August 7, 2014

Multi-Colored Balls

I don't get it. No sport relies more on spin than table tennis. We complain all the time about how spectators don't understand high-level table tennis the way they do other sports because they can't see how much spin players are putting on the ball. We complain all the time over how serves often dominate, with way too many rallies ended by the receiver missing or making a weak return that the server puts away. SO WHY DO WE USE ONE-COLORED BALL??? We should be using a multi-color ball so both players and spectators can see the spin.

Sure, this would hurt players who rely on disguising spin - but not as much as you'd think, since by the time players read the spin from the ball it will often be too late. It might hurt defensive players, and that's the only reason for any hesitation on such a switch, and why it should be well tested first. But it might not hurt them as much as it might seem, as defensive players will be able to make better serve returns against attacking players. They'll be able to read the serve better, and since defensive players usually take the ball later than others, will have more time to read the service spin from the multi-colored ball than attacking players. 

I've blogged in the past about this, suggesting we either use a soccer-colored ball or have a contest for a design for a multi-colored ball. (The kids love it when I pull out the soccer-colored balls in our camps, which I do to demonstrate various spin shots, and so they can get feedback when they practice their spin serves.) The ITTF is experimenting with a two-colored ball, but there are two problems with the ball they are trying out. First, world #4 Dimitrij Ovtcharov reported that over half the balls broke when he practiced with them. (Here's the article, which I linked to on Monday. Here's a picture of the two-colored balls.) Second, the balls they are trying out are boring - half orange, half white. Perhaps having each hemisphere of the ball a different color makes it easier to see the rotation - I'm not sure, since I haven't actually used one like that. But I know you can see the ball spinning very clearly on the soccer-colored balls. Give us something exciting to look at, like the soccer balls or a nice design created specifically for table tennis!!! (Note - see Matt Hetherington's article below, "Why Catering For Spectators has Backfired," where he argues against going to two-colored balls and other changes to the sport. I wrote the above last night, and didn't see his article until this morning.) 

Virginia Camp

Yesterday was Day Three of the five-day camp. The focus was on footwork, pushing, and forehand loop. I was amazed at how quickly most of them picked up looping against backspin as I fed multiball. I also introduced them to Froggy, and much target practice ensued. 

We've started each day with ball bouncing, which is a great way for kids to develop hand-eye coordination and ball control. The record for most bounces in a row at MDTTC is 2316 by Matt Stepanov (now 13, but 11 when he set the record). While he still holds that record, a new camp record was set by 11-year-old Leo Diperna, who did 3363 bounces in a row. We didn't plan on it, he just wanted to go until he missed, and we let him. It took about half an hour. 

2014 North American Championships

Here's the info page. They will be held Aug. 31 - Sept. 1 (Sun & Mon) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

First Non-Celluloid USATT Sanctioned Event

Here's the entry form for this perhaps historic event, the Texas Wesleyan Open, Sept. 20 in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Review of the DHS Plastic Ball

Here's the video (6:17) of Matt Hetherington's review.

Why Catering For Spectators has Backfired

Here's the article by Matt Hetherington, which came out this morning. He takes the opposing view on changing to the two-colored ball. 

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-five down, 25 to go!

  • Day 26: André Damman Has 70 Years of Table Tennis Experience

Harry Potter Plays Table Tennis

Here's the article that talks about Daniel Radcliffe playing table tennis with Zoe Kazan, his co-star in the new movie "What If," and links to a video (1:46) showing them playing. 

Will Ping Pong be Included in the Robot Olympics?

Here's the article!

Ping-Pong Balls on the Floor Eye View

Here's the picture!

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