November 9, 2011

Looping versus hitting backhands

Back in the good old days, when games were to 21, balls were 38mm, and ping-pong was the only thing the Chinese did better than the U.S. (I'm joking), most players hit their backhands in rallies. When opponents hit the ball hard, you could take a half step back and rally them down. These days, even at the intermediate level, it seems everyone's looping their backhand, and so you have to stay at the table and block. If you step back against a loop, the ball jumps at you and it's almost impossible to make a good return. But this means you are jammed at the table, and no longer can take that half step back to react to the fast incoming ball. It makes rallying and life in general much harder for us backhand hitters, doesn't it?

This also tells you something about how the game has changed, especially in terms of equipment, which allows players to loop the backhand more easily. If you are developing your game, for the love of pong, if you are physically capable of doing so, develop a backhand loop!

Of course, I'm only half serious in the above. Many players who backhand loop aren't consistent enough, and are easy to block down (especially with quick blocks to the middle), plus backhand loopers often are too quick to back off and give up the table. If you are going to backhand loop, develop a good backhand loop, and the techniques and tactics to back it up. Otherwise us backhand hitters (combined with forehand loops and a zillion other techniques and tactics) will eat you alive, with some fava beans and a nice chianti. 

Day Two at the Writer's Retreat

Yesterday was the second day of the writer's retreat at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, Mon-Fri, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM, where I'm working on my new book, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide."

It was an historic day as one of the most venerated, can't-be-broken records fell to the steady tapping on my keyboard. More specifically, I broke my personal writing record, typing almost non-stop all day and ending with 10,124 words for the day. This was after roughly tying my all-time record on day one with 8063. Coming in I'd done 6222, so I'm now up to 24,419 total. (I finished the looooong chapter on service strategy, and am well into the chapter on receive strategy.)

I started the workshop with the entire book pretty much written in my head - I've been thinking about it for years. But there was some trepidation going in as I wasn't sure if the words would flow.

They did.

Originally I was thinking the book would be about 50,000 words, but I'm guessing it'll be a bit longer. I'm now hoping to get to about 48,000 words or so by the end of Friday (8000 words per day? Take a deep breath, Larry...), and then we'll see where things stand. I should have a first draft done within a week after that, and soon after that it'll be ready for critique by a few selected coaches. And then I send to the publisher that's waiting to see it. Then comes fame and fortune, right?

"Tactical thinking is a habit. I know some brilliant people who do not think at the table, and some not-so-brilliant ones who know exactly what they are doing out there. Which do you choose to be?"

Third-ball attack

Here's a video from Pingskills that explains how to do a third-ball attack.

Interview with Dora Kurimay

Here's an audio interview from Pongcast of Dora Kurimay, sports psychologist and table tennis star. It's about an hour and fifteen minutes long, so get comfortable!

How to react to an edge ball

In this 15 second video, Adam Bobrow shows the proper etiquette after getting an edge ball.


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