August 6, 2014

Virginia Camp

Yesterday was Day Two of the training camp at Fairhill Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia. There are 14 in the camp, ages 6-14, all right-handed shakehanders, and strangely, no girls. On Day One we focused on forehand and backhand, and beginning serves. Yesterday we introduced them to footwork, forehand smash, spin serves, and doubles. I'm still surprised at the level of play - for 14 kids this age who have never been to a table tennis club, they are pretty talented. In most camps like this there would be several players who simply cannot rally, and so you have to put them with coaches. None of the players in the camp come under that category. 

John and Wen Hsu are my assistant coaches (with Wen the administrator), but John couldn't make it yesterday, so Raghu Nadmichettu substituted. After lunch he and I did an exhibition. I had my usual fun, lobbing while sitting on the floor, blowing the ball back, 50-foot serves from the side, racing side to side as Raghu angled me, playing with mini-paddle and clipboard, and various trick serves. As I usually do, before the match I told the kids to cheer for me when I scored, and to boo when Raghu scored, and predictably (as in past exhibitions) they did the opposite. I had my usual run-ins with the scorekeeper, who always held firm no matter how much I claimed my shot that went way off had actually hit the edge.  I always play the "bad" guy, and I always lose.

Probably the most impressive player in the camp is an 11-year-old who has no hands, and an inability to even lower his upper arms, which are jammed up against his side. He grips the paddle's handle in the crook of his arm, i.e. the inside of his elbow - and amazingly, is one of the better players in the camp! He's been playing a lot he said at a table at his swimming pool, and has an amazing forehand smash. I want you, the reader, to imagine holding a paddle with the inside of your elbow and imagine smashing the ball. If you can't imagine it, neither could I until I saw it. In our multiball session with me yesterday he was making the smash about 80% of the time. He also has a decent backhand. He picks the ball off the floor by squeezing it between his elbow and his chin. He also serves by holding it between his elbow and chin and then tossing it up. He's one of the fastest on his feet in the camp. During the one-hour lunch break on Monday the kids played "bottle soccer" in the cafeteria, and he was perhaps the best player, with all sorts of fancy footwork. 

They also were going to play bottle soccer yesterday during lunch break. (It's just soccer but with an empty bottle as the ball, and two trash cans on each side of the cafeteria as goal posts.) But a strange thing happened - we had rolled a table into the cafeteria for Raghu and I to do the exhibition. (The room we were doing the coaching had low ceilings, and we thought the cafeteria would be a more fun place to do it.) Within minutes, the kids came over to the table and were playing "King of the Table." So despite all the table tennis - six hours a day - they wanted more! 

Tomorrow we'll do more stroke and footwork drills (as always), plus I'll introduce them to pushing, backhand smash, and fast serves. 

International News

As usual, you can find lots of international news at TableTennista (which covers the big names more) and at the ITTF news page (more regional news). 

Vote for Prachi Jha for USOC Athlete of the Month

Here's the ballot!

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. Seventy-four down, 26 to go!

  • Day 27: Christian Veronese Describes ITTF Marketing Strategies and Successes

Quentin Robinot Bullet Shot at the ITTF China Open

Here's the video (34 sec) as he first plays defense (against Yan An), and then makes an incredible counter-smash.

Topspin Charity Event in Las Vegas

Here's the blog entry by Matt Hetherington, where a bunch of NBA players (with Chris Paul hosting) and table tennis players raised money for charity. Also links to a video of the event (10:14).

Table Tennis Anime

Here's some anime table tennis pictures and a video (1:36). 

Texas Tech Red Raiders - College Football and Table Tennis

Here's the article

Coffee Table Ping-Pong Table

Here it is!

Action Packed Cartoon

As near as I can tell, six people get hit in the head and a light bulb smashed in this table tennis cartoon

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