Coaching and Playing Idiosyncrasies

August 19, 2013

Tip of the Week

Height of Service Toss.

How to Promote Major Tournaments

Over the years there have been numerous discussions on how to promote the U.S. Open and Nationals so as to bring in more players, more spectators, more press, and make it a better experience for all. There are many good ideas out there, and I read some excellent ones in a threat at about.com over the last few days.

But all of these excellent posters are missing the point - ideas don't get the job done. If you want to improve on these things, don't start by pushing ideas, no matter how good they are. Start by pushing to have someone officially in charge of implementing improvements. For example, if you think we need to present matches at the Open and National better, perhaps with more scorekeepers or better communication, don't press for more scorekeepers or better communication; press for someone to be in charge of presentation. Then there is an official person in charge of this, and he can officially push for these things, and they are far more likely to happen.

Want to increase the number of entries at the Open or Nationals? Have someone officially in charge of increasing entries. Want to have more spectators? Have someone officially in charge of bringing in spectators. Want more press coverage? Have someone officially in charge of media coverage.

You won't find success this way every time since not everyone officially in charge of something will do the job well. If they don't, then thank them for their services and put someone else in charge.

How do you find these people with a limited budget? You ask for volunteers. This is one of the most untapped areas for USATT. For example, I'm a member of Science Fiction Writers of America. They have about 1500 members, less than 1/5 the USATT membership. And yet they have an elaborate web page, run huge conventions (far larger than anything in table tennis - we're talking 5000 people in the biggest ones), have a fancy magazine, and do all sorts of membership services, far more than USATT - and they have exactly one part-time employee. It's essentially all volunteer run. (Why do they only have 1500 members? Because they have very exclusive and difficult membership requirements - to join, you have to sell a SF or fantasy novel to a select group of "professional" publishers - i.e. the highest-paying ones - or sell three short stories to a select group of "professional" magazines - i.e. the highest-paying ones.)

Coaching and Playing Idiosyncrasies

Every player and coach has his major idiosyncrasies. What are yours? Here are some of mine.

  1. I rarely have a coaching session where I don't blow the ball back at least one time. (I do this less with long-established players - it gets old after a while - but new students beware!)
  2. I rarely have a coaching session where I don't throw up at least one backspin lob that comes back to my side of the table.
  3. I entertain the kids by blowing a ball in the air so it floats in the air over my head and to the side. (By using spin I can make it balance sideways.)
  4. When telling a student how to hit the ball, I regularly say "bang" at the point where they contact the ball.
  5. With beginners I often hum in rhythm to the ball going back and forth. It helps their timing.
  6. I end many group sessions with the kids trying to smack a bottle as I feed multiball. If they hit it, I have to drink what's in the bottle - and it's never just Gatorade or water; it's always worm juice, beetle juice, dog saliva, etc.
  7. I end most multiball segments with a high ball for players to smash.
  8. As a player, when I'm serving I always start by rolling up my right sleeve slightly with my left arm, then swing my right arm underneath me one time (to loosen it up), then I come to a stop for a moment as I visualize my serve, and then I serve.

Learning the Side-Swipe Serve Return

Here's a video (10:24) of Chen Weixing showing his infamous side-swipe serve return with long pips.

New USATT Feature - Video of the Day

USATT's webpage has a new feature: Video of the Day. Today's Video is Getting Down to Basics (Tips from U.S. Olympic Coach Doru Gheorghe). Yesterday's was Top 10 Hand Switch Shots.

Video Review of Table Tennis: Steps to Success

Here's a video review (49 sec) of one my first book, Table Tennis: Steps to Success. The book first came out in 1993, with a new version in 2006. This video came on July 2, 2012, but this is the first time I'd heard of it. I'm working on a new version, which hopefully will be out by early next year. For now, if you are looking for a table tennis book, try Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!

Great Lobbing Point

Here's a video (25 sec) of Xu Xin and Ma Long lobbing in doubles at the Harmony China Open. Did Ma Long make that sudden counter-smash at the end? I can't tell.

The Perfect Swimming Pool

Here it is.

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