Diana Gee

August 15, 2012

Try a New Style

Why not experiment with a new style? Add some variety to your game? You could do something really crazy, like a shakehander playing penhold or Seemiller style, or try out some weird rubber. But why not try out a style you could actually use in your game? You'll have fun as well as adding a new dimension (i.e. tactical tool) to your game.

I suggest chopping. It's a nice weapon to have both as a variation and when you are out of position, especially on the backhand. Some players really have trouble with sudden chops, and it's a crime not to have this skill against these players. Plus, next time you are out of position against a ball wide to your backhand, just chop it back. Just as importantly, you'll quickly see the game from a chopper's point of view, and become a lot stronger playing choppers as a result. (Your biggest shock will probably be how weak a chopper can be on receive - yet many attackers assume choppers can just chop any serve back, and so don't take advantage of this.)

Though most choppers use long pips on the backhand, that's mostly to chop back loops. If you are only going to chop as an occasional variation or when you are out of position, any surface will do, including super charged-up inverted. That's what I have on my backhand, and I regularly throw in chops.

Table Tennis Foot Dream

Last night I had one of those weird table tennis dreams. (Warning - this is sort of gory.) I was battling with "the enemy" (not sure who my opponent was, it was never clear) at ping-pong on a table in a street. Bullets and bombs were exploding everywhere as soldiers ran about shooting at each other. And then my left foot got shot off! I grabbed it from the ground and tried jamming it back on, and it sort of stuck, but kept falling off as we played. I finally just held the foot in my non-playing hand while hopping about, still playing, as an ambulance arrived. I handed them the foot and asked them to sew it back on, but only after I finished the match. I woke up about then, and had to check my foot to make sure it was still there. (Obligatory bad joke: I had not been defeeted.)

Maryland Table Tennis Center in Washington Post

It's on the front page of the sports section this morning. Here's the article, and here's the video (3:26). Featured are Nathan Hsu, Derek Nie, Amy Lu, and I'm quoted quite a bit. A few corrections: the article has me founding MDTTC, when Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and I did it together. It also has me saying there are 11 full-time centers in the country, but there are now about 50. (I may have said there are about 10 that could be considered really strong. And I never was able to get USATT interested in promoting these training centers, alas.) Also, I think the $100,000 investment mentioned was by several owners, not just one.

Pictures from the Southern Open and Junior Olympics

Here are some pictures taken at these two tournaments, mostly featuring MDTTC players.

Olympian Diana Gee to Run Clinic in Cary

If you are around Cary, NC on Sept. 1, you might want to join Olympian Diana Gee ('88 and '92) for a pair of one-hour clinics. Here's the info page.

Can Ping-Pong in the Office Increase Productivity?

Yes, according to this article in the Enviable Workplace. "With a game like ping pong you can get up, play for 20 mins, break a lil sweat, get your brain racing and come back to work refreshed." Here's another segment:

Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, specifically points out that table tennis:

  • Increases concentration and alertness
  • Stimulates brain function
  • Develops tactical thinking skills
  • Develops hand / eye coordination
  • Provides aerobic exercise
  • Provides social and recreational interaction

Chinese Blitz at the Olympic Games

Here's a video from PingSkills (7:01) where they discuss Chinese dominance at the Olympics.

The Duchess of Cambridge Playing Table Tennis

Yes, that's "Smashing Kate" rallying with kids at a sports project. She's pretty good - can keep the ball in play.

Ping-Pong with Sharks

At first you only see the sharks swimming around. It's not until the camera pulls back in this video (1:18) that you realize that they are playing ping-pong on this shark infested table!

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January 24, 2012

Standing up too straight

Many players stand up way too straight when they play. The result is they are unable to move as quickly as they could if they kept their legs father apart (which also adds stability and power) and bent their knees slightly. It also tends to mess up some strokes, especially on the backhand, where you lose leverage if you stand up straight.

Some players do this because they are getting old and have knee problems, or are overweight, but even then you can get in the habit of bending the knees slightly, as well as keeping the legs a little farther apart. And very young players (or short players) don't want to get down too low because they are already rather short and if they get down any lower they'll have problems on their backhand. 

There's a rather easy cure. Rather than think of getting down, imagine you are covering someone in basketball, or playing shortstop in baseball, or you're the goalie in soccer. As soon as I tell a player to imagine this, they immediately get lower. It's almost impossible not too - you can't do these things in basketball, baseball, or soccer without getting down, and so players instinctively get down. They don't have this same instinct in table tennis, so the habit needs to be learned.

U.S. Olympic Trials Dream

This is a weird one. Last night I dreamed I was at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are coming up in Cary, NC, Feb. 9-12. (In real life, I will be there coaching.) Player after player asked if I would coach them, and I kept saying yes. Next thing I know I'm committed to coaching about a dozen players. The players began arguing over me, and then they got hostile toward me. Then I found myself at a match where five-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller was playing current U.S. Men's Doubles Champion and Singles Finalist Han Xiao - and I was coaching both sides!

Between games they both came over for coaching. That's when I explained that according to Citizens United, I couldn't coordinate with them on tactics. (I'm an amateur presidential historian, and follow politics closely, alas.) They began arguing with me, and we finally agreed that I could talk to them as long as they didn't talk back, since if they did that would be "coordinating." (In the dream, this made sense.) Then I started telling them both how to play each other, and then the two of them got into an excited discussion about their strengths and weaknesses, and soon I was just listening as they got into a mutual admiration thing.

Then suddenly I found myself coaching USATT Hall-of Famer Diana Gee McDonnell (a U.S. National and Olympic team member circa late 80's and early '90s, who was a resident at the Olympic Training Center back then when I was at various times the manager/director/a coach) against Han! Then I was interrupted by several others who were demanding that I coach them, then Han got angry that I was coaching against him, and Dan's brother Randy Seemiller started yelling at me for not coaching Dan, and then I woke up at 6AM all sweaty and nervous about who I was supposed to coach.

If you want to read about two other weird dreams I've blogged about, see my entries from June 28, 2011 ("U.S. Open Table Tennis Dream") and Jan. 9, 2012 ("Dan Seemiller, ping-pong and waiter"). Will someone tell Mr. Seemiller to please stay out of my dreams!???

Use of the wrist

Here's an interesting discussion of use of the wrist in table tennis. In particular see the ninth posting, which links to videos of wrist usage by "some of our sport's biggest starts." My "short" take on wrist usage? I'll quote Dan Seemiller (geez, here he is again): "When the ball is coming at you slow, use more wrist. When the ball is coming at you fast, use less wrist." Additionally, beginning players shouldn't use much wrist except on the serve and pushing. Instead, just put the wrist back and let it go through the ball naturally. As you advance, you can start using more and more wrist, especially when looping against slower balls.

Anne Cribbs joins USATT Board

Anne Cribbs, an Olympic Gold medallist for swimming at the 1960 Olympics, was named to the USATT Board of Directors. (Strangely, the USATT article mentions she was an Olympic gold medallist but neglects to mention which sport.)

Backhand Sidespin of the Year

Don't practice this in your basement or you might break a side window.

Roller-Coaster Ping-Pong?

Here's the picture - I'd like to see video!

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