Music Video

March 8, 2013

Junior Incentives and Team Leagues

One of the things junior table tennis in the U.S. tends to lack - including at my club - are junior incentives for each level. The kids come out and train and train, but for what? To win a rating event at a tournament? To win an age event at a tournament? (Not enough of them.) To win practice matches? To do well in a singles league? Rating points? These are all nice things, but they aren't quite enough. One way to address this is a junior team league. Another is to give training incentives, especially at the lower levels. At all levels there needs to be a balance between improvement (with specific goals) and fun. I'm now looking into both, with plans to set up various incentives and goals at the beginning level, and a junior team league starting this fall.

How would the junior team league be set up? Kids like doubles, so I want to include that. So most likely it'll be some version of two-person teams. However, rather than have just two or three players on a team (where the third can only play doubles), I'm leaning more toward six-person teams, where the top two play a best of five against the other team's top two (i.e. four singles and a doubles); the third and fourth players do the same against the opposing team's third and fourth; and the same for the fifth and sixth. This means each team will be made up of a balance of advanced, intermediate, and beginning players, but players would mostly compete against players in their own range.

Here are some thoughts on what are needed at the various levels. Please comment or email me if you have any suggestions.

  • Beginners - Goals and Milestones. At this stage, it's all about improvement and fun. And so the focus should be on training players for specific goals, such as a certain number of forehands in a row, or a number of side-to-side forehands and backhands made in a row, or pushing a certain number in a row, or serving a certain number of times under a bar over the net (so the serve must be low enough not to hit the bar). These give the players specific goals to aim for, and keeps their interest up. At the same time, it needs to be fun - and so as soon as players are good enough to rally, I want to get them into the junior team league. In fact, one of the built-in incentives is they have to pass certain of these goals before they can play in the junior team league.
  • Intermediate - Competition with their Peers. They've got the basics down, and from here on improvement isn't as fast as before. A junior team league is a great way to give them something to train for.
  • Advanced - State and National Titles. At this point they've played for years, and have reached a very high level. They may be training for National titles, or at least State titles. At the same time, a junior team league gives them something to train and look forward to on a more immediate level, as well as a way where they can connect with their friends, who might not be at quite the same level.

Book Signing Tonight

Reminder! Today at 7PM I will be doing a book signing at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. I will also be selling and signing four of my other books. All books will cost $15, with a Special - buy the Tactics book, get a copy of the Tales & Techniques book for only $5! Here's the info flyer. Below are the books.

  • Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
  • Table Tennis: Steps to Success
  • Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
  • Pings and Pongs

Table Tennis on TV in Tampa

Here's a video (4:32) where Coach Michael McFarland and college player Matt Delgado demonstrate table tennis on the Tampa local TV show Daytime TV.

How to Play Ping-Pong with Soo Yeon Lee

Here's the video (3:57)!

Table Tennis Music Video

Here's a music video (3:59) in Croatian, by Nevan Dužević. The description, translated into English via online translator, says, "Marigold is Zagreb Dužević songwriter fan of ping pong plays multiple instruments and especially likes to compose on keyboards." I'm not sure what the "Marigold" refers to.

Table Tennista

There are a bunch of new articles and videos at Table Tennista, including:

Table Tennis Master

There are a bunch of new articles at Table Tennis Master, including:




Table Tennis on the Moon

Here's the secret picture of what the astronauts really did during the moon landings.

Link to my blog where I wrote about table tennis on other planets? (And here's my blog from Oct. 24, 2012, where I wrote about table tennis on the moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and outer space.)

Collective Table Tennis - Quintuples!

Here's a video (4:30) of five on five table tennis on an "adjusted" table!

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September 17, 2012

Tip of the Week

Why Table Tennis Really Is Chess at Light Speed.

Table Tennis Music Video

On Saturday night the Edie Sedgwick music group came to the Maryland Table Tennis Center to do a table tennis music video. The gist of the video is the group shows up at a nightclub to play table tennis, and then, one by one, they get destroyed by a kid. Starring in the video is Derek Nie, 11, the U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion. (Here he is warming up with me at the Open, and here he is in his full green wig and striped sunglasses outfit. And here he is at the Eastern Open last year!)

The band had been planning this video already, but were apparently going to just bring in some kid actor and fake the table tennis scenes. Then they saw Derek in the Washington Post video, and contacted me about hiring him.

The table tennis portion of the taping took four hours, from 7-11PM, though the band members came in around 5PM to start setting up. Also in attendance were Derek's parents and older brother, George (15, a 2050 player), and lots of pizza. In order, here's what happened:

  1. Taping of Derek and the band members arriving by limousine. Yes, they hired a white limousine for this part, and they actually picked Derek up at his school in the limo! (He said it was rather embarrassing explaining this to everyone there.) The chauffeur, Nas, a Pakistani immigrant, just last week drove Clint Eastwood, and has also driven Michael Douglas, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, LL. Cool J, Erin Burnett, and Jon Huntsman.
  2. They rearranged the barriers at the club to create a long, diagonal entrance from the doorway to the playing area set up in the back of the club. Then they taped the four band members walking/sauntering in over and over. Then they did the same with Derek.
  3. Then came the table tennis scenes. They taped Derek mostly hitting and looping forehands while I blocked. Because of the extremely bright light they put behind Derek I couldn't see the ball when blocking forehands, but I made the fortuitous discover that I could block backhands from the forehand side without the light in my eyes. George Nie also joined in for some of the rallies. (George and I won't be in the video, we were just blocking for Derek.)
  4. Then they taped the band members playing. I fed them balls multi-ball style as they smacked shots all over the place, sometimes hitting the table. Two of the four were actually pretty decent. One could barely hit the ball, but after some practice we put on a decent show.
  5. Then each of them taped their "losing" scene. I'd hit a ball hard at them, they'd flail at it and miss, and then each had their own sore loser reaction - throwing paddle down (we used a cheap one for that!), kicking the wall (not too hard, I warned), looks of disgust, and each ending with the band member storming out of the club in some way. (So when you see them losing, remember that it was me who hit the winning shots, not Derek!!!)
  6. Then we filmed Derek's victory scenes, where he'd raise his arms in triumph, shadow practice forehands and backhands in celebration (sometimes left-handed), and other celebratory maneuvers. There was one very complex scene that Derek nailed in a few tries where he'd go through a series of these maneuvers (including his brother tossing him his striped sunglasses, and Derek cleanly snatching them in mid-air and putting them on) and going through a true actor's scene where he started out all happy, gradually realized he'd beaten everyone and was alone, looked crestfallen, and then tosses aside his paddle and sunglasses and runs off. Oscar scene!!!
  7. They also did several short scenes in front of a green screen. They will add in scenes from a night club later on. This saved Derek from having to go there, plus the night club they were going to use doesn't open until midnight (!), well past Derek's bedtime.
  8. We also had several humorous scenes of the band members preparing to play, including one member dressed in an all-white outfit who was constantly preening for the camera. In one scene, after he finished straightening his hair and clothes, we all threw ping-pong balls at him.
  9. Then we all had to spend some time putting the club back together, moving barriers and chairs back into position.

They said the taping for the video will complete next weekend (at the night club), and the video should be done in about a month. They have lots of video editing to do. I'll post when it's up.

Five Days Till the MDTTC September Open!

Have you entered yet? If you aren't there, we'll talk about you behind your back. We'll make Youtube videos about you. There will be rioting in the streets. It won't be pretty. So enter and stop the mayhem. (Tournament is at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, and I'm running it. I've run over 150 USATT tournaments, but this will be my first one in over ten years.)

Lily Zhang and Barack Obama

Here's a picture of Olympian Lily Zhang shaking hands with President Obama at the White House.

ITTF Coaching Program

Here's an article on the ITTF web page about the ITTF coaching program. It mentions USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee, who is currently running seminars in India.

Great Point at the Russian Open

Here's a great point by Xu Xin of China against Russia's Alexey Liventsov. (26 seconds.)

Ping-Pong Record Covers

Here are two:

Penguins Use What For Rackets?

Here's a penguin table tennis cartoon.


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August 22, 2012

USA Nationals Entry Form

Here's the home page for the 2012 USA Nationals, with a link to the entry form. I'll be there mostly to coach, though I'll probably enter one event - Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff, which I'll try to win for the 14th time, including ten with Ty. (I'd like to play other events, but there are just too many conflicts with all the junior events I'm be coaching in.)

Neck Problems

As I noted in my blog on Aug. 9, I was in a car accident on Aug. 8, two weeks ago. The other driver was at fault (she pulled right in front of me as I was driving to the club), and their insurance will be paying to repair my car. I also said no one was hurt.

Not so fast.

About a week ago (I'm not sure exactly when) my neck started bothering me. At first it was more an irritation, and I kept massaging the neck muscles, trying to get them to loosen up. But it got worse and worse. By Monday, the first day of the last MDTTC camp of the summer, it was painful, and by Tuesday morning it was excruciatingly painful just to hold my head up - meaning it was excruciatingly painful ALL THE TIME. I went to see a doctor during lunch break on Tuesday, but had to leave before seeing him when things ran late and I had to get back to the camp. But I found one who saw me that night at 7PM. The x-rays were negative, and there's no apparent nerve damage, so it's probably muscle and tendon problems.

I'm now wearing a neck brace, along with various medications (pain relievers and muscle relaxants). When I go to the camp this morning, there'll be some stares because of the neck brace, but it should allow me to at least do multiball and complete the camp through this Friday. The odds are I'm going to have to cancel all coaching for at least a week after that, though I may be able to do multiball - we'll see.

I'm starting to miss the back problems I had last year.

MDTTC Camp, Week Eleven, Day Two

Yesterday I gave lectures on the backhand, on receive, and on ball placement. For ball placement, I talked about the three or four placements for nearly all shots: to the forehand corner, to the backhand corner, and the middle. What's the fourth placement? Against a ball that goes to your wide forehand or backhand, you have an angle outside the opponent's wide corner, so you can go down the line, to the middle, to the crosscourt corner, or crosscourt wide outside the corner. You should normally go for such extreme angles only if you use lots of topspin to pull the ball down, or against a short ball. I also talked about moving players in and out, and how to be deceptive with your placement by aiming one way, and at the last second rotating your shoulders to change directions. (Here's a Tip of the Week on Forehand Deception with Shoulder Rotation.)

The afternoon session had me with two tables (one with a robot) and eight kids, and was excruciatingly painful - see "Neck Problems" above. Most of the kids understood what I was going through and were on good behavior - not only was the pain obvious, but I told them that today was not a day to give me any flak. (But you'll note I said "Most" above. Maybe my wearing a neck brace today will get through to the one or two not in the "Most.")

A relatively new ritual is the daily five-minute trek to 7-11 after lunch. Yesterday 15 of us made the trip; on Monday we had 13. The 7-11 manager gives me a small mini Slurpee each time I bring in all these kids.

Table Tennis Music Video

On Saturday, Sept. 15, we'll start (and hopefully finish) the band Edie Sedgwick will be filming a table tennis music video at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. The video will star 11-year-old Derek Nie, who will play and defeat the band members in the video. I'll be along as a consultant, and will be well paid in pepperoni pizza. Here's an example of another music video they did.

Team USA in London

Here's a video (1:50) of USA Olympians Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu doing interviews, exhibitions, and promotional work in London.

Top 50 Points

Here's a video (18:36) that shows the "Top 50 Table Tennis Points."

Justin Bieber Playing TT in Commercial

Here's a commercial (2:01) starring Justin Bieber for a medicated cleansing bar that shows him playing table tennis. He says, "After a concert or playing ball I use the bar to shower." He's playing table tennis as he says this, for about two seconds starting at second 21.

Table Tennis Rules

Here's a video (6:26) from PingSkills that explains the rules - with a panda. Really! I like it.


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