Adriana Diaz

February 20, 2014

Warming Up

One of my junior students had a sort of bad experience yesterday. He came in a bit early while I was coaching another junior player, who was a friend of his. They wanted to play some, so at the end of the session with the first player I let them play some games - but I was bit worried since the second player had no warm-up. I was right to be worried.

The first player was all warmed up and playing really well, but the second player wasn't. He was rated a bit higher, but while the first player mostly kept the ball in play, the second was an attacker who couldn't attack because he hadn't warmed up. (Both were around 1500 level or so.) With just five minutes warm up he might have played okay. Instead, the second player played horribly, and after a while was reduced to swatting backhands from his forehand side since he had no confidence in his forehand anymore, which was normally his strength. He lost a series of games, and was pretty depressed.

When we started our session (15 minutes late, but I had told him I could go 15 minutes extra at the end), he couldn't play, mentally or physically. He couldn't get himself to care after the drubbing he'd just taken, and his shots were all messed up. It took about 15 minutes before he could play serious. But gradually he got back into it, and by the end of the one-hour session he was back in full form. The other kid was long gone, so no rematch.

I told him a story about my "best" tournament ever, from way back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. There's a reason "best" is in quotes. At the U.S. Team Championships in Detroit many years ago (it's now the North American Teams in Washington DC), after two days I had only one loss (to a 2600 player), and I had hordes of wins against 2250 players, a bunch of wins against 2350 players, and several 2400+ wins. I'd gone in rated 2272, and if I'd stopped after two days, I might have been adjusted to 2500. On the third and final day, my teammates didn't show up until the last minute. Back in those days I always needed a good warm-up, but didn't have anyone. Finally, about ten minutes before we had to play I found a 1700 player, a lefty with long pips who swatted shots all over the table, and left more messed up than I would have been if I'd simply played without a warm-up. So what happened? On that day I went 0-6, with all six matches upsets, including three against players rated over 100 points lower. Instead of that adjusted 2500 rating I came out . . . 2273, one point higher than I'd gone in.

So the lesson is to always warm up properly. It's important to practice against all styles, but warming up for a serious match is different. For that, you want someone who plays somewhat orthodox (or can in a warm-up), preferably someone you are used to playing. I encourage all my players to arrange in advance who they will warm up with at tournaments, and arrange when and where they will meet.


A lob is a high, defensive shot with topspin and sometimes sidespin. Fishing is a somewhat high defensive topspin. What about defensive topspin shots that aren't high enough to be lobs, but are too high to really be fishing? I hereby trademark the term "fobbing." I "invented" the shot yesterday while letting a student practice against lobs and fishes (he'd been having trouble in matches), and that's when I discovered and unleashed the power of the fob.

USATT Magazine

I'm wondering how I'm going to read it from now on, now that it's only going to be online. I do not like to read extensively at a computer; reading is something that should be done in a comfortable lounge chair or even in bed. More importantly, extensive reading on a computer screen hurts my eyes. So there's no way I'm going to read the magazine on a computer, other than perhaps selected articles. So I guess I'm going to have to either skip most of it, or print it out to read. (Addendum - I'm all for the online magazine; it's just not for me. As I've blogged, they should have added the online version - leading to increased advertising - but kept the print version.)

No Table Tennis at Junior Olympics

I just saw this. I immediately sent out queries. I just got this response from the Junior Olympics people (AAU):

"Unfortunately Table Tennis will not be a part of the 2014 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa. Due to facility and staffing we are unable to hold the event this year. We hope to have it return in 2015 in Hampton Roads, VA. Stay tuned for more information regarding next year. Once again we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."

Physical Training for Table Tennis

Here's a video (11 sec) of what 13-year-old Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico doing some physical training. She's ranked #9 in the world in Under 15 Girls. (All but one of the eight ahead of her are from Asia - three from China, three from Japan, one from Korea, and one from Romania. Of course, these rankings only include those who play in ITTF events.)

Western Open

Here's a video (1:35) of highlights from the Western Open this past weekend. And here's a photo gallery. (I linked to the results on Tuesday.)

Anagrams of the Stars!


Ma Long: Man Log, Am Long
Wang Hao: Ha Wagon, A Hag Now, A Hag Won, Own a Hag
Dimitrij Ovtcharov: Vivid Major Rich Tot, Vivid Major Rot Itch
Timo Boll: Mi Lob Lot
Chuang Chih-Yuan: China Guy Can Huh?
Vladimir Samsonov: Invalid Savors Mom
Waldner: Law Nerd


Liu Shiwen: Uh - Lie Wins
Feng Tianwei: Wee Fainting, We Fine Giant, Negate If Win, A Fine Twinge, Win Eaten Fig, Win Fine Gate, We Gain Feint
Guo Yan: Nag You


Timothy Wang: I Won That Gym, I Own That gym, Win at Hot Gym, Hit a Town Gym, A Mighty Wont, Goat Myth Win, Into What Gym?, Not With A Gym, Got a Win Myth, Win Toga Myth, Why Man Got It
Corey Eider: I Eye Record
Dan Seemiller: Reels in Medal, Learned Smile
Michael Landers: Me Learn as Child, Handles Miracle, Lame Child Nears, Me Child Arsenal
Ariel Hsing: Irish Angel, Shinier Gal, A Shine Girl, A Relishing
Constantini: Instant Icon
Larry Hodges: Holy Regards, Godly Sharer, He's Gray Lord, Shy Lord Rage, Oh Sly Grader,
Hodges: He's God!
USA Table Tennis: Satan but Senile

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November 1, 2013

Another Oriole Takes Lessons

Okay, cat's out of the bag (or Oriole is out of the nest?), since most of the local table tennis juniors now know. The Baltimore Oriole baseball player I blogged about yesterday that I'm coaching is Darren O'Day, the 6'4" submarining $3.2 million/year relief pitcher with a lifetime 20-9 record and 2.62 ERA. Last year in 68 games he had a 2.18 ERA, the best of the O's relief pitchers. I hit with him some in August. I'm coaching him later today; afterwards he's hitting with our local kids, who are out of school today (some teachers meeting) and so doing a one-day training session (10AM-6PM).

I did find it interesting how fast these Oriole players pick up the sport. As noted yesterday, of the 25 Orioles, about half are at least 1200, the result of non-stop competitive play in their clubhouse. Surprisingly, most have decent technique - they copied much of it from JJ Hardy and Brady Anderson, who play 1800+ level. The lefty Brady actually has the best technique, running around attacking with his forehand, and not a bad backhand either. JJ has a nice counter-hitting game, but tends to point his racket up when he strokes - but it gives him an excellent blocking game, and he can smash as well, along with a surprisingly spinny forehand pendulum serve, made even more effective because he does it from his forehand side, which almost nobody does in "real" table tennis - except me, who does it in close matches as a variation. (Why don't you?)

Scream Halloween

In a class I taught yesterday just before the kids left to go trick-or-treating I did a nasty trick. I hid my Scream mask in the restroom before the class began. About ten minutes before class ended I asked my assistant coach, John Hsu, to talk to the kids about how to create spin on serves, and arranged that he'd be facing the restrooms as he did so, so the kids would have their backs that way. Then I went to the restroom, put on the mask, and quietly sneaked up on them. Then, staying silent, I leaped in front of them. There was quite a bit of screaming! Then I went after Coach John, "choking him to death" right in front of the kids. (John knew - it was pre-arranged.) Then I chased several of the kids around the table, still silent. Finally I put a Gatorade bottle on the table and motioned for them to go to the far side. We spent the last five minutes with me feeding multiball in the mask while they tried to hit the bottle of "worm juice." When they did, I had to jam the bottle up under the mask to drink it, always looking back and forth sharply between the bottle and the kid who hit it. Then I'd go right up to the kid and stare at him from one inch away. At the end, I went back to the restroom, removed the mask, and returned and said, "Did I miss anything?"

Table Tennis the Brain Sport

Here's an essay by Daniel G. Amen, MD, on the greatness of table tennis as a brain sport.

Four-Table Tennis

Cape Fear Table Tennis Club in Fayetteville, NC, is running the first four-table tennis tournament in the U.S. What's "four table"? It's table tennis played with four tables! Here's video (7:06). And here's their home page with info on the tournament.

Around the Net Shot

Here's video (38 sec) of Puerto Rican cadet star Adriana Diaz doing an around-the-net roll-on-the-table shot at the 2013 World Cadet Challenge.

16 Table Tennis World Records

Here they are!

Table Tennis Animation Project

Here is Sneak Peak of a Demo/Test raw footage (1:44) of a table tennis animation work in progress by Mike Mezyan. Can't wait to see the final version!

Queen Latifah vs. Granny Franny

Here's the story and video (51 sec).

Superhero Bee Pong

Look! Up at the Table! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No - it's . . . a large bumblebee playing table tennis? I think that's what it is, not sure. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Non-Table Tennis - "The Best Things About Halloween"

Last year I had a story, "The Haunts of Albert Einstein," published in the anthology Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales. ("Poor Albert Einstein is destined to haunt his old offices in Princeton for eternity, surrounded by the ghosts of bickering physicists who simply will not shut up, and the relentless paparazzi. What can he do to save himself from this fate?") The editors asked the authors to recount their favorite memories of past Halloweens. They just put up three of them, including mine - here they are! Mine's about getting caught up in a Halloween prank, and hiding late at night behind a bush in a Tyrannosaurus Rex costume as a drunk, angry man stood on the other side trying to find me.

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