Office Table Tennis

June 13, 2013

Staying Low Revisited

The Tip of the Week this past Monday was Staying Low. It was inspired by a student of mine, Sameer, 11, who tends to stand up straight when he plays. I've been on him about this for some time, and usually he gets lower - but only in practice drills if I constantly remind him. Once he plays points, he stands up again. At the Eastern Open this past weekend he won Under 800 and made the final of U950, but there were times where he didn't look so good since he was standing up so straight. (In newer ratings from before the tournament, he's rated 1181.)

So I told him that for the next month, our sessions are going to be very "boring," that we're going to focus almost exclusively on staying low. It's not just getting low, it's how you do it. When he does get low, his tendency is to simply bend his knees while leaning backwards from the waist, instead of forward. Also, his feet tend to be too close together, his feet pointing too much forward. You can't fix any one of these; they all go together. He also tends to either let his free arm tightly at his side, either hanging down or jammed up to his chest. Keeping the free hand out for balance is closely related to the ready position as you need it to stay balanced when you move.

So yesterday we started off by spending about ten minutes just shadow practicing with the proper stance. Once he looked comfortable doing this, we hit forehand to forehand at a very slow pace - it almost drove him crazy since he likes to play fast (like most kids), and every now and then in exasperation he'd smack one in. But we did this for twenty minutes, just forehand to forehand, adding some side-to-side footwork near the end. Then we did the same thing, backhand to backhand.

Then we played some points. The key was that he wasn't to play table tennis; he was to play "low table tennis," where he had to play the points in his newer stance. I expected problems, and kept the rallies simple - but lo and behold, he'd developed the habit during those excruciatingly slow rallies! Normally when I spot him 6 points I win over and over. This time he did something unthinkable - he won four out of five! Now I probably did miss a few shots, and was keeping things simple, but it was by far the best he's ever played. As a side bonus, by staying low he was able to see and react to my serve better than before, and returned them better than ever, even the "trick" serves I threw at him near the end of most games.

Table Tennista

Here are this week's headlines at Table Tennista:

China Open

Here's an ITTF story that features USA player Ariel Hsing - unfortunately, it features her upset loss. Here's the ITTF home page for the China Open, with results, articles, photos, and videos.

Behind the Scenes at the 2013 China Open

Here's a 38-second video with a few action shots and short interviews with Chinese players at the China Open. Interesting to watch, even more interesting if you understand Chinese, which I do not. Feel free to translate anyone!  

Three More Books Coming Out By Next Year

By the end of the year I'll have enough Tips of the Week to put them together in one volume, "Table Tennis Tips." (Highly original title - have a better suggestion?) It'll clearly be marked as a compilation of my previously published Tips of the Week. So far I've done 123 Tips of the Week here at, one every Monday since Jan. 11, 2011. (Confession: a few didn't go up until Tuesday.) I anticipate doing 29 more this year, for a total of 152, plenty for a book. Sadly, I'm running out of topics, and so anticipate ending the Tips of the Week at the end of this year. (I also did 169 much shorter Tips of the Week, which were published near the back of Table Tennis Tales & Techniques - took up only 54 of the book's 272 pages. The Tips I do here are considerably longer, more like features than simple tips.)

Next year I'll also be publishing "More Pings and Pongs," the second anthology of my best published science fiction & fantasy stories. "Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges" came out in 2010 with my 30 best; I've now sold enough new stories for a new volume. The only problem is that typically when you sell a story, the buyer generally has sole rights to the story for six months, and so I anticipate I won't have rights to all the stories I'd like to use until April of 2014.

As a special, I've lowered the price for the Kindle version of Pings and Pongs to $2.99 - buy yours today!!! (I'd lower the price of the print version, but due to printing costs and other issues, the lowest I can sell it for is $8.35 - a bargain!!! It includes "Ping-Pong Ambition," a table tennis fantasy story.)

I have one other book also planned - "Table Tennis Fundamentals," the rewrite of "Table Tennis Steps to Success."

Here's my Amazon page that lists all my books, other than the USATT manual "Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis," which I plan to rewrite and have professionally published sometime in the future.

Non-Table Tennis - Orioles Top Ten List

Orioles Hangout published another of my infamous Top Ten Lists. This one was "Top Ten Ways the Orioles Can Get a TOR Starter." (For you non-baseball people, "TOR Starter" means "Top Of Rotation Starter," i.e. a pitching ace.) It's the eleventh article of mine they've published - nine "Top Ten" lists and two regular articles.

Non-Table Tennis - Sheeba

Yesterday I did 3.5 hours of coaching, and was pretty exhausted afterwards. I got home around 8:15PM, and let Sheeba, my dog, outside. She's 15 years old, which puts her in her eighties in human years. She's almost completely deaf, and half blind - almost completely blind without bright light - and has arthritic back legs so she hobbles around. When I went down around 8:30 PM the gate was open. One of the tenants downstairs had just left, and likely left it open, not realizing she was in the yard. Sheeba was nowhere to be seen.

I spent the next hour and 45 minutes circling the neighborhood and expanding outward, trying to find her. Calling for her was pointless since she's deaf, though I found it was a good way to indicate to people that I was searching for a lost dog. I kept asking around, and twice I found people who had seen her going by. Finally, at around 10:15 PM, I got a call from someone who had found her. I thanked her profusely, and walked the evil, naughty dog back home, where she demanded (and got) a bacon snack.

My legs are exhausted this morning, partly from 3.5 hours of coaching, but mostly from walking around for an hour and 45 minutes.

Table Table Tennis and Office Table Tennis

My legs are so tired from coaching and searching for Sheeba that for now on I'm going to play table tennis like this. Or perhaps like this.

Send us your own coaching news!

February 7, 2013

Last Night's Coaching

After I finished working all day on Tim's book (see below), I went to the club to coach from 5-8PM. However, my 6PM student hurt his arm playing basketball and had to cancel. The 7PM came in early so I was able to do him from 6-7PM.

The 5PM student was Audrey Weisiger, the Olympic Figure Skating coach I blogged about on Jan. 17. She's coming along pretty well, can hit regular forehand to forehand and backhand to backhand pretty well. She still has a few bad habits on the forehand when she starts a session, but she gets over them quickly. She sometimes tends to rotate her body rigidly into the shot, and also often finds herself either jammed at the table or backing off, so I have to remind her to find that spot in between, about arm’s length from the table. Halfway through the session while doing multiball she suddenly caught fire and did side-to-side forehand footwork really well, hitting about 50 solid drives in a row.

I also introduced her to pushing, something she badly needed since she's been losing badly to a fellow figure skating coach who serves backspin, which she puts in the net over and over. (Now you know her incentive for taking coaching!) She's mastering backspin, both with her push (she learned quickly), and is getting some decent backspin on her serves now.

Here's the really interesting thing about this particular session. We started early, at about 10 minutes to 5PM, and went for 70 minutes. Now we weren't creaming the ball back and forth as she's still a beginner, but in the entire 70 minutes, excluding nets and edges - brace yourself - I didn't miss a shot!!! Not one. She'll verify this. (About 25 minutes of the session was multiball, the rest "live.") I also went ten minutes into my next session (where we were going at a faster pace) before finally missing.

The 6PM student was a 12-year-old who's beginning to master the loop. He still tends to use too much arm when looping (both forehand and backhand), but after a few minutes gets it right. His backhand loop in multiball is especially getting steady. One big breakthrough for him yesterday - he discovered that if he faked a smash to my forehand, then at the last second rotated his shoulders back and smashed to my middle or backhand, he could finally get the ball past me. (I'd told him about this before, but it didn't register until now.) Before all his smashes were predictable and easy to counter or fish back. This makes him a bit more dangerous!

After the two sessions, I showed another player how to use the robot, then left for home. Since I was done nearly an hour earlier than expected, I was able to put together the first draft for the upcoming ad in USATT Magazine for Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. I may also place the ad in other table tennis magazines. I also started work on the flyer for Tim Boggan's History of Table Tennis, Volume 13.

Status: Table Tennis Coaching for Thinkers

I got word from Amazon that print copies will be on sale in "5-7 business days." But I got the same note about Pings and Pongs, and they were online in two days. I'll post when they are up. Meanwhile, I ordered 110 copies for myself - ten to arrive next week, and 100 more the following week (to save on shipping).

Status: Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13

We've done the covers and the first five chapters out of 29. This puts us to page 86. Tim's been going crazy with the pictures - I've placed 218 of them so far on only 90 pages (including the outside and inside covers), or about 2.4 per page!!! The last volume had a record 837, but we're on pace for about 1100. Nearly all need fixing up in Photoshop, and many practically need surgery before they can be used. It's a long tedious process. We're working roughly from 7AM to 5PM each day, but while he's then done for the day, I'm off to coach, plus I need to do the blog each night, plus about ten other things that seem to come up each day.

New Table Tennis App

Here's a new table tennis app from Google. Here's how they describe it: "This is an info tool and mainly for trained table tennis players to check ratings, sanctioned tournaments, clubs, umpires as well as some basic info from USA and ITTF world rankings and events. It can also be used as a scoreboard and a simple coaching pad." So who wants to be our beta tester?

Timo Boll  vs. Chuang Chih Yuan

Here's video (5:26) of their match in the Champions League.

Mini-Table Tennis?

Here's a picture. Is it a game or statues?

Office Table Tennis

Ready for your Monday morning meeting?

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content