Charlie Disney

April 24, 2014

Wednesday Coaching

I had four sessions yesterday (and sort of a fifth), plus I picked up two kids from school to take to our afterschool TT program.

Session #1: This was with a 7-year-old, where we continued to work on the basics. He gets impatient pretty quickly and asks how much time is left about every sixty seconds. (And so my standard answer is, "One minute after the last time you asked.) He's more into videogames than table tennis, alas. However, he is improving. Yesterday he hit 30 backhands in a row, and I told him his backhand was better than Han Xiao's. (Former U.S. Team Member and four-time Men's Doubles Champion and Singles Finalist Han was practicing on the next table.)

Session #2: This was with a 12-year-old. Last week's session didn't go so well - he wasn't playing well and wasn't happy about it - but this time it was a great session as he played about the best he's ever played. He's about 1600 but could be 1800 this year. His forehand keeps getting better, and this time his backhand was pretty good as well. He's in that in between stage where he's both hitting and looping backhands. We played two games at the end, and he shocked me by taking a 6-2 lead the first one. This sort of woke me up, and I came back to win both games. The first step to beating a stronger player is to force them to play their best. The second step is consistently battle with them. The third step is to beat them. He's passed step one.

Session #3: This was with a 9-year old, the one I've blogged about before who likes to lob. He's listed as 1300, but that won't last. He has too much ball control and too strong a backhand. We've been working hard on his forehand, which can be erratic as he likes to loop or hit it about six different ways. One problem is that he's had some shoulder problems, and so there are times where we have to go easy on his forehand drills. Sometimes it's difficult to get him to focus on attacking as he likes lobbing and chopping so much, but yesterday he was more into attacking, and we had a great session. (I believe I've blogged about why we're not turning him into a chopper. He was interested until he discovered he'd probably have to go to long pips, and he wants to stick with inverted so he can lob. I toyed with turning him into an inverted chopper, but we discussed it and he decided against it.)

Session #4: This was with an 11-year-old who's a relative beginner who's attended some of my junior classes. This was his second private session. He's just started looping, and not only does it pretty well in multiball, but did it surprisingly well in drills where he serves backspin, I push, and he loops. It was the follow-up shot against my block - smashing - where he had problems. Soon he'll start looping the second ball as well. We also worked hard on serving, where he'd been unable to get spin, but we had a breakthrough (using the soccer-colored balls so he can see the spin better) and he began producing decent sidespin and backspin. Next step is to learn to serve them lower while increasing the spin even more. He has a table at home and is going to practice this on his own.

Sort-of-Session #5: This was basically a long discussion on what was needed for one of our up-and-coming juniors to become a top player over the next couple of years. New focus (for this player - everyone is different) will be on physical training, serve, receive, and becoming a student of the game. (Much of being a student of the game means studying and learning from videos of yourself, of top players, and of potential rivals.)

USATT Chairman's Blog: CEO Update

Here's the blog entry, and see my comment below (and follow up comments). As you can see, I'm not happy with my posting about this being so trivialized.

Ariel Hsing Will Play the 2014 Super League in China

Here's the article in Chinese (including a picture of her posing with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett), and here's another one, also in Chinese. Here's a summary in English of both by Bruce Liu, which I'm pasting below:

  • Ariel is referred as Jeremy Lin in Table Tennis in one the article titles.
  • Ariel will join the Jinhua Bank Team, the only women's team in the Super League in Zhejiang Province.
  • There is a possibility to have one of the home court contests in the US someday, according to the club owner.
  • Playing to gain experience, not for money.
  • Got admissions from both Yale and Princeton. She chose Princeton because there is no table tennis team in Yale.
  • Her match vs Li XiaoXia in 2012 London Olympics.
  • Friendships with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
  • Won't play in the season opening in May 18 due to school but will probably join the team at the end of May.
  • Her playing position will be determined later. She may play singles or doubles.

Jun Mizutani Admits Better Mental Strength

Here's the article.

Wang Hao Doesn't Want His Son to Be in Table Tennis

Here's the article. One interesting thing - it says Nan Li (daughter of Li Zhenshi and Zhang Li) "serves as a secretary of the US Table Tennis Association," which I don't believe is true. She and her parents are professional coaches at the World Champions Club in San Jose, CA.

Poly Ball Test Results

Here's a list of test results on the diameter and weight of the new Doublefish poly ball, put together by Larry Thoman, General Manager for Newgy Table Tennis and former long-time chair of the USATT Tournament Committee.

Charlie Disney Led as Landlord and Table-Tennis Champ

Here's the obit. As noted in my blog on April 17 (with words from Disney's long-time business partner Don Larson), the long-time table tennis organizer and entrepreneur passed away last week.  

World Team Championships

Here's the promo video (1:03) for the upcoming Worlds in Tokyo, April 28 - May 5.

The Incredible History of Olympic Table Tennis

Here's the video (3:35). I don't think I've ever posted this.

Table Tennis Spin Wheel

Here's the video (4:01) of this training tool for players learning to loop. I had a smaller, cheaper version of this, but it broke. I was tempted to buy one and did some searching, and found you can buy one from Tees Sports - but cost is £67.99, or about $114, a bit much.

Trailer for Ping Pong Summer

Here it is (2:10), just came out! Looks like a great movie. (I put this in yesterday's blog late, so I'm putting it up again for those who missed it.)

Happy Birthday Hannah!

Here's another TT birthday cake, this time for Hannah Ricci Tayad - and yes, I now officially put in pictures of all birthday cakes when birthdays come up! (Sorry, only current ones, not past ones.)

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April 17, 2014

Spring Break Camp

Yesterday was an incredibly busy day (and night). I'm trying to remember how I was able to do my daily blog during our camps the past three summers - there are just so many hours in a day, and just so much energy in the human body. I'm at my limit. But the camp ends Friday. I'll survive.

The camp was 10AM-6PM, with a two-hour lunch break from 1-3PM. However, we had a group of 16 kids who came in for a ping-pong party during our lunch break, and I gave a one-hour clinic for them. We started with some ball-bouncing - first on the forehand side, then the backhand, then alternating. It's always interesting to watch as some pick up on this very quickly, while others struggle. It's also an age thing as 6-year-olds simply can't do it, while 8-year-olds usually can. Then I taught them the forehand (taking them two at a time for very quick lessons). I covered the backhand and the serve very briefly, and then we went to games. First came the bottle game, where they had to hit a bottle to make me drink the "worm juice" inside. (Since they were beginners, I brought out froggy and balanced a bottle on him, and to make me drink it all they had to do was hit froggy or the bottle.) Then I brought out the paper cups and they built huge pyramids with them, which they then knocked down as I fed multiball and they smacked forehands.

The beginning group that I was working with did a lot of service practice yesterday. Two of the younger kids are still having difficulty with this, but they'll pick it up. Others are moving on to putting spin on the ball. (I used the soccer-colored balls so they could see their spin.) Today I will introduce them to serving bar, where they have to serve under the bar. (Here are pictures in the high and low settings.)

Several of our top juniors are working hard to improve their backhand banana flips. In match play, they tend to either spin them too softly, with the ball dropping short (giving advanced players an easy attack, usually a put-away), or chicken out altogether and mostly push. The problem is that many are still trying to lift short, heavy backspin serves head-on. One of huge advantages of the banana flip is that you don't have to lift the heavy backspin; you instead sidespin the ball, perhaps half sidespin and half topspin. This makes it much easier to lift over the net. In practice the top juniors are getting better at it, but need to develop that confidence that they can do this against any short serve.

After the camp was done I did a one-hour private lesson. Then I went to Best Buy to have them look at my laptop computer. For some reason the modem had been failing on and off all day, and the kids weren't happy. (I let them use it for games during breaks. Sometimes they let me use it to check email.) Alas, when I got to Best Buy, the modem worked perfectly, so there was nothing to fix. We'll see how it goes today. Then I was off to Planet Fitness to continue my secret physical training that'll allow me to soon challenge our best juniors again. (Shhh!) I go there Mon, Wed, and Fri, and have been doing this regularly ever since this past Monday.

I didn't get home until 9:30 PM. After going through email and browsing forums it was pretty late, so I once again put off the 246 things on my todo list, including 42 that have earth-shattering consequences if I don't get them done immediately.

MDTTC Coaching Staff

Here's a group picture of the entire MDTTC coaching staff, all ten of us, taken by Wen Hsu yesterday during our Spring Break Camp. L-R: Chen Jie ("James"); Zeng Xun ("Jeffrey"); John Hsu; Larry Hodges; Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"); Chen Ruichao ("Alex"); Cheng Yinghua; Wang Qing Liang ("Leon"); Jack Huang; and Raghu Nadmichettu.

Charlie Disney, RIP

Here's an email I just received. Charlie was one of the huge names in table tennis when I was coming up in the late 1970s. He will be missed.

Dear table tennis friends,

I am deeply saddened to report that Charlie Disney passed away at his home in Rio Verde , AZ yesterday.  I was called this evening by a friend in Rio Verde.   I have never met that acquaintance.

Charlie was one of my dearest friends in my life.  We knew each other for 52 years. We were tirelessly business partners in the Magoo’s (later Disney’s) Table Tennis Centers for 21 of the 26 years I was involved and we were real estate partners for 6 years with several properties.  Charlie and I remained the closest of friends for five-plus decades without a gap.  We discussed endlessly and regularly about how to get table tennis recognized as a major sport, and never gave up on that issue.  I am in deep sorrow.

More information will follow but I have no other as of now.  I had just talked with Charlie on Monday and purchased a plane ticket for him to return for the summer to his home in Roseville, on May 6.  Charlie had returned recently from a trip to FL to visit the entire Soderberg family.   I will never see him again.  He grew up in Edina, MN but he has no family alive except one distant sister, so I have no information as of yet regarding funerals or memorials.

I thought you all should know.

Regards,
Don Larson

ITTF Level 3 Course in Colorado Springs, USA

Here's the info page. I'm hoping to go to this, but am not sure I can afford it. It would mean missing two consecutive weekends of coaching plus the five days in between - that's a lot of hours missed.

World Championships Daily Newsletter

Here's the info page. Sign up now to have these daily updates sent directly to you.

Adam Bobrow the Voice of Table Tennis

As I blogged about yesterday, Adam won the ITTF Voice of Table Tennis Contest. Here's the ITTF article.

China Prepares for the Japanese Team

Here's the article. Here's the main excerpt: "Germany, with Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, is considered a big threat for the Chinese Team. According to Liu Guoliang, Germany, Japan and South Korea are their main opponents. However, he has placed emphasis on Japan who will be the hosting team in the 2014 World Championships. In order to cope with the challenges from the Japanese Team, China has prepared several players who can imitate the Japanese players and had them fight against their delegates in the Closed Training. This is to help their players adapt to the hosts."

Incredible Rally

Here's the video (33 sec, including slow-motion replay). If you are distracted by the player on the left making that body-spinning forehand rip at the end you may miss that the player on the right made the counter-smash.

Drinkhalls on TV

Here's video (6:53) of the English power table tennis couple of Joanna and Paul Drinkhall on BT Sport. 

Sold his PlayStation for Table Tennis

Here's the Facebook posting and picture of this 13-year-old Namibian player.

Ping-Pong Pepsi Max Challenge Video

Here's a hilarious video (3:52) by Parkour that I can't begin to describe. It's part of the Pepsi Max Challenges.

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