April 12, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Commuting Table Tennis Coach

Normally I do nearly all my coaching at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, about fifteen miles north of Washington D.C.  However, there's an afterschool program in (somewhat) nearby McLean, Virginia, at Spring Hill Elementary. I was asked I could take over the program and coach there twice a week, Wed and Fri from 3:30-4:30. It sounded like a great idea. I'd even coached the son of the person in charge of the program. So I agreed to come in yesterday to help out, with the possibility of taking over starting Friday. (They currently had three people running the program, but none were serious players or coaches.)

The problem was traffic. To get there I'd have to drive down 270 and then on 495 (the Beltway) . . . during RUSH HOUR! The Washington DC metropolitan area is one of the most congested traffic areas in the country, which is why I bought a house eight minutes from MDTTC. (Most rankings put us #2 behind Chicago, but we hope to overtake them someday . . . I think.)

According to Google maps, the driving time would be 33 minutes. But that assumed steady driving, not bumper-to-bumper traffic. I left my house at 2:25 PM - and while 270 was fine going down, I quickly hit that infamous bumper-to-bumper traffic on 495, despite being a bit early for rush hour. It took 58 minutes to get there, arriving at 3:23 PM.

The session went fine. And then it was off to face the real brunt of rush hour. I left at 4:35 PM, knowing I had 85 minutes to make the "33 minute trip" or else I'd be late for my 6PM coaching session.

At 6PM, still mired in traffic on 495, and still a distance from even reaching 270, and knowing that even without traffic I was still 20 minutes away, I called the club and talked to the father of my 6PM student. We agreed we had to cancel the lesson.

This was the first time in the 20 years since we'd opened the club that I'd ever been late for a session, a record I'd been proud of - I always like to arrive at least 15 minutes early. (Once I had times mixed up on a session, and so missed that one, but that's different. I think.)

I finally arrived at the club at 6:40 PM, 2 hours and 5 minutes after leaving the school. (I made my 7PM session.) But I don't think I'm going to be able to do the McLean afterschool program. I will instead likely train their current coaches on the basics, as well as introduce them to Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis.

Ma Lin not on China's Olympic Team

China will have Ma Long, Zhang Jike, and Wang Hao as their representatives to the Olympics in London, the world's top three ranked players. They also have #4 Xu Xing and #5 Ma Lin, but since they are limited to three players, these latter two will not be on the team. Here's an article about Ma Lin not being on the team.

JJ Hardy, Jake Arrieta, and table tennis

There's a lot of table tennis going on at the Baltimore Orioles clubhouse, with these two (along with former centerfielder and now trainer Brady Anderson) are among the best. As noted in previous blogs, I've been contacted about coming in to coach them, with MASN (the Orioles network) doing coverage. The times are not yet set, but I'll post when I know. In the last email I received from the Orioles, they wrote, "J.J. and Brady are going to get together in the next week and try to figure out a couple of dates that might work and we will be in touch. They are pretty excited about this!"

Here's an article from Table Tennis Nation on Jake Arrieta's table tennis. Here's a picture of Hardy playing table tennis, with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Corey Hart on right. And here are articles on JJ Hardy's table tennis (there are more!):

Table tennis videos

Table Tennis Video Central is like, well, a table tennis video central. Lots and lots of table tennis videos for your viewing pleasure. Between this and Youtube, you can pretty much see any table tennis video ever made.

Table tennis going to the Birds

In honor of the Baltimore Orioles playing table tennis, here are other birds playing table tennis.


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