July 9, 2014

Fighting Spirit

One thing that always bothers me is how people judge a player's fighting spirit not by their fighting spirit during a point - where it counts - but by their fighting spirit between points. And they inevitably judge this by how loud the player is. It sometimes seems as if a player has to constantly yell and scream between points just to prove to the audience that he's fighting hard!

Fighting spirit is a must in table tennis and all sports. It's something coaches look for. But not everyone is loud about doing this. A person may fight quietly just as effectively as someone who screams his head off after each point. And yet he's not considered so much a fighter because he's quiet while the other guy is yelling. Can't spectators just watch the points and see how much he fights for the points? Does he move at full speed? Does he try for every ball? Does he keep this up every point the entire match? If the answer to these questions is yes, then he's fighting just as hard as someone who also does these things, but yells between points.

There's nothing wrong with some yelling between points, especially in big matches, as long as it's not overboard. It helps some players keep their confidence up, and helps them fight all the way. In fact, for many, especially juniors, yelling encouragement to themselves between points helps to the point that many coaches - including me - encourage it from them, as long as it's not overdone. But let's not mistake what a person does between points with what he does during the points.

Back Injury

I won Over 50 Hardbat Doubles with Jeff Johnston at the U.S. Open. Along the way I managed to mess up my left knee, left ankle, and back. The back injury was a new one, different from the one I've had in the past from overuse. The good news is my arm and the two places in my shoulder that regularly get hurt are fine, and my right knee is in its normal state of bothering me but not stopping me from playing. And after coaching yesterday, the left knee and ankle are mostly okay. (Much of this is because I'm 54 and still insist on playing a "young player's style," i.e. trying to attack all out with my forehand.)

But the new back injury is enjoying its moments of glory as it went into full agony mode yesterday, and turned my entire back into a mass of stiffened muscles as they went to war with each other every time I tried to stroke. I could barely move my upper body. About ten minutes into my first lesson yesterday I had to switch to multiball training, and then a (much needed) sports psychology session. (When the student mentioned his arm was a little sore, I said, "That's 4-1 me." He finally figured out I was referring to injuries - my four were the left ankle, both knees, and the new back injury.) I had to bring in Coach Raghu to substitute my second hour, and I've already cancelled my private coaching for today and tomorrow.

I have an air bed with a slow leak. I normally pump it up once a week. When I returned from the Open it was pretty soft, but I neglected to pump it up the first two nights. I think sleeping on the soft mattress may have affected the back. I won't let that happen again.

So once again I'm in rehab mode. I've got naturally stiff, dense muscles, and so need to do more to keep them in shape.

USATT and USOC Coaches of the Year

As noted in a previous blog, I was this year's USATT Doc Counsilman Science Award Coach of the Year, for this coaching blog, tips, and coaching books. (Lily Yip was Coach of the Year, Stefan Feth Developmental Coach of the Year, and Angie Bengtsson was Paralympic Coach of the Year. I was previously a Developmental Coach of the Year, and was second twice for Coach of the Year.) Out of the 56 Olympic sports, the USOC chooses three finalists in each category, and then chooses one as the USOC coach of the year. This year I was one of the three finalists for the Doc Counsilman Science Award, along with coaches from tennis and speed skating. Alas, the tennis coach won, the fiend! Here's the USOC press release. (Note that Angie Bengtsson was also a finalist.)

Two-Table Footwork

Here's video (3:42) showing this footwork training. I've done this, and the kids actually love it - as long as they take turns so they can rest!

Lily Zhang and Krish Avvari Training

Here's a video (2:24) from 2009 showing the two in training. The two will be representing USA at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, Aug. 16-28.

USATT and Medical Insurance

If you've tried to join USATT online, you might have seen part of the waiver where you were apparently required to have medical insurance. Specifically, it says, "I agree to carry primary medical insurance and abide by all USATT policies." This was pointed out on the USATT forum and others pointed it out to me. I contacted USATT, and it turns out they didn't know that was in the waiver. They are having it removed. So for those who didn't join because of this, it's a false alarm - you don't have to have medical insurance to join USATT.  

Hall of Famer Dell Sweeris: Five Unforgettable Memories from a Seven-Decade Career

Here's the article.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Forty-seven down, 53 to go!

  • Day 54: The ITTF’s Record of Awards and Humanitarian Projects, Part II 
  • Day 55: The ITTF’s Record of Awards and Humanitarian Projects, Part I

Back and Forth with "The Machine," a Korean Table Tennis Master

Here's the article about 73-year-old coach Jong Jin Lee and the Nevada Table Tennis Club in the Las Vegas Sun.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Wife Jenny Mellström

Here's their marriage picture. Oh, and Dimitrij is pretty happy about Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil in the semifinals!

Amazing Point in U.S. Open Final

Here's the video (7 sec) - net ball, emergency popped return, rip, off-the-bounce counter-rip!

Ten-Minute Point

Here's video that should take you directly to the ten-minute pushing point that starts at about 15:45 of the Day Two night session at the U.S. Open. Prepare to be mesmerized and hypnotized.

Table Tennis Kung Fu

Here's the picture. It looks more like All-Star Wrestling to me!

Baby Girl's First Lesson

Here's video (31 sec) - she's good at keeping her eye on the ball, though not necessarily the one coming at her!

Send us your own coaching news!


Thanks so much for contacting USATT about the medical insurance part of the waiver.  I am off to a 2 day TT training camp in another city  this weekend as part of my prep for this years Nationals.  I was upset that I had laid out the money for this camp and now was not going to be able to go to Nationals.  Hopefully they will get the change made quickly so I can join and start participating in tournaments.  I have stayed away from tournaments to focus on changing technique for quite a while now.  Hopefully all the time training will result in some improvements in my tournament play.