Evolution of Table Tennis

June 20, 2012

Day Two at the MDTTC Camp - the Backhand

There are just over 30 players in the camp, ranging from beginner to 2400, from age 7 to 24. Today's focus was on the backhand, though of course that varied from player to player. I did a backhand demo with Tong Tong Gong where he and I went at it backhand to backhand. I am happy to say I smacked about three dozen consecutive backhands at full speed, an incredible display of advanced backhand prowess. I am unhappy to say that Tong Tong did three dozen plus one. Yeah, I finally missed.

So how's your backhand? Do you tend to keep the racket tip down? (This is for shakehanders.) This gives you extra power and can turn your backhand into almost a second forehand. However, it may cost you control and quickness, and make you weaker in the middle. Do you tend to keep the racket tip more up? That'll give you extra quickness and control, and make it easier to cover the middle. To use two classic examples, Jan-Ove Waldner tended to keep his tip up a bit while Jorgen Persson kept his down. (If you don't know these two Swedish world champions, google them.) Jim Butler is another player who keeps his racket tip down, giving him a great backhand smash. Dave Sakai is an example of a player who keeps his racket tip more up, giving him a great backhand counter-hitting and blocking game.

These days, at the world-class level, most players loop almost everything on both backhand and forehand, and so they tend to keep the racket tip down.

I pointed out to the campers that we've run over 150 five-day camps, which comes out to over two years of camps. Yes, I've spent two years of my life running these things. They were suitably impressed.

USA's Kanak Jha wins ITTF Hopes Challenge

Here's the ITTF article!

Challenge the brain with table tennis

Here's an table tennis graphic with Spanish captions. Here is the English translation from an online translator - see #6! ("Apparently"?)

Six Steps to Exercise the Brain

1. Play an instrument, play, not only listen, strengthens the neural pathways.

2. Learn another language. Pay attention to hear another language sharpens the brain functions.

3. Juggle.

4. Dance. Memorize the dance steps improved the memory balance and posture.

5. Put together puzzles. Improve your concentration.

6. Table Tennis. Apparently this sport requires very fine movements that challenge the brain.

London Olympics/Coca-Cola Commercial

And it features table tennis! It's a mixture of music video and coke commercial (4:28). The table tennis player is Darius Knight of the English table tennis team.


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January 25, 2012

Ready position and basketball

So many players have poor ready positions. They stand up too straight, their feet are too close together, their weight isn't on the balls of their feet, and their non-playing arm hangs loosely at their side like a dead snake. But there's a simple cure I now use with many students. I go over to their side and say, "Let's play imaginary basketball. Cover me!" They immediately bend their knees to get down slightly, their feet go wider, their weight goes onto the balls of their feet, and their non-playing hand goes up. A perfect playing stance! So next time you play, why not get in the habit of starting each rally with a little imaginary basketball? (I wrote about this same topic yesterday, including the basketball angle, but I wanted to elaborate here.) 

Ten steps to a great service game

  1. Learn to serve with lots of spin by accelerating the racket through the ball and grazing it.
  2. Learn to serve various spins, including backspin, side-backspin, sidespin, side-topspin, and topspin, with the sidespins going both ways.
  3. Learn to serve low.
  4. Learn to control the depth and direction of the serve.
  5. Learn to serve with spin using a semi-circular motion so you can create different spins with the same motion by varying where in the motion you contact the ball.
  6. Learn to minimize and do quickly this semi-circular motion so receiver has trouble picking up contact.
  7. Learn to change the direction of your follow-through with your racket the split second after contact to mislead the receiver.
  8. Learn to fake spin and serve no-spin by contacting the ball near the handle.
  9. Learn to serve fast & deep as a variation to your spin serves.
  10. Learn to follow up your serve.

Evolution of Table Tennis

Here are five videos that showcase the evolution of table tennis, from the hardbat days to the present. It includes extensive segments on the major champions. For example, Vol. 2 features Bohumil Vana and Ferenc Sido, while Vol. 3 features (among others) Johnny Leach and Hiroje Satoh (the latter the first sponge player).

  1. Vol. 1 (9:50)
  2. Vol. 2 (9:58)
  3. Vol. 3 (8:26)
  4. Vol. 4 (9:37)
  5. Vol. 5 (13:33)

"Breaking 2000"

Here's a new ebook on table tennis, "Breaking 2000," by Alex Polyakov, about his journey to a 2000+ USATT rating. The cost is $2.99, or free if you are a member of the Kindle Prime program. While we're on the subject of table tennis books, here's my collection of 203 of 'em.

Non-table tennis: "Twisted Tales"

While you're downloading "Breaking 2000" (above), why not download "Twisted Tales" for 99 cents? It's a collection of 66 super-short horror stories, all of the 66 words long, including two of mine, "The Hand of God" and "A Brush with Dirty Yellow Teeth."

Non-table tennis: Credit Card Crime

Yesterday someone got my credit card number and tried to make a $1000+ purchase. The credit card company somehow recognized it as fraud, blocked the purchase, and contacted me. So the card was cancelled, and a new one is coming. Highly irritating.

Quadruple table tennis

This is one of the crazier looking table tennis sets I've seen, but for only $249.95, you can now have your own quad table tennis game!


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