North American Championships

September 3, 2012

Tip of the Week

I had a nice Tip of the Week planned for this morning, and was all set to write it, but you know what? It's Labor Day. Nearly everyone else is taking the day off. You know what? So am I. I'll do it tomorrow, and vacation the rest of today (after I finish this blog). I have no coaching scheduled for today. (Also, I'm a little tired as I was up late last night as I got involved in an online political debate at a news forum, where some simply do not accept the basic idea that lying by omission is, in fact, lying. One of my postings actually showed up on Facebook, which I didn't realize until afterwards. If you are on Facebook, by the way, feel free to friend me, and I'll likely friend you back. However, I generally keep my table tennis and politics separate.) I normally plan well in advance what I'm going to write about for each Tip of the Week, but often write it early on Monday morning.

As for the subject for this week's Tip, well, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise! (Confession: I actually have three Tips planned, and hadn't really decided which one: One on how to incorporate multiball training into your practice sessions; one on how table tennis is literally like chess at light speed as the opening moves of a rally are like the opening moves in chess; and one on when to loop on the forehand.)

Feel free to send in suggestions for Tips or Blog topics!

Neck Update

Yesterday was the first time in twelve days that I didn't wear the neck brace at all. I also did live play for the first time, though only lightly. I probably should do some easy drilling to get back in shape. But I can officially say that 1) the neck is mostly healed, and 2) I'm way out of playing shape.

MDTTC Tournaments

Due to a moment of unbelievable insanity, I agreed earlier this year to take over the running of tournaments at the Maryland Table Tennis Center starting with our September Open. And now our Sept. 22-23 tournament is rapidly approaching. I've run over 150 USATT sanctioned tournaments, but this'll be my first in over ten years. I spent part of yesterday putting together a checklist for everything so I'll know what things are ready and what things I should sputter about in panic.

MDTTC has been using the same software for tournaments since the early 1990s. It doesn't even run on modern computers - to use it, we have to use an old laptop computer. While I still have the old one I used to use and presumably can run the software on that, I've decided to enter the modern age. So I'm exploring new softwares.

I'm leaning toward trying Omnipong. A growing number of tournaments are being run on it, and I'm told it's pretty user friendly. The software's developer used it to run the LA Open this past weekend. Any comments/suggestions/dire warnings on tournament software before I make the plunge? (The other one I was considering is Zermelo.)

Because my laptop was old when Obama took office (circa 2005), and my netbook is really too small for running tournaments (as well as a bit clumsy for writing articles on with its small screen) I plan to head out to Best Buy today and finally get a new laptop. I'll use it for running tournaments, and for writing, checking email, and touring the Internet at the club and when I'm traveling. There's a good chance I'll get this one.

And since we're on the subject of tournaments, here's my Ten-Point Plan to Tournament Success, and my article Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Playing In Your First Tournament . . . But Didn’t Know Where to Ask!

North American Championships

Here are the results, write-ups, and pictures from the North American Championships this past weekend in Cary, NC. Note the feature write-ups on Lily Zhang and Jim Butler.

Table Tennis Paralympics

Here are the results, write-ups, and pictures from the Table Tennis Paralympics this past weekend in London. One thing they did that I liked were the bios and histories for the top four seeds in every event.

Table Tennis Charity Foundation

Here's a new web page devoted to table tennis charities, the Table Tennis Charity Foundation. (They also have a Facebook page.) From their home page: "The mission of The Table Tennis Charity Foundation is simple; it's to GIVE BACK!  We utilize the brain-stimulating sport of Table Tennis, and the THERAPEUTIC game of Ping Pong to increase awareness and to raise money for organizations that will directly benefit those facing Alzheimer's, Dementia, Depression and Mild to Moderate intellectual disabilities." On the lower left they already have two charities planned, in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia.

Zhang Jike Dropping Out of World Cup

Here's an article explaining why Zhang Jike won't be playing in the World Cup, plus other info on the reigning World and Olympic Men's Champion. The short version: "Zhang Jike said that there were too much activities after the Olympic Games and he hasn't been on training for that period so the team decided to let him give up the competition." He will be replaced by Ma Long, who will join Xu Xin as the Chinese representatives at the World Cup.

Non-Table Tennis - Another Sale!

On Saturday I sold a SF story to Every Day Fiction, "The Shaking Sphere," my 65th short story sale. The story hypothesizes that the ancient Greeks were right and that the moon, planets, sun, and stars are all carried about the Earth in gigantic celestial spheres, with Earth in the center. Humans have colonized the inner-most Moon sphere and even have elevators that take us right to it, 240,000 miles away - but now it's beginning to break apart, and it's up to our heroic engineer to figure out what the problem is.

The Human Chipmunk

I sometimes feel like I have too many balls in the air (i.e. too many activities and responsibilities), and worry what'll happen if I drop a ball. Here's what happens if you drop all the balls with an open mouth.

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May 29, 2012

Tip of the Week

Make a game of your weaknesses.

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Maryland

I will be running my second annual ITTF Coaching Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center on two consecutive weekends, Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 18-19, with an optional Paralympics session on Aug. 25. The seminar runs from 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM each day. This is your chance to learn both how to coach as well as inner knowledge of how to play the game.

Here's the info flyer. If you are interested or have any questions, email me.

The seminar is featured this morning on the USATT web page. Yes, that's me on the left lecturing. There were 14 in the seminar - the rest are off to the right, no doubt spellbound by my oratory. My review of the book "Breaking 2000" is also highlighted on their home page, below and to the right.

Saturday - in the Zone

On Saturday I was coaching almost non-stop from 10AM to 4:00 PM, and then we had a 4:30-6:30 junior session, and then I had another one-hour coaching session from 6:30-7:30. It was an exhausting day. But an interesting thing happened.

During the 3-4PM session, I had a student working on his forehand block. So I did a LOT of looping to him. Before that I'd been playing poorly all day, feeling stiff and tired. The looping should have tired me out even more, but instead it sort of woke me up. But it eventually also wore me out, and when the session ended I collapsed on a sofa and pretty much lay down for an hour. I wasn't needed the first half of the junior session. In the second half I came out to play practice matches.

Based on how poorly I had been playing earlier, I was a bit leery of the junior I was about to play, even though he was "only" about 2050. He'd been giving me difficulties, and had recently won a deuce-in-the-fifth match. But something happened. All the play I'd done that day, combined with the hour of rest, seemed to put me in the zone, physically and mentally.

In the first game, up 8-0, I told him I wasn't giving him any points, if he wanted to score he'd have to earn it. Up 10-0, my reverse forehand pendulum serve to the forehand went slightly long, and the junior absolutely pulverized it. 10-1, he jokingly celebrated. I sort of fished and lobbed the next two points before winning 11-3.

I won game two 11-0. (There was one point where the junior literally creamed three balls in a row, which came at me in sort of slow-motion 100mph. I blocked the first two easily, then backhand counter-smashed the third for a clean winner. The junior screamed, "God!!!")

Between games I jokingly told a junior on the sidelines that "Right now, I'm the single greatest player in the history of the universe." Then I fell behind 4-5 in the third, mostly because I went for a few wild swats, plus a couple nets and edges. The junior on the sidelines said, "Larry, you're not playing so well now." I said, "Watch the rest of this game." I scored the next seven in a row with ease, despite some crazy rallies. (The rest of the session I played younger, beginning juniors, and so didn't get to test out my suddenly brilliant play, alas.)

How would I describe the way I played? I couldn't miss anything, not even my normally erratic backhand loop. The ball was traveling in slow motion. When my opponent ripped the ball, the ball came at me like a tortoise. Everything was easy.

I may try this again sometime, i.e. play hard all day, take an hour off, and then play.

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

When I announced on Friday that the book was "done," it was 97,768 words. I've added another 500+ words (about two pages), so it's now at 98,304. I'll probably keep adding bits here and there. I'm fairly confident it'll end up breaking 100,000.

Over the weekend I went over it page by page, listing photos and graphics needed. Then I went through my own photo files to see which ones I had. (I have to get permission from photographers to use their photos.) Soon I'll be contacting one of the regular table tennis photographers to see if I can use some of their photos, with a listing of photos needed. (I'm willing to pay, but not too much!)

I also learned how to create an index in Word. Soon I'll be starting the page layouts.

New Coaching Video from PingSkills

Forehand Counterhit (4:04)

Cary selected for North American Championships

Cary, North Carolina has been selected by USATT to run the North American Championships on Sept. 1-3. Here's the article. Cary is rapidly becoming a center for table tennis, having run both the U.S. and North American Olympic Trials this year, as well as the annual 4-star Cary Cup.

Xu Xin wins China Open

And here's the story!

U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Collectible Cards

Topps has created Olympic Table Tennis cards for USA Olympians Timothy Wang and Ariel Hsing. (Not sure why they haven't done Lily Zhang and Erica Wu.) The Ariel one is already listed as "out of stock," but you can still get Timothy for $2.95.

Ethan Jin

Here's a nice article on junior star Ethan Jin. (Go to page 28.)

Table Tennis joins Occupy Wall Street

Yes, table tennis joining the fray - and here's the Table Tennis Nation picture and article to prove it!

Non-Table Tennis - I share a table of contents with Asimov!

Wildside Press just put out their fourth Science Fiction Megapack, with 30 stories. They included a story of mine, "Tom the Universe." Look at the list of my "colleagues": Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Sturgeon, Murray Leinster, Ayn Rand, Philip Dick, and Harry Harrison!!!

Meanwhile, Flagship Magazine just started selling their magazines at Amazon (Kindle editions), including several issues with stories by me - including the Nov. 2010 issue, with my story "ggg.earth.gxy" the cover story.

And if you want to see a wild cover, here's my ebook "Willy and the Ten Trillion Chimpanzees"!

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