August 27, 2014

Disabled Veterans Camp

Yesterday was the first day of the four-day Disabled Veterans Camp I'm running at MDTTC. We had six players plus three volunteers. One of the players was in a wheelchair, the others were standing disabled. All of the standing disabled were in good enough condition to do footwork. The ages ranged from 32 to 79. All of them were experienced players, with the playing range from about 800 to 1500 in level.

Players in the camp are Marvin Bogie, Anthony Floyd, Bernard Gibson, Honicliff "Cliff" Nitchew, Talmadge "Cash" Nowden, and Crystal Young-Terrell. Volunteers were Steve Hochman, Sameer Shaikh, and Wendy Brame-Bogie. Steve (rated about 2000) and Sameer (age 13, about 1600) acted as practice partners while Wendy did ball pick-up the whole time. Their help was greatly appreciated! Here's a group photo. I got caught with my mouth open wide. As the picture is taken I'm leading the group in a chorus of, "Steve can't smash!"

The camp was made possible by a grant to USATT from the USOC. Not only is the entire camp paid for - the players don't pay a cent - but they sent a large box of goodies for the players, via Paddle Palace. Each of the players received a very nice Stiga blade and sponge. I don't remember the model or types as I'm more versed with Butterfly equipment, but it was top-of-the-line rackets and sponge. The sponge was a type of tensor sponge, and probably retails at $50 to $60 a sheet. I spent a large chunk of time on Monday night putting the rackets together. I'll try to remember to jot down the type for tomorrow. Besides the rackets and sponge, they received Paddle Palace racket cases, free lunches, and each received a one-year membership to MDTTC. 

The focus on the first day was the basics - grip, stance, forehand, and backhand. The main difference from other camps was that we can't be as strict on technique, both because of disabilities, and because some of them have played many years. For example, the oldest, Bernard, 78, has been playing for longer than I've been alive (I'm 54), and uses an extreme backhand grip, and uses the same side for both forehand and backhand. Rather than try to change that the focus for him is to make sure he strokes the ball from both sides, and not just keep the ball in play. From his grip I thought he'd be very backhand oriented, with a weak backhand - but it turned out to be the reverse, with a soft backhand but a very aggressive forehand. So when I worked with him the focus was to play his backhand more aggressively. It reminded me of the story of how Dan Seemiller as a junior went to Dell Sweeris for coaching, and rather than change Dan's "Seemiller" grip, Dell just made sure he stroked the ball rather than just block - and of course Dan went on to be a five-time USA Men's Singles Champion with the grip, where he also hit both forehands and backhands with the same side. 

I set up a six-player rotation, where players had six stations: multiball with me, robot, hitting with Steve, hitting with Sameer, and two of them hitting together (the last counted as two stations). 

We ended the first day with the "ten-cup challenge," where I stacked the cups in a pyramid, and each player had ten shots to see how many they could knock down. One player did all ten, and I think two others did nine. All got at least five. 

New Full-time Club

I've added the Boston TT Academy to the list of full-time clubs in the U.S., raising the number to 74. 

Table Tennis Tutorial in Chinese

Here's the video (59 min), a "Table Tennis Tutorial from Beginner to Advanced, the Secret of the Chinese Team."

Side-to-Side Footwork

Here's the video (2:39) of kids in a junior program doing it really well.

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. Ninety-six down, four to go!

  • Day 5: Why President Sharara Can Leave the ITTF Presidency with Satisfaction 

IOC President Thomas Bach Gets TT Lesson from Jorgen Persson

Here's the ITTF article and picture.

Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the new trailer (35 sec).

Another Superstar USA Junior Girl

Forget Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Crystal Wang, Amy Wang, and all the others not mentioned. Here's the future of USA Women!

Spiderman Pong!

Yep, the superhero plays, and so does Pikachu - here's the proof! "P is for Peter Parker Playing Ping-Pong with Pikachu."

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