ITTF Seminar in Maryland
We're up to ten confirmed participants (and a number of maybes) in the ITTF Coaching Seminar to be held at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, April 16-17 and 23-24, with a Paralympics session on April 30. (Schedule each day is 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM.) Here is the info flyer, and here is the USATT news item. If you are a player interested in becoming an ITTF coach, or learning how to coach, come join us! There's already a wide range of coaches, including several USATT Regional and State Coaches, and others who are not yet certified. I'm hoping to get 14-16 participants. If interested, please email me.
Straighten the belt, and the rest falls into place.
I bet you have no idea what this headline means or how it pertains to table tennis. Imagine when playing that your body is a belt. If your feet are in the wrong position, or if your grip is off, then it affects everything in between. If your foot positioning and grip are both correct, then like a belt that's been straightened, everything in between falls into place. Isn't that a great analogy? (Let me know if you have a better example than a belt.)
As a coach, I've noticed that the majority of technique problems do come from improper foot positioning or grip problems, although players (and some coaches) often treat the symptoms instead of the root cause. When you fix the root cause - often the two ends, i.e. the foot position and grip - the rest often falls into place. Not always - longtime problems with foot positioning and grip can create bad habits, and they can be hard to break. But getting the two ends right is a great step in that direction, and one of the top priorities with new players so they develop good technique from the start.
Long Pips and Color Rule Revisited
It was interesting yesterday seeing some of the online comments in other forums about my blog on frictionless pips. There were quite a few that attacked me for stuff I didn't write, especially in one particular forum. I wrote a lot of words - 1270 of them - so you'd think people who disagree with what I wrote would argue against the words I wrote, but instead some changed them, and then attacked me for words I didn't write. It's not worth responding to their posts directly since if a person is going to attack me for things I didn't write, they'll attack any response I make in the same way, and it's all very time consuming and tends to get nasty. I'm going to go over a few of the postings, and then at the end I have a question for you. (See the bolded part at the end.)
One wrote that because I was for the color rule back in 1983, I thought Dan Seemiller and Eric Boggan "sucked" - despite the fact that Seemiller was ranked in the top 50 in the world with the two-color rule and was U.S. Men's Champion the very first year they had the rule, and that Eric actually went up in the rankings to his highest world ranking ever (17th) after going to two colors. (His overall ranking went down some over the next few years, but he stayed in the top 40 or so.) It's easy to attack without getting the facts first. If they read the blog, then they could have simply posted the question, "Larry, if you were against the color rule, did you think Dan Seemiller and Eric Boggan sucked?" and I would have emphatically said no. They are arguably the two greatest U.S. players in the sponge era, i.e. the last 50-60 years.
I was accused of thinking that Peter Chen "sucked" just because I'm "somewhat skeptical" of the long-pips blocking style. Players like Chen and Olivier Mader, who play with the long-pips blocking style but with little attack, are very good players - it takes practice and skill to reach their levels - just not athletic ones, as most would probably agree. But that distinction that I wrote about was lost on those who read the blog with an agenda. If someone disagrees with what I wrote about athleticism, fine, but not one person actually made an argument against it. "Somewhat skeptical" does not mean I think those with the long-pips blocking style "sucks." To paraphrase a famous movie quote, I don't think those words mean what they think they mean. (They actually imply that I'm not sure and am open to persuasion - see my question about this at the end.)
Another wrote, "I guess he knows more than Waldner, who thinks FLPs is harmless and shouldn't be banned." And yet nowhere in the blog did I write that frictionless long pips (FLP's) should be banned, only that they were illegal, which is a fact. I really have no firm opinion on them other than that they shouldn't be used if they are illegal, and can only shake my head at someone claiming I wrote something that I absolutely did not write. Plus, of course, it's a silly bait and switch to say I think I know more than Waldner, and then bring up a value judgment that has little to do with actually knowing more than Waldner. (On a related note, does this mean that anyone who disagrees with Waldner on a table tennis subject thinks they know more than Waldner? Waldner also said that he was naturally talented from an early age. Does this mean that those who do not believe in talent are wrong because Waldner disagrees, and they should be refuted sarcastically by saying, "I guess he knows more than Waldner"?)
It was posted that "S-Jan" (an infamous Internet table tennis troll from the past) was "right about me," but it never specified what he was right about. Considering "S-Jan" made zillions of made-up accusations against numerous people during his trolling years in the '90s, it's a rather vague accusation to make. Plus, as I said in the second sentence of the blog, my thinking on long pips has evolved over the years, and so what he wrote in the '90s is somewhat meaningless to the discussion.
And just for the record, that wasn't me in the background in the video of Olivier Mader vs. John Wetzler saying something like, "Olivier's forehand is zero to negative rating and backhand of 1200 with double inverted rubbers." (According to Mader's posting, it was Cory Eider, though I don't really know - but it wasn't me. I was busy watching the player I was coaching, and barely noticed the other match or the discussion going on about Mader.)
On the subject of long pips, one person write, "In order for you to know if a rubber performs completely different from new can only be made if you actually have a new sheet to compare it with." That's simply not true. If a sheet of long pips is frictionless, and you know that it was not frictionless when new due to ITTF regulations, then you know it performs differently than a new sheet.
I could mention other postings, but it's not worth it. Not one person actually refuted the facts and rules I presented about frictionless long pips being a judgment call by the referee. Some really believe that an experienced referee, coach, or player can't tell whether it's frictionless, which of course they can - though, as I noted in my blog, you can only tell if it's not borderline. It's a judgment call, like many other calls a referee has to make.
It's the price of public blogging; there will always be people with an agenda twisting your words.
Now here's a serious question. Yesterday I wrote, "I'm somewhat skeptical of the pure long-pips blocking style, especially when a player basically covers the entire table by just reaching out and blocking everything back dead with long pips without sponge. In my opinion, it simply isn't very athletic, and table tennis is a sport."
As I wrote, I'm somewhat skeptical about this style because of its lack of athleticism, and from the very strong returns that can be made by passive blocking. Keeping in mind that I also wrote, "But it's legal, and as players and coaches, it's our job to figure out how to play against any legal surface," make your (civil) case as to why I shouldn't be "somewhat skeptical." You have the soapbox, if you so choose.
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