April 27, 2020

Tip of the Week
Don’t Warm Up Your Opponent During a Match.

Developing Your Game at Different Ages
Suppose an 8-year-old, a 30-year-old, and a 60-year-old walk into your club, all beginners, and sign up for lessons. You'd likely start them off similarly, teaching the fundamentals. But something happens after a time - how you teach them begins to change quite a bit.

For the 8-year-old, you'd be teaching him "modern" table tennis - like, say, Ma Long. Once he has the fundamentals down pretty well, he'll likely be taught to stay pretty close to the table, loop from both sides, with feet mostly parallel to the table, even for forehands (except when forced off the table). He'll become a great counter-looper. He'll mostly serve seemingly simple short backspin/no-spin serves - third-ball attack serves - and follow them with loops. (He'll learn other variations, but they will be "surprise" serves, not his core serves that set up his third-ball attack.) He'll learn to attack short serves with backhand banana flips. And he'll be well on his way toward being an elite player, maybe a contender for the National Team or more!!!

Many coaches would teach the 30-year-old the same way, but that's probably a mistake. If he's a truly top-notch athlete, then perhaps you would teach him the same way. But in essentially every case, he's not ever going to be in contention to be a National Team Member. His goals are probably to be as good as he can be - perhaps someday a 2000-level player. For this player, you would likely teach him a bit different - more "old-school." He'll learn to loop the backhand against backspin, but in rallies, he's probably better off hitting and blocking aggressively. He probably should move the right foot (for righties) back some for forehands, and not try to jam the table when looping. He'll learn to counter-loop, but he'll pick and choose when to do so rather than trying to do it almost every time. He should learn to flip serves, but should probably focus more on pushing them back effectively. And while he should develop short backspin/no-spin serves, he'll develop a wider variety of serves, especially deep ones - serves that don't work as well at the higher levels, but can be completely dominant against 2000 players. 

Of course, you should check with the 30-year-old to see what his goals are. He may want to play like Ma Long, in which case you'd coach him the same as that 8-year-old. How about a 20-year-old? He's in between, and depending on his goals and fitness level, you might teach him like that 8-year-old.

How about the 60-year-old? Unless he's a super-athlete for his age, he's not going to learn to run around all over the place looping. To reach his potential, it might be better to develop a great blocking game, and perhaps a good smash. He should learn to forehand loop against backspin, but in rallies he should probably mostly hit the forehand. He'll develop the trickiest deep serves he can, though he should also learn to serve short. He might learn to backhand loop against backspin, but often he'll be better learning to push and hit. In fact, if his goal is to be as good as he can be, then (and some will gag at this!), very often he should go to long pips on the backhand, even early on. That's the dominant style at the older age groups, and there's a reason for it - the long pips is basically an "equalizer," allowing them to block an opponent's athletic loops and turn all of that topspin into backspin.

Of course, you should also check with the 60-year-old to see what his goals are. He may want to play like Ma Long - but unless he's in great shape, I wouldn't recommend that as he'd probably hurt himself! (Yeah, that type of game is pretty physical.) But he might want to play with "regular" rubber, rather than face the stigma some long-pips players get, or he might want to play more of a topspin game.

In the end, players have to decided what their goals are. I've considered using long pips on my backhand a few times, but I just prefer sticking with inverted, so I win or lose using roughly the same equipment as the large majority of my opponents - plus, as a coach, I'm a better practice partner this way, both in drills and games. (I'll proably rewrite the above as a Tip of the Week later on.) 

New Table Tennis Books

  • Why Table Tennis? 10 Aspects of the Sport that Will Change Your Life. This book, by Samson Dubina and two of his Ohio junior stars, Jacob Boyd and Sarah Jalli, will come out in about a month or so. I'm the editor for it, and was up late last night on it, which is why this week's blog went up a bit later than usual. I should finish editing it today or tomorrow, though they still have a lot of layout work to do.
  • Still More Table Tennis Tips - I finished the pages for this book yesterday, and sent it off to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor for final proofing, as they did for the first two books in the series, Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. It's 189 pages with 150 Tips from the last three years, organized in logical fashion, with seven chapters - Serve and Receive, Strokes, Footwork, Tactics, Improving, Sports Psychology, and Doubles. It'll be published on Monday, June 1.

A Table Tennis Coach Wants to Go to Georgia, Looking for a Barber Before His Hair Becomes Unreal...
It's probably a mistake that they are opening up this early in the pandemic . . . but I am sure tempted to drive down and get a haircut, see a movie, play some table tennis (since they are allowing gyms to open, TT clubs should be open), and then drive back to Maryland! It's only 660 miles to Atlanta, I can make it in ten hours! (Okay, I'm joking, but I am probably going to have to cut my hair with scissors this week, and I have no idea how it's going to come out.)

Let's Play Some Table Tennis Music While We're Stuck Inside!

Free Service Masterclass!
Here are the videos - ten of them on serving from Matt Hetherington. (See links on right.) 

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

New from EmRatThich

Table Tennis Tips: Practicing Finishing Shots
Here's the video (6:11) from Steve Emmons.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here! 

Robot that Feeds with Real Racket
Here's the video (15 sec). I hope we get these in the US soon! Convention robots are great in many ways, but the one thing you don't get when you train with them is the practice of reacting to a ball coming off a table tennis racket.

The World’s Smallest Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Alumni Spotlight: Michael Wang
Here's the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

Ping Pong, Walks and Mind Exercises: Brain-boosting habits of a renowned brain doctor during self-quarantine
Here's the article from CNBC.

New from USATT

USATT PongPositive Interviews
Here's the page. This week they interviewed Jishan Liang, Judy Hoarfrost, Zhou Xin, and Frank Caliendo (yes, the comedian, who is also a USATT member).

New from the ITTF
They've put up a lot this week! Much of it is their "Return to Budapest" articles reminiscing about the 2019 Worlds.

New from Steve Hopkins

How to Make a Table Tennis Ball Collector
Here's the video (2:08). Or you can just buy ones from Butterfly, JOOLA, or Paddle Palace.

Status of Table Tennis Clubs After the Epidemic is Over
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I'm guessing it's going to be even worse at barber shops.

Lily Smacks Ball Off Kanak's Head
Here's the video (9 sec)! Shall we call her Lily "William Tell" Zhang? Lily and the brave Kanak Jha are USA's top-ranked players, both ranked the same at #27 in the world in Women's and Men's.

Table Tennis - CLUB CHALLENGE - Hotshots vs HITT
Here's the video (7:39). "Hotshot Table Tennis (Jersey City, New Jersey) and HITT (Hoboken, New Jersey) duke it out in our "pass the ball challenge". Which club can pass the ball more? We challenge your club to beat either of our tallies! Forward on and keep our table tennis communities connected and thriving."

Serve Practice with Toddler Ball Recycler
Here's the video (25 sec)!

Meet the Spin Pros
Here's the video (58 sec)!

Trick Serve and Shot
Here's the video (17 sec)! I've done this trick before, but I do it with a forehand pendulum serve, so the ball curves the other way, and then I smack it with a forehand. Now I'm going to have to learn the opposite way so I can match this!

Table Tennis Trickshots - Solo Edition
Here's the video (1:27)!

River Pong
Here's the video (13 sec). Why spend money on a net when you can just stick a river there?

Crazy Diving Returns
Here's the video (21 sec)!

Over-the-Shoulder Counter-kill
Here's the video (33 sec) of this incredible shot!

Under-the-Legs Underhanded Sidespin Counter-Smash
Here's the video (15 sec) as Matt Hetherington against Lily Yip!

Backyard Improvised Chop Doubles and Exhibition
Here's the video (50 sec)! The lefty is 1993 World Men's Singles Champion Jean-Philippe Gatien. (Anyone know who the other player is? They also did the Relaxing Hammock Pong (32 sec) from two weeks ago.

Extended Ping-Pong
Here's the video (5:34) from Pongfinity!

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