June 20, 2022

Next Blog – July 11
I'm off for the US Team Trials and Nationals in Fort Worth, TX, June 23 – July 7, where I'll be coaching for two weeks. However, the Tip of the Week will still go up on both Mondays while I'm gone. See you soon!

Tip of the Week
1% Hesitation = 100% Miss.

I spent much of the weekend coaching at the MDTTC Open at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. One nice breakthrough – after making the final in four consecutive tournaments (and losing some close finals), Stanley Hsu (US #1 in 13 and under) broke through and won Open singles, over Khoi Dinh, 8,9,5. He also teamed with Mu Du (who made the quarters of the Open) to win Open Doubles. Here's a picture of Stanley, and of Stanley & Mu Du. (Here are the non-Facebook versions – Stanley, Stanley & Mu Du.) Stanley only lost one game in singles – to Ryan Lin (US #1 in 12 and Under) in the quarterfinals. Stanley, Mu Du, Ryan, and lots of other top juniors all train together regularly at MDTTC.

Serve practice and selection seemed to be a key aspect of many of the matches I coached. In one close match, up 2-1 in games and at 9-9, I signaled Ryan Lin to use a serve he hadn't used the entire match. It wasn't one of his front-line serves, and he only serves it with sidespin-topspin, but looks a little like backspin. Normally, when it's close, you want to use your best serves. But in this case I was pretty sure the opponent would hesitate and pop the serve up, something he hadn't done with almost any of the past serves. And he did – a serve and easy rip, leading to the win.

I had worked with Navin Kumar a lot on serves before this tournament, especially his backhand serve, where he had a good side-top serve, but needed a fast, dead one. So he worked on the fast, dead one – and it worked! Player after player put it in the net, and he ended up winning his preliminary round robin. Ironically, he now was having trouble doing his side-top serve – but he's going to practice it to make sure he can do both at the upcoming Nationals.

I coached two players against two different lobbers, and both had difficulty. One problem with modern table tennis is that it's all centered around looping, so players generally don't smash as well as they used to. But a combination of patience, placement, and mixing in blocks enabled both players to win. One thing that helped one player was to always set up as if smashing to the wide forehand, and then, a little before contact, rotate the shoulders back and smash down the line. In general, when playing a good lobber, it's best to smash to the backhand and middle, and only go to the forehand when you see an open court. Most players are more consistent, spinnier, and have more range on the forehand lob than on the backhand lob, which was the case in the two matches I coached. They are also almost always a bigger threat to counter-attack on the forehand side. But it depends on the lobber. And, of course, it's always best if you can disguise your direction until the last second.

US Nationals Entries
Here's the apparently final listing of 752 players, which is about the norm for a Nationals. Two surprises. First, last year's winner, Xin Zhou, who would have been top seed in Men's Singles at 2771, is only playing Men's Doubles (with Aditya Godhwani). Second, for the second year in a row, Kanak Jha, rated 2767 (and world #31 and presumably the favorite if he played), who won the event four times in a row (2016-2019, with 2020 skipped due to pandemic), isn't entered. Neither Xin nor Kanak are playing in the US Team Trials either. (Team Trials are June 25 – July 1; Nationals are July 2-7; both are in Fort Worth, TX. I'll be coaching at both.)

New from Samson Dubina

5 Tips To Improve Your Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (65 sec) with Vlad Farcas.

Ti Long Corrects 9 Techniques and Guides 3 Exercises
Here's the video (25:55).

New from Taco Backhand

New from TT Shorts

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association June Newsletter
Here it is!

New from Steve Hopkins

New from Butterfly/Bowmar

New from USA Table Tennis

A U.S. Table Tennis Tour Honors the Legacy of Ping Pong Diplomacy
Here's the video (2:48).

How Many Table Tennis Players in the World
Here's the article from PingSunday/EmRatThich.

New from ITTF

Comparison of dynamic elasticity between two types of new material plastic table tennis ball: taking DHS D40+ and Nittaku 40+ as an Example
Here's the paper from Research Square. Just some light summer reading.

Joo Sae Hyuk, From Defense To Offense
Here's the video (37 sec).

Extreme Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:45) – with one of the strangest and funniest commentaries on the game I've ever heard!

Ping Pong Gun Game 4
Here's the video (8:54) from Pongfinity! Where they take on challenges with sandals, skateboards, irons, a jar of peanut butter, a racket with a huge hole in it, boxing gloves, motorcycle helmets, basketballs, spoons, and giant kids' toy car!

Belly Pong?
Here's the video (13 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!