Grip

February 21, 2013

Preparing for Tournaments

Yesterday I coached two junior players who were getting ready for their first USATT tournament. (The MDTTC Open on March 2-3.) Neither have actual USATT ratings, but both have league ratings under 1000 - I'm not sure if they will use those or treat them as unrated. I coached a third this past weekend who is also getting ready for his first tournament, and who also has a league rating under 1000. What did I tell these players to do to prepare?

Sam, 11, a lefty, has a good forehand smash, and can forehand loop against backspin, though he's not too confident in the shot. He pushes and blocks well, and has decent serves, though he tends to have a short toss (under six inches) on his backhand serve, his best serve - we're working on that. Recently he's been learning to backhand loop. I told him to focus on practicing his serves, on steadiness with his backhand (pushing and blocking), and on steady hitting on the forehand side. Since he doesn't have great confidence in his forehand loop, I told him to focus on looping only on pushes to his forehand side. We also agreed to drop the backhand loop from his game for now. After the tournament, we'll get back to backhand looping, and work to increase his confidence in his forehand loop.

TJ, 12, a righty, likes to loop, and does so pretty well from both sides. I was at first unsure if he was ready to unleash his backhand loop in matches, but he has confidence in it, so he's going to be looping from both sides against most deep pushes in the tournament. He still has trouble controlling his serve when he puts spin on it, so we're going to focus on that more than anything else until the tournament. Because he's only recently learned to loop - though he has great confidence in the shot - he has trouble going from looping to hitting on both sides, so between now and the tournament we're going to focus on backhand hitting and forehand smashing. After the tournament we're going to focus more and more on mostly looping on the forehand side, while working his backhand loop into his game more and more. He already likes to spin the backhand even against fast incoming topspins, so he's undoubtedly going to become a two-winged looper.

Sameer, 11, a righty, most practices at home, where there's only about five feet behind each side of the table. Because of this he's mostly a hitter, though he has a decent loop against backspin. (He uses inverted on both sides, though I've considered having him try pips-out.) He's developing pretty good serves and a good follow-up loop or smash. Recently his backhand has gotten a lot better. In drills, his backhand loop is pretty good against backspin, but because he's so forehand oriented, he rarely uses it in games yet. For the tournament, I told him to focus on serves and following up his serve with his forehand (looping or smashing), which he has great confidence in. Once in rallies he needs to play a steady backhand until he gets a weak one to smash from either side. He's probably not going to be backhand looping at the tournament, but we'll work on that later. We worked a lot on his backhand push, since he can't step around to loop every ball with his forehand. We're also working on his balance - he tends to go off balance a bit when forehand looping from the backhand side, and so leaves the wide forehand open. (If he stays balanced, he'd be able to recover quickly to cover that shot with his forehand smash.)

What should YOU do to prepare for tournaments? Here's my Ten-Point Plan to Tournament Success.

Amazon Reviews

I'm still waiting for the first Amazon review of my new book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. If you really liked the book, what are you waiting for??? I will not eat or sleep until I get a great review there, at least until I get hungry or sleepy.  

Extraordinary Nets & Edges Match

I once blogged about how nets and edges don't really even out - some styles simply get more than others. Unfortunately, I have the type of style that rarely gets either. My shots are very clean - a mostly steady and arcing forehand (until I get the right shot), and a steady backhand. This past weekend I had a rather crazy match with one of our juniors. When she began getting net after net in the first game, we (or at least I!) began keeping track. For the match (four games), she got 17 net balls and zero edges, winning 15 of those points. I got zero nets or edges. Now I normally get a few, so my getting zero was rare, but 17-0? In one game she got eight nets, winning all eight of them.

How to Hold the Racket

Here's a video from PingSkills (4:03) on how to hold the racket, both shakehands and penhold.

The Power of Sweden

Here's a highlights video (10:48) that features the great Swedish players of the past.

Susan Sarandon: Ping-Pong Queen

Here's a feature article from England's The Guardian on Susan Sarandon and table tennis.

The Dodgers Playing Table Tennis

Here's an article in the LA Times on the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team having a table tennis doubles tournament.

NBA All-Star Week

Here are ten pictures at NBA All-Star Weekend, where they invited members of the Houston TTC to play table tennis. Included are pictures of Houston player Jim Butler and NBA star Jeremy Lin.

Mario Lopez Plays Ping-Pong

Here's a picture of actor and TV host Mario Lopez (middle) posing with his paddle and table tennis player/actor/stand-up comedian Adam Bobrow (left) and no-doubt a famous woman (or top table tennis player?) on the right who I don't recognize.

Harlem Shake

Here's a video (33 sec.) of . . . um . . . if I could figure out what is going on here, I will die happy. A bunch of people dancing around and on ping-pong tables.

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April 5, 2012

Wandering grips and open rackets

One of the more common problems I see with beginners and some intermediate players are what I call "wandering grips." I wrote about grip problems in this week's Tip of the Week, and this is a related problem. It seems that no matter how many times I remind them, some players change to a bad grip as soon as the rally begins. They aren't even aware of it. The reason is that they have unfortunately learned to hit the ball with the bad grip, and this has led to bad stroking technique. Since this bad technique has become habit, they automatically use this bad technique as soon as the rally begins - and so they subconsciously switch to the bad grip that matches the bad technique, since they cannot do the bad technique with a good grip.

The solution, of course, is lots of repetitive practice with the good grip and good technique in a controlled practice situation, usually multiball training. When the good technique seems ingrained in such rote practice drills, then the player can try them in more random drills, and finally in practice matches.

In theory, that's all you have to do to fix these problems. In practice, there are times where I'm busy smiling and being patient on the outside, but on the inside I'm screaming, "For the zillionth time, fix your grip!"

One beginning player I was working with yesterday had played a lot of "basement" ping-pong, and had developed the habit of sticking his finger down the middle of his racket and open his racket as hit his forehand, which led to him smacking the ball with backspin off the end over and over. (I think the shot might hit with the cheap blades he had been using, but not with a modern sponge racket.) When I got him to use a proper grip, he would hit a few good ones, and then fall back to the old habit. I think I said various versions of "Watch your grip!" and "Close your racket!" about one hundred times in one session. (More specifically, I'd tell him to lead with the top part of the racket, and to aim for the net, which worked sometimes.) At the end of the session he was getting it right some of the time, but as he himself noted, his racket hand seemed to have a mind of its own.

MDTTC Spring Break Camp

Here are highlights from yesterday.

  • Confusing two players. There's a beginning player I worked with extensively at our Christmas Camp in December, about twelve years old. Around February I began coaching him regularly - or so I thought. I was quite impressed with his improvement as he learned to loop and even occasionally counterloop. Then something came up, and he missed a few sessions. Then he showed up at the Spring Break Camp, but was playing miserably. He couldn't loop, could barely hit the ball; it was as if he'd forgotten all I and other coaches had taught him. It was rather frustrating at first. Then yesterday he not only showed up, but he showed up twice. It turns out that the beginning player I'd worked with at the Christmas Camp and the improving one I'd coached in February were two different look-a-like players, and yesterday was the first time I'd seem both at the club at the same time! Both are Chinese, and really do look alike, at least to me, though one is about two inches taller. I'm poor at recognizing both faces and names, alas. Neither of them have any clue about this mix up, and I'd like to keep it that way. So let's keep this a secret between you and me.
  • Cup game. Once again the most popular game with the kids at the end of each session is the Cup Game. We take paper cups and stack them in various shapes, often pyramids, and each player gets ten shots to see how many they can knock down. The most popular version is to take ten cups, and stack them with four on the bottom, three on top, two more on top of that, and one on the very top. A few times they took out the all the cups and did a pyramid that was seven stories high with 28 cups, with rows of 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. Then they'd take turns knocking it down, though whoever hit it first usually knocked down most of them.
  • Worm, caterpillar, and octopus juice. Another popular game is to put my water bottle on the table and the kids line up, taking turns taking two shots each trying to hit it. If they hit it, I have to take a sip. What makes it more interesting is that every day I have another story about how (for example) that morning I'd gotten up early, went outside and caught hundreds of worms, then squeezed them in a juice machine and that the liquid in the bottle was worm juice. I'm good at making sour faces as I drink it. I've also been forced to drink caterpillar juice and octopus juice. Tomorrow I'm thinking spiders.
  • 50-foot serves. During break today I introduced the more advanced players to the joys of fifty foot serves. You stand directly to the side of the table, about fifty feet away, and serve as hard as you can with sidespin so that the ball curves through the air, reaches the table, hits one side, and bounces sideways and hits the other. You can do this either forehand tomahawk or pendulum style. George Nie and Karl Montgomery got quite good at this. Tong Tong Gong joined in late and managed to land a few.  
  • We also did some coaching. One player in particular went from essentially a complete beginner on Monday to hitting fifty steady forehands on Wednesday. The beginners focused a lot on smashing yesterday. We also introduced "mirror footwork" to the kids, where they have to follow the leader (me at the start, then others from the group) who move side to side, constantly changing directions and trying to leave the group behind.
  • Cramps. After three days of mostly standing by a table and feeding multiball while yelling sage advice, my legs and back are starting to cramp up, and my voice is getting hoarse. And the sun rises in the east and water is wet. (As I'm typing this my right leg is cramping up a storm.)

ITTF Coaching Courses

Fremont, CA (June 11-15) and Austin, TX (Aug. 13-17) will hold ITTF coaching courses this summer. Info is here. I also plan to run one at MDTTC (Gaithersburg, MD), probably in late summer or September. If interested in the one I'll be running, email me and I'll put you on the list to notify when I have it scheduled. (I ran one last April, so this'll be the second one I've run, along with several USATT coaching seminars.)

Octopus vs. Rabbit

In honor of the octopus juice I was forced to drink (see segment above), here's an octopus playing a rabbit cartoon. And here's a rather psychedelic rabbit playing table tennis.

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April 1, 2012

Tip of the Week

Grip and Stance.

Wang Liqin is Coming to Maryland

As reported yesterday in numerous online forums and news agencies, Wang Liqin, the 2001, 2005 and 2007 World Men's Singles Champion (but now down to #9 at age 33), wasn't happy about not being chosen to play in the World Men's Team Final against Germany this past weekend. We'd been negotiating with him, but this slap in the face was the final straw for the unhappy superstar. I pick him up tonight at Dulles Airport, on United 933 from Frankfurt, GER. "I think I've done all I can for China," the disgruntled star said through a translator. "China don't need me, they don't want me, so they can't have me. Maybe I can help United States instead."

Wang also noted that he'd like to explore his other interest outside table tennis, science fiction writing. Under a pseudonym of "Wan Ling Qi" (which is an anagram of his real name), he's had several stories published in Science Fiction World, the largest SF magazine in China with a circulation of 300,000. His favorite was "Ping Pong Scientist," a story he wrote of a boy growing up playing table tennis in a futuristic world where players were more technicians than athletes with futuristic paddles covered with dials and buttons.

Wang's son, nine-year-old Tongtong, is also coming with him, and I've been told he's a level better than any USA kids his age. Both of them will be staying at my house for the first month or so while he looks for a permanent place to stay. Meanwhile, he'll both be playing for and coaching at the Maryland Table Tennis Center.

World Team Championships

The Worlds ended on Sunday with another easy victory for China in both Men's and Women's Teams, beating Germany and Singapore 3-0 in the two finals. (How many remember that Singapore actually upset China in the Women's Final two years ago? From 1975 to 2012 China has lost in Women's Teams only twice - the loss to Singapore in 2010, and in 1991 to Korea, the latter the subject of the upcoming movie "As One," previously titled "Korea.") USA Men and Women came in 53 and 23, respectively. Complete results and articles are on the ITTF home page. Here are photos by the ITTF, and photos by USATT Photographer Diego Schaaf.

There were a number of questions about why USA #1 woman Gao Jun only played in one of the five preliminary matches. Presumably we'll find out why in Coach Doru Gheorghe's team report. Here's an article on the question.

There was some great play in the Men's Team Final. (Sorry, haven't watched the Women's Final yet, but you can easily find them on youtube.) Here are those three matches, with the time between points removed so you can watch the entire thing in about 20 minutes.

Faults at the Worlds!

Here's a video of the now infamous Robert Gardos (Austria) vs. Bartosz Such (Poland) match at the Worlds (6:14), where both players were faulted over and over. At one point Such was faulted on five consecutive serves.

MDTTC expansion and Spring Break Camp

The MDTTC expansion finished last week, and we're almost getting used to playing in a full-time playing hall (10,000 sq ft) that seems the size of a soccer stadium. (I think some people spend hours wandering about the place lost - it's that big.) Right now we have 16 courts set up, and we have two others we can put up. If we want, we can buy more tables and probably fit in 25 or so.

On Saturday we had a small local tournament, the Coconut Teams, an annual event. While they ran their tournament on twelve tables, the four coaches (including me) coached on the other four. I counted 93 players that morning, and we probably had over 100.

This morning we start our Spring Break Camp, which coincides with spring break in the local schools. I can't wait to see the expression on some of the kids when they come in and see the new place for the first time.

Backspin on Reverse Pendulum Serve

Here's a video from PingSkills on the creating backspin with the Reverse Pendulum Serve (1:06).

Table Tennis Cards

Mike Mezyan has created two table tennis cards, and plans to create sixty of them. Here are his first two cards:

April Fools Prank

Here's a hilarious 16-second April Fool's ping-pong balls in a car joke. That's a lot of balls in that car! Of course, we here at TableTennisCoaching.com never do April Fool's postings. 

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March 28, 2012

Grip and Stance

Let's do a thought experiment. Hold a piece of paper so you hold the top with one hand, the bottom with the other. Now twist the top. Notice how the entire piece of paper twists? Now twist the bottom. Same thing. How does this relate to table tennis?

Now imagine holding a table tennis player in your hands. (You are either very strong or the player is very small.) Hold his playing hand in one hand and his feet with the other. Twist his playing hand and his entire body twists. The same if you twist his feet.

This is what happens when you have a bad grip or bad playing stance. It twists your entire body out of proper alignment, causing all sorts of technique problems. These two problems are by far the most common cause of technique problems. Most often they are not recognized as even many experienced coaches often treat the symptoms of these problems rather than recognizing the cause.

This is why I strongly recommend that players should use a neutral grip during their formative years, and usually well beyond that. (For shakehand players, this means the thinnest part of the wrist lines up with the racket. If the top is tilted away from you when you hold the racket in front of you, it's a backhand grip; if the top is tilted toward you, it's a forehand grip.) A neutral grip means your racket will aim in the same direction as your body is stroking the ball. A non-neutral grip forces you to adjust your stroke in often awkward ways since the racket is aiming one way while your wrist, arm, shoulder, etc., are aiming another direction.

At the advanced levels some players do adjust their grips, taking on usually slight forehand or backhand grips. (I generally use a slight forehand grip, but only after I'd been playing ten years.) There are some technical advantages to this, but only after you have ingrained proper stroking technique.

Similarly, make sure you are in at least a slight forehand stance when hitting forehands (i.e. right foot slightly back for righties, shoulders turned back as you backswing, etc.)

Even at the advanced levels often players have trouble with a specific stroke because of their grip or stance. Because they've played this way so long they don't even recognize the cause of their problem, and most often they are destined to an eternity of stroking like a crinkled piece of paper. In a few cases they realize what the cause is, and fix the problem, which often simply means going back to a more neutral grip or adjusting the foot positioning.

Like a piece of paper, if you get the top and bottom parts right, the rest falls into place. (An expanded version of this might end up as a Tip of the Week.)

World Team Championships
Dortmund, Germany, March 25 - April 1, 2012

Guo Yue in Slo Mo

Here's a 48-second video of China's World #7 Guo Yue in slow motion. She was #1 in the world in January of 2008, and has had probably a record 24 different rankings as #2 in the ITTF monthly rankings. 

Table Tennis - Pure Magic

Here's another table tennis video (5:59), set to music with lots of slow motion. It's from 2009, but I don't think I've ever posted it.

Cell Phone Pong

Yes, table tennis with a cell phone (0:16), with the phone's video camera running!

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March 12, 2012

Tip of the Week

As I also write one week ago, for a while I've been bothered by two blog posts that really should have been Tips of the Week. As blog items, they were read and then lost in the avalanche of daily blog postings. As Tips of the Week, they'd be more accessible in the future as coaching articles. Since I'm currently working eight hours a day with Tim Boggan on the page layouts and photo work for his latest table tennis history book (we hope to finish today), as well as my usual coaching and other duties, last Monday and today I'm putting up these two items, with some updating/expansion, as Tips. So here is: Developing a Smash.

Exhaustion

Today is Day 14 of doing the page layouts and photo work on Tim Boggan's History of Table Tennis, Volume 12. No days off, no half days, usually getting up at 5AM and starting work at 6AM, and going until about 5PM or until I have my coaching scheduled. Since I'm also subbing for Coach Jeffrey Zeng Xun, I've been coaching nearly seven nights a week. (Jeffrey was in China for two months, but returned Friday, and starts coaching again today.) I've also been involved in various aspects of the MDTTC expansion project, tutor calculus two hours a week, and sometimes sleep and eat.

So I'm TIRED. As in EXHAUSTED.

Fortunately, we should finish the book today, and with Jeffrey back, my coaching schedule is back to sanity. There's a thing in my room called a bed, and I hope to have a long, first-hand acquaintance with it soon. (I'm off to the Cary Cup this Thursday, where I'm playing hardbat Friday morning and coaching the rest of the way, so that should bring back some of the no-doubt sorely missed exhaustion.)

USATT Junior & Cadet Training Camp

USA Table Tennis is looking for someone to run a one-week training camp for the USA National Junior and Cadet Teams, June 23-29, 2012. I'd actually like to see a longer camp, more like 2-3 weeks, but one week is better than none. Here are the bid specs.

There is no financial incentive, and the club that hosts the camp would likely have to absorb many expenses as well as putting in huge amounts of time. I was thinking about putting in a bid from Maryland Table Tennis Center. MDTTC is currently in the process of expanding to 18 courts (more if we squeeze), along with showers, weight room, all new red flooring, air conditioning, etc. And we have a number of top players/practice partners in the area, including Han Xiao, Peter Li, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, probably a new top Chinese player/coaching coming in, and lots of 2300 players, such as Raghu Nadmichettu, Nathan Hsu, and others. We also have Cadet Team Member Tong Tong Gong, and Mini-Cadet members Derek Nie and Crystal Wang. Since it's during summer, we'll also probably have others such as Marcus Jackson and Amaresh Sahu back from school. So I think we'd have a pretty strong bid.

However, we probably won't put in a bid. Why? The bid includes this part: "Venue must be exclusive available for National Teams players and coaches only. No other activities to be conducted in the venue during the NT practice time." (Note the word "must.")

We're a full-time training center. The bid estimates that they would want the hall from 9AM-noon and from 4-7PM. The latter are peak hours for our junior training, and we're not about to tell our full-time coaches (me, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, probably one other coach) that they can't coach during peak hours for a week at the club where they make a living. (Not to mention all the junior players who suddenly can't practice after school.) The training camp only needs 12 tables, no problem. We just need 3-4 of them, leaving at least 14 for the camp.

I don't want to go through the time and effort of a bid if this is a "must," as the bid says, especially if there are going to be rival bidders who on paper will sound better because they aren't full-time training centers and so can offer the "exclusive." (Of course there might also be a full-time center out there willing to close down their coaching during these hours for a week.) We're also running camps all summer long starting June 18, and the camp is June 23-29. So we'd have to cancel a camp, meaning the club and coaches would be out several thousand dollars, in addition to other expenses and time spent to accommodate such a camp.

Coaching Videos

Here are two more short but excellent coaching videos from PingSkills:

Michael Landers Highlights Video

Here's the Landers Highlights Video (7:41) from the U.S. World and Olympic Team Trials!

Cat dominates mini-table play

Who's dominating this game? (0:53)

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July 14, 2011

MDTTC CAMP HAPPENINGS

  • Day Four
    We're in the middle (well, 30% in) of a two-week training camp at Maryland Table Tennis Center, Mon-Fri this week and next week. Coaches at the camp are myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, and Sun Ting.
  • Knocking off cups
    We had a competition yesterday where I set up ten paper cups on the table, bowling pin fashion, and players were given ten shots to knock off as many as they could, with me feeding the balls mult-ball fashion. Whoever knocked off the most would win a free drink. Two players knocked off nine, and so they had a playoff. One kid again knocked off nine in the playoff. The second kid, Chetan Nama, had knocked off eight, and had one shot left. Then, with everyone screaming, with his last shot nailed the last two cups to knock off all ten and win a free Gatorade!
  • I'm a bad influence
    What else can I be when the kids at camp spent much of break time today playing with clipboards and my oversized racket. I take on challenges with these "rackets" during break, and now it's spreading like a disease.
  • Seriously Black Sirius Black
    I wore all black yesterday. I was quickly nicknamed Seriously Black Sirius Black. If you're an old fuddy-duddy (or more specifically, a muggle), and have no idea who that is, Google it.
  • Harry Potter
    Several of the kids are planning seeing the midnight showing of Harry Potter tonight, and still make camp tomorrow morning. That means they'll get to bed around 3AM. I look forward to working the sleepy little wizards wands, I mean rackets, off.
  • Actual table tennis stuff
    The focus yesterday was on backhand attack - backhand smash, backhand drive against backspin, and backhand loop. (How do you teach someone to attack a backspin? Tell them to arc the ball with topspin way off the end.) Today's focus is footwork - though as I'll explain, all table tennis is footwork.

Thoughts on grip

In general, I strongly recommend new shakehand players use a neutral grip, i.e. the thinnest part of the wrist should line up with the racket. This allows a natural stroke - the racket and the arm face the same way. If you start with a forehand grip (top of the racket tilts to the left for righties) or backhand grip (top of the racket tilts to the right for righties), it will probably mess up your stroke development. However, once your game is developed - say, 1800 level, where you can execute proper shots in a game consistently - some players switch to a forehand or backhand grip to enhance their game. There's nothing wrong with this. Timo Boll, #2 in the world and the best European player, uses a forehand grip, for example, and many top players use backhand grips to enhance their backhands, such as Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece, a former top ten player. 

Many kids have trouble gripping the racket "properly," putting their index finger almost down the middle, sort of like 1967 Men's World Champion Nobuhiku Hasegawa. While that worked for him, that type of grip tends to leave the racket less stable, plus the finger is in the way on the backhand. So I don't normally recommend this. However, many kids with smaller hands have trouble holding the racket with the index finger along the bottom of the blade. So I often compromise with them, with the finger someone up, but not straight up. For one thing, with a shorter index finger, it doesn't really interfere with the backhand. As they get older and bigger, the index finger naturally migrates down into a more stable position.

Another problem is many kids (and adults) hold the racket too tightly. The racket shouldn't be so loose that it moves around on its own, but it should be loose enough so that if someone were to grab the racket out of their hand, it would come right out. Any tighter and it means the muscles are too contracted to move naturally.

Funny ping-pong pictures

Yes, funny ping-pong pictures.

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June 28, 2011

U.S. Open

I leave for the U.S. Open tomorrow morning. Since my flight out of BWI is at 7AM I'll be leaving around 4:30 AM - it's an hour away. (Guess I have to get up really early tomorrow to do my blog.) I'll try to blog about tournament while I'm there, though between coaching and playing in hardbat events, I'm not sure how many of the "big" matches I'll get to see. I'm also going to attend some USATT meetings.

If you are at the Open, come by and say hello. And before you go there, make sure to get lots of sleep, eat well, and PRACTICE YOUR SERVES! Service practice and match play are the two most important table tennis things you can do just before a tournament. On the other hand, I may have to play or coach against you, so stay up late, eat potato chips, and watch plenty of TV.

U.S. Open Table Tennis Dream

About an hour ago I woke from the strangest table tennis dream possible. I grabbed a notebook and wrote it down.

I was at the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships, which starts in two days in Milwaukee. I was coaching Tong Tong Gong, a member of the U.S. cadet team who I'll be coaching there. His opponent complained about his racket, pointing out that Tong Tong was using a book as a racket. The referee, an extremely old man with a white beard that dragged on the floor, examined the book, and declared it illegal, saying the racket needed to be made of wood. He handed it back to Tong Tong, who started to cry. (Sorry Tong Tong, I'm just reporting the facts!) I argued that paper comes from wood, but the referee just smiled and then dissolved into nothing. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger, wearing a black raincoat and dark sunglasses, walked over, followed by eight others. The eight also wore black raincoats and carried black umbrellas, though it wasn't raining. Right about now I realized that we were outdoors, with hundreds of table tennis tables set up on railroad tracks. Arnold snatched the book out of Tong Tong's hand, and then leaped into the air and flew away like superman. The other eight black raincoat-clad umbrella-waving men flew after him. I leaped into the air and flew after them, holding a ping-pong paddle. I landed next to a railroad car, and looked inside, and found Arnold and the eight there. They came out and attacked me with their umbrellas on the railroad tracks. I knocked each one out with my paddle with a forehand or backhand stroke. Each time I knocked one out I said, "Happy birthday." I knocked out Arnold with a backhand and grabbed the book from his hands. Then I saw Tong Tong lighting fire to an old jeep that was apparently Arnold's. We pushed it down a road that paralleled the railroad tracks, and it slammed into a cliff and exploded. Then I woke up.

The Grip

Here's a nice article on the shakehands grip by German National Coach Richard Prause.

Ping-pong without a partner or a ball.

The Japanese have developed a table-tennis game that you play by ear. Make sure to play the two-minute video demo. And to think it all started with a simple video game called "Pong"!

Milwaukee Brewers versus the Chinese National Women's Table Tennis Team

Guess who won? (Former Chinese team member and all-time great Zhang Yining also "competed.")

Allstar Challenge

Here are the results, pictures, and other info on the International Table Tennis All-Star Challenge held this past weekend in Markham, Ontario, Canada. The winner was a blast from the past - Zoran Primorac, who defeated Wang Xi in the final. Here are the (somewhat convoluted?) results.

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