Micronesia

November 14, 2011

Zhang Jike wins 2011 Men's World Cup

Here's coverage at Table Tennista, a great place to get your table tennis news (besides here!), including many articles translated from Chinese. Zhang was down 0-2 in the final to Wang Hao in the all-China final (what else is new?) before staging his comeback, -7,-7,9,4,5,3. Here's the whole match in just 13:49, with the time between points removed. (Note - this was originally linked to their match at the 2010 World Cup; it didn't get corrected until Monday night at 7PM.) Here's the ITTF home page for the Men's World Cup, with results, articles, and photos.

World Cup 2011: Zhang Jike (CHN) vs. Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)

One of the best matches of the 2011 World Cup was the Zhang-Ovtcharov match in the preliminaries. Both had already defeated the other two in the group (), and were playing for positioning in the final draw of eight players. Here's is the entire match in just 7:50, with the time between points removed. Zhang comes from behind 0-2 and 1-3 to win deuce in the seventh, -10,-7,5,-8,5,8,10. This is a great match to study. Watch how they vary their serves and receives.

Also note how Ovtcharov often serves backhand to the forehand side (see first point), and over and over Zhang returns it with his backhand. See extreme case at 0:50. Ovtcharov does it as well - see 1:05, for example. Also see 1:10, where Ovtcharov is about to return backhand from the forehand side, then realizes the serve is long, and switches to a forehand loop. As mentioned in previous blogs, this technique of using the backhand to attack short serves to the forehand, mostly against backhand sidespin type serves, is relatively new at the world-class level, and went against what coaches taught until just a few years ago, when top Chinese players like Ma Long and now Zhang began doing it successfully.

Day Five at the Writer's Retreat

Friday was the fifth and final day of the writer's retreat at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, Mon-Fri, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM, where I was working on my new book, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide."

44,327 words, over 38,000 since Monday. I'm about two-thirds through the book, and hope to get most of that done this week - we'll see. Here's the wordy sentence of the day (which might get rewritten): "This book is for all levels, from beginners learning to play (who should focus on developing their game strategically so they can later have the weapons to use tactically) to intermediate players (who can execute many of the shots the best players do, at a lower level, and need to both find ways to maximize their tactical performance with the tools they have, and to strategically develop new weapons) to top players (who can use this book to develop - or further develop - the habit of thinking strategically and tactically).

Richard McAfee and the Micronesian Month

USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee just finished his month-long coaching excursion to the Federated States of Micronesia, where he's been coaching at the South Pacific islands of Kosrae, Yap, Chuuk, and Pohnpei. Here's the ITTF article. I will make no jokes about Richard fitting into a place called Micronesia because it's never good to make jokes about a person who is bigger than Micronesia.

ITTF Museum Newsletter #26

The ITTF Museum released Newsletter 26. The issue includes:

o   Their first royal visitor
o   Kjell Johansson remembered - his personal 1973 racket donated
o   ITTF Museum exhibition at the China Open in Suzhou
o   Jean Devys (FRA) donation:  Budapest 1950 World Ch. program
o   The Final Relay - arrival of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic torch
o   Colin Clemett visit, with previously unknown World Ch. scores

Video of the Day

Here's Table Tennis Spectacular, Part 1 (3:27).

Top Ten Political Excuses for Losing

  1. "I'm part of the 99% . . . the ones who don't win tournaments. Occupy Court One!"
  2. "During my match with Zhang Jike, the teleprompter was telling me how to play Timo Boll."
  3. "There's this third reason . . . I can't remember it. Sorry. Oops."
  4. "The "trickle down theory of rating points" hasn't work for me. I'm more of a ratings creator, and then they just trickle down to whoever I'm playing."
  5. "I'm a Democrat, my opponent was a Republican, and he waterboarded me."
  6. "A billion dollar stimulus program didn't bring me a single rating point."
  7. "The accusations that I harassed four opponents are absolutely untrue. It was my righty forehand that harassed them. But I still lost because they kept hitting to my left, my backhand."
  8. "I absolutely deny that in Massachusetts tournaments I was pro-choice on long pips, no matter what the videos say. I've always been against long pips, and I always will, as long as Republican primary voters are against them, or at least until the general election."
  9. "To help finance my training, I hired a Greek economist."
  10. "Unlike Trump, Bachman, Perry, Cain, Palin, Christie, Mother Theresa, the ghost of Ronald Reagan, and a plumber from Ohio, I haven't yet had my fifteen minutes as the conservative alternative to Romney."

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November 7, 2011

Tip of the Week

How to ace an opponent. You can see all the past Tips here, or see link on menu on left.

FIT Open

There's not a whole lot I want to write about. I couldn't move on the slippery floors, or see the ball against the orange-brown tile floors (colored to look like real wood). Players would put the ball to my forehand, normally a strength, and I couldn't move to the ball and couldn't see the ball. Halfway through I withdrew from the tournament. (Several players said that it was much more slippery this year than in past years.) 

The irony is that part of the problem I faced was that I play and coach almost exclusively on the red rubberized flooring at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with great lighting and background. And so I faced the same thing players at our club have complained about in the past, that they couldn't play effectively in bad conditions. If there were national championships held on slippery floors or other bad conditions, we'd have to train our players in those conditions, but since the vast majority of such matches are on better conditions, we'll just have to live with it in some tournaments.

Personally, I'm going to pretty much avoid ever playing in a tournament where the floors are slippery or the lighting or background make seeing the ball difficult. I'm used to really gripping the floor with my feet and getting quick starts, and seeing the ball pretty much right into my paddle, so when I try to move and my feet slide, or the ball disappears right in front of me, my game pretty much shuts down. Others also had problems seeing the ball, but I think I had more problems than most - could be my eyes simply don't pick up orange objects on an orange-brown background as well as others. It's hard enough being primarily a one-winged forehand attacker at age 51, but on slippery floors where I can barely track the ball? Yikes. I actually reverted to chopping in several matches, with my super-fast racket and fast sponge, and at times played better that way.

Of course, now everyone can say I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), which was where the tournament was held. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around "Fashion" and "Technology" in the same sentence. Sorry fashion people.

Backhand receive of short serves

More and more top players are adopting a new technique of receiving balls short to the forehand with their backhands. This is especially true against backhand serve type sidespin, where it's awkward to get the racket angle right on the forehand side. This went against what almost any coach would teach until just a few years ago. Now it's done regularly by players such as world #1 Ma Long. Here's his match with Ma Lin at the 2011 China Open (8:45), and see the serve returns at 0:38 and 0:54. After that, Ma Lin rarely serves short to the forehand again. Maybe watch the whole match - lots of great shots and tactics.

Which was the better backhand?

Here are two great backhands (0:33) by Timo Boll and Ma Long. Which is better?

A Thinker's Guide to Table Tennis Tactics

This week I'm in a workshop at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Mon-Fri, 9:30AM-5PM. I did this last year while working on a fantasy novel (now making the rounds of publishers and agents), and did 30,000 words in those five days. This time I'm working on "A Thinker's Guide to Table Tennis Tactics." (I'm still debating between that title, which I prefer, and "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide," which I'm told would come up sooner in Internet searches for table tennis.) I've had to do some rearranging of my coaching schedule, but it'll be worth it if I get a lot done. It might mean some rushed blog entries, but we'll see. I hope to have a first draft done by the Nationals in mid-December, and published hopefully sometime early next year.

Sean O'Neill teaches the fundamentals

Five-time USA Men's Singles Champion Sean O'Neill teaches stroking fundamentals in this video (8:21).

Richard McAfee's Micronesian Odyssey

Here's another article on the ITTF webpage on USATT coaching chair Richard McAfee's coaching clinics in Micronesia. Big Mac sure gets around - and with all the ITTF articles, it's a Noisier Mac! (Just kidding - "Noisier Mac" is an anagram for Micronesia, so I had to work that in. Richard could respond, "I Senior Mac," another anagram. Don't you love anagrams?)

Interview at The Daily Quarterly

As noted on Friday, I was interviewed by The Daily Quarterly. Here it is! (Remember, they are a satirical site, and so I gave my answers accordingly.) This is only Part 1; Part 2 goes up next Friday.

Just for Laughs - Table Tennis!

"Just for Laughs" did a table tennis prank video in May this year (1:31). Their description: "Old woman is carrying a box full of ping pong balls, as she gives it to the victim, all the ping pong balls fall and roll everywhere."

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