Occupy Wall Street

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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November 4, 2011

Vary your serves

I recently played a match against a strong player about my level who basically used three serves: short backspin or no-spin to the middle or backhand, or a deep side-top serve to my backhand that was telegraphed by the delivery. The player never served to my forehand. Since I could see the deep serve coming a mile away (and could just hit it back with my backhand and force a neutral backhand exchange on his serve), all I had to do was worry about the short serves. Since they were so predictable, I hung over the table and returned them right off the bounce, with last-second changes of directions, mostly dropping them short to all parts of the table. Because of the quickness off the bounce, the tweeniness of many of the returns (i.e. second bounce would be near the end-line), and the last-second changes of direction, even when I went long the opponent had great difficulty attacking. And so I completely controlled the match off the opponent's serve. This is the type of thing that happens all the time in matches, where players get into the habit of using the same few serves over and over, thereby making things easy for the opponent. I have one word of advice about this: Don't.

FIT Open in New York City

This morning I'm catching a bus to Manhattan to play in the FIT Open, run by Lily Yip. I'll be staying at Tim Boggan's house, and probably talking table tennis late into the night with him and Eric. Other than playing some hardbat events, I've mostly been retired as a tournament player since 2006. However, recently (after getting into much better physical shape, and actually practicing) I've been playing so well that I decided it would be a crime against humanity if I didn't play in one, and I didn't want to get sent to Gitmo. I'll report on this next week.

Interview Time

The Daily Quarterly did an interview with me, and part 1 should go up sometime this morning. (Part 2 goes up next Friday.) They are the same satirical site that did the spoof of Brad Pitt starring as me in the movie adaptation of my book Table Tennis Tales & Techniques. And so I gave my answers accordingly.

Wang Liqin Multiball

Here's 30 seconds of three-time world men's singles champion Wang Liqin doing multiball at the 2011 World Championships in May in Rotterdam.

The Reverse Pendulum Tomahawk Serve

Here's a video by Pingskills (2:19) on this serve used by Sweden's Par Gerell. (He calls it the "punch serve.") Note all the variety possible from the basic forehand pendulum serve motion - the regular version (with racket moving right to left for a righty), and the reverse pendulum variations (with the racket moving left to right), which can be done two ways - racket tip down or racket tip up (as shown in this video). The video says that you don't use as much wrist with this serve, but I use this serve, and use lots of wrist. I find it most effective served into the middle of the table where it suddenly breaks into the forehand.

Michael Landers now part of Team Kelloggs

Really! Click on his picture to get his bio.

China-Qatar Relations Bolstered by Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Here's an article in the Huffington Post on Ping-Pong Diplomacy in Qatar.

How to solve the Occupy Wall Street situation

You knew that Marty Reisman had a solution, didn't you? "Table tennis has an incredible diplomatic history," noted Marty Reisman, 23-time National and International ping-pong champion and President of Table Tennis Nation. "Ping Pong Diplomacy opened the doors for relations between China and the US, and can help settle Occupy Wall Street. ... Table Tennis Nation is offering representatives from Wall Street and the Occupy Wall Street $100 per team to play a Table Tennis Nation Brawl to settle their issues once and for all. Over ping-pong."

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October 26, 2011

More on Kjell Johansson

Here's the ITTF obit on Kjell Johansson. (I wrote about him in yesterday's blog.)

Table Tennis Tactics and Acronyms

I'm now hard at work on my new book, with the working title "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide." (Alternate titles: "A Thinker's Guide to Table Tennis Tactics" or "The Tao of Table Tennis Tactics." The advantage of the working title is that if the title starts out with "Table Tennis Tactics," it'll come up higher in online searches for table tennis and tactics.) I plan to have the first draft done by the Nationals in December. Here's a tidbit - recently I realized that all tactical thinking comes down to WEAR - Watch, Experiment, Analyze, and Remember. So WEAR your tactics with pride!

My other favorite table tennis acronym is on how to SPUR the growth of USA Table Tennis. Show the sport; get the masses to Play; get them to join USATT; and get them to Rejoin.

Tactics against a certain player

Here are examples of the tactics I use against a top player I play somewhat regularly. No, I won't give the name of the player, but it gives an example of the type of tactics you can use in a match. You'll note that most of the tactics are service tactics. That's the norm since those are what you have the most control over.

  1. Short pendulum serve to forehand and sometimes middle with changing spins forces mistakes and weak returns if not overused. Start out by using deceptive spin. Later go to more spin, which is less deceptive, but the increase in spin (especially side-top) catches the player off guard.
  2. Tomahawk serve (side-top or side-backspin) short or half-long to FH. Return is almost always toward my forehand, setting up my loop. Hold back on this serve so opponent doesn't get used to it. It's the go-to serve at the end of a close game.
  3. Fast no-spin to elbow. This draws the player toward the middle with a backhand receive, and sets me up to hit an aggressive backhand to the now open wide backhand.
  4. Short no-spin serves to middle cuts off the angles and keeps the player from pushing too heavy, and so sets me up for a loop, often off the bounce since I don't have to worry about the angles. Sometimes vary this with a short heavy chop serve, which will usually be pushed back heavy, which I loop slow and spinny deep to the wide corners.
  5. After any serve and loop that goes deep on the table, be ready to smash or loop kill the next ball. Don't hesitate.
  6. Sudden but occasional deep chop serve to the backhand often catches the player off guard and is pushed back, even though the player has a nice backhand loop. Watch closely how the player is receiving so I see quickly if I'm going to get a push or loop return.
  7. First loop should be varied to the wide corners and middle. If I make it look like I'm going to the forehand, the player often reacts too soon, leaving backhand side open.
  8. When receiving, look to aim to the backhand with a push return, then at the last second change directions and push either wide to the forehand (to draw the player out of position) or to the middle (to make the player choose forehand or backhand and draw out of position).
  9. In backhand exchanges, look for chances to play aggressively to the wide backhand and at the elbow. Stay out of the middle backhand area and never go to the forehand unless I have an extreme angle or the player is out of position.
  10. If the player hits a ball short in a rally, take it aggressively mostly to the wide forehand, since the player tends to leave that slightly open.
  11. In fast exchanges, look for chances to suddenly chop. This throws the player off and gets me out of fast exchanges that the player is good at.
  12. Lob and fish side to side with varying spin and height to force errors, and look for chances to lob to wide forehand to get a smash to my forehand to counter-attack or lob or fish with lots of spin.

Volunteers needed for 2012 Olympic Trials

The 2012 USA Olympic Trials (Feb. 9-12) and North American Olympic Trials (Apr. 20-22)will be held in Cary, NC. If you'd like to volunteer, play, or just spectate, visit their home page. Here's the text from the invitation latter I received.

"As you have hopefully heard, the US and North American Olympic Trials in Table Tennis are coming to Cary, North Carolina in February and April of 2012. This is an exciting event that will feature the best table tennis players in North America as they qualify to compete at the Olympic Games in London. We are now beginning to accept applications from local citizens who want to volunteer at the Olympic Trials. The volunteer application is now available on our website at www.cary2012.com. Available volunteer opportunities include venue operations, hospitality, and transportation. Volunteers will receive a commemorative tee shirt for their participation. 

"Additionally, we still have a special opportunity to be among the first to purchase the limited availability Friends of Table Tennis package. For $75, you receive all-event admission to both the U.S. and North America Trials, as well as admission to a special VIP reception featuring the country's top players. Seating is limited, so purchase your Friends of Table Tennis package today! Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.cary2012.com or the Cary Arts Center Box Office."

Denver Bronco Table Tennis Player

Quarterback Tim Tebow plays table tennis - see pictures and video!

Funny and spectacular table tennis

Here's both a funny and spectacular table tennis video (4:28). I love the part where the players are rolling in the tables. And don't miss the behind the back blocks at 1:29, 1:36, and 2:17, or the  penguin at the end!

Table Tennis Nation to Settle Occupy Wall Street

Yes, with Marty Reisman involved, all problems will be resolved. Here's the story. "Not since Lorne Michaels offered The Beatles $3000 to appear on Saturday Night Live has such a compelling offer been made to solve an ongoing national and international crisis."

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