Hurricane Sandy

October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Well, the power didn't go out, neither did the Internet or TV, and there aren't even any major damages to my house or anything else of mine. All I have to show for the hurricane is lots and lots of non-perishable food I bought just in case I wouldn't have a microwave for a few days, and lots of reading. Anyone want a box of apple fritters?

Drill the Fundamentals and the Specifics

It is important to drill the fundamentals into your game until you can do them in your sleep. (Here's my article on that.) But often players forget to practice specifically what they do in a match. For example, I know a player who likes to counterloop close to the table with his forehand. He spends a lot of time practicing counterlooping. But in matches he has trouble counterlooping against an opponent's first loop off underspin, which is usually done closer to the table than other loops, has a different arc, and usually more topspin. A simple drill to practice against this would be to have a coach serve backspin, the player pushes it back, the coach loops, and the player counterloops. The coach doesn't play out the point; as soon as he finishes his loop, he reaches for a ball from a box. (It's an improvised version of multiball.) This matches what a player faces in a match, as opposed to just counterlooping, and it gives far more practice on this specific skill in a given time than just playing out points.

So work on your fundamentals, but also look at what you do in a match - or need to do - and find drills that match that specifically, and perfect the skill. (An expanded version of this might become a Tip of the Week.)

Attacking Short Balls

Here's a video from PingSkills on attacking short balls (2:02).

The Need for Strong Coaches

Here's an article in the Deccan Chronicle in India on USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee and the need for strong coaches. Richard just ran three ITTF Coaching Seminars in India.

Ping-Pong Robot Plays Like a Person

Here's an article and pictures in New Scientist about a robot developed in Germany that is learning to play like a real person. Let me be the first one to predict that robots will soon be entered in tournaments like regular people, with ratings and everything. (They do this in chess already.) Not sure if they're ready for the Chinese team yet.

Grant Li and Table Tennis

Here's an article at Paddle Palace, "Grant Li Has Found His Stride in School and on the Table." Grant, rated 2471, is ranked #5 in the U.S. ratings for Under 18, but I believe is #1 among USA citizens.

Table Tennis Picture in Washington Post

Here's a table tennis picture yesterday in the Washington Post front page section (A-10). Caption reads, "Engineering students, showing taking a break from classes at top, are a priority in Mexican higher education." Here's the actual online article (table tennis isn't mentioned in it); the table tennis picture is the seventh one in the gallery.

Zhang Jike on Chinese Game Show

Here's Zhang Jike (World Men's Singles Champion and #1 ranked player) on the popular and humorous Chinese variety show Day Day Up (20:22). It's in Chinese, but with English subtitles. At one point he takes on four players at once - quadruples?

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October 29, 2012

Tip of the Week

The Falkenberg Drill.

Malware Illusion

If you are using Chrome as your browser (as I do), you may still be getting some malware warnings when you come to this site. It's an illusion, since Google inadvertently listed this (and many other sites I've found) as having malware problems recently, and Chrome is still picking up on this for some reason. (Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers are not.) I'm calling my server today to find out how best to fix this problem quickly. It turns out the site never had any malware at all. None. Zilch. Clean as a fresh sheet of table tennis sponge.

Hurricane Sandy

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy approaches with the sole purpose to disrupt my table tennis coaching schedule. Yes, that's my theory, and I'm sticking with it. The winds haven't reached here yet, but it's pouring rain outside. So here's a special hurricane section.

  • HHH: In the junior class I teach on Saturday and Sunday I asked everyone which of the three H's they found most exciting, Hurricane Sandy, Halloween, or Hodges Table Tennis Class. Alas, I didn't fare well in the voting. (John Hsu, who assisted on Sunday, pointed out that he's also an H, so I guess the class was a 4-H meeting.)
  • Hurricane Sandy Anagrams: Insured Anarchy, Rude Anarchy Sin, Rich Nerdy Sauna, Rush Rainy Dance, and Dry Insurance? Ha!
  • Hurricane Sandy Paddle: Yes, They've already got a Hurricane Sandy Paddle!

Grip Problems

Perhaps the biggest problem with coaching younger beginning kids is getting them to stick to a good grip. This weekend I found five different problematic grips various kids were using. The problem is that even when you correct their grips, they go back to the bad one almost immediately, often without even knowing it. Here are some of the grip problems the beginning kids had this weekend:

  • Hasegawa grip. This is where they put the index finger straight down the middle of the paddle. This leads to tight muscles and awkward, wristy strokes.
  • Low grip. With this grip, there's a big gap between the hand and paddle. (It's a less extreme version of the Hasegawa grip.) Developing players who use this grip often end up with wristy problems and a lack of control.
  • Seemiller grip. This very short kid kept rotating the racket so that he'd hit his forehand with nearly a Seemiller grip, with his thumb off the racket and pointing at his opponent, and essentially block the forehand. Then he'd change his grip to normal for his backhand.
  • Thumb grip. This is where they put the soft part of the thumb on the paddle, essentially an extreme backhand grip.
  • Hunched shoulder grip. This kid hunched up his playing shoulder, and to compensate, held his racket with the top rotated to his forehand side (an extreme backhand grip). I'm not sure if the hunched shoulder led to the grip or the grip led to the hunched shoulder.

Olga Feingold Kahan - R.I.P.

We've lost one of our illustrious members and a hard-working volunteer. Here's Tim Boggan's tribute to Olga Feingold Kahan, who died over the weekend.

World Cadet Challenge

The World Cadet Challenge is going on right now in Guam, Oct. 27 - Nov. 4. Here's the ITTF World Cadet Challenge page, with schedules, results, articles, and pictures. Here's a picture of the North American Team, which includes USA players Allen Wang, Jonathan Ou, Isabel Chu, and Diane Jiang.

Four Tips from a Teen Olympian

Here's an article in Forbes Magazine that features advice from U.S. Women's Champion and Olympian Ariel Hsing. The short version? 1) Master the fundamentals; 2) Take risk; 3) Be willing to fail; and 4) Practice, practice, practice. Pretty good advice for table tennis, business people, or life in general.

Changing Your Grip

Here's a video from PingSkills (1:51) on changing the grip from forehand to backhand.

Pongcast Episode 18

Here's their latest episode (16:25), showcasing the 2012 European Championships.

Ping-Pong Dance

This video can best be described as a mixture of table tennis and break dancing (4:07).

I don't know how to describe this dance (4:07), which seems a mixture of table tennis and break dancing.

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