June 5, 2023

Tips of the Week
In case you missed it since I had no blog last week, I’m including last week’s Tip of the Week as well as this week’s.

So Much Going On!
See below for segments on three major Hardbat/Classic table tennis tournaments (including a Nationals, an Open, and a Worlds); the Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony during the Nationals in July; George Brathwaite League; and my 20th book, Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips!

Weekend Coaching
I had a very busy coaching weekend, coaching in six junior group sessions (about ten hours), plus a 30-minute private session. I was tired going in after spending over a week sick with TCTWGA (The Cold That Wouldn’t Go Away), but it’s finally gone away, mostly. Alas, I’m still having serious shoulder problems, though I can still rally as a practice partner as long as I don’t go all-out or reach out with my arm. (I can’t extend my arm to my wide forehand or for short balls, or hit aggressive backhands.) Some highlights:

  • On Saturday, in one of the junior group sessions, I hit with the players, rotating them around, mostly doing footwork drills. One of the players in my group was Ryan Li, age seven, the youngest player in the session, with a rather out-of-date rating of 642. The drill was forehand-forehand footwork, where I alternated hitting to his wide forehand and middle, and he moved side to side, hitting all forehands. The goal was to get 50, and then 100. So, how many did he hit? Brace yourself – he did 1,000 in a row!!! When we reached about 500, I told him I’d catch the ball at 1,000. The other coaches took the others in my group so I could stay with Ryan. By the end, most of the kids and coaches had converged around the table to watch as I called out the number every ten shots. The kids even called out in unison the last shots in a countdown – 990, 991, 992, 993, 994, 995, 996, 997, 998, 999, and 1,000!!! This is something he’ll remember forever. As I explained to Ryan and others, once you have decent technique, the rest is mental. He seems to have a similar mentality to a similarly-named player who started out in my beginning junior classes about six years ago and last year won Under 13 Boys’ Singles at the US Nationals – Ryan Lin, now 13 and rated 2266 – who just happened to be practicing on another table as this was happening.
  • In Group 1 (most advanced group), one of the drills had one player serving short backspin, the receiver, drops it short, server quick pushes deep to backhand, receiver backhand loops to backhand, and then they continued with the 2-1 drill (backhand from backhand, forehand from backhand, forehand from wide forehand). Several of the players had trouble pushing short. They were trying to ease up on the push and just pat the ball back, hitting the ball almost straight on. I demonstrated the proper way, which is to take the ball quick off the bounce, while the ball is very low, and graze it finely. It’s the grazing that both deadens the ball and puts backspin on it so it both doesn’t bounce out and makes it harder to attack. (Surprisingly, you can also push short by taking the ball on the drop, as long as you take it low and aren’t too far back from the net.)
  • One player was blocking pretty consistently in a drill, but not moving his feet too much. So I was on him to have “active feet” – see my Tip on Blocking Footwork. The problem is a player can often be consistent in a drill without moving the feet too much since he knows roughly where the ball is going to be and so can just reach for it, as coaches often do when they block for players for many hours. But in a game situation, you can’t, and so active feet becomes a priority.
  • I had a 30-minute session with para junior star Sam Altshuler. Many of his opponents use long pips, as he does, and he needs practice against these surfaces. So I pulled out my long pips no-sponge blocking racket for him to practice against. With my style – big forehand attack, consistent backhand with little attack – I probably should just use long pips myself! It’s tempting. I also pulled out my racket with medium pips and let him practice against that.
  • On Saturday night, from 4-6PM, we had our semi-annual junior party, with about 50 kids. (We have over 60 in the program.) Lots of great food! I was informally in charge of games, and so brought out my five mini-rackets (with super-bouncy Tenergy), my two giant over-sized rackets, and a box of hardbats, plus the mini-table, and the kids went at it. But by far the most popular game was “Long Pong.” I pulled two tables together, lengthwise, and put a barrier between them, held up by chairs. Result? An 18-foot court!!! It was so popular we set up a second court, and then we had a third one, where we put the two tables together sideways, so (with a gap in the middle), it was 12 feet long, nine feet wide. Here’s a picture and video (37 sec). You don’t see it in the video, but some of the kids got really good at this, essentially counterlooping back and forth. Most of the time they played doubles or even triples.

Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips
The fourth book in the series will be out by the end of June – I’ll announce it here. It’ll be my 20th book. This follows the first three books:

US Table Tennis Hall of Fame Induction Dinner
Here’s the info page and here’s the Class of 2023. The dinner and induction banquet will take place during the US Nationals at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Wednesday, July 5, starting at 6PM. I’ll be there and hope to see you too! (I just finished the program booklet for the event.) This year’s inductees – Kenneth Brooks (athlete), Ashu Jain (athlete/contributor), Dennis Davis (contributor), and Willy Leparulo (contributor).

Hardbat, Sandpaper, and Wood, Oh My! Three Huge All-Classic Tournaments Coming Soon
Here’s the article I wrote about them. I will be at all three, both competing and doing coverage at the Nationals and World’s. (There are also lots of hardbat and sandpaper events at the regular US Nationals in July.)

Dual Championships! George Braithwaite Club League 2023 Spring Championship and AYTTO National Championship 2023
Here’s the article, pictures, and video. Wish I could have been there, but as usual I’m busy coaching on weekends. We had three players there.

How to Play With & Against Long Pips & Anti
Here’s the video (24:05) from Seth Pech. This seemed like a good one to highlight.

Table Tennis How To Teach Children
Here’s the video (8:27) from Dr. Table Tennis.

News from All Over
Since I haven't blogged in two weeks (due to being sick), rather than try to list every interesting article, for this blog I'll just link to some of the main news and coaching pages, and you can pick and choose.


Lily Yip, 59: Ping Pong Champion Returns for Gold
Here’s the article from Ageist Magazine.

Manor Table Tennis Club
Here’s the video (2:19) from Fox 43 News.

Effect of Specialized Table Tennis Training Program on Speed, Agility and Reaction Time of Amateur Table Tennis Players
Here’s the journal article from Researchgate.

Table Tennis and Data: Exploring Ways to Enhance the Fan Experience
Here’s the survey page. It’s a survey for “conducting research on the potential of incorporating more statistics and data-driven stories into the sport of table tennis. The objective is to identify what kind of additional information can make following table tennis even more exciting and engaging for fans like you, whether it be during live streams, reading online, or even discussing with friends.”

Table Tennis - 1 in a Million Moments
Here’s the video (17 sec) – the ultimate chop lob and the ultimate drop shot?

Cartwheel Pong
Here’s the video (30 sec)! Doing the cartwheels is Jindrich Pansky, with his hitting partner Milan Orlowski, both from Czech Republic. The two were finalists in Men’s Doubles at the 1985 Worlds.

Today’s Forecast - 100% Chance of Ping Pong
Here’s the shirt from Amazon!

Little Dot #106 (1966) High-Grade NM- Killer Ping Pong Table Tennis Cover
Here’s where you can buy the comic - $33.

Here’s the Tank McNamara cartoon from yesterday (June 4)! How Pickleball Players See Themselves . . . How Tennis Players See Pickleball. Wait, I think we've been insulted!!!

Here’s the cartoon!

Level 1 to 15: Bali Challenge
Here’s the video (14:51) from Adam Bobrow!

Pongfinity vs. Strangers: 8 Weird Ping Pong Challenges
Here’s the video (8:01) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!