Qatar Open

February 25, 2014

Want to Improve? Compete with a Junior!

Here's a little tip for those who want to improve. Every club has some up-and-coming junior who practices regularly and keeps getting better. Well, why not grab his coattails (even if you are currently better), and try to stay with him? It gives incentive and can lead to great improvement. Make a friendly rivalry out of it, perhaps practice with and play the kid regularly. As he improves, he'll push you to improve.

It may be counter-intuitive, but even if you are better, and practicing with the kid seems to help him more than you (and thereby make it "harder" to stay with him), it works both ways. His improvement will push you to higher levels, either to stay ahead or to stay with him. He probably plays faster than you; his speed will push you to rally and react at a faster pace. As he gets better, he'll push you to find new ways to win points, and suddenly you'll be thinking more about the aspects where you should have an advantage due to experience: serve, receive, heavy spins (topspin and backspin), placement, or just plain consistency. You'll have incentive to develop these aspects in ways you might not do against other players who are not improving so much. The more he adjusts to you and improves, the more you'll adjust to him and improve. And you can ride his improvement as long as you can, right up to a pretty high level. And if he does finally pull away, with you metaphorically kicking and screaming all the way as you try to stay with him, you'll both have improved dramatically, and will be able to point at this star in the future and say, "I was his practice partner." He may even remember you someday during his USATT Hall of Fame induction speech!

Beginning/Intermediate Class

We had the second meeting of the new class yesterday. (Ten Mondays, 6:30-8:00 PM.) There are eleven in the class, ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties. We started with a forehand review and warm-up. I had most hit among themselves. Two players were complete beginners, so I put them with my assistant coach, John Hsu, who did mostly multiball with them.

Then I called everyone together and John and I did a backhand demo, and I lectured on the intricacies of the shot - foot stance, racket tip (sideways or 45 degrees), contact (flat or topspin), etc. Then they paired off for practice again (with the new players with John again). Later I called everyone together again to demo and explain down-the-line shots (on forehand, line up shoulders properly and take the ball later), and then they practiced down the line. Then I called them together again and did a review of serving with spin, which I taught last week. Then we went over service deception. (One key concept I explained is that even if you can't come close to doing it now, it's important to know what's possible so you can work toward it.) I went over the three main types of service deception - sheer spin, semi-circular motion, and spin/no-spin combos.

After serve practice we played a little game the last 5-7 minutes where we stacked ten paper cups in a pyramid, and everyone had ten shots (fed multiball) to see how many they could knock over. (We used two tables, so John and I both fed shots.)

Two players had missed last week session so I stayed 30 minutes afterwards to recap for them what had been covered the previous week - grip, ready stance, forehand, and serving with spin.

USATT Minutes and Reports

Lots of breaking news from USATT. Below are the minutes from the USATT's two-day board meeting at the USA Nationals and from their January teleconference, the news item on the new tournament sanctioning procedures (no more tournament protection, i.e. pure free market), and the 2014 budget. My last two blogs were mostly about an interview with the ITTF president and about the chair of the USATT board's report, so today I'm going to go back to blogging about the emphasis for this blog - coaching - and save my thoughts on the below for later.

Top Ten Shots at the 2014 Qatar Open

Here's the video (4:40).

Mini-Table Tennis

Here it is! Anyone know who Kosto and Zik are?

Exhibition Tricks from Scott Preiss

Send us your own coaching news!

February 28, 2013


It looks like what I thought was a cold is actually the flu. The difference is I'm feeling constant muscle aches and soreness, which apparently is a flu symptom, not a cold's. So how am I feeling? Other than the constant coughing, runny nose, green stuff coming out of my lungs, entire body encased in aches, and complete exhaustion, I'm fine, thanks for asking. (I got Raghu Nadmichettu to substitute for my coaching last night as I spent my 53rd birthday in bed.) 

Playing While Sick

Way back in the fall of 1979, when I was 19, I had my big breakthrough tournament at the North Carolina Open. I was rated about 1850, but was way under-rated, and knew it - and so I was somewhat excited in the days before the tournament, so much so that I couldn't sleep. Making it worse is I came down sick. I used to be an insomniac, and often went a night without sleeping. This time I didn't sleep the last two nights before the tournament (Thur and Fri), and I came down with a fever of 101.

Early in the tournament I pulled off a nice win, and celebrated with a quarter pounder with cheese. When I won another match, I had another quarter pounder with cheese. Eventually I found myself in the Open Singles final (despite not being among the top eight seeds). As the match began, my head was burning up - several people had put their hands to my forehand and verified it was pretty bad. I had a horrible stomachache from all the quarter pounders - something like nine of them in one day, and having to play right after eating them. I faced Fred King, who in modern ratings would have been about 2200. Anyway, down 13-17 in the fifth on Fred's serve (games were to 21 back in those days, and you served five times in a row), I scored all five on his serve, and ended up winning 21-19 in the fifth. I also won Under 22, Under 2000, and Open Doubles, all four events I'd been entered in.

I spent the next few days in bed recuperating - I was pretty sick. I also became so sick at the idea of eating hamburgers that I've never eaten another hamburger or cheeseburger since, except at the 2000 Junior Olympics. The kids knew about my aversion to hamburgers, so I made a deal with them before the tournament: if they won over half the gold medals, I'd eat a cheeseburger. They did, and I did. That was the only one I've had since 1979.

Now that I'm as sick as I was that day back in 1979, perhaps I should enter a tournament this weekend?

Paris 2013

Here's the table used at the Chinese Team Trials for the upcoming World Championships in Paris.

Pongcast Episode 24

Here's another Pongcast (15:24). "In this episode: Results and analysis of the 2013 Qatar Open, Project Runway finds style in table tennis, Extra TV gets their pong on, and find out what it's like to be Timo Boll in practice!"

Wang Hao's Around the Net Loop

Here's a video (22 sec) of Wang Hao doing an around-the-net no-bounce loop at the Qatar Open against Germany's Patrick Baum.

Spin Move and Backhand Counterloop

Here's a video (27 sec) showing Kenta Matsudaira who both does a complete 360 spin after one shot, and a few shots later pulls out a winning backhand counterloop.

Trick Shots

Here's a video (2:29) of trick shots.

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content