Paddle Palace

June 13, 2011

Over 450 Reads

On Friday we set a new record for most reads - over 450. (We've been averaging over 200 for a while.) I hope people are enjoying the blog - it's the first thing I do each morning, Mon-Fri. I usually keep notes throughout the day on interesting topics, and when morning comes, it's not a matter of what to write about; it's a matter of choosing which of the many items to write about. This morning I have eleven different topics to choose from. Some I'll write about now; the rest I'll cut & paste to tomorrow's blog, and then, along with whatever topics come to mind today, I'll choose that day's topics.

Tip of the Week: Playing the Fisher

This week's Tip of the Week is on Playing the Fisher. Special thanks to Deriderj, who raised this question on the forum. Now you too can learn how to play the fisher, the player who backs up and softly and defensively topspins everything back a few feet over the net. His shots are not quite lobbing, not quite looping, and not quite counter-hitting.

Comparison of Chinese and European loops

I spent two hours Sunday morning watching videos of top Chinese and Europeans players looping. This was spurred by a long discussion at the MyTableTennis forum. You'll find numerous links there to the videos I watched. For example, here's a short video of China's Ma Long and Denmark's Michael Maze warming up on adjacent tables, including slow motion, where you can really see the contrast. Ma Long's loop is a bit more fluid and natural looking, with a straighter arm, and more forward and speed oriented. Maze is a bit more upward and spin-oriented, with more forearm and wrist snap.

One thing you'll notice in both techniques - see how still their heads are. They don't move forward or go off-balance when looping; they rotate in a circle around their head, as if there were a pole going through the top of their head that they rotate about. 

Near the end of the discussion, on page 11, you'll see my note on the topic, where I wrote, "It's ironic that, in some ways, Chinese-style looping has evolved from Hungarian players, while European-style looping has evolved from Cai Zhenhua of China." In general, the top Chinese players, like the former top Hungarians, loop with a mostly-straight arm, while the Europeans, like Cai Zhenhua and many Chinese in the past, loop with a bigger arm snap, ending the stroke with the arm well bent. (Many even start with a more bent arm.) Here's Cai Zhenhua against Jan-Ove Waldner at the 1983 Worlds (25:16). The three famous Hungarians in question were Istvan Jonyer (against Guo Yuehua in 1979), Tibor Klampar (against Li Zhenshi in 1979), and Gabor Gergeley (in blue, against John Hilton, undated).

While both Chinese and European looping styles work, it looks like many Europeans have adopted the Chinese style, such as Werner Schlager of Austria (2003 Men's World Champion) and Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece (former top ten in the World and 2011 European Top Twelve Champion). But then here's Timo Boll, the European #1 and World #2 from Germany (the lefty), looping brilliantly (with a bent elbow and lots of arm snap) against all-time great Jan-Ove Waldner - though Waldner wins this point. Here's 5:46 of Schlager vs. Boll. Here's the top two Chinese (8:55) - recently crowned Men's World Champion Zhang Zike (shakehander) versus world #1 Wang Hao (penholder).

Politicians playing pong

Here's a nice article about and video of Delaware Governor Jack Markell playing table tennis.  Before he was governor of Delaware he came to two of our training camps at Maryland Table Tennis Center, circa mid-1990s. Over the last two years, his son (now about 15) has come to four of our camps, and his daughter to one. Jack has come along for several of the camps his kids were in, though not as a player in the camps. One time Judah Friedlander (from TV show 30 Rock) was at our club and I gave him a one-hour lesson after one of the camp sessions. Jack Markell came in, I introduced them, and the two went and hit for an hour. (Here are some photos of Judah Friedlander from my Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page: photo1 photo2 photo3 (with Spider-man) photo4 (Anna Kournikova on right) photo5 (L-R: Table Tennis Superstar Mikael Appelgren, Friedlander, Actress Susan Sarandon, Table Tennis Superstar Jan-Ove Waldner)

Here's an article and video of former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman playing table tennis at Comet Ping-Pong (6:44).

And here are lots and lots of other pictures of politicians playing table tennis!

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Re: June 13, 2011

I wish the tip of the week could have come earlier since I lost to a fisher over the weekend in a sanctioned tournament. O well, more knowledge for next time.

Great Celebrity pics. What year did Anna Kournikova come to the Nationals (assuming that is where the picture was taken)? I would have loved to see her in person.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: June 13, 2011

I think Kournikova came to the Hardbat Classic in Las Vegas just before the U.S. Open in 2010, but it's possible she was at a Nationals or an Open; not sure. 

Re: June 13, 2011

I'm enjoying the blog, Larry!  I read it almost every day.  Kong Linghui was a good example of a Chinese looper who sometimes used a bent arm and elbow snap on the forehand (though he often straightened it out when he had time).

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: June 13, 2011

Hi David, yep, Kong had sort of a hybrid loop, half Chinese, half European. During his time I think most Chinese players were still looping Cai Zhenhua style, snapping the arm like the Europeans do now. I'm not sure when the Chinese began switching to mostly straight-arm looping. 

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