August 8, 2011

Tip of the Week: Playing Lefties

What are three keys to playing lefties?

MDTTC Training Camp

Today we're starting the last of our MDTTC summer camps, a two-week session, Aug. 8-12, 15-19 (Mon-Fri both weeks). By the end of these two weeks there will be many enlightened, improving players, and my back will feel like what happens when a supernova wrestles a quasar. (After the camp I plan on taking 4-6 weeks off, where I have local top players or juniors do my hitting while I coach so my back can get better.)

Have you ever been to a table tennis camp? Well, what are you waiting for - sign up for one! They are great fun and you'll learn a lot.  You'll have sore muscles, but it's a "good pain." (Note - MDTTC camps are primarily for juniors, though a few adults sometimes participate. But there are plenty of camps for all ages.) Here's a listing of some training camps. It might be too late for most summer camps, but now's the time to start thinking about Christmas camps in December! 

No more celluloid balls?

There have been rumors flying about regarding the apparent ban on celluloid ping-pong balls. I emailed ITTF President Adham Sharara, and here's his response:

There are no new rules, but there will be new balls after the Olympic Games [2012] which will be made from composite material. The celluloid ban is not from the ITTF but from governments. It is currently already banned in most countries, not the use of the finished material, but the production of the celluloid sheets. It is for health reasons. Same as asbestos, there was no problem as long as Korea and China were accepting to have celluloid production factories. But now both governments and others want to stop the production and handling of celluloid due to the negative effects it has on lungs (lung cancer, fibrosis, etc.).

So the ITTF will adapt a new type of ball made of composite materials other than celluloid. We take this opportunity to make it seamless, even hardness, and non-flammable. The rules remain the same, but the Technical leaflet (document given to manufacturers) will change.


Anticipation in sports

Here are two articles on anticipation in sports - must reads for any serious coach or player

Coaching seminar in Denver

Here's the ITTF article on the USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee just finished an ITTF coaching seminar at the Topspin TT Club in Denver, CO, with 14 coaches.

Transcending Table Tennis

Part 3 of "Transcending Table Tennis" is now out! (I've previously given links to the first two parts when they came out.) These are videos that showcase the best of our sport, set to music in slow motion, and great for both inspiration and to study technique. Here are all three parts.

Sprint 3-D phone TT Commercial

This 30-second video features table tennis, and gives me a chance to mention how much I hate Sprint. You see, my first cell phone was from Sprint, circa late 1990s. It broke down every two minutes. The battery died every other day. The only reception came on the roof of the Empire State building. And the customer service number was a hotline to Al Qaeda. Finally, in absolute disgust (and I'm not making this up), I took the phone over to the warehouse for North American Table Tennis, where they stored huge numbers of equipment, and had a forklift that weighed more than Godzilla. Its front wheel was like the type on a steamroller. We ran the forklift over the Sprint cell phone. It wasn't pretty, but it was fun. (I switched to Verizon, which has worked out great.)

The hottest chick in table tennis?

Judge for yourself.


Send us your own coaching news!


From the "It's All About Anticipation" article I found this very relevant for table tennis:

Another implication of studies of expert athletes is that pitching machines are probably rather useless for developing the most important skills involved in hitting. While they might be good for practicing mechanics or developing strength, they fall short in terms of sharpening the anticipation skills that are needed to hit live pitching. "The machine is completely predictable," Abernethy says, "which is the antithesis of the natural task."


So it appears TT robots aren't of much use even if they are set up with randomness features except perhaps for basic technique and footwork training. I found this to be true also when I was first learning and my coach did nothing but multiball training. I was completely unable to transfer the training to matches. Only after I found a new coach who trained me tactically without using multiball (we just used 2 or 3 balls at a time) did I make real progress. The initial training was not without value as I learned the basic strokes and footwork, but that must at some point be combined with tactics so that the "anticipation" element can be learned.

In reply to by Willis

Hi Willis, while I've had similar thoughts on robots, I've found multiball to be different because there you are reacting to a ball that comes off a table tennis racket. While it's more predictable than live play, it's a good bridge to developing, refining, and perfecting strokes and footwork. The key is that multiball can only be one part of your training, with live play making up most of it. It's possible you were doing too much multiball, not enough live play, and that the best fix isn't to drop multiball but to decrease the amount. 


These "reaction time" articles are eye opening. Thanks for sharing!