July 11, 2013


Yesterday's focus was on forehand looping. I also introduced the beginning players to pushing.

One recurring problem I saw with forehand looping was a number of players who moved their head and bodies forward quite a bit when looping, instead of mostly going in a circle. When you overdo this, you lose control and leave yourself off balance and out of position for the next shot, meaning you can't do them over and over rapidly, as required for higher-level play.

It's important when looping to imagine a rod going through your head and going in a circle around it, with the head not moving too much. Here's a 46-second video featuring the forehand loop 3-time world men's singles champion Wang Liqin, whose powerful forehand loop really did own a decade, and may have been the best of all time. Note how his body mostly rotates around the head, with the head moving forward only a little bit. There are exceptions to this, even though this leaves you in a more difficult position for the next shot, such as when going for certain absolute rips, or when stepping around the backhand corner when you are rushed, where you may rotate the body more to the left to create power. If you go more in a circle, you still get great force as you whip around in that circle; you get great control since you are more or less looping from a stationary platform rather than a moving one; and you finish balanced and in position for the next shot.

There is an amazing range of skill levels in the camp. One complete beginner, age 10, picked up looping very quickly. Another, about age 13, is struggling with it. Another, also about 13, picked it up quickly (as well as regular forehands) because he was a competitive tennis player, but he had difficulties learning the backhand since he was used to tennis backhands.

All the kids picked up pushing quickly, as they usually do. I brought out the colored soccer balls again so they could see how much backspin they were creating.

Tomorrow's a big day - it's SLURPEE day at 7-11! Free Slurpees for everyone. We make the daily trek to the 7-11 down the street (across a busy street, so I chaperone everyone) every afternoon after lunch, around 1:20 or so. Normally 5-12 players go, but with the free Slurpee special, I'm guessing we'll have 20+ tomorrow. As usual, I'll get the Strawberry-Lemon Slurpee, which I rank as the #3 technological innovation by humankind. (Just for the record, #2 is air conditioning due to the 115 degree heat in Las Vegas during the U.S. Open, and #1 is . . . the spork. It solved all our eating problems. Really.)

Guatemala and El Salvador

Yesterday I blogged about my summer travels, including going to Guatemala and El Salvador in August to coach at ITTF Junior Pro Tour tournaments there. However, I'm needed at MDTTC camps, and I'm already missing two of the ten weeks (U.S. Open and a writer's workshop), so Coach Cheng will be going in my place. (It also gives Nathan Hsu a regular practice partner down there, since Cheng is 2600 and I'm not. Originally Wang Qing Liang was also going as a player - he's also 2600 - but he dropped out because of visa complications.) Alas . . . I'd already bought a pocket English-Spanish dictionary and read over the Wikipedia entries for both countries. 

Orioles and Ping-Pong

Here's another mention of the Orioles playing table tennis (with J.J. Hardy their top star), from this morning's Washington Post, from article "Camden Yards is finally fun again," by Thomas Boswell: "Three-and-a-half hours before games begin, you can see part of what makes the Orioles cohere. It's a friendly nest. Four tall Birds play high-level doubles Ping-Pong in the middle of the clubhouse, everyone giving the battle room for smashes and retrievals. Occasionally, paddle king J.J. Hardy, all-star starter at shortstop and the son of a tennis coach, deigns to let a rival challenge him for supremacy."

Non-Table Tennis - My Townhouse

A number of people came by to see my townhouse yesterday, and five filled out applications to rent the first two floors. This is going to be an incredibly difficult decision. I've ruled out one of the applicants, but the other four all look perfect. I hate the idea of letting any of them down, but I have to make a decision, offer the place to one, and turn down the others.

Six Mistakes You Probably Make When Practicing Third Ball Attack, Part 1

Here's an essay on the topic from Table Tennis Master.

Amazing Table Tennis Tricks

Here's the video (3:06).

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July 10, 2013

Opening in My Townhouse

Anyone interested in moving to Maryland? I own a three-floor townhouse in Germantown, MD. I live on the third floor, and rent out the first two floors (two bedrooms, kitchen, living/dining room, laundry room, 1.5 bathrooms) for $1100 month (including utilities). The previous tenants just moved out, so I'm advertising for a new person. It's about ten minutes from the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here's the ad in Craigslist, which I put up late last night. There are already three responses this morning.


Yesterday was day two of week four of our ten weeks of summer camps at MDTTC, all Mon-Fri. Yesterday's focus was the backhand. I gave a short lecture and demo (with Tony Li the demo partner), then lots of multiball practice. I also took the beginning players aside and worked with them on serving. I brought out the colorful ping-pong "soccer" balls so they could practice putting spin on the ball.

The way I introduce new players to putting spin on the ball when serving is to first have them toss the ball up, spin it with their racket, and catch it. This means (for a righty doing a forehand pendulum serve) tilting the racket so the left side of the racket is higher than the right, with contact on the left side of the ball. This allows a player to spin the ball straight up, with the racket moving from right to left in an upward motion. After they can do this I have them try it on the table. I always give a short demo showing backspin serves that bounce back into the net, sidespin serves that curve about dramatically (usually into a target conveniently placed on the table), and quick-jumping topspin serves. The kids have great fun trying to return them. (This is also where they learn how to return spin serves.) Tomorrow I'll introduce them to pushing so they'll have a better chance against backspin serves.

Summer Travels

I've got a busy traveling schedule this summer. Below is my schedule. Meanwhile, we have camps every Mon-Fri at MDTTC all summer long, which I'll be coaching at whenever I'm not away. The trips to the ITTF Junior Pro Tours in Guatemala and El Salvador will be my first time to Central America, though I did coach the U.S. Junior Team at a tournament in Mexico around 1990, as well as in Taiwan. I'll be coaching Nathan Hsu in the ITTF Junior Pro Tours. [EDIT - See note below on Guatemala and El Salvador trips, and tomorrow's blog.]

  • July 1-7: Coaching (and playing) at U.S. Open in Las Vegas, NV.
  • July 19-27: The Never-Ending Odyssey Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop in Manchester, NH. (Some people go to the beach or Disneyworld for their vacations; I go to a writer's workshop.)
  • Aug. 5-10: Coaching at the ITTF Junior Pro Tour in Guatemala.
  • Aug. 11-16: Coaching at the ITTF Junior Pro Tour in El Salvador.
    CHANGE IN PLANS: I'm needed at MDTTC camps, and am already missing several weeks, so Coach Cheng will be going to Guatemala and El Salvador instead of me. See tomorrow's blog.
  • Sept. 2-7: Attending ITTF Coaching Seminar in Dunellen, NJ. (It was originally scheduled for Aug. 26-31, but just yesterday was rescheduled.)

Injury Update

The back injury I had before the U.S. Open is mostly healed. I did aggravate it slightly at the Open - at one point in a hardbat doubles match it whole back stiffened up and I could barely move - but not too badly. Since I'm mostly feeding multiball this week, it's getting a good rest. This injury was in upper right part of my back.

However, there's a new problem. Something is hurting in the lower right side of my back, right where the kidney would be. At first I assumed it was another muscle strain, but now I'm not so sure. I sure hope it's not a kidney problem. (Other than hurting, there are no other symptoms.) If it's still bothering me on Monday I may see a doctor. (I hate seeing doctors...)

Playing Doubles

Here's an essay on the topic from Table Tennis Master.

2014 World Championships of Ping Pong (Sandpaper)

The premier sandpaper tournament in the world returns in 2014 - here's the article. It had $100,000 in prize money the last two years, but doesn't specify the prize money this time, only saying it will have a "substantial prize fund."

Monsters of Table Tennis

Here's a video (9:30) of great points played from 2009-2010, recently compiled.

Extreme Service Practice

Here's the video (31 sec) of a curving down-the-line serve through two targets! I do this same serve, so will have to try this out some time.

Johnny Damon TT Video

Here's a video (2:06) from Killerspin that features Johnny Damon and table tennis!

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