This afternoon during our Spring Break Camp here at MDTTC, I spent some time counterlooping with Nathan Hsu, one of our top cadet players. (Age 14, rated 2239.) During the ITTF Coaching seminar I taught this past weekend I talked about counterlooping, and yesterday I wrote about how my counterlooping had improved as a result. But at age 51, I'm still much slower and stiffer than I used to be, and I was a bit reticent about wasting Nathan's time counterlooping, since it's a strength of his, and I wasn't sure if I could keep up. Lo and behold, I was able to stay with him - barely! But I also realized everything had to be just right for me to do so. As we started, I had to really focus on my hand and racket position, start my stroke earlier than I normally would, take a slightly longer swing than normal, and take the ball at just the right spot (just after top of bounce so the ball couldn't jump away from me). Once the counterloops starting hitting, I basically blanked my mind out and just let the shots happen. Mentally, I was just an observer. When I tried to intervene and get involved, I'd miss; when I sat back and mentally ate popcorn and just watched, I counterlooped better than I had in years. Afterwards, Nathan commented he'd never seen me counterloop with so much power. (Okay, Mr. Lupulesku, I'm ready for you now!)
Jungle Pong and Gnip-Gnop
Yesterday I wrote about some games we do in our training camps. During break, about 15 of the kids were playing "Jungle Pong." Basically the rules are you have to let the ball come off the table, and make your return after the ball has hit the floor. You can hit the ball to either side of the table - so the opponent has to be ready to change sides quickly. Since the ball has to bounce off the table and hit the floor, players have time to run it down. It's a rather strange game, but a lot of fun.
Another game they are playing is Gnip-Gnop, which I taught them a while back. The rules are simple: instead of hitting the ball directly over the net, you hit it onto your side of the table so that it then bounces over the net. I've been playing this game for 35 years. Perhaps it's time for a Gnip Gnop Training Camp?
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