Doug

November 14, 2013

Darren O'Day and Other Coaching

Yesterday I had my second coaching session (90 min) with Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day. He's really picking things up fast! As noted in my Nov. 4 blog on coaching him, he tends to hold his racket tip up on strokes, which he copied from Orioles shortstop JJ Hardy, the best Orioles player. However, in today's session, we really straightened that out, and he had great fun as we went forehand to forehand pretty fast. (The two keys there were dropping the racket tip, and thinking of yourself as just a spectator so the subconscious can take control on the strokes.) We also worked on his backhand, pushing, serves, and footwork. But I also introduced him to looping against backspin via multiball. He had sort of a soft roll he used against backspin. It wasn't bad as he was at least spinning the ball, but there was little power - it was just a roll. We worked on this for a while, but he tended to stay too close to the ball (and a few other problems), and so swung mostly with his arm. I finally began feeding the ball farther away, forcing him to stretch out more - and lo and behold, suddenly he was looping with great power, both spin and speed! We did this for a while, and he can't wait to start using this in games - though I warned him it'll take some practice to incorporate into match situations consistently. He's taking another session this Friday afternoon, and then we'll settle into weekly sessions on Wednesday afternoons.

In another session that night I did some saturation training with Doug. He's had some trouble with players serving to his forehand, so I spent about 15 minutes serving to his forehand. At first I went easy, even letting him know the spin that was coming, but as we went along I stopped telling him and I started going to my best serves. Each step of the way he improved until he was looping all the deep ones somewhat consistently, even when I varied from disguised heavy backspin to side-topspins. When I went for the heavy side-topspin serves he tended to lift off the end. I pointed out that he was using the same racket angle he would against a topspin in a rally, but that in a rally he'd probably take the ball 1-3 feet further back - meaning he'd have 1-3 feet more table to aim for. Since you usually loop a serve closer to the table, and so are 1-3 feet closer to the far side of the table, you have to bring the ball down sooner, and so you have to close your racket more. (This might become a Tip of the Week.)

Another player I coached was Matt, a 12-year-old who's gearing up to play in the North American Teams in two weeks. With a tournament approaching it's time to focus on game play, so we did a lot of game-simulation drills. A lot of them involved him serving backspin, me pushing it back, and him looping. At the start I'd push to the same spot over and over, but later on I'd push them to varied spots. I also served a bunch of balls to him so he could work on receive as well as handling my first loop.

2014 USA Men's and Women's Team Trials

Here's a news item from USA Table Tennis on the 2014 Team Trials.

Jackson Chance Foundation Exhibition

Here's a news video (2:05) from Fox News in Chicago promoting a table tennis exhibition by Killerspin they will be doing tonight for the Jackson Chance Foundation. At the start you can hear the sound of ping-pong in the background, and after a bit the camera then pans over to see the players. "The Jackson Chance Foundation is an Illinois non-for-profit, tax exempt 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to providing resources to families with babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICU)."

Chopper vs. Attacker at Westchester Open

Here's video (10:43) of game five in the semifinals of the Westchester October Open between Jishan Liang (2661) and chopper/looper Kewei Li (2686). Another nice example of attack vs. defense, though of course Li also attacks.

Multiball Around-the-Net Rolling Receives

Here's a video (43 sec) of 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist in Doubles Seiko Iseki (then known as Wei Qingguang, the lefty, with Chen Longcan his doubles partner) feeding angled serves to (if I read the comments correctly) Wei Gucci, who returns them around the net so they roll on the table. We have to try this new drill at my club!

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