MDTTC

January 5, 2012

Busy month ahead

One of our full-time coaches at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, is leaving Monday for a month in China. Sun Ting, who recently joined our staff, is also in China, also returning in about a month. I'm subbing for some of their students while they are away so it's going to be a busy month. (Pray for my back!) We'll be back at full strength around the start of February.

Around that time is when the wall to our club goes down and we take over the space next door to us, doubling the club's size. It'll probably be another month of renovations before everything's ready, and then we'll have 11,000 square feet, around 18-20 tables all on red rubber flooring, the bathroom that's currently in the middle of the club obstructing everything will finally be off to the side, and we'll have our new weight room. We'll also have a new modernized web page, and our new facebook page will be ready for action. Our coaching staff will then include me, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, Sun Ting, Raghu Nadmichettu, and Donn Olsen.

Equipment Junkies: The Next Generation

Yesterday I was coaching a 10-year-old semi-beginner. Unfortunately, he'd forgotten his racket, which was a standard relatively slow beginner's blade with about 1.7mm Sriver on both sides. So he tried out mine - a fast carbon blade with space-aged sponge with built-in glue effect on both sides.

His first ten shots went way, Way, WAY off the end, with his eyes going wide like a pancake after the first one. But then he adjusted. It was like going from a sailboat to a nuclear-powered hydroplane. He loved the way the racket practically trampolined the ball back. He was literally clutching it to his chest, saying "I'm keeping this!"

I explained how he wouldn't be able to control it in a game situation, where he wouldn't get the predictable shots as he got in drills, and how shots he could control with his old racket would often miss with this warp 8 racket, but it was too late. Thus an equipment junkie was born. At the end of the session I had to essentially pry the blade from his cold, EJ fingers.

After the lesson, he called his dad over and I gave both of them my standard lecture on equipment - the advantages/disadvantages of faster blades, different types and thicknesses of sponge, bounciness and throw angles, etc. But there's no turning back. Next week I'm going to put some advanced sponge on his slower blade, giving him a sort of nuclear-powered sailboat. Hopefully that'll work for him. Otherwise he'll be on his way to the dark side like my previous students Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

Ma Long's windmill defense

Watch as China's Ma Long, world #1, improvises and does a windmill-style (or as we call in the U.S., Seemiller-style) backhand chop return of this loop in this slow-motion 60-second video. When you are through oohing and aahing about that shot, watch it again from the perspective of the opponent. When I first saw the video, I thought it was Werner Schlager, but a close look tells me (I think) that it's Tomislav Kolarek of Croatia (Can anyone verify?), world #190, who played Ma Long in the early rounds at the 2011 World Championships in the Netherlands - Ma wins at 2,5,6,5. Even more interesting to me than Ma's improvised defense is the way Kolarek tricked him into thinking he was looping to the forehand by lining up his shoulders as if he were going that way, but instead going down the line. (Also of interest - watch the serve. It's completely hidden from the opponent and illegal. It disappears behind Kolarek's head, and doesn't reappear until after contact when it reappears at his side.)

Pongcast TV Episode 06 - 2011 Year in Review Part 1

This is part 1 (22:47), which covers the first six months of 2011. I'm not sure when Part 2 comes out.

Racket sports bloopers

Here's a blooper video (1:24) mostly for racket sports, including several from table tennis, as well as tennis, racquetball, badminton, tetherball, and volleyball.

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November 16, 2011

Short push and loop drill

Here's a simple drill that covers four basic skills in three shots. Your partner serves short backspin anywhere on the table. You push it back short anywhere - try and hide the direction and at the last second maneuver it somewhere on the table short. Your partner quick pushes to your backhand. You backhand loop (or drive) crosscourt. Your partner blocks crosscourt. You step around and try to end the point with your forehand. You've practiced your short push, your backhand loop, your step around backhand footwork (as well as other footwork for the other shots), and your forehand.

Variations: You can backhand loop anywhere, and then it's free play. Or instead of stepping around with a forehand, you can try to end the point with your backhand. Or backhand loop down the line, partner blocks or counterloops to your forehand, you loop/counterloop, and it's free play. Or any other variation you can think of that fits your game, or how you want to play.

Maryland Table Tennis Center Expansion

Now it can be told! In January, the Maryland Table Tennis Center (my club) is doubling in size. The full-time club and training center has been open since 1991, and in the same location since 1997, with 5500 square feet and 12 tables. In January, the wall between us and the identical space next door goes down, and the club becomes a full-time 11,000 square foot facility, with 22-24 tables. Coaches Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, and myself will continue, plus new coaches will be brought in, probably some from China. Donn Olsen is also joining our coaching staff.

The entire playing area will have the red rubberized flooring that currently covers only half the club. The bathroom in the middle is moving to the side. (Finally!) We'll even have wireless Internet. Lots of new programs are planned - my hours will soon increase dramatically. I'll be in charge of promoting, setting up, and running numerous programs, including the after-school junior training program; a beginning class; intermediate and advanced training; and a monthly e-newsletter.

The Lefty Penhold Hardbat Coach with a Federer Forehand

After one of his 2250 junior students struggled with a lefty at a tournament this past weekend, Coach Cheng Yinghua switched hands during a training session last night at MDTTC and proceeded to dominate the rallies as a lefty! Much of this was from shock as the poor junior couldn't believe this was happening. (Neither could I.) But Cheng looked solid 2200 as a lefty. Add in the fact that he's a proven 2400+ as a penholder and dominates in hardbat when he chooses, and you start to wonder what he can't he do. Did I mention he also has a Federer-like forehand in tennis? I've played him. (But he serves underhand.) It turns out that while the Europeans goof off by lobbing, the Chinese goof off by playing opposite hand and opposite grip.

More seriously, Cheng was able to mimic the lefty's tricky forehand pendulum serve, and so the junior was able to practice against it - though with great difficulty at first. The fact that Cheng kept following up the serve with lefty forehand and backhand loops, giving even more practice against a lefty, was just icing.

Counterlooping Video

Here's a good instructional video on forehand counterlooping (1:48).

2011 Para Pan Am USA Results

Here they are - singles results so far. So far, Tahl Leibovitz won a gold in Class 9 (standing disabled); Pam Fontaine a Silver in Class 1-3 (wheelchair); and Andre Scott a Silver in Class 5 (wheelchair). Daryl Sterling, Jr. finished fourth in Class 7. Team events are next. Here's an article on the opening ceremonies that includes a lengthy quote from Sterling.

Video of the Day

Here's Table Tennis Spectacular, Part 3 (4:10).

How Mean People Serve Aces

In just 20 seconds.

Non-Table Tennis - my story wins Story Quest Contest!

This morning I found out that my dystopian science fiction story "Rationalized" won the Story Quest Short Story Contest! It's about a future society where everyone has an operation on their brain at age 13 to remove all emotions, and the underground society that secretly avoids this operation, but must pretend to always be unemotional - and the lengths they must go to hide their secret when a terrible accident occurs. (Here's my science fiction page. Yes, I have a life outside table tennis!)

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