Chinese footwork

December 9, 2013

Tip of the Week

Learn Tactics by Coaching Others.

Recap of Past Week

It's been a wild week. Let's recap the last five days:

  • Wednesday: I reinjured my arm (or at least aggravated previous injury) and had to cancel four hours of coaching that night and the following night.
  • Thursday: $458 in car repairs. (Car was vibrating and needed new tires.)
  • Friday: Saw doctor, got a cortisone shot, no more playing for rest of month (i.e. no private coaching). Also spent an hour going over videos of Zhang Jike, Ma Long, and Ma Lin and their footwork, and one of our top juniors, and then sent him a selection to view and compare. Later we discussed it, going over what he needs to do to improve.
  • Saturday: Ran a group junior session for 90 minutes, but then sent out emails to cancel the rest of my private coaching for the weekend and the rest of the month.
  • Sunday: All my group sessions today (3.5 hours) were cancelled due to snow and sleet. So I sat in a lounge chair all day and night reading and watching TV. It was great!!!

Mentality in a Match and in Practice - Revisited

Someone doubted part of my Tip of the Week for Nov. 25 at the MyTabletennis.net forum, writing that he thought that "…the zone was still something people enter on occasion and that Larry was wrong when he said one could practice entering it." I think this is a common way of thinking for those who don't have the experience that top players and coaches have in sports psychology. Here is my response:

Why do you think you can't practice entering it? Of course you can; you use the same mental techniques in practice that allow you to get into the zone as you would in a tournament. The more you practice doing it, the easier it is to do so in tournaments. Or do you think it's a completely random thing that just sort of happens? That may be true of those who don't understand sports psychology, but the whole point of sports psychology is to allow one to get into the zone on a consistent basis. And you learn to do this with practice; there's no other way. That's why top players meet with sports psychologists so they can learn these mental techniques, and then they practice these techniques in practice sessions (including practice matches) - and then they can do it in serious competition. The idea that it just sort of happens is not how top players do it, which is why the top players can get into the zone and play their best nearly every major tournament. It comes from practice. I know I can get into the zone pretty much at will within a game of any match because I've practiced it for many years and know what mental rituals to go through to attain it. Read "The Inner Game of Tennis," or "Get Your Game Face On!" or "Finding Your Zone."

Here was the response to that: "Usually, it's easier to enter the zone when you aren't being frustrated by your opponent - the level of challenge usually matches the focus you bring.  Most players get frustrated in TT when they are missing the ball.  The question is whether you can be in the zone and not playing that well." Here's my response:

Half the point of sports psychology is so that things in a match do not frustrate you. If the opponent is frustrating you, then you need to apply the sports psychology techniques used by top players to overcome this. Once in the zone, you will play well, relative to how you would play if not in it. If the opponent does something that really messes you up, it'll mess you up less if you are in the zone.

I'm often in demand as a coach in tournaments. Those who believe coaching at tournaments is all about tactics are only doing half their job. At least half of it is psychological as you use various techniques to get your player into the zone. You can't always do this - a frustrated kid can be hard to get into the zone - but I've been doing this for many years, along with the tactical aspect. The two go together - once someone is thinking about the tactical aspects (which means 2-3 tactics out of zillions of possibilities), then they aren't thinking about losing or other distracting thoughts, and is a quick way to get into the zone.

World Junior Championships

They were held in Rabat, Morocco, Dec. 1-8, finishing yesterday. The big upset was a South Korean won Under 18 Boys over the Chinese juggernaut. Here is the ITTF home page for the event, which includes results, write-ups, pictures, and videos. You can also check how the U.S. team did. (There should be a write-up of that soon by someone else; I'll link to it when it's up.)

Shonie Aki, RIP

Hall of Famer Shonie Aki died last Monday. Here's his Hall of Fame profile. Strangely, while I've sort of known him for many years (mostly through USATT matters), he was always so quiet that I never really knew him except through his Hall of Fame profile.

Ma Long's Instructional

Here's a video (55:30) where world #1 Ma Long of China teaches table tennis, covering nearly all the major aspects. This is a "must watch" for coaches and players.

Chinese Footwork

Here are two videos of Coach Matt Hetherington feeding multiball to Yang Song Wei.

Table Tennis Player Oldest Olympic Torchbearer

Here's the article. "A 101-year-old table tennis player became the oldest torchbearer in Olympic history Saturday, carrying the flame for the Sochi 2014 Games through the Siberian city of Novosibirsk."

Great Rally at World Junior Championships

Here's video (1:02, parts in slow motion) of a rally between Morizono Masataka (Japan, near side) and Zhou Kai (China) at 2013 ITTF World Junior Table Tennis Championships. See how fast Zhou moves to cover his wide forehand!

Ma Long - Zhang Jike Show

Here's a video (6:06) of the two doing a hilarious exhibition!

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October 27, 2011

When to react

Have you ever studied your opponent to see exactly when in his strokes he commits to a specific placement? If not, you are handicapping yourself. Most players commit to a direction before they start their forward swing, and you should be moving to the ball as they start their forward swing. But most players don't react until the opponent has hit the ball, thereby wasting a lot of valuable time. More on this in this Monday's Tip of the Week.

Chinese footwork

These six short videos are perhaps the best videos I've ever seen on footwork, as well as a great example on proper stroking technique. Coach Wang Wen Jie of China explains Chinese footwork - which is pretty much the way all world-class players move, Chinese or otherwise. The various footwork techniques are shown both a regular speed and in slow motion, and explained by the coach.

Physical training for table tennis

A blog reader (who wished to stay anonymous) sent me these videos of physical training for table tennis. I think the titles are in French. There's a bunch of them - enjoy!

Table tennis at its "worst"

I'm not sure why they call it this, but this is a great highlights reel (4:16). It starts off with Samsonov and some magical graphics, then goes on to highlight Samsonov and most of the Chinese and European top players. 

Final of 1973 Worlds

Here's the final eight points (2:59) of the Men's Singles Final at the 1973 World, Kjell Johannson versus Xi Enting. Enting leads 17-14 at the start, then at 19-18, wins on two edge balls in a row!

 

Your next opponent

If you can handle this guy, then you are ready for anyone. Sure, he's bigger than you, has big teeth and bad breath, and will probably eat you if you win, but you're playing for pride. He's a defensive player - he likes to chop things - so be patient and play his middle.

Attendance figures, U.S. Open and USA Nationals

Recently I posted the attendance figures for the USA Nationals, 1994 to present. I've done the same for the U.S. Open. Below are the raw stats (which now includes location) and two graphs. Figures do not include players who played only in doubles, hardbat, or sandpaper. (Hardbat was added in 1997, sandpaper in 2010.)

U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships

USA Table Tennis Nationals

Year

Participants

Location

Year

Participants

Location

2011

548

Milwaukee, WI

2011

?

Virginia Beach

2010

645

Grand Rapids, MI

2010

686

Las Vegas

2009

610

Las Vegas, NV

2009

597

Las Vegas

2008

663

Las Vegas, NV

2008

604

Las Vegas

2007

769

Las Vegas, NV

2007

730

Las Vegas

2006

455

Charlotte, NC

2006

837

Las Vegas

2005

694

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2005

829

Las Vegas

2004

664

Chicago, IL

2004

755

Las Vegas

2003

624

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2003

707

Las Vegas

2002

626

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2002

678

Las Vegas

2001

664

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2001

672

Las Vegas

2000

691

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

2000

686

Las Vegas

1999

613

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1999

658

Las Vegas

1998

524

Houston, TX

1998

592

Las Vegas

1997

785

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1997

650

Las Vegas

1996

670

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

1996

613

Las Vegas

1995

580

Anaheim, CA

1995

660

Las Vegas

1994

667

Anaheim, CA

1994

598

Las Vegas

 

 

 

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