February 13, 2017

Tip of the Week
When Caught Off Guard, Roll or Chop, and Keep the Ball Deep.

Club Friday at Potomac Community Center
On Friday night, 7-8:30PM, I helped run an exhibition/demonstration/clinic at the Potomac Community Center, which is also home to the Potomac Country TTC. Several dozen kids took part, roughly ages 8-10, as part of the weekly Club Friday, where hundreds of kids meet at the Center for various activities and games. We shared the gym with basketball.

A big thanks goes to PCTTC president Herman Yeh, who helped set things up, and to the PCTTC volunteers - Zhuqing Li, Kangmin Zheng, Fei Yin, Xin Huang, Matt Wu and Michael Clarke, who all helped out by hitting and coaching the kids. Zhuqing Li took photos - here's a gallery. (In photo 7 I'm teaching some of the kids how to balance the ball in the air by blowing it!)

I gave a short talk at the start, where I talked about table tennis at the Potomac TTC, the junior classes I teach at the local Maryland Table Tennis Center, and table tennis in general. I found that many of them actually knew that table tennis was an Olympic sport! That's new - past generations usually didn't know this, so it was a pleasant surprise. I then did a short demonstration of the strokes with Michael Clarke - forehands, backhands, etc., and then a demonstration of spin serves. The kids went crazy when my backspin serves came back into the net, including the infamous bounce-back serve that bounced back over the net on the first bounce. I demonstrated sidespin by serving from my forehand corner crosscourt, with the sidespin (and a little backspin) pulling the ball sideways so that it hit a paddle I'd stuck on the right side near the net.

Then Mike and I did a rather humorous exhibition, which I introduced by saying, "A very bad thing happened today." When the kids all leaned forward to find out about this "bad" thing, I explained that just one hour before, Michael had told me that he could beat me. "He thinks he can beat ME!" I exclaimed over and over. And so it was on - with the loser having to sweep and mop the gym (or so I claimed). As usual I played the bad guy, and so everyone was quickly rooting for him. I'd insist they cheer when I won the point, and boo when he scored, and of course the kids did the reverse. I cheated, tried bribing the scorekeeper, and so on. We did the first table tennis wave in history (for about the 500th time over the years, but don't tell them). I also managed to throw in my 50-foot serve from the side, blew the ball over the net, lots of lobbing, and brought out the big paddle and mini-paddle. As always, I lost, where I was rolling about on the floor lobbing on the last point before Michael finally smashed a winner to win 11-9.

I explained how to play "King of the Table" (or Queen, for the girls), and sent them out to play on their own. Most preferred free play, and just rallied - we weren't picky about the serve rule. The volunteers from PCTTC fanned out and hit with the kids, who were convinced they were all professionals. The kids had a great time - who knows, perhaps we'll be seeing a few of them again at one of the clubs.

Weekend Table Tennis
It was a pretty busy table tennis weekend, in addition to the Club Friday event (above). On Saturday the highlight was the MDTTC Junior League, which is both a league and training. The focus of the night for the roughly 25 players was serve and attack, with the coaches who ran the league coaching the players between points to be more aggressive on this. I was assigned seven players, who played a RR while I took notes on their play.  

Sunday I coached from 1:45-8:30PM, with both private coaching and three 90- minute group sessions. In a private session I worked with Todd, who was pretty happy with his performance in the Junior League the night before - he went 3-2, pulling off two "upsets." In the Beginning Junior Class I teach the focus was on the 2-1 drill (backhand-forehand-forehand, also known as the Falkenberg Drill), and then on pushing. In the advanced "Talent Group," I fed lots and lots of multiball to my group of four players, then worked with four others on serves. In the Adult Training session I run, the emphasis was serve and attack versus push. It finished at 8:30 PM, and then we had to pick up all the balls, and return them and other equipment to the office. And miracle of miracles, I was able to get home by 9PM to watch The Walking Dead!

USATT Announces Schedule of 2017 ITTF Hopes Qualifier Events
Here's the USATT info article, which includes the schedule. There will be five events, each on a weekend, with a camp on Saturday and a tournament on Sunday. The regional events will take place in Maryland (MDTTC, March 4-5), California (GLTTC March 11 and ICC April 1), Houston (HITTC, March 18-19), and New Jersey (NJTTC, March 25-26), with the North American Finals held in New Jersey (LYTTC, April 29-30). I'm running the tournament at MDTTC, and will be one of the coaches in the camp.

How to Add Whip to Your Forehand
Here's the article and podcast (5:34) from Expert Table Tennis.

11 Opponents - This year, become a tactical tournament player!
Here's the coaching article (and links) from Samson Dubina.

Table Tennis Timing: Perfect Your Stroke
Here's the video (9:08).

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - January 2017
Here's the video (8:17).

Kanak Jha in Slow Motion at the DHS Swiss Table Tennis Open Lausanne
Here's the video (28 sec).

Bids Open for 2018 ITTF World Tour
Here's the ITTF article.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov Claims Victory in DHS 2017 Lausanne Open
Here's the article from TT News 365. Here's the ITTF article.

Zhang Jike "having normal training" States Liu Guoliang
Here's the ITTF article.

"I expect our players to produce some surprises": Massimo Costantini hoping to see a few upsets in New Delhi
Here's the ITTF article featuring Indian Coach (and former USA Coach) Costantini.

Avengers assemble; 12 strongest players on earth found at China trials
Here's the ITTF article.

Vacuum Pong?
Here's the video (43 sec) where the coach has set up a vacuum cleaner shooting air outward, holding a ball in the air, so a beginning student can practicing hitting it! I may have to try this.

Mozart with a Ping Pong Racket
Here's the video (1:23) as this concert musician plays violin and sings, all while bouncing a ball on a paddle in time to the music!

More Minion Pong!
Here's a new video (44 sec) of two of them going at it, with nice sound effects as they grunt and smack the ball around. (Here's the previous version - a repeating gif image.)

Send us your own coaching news!