Chen Weixing

August 19, 2013

Tip of the Week

Height of Service Toss.

How to Promote Major Tournaments

Over the years there have been numerous discussions on how to promote the U.S. Open and Nationals so as to bring in more players, more spectators, more press, and make it a better experience for all. There are many good ideas out there, and I read some excellent ones in a threat at about.com over the last few days.

But all of these excellent posters are missing the point - ideas don't get the job done. If you want to improve on these things, don't start by pushing ideas, no matter how good they are. Start by pushing to have someone officially in charge of implementing improvements. For example, if you think we need to present matches at the Open and National better, perhaps with more scorekeepers or better communication, don't press for more scorekeepers or better communication; press for someone to be in charge of presentation. Then there is an official person in charge of this, and he can officially push for these things, and they are far more likely to happen.

Want to increase the number of entries at the Open or Nationals? Have someone officially in charge of increasing entries. Want to have more spectators? Have someone officially in charge of bringing in spectators. Want more press coverage? Have someone officially in charge of media coverage.

You won't find success this way every time since not everyone officially in charge of something will do the job well. If they don't, then thank them for their services and put someone else in charge.

How do you find these people with a limited budget? You ask for volunteers. This is one of the most untapped areas for USATT. For example, I'm a member of Science Fiction Writers of America. They have about 1500 members, less than 1/5 the USATT membership. And yet they have an elaborate web page, run huge conventions (far larger than anything in table tennis - we're talking 5000 people in the biggest ones), have a fancy magazine, and do all sorts of membership services, far more than USATT - and they have exactly one part-time employee. It's essentially all volunteer run. (Why do they only have 1500 members? Because they have very exclusive and difficult membership requirements - to join, you have to sell a SF or fantasy novel to a select group of "professional" publishers - i.e. the highest-paying ones - or sell three short stories to a select group of "professional" magazines - i.e. the highest-paying ones.)

Coaching and Playing Idiosyncrasies

Every player and coach has his major idiosyncrasies. What are yours? Here are some of mine.

  1. I rarely have a coaching session where I don't blow the ball back at least one time. (I do this less with long-established players - it gets old after a while - but new students beware!)
  2. I rarely have a coaching session where I don't throw up at least one backspin lob that comes back to my side of the table.
  3. I entertain the kids by blowing a ball in the air so it floats in the air over my head and to the side. (By using spin I can make it balance sideways.)
  4. When telling a student how to hit the ball, I regularly say "bang" at the point where they contact the ball.
  5. With beginners I often hum in rhythm to the ball going back and forth. It helps their timing.
  6. I end many group sessions with the kids trying to smack a bottle as I feed multiball. If they hit it, I have to drink what's in the bottle - and it's never just Gatorade or water; it's always worm juice, beetle juice, dog saliva, etc.
  7. I end most multiball segments with a high ball for players to smash.
  8. As a player, when I'm serving I always start by rolling up my right sleeve slightly with my left arm, then swing my right arm underneath me one time (to loosen it up), then I come to a stop for a moment as I visualize my serve, and then I serve.

Learning the Side-Swipe Serve Return

Here's a video (10:24) of Chen Weixing showing his infamous side-swipe serve return with long pips.

New USATT Feature - Video of the Day

USATT's webpage has a new feature: Video of the Day. Today's Video is Getting Down to Basics (Tips from U.S. Olympic Coach Doru Gheorghe). Yesterday's was Top 10 Hand Switch Shots.

Video Review of Table Tennis: Steps to Success

Here's a video review (49 sec) of one my first book, Table Tennis: Steps to Success. The book first came out in 1993, with a new version in 2006. This video came on July 2, 2012, but this is the first time I'd heard of it. I'm working on a new version, which hopefully will be out by early next year. For now, if you are looking for a table tennis book, try Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!

Great Lobbing Point

Here's a video (25 sec) of Xu Xin and Ma Long lobbing in doubles at the Harmony China Open. Did Ma Long make that sudden counter-smash at the end? I can't tell.

The Perfect Swimming Pool

Here it is.

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March 21, 2013

Exhibition and Demo

This morning I'm doing a three-hour exhibition and demo (9:30AM-12:30PM) at a local Bar-T. They are devoted to "...after-school childcare, summer day camps, outdoor education, corporate team building and events." My exhibition partner will be Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen") and Chen Jie ("James"), though I'm not sure if both are coming. Also helping out will be John and Wen Hsu, who will set up and run an MDTTC booth to answer questions, give out brochures, etc. I'll be doing most of the talking as we go through one demo after another for three hours. 

Roughly speaking, every 30 minutes or so I'll give a short intro on table tennis, give a demo on the shots, play a "challenge" exhibition match, then take on challenges and answer questions, especially about local table tennis. Then repeat, six times in all.

I've done a zillion of these. As usual, I'll bring my big and mini-rackets; a clipboard; a trick racket where a ball-sized hole has been cut out, with the hole refilled so when my opponent smashes I can push it out and then hold up the racket as if the ball put the hole in it; and a few others. I'll do the 50-foot curving serve from the side; blow the ball over the net, and there'll be lots of lobbing, including while lying on the ground or sitting in a chair. However, the most important aspect is the basic shot-making, where we demonstrate how table tennis can be played.

Want to do an exhibition to promote table tennis? Contact your local schools or other organizations. Many already have tables. Make sure to have something to offer new players - a junior program, or some other coaching program.

The exhibition might be complicated by the muscle pull I suffered in the upper left thigh in the hardbat event at the Cary Cup last Friday. I coached last night, aggravating it slightly, and I'm still limping a bit. But I can still run around the court enough. Most likely I'll just have to avoid any serious matches for about a week.

Here's an article I wrote ten years ago on Exhibition Tricks.

Help Wanted - Three USA Paralympic Coaching Positions

Here's the info for the three openings:

Hugo Hoyama Interview

Here's a video (2:55) of an interview with Brazil coach (and former star) Hugo Hoyama at the Latin American Championships after Brazil swept Men's and Women's Teams. (It's in English.)

Chen Weixing

Here's an article on Chen Weixing going from a Chinese practice partner to a star in the German Leagues.

PaddleYou Celebrity Ping Pong Madness

Who's the best celebrity ping-pong player? You choose. (I'm guessing they got most of their celebrity pictures from my Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page!)

Unwritten Rules of Table Tennis

Here's a discussion of these unwritten rules at the OOAK Table Tennis Forum. Do you agree with them? Any to add?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Here's a picture of Arnold playing table tennis with Scott Preiss at the recent Arnold Sports Festival.

Living Room Table Tennis

This picture may be the weirdest "action" table tennis shot I've ever seen.

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December 28, 2011

MDTTC Christmas Camp

We're in the middle of the Christmas Camp at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. It's our 21st consecutive year we've had a Christmas Camp, along with about 150 other camps, mostly during the summer. (All camps are five days/30 hours long.) I basically run the morning sessions, where I give short lectures and then go into groups where the players rotate, doing multiball with the coaches. Coaches Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Jeffrey Zeng Xun are the other coaches. Cheng and Jack run the afternoon sessions. Coach Jack Hsu is also coming in during the morning sessions to assist and put in the hours needed toward his ITTF coaching certification.

We have about 30 players this year, including a number of "luminaries," such as 2011 and 2012 National Cadet Team member Tong Tong Gong, 10 & Under Boys' Finalist at the Open and Nationals Derek Nie, U.S. Under 10 and Under 12 #1 Girl Crystal Huang (she's 9 and rated 2150!), 15-year-old Nathan Hsu (2277), and a bunch of others that range from beginner to 2200, including players from California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington DC., and of course Maryland.

Yesterday I brought in a box of chocolates - 48 in all - and during break I put them on the table near the edge. (They were individually wrapped.) Nearly the entire camp joined in as I fed multiball - two shots each, a forehand from the backhand side, and one from the forehand side - where if they knocked one off, they got the chocolate. It took about 20 minutes for them to knock off all 48, thereby saving me the trouble of having to eat them all and gain 20 pounds.

After two weeks at the Nationals and Christmas, I hadn't fed multiball in a while. After two days of feeding multiball, my out-of-shape arm is sore. Soon I'll be off for another day, with today's focus on forehand looping. Plus I have another box of chocolates.

Coaching Seminar at the USA Nationals

As I noted in my blog yesterday, Stefan Feth and Richard McAfee held a coaching seminar at the USA Nationals last week. I attended as did about twenty others. USA Men's Coach Stefan Feth went first, with a presentation on "Modern Trends in the Serve and Serve Return Game," which I also wrote about yesterday.  

Richard McAfee's presentation was on Half-Pattern Drills. Many players use rote pattern drills, where you know where the next ball is going, and so do repetitive footwork and stroke practice. However, in a game, the balls do not come out in a set pattern. At the other extreme from rote drills are pure random drills where the ball can go anywhere, such as anywhere on the forehand side and you have to move and play forehand, or randomly to the backhand or forehand, and you have to react accordingly.

With Half-Pattern drills, it's in the middle, with perhaps half the shots in the drill a pattern, and half random. This bridges the gap between rote and random drills. Including in his presentation was a printout, with nine examples of half-pattern drills, which were demonstrated in the presentation.

For example, instead of a rote drill where balls alternately to the forehand or backhand, or a random drill where the ball goes randomly to either side, a half-pattern version would be one or two balls to the forehand, one or two balls to the backhand, and repeat. In this case, you know where every other ball is going, and every other ball is random. Or do a drill where you go backhand-to-backhand until after 2-3 shots, one player goes to the forehand (either one player always does this, or either can), and then it's free play.

Come up with your own half-pattern drills - find something you need to work on, and work out a drill where about half the shots are a pattern, the rest random.

Timo Boll versus Chen Weixing

Here's a nice 44-second exhibition point between Timo Boll and Chen Weixing. And here's a more serious match between the two (9:57) from the 2009 German Open. (Germany's Boll is the #1 European player, currently #4 in the world but #1 for three months this year. Chen, formerly of China but now Austria for Germany, is currently #38 in the world but was formerly in the top ten.)

Table Tennis Nation Paddles

Table Tennis Nation now has a selection of nine fancy paddles for your selection! These are sandpaper rackets, but even if you don't plan to use them serious matches, they look pretty nice, perhaps as wall ornaments. The selections are Liberty, Zebra, Crazy Leopard, Leopard, Tiger, Patriot (sold out), Manga Mascot, Sunset, and Starry Starry. (Yes, it's "Starry Starry.")

Passionate Ping-Pong

Here's a humorous table tennis video from comic table tennis player Adam Bobrow (4:09), also starring cadet star Ethan Chua - enjoy!

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December 5, 2011

Tip of the Week

Going to the Well Too Often. This was a tricky one to write because I didn't want to encourage players to avoid a winning tactic when leading and thereby blowing a game, yet I wanted to get the point across that to win on one winning tactic you need to both use it sparingly and find other winning variations or tactics.

Nationals in one week

I leave for the USA Nationals in one week. All potential opponents of my students, wouldn't this be a nice time to take a week off, eat lots of ice cream, and watch TV? Here is my article Ten-point Plan to Tournament Success. Please do not read this. Please do not follow this. Please pretend I never posted a link to this recipe for tournament success. In fact, there's some really nice shows on TV right now, and Rocky Road ice cream is soooooo good. . . .

Why is Your Grip Pressure So Important?

Here's a nice article by Coach Massimo Constantini. We know he's a great coach, a real icon, because "Constantini" is just an anagram for "Instant Icon." (Of course, "Hodges" is just an anagram for "He's God," so maybe we're reading too much into this.) You may also notice that this week's Tip of the Week (see above) is also a news item at Paddle Palace - they are now sponsoring me, and so I'll be putting the weekly Tips up both here and there as news items, as well as putting up some past ones.

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

If you heard the fireworks yesterday around 11:30 AM Eastern Time, that was me celebrating the completion of the first draft at 75,237 words, 21 chapters, and 319 pages double spaced. (I added a final chapter called "Tactical and Strategic Thinking Revisited.") Today I'll be coaching much of the day, so tomorrow starts the long process of rewriting, editing, and proofing.

Northern Virginia Table Tennis Center

Here's an article on the NVTTC, a full-time club in Chantilly, VA, featuring Coach Zhongxing "Coach" Lu. These full-time clubs keep popping up. (This has nostalgic value to me - I was president and Tournament & League Director of the Northern Virginia Table Tennis Club for several years in the early 1980s, though it wasn't full-time back then.)

Timo Boll and Chen Weixing exhibition point

Here's a 44-second exhibition rally between Timo Boll and Chen Weixing.

Nani and Veloso play ping pong

Watch these two soccer players go at it (2:41). I'll put them in the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page when I next update, around Jan. 1. They are members of the Portuguese National Football Team (soccer in American terms). Nani is actually Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, and Veloso is Miguel Luís Pinto Veloso.

A new ping-pong song?

Yes, it's The Glowtones - Ping Pong (Doo Wop), in this video from 1957 (1:56)! The words "ping pong" are used over and over in the lyrics, and a ping-pong table in the background in the second half.

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