books

June 13, 2013

Staying Low Revisited

The Tip of the Week this past Monday was Staying Low. It was inspired by a student of mine, Sameer, 11, who tends to stand up straight when he plays. I've been on him about this for some time, and usually he gets lower - but only in practice drills if I constantly remind him. Once he plays points, he stands up again. At the Eastern Open this past weekend he won Under 800 and made the final of U950, but there were times where he didn't look so good since he was standing up so straight. (In newer ratings from before the tournament, he's rated 1181.)

So I told him that for the next month, our sessions are going to be very "boring," that we're going to focus almost exclusively on staying low. It's not just getting low, it's how you do it. When he does get low, his tendency is to simply bend his knees while leaning backwards from the waist, instead of forward. Also, his feet tend to be too close together, his feet pointing too much forward. You can't fix any one of these; they all go together. He also tends to either let his free arm tightly at his side, either hanging down or jammed up to his chest. Keeping the free hand out for balance is closely related to the ready position as you need it to stay balanced when you move.

So yesterday we started off by spending about ten minutes just shadow practicing with the proper stance. Once he looked comfortable doing this, we hit forehand to forehand at a very slow pace - it almost drove him crazy since he likes to play fast (like most kids), and every now and then in exasperation he'd smack one in. But we did this for twenty minutes, just forehand to forehand, adding some side-to-side footwork near the end. Then we did the same thing, backhand to backhand.

Then we played some points. The key was that he wasn't to play table tennis; he was to play "low table tennis," where he had to play the points in his newer stance. I expected problems, and kept the rallies simple - but lo and behold, he'd developed the habit during those excruciatingly slow rallies! Normally when I spot him 6 points I win over and over. This time he did something unthinkable - he won four out of five! Now I probably did miss a few shots, and was keeping things simple, but it was by far the best he's ever played. As a side bonus, by staying low he was able to see and react to my serve better than before, and returned them better than ever, even the "trick" serves I threw at him near the end of most games.

Table Tennista

Here are this week's headlines at Table Tennista:

China Open

Here's an ITTF story that features USA player Ariel Hsing - unfortunately, it features her upset loss. Here's the ITTF home page for the China Open, with results, articles, photos, and videos.

Behind the Scenes at the 2013 China Open

Here's a 38-second video with a few action shots and short interviews with Chinese players at the China Open. Interesting to watch, even more interesting if you understand Chinese, which I do not. Feel free to translate anyone!  

Three More Books Coming Out By Next Year

By the end of the year I'll have enough Tips of the Week to put them together in one volume, "Table Tennis Tips." (Highly original title - have a better suggestion?) It'll clearly be marked as a compilation of my previously published Tips of the Week. So far I've done 123 Tips of the Week here at TableTennisCoaching.com, one every Monday since Jan. 11, 2011. (Confession: a few didn't go up until Tuesday.) I anticipate doing 29 more this year, for a total of 152, plenty for a book. Sadly, I'm running out of topics, and so anticipate ending the Tips of the Week at the end of this year. (I also did 169 much shorter Tips of the Week, which were published near the back of Table Tennis Tales & Techniques - took up only 54 of the book's 272 pages. The Tips I do here are considerably longer, more like features than simple tips.)

Next year I'll also be publishing "More Pings and Pongs," the second anthology of my best published science fiction & fantasy stories. "Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges" came out in 2010 with my 30 best; I've now sold enough new stories for a new volume. The only problem is that typically when you sell a story, the buyer generally has sole rights to the story for six months, and so I anticipate I won't have rights to all the stories I'd like to use until April of 2014.

As a special, I've lowered the price for the Kindle version of Pings and Pongs to $2.99 - buy yours today!!! (I'd lower the price of the print version, but due to printing costs and other issues, the lowest I can sell it for is $8.35 - a bargain!!! It includes "Ping-Pong Ambition," a table tennis fantasy story.)

I have one other book also planned - "Table Tennis Fundamentals," the rewrite of "Table Tennis Steps to Success."

Here's my Amazon page that lists all my books, other than the USATT manual "Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis," which I plan to rewrite and have professionally published sometime in the future.

Non-Table Tennis - Orioles Top Ten List

Orioles Hangout published another of my infamous Top Ten Lists. This one was "Top Ten Ways the Orioles Can Get a TOR Starter." (For you non-baseball people, "TOR Starter" means "Top Of Rotation Starter," i.e. a pitching ace.) It's the eleventh article of mine they've published - nine "Top Ten" lists and two regular articles.

Non-Table Tennis - Sheeba

Yesterday I did 3.5 hours of coaching, and was pretty exhausted afterwards. I got home around 8:15PM, and let Sheeba, my dog, outside. She's 15 years old, which puts her in her eighties in human years. She's almost completely deaf, and half blind - almost completely blind without bright light - and has arthritic back legs so she hobbles around. When I went down around 8:30 PM the gate was open. One of the tenants downstairs had just left, and likely left it open, not realizing she was in the yard. Sheeba was nowhere to be seen.

I spent the next hour and 45 minutes circling the neighborhood and expanding outward, trying to find her. Calling for her was pointless since she's deaf, though I found it was a good way to indicate to people that I was searching for a lost dog. I kept asking around, and twice I found people who had seen her going by. Finally, at around 10:15 PM, I got a call from someone who had found her. I thanked her profusely, and walked the evil, naughty dog back home, where she demanded (and got) a bacon snack.

My legs are exhausted this morning, partly from 3.5 hours of coaching, but mostly from walking around for an hour and 45 minutes.

Table Table Tennis and Office Table Tennis

My legs are so tired from coaching and searching for Sheeba that for now on I'm going to play table tennis like this. Or perhaps like this.

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February 6, 2013

Feb. 4 USATT Board Minutes and Tournament Sanction Changes

Late last night the minutes of the Feb. 4, 2013 board meeting went up. Part of it was the election of Mike Babuin as the new chairman of the USATT Board of Directors, and the Advisory Committee Chair Appointments (see segment below). However, the bigger news is the new sanctioning standards for USATT tournaments, from zero to 5-star. Here are the new rules. When I get a chance I'll go over them and give my own thoughts. I'll be glad to hear your own - feel free to comment.

Mike Babuin New Chairman of the USATT Board of Directors

The USATT Board chose Mike as the new Chair. I've had many discussions with Mike, and I think they've made a good choice. Here's the article, and here's the actual board minutes, both of which also discuss advisory committee chairs. Here is the list of all newly appointed or re-appointed USATT Advisory Committees chairs.

High Performance Committee   -   Carl Danner
Nominating and Governance Committee   -   Bob Fox
Ethics and Grievance Committee   -   Jim Coombe
Compensation Committee   -   Mike Babuin
Audit Committee   -   Peter Scudner
Athletes Advisory Council   –   Han Xiao
Officials and Rules Advisory Committee   -   Roman Tinyszin
Seniors Advisory Committee   -   Gregg Robertshaw
Tournaments Advisory Committee   -   Larry Rose
Editorial Advisory Committee   -   Jim McQueen
Clubs Advisory Committee   -   Attila Malek
Hardbat Advisory Committee   -   Alberto Prieto
Juniors Advisory Committee   -   Dennis Davis
Coaching Advisory Committee   -   Federico Bassetti
Marketing and Fund Raising Advisory Committee   -   Jim Kahler

Book Blatherings

  • Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13. It's pretty comprehensive, covering the year 1984. We got started on it late Tuesday morning. On Day One, we completed the front and back covers, the inside front cover, and the first 40 pages (through the first two chapters). Tim's on a photo binge - I've already put in 85 photos! At this rate every member of USA Table Tennis, circa 1984, will be in it. I'm doing the page layouts and much of the photo work. The majority of the photos come from Mal Anderson, who scanned all his photos, saving us a huge amount of time.  We'll be working on this for the next 10-14 days. It will be on sale in a few weeks, along with the previous twelve already on sale, at TimBogganTableTennis.com.
  • Homestretch on Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. Yesterday I received the review copy. All looked well. I did make a few changes that I'd already planned, replacing two photos with two new ones, and tweaking a few pages. I've submitted the final version. If all goes well, print copies will be on sale this Friday. It's absolutely amazing how the printing industry has changed - they'll get the final version on Wednesday, and have copies on sale two days later!
  • TableTennisBooks.com? I recently bought the rights to the page, along with LarryHodgesBooks.com. I plan on selling my books on the latter, but am toying with someday becoming a table tennis book dealer on the former. After all, there's nothing we like to do better at a table tennis club than to curl up under a table and read table tennis books!
  • Want more books? Here's a list of all 213 books I have on table tennis. I just added Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.

Ma Long vs. Zhang Jike

Here's video (4:40) of their match at the 2013 Chinese Team Trials.

Pool-Pong

This is what happens when you combine pool and ping-pong (39 sec).

Underwater Table Tennis

With a shark!!! But of course sharks can play table tennis. Sometimes they even infest the table.

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May 22, 2012

Want a consistent forehand and backhand?

Then start off every session by hitting 50 (or even 100) in a row at a steady pace with good technique. Don't start counting until the shot feels comfortable. Don't go out there hitting at different speeds - to develop a repeatable shot you need to repeat it the same way over and Over and OVER, until it is so ingrained you find yourself absentmindedly practicing your forehand as you take your wedding vows, and after your prospective wife kills you, you'll reflexively smack the coroner with another forehand howitzer.

Once the shots are so ingrained, then you should focus on random drills that involve using these repeatable strokes when you don't know whether the next shot will be a forehand or backhand. For example, your partner hits the ball randomly to your forehand or backhand, and you respond by returning each shot with your forehand or backhand to the same spot he's hitting from. (Partner should be hitting all forehands or all backhands.) Take it slow - it's better to do this at a pace where you respond correctly each time then at a pace where your strokes begin to deteriorate and you practice bad form. As you improve, increase the pace. (Maybe an expanded version of this should be a Tip of the Week?)

U.S. Nationwide Table Tennis League

In case you missed it when I posted it before, here's the promotional video for the new USNTTL (5:06). I'm now on their Advisory Board, though I don't know how I'm going to find time or energy to take on one more thing. (Hey, they left my best credential off my bio - I'm in the danged U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame!) Hopefully "Advisory Board" means just that, as opposed to say, a "Workory Board" (otherwise known as a Task Force). Why am I so busy these days? It has something to do with three careers. . . .

Three Careers

Why am I so busy these days? Somehow I've found myself working on three careers: table tennis coach, table tennis writer, and science fiction writer. (Technically, it's science fiction and fantasy writer, but we'll go with science fiction as shorthand.)

Table tennis coach: I coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, my primary source of income. (Though surprisingly, my SF writing income this past month has almost matched it due to a bunch of sales.) Besides private coaching, I run a pair of 90-minute beginning junior classes, act as a practice partner for two other junior training sessions, plus am a hired coach at major tournaments, such as the upcoming Easterns and U.S. Open. With summer coming up, the busiest time for coaches, thing are about to get even more hectic. (We're running eleven consecutive weeks of training camps, Mon-Fri each week, mostly for junior players, though adults who don't mind training mostly with juniors are welcome as well. Coaches mostly work nights and weekends, but during the summer it becomes a day job.) In addition to coaching, I'm also involved in numerous promotional and organizational matters with MDTTC. Starting this fall I'm also running the MDTTC tournaments.

Table tennis writer: I've got four books on table tennis, with a fifth almost done. I've also got over 1200 published articles on table tennis (1224 to be exact), and that does not include any of my 350+ daily blog entries. (Here's a complete list of my written work, updated yesterday.) I've been paid plenty for some of these writings over the years, but not as much as you might think. Over the next few months I'm planning to put all five books into both ebook and print on demand (POD) format and look to dramatically increase online sales. The good news is I've learned it's easy to convert from Word to ebook format, and I'm already an expert in page design so I can create the PDF pages for POD. (Don't you love acronyms?) The books are:

  • Table Tennis: Steps to Success. This is my all-time best-seller, with over 28,000 copies sold in English, and unknown numbers sold in five other languages, some legal, but mostly illegal bootleg copies sold all over China and other countries. It's now out of print from its original publisher, so I have complete rights to it again. It'll be the first one I turn into an ebook and POD. However, it'll mean a lot of page designing as well as arranging all the photos.
  • Table Tennis: Tales & Techniques. I self-published this a couple years ago and sold about a thousand copies. I still have about 500 more sitting in boxes. Since I designed the pages, it's pretty much ready for POD. However, I'll have to redo the pages in Word so I can convert to ebook format.
  • Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook. I wrote this for USA Table Tennis. However, it's never really been used much except independently by coaches.
  • Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis. I wrote this in the early 1990s for USA Table Tennis as a guide for coaches on how to coach table tennis. I'm toying with combining this with the Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook. It will need a lot of updating, plus I'd have to recreate the pages in Word. I have the pages in PDF for POD. However, I'm not sure which photos to use with it - the originals I used, or the updated ones from Dan Seemiller and Mark Nordby, when they updated it for USATT. (I'd have to get permission to use the latter.)
  • Table Tennis Tactics and Strategic Development. I'm in the final editing/proofing stages, and it should be done by the weekend. (It's now about 93,000 words, about 400 pages in double spaced 12-point Times. It'll be my longest book, with over twice the text as Steps to Success.) Then I have to decide whether to illustrate it with pictures or not. Also, I'm still debating whether to go to a professional publisher or self-publish. I'm leaning toward the latter. I'm also debating the final title. Here are the ones I'm thinking about - suggestions and recommendations are welcome.
    • Table Tennis Tactics and Strategic Development (the current working title)
    • Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide (the working title until yesterday)
    • A Thinker's Guide to Table Tennis Tactics (the original title until someone told me it'd come earlier in Internet searches if I start the title with "Table Tennis.")
    • Table Tennis Tactics and Strategic Development: A Thinker's Guide (a little of everything)
    • Table Tennis Tactics and Strategic Thinking (the one I'm now leaning toward, as of this morning)
    • Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (another obvious possibility that I didn't think of until ten seconds ago)

Science Fiction Writer: This is my "side" career. I've sold 62 short stories, and have two novels making the rounds. Recently there's been a lot of nibbles by agents and publishers on the novels - several read the opening chapters and requested the rest, which they are now reading. (You normally query agents and publishers with just the opening chapters.) Here's my science fiction and fantasy page.

Over the last couple months or so I've had a flurry of short story sales - nine to be exact, including ones to nice magazines like Weird Tales, Penumbra, Electric Spec, and Flagship. Yesterday I sold my 62nd short story, "The Dragon of the Apocalypse" to Penumbra, a "pro" market that pays well. (Despite the dragon in the title, it's actually science fiction, not fantasy. What should the president of the United States do when a huge dragon swoops out of the sky and lands on the U.S. Capitol, a seeming threat to congress and the American people? It's like King Kong on the Empire State Building, but attack helicopters instead of bi-planes - and things are not as they seem.)

My 30 best short story sales (circa 2010) are combined in an anthology, "Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of Larry Hodges." Buy it!!! I've almost sold enough new stories for its sequel, "More Pings and Pongs."

Other: And when I grow up, I still want to be a math professor, astronomer, presidential historian, cartoonist, and play second base for the Baltimore Orioles. See, I'm a realist; I'd really rather play shortstop (like Cal Ripken) or third base (like Brooks Robinson) but I know I can't make the throw to first, so I'm willing to compromise.

Ariel Hsing on CBS News

Here's a CBS article and video (2:09) on 16-year-old U.S. Women's Singles Champion and Olympic hopeful Ariel Hsing. Very nice presentation, and don't you love the mentions of Uncle Warren and Uncle Bill?

Oriole Table Tennis

As mentioned in past blogs, the Baltimore Orioles baseball team plays a lot of table tennis in their clubhouse. I've been invited to come in sometime to do some coaching (primarily with J.J. Hardy, Jake Arrieta, and trainer/former center fielder Brady Anderson), but the date is not yet set. Here's a quote from an article that mentions table tennis: "It's fun any time you're winning, no matter what the sport is," [Nick] Markakis said. "We have a bunch of competitive guys in this locker room, whether it's playing cards or ping pong or baseball."

The Google Ping-Pong Dragon

Since I sold a story called "The Dragon of the Apocalypse" just yesterday, in honor of that here's the Google Ping-Pong Dragon.

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April 24, 2012

USATT Minutes of Committee & Task Force Meetings

From the USATT Bylaws, Section 9.10, Minutes of Meetings:

"Each committee and task force shall take minutes of its meetings.  The approved minutes must be published within thirty (30) days of completion of the meeting."

I've pointed this out to the USATT board multiple times over the past few years, via email to the board, at the 2009 Strategic Meeting, at board meetings, and I blogged about this on October 11 last year. [See segment"2009 USATT Strategic Meeting (and Task Force Minutes)."]

Either none of the USATT committees or task forces have met even once over the past five years or so, or they simply aren't following the bylaws, even after the problem was pointed out. (I happen to know that a number of these committees and task forces have met.) Alas, the very board that crowed so much about creating these new bylaws (circa roughly 2007, with updates since) has not followed them. Don't believe me?

Then here's a challenge. FIND ME THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS. First person who can find them by 4:30 PM this afternoon when I leave to coach (and no cheating by someone putting them online today) gets a free copy of any one of my books (see below) and public acknowledgement here. (One exception - I'm fairly certain I remember seeing minutes online of an Officials meeting, but am not sure. But if anyone can find those minutes, no book, but I'll acknowledge your finding in my blog tomorrow.) Here are the USATT minutes for USATT board meetings, and the USATT committee listing. (The committee listing includes task forces, some of which have met over the past few years and since been dissolved, such as the "Grow Membership Through Added Value" task force.) Other than board meetings, there are minutes for a Hall of Fame Committee meeting listed on "December 20, 2011" (they mean 2010) - and they are not actually a USATT committee. 

Note that not all committees meet, especially "advisory" committees. I'm on the USATT Coaching, Club, and Editorial Advisory Committees, but none of them have had a formal meeting since I was appointed. However, others have met to formulate various policy, such as the High Performance Committee, which meets to set policy and schedule for the National Teams, and of course the various Task Forces meet to accomplish their various tasks. (At least I hope they do!)

Books by Larry Hodges

Hey, that's me! Since I mentioned my books above (and it's been a while since I listed them here), here's a listing. Note that Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook and Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis (which are really handbooks) are online (free). And this fall I hope to have my new book out, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide." (I'm doing the final rewriting right now, but other table tennis issues keep intervening.) 

2012 North American Olympic Table Tennis Trials Press Conference

Here's the video of the press conference with all the players from North America who made the Olympics (19:53). Unfortunately, I can barely hear them even at full volume. Maybe others have louder speakers.

Ariel Hsing slideshow

Here are eight photos with captions of U.S. Women's Champ and Olympian teenager Ariel Hsing at the Olympic Trials.

Michael Landers and the Kelloggs Corn Flakes Box

Here's more on Michael Landers on the Kelloggs Corn Flakes box, including a picture of both the front and back.

"As One" movie

Here's a preview of "As One" (1:48), with English subtitles, the story of the joint Korean 1991 World Women's Team Champions

Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings

Here's another article on hockey's Predators vs. Red Wings table tennis "feud."

Adam Bobrow Highlights

Here's two minutes of Adam Bobrow, mostly from movie and TV roles, including three table tennis scenes. (He's not just a comedian and actor - he's rated 2115, and was recently up to 2172.)

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April 10, 2012

Too far from the table on your forehand loop?

A lot of players lose power when forehand looping against backspin because they are too far from the table, taking the ball too much in front of them instead of rotating their body and taking it from the side. This forces them to reach forward for the ball, and to compensate and keep their balance, their left side (for righties) falls back as they hit the shot. It also means they cannot get much body rotation into the shot. They may get decent spin with this shot, but little forward speed. Instead, stand closer to the table, and rotate the body back sideways, and then rotate the entire body into the shot. The contact point is actually in the same spot relative to the table, but now you are in a position to really put power on the ball. Watch the top players and see how close they stand to the table when looping against backspin.

Here's a video (1:42) by USA Men's Coach and former German star Stefan Feth showing and explaining the forehand loop against backspin. Note how he stays relatively close to the table as he rotates into each shot with great power.

Maryland Table Tennis Center Tuesday Night League

Starts tonight! So be there. (Alas, I'll be coaching from 5-9, and the league starts at 7:30. But I'll be watching some between coaching points!)

Four recent table tennis books

I may write more about these books later. So far I've only browsed them, except for "Breaking 2000." (Here's a complete listing of the 206 books I have on table tennis.)

Werner Schlager Academy photos

Here are 14 pictures recently taken by Coach Donn Olsen at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria. Can you identify the players?

Table Tennis the Serious Sport

Here's an article in the Anniston Star featuring table tennis player, promoter, and umpire/referee Mike Wetzel and his "love affair with table tennis."

Bubba Watson and Ping-Pong

It turns out Masters Champion Bubba Watson also plays table tennis, as shown by Table Tennis Nation.

The House of Rackets

Here's a 36-second preview of a new TV show, "The House of Rackets," which features tennis, badminton, squash, and yes, table tennis. "SMASH is Asia's first ever all-inclusive racquet sports magazine show featuring the best weekly coverage from the worlds of badminton, table tennis, squash and tennis. SMASH will air every Wednesday at 10:30 pm on STAR Sports."

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October 13, 2011

My books

It has come to my attention that some of you have not yet bought copies of my books. Buy a copy of my book today or I will choke this coach to death.

The hard-soft drill

One of the best drills for developing a forehand or backhand smash is the hard-soft drill. (It really should be called the hard-medium drill, but that doesn't have quite the same ring.) On the backhand side, you just go backhand to backhand, with one player playing steady, and the other alternating between an aggressive ("medium") drive and a smash or near-smash ("hard"). You do the same on the forehand side. This leads to much longer and more consistent rallies than if one player just smashes every ball, plus the attacking player learns to hit at different paces. It's also a great control drill for the steady player, who learns to react to the different paces rather than just stick his racket out and blocking the same ball over and over. Note that you can also do this drill for looping.

The backhand loop in front of the body

Why is the backhand loop taken mostly in front of the body instead of to the side? I theory, you might be able to get more power if you turn sideways and took the ball off to the side and rotated into the ball, like on the forehand side, as players do in tennis. There are players who seemed to experiment with this technique, such as the Mazunov brothers from Russia and Grubba of Poland, but while they sometimes took it from the side, their primary backhand loops were also mostly in front of the body.

There are four reasons for this.  First, unlike tennis, you often have only a split second to react to the incoming ball. If you try to take the ball from the side on both the forehand and backhand, you simply won't have time for both. Since the forehand is naturally from the side, that leaves the backhand to be taken in front.

Second, if you took both the forehand and backhand from the side, that gaping hole in the middle would be the size of Texas. Opponents would attack the middle and you'd have great difficulty covering it.

Third, by taking the ball in the middle, it allows you to use the power from the waist and upper body as you uncoil up during the stroke. I don't know if this allows you as much more power than the torque from rotating the body, but it does give great power.

And fourth, because everyone else does it this way, and so new players copy them or are taught to do it that way. Who knows, perhaps someday someone will change table tennis by learning to backhand loop with great power from the side, overcoming the problems listed above, and revolutionize table tennis. Or perhaps not.

Receiving long serves with backhand

Here's an 18 second video that shows how to return a long serve with the backhand.

Victor Barna 1933

Here's vintage 1933 footage and narration of Victor Barna, five-time men's singles world champion, including a discussion and explanation of his technique.

Amy Lee plays table tennis

Here's an article that talks about the table tennis of Amy Lee, lead vocalist for the rock band Evanescence.

Steve Colbert on Beer Pong

Yes, here's Colbert on beer pong (4:19), including lines like, "Beer pong gives you herpes. Hell, ping pong gives you crabs." I have no idea what that last part means. The beer pong bit starts about 30 seconds in.

Non-Table Tennis

My fantasy story "Mirror My Love" is the feature flash story for this week at Quantum Muse. (Here is my science fiction & fantasy page.)

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May 4, 2011

 

Table Tennis Nets

Not nets for the table, or even nets for robots, but nets for picking up balls! How did the world (or at least table tennis clubs with lots of training going on) operate before we had them for picking up balls? We use Ball Amigos from Butterfly (since MDTTC is sponsored by Butterfly). Paddle Palace sells Stiga Ball Catchers. Newgy sells Pong Pals, a tube for picking up balls, though I prefer nets. (JOOLA also has nets for picking up balls, but their shopping site is temporarily down for maintenance so I can't look it up.) Feel free to comment on other ball pickup devises - there are more. (Addendum: There's also the PingPongBuddy sold at Megaspin, as noted by PipProdigy below.) 

One of the funnier moments at MDTTC came about ten years ago when an actual butterfly flew into the club. So one of the kids spent the next ten minutes chasing it with a Butterfly net! (Technically a Butterfly Ball Amigo, but Butterfly net sounds funnier, and it was a Butterfly net being used as a butterfly net.) He never caught the butterfly, but he did chase it out the door.

Team USA Table Tennis News Item

Team USA Table Tennis put up a news item on the ITTF Coaching Seminar I ran in Maryland April 16-17, 23-24. The same article (by Jef Savage) should appear as a USATT News item soon. On their home page, in the blue field (to the right of the large picture box), click on "ITTF Coaching Course in Maryland," and you'll a picture of me teaching, classroom style! (I'm holding the book because we couldn't fit the whole page on the screen without making it too small for people to read, so I used the book for reference so I could see the whole page.)

Are you interested in an ITTF Coaching Seminar? Keep reading this blog; there are some future ones planned which I'll announce here! (Not necessarily by me - there are other high-level coaches who are planning on teaching them. I'll probably teach another one in Maryland next year.)

Table Tennis Tales & Techniques

Now for some crass commercialism. Want to buy a copy of my book, Table Tennis Tales & Techniques? Below are where you can buy copies! (I put the amazon link up, but why not support table tennis and buy from your favorite table tennis distributor?)

If you are looking for a copy of my book Table Tennis: Steps to Success (not to be confused with the book by Richard McAfee with the same title), you can still buy copies from Butterfly and Amazon, and there are currently four copies on sale on ebay. Plus there's an online version.

Two other table tennis books of mine are online:

Plus, of course, there's Pings and Pongs, a collection of my 30 best published science fiction & fantasy short stories! (There's one table tennis fantasy story, and table tennis is mentioned in several other stories.)

Tahl Leibovitz Videos

U.S. Paralympic Champion Tahl Leibovitz - who came within a game or so once of making the regular USA National Team - has put together a series of 21 instructional table tennis videos. There's a 15-second commercial at the start of each (wanna buy some State Farm car insurance?), then they go on to good stuff.

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