October 24, 2022

Tip of the Week
Treat Opponents Who Are Not Threats as Threats so They Do Not Become Threats.

Weekend Coaching and Coaching Between Points
I helped run four group junior sessions over the weekend. In three of them I mostly fed multiball – lots of fundamentals. However, once you get beyond the beginning stage, often the most important thing in multiball is feeding backspin so the player can practice looping. Why? It's easy to get lots of practice in topspin rallies with a practice partner, but in a regular drill, once a player loops against backspin, the rest of the rally is mostly all topspin. If you want repetitive practice against backspin, multiball is the way to go. In most of the sessions, players in the group did various drills while I took them three at a time, feeding backspin. (One player does the drill, usually combined with footwork; one shadow-practices behind that player; and the third picks up the balls.)

I spent about 45 minutes in one session walking around while players did game-type drills, and then actual matches at the end. A key thing here is that the coach can interrupt any drill or match to talk to the player on what they need to do differently. That's similar to what happens in many tournament matches these days, ever since they began allowing coaching between points in tournament matches. How has that changed things? In most matches for most players, it's not that big a change, but when junior players with coaches play, especially in international events, it's a huge change. I've had dozens of matches where the opposing coach signaled all or most of the serves, and/or where there's nonstop coaching between every point. (I think this is usually a long-term mistake – how can a kid learn to think for himself if the coach does all the thinking?) Sometimes they use signals - a few times I've deciphered them and took advantage of it.

The bigger problem I face is that often the opposing coach and player speak a language we don't speak, while they know the only language I speak – English. (Sometimes we also work out signals for certain things, but that's limited.) And so I'm often at a disadvantage as the opposing coach can call out advice between every point and we have no idea what he's saying. But I can't do that since they'd hear and understand what I'm saying. Often I've even had other coaches coach matches to make up for this. For example, I coached at international tournaments this past year in Ecuador, Jordan, Austria, and Dominican Republic. Over and over there would be rival coaches and players who would openly coach in various foreign languages, and we'd have no idea what they are saying. But since they often spoke English as a second language, anything I say they would understand. So sometimes, since many of our players and other coaches were Chinese-American, I'd have a Chinese coach do that match so they could coach in Chinese. 

It can backfire. I coached a kid in the semifinals of Under 14 at the US Open one year. The opposing player and coach were Chinese. Throughout the match the opposing coach was coaching in Chinese between points (illegal at the time), and (worse still), the opposing kid was constantly bad-mouthing my player in Chinese. What they didn't know was that the kid I was coaching had been attending Chinese school on weekends with his Chinese friends, and so was fluent in Chinese! And so, throughout the match, we knew what the coach and player was saying. At 9-9 in the fifth, when the opposing player said something nasty, my player told him off in fluent Chinese! I think the other kid turned green. He never recovered – my player won the next two points and went on to win the event.

I was told a similar thing happened at the Worlds or other international tournaments a few times. Atanda Musa was the Nigerian champion and top 30 in the world. One of his teammates had trained in China for several years and so knew Chinese. So when Atanda played the Chinese, he'd arrange for that player to be his coach – and between games, the player/coach would listen intently to what the Chinese coach would say, since he often didn't keep his voice down, assuming Nigerian players didn't know Chinese. And so Atanda did pretty well against those Chinese players!

WTT Champions Macao 2022
Here's the home page for the event held Oct. 19-23 in Macao, China, with complete results, news, and video. (See the extensive coverage of this event below by Steve Hopkins, and USATT article Kanak Jha Sprints Through Round of 32 at WTT Champions Macao.)

WTT Cup Finals Xinxiang 2022
Here's the home page for the event to be held Oct. 27-30 in Xinxiang, China.

Tips and Demo with Sid Naresh for the Forehand Counter
Here's the video (29 sec). Interesting terminology note – I would call these forehand loops, but in the modern game, where players rarely do straightforward forehand counter-hitting, many probably think of looping as a simple counter.

Table Tennis Masterclass
Here's the video (11:56) from Adam Bobrow. His videos are always entertaining (and, believe it or not, he's just reached one million subscribers!), but this one is educational as well. "Olympian and youngest ever US National Champion, Ariel Hsing, shows some of the drills that helped her become a 3-time US National Champion and an Olympian."

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

Give Your Opponent Something to Worry About
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak. "Let’s look at how you can dominate your opponent in the first five shots of each rally…"

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Taco Backhand

New from Drupe Pong

Table Tennis as a Treatment for Parkinson's
Here's the video (61 sec) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Smiling Faces in the Name of NCTTA!
Here's the article from the National Collegiate TTA.

Ni Xialian: An Inspiration for All Generations
Here's the article from Olympics.com. Many years ago, when I was editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine (a print magazine that went to all 8000 or so USATT members), I interviewed her at I think a US Open. Later, when I played a match, I noticed her watching. Afterwards, completely on her own, she came over and offered some tips! (She speaks pretty good English.)

Mountain View Table Tennis Athlete Kef Noorani's Talent Takes Him Abroad
Here's the article from the Mountain View Voice.

Local Para Athlete Sets Sight on World Championships, 2024 Paralympics
Here's the article from the Observer Voice featuring Valerie Rolph.

Watch Google’s Ping-Pong Robot Pull off a 340-hit Rally
Here's the article from techcrunch.com. Here's a related article and series of videos of this robot, i-Sim2Real: Reinforcement Learning of Robotic Policies in Tight Human-Robot Interaction Loops.

New from USATT

New from the ITTF

Ping-Pong Whisper
Here's where you can buy the sweatshirt!

Ping-Pong Ball Christmas Tree Shirt
Here's where you can buy it!

We Built a Mega Table
Here's the video (17 sec)!

Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (12 sec)!

Hydro and Fluid – Funny Cartoons for Children
Here's the video! It's over 31 minutes, but the table tennis is in the first 30 seconds.

Toddler Pong
Here's the video (14 sec) – make sure sound is turned on so you can hear his laugh!

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