Bryan Brothers

August 27, 2012

Tip of the Week

Movement in Doubles.

MDTTC Camp, Week Eleven, Day Five

The eleven week camp marathon is over - each camp Mon-Fri, with a total of 55 days of camp. We averaged over 30 players per camp.

On Friday, the final day, I gave lectures on flipping short balls, on equipment (inverted, short pips, long pips, antispin, hardbat) and on how to play certain styles (choppers, penhold, Seemiller grip). We ended the morning with the candy game, where I put piles of candy on the table (jolly ranchers and Hershey kisses), and the kids took turns trying to knock them off as I fed multiball, three shots each. There was a stack left at the end so I distributed that among everyone.

Then we had lunch, and then 17 of us walked to the 7-11 down the street. (They keep giving me free small Slurpees for bringing in so many customers!) In the afternoon we had a practice tournament. I also had an informal awards ceremony for Wesley Fan and Kyle Wang, who had won bronze medals at the Junior Olympics a month ago for Under 14 Boys' Teams, but had left without getting their medals (or even knowing they had won them!). The medals had been mailed to me to give to them. We also sang Happy Birthday to Daniel Zhu, turned ten that day.

Things I Learned This Summer

  • The human head weighs a lot. You don't know this until you have a neck injury. According to the kid in the movie Jerry Maguire, the human head weighs eight pounds. According to Wiki Answers, it's 8-12 pounds. My own subjective belief is mine weighs 100 pounds. (Here's that picture of me in the neck brace. Tong Tong Gong took the picture.)
  • The amount of Slurpee that a kid can fit into his stomach after a table tennis training session is larger than the volume of his stomach. (This is true even after he has eaten lunch.)
  • When you walk to 7-11 during break, you have to go outside, and it's HOT outside in the summer.
  • The most accurate forehand in the world is from a kid who's told he can have the candy on the table if he can hit it off.
  • If you eat Chinese food for lunch during camps all summer, you gain weight. I went from 175 to 183, and now begins the torturous journey back to 175. My diet starts today.
  • When driving through an intersection, watch for Metro Access Buses on the left that suddenly pull in front of you.
  • The grip and foot positioning are still the core problems with most bad technique. If both are done properly, everything in between tends to fall into place, though there are a few common problems that still persist - not using shoulder rotation, muscling the ball, hitting shots too flat, etc.

The Backhand Block

Here's an article by Tom Nguyen on improving his backhand, with tips from Steven Chan.

Tahl Leibovitz: Saved from Homelessness by Table Tennis

Here's an article in the Times of Israel about how table tennis saved Paralympic Champion Tahl Leibovitz from homelessness.

Chinese Training

Here's a video from two years ago (7:54) that shows the Chinese team in training.

1958 U.S. Table Tennis Nationals

Here's a video (9:59) with clips of matches from the 1958 Nationals (now usually referred to as U.S. Opens), with commentary by Marty Reisman, who also appears in many of the clips. (He would win Men's Singles.)

Bryan Brothers Play Table Tennis

Here's a video (1:23) of the Bryan Brothers (twins Bob and Mike, #1 tennis doubles team in the world and recent Olympic Gold Medalists) playing table tennis in a charity to benefit the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Note the two-handed backhand by Mike! You also get to see Bugs Bunny (or a very large rabbit) playing. Really.

Real Table Tennis!

Here are six pictures of vintage table tennis as it should be played. (Click on each picture to see the next.)


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August 17, 2012

Weird Camp Happenings

Lots of strange things happen in regard to table tennis camps. Here's a sampling.

  • Someone once emailed interest in our camps, and asked if they could stay at my house to save money. I reluctantly agreed (since I didn't know the person). They thanked me profusely, and then asked me to arrange their travel and every other aspect of the trip. I emailed back agreeing to let him stay at my house, but that they'd have to make their own travel arrangements. I didn't hear back from them.
  • A player made all the arrangements to attend one of our camps, and only at the last minute emailed asking if we really were teaching table tennis. He thought he had signed up for a tennis camp.
  • Over the years I've received dozens and dozens of emails from Nigeria and other countries trying to arrange for large numbers of players to attend our camps. All involve me sending out invitations, after which they'd send payment. Of course they only wanted the invitation so they could get into the country. We went along with this a few times in the 1990s, then were contacted by the State Department, who asked us to stop.
  • Every few months we get an email from someone letting us know that a "top junior player" from some other country would like to attend our camps, and asking us how much we'd pay for the honor.
  • One 1800 player caused great havoc in our camp. He refused to do the drills, instead insisting on randomly hitting the ball all over the table with a hardbat while aggressively lecturing others about the wrongness of their using sponge and other apparent shortcomings. After two days of this, a delegation of players approached me and said they'd no longer hit with this player. I was going to have to talk to the player the next morning, but he didn't show up. I later learned he'd gotten into his car and driven halfway across the country to another camp, where he caused equal havoc.
  • During lunch at Lake Forrest Mall, one kid disappeared. After an hour we asked security to search for him. They searched everywhere, and couldn't find him. Finally, after several hours, we called his parents, who said "Oh, we didn't tell you? We picked him up at the mall."
  • At the end of one camp we arranged for a group to go to Kings Dominion. While there one player disappeared. After a few hours of looking for him along with security, I finally called his parents to ask if he'd called home. The mom went into hysterics. We finally found him - he'd wandered off and had spent the day on his own in the water park area, ignoring all the very loud announcements calling his name.
  • There are many more - perhaps in another blog. I have to go coach.

2006 vs. 2012

Yesterday I blogged about how much junior development has improved in the last six years, and compared the junior top 15 rankings from the Nov/Dec 2006 issue to the current one. Here's a chart that shows this even better, comparing the #1 and #15 then and now, showing just how dramatic the improvement has been since the advent of full-time training centers all over the country. It's amazing to me that, for example, the #15 junior in the country today would be #2 in 2006! The depth has exploded.


2006 #1

2012 #1

2006 #15

2012 #15

Under 18 Boys

2418 (would be #13 in current rankings)



2387 (would be #2 in 2006)

Under 16 Boys

2418 (would be #6 in current rankings)



2310 (would be #6 in 2006)

Under 14 Boys

2323 (would be #6 in current rankings)



2153 (would be #5 in 2006)

Under 12 Boys

2044 (would be #10 in current rankings)



1916 (would be #3 in 2006)

Under 10 Boys

2044  (would be #1 in current rankings, but the #2 was only 1495)


(#2 is 1920)


1170 (would be #5 in 2006)

Under 18 Girls

2330 (would be #4 in current rankings)



2112 (would be #4 in 2006)

Under 16 Girls

2113 (would be #7 in current rankings)



2002 (would be #3 in 2006)

Under 14 Girls

2029 (would be #7 in current rankings)



1786 (would be #4 in 2006)

Under 12 Girls

2029 (would be #3 in current rankings)



1213 (would be #9 in 2006)

Under 10 Girls

894 (would be #12 in current rankings)


80 (!)

372 (would be #4 in 2006)

ITTF Coaching Seminar

Here's an ITTF article about the recent ITTF Coaching Seminar Richard McAfee ran in Austin, TX, the ninth one to be run in the U.S. (I ran one of them.)

Waldner - Through the Years

Here's a video (6:21) that shows Jan-Ove Waldner through the years, starting when he's a kid, including interviews and showing his development. (Doesn't actually start until 18 seconds in.)

Owen Wilson's Late-Night Ping-Pong

Here's the article from People Magazine.

Bryan Brothers to Play Table Tennis for Charity

Here's a very short article about the Bryan Brothers (world #1 tennis doubles team) playing in a charity ping-pong tournament at Spin NY on Aug. 23 to benefit FDNY.

Hardbat From the Past

Here are three clips I saw recently posted showing hardbat from the past.

The Movie Ping Pong

You can now watch the movie online - but it'll cost you 9.99 pounds (about $15.68). The documentary features "8 players with 703 years between them compete in the World over 80s Table Tennis Championships in Inner Mongolia." More info, and a preview, are at the link.

A Handy Table Tennis Racket

Let me re-emphasize - this is a Handy Table Tennis Racket!


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August 30, 2011

What are your table tennis goals?

And before you say them, remember this. There are two voices that will constantly ridicule your goals if they are too high. One is from some other players, who may not have the same lofty goals for you that you may have for yourself. Ignore them, and go for your goals. (Though it is helpful to have reasonable goals - just don't limit yourself.) The other is that little voice inside your head that says, "You can't!" Ignore that voice. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." So drop the mediocre voice from your mind and let the great spirit soar.

Illegal hidden serves one more time (until next time)

<Begin Rant>

Dear umpires, coaches, and players, let's go over this one more time.

Rule 2.6.6: "It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws."

Read that over once or ten times, and it'll still say the same thing. If you aren't sure if the server is hiding contact with his serve, then you aren't sure he isn't, and the server is not serving " that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws." You can give a warning the first time, but thereafter you must call a fault. If you do not, you are not umpiring; you are allowing one player to cheat, and making sure more players will do so since they see umpires are not enforcing the rules. You know, the rules, the ones umpires are supposed to enforce?

Do we really want a sport where cheaters prosper and those who do not cheat are chumps who can't compete because of the umpires? As a coach, I often feel like a chump at tournaments since I haven't taught illegal hidden serves to my players, while more and more opponents are using them. It's pretty much rampant at the higher levels.

To those who say it's okay to go to the limit of hidden serves as long as you don't actually hide them - if you do that, then sometimes you will inadvertently go over the line and actually hide them. That's the nature of going to the limit on something. More importantly, if you go to the limit, the umpire from his vantage point can't tell for sure if the serve is hidden or not, and therefore he is legally obligated to call the serve illegal. See the rule quoted above. So you cannot go "to the limit" on hidden serves. If you can't serve so the umpire can see that contact was clearly visible, it's an illegal serve.

Yes, this is a picky subject for me because I don't teach illegal hidden serves at my club, and neither do the other coaches there. But other coaches from other clubs do, and we have to face these players and their illegal serves in tournaments. Since we don't teach illegal hidden serves, our players do not have illegal hidden serves, and since we also haven't taught their practice partners to do illegal hidden serves, they are not experienced at returning illegal hidden serves, and so often lose to those who use illegal hidden serves because the umpires are allowing opponents to use illegal hidden serves.

Didn't Major League Baseball have a little problem when they wouldn't enforce the rules on steroids, thereby creating an entire generation of cheaters? Hmmmm....

</End Rant>

Another table tennis blog

You'll find a number of interviews of top players and coaches and other table tennis items at Matt Hetherington's blog. (He's based in New Zealand, but seems to know everyone.) For those of you who just can't get enough table tennis. That means you. And you. And yes, you too.

The Bryan Brothers

Yes, they play table tennis too - see article and picture. (In their free time, they're the world's best tennis doubles team.)

All about table tennis tournaments

So you're about to play your first table tennis tournament, or one of your first. You're probably scared to death. You should be - some of the initiation rites they do to new players is absolutely . . . oh, never mind, you'll find out. But first, why not read my article Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your First Tournament - But Didn't Know Where to Ask! (Much of this would be useful even if you've played in a few.) Here's a list of questions answered in the article:


  • I’m thinking of entering my first tournament. What do I need to know?
  • How can I find out when and where tournaments are being held?
  • What are the fees and requirements to play in a tournament?
  • What types of events are held at tournaments? Are there events where I would be competitive?
  • What is the format for the various events?
  • What is a “Round Robin”?
  • What are rating doubles events?
  • Are there prizes for winning an event?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Are there rules on what equipment I may use?
  • What’s the difference between the tournament director, the referee, and an umpire?
  • When I arrive at the tournament, what do I do?


  • How does the Tournament rating system work?
  • Will I be able to play in rating events in my first tournament, since I’m unrated?
  • After I play in my first tournament, when will I be rated?
  • Who runs the USATT ratings?


  • Warming up
  • Before the match
  • During the match
  • After the match
  • Spectating
  • Photography & Videos
  • Videotaping


And since we're on the subject of tournaments...'s my article Ten-Point Plan to Tournament Success! And here's a link to the USA Table Tennis Tournament Schedule.


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