Lily Zhang

February 24, 2014

Tip of the Week

Backhand Sidespin Push.

Adham Sharara Interview - More Changes Are Coming!

Here's an interview with ITTF President Adham Sharara. Some of the things he says will make some players nervous or even downright scared. Three of the main things he talks about are ending Chinese domination, slowing down the game by using a ball with less spin and speed (bounce), and starting to restrict rackets with a bounce test. Here are excerpts, and my comments. (Note that I'm saving for last the most revolutionary item - the testing of rackets, i.e. a bounce test, and an apparently new racket approval process.)

When asked why he thinks it's necessary to end Chinese domination, he uses the example of USA basketball, and says, "Hence, we felt it’s necessary to take our sport to other nations and requested China to help others. Table tennis should be played everywhere. Otherwise, it’ll become very boring." I'm a bit leery of the whole idea of making it a goal to end a country's domination, though of course he might have a point about it being more interesting when more countries are competitive.

There does seem to be one difference, however: I believe that when the USA basketball teams dominated, the whole world watched when they played. With China dominating, the world doesn't seem to watch when they play. I think this has more to do with USA media, which is (of course) biased toward USA and tends to dominate or at least influence the rest of the world's media. I'd rather the focus be on China helping to spread table tennis by continuing to do what they are already doing, which is to send their coaches all over the world to train players in other countries. Then it's up to the rest of the world to catch up with China, with the help of these Chinese coaches. That's what we're doing in the U.S., for example. With the help of seemingly zillions of new Chinese coaches and practice partners, and many dozens of new training centers opened in the past 7-8 years, we have by far the best junior and cadet players in our history. In a few years they may be challenging anyone in the world . . . except maybe the Chinese. (USA top juniors and cadets: sic 'em!)

Then they get into balls and rackets. We'd been told that the change to the new poly balls was because celluloid balls are extremely flammable, and it was becoming very difficult to ship them around the reason for insurance reasons. But Sharara says:

"We’re also changing balls. FIFA made the balls lighter and faster, but we’re changing balls from celluloid to plastic for less spin and bounce. We want to slow down the game a little bit. It’ll come into effect from July 1, which, I think, is going to be a very big change in the sport."

We already switched from 38mm to 40mm balls to slow down the sport, and now the change to poly balls is for the same reason. While this might technically slow the ball down and reduce spin, it also will likely have two apparently unforeseen effects, which also happened when we increased the ball's size. First, with a slower ball, players have more time to get into position and throw their entire body into the shot, and so you favor big, power players who rip everything even more - and so the ball speeds are even faster. (On the other hand, a bigger ball does slow down faster due to air resistance, and so is easier to return, as we learned with 40mm balls. But will the new poly ball be slower due to a substantial size increase, or just slower off the racket? Apparently the latter, though the new balls may be slightly larger than the 40mm ball we've grown used to.) Second, with less spin, you make defensive chopping at the higher levels even more difficult as they rely on heavy backspin to succeed.

Finally, we get to the question on rackets. Sharara says:

"In the past, we’ve tried various ways to control the power of the racquet. But players are always ahead of us. They’ve tried other means, which made the action faster. Now we’ve decided to measure the racquet from the outside. The racquets will have a bounce limit as well. We’ll introduce this next year."

Rackets are already tested, mostly for continuity and any traces of illegal glue. This would be a new test, presumably measuring the actual speed of the blade and covering. (There aren't that many rules on blades, which is the racket without covering - they can be of any size, weight, or thickness. About the only rules about blades is that they must be flat and rigid, and at least 85% natural wood. Here are the current ITTF rules on rackets; most of it is about the coverings, not the blade itself.) How far would this new bounce test rule go? Would rackets need to pass a test to be approved, thereby making many older or homemade rackets illegal until tested? Would they be tested at tournaments? That's be another task for referees.

We'll just have to wait and see how these things transpire. Meanwhile, on Saturday one of the kids in our junior class asked me why one of the balls we were using was smaller than the others. It turned out a 38mm ball had been mixed in with the regular 40m ones - the second time this had happened recently. I have no idea where they are coming from; someone at the club must be bringing them in. Later that day I brought one out during a lesson and hit with it, and boy did it bring back some nostalgia! Those balls really react to topspin, curving down like a hawk diving for prey.

Larry's Trademarked Terms

From now on you have to pay me $1 anytime you use any of these terms I've invented. I'm pretty sure I've invented some others but can't remember them.

  • Frobbing (half lobbing, half fishing - sort of a low lob or high fish)
  • Topspinny Backhand (off-the-bounce backhand loops but with a shorter stroke than a conventional backhand loop)
  • Heavy No-Spin (fake spin with a big serving motion but actually no-spin) (Addendum added later: Actually, others were using this term before I did, but I'm trying to steal credit!)
  • No No-spin (fake no-spin serve but actually spinny)

Lily Zhang Qualifies for Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games

Here's the ITTF list of qualifiers (page down to Women's on page 4, and see the third item, "ITTF Under-18 World Ranking). So her world under 18 ranking qualified her for the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

Xu Xin Wins Qatar Open

Here's the ITTF home page for the event, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here's another article on it from Table Tennista.

McConaughey vs. Harrelson

Here's an article on how Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson turn table tennis into extreme sport.

Ping-Pong Trick Shots

Here's a new video (6:08) with an incredible compilation of trick shots. The first one might be the longest trick shot ever.

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August 5, 2013

Tip of the Week

Blocking Tips.

Back Stiffness

My back is now so stiff I've been offered money to use it to carve stuff on diamonds. There's a rumor it's made of collapsed matter.

I spent most of July feeding multiball and hitting with beginners, then spent nine days at a writers workshop (mostly sitting down), and then another week at another camp mostly feeding multiball or hitting with beginners. When I finally had several sessions with more advanced players this weekend (John, Kevin, Sameer) I could barely move. At some point in the last month or so the wide forehand has moved another three feet away. The backhand corner is now somewhere way off in the distance to the left. And looping with power is like trying to lasso someone with a hundred-pound dumbbell.

If I weren't so busy with MDTTC camps, private & group coaching, a new tenant just moving into my townhouse (I live on third floor, rent out first two floors), battles with previous tenant (who left without paying rent, cleaning the place, and left numerous damages), plus an incredible amount of time now devoted to my novelist career (my first one's coming out Nov. 15 - see my July 30 blog), this blog and Tip of the Week, a pair of upcoming ITTF coaching seminars, promoting Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (as I just did!), and a few jillion other things, I'd focus on getting back in shape and back to my normal 2200 level - not easy at age 53.

This morning we start another camp, Week Eight of our ten weeks of camps. We have stronger (i.e. younger) coaches who act as high-level practice partners, so most of my coaching time will likely be giving the usual group lectures, demos, and feeding multiball.

Seven Days, Seven Trophies!

One of my students, Sameer Shaikh (who just turned 12) had an incredible week. At the Northern Open in Detroit last weekend, he won Under 800, Under 950, and Under 1100, and made the final of Under 1250. (That's four trophies.) On Monday, at the Junior Olympics (also in Detroit), he won Division I (that's five). This past Saturday he won Under 1200 and Under 1400 at the Maryland Circuit (that's seven). So how many of you have won seven trophies, six of them for first place, in one week? (Disclosure - while I'm his primary coach, I wasn't at the Northern Open or Junior Olympics, where he was coached by John Hsu. Also, while I was away at a recent writers workshop he had several sessions with Raghu Nadmichettu.)

He's mostly been taking one lesson a week this past year, but recently upped that. Yesterday I gave him a two-hour lesson. His shots have really smoothed out. I think much of it is confidence - he now knows he can make his shots. He's even challenging me in these backhand games where we go backhand to backhand only - and we do that because that's his weak side. (He's primarily a forehand attacker, both looping and smashing.) We're now working hard on the backhand attack, especially backhand looping, as well as more serve variations. Yesterday I started him on reverse pendulum serves to go with his normal pendulum serve.

Here's a picture of Sameer with the four trophies from the Northern Open, with Coach John Hsu.

Breaking Bad Footwork Habits

Here's a new coaching video from PingSkills (2:13).

The Pyramid Rule - Playing Close to the Table

Here's a new coaching article from Table Tennis Master.

USOC Athletes of the Month - USATT's Nominations

Here's your chance to vote for Lily Zhang and Tahl Leibovitz! Here are their credentials, from the article:

Lily Zhang (Palo Alto, Calif.) reached the women’s singles semifinals at the 2013 U.S. Open, held July 2-6 in Las Vegas. Zhang defeated current Pan American champion Mo Zhang of Canada, 4-3, in the quarterfinals before losing to top-seeded Elizabeth Samara of Romania, 4-1. The 17-year-old also claimed the 18U singles title with a 3-1 victory over Ge Chi of China, and concluded her impressive campaign by earning the bronze medal in the U21 singles, eventually losing to teammate Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.), 4-1. 

Four-time Paralympian Tahl Leibovitz (Queens, N.Y.) breezed through preliminary and final rounds without dropping a game en route to the gold medal in the first men’s para table tennis event at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, held July 17-30 in Jerusalem. Leibovitz defeated Aviv Gordon of Israel, 3-0, in the semifinals and notched a 3-0 victory over Israel’s Neal Sharon in the final.

Sweden's National Table Tennis Team is Deteriorating

Here's the article. Sweden was a powerhouse for decades, but no more. (This is one of many articles at TableTennista.)

Why Table Tennis is the Sport for You (Women)

Here's the article from the British online magazine Female First.

World 2013 Site Tour

Here's the video (1:43) by Canadian star Xavier Therien.

Santa Fe's First Tournament

Here's the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

6mm Ping-Pong

Here's the video (1:19)! And some thought the 38mm ball was too small...

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June 14, 2013

Fundamentals and a Strong Foundation

I had a 1200-rated 11-year-old student recently at a tournament who faced long pips for the first time, against a higher-rated player. The opponent was a long pips blocker, no sponge, and pretty much covered the entire table with the long pips on the backhand, i.e. a "pushblocker." My student went in having no idea what to do, other than my admonition to give lots of deep no-spin, play steady, and patiently wait for an easy ball to put away. However, it became obvious very quickly that even against a high ball, he wasn't going to be smashing the high balls with any consistency; the long pips returns were just too different for him.

So pretty much on his own he stopped smashing, and simply rolled ball after ball after ball after ball after ball after ball after ball after ball after . . . (I think you get the idea). The rallies were extremely long, but his patience won out; he won, 11-9 in the fifth. (The opponent went on to have a great tournament - probably because my student warmed him up!)

Later, in a training session, I mentioned that in tournaments you are going to face all sorts of different and strange styles like this one, and there were just too many to prepare him for everything. I also told him that at some point, I'd bring out a sheet of long pips for him to practice against, but not now; it wasn't worth it, and would just take away from other training. I wanted to install strong fundamentals, not worry about learning to play all the different styles this early in his development. He'll learn that later.

I told him something that I thought should be highlighted for others developing their games:

"If I try to prepare you for everything, you'll be prepared for nothing. If I give you a solid foundation, you can adjust to anything."

The point was that if I tried to prepare him for [and here I started to write a LONG list of weird styles, but decided I'd leave it to your imagination instead - there's a lot], then he'd know what to do against all of them, but would have less of a foundation in his game since we'd have wasted so much time preparing for things he'll rarely face. And so even if he knew how to play these weird styles, he wouldn't have the foundation to execute what was needed to win, and so he wouldn't be prepared against anyone. Instead, I told him to develop the foundation of his game (i.e. the fundamentals) so that his foundation is stronger than his opponents, and learn to adjust to them. If he did, I assured him he'd go right through opponents that he would otherwise have struggled with.  

Another way to think of it is this: if the opponent has a "weird" game, then he's not playing like most players. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's a reason certain techniques are considered "good" and others "not so good." If you have "good" technique, and the other has "not so good" technique, then his only overall advantage over you is the very weirdness of his game. His weakness is that his technique is flawed, and if you have better technique, then you can adjust to his weirdness and win because of the sounder technique.

Rest assured there are many players with so-called "not so good" technique who are very good. They have honed these "not so good" techniques to the point where they are pretty good. But overwhelmingly they would be even better if they had spent the same amount of time and energy developing more proper technique. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule, there's a reason why good technique is considered as such. (The biggest exception to this might be the very style mentioned above, "pushblockers," where players who are not as physically "athletic" as others can often reach a pretty high level by just blocking with long pips instead of conventional technique - but with long pips no sponge, that could be considered "proper technique." But that's a whole other essay for another time.)

I do believe that players should experiment and learn to do a few things different, especially on the serve, and perhaps on at least one receive or rally shot. Having something different can throw off an opponent. Just don't overdo it for the sake of doing it if your goal is to reach your maximum potential.

Yesterday

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Due to near-hurricane thunderstorms, three of my four students cancelled (normally not "good," but I needed the rest); I got a bunch of writing and reading done; the Orioles, in a four-team AL East Divisional race, beat the rival Red Sox while the other two in the race, the Yankees and Rays, both lost (and as noted in yesterday's blog, Orioles Hangout published my Top Ten List); and I got to see the midnight showing of "Man of Steel."

ITTF Coaching Seminars

Here's an ITTF article on the ITTF Level 1 coaching seminar in Austin, Texas run by Richard McAfee, starting last Monday and ending today. I ran a similar one in Maryland in 2011, and am running another in South Bend, IN, Oct. 2-6. More info on that soon - probably Monday.

Chinese Versus European Loop

Here's an article that highlights the difference between the "Chinese" and "European" loops.

USATT Board Chair Blog

Here's a blog entry posted yesterday by the Chair of the USATT Board Mike Babuin. Here's the opening paragraph: "Recently I had the distinct pleasure to introduce table tennis into Valor Games. For those unfamiliar with Valor Games it is a competition designed and geared towards military personnel and veterans who are physically disabled and/or who have suffered from one of several conditions, traumas, or disorders as a result of their service to our country.  While many people may be familiar with the Wounded Warrior Program, Valor Games is a similar yet distinct competition that is gaining in recognition and participation across the United States."

The Pongcast

Here's the latest Pongcast (18:46). "This month the Pongcast reviews the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships and looks at what has been happening at the ITTF in May."

Lily and Ariel at China Open

Below is a summary of how the USA girls are doing in the China Open, as posted this morning by Bruce Liu. (Here's the ITTF China Open Page with results, pictures, and articles, and here are a few matches of Lily, Ariel, and Wu Yue on iTV. The China Open ends this Sunday.)

June 14 (China time) Summary:
Women's Singles:

  • Lily upset the #16 seed BARTHEL Zhenqi (#66 in the world) in the round of 32. It was another wild 7-gamer (11-5, 12-10, 7-11, 7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-1).Her round of 16 opponent will be World Champion/World Cup Champion/Olympic Gold Medalist, aka the Grand Slammer, GUO Yue from China. We will see how wild Lily can be. It will be tough for sure. But that why it is worth fighting for.
  • Ariel fought hard as usual. She lost to GUO Yan (#5) in 5 (9-11, 5-11, 11-9, 5-11, 5-11). A great effort. 

Women's Doubles:

  • Lily and Ariel are in the quarterfinals at the China Open! Not too shabby for two 17-year-old. Due to their busy schedule, they really did not have much time practice doubles. Imagine if they can practice more together... Their opponents in the quarterfinal will be GUO Yue(#16) / LIU Shiwen (#2) from China. I'm pretty sure other than Lily and Ariel, all other players still in the Women's Doubles are full-time professional players! In fact, most likely the majority of the players in the whole tournament are professional players. 

U21 Girls' Singles:

  • Lily played twice today in the event. In the round of 16, she duly stopped the dangerous HIRANO Miu 3-1 (8-11, 11-8, 14-12, 18-16). Alas, lost to ZHOU Yihan (#102) from Singapore 4-1 in the quarterfinals. It is a great accomplish already, especially in China.
  • Ariel lost 0-3 to the red hot So Eka is out but don't let the game counts fool you. It was a highly competitive match. You can see it yourselves from the score (13-15, 9-11, 8-11).

Go girls! 

Musical Ping-Pong Table

Yes, an interactive musical ping-pong table, on display at Union Depot in St. Paul, MN!

Apparently this table plays music as the ball hits the surface.

Kim Kardashian Plays Ping-Pong With Her Family

Here's the story from Table Tennis Nation. The apocalypse has occurred.

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May 7, 2013

Spammers

Due to massive spamming attacks, I've been forced to switch to requiring administrator approval for new accounts. Yesterday I had to block over 50 new accounts, each of which was posting spamming notes all over the comments section on my blog and the forum, which I also had to delete. (Fortunately I can generally delete all postings by a spammer with a few clicks - but it does take time.) So starting last night, new visitors can create accounts but administrator approval is required. It seems to be working - since last night 18 more accounts were created, but only two legit. (On a related note, anyone who has to constantly waste time battling these spammers believes in the death penalty.)

Table Tennis Leagues in the U.S.

Last night I had a debate on the MyTableTennis forum on the future of leagues in the U.S., and whether a nationwide network of local leagues is possible. Here's where I join the discussion. I ended up posting thirteen notes. (You can also read the previous postings of course.) I was thinking of copying and pasting the entire discussion here, but I'll just post my first note, and link to the rest. There's some lively discussion, so if you have any interest in leagues or the growth of table tennis in the U.S., I hope you read the rest of it.

The goal of a nationwide network of local leagues isn't to set up leagues for currently existing clubs. The purpose is to use the leagues spur the creation of new clubs and players. This is how it was done in places all over the world, including Europe. Germany didn't start with 11,000 clubs and 700,000 and then decide to set up leagues; the leagues are what spurred the development of these 11,000 clubs and 700,000 players. The whole point is to set up local leagues, so nobody needs to drive hundreds of miles. [Note: I'm responding to a note that said leagues wouldn't work in the U.S. because players might have to drive hundreds of miles to get to the next local club.]

I remember when we opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center many years ago. Over and over we were told there weren't enough players to support a full-time table tennis center devoted to coaching, and that there was no way players would pay enough hours for coaching to make it pay for itself. They missed the point - we weren't going after current players, we were going after NEW players. Now we have seven full-time coaches and over 300 hours of private coaching per week (plus group sessions), and full-time clubs with full-time coaches are popping up all over the country (about 60 of them now, compared to about 10 just seven years ago). Similarly, the purpose of a nationwide network of local leagues would be to bring in new players and new clubs, not just for existing ones.

It will not an easy task, and it probably does need to start in populated regions. If there are local organizers, as tennis does in the U.S. and other countries do in table tennis, than any city can develop table tennis leagues, and from the players signing up for those leagues more clubs can pop up, just as they do overseas. Tennis has such local leagues all over the U.S. and huge numbers of players, and they started out just where we are now. There's no reason why table tennis can't do the same; in Europe, nearly every country sports associations have more table tennis members than tennis members.

Striped Balls and Backhand Flip

Yesterday I blogged about using colorful soccer-style ping-pong balls for table tennis, since it makes it easier to see the spin on the ball. Here's a video (3:25) of Ma Long's backhand flip (also called a flick) where he's using a striped ball so you can see the spin. The video quality isn't good enough to really see the ball spin with the stripes - you can see it much better in person. I wonder how it would show up on normal TV?

USOC Athletes of the Month

USATT has two nominees for USOC Athlete of the Month for April - Lily Zhang and Timothy Wang. Please vote for them! You can vote for both a male athlete and a female athlete. Here are short bios on both, provided by USATT Webmaster Sean O'Neill.

Timothy Wang, Table Tennis
Olympian Timothy Wang (Houston, Texas) battled to a silver medal at the 2013 ITTF-North American Cup, held April 21 in Westchester, N.Y. Rising to the occasion, Wang registered an impressive 3-0 win over top-seeded Pierre-Luc Theriault of Canada. He followed with a 4-1 semifinal victory over 2011 U.S. champion Peter Li (Laurel, M.D.). Wang, the current U.S. men’s singles No. 1, will lead the U.S. men at the 2013 World Championships taking place in Paris in May.

Lily Zhang, Table Tennis
Olympian Lily Zhang (Palo Alto, Calif.) captured first place at the 2013 ITTF North American Cup, held April 21 in Westchester, N.Y. With the tournament featuring some of the best players from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, Zhang defeated Olympic teammate Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.), 4-1, in the women’s singles final. The victory qualified Zhang to compete in the STARTS Women’s World Cup, while ending Hsing’s attempt to three-peat as the North American Cup winner. Zhang advanced to the final upon beating fellow world team member Tina Lin (Edison, N.J.), 4-0, in the semifinal. Zhang will be representing the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships in May in Paris.

Table Tennis Master

Here's another interesting coaching article from Table Tennis Master, "Mastering the Counterloop."

Chinese Ping-Pong Song for the Worlds

Here's a music video (4:37) of the Chinese National Team singing their Ping-Pong Song for the 2013 World Championships and thanking their fans. How many of the players can you name?

Jesse Metcalfe

Here's a short article from Table Tennis Nation where actor Jesse Metcalfe (best known for his work on Desperate Housewives and the remake of Dallas) says he sees ping-pong as the future of nightlife.

Six Pictures Preparing for the Worlds

Here are six Facebook pictures from the ITTF showing players preparing for the Worlds at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria. How many of the players can you name?

Ariel Hsing with Uncles Warren and Bill

Here's an article and photos from Table Tennista on Ariel Hsing, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates playing table tennis at the annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting this past Sunday. They've been bringing her in annually for this since she was a little kid. And here are three more photos.
Ariel with Bill and Warren
Warren Holding Ariel
Warren and Bill Play Doubles
(If you can't see these on Facebook, try this, this, and this.)

Learn from a Pro

"Adam Bobrow Now on Table 1." Here's the Facebook picture. (If you can't see it there, try this.)

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February 15, 2013

F=MA?

[NOTE - See comments below by physicist Dave Bernstein. Since some of my physics wasn't quite right - though my conclusions were correct - I've deleted much of this blog, including the references to F=MA, which don't really apply here.] I'm not a physicist, although I do have a bachelor's in math from way back (Univ. of Maryland, 1986). But the physics of creating a powerful shot in table tennis, especially a loop, are seemingly right out of basic physics. (Any physicists reading this, feel free to elaborate, correct, or explain any of this. I know this more from a coaching point of view.)

When players loop, they often try to muscle the ball, resulting in using only a few muscles instead of timing them all together. To get mass behind your shot, you have to put your body weight into the shot. You can't do this with the upper body alone. It comes by rotating the body into the shot, almost with a rocking motion, starting with the legs and moving upward as each part of your body uncoils into the shot. You need the legs to get the hips to rotate, and you need the hips to get the rest of the body to rotate into the shot. Many players do not get this lower body rotation - especially the hip rotation - and so most of their body weight does not rotate into the shot. 

To get maximum velocity, you have to smoothly accelerate your body's mass into the shot. Watch the best players, and you'll see how they effortlessly generate power. They do this because they accelerate their body into the shot. This goes together with getting the mass behind the shot - it's the smooth acceleration of the body's mass into the shot, starting with the legs and then the hips, that gives such effortless power. 

It's not quite this simple. With sponge rubber, even without acceleration the ball sinks into the sponge and is catapulted out. This is true even with a plain wood bat, which also bends and then catapults a ball out. Around here is where I would love to have a physicist chime in.

If you want natural power in table tennis (especially when looping), focus on smoothly accelerating your body weight into the ball, focusing on the hip rotation, to maximize velocity at contact. Watch top players as they loop and see how they do this. When done properly you get great power with ease, and so, as I like to demonstrate for students and in clinics, you should be able to loop at seemingly full power while carrying on a conversation.

The above should also apply to smashing. However, since the contact with the ball is quicker on a smash - as opposed to a loop, where the ball sinks into the sponge at an angle and stays in contact much longer - I think the power transfer is much quicker, and so you can get great power without using the full body weight, though that helps. I know I can smash extremely fast with minimal body rotation and a powerful arm snap (from the forearm), but this doesn't work for looping.

Pings and Pongs

I've written so much recently about Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (Buy it! Now!) that it's been a while since I've mentioned that "Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges" is also sold on Amazon. These are the 30 best short stories I've sold (out of 65), compiled in one volume. One of the stories is a table tennis fantasy, and table tennis shows up in passing in other stories. $15.95 or $9.99 for Kindle. (Buy it! Now!)

Here's a short description of "Ping-Pong Ambition," the table tennis story: "A table tennis player gets stuck in a ping-pong ball for 10,000 years, where he studies to be a genie - only to discover a surprising truth. Originally published in Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic Anthology, 2007."

What, you didn't know that outside table tennis I write science fiction & fantasy? Here's my SF&F page. C'mon people, sales of the Tactics book is way outpacing sales of Pings and Pongs, leading to some hard feelings between the two. Here's your chance to get in a little F&SF between your TT reading!

Update - Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 13

We did three more chapters yesterday, bringing totals to 26 chapters and 409 pages. I've now cleaned up, placed, and captioned 826 graphics. The book is now projected to be 29 chapters and 456 pages, with 918 graphics. Chapter 26 ended with narratives of Americans in Europe, including Eric & Scott Boggan, Mike Bush, Brian Masters, Charles Butler, and Kasia Dawidowicz, as well as tributes to first ITTF president Ivor Montagu, who had just died. (This is 1985.) We should finish all 29 chapters tomorrow. Then, over the weekend while I'm off coaching all day, Tim will proof all the pages. On Monday we input the corrections. It's going to be a looong Monday.

I've also updated his web page and created the ad and flyer for the book. However, neither will go public until the book is complete. It should go to the printer on Monday or Tuesday, and copies should be available a couple weeks later.

Update - Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

Now it's on sale at Barnes and Noble, as well as Amazon. Complicating factor - both are selling it for $11.45 instead of the retail price of $17.95. I don't think table tennis dealers can match that price. I'll look into this next week.

USA Team Trials

Here's the ITTF article on the USA Team Trials held last weekend, focusing on the top finishers, Timothy Wang and Lily Zhang.

Women in Table Tennis

Here's a gallery of table tennis women.

Corrugated Table Tennis

This'll have some weird bounces!

What's on Your Mind?

One is on love, the other on ping-pong. And guess what is in the heart of this person?

***
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January 28, 2013

Tip of the Week

Holding Back on Serves.

Why You Should Play in Events Where You Are a Top Seed

It all depends on whether your goal is to be a Champion or a Spoiler. Champions have a burning desire to win, and enter tournaments with the intent of winning events. Spoilers have a burning desire to pull off a major upset now and then and so gain temporary rating points, and so they avoid the events where they would be seeded.

If your goal is to be a Champion, then you must think like one, and learn to execute like one. Consider:

  • You’ll never learn to play under pressure unless you put yourself in that position regularly, by trying to win the events you can win. There’s little pressure in playing higher-rated players.
  • You’ll never learn to defeat lower-rated players regularly unless you play them regularly, and learn to mow them down. Every time you lose to a lower-rated player is a lesson on something you need to work on; every time you avoid playing a lower-rated player to avoid losing is a lesson lost.
  • When you learn to mow down lower-rated players, you can apply these same techniques to higher-rated players.

So you have to ask yourself: are you playing to be a Champion, or to be a Spoiler looking to pick up a few temporary rating points?

Here's a longer article I wrote on the topic, "Juniors and Ratings."

Sheeba problems

Recently I've been feeling rather tired, and it's affected my work. But there's a simple reason for it. My dog, Sheeba, a corgi mix, will be 15 next month. She often cannot go the entire night without being let out. So recently, about every other night, she's been waking me up at 3-4AM so I can let her out to do her business. I sure hope this is a temporary thing!

U.S. Open in Las Vegas

It's official, according to the USATT Tournament Schedule: the U.S. Open will be held in Las Vegas, July 2-6, 2013.

Physical Training for Table Tennis

Here's a new article from Table Tennis Master that focuses on Building Cardio and Stamina; Building Explosive Leg Power; and Core Strength

Lily Zhang on Mental Toughness

Here's a video (3:18) of 2013 USA Women's Singles Champion Lily Zhang on Mental Toughness.

Timothy Wang on His Matches at the Nationals

Here's a video (7:09) where 2013 USA Men's Singles Champion Timothy Wang talks about his matches at the Nationals.

Houshang on Table Tennis

Here's a video (1:27) where USA Table Tennis Hall of Famer Houshang Bozorgzadeh talks about table tennis during the recent Iowa Games.

World Championships of Ping Pong (Sandpaper)

Here are videos of the Final between Maxim Shmyrev and Sule Olaleye. Here's Part 1 (29:41, includes introduction) and Part 2 (21:47, includes awards ceremony). This took place at the World Championships of Ping Pong, which was for sandpaper only, in London, Jan. 5-6, 2013. Winner received $20,000, runner-up $10,000, out of a total prize fund of $100,000.

Polkaroo Plays Table Tennis

Here's a picture Polkaroo (one of the stars of the long-running children's show Polka Dot Door) playing table tennis, along with an article, as part of a promotion for the film Ping Pong. Yes, the white spot is the ping-pong ball! (See also the animated picture of Polkaroo playing at the bottom.)

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December 17, 2012

Last Blog Until January 2

This will be my last blog (and Tip of the Week) until Jan. 2, 2013. I leave in a few hours for the USA Nationals in Las Vegas (Dec. 18-22), then Christmas with family in Santa Barbara (Dec. 22-25), then I'll be coaching non-stop at the MDTTC Christmas Camp (Dec. 26-31). Then I'm going to sleep in on Jan. 1. See you in 2013!

Tip of the Week

Distance from Table.

Ratings - Crystal and Derek

Wow. Just wow. The North American Teams were processed, and two of our MDTTC juniors have mind-boggling ratings. Let me once again start off by reminding readers (and myself) that ratings are just indicators of level, and fluctuate up and down quite a bit. But there are times when they are a lot of fun.

We'll start with Crystal Wang, 10, who saw her rating go from 2245 to 2353. (I coached three of her matches, where she went 2-1.) This makes her the following:

  • The highest rated 10-year-old in U.S. history, boys or girls, breaking the record that had been set by Kanak Jha, who was 2265 as a 10-year-old two years ago. (The 2245 had already made her the highest rated 10-year-old girl ever and second highest overall.)
  • #1 Under 11 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 12 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 13 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 14 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 15 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 16 Girl in the U.S.
  • #2 Under 17 Girl in the U.S.
  • #4 Under 18 Girl in the U.S.
  • #9 Under 22 Girl in the U.S.

Here's her record at the Teams, where she went 23-3 in leading her team (which included Derek Nie, below, Bernard Lemal, and Heather Wang) to winning Division Two:

Wins
2347: 7,13,-7,9
2291: 7,5,-4,6
2287: -10,7,10,-7,3
2256: -11,9,6,-5,7
2223: 8,-2,5,-9,6
2199: 7,3,10
2194: 8,3,7
2183: 6,-8,6,10
2183: -10,7,8,3
2160: 7,9,-3-10
2156: 8,9,7
2152: 5,6,4
2149: 5,12,-4,-8,7
2123: 8,4,6
2119: 4,5,8
2113: 9,5,4
2097: 6,6,10
2092: 4,-7,7,7
2091: -9,5,7,-10,4
2064: 5,6,4
2064: -5,9,3,1
2014: 7,4,3
1902: 8,10,5
Losses
2369: 10,3,-18,7
2319: -5,6,7,6
2280: 9,10,6

Between Crystal and New Jersey's Amy Wang (2177, just turned 10), the east coast has a dynamic duo following in the footsteps of the west coast's Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang.

Meanwhile, Crystal's teammate, Derek Nie, 11, the U.S. Open 11 & Under Boys' Singles Champion, saw his rating go from 2139 to 2221 as he went 17-9 at the Teams. (He's been as high as 2170 recently. I coached about a dozen of his matches at the Teams.) While this "only" brings him up to #3 in Under 12 Boys in the U.S., it does something else. At only 65 pounds, he is almost for certain the best player in the U.S., pound for pound, and the lightest player ever to break 2200. We're talking 34.17 rating points per pound!!! (I come in at 11.67 points per pound. How about you?) Derek might be the shortest to break 2200 as well, at 4'5". (Mitch Seidenfeld, how tall are you?)

I must also point out that it was a crime against humanity that John Olsen, after training so hard with the goal of breaking 2000, came out of the Teams in Baltimore with a rating of 1999. The table tennis gods are laughing!

Nationals

I'll be coaching at the Nationals, primarily Tong Tong Gong and Derek Nie, and sometimes other MDTTC players. I usually play in the hardbat events, where I've won a bunch of titles, but this year I'm just coaching - just too busy to play. I'll also be attending some meetings, since I'm on several USATT advisory committees, plus the USATT Assembly (Tuesday 7:30 PM) and the Hall of Fame Banquet, assuming it doesn't interfere with my coaching duties (Thursday 6:30 PM).

This year's Nationals has a lot of players (781), and a lot of players in Men's Singles (160). There's no single standout player this year, with the top seed Mark Hazinski at 2621), followed by Timothy Wang (2601), Jim Butler (2583), Adam Hugh (2567), Stefan Manousoff (2560), Han Xiao (2536), Dan Seemiller (2521), Li Yu Xiang (2510), Zhang Yahao (2509), Razvan Cretu (2508), and Shao Yu (2503). In newer ratings after the Teams in Baltimore and Columbus and the ICC tournament last weekend, Hazinski is down to 2590, and Timothy Wang is down to 2585. In fact, in the newer ratings, Adam Hugh would be top seed at 2599. I'm pretty sure it's been literally decades since we had a Nationals where the top seed in Men's Singles was under 2600. (And this despite an apparent slow inflation of the rating system!) 

Who are my picks to win? In Men's Singles, I'm biased, so I'm picking the same two finalists from last year when we had the all-Maryland final with Peter Li winning over Han Xiao in the final. (But Peter, now in college, has dropped to 2475.) However, putting aside biases, I suggest viewers watch Jim Butler. The current top U.S. players simply don't know yet how to play the recently un-retired Butler, with his tricky serves and big backhand smash. Another to watch is Adam Hugh, who's been playing very well recently, now that he's out of college and (I'm told) coaching and playing full-time.

On the women's side, the top four seeds easily lap the other players: Jasna Rather (2588), Ariel Hsing (2538), Judy Hugh (2533), and Lily Zhang (2520). However, in new ratings, Judy is back out of the stratosphere with a 2394 rating, while Jasna has mostly been around 2400 for years until one tournament shot her up to 2588. Perhaps she's back to her former world-class level, but for now, I'd bet on an Ariel-Lily final for the third year in row. Who will win? One of them. I'll leave it at that.

World Junior Championships

USA's Lily Zhang made the quarterfinals of Under 18 Girls' Singles at the World Junior Championships, held in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 9-16. Here's the home page, with complete results, articles, and photos. This is probably the best showing of a U.S. junior at the World Junior Championships. (They didn't have them in the old days, when the U.S. was a power.) In reaching the quarterfinals, Lily knocked off the #5 seed (Bernadette Szocs of Romania) and #6 seed (Petrissa Solja of Germany), before losing to the #4 seed (Gu Rouchen of China).

Alas, the eight members of the U.S. Junior Team (which included Crystal Wang - see above - the youngest player at the tournament) will have to fly back and compete at the USA Nationals two days after finishing in India. They will face major problems with the time zone changes and jet lag. 

Prachi Jha

Here's an article from the ITTF that features USA's Prachi Jha and her performance in the team competition at the World Junior Championships.

The Backhand Push

Here's a 45-second video from U.S. Men's Singles Champion Peter Li explaining the basics of the backhand push.

Hitting a Forehand from Below Table Level

Here's a video from PingSkills (2:21) on returning a ball from below table level.

ITTF Development Funds

Here's an article on new funding from the ITTF for continental development. "A quite staggering sum of $1,000,000 is to be made available annually for continents affiliated to the International Table Tennis Federation for development in the next four years, the period from 2013 to 2016."

Look what Michael Found at the Supermarket!

Yes, it's a picture of Michael Landers on the Kelloggs Corn Flakes box! It breaks a 76-year cereal box drought for table tennis since George Hendry made the Wheaties box in 1936.

Santa Claus

In honor of Christmas, here are two pictures of Santa Claus playing table tennis. Here he is with rock star Alice Cooper on right, and here he is again with actress Ginger Rogers on right.

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December 12, 2012

Don't Bother Me!!! (Temporarily)

Anyone bothering me for anything time- or mind-consuming between now and Saturday, all I can say is HAH!!! I'm involved in a top-secret coaching operation that will take up all my time the next few days.

Backspin Serves

I was asked the following question on the forum, and decided to respond here. "Slim Dragon" wrote:

Dear Coach,

I have read several of your tips on how to generate heavy spin on underspin serves. I prefer to open up against pushes, so really want to develop this arsenal. Having watched several pro serve videos and teaching guides from pingskills to tabletennis masters to dynamic tabletennis, what I remain uncertain about is the ideal form, as all pros seem to have an individual form when executing various serves.

Having watched Waldner's serves recently, I notice that he makes contact with the ball with his forearm usually horizontal to his right breast, which seems to give his forearm a horizontal axes with the wrist snapping at the end of the motion. His racket tip normally ends up just under his right breast. In the past, my racket tip has ended up in the middle of my stomach, meaning my forearm is more diagonal than horizontal.

My first question is, what forearm placement is likely to result in the best grazing effect?

Secondly, is it imperative to contact the ball as close to the bottom as possible to maximize underspin?

Lastly, how can you properly assess whether you are generating good underspin? In the past, I thought it was necessary to make the ball rotate back towards the net as an indication of a good underspin serve, but I note in another forum question that that is mainly a trick serve.

Thanks for your consideration.

The examples I refer to can be seen from about 0.15 to 0.35 in this video link.

Great questions, and great video of Waldner's serves. Waldner was perhaps the greatest server of all time, and this video shows much of how he did it. One catch - hidden serves were legal during most of his career, so you'll see how he keeps his arm and shoulder out to hide contact. However, the basic techniques are the same. Let's go over the three questions.

My first question is, what forearm placement is likely to result in the best grazing effect?

Secondly, is it imperative to contact the ball as close to the bottom as possible to maximize underspin?

I'm going to answer these two questions together, since the direction of the forearm movement leads to the contact point. If you swing more downward (i.e. with a diagonal movement toward your stomach), contact is toward the back of the ball. If you swing more horizontal, contact is more under the ball. And you want the forearm and racket moving mostly horizontally at contact so you can contact the ball as much underneath as possible.

Technically, you can graze the ball just as finely regardless of the direction the forearm and paddle are moving - you can graze the ball at any point. However, if you graze the back of the ball very finely, the ball will go down, and so will bounce up high. To serve the ball low with lots of backspin (i.e. maximum grazing), contact the ball as much underneath as possible. Even if you are serving a sidespin, you should fake this type of contact, and then, after just missing the bottom of the ball, contact the ball on the side with sidespin. This way the opponent has to pick up where the contact point was to read whether it was backspin, sidespin, or some combination.

Lastly, how can you properly assess whether you are generating good underspin?

One way is to simply graze it so finely, with so little forward motion, that the ball hits the far side of the table and bounces backwards within a bounce or two. (If you serve it high, you can make the ball bounce back over the net on one bounce - a trick serve that experienced players will see coming, giving them time to go to the side of the table to smash the ball as it goes back over the net.) But this means the serve will be very short, and while this is a good variation (especially against short player and in combination with long serves), it's also easier to return for most players than a deeper backspin serve where the second bounce is near the opponent's endline.

The problem with serving a deeper backspin serve is that you don't get direct feedback on the amount of backspin since the ball doesn't bounce backwards. However, with experience, you can read this yourself by your own contact. If your racket is moving very fast (with great acceleration), and you graze the bottom of the ball, you should be able to tell that you've got lots of backspin. But perhaps a better gauge is how opponents return it. Do they go into the net? Do they have to open their racket a lot to push it back or attack it? Or just ask your playing partner how spinny it is.

I often assign two exercises to develop backspin serves. Bounce a ball up and down on the forehand side of your racket. Now graze the ball near the bottom, a little toward the front. You should be able to generate good spin this way and hit the ball straight up, then you catch it and repeat. Practice this until you are proficient at it.

Next, do the "come back" serve mentioned above, where you again contact the ball near the bottom, a little in front as in the exercise above. Go for maximum spin, but intentionally serve high. Learn to control this until you can serve and make the ball come back into the net, or even bounce back over it. (When I demonstrate this for beginners, their eyes go wide.) When you can do this, then you have great backspin. Then you simply adjust your contact point - still under the ball, but slightly toward the back - and you can serve this same heavy backspin and keep it low.

If you have difficulty with this, it might be helpful to get a coach or top player to help out. With practice, it's not that difficult to learn - but it does take practice! And once you have that heavy backspin serve, you can next learn to serve side-backspin, sidespin, side-topspin, and "heavy no-spin" (where you fake spin, usually backspin, and serve no-spin).

USA Juniors Finish Seventh

Team USA, led by an 8-1 Lily Zhang, finished seventh at the World Junior Championships (Hyderabad, India, Dec. 9-16). Here's the World Junior Championships Home Page (results, articles, photos), and here's a compilation of results, articles, and videos of USA players, compiled by USATT. All events were for Under 18, so Crystal Wang, 10, on the USA Girls' Team, was the youngest player there. She's from my club, MDTTC. (Here's an ITTF article that features and pictures her that came out this morning.) Addendum - due to a typo on a match slip, the ITTF reported, and I repeated here earlier, that Lily had gone undefeated, but she actually lost one of her two matches against Korea, deuce in the fourth.)

Emerging Countries in Table Tennis

Here's an article on the top ten emerging countries in table tennis - and guess which country is #1? With full-time training centers and junior programs popping up all over the U.S. in the last six years, we're on the verge of becoming a real power.

Tybie Sommer-Thall

USA's 1948 World Mixed Doubles Champion (with Dick Miles) - still active!

Great Doubles Point

Here's a great point from the Women's Doubles Final at the German Open this year.

Instant Ping Pong

Here's a commercial (2:52) for "Instant Ping Pong," which consists of a portable net that extends up to six feet and clamps on the side of a table, plus two hardbat rackets and two cheap ping-pong balls, all in a convenient carrying case. It allows you to set up on just about anything that's table-like and play - the video shows players using it on all sorts of furniture-type items. By a strange coincidence, I bought this at Target yesterday (spur of the moment) and then happened to see a link to this commercial on Facebook last night. I may bring it to the Nationals to play at the airport. (What, you've never played airport pong?) Or maybe I'll set it up to play during the USATT Board Meeting.

12:12:12 on 12-12-12

Set your alarms for 12:12:12 PM this afternoon of 12-12-12. Why? Because the next time three numbers will align in this way will be on Jan. 1, 2101, at 01:01:01 AM and PM. (We already had 12:12:12 AM this morning - or is that last night - and I was up for it.) Actually, this will be the last time ever, since the world ends on Dec. 21, nine days from now, right?

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December 3, 2012

Tip of the Week

The Backhand Loop and Hit One-Two Punch.

Time-Wasting Stuff

This last month I've had so many things to do, and so many didn't get done because of too much time-wasting stuff. This has had a detrimental effect on finalizing my new book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (which should be done before the Nationals, but I probably won't have copies there), doing some video coaching and analysis, and various MDTTC and other table tennis activities. Here are some of the things that have wasted my time the past few weeks.

  • I spent much of last week with a cold.
  • Thanksgiving, the Teams (three days), and the exhaustion that comes from it.
  • I'm always getting requests for table tennis info. Some of it is easy and doesn't really take up time. Others are more time consuming. For example, someone wanted to know what year the USATT ratings started. That took some research - as near as I can tell, the plan came out in 1972, and they were published for the first time in 1973. (I started in 1976, so this was just before my time.) Even Tim Boggan didn't know of the top of his head, so I did the research myself, mostly by going through his history books.
  • A guy on Facebook posted a note attacking Chinese students. Apparently there's this group that believes that the vast majority of Chinese college students in the U.S. are infiltrators sent here by the Chinese government, they are nearly all economics majors, and that they are here to take over the U.S.  I asked what his evidence was, and pointed out that I work with many of these Chinese students, and they seem pretty normal to me. The response was about two days of all-out attacks on me by two idiots, who claimed I was a backer of the Chinese and Korean governments and other made-up stuff. What a waste of time that was. I can no longer even see the attacks as the two later blocked me. Much of it was later deleted by Facebook after I complained - there was some nasty stuff.
  • Christmas shopping.
  • Working and reworking out dates for the MDTTC Tournament schedule. We actually worked them out a while ago, but there were some conflicts, and we had to change most of them.
  • It seems every time I'm about to get some work done, I get an unexpected coaching request. Well, at least they are paying for it!
  • Too many good movies out there. You can't seriously expect me to continue to exist without seeing Argo, Flight, Killing Them Softly, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Red Dawn, Rise of the Guardians, Skyfall, and Wreck-It-Ralph? (We can ignore the Twilight saga, of course.) Yeah, I use movies as a break, and see about one a week. (Always with a small popcorn, easy on the butter, and a small cherry coke.)

The Physical Side of Table Tennis

Here's an article by Seth Pech, The Physical Aspect of My Table Tennis Game. He talks about endurance, speed, and strength, why they are needed, and how to develop them.

Mike Dempsey Memorial Open Page

Here's the home page, with results, articles, and photos.

USA Junior Girls Reached #2

In November, the U.S. junior girls team, led by Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang, were tied with Japan for #2 in the world in junior girls teams, behind China. Here's the world team ranking list (set it for U18 Girls and for November). In the new December rankings, they dropped to a tie for fifth with Hong Kong

USA Sandpaper Team

Sandpaper stars Ty Hoff and Adoni Maropis (yeah, the actor who nuked part of California in "24" and later became a national hardbat champion) will represent the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships of Ping Pong, Jan. 5-6, 2013, in London. Here's the news release.

Dr. Phil vs. Billy Bush

Here's the ping-pong battle of the Titans (4:06) - the two TV talk show hosts go at it here. Check out Dr. Phil's ping-pong ball shirt!

Tower Table Tennis

If you thought lobbing was a dangerous way to score a point, try lobbing in this high-altitude game!

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September 17, 2012

Tip of the Week

Why Table Tennis Really Is Chess at Light Speed.

Table Tennis Music Video

On Saturday night the Edie Sedgwick music group came to the Maryland Table Tennis Center to do a table tennis music video. The gist of the video is the group shows up at a nightclub to play table tennis, and then, one by one, they get destroyed by a kid. Starring in the video is Derek Nie, 11, the U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion. (Here he is warming up with me at the Open, and here he is in his full green wig and striped sunglasses outfit. And here he is at the Eastern Open last year!)

The band had been planning this video already, but were apparently going to just bring in some kid actor and fake the table tennis scenes. Then they saw Derek in the Washington Post video, and contacted me about hiring him.

The table tennis portion of the taping took four hours, from 7-11PM, though the band members came in around 5PM to start setting up. Also in attendance were Derek's parents and older brother, George (15, a 2050 player), and lots of pizza. In order, here's what happened:

  1. Taping of Derek and the band members arriving by limousine. Yes, they hired a white limousine for this part, and they actually picked Derek up at his school in the limo! (He said it was rather embarrassing explaining this to everyone there.) The chauffeur, Nas, a Pakistani immigrant, just last week drove Clint Eastwood, and has also driven Michael Douglas, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, LL. Cool J, Erin Burnett, and Jon Huntsman.
  2. They rearranged the barriers at the club to create a long, diagonal entrance from the doorway to the playing area set up in the back of the club. Then they taped the four band members walking/sauntering in over and over. Then they did the same with Derek.
  3. Then came the table tennis scenes. They taped Derek mostly hitting and looping forehands while I blocked. Because of the extremely bright light they put behind Derek I couldn't see the ball when blocking forehands, but I made the fortuitous discover that I could block backhands from the forehand side without the light in my eyes. George Nie also joined in for some of the rallies. (George and I won't be in the video, we were just blocking for Derek.)
  4. Then they taped the band members playing. I fed them balls multi-ball style as they smacked shots all over the place, sometimes hitting the table. Two of the four were actually pretty decent. One could barely hit the ball, but after some practice we put on a decent show.
  5. Then each of them taped their "losing" scene. I'd hit a ball hard at them, they'd flail at it and miss, and then each had their own sore loser reaction - throwing paddle down (we used a cheap one for that!), kicking the wall (not too hard, I warned), looks of disgust, and each ending with the band member storming out of the club in some way. (So when you see them losing, remember that it was me who hit the winning shots, not Derek!!!)
  6. Then we filmed Derek's victory scenes, where he'd raise his arms in triumph, shadow practice forehands and backhands in celebration (sometimes left-handed), and other celebratory maneuvers. There was one very complex scene that Derek nailed in a few tries where he'd go through a series of these maneuvers (including his brother tossing him his striped sunglasses, and Derek cleanly snatching them in mid-air and putting them on) and going through a true actor's scene where he started out all happy, gradually realized he'd beaten everyone and was alone, looked crestfallen, and then tosses aside his paddle and sunglasses and runs off. Oscar scene!!!
  7. They also did several short scenes in front of a green screen. They will add in scenes from a night club later on. This saved Derek from having to go there, plus the night club they were going to use doesn't open until midnight (!), well past Derek's bedtime.
  8. We also had several humorous scenes of the band members preparing to play, including one member dressed in an all-white outfit who was constantly preening for the camera. In one scene, after he finished straightening his hair and clothes, we all threw ping-pong balls at him.
  9. Then we all had to spend some time putting the club back together, moving barriers and chairs back into position.

They said the taping for the video will complete next weekend (at the night club), and the video should be done in about a month. They have lots of video editing to do. I'll post when it's up.

Five Days Till the MDTTC September Open!

Have you entered yet? If you aren't there, we'll talk about you behind your back. We'll make Youtube videos about you. There will be rioting in the streets. It won't be pretty. So enter and stop the mayhem. (Tournament is at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, and I'm running it. I've run over 150 USATT tournaments, but this will be my first one in over ten years.)

Lily Zhang and Barack Obama

Here's a picture of Olympian Lily Zhang shaking hands with President Obama at the White House.

ITTF Coaching Program

Here's an article on the ITTF web page about the ITTF coaching program. It mentions USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee, who is currently running seminars in India.

Great Point at the Russian Open

Here's a great point by Xu Xin of China against Russia's Alexey Liventsov. (26 seconds.)

Ping-Pong Record Covers

Here are two:

Penguins Use What For Rackets?

Here's a penguin table tennis cartoon.

***

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