Overwhelmed When Learning

July 18, 2013

Last Blog until Monday, July 29 - Off to Writer's Workshop

When most people go on vacation, they go to beaches, Disneyworld, or Las Vegas. When table tennis players go on vacation, they center it around a major tournament. When I go on vacation, I go to a science fiction writer's workshop in Manchester, NH, July 19-28. After non-stop table tennis action since early June (when kids got out of school), I need the physical and mental break. (Actually, it's been pretty much non-stop table tennis for 37 years!!!)

Back in 2006 I attended the Odyssey Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Workshop, an intense six-week program for such writers. Every year a group of the graduates get together for nine days of intense workshopping, called "The Never-Ending Odyssey" or TNEO. I've got three stories getting critiqued, I critiqued dozens of others, plus we have a number of other programs, with two one-hour "master classes" each day, taught by various graduates.

It's a busy time right now. I'm juggling ten consecutive weeks of training camps (all Mon-Fri, 10AM-6PM, June 17 - Aug. 23); the U.S. Open (July 1-7); an ITTF Level 2 Coaching Seminar I'm attending (Sept. 2-7 in New Jersey); an ITTF Level 1 Coaching Seminar I'm teaching (Oct. 2-7 in South Bend, Indiana); the usual private and group coaching and general table tennis promotion (that's enough to fill my schedule alone); the daily blog and weekly tip; and the usual science fiction & fantasy writing that I do on the side. (I'm already gearing up to write the sequel to the novel I just sold - see my blog the last two days.) I'm also planning to do a rewrite of my book Table Tennis: Steps to Success (probably retitled "Table Tennis Fundamentals"), but for now that's on hold. Things will ease up dramatically by September, when the kids go back to school. 

Meanwhile, as if I didn't have enough already, two people solicited table tennis articles from me just yesterday. I had to say no to both, though both would have been paid. (I also had to turn down two requests for private coaching - I'm not taking on any new students until mid-September.) But I did find time tonight to (finally) update my coaching notes from the U.S. Open. Yep, I keep extensive notes on the matches I coach or watch, to help prepare for future matches I coach.


Yesterday's focus was the forehand loop. I had Raghu Nadmichettu demo it. Against backspin, I fed multiball; against block, I blocked, and had fun trying to convince the kids that the Chinese national coaches often fly to the U.S. to study my never-missing forehand block. (Confession: while I was explaining this, Raghu finally managed to loop one past me. Alas.) I also gave a lecture on return of serve, and spent half an hour working with a group on their serve and receive.

During breaks a new fad has caught on - the Chinese game of Go. Cheng Yinghua has always been an expert at it, and Nathan Hsu is now very good. A girl, about age ten, brought in a fancy set - turns out she's very good, I think has had coaching and so on. All this week she's been playing Cheng and Nathan during breaks, and even coming in early before camp to play, and others have joined in. (Players gather around to watch as they play.) I think there's a strong correlation between table tennis players and those who like tactical games such as Go, Chess, and Checkers. They definitely get players into the habit of thinking tactical. Sure, table tennis is much, much faster, and so you don't have time to contemplate your next move as you do in these games, but that misses the point that much of table tennis tactics is preparation so that you reflexively play smart tactics - and that starts by thinking tactically about what habits you want to develop. (But one part of table tennis is almost exactly like these games - serving, where you can take your time choosing the best tactical serve.) A number of players at our camps this summer have also worn chess shirts - we have a lot of table tennis players who play competitive chess. Tong Tong Gong, one of our top juniors - on the USA National Cadet Team in 2011-1012 - was a competitive chess player, even traveling to Ohio in 2010 to compete in the national chess championships. Here's a picture of him in action.

Today's focus is the backhand attack. I'm also going to give a lecture and demo on pushing. After the camp ends, I've got two hours of private coaching, so I'll be coaching today from 10AM-8PM, other than a lunch break. Then, if I survive, I'm off for TNEO. (See above.)

USATT Ceo Blog

Here it is, covering the recent U.S. Open in Las Vegas. 

Six Mistakes You Probably Make When Practicing Third Ball Attack (Part 2)

Here's the article. And in case you missed it in my July 11 blog, here's Part 1. The two parts cover the following topics:

  1. Pushing Serves You Really Shouldn’t
  2. Not Practicing Different Placements
  3. Not thinking about the fifth ball
  4. Serving With More Than One Ball In Your Hand
  5. Serving Differently Than You Would In A Match
  6. Not Using Your Best Return

Being Creative in Training

Here's an essay on creative training techniques.

Feeling Overwhelmed When Learning

Here's a video on the topic from PingSkills (5:23). The primary idea is to focus on one thing at a time.

Best Points of Table Tennis

Here's a new table tennis video set to music (5:10).

Portland Pong

Pips & Bounce pop-up parties fuel Portland pingpong passion.

Table Tennis Dreamscape

Here's another of Mike Mezyan's table tennis artworks. (If you can't see it on Facebook, try this.) I see the person on the left as an up-and-coming player contemplating making the leap into the unknown future - should he give it 100% effort and train full-time, and go for glory? But that's the black hole of disappointment in the background, ready to gobble up those who fall by the wayside if he doesn't have the skills to carry the big paddle into his dreams.

Four-Armed Ai Fukuhara

Now that she's better armed, can she become world #1? (If you can't see it in Facebook, try this.)

Non-Table Tennis - Human Help Desk

My story "Human Help Desk" is now online at Abyss & Apex. When a computer's human is about to click on a link that'll load a virus that'll kill the computer, what can the computer do? Call the Human Help Desk, of course! A bittersweet tale of a computer's fight for survival. Since so many table tennis players are computer people, this might be of interest to many of them.

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