Werner Schlager Academy

August 13, 2014

Update on My Books

This seems a good time to remind people that if you haven't bought copies of my books, the Easter pumpkin will run you down on Santa's sleigh and smack you with a menorah. Also, I'll starve. (If not interested in my books - sacrilege! - then skip down below to the other segments.) All of my books are on sale at my Amazon page. (Yes, as some of you know there's been controversy with them and their battles with various publishers, but I'm stuck with them for now.)

If you have not bought a copy of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers then every time you play a match your opponent (who no doubt has a copy in his bag and consulted it before playing you) will have an insurmountable advantage. The book not only covers tactics, but strategic development, i.e. how to develop your game. (Look over the 30 reviews, and ask yourself why you haven't got a copy yet.) It's in both print and kindle formats. It's been selling like hotcakes (oh god, that's a cliché), so why not join in the bandwagon? There's even a French translation coming out later this year!

My more recent book is Table Tennis Tips, which came out in May in both print and kindle formats. It's a compilation of all 150 of my Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, but in a logical progression, all in one volume. It includes chapters on Serve, Receive, Strokes, Grip and Stance, Footwork, Tactics, Improving, Sports Psychology, Equipment, and Tournaments. (More Table Tennis Tips should come out early in 2017, covering all my weekly tips from 2014-2016.)

Perhaps the most interesting read is Table Tennis Tales & Techniques, which is a compilation of both interesting stories about table tennis (lots of fun stuff), and essays on techniques. It also features a series of pictures of 2003 World Men's Singles Champion Werner Schlager in the top right corner of every page, so if you fan the pages you get a movie of him playing!

Table Tennis: Steps to Success is currently out of print, but I'm planning a new version out probably within six months, tentatively retitled Table Tennis Fundamentals. (First I have to get new pictures for every technique taught in the book, a big job.) However you can still buy used copies. (There is another version of this out by Richard McAfee, but it's not related to this one - it's from the same publisher, and they chose to use the same title.) The book sold 28,000 copies and was translated into seven languages. It probably sold a zillion copies if you include bootleg copies in China. (I'm not kidding.)

If you are interested in coaching, then you'll want to buy the creatively titled Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook, which is in both print and kindle formats. It covers the professional side of coaching - getting students, keeping them, running classes and junior programs, and other aspects of coaching, with an emphasis on professional coaching and junior training.  

I also have Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis, but that was published a while back by USATT, and is no longer sold. I tentatively plan to do a new version of that next year, using the pictures from Table Tennis Fundamentals. It's a guide for how to coach for beginning coaches.

I also have two non-Table Tennis books, a novel and an anthology. Sorcerers in Space is my humorous fantasy novel that came out last year from Class Act Books. It comes in both print and kindle versions. It's about the U.S.-Soviet race to the moon in the 1960s, but with sorcerers instead of astronauts, and the whole things takes place over one week. (Sorcerers work fast.) It stars a 13-year-old Neil [Armstrong] and fictionalized versions of many of the major political names from the 1960s - President Kennedy and his brothers, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bob McNamara, and Lee Harvey Oswald, as well as dragons and other creatures that keep trying to kill poor Neil - including an attack meteor named Buzz. Oh, and Neil is a wannabe table tennis champion who has to drop his dreams of ping-pong stardom to save the world.

The anthology is Pings and Pongs: the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of Larry Hodges. It includes the 30 best short stories I'd sold through 2009, including "Ping-Pong Ambition." It comes in both print and kindle versions. (More Pings and Pongs should come out sometime next year - another 30 of my best sales since the previous anthology.)

On my Amazon page there's also a booklet called Willy and the Ten Trillion Chimpanzees. That's actually a short story of mine that's sold by Musa Publishers - but it only costs 99 cents!

I have two other books tentatively coming out. I'm doing a (hopefully) final rewrite of my science fiction novel "Campaign 2100: Rise of the Moderates," about the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, featuring a third-party moderate challenge. One of the four main characters is a professional table tennis player, and there are several table tennis scenes. I have a publisher that liked the previous version, but asked for a rewrite.

The other project? "Parents Guide to Table Tennis," a long-needed manual. I hope to finalize it this Fall, if I have time.

While we're on the topic of writing, I have a few articles published as well. 

MDTTC Camp

Yesterday was Day Two of Week Nine of our Ten Weeks of Summer Camp at MDTTC. Once again there were about 40 players. The focus was on the backhand. I also taught spin serves, and did a lot of footwork drills (as always).

Something strange is going on this camp. Usually we have some sort of minor accident perhaps once every few weeks. In the last two days two kids fell and cut themselves and needed bandages, and another had a nosebleed. I'm getting good at cleaning cuts and applying bandages.

One kid, about eight, has struck me as someone to watch. Not because he's particularly good yet - he's only played a few weeks - but because he is the hardest worker in the camp, and totally focused and enthused about getting better. Even on break he's off practicing his serves. In every drill he's the most focused at getting it right. It'll be interesting to see where he is a few years from now, as compared to one or two others who seem great "naturals" who, while not lazy, aren't as focused on improving.

The Plastic Ball

Here are two new articles from the ITTF on the plastic ball.

ITTF Releases Table Tennis Youth Olympic Games Media Guide

You can download it here. The Games will be held in Nanjing, China, Aug. 17-23.

California-Based Chinese Players Pose Stiff Competition to Top Seeds at 2014 Butterfly Los Angeles Open

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Ping Pong 4 Purpose

Here's the home page for this charity event. "Clayton Kershaw, event host Chris Harrison, the Los Angeles Dodgers and other celebrities are joining together for a unique celebrity ping pong tournament and fundraising event Thursday, September 4 on the field at Dodger Stadium. This second annual Ping Pong 4 Purpose fundraising event will feature a celebrity ping pong tournament, high-end silent auction and more. Event proceeds will benefit the efforts of Kershaw's Challenge in Los Angeles and Zambia to transform at-risk communities and the lives of children."

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Eighty-two down, 18 to go!

  • Day 19: Korea’s Mr. Han Sang Kook is the Picture of “A True Gentleman”

Training at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria

Here's the video (22 sec).

Can Ping-Pong Balls Help Clean Up Oil Spills?

Here's the article and video (1:45) from Table Tennis Nation.

Amazing Table Tennis Shot Off Ground

Here's the video (1:11).

Funniest Faces from Table Tennis Players

Here's the gallery!

Non-TT - ESPN Covers the World Series

For the second time in five days I have a humorous story on the front page of Orioles Hangout. Here's ESPN Covers the World Series! Last Thursday they featured my story Top Ten Ways for Orioles Fans to Cope with a Winning Team. I've had 22 stories featured there, going back to April, 2012. (Did I mention that the Orioles lead the American Lead East by 6.5 games?)

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April 1, 2014

Tongue Training
Anyone watching TT videos regularly can see that most top
players make use of their tongue. Most assume this is just a
reaction to stress, or a side effect of the effort going into the shot.
It's much more than that. In fact, proper use of the tongue is just
like using any other part of the body in a shot. I'd argue that 
for most, proper use of the tongue is central to the shot. Sure, it
only weighs two to two and a half ounces, but its usage must be
orchestrated properly or you will lose power and control. When
looping, improper use of the tongue can be disastrous.

Chinese theory on this is quite different from European. Most
European coaches believe the tongue should be held more or
less rigid inside the mouth, believing that this maximizes balance.
However, most Chinese coaches believe it should be used to
maximize power when looping. In some ways, it's like the wrist -
for years, many coaches thought the wrist should be held rigid
during power shots, but then some coaches decided it should be
used for extra power, and they were correct. Similarly, Chinese
coaches theorize that the tongue, when used in conjunction with
the rest of the body, can add power. To do so requires proper
timing and training of the tongue.

On forehand loops, the tongue must start in the right side of the
mouth. (This is for righties; lefties reverse.) As the player rotates
into the shot he uses his legs, hips, waist, shoulders, arm, and wrist.
The tongue should coil backward and snap into the shot as the
shoulders rotate into the shot, adding extra power as the player
throws his arm into the shot.

On backhand loops, the tongue should start in the bottom of the
mouth. As the player powers into the shot with their lower body
the tongue should snap into the shot, adding extra power as the
player throws the upper body and arm into the shot.

Physical training is extremely important to high-level training, and
most top juniors now incorporate tongue training into this. For
power, they do isometric training, where they alternately press the
tongue into the top, bottom, and both sides of the mouth, three times
in each direction, holding it for ten seconds. For stretching, the tongue
is extended out as far as possible, then up, then down, then to each
side, again doing it three times each for ten seconds. This is similar to
how the Chinese train, although their full-time players do considerably
more physical training, including more tongue exercises.

So if you want to reach your potential in table tennis, train your tongue,
and watch the wins pile up! Here are pictures of Germany's
Thomas Schmidberger and Stefan Schmidt doing tongue stretches,
which they learned while training in China with teammates Timo Boll
and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Here's China's Wang Hao uncorking a backhand
loop, with his tongue coiled in the bottom of his mouth, about to snap
into the shot - note how the lower lip is pulled in over the tongue.
Here's Ui Young Park of South Korea snapping his tongue into his
forehand. And here's MDTTC junior star John Elson doing tongue
stretches on the MDTTC sofa.

Beginning/Intermediate Class
In my Beginning/Intermediate Class last night we focused on smashing
and on return of serve. These are two of my favorite topics as they are
strengths of mine. I got to demonstrate smash after smash with assistant
coach John Hsu, who returned them over and over, both blocking and
fishing. Later I gave a probably-too-long lecture on return of serve.
One of the things I stress in such classes is that even if they can't do the
things I'm teaching right now, or even in the near future, it's something
to strive for later on. After the class most of the students stayed on and
practiced for over an hour.

The lecture on receive was divided into three parts: How to return short
serves (pushes and flips); How to return deep serves (this one was very
short - you attack them, mostly by looping); and How to read spin.
(Here's my Tip of the Week: Reading Service Spin.)

Three Things Ma Long Can Learn from Fan Zhendong (and You Too!)
Here's the article.

Table Tennis Classes at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria
Here's info.

"All My Body Aches"
That's what Dimitrij Ovtcharov said after winning the German Open. Here's the article.

Tony Yeap Prepares for Nationals
Here's a video (3:14) showing Tony as he prepares for the College Nationals.

Table Tennis Named the Official Sport of the United States
Here's the article.
***
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April 10, 2012

Too far from the table on your forehand loop?

A lot of players lose power when forehand looping against backspin because they are too far from the table, taking the ball too much in front of them instead of rotating their body and taking it from the side. This forces them to reach forward for the ball, and to compensate and keep their balance, their left side (for righties) falls back as they hit the shot. It also means they cannot get much body rotation into the shot. They may get decent spin with this shot, but little forward speed. Instead, stand closer to the table, and rotate the body back sideways, and then rotate the entire body into the shot. The contact point is actually in the same spot relative to the table, but now you are in a position to really put power on the ball. Watch the top players and see how close they stand to the table when looping against backspin.

Here's a video (1:42) by USA Men's Coach and former German star Stefan Feth showing and explaining the forehand loop against backspin. Note how he stays relatively close to the table as he rotates into each shot with great power.

Maryland Table Tennis Center Tuesday Night League

Starts tonight! So be there. (Alas, I'll be coaching from 5-9, and the league starts at 7:30. But I'll be watching some between coaching points!)

Four recent table tennis books

I may write more about these books later. So far I've only browsed them, except for "Breaking 2000." (Here's a complete listing of the 206 books I have on table tennis.)

Werner Schlager Academy photos

Here are 14 pictures recently taken by Coach Donn Olsen at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria. Can you identify the players?

Table Tennis the Serious Sport

Here's an article in the Anniston Star featuring table tennis player, promoter, and umpire/referee Mike Wetzel and his "love affair with table tennis."

Bubba Watson and Ping-Pong

It turns out Masters Champion Bubba Watson also plays table tennis, as shown by Table Tennis Nation.

The House of Rackets

Here's a 36-second preview of a new TV show, "The House of Rackets," which features tennis, badminton, squash, and yes, table tennis. "SMASH is Asia's first ever all-inclusive racquet sports magazine show featuring the best weekly coverage from the worlds of badminton, table tennis, squash and tennis. SMASH will air every Wednesday at 10:30 pm on STAR Sports."

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May 23, 2011

The table tennis is great up here in heaven.

What, the rapture came and went on Saturday, and you weren't selected? Oh, right, 97% of you are still on earth, along with all those look-alike demons us chosen ones left behind. We don't even need umpires up here - nobody cheats! (Oh, and did I mention it's all hardbat?) Anyway, according to the clock on the big wall up here, the world really ends on Feb. 27, 2049, which just happens to be my 89th birthday. What are the chances I'll still be around to be held accountable? Anyway, gotta go; Coach God's running a huge practice session up here. I'm hitting with Dick Miles; he and God have really fixed up my backhand.

Speaking of coaching...

Sean O'Neill has created a new USATT Coaching Page for USATT. As you can see, it's very ITTFish. (I suggest looking over the links under "Additional Coaching Resources.") Also, you may note that I'm on the USATT Coaching Committee (as noted in a past blog). I was appointed recently, and haven't really gotten active. I believe the coaching committee is meeting at the U.S. Open in July, and I'll see where things stand at that time. Perhaps if we appoint Coach God to the committee we'd be able to turn USATT into Chinese Table Tennis, along with water into wine, etc.

Speaking of Chinese table tennis...

Donn Olsen (former USA coach, now a coach at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria) wrote a great article recently on the Chinese training at the Schlager Academy before the Worlds.

There is some irony in the Chinese training at Schlager's club, considering he's the last player to win singles at the Worlds who wasn't Chinese (2003), and the only one (men's or women's) since Waldner in 1997. In fact, China has swept every event - men's and women's singles, doubles, and teams - at every Worlds since 1993 except for those two, the Singapore women's team in 2010, and Sweden men's team in 2000. They haven't lost in mixed doubles since 1989 and women's doubles since 1987! If we want to catch up to them, we're going to need some serious coaching here in the USA. Or a lot of praying to Coach You-Know-Who.

Speaking of coaching in the USA...

It's a good thing we have four ITTF coaching seminars coming up. We need all the coaches we can get to develop top players here in the USA. Info is on the new USATT Coaching Page, but here are the seminars. This was in my blog last week - yes, I'm reminding you, the one reading this page right now, yes, you, to sign up right now. Coach God is watching. So am I.

Speaking of top players here in the USA...

Variety is good. Ever notice how when you play a much stronger player, they can get away with all sorts of weak shots that nobody your level could? You fool them with a side-top serve, they pop it up, but you've already taken a step back to react to their expected flip and so miss the easy smash. They block your loop back weakly, but you're so set for an aggressive block or counterloop you just stand there like an idiot until it's too late, and so you pat the ball back and then they rip it. Or they lob the ball in the air, and you miss because you were already getting ready to block their counter-hit. This is all so unfair. There should be a rule against top players making weak shots.

Kidding aside, this is a reason to diversify your game. You don't need to be a top player to have variety in your game, and variety is what causes opponents to freeze up with indecision, just as many players freeze up against stronger players because stronger players usually have more variety, or at least the potential for stronger shots that freeze you even when they don't use those stronger shots - meaning they have variety, not just strong shots. Many of them seem as if they were coached by Coach God himself, right?

Speaking of variety...

A good deep push adds variety if you most play topspin. But you must do it properly - and few players realize just how effective a deep push can be if done properly. But to do so, you must understand the six attributes of a good push - as explained in this week's Tip of the Week. Do all six, and your opponents fall like the walls of Jericho.

I sure hope I'm not offending anyone with my joking references to Coach God. He is the best coach, right???

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