Magic of Table Tennis

February 7, 2012

Seven-year-old looper

He's been playing only about six weeks. Last week he learned to loop for the first time. Normally I start players looping against backspin with multiball, but he'd seen others looping against block and wanted to try it, so we started with that. Apparently he practiced it all week. Yesterday he showed up, and he's looping against my block like a pro! He lets the ball drop very low, since he's very short, but he was getting very good spin with textbook technique. Wow. Can't wait to see how he develops.

You may remember this kid - he's the one I blogged about last week, on Jan. 31. Here's what I wrote: "A third kid, age seven, has the weird habit of hitting until the ball is high. Then he'll wait for it to drop, and loop it! He has loop written all over him, and will probably be looping everything soon. The interesting thing here is that at age seven, he already knows all the best players in the world, and likes to mimic them. Yesterday he was showing off his 'Ma Lin backhands,' mimicking both Ma's conventional and reverse penhold backhands, though he's a shakehander. He also tried to mimic Timo Boll's loop - needs work." Okay, now he has the Timo Boll loop down cold.

This is how many Europeans coaches teach kids - starting them off early looping against the block, where the kid lets the ball drop down to his level, so contact is below table level. This kid's going to be counterlooping in another month.

Next week I'm going to spend a good portion of the session split between looping against block and looping against backspin, using multiball for the latter. When he's ready I'll get out my hardbat chopping blade and have him loop against my chop.

U.S. Olympic Trials

Here's USATT's news item on the U.S. Olympic Trials in Cary, NC, Feb. 9-12, including the rough schedule and the broadcasting schedule at the end. I'll be there coaching. My notes on potential opponents (from many hours of watching videos and past experience) are ready. I'm coaching John Hsu in the Qualifier and Han Xiao in the Final Twelve. Han also write extensive notes on each of the other top ten players.

All that's left to do is laundry, packing, and four hours of coaching tonight. Then I'm off to the Trials early tomorrow morning. I'm going down with Cheng Yinghua and the Hsu's - John, Nathan, and their mom, Wen. We'll have an afternoon practice and then the jury meeting at 6PM, where we'll see the draws for the Qualifier, and find out who will be John & Nathan victims there - but first we'll adjourn to the room to watch videos of these potential victims.

Dan Seemiller and Joey Cochran in the News

Here's an article and video on these two from South Bend, IN, about their training for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Ma Long Tribute

Here's a tribute video to Chinese star and world #1 Ma Long (3:18).

The Magic of Table Tennis

Here's another table tennis music video (5:16).

How to Hit the Forehand

Here's Chris Grace's humorous video on how to hit the forehand (1:43).

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October 31, 2011

Tip of the Week

When to React.

Serve Cycling

Many or most players use just a few simple serves, on the theory that if you have too many serve motions, you'll have trouble perfecting any of them, plus you'll have trouble learning and reacting to all the possible returns. (Surprisingly, two serves done with the same spin and placement but a different motion are often returned differently by opponents.) There's nothing wrong with doing it this way. I do urge players like this to have alternate "trick" serves to throw at their opponents as a variation, which both gives them "free" points as well as making their other serves more effective as the receiver has more serves to worry about.

However, there's another way to serve, which I call "cycling." What this means is that you constantly throw different serves at your opponent, essentially cycling through your entire repertoire, often almost in sequence. The goal is never to use the same serve twice in a row, and usually not even the same service motion twice in a row.  Challenge the opponent with every variation you have, with as many service motions, spins, speeds, depths, and placements as possible. Your goal is to make them miss or pop up your serve. Try to fry their brain. Keep track of which serves give the opponent the most trouble, and recycle those serves more often than others. Use the most effective serves not just at the end of a close game, but throughout a game to make sure it isn't a close game. (Or to make a game you would have lost into a close game.)

I've always used this type of serving against some opponents, and recently I've taken to doing it more and more, with surprising effectiveness. Often I play entire games without using the same serve twice. While it's more effective at lower levels, it's surprisingly effective against many advanced players as well, as long as you don't overdo the long serves. One key - you will have to practice your serves a lot to effective cycle your serves in this way. In particular, you need to serve low, and for short serves and serves where the second bounce should be near the end-line, the depth.

The Magic of Table Tennis

Here's a great video of table tennis clips, set to music (7:39). One of the best I've seen.

Fierce ping-pong competition erupts outside Red Wings locker room

Sometimes, in the middle of a fight, a hockey game breaks out. In this case, in the middle of a hockey game (or at least after practice) a bunch of ping-pong games broke out. Here's a video (1:05) and article about the Detroit Red Wings playing table tennis. Players included Ty Conklin, Danny Cleary, Jiri Hudler, Brad Stuart, Patrick Eaves, and Nicklas Lidstrom. 

Happy Halloween!

In honor of Halloween, here are three table tennis Halloween videos!

The Official Table Tennis Nation Halloween Costume Guide 2011

Who do you want to be for Halloween? Marty Reisman? Forrest Gump? Christopher Walken? Susan Sarandon? These are all great possibilities, and the site gives step-by-step instructions for each of these costumes.

Susan Sarandon Trick Shot Video

Since some of you might be dressing up as Susan Sarandon for Halloween (see segment above), this is the perfect time to bring you the Susan Sarandon Trick Shot Video (1:08). Yes, it features Susan Sarandon and her ping-pong bag of tricks.

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