Better shots = Win More?
Not always right away. Every year about this time lots of junior players have just finished a summer of training, either locally or often overseas, most often in China. (We had eight juniors from Maryland Table Tennis Center training in China this summer.) They all now have better shots, some devastatingly so. I watched a couple of them after they returned, and got this deep-down tingling of fear - I have to face that on the table soon!
And yet, when they go out to play, while they dominate the rallies, and do one "woh!" shot after another, their results often are no better than before, or even worse. The problem is that while they have better shots, they are not yet experienced in how to use those better shots. For example, if they now have a much more powerful forehand loop, they may use it more - and end up missing off serves that they would have returned more passively (and consistently) before. In rallies the may be able to pull off shots that they couldn't do before - but they are also missing shots that they may not have tried before. And then uncertainty sets in - they aren't sure when to use what shots, and so they spiral downward. (As an experienced player and coach, I know exactly how tactically to play into this uncertainty. Do you? Hint - lots of variation. Actually, that's pretty much the whole answer.)
It can be pretty disappointing for a player to do all that training, develop these better shots, and seem to have nothing to show for it!
But the good news is that this is temporary. They just need match experience, and soon they will become the terrors that their shots already are.
This applies not just to juniors but to all players who train and improve. It's like an archer who is handed a high-powered rifle for the first time. He has a much better weapon, but he probably needs to learn how to use the thing first. When he does, watch out!
USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee teaches heavy backspin
Here's a video (9:44) of Richard McAfee teaching what I call the scooping method of serving heavy backspin. Most players try to serve backspin by stroking down, when they should be stroking up. Don't believe it? See the video. And note that the contact point is toward the front of the ball as the racket goes under the ball. Here's a general rule: beginning players mostly contact the ball above the ball's equator. Intermediate players mostly contact the ball around the ball's equator. Advanced players mostly contact the ball well below the ball's equator, near the south pole. Are you a south pole server?
USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee teaches an ITTF Coaching Seminar
Yes, here's Richard again, teaching an ITTF Coaching Seminar at the Lily Yip Table Tennis Center in New Jersey (31:14).
USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee in another headline
Because I like to do things in threes. Because I like to do things in threes. Because I like to do things in threes.
USA Nationals and North American Teams
Yep, it's time to start thinking about attending the USA Nationals, Dec. 13-17 in Virginia Beach, VA. Will you be there? The other huge upcoming USA tournament is the North American Teams, Nov. 25-27 in Baltimore, MD. Both of these tournaments will have in the range of 700-800 players. It so happens that for the first time probably ever, both tournaments are on the east coast, and in fact just a three-hour drive apart. So this is a rare "two-for" opportunity for many on the east coast - we can all become road warriors and drive to these tournaments, along with the many others held on the east coast. Of course, there are plenty of tournaments in other regions as well, including some big ones.
My tentative fall tournament schedule
I expect to be at the following tournaments. I'll only be coaching at them, except for the Millcreek Open and the USA Nationals, where I'll also probably play in the hardbat events. (I normally use sponge.)
- Sept. 10-11, MDTTC Open, MD
- Sept. 24-25, Lily Yip Open, NJ
- Oct. 8-9, Westchester Open, NY
- Oct. 15-16, MDTTC Open, MD
- Oct. 22, Millcreek Open, PA
- Nov. 5, Two-Tier Giant RR in Lancaster, PA
- Nov. 25-27, North American Teams, MD
- Dec. 3-4, Potomac Open, MD
- Dec. 13-17, USA Nationals, VA
New table tennis tables
I have no idea how to play on these tables. After 35 years of playing and over 30 years of coaching, I'm stumped.
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