Mayor Ed Lee

October 2, 2013

Wider Stance

Because of my arm problems (see below), I only gave one lesson yesterday, and it was an all-multiball session. The 12-year-old player (hi Sameer!) has a tendency to stand up too straight when he plays. This leads to some awkward strokes. At first glance some would say he needs to loop more forward, or use less arm, or something similar, but that would be treating the symptoms. The problem was how straight he tends to stay, with his feet too close together. So much of the session was focused on not just staying down, but on keeping the feet wider. This gives extra stability and power. The results were good - his looping form was perhaps the best ever. It also helped when he took the ball a little later so he wouldn't be rushed. As he gets used to the wider stance he'll get quicker with it, along with the increase in stability and power. (Stability increases both the consistency as well as the recovery from the previous shot.)

This is true for most players. Watch videos of the top players and see how wide their stance is when they play. It does take some leg muscle, but not as much as you'd think; it's more a habit you have to develop. Once you get in the habit, I think it's actually less tiring as the extra stability means you aren't tiring yourself recovering from shots over and over.

Here's a video (5:37) of the Chinese team training earlier this year before the Worlds. Watch the very first drill sequence, and see how wide the players keep their feet - both the player moving and the one blocking. A few key things about a wider stance: feet should point slightly outward. Knees should be bent. Body should be bent slightly forward at the waist.

I spent some time this past weekend watching some of our top juniors train, especially Nathan Hsu and Derek Nie, whom I'll be coaching at the Nationals. Their stances were plenty wide, but the interesting thing they and our other top juniors all pretty much do is keep their feet mostly parallel to the end-line even on forehands, as they've been trained to do. In the past it was standard to have the right foot back some when playing forehands (for righties), and that's still how beginners are taught. But as players advance, more and more they keep the feet parallel, and rely on the wide stance (for stability and power) and flexible hips and waist to rotate around for most forehand shots. This has several advantages: it means they are equally ready to play forehand or backhand; it makes it easier to loop forehands close to the table; and it makes it easier to rotate the hips and body into the shot. They do bring the right foot back for some shots, but mostly when they have extra time. They also bring it back of course when stepping around the backhand corner, but not as much as players in the past.

Arm Problems

As expected, I had to cancel my three hours of private coaching scheduled today (Wednesday). The arm is still very sore, though I hope it'll be okay by the weekend. Other than a one-hour class I teach on Thursday (where I'll only feed multiball) I've cancelled everything until Saturday. The good news is two of the kids I normally coach today have made arrangements to meet to practice and play matches.

60 Full-time Table Tennis Clubs in the U.S.

I just added the King Pong TTC from NYC to the list of full-time table tennis clubs in the U.S. Let me know if there are any I missed! How did I find out about them? From this article in the Tribeca Citizen, "Our Friendly Neighborhood Ping Pong Parlor."

The Most Common Mistakes Made by Beginners

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

ITTF on Waldner and Waldner Stamp

Here's the ITTF article on Waldner and the new Waldner Chinese stamp.

Synagogue Welcomes Government Workers to Ping-Pong

With the government closed, this Synagogue is attracting "government refuges" for ping-pong and West Wing reruns. Here's the article.

Adam Bobrow Takes on San Francisco Mayor

Here's a video (17 sec) of Adam Bobrow and a partner (jumpy guy in striped shirt) he apparently chose at random from the crowd taking on San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and 11-year-old William Bai (rated 1970) in a doubles match. 

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August 20, 2013

MDTTC Camp - Week Ten

Yesterday we started the final week of our ten weeks of training camps. The kids were restless! I've never had so much trouble getting them to quiet down as we got started. I'm not sure if it was because school's one week away or because it was the last week of summer camps. (A number of them had been with us all or nearly every camp.) I had to send two of them to sit in the lounge, only the second time I'd done that all summer. (The previous time was when two kids got into a pushing fight, I think way back in week one or two.)

The focus on day one, as usual, was the forehand. We had a new group of beginners. Several had surprisingly good forehands to start with - not from coaching, but from watching and playing in their basements or other places. Two of them had been playing regularly at a table at their neighborhood swimming pool.

Watching the Ball

Players often advise beginners to "watch the ball." I always thought this was somewhat silly as I can't imagine anyone, even a beginner, not watching the ball, assuming they are playing serious. It's rarely come up when I coach, even with little kids, who naturally watch the ball intently. There are some technical aspects, such as do you watch the ball all the way to contact, or only to a certain point, since you can't react at the end?

I advise players to try to watch the ball right to contact, to allow for last-second adjustments and to make sure they are seeing the ball as well as possible. Watching the ball all the way especially helps when doing spin shots, where you just graze the ball, such as looping, pushing, chopping, and serving.

Some say you should look up sooner to see what the opponent is doing, but since at that point you can't really change your shot, that's pointless. You have plenty of time to hit the ball and then look up and prepare for your next shot, partially based on what the opponent is doing. Looking up sooner doesn't help any since the opponent doesn't yet know what you are going to do.

Here's something you can try doing - don't just watch the ball, watch the part of the ball you are going to hit. For example, if you are counterlooping, watch toward the top of the ball as the opponent's loop comes at you. The ball may be just this fuzzy white thing zipping at you, but you can still watch the top of the fuzzy thing. (If it's too fuzzy, perhaps you need glasses or contacts.) If you are pushing, watch toward the bottom of the ball.

Problems Reading This Blog?

Someone emailed me saying they were often getting Internal Server Errors when they came to this page. Anyone else having this problem? If so, please email me.

ITTF Level 2 Course in Atlanta

Here's an article from the ITTF on the course recently taught in Atlanta by Richard McAfee, Aug. 11-16.

USATT Tip of the Day

Here's a USATT Tip of the Day that features an excerpt from an interview with USA Olympian and nine-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion Gao Jun by USATT Magazine, from Jan/Feb 2000. The question asked by interviewer USATTM is, "What’s your secret? Can you share with our readers?" Gao's response starts off, "I have three words to share with everybody: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE." (Guess who interviewer "USATTM" is? Yes, that was me! I was editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine from 1991-1995 and 1999-2007, twelve years and 71 issues.)

Gerry Chua's Video Page

Here's Gerry Chua's Youtube page, where you can find lots of table tennis videos.

The Warrior Versus the Mayor

Here's an article and video (15 sec) from Table Tennis Nation of Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors playing San Francisco mayor Ed Lee in San Francisco‘s Third Annual Ping Pong Tournament and Festival in Chinatown.

Fancy Tables

Here are four fancy tables: Donald Duck and University of Oregon, Earth, some sort of texture, and Oregon State Beavers. (Click on each picture to see the next one.)

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