Pyramid Rule

November 20, 2013

Interview at Weird Tales Magazine

Weird Tales Magazine interviewed me yesterday about my writing, both table tennis and science fiction & fantasy. (If you read it, feel free to comment!) I was also able to talk a lot about my new novel, "Sorcerers in Space." Remember, Sorcerers in Space isn't just a fantasy novel - it's about a 13-year-old who has to give up his ping-pong dreams to save the world!!! There are 11 scenes that mention table tennis in some way, mostly early on. So buy it!!!

I have a story coming out in Weird Tales in January, "Galahad Returns," and had another one in 2009, "Defeating Death." The latter includes these immortal lines:

Zargo walked to the basement door. It had been boarded up ever since an accident involving a rather unfortunate former assistant and a rather unfortunate game of ping-pong that got out of hand. ("Magic and ping-pong," Zargo had solemnly said, "don't mix.")

Besides this table tennis blog, I also have a science fiction & fantasy blog, though I don't update that as often.

One of the strangest things is that I get interviewed more as a science fiction and fantasy writer than as a table tennis coach and writer. Below are the four times I've been interviewed that I can recall. Note that the only one that interviewed me about table tennis was the humorous one by The Daily Quarterly.

  • Weird Tales Magazine, 2013 (about my writing in general)
  • New Myths Magazine, 2013 (about my SF & Fantasy writing. They've published three of my stories.)
  • The Daily Quarterly, Part 1 and Part 2, 2011 (a humorous interview about both my table tennis and my fiction writing)
  • Community Fridays, 2008 (about my SF & Fantasy writing. It refers to me as a "semi-retired table tennis coach, which was true at the time, when I was focusing on fiction writing.)

Picture of O'Day and Me

Here's a picture of me (on left) coaching Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day yesterday at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here's another where you can see Darren about to hit the ball. His forehand and backhand are now pretty good, even in live play, now that he's got the tip down and moves to each ball. To work on his backhand counter-hitting I introduced him yesterday to "The Backhand Game." I put a box on each side of the table to block off all but the backhand side. On his side I only gave myself about 1.5 feet, while on my side I gave him half the table, 2.5 feet. Then I spotted him five points, and we went at it, backhand to backhand. I won each time, but now he has a goal, to beat me at that game. When he does, then we'll gradually move the boxes so we are both covering 2.5 feet and remove the spot - but he has to earn it.

He's picked up looping pretty well in multiball, but still needs work on incorporating it in game situations - we're working on it. He can loop against both backspin and topspin, but in multiball finds it easier to loop against topspin. I've also started him on backhand looping against backspin, but only in multiball.

He practices all these shots at home on a robot he bought recently.

His serves are getting pretty spinny. I taught him the forehand pendulum serve, and he's practiced it a lot. He still feels a bit awkward going from the serving grip to his regular grip.

Play Closer to the Table

Here's the article: The Pyramid Rule - Playing Close to the Table

Great Counterlooping Point

Here's a video (58 sec) of a great rally between Taiwan's Chuang Chih-Yuan and Japan's Kaii Yoshida, with a nice Chuang celebration at the end.

Scream Player Revealed

Remember the video I posted on Monday (at very bottom) of an obviously very good player playing in a Scream mask and outfit? The player has been unmasked - it was Christian Suss, a member of the German National Team and world #58 (and as high as #17 three years ago). Here's an article and video on this.

Car Pong

Here's a video (3:31, in Spanish) that shows a table tennis tournament held with a mini-table entirely in the back of a car! I think it's some sort of advertisement for Chevrolet Captiva.

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August 5, 2013

Tip of the Week

Blocking Tips.

Back Stiffness

My back is now so stiff I've been offered money to use it to carve stuff on diamonds. There's a rumor it's made of collapsed matter.

I spent most of July feeding multiball and hitting with beginners, then spent nine days at a writers workshop (mostly sitting down), and then another week at another camp mostly feeding multiball or hitting with beginners. When I finally had several sessions with more advanced players this weekend (John, Kevin, Sameer) I could barely move. At some point in the last month or so the wide forehand has moved another three feet away. The backhand corner is now somewhere way off in the distance to the left. And looping with power is like trying to lasso someone with a hundred-pound dumbbell.

If I weren't so busy with MDTTC camps, private & group coaching, a new tenant just moving into my townhouse (I live on third floor, rent out first two floors), battles with previous tenant (who left without paying rent, cleaning the place, and left numerous damages), plus an incredible amount of time now devoted to my novelist career (my first one's coming out Nov. 15 - see my July 30 blog), this blog and Tip of the Week, a pair of upcoming ITTF coaching seminars, promoting Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (as I just did!), and a few jillion other things, I'd focus on getting back in shape and back to my normal 2200 level - not easy at age 53.

This morning we start another camp, Week Eight of our ten weeks of camps. We have stronger (i.e. younger) coaches who act as high-level practice partners, so most of my coaching time will likely be giving the usual group lectures, demos, and feeding multiball.

Seven Days, Seven Trophies!

One of my students, Sameer Shaikh (who just turned 12) had an incredible week. At the Northern Open in Detroit last weekend, he won Under 800, Under 950, and Under 1100, and made the final of Under 1250. (That's four trophies.) On Monday, at the Junior Olympics (also in Detroit), he won Division I (that's five). This past Saturday he won Under 1200 and Under 1400 at the Maryland Circuit (that's seven). So how many of you have won seven trophies, six of them for first place, in one week? (Disclosure - while I'm his primary coach, I wasn't at the Northern Open or Junior Olympics, where he was coached by John Hsu. Also, while I was away at a recent writers workshop he had several sessions with Raghu Nadmichettu.)

He's mostly been taking one lesson a week this past year, but recently upped that. Yesterday I gave him a two-hour lesson. His shots have really smoothed out. I think much of it is confidence - he now knows he can make his shots. He's even challenging me in these backhand games where we go backhand to backhand only - and we do that because that's his weak side. (He's primarily a forehand attacker, both looping and smashing.) We're now working hard on the backhand attack, especially backhand looping, as well as more serve variations. Yesterday I started him on reverse pendulum serves to go with his normal pendulum serve.

Here's a picture of Sameer with the four trophies from the Northern Open, with Coach John Hsu.

Breaking Bad Footwork Habits

Here's a new coaching video from PingSkills (2:13).

The Pyramid Rule - Playing Close to the Table

Here's a new coaching article from Table Tennis Master.

USOC Athletes of the Month - USATT's Nominations

Here's your chance to vote for Lily Zhang and Tahl Leibovitz! Here are their credentials, from the article:

Lily Zhang (Palo Alto, Calif.) reached the women’s singles semifinals at the 2013 U.S. Open, held July 2-6 in Las Vegas. Zhang defeated current Pan American champion Mo Zhang of Canada, 4-3, in the quarterfinals before losing to top-seeded Elizabeth Samara of Romania, 4-1. The 17-year-old also claimed the 18U singles title with a 3-1 victory over Ge Chi of China, and concluded her impressive campaign by earning the bronze medal in the U21 singles, eventually losing to teammate Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.), 4-1. 

Four-time Paralympian Tahl Leibovitz (Queens, N.Y.) breezed through preliminary and final rounds without dropping a game en route to the gold medal in the first men’s para table tennis event at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, held July 17-30 in Jerusalem. Leibovitz defeated Aviv Gordon of Israel, 3-0, in the semifinals and notched a 3-0 victory over Israel’s Neal Sharon in the final.

Sweden's National Table Tennis Team is Deteriorating

Here's the article. Sweden was a powerhouse for decades, but no more. (This is one of many articles at TableTennista.)

Why Table Tennis is the Sport for You (Women)

Here's the article from the British online magazine Female First.

World 2013 Site Tour

Here's the video (1:43) by Canadian star Xavier Therien.

Santa Fe's First Tournament

Here's the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

6mm Ping-Pong

Here's the video (1:19)! And some thought the 38mm ball was too small...

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