November 19, 2013

Weekend Coaching

I had a long weekend of coaching. Here's a rundown.

FRIDAY: I had "only" three students that day. First up was Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day. I've blogged about coaching him; normally he comes in on Wednesday afternoons, but he asked for an extra session and came in on Friday afternoon as well. One irritating thing: In the 21 years since we opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center I'd only been late for a session twice. Yes, you read that right; I always come in early to make sure I'm not late. Well, on Friday I had my times with Darren mixed up and so ended up coming in 15 minutes late, making it the third time I've been late in those 21 years, or once every seven years. (I'm sort of like a cicada.) The other two I was late for were both in the last three years - I wasn't late for a single session the first 18 years! (The other two - once with a joint session with John Olsen & Kevin Walton when I also had my times mixed up, and once with Sameer when there was an accident that kept me in traffic for an hour for the ten-minute drive to the club. Coincidentally I coached all three of the people or pairs that I had been late for this weekend.)

After Darren came Tim (30 min, a new student) and Sameer (90 min). With Tim we're working hard on the foundation of his game, especially on the forehand side. With Sameer we're mostly getting him ready for the North American Teams in ten days. (Key factor - he's still adjusting to a lower, wider stance, and often forgets that and stands up too straight.)

Then I spent some time watching Nathan Hsu and Derek Nie practice and play points as prep to coaching them at the Nationals. (I'm also coaching Derek at the Teams.)

SATURDAY: I taught classes from 9:30-10:30AM, and from 10:30AM-Noon, both for groups of kids. The 9:30 session was the last of the season; that group starts up again in January. Highlight of the sessions: the kids love to set the robot at full speed and frequency, but usually just end up having the balls shoot off the end. As a special treat I set the robot up at full speed and frequency at the end of both sessions, and let them try to keep the ball in play. I showed them how to just hold the racket out and block the balls back, and even though they were relative beginners in the 7-11 age range, they picked up on it. I also demoed smashing those balls with my forehand, which stretched my own game to its limit - those balls are coming fast and quick!

From 1:30-3:30 I coached and fed multiball for John & Kevin. They too are getting ready for the Teams, so we've upped the amount of random drills.  Afterwards I normally am a practice partner for a 4:30-6:30 session, but because of my recent knee problems I skipped that session; I'll be back next Saturday.

SUNDAY: This is the one day per week I coach outside MDTTC, driving to the homes of two students (Anton and Sameer) for private sessions. (Yes, they pay extra.) Then from 2-4PM we had a table tennis birthday party for a local player (with 17 kids roughly age 10), where I ran the table tennis portion from 2-3PM, with 30 minutes of instruction, 30 minutes of organized games (hitting targets on table as I fed multiball, such as stacked paper cups and a large rubber frog), and 30 minutes of free play.

Then I taught another class, from 4:30-6:00PM, with 12 kids. Once again we ended the session by setting the robot at full speed and frequency.

Monday: This is my "rest" day, but in reality it's my catch-up-with-everything day, as well as doing the Tip of the Week before I do the blog. So it's probably the busiest day of the week even though I don't do any coaching normally. I spent the entire day going through my todo list (mostly table tennis items), and got to most of them. (There were some serious time-consuming problems involving my recent novel, Sorcerers in Space. I had proofed the interiors, but they hadn't sent me the back cover to proof. I'd assumed they would just cut & paste the text I'd written for the back cover, but it turned out the designer had retyped the last paragraph - and inserted four typos!!! So we have to do a new version of that. This was only one of about a dozen problems involving the novel that I've been dealing with.)

I also managed to do laundry, get a haircut, change the oil and windshield wipers on my car, proof a letter of invitation to top Chinese players for a top-secret table tennis event coming up next year (more on that when it's time to go public!), and updated the junior table tennis program accounting. And while taking a break, I put together this "Top Twelve Ways the Orioles Can Improve" list which is now featured at Orioles Hangout!

TODAY I'm coaching Darren O'Day again, since he can't come in for his usual Wednesday time. He's my only coaching today - Wed through Sun are my busy days. I'm also working on the USATT Hall of Fame program booklet, and a bunch of other minor things on my todo list. One important item on today's list if I get to it - readers have found a few typos in my Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers book, so I hope to find time to make those corrections and upload a new version, both print and Kindle versions. I also have a new computer which I plan to put up soon - I got it in trade with John Olsen, and while not brand new, it's eons younger than the relatively ancient one (in computer years) I'm working on right now. I've already backed up everything on my current one.

Contact the Ball Sooner When Looping Backspin

Here's the article: One Myth About Attacking Backspin That You Probably Believe

ITTF Monthly Pongcast

Here's the video (12:03) which covers ITTF events and news for the month of October.

NBA Stars VS NFL Stars in Ping Pong

Here's the video (1:31) as part of the TopSpin Charity. And here's a synopsis of the event:

"The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) was proud to help support the efforts of TopSpin Charity's recent event in New York City. This year's event featured celebrity, corporate and individual table tennis tournaments. Numerous NBA players were in attendance including New York Knick Kenyon Martin and Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams. New York Giants Jason Pierre Paul and Shaun Rogers also made an appearance. TopSpin, a national philanthropic group dedicated to empowering America's youth through education, is donating all proceeds to nonprofit organizations as part of their efforts to better the educational opportunities for underserved youth."

Ping-Pong Paddle Reading in Bed

Here it is!

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May 28, 2013

May 28, 2013

Tip of the Week

What to Do at the End of a Close Game.

Here Was My Weekend

SATURDAY. I was coaching pretty much all day. I gave a private lesson from 9:15-10:15AM, then a group beginning/intermediate junior session from 10:30AM-Noon. From 2-4 PM I gave private lessons, and then from 4:30-6:30 was a practice partner for a group session.

Probably the most interesting session was the 9:15-10:15AM session with Sameer, 11, rated 1181. I've been coaching him at his house where there's only about four feet going back. Today was the first time I gave him a private lesson at the club where there was room to go back - so much of the lesson was on looping against block, which he can't do at his house. He's going to start taking more lessons at the club for this reason. He has a tendency to stand up straight, and then his strokes fall apart. When he stays low and doesn't rush, he's a lot better.

In the afternoon one of my sessions was with John Olsen, 56, rated 1999. I've been working with him for a few years now, and now he's playing me dead even in our practice matches. Against juniors, I'm still pretty good, but more experienced tactical players are starting to see the holes in my game now that I've slowed down to sloth speed. It's not easy being a mostly one-winged attacker when your feet move like a sloth. Add that John's used to my serves, and that my blocking in matches has also deteriorated due to slower footwork (yes, good blocking takes footwork), and he's not easy to play anymore.

That night I saw the movie Epic, which I thought was pretty good. If you go to see it, early on there is a scene where the main character, M.K., takes a taxi to visit her father out in the wilderness. She has a short discussion with the taxi driver. The taxi driver is voiced by none other than Judah Friedlander, one of the stars from 30 Rock, stand-up comedian, and well-known table tennis player! (I've given him several private lessons. That's why he's the World Champion.)

I looked around that afternoon and realized how spoiled players at MDTTC are, along with a few other clubs around the country. Regular club players were playing side-by-side with some of the best players and juniors in the country. Here's a listing of some of the players or coaches at the club that afternoon, with their rating (and age if a junior - lots of good juniors!), with apologies to those left out.

  • Cheng Yinghua, 2614
  • Wang Qing Liang ("Leon"), 17, 2587
  • Jack Huang, 2526
  • Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"), 14, 2498
  • Harold Baring, former #2 in Philippines, 2400+
  • Raghu Nadmichettu, 2331
  • Richard Doverman, 2310
  • Crystal Wang, 11, 2292
  • Zhang Liang Bojun ("Brian"), 16, 2251
  • Chen Jie ("James"), 16, 2249
  • Tong Tong Gong, 15, 2246
  • Stephen Yeh, 2233
  • Derek Nie, 12, 2215
  • Roy Ke, 13, 2191
  • Lixin Lang, 2187
  • Heather Wang, 2181
  • Barbara Wei, 2178
  • Larry Hodges, 2145 (I'm getting old!)
  • Greg Mascialino, 2099
  • Changli Duan, 2080
  • Changping Duan, 2065
  • Amy Lu, 12, 2022
  • Princess Ke, 12, 1953
  • Adam Yao, 11, 1908
  • Tony Li, 11, 1799
  • Wesley Duan, 12, 1761
  • Tiffany Ke, 8, 1430
  • Lisa Lin, 9, 1385
  • Missing on Saturday, but back on Sunday: Nathan Hsu (17, 2397) and John Hsu (2248)

SUNDAY. I coached a 6-year-old from 10AM-11AM. He's up to 86 forehands and 35 backhands in a row against multiball. But at his age hand-eye coordination is a problem, so we spent some time on ball bouncing. He was able to bounce the ball up and down on his racket seven times, a new record for him. It isn't easy as his reactions at this age aren't fast enough to really react to the ball in the time it takes to bounce up and down on his paddle. He could just bounce the ball higher, but then he loses control.

I was off until that afternoon. I had another private session from 3:15-4:15, then a group junior session from 4:30-6:00. While I was coaching there was an elderly woman hitting with an older teenager for about an hour, and I realized they had been there the day before as well. I'm guessing it was a grandmother and grandson. What made it interesting is both had these identical windmill-style forehands, sort of like an exaggerated Dick Miles forehand (if you've ever seen that!). They'd bring their rackets way over their heads like a windmill, then bring it down and hit the ball. They weren't much beyond the beginning stage, but it was somewhat obvious he had learned his strokes from her.

The group session was smaller than usual because of Memorial Day weekend. With three coaches (myself, Raghu Nadmichettu, and John Hsu), and a practice partner (11-year-old Tony Li, rated 1799, who helps out in these sessions), the kids got a lot of one-on-one practice.

MONDAY. I believe yesterday was the first morning since Christmas where I didn't have either a blog or coaching in the morning. I actually could sleep late! (Except my 15-year-old dog, Sheeba, can no longer last the night, and as usual got me up at 4AM to go out.) I got a lot of work done on various writing projects.

Plastic Ball Conflict of Interest?

To quote from the OOAK forum, "It comes to light that Dr. Joachim Kuhn, the ITTF Equipment Committee member in charge of ball testing and approval, the man behind the report about how great the new plastic balls are (that was recently suppressed by the ITTF without explanation) has a MAJOR conflict of interest. Turns out that Dr. Kuhn's wife, In Sook Yoo, is one of the two patent holders, so Mr. and Mrs. Kuhn stand to make money on every new ball sold." There are discussions on this on the OOAK forum and About.com.

Kanak Jha Wins Two Silver Medals at Polish Cadet Open

Here's the pictures and caption. The events were Cadet Boys' Doubles and Teams.

What Table Tennis Is All About

Here's a new tribute video (4:50) from Genius Table Tennis.

Worlds Pre-Match Light Show

Here it is (2:13)!

Meet Coach Richard McAfee

JOOLA put together this video (2:00) welcoming him as a sponsored coach. I think all sponsors should do this with all their sponsored coaches and players.

Will Shortz on TV

Here's a video (16:16) of world-renowned puzzlist and Westchester TTC owner Will Shortz last Wednesday on the Artie Lange Show, with guest host Colin Quinn. As described by Will, "The conversation started with puzzles, then segued to table tennis, and ended with me playing Colin in a TT match." The discussion turns to table tennis at 8:46 (here). For the record, Will won 11-1.

Real Table Tennis

Outside, where the buffalo roam. (Or cattle anyway.) Or perhaps indoors, on the floor, with shoes for a net.

Cartoon Fox/Kitten

I'm not sure if this Facebook picture is a baby fox or a kitten. (If you can't see it in Facebook, try this.)

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