Why do beginners aim up?
Is there a logical reason why beginners not only open their rackets and hit off the end (with inverted sponge), but after seeing ball after ball go off the end, they continue to keep their rackets too open? I invariably have to point out they've hit 20 off the end, 0 in the net, so perhaps they should aim lower? Is there some primordial fear of closing one's racket or hitting into the net? I'm asking this after 35 years of watching beginners all do the same thing, over and over. C'mon, beginners of the world, all 6.7 billion of you, aim lower!!! (You can probably guess I'm in the middle of a training camp, Mon-Fri this week and next, with lots of beginners who . . . oh never mind.)
Playing pips-out sponge
(I posted a version of this on the forum yesterday.) The only way you'll learn to play against pips-out sponge is by playing against it. The ball from pips-out sponge is deader than you are used to, so you have to either open your racket slightly or lift slightly. (Many players overdo this, and hit many balls off the end.) The only way to learn to do this comfortably is to practice against it. At first, it might be difficult, but soon playing pips will be no big deal - you simply aren't used to them yet.
In general, don't try to be quicker than the pips-out player (except perhaps on the first shot) as that is their strength. Instead, focus on making stronger and more consistent shots. Keep the ball deep as they will jump on a short ball, rushing you when you need more time to react to a ball you are not used to. Balls that go deep - especially loops - give pips-out players trouble as they don't put as much topspin on the ball to make the ball drop, and so they have to hit a smaller target from farther away. A shakehander with pips on the backhand often is weak in the middle because he needs to stroke the ball more than an inverted player, who often can cover his middle by simply sticking the racket there and letting the inverted rebound it back. Also, it's a good idea to actually play into the pips early in the match to get used to them.
Did you practice your serves yesterday? Are you going to practice them today? (Coaches, ask your students these questions.) If the answer to these questions is no, then have you ever wondered why your serves aren't better? Get yourself a box of balls and find a place to do ten minutes a day, 4-5 times a week, and watch your level improve. Better serves not only make you better, but they improve your attack (since you are following up the serves), and both of these raise your level so you play better players - which also make you better. It's a snowball effect. So start snowballing.
I finally saw a doctor yesterday afternoon about back problems I've had for about two months. It's mostly in the middle/upper back area, and comes from forehand looping and hitting, and also from too many forehand pendulum serves. It sometimes makes playing excruciating, even when coaching. The doctor thinks two of the disks are grinding together, or something like that, and referred me to an orthopedist who I'll see next Wednesday (July 20). Until then, I'll just live on Advil.
USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh's blog
The Blog in Chief? He discussed the Ping-Pong Diplomacy's 40th Anniversary festivities around the country, and the recent U.S. Open in Milwaukee.
Here's one of the more interesting articles on Ping-Pong Diplomacy and its 40th Anniversary. The entire previous sentence is linked to the story, so you know it must be good.
Send us your own coaching news!