100-day Countdown

June 2, 2014

Tip of the Week

Playing Short pips.

WETA TV

WETA TV came to MDTTC for about four hours yesterday to do a documentary on us online – I'll blog about it when it's up. Here's a picture of two of the crew members (there were three of them) as they film us, and here's a picture of them filming Derek Nie and Crystal Wang.

It was a long day. I normally coach Sunday mornings but I was off due to students studying for final exams, and so I had no coaching until 3PM. So I became their chaperone. We had arranged for them to come Sunday at 11AM so they could see some of our top juniors in a group session, and then our Elite League at 12:30 PM. They filmed Derek and Crystal, as well as Nathan Hsu and many others, often from a distance so the player didn't even know they were being filmed. Other times they'd go out on the court and get close-ups. I was hoping to highlight as many players as possible, from our top juniors to our seniors, including Charlene Liu, who recently returned from New Zealand with a bronze for Over 60 Women's Singles. (She also won Over 60 Women's Title at the Nationals and many more in age groups from over 30 to over 60.) However, they told me they could only focus on one or two players. They also didn't want to interview players and then disappoint the player by not using the interview, which is understandable.

They decided to focus on 13-year-old Derek and 12-year-old Crystal. Most of you probably know them, but here's a short synopsis. Derek, rated 2285 (but recently over 2300) was the 2012 U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion. Crystal is the youngest player ever to make the USA National Men's or Women's Team, and the youngest ever to win Under 22 Women's Singles at the Nationals, as well as breaking every record for highest rating for her age, not just for girls but for boys as well. (She's the highest rated under 13 player in the U.S, boys or girls at 2370, and recently over 2400.)

They did interviews with Crystal, Derek, and me. My interview was the longest interview I've ever done. It went on for about an hour as they asked question after question. Part of the reason it took so long as I gave rather long answers. Since they'll end up condensing all this to about four minutes, it'll be interesting which parts they decide to use. In answer to their questions, I elaborated on my background, the kids, MDTTC and its history, our coaches and players, training centers, China, what it takes to be a top player, and much more.

Now the downside. Before they interviewed me they filmed me using the robot. I put it on full speed so the balls were just shooting out as I smashed forehands. I had no trouble doing this at first, but they wanted to get lots of shots from all angles, and so it went on and On and ON!!! Soon my arm and shoulder began to tire, and then hurt, and still they kept filming. I felt my knees and legs begin to go, but still we went on. After the longest time, and after they'd filmed both me and the robot from all possible angles, they said they had enough.

They asked if I had anything else interesting I could show them. They filmed me doing my ball-blowing trick, where I not only blow the ball in the air, but to the side, balancing it in the air by spinning the top of the ball with my breath. Then I demonstrated my 50-foot serve, where I served from 50 feet away from the table, and directly to the side of it (so I'm lined up with the net). I do this by putting a great amount of sidespin on the ball, and made it on the first try. They wanted several more, so I ended up doing about ten of them. The problem – this put more strain on my shoulder, as these 50-foot serves are very physical.

And then I did the interview. I mentioned how long it was, but I didn't mention that I was standing in one spot the whole time in my table tennis shoes, which have little support. Normally when I'm in them I'm moving about, but guess what happens when you stand in one spot in table tennis shoes for an hour? It hurts the feet, calf muscles, and knees. I could barely walk afterwards. (I had to do a lot of stretching to prepare for my upcoming coaching sessions – a private one-hour lesson and then a 90-minute group junior session.)

So now I'm full of these minor injuries – every part of my legs are aching, one knee is bothering me (it was bothering me before, but this aggravated it), and my shoulder is hurting from the robot play. Hopefully it just needs a couple days rest – and fortunately I've got a very light schedule today and tomorrow. We'll see how it is on Wednesday.

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. I linked to the first five last week, and there are four more. So I compiled all nine here. Nine down, 91 to go!

  • Day 92: Interview with Mike Babuin, USATT Chair and New ITTF BoD Member
  • Day 93: A Chat with Philippe Saive, the Promoter of the 2014 Legends Tour
  • Day 94: Competing to be Best in the World in Table Tennis
  • Day 95: Introducing Adam Bobrow, “The Voice of Table Tennis”
  • Day 96: Striving to Attain 225 Affiliated National Associations:  It’s in Our Blood!
  • Day 97: A Special Invitation to Tour Butterfly
  • Day 98: How the Ravages of War Inspired the Beloved Hikosuke Tamasu
  • Day 99: Why Tokyo Hosted the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships
  • Day 100: Intro

Samson Dubina Demo Tape

Here's a new video (3:25) of Ohio coach and top player Samson Dubina demonstrating the forehand counterdrive, forehand loop, in-out forehand footwork, backhand counterdrive, backhand loop, and footwork. (He's hitting with Sameh Awadalla.)

Table Tennis Tips

No, not the book (though you should buy that!), but the Tips now up at Expert Table Tennis – there are now 25 of them.

How to Predict and React to Table Tennis Tactics

Here's a short article on this.

Susan Sarandon is the Queen of Ping Pong

Here's the article in the New York Post.

Roger Frank Ping-Pong Tourney Raises $3,000 for PCC Foundation scholarships

Here's the article.

Waldner and Persson Tricks

Here's a video (51 sec) of all-time greats Jan-Ove Waldner and Jorgen Persson doing some pretty spectacular tricks with the ball and racket. Notice that the second half is all done continuously. Why don't you try to copy some of these tricks? Good luck!!!

House Playing Table Tennis

Here's a screen shot of Dr. House from an episode of the TV show House playing table tennis – with a clipboard!!!

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May 28, 2014

Power Outage and Flooding

There was excitement at MDTTC yesterday, but not for the normal reasons. I was in the middle of a coaching session around 6PM when the thunderstorms hit. We had the doors open to let in air, and so the flashes of lightning lit up the whole club while the thunder practically knocked us down before we got the doors closed. Water pelted the roof like a whale-sized snare drum on steroids in a rock concert. The kids got excited. And then the power went out. The emergency lights went on, but the club was only dimly lit. The power came back on after a minute, then went out again, then came back on. And then, at 6:13PM, it went out and didn't come back on. The kids had a great time playing table tennis in the dark. (I couldn't join in because trying to see in the dim light hurt my eyes.) This was the first time power had gone out for more than a few seconds in the 22 years we've been open.

Meanwhile, we faced another problem. The rain outside was so great it caused some sort of flash flood in our parking lot. The water kept slamming into the walls. There's a storm drain that runs across the parking lot a few feet outside the club, but it wasn't ready for this, and the flooding shot right over it. Most of the wall in front is actually a garage-type door that opens and closes. While it was closed during the storm, apparently there's a small gap underneath, and water began pouring in. This had never happened before, probably due to the storm drain. So water began cascading into the club. The coaches all grabbed various mops and brooms and began to fight it, trying to push the water back out, with some success. (There weren't enough mops and brooms, so I spent some time soaking up water from the floor in a towel and wringing it out over a mop bucket.) It was difficult as we were doing this in the dark. Anyway, we battled the elements for about half an hour. At the end, we'd gotten most of the water out, but the power was still off.

This was a problem as Tuesdays and Fridays are league nights at the club, and we were expecting large numbers of players. We had to cancel everything - somehow they got the word out.

During the height of the storm, with the power out, I decided it would be a good idea to run out to my car and get a flashlight and umbrella. I opened the door, took one look, and decided to go back to soaking up water with a towel. I've seen many a storm, but nothing like this watery violence.

I left the club around 7:30PM. Traffic was a mess. Most of the traffic lights were out. When I got home I was happy to find my power had not gone out, though my front yard was a mess.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind.

  1. Throughout the entire situation, one elderly Chinese player who had been in the middle of a lesson simply took a box of balls and practiced serves the whole time. How he didn't this I don't know, he must have had good eyes as I tried it and could barely see the ball, much less do a serious spin serve.
  2. The kids had a great time playing in the dark. If the power goes out at the U.S. Open, we'll have the most prepared bunch of kids in table tennis. No other club trains its junior players to play in the dark. We welcome players to the dark side.
  3. The only thing scarier than a big, strong player with a powerful forehand loop is a big, strong player with a powerful mop or broom fighting off the elements.
  4. The situation reminded me of the 1993 Junior Nationals, which I ran at the Potomac Community Center in Potomac, Maryland. The tournament ran on Friday night (doubles events), and all day Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday afternoon there was a thunderstorm, and sometime that afternoon all the power went out. It didn't come back on that day, so we had to reschedule everything for Sunday. We still managed to finish around dinner time on Sunday. The only other time I remember this happening was at a 4-star tournament in Augusta, run by Pete May, when the power went out. I believe it came back on after a time, so all was well. I think the power once went out for minute or so once at a U.S. Open or Nationals due to a storm.  

Sheeba: Feb. 1998 - May 27, 2014

I had to put my dog Sheeba to sleep yesterday. (She's a corgi mix.) She was 16 years 3 months old, which (based on her size and breed) put her in her early 90s in human years. I got her at a shelter when she was three, so we were together for 13 years. The first twelve years she loved to jump on things, chew, get scratched on the head, and eat bacon snacks. That's the Sheeba I'll try to remember. Over the last year she changed dramatically. She'd barely eat, going from her normal 25 pounds down to 14.9 at the end. She could no longer walk up or down stairs, so I had to carry her outside several times a day. She went completely deaf - if you clapped your hands behind her head there'd be no reaction, not even a flinching of the ears. She went almost blind, and began to regularly walk into walls. The last month or two she was no longer really house trained, so I was cleaning up lots of messes. Her eyes developed some sort of problem that led to their jumping back and forth continuously. A constant river of gooky stuff began coming out of her eyes that would run down her muzzle, which I had to clean off several times a day. The last week she mostly lost her ability to walk due to arthritis and hip problems, falling to the ground every two or three steps. She completely stopped eating her last three days, refusing even her bacon snacks. She was in pain, so the veterinarian and I agreed it was time.

Last Second Flip

Here's a nice video (18 sec, including slow-mo replay) of China's Ma Long looking like he's going to backhand push, then changing to a flip at the last second. While this might be difficult for most players, there are easier variations, such as last-second changes of direction when pushing long or short. In fact, here's a secret for playing against many players, especially junior players. Juniors are almost programmed to react almost instantly to whatever you do. They also tend to serve a lot of short serves to the middle and backhand. If you receive these as if you are going to push to their backhand, they'll begin to react - so if you change directions and push to the forehand instead (either short or quick and deep), they'll get caught over and over. 

The Mental Game: The Pink Elephant on the Court

Here's a sports psychology article directed at junior tennis players, but it applies to table tennis just as well. When the author wrote, "I've heard it all," I was nodding my head.  

97-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency: A Special Invitation to Tour Butterfly

Here's the article, Day 97 in Sheri Pittman Cioroslan's 100-day Countdown. I linked to the first three articles in yesterday's blog.

History of Table Tennis and an Analysis of Spin

Here's a video (10:56) from three years ago that I don't think I've ever linked to, covering the history of table tennis, including a segment on spin.

Neymar Plays Table Tennis

Here's a short article and video (16 sec) on Brazilian soccer star (that's football for you non-Americans) Neymar playing table tennis. (Neymar goes by the one name.)

Table Tennis with Books

I like books. I like table tennis. This is how the game should be played, as demoed by these kids.

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