May 14, 2018

Tip of the Week
Tactical Thinking Between Points.

Doubles Foibles
I did a lot of doubles coaching on Saturday during the Junior League Training. This is a joint junior league and training session (mostly ages 8-13), where we do both singles and doubles, often using improvised games so the players get specialized type training. For example, we play games where the server loses the point if he doesn't serve and attack, or gets two points if he serve and attacks and eventually wins the point, or where the server starts out behind 7-9 or 8-10. And so on.

During the doubles segment on Saturday the one thing that stood out was that . . . no one thing stood out. Every team had different strengths and weaknesses. But there was one pattern and that was in most teams (not all), both players had the same doubles weaknesses, as if they copied from their partner. Here's a rundown. (Note that I'm picking on the problems I found, but they also did a lot of things well.)

  • The Wanderers. These two are good in singles, but in doubles they had this "wandering" habit. After hitting their shot both tended to move way, Way, WAY out of the way, bordering going into the next court. They'd go off to the side and back, and then, after their partner hit their shot, they'd be in the wrong country for their own shot, leading to many on-the-run lunges. Ideally, players should move mostly back and slightly angled away from their partner, but stay as close to the table as they can so they can get to the next shot.
  • The Blasters. I think this is self-explanatory - they both went for every shot. I kept reminding them that they should put some topspin on their flips, and try not to break lightspeed with each shot.
  • The Pushers. Again, self-explanatory. How many times did I have to remind them to stop pushing against topspin serves??? (Yeah, lots of pop-ups.) And please, Please, PLEASE will one of you attack the ball???
  • The Loop and Lob Brothers. One would loop, the other would, well, just get the next ball back, even if it was a weak return. That's the problem when you put a conventional attacker with a more defensive-minded player. Surprisingly, such teams often can become pretty good with practice, but they need to really focus on tactically playing together, and taking advantage of their respective strengths and weaknesses. For example, the defensive-minded one knows that he's going to get more weak balls than he usually does, since his partner is often looping, so he should be set to take the smash when it's there, rather than stand in his often defensive position. Similarly, the attacker doesn't need to force his attacks since his partner is comfortable if he pushes.
  • The Long Servers. When playing against loopers - which is most players - serving long over and Over and OVER isn't the best tactic. But even though the players can serve short, they don't really think about this unless I remind them once or twice or a trillion times.
  • The Arguers. There's something surreal about games where I find myself saying, multiple times, "Is there any way I can get you two to stop bickering and to play?"

Table Tennis Training Methods in China and Five New Videos
Here's the article, with links to video, from EmRatThich. "How do Chinese table tennis players practice? What is the training method in China? Why don’t Chinese players miss the easy ball? And why they are so good compared to other countries? Today, let’s talk about the training method in China and the main difference between the training drills in China and in the Western countries."

Here are five videos EmRatThich put up this weekend:

Home School: Improve Swing with Ping Pong Paddles
Here's the video (1:18) from the Golf Channel! "Go steel some ping-pong paddles from the kids" - apparently he hasn't seen Olympic table tennis!

Training with Patrick Franziska and Lubomir Jancarik at Dusseldorf TTC
Here's the video (16:14). Franziska of Germany is world #27; Jancarik of Czech Republic is world #111.

Maryland State Championships
I'll be running them at MDTTC, June 2-3. You have to be a Maryland resident to play in championship events (Men's and Women's Singles, Open Doubles, age events), but the rating events are open to all.

May 2018 World Ranking: Impact of 2018 World Team Championships
Here's the ITTF article.

India Can Be Among World's Top Five Teams in a Few Years
Here's the article from ESPN.

26th Butterfly Cape Fear Open
Here's the article on the tournament held in Fayetteville, NC.

Wild Table Tennis Art
Here it is - I have no idea what it is, but it looks pretty wild!

Challenge Pongfinity - Episode 14
Here's the video (4:01)! Wait till you see the guy rallying on two tables, and using an air dryer as a "racket"!

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