11-point vs. 21-point games
I miss playing 21-point games. Games to 11 are still, to me, like cheap soft drinks rather than something more substantive, like a milk shake. Sure, you get a quick rush when you gulp down that Coca-cola, but then it's over and you're left wondering, "Is that all?"
When games were to 21, when you won, you WON. A game to 11 is more hit and miss. A few nets or edges and it's over. A random hot or cold streak, and it's over. You blink and it's over.
There are, of course, more games in a best of five to 11 than in a two out of three to 21. But you used to have to score 42 points to win those two games. Now you can do it in 33. It used to be you could spend the first game figuring out your opponent. Even if you lost the first game, once you figured him out, there was no way they could beat you in a game to 21 (if you were truly better), and they only had two chances at it. Now, if you lose the equivalent of a game to 21 you instead lose the first TWO games, and with games to 11, to win all they need is a few lucky breaks, or a hot streak, or a cold streak by you, and they have THREE chances to do it!!! So instead of spending time trying to tactically figure out an opponent, the strategy tends toward throwing everything at them right from the start and hope for the best.
And don't get me started on serving only two points in a row. (Too late.) It used to be you served FIVE times in a row, and smart players used the serves to set up the next ones. There was serious strategy involved. Now you only get two, and by the time you get to serve your next two, your opponent has probably forgotten what you served before, and so you have to start over. So forget all the tactical subtlety of past years and just throw out your two best serves over and Over and OVER.
Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. There's still plenty of service strategy, just not as much as before, and it's often less subtle. You really could maneuver opponents about more with five serves in a row, like a baseball pitcher setting up a batter for the strikeout pitch. With two serves, you have to rely on your opponent remembering your past serves from before they had their two serves, and alas, many players never reach that point of awareness. (Yes, there are advantages to playing in ignorant bliss.)
They still play games to 21 in hardbat at the U.S. Open and Nationals, where you get to serve five in a row. Those are fun. Except . . . to my astonishment and embarrassment, after spending much of the year playing to 11, I find myself tossing the ball to the opponent to serve after I've served twice. I've been domesticated to 11-point games!!!
We're into Week 9, Day Two of the MDTTC eleven weeks of summer training camps, Mon-Fri each week. These week we have a lighter turnout, with "only" 22 players yesterday, but many are resting from the Junior Olympics. I'll give more coverage of the camp in future blogs.
I haven't really been blogging much about the Olympics, both because it's covered everywhere else, and because I'm too busy coaching to really follow much of it. The ITTF is doing an excellent job of daily coverage, with lots of articles, results, and photos.
Ready Stance Part 2
A few weeks ago ICC Head Coach Massimo Constantini wrote about The Importance of Stance and Posture to the "Ready Position." (I linked to this in my June 26 blog.) Here is Part 2! It's a video (4:36.)
The Sounds Players Make
Here's an ESPN article on the sounds table tennis players make, ranging from "Sssahhh!" to "Sa. C'mon" to "Saa!" to the usual "Cho!"
Play Ping-Pong Like a Pro
That's the title of this article in Men's Health Magazine that features USA Olympian Timothy Wang talking about perfecting your reaction time, handling rackets, engaging the core, increasing your speed, and sharpening your serve.
Getting an edge: Table tennis players tamper with rackets in sport’s version of "doping"
Here's an Associated Press article on table tennis "doping"
Why do Olympic table tennis players toss the ball so high when they serve?
Curiosity Killed the Cat
Here's my take on it. It has nothing to do with table tennis except it was something I did to put off doing some table tennis stuff.
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