Red Wings

April 18, 2012

Cancellations and a needed rest

Yesterday I was scheduled to coach from 5-7 and 8-9 PM. Late in the afternoon the 5-7 sessions were cancelled - it was a family of three, a father and two sons, and one of the sons was sick and they couldn't leave him at home alone. Then the 8 PM cancelled for unknown reasons. Suddenly I had the day off, my first in a while. Let's just say I needed it - my back and forearm were starting to go, and every muscle in my body was beginning to feel like five-year-old sponge that had blocked a few too many power loops. So I got to stay home and watch NCIS and the Orioles defeat the White Sox 3-2.

Today I'm tutoring Calculus from 10AM to noon for one of the local table tennis stars, who is taking the AP exam in late May. I do this every Wednesday, and with the exam coming up soon we may be doing it twice a week. I've got a 5-7PM session tonight. Rather than come home between noon and 5PM I'm going to head out to MDTTC and spend the afternoon there working on the rewrite of Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide. We've got wireless now so I'll be connected - but not sure if that's a good thing while working on a project. (I'm also editing a short SF story written by another local junior, who emailed it to me. It's not for school, he just likes to write.)

I was going to write something about chop blocks this morning, but it seemed more of a Tip of the Week. So I'll keep it to this for now - do you ever chop block? If you are playing someone who beats you in topspin rallies (either blocking, counter-hitting, or looping), perhaps this would be a way to change things up? It's an especially good changeup on the backhand, and can be done with sidespin as well.

Erica Wu, Ariel Hsing, and Lily Zhang battling for Olympic Spots

Here's the ESPN story. Also note that USA Table Tennis tweeted that top seeded Gao Jun has withdrawn (no reason given), and her spot in the North American Olympic Trials (this weekend) has been taken by Judy Hugh. (What player took Gao's spot? Hugh. Who? That is correct. Who took Gao's spot?!!! Yes. And so on, with apologies to Abbott and Costello.) 

Timo Boll Video

Here's a tribute video to German star Timo Boll (7:37).

Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators battle over ping-pong

The Predators hockey team just wanted to play, but the Todd Bertuzzi of the Red Wings said no, get your own table. Here's the story

Online table tennis jigsaw puzzles

I've always liked doing jigsaw puzzles (I collect ones with dragons and wizards), and last night I had a brainstorm - why not find a table tennis themed jigsaw puzzle and bring it to the club? Alas, I was unable to find one - but I found two online ones! Here's the Jigzone Table Tennis Puzzle, and here's the Free Online Games Virtual Ping Pong Puzzle (the latter starts with a 15-second commercial, alas). I solved the latter; the first one looks tougher.

Non-Table Tennis: Top Twelve Reasons the Orioles are the Best Hitters in Baseball

My Top Twelve list was published on Orioles Hangout. See the listing there, or go directly to it. I'm actually somewhat notorious there for my semi-regular "Top Ten" lists, which I post on their forum every now and then under the pseudonym larrytt. This time one of the editors/owners/managers really liked it and so published it as a Hangout article. (In the past I'd have asked you to pity me for being an Orioles fan, but we're in first place in the AL East at 7-4, and lead or are near the lead in most hitting and pitching categories.)

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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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