paralympian Tahl Leibovitz (Queens, N.Y.) breezed through preliminary and final rounds without dropping a game en route to the gold medal in the first men’s para table tennis event at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, held July 17-30 in Jerusalem. Leibovitz defeated Aviv Gordon of Israel, 3-0, in the semifinals and notched a 3-0 victory over Israel’s Neal Sharon in the final.

Sweden's National Table Tennis Team is Deteriorating

Here's the article. Sweden was a powerhouse for decades, but no more. (This is one of many articles at TableTennista.)

Why Table Tennis is the Sport for You (Women)

Here's the article from the British online magazine Female First.

World 2013 Site Tour

Here's the video (1:43) by Canadian star Xavier Therien.

Santa Fe's First Tournament

Here's the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

6mm Ping-Pong

Here's the video (1:19)! And some thought the 38mm ball was too small...

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May 7, 2013

Spammers

Due to massive spamming attacks, I've been forced to switch to requiring administrator approval for new accounts. Yesterday I had to block over 50 new accounts, each of which was posting spamming notes all over the comments section on my blog and the forum, which I also had to delete. (Fortunately I can generally delete all postings by a spammer with a few clicks - but it does take time.) So starting last night, new visitors can create accounts but administrator approval is required. It seems to be working - since last night 18 more accounts were created, but only two legit. (On a related note, anyone who has to constantly waste time battling these spammers believes in the death penalty.)

Table Tennis Leagues in the U.S.

Last night I had a debate on the MyTableTennis forum on the future of leagues in the U.S., and whether a nationwide network of local leagues is possible. Here's where I join the discussion. I ended up posting thirteen notes. (You can also read the previous postings of course.) I was thinking of copying and pasting the entire discussion here, but I'll just post my first note, and link to the rest. There's some lively discussion, so if you have any interest in leagues or the growth of table tennis in the U.S., I hope you read the rest of it.

The goal of a nationwide network of local leagues isn't to set up leagues for currently existing clubs. The purpose is to use the leagues spur the creation of new clubs and players. This is how it was done in places all over the world, including Europe. Germany didn't start with 11,000 clubs and 700,000 and then decide to set up leagues; the leagues are what spurred the development of these 11,000 clubs and 700,000 players. The whole point is to set up local leagues, so nobody needs to drive hundreds of miles. [Note: I'm responding to a note that said leagues wouldn't work in the U.S. because players might have to drive hundreds of miles to get to the next local club.]

I remember when we opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center many years ago. Over and over we were told there weren't enough players to support a full-time table tennis center devoted to coaching, and that there was no way players would pay enough hours for coaching to make it pay for itself. They missed the point - we weren't going after current players, we were going after NEW players. Now we have seven full-time coaches and over 300 hours of private coaching per week (plus group sessions), and full-time clubs with full-time coaches are popping up all over the country (about 60 of them now, compared to about 10 just seven years ago). Similarly, the purpose of a nationwide network of local leagues would be to bring in new players and new clubs, not just for existing ones.

It will not an easy task, and it probably does need to start in populated regions. If there are local organizers, as tennis does in the U.S. and other countries do in table tennis, than any city can develop table tennis leagues, and from the players signing up for those leagues more clubs can pop up, just as they do overseas. Tennis has such local leagues all over the U.S. and huge numbers of players, and they started out just where we are now. There's no reason why table tennis can't do the same; in Europe, nearly every country sports associations have more table tennis members than tennis members.

Striped Balls and Backhand Flip

Yesterday I blogged about using colorful soccer-style ping-pong balls for table tennis, since it makes it easier to see the spin on the ball. Here's a video (3:25) of Ma Long's backhand flip (also called a flick) where he's using a striped ball so you can see the spin. The video quality isn't good enough to really see the ball spin with the stripes - you can see it much better in person. I wonder how it would show up on normal TV?

USOC Athletes of the Month

USATT has two nominees for USOC Athlete of the Month for April - Lily Zhang and Timothy Wang. Please vote for them! You can vote for both a male athlete and a female athlete. Here are short bios on both, provided by USATT Webmaster Sean O'Neill.

Timothy Wang, Table Tennis
Olympian Timothy Wang (Houston, Texas) battled to a silver medal at the 2013 ITTF-North American Cup, held April 21 in Westchester, N.Y. Rising to the occasion, Wang registered an impressive 3-0 win over top-seeded Pierre-Luc Theriault of Canada. He followed with a 4-1 semifinal victory over 2011 U.S. champion Peter Li (Laurel, M.D.). Wang, the current U.S. men’s singles No. 1, will lead the U.S. men at the 2013 World Championships taking place in Paris in May.

Lily Zhang, Table Tennis
Olympian Lily Zhang (Palo Alto, Calif.) captured first place at the 2013 ITTF North American Cup, held April 21 in Westchester, N.Y. With the tournament featuring some of the best players from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, Zhang defeated Olympic teammate Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.), 4-1, in the women’s singles final. The victory qualified Zhang to compete in the STARTS Women’s World Cup, while ending Hsing’s attempt to three-peat as the North American Cup winner. Zhang advanced to the final upon beating fellow world team member Tina Lin (Edison, N.J.), 4-0, in the semifinal. Zhang will be representing the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships in May in Paris.

Table Tennis Master

Here's another interesting coaching article from Table Tennis Master, "Mastering the Counterloop."

Chinese Ping-Pong Song for the Worlds

Here's a music video (4:37) of the Chinese National Team singing their Ping-Pong Song for the 2013 World Championships and thanking their fans. How many of the players can you name?

Jesse Metcalfe

Here's a short article from Table Tennis Nation where actor Jesse Metcalfe (best known for his work on Desperate Housewives and the remake of Dallas) says he sees ping-pong as the future of nightlife.

Six Pictures Preparing for the Worlds

Here are six Facebook pictures from the ITTF showing players preparing for the Worlds at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria. How many of the players can you name?

Ariel Hsing with Uncles Warren and Bill

Here's an article and photos from Table Tennista on Ariel Hsing, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates playing table tennis at the annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting this past Sunday. They've been bringing her in annually for this since she was a little kid. And here are three more photos.
Ariel with Bill and Warren
Warren Holding Ariel
Warren and Bill Play Doubles
(If you can't see these on Facebook, try this, this, and this.)

Learn from a Pro

"Adam Bobrow Now on Table 1." Here's the Facebook picture. (If you can't see it there, try this.)

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