In the late 1970s I went to several Seemiller camps. One of the things I learned there is that looping with sidespin was a good thing, and that a natural loop generally has something like 15% sidespin. This is for two reasons. First, the natural contact point of the ball is lower than the shoulder, so the arm is tilted down, and so it naturally contacts the ball somewhat on the outside, which puts sidespin on the ball. And second, if you meet a loop straight on with pure topspin, you are going up directly against the incoming topspin, and so it's better to contact it more on the side so as not to have to go up against it directly. (Here's a Tip of the Week I wrote last year on Sidespin Loops.)
There's even more to it than that. One of the things I've pointed out to some of my students is that you get a more natural hooking sidespin on your loop if you take the ball either early or late. If you take it early, your natural contact point will be more on the outside of the ball, since your arm will be tilted forward. (This is the right side for a right-hander.) If you take the ball late, you have a natural sidespin swing as your stroke tends to go more sideways. If you take it in the middle, then you'll get that natural 15% sidespin, but generally not as much as if you take it early or late.
There is value in these sidespins. If you take it quick off the bounce, and hook the ball as well, and go for a wide angle to the left (for a right-hander), the combination of these three make it an almost unreturnable shot - it combines quickness, sidespin breaking away, and wide angle.
If you take the ball late, the sidespin is effective in messing up your opponent - and you often need that extra something since you are giving your opponent more time. Watch the world-class players when they counterloop from way off the table, and see how they often load the ball with hooking sidespin.
You can also loop with inside-out sidespin, so the ball breaks to the right (for a righty). This tends to be most effective when taken off the bounce, well angled to the right, so you again get a combination of quickness, sidespin breaking away, and angle, leading to an almost unreturnable shot.
Personally I go for lots of hooking loops to the left (I'm a righty) at wide angles, which are often outright winners. The key is to learn to read your opponent and see what he's ready for. Few players can cover both corners effectively off a strong loop, and if you add sidespin so it breaks away from him, you'll often leave him flailing at the ball as it whizzes by.
USA World Rankings
I've put together a complete listing of all USA players with world rankings - Men, Women, and Boys and Girls in Under 21, Under 18, and Under 21. It's rather long, so I've put it at the end.
The Chinese National Team Training at the Werner Schlager Academy Blog
Here is Coach Donn Olsen's blog about the Chinese Team training for the Worlds, Days 1-3.
Ariel Hsing with Uncles Warren and Bill - the Video
Yesterday I showed pictures of Ariel Hsing playing table tennis with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates this past Sunday. Here's the video (1:07)! These three together are worth $120 billion, have won two U.S.
Women's Singles titles, and one's an Olympian.
Here are the latest international headlines from Table Tennista. Of especial interest is the first item, where Stefano Bosi will not be allowed to speak at the upcoming ITTF meetings about his allegations against ITTF President Adham Sharara, who Bosi is running against for president.
2013 World Ping Tour
Here are Facebook photos from the ITTF of a table tennis festival they put on in Marseille, France.
At the About.com table tennis forum, there's a thread about table tennis and pets. (Go to the first posting and you'll see a picture of someone using his pet dog as the net - here's the picture.) Someone mentioned the famous Don Iguana. Here's the story.
In the early 1990s I had a 3-year-old pet Iguana named Don. I was running tournaments at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which included an Under 12 event. So I entered Don in the tournament, including buying him a USATT membership. I didn't actually bring Don to the tournament, but when it was time for him to play, I sent the clipboard out, and the kids played along. They'd keep the clipboard for a few minutes, and then they'd return it with scores, invariable 21-0, 21-0. From this Don achieved an actual rating of 25. He "played" several tournaments. In his last one, Michael Squires (who now works for JOOLA USA) put down his win as 21-0, 21-1, thereby letting Don score his first and only point ever in tournament competition. Don also "lost" to a girl rated in the low 200's, and so lost a rating point, and dropped to 24, which is what he is listed as. (Alas, the ratings didn't go online until 1994, and this all took place in 1992 or 1993, so there is no official tournament record of his matches.) When the USATT Ratings Director found out about Don, he was furious, saying it make a mockery of the ratings, and was very unhappy that a player had gained a rating point in a match that didn't take place. He took Don out of the ratings. A few years later his successor put him back in.
After this there were numerous online stories about Don. I told about how Don was always just happy to play, and how he stubbornly stuck to his strategy of standing absolutely motionless while waiting for the opponent to miss his serve, a tactic that finally achieved fruition against Squires. Others wrote romantic tales of Don's adventures around the world, often as a pirate (hi Alan and Dave Williams!).
If you want to see his rating, go to the USATT ratings database and put in "Iguana."
Colorful Table Tennis
Here's a picture of either table tennis balls or buttons (I'm really not sure which, though I'm leaning toward buttons), with colorful pictures of players on them. (If you can't see the Facebook version, try this.)
USA World Rankings
Here's a listing of all USA players with ITTF world rankings. The first column is their world ranking. The second is their ITTF rating, which is similar to USATT ratings but with lower numbers. Here are Men's and Women's Rankings; Under 21 Rankings; Under 18 Rankings; and Under 15 Rankings. There are a lot of Californians on the list, especially from the Bay area, led by Lily Zhang and Ariel Hsing in the Women's and Junior Girls, and Kunal Chodri and Kanak Jha on the Boys' Side. I'm proud of all the Marylanders on the list:(or former Marylanders before they went off to college - Li and Song): Wang Qing Liang (#1 USA player in Under 18 Boys and #2 in Men), Peter Li, Chen Bo Wen, Nathan Hsu, Tong Tong Gong, Xiyao Song, and Crystal Wang.
94 2202 ZHANG Lily USA
95 2198 HSING Ariel USA
148 2061 ZHENG Jiaqi USA
160 2025 LIU Nai Hui USA
202 1919 WANG Huijing USA
236 1875 WU Yue USA
331 1710 TIAN Maggie Meng USA
351 1696 JHA Prachi USA
417 1593 ZHAO Jenny USA
420 1590 HUGH Judy USA
422 1588 WANG Xinyue USA
433 1578 WU Erica USA
470 1535 LI Tao USA
605 1382 KURIMAY Dora USA
633 1351 LIN Tina USA
657 1319 SONG Xiyao USA
716 1260 JIANG Diane USA
770 1207 GUAN Angela USA
780 1196 LI Joy USA
806 1176 CHU Isabel USA
835 1149 LIU Charlene Xiaoying USA
842 1143 WANG Crystal USA
933 1064 CHODRI Aditi USA
949 1042 LUO Michelle USA
982 1007 HUANG Laura USA
998 988 WANG Amy USA
1008 980 DEB Ishana USA
1035 949 LUO Yanan Vicky USA
378 1446 LIANG Jishan USA
393 1427 WANG Qing Liang USA
405 1416 WANG Timothy USA
435 1374 SEEMILLER Danny USA
496 1317 HUGH Adam USA
527 1291 ZHANG Yahao USA
593 1213 LANDERS Michael USA
595 1209 SHAO Yu USA
649 1147 BUTLER Jim USA
698 1092 GAO Yan Jun USA
701 1087 LI Peter USA
712 1076 LI Grant USA
870 964 FENG Yijun USA
939 895 LI Hangyu USA
943 892 WANG Can USA
971 869 CHODRI Kunal USA
984 857 JHA Kanak USA
1022 822 WANG Allen USA
1089 773 CHEN Bo Wen USA
1104 764 LIU Dan USA
1104 764 JIN Ethan USA
1107 763 WANG Max Qinmin USA
1148 729 OU Jonathan USA
1179 701 REED Barney USA
1184 698 TRAN Theodore USA
1207 676 LI Fengguang USA
1252 638 PATEL Aashay USA
1287 612 HSU Nathan USA
1310 591 AVVARI Krishnateja USA
1342 562 SHAH Aarsh USA
1347 557 AZARSKY Asaf USA
1382 527 CROITOROO Mark USA
1415 506 PAK Kwang-Bin USA
1442 469 CLYDE Stephen USA
1448 464 GONG Tong Tong USA
1470 430 BUTLER Scott USA
1481 421 BOCKOVEN Chase USA
1499 403 GAO Baiyi USA
1531 367 OAK Niraj USA
1534 362 SEEMILLER Daniel USA
1534 362 WALK Michael USA
1612 184 PICCIOTTO Daniel USA
UNDER 21 GIRLS
24 2202 ZHANG Lily USA
25 2198 HSING Ariel USA
152 1696 JHA Prachi USA
197 1593 ZHAO Jenny USA
205 1578 WU Erica USA
366 1351 LIN Tina USA
389 1319 SONG Xiyao USA
439 1260 JIANG Diane USA
491 1207 GUAN Angela USA
500 1196 LI Joy USA
524 1176 CHU Isabel USA
553 1143 WANG Crystal USA
637 1064 CHODRI Aditi USA
653 1042 LUO Michelle USA
686 1007 HUANG Laura USA
702 988 WANG Amy USA
712 980 DEB Ishana USA
737 949 LUO Yanan Vicky USA
UNDER 21 BOYS
103 1427 WANG Qing Liang USA
175 1291 ZHANG Yahao USA
215 1213 LANDERS Michael USA
288 1087 LI Peter USA
297 1076 LI Grant USA
411 964 FENG Yijun USA
472 895 LI Hangyu USA
476 892 WANG Can USA
509 857 JHA Kanak USA
542 822 WANG Allen USA
604 773 CHEN Bo Wen USA
619 764 JIN Ethan USA
619 764 LIU Dan USA
622 763 WANG Max Qinmin USA
659 729 OU Jonathan USA
691 698 TRAN Theodore USA
712 676 LI Fengguang USA
755 638 PATEL Aashay USA
788 612 HSU Nathan USA
809 591 AVVARI Krishnateja USA
840 562 SHAH Aarsh USA
878 527 CROITOROO Mark USA
911 506 PAK Kwang-Bin USA
937 469 CLYDE Stephen USA
943 464 GONG Tong Tong USA
975 421 BOCKOVEN Chase USA
993 403 GAO Baiyi USA
1101 184 PICCIOTTO Daniel USA
UNDER 18 GIRLS
6 2202 ZHANG Lily USA
7 2198 HSING Ariel USA
68 1696 JHA Prachi USA
101 1578 WU Erica USA
199 1351 LIN Tina USA
254 1260 JIANG Diane USA
296 1207 GUAN Angela USA
304 1196 LI Joy USA
319 1176 CHU Isabel USA
345 1143 WANG Crystal USA
413 1064 CHODRI Aditi USA
427 1042 LUO Michelle USA
454 1007 HUANG Laura USA
468 988 WANG Amy USA
477 980 DEB Ishana USA
UNDER 18 BOYS
40 1427 WANG Qing Liang USA
213 964 FENG Yijun USA
247 895 LI Hangyu USA
250 892 WANG Can USA
268 869 CHODRI Kunal USA
276 857 JHA Kanak USA
302 822 WANG Allen USA
347 773 CHEN Bo Wen USA
359 764 JIN Ethan USA
391 729 OU Jonathan USA
417 698 TRAN Theodore USA
434 676 LI Fengguang USA
470 638 PATEL Aashay USA
498 612 HSU Nathan USA
517 591 AVVARI Krishnateja USA
544 562 SHAH Aarsh USA
635 464 GONG Tong Tong USA
663 421 BOCKOVEN Chase USA
681 403 GAO Baiyi USA
782 184 PICCIOTTO Daniel USA
UNDER 15 GIRLS
39 1351 LIN Tina USA
55 1260 JIANG Diane USA
71 1207 GUAN Angela USA
73 1196 LI Joy USA
84 1143 WANG Crystal USA
122 1007 HUANG Laura USA
131 988 WANG Amy USA
136 980 DEB Ishana USA
UNDER 15 BOYS
39 895 LI Hangyu USA
47 869 CHODRI Kunal USA
50 857 JHA Kanak USA
57 822 WANG Allen USA
66 773 CHEN Bo Wen USA
77 729 OU Jonathan USA
92 676 LI Fengguang USA
116 591 AVVARI Krishnateja USA
129 562 SHAH Aarsh USA
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Due to massive spamming attacks, I've been forced to switch to requiring administrator approval for new accounts. Yesterday I had to block over 50 new accounts, each of which was posting spamming notes all over the comments section on my blog and the forum, which I also had to delete. (Fortunately I can generally delete all postings by a spammer with a few clicks - but it does take time.) So starting last night, new visitors can create accounts but administrator approval is required. It seems to be working - since last night 18 more accounts were created, but only two legit. (On a related note, anyone who has to constantly waste time battling these spammers believes in the death penalty.)
Table Tennis Leagues in the U.S.
Last night I had a debate on the MyTableTennis forum on the future of leagues in the U.S., and whether a nationwide network of local leagues is possible. Here's where I join the discussion. I ended up posting thirteen notes. (You can also read the previous postings of course.) I was thinking of copying and pasting the entire discussion here, but I'll just post my first note, and link to the rest. There's some lively discussion, so if you have any interest in leagues or the growth of table tennis in the U.S., I hope you read the rest of it.
The goal of a nationwide network of local leagues isn't to set up leagues for currently existing clubs. The purpose is to use the leagues spur the creation of new clubs and players. This is how it was done in places all over the world, including Europe. Germany didn't start with 11,000 clubs and 700,000 and then decide to set up leagues; the leagues are what spurred the development of these 11,000 clubs and 700,000 players. The whole point is to set up local leagues, so nobody needs to drive hundreds of miles. [Note: I'm responding to a note that said leagues wouldn't work in the U.S. because players might have to drive hundreds of miles to get to the next local club.]
I remember when we opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center many years ago. Over and over we were told there weren't enough players to support a full-time table tennis center devoted to coaching, and that there was no way players would pay enough hours for coaching to make it pay for itself. They missed the point - we weren't going after current players, we were going after NEW players. Now we have seven full-time coaches and over 300 hours of private coaching per week (plus group sessions), and full-time clubs with full-time coaches are popping up all over the country (about 60 of them now, compared to about 10 just seven years ago). Similarly, the purpose of a nationwide network of local leagues would be to bring in new players and new clubs, not just for existing ones.
It will not an easy task, and it probably does need to start in populated regions. If there are local organizers, as tennis does in the U.S. and other countries do in table tennis, than any city can develop table tennis leagues, and from the players signing up for those leagues more clubs can pop up, just as they do overseas. Tennis has such local leagues all over the U.S. and huge numbers of players, and they started out just where we are now. There's no reason why table tennis can't do the same; in Europe, nearly every country sports associations have more table tennis members than tennis members.
Striped Balls and Backhand Flip
Yesterday I blogged about using colorful soccer-style ping-pong balls for table tennis, since it makes it easier to see the spin on the ball. Here's a video (3:25) of Ma Long's backhand flip (also called a flick) where he's using a striped ball so you can see the spin. The video quality isn't good enough to really see the ball spin with the stripes - you can see it much better in person. I wonder how it would show up on normal TV?
USOC Athletes of the Month
USATT has two nominees for USOC Athlete of the Month for April - Lily Zhang and Timothy Wang. Please vote for them! You can vote for both a male athlete and a female athlete. Here are short bios on both, provided by USATT Webmaster Sean O'Neill.
Timothy Wang, Table Tennis
Olympian Timothy Wang (Houston, Texas) battled to a silver medal at the 2013 ITTF-North American Cup, held April 21 in Westchester, N.Y. Rising to the occasion, Wang registered an impressive 3-0 win over top-seeded Pierre-Luc Theriault of Canada. He followed with a 4-1 semifinal victory over 2011 U.S. champion Peter Li (Laurel, M.D.). Wang, the current U.S. men’s singles No. 1, will lead the U.S. men at the 2013 World Championships taking place in Paris in May.
Lily Zhang, Table Tennis
Olympian Lily Zhang (Palo Alto, Calif.) captured first place at the 2013 ITTF North American Cup, held April 21 in Westchester, N.Y. With the tournament featuring some of the best players from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, Zhang defeated Olympic teammate Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.), 4-1, in the women’s singles final. The victory qualified Zhang to compete in the STARTS Women’s World Cup, while ending Hsing’s attempt to three-peat as the North American Cup winner. Zhang advanced to the final upon beating fellow world team member Tina Lin (Edison, N.J.), 4-0, in the semifinal. Zhang will be representing the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships in May in Paris.
Table Tennis Master
Here's another interesting coaching article from Table Tennis Master, "Mastering the Counterloop."
Chinese Ping-Pong Song for the Worlds
Here's a music video (4:37) of the Chinese National Team singing their Ping-Pong Song for the 2013 World Championships and thanking their fans. How many of the players can you name?
Here's a short article from Table Tennis Nation where actor Jesse Metcalfe (best known for his work on Desperate Housewives and the remake of Dallas) says he sees ping-pong as the future of nightlife.
Six Pictures Preparing for the Worlds
Here are six Facebook pictures from the ITTF showing players preparing for the Worlds at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria. How many of the players can you name?
Ariel Hsing with Uncles Warren and Bill
Here's an article and photos from Table Tennista on Ariel Hsing, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates playing table tennis at the annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting this past Sunday. They've been bringing her in annually for this since she was a little kid. And here are three more photos.
Ariel with Bill and Warren
Warren Holding Ariel
Warren and Bill Play Doubles
(If you can't see these on Facebook, try this, this, and this.)
Learn from a Pro
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Spring Break Camp
We had 47 players in camp yesterday, all at the same time. How did we accommodate them all with 18 tables? In the morning session, we had 7 coaches feeding multiball, leaving 11 free tables. With 22 players on those 11 tables, that meant we had 25 players at any given time on the 7 multiball tables, rotating around between doing multiball, picking up balls, or practicing on the free tables. In the afternoon session the advanced players did more live play (two to a table), while younger beginners were grouped on a few tables for multiball and various games - such as hitting a bottle supposedly filled with my dog's saliva, where I had to drink it if they hit it. (I'm working with the beginners mostly this camp.)
The coaches are myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Wang Qing Liang ("Leon"), Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"); Chen Jie ("James"); and Raghu Nadmichettu. Jack Huang used to be Huang Tong Sheng ("Jack"), but he's been Jack so long we no longer use his Chinese name.
While most of the players are local from Maryland or Virginia (since Spring Break Camp coincides with spring break in local schools), we have a bunch from out of town. There's a nine-year-old from Japan who's about 1900; four members of the University of Missouri team; and several from New Jersey and New York.
One of the beginners who was having so much trouble yesterday did a bit better today. However, he's still got a ways to go - every now and then he'll do a series of proper strokes, and then he'll fall back into bad habits. The other also showed some signs of learning, but doesn't seem too motivated to learn. Surprisingly, the latter one picked up serving pretty well, while the first one is struggling with that.
I gave lectures on the backhand, on serving, and on doubles tactics. However, since most of the players are local juniors, I kept the lectures short. I had a problem with a few overly excited kids who kept talking among themselves during the doubles lecture, which took place right after we got off break.
I got to talk some with the University of Missouri team for a bit. Their best player is about 2100, the other three somewhere in the 1700-1800 range or so. One (I think the 2100 player) was having trouble covering the table after stepping around his backhand to do a forehand penhold loop. Many players have this trouble because they don't position themselves properly so that they'll follow through in a balanced position, which is what allows a player to recover quickly. Players often follow through with their weight going off to the side, which means they waste precious time recovering. Instead, players should position themselves so their weight is moving more toward the table as they loop, putting themselves right back into position to cover even a block to the wide forehand. I can still do this at age 53 (well, against most blocks!), not because of foot speed, but because of proper footwork technique.
I'm getting a bit banged up. (This is me.) Here's a roll call:
Returning Serve: Part One
Here's the article from Table Tennis Master. I'll post part two and others as they come up.
ITTF Level 2 Course in New Jersey
Richard McAfee will be running an ITTF Level 2 Coaching Course at the Lily Yip TTC in Dunellen, NJ, Aug. 26-31. Here's a listing of all upcoming ITTF coaching seminars in the U.S.
Ariel Hsing Article
Here's a feature article on her from the ITTF.
Here are four new articles on China Table Tennis.
Multiball Training in Hungary
Here's a new video (3:18) featuring multiball training with members of the Hungarian Woman National Team and with some young players in the Hungarian Table Tennis Centre in Budapest. This is roughly what I do all day long at our MDTTC training camps.
Multiball Training in China
Here's a video (7:09) showing multiball training in China. There are many styles of multiball feeding; I was fascinated to see that the man in red feeding multiball uses almost the exact technique I do, i.e. first bounce on the table. Even the drills he does are about the same as the ones I do.
The Correct Way to Finish a Point
Here's a six-second video where Richard Lee demonstrates your basic serve and zillion mile per hour loop kill. Do not try this in your basement; he's a professional.
Best of Xu Xin vs. Ma Long
Here's a video (8:29) of the best rallies between these two Chinese superstars. Many of these points are truly impressive - are we reaching the pinnacle of human performance in table tennis? (I'm sure someone will quote this back to me someday when someone makes these two look like amateurs.)
Artistic Table Tennis Pictures
Here's an interesting and artistic table tennis picture. And here's an artistic table - it's like playing bumper ping-pong.
Here are 13 spectacularly staged trick shots.
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The Schools Petition
Hopefully by now you're one of the 951 people who have signed the petition to "Include and recognize the sport of Table Tennis Aka 'Ping Pong' as part of a school's athletic curriculum of choice." I first blogged about this back on Dec. 13 the day after it was created by the enterprising Joel Mitchell (and I was the fifth person to sign), and I blogged about it again on Jan. 4 (Friday). It's now featured on the USATT home page. I think it's great that we're working together on this.
Unfortunately, to get a response from the White House we need at least 25,000 signatures by Jan. 11, which is this Friday. We're only 24,049 away!!! (And in the time it took me to write this blog, we got two more signatures - we're up to 953!)
So let's be honest; unless someone famous (hi Susan Sarandon) gets this on some extremely watched TV show, we're not going to get those 24,000+ signatures in the next three days. But suppose we did? Are schools really the answer?
Schools are Not the Answer (Not Yet)
I would argue that schools may be Step Two in developing our sport, but not Step One. And we're a long way from even getting started on Step One, which is to develop the sport ourselves so the schools will be interested in taking us to the next level. Sure, someone might put together a school league or club, but the key is that one of us - a table tennis person - has to do it, not the school itself. They are quite willing to make use of the few people we have who can do this. But until we show them table tennis is a growing sport that everyone else is doing, they won't jump on the bandwagon. In other words, schools are not the way to go until we are a larger sport. The way to grow junior table tennis in the country is through club programs, as is done all over Europe. Here are the problems with going through the schools, in no particular order:
1. School systems are not interested in adopting a small sport and making it big. That's our job. When we are a bigger sport, then they will be interested.
2. School systems are not interested in adopting a relatively expensive sport like table tennis (tables, nets, rackets, balls, constantly breaking and needing replacement, lots of storage space needed for tables) unless the sport is already popular. They can toss the kids a soccer ball, basketball, etc., and it's easier and cheaper, and they already have facilities for these and other large sports.
3. No sport in the U.S. has ever gotten big through schools, although a number of big sports got bigger because of schools. (Lacrosse got big through colleges, but they are the exception, and we're talking about high school, middle school, and elementary school here.)
4. Table tennis has not gotten big through schools in any country in the world, except for communist countries like China where the leaders (like Chairman Mao in China) ordained it the national sport. (And Obama doesn't have that authority.) Worldwide, and especially in Europe, players start out in junior programs at local clubs, according to Stellan Bengtsson, Jorgen Persson, and dozens of others I've spoken with over the years. Every player and coach from Europe I've spoken to says the same thing. In the countries in Europe where table tennis has gotten big, there are school teams, but they are relatively unimportant there, since most of the players train at local clubs, where there's a professional coach and players from local schools, instead of just one school. Stellan said he didn't think a single member of the Swedish team started out at a school or ever trained seriously at one, unless it was part of a table tennis club separate from the school.
5. The best we can do with schools is set up some ping-pong clubs, but few are going to fund a real coach. So while the kids play ping-pong, it's just a game like Parcheesi to them. They don't take it seriously and they rarely if ever join USATT.
USATT has a long history of sending coaches to train teachers at large Physical Education Symposiums, but little ever comes of it. The teachers simply don't go back to their schools determined to set up serious junior programs. They go back and sometimes set up tables for a few sessions in PE, where the kids just play games.
At first thought, schools seem like a great way to grow the sport, and it looks good to the membership (so those who are big on going to the schools get elected), and so generation after generation of USATT board members have made schools a priority. The return on investment is incredibly small. (The old argument is often made, "It's better than nothing." If we are thinking small and want to stay small, then this is the way to go.)
This is one of those frustrating things through the years as we so often try to get someone else to fix our problems, i.e. hoping the schools will make us big, or Bill Gates or some other big sponsor will fund us, etc. We have to build our sport from inside before schools and large sponsors will be interested.
The key to junior development - both elite and grassroots (i.e. large numbers) - is to recruit and train coaches to set up and run junior programs, something that is done in successful table tennis countries all over the world.
Keep in mind that the goal is junior development. Schools and club programs are merely a means to this end. Too often people get attached to the means to the end rather than the end itself, and so we never reach the goal. Developing junior programs at clubs will raise us to the next level, and then we can approach school systems, and they will take us seriously. Then they can take us to an even higher level. But we have to do the groundwork first, like every other sport that got successful.
USATT Board Election Status & Update
Here's a notice from USATT on changes on the USATT Board.
The USATT Athletes Advisory Council recently held an election and as a result Han Xiao was elected to serve on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athlete Advisory Council replacing Ashu Jain and Para athlete Edward Levy was elected to serve as the second Athlete Rep on the USATT Board of Directors. The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association recently informed USATT that Kagin Lee will serve as their representative on the USATT Board of Directors. Kagin replaces David Del Vecchio in this capacity. The Nominating and Governance Committee met in late 2012 and as a result voted that Anne Cribbs and Peter Scudner should continue to serve as Independent Directors on the USATT Board of Directors. The one remaining Board seat to be filled is currently in a membership wide election that will conclude on Jan 21, 2013. The announcement of that election result and the posting of the complete composition of the Board of Directors for the next two year term will be made on February 4, 2013.
At this time we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Ashu Jain and David Del Vecchio for their outstanding contributions to the governance process of USATT through their service as Board Members for the last two terms. Thank you, Ashu and thank you, David!
Xu Xin New #1
Here are the new ITTF world rankings. Zhang Jike and Ma Long have been trading back and forth for a while as the #1 man in the world, but now there's a new gun in town. Yes, they are all Chinese, as is #4 Wang Hao, #6 Ma Lin, #7 "sort of Chinese" Chuang Chih-Yuan of Taiwan, and #9 Wang Liqin. But Germany's up there, with #5 Timo Boll and #8 Dimitrij Ovtcharov. On the women's side, the top four are also Chinese, with Ding Ning #1 for the 15th consecutive month.
USA doesn't have anyone in the top 100 in Men's rankings, but has three players in the top 100 in the women's - #76 Gao Jun, #88 Arial Hsing, and #96 Lily Zhang. USA is ranked #47 and #16 in Men's and Women's Team World Rankings.
USA is pretty strong in girls' top 100 rankings. In Under 21 Women, USA has #19 Ariel Hsing and #23 Lily Zhang. In Under 18 Girls, USA has a strong showing: #5 Ariel Hsing, #6 Lily Zhang, and #61 Prachi Jha. In Under 15 Girls, USA has #48 Diane Jiang, #54 Tina Lin, #69 Angela Guan, #75 Joy Lin, and #77 Crystal Wang. (Crystal is only 10, and is from my club, MDTTC.) In the Under 18 Girls' Team Rankings, USA is #4 after China, Japan, and Romania. (CORRECTION: As pointed out by Aaron Avery, USA is actually in a three-way tie for 2nd with Japan and Romania, but with the head-to-head tie-breaking system used by ITTF, they are #2. See the 2 in the left column - not sure why they have them listed fourth.)
We're not quite as strong on the boys' side. In Under 21 Men, USA has one ranked player - Wang Qing Liang, the chopper/looper from my club who made the semifinals of Men's Singles at last year's U.S. Open. In Under 18 Boys, he is also our only ranked player, at #37. We're a lot better in Under 15 Boys, with eight players: #33 Li Hangyu, #39 Kunal Chodri, #41 Kanak Jha, #55 Chen Bo Wen (from my club!), #63 Allen Wang, #68 Jonathan Ou, #75 Li Fengguang, and #99 Krishnateja ("Krish") Avvari. In Under 18 Boys' Team Rankings, USA is #35.
I recently discovered I now have over 1400 published articles! Total is 1405 in 138 different publications, including 1263 on table tennis. This does not include blog entries. (If I did, it would put me over 1900!) It does include the weekly Tip of the Week, which is published not only here but also as a news item in the Paddle Palace Blog.
Yesterday's Todo List
Remember all that stuff I had on my todo list yesterday? (See second item.) I got it all done except for finalizing the entry form for our upcoming MDTTC tournaments. (I'm redoing the scheduling.) I expect to do that this morning.
USA Paralympic Team
Here's info on the 2013 USA Paralympic Team Procedures.
First USA ITTF Level 2 Coach
Congrats to Jef Savage of The Table Tennis Centre of Mercersburg, PA, who this past week became the first USA coach to be certified as an ITTF Level 2 coach. (Here's a news item on it.) I've worked with him a bit, and did his five hours of "supervised" coaching. The irony is that although I'm a USATT Certified National Coach, I'm only an ITTF Level 1 Coach. I may go for Level 2 certification later this year. (I was one of the first two ITTF coaches in the U.S., along with Donn Olsen.)
Woman of the Year
Ariel Hsing was named Table Tennis Woman of the Year by Table Tennis Nation. Read about her great year!
From Hardball to Hardbat
Here's an article on Adoni Maropis and his rise from TV villain (the evil Abu Fayed from season six of "24") to table tennis prominence in the hardbat and sandpaper world.
Zhang Jike vs Wang Liqin
Here's a nice match (7:07) between the current world champion Zhang and the past 3-time champ (and still #9) Wang in the Chinese Super League. (Wang is on the near side at the start.) Time between points has been taken out, so it's non-stop action! What can you learn from this match?
2012 Through Our Paddles
Here's a look at the past year - through ping-pong paddle images!
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Table Tennis Robots
It's that time of year again - time to buy table tennis player table tennis stuff for Christmas! And what better table tennis present than a table tennis robot? Below are some videos describing the various robots that are out there. (You can also buy Butterfly and Newgy robots from Maryland Table Tennis Center - contact Wen Hsu.)
There are basically two types of robots - programmable and non-programmable. Programmable ones cost a lot more, but are a lot more valuable. They allow you set the robot to go side to side, for example, putting the ball alternately in two spots. Or perhaps two to one spot, then one to another. Or just about any other combination. Some can even give backspin and then topspin. With these robots, you can do just about anything.
Non-programmable robots are fun, and good for basic training. They generally can only hit the ball to either one spot, or randomly. I think some may be able to go to two spots - if so, get that one, so you can do side-to-side drills. But you can also do footwork drills with the ball going to one spot. For example, put the ball to your backhand, and alternate backhands and forehands.
You can also have a non-programmable robot hit the ball randomly all over the table by having it oscillate. However, I don't value that too much. In table tennis, you react to the ball coming off the opponent's paddle. Here you have to react to the ball coming out of the robot, which is quite different - and so you could actually develop the habit of hesitating in a real game, where instead of reacting quickly to the direction of an opponent's stroke, you hold back and don't react until you actually see the ball coming at you. So I find robots best when doing more rote drills, where you practice the strokes and footwork, and do the random and more game-type drills with a practice partner or coach.
I use robots regularly in my beginning junior class - the kids love them. They are good for the following:
Readers, any comments on any of these robots?
Paddle Palace Robots
iPong from JOOLA (3 types)
Newgy Robots (5 types)
Smartpong from Butterfly
AMDT and Oukei (and others) from Megaspin
Amicus and TTmatic (and others) from Ping Pong Depot
2013 North American Cup Host City/Club Bid
Here are the bid specs to bid for this first-time tournament, to be held April 20-21, 2013.
Ariel Hsing Receives American Flag
Here's a picture of USA Women's Singles Champion Ariel Hsing being presented the USA flag that flew at BAGRAM Air Force Base in Afghanistan on the eleventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, during Operation Enduring Freedom, on Sept. 11, 2012.
Here's a nice highlights video (2:08) that'll get your blood going - lots of action and stirring music.
Don't Shorten the Table, Raise the Floor!
But I'm worried what happens if this kid has to move to cover the wide corners.
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Tip of the Week
This last month I've had so many things to do, and so many didn't get done because of too much time-wasting stuff. This has had a detrimental effect on finalizing my new book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers (which should be done before the Nationals, but I probably won't have copies there), doing some video coaching and analysis, and various MDTTC and other table tennis activities. Here are some of the things that have wasted my time the past few weeks.
The Physical Side of Table Tennis
Here's an article by Seth Pech, The Physical Aspect of My Table Tennis Game. He talks about endurance, speed, and strength, why they are needed, and how to develop them.
Mike Dempsey Memorial Open Page
Here's the home page, with results, articles, and photos.
USA Junior Girls Reached #2
In November, the U.S. junior girls team, led by Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang, were tied with Japan for #2 in the world in junior girls teams, behind China. Here's the world team ranking list (set it for U18 Girls and for November). In the new December rankings, they dropped to a tie for fifth with Hong Kong
USA Sandpaper Team
Sandpaper stars Ty Hoff and Adoni Maropis (yeah, the actor who nuked part of California in "24" and later became a national hardbat champion) will represent the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships of Ping Pong, Jan. 5-6, 2013, in London. Here's the news release.
Dr. Phil vs. Billy Bush
Here's the ping-pong battle of the Titans (4:06) - the two TV talk show hosts go at it here. Check out Dr. Phil's ping-pong ball shirt!
Tower Table Tennis
If you thought lobbing was a dangerous way to score a point, try lobbing in this high-altitude game!
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Tip of the Week
JOOLA North American Teams
I spent the weekend mostly coaching at the Teams in Baltimore. Since my family lives on the west coast (Oregon and California), I spent my third straight Thanksgiving with Tong Tong Gong and his family - they served a vintage Thanksgiving meal with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry juice, an incredibly good bread that's a family recipe, and a number of other items, including a few Chinese dishes. (They also had 17 relatives over.) I ate more at that meal than I have at any meal in years - and I mean this literally. Since they live only 20 minutes from the playing hall, I stayed at their house for the weekend, as I did the last two years. (I live an hour away.)
The number of teams was down a bit, from last year's 196 to 158. Part of this is because of the new Butterfly Teams in Columbus - see segment below. Some have written that that tournament had no effect on the Teams in Baltimore, but that's absurd - I know of at least 10-12 teams that regularly play in Baltimore that went to Columbus this year, and that's just the ones I know. I'd guess they lost at least 20 or more teams to Columbus. At $800/team, that's at least $16,000 in lost revenue.
While I'm never happy playing on cement, as most matches at the Teams (both Baltimore and Columbus), Open, and Nationals are played on, there's not a lot that can be done about that. However, I was happy to see (yes, that's a pun) that the lighting was greatly improved this year, as part of a renovation at the Baltimore Convention Center. The tournament ran on time, with two tables assigned to every team match we played. They also had much better prizes this year, giving out nice crystal prizes to the division winners that the players seemed happy with.
Here's a picture of the Division One Champions, Atlanta Table Tennis Academy, holding the crystal prizes. (Picture is care of Tom Nguyen from North American Table Tennis.) L-R: Tournament President Richard Lee, Feng Yijun, Liu Jikang, Li Kewei, Coach Wang, Timothy Wang, Wang (Eugene) Zhen, and Referee Bill Walk.
However, this will be the last year it'll be in Baltimore. Next year it's moving to the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at the National Harbor, just south of Washington D.C.
Because I was there primarily as a coach, I didn't see much of the finals - just the last match in fact. I played as a part-time player for the NOVA team, playing in three ties where I beat a couple of 2150 to 2200 players and several 1950 players, went five with a 2300+ player, and lost to a 2050 player who moved me around on the slippery cement and then smashed over and over. When I did win points, it was usually off my serves, which gave everyone fits and covered up for my growing lack of mobility. Alas, I don't practice any more (I'm just a coach), and at 52 I'm too stiff and slow to play the way I used to. In my mind, I'm still greased lightning, but once at the table....
It is a grueling tournament, designed for true table tennis warriors. Play began Friday at 9AM, with most teams playing team matches at 9AM, 11AM, 2PM and 4PM, with these matches deciding what division you would get into. (Most teams played two higher teams and two lower teams, though of course this was adjusted for the highest and lowest teams.) On Saturday teams played five more team matches (9AM, 11AM, 2PM, 4PM, and 7PM), and two more on Sunday (9AM and 11AM), with crossovers at 2PM and 4PM. This is a true players tournament.
Tong Tong, just turned 15, didn't start out well, and I'm not going to get into that. He played well on Saturday night, and if he plays like that he might be in the mix for the USA junior team trials coming up in three weeks. He's been on the cadet team the last two years - top four in country - but is now ineligible, but has three years to try out for the junior team. I coached him here, and will be coaching him and Derek Nie at Nationals. Derek, 11, will be trying out for the mini-cadet and cadet teams.
I coached Derek in a number of his matches, and he had a great tournament. He came in at 2139 (from a high of 2170 recently), and pretty much blitzed everyone. He beat about ten players between 2100 and 2200 with, I think, only one loss in that range. He beat three or four players in the 2250 range (one of them from down 5-10 in the fifth), and he beat a 2438 player. He, Crystal Wang, Heather Wang, and Bernard Lemal combined to win Division 3, going 7-0 in the round robin and then winning the crossover semifinals and final for a combined 9-0. (So Crystal won crystal!) I'm wondering if Derek is the first person ever under 70 pounds to beat a 2400+ player?
Derek's best mach might have been the win over the 2438 player, but his gutsiest took place in the Division 3 Final. He was up against I think a 2180 player who could attack from both wings as well as lob over and over, and who played very smart. Derek led most of the first game but lost 11-9. He led 9-8 in the second and was basically lobbed down three straight points. Between games we talked tactics, then I told him if he wanted to win this match, he'd have to win it here (I tapped his head) and here (I tapped his heart). He nodded, and I knew we were in for a long match. Derek won the next game somewhat close, and the fourth easily. In the fifth, the opponent made a diving, lobbing return on the edge, looped a winner, and then got a net dribbler to go up 3-0. After a timeout, Derek only gave up one more point as he won, 11-4.
Crystal, 10, also had an amazing tournament. (I coached a few of her matches.) She beat a 2500+ player, a number of 2250 players, and I don't think lost to anyone below her 2245, though I'm not sure of all her matches. I'll talk more about her when the ratings are processed - but almost for sure she'll achieve the highest rating ever for a 10-year-old, boys or girls, probably well over 2300. There's a chance she or Derek may be adjusted to an absurdly high rating - we'll see. I'm wondering if she's the youngest player ever to beat a 2500+ player?
One strange incident took place. Derek was in a battle with Ray Mack, a 2150 player, and led 10-8 in the fifth. He went for his towel and drink bottle and took a sip. An umpire who was walking by interrupted the match, telling Derek that it was not legal to drink during the towel break every six points! Many or most players regularly do this; I've been doing it for 36 years. While the rules do not specifically say you can take a drink during the break every six points, I've never seen an umpire forbid it. I checked with the tournament referee, Bill Walk, and he agreed that it was okay to take a brief drink during the towel break. It was a rather scary moment when the umpire interrupted the match as it could have disrupted Derek's focus. The umpire got into an argument with Derek's parents and teammates while Derek walked about, looking perplexed. As it was, he scored the next point. I don't think umpires are supposed to interrupt matches in progress to enforce perceived rules violations.
As noted, I didn't see much of the action taking place on the feature courts where the top players were playing. I saw bits and pieces, but not one entire match. I did see the last few games of the last match in the final, where chopper/looper Chen Weixing kept coming from behind before finally losing close in the fifth as Atlanta Table Tennis Academy defeated Team JOOLA, 3-1.
It was a fun but exhausting weekend, which culminated in my getting a mild cold yesterday, though it seems to have mostly gone away already. Maybe I was just tired, though I went through a bunch of Kleenex yesterday. Here are the final division results - playoff results are at the end.
Butterfly Teams in Columbus
While the JOOLA North American Teams were held in Baltimore, the Butterfly Teams were held in Columbus, Ohio. Here are the results, and here's a listing of the players on each team so you can match them with the teams in the results.
Here's Ariel Hsing's acceptance speech as San Jose Female High School Athlete of the Year (3:11). Ariel, 17, has been the U.S. Women's Singles Champion the last two years, and is a 2012 Olympian.
Table Tennis Legends
Here's a video (54:27) of old-time legends playing in the English Table Tennis Association 70-year anniversary gala in 1994. Names include Istvan Jonyer, Gabor Gergely, Klampar Tibor, Milan Orlowski, Janos Takacs, Jacques Secretin, Vincent Purkart, Ferenc Sido, Janos Fahazy, Mihaly Bellak, Tibor Kreisz. Perhaps most interesting is 73-year-old Ferenc Sido (6'4", 240 lbs at his peak, yet still able to move around and chop!), the last hardbat player to win Men's Singles at the Worlds (in 1953, also making the final in 1959). He is shown from 0:52 to 4:54.
Time-Stopping Exhibition Video
This video (1:39) starts as a regular exhibition, with a behind-the-back return, etc., but watch what happens about 13 seconds in!
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Quick Note on Malware
Most or all of the malware warning problems I blogged about previously seem to be gone, but there might still be some traces left of whatever got the site blacklisted on Google. If you are reading this, you arrived here successfully, so all's well with the world.
Merit Badges for Table Tennis?
As noted in my blog on Monday, there's a great proposal on the USATT web page (by Diego Schaaf and Wei Wang) to award "merit badges" for achieving various rating levels. Read it over and see what you think.
I've always argued that players take ratings way too seriously, and that they are, in general, a very bad thing for junior players. (Here's my article Juniors and Ratings.) Because of ratings players (especially juniors) tend to focus on immediate results instead of long-term improvement; it makes them nervous when they play as they worry about their rating (and this nervousness becomes a habit); and it often causes them not to play tournaments so they can protect their rating (thereby losing valuable tournament experience and so falling behind their peers).
I've always found the bridge system to be intriguing. In bridge, you cannot go down in rating; you only go up. This gives incentive to play more as you try to go up. It's not as accurate a system, but it incentive to compete. Given a choice between an inaccurate system with zillions of players (such as the American Contract Bridge League with 160,000 members), or a more accurate one with 8000 (USATT says hi), I have 152,000 reasons to go with the less accurate system. (This is a simplistic version of a more complex argument I won't go into here.)
The strength of the proposed system by Diego and Wei is that it gives incentive to keep playing as you get merit badges for going up, but unlike rating points, they aren't taken away when you go down. Sure, you might blow your current rating, but you'll still have that merit badge to show how good you were, plus every time you go out there you know there's a chance you might have that great day where you beat everyone and win ANOTHER merit badge!
As I wrote in my blog on Monday, similar suggestions have come up in the past, but three things always stopped it: 1) What should be awarded for these achievements - belts, like in martial arts? Pins? Badges? Certificates? etc.; 2) Few ever put together an actual proposal such as this eon, and 3) No one ever follows up on it.
There is the question of who pays for the merit badges, but that's a no-brainer to me. It's the responsibility of the player who achieves the new level to apply and pay for the merit badge. If it's not worth the small payment needed to pay for the badge and the office time to deal with them, then it's not worth their having.
There's also the transition period - at the start, why not let players send in proof of their highest rating achieved? It's all online since 1994, and before that there are magazines that can be copied. (Sorry, USATT doesn't owe you that. But I'm sure there are USATT members who might help out with this at the start.)
I hope someone from USATT follows up on this.
Last-minute coaching and preparation for Teams
Lots of last-minute training for the Teams in Baltimore and Ohio! I'm writing this blog the night before (Tuesday night) because I have to be up early to coach this morning. (Or should that be tomorrow morning since I'm writing it tonight, the night before the morning that the blog goes up? Never mind.) I've even got some coaching on Thursday. (I expect to blog on Thanksgiving morning, but perhaps a shorter one.)
I'm primarily going to be coaching, but I was talked into playing as a part-time fifth player by two of my students. I'm only committed to playing about one team match per day. The rest of the time I'll be coaching. (I'm mostly coaching Tong Tong Gong. At the Nationals I'll be working with him and Derek Nie.)
ITTF Video World Cup
There are now 17 entries in the ITTF Video World Cup. Take some time and watch them - they're pretty good. Of course the one I most like is "TTism (in slow motion)," by Richard Heo. Why? Because I'm in it!!! (I show up for about three seconds at 1:29, cheering silently and motionlessly for Raghu Nadmichettu, who is celebrating a win silently and motionlessly. That segment was filmed at the Maryland Table Tennis Center.) Here's the info page for the contest. First and second places are $5000 and $2500. Deadline to enter is Nov. 30. Oh, and it turns out you can vote once every 24 hours! So vote, and vote often.
2013 USA Team Trials
Here's a short news item from USATT: "The 2013 National Team Trials will be held on February 7-10, 2013, at the Top Spin Club in San Jose, CA. Prospectus and entry form will be posted on USATT webpage."
Reverse Forehand Pendulum Serve
Here's an article and photo sequence on a version of the reverse forehand pendulum serve by world #27 Sayaka Hirano.
Ma Long Dong a Split?
Now here's a great picture of China's Ma Long looping from the backhand corner. Not sure if he's going to recover for the block to his wide forehand.
Table Tennis iPhone App
Terese Terranova in Broward County Hall of Fame
Here's a short article from Table Tennis Nation on wheelchair player and coach Terese Terranova's induction into the Broward Country Hall of Fame.
The Passion of Table Tennis
Here's another new highlights video (4:18). This one starts off by building tension as we watch the players get up and prepare for the tournament.
Ariel Hsing, Athlete of the Year
Here's a video about a minute long showcasing Ariel Hsing as the 2012 San Jose Female High School Athlete of the Year.
The Ping-Pong Dance on ABC Good Morning America
Here it is! (It's about one minute long, where they show Adam Bobrow doing one of his patented celebratory dances after winning a point.)
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Tip of the Week
If you are using Chrome as your browser (as I do), you may still be getting some malware warnings when you come to this site. It's an illusion, since Google inadvertently listed this (and many other sites I've found) as having malware problems recently, and Chrome is still picking up on this for some reason. (Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers are not.) I'm calling my server today to find out how best to fix this problem quickly. It turns out the site never had any malware at all. None. Zilch. Clean as a fresh sheet of table tennis sponge.
As I write this, Hurricane Sandy approaches with the sole purpose to disrupt my table tennis coaching schedule. Yes, that's my theory, and I'm sticking with it. The winds haven't reached here yet, but it's pouring rain outside. So here's a special hurricane section.
Perhaps the biggest problem with coaching younger beginning kids is getting them to stick to a good grip. This weekend I found five different problematic grips various kids were using. The problem is that even when you correct their grips, they go back to the bad one almost immediately, often without even knowing it. Here are some of the grip problems the beginning kids had this weekend:
Olga Feingold Kahan - R.I.P.
We've lost one of our illustrious members and a hard-working volunteer. Here's Tim Boggan's tribute to Olga Feingold Kahan, who died over the weekend.
World Cadet Challenge
The World Cadet Challenge is going on right now in Guam, Oct. 27 - Nov. 4. Here's the ITTF World Cadet Challenge page, with schedules, results, articles, and pictures. Here's a picture of the North American Team, which includes USA players Allen Wang, Jonathan Ou, Isabel Chu, and Diane Jiang.
Four Tips from a Teen Olympian
Here's an article in Forbes Magazine that features advice from U.S. Women's Champion and Olympian Ariel Hsing. The short version? 1) Master the fundamentals; 2) Take risk; 3) Be willing to fail; and 4) Practice, practice, practice. Pretty good advice for table tennis, business people, or life in general.
Changing Your Grip
Here's a video from PingSkills (1:51) on changing the grip from forehand to backhand.
Pongcast Episode 18
Here's their latest episode (16:25), showcasing the 2012 European Championships.
This video can best be described as a mixture of table tennis and break dancing (4:07).
I don't know how to describe this dance (4:07), which seems a mixture of table tennis and break dancing.
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In this modern era of super-sponges it's a huge advantage to be able to attack effectively from both wings. There was a time (back when I was learning to play) that many players mostly attacked from one side - usually the forehand - and mostly played steady on the backhand, which is how I usually play. It's generally a mistake to develop your game that way; learn to attack from both sides.
However, a common problem for some is trying to rip winners from both wings, whether looping or smashing. This is a very difficult style to master. Even if you have the ability to rip shots both forehand and backhand, it's difficult to get both shots going at the same time. Instead, it's almost always better to focus on ripping winners from one side, and a steady attack on the other side with opportunistic rips when the shot is there. While more players rip on the forehand while playing the backhand as the steady attack side, there are many who do the reverse.
Even on the "ripping" side, you shouldn't rip everything that's potentially rippable, though of course take the shot if it's there. Unless the ball is really easy, in fact, it's almost always best to take a little off for consistency, so even your best smashes and loop kills might be at 80-90% power. But which ones should you rip?
The key is recognizing which shots are rippable and which are not. In general, there are three types of balls that should be put away:
What I Did Yesterday
This past weekend I ran the Butterfly MDTTC October Open. (See the story, photos, and results in my blog yesterday.) Here's what I did yesterday (straight from my todo list, with these items now crossed off), mostly TT related, much of it tournament related. I had only one hour of coaching scheduled, but the student was sick and cancelled. (I just realized that I never left my house yesterday, unless you count letting my dog in and out.) Yeah, this was my day off....
Scoring Against Ariel
Here's an article in yesterday's issue of Slate called "Smashed: My quest to win a point against one of the world's best table tennis players." The author relates his attempt to score a single point against U.S. Women's Champion and Olympian Ariel Hsing.
Forget Multi-ball - it's Chinese Multi-table-ball! Here's the video (3:43). I've done this at my club in the past, though not recently. Time to revive these types of drills?
Point of the European Championships
Here's the last point of the quarterfinal match between eventual champion for the sixth time Timo Boll of Germany (the lefty) and Andrej Gacina of Croatia. The video (2:36) replays the point in slow motion.
Photos from the European Championships
Here's a photo album (347 photos) from the European Championships that finished this past weekend in Herning, Denmark. (As noted in my blog yesterday and last week, here are ITTF articles on it, and here's the home page for the event, with complete results.)
500 MPH Ping-Pong Ball Cannon
In this video (6:49), Professor Harold Stokes uses a ping-pong cannon to demonstrate to his physics class the effects of air pressure. He puts a ping-pong ball into a sealed tube, pumps out all the air, and then punctures one side. The air rushes in, and shoots the ball out the other side at 500mph. He does it three times in the video, but the ball moves too fast to see, and ends up shattered each time. The second time he shoots it through a piece of plywood (leaving a ping-pong ball sized hole). The third time he uses a human target - himself! You get to see the welt at the end.
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