chocolate

July 9, 2012

Tip of the Week:

Telegraphing Serves.

My Favorite Statements at the U.S. Open

After one of my players lost a close match I told him, "Except for a few careless points, you played really well. But that's like telling a tightrope walker he did really well except for the part where he fell off and got killed."

Another Maryland junior was tied 2-2 in games. I had been coaching another match, and came over just as she lost game #4, and so didn't see any of the match, and I didn't know the opponent. Her mom asked if I'd coach before the fifth game. I told her, "Keep doing the things that are working, and stop doing the things that are not working." She won the fifth game and the match. (Actually, I also had her tell me what was working and what wasn't working so she it would be clear in her mind what she should do.)

One of our top juniors didn't have to play until late that afternoon, so for breakfast I told him he could have whatever he wanted. He had a chocolate donut, a chocolate pastry, and hot chocolate. I asked him, "You are what you eat. Your opponents are going to eat you up." (That was the last time I let him have final say on his food.)

Table Tennis Players on Cereal Boxes

Name: Michael Landers

Rank: Rated 2634 and 2009 U.S. Men's Singles Champion

Serial Number, I mean Cereal: Here he is on the lower left on the back of this Kelloggs cereal box. And here he is again on the front of a Wheaties box. So tell us Michael - what's your favorite? Kelloggs Vanilla Flavored Multigrain Cereal, or Wheaties?

Michael now has a 2-1 lead over Hall of Famer George Hendry, who appeared on the back of a Wheaties box in 1936.

Tennis and Table Tennis

Roger Federer just won Wimbledon for the seventh time. Here are three pictures of Federer playing table tennis: photo1photo2, and photo3 (as a child), and . But guess who else won Wimbledon, and in fact won eight tennis grand slams, tied for eighth place all time (with Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and Ken Rosewall)? Yes, it's Fred Perry. After winning the 1929 World Table Tennis Championships, he went on to win the Australian Open (1934), French Open (1935), Wimbledon (1934, '35, '36), and US Open (1933, '34, '36).

World Veterans Championships

In case you missed it, here are the results of the World Veterans Table Tennis Championships, held in Stockholm, Sweden, June 25-30. I haven't gone through the results to see if there are any USA medallists, but if someone puts together a list, I'll post it in my blog.

How to Play Ping Pong with Soon Yeon Lee

Here's a basics coaching video (3:57) from the famous table tennis player and model.

Ping-Pong 3-D Game Revisited

On Friday I linked to this online ping-pong game and wrote, "I don't think it's possible to win, but you can spend endless time trying." Well, Aaron Avery won, and sent me a screen shot to prove it. He wrote, "Hang back in a defensive location to give yourself some time to mouse.  Swinging left or right does allow you to go for angles, unlike many online TT games."

Ping-Pong Balls of Fire

Table Tennis Nation brings us ping-pong balls on fire. (But I like the "of Fire" in my title.)

Non-Table Tennis: "The Dragon of the Apocalypse"

Despite the fantasy-sounding title (with the word "dragon") it's actually a science fiction story, and it's now published in Penumbra Magazine as their #1 story in their table of contents. They are one of the higher-paying "pro" magazines, so I was pretty happy when they bought it. The story is about the decisions the president of the U.S. faces when an apparent dragon lands on the U.S. Capitol. My name is on the cover. (Here's my science fiction & fantasy page.)

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March 1, 2012

Peter Li

Imagine a country that has an 18-year-old National Men's Singles Champion. Suppose that country decides to fund four players to the World Championships. You'd think that winning that Men's Singles title would automatically qualify you for the team. Right? Wrong.

That's the story of Peter Li, who won Men's Singles at the USA Nationals a little over two months ago in December when he was 18. However, at the USA Team Trials (just after turning 19), he finished in a four-way tie for second place with a record of 8-3. But after the tie-breaker (going to matches and games among those tied), he finished in fifth place, just missing the top four. He was then offered the fifth spot as an unfunded position, meaning he would have to pay his own way to the worlds. His family is already spending over $10,000/year on his training, and simply couldn't afford to pay more. And so he will not be going to the Worlds, and will not gain the experience he would get there.

Can anyone imagine this happening in any serious table tennis country? I don't think there are very many countries that fund teams to the Worlds that would not fund a teenaged National Men's or Women's Singles Champion.  

There's little chance USATT will change their procedures for this Worlds. The question is if they will look at the result of their procedure, and ask themselves if that procedure is really getting them the best result. Perhaps anyone winning or making the final of Men's and Women's Singles at the Nationals should automatically qualify. (Conflict of interest note - Peter developed at MDTTC, my club, and still trains and coaches part-time there on weekends.) 

Hit the ball harder!

I'm coaching an eight-year-old girl whose forehand is coming along pretty well, except for one problem: she absolutely will not hit the ball hard. Every shot is the same soft keep-it-in-play stroke that wouldn't break wet tissue paper. I've tried to get her to gradually hit the ball harder, to no avail. She just doesn't want to. So what did I do?

I did the obvious thing. I tricked her.

Near the end of our session yesterday, while feeding multiball, I put a half-filled water bottle on the table. I told her if she could knock it over, she could have a chocolate. (I conveniently had a stash handy.) It took her a few shots to hit the bottle, and she discovered she'd have to hit it harder to knock it over. That's when she started hitting harder, and with good form. She won two chocolates. Afterwards I told her mom about what I'd done, and she promised not to tell her daughter. (Shhhhhhh everyone! Hopefully she's not reading this blog.)

Sol Schiff

Here's the obit on Sol Schiff by his longtime friend Dean Johnson.

The Ma Long serve

He's #1 in the world, and here's his serve (2:31). Here's another video of it (0:55), showing it in action. Both videos show it in regular time and slow motion.

Table Tennis in Bed

Yes, you too can play table tennis in bed, using your hands and feet to rally back and forth!

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January 19, 2012

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide - Update

First, let me think the reviewers for their help editing/proofing/critiquing the first draft of the book, which should be available later this year. They are (alphabetically) Scott Gordon, Chris Grace, Richard McAfee, John Olsen, Dennis Taylor, and Kevin Walton.

I'd told them I would be starting the (hopefully) finally rewrite from their comments starting this past Tuesday, two days ago. However, with fellow MDTTC coach Jeffrey Zeng Xun temporarily in China, my coaching hours have doubled. Add that I'm still tired from having a cold from Jan. 1-12, that I started weight training again this week (so I'm exhausted from that - see my blog entry from Monday on my back problems), that I'm continually hungry from dieting (after gaining four pounds over the holidays), and that 523 new things came up this week (most involving MDTTC), I'm sorry to say I haven't been able to get started on it yet. Tentatively, in my mind, I'm still going to start on Tuesday, but it'll be next Tuesday. (My weekends and Mondays are busy.)

Backswing on forehand

I was working with a kid yesterday who kept hitting forehands off the end. Like many beginning and even intermediate players, he tended to hit up too much on the ball, focusing on getting the ball over the net even though most misses are off the end. So I told him to shadow stroke his forehand, but freeze at the end of his backswing. Then I went to his side, and shadow stroked my forehand, and also froze at the end of my backswing. My racket was about four inches higher than his. (It doesn't make a difference how tall the player is, the racket should backswing to about the same spot, which for me is about elbow height, while for the kid, about shoulder height.) So he raised his racket to match mine, shadow stroked with the new backswing height (with me harping on remembering the feel of it), and then we went back to hitting. Magically, his forehand smash came alive! (There are differences in backswings based on how much topspin you put on the ball. A player with a very topspinny backhand will have a lower backswing than one who hits flatter. In the case above, both of us were hitting pretty much standard forehands, not too topspinny and not too flat.)

Chocolate quote

I've blogged about how I sometimes give out chocolates as a reward for kids who achieve a certain task, such as hitting a certain number of shots in a row or hitting a target I put on the table. Yesterday I was hitting with an 8-year-old girl who was having trouble getting the thirty forehands in a row she needed to win a chocolate. I jokingly warned her that if she didn't hit thirty, she'd get to watch me eat the chocolate. Her response? "I know you'll give me chocolate because you're a big softy!" (Soon afterward she got the thirty and got the chocolate. And three more before the session was over.)

Tong Tong Gong in Howard County Times

Here's another article about Tong Tong making the USA National Cadet Team. (And that's me in the background! I'm one of Tong Tong's coaches.) Strangely, the Howard Country Times seems to use the Baltimore Sun webspace for their online version. He was also in the Baltimore Sun on Sunday. Here's the print version, with a large picture of Tong Tong.)

Peter Li vs. Timothy Wang

In case you missed it, here's the epic men's singles semifinal match at the 2011 Nationals between 2010 champion Timothy Wang and 2011 champ-to-be Peter Li, where Peter comes back from down 0-3 and multiple match points in the seventh to win, -6,-6,-4,9,10,8,14. It's a long one, just over an hour. And here's the other semifinal, Han Xiao over Chance Friend (7,6,8,-10,8), and the final, Peter Li over Han Xiao (9,7,7,6).

Ping-pong table made of ice!

Yes, it's all part of the Hunter Ice Festival

Racket Repertoire

Here's a hilarious video (2:39) of Wade Sun using just about any available item for a racket. I do the same thing!

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