Forehand Looping

August 8, 2013


Yesterday's focus was forehand looping. It's always my favorite day as this is when players really begin the route to becoming top players. As I explain in my lecture, starting at the intermediate level looping dominates the game, and everyone's game is based either on looping or stopping the other guy's loop.

I had a player who was having trouble positioning his feet when he stepped around his backhand to play his forehand. I showed him how to solve this problem with what I call the "Hop" method of foot positioning. I demonstrated by first showing him how I positioned my feet when playing a forehand crosscourt from the forehand side. He had no trouble doing this on his side. Then, while standing in the forehand ready position on the forehand side, I pointed my non-playing hand crosscourt. (We're both righties.) Then, while holding my body, arms, and legs as rigid as possible, I literally hopped over to the backhand side and rotated my body until my non-playing hand was pointing crosscourt toward his backhand side. This put me in exactly the same positioning for hitting a forehand from the backhand side crosscourt as hitting a forehand from the forehand side crosscourt. But the hopping part looks pretty comical!

I mentioned last week how the younger kids all loved Froggy, the large latex frog (actually a toad) I bring out for various target practice games where I feed multiball. In previous weeks they went crazy for various cup games, where we'd stack paper cups in pyramids and then knock them down. This week the craze is for the Gatorade game, where I put a Gatorade bottle on the table, tell them it's something disgusting (worm juice, beetle juice, snake blood, dog saliva, etc.), and if they hit it, I have to drink it. We play all these games at the end of sessions in all the camps, but it's interesting how certain ones become the favorite one week and others in other weeks. This week I'm getting absolutely sick of Gatorade - the kids are getting too good at hitting the bottle. (Plus I have to act shocked and disgusted when they do - I'm running out of different ways to do this comically.)

How to Play a Backhand Table Tennis Drive

Here's a four-part series on the backhand by English Level 4 Coach Jim Clegg.

Part 1 - Control (5:05)
Part 2 - Speed (5:11)
Part 3 - Wrist (4:18)
Part 4 - Posture (2:54)

Shot Selection Mentality

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master. The primary points: avoid a safe game; placement over power; reading the spin; and don't rush.

World Class American Table Tennis Players of the Classic Age, Volume I

From the USATT article:

World Class American Table Tennis Players of the Classic Age, Volume I, authored by Dean Johnson and Tim Boggan, is the first of a new series to be published by United States Table Tennis Hall of Fame. The Series covers the players, officials and contributors of the period 1931-1966.

Volume I contains 182 pages of profiles, 170 Photos and Articles of two of the earliest players from the period – Ruth Aarons and Jimmy McClure, two of our greatest Legends. Many of the photos are from the private collection of renowned photographer Mal Anderson who retains the largest collection of U.S. table tennis photographs in the world taken over almost half a century, some of which were never-before published. Many photos are in full color.

Much of the material in Chapter 1 is from Ruth Aarons’ personal album. The book features detailed Profiles by Tim Boggan author of the multi-volume Treatise on the “History of U.S. Table Tennis” -- the single most comprehensive work published to date on the sport.

In addition to the Profiles are career highlights and complete records of Ruth Aarons and Jimmy McClure. Ruth Aarons is the only American player to win world singles titles (1936/1937); Jimmy McClure is holder of 3 World doubles titles – 1936, 1937 and 1938 – and U.S. National Championships in 1934 and 1939.

Foreword is by Mike Babuin, current Chairman of the Board for USA Table Tennis and President of the Cary Table Tennis Association and the Curator and Founder of the Cary Table Tennis Museum – one of the largest private collections of table tennis artifacts, memorabilia, and publications in the USA.

Available at Amazon Bookstore. Proceeds from sales of all books in the Series will benefit the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame Museum.

Never Give Up the Point!

Here's a video (44sec) that shows a top player literally falling to the floor and crawling about as he gets back into the point - which he wins!

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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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