February 20, 2014

Warming Up

One of my junior students had a sort of bad experience yesterday. He came in a bit early while I was coaching another junior player, who was a friend of his. They wanted to play some, so at the end of the session with the first player I let them play some games - but I was bit worried since the second player had no warm-up. I was right to be worried.

The first player was all warmed up and playing really well, but the second player wasn't. He was rated a bit higher, but while the first player mostly kept the ball in play, the second was an attacker who couldn't attack because he hadn't warmed up. (Both were around 1500 level or so.) With just five minutes warm up he might have played okay. Instead, the second player played horribly, and after a while was reduced to swatting backhands from his forehand side since he had no confidence in his forehand anymore, which was normally his strength. He lost a series of games, and was pretty depressed.

When we started our session (15 minutes late, but I had told him I could go 15 minutes extra at the end), he couldn't play, mentally or physically. He couldn't get himself to care after the drubbing he'd just taken, and his shots were all messed up. It took about 15 minutes before he could play serious. But gradually he got back into it, and by the end of the one-hour session he was back in full form. The other kid was long gone, so no rematch.

I told him a story about my "best" tournament ever, from way back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. There's a reason "best" is in quotes. At the U.S. Team Championships in Detroit many years ago (it's now the North American Teams in Washington DC), after two days I had only one loss (to a 2600 player), and I had hordes of wins against 2250 players, a bunch of wins against 2350 players, and several 2400+ wins. I'd gone in rated 2272, and if I'd stopped after two days, I might have been adjusted to 2500. On the third and final day, my teammates didn't show up until the last minute. Back in those days I always needed a good warm-up, but didn't have anyone. Finally, about ten minutes before we had to play I found a 1700 player, a lefty with long pips who swatted shots all over the table, and left more messed up than I would have been if I'd simply played without a warm-up. So what happened? On that day I went 0-6, with all six matches upsets, including three against players rated over 100 points lower. Instead of that adjusted 2500 rating I came out . . . 2273, one point higher than I'd gone in.

So the lesson is to always warm up properly. It's important to practice against all styles, but warming up for a serious match is different. For that, you want someone who plays somewhat orthodox (or can in a warm-up), preferably someone you are used to playing. I encourage all my players to arrange in advance who they will warm up with at tournaments, and arrange when and where they will meet.


A lob is a high, defensive shot with topspin and sometimes sidespin. Fishing is a somewhat high defensive topspin. What about defensive topspin shots that aren't high enough to be lobs, but are too high to really be fishing? I hereby trademark the term "fobbing." I "invented" the shot yesterday while letting a student practice against lobs and fishes (he'd been having trouble in matches), and that's when I discovered and unleashed the power of the fob.

USATT Magazine

I'm wondering how I'm going to read it from now on, now that it's only going to be online. I do not like to read extensively at a computer; reading is something that should be done in a comfortable lounge chair or even in bed. More importantly, extensive reading on a computer screen hurts my eyes. So there's no way I'm going to read the magazine on a computer, other than perhaps selected articles. So I guess I'm going to have to either skip most of it, or print it out to read. (Addendum - I'm all for the online magazine; it's just not for me. As I've blogged, they should have added the online version - leading to increased advertising - but kept the print version.)

No Table Tennis at Junior Olympics

I just saw this. I immediately sent out queries. I just got this response from the Junior Olympics people (AAU):

"Unfortunately Table Tennis will not be a part of the 2014 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa. Due to facility and staffing we are unable to hold the event this year. We hope to have it return in 2015 in Hampton Roads, VA. Stay tuned for more information regarding next year. Once again we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."

Physical Training for Table Tennis

Here's a video (11 sec) of what 13-year-old Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico doing some physical training. She's ranked #9 in the world in Under 15 Girls. (All but one of the eight ahead of her are from Asia - three from China, three from Japan, one from Korea, and one from Romania. Of course, these rankings only include those who play in ITTF events.)

Western Open

Here's a video (1:35) of highlights from the Western Open this past weekend. And here's a photo gallery. (I linked to the results on Tuesday.)

Anagrams of the Stars!


Ma Long: Man Log, Am Long
Wang Hao: Ha Wagon, A Hag Now, A Hag Won, Own a Hag
Dimitrij Ovtcharov: Vivid Major Rich Tot, Vivid Major Rot Itch
Timo Boll: Mi Lob Lot
Chuang Chih-Yuan: China Guy Can Huh?
Vladimir Samsonov: Invalid Savors Mom
Waldner: Law Nerd


Liu Shiwen: Uh - Lie Wins
Feng Tianwei: Wee Fainting, We Fine Giant, Negate If Win, A Fine Twinge, Win Eaten Fig, Win Fine Gate, We Gain Feint
Guo Yan: Nag You


Timothy Wang: I Won That Gym, I Own That gym, Win at Hot Gym, Hit a Town Gym, A Mighty Wont, Goat Myth Win, Into What Gym?, Not With A Gym, Got a Win Myth, Win Toga Myth, Why Man Got It
Corey Eider: I Eye Record
Dan Seemiller: Reels in Medal, Learned Smile
Michael Landers: Me Learn as Child, Handles Miracle, Lame Child Nears, Me Child Arsenal
Ariel Hsing: Irish Angel, Shinier Gal, A Shine Girl, A Relishing
Constantini: Instant Icon
Larry Hodges: Holy Regards, Godly Sharer, He's Gray Lord, Shy Lord Rage, Oh Sly Grader,
Hodges: He's God!
USA Table Tennis: Satan but Senile

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