ITTF Coaching Seminar

December 10, 2012

Tip of the Week

Body Movement During the Forehand Loop.

Marty Reisman, Feb. 1, 1930 - Dec. 7, 2012

The great showman of the hardbat age, as well as in the sponge age (but always with hardbat or sandpaper), died on Friday at age 82. The sport will never be the same.

Marty had a huge influence on my life. In fact, he ruined it! How did he do that? Here's my write-up from Table Tennis Tales & Techniques on how I got started on table tennis, my first meeting with Marty, and his response.

How Marty Reisman Ruined My Life
By Larry Hodges
Back in 1976 (age 16), I was on my high school track team as a miler. I went to the library to get a book on "Track & Field." I happened to look to my left ... and there was a book on table tennis, "The Money Player," by Marty Reisman! I had been playing "basement" ping-pong at a neighbor's house, and spur-of-the-moment checked the book out. From it, I found out about USATT (then called USTTA). I contacted them, found a local club, and went there. I got killed, but I stuck with it, and a few years later became the best at the club. I later became a professional table tennis coach and writer, and from 1985 on, I've been full-time table tennis almost continuously in various capacities. In 1991, I was hired as editor of USATT's national magazine. About a year later, at a tournament in New York, I met Marty for the first time (although I had probably seen him before), and told him this story. His response? "Great ... another life I've ruined!"

Volkswagen 2012 World Junior Table Tennis Championship

They started yesterday, and are in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 9-16. Here is the ITTF home page for the event, which has the schedule and results, articles, and pictures. Team USA has a Boys' Team (Grant Li, Teddy Tran, Kunal Chodri, Kanak Jha) and Girls' Team (Lily Zhang, Prachi Jha, Isabel Chu, and Crystal Wang). In doubles, the boy's teams are Li/Chodri and Tran/Jha, and the girls' teams are Zhang/Jha and Chu/Wang.

Faking a Shot

Here's a video from PingSkills on faking a shot. One key thing they say early on: "It's really important first that you get the basic shots right." But once you have the fundamentals, this is one of the most under-used tactics in table tennis from the intermediate level up. For example, even against advanced players when I serve backspin, I can see where they are going to push or flip well before they contact the ball - rarely do player change directions at the last second. This makes it much easier to attack. Instead, at the last second just change directions and watch the havoc it creates!

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Singapore

Here's the ITTF story on the recent ITTF Coaching Seminar in Singapore that was taught by USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee.

Want to Bring World-Class Table Tennis to U.S. Television?

Here's where you can learn about this. Excerpt: "Reflex Sports and Alpha Productions, two well known names in US table tennis, are planning  a series of action-packed, fast-paced 1-hour shows of World-Class Table Tennis for broadcast on U.S. Network TV! These will include action from the WTTC, World Junior Championships, World Cup, Pro Tour, European Championships & more!"

ITTF Video World Cup

Here are the five finalists at the ITTF Video World Cup. They average from around two to four minutes, so you can watch them all in about fifteen minutes.

Table Tennis Dream

I had another of those weird table tennis dreams last night. It started as I landed with a group of others at Los Angeles Airport for some huge international tournament. (I have no idea why it was Los Angeles.) After getting off my flight - carrying four huge bags - I stopped at a restaurant. The others with me disappeared, and I found myself at a table with Matt Damon, who was explaining health care to me, but using table tennis terms like "2-1 drill" and "Falkenberg drill." I finally got away from him, and was suddenly at the playing hall, still lugging around four huge bags.

People kept asking me to hit with them, and I kept saying I can't, I have to do my blog. So I'm sitting there at a table in the middle of the hall, surrounded by my four huge bags and lots of tables as players competed, furiously trying to think of something to write about in my blog.

Then I was told the tournament was over, and I realized I had to catch a bus to the airport. I randomly got on a bus, which drove for a while, then let me off at a hotel. I checked in. Almost immediately after getting to my room I realized it was the following morning, 7AM, and I had a 6AM flight back home! Somehow I thought I could still catch the flight. Then I realized I'd left two of my huge bags at the playing all, and two at the previous hotel. (I have no idea how that happened since I'd been lugging all four about with me until now.) I ran to the lobby, and while eating breakfast with a bunch of table tennis players, Dan Seemiller was suddenly sitting across from me, and he said, "Larry, you can catch a taxi to the playing hall, pick up your bags there, then take the taxi to the hotel, pick up your other bags, and still catch your flight."

Right about now I realized that since it was 7AM (it still was 7AM), and that it was too late to catch the 6AM flight. But Dan started calling me a chicken, so I grabbed my four huge bags (which had reappeared), and rushed out to catch a taxi to go pick up the four huge bags (which were apparently both with me, and at the playing hall and previous hotel, at the same time). After tossing all four huge bags into the trunk of a taxi, I closed the trunk - and the taxi took off without me! I ran after it, yelling for it to stop, and then I woke up in a sweat. It took me a few minutes to realize I wasn't in Los Angeles anymore.

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October 15, 2012

Tip of the Week

How to Handle the First Loop Off Backspin.

A Commuting Weekend - Table Tennis and SF

I spent the weekend shuttling back and forth between coaching at the Maryland Table Tennis Center and being a panelist at the annual Capclave Science Fiction Convention. By great luck (or was it?), Capclave was held at the Hilton in Gaithersburg, about five minutes from MDTTC. I managed to cancel or postpone some coaching that conflicted with panels at Capclave. By simple good luck, my morning coaching on Saturday and Sunday were with beginners, meaning I didn't get all sweaty and so was able to just change into normal clothes and rush over to Capclave. So here's how my weekend went. (Panels are usually one-hour affairs where 3-5 writers or others talk about a topic in front of an audience.) Here's my online Capclave Bio - note the table tennis ice cube mention!

Panelists are allowed to display their books, and so I displayed on a mini-bookstand in front of me my collection of SF & Fantasy stories, "Pings and Pongs," and explained the title pertained to my table tennis background - which usually brought a few questions.

FRIDAY

I'm normally in a 5-7 PM Elite Junior session, but I was able to get out of it. I was in one Capclave panel, on "Comic Relief" (in science fiction), from 4-5PM. Here's a picture of the panel - L-R: Me, Lawrence Schoen, Doug Fratz, and James Maxey. We talked a lot about the comic relief in "The Big Four" (Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings), and other humorous characters. The rest of the night I attended other panels and toured the Dealer's Room, with its extensive number of booths selling books and other SF & fantasy items.

SATURDAY

I coached a junior class from 10:30AM - Noon, then changed, ate a quick lunch, and rushed over to Capclave for my 1-2 PM panel, "21st Classics," which was on what books since 2000 will become classics, and why. (Lots of nominations!) Then I rushed back to MDTTC, changed back to my TT clothes, and coached from 2:30-4:30. (In that session we did a lot of the improvised multiball drill I describe in this week's Tip of the Week - see above.) Then I went home, let my dog out and fed her, showered, and was back that night for a few panels, including my own late-night one from 11-12PM, "Shortest Fiction," which was on flash stories (under 1000 words) and twitter stories (under 140 characters or less). Here's a twitter story I wrote and sold: "Droid for sale. Minor space damage, memory wiped. Pesky hologram feature disabled."

SUNDAY

Sunday morning I coached a beginning 7-year-old from 10-11AM, and watched him make a big breakthrough when he hit 45 backhands in a row (live, not multiball). Then I changed, ate, and rushed over to Capclave for my 12-1PM panel, "My First Time," about the first SF and fantasy books we read and how they brought us into the world of SF and fantasy reading and writing. (For me, it was three very specific books. For SF, it was "The Forgotten Door." For fantasy, it was "The Ghost of Dibble Hollow." For horror, it was "The House on the Square," a short story in "Chilling Stories from the Twilight Zone.") Then I went back to MDTTC to coach from 3-7PM. I finished off the day eating a late dinner while watching the third season premier of "The Walking Dead" on TV.

Ginny's...Where East Meets West

The television program "Ginny's...Where East Meets West" did a 30-minute feature on Maryland table tennis recently, where they interviewed Wen Hsu (MDTTC officer and Nathan Hsu's mom), Barbara Wei (former member of U.S. Junior Girl's Team), and Nathan Hsu (2011 U.S. Junior Olympic Under 16 Boys' Gold Medalist). The show is about the intersection of the East (i.e. table tennis) and the West (i.e. table tennis in the U.S.). Yes, it's in English!

ITTF Coaching Seminar #2 in India

USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee just finished the second of three ITTF coaching seminars in India. Here's the ITTF article on it. (Here's the article on the first one, which I posted last week.)

2012 Chinese National Championships

So who was in the final of the Chinese Men's Singles Championships that finished yesterday? World #1 Zhang Jike? World #2 Ma Long? World #3 Xu Xin? World #4 Wang Hao? World #5 Timo Boll? (No wait, he's from Germany!) World #6 Ma Lin? World #9 Wang Liqin? World 14 Hao Shuai? World #16 Chen Qi?

None of the above. After they were all eliminated, the two left standing, and showing the depth of Chinese table tennis, were Fang Bo (world #69) and Zhou Yu (world #85). Here's the shortened video of the final (12:14), with Zhou winning 4-1.

Ping-Pong Wedding

Here's a picture of Czech star Dana Hadacova (world #97, #86 in July) playing ping-pong on a mini table at her wedding with her new husband. Anyone know who the husband is? (My quick googling didn't find anything.) She seems to go by two last names, Hadacova and Cechova (which is how the ITTF lists her) so presumably one was her previous name, and the latter is the name she took on after marrying. (Here's her official home page.)

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August 14, 2012

The Flat, Regular, and Topspinny Backhand

In my Tip of the Week yesterday I wrote about the Racket Tip Angle on the Backhand. I also referred to the various types of backhands, such as flatter ones and "topspinny" backhands. What exactly are these? Here are three ways of hitting a backhand drive; all are done mostly on the rise or top of the bounce. (Note that the three terms below are my invention, though most coaches would recognize from the meaning what they are.)

  • The Flat Backhand. This is probably the easiest way to hit a backhand, where you hit the ball with little topspin. A good flat backhand isn't completely flat; it almost always has a little topspin, but the key is that it has very little. This makes it easy to learn, since you simply start with the racket behind where contact will be and drive forward. This is how I hit my backhand, and I consider it a weakness in my game. The lack of topspin means precision and timing are key, and if you are 1% off, you are completely off. At the higher levels, players with flat backhands are often turned into blockers. However, backhand kills are often done flat as they maximize the speed, and players known for their backhand kills often have flat backhands. But often they either become hit or miss types, unable to rally consistently, or they become very consistent, but mostly just keep the ball in play. (The latter is me, alas). It's a dying style at the higher levels as backhand loops dominate (see Topspinny Backhand below), but there are still many who play aggressive flat backhands quite successfully.
  • The Regular Backhand. The difference here is that you start with the racket slightly below where the contact point will be. As the ball rises after bouncing on your side of the table, your racket rises to meet it. Contact is a bit more upward, which creates more topspin and, once mastered, more control. This is how I generally teach the backhand to new players. As they develop, they often hit the ball harder and harder (and sometimes flatter), or they start increasing the topspin, and develop topspinny backhands. Others simply stick with regular backhands, where they can be both steady and aggressive.
  • The Topspinny Backhand. This is the same as a Regular Backhand, except that you bring your wrist down and back, and snap the wrist through the ball to increase the topspin. It is essentially a mini-backhand loop off the bounce. This is what most top players do these days. Often there's no clear distinction between a "topspinny" backhand and a backhand loop.

However you play your backhand, make sure to do something with it. This means speed, quickness, spin, placement (both direction and depth), consistency, or some variation of these elements. Put pressure on your opponent or they will put pressure on you. Focus on developing to a high level at least one of these elements so that you'll have something that you know you can do that's better than your opponent. (Note that most of this applies to the forehand as well, except players tend to do that anyway; it's the backhand that's often underdeveloped.)

ITTF Coaching Seminar

Here's an ITTF writeup of the recent ITTF Coaching Seminar run by Sydney Christophe at the Westchester Table Tennis Center in New York.

Sidespin Push Return

Here's a video from PingSkills (1:33) about pushing short with sidespin.

Table Tennis Perfection

Here's a highlights video (14:40) of table tennis shots.

A VW Bug Covered with Ping-Pong Balls

It's colorful and with a happy face!

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July 20, 2012

MDTTC Camp, Week Five, Day Four

Yesterday's focus was the backhand loop. I again used Nathan Hsu as my demo partner, since he has an excellent backhand loop, far better than mine. (His backhand loop is now his greatest strength - few can stand up to it when he unleashes it.) I demonstrated a few where I'd serve backspin, he'd push, I'd backhand loop, he'd block, I'd chop, he'd push, and then I'd backhand loop again, and we'd continue in this way. Then I had him demo it, both against backspin (multiball fashion) and my block.

I also explained a bit on how the game has changed. When I was coming up, the general belief was "one gun is as good as two," and the dominant styles were very forehand oriented. And so I never really developed my backhand attack, and instead focused on forehand attack and a steady backhand. These days, however, most top players attack all-out from both sides.

During one multiball session one of the larger players in the camp smacked a ball that hit me smack on the forehead - and it actually dazed me for a moment! I don't think that's ever happened before. I'm glad I wear glasses to play table tennis; I think I'd be nervous otherwise about getting hit in the eye.

On Tuesday the younger kids had a blast with the adjustable height device, shown here in a high setting. They had fun with it again yesterday, but now the advanced players discovered it. Two were practicing their serves during break on the lowest setting.

Yesterday I blogged about Froggy, a large rubber frog about the size of a soccer ball that the kids took turns in team trying to hit. Here's Froggy! Here he is from a little further way, from the kids' point of view. After smacking the poor amphibian around for a bit, we ended the day with "Mountain Master," which is our version of "King of the Hill," where you have to win two points in a row from the "Master" to become the new Master. Since about half the players were girls, they rebelled at the name "King" of the Hill!

Washington Post at MDTTC

The Washington Post will be at MDTTC this morning at around 11AM to do a special. They will feature Derek Nie (U.S. Open 11 & Under Boys' Singles Champion, already rated 2170) and other players.

How can you get news coverage such as the Washington Post and CCTV (see below)? To start with, it is essential that you have a Ph.D in media relations, with many years of practical experience with a large media firm, and you must be trained in the intricacies of exactly how to write a press release in the exact format required or the press will laugh you off. You must also, of course, have the very best players in the country to have any chance of attracting any interest.

Yes, I'm kidding. To get press coverage, whenever you run a tournament or league or some other event, or a player at your club has good results, write a basic press release. (Just state what the event or results were, giving names, ages, and where they are from, etc.) Go online and Google local news media, primarily newspapers and TV, perhaps radio. Once you have the contact info, email the press release to them. Wait a few days, and resend or even call. Believe me, local media is always looking for local human interest stories, and it's not that hard to sell them on table tennis. Just make sure you have something that will interest readers and viewers. TV especially is always looking to feature people with charisma.

CCTV America Features MDTTC

Maryland Table Tennis Center was featured on CCTV American Wednesday night (3:05). While lots of players are shown training, those featured include Coach Cheng Yinghua and players John Hsu, Timmy La, Lisa Lin, and Derek Nie. (They interviewed lots of players and coaches, including me, but alas mine didn't make the cut this time, though you can see me in the background several times.) The video is also featured on the USATT home page this morning. (CCTV American is a Chinese station that broadcasts in the U.S. in English.) And, as noted above, the Washington Post is coming in this morning to do a feature!

There was actually a sort of behind-the-scenes spat about this. After seeing the video, a member of the USATT board emailed the rest of the board and staff, criticizing the video and Chinese immigrants for calling the sport "ping-pong." The letter was seen by members of our club, who were pretty unhappy about it. I responded with a lengthy email that basically said "Who cares as long as they are covering the sport, and covering it well," and pointed out all the more important things we should focus on in developing our sport rather than worrying about whether they call it table tennis or ping-pong. (I especially pointed out that it is these very Chinese immigrants who call it "ping-pong" that have developed the large majority of our top players and especially the current horde of top juniors and cadets.) The board member apologized and the matter was dropped.

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Champaign, IL

Here's an article from the ITTF on the ITTF Coaching Seminar that USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee is running in Champaign, IL.

Justin Bieber Playing Table Tennis in Japan

Table Tennis Nation talks about and links to the video (14:47, with the table tennis starting at around 11:00). Bieber is actually decent - check out the topspin backhands he does at 12:27 and 13:47, and especially the behind the back serve he does at 13:54!!!

Lessons with Larry (Bavly)

Math professor Larry Bavly is at it again. A few months ago I linked to his video "Lesson One: The Ratings Game" (4:26), where he facetiously teaches the important things about table tennis to a little girl. Now he has come out with "Lesson Two: Mental Toughness" (2:32). I'm about 90% sure the girl is in on the joke. Okay, maybe only 70% sure.

Things You Won't See at the Olympics

PingSkills, which usually does serious training videos that teach serious skills, took a journey to the silly side in this "Will See Won't See Olympic Table Tennis - Invade London" video (4:12), where they play with a shoe, a big paddle, a little paddle, two balls at once, and use the hidden ball serve trick.

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May 29, 2012

Tip of the Week

Make a game of your weaknesses.

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Maryland

I will be running my second annual ITTF Coaching Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center on two consecutive weekends, Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 18-19, with an optional Paralympics session on Aug. 25. The seminar runs from 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM each day. This is your chance to learn both how to coach as well as inner knowledge of how to play the game.

Here's the info flyer. If you are interested or have any questions, email me.

The seminar is featured this morning on the USATT web page. Yes, that's me on the left lecturing. There were 14 in the seminar - the rest are off to the right, no doubt spellbound by my oratory. My review of the book "Breaking 2000" is also highlighted on their home page, below and to the right.

Saturday - in the Zone

On Saturday I was coaching almost non-stop from 10AM to 4:00 PM, and then we had a 4:30-6:30 junior session, and then I had another one-hour coaching session from 6:30-7:30. It was an exhausting day. But an interesting thing happened.

During the 3-4PM session, I had a student working on his forehand block. So I did a LOT of looping to him. Before that I'd been playing poorly all day, feeling stiff and tired. The looping should have tired me out even more, but instead it sort of woke me up. But it eventually also wore me out, and when the session ended I collapsed on a sofa and pretty much lay down for an hour. I wasn't needed the first half of the junior session. In the second half I came out to play practice matches.

Based on how poorly I had been playing earlier, I was a bit leery of the junior I was about to play, even though he was "only" about 2050. He'd been giving me difficulties, and had recently won a deuce-in-the-fifth match. But something happened. All the play I'd done that day, combined with the hour of rest, seemed to put me in the zone, physically and mentally.

In the first game, up 8-0, I told him I wasn't giving him any points, if he wanted to score he'd have to earn it. Up 10-0, my reverse forehand pendulum serve to the forehand went slightly long, and the junior absolutely pulverized it. 10-1, he jokingly celebrated. I sort of fished and lobbed the next two points before winning 11-3.

I won game two 11-0. (There was one point where the junior literally creamed three balls in a row, which came at me in sort of slow-motion 100mph. I blocked the first two easily, then backhand counter-smashed the third for a clean winner. The junior screamed, "God!!!")

Between games I jokingly told a junior on the sidelines that "Right now, I'm the single greatest player in the history of the universe." Then I fell behind 4-5 in the third, mostly because I went for a few wild swats, plus a couple nets and edges. The junior on the sidelines said, "Larry, you're not playing so well now." I said, "Watch the rest of this game." I scored the next seven in a row with ease, despite some crazy rallies. (The rest of the session I played younger, beginning juniors, and so didn't get to test out my suddenly brilliant play, alas.)

How would I describe the way I played? I couldn't miss anything, not even my normally erratic backhand loop. The ball was traveling in slow motion. When my opponent ripped the ball, the ball came at me like a tortoise. Everything was easy.

I may try this again sometime, i.e. play hard all day, take an hour off, and then play.

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

When I announced on Friday that the book was "done," it was 97,768 words. I've added another 500+ words (about two pages), so it's now at 98,304. I'll probably keep adding bits here and there. I'm fairly confident it'll end up breaking 100,000.

Over the weekend I went over it page by page, listing photos and graphics needed. Then I went through my own photo files to see which ones I had. (I have to get permission from photographers to use their photos.) Soon I'll be contacting one of the regular table tennis photographers to see if I can use some of their photos, with a listing of photos needed. (I'm willing to pay, but not too much!)

I also learned how to create an index in Word. Soon I'll be starting the page layouts.

New Coaching Video from PingSkills

Forehand Counterhit (4:04)

Cary selected for North American Championships

Cary, North Carolina has been selected by USATT to run the North American Championships on Sept. 1-3. Here's the article. Cary is rapidly becoming a center for table tennis, having run both the U.S. and North American Olympic Trials this year, as well as the annual 4-star Cary Cup.

Xu Xin wins China Open

And here's the story!

U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Collectible Cards

Topps has created Olympic Table Tennis cards for USA Olympians Timothy Wang and Ariel Hsing. (Not sure why they haven't done Lily Zhang and Erica Wu.) The Ariel one is already listed as "out of stock," but you can still get Timothy for $2.95.

Ethan Jin

Here's a nice article on junior star Ethan Jin. (Go to page 28.)

Table Tennis joins Occupy Wall Street

Yes, table tennis joining the fray - and here's the Table Tennis Nation picture and article to prove it!

Non-Table Tennis - I share a table of contents with Asimov!

Wildside Press just put out their fourth Science Fiction Megapack, with 30 stories. They included a story of mine, "Tom the Universe." Look at the list of my "colleagues": Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Sturgeon, Murray Leinster, Ayn Rand, Philip Dick, and Harry Harrison!!!

Meanwhile, Flagship Magazine just started selling their magazines at Amazon (Kindle editions), including several issues with stories by me - including the Nov. 2010 issue, with my story "ggg.earth.gxy" the cover story.

And if you want to see a wild cover, here's my ebook "Willy and the Ten Trillion Chimpanzees"!

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September 1, 2011

Sidespin loops

Do you loop with sidespin? If not, why not? There's a common misconception that a loop should be 100% topspin. It's often more natural to loop with some sidespin, as the shoulder is normally higher than ball contact, and so the arm is naturally tilted slightly down at contact, meaning contact would be a bit on the far side of the ball, thereby creating some sidespin. (Some coaches recommend loops have about 15% sidespin.) Or you can create sidespin intentionally by simply dropping the wrist to hook the ball so it breaks left, or raising the wrist so it breaks right. (Lefties should reverse.)

It's not only more natural to loop with some sidespin, it's probably more effective. The sidespin makes the ball curve in the air, jump on the table, and jump sideways off the opponent's racket, giving him great difficulty. Plus the very curving of the ball over the table means it stays over the table a split second longer, giving it more time to drop and actually hit the table, thereby increasing consistency. (At least that's the theory I've been told; more sidespin means less topspin pulling the ball down, so it's a tradeoff.)

When looping from the wide forehand it's especially natural to loop with sidespin as you drop the wrist and hook the ball back to the table, with the ball curving to the left (if looped by a right-hander). When looping from the backhand corner with the forehand you might use less, as you are now contacting the ball on the near side - and now, in fact, may sidespin the other way, so the ball jumps away to the right (if looped by a right-hander). This latter type of sidespin is generally more difficult.

You should generally loop either with whatever sidespin is most natural (without forcing it), or intentionally use sidespin to mess up the opponent (which is why many top players learn to sidespin either way, usually so that the ball breaks away from the opponent).

Here's a nice video from PingSkills (3:08) on looping with sidespin.

And now a little history. At the most extreme end of the sidespin spectrum might have been Istvan Jonyer of Hungary, the 1975 World Men's Singles Champion. He often looped with almost pure sidespin, dropping his racket tip down so as to contact the ball of the far side of the ball and hooking it onto the table. It was his ability to loop around the net, so the ball would often just roll on the table, that caused the ITTF to add the rule that the net must extend six inches past the table. Otherwise, players like Jonyer could take nearly any ball on their forehand side and go around the net.

Here's a short video (0:22) of Jonyer against Chinese star Xie Saike at the 1981 World Champions. The quality isn't good, but in the first four seconds you get to see Jonyer serve and loop two forehands, with the second one a vintage sidespin loop from the wide forehand.

And while we're at it, here's a nice 31-second clip of Jonyer against soon-to-be World Champion Guo Yuehua of China in 1979, with Jonyer looping and smashing over and over while Guo (usually an all-out attacker) lobs.

Another increase in ball size??? (And more on the celluloid ban.)

Read what ITTF President Adham Sharara said in an interview that went up yesterday. The article said, "With regards to the size, Adam Sharara said that the new ball size would be increased. This is to give a chance to defensive players to overcome offensive players. If the ball is bigger, rallies will become slower so defensive players will have more chances to win points." Uh oh.

Regarding the upcoming ban on celluloid balls, he said, "The current plan of the ITTF is to prohibit the use of celluloid ball. Such move is because of two reasons. One is that celluloids are toxic and it will have an impact towards the factory workers. The second is that it is quite dangerous to transport since it highly flammable. The new ball will be seamless and China already counts with two factories that are working in the new ball, one owned by DHS, and the by Double Fish. It will be operational as soon as the London Olympics is over."

He also said, "I need to cut the legs off the Chinese players!" He was joking here. But he wasn't joking about the ball size. Prepare for bowling ball table tennis. surprise

Here's a 53 second video of Sharara talking about the celluloid ban. (He talks the first 19 seconds, the rest is someone talking in Chinese.)

SmartPong table tennis videos

SmartPong has 24 videos on the various strokes and techniques. I just added them to our video library.

ITTF Coaching Seminar in New Jersey

Here's an article on the ITTF page about the ITTF Coaching Seminar being run by Richard McAfee in New Jersey, which includes mention of their battles with Hurricane Irene.

Disney table tennis cartoons

Go to INDUCKS, the worldwide database of Disney cartoons, and in the Keywords/title field put in either "table tennis," "ping pong," or "ping-pong," and watch as zillions of Disney cartoons featuring table tennis come up! Enjoy.

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May 4, 2011

 

Table Tennis Nets

Not nets for the table, or even nets for robots, but nets for picking up balls! How did the world (or at least table tennis clubs with lots of training going on) operate before we had them for picking up balls? We use Ball Amigos from Butterfly (since MDTTC is sponsored by Butterfly). Paddle Palace sells Stiga Ball Catchers. Newgy sells Pong Pals, a tube for picking up balls, though I prefer nets. (JOOLA also has nets for picking up balls, but their shopping site is temporarily down for maintenance so I can't look it up.) Feel free to comment on other ball pickup devises - there are more. (Addendum: There's also the PingPongBuddy sold at Megaspin, as noted by PipProdigy below.) 

One of the funnier moments at MDTTC came about ten years ago when an actual butterfly flew into the club. So one of the kids spent the next ten minutes chasing it with a Butterfly net! (Technically a Butterfly Ball Amigo, but Butterfly net sounds funnier, and it was a Butterfly net being used as a butterfly net.) He never caught the butterfly, but he did chase it out the door.

Team USA Table Tennis News Item

Team USA Table Tennis put up a news item on the ITTF Coaching Seminar I ran in Maryland April 16-17, 23-24. The same article (by Jef Savage) should appear as a USATT News item soon. On their home page, in the blue field (to the right of the large picture box), click on "ITTF Coaching Course in Maryland," and you'll a picture of me teaching, classroom style! (I'm holding the book because we couldn't fit the whole page on the screen without making it too small for people to read, so I used the book for reference so I could see the whole page.)

Are you interested in an ITTF Coaching Seminar? Keep reading this blog; there are some future ones planned which I'll announce here! (Not necessarily by me - there are other high-level coaches who are planning on teaching them. I'll probably teach another one in Maryland next year.)

Table Tennis Tales & Techniques

Now for some crass commercialism. Want to buy a copy of my book, Table Tennis Tales & Techniques? Below are where you can buy copies! (I put the amazon link up, but why not support table tennis and buy from your favorite table tennis distributor?)

If you are looking for a copy of my book Table Tennis: Steps to Success (not to be confused with the book by Richard McAfee with the same title), you can still buy copies from Butterfly and Amazon, and there are currently four copies on sale on ebay. Plus there's an online version.

Two other table tennis books of mine are online:

Plus, of course, there's Pings and Pongs, a collection of my 30 best published science fiction & fantasy short stories! (There's one table tennis fantasy story, and table tennis is mentioned in several other stories.)

Tahl Leibovitz Videos

U.S. Paralympic Champion Tahl Leibovitz - who came within a game or so once of making the regular USA National Team - has put together a series of 21 instructional table tennis videos. There's a 15-second commercial at the start of each (wanna buy some State Farm car insurance?), then they go on to good stuff.

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May 3, 2011

 

How Osama bin Laden really was killed.

He was swatted away at the end of a ten-year cat & mouse game. (The original photo is by Mal Anderson - it's real! Then I got busy in Photoshop...) Send me your own table tennis pictures showing Osama's demise and (if they are in good taste) I'll feature them here. 

Do something with the receive

I was watching one of our top cadets in practice matches this weekend. When I coach him, I'm always reminding him to "do something" when receiving. In other words, don't just push the ball back. If you do push it, do so aggressively, i.e. quick off the bounce, heavy, low, and angled. Or aim one way and go another. Or push short. Or flip. And if the serve is long, then you simply have to loop it, period. (Yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions. I'm talking higher-level here - but if you want to be good, you'll loop the long serve too. See my March 14 Tip on attacking deep serves.) The cadet, who knew better, was just pushing the serve back, relying on his reflexes and blocking ability to win points - while developing a bad habit. I spoke to him afterwards, and reminded him that practice matches are just that - practice matches, where you practice. Next time, hopefully, he'll use those practice matches to practice. How about you?

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Maryland

The ITTF is featuring the coaching seminar I ran at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (April 16-17, 23-24). I'll probably run another next year, maybe sooner. We'll see. If interested, contact me and I'll put you on my email list when I plan another one.

In an email to the USATT Board, staff, and committee chairs, USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee - the one responsible for bringing the ITTF coaching certification program to the U.S. - wrote:

"We now have Course Conductors in each region of the country and the Coaching Advisory Committee is working hard to get more regional courses held this year. These courses are completely self-funded and no USATT funds are being used to support the courses. Hats off to Larry, for demonstrating a model to deliver these courses in a way that makes it cost effective for the Course Conductors. The problem with starting any new program is getting someone to go "first."  I believe that once our Course Conductors give their first course and realize that it is not that difficult to do and also the importance of the contribution they are making to the sport, we will see regular regional courses being held."

My thanks goes to Richard, Glenn Tepper and ITTF, and especially to the 14 coaches who braved the horror of me speaking for (it seemed like) the entire 24 hours.

Want to be saturated with table tennis videos?

Reflex Sports, the table tennis video outlet, has figured out how to sell table tennis videos in an age where you can find videos of just about anything on youtube. They are selling access to essentially their entire table tennis video library - just about every major tournament since 1985 - as well as video coverage of the upcoming World Championships. It's only $59/year or $89 for two years. Here's where you go to buy access. One of my students bought me a subscription.

Here are three nice videos:

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April 25, 2011

ITTF Seminar

Yesterday we finished the four-day ITTF Level 1 Coaching Seminar (April 16-17, 23-24). I want to thank the 14 coaches who participated: Carmencita "Camy" Alexandrescu (NV), Benjamin D. Arnold (PA), Changping Duan (MD), Jeff Fuchs (PA), John Hsu (MD), Charlene Liu (MD), Juan Ly (FL), Vahid Mosafari (MD), Dan Notestein (VA), John Olsen (VA), Jef Savage (PA), Jeff Smart (MD), David Varkey (PA), and Shaobo "Bob" Zhu (PA). All passed, and pending their completion of 30 hours of coaching (including 5 hours of "supervised" coaching with an ITTF certified or other high-level coach), will become ITTF certified coaches. As I told them, they will be ITTF coaches, and Cheng Yinghua, Stellan Bengtsson, and Dan Seemiller are not!!! :)

Article and photos should be out in a few days.

We covered a lot of material in the 24 hours of the course. I spent a lot of time mimicking bad technique as the coaches figured out what was wrong. Sometimes I felt like I was lecturing too much; other times the coaches joined in and we had great back-and-forth discussions of technique, tactics, and other table tennis topics. In addition, all 14 coaches gave a 5-10 minute coaching presentation on a randomly-assigned technique. Each presentation was followed by a discussion and analysis, both on the substance and the presentation itself. Here's a rough listing of items covered:

  • ITTF and USATT certification process
  • ITTF coaching program
  • Coaching responsibilities and ethics
  • Generic coaching principles
  • Coaching beginners
  • Coaching in schools
  • Skills circuits
  • Warmup
  • Multiball
  • Grip
  • Ready position
  • Stroking techniques (forehand and backhand drives, looping, blocking, pushing, flipping, lobbing & fishing, smashing lobs, and chopping)
  • Footwork
  • Beginning and advanced serves
  • Receive
  • Training programs
  • Physical training
  • Nutrition
  • Sports science
  • Sports psychology
  • Running junior programs
  • Equipment (especially different rubber surfaces)
  • Tactics against different surfaces, grips, and playing styles
  • Doubles tactics
  • Umpiring and rules
  • Running tournaments

There will likely be a ITTF Level 2 Coaching Seminar in the U.S. sometime next year. Now that something like half of the ITTF coaches in the U.S. will be from the Maryland region, we're going to lobby for it to be held here!

And congrats to Seminar Doubles Champions Jeff Smart & John Olsen and Runner-ups Bob Zhu & Juan Ly!

Freestyle table tennis

Here's a minute and a half of music and freestyle table tennis on tables, cars, and whatever else was handy for Adam Bobrow and friends.

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