Wang Liqin

September 11, 2014

Yesterday's Coaching

Here's a rundown of my coaching yesterday. I left my house at 2:30 to pick up two players for our afterschool program (Willie and Jessie). From 3:30-4:00 PM I worked with Andrew, the nine-year-old I blogged about yesterday who was rapidly learning how to hit forehands. Today's goal was to hit 20 forehands in a row. Believe it or not, he got 19 in a row and then missed three times in a row! Obviously it was mental - and sure enough, as he approached 20 each time he fell back into his old habit of lunging at the ball, thereby swatting the ball off the end. I had him shadow stroke some more, and we tried again - and this time he not only got 20, he went right on up to 54. Not bad for this fourth 30-minute lesson. From 4-4:30 PM I fed multiball to him and Willie.

I was supposed to coach Daniel from 5-6 PM (nine-year-old, rated about 1600), but his dad called around 4:30 and said that his wrist was bothering him from some accident at school, and so needed to rest it. Between 4:30 and 5:00 I helped Willie and Andrew with their homework. Then I got in my car and drove to McDonalds where I had a chicken sandwich and read for nearly an hour.

Then I coached Matt (13, about 1600) from 6-7:15PM. Matt has a lot of power on his forehand, and doesn't seem to realize it and his shots wander about a bit, so when we do drills it's often hard for me to adjust to them and block back as accurately as I'd like. We spent a lot of time doing the 2-1 drill - backhand from backhand side, forehand from backhand side, forehand from forehand side, with all his shots going to my backhand - and because of the pace he kept, we had trouble with consistency. It got better as we went along. When I said it was time to switch to some multiball practice, he wanted to continue, so we probably did over 20 minutes straight of the 2-1 drill. When you do this drill, if you have trouble covering the wide forehand it's usually because you were off-balanced when you finished the previous shot, the forehand from the backhand side, with your weight off to the right (for a righty). Also, if you go too fast and the balls spray around, then even a coach can have difficulty placing the balls correctly!

Last up was Sameer (13, also around 1600). This was only his second session after taking a month off because of knee problems. His goal was to do 50 forehand loops and 50 backhand loops (or off-the-bounce topspins) in a row. On the forehand side he kept missing between 35 and 40, but eventually he got it. He got the 50 on the backhand pretty quickly. After taking the time off, the biggest hurdle is he's fallen back into his old habit of standing up too straight, so we're working on that.

Today's going to be just as busy. Once I again I leave at 2:30 to pick up kids, then coach the afterschool program from 3:30-4:30. Then I coach pretty much continuously until 8:15PM, including a new junior training program from 6-7PM with an even ten kids.

After today I'm going to focus on my science fiction writing for a few days - primarily doing the absolutely final rewrite work on my Campaign 2100 novel (which, as I've blogged before, features table tennis!). It was critiqued this summer at a writing workshop, but I haven't had time until now to do the rewriting. There's a chance - just a chance - that I might take a few days off next week from blogging to focus on the novel. It depends on how much I'm able to do over the next few days while still doing my regular coaching, blogging, and other TT writing and work. Friday I have about 3.5 hours of coaching, but only about two on Saturday. But things get busy again, coaching-wise, on Sunday.  

USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame

They've announced the 2014 USATT Hall of Fame Inductees. (It's not "officially" announced, but it's been posted on Facebook and verified by Hall of Fame Committee members.) They are Sheila O'Dougherty, Lisa Gee, Tawny Banh, Richard Butler, and Lifetime Achievement Award Donna Sakai. Congrats to all! (Here's the USATT Hall of Fame.)

Juggling and Table Tennis

I've found juggling to be a great tool to develop hand-eye coordination, whether for table tennis or other racket-type sports. Long ago I learned to juggle three ping-pong balls, and to go under the leg or bounce on the floor in mid-juggle, as well as to do two in one hand. I've seen others in table tennis as well who learned juggling, including one of Maryland's top juniors (well, he's 18 now), Nathan Hsu. So I was impressed with Xavier Therien's juggling/table tennis contraption video (and note that he's juggling four balls at the start), which is his entry in the ITTF Stiga Trickshot Showdown. (The final five for the contest is judged based on views, so by watching his video or others you are voting for it!)

Match Strategy Playing as a Chopper

Here's the new video (10:10) from PingSkills.

Great Point between Wang Liqin and Werner Schlager

Here's the video (1:07) of the point between these two legends.

The Power of Lob

Here's a highlights video (7:52) from four years ago that I don't think I've ever posted.

Lily Zhang and Krish Avvari - USATT Athletes of the Month

Here's the article.

Players Announced for Upcoming ITTF World Cups

Here's the ITTF Press Release. Representing North America are 14-year-old Kanak Jha (USA) on the men's side, and Mo Zhang (CAN) on the women's side.

21 Gold Medals Handed Out at ITTF Para World Championships

Here's the ITTF Press Release. (Sadly, no USA winners in singles, which just completed.)

Members of Chinese National Team at Triangle Table Tennis

Here's the info flyer. Members of the Chinese team will be at the Triangle TTC in Morrisville, NC, Sept. 24-26, to do exhibitions, clinics, and private lessons. Chinese players attending are Fang Bo (world #25), Wu Hao, Liu Jikang, Wen Jia, Feng Yalan, and Mu Zi. This isn't the Chinese "A" Team, but anyone on the Chinese Team is a superstar in the U.S.!

Header Table Tennis

Here's the article and video (3:36) of this new version of table tennis that's sweeping the world, or least Germany! It's a combination of table tennis, soccer, and insanity. I get a headache just watching.

Waldner and Persson Goofing Off

Here's video (1:23) of the two goofing off in Moscow, with Waldner impersonating former top players.

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September 8, 2014

Tip of the Week

Easy Power.

The Ball at the USA Nationals

USATT has made the smart decision to use only one type of ball at the USA Nationals. Here is USATT Board Chair Mike Babuin's blog entry on this. They will be using the Nittaku Premium 40+ ball, a non-celluloid one. This is a departure from their original plans, announced on Aug. 14, that they would be using two types of balls at the Nationals - celluloid for rating and senior events, non-celluloid for men's and women's singles & doubles, and in junior events. That would have meant players having to switch back and forth in the tournament, as well as serious problems at clubs as players have to decide which ball to use for practice and training.

This obviously doesn't solve all the problems. Many don't want to change to non-celluloid, but like it or not, the ITTF has pretty much mandated it. (Not by forcing it on everyone, but by mandating it in their tournaments, meaning others have to follow or their top players will have to switch back and forth.) I think they jumped the gun because the new non-celluloid balls still aren't really standardized - depending on which manufacturer makes them, they play differently, unlike celluloid where the balls are much more similar. Also, there are no training balls available, so training centers are stuck trying to decide what to do, since most training involves using large quantities of balls (especially for multiball).

There's also the problem that the ball to be used at the Nationals isn't actually available yet - it'll be out in mid-October, about two months before the Nationals. It'll be on sale at Paddle Palace. (Note that Paddle Palace is already selling a Nittaku Sha 40+ ball, which is non-celluloid, but I'm told that ball plays very differently and is of lower quality than the Premium. Don't get the two mixed up.) Here's an info page from Paddle Palace on the new balls.

There's a good argument to use celluloid balls one more time, and I was actually leaning toward that. However, I think it's more important to use one ball or the other at the Nationals than which one they actually use. If they had stuck with celluloid, the top players would have been frustrated since they are already competing internationally with non-celluloid balls. While we may have jumped the gun and made the switch a few months too soon, the switch was inevitable (given the ITTF's actions), and so we might as well do it now.

I received an advance Nittaku Premium 40+ ball - just one, which came in a one-ball box. I reviewed it in my June 16 blog. It plays similarly to a celluloid ball, but is slightly larger and heavier, and harder to spin - but once spun, the extra weight keeps the spin on the ball more than a celluloid.

Dana Huang Wedding

On Saturday night I joined over 100 others for the wedding reception of Dana Huang and Charles Song, at the Silver Fountain Restaurant in Silver Spring. Dana is not only the daughter of MDTTC coach and former Chinese Team Member Jack Huang (Huang Tong Sheng), but she was also a pretty good player herself. (And yet, during her playing years she mostly acted as a practice partner for others in her father's coaching sessions and camps.) From my archives - where I compile all the MDTTC medalists from the Junior Olympic and Junior Nationals - here is her record - and note the two bolded ones:

  • 1998 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Singles Silver Medallist
  • 1998 Junior Olympics Under 14 Girls' Singles Silver Medallist
  • 1998 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Doubles Gold Medallist
  • 1998 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Team Gold Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Olympics Under 16 Girls' Singles Gold Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 16 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Doubles Silver Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Teams Gold Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Olympics Under 18 Girls' Singles Gold Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 22 Women's Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Doubles Gold Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Teams Gold Medallist
  • 2002 Junior Nationals Under 22 Women's Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 2002 Junior Nationals Under 22 Women's Doubles Gold Medallist

Here's a picture taken at the wedding reception of Coach Jack with three national junior girls' singles champions he's coached. L-R: Katherine Wu, Coach Jack, Barbara Wei, and current junior phenom Crystal Wang.

1983 USA Pan Am Trials

I've added an action picture to the home page here. That's me at the 1983 U.S. Pan Am Trials in Colorado Springs, where I made the final 16, finishing 15th. (Photo is by Donna Sakai. The lefty in the background is Brian Masters playing Brandon Olson. Brian, who was one of my regular practice partners from when I first started in 1976 until 1979, would not only make the team but would go on to win the Gold Medal for Men's Singles at the Pan Am Games.)

The Countdown Comes to an End

Here's the ITTF's wrap-up article about the 100+ articles during the last 100 days of the Sharara ITTF presidency. Here are all the articles, including the interview with me (the last one, other than the wrap-up).

Backhand Receive from Forehand Side

Here's a video (9 sec) where a Chinese coach or player demonstrates a drill where he receives a ball short to his forehand with his backhand, and follows with a regular forehand. (I've also seen this drill where the forehand is done from the middle or even the backhand side.) Ten years ago this type of receive would have been frowned upon by most coaches, but now it's a basic technique at higher levels, since it's easier to create topspin with the backhand against a short ball with a banana flip.

Serving - More Handy Hints

Here's the article from PingSkills.

Backhand Topspin to Topspin

Here's the video (1:55) from PingSkills.

Wang Liqin and Jorgen Persson at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games

Here's a nice article with lots of photos on the two former world men's singles champions attending the Games.

Incredible Rally

Here's the video (40 sec) of this rally. Note the player on the far side switches hands to return the ball 22 seconds in!

Tunisian Table Tennis

Here's video (33 sec) of a woman doing very fast multiball footwork with a Chinese coach, in full Arab dress.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Meet the King Kong of Ping Pong

Here's the article and pictures of this $14,500 table, a "700-pound, Bluetooth-compatible, ten-speaker table feels designed for high-stakes tournaments."

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August 21, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge - My Video

I was challenged to do the ice bucket challenge by Nathan Hsu, who will rue the day. For those of you living under a ping-pong ball or lost in a forest of long pips, this is a charity for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Find out more at the ALS Association home page.

I put together a skit for my ice water dousing. Dumping a bucket of ice water on my head wasn't enough for me. Special thanks to Leon Bi and Darwin Ma for their help.

I have challenged three others: Todd Sweeris, Jim Butler, and Dan Seemiller Sr. They have 24 hours to complete their assignment of either dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads or donating $100 to ALS!

While we're on the subject, here are a few others that have come up since yesterday (when I posted others) in the table tennis world:

USATT's July Meeting

Here are the minutes to the meeting, which went up yesterday. A few items I found interesting:

  1. In D-Magazine, it says, "About $10,000 in advertisements were sold in the Spring Issue, which resulted in a $4,000 shortfall to projections." In my blog on February 11, 2014 on the cancellation of the print magazine and going digital, I wrote, "But they'll lose money on advertising and membership." I also wrote, "I'm told they are budgeting advertising to stay the same, which of course won't happen." Of course it was going to drop - anyone in the industry knows you get more ad revenue from print than online. But for some reason USATT budgeted something that they should have known wouldn't happen. Roughly multiply this time six, and at the end of the year they are going to have a roughly $24,000 shortfall. Or maybe, just to spite me, they'll focus on advertising and get ad revenue back up!

    This isn't me retroactively criticizing; I wrote this as soon as they cancelled the print version and went all-digital. It was an easy prediction. I still believe they messed up badly here, and should have kept the print magazine, added the online version (which is easy to produce once you have the print version), and simply increase ad rates because of the added online exposure. This would have substantially increased revenue without cancelling the print magazine that was such a valuable tool to clubs for promoting our sport, as well as for the roughly 1/3 of our membership who get nothing from USATT except the magazine. The loss in ad revenue is verified, but we may never know how many members we lost (or will lose) when they discover they no longer get the magazine.

    But even before the drop in advertising they were only getting $14,000 in ad revenue. That's almost exactly what I'd brought it up to when I resigned as editor at the end of 2006 (though I did two more issues in 2007). Adjusted for inflation, I was bringing in about $16,500/issue. (When I first took over in my first tenure as editor, ad revenue was running at $2300/issue. I brought that up to $5500/issue. When I took over for my second tenure, ad revenue had dropped a little - forget the exact amount - but over the next eight years I brought it up to $14,000.)

    One thing I'm confused about. In these minutes, it says that the Spring issue received about $10,000 in advertisements, about $4000 short of projections. But in the May 19 minutes, it says, "The digital magazine generated $9000 in ad revenue for the Spring 2014 issue, constituting a $6,000 shortfall to budgeted revenue." So one says there was $10,000 in revenue, the other $9000; one says a $6000 shortfall, the other $5000. It can't be both. (I blogged about this on July 15. But there is a discrepancy in their numbers.)

  2. There are two items of direct interest to coaches, so I'll paste them both here.  Coaches, take notice! (Here's the link to the SafeSport info page - you have to click on the attachments at the end to do the background checks.)
    1. K. USATT's SafeSport Program - Background Checks, RailStation Rollout
      ​​USATT is fully committed to implementing the SafeSport program as mandated by the U.S. Olympic Committee ("USOC").  Our SafeSport program now appears on USATT's website, with 50 coaches completing background checks.  It is reasonable to give coaches notice of an August 1st deadline to complete their background checks. Mr. Scudner suggested that USATT provide a "SafeSport" informational packet to its clubs which includes a notice that their coaches must complete background checks.  Mr. Gheorghe will send an email to coaches containing an easily accessible website link to the SafeSport program. 
    2. V. Fede Bassetti - Coaching Presentation
      Mr. Bassetti presented a coaching education program based upon the ITTF curricula (i.e., levels 1, 2, and 3) to the Board.  Under his program, coaches receive certification at the end of a two year program, consisting of 40 credits of continuing education. Under his approach, schools are categorized as competitive, developmental, recreational, and business.  Each school is divided into 4 levels of coaches.  He seeks USATT's and ITTF's endorsement of his program and $2500 to $5000 to create each course.  Coaches would maintain their teaching credentials on two year cycles, with background checks every two years. Mr. Danner recommended that he speak with professional table tennis coaches/training centers for their feedback.

      The COB said that the USATT will send its questions to Mr. Bassetti via email, and the Board then will revisit this program after Mr. Gheorghe and Mr. Basetti review the certification system we now have in place--this should not occur until after the new CEO has been recruited.  Additionally, all USATT coaches must complete their background checks by August 1st, or they will be removed from the list of active coaches.  Tentatively, the Board may address the coaching issues at its December meeting.

    3. Here's info on upcoming U.S. Opens and Nationals.
      Y. Future Tournaments
      Currently, the 2015 U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open are planned to be held in Las Vegas.  Dallas submitted a bid for the U.S. Open, and a Dallas information packet was distributed to Board members.  
    4. I blogged about the National Volunteer Coordinator position before, but here it is in the minutes. I may blog more about this later. This is a great idea - why not apply? Even if you don't become the National Volunteer Coordinator there'll be plenty of volunteer positions they'll be looking to fill.
      MOVED that the Board adopt the proposal to develop the position of National Volunteer Coordinator and request that the CEO proceed as soon as possible to find a volunteer to fill this position.
      Movant: Han Xiao
      Second: Anne Cribbs
      Discussion:  The USATT, with its limited resources, should create an organized volunteer organization. When the Board has tasks to be performed, expertise is needed to carry out these tasks.  A National Volunteer Coordinator position should be created, reporting to the Board.  The Coordinator's job will be to work with staff and volunteers, perhaps on a daily basis, to accomplish the Board's assigned tasks.  Expenses for this Coordinator will be minimal at first--the Coordinator will present an annual report once a year to the Board and occasionally report progress at Board teleconference meetings. 

Forehand Loop Technique - Correct Use of Legs and Waist

Here's the video (13:37) by Gregg Letts.

USA Youth Olympic Games Home Page

The page now has a number of quotes from Lily Zhang, Coach Lily Yip, and a slideshow at the end featuring Zhang and Krish Avvari, the other USA player.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety down, 10 to go!

Day 11: Michel Gadal Urges Worldwide Table Tennis Family to Embrace P5 Plan

People in Sports Who Are Unexpectedly Ripped

Here's Wang Liqin in the listing. But this is true of essentially every top table tennis player. "Unexpectedly"? Only to the non-table tennis person.

Beat the Best, Beat Jean-Michel Saive

Here's the ITTF article on the contest, sponsored by Stiga, where you challenge the competitive Saive to various contests.

Floor Table Tennis

Here's the article and video (1:11). "If your kids aren’t quite tall enough to see over a table tennis table yet, consider floor table tennis."

Berlin Style Ping-Pong

Here's the article and pictures of this new type of table tennis that's sweeping the world!

Clayton Kershaw Plays Table Tennis

Here's a new video (5:24) of the Dodger superstar pitcher where he talks about his table tennis and his charity table tennis event.  

Jorgen Persson, Chef

Here's the picture from the Youth Olympic Games. I mean, gee whiz, the guy hasn't been World Men's Singles Champion since 1991, the last of his World Team Champion titles was in 2000, and he hasn't been world #1 since 1991-1992. He obviously needs a new line of work.

Dogs Playing Table Tennis to Music

Here's the video (15 sec)! This is hilarious. Can someone translate the Asian words that come up right at the end?

Non-Table Tennis: Baltimore Orioles

They now have a nine-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays, 9.5 games on the Yankees. As some readers know, I often get published at Orioles Hangout, mostly with humorous stories or top ten lists. I just created this image for them that shows the state of the American League East.

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July 17, 2014

Serve and Attack Patterns

There are all sorts of ways to serve and attack. For the uninitiated, let me remind you what the purpose of the serve is - it is to set up your attack! You may have serves that are designed to win a point outright - "trick serves" - but there's no point in serving and hoping for a winner. You should always expect a return, and so from that point of view, the point is to follow your serve with an attack. The exception, of course, is when the opponent returns your serve in such a way as to stop your attack. But until he does that, you should be looking to serve and attack in some way.

This is true for defending players as well. Otherwise you lose your entire serve advantage. If you say you don't have a strong enough attack to serve and attack, then you've answered your own question - you need to develop that attack. Nobody reaches their potential on just attack or just defense - you need both. Defenders should look to follow their serves with attacks if the return is weak. If it is not weak, then they can stick to defense.

Below are some of my personal favorite serve and attack tactics. I'm writing these as if I were still at my peak, when I had good footwork and tried to follow most serves with a forehand loop or smash. Everyone's different, so pick out the ones that you like, and ignore others. I can follow my serves equally well with a forehand loop against backspin or topspin, or a forehand smash, but almost always with a forehand. Others may only loop or smash, or may have better backhand attacks.

  1. Short backspin or no-spin to middle. If I served backspin and they pushed it back, I tended to look to follow with a spinny forehand loop deep on the table, but if the push is weak I go for a winner. If I serve no-spin, I almost always looked to serve and rip, as no-spin serves tend to come back with less backspin and a little higher. By serving to the middle I cut off the extreme angles, and there's less ground to cover.
  2. Short backspin or no-spin to backhand. This is the same as serving to the middle (regarding backspin or no-spin), but now the opponent has an angle into my backhand, but can only go down the line to my forehand. After the serve I'd stand as far to my left as I could, ready to loop any push to my wide backhand with my forehand. Since most players guard the crosscourt angle more than down the line, I often looked to loop a winner down the line - but the danger here is that they have an open angle to my wide forehand, so if you go down the line, you either have to loop a winner, or loop it slow and spinny, so the slowness gives you time to get back into position.

    The second option is to loop to the middle - though for many this should be the first option. It's the hardest place for an opponent to defend, and since they have no extreme angles, you can often follow with another forehand.

    The third option is to loop to the wide backhand. This is usually an easier block for the opponent, but since they have no angle into the wide forehand, you can stand toward your backhand side and often follow with another forehand. You can rip a winner to the very wide backhand, if it's open, or just loop slow and spinny and deep on the table. Deep, spinny loops are often hard to block on the backhand.

  3. Short backspin or no-spin to forehand. This is the same as serving to the middle (regarding backspin or no-spin), but now the opponent has an angle into my forehand, but can only go down the line to my backhand. It's especially effective for me with a reverse pendulum or a tomahawk serve (or for others, a backhand serve). Many players are awkward against short serves to the forehand and give weak returns. It also brings them over the table, so they are awkward on the next shot. Most players return these crosscourt, so you can almost camp out there. However, better players learn to take these down the line. Since you have to guard that wide forehand angle, these serves are mostly effective only against those who are awkward against short serves to the forehand, or who predictably go crosscourt.

    However, an alternate version is to serve short to the middle forehand. This cuts off the extreme forehand angle, and makes the short awkward to flip for many players.

  4. Short side-top serves. Most players return these with soft drives or flips. Since there's no backspin on the ball, you can drive into the ball with a point-ending loop. It's just a matter of getting into position. Most players return these serves crosscourt, so be ready for that. Make sure to fake backspin on these serves by following through down after contact!
  5. Long serves to the backhand. Most of these serves are returned crosscourt, so you can hang out to your backhand side and follow with a forehand (or backhand if you are stronger with that side). The key is variation. Be able to serve big breaking serves that curve to the right (receiver's left); fast ones that catch them off guard; heavy topspin that gets popped up or goes off; and fast no-spin that they tend to put in the net or return weakly. If the opponent can consistently loop this serve (backhand or forehand), then you probably want to use other serves.
  6. Fast to the middle. This makes them choose between forehand and backhand, and often results in weak returns. It's especially effective with fast no-spin. If they can loop this serve consistently, then switch to other serves.
  7. Fast down the line. Many players leave this spot open, and are vulnerable to this. You can't always follow with a forehand, so be ready to attack or counter-attack from both wings.
  8. Serves from the forehand side. This gives a different angle, and often results in weak returns. I do this either with a tomahawk serve or with a regular pendulum serve. The serve usually comes back toward the forehand side, and so is easy to attack. But the key is giving the opponent a different "look" to adjust to, with the result you get many weak returns.

    One of my favorite tactics is to serve this down the line from the forehand side. The opponent is looking for a crosscourt serve, and is often caught off guard, and so makes a weak return. He almost always will return this crosscourt to the backhand. So if you have reasonable foot speed, you can move all the way over to your backhand and follow with a forehand! But this does leave your forehand side wide open, and usually only works once - then the opponent will take it down the line. So for most, it might be better to follow with a backhand attack.

Chinese Super League Introduces Two-Toned Ball

Here's the story. This is a great idea - I've blogged in the past how silly it is that in such a spin-oriented sport, we have a ball where you can't see the spin, and suggested we use a soccer-colored one or something like that.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Fifty-five down, 45 to go!

  • Day 46: Steve Dainton’s Journey to Becoming the ITTF’s Director of Marketing

Kreanga Backhand

Here's video (28 sec, including slow motion replay), of a great point, ending with an incredible Kreanga backhand Loop kill. Actually two of them, but opponent Liu Guoliang smashes the first! This is from the 2001 World Championships. Liu, the last of the great pips-out penholders, is now coach of the Chinese Men's Team.

Epic Point

Here's an epic point (28 sec, all rally!). That's Wang Liqin on the far side, Werner Schlager on the near side. From the comments I think it's from the 2003 World Cup, but I'm not sure.

Nathan Hsu in China

Here's a 13-sec video of Nathan Hsu training in China, created by Coach Jeffrey Xen Xun.

Teqball Anyone?

Here's the video (2:15) of rules for the new version of table tennis/soccer that's taking the world  by storm.

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May 23, 2014

Table Tennis Tips

My newest table tennis book is now published! Retail price is $14.99, but you can buy it at Amazon for $13.21, or $6.99 for Kindle. (Here's my personal Amazon page, and the Larry Hodges Books page.) Special thanks goes to the four who edited and critiqued the book, leading to many revisions. They are Kyle Angeles, Stephanie Hughes, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor. (And they get thanked again below!)

Here's the Intro page from the book:

Welcome, fellow table tennis fanatics, to three years of worth of Tips of the Week, compiled in one volume in logical progression.

These Tips are online, available for free to anyone. I put them up every Monday on my website, TableTennisCoaching.com, and this volume contains all of them from January 2011 through December 2013. Feel free to browse them—but do you really want to have to call them up, one by one, in random order as far as content goes? I’ve updated quite a few of them, not to mention a lot of editing. Some had links to specific online videos, so I had to adjust the wording, inviting readers to go to YouTube.com and do basic searches for the appropriate technique.

They range over ten basic topics: Serving, Receiving, Strokes, Grip and Stance, Footwork, Tactics, How to Improve, Sports Psychology, Equipment, and Playing in Tournaments.

There are unavoidable redundancies in this book. They come in two types. First, the content of the Tips often overlap with other Tips. This is unavoidable as many of the Tips cover parallel material. For example, there are two Tips on developing the forehand smash, and while there is overlap between the articles, they cover it in different ways.

And second, I incorporated a number of these Tips in my previous book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. This is especially true of the Tips here in the chapters on Tactics and on Sports Psychology. But perhaps a second reading will be the key to really learning and understanding the material?

Finally, I’d like to thank those who proofed the book for me, pointing out numerous problems they found, from typos and grammar mistakes to better wording suggestions. They did an incredible job of making me look good! They are:

  • Kyle Angeles
  • Stephanie Hughes
  • John Olsen
  • Dennis Taylor

USATT Mailing

Over the past week there's been an ongoing discussion among a few USATT board members, tournament directors, coaches, and a few others on creating an Allstar Circuit or Finals for American players. The topic has drifted. When the discussion of how to raise $10,000 for a Finals event came up, I chimed in with the below.

Here’s an easy way for USATT to raise the $10,000 or more for such an Allstar Tour Finals, and increase membership as well. It’s the same recommendation I’ve made multiple times in the past at board meetings and strategic meetings. (Sorry if this takes us slightly off track.) Almost any successful organization knows that one of the most promising ways to get members is to go after past members, which is why we all get so many things in the mail from organizations we were once members of and magazines we once subscribed to. USATT has something like 50,000 past members on its database (not sure of current figure). I believe we do mailings (and now emails) to recently expired ones, but how often do we do mass mailings to ones from farther back?

Have it come as a personal letter from a prominent USATT person, where it explains the benefits of USATT membership. (Alas, having a print magazine was a primary benefit we can no longer use.) If it comes from Dan Seemiller, Jim Butler, or Sean O’Neill, or all three, it’ll get a much better response than if it’s some form letter coming from a USATT official. I’m sure they would put their name on something like this if they knew that the first $10,000 or more in profits would go to an Allstar Series or Final of some sort.

Let’s say there are 50,000 names and addresses on the USATT database, and that the cost of mass printing and bulk mailing is 30 cents each. (Letters sent bulk mail, if bar coded, will cost about 18 cents each, and when you print 50,000 copies, printing per piece is very cheap.) Then the cost of this mailing is about $15,000. Let’s suppose we get a 1% return, at $49 each. That’s 500 members, and nearly $25,000 in income. (Plus more in following years, depending on how many renew.) That’s a $15,000 profit the first year. (Break even is about .6%, or 1 in 160.) If we get a 2% return, that’s 1000 members, income is $49,000, and a $34,000 profit the first year. There are also hidden income in this. New members mean more players playing in tournaments (rating fees), entering the U.S. Open or Nationals, etc.

Yes, there’s increased staff time, but it’s not a huge amount of time to process 500 to 1000 new members. That’s an average of 2-4 per work day. There’s also staff time in putting together the mailing, or we can hire a service for a few hundred dollars.

Sure, there’s risk as we don’t know what the return will be. If we’re too scared to try new things, then we might as well accept that we’re never going anywhere. Except there’s nothing new about this – other organizations do this type of thing all the time, and they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t pay for itself. I still get all sorts of things in the mail from about five past magazines and several organizations, including regular things from USTA. They have 700,000 members, and know how these things pay off.

Also note that when we get these new members, we’ll also get their emails, and so will be able to communicate with them for free in the future.

Wang Liqin Trains Their Younger Players

Here's the story of the all-time great and 3-time Men's Singles World Champion working with the younger Shanghai team members.

Sports Illustrated Paddle Pushers: A 30-Year Climb to Semi-Visibility

Here's the article/graphic from page 22 of the current (May 26) issue of Sports Illustrated. (I had a short article published in Sports Illustrated on June 14, 1999 - "The Chinese Table Tennis Dynasty." I'm also a Sports Illustrated Photographer - I took the picture of Crystal Wang in the April 7, 2014 issue. (See photo credits underneath - I'm famous!)

Jungle Pong

Here's a video (17 sec) of the gang from JOOLA playing "Floor Pong." I don't think they realize that what they are playing is Jungle Pong, a game played by the kids at my club for many years (I'm guessing since the 1990s), passed on from generation to generation. They play it during breaks, especially during camps. The rules are pretty specific. I blogged about this (including the rules) on June 20, 2013 (see third segment).

Flipagram

Here's the music video "Wally Green - a Game Nobody Knows" (15 sec). It links to a program that apparently allows you to create your own table tennis music videos from still pictures.

Followers of the Bouncing Ball - San Antonio

Here's an article in the San Antonio News-Express on the San Antonia TTC in Texas.

Outdoor Table Tennis Near Me

Here are pictures of the outdoor ping-pong table and putting green at Freedom Park near Rosslyn Metro Station in Washington D.C., about 15 miles south of me.

Mini-Mini Table Tennis

Here's the picture. "I really don't think it can get smaller than that."

The Most Colorful Ping-Pong Table in the History of the Universe

Here it is!

Armin van Buuren - Ping Pong

Here's the music video (4:14) - it's hilarious! And it gets better and better as it goes along.

Non-Table Tennis - Baltimore Science Fiction Convention

This weekend I'll be a panelist at Balticon, the annual SF convention in Baltimore. It's actually four days long, Fri-Mon, but I'll only be there all day on Saturday, and possibly part of Sunday. You can find my bio there in the Bio Section. (Here's my science fiction & fantasy page.) There'll be about 600 participants, so while it's a small regional convention for the science fiction world, it's about the size of our U.S. Open (which this year has 596 entries).

I was put on five panels, two on Friday and three on Saturday (I'm moderating one), plus a reading and autograph session on Sunday. However, I had to drop the Friday and Sunday sessions due to coaching conflicts. The three I'm on for Saturday are:

  • Favorite Science Fiction Authors (Sat 10AM-10:50PM) - Moderator
  • Five Books for the Last Town on Earth (Sat 1:00-1:50 PM)
  • Titles Looking for Stories (Sat 4:00-4:50 PM)

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April 3, 2014

Table Tennis Niches and Groups

Have you noticed that there are a number of people in table tennis who have their own "niches"? I'm a prime example; while there are plenty of other table tennis coaches around, none write anywhere near as much as I do, so my table tennis niche is writing. (Six books and over 1300 published articles on table tennis, plus this blog.) Who are the others? (This doesn't imply that this is all they do in table tennis; it's what they do that stands out, that few others do.) Anyone and any niches that I missed?

  • Tim Boggan's table tennis niche is history. (He had others before, but this is what he mostly does now.) Mike Babuin and Scott Gordon are following in his footsteps. (Scott earlier found his niche as the main leader for many years in hardbat table tennis, so does he qualify for two niches?)
  • Mike Mezyan's table tennis niche is artwork.
  • Brian Pace's table tennis niche is videos. Jim Butler has recently been joining him in this niche. So has Gerry Chua and a number of others.
  • There are a number who have found their niche as table tennis photographers. They include Mal Anderson, Gerry Chua, Diego Schaaf, Bruce Liu, Tom Nguyen, and the others I accidentally left off who will be angrily emailing me shortly. Then there's Ayoade Ademakinwa, with tabletennisphotos.com.
  • Richard Lee's niche is running nationwide tournaments. Plenty of others run tournaments, but few others run big ones all over the country. Craig Krum also runs a lot of tournaments around the country with his Omnipong software.
  • Scott Preiss, Adam Bobrow and Judah Friedlander are the table tennis entertainers.

There are other niches as well, but most have larger numbers - I'd call them groups instead. To how many of the following 50 table tennis groups do you belong?

  1. Player
  2. Top Player
  3. Olympian
  4. Paralympic player
  5. Paralympian
  6. USATT Member
  7. USATT Officer, Committee Member, or Staff
  8. Coach
  9. Practice Partner
  10. Umpire
  11. Referee
  12. Club Owner
  13. Club President
  14. Club Officer
  15. Tournament Director
  16. 4- or 5-star Tournament Director
  17. League Director
  18. Promoter
  19. Volunteer
  20. Writer
  21. Historian
  22. Artist
  23. Videographer
  24. Photographer
  25. Entertainer (includes those doing exhibitions)
  26. Forum Member
  27. Forum Troll
  28. Mini-Cadet (Under 13)
  29. Cadet (under 15)
  30. Junior (under 18)
  31. Top Junior (any age group)
  32. Senior (over 40)
  33. Esquire (over 50)
  34. Senior Esquire (over 60)
  35. Veteran (over 70)
  36. Top Senior (any age group)
  37. Hardbat player
  38. Sandpaper player
  39. Long Pips player
  40. Antispin player
  41. Short pips player
  42. Inverted both sides player
  43. Lefty player
  44. Penhold player
  45. Seemiller grip player
  46. Player who trains regularly
  47. Player who takes coaching regularly
  48. Player who only plays matches
  49. Has played U.S. Open or Nationals
  50. Other

Larry Hodges Books

I finally put together a simple page where I can list and sell all of my books: larryhodgesbooks.com. It actually takes you to a page I created here at TableTennisCoaching.com. I'm not sure why I didn't do this long ago - I bought the larryhodgesbooks.com domain name a while back.

National College Championships

The USA National Collegiate Championships are this weekend, April 4-6, Fri-Sun, in Monroeville, PA. Here's their home page, and here's where they will have results. They will also have live-streaming, starting 9:30AM on Friday, which is why I'm letting you know now so you can schedule it for tomorrow! (I'll repost this note again tomorrow as a reminder.)

Werner Schlager Meets Wang Liqin in Shanghai

Here's the article. No, it's not a rematch of their famous quarterfinal match at the 2003 Worlds!

"…you make it that much easier for me to beat you."

Here's a nice table tennis meme. The title above is only the ending of the meme's statement.

ITTF Legends Tour Teaser

Here's the video (38 sec).

Ovtcharov vs. Mizutani

Here's video (1:07:29) of the final of the German Open this past weekend, won by Dimitrij Ovtcharov over Jun Mizutani, 11-9 in the fifth. Jump to 1:04:20 to see the start of the last point of the match - a great one! Or watch the entire thing.

Ten Cool and Unusual Ping Pong Table Designs From Around the World

Here's the page from Uberpong. I think I posted this once before, but I was browsing it yesterday and thought I'd put it up again. I don't think the first one was there before, the one with the brick wall and barbed wire! It'll take a lot of topspin to pull the ball down over that - or would you tactically play through the barbed wire? I don't think I covered this in my tactics book.

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March 6, 2014

Top Ten New Table Tennis Rules I'd Like to See

Some serious, some not so serious. You judge which.

  1. No-Hidden Serve Rule Adjustment. When serving, players should be required to serve so that the ball is visible to both umpires, or where the umpires would sit if there were umpires. When there are no umpires, it would be assumed the umpires would be sitting five feet out on each side, lined up with the net. The point of the rule isn't to make sure the umpires can see the ball. The point is that if a server hides the ball from an opponent but it isn't obvious he is doing so, it'll be obvious he's hiding it from at least one of the umpires. No more hidden serve problems.
  2. Execution of Servers Who Hide Contact. For now on, on the first instance of a player hiding his serve, his opponent shall have the opportunity to slap him in the face. On the second instance, the player shall have splinters shoved under his fingernails. On the third instance, the player shall be dragged outside and executed by firing squad.
  3. More Single Elimination Events. Most tournaments feature a few round robin events, perhaps one every 200 points. In my mind, when I play an event and lose a match, I should be out of the event, but with RR events you keep on going. Why not have twice as many rating events, perhaps every 100 points, but make them single elimination? Fewer matches per event on average, but more events. (I remember playing a tournament in 1977 when I was rated 1480, and I was in Under 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, and 2100 - all in one day! I was in the final of the three lowest events, winning U1600.)
  4. 38mm Ball, 21-point Games. I confess, I miss the way it was played the first 25 years I played. I especially miss 21-point games. I'm not a hardliner on this, but I am nostalgic.
  5. Soccer-colored Balls. We're a game of spin, but you can barely see the spin. Spectators who aren't experts have no clue what's going on. Plus many people say we need longer rallies - well, make it easier to see the spin and there'll be fewer misses off serves. Plus think how fun it would be to play with these balls! We'd gets lot of kids playing. Only downside - it's almost psychedelic playing with them. (I have a supply of these balls which I bring out when I teach spin on serves and pushes.)
  6. Additional One-Minute Timeout. Right now players get a single one-minute timeout where they usually consult with a coach. But that's not fair to coaching authors. Why not a second one-minute timeout where players can consult with a table tennis tactics book?
  7. 50% Rule. All members of USATT shall donate 50% of their salaries to USATT, where it will either be used to develop the sport in this country or it will be squandered in some highly unimaginative way.
  8. The Late No-Learn Rule. When a player shows up late for a class, the coach shall mark down what the player missed and pass this on to all other coaches in the world, with the understanding that no coach shall ever teach that player what he missed for coming in late, and that player will always have a hole in his game because of this. Additionally, all future opponents of this player shall be informed of the hole in this player's game before they play so they may play into it. Additionally, the late player shall get ten lashes.
  9. Athleticism Rule. Before a player can achieve a 2000+ rating in this Olympic sport, he must first pass the Presidential Challenge Fitness Test. (Just kidding, people - there's at least one online forum devoted mostly to combination rackets - mostly long pips and other off-surfaces - that takes these types of things a bit too seriously.)
  10. Scream Rule. Players may only scream at the top of their lungs ten times in a match. On the eleventh such scream they shall be defaulted, their rackets broken, and their tongues pulled out.

Wang Liqin: Ma Lin was a Headache

Here's the article - and no, he's not insulting him, he's talking about what it was like playing him.

Why B2B Marketers Need a Ping-Pong Plan

Here's the article, which includes a nice cats-playing-TT picture.

Drilling with a Robot

Here's a video (29 sec) showing one of the zillions of possible drills with a robot. Most of the major table tennis dealers now sell these advanced robots, but they are more expensive than the less expensive ones, which primarily hit either to one spot or randomly all over the table.

Bay Areas Trying Out for USA National Team

Here's a video (75 sec) that features the players from the SF bay area that are trying out for team at the Trials at Texas Wesleyan University, Fri-Sun, March 7-9.

A Little School Table Tennis

Here's a video (54 sec) of Adam Bobrow hitting with kids at a school. At 34 sec in he can't resist throwing in a high, sidespinning-backspinning lob.

Playing Table Tennis on Drugs!

Here's a hilarious new video (102 sec) where Australians take on Americans in "the most epic table tennis duel in history!!" (It gets really good about 17 seconds in.)

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February 6, 2014

Backhand Games and Random Drills

It seems that recently half my students are challenging me in backhand-to-backhand games. These are games where we put boxes on each side of the table to block off the forehand side of the table, and play a strictly backhand-to-backhand game. If a shot doesn't go to the backhand, or if a player hits a forehand, he loses the point. You'd think I'd dominate this type of game since I can hit a million backhands in a row, but not really. The players quickly learn to match my consistency, while throwing speed, quickness, placement, and variation at me. I've struggled to win games (and sometimes lost) to 12-year-olds with ratings about 700 points lower than mine, as well as to adult players.

What does this mean? It means that, when isolated, they are developing very good backhands. They are learning to do all of the things mentioned above - consistency, speed, quickness, placement, and variation. (Yes, even with only half a table you can move the ball around.) There are times where I'm just pounding the ball with my backhand, and can't get through their steadiness. There are other times where I'm just keeping the ball going, and struggling to find ways to win a point since they aren't missing either, and they are pressing me with all of the attributes mentioned here. (As I regularly remind them, if they find they are pressing because I'm not missing, remember it works both ways - keep coming at me with the same consistency, and I'm the one who'll be pressing because they aren't missing.)

As good as this is, it also exposes one of the "secrets" of table tennis: In a real game, you don't know where the ball is going. In a real game, we wouldn't be going backhand-to-backhand. If we're smart players, we'd both be looking for chance to move the ball around, attacking the middle and wide corners. Without the certainty that the ball's coming back to our backhand side the backhand isn't nearly as strong. It's the ability to react to these random balls all over the table that make up much of the difference in rallying skills between 1500 and 2200.

But the foundation is there. Now I'm doing lots of random drills with them (as they know!), and that will soon pay off just as all the stroking work is now paying off. The most basic one is they keep the ball to my backhand while I put the ball randomly to their forehand and backhand. When they are comfortable against that, I up the stakes and put the ball randomly anywhere on the table, including their middle and wide angles. We also do a lot of random multiball drills. (Did I mention that they are also developing terrorizing forehands?)

New Plastic Balls Approved by the ITTF

Here's the ITTF article.

USATT Reports

Here's a listing of USATT Committee reports, with links to each. I just browsed through most of them. Let me know if you find anything interesting.

Piing of Power - Michael Maze

Here's the video (1:35) that features the lefty Danish star. (I'm not sure why there are two i's.) While currently ranked #28 in the world after injuries to his knees in 2010 (losing nearly a year) and then undergoing hip surgery in December 2012, he was as high as #8 in 2010, and made the semifinals of Men's Singles at the World Championships in 2005, and the quarterfinals in 2009. He was the 2009 European Men's Singles Champion, and the 2004 European Top-12 Champion. He has strong serves and a strong forehand, but is mostly known as probably the best lobber in the world. Maze recently had an "amazing" training session with USA's top cadet and junior, Kanak Jha - here's the short article from USATT, and here's the feature article on Maze, his comeback, and his session with Kanak.

Xu Xin Received Advice from Wang Liqin

Here's the article, with links to several videos. Said Wang, "In the Chinese Team, your brilliant moments are not usually in the good times but in the most difficult times. As long as you can rebound from those difficult moments, then is already indicates that your potential is very big."

Ma Long vs. Yan An

Here's a nice match (3:03, with time between points taken out) between these two Chinese stars at the recent Chinese Trials. (Ma Long in the red shirt.) You can learn a lot by watching how they attack from both wings, but even more by watching their receive. Here's where you can find similar videos of many (or all?) of the matches at the Chinese Trials.

Cerebral Palsy Can't Smash Table Tennis Talent

Here's the feature article on Paralympic star Mike Brown.

Congress is Playing Professional Tournament-Level Ping-Pong With This Nation's Future

Here's the article - and if it's from The Onion, you know it's true!

Ping-Pong Masters

Here's a hilarious video (2:26) that features two (or more?) players in an intense table tennis battle! Lots of special effects, including player cloning.

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November 8, 2013

Playing at a Club with Great Conditions

One of the problems with playing at a very nice club with very nice conditions is you get used to it. So when you go to tournaments, where the conditions often aren't so nice, you have problems. For example, at my club we have this nice rubberized red flooring, which is great for moving on, as well as having enough give so that it doesn't hurt your legs from the constant movement. But many of us will be playing at the Teams in three weeks, where we'll spend three days playing on somewhat slippery and unforgiving concrete. How do we prepare?

Recently I've been doing "shoe checks." I've been checking the bottoms of everyone's playing shoes to make sure they are in good condition. On our red floors you can wear your shoes down and it doesn't affect the grip on the floor. But on concrete floors (and most wood floors) the floor is more slippery, and you need grippy shoes. So I've been urging those with worn-out shoes to get new ones. Otherwise they'll be sliding all over the place at the Teams.

There are other ways of adapting. You've probably seen players on slippery floors step on a damp cloth between points to increase traction. There are also non-stick sprays you can put on your shoes - in table tennis, I think only Butterfly sells these. (I just ordered a bottle to try out, though I'm not playing in the Teams, just coaching.)

Of course, if you are not from my club, I urge you to show up with nicely worn-out shoes. I mean, c'mon, don't you want shoes you are used to? You'll have three days to learn how to slide into position.

On a side note (and I think I once blogged about this but can't find it), it is a huge advantage to play at a club with nice conditions. The conditions are conducive to high-level play, leading to, yes, high-level play, which helps you improve faster. If your club has poor conditions (bad lighting, bad background, slippery floors, bad tables, etc.), it limits the level of play, and so you don't improve as fast. There is the benefit that if your club has poor conditions, you are ready for tournaments, but that benefit pales in comparison to the higher level of play you'll be able to reach in good conditions.

Non-Table Tennis: Novel and Philcon

If all goes well, I should have copies of my novel "Sorcerers in Space" sometime this morning. Then I drive up to Philcon, the annual Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention, to spend Friday afternoon and night attending panels and (hopefully) promoting the novel. I come back late Friday night as I'm coaching at the Potomac Open on Saturday all day. (On the other hand, I'm still feeling the effects of that slight cold I wrote about yesterday, so I'm considering spending the day in bed. I'll decide later.)

Addendum added 20 minutes after posting blog: I got a phone call, and discovered my voice is completely hoarse this morning. So I'm apparently sick again. No Philcon, but I'll get a lot of reading in bed today....

USA Cadets at the World Cadet Challenge

Here are results and pictures.

Interview with USA's Kanak Jha

Here's the ITTF's interview (1:45) with Kanak at the World Cadet Challenge.

Coaching Articles from Table Tennis Master

Crazy Point Between Wang Liqin and Oh Sang Eun

Here it is (38 sec).

USATT Tips of the Day

USATT has been putting up as "Tips of the Day" the 171 Tips of the Week I wrote for them a few years ago as "Dr. Ping-Pong." I was going to put up links each Friday to the previous week's Tips, but forgot last Friday. So below are the 16 Tips since the last time I linked to them all - enjoy!!! (Click on link for complete tip.) 

Nov 07, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Backhand Attack Placements
The strength of most backhand attacks is that they usually involve a quicker, shorter stroke, and so are harder for opponent’s to react to.

Nov 06, 2013 - Tip of the Day - How to Vary Your Receive Against Short Backspin Serves
Most players return short backhand serves with a simple push, without much thought to it.

Nov 05, 2013 - Tip of the Day - How to Win
You can't win unless you can find tactical match-ups where you are better than your opponent.

Nov 04, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Placement of Aggressive Shots
When attacking, you should generally put all your shots to one of three places: wide forehand, wide backhand, or middle (opponent’s playing elbow).

Nov 03, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Inside-out Backhands
Want to really tie your opponent in knots not to mention win a lot of points? Aim your backhand crosscourt with a normal backhand stroke.

Nov 02, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Place Your Quick Backhand Attacks
When attacking a ball right off the bounce with their backhands, most players automatically go crosscourt to the opponent’s backhand. That’s not usually the most effective place to go.

Nov 01, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Blocking Tips
One of the most common reason players have trouble blocking against heavy topspin is because they hold the racket too high.

Oct 31, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Anticipate an Opponent’s Direction
Get in the habit of watching how an opponent hits the ball. Does he change direction at the last instant ever?

Oct 30, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Use Practice Matches to Practice
Exactly as the heading says this is the time to try out new things, develop new techniques, and generally improve your game.

Oct 29, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Play the Middle Against a Two-Winged Hitter
Some opponents hit well from both sides, seemingly taking a big swing and smacking in everything, both forehand and backhand.

Oct 28, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Don’t Give a Quick Player a Short Ball
If your opponent is quicker than you, than the last thing you want to do is let him rush you.

Oct 27, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Playing the "Unique" Style
You’ve probably all had the experience of playing someone who plays "different."

Oct 26, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Watch Top Players to Raise Your Own Level of Play
One of the best ways to improve your shots is get a good visual image of what your shots should look like just before playing.

Oct 25, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Footwork Against Off-Table Player
A player with good footwork doesn’t wait to see where the ball is going before he prepares to move.

Oct 24, 2013 - Tip of the Day - On Short Serves to the Forehand, Challenge the Forehand, Go Down the Line
Assuming two right-handers play, a common rally starts with a short serve to the forehand. Many receivers don’t understand the strategies in receiving this shot.

Oct 23, 2013 - Tip of the Day - Fool Your Opponents - Forehand Position for Backhands?
When playing close to the table, you have very little time to make a transition from forehand to backhand shots, and vice versa.

Octopus Table Tennis

Yes, that's an octopus playing table tennis, and yes, you can put it on your shirt.

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July 11, 2013

MDTTC Camp

Yesterday's focus was on forehand looping. I also introduced the beginning players to pushing.

One recurring problem I saw with forehand looping was a number of players who moved their head and bodies forward quite a bit when looping, instead of mostly going in a circle. When you overdo this, you lose control and leave yourself off balance and out of position for the next shot, meaning you can't do them over and over rapidly, as required for higher-level play.

It's important when looping to imagine a rod going through your head and going in a circle around it, with the head not moving too much. Here's a 46-second video featuring the forehand loop 3-time world men's singles champion Wang Liqin, whose powerful forehand loop really did own a decade, and may have been the best of all time. Note how his body mostly rotates around the head, with the head moving forward only a little bit. There are exceptions to this, even though this leaves you in a more difficult position for the next shot, such as when going for certain absolute rips, or when stepping around the backhand corner when you are rushed, where you may rotate the body more to the left to create power. If you go more in a circle, you still get great force as you whip around in that circle; you get great control since you are more or less looping from a stationary platform rather than a moving one; and you finish balanced and in position for the next shot.

There is an amazing range of skill levels in the camp. One complete beginner, age 10, picked up looping very quickly. Another, about age 13, is struggling with it. Another, also about 13, picked it up quickly (as well as regular forehands) because he was a competitive tennis player, but he had difficulties learning the backhand since he was used to tennis backhands.

All the kids picked up pushing quickly, as they usually do. I brought out the colored soccer balls again so they could see how much backspin they were creating.

Tomorrow's a big day - it's SLURPEE day at 7-11! Free Slurpees for everyone. We make the daily trek to the 7-11 down the street (across a busy street, so I chaperone everyone) every afternoon after lunch, around 1:20 or so. Normally 5-12 players go, but with the free Slurpee special, I'm guessing we'll have 20+ tomorrow. As usual, I'll get the Strawberry-Lemon Slurpee, which I rank as the #3 technological innovation by humankind. (Just for the record, #2 is air conditioning due to the 115 degree heat in Las Vegas during the U.S. Open, and #1 is . . . the spork. It solved all our eating problems. Really.)

Guatemala and El Salvador

Yesterday I blogged about my summer travels, including going to Guatemala and El Salvador in August to coach at ITTF Junior Pro Tour tournaments there. However, I'm needed at MDTTC camps, and I'm already missing two of the ten weeks (U.S. Open and a writer's workshop), so Coach Cheng will be going in my place. (It also gives Nathan Hsu a regular practice partner down there, since Cheng is 2600 and I'm not. Originally Wang Qing Liang was also going as a player - he's also 2600 - but he dropped out because of visa complications.) Alas . . . I'd already bought a pocket English-Spanish dictionary and read over the Wikipedia entries for both countries. 

Orioles and Ping-Pong

Here's another mention of the Orioles playing table tennis (with J.J. Hardy their top star), from this morning's Washington Post, from article "Camden Yards is finally fun again," by Thomas Boswell: "Three-and-a-half hours before games begin, you can see part of what makes the Orioles cohere. It's a friendly nest. Four tall Birds play high-level doubles Ping-Pong in the middle of the clubhouse, everyone giving the battle room for smashes and retrievals. Occasionally, paddle king J.J. Hardy, all-star starter at shortstop and the son of a tennis coach, deigns to let a rival challenge him for supremacy."

Non-Table Tennis - My Townhouse

A number of people came by to see my townhouse yesterday, and five filled out applications to rent the first two floors. This is going to be an incredibly difficult decision. I've ruled out one of the applicants, but the other four all look perfect. I hate the idea of letting any of them down, but I have to make a decision, offer the place to one, and turn down the others.

Six Mistakes You Probably Make When Practicing Third Ball Attack, Part 1

Here's an essay on the topic from Table Tennis Master.

Amazing Table Tennis Tricks

Here's the video (3:06).

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