McAfee and the ITTF Coaching Program

June 7, 2013


At noon today I leave for the Eastern Open this weekend in Piscataway, NJ, coaching Derek Nie and Sameer Shaikh. As usual, I'll bring files of notes of players I've seen before, either live or on video. I'm going up with Derek and his mom. I've actually got some coaching this morning, not to mention my blog and dropping my dog (Sheeba) off at the dog boarding place, so it's going to be a hectic morning.

The complicating factor is I teach a junior class on weekends, on Saturdays 10:30AM-Noon and Sundays 4:30-6:00. Normally Raghu Nadmichettu assists, but he's playing in the Easterns. I have a substitute for Saturday, but not for Sunday. So either I or Raghu have to be back by Sunday at 4:30 for the class. What really complicates things is we don't know if Raghu or Derek will play on Sunday. They will if Raghu makes the quarters of the Open, or Derek the quarters of Under 2375. Sameer will finish on Saturday, so either Raghu or I have to go back with Sameer and his dad when they return that night or the following morning. On the other hand, if Raghu advances and can't go back, and Derek advances (and so has a big quarterfinal match in U2375), I might do some last-minute scrambling to get a substitute for the class so I can stay over to coach Derek.

Derek and I have an established way to pass the time on car trips to tournaments (with his parents driving) - brain teasers. I used to give them off the top of my head - I know hundreds - but I've run out after many trips. Last time I printed out a large number from online sites. Yesterday I stopped at the Library and picked up "The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems." Derek's gotten pretty good at them.

You can see the players in the Easterns by player's list or by event. Top seeds include Zhang Kai (2603), Yu Di (2600), Peter Li (2557, from my club before he went off to college), Eric Zhao (2543), Li Bochao (2500) and Chen Bo Wen (2494, from my club). For a 4-star tournament, it's not particularly strong, but there'll be some strong competition. Under 13 Boys is a powerhouse, with Jack Wang (2338), Gal Alguetti (2252), Derek Nie (2234), and Sharon Alguetti (2176). These ratings are actually old ratings, the ones used for qualification; at the tournament they'll have newer ratings for seeding. We have a large group coming from my area, with an even 20 players from Maryland, Virginia, and DC, almost all who play at MDTTC.

By the way, they will start setting up the playing hall Friday at 4PM, and finish by 7PM. I'm told that players can practice on any available table during that time.

Balance = Rapid-Fire Shots

I was working with an intermediate player today. I was giving him random multiball to his forehand side, and he had to smash every ball. He was struggling - every couple of shots he'd be off balance, and flailing away at the next shot. The problem was just that - balance. But if I only told him to stay balanced, he'd have continued to flail away - the key was to identify why he was going off balance. And that was pretty easy to see - every time he smashed, his whole body would move forward, throwing himself off balance, and then he'd have to move all his weight back to prepare for the next shot. This also threw off his timing.

I pointed out Chen Bowen, a 2500 player, who was looping against block on another table, and told my player to watch Bowen's head - it barely moved when he looped his forehand over and over. Instead, his body rotated rapidly around it, which created great power - and left him in nearly the same position and balanced, weight between his legs, immediately ready for the next shot. (You do this on both forehand loops and drives.) My player tried it out, and greatly improved his ability to play rapid-fire forehands over and over. It's okay for the head to move forward some on very powerful shots (drives or loops), or when rushed when stepping around the backhand corner, but it should be minimized if you want to be ready quickly for the next shot.

To illustrate the above, here are some short videos to study.

McAfee and the ITTF Coaching Program

Here's my article "Man on a Mission: Richard McAfee and the ITTF Coaching Program," published by the ITTF on its Facebook page. The article is also in the current (May/June) issue of USA Table Tennis Magazine.

North American Table Tennis Language Translator

I just noticed a new feature there. Here's the Eastern Open home page. Go to the top right, and see "Select Language." Then start clicking on different languages, and watch the text on the page change! Africaans! Albanian! Arabic! Traditional Chinese! Japanese! Macedonian! Yiddish! Etc. - I had great fun with this.

Ping Pong Prom Proposals

Here's an article and videos from Table Tennis Nation featuring, you guessed it, Ping-Pong Prom Proposals.

Circular Table Tennis?

I have no idea what to call this type of table tennis, so I'm going to call it Circular Table Tennis. Shouldn't they have people on both the inside and outside, rallying back and forth? (If you can't see it in Facebook, try this.)

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