iPhone

November 21, 2012

Quick Note on Malware

Most or all of the malware warning problems I blogged about previously seem to be gone, but there might still be some traces left of whatever got the site blacklisted on Google. If you are reading this, you arrived here successfully, so all's well with the world.

Merit Badges for Table Tennis?

As noted in my blog on Monday, there's a great proposal on the USATT web page (by Diego Schaaf and Wei Wang) to award "merit badges" for achieving various rating levels. Read it over and see what you think.

I've always argued that players take ratings way too seriously, and that they are, in general, a very bad thing for junior players. (Here's my article Juniors and Ratings.) Because of ratings players (especially juniors) tend to focus on immediate results instead of long-term improvement; it makes them nervous when they play as they worry about their rating (and this nervousness becomes a habit); and it often causes them not to play tournaments so they can protect their rating (thereby losing valuable tournament experience and so falling behind their peers).

I've always found the bridge system to be intriguing. In bridge, you cannot go down in rating; you only go up. This gives incentive to play more as you try to go up. It's not as accurate a system, but it incentive to compete. Given a choice between an inaccurate system with zillions of players (such as the American Contract Bridge League with 160,000 members), or a more accurate one with 8000 (USATT says hi), I have 152,000 reasons to go with the less accurate system. (This is a simplistic version of a more complex argument I won't go into here.)

The strength of the proposed system by Diego and Wei is that it gives incentive to keep playing as you get merit badges for going up, but unlike rating points, they aren't taken away when you go down. Sure, you might blow your current rating, but you'll still have that merit badge to show how good you were, plus every time you go out there you know there's a chance you might have that great day where you beat everyone and win ANOTHER merit badge!

As I wrote in my blog on Monday, similar suggestions have come up in the past, but three things always stopped it: 1) What should be awarded for these achievements - belts, like in martial arts? Pins? Badges? Certificates? etc.; 2) Few ever put together an actual proposal such as this eon, and 3) No one ever follows up on it.

There is the question of who pays for the merit badges, but that's a no-brainer to me. It's the responsibility of the player who achieves the new level to apply and pay for the merit badge. If it's not worth the small payment needed to pay for the badge and the office time to deal with them, then it's not worth their having.

There's also the transition period - at the start, why not let players send in proof of their highest rating achieved? It's all online since 1994, and before that there are magazines that can be copied. (Sorry, USATT doesn't owe you that. But I'm sure there are USATT members who might help out with this at the start.)

I hope someone from USATT follows up on this.

Last-minute coaching and preparation for Teams

Lots of last-minute training for the Teams in Baltimore and Ohio! I'm writing this blog the night before (Tuesday night) because I have to be up early to coach this morning. (Or should that be tomorrow morning since I'm writing it tonight, the night before the morning that the blog goes up? Never mind.) I've even got some coaching on Thursday. (I expect to blog on Thanksgiving morning, but perhaps a shorter one.)

I'm primarily going to be coaching, but I was talked into playing as a part-time fifth player by two of my students. I'm only committed to playing about one team match per day. The rest of the time I'll be coaching. (I'm mostly coaching Tong Tong Gong. At the Nationals I'll be working with him and Derek Nie.)

ITTF Video World Cup

There are now 17 entries in the ITTF Video World Cup. Take some time and watch them - they're pretty good. Of course the one I most like is "TTism (in slow motion)," by Richard Heo. Why? Because I'm in it!!! (I show up for about three seconds at 1:29, cheering silently and motionlessly for Raghu Nadmichettu, who is celebrating a win silently and motionlessly. That segment was filmed at the Maryland Table Tennis Center.) Here's the info page for the contest. First and second places are $5000 and $2500. Deadline to enter is Nov. 30. Oh, and it turns out you can vote once every 24 hours! So vote, and vote often.

2013 USA Team Trials

Here's a short news item from USATT: "The 2013 National Team Trials will be held on February 7-10, 2013, at the Top Spin Club in San Jose, CA. Prospectus and entry form will be posted on USATT webpage."

Reverse Forehand  Pendulum Serve

Here's an article and photo sequence on a version of the reverse forehand pendulum serve by world #27 Sayaka Hirano.

Ma Long Dong a Split?

Now here's a great picture of China's Ma Long looping from the backhand corner. Not sure if he's going to recover for the block to his wide forehand.

Table Tennis iPhone App

Here's the new TTProPlanner Promo - "for those of you who would like to plan/review your Table Tennis training" - on video, or read about it at the app store.

Terese Terranova in Broward County Hall of Fame

Here's a short article from Table Tennis Nation on wheelchair player and coach Terese Terranova's induction into the Broward Country Hall of Fame.

The Passion of Table Tennis

Here's another new highlights video (4:18). This one starts off by building tension as we watch the players get up and prepare for the tournament.

Ariel Hsing, Athlete of the Year

Here's a video about a minute long showcasing Ariel Hsing as the 2012 San Jose Female High School Athlete of the Year.

The Ping-Pong Dance on ABC Good Morning America

Here it is! (It's about one minute long, where they show Adam Bobrow doing one of his patented celebratory dances after winning a point.)

***
Send us your own coaching news!

September 22, 2011

USA Table Tennis Infrastructure

No sport can get big without infrastructure. In countries like Germany and England (700,000 and 500,000 members of their respective table tennis associations), the focus is on their leagues, with a secondary focus on junior development. The U.S. Tennis Association (700,000 members) also focuses on its leagues and junior development, as well as the U.S. Open. Little League Baseball, pretty much by definition, focuses on leagues and junior development, and has millions of players. The United States Bowling Congress, with over 2.5 million members, has over 70,000 leagues administered by 35,000 volunteers in 2900 local and state associations. I could go on and on and on, with country after country, sport after sport, but it's always the same message. What can USA Table Tennis (8000 members) learn from this?

A number of times in our past we've had huge media coverage, and a large influx of players. Each time it was temporary because, predictably, without the infrastructure to absorb the players - leagues for all levels, junior programs for kids - the players came, didn't find what they wanted, and they left. And so the media coverage from Ping-Pong Diplomacy in 1971 and 1972, the Olympic debut in 1988, the Olympics in the U.S. in 1996, even Forest Gump in 1994, didn't help; we simply weren't ready. We've been on national TV numerous times, from the ESPN coverage circa 1980, Prime Network in the early 1990s, various times during the Olympics, and more recently Killerspin ESPN broadcasts. Again, it didn't help without the infrastructure. USATT is like a shoe store with bad shoes; until they fix the shoes, TV and other promotions aren't going to develop a membership base. If we were a shoe store, we'd be out of business. Since we're a non-profit, we stay open, a monument to how not to grow a sport.

USA Table Tennis, don't just say leagues and junior programs are priorities, and create task forces to look into these issues, and then do nothing, as we've done over and Over and OVER. If you can't make these your top priority (or make a strong argument for something else), and act like they ARE your top priority by actually making it your, *cough* *cough* TOP PRIORTY, by actually implementing something - then you are just caretakers for a sport waiting for true leadership.

I've blogged about this numerous times, so here it is in a nutshell. Create the prototypical USA League, make it available to potential league directors, recruit volunteers, and promote the heck out of it. Recruit and train coaches who wish to run junior programs. See sport grow. Grow sport grow.

This is not a sport where talking the talk will get anything done; we need to walk the walk. There is a well-trod path to success; to quote the great Yoda, "Do or do not." Which will it be?

Returning short serves to the forehand

Having trouble with those short serves to the forehand? Often find yourself barely getting them in time, since you also have to be ready to cover deep serves? Try practicing in and out movement. Go into your regular receive stance. Then step in, with the right foot well under the table (for righties), and shadow-practice flipping or pushing that serve. Do this a few dozen times, in and out, in and out, in and out. It can be tiring, but it'll pay off if you do this regularly, perhaps a few times a week.

How to Be a Champion

Required reading for all players and coaches. (I posted this once before, but I should post this a few times a year.) These are from the May/June 2005 USA Table Tennis Magazine "How to Be a Champion" issue.

Werner Schlager

Here's a profile of 2003 World Champion Werner Schlager.

iPhone table tennis app

This seems to be table tennis, but since I use a phone designed to make, you know, phone calls, I'm not really sure.

***

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content