Ping Pong vs. Table Tennis

March 12, 2014

Cary Cup and No Blog on Thursday and Friday

I'm leaving for the Cary Cup very early Thursday morning, so no blog on Thursday and Friday. (See articles below on Cary Cup.)

As we've done the past four years in a row, USATT Historian and Hall of Famer Tim Boggan drove down from New York this morning, arriving around 9:30AM. (He's already here.) He'll spend the day puttering about my house while I work on my new TT book and then go MDTTC for our afterschool program and a few hours of coaching (2:30-7:30PM, plus a 30-minute online writer's meeting I'm attending with my laptop at the club from 7:30-8:00PM). Tim wants to leave for Cary Cup around 4AM Thursday; he keeps strange hours, going to bed around 7PM and getting up at 3AM. We'll compromise and leave around 6 or 7 AM for the 4.5 hour ride. Then I run a beginner's clinic in Cary from 4-5 PM - last year we had about 30 players.

I'm only playing in the hardbat event, which is 10AM-3PM on Friday. I won it three years in a row, 2009-2011, finished third in 2012, and lost in the final in 2013. This year the draw is crazy strong, with Jim & Scott Butler (legends!), Xeng Pong (2364 pips-out penholder), 2293 A.J. Carney (experienced lefty hardbat player), and 2248 pips-out penholder Bin Hai Chu, who's won it the last two years (but I beat him in the 2011 final). But I'm a two-time National/U.S. Open Hardbat Champion (okay, it was over 20 years ago), 4-time U.S. Over 40 Hardbat Champion, and 13-times U.S. Hardbat Doubles Champion. (But I'm normally a sponge player.) I got about ten minutes practice with a hardbat on Sunday; that's the only hardbat play I've had since the U.S. Open last July. But it's like a bicycle - once you learn it, you never forget. Your feet just get slower and slower….

Once I'm done with hardbat I'll be coaching 13-year-old 2301-rated Derek Nie the rest of the way. There's going to be a lot of matches, so I'm stocked up on Trail Mix to energize my coaching.

Saturation and Exaggeration Training

Recently some players have been using my Saturation Training Tip of the Week from last September. I also have one on Changing Bad Technique, which is closely related. And I gave examples of saturation training in this blog entry. One of the examples there was how I developed my steady backhand with some saturation training with Dave Sakai, who was doing the same with his forehand attack.

There's actually a better example of my own saturation training back when I was 20 years old. I was a late starter at age 16, and was only rated 2002 when I went to the Zoran Kosanovic two-week camp up in Canada in the summer of 2000. Now Zoran was a somewhat controversial coach as he tended to push one way for everybody, and stressed physical training at levels never dreamed of in the U.S.  (We started each day with a one-hour run, and when he decided we hadn't pushed ourselves hard enough on the first day, we did a second one-hour run.) What follows is an example of both saturation training, and exaggeration training, where you take something that you don't do properly, and exaggerate it in the other extreme, and end up doing it somewhere in the middle, which is what you want.

On the first day he noticed that when I stepped around my backhand corner to do a forehand, I didn't really rotate clockwise much, and so was still pretty much facing my opponent. This meant that I could only attack effectively down the line. I'd been struggling with this for quite some time; when I tried to go crosscourt (to a righty's backhand), it would be soft and erratic as I wasn't positioned for the shot. So the very first morning, while I was hitting with 12-year-old future U.S. team member Scott Butler, he had me do a drill where I hit forehands from my backhand side to Scott's backhand. But with a twist - he made me exaggerate the foot position. I'd been stepping around so my left foot was way off to the left. Now he made me play with my body rotated clockwise in an exaggerated fashion so my left foot was to the right of my right foot, with my back almost to Scott. He put a cinder block next to my left foot to keep it from moving to the left. I had to peek over my left shoulder to see the incoming ball as I hit each shot. We did this twice a day for 15 minutes for fourteen straight days. By the end of that time I had broken my bad habit and now played forehands from my backhand side in the proper position, as I do to this day.

Let me stress one more thing about saturation training. If you are trying to fix poor technique that has been ingrained into you, your subconscious will fight you at first. So start with lots of shadow practice and simple drills where you can ingrain the proper habits. When drilling, you might exaggerate the proper technique, as in the example above. It'll take time, but if you do this long enough, whether it's every day for fourteen straight days or twice a week for three months (with lots of shadow practice on other day!), it'll pay off.

Cary Cup

Here are two more articles by Barbara Wei on the upcoming Cary Cup this weekend in Cary, NC. (The second article mentions Chen Ruichao, the new lefty practice partner/coach at MDTTC, who is seeded at 2600. We don't know for sure yet, but we have suspicions that might be a bit low for him, but we'll see this weekend.) I'm also including the first article from yesterday.

Crystal Wang

Here's the press release I sent out on Crystal Wang making the USA Women's Team at age twelve last weekend. It went out Monday morning.

China Eyes on the Japanese Team in the World Championships

Here's the article.

The Ping Pong Soundtrack

Here's the article, with links to the chosen soundtracks. (I'm not a music expert, so I'll let others judge this.)

Ping Pong Comic Strip

Here's a comic strip take-off on King Kong from 1953, except here the giant gorilla is called Ping Pong! Sorry, no actual table tennis.

What's the Difference Between Ping Pong and Table Tennis?

Here are 27 responses!

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