Ariel Hsing

October 30, 2014

George Brathwaite Statement to The View

On Tuesday morning table tennis was disparaged on the TV show The View. First they showed footage of the Zhang Jike barrier-kicking celebration after he won the Men's World Cup. Afterwards, co-host Nicolle Wallace said, "table tennis can be boring without stuff like that." (Wallace was communications chief during the George W. Bush presidency and a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.) Here's a link to 11:40 into the show, where the table tennis starts. At 12:49 is when Wallace makes her statement. The table tennis ends at 13:20. USATT Hall of Famer George Brathwaite sent the following statement to The View. (I may send something as well, but I only saw the video for the first time this morning.)

Hello,

My name is George Braithwaite and I am an original member of the United States Table Tennis Team that participated in the Historic PING PONG DIPLOMACY tour of the People's Republic of China in 1971. I was watching THE VIEW TV episode this morning and was appalled at the ludicrous remark made by Nicole Wallace in reference to table tennis being a boring sport and needed a demonstration like what occurred at the recently concluded World Tour for Table Tennis which was won by Zhang Jike of the People's Republic of China.

After winning the championships, Zhang displayed an unnecessary degree of anger by kicking and breaking down the barriers surrounding the arena, which triggered the reaction of the promoters to forfeit his prize money of $45,000 and which was in absolute contrast and in violation to the principles of the Chinese Table Tennis Association which also holds their athletes to a strict code of conduct.

However, in reference to Ms. Wallace's preposterous remark about the sport of Table Tennis, let me point out and bring to her attention as well as to the knowledge of those who may not be aware, that "TABLE TENNIS IS THE MOST POPULAR RACKET SPORT IN THE WORLD AND IS RANKED SECOND OVERALL IN TERMS OF PARTICIPATION”

Table Tennis is and has been an Olympic Sport since 1988 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) never accepts a sport unless it has a great degree of Athleticism for spectators to VIEW. 

For further information you may access my website at the following: www.GeorgeBraithwaite.com

Disabled Veterans Camp in South Bend, Indiana

Dan Seemiller ran a Disabled Veterans Camp at his club in South Bend, Aug. 23-24 - and got 31 players!!! These camps were made possible by a grant to USATT by USOC, and organized by USATT Director of Para Programs Jasna Reed. Here's the Disabled Veterans Camp listing and other info on Para events. I also ran a Disabled Veterans Camp at MDTTC in August, but mine had only six players. How did Dan get 31?

Dan had earlier contacted me about how to get players in the camp, but frankly, I wasn't much help. We had a player who worked at a local VA hospital, and he distributed flyers for us, but there wasn't exactly a huge surge of players for the camp I ran. Dan decided that he needed to set up an info table in front of a local VA hospital. But first he had to get permission - and that's when he ran into bureaucracy and red tape. He was hassled every step of the way, but wouldn't take no, and kept moving up the ladder until he found someone who gave it the okay. (Dan admitted that it got so bad that he almost gave up.) And so he set up a card table, brought rackets and balls to attract attention, and talked to an estimated 500 people. A total of 51 people signed up for the camp, though "only" 31 were able to make it - but he has all their emails to send future info.

Coaching at the camp were Dan, his son Dan Jr., Barry Chan, and Zach Steele.

World Cadet Challenge

Here's the ITTF home page for the event. It's taking place right now in Barbados, with singles and doubles events starting today. (Team competition already finished - Asia won Cadet Boys while Europe won Cadet Girls.) Follow the action, including USA stars Kanak Jha, Jack Wang, Crystal Wang, and Amy Wang - or, as I put it, Jaws and the Triple Wangs! Yes, I'm officially suggesting we nickname Kanak Jha as "Jaws," a play on his name, what he does to opponents, and named after this and this.

Wang Hao Ordered to Dump to Zhang Jike in 2012 Olympic Men's Singles Final?

Here's the article. Unbelievable! I thought they had stopped doing this. I think there's a cultural thing with this - I've had discussions with people from China who believe dumping like this is the right thing to do, and that players should dump if asked to do so as the coaches and other leaders have the best interests of the team and country in mind rather than individual achievement. (See the comments under the article where one person says that Coach Liu Guoliang was misquoted.)

Table Tennis Needs a Big Name like Zhang Jike

Here's the article.

Twenty Tips by Tahl

Here are 20 tips by Tahl Leibovitz. You can learn from all of them, but I especially like #1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 16, and 18.

Ask the Coach

Here's Episode 19 (10:50):

  • Question 1 (0:35): Many people just turn around and drive my service. Where do I do the service and what should I do? Srikanth Pyaraka
  • Question 2 (1:55): When looping it seems easier to wait for the ball to reach the top of the arc and start dropping before you brush it up. I hit well when the ball is rising but swing and miss a lot when I try to brush the ball after it starts dropping. Can I improve? Ken
  • Question 3 (5:17): I normally stand on the left side of the table. I face difficulty if short backspin service comes to my forehand. I try to push the service & the opponent attacks with topspin. How to place the ball in such a manner so that I can attack the return? Anushka
  • Question 4 (7:35): Most of my serves have sidespin but when the opponent finds an answer to return it, I'm in trouble because all the sidespin is coming back at me especially if it is pushed back. Should I stop serving with sidespin as it can make life more difficult? Thijs

Zhang Jike, Ma Long, and Timo Boll Review the Plastic Balls

Here's the article, with links to videos.

Interview with Georgina Pota

Here's part 2 of the interview by Dora Kurimay, which went up this morning. (I linked to part 1 last week.) "How Did Georgina Póta Multiple Times European Champion Professional Table Tennis Player Change From Shy To Self-Expressive?"

Top Ten Shots from the Men's World Cup

Here's the video (6:36). If you want to see one of the best "get" returns ever, see #1 at 5:42. The point was over, as even Zhang Jike believed, right? Nigeria's Quadri Aruna - a breakout star at the World Cup as he made the quarterfinals - didn't get the memo.

PingPod #41: Zhang Jike's Fine and the Plastic Ball

Here's the video (6:02).

Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the ITTF article.

Ariel Hsing's Home Page

Here it is - bet you didn't know the three-time USA Women's Singles Champion had one!

Top Spin the Movie

Here's the home page, and here's info on the premiere at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4:30 PM. "In Sara Newens and Mina T. Son’s spirited sports film, three driven teenage athletes attempt to go for Olympic gold. Their sport? The perpetually popular but underappreciated game of table tennis. Northern California’s Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang balance friendship and professional rivalry to see who’ll come out on top, while Long Island’s Michael Landers sacrifices his senior year of high school to devote more time to training at NYC’s SPiN."

How Bugs Bunny Cheats

Here's the cartoon! (Actually, wouldn't this mean every ball comes back, and so Elmer Fudd would win?)

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September 18, 2014

Ma Long's Backhand

Here's video (47 sec) of the regular backhand topspin drive of China's Ma Long, currently world #3 but #1 for much of 2010-2014. It's pretty basic; that's key in all shots, keeping it simple. What can we learn from him?

  1. He starts with a wide stance to give a stable base for this and other shots. (You can only see this at the start.)
  2. He watches ball intently nearly until contact, but not quite all the way. (See my Tip on this.)
  3. At the start of the stroke he lowers his racket and racket tip below the ball so he can create topspin.
  4. He lowers the racket by both bending at the waist and lowering his arm.
  5. Forward swing starts with waist, then shoulder (note how right shoulder moves forward, left shoulder moves back), then arm (rotating on elbow), then wrist.
  6. Contact is relatively quick off the bounce as the ball rises.
  7. He contacts the ball with an upward and forward motion, sinking the ball into the sponge at an angle and creating topspin.
  8. Follow through is short and in the direction the ball is going. It ends as soon as the racket tip is pointed in direction ball is going, and goes no further.
  9. Quick return to ready position.
  10. Throughout the stroke the non-playing arm is held up as a counterweight to his playing arm to maintain balance.
  11. When the ball is hit slightly to his left, he steps over slightly with his left leg. This happens 41 seconds in, but is obscured by someone walking in front of the camera, but from before and after you can see his left leg has moved over some.
  12. No wasted motion. This is key. 

179.6

Yes, I finally broke the 180 pound barrier this morning. Next stop: 175. Final goal: 170. (Two months ago I weighed 196.)

Active Blocking

Here's the video (4:37) by Canadian Olympia Pierre-Luc Hinse.

Strawberry Flip

I've blogged about the backhand banana flip, and have mentioned the much rarer strawberry flip in passing in past blogs - but I've never had video until now. Here's video of the shot (57 sec), done by a penholder. (A shakehander would do it the same way). The first shot is a banana flip; the second shot (11 seconds in) is the strawberry flip. (He then does two more, and then it is shown in slow motion.) So what is a backhand strawberry flip? It is the opposite of a banana flip, where your racket goes from left to right instead of right to left as with a banana flip (for righties). Many players have learned to sidespin this way, but more as a change-of-pace sidespin. A few players, such as Stefan Feth (and the penholder in the video above), can do a serious drive this way, so that the ball literally jumps away from you if he backhand flips it to your forehand (assuming both are righties).

Nathan Hsu in China

Nathan's been training in China since early July. He's put together a series of videos on the trip, where he talks about his training as well as featuring off-table activities, i.e. life in China. The videos starts with Day 4. (I'm mentioned at 5:27 in the first video.)

Sally Green Prouty, Dec. 23, 1922 - Sept. 7, 2014

Here's the USATT obit of the USATT Hall of Famer and five-time U.S. Open Women's Champion (1940-44).

Minnesota Player and Coach Duo Hope to Challenge the Best at 2014 Butterfly Badger Open

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Ping Pong 4 Purpose

The charity event was held at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 4, hosted by Clayton Kershaw, Chris Paul, and other celebrities. Here's video (6:26), and here's an article with lots of photos.

Ariel Hsing Teaches Makeup 101 to Chinese Players

Here's the article!

Buried in Ping-Pong Balls

So who is this buried in balls? Yeah, it's Wally Green!

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September 17, 2014

Tip of the Week:

Should You Watch the Ball All the Way Into the Racket?

Cold

I've spent most of the last two days in bed with a cold, but I'm over it now. It's fortunate timing as my Mon-Tue schedule is light, while Wed-Sun I'm very busy. There are a lot of segments in this morning's blog as they have accumulated over the last five days. I have no more sicknesses scheduled for this year.

Why Players Plateau

Here's a great article on this topic. This happens to players all the time - they reach a comfort level, and then stick with what's comfortable and works at that level, and so aren't able to progress beyond that point. I'm always trying to convince players at all levels to avoid this type of roadblock to improvement.

Here are two segments from the article.

In the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.

And so we get to the so-called “OK Plateau” — the point at which our autopilot of expertise confines us to a sort of comfort zone, where we perform the task in question in efficient enough a way that we cease caring for improvement. We reach this OK Plateau in pursuing just about every goal, from learning to drive to mastering a foreign language to dieting, where after an initial stage of rapid improvement, we find ourselves in that place at once comforting in its good-enoughness and demotivating in its sudden dip in positive reinforcement via palpable betterment.

How many of you are in the "autonomous stage," where you are blindly sticking to your comfort zone with the things that work at that level, but stop you from progressing? Watch what stronger players do, and emulate that. This doesn't mean you should completely lose what helped you reach your current level; much of that will be useful even at higher levels. The problem is when you rely on lower-level techniques and wonder why you can't reach a higher level.  

Navin Kumar: A Passion for Table Tennis

Here's the article. He has "a congenital heart condition that has required 5 major open heart surgeries throughout my lifetime, and I now have a mechanical heart made of the same carbon fiber material that you see in high end table tennis blades nowadays." He recently became one of my students. (He mentions me in the article.)

Three Years Eight Month Old Player

Here's the video (4:33). At the start he's standing on a chair. About thirty seconds in he's on a platform. We need to get something like this at my club. In tennis they start kids at three years old and sometimes even younger, using smaller courts and slower balls. Because of the height of the table players can rarely start in table tennis until they are five or six. There's no reason they can't start by age three if we have either platforms for them to stand on or lower tables. They actually make adjustable tables overseas, where you can lower the table, but they are expensive.

Volunteer Prize for Table Tennis Teacher

Here's the article on USATT Coaching Chair Federico Bassetti.

Berkeley Open

Here's a write-up of the tournament held this past weekend, with a link to a photo album.

Humble Beginnings to Established Event, 6th Annual Badger Open

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Ariel Hsing: There Are Not Many Powerful Players in America

Here's the article.

Butterfly Legends

Here's the article on Nobuhiko Hasegawa and Shigeo Itoh of Japan, the 1967 and 1969 Men's Singles World Champions. Includes links to numerous vintage videos.

China's Table Tennis Girls Team Spends Three Days in School, Four Days at Practice

Here's the article. I'm told by many Chinese players that in many Chinese sports schools they spend only one hour per day on school and 7-8 hours on sports.

Crazy Double Around-the-Net Shot

Here's the video (45 sec, including slow motion replay).

Triangle Table Tennis

Here's the video (2:24) of a news item on the Triangle Table Tennis Club in Morrisville, NC.

Princeton Pong - Battle of the Sexes 2014

Here's the video (7:13) of the exhibition doubles match between David Zhuang/Shao Yu and Ariel Hsing/Erica Wu at the grand opening of Princeton Pong on Saturday.

Chuang Chih-Yuan - Off the Table

Here's the video (3:42) of the world #8 from Taiwan.

Out of This World Doubles Rally

Here's the video (39 sec, including slow motion replay).

Stiga 2014 Trick Shot Showdown

Here are the selections - 65 of them! There's a "Play All" button.  

Interview with Piing of Power

Here's the interview, with a link to a hilarious video (1:12).

Carl Sagan's Understanding of the Afterlife

Here's the cartoon sequence. If you're impatient, skip down to the last few pictures!

Marty Reisman, His Forehand, and the Table Tennis Robot

Here's the video (14 sec) of the late table tennis great.

Exhibition by Saive and Merckx

Here's the video (1:35) as all-time great Jean-Michel Saive and Jasper Merckx (both from Belgium) lob and spin the table about.

Dude Perfect: Ping Pong Challenge

Here's the video (3:43) as the twins Coby and Cory go at it in this "ping pong battle for the ages."

Larry Bavly Copies the Famous Ma Lin Serve

Here's the original (1:18) as a shirtless Ma Lin serves backspin so the balls spin back into the net, his "ghost serve." Here's Larry Bavly mimicking this (2:30) in his XXL version. It brings back memories of the famous Saturday Night Live Chippendale skit (2:53) with Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley.

Non-Table Tennis - Letter from a Time Traveler to Orioles Fans

Here's another feature article I had at Orioles Hangout. This year everything that could possibly go wrong with the Orioles went wrong, as the article shows - and yet they clinched the American League East Division last night, with a 13.5 game lead with 11 games left to play. As noted in the past, I've coached three of the Orioles - shortstop J.J. Hardy, star reliever Darren O'Day, and Vice President and former start center fielder Brady Anderson. I've also hit with about half of them. (Here's the blog entry on my day at the Orioles clubhouse last summer.)

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September 1, 2014

Tip of the Week

How to Execute a Fast Serve.

Disabled Veterans Camp

Friday was the final day of our four-day Disabled Veterans Camp. It was an honor working with these servicemen. I'd like to thank them for all the hard work they put in, both in uniform and at the camp! I'd also like to thank the USOC and USATT, the Department of Veteran Affairs, MDTTC officer Wen Hsu, and especially Jasna Reed, USATT's Director of Para Programs. 

The focus for the day was backhand attack - smashing, and backhand drive and loop against backspin. We started off by putting the players in six stations, and rotated them every 7.5 minutes. I fed multiball so players could work on their backhand attack against backspin. Steve Hochman had them serve backspin, he'd push it back, they'd backhand attack, and the rally would continue backhand to backhand. Sameer Shaikh had them do backhand-forehand footwork, side to side. Ram Nadmichettu worked on their pushes. Plus I set up the serving bar on the robot table so players could practice serving low. (This is an adjustable bar that goes over the net. Here's a picture of it set high, and here's a picture of it set low. John Olsen made this for our club. It has about ten height settings.) 

Next up was equipment and playing styles. I brought out my "show and tell" super-large racket case, which contains six rackets: an all-around hardbat racket; a pips-out penhold racket; a shakehands racket with inverted and short pips; a shakehands racket with inverted and antispin; and two shakehands rackets with inverted on one side and long pips on the other, one with thin sponge (chopping racket), the other no sponge (pushblocking racket). I went over each of the surfaces and now to play against them, as well as various playing styles that commonly use them. I was planning on some doubles play, but we ran into time problems, and so I only gave a short lecture on doubles tactics. We finished with up-down tables, where they played 11-point games, with the winning moving up, the "runner-up" moving down, with the goal to reach the first table. Steve and Sameer joined in, spotting points to most of them to equalize things. 

It was one of the more fun camps to coach. We used to run senior camps at MDTTC for players over age 50 (and over 40 if they were "old of heart"!). But in recent years the camps we've run were mostly for juniors, where we go easy on the lectures, and there are few questions. This camp was more like the senior camps, with lots of questions and discussion. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Table Tennis

I went to see the movie on Saturday, and despite the mostly negative reviews, I kind of liked it. Out of the blue there was a table tennis scene! The four turtles were being punished for refusing to tell their sensei, Splinter (a giant rat) why they had sneaked out. Each had to spend many hours in some uncomfortable position doing something. Donatello, the smartest of the turtles (the one with the purple mask) was punished by being forced to hold ping-pong paddles in both hands and bounce a ping-pong ball back and forth for hours, while standing on a block of wood that's balanced precariously on a basketball. I've searched but was unable to find a video or picture of this.

North American Championships

They were held this past weekend in Mississauga, Canada. Here's the ITTF home page for the event, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here's the USATT page with lots of video. Note how Canada dominated all the Men's and Women's events, while USA dominated all the junior events. Also, see the final of Junior Boys' Teams, where USA won 3-0 - but in all three matches the USA player was down 0-2 before winning in five, with each pulling out at least one deuce game. One thing I didn't like about the format was that players could only enter one singles event, which hurt USA, since essentially all the players on the USA Boys' and Girls' team would have been competitive in Men's and Women's Singles but were not allowed to compete. Congrats to all the Champions - see below!

  • Men's Singles: Eugene Wang (CAN)
  • Women's Singles: Mo Zhang (CAN)
  • Junior Boys: Jack Wang (USA)
  • Junior Girls: Crystal Wang (USA)
  • Men's Teams: CAN (Pierre-Luc Theriault, Filip Ilijevski, Xavier Therien)
  • Women's Teams: CAN (Mo Zhang, Anqi Luo, Sara Yuen)
  • Junior Boys' Teams: USA (Kanak Jha, Kunal Chodri, Krish Avvari)
  • Junior Girls' Teams: USA (Angela Guan, Prachi Jha, Crystal Wang)

New ITTF President Thomas Weikert

Here's the ITTF press release. He took office on Sept. 1 and becomes only the seventh ITTF president since its founding in 1926. He succeeds Adham Sharara, who was president for 15 years. Here's the TableTennista story, which mostly features Sharara. 

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan just finished doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. And today she finishes - one hundred down, zero to go!

Zhang Jike's Serve

Here's the video (3:25).

Slow Motion TT

Here's the video (25 sec) - some nice shots, and you get to see footwork in slow motion. That's Ernesto Ebuen on the left.

Trend: Playing Table Tennis to Enhance Brain Fitness and Mental Health

Here's the article. Well, yeah!

Scientists Teach Ping-Pong Robots to Master Spin

Here's the article. Prepare to meet our future Masters. 

Ice Bucket Challenge

Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers Play TT for Charity

Here's the article and video (2:43).

Six Seconds of Very Strange Rallying!

Here's the video.

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August 18, 2014

Tip of the Week

The Purpose of the Serve.

MDTTC Camp

Last Friday was Day Five of Week Nine of our Ten Weeks of Camp at MDTTC. Today we start Week Ten. Guess what? I'm exhausted! I had a bunch of other things to write about this morning, but I'm running out of time (and energy), so I'll just write about the camp.

Friday was perhaps the most difficult day I've had all summer - I was up late the night before, then got up early to do the blog, and spent the entire day with a headache that was like 40 kids smacking balls against the back of my head nonstop. Only - there were 40 kids, only instead of smacking balls against my head they were at their most excited over-exuberant, since it was the last day of the camp (for the week). Let's just say I just smiled and put up with it while my head pounded away all day.

My headache wasn't helped when two kids thought it'd be interesting to pour two huge bottles of soap down the toilet. These are the bottles that are used to refill the soap dispensers in the bathrooms. Why would these two kids, both about 10, do this? They couldn't explain it, just thought it would be fun. I was the one who had to break the news to their parents, and they were in a lot of trouble.

Worse was what happened over lunch. I was on my laptop, and the youngest player in the camp, a 5-year-old girl, thought it would be funny to keep jabbing at the keys with a pen while I tried to work. I kept asking her to stop, but she wouldn't. She left for a moment. I went to get something, and when I came back, she was randomly tapping away on the laptop. When I got back on it, what I found was unreal - she'd somehow managed to not only log me out of several pages, but to have gotten my automatic logins deleted! Normally when I go to the pages I get logged in automatically, but no more - and I didn't have the passwords with me. It took me forever to figure them out. All this while my head pounded away.

Coach Aabid Sheikh from Boston was in town, and came by to watch for half the day. He watched while I taught two kids to forehand loop for the first time - and both picked up on it pretty fast.

Most of the players in the camp played a practice tournament in the afternoon. Some of the new and younger ones were strong enough to join in, while others did the usual target practice games. I also introduced them to the robot at full speed, where it shoots balls out at full speed at the fastest rate.

Things I'm Irritated About

I'm debating which of these to blog about later on - more on the problem with the Nationals going to half celluloid, half non-celluloid; USATT creating rules that allow 1800 players to represent USA in singles at the Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Champions while not allowing a 2400 player to do so because he plays at the wrong club (the rules they created favor players who happen to play at ITTF "Hot Spots," rather than individual performance); or more on the ITTF Hall of Fame's silly eligibility requirement of five World or Olympic titles, where being #6 on the Chinese winning team (but not even playing) counts as much as winning Men's or Women's Singles, and so players like Stellan Bengtsson, Istvan Jonyer, Mikael Appelgren, Kjell Johansson, and USA's two-time World Women's Singles Champion Ruth Aarons are not in, while players such as Chen Qi and Peter Karlsson - worthy players, but not at the level of these others - are in.  Alas, I'm out of time this morning, and will likely write more on these topics later on. I'd like to write more on positive stuff, such as new training centers opening up, etc. 

Footwork for Defenders

Here's the video (4:12).

The New USATT Magazine

Here's the U.S. Open issue, headlined "The Plastic Era Begins." I have two articles in it, Review of the Nittaku 3-Star Premium 40+ Ball on pages 16-17, and Pushing Change of Direction on page 47.

$36,000 Butterfly Los Angeles Open

It was held this past weekend. Congrats to Open Champion Chih-Yuan Chuang and Runner-up Eugene Wang! Here are the results, and here is the LA Open home page. And here are articles on the tournament by Barbara Wei, with more coming tomorrow.

Youth Olympic Games

They are taking place right now, Aug. 17-23, in Nanjing, China. Representing USA are Lily Zhang and Krish Avvari. Here is the ITTF home page for the event, with articles, results, video, and pictures. Here's a USATT page with some of Lily's results and quotes. Here are four pictures of Jorgen Persson and Wang Liqin doing an exhibition and signing autographs at the Games.

Interview with Lily Zhang at Youth Olympic Games

Here's the video (1:33).

Ariel Hsing, Teen Chinese-American Table Tennis Sensation

Here's the article in the China Times (in English).

LYTTC Creating Tomorrow's Champions Today!

Here's a new video (3:25) featuring training at the Lily Yip Center in Summer, 2014.

Ping Pong for Charity

Here's a video (30 sec) that advertises the advantages of table tennis (exercise for the brain) while raising money for charities such as Alzheimer's.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Eighty-Seven down, 13 to go!

  • Day 14: Rules Chair Rudi Sporrer Believes Changes Improved Sport’s Presentation
  • Day 15: Jane Pinto Has Been Mentored by Adham Sharara since 1996
  • Day 16: Oceania’s Continental President, James Morris, Shares “Top 5” Ideas

The Sedin Twins of NHL's Vancouver Canucks Play Table Tennis

Here's the video (3:35). 

Milwaukee TTC Fundraising Cake

Here's the picture - someone took a bite out of it before they got the picture!

World's Biggest Table Tennis Player?

Here's the picture! (If you can't see this in Facebook, try this.)

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June 30, 2014

Last Blog Until Tuesday, July 8, and the U.S. Open

This morning I'm flying out to the U.S. Open in Grand Rapids, along with a large group of other Maryland players. So no more blogs until after I return next week. I'm mostly coaching, though I'm entered in two hardbat doubles events (Open and Over 50 Hardbat Doubles, but I normally play with sponge). When I'm free I'll probably be watching matches or hanging out at the Butterfly booth - stop by and say hello! Better still, buy one of my books (likely on sale at the Butterfly and Paddle Palace booths), and I'll sign it. Prove to me that you read my blog by saying the secret password: "I'm a pushy pushover for power pushing pushers." (Better write that down!) 

Here's the U.S. Open press release, which went out on June 18. Here's the U.S. Open Program Booklet. And here's the U.S. Open Home page. Here's the player listing of the 705 players entered (click on their name and you can see what events they are entered in), the event listing (which shows who is entered in each event), and the results (which won't show results for this Open until events start coming in on Tuesday, though can see results of past Opens and Nationals there).

Tip of the Week

Forehand or Backhand Serve & Attack.

Tactics Coaching

I had my final tactics coaching session with Kaelin and Billy on Friday. We revisited the tactics of playing choppers to go over how to play chopper/loopers, which are a bit different than playing more passive choppers. (For one thing, you can't just topspin soft over and over or they'll attack.) Then we went over playing long pips blockers, and I pulled out one of my long pips rackets, the one with no sponge, and demonstrated what good long pips players can do if you don't play them smart - not just blocking back loops with heavy backspin, but also how they can push-block aggressively against backspin, essentially doing a drive with a pushing motion.

Next we covered the tactics of pushing. The thing I stressed most is that it's not enough to be very good at a few aspects of pushing; you have to be pretty good at all aspects. This means being able to push pretty quick off the bounce, with pretty good speed, pretty good backspin, pretty low to the net, pretty deep, pretty well angled, and be pretty good at last second changes of direction. If you do all of these things pretty well, you'll give even advanced players major fits. If you do four or five these things well, and perhaps even very well, but are weak at one or two of them, a top player will make you pay for it. We also went over pushing short, and how you can also change directions with them at the last second.

Then we covered the tactics of playing different styles - loopers (both one-winged and two-winged loopers); the "flat" styles (blockers, counter-hitters, and hitters); and playing fishers & lobbers. When you play a fisher or lobber, mostly smash at the wide backhand and middle. The goal isn't to win the point outright, though that'll often happen with a good smash. The goal is to get a lob that lands shorter on the table, which you can smash for a wide-angle winner, either inside-out with sidespin to the wide backhand, or a clean winner to the forehand. You don't want to challenge the forehand of most lobbers as they usually have more range and spin on that side, and can counter-attack much better there.

I'd given them an assignment the day before to come with an example of one player that they had trouble playing against so we could go over the tactics that might work there. By an amazing coincidence, they independently chose the same player, a top lefty from their club. So we went over how to play that player. Poor guy doesn't know what's about to hit him!

And so ended our five hours of tactics coaching. But it's all written down in Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!

Coach Chen Jian

The last few days before the U.S. Open we had some guests from China, who came to MDTTC to train before the U.S. Open. Heading the group was Coach Chen Jian. He's the former National Junior Coach for China, who coached Zhang Jike and Ma Long as juniors in international events. Now he's the head coach of the full-time Ni Rui club in Hang Zhou, China. Since I was busy coaching in our camp, I only barely noticed him the first few days. But on Friday, after the camp finished, I got to watch him do a session with one of our top players, Nathan Hsu. Nathan just turned 18, and is about to spend three months training in China, including at least a month under Coach Chen. The session was great to watch as he made some changes in Nathan's footwork and strokes. It was all in Chinese, but Ryan Dabbs gave a running translation for me, and Nathan told me about it afterwards.

MDTTC Camp

On Friday we finished Week Two of our ten weeks of summer camps. Because of the U.S. Open I'll be missing Week Three, but coaches Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang are staying home to run that, along with Raghu Nadmichettu and others.

During a short lecture and demo on forehand looping against heavy backspin, I demoed the stroke, and as I often do, held a ball in my playing hand as I did this, releasing it at the end of the stroke to show how the power is going both forward and up. Except this time the ball went up and got stuck in an air conditioning fixture! The kids found that very funny, and we're out another ball.

I also verified something I've always known: given a choice, younger kids seem to like scorekeeping with a scoreboard more than actually playing matches. We did an informal tournament on Friday, and I brought out a scoreboard, which some of them had never seen before. At least two kids were near tears when told they had to play matches, and so couldn't scorekeep. ("But I want to keep score!!!") They battled over control of the scoreboard, and most matches ended up with two or three kids simultaneously and together flipping the score each time.

As I've noted in past blogs, I spend most of these camps working with the beginners and younger players. It wasn't like this for most of our 22 years, but three years ago coaches Cheng and Jack asked if I'd do that during our summer camps. But on Friday I finally did a session with some of the advanced players, and had a great time. We focused on multiball training where I fed backspin followed by topspin, and the player had to loop the first, and either loop or smash the second (depending on their style and level of development).

Table Tennis Lawsuit

Here's a strange one. I received an email this weekend from a lawyer representing a woman who was injured while playing table tennis on a cruise, and was suing the cruise ship! They asked if I could be their table tennis advisor. I don't think that knowing about table tennis is going to help deciding whether the ship was liable for the woman's injuries. She apparently received her injury when she went to retrieve the ball and "struck her face on an unmarked stairwell railing immediately adjacent to the table where she was playing." I told them I didn't have much experience in the safety aspects of table tennis pertaining to this and didn't have time anyway, and gave them contact info for USATT. (Sorry, USATT!)

Dimitrij Ovtcharov's Physical Training

Here's the page with links to numerous videos - his trainer is creative!

Kanak Jha and Mo Zhang win North American Titles

Here's the ITTF article.

Photos from the North America Cup

Here they are

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Thirty-six down, 65 to go!

  • Day 64: The President’s Views on the Ban of Speed Glue, Part I
  • Day 65: Dr. Amen Questions: "Table tennis is the perfect brain exercise"
  • Day 66: Junior Commission Chair Dennis Davis

Zhang Jike Used Ma Long to Prove Something

Here's the article.

Thomas Weikert on Chinese Domination

Here's the interview with the incoming ITTF President. 

Table Tennis: Like a Fish and Water

Here's the article on junior star Michael Tran. 

Xu Xin Shows the Power of Lob

Here's the video (50 sec) as he lobs and counter-attacks against Ma Long.

Ariel Hsing - Photos from Princeton

Here are seven photos of our three-time National Women's Singles Champion in various poses, including some table tennis ones.

Justin Timberlake Plays Table Tennis!

Here's the picture

Miller Light Commercial

Here's video (31 sec) of a new Miller Light Commercial, with "water" table tennis four seconds in (but only for a second). 

Net-hugging Cat Playing Ping-Pong

It's been a while since I've posted a new video of a cat playing table tennis, so here's 27 seconds of a cat playing while hugging the net.

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May 30, 2014

My Table Tennis Books

Just a reminder that if this table tennis blog isn't quite enough to satisfy your table tennis itch, you can buy one of my table tennis books!!! As noted in my blog earlier this week, Table Tennis Tips is now out. Or, if you haven't done so, you absolutely and positively must buy Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!!! Here's the Larry Hodges Books page where these and my other books are listed and described.

While you're at it, if you have a liking for history, then check out Tim Boggan's page, where he sells the 14 volumes of his History of U.S. Table Tennis. (Disclaimer: I do the page layouts and maintain the web page for him.)

Practical Ways to Overcome Nervousness

Sports psychology is one of the most under-utilized aspects of table tennis. One problem is that it's easy to get bogged down wading into all the literature on the subject. Here are some of the simple methods I use with students to overcome nervousness. Most of these I've done for years, though I've fine-tuned some after reading material and books from Dora Kurimay's table tennis sports psychology page.

  1. Take all the nervousness and ball it up inside your stomach. Then cough it out your mouth, and toss it in the trash. It's surprising how well this simple mental exercise works.
  2. Breathe deep into the stomach through your nose. Hold it for a couple of seconds. Then slowly exhale through the mouth. You'll be surprised at how this relaxes you. It's key that you exhale slowly.
  3. Pick out something on the wall in the distance and just stare at it for 5-10 seconds. This clears the mind.
  4. Watch the ball, both during and between points. This helps you to focus. That and simple tactics is all the conscious mind needs to do while letting the subconscious do the rest.
  5. Imagine you are playing a match back at your club. It's just another match. Have fun!
  6. Remember what Ariel Hsing used to write on her arm before every tournament: "Let go. Have fun." This works.
  7. Focus on a few simple tactics. This gives your mind something else to do other than worry that your fate and the fate of humanity in general will be determined by the next few points.
  8. Learn the three-second rule. Don't let anything in a match bother you for more than three seconds. Don't start another point until those three seconds are up and you are back to being the calm, clear-headed champion inside you that's dying to come out.

WETA TV

This Sunday WETA TV will come to my club (MDTTC) to do a segment on table tennis. They will likely come in around noon, though the exact time is not set. MDTTC has its Elite League on Sundays starting at 12:30, which is why they chose that time. All or most of the top MDTTC players and top juniors should be there.

Ariel Hsing in Chinese League

Here's a picture of her with her new teammates!

96-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency: Striving to Attain 225 Affiliated National Associations:  It’s in Our Blood!

Here's the article, Day 96 in Sheri Pittman Cioroslan's 100-day Countdown. I linked to the previous four in earlier blogs, but they are all linked from the USATT News Page.

Hugh Jackman Plays Table Tennis

Here's video (15 sec) of Hugh Jackman - yes, Wolverine! - playing table tennis, including a little dancing between points!

Dominic Moore Plays Table Tennis

Here's video (59 sec) of hockey star Dominic Moore playing table tennis.

Crazy Shot

Here's video (30 sec) of one of the greatest and craziest shots you'll ever see.

National Spelling Bee and Table Tennis

Here's an article from Table Tennis Nation showing the connection between table tennis and spelling at the highest levels of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But could they spell Dimitrij Ovtcharov?

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May 27, 2014

Tip of the Week

Random Drills.

Perfectionism

If you work with top players, one of the things that quickly jumps out at you is that they are nearly all perfectionists. They developed their nearly perfect techniques because they weren't satisfied with anything less than perfection - and so they worked at it, year after year after year, until they got as close to it as it was humanly possible.

If you want to reach a decent level, you too should be a perfectionist when you practice. This doesn't mean everything has to be perfect; it means as close to perfect as can reasonably be done. The operative word here is "reasonably." If your goal is to be world champion, then your goal is true perfection in all your shots because if you aim for absolute perfection, you'll get a lot closer to it than if you aim lower. But for most people who are not striving to be world champion, "reasonably" is a flexible term. For example, most players do not have the foot speed to cover as much of the table with their forehands as many of the top world-class players. Trying to do so is an exercise in futility. So instead of trying to play a "perfect" game like Zhang Jike or Ma Long, you might settle for something more within your abilities - and yet you might still strive to have their stroking techniques.

Even the stroking techniques are subject to the "reasonably" guideline. For example, if you are primarily a blocker/hitter and have played that way for many years, you might find looping in a fast rally awkward to learn. So you might only want to loop against backspin - and if so, you might not want to copy the great counterlooping techniques of the top players, but instead develop a good old-fashioned loop against backspin only. (Which sometimes means a more concave up stroke, i.e. the path of the racket curves upward.) Or you could spend a lot of time developing that loop in a rally, if you so choose. It all depends on your physical abilities and how much time you can "reasonably" put toward this training.

It also sometimes comes down to whether you want to develop a technique for the sake of learning that technique, or whether you are focused strictly on winning. Many players want to play like the world-class players, style-wise, even if they might be better playing some other way. There's nothing wrong with that. Others are more focused on winning, and there's nothing wrong with that either - but here the key is the timetable, i.e. how long are you willing to focus on perfecting your game now so you can win later.

I started out as a shakehand inverted all-out forehand hitter my first few years. (I was a late starter, starting at age 16.) Looping was difficult for me at first, but I decided I wanted to play like the top players, and so I spent an inordinate amount of time practicing looping. Eventually I reached the point that I could play both looping or hitting, which became valuable tactically. It also made me a much better coach since I went through the same process as most up-and-coming players do as they learn to loop - only it's more in my memory as I went through this when I was around 19 or so. I've always thought that was an advantage I have in my coaching as I'm teaching things I learned around that age while other top coaches are teaching stuff they learned when they were perhaps eight years old, and so I have a better memory of the process.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Pittman) is doing a 100-day countdown daily article through the end of ITTF President Adham Sharara's tenure as president of the ITTF. As she explains it, "Over this 100-day period, I will share a series that features the past, present and future of the ITTF, with a particular emphasis on news and developments during the Sharara era." Here are the first three.

Winning Deuce Games

Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Ariel Hsing Joins JinHua Bank Team for the 2014 China Super League

Here's the story.

The Expert in a Year Challenge is Heading to Denmark

Here's the article, and info on the camp in Denmark.

Table Tennis Does Not Get Any Better Than This!

Here's the video (52 sec) of this great point in the fifth game between Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Japan's Jun Mizutani in the Team Semifinals at the recent World Championships in Tokyo. Mizutani would go on to win the match, 11-8 in the fifth, but Germany would win the Team match 3-1 to advance to the final against China.

Ping Pong the Animation

There are now seven episodes in this table tennis cartoon. Here's where you can see all seven.

X-Men Table Tennis

There's a scene about midway into the movie where we meet the super-fast Quicksilver. How did they introduce us to him and his speed? By having him play table tennis by himself! Here's an animated gif of him playing as Hank/Beast, a young Charles Xavier (in background) and Wolverine look on.

Non-Table Tennis - Baltimore Science Fiction Convention

I spent Saturday at Balticon, where I was a panelist in three different one-hour panels. Here's a picture of me with my fellow panelists in one of them, with my two science fiction/fantasy books on display. You can't tell from this angle but there's a sizeable audience there. This panel was on "Favorite Science Fiction Authors." My other two panels were "Five Books for the Last Town on Earth" and "Titles Looking for Stories." (This latter involved audience members choosing titles, and each panelist coming up with a story synopsis on the spot.) (Here's my science fiction page.

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May 16, 2014

What to Do at Age 18?

I've blogged in the past about how the level and depth of play in the U.S. at the cadet level (under 15) is the highest we've ever had, due to the rise of full-time training centers all over the country over the past eight years. It's gotten ridiculously good. It's a group that any country outside China could be proud of. And in three years this group of players will be competing as juniors (under 18), and the level and depth of play in the U.S. at the junior level will be the highest we've ever had. And a few years after that they'll hit their peak as players, and the level and depth of play in the U.S. will be the highest we've ever had, right? 

But there's one problem. What's going to happen when they all turn 18?

Case in point. Over the last few years we've watched Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang develop as probably the two best junior girls in our modern history. Ariel is currently #81 in the world and has been as high as #73. She was the youngest USA Nationals Women's Singles Champion when she won in 2010, and she repeated in 2011 and 2013. She was on the 2012 USA Olympic Team. She was #4 in the world in both Under 15 and Under 18 Girls. Lily recently shot up to #66 in the world. She won women's singles at the 2012 USA Nationals at age 16. She was on the 2012 USA Olympic Team. She was #2 in the world in Under 15 Girls and #5 in Under 18 Girls. 

But Ariel is now 18, and is attending Princeton. She didn't even try out for our last National Team because she was busy with school. Lily will be 18 next month, and is going to University of California at Berkeley. She didn't even attend our last USA Nationals because she was busy with school. They are still training, but let's face it; they are no longer training full-time as before. In contrast, all over Asia and Europe players like Ariel and Lily are training full-time. Part-time can't compete with full-time. 

The same has happened on the men's side. Michael Landers won men's singles at the 2009 USA Nationals at age 15, and improved dramatically in the three years after that. Peter Li won men's singles at the 2011 USA Nationals at age 17. Both of them hit age 18 and went to college, and their levels both dropped dramatically. The same is true of a long list of other elite juniors. I remember just a few years ago when three players from my club (MDTTC) were #1, #2, and #5 in the country in Under 18 Boys - Peter Li, Marcus Jackson, and Amaresh Sahu. All three went to college when they turned 18, and so none reached the level they might have reached if they'd continued a few more years.

Who knows how good these players might have been if they had continued training full-time into their 20s?

Unless something happens in the next few years, in about five years we will be looking back and asking ourselves, "What happened?" We had all these up-and-coming kids, and the future was bright. Instead, we'll have the strongest group of college table tennis players in our history. While that's a very good thing from one point of view (and it would be great if table tennis were to become a big college sport with scholarships in the best colleges all over the country, but that's a separate topic), it's not a good thing if we're trying to develop athletes who can compete at the highest levels. Excluding China, this generation really has the potential to someday compete with anyone. (Perhaps we'll be world college champions circa 2020?)

There is little money in our sport. So what's the long-term benefit for these kids to continue to train full-time? Sure, there's the usual incentives, such as being National Champion and making the U.S. Olympic Team, and . . . um . . . well, that's about it. (How much do these pay?) So yes, unless something changes, it'll be another "lost" generation. Sure, some will continue, and we'll almost for certain have stronger teams than we do now, but nothing like what it could be. Perhaps our men will improve from #53 in the world to top 20, but they could be top five or better. Perhaps our women will improve from #21 to top ten, but they could be top five or better. (With Ariel together with Lily and Prachi Jha, they already are close to top ten level - #16, according to the ITTF team rankings based on individual ranking.) And you know something? If you can reach top five, you can make the final of the World Championships. (We're not ready for China yet, but we'll worry about that when we actually have a top five team.) 

Ironically, in the past when we had fewer truly elite juniors, the ones that were elite were often more likely to focus on table tennis because, by U.S. standards, they were truly "elite." They would train full-time well into their twenties before moving on to college or other work. Now these same elite cadets and juniors are just another in a pack of them, and so they don't feel they are truly "elite," and so are less likely to continue training full-time. And so they go to college rather than train full-time for a few more years. (Just to be clear, I'd urge them all to go to college, but there's nothing wrong with putting it off a few years, even into their mid-20s for a truly elite player. Some might decide to stay with the sport and become professional coaches, which actually pays pretty well.) We have standouts like Kanak Jha and Crystal Wang and a few others, but will they continue when they hit college age? (The financial outlook for women players is even bleaker, since many tournaments have an open singles instead of men's and women's singles.)

What can we do? There has been regular discussions over the years on the idea of setting up professional leagues or circuits, and develop a core group of pro USA players who would travel about competing in these professional leagues or circuits. It's been a serious topic of discussion since I first got active in table tennis in 1976. And there have been attempts by a few to make something like this happen, from the American All-Star Circuit that we used to have in the U.S. to the current North American Tour. The latter has potential, but without major sponsors there isn't nearly enough money, and the money that is there mostly goes to players from China. There's nothing wrong with these Chinese players winning money, but it means there's little chance a U.S. player can make enough money to afford to play in such a circuit - especially since it's often part-time U.S. players pitted against full-time Chinese players.

Do the Chinese raise the level of play for USA players? Potentially yes. But if our top juniors quit and go to college right when they begin approaching the level needed to compete with these Chinese players, it's wasted. Equally important, when approaching college age, it's tough for a USA player to look at table tennis as a professional career when nearly all the money goes to foreign players living in the U.S., which doesn't leave much for prospective professional USA players. (Some argue that the USA players shouldn't avoid playing tournaments where they'd have to play these elite full-time foreign players, but that's easier to say when you aren't the one spending huge amounts of time and money on your training, and are looking at losing another $500 on a tournament just so you can lose to one of them. There needs to be a balance if we want to give USA players incentive.) 

Bottom line? "Serious talk" on this topic isn't really serious anymore until someone actually does something. Real action is needed. USATT wants to get sponsors but doesn't really have a serious product to sell. (They've tried for many years.) I've argued they should focus on developing our product with regional leagues (as is done all over Europe) and coaching programs, and sell that to sponsors, but that didn't interest them. Perhaps something a bit more elite-oriented would be more enticing, since USATT (with USOC encouragement and funding) is more focused on elite development than grassroots development. 

Why not have USATT partner with the North American Tour or some other group, and assign the incoming USATT CEO to focus on selling sponsorship for that Tour? Isn't the purpose of USATT to improve table tennis in the United States? USATT is the national governing body for the sport in this country, and so has a great platform to sell from, if they only had something lucrative to sell - and here's a natural product.

The goal would be to create a truly Professional Tour, where U.S. players could actually make a living, while bringing regular exposure to the sponsor. (Perhaps the circuit tournaments would have both an Open event and an All-Star American event for U.S. citizens. Or it could be citizens only.) The circuit is already there as a product, it just needs more money. Once we have such a professional circuit, there are other ways to bring in money - spectators, TV, and so on - and what sponsor wouldn't want to be the national sponsor for something like this if we show it has potential to truly take off?  We can do this, and have a good chance to dramatically improve table tennis in the United States. Or we can continue to talk and do the same old things we always do - nothing. 

U.S. Open Blog - Deadlines! Deadlines!

Here's the latest U.S. Open blog by Dell & Connie Sweeris. Want to play in the U.S. Open? Deadline without penalty is this Sunday, May 18. After that there's a $75 penalty, with no entries accepted after Sunday, May 25.

"The Ping Pong Man"

Here's an article and video (3:09) on table tennis Globetrotter Scott Preiss, and his visit to Beaverton, Oregon.

International News

Lots of articles at Tabletennista (including one on Ma Long undefeated at the last two World Team Championships) and at the ITTF page.

2014 U.S. Para European Update

Here's the video report (2:02), from the bus, by Tahl Leibovitz, with Wayne Lo and others.

The Best Scoring System for Table Tennis

Here's the video (3:39) from PingSkills in PingPod 38.

Round Table with Spinning Net

Here's the article and pictures from Table Tennis Nation

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May 7, 2014

Classes and Clinics vs. Training

On Monday we had the last session of a ten-week beginning/intermediate class I taught. The twelve players in the class ranged from beginner to about 1500. During those ten weeks we covered pretty much every major aspect of table tennis - forehand and backhand drives, forehand and backhand loops, blocking, smashing, pushing, flipping, ready stance, footwork, grip, serve, receive, equipment, tactics and playing styles, and even chopping and lobbing. And yet many of the players weren't really ready for some of the more advanced things I taught. As I explained to them, there's a difference between a class or clinic, and training sessions or a training camp. 

For the class, I wanted everyone in the class to have a good idea of most of the techniques. They might not be able to do some of the advanced serves I demonstrated, but now that they know what's possible they can systematically practice until, someday, they might be able to do so. The same is true of other "advanced" techniques, such as looping. If I had not shown them these more advanced techniques, they wouldn't even know what's possible, and wouldn't have something to work toward. I even prepared them for various racket surfaces with talks on each of the major ones - short pips, hardbat, antispin, and long pips (with and without sponge).

There's a difference between a class and a clinic as well. A class is something that you do more than once, such as what we did - every Monday from 6:30-8:00 PM for ten weeks. A clinic is more of a one-time thing, where you cover whatever you can in one day, or perhaps a weekend, or even a week. 

So what's the difference between a clinic and a training camp? There's a lot of overlap, but basically, in a clinic, you teach new techniques. In a training camp, you emphasize the training itself, with lots and lots of training drills and few lectures. In clinics you give a number of lectures to the group; in training your coaching is mostly one-on-one as each player trains.

I discussed with the members of the class continuing as a training program on Mondays, but two things happened. First, several said they couldn't do it right now, but would be available in the fall. And second, probably more important, I realized that with our summer training camps coming up, I'm going to be incredibly busy this summer. The camps are 10AM-6PM each day, and are in addition to my regular private coaching and three junior training group sessions each week. So I postponed it until this fall. Then I'll try to get a group together for training each week, probably on Monday nights. If it's popular, we can go to twice a week.

We'll have training camps all summer for ten consecutive weeks, Mon-Fri each week, starting June 16. (Here's the info flyer. I'll be at eight of the camps, missing June 30-July 4 for the U.S. Open, and July 28-Aug. 1 for a writing workshop I'm attending in Manchester, NH.) While the emphasis is training, they are really both training camps for the more advanced players, and clinics for beginning/intermediate players. I give a few lectures/demos each day, and then we go into groups - usually three main groups, for beginning, intermediate, and advanced players. And they are then trained accordingly. 

Here's a good example of the difference between a clinic and a training camp. I went to a number of Seemiller clinics in the late 1970s. They were really both clinic and training camp, and I learned and improved a lot. Then in 1980, when I was 20 and only about 2000 level, I went to a two-week training camp held by Zoran Kosanovic. (Also at the camp were 12-year-olds Sean O'Neill and Scott Butler and 9-year-old Jim Butler.) I expected it'd be the same thing, with a mixture of lectures and practice, and perhaps a little physical training. Boy was I wrong!!! It was all training. We did at least an hour of physical training each day, plus two three-hour training sessions. It was exhausting, but it was exactly what I needed at that time, since I'd pretty much absorbed knowledge of the game until that point faster than I could learn the techniques. I improved dramatically during and after the camp. (For me, the focus was on forehand looping and on proper footwork when stepping around the backhand corner - I wasn't rotating around enough on my step-arounds.)

ITTF Legends Tour

It starts tonight in Belgium. Here's the home page for the event, and the Facebook page. Here's the ITTF article that came out this morning. Here's the draw for the six legends. Click on it to see a group picture, L-R: Jorgen Persson (1991 World Men's Singles Champion), Jean-Michel Saive (former World #1), Jiang Jialiang (1985 & 1987 World Men's Singles Champion), Jean-Philippe Gatien (1993 World Men's Singles Champion), Mikael Appelgren (former world #1), and Jan-Ove Waldner (1989 & 1997 World Men's Singles Champion). Here are more pictures as the Super Six prepare for the event by playing . . . golf. Breaking news - Waldner golfs left-handed!

USATT Teleconference on March 17

Here are the minutes.

Table Tennis is Serious Business at Texas Wesleyan College

Here's the article.

Chinese Training for the Worlds

Here's a video (4 min) set to music showing their training.

Interview with Kong Linghui

Here's the video (1:52) with the head coach of Team China and former superstar player.

Find a Coach (in the UK)

Here's a new site for finding a coach - but it's only for the United Kingdom right now. The creator told me he hopes to open it up to the rest of the world later on.

Choked by a Billionaire

For those who missed it from a group of photos I posted a few days ago showing Ariel Hsing playing Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, here's one where sore loser Uncle Warren (current worth: $58 billion) chokes the life out of Ariel.

Non-Table Tennis - Sorcerers in Space

My novel "Sorcerers in Space" got a pretty good review at Abyss & Apex. (It's a humorous fantasy that covers the U.S.-Soviet space race in the '60s, but with sorcerers instead of astronauts. The protagonist, 13-year-old Neil, is forced to give up his dreams of table tennis stardom to save the world.) "Reading this book had me humming tunes from the 1960s, and smiling, for days. I don’t recommend reading Sorcerers in Space in bed next to your spouse. You’ll keep waking them up when you laugh." You can buy copies at Amazon or save a few dollars and buy it directly from Class Act Books.

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