Injury Update

June 5, 2014

Yesterday's Coaching

I had a number of coaching sessions yesterday. (This was after running around picking some of them up at two schools for our afterschool program.) The last two were rather interesting in that I introduced them to playing against long pips. I keep a huge racket case with five different rackets inside. (I've had this racket case since 1988 – Cheng Yinghua gave it to me the year he came to the U.S. as a practice partner/coach for our resident training program in Colorado Springs, where I was at various times manager/director/assistant coach.)

The rackets are: A long pips with 1mm sponge chopping racket; a long pips no-sponge pushblocking racket; a racket with antispin and inverted; one with short pips and inverted; a pips-out penholder racket; and a defensive hardbat. (I also have an offensive hardbat that I myself use in hardbat competitions, which I keep in a separate racket case in my playing bag.) I pull these rackets out as necessary for students to practice against or with.

I pulled the rackets out at the end of the first player's session, and invited the other player who was about to begin to join in. Then I went over the rackets, explaining each one. (The players were Daniel, age nine, about 1450, and Matt, about to turn 13, about 1650.) Neither had ever seen antispin before. They had played against long pips a few times, but didn't really know how to play it. They had seen hardbat and short pips, but hadn't played against them much, if at all. (I found it amazing they hadn't played against short pips, which used to be so common, but that surface has nearly died out. Just about everyone at my club uses inverted. I know of only one player at the club using short pips, the 2200+ pips-out penholder Heather Wang, who practices and plays against our top juniors regularly, so they are ready if they ever play pips-out players.)

I pulled out the long pips racket with no sponge, and let them play against it. They quickly figured out that when they looped, my blocks came back very heavy and often short. They also discovered that if they gave me backspin, my pushes had topspin. After I suggested trying no-spin, Daniel quickly became proficient at giving me a deep dead ball to the deep, wide backhand, and then stepping around and loop killing my dead return.

Since Matt was my last session and I could go late, I let them hit together for a while. They took turns with the rackets, with Daniel especially trying out all the rackets. He likes playing defense, and ended up using the chopping blade with long pips for about ten minutes against Matt's looping. When learning to play these surfaces, it's important not only to practice against them, but also to try using them so you can see first-hand what the strengths and weaknesses are.

One results of all this - Daniel's dad bought him a copy of my book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. Soon they will know all the intracacies of playing long pips and all other tactics as well!

On Monday in the segment about the WETA filming I blogged about how I'd hurt my right knee and shoulder. I was toying with getting someone to do my hitting in my private sessions yesterday, but decided the injuries weren't too bad. I managed to get through the sessions without aggravating them. The knee and shoulder are still bothering me, but I think if I'm careful I'll manage to get by. Just don't let any of my students know or they'll start lobbing (exit shoulder) or going to my wide forehand (exit knee). Shhh!

Tactics for Playing Backhand Dominant Players

Here's the article.

2014 Stiga Trick Shot Showdown

It's back! Here's the info page, and here's info video (1:16). The Grand prize is $4000, a trip to the World Tour Grand Final, and a one-year Stiga sponsorship. Second is $2000, third is $500 in Stiga gear. Deadline is Sept. 5. But let's be clear – the rest of you are all playing for second because nobody, Nobody, NOBODY is going to beat the incredible trick shot I will do this year . . .once I come up with one.

Liu Guoliang Criticizes Reform on World Championships.

Here's the article. I've always had mixed feelings on Chinese domination of our sport. It's true that it takes much of the interest away. However, China has done about all it can to help the rest of the world. It's opened up and allowed its top players to go to other countries as coaches – pretty much anyone who makes a Regional team in China (and they have over 30, with most of them stronger than the USA National Team) can become a lifelong professional coach in some other country. A major reason for the increase in level and depth in U.S. junior play in recent years is the influx of Chinese coaches, who have been opening up full-time training centers all over the country. It sort of reminds me of martial arts back in the 1960s and '70s, when Korean and Chinese coaches opened up studios all over the U.S.

ITTF China World Tour Interview with Ariel Hsing

Here's the video (1:04).

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Thirteen down, 87 to go!

  • Day 88: Interview with Vladimir Samsonov, Chair of the Athletes Commission

Zhang Jike Multiball

Here's the video (1:55) of him training just before the 2013 Worlds. I don't think I've posted this, but if I have, it's worth watching again.

Table Tennis Physical Training

Here's the video (21 sec). Why aren't you doing this?

News from New York

Here's the article.

Incredible Rally

Here's video (27 sec) of one of the more incredible rallies you'll ever see. It doesn't say who the players are, though the player on the near side might be Samsonov – I can't tell, though it looks like his strokes. (You see his face right at the end of the video, and I'm not sure but I don't think that's him.) (EDIT: several people have verified that the player on the near side is Samsonov, and the one on the far side is Kreanga. [Alberto Prieto was the first to do so.] Kreanga's a bit blurry in the video, but I should have recognized his strokes!)

Ping Pong Summer in Maryland

Tomorrow I'm seeing the 7:30 PM showing of Ping Pong Summer at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. Anyone want to join me? (Email me or comment below.)

Ping Pong Summer Challenge

Here's video (2:58) where members of the cast of the movie are challenged to drink a soda while bouncing a ping pong ball on a paddle. Those challenged were actors Marcello Conte, Myles Massey, Emmi, Shockley, and writer/director Michael Tully.

Octopus Playing Table Tennis

Here's the video (34 sec) – and this might be the funniest table tennis video I've ever seen! It's an extremely well animated giant octopus playing table tennis simultaneously on four tables. You have to see this.

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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.

MDTTC Camp

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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