March 22, 2013

Bar-T Exhibition

As noted in my blog yesterday, I did three hours of demonstrations and exhibitions at a health fair at a Bar-T yesterday. The location was about 200 yards from MDTTC, about a 3-iron shot away! They already had a table, so we physically carried over 14 barriers to create a playing court. I did all the talking, giving short intros, then stroke and footwork demonstrations, exhibitions, and then challenges from the audience (sometimes hitting around, sometimes playing games, and sometimes challenging them to return serves). We went through this routine every 30 minutes. My hitting partners were 2500 player Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen") the first half, and 2600 player Wang Qing Liang ("Leon") the second half. John Hsu stayed the entire time to give out flyers and talk to potential players.

The actual turnout was not as great as I'd have hoped. When we do exhibitions for schools we typically get a gymnasium full of kids. (And we have plans now for doing a round of exhibitions at local schools - more on that when it comes up.)

One ironic moment - for one of our "shows," we only had about ten people watching. And then all but one had to suddenly had to leave - it turned out it was time for the belly dancing demo at the health fair, and all of them were either belly dancers or watchers! So we cancelled that segment and hit with the one viewer who remained, and others who came by shortly after. It's the first time in my 37 years in table tennis that I've ever lost an audience to belly dancing. Has this happened to you?

About halfway through, while reaching for a ball that had gone into some wooden shelves, I cut myself badly on my left index finger. It began to bleed pretty badly. Fortunately, being a health fair, they had a first aid kit available. I tried putting on a bandage from the kit, and it literally crumbled in my hand. How old was this kit? Older than my 37 years in table tennis? I grabbed a second band aid, and it too crumbled. I finally found one near the bottom that stayed together enough to cover the cut and stop the bleeding. It sufficed for the two hours before I was able to get home to clean it and put on a more recent vintage of a band aid.

Speaking of injuries, I'd pulled a muscle in my thigh during the hardbat competition at the Cary Cup last Friday. I'd been limping slightly since then, but able to coach against non-top players. I aggravated it a bit during the exhibitions, and will probably take today's session off. (Normally I'm a practice partner on Fridays from 5-7 PM for our Elite junior program.)

Explaining Spin to a Six-Year-Old

After the exhibition I still had two hours of coaching to do that afternoon. The most memorable memory of those two hours? Talking about spin for ten minutes with a very curious six-year-old. Literally every sentence out of his mouth began with "Why" or "How come," but I'd rather kids with such interest than ones without. And now the kid knows all about topspin, backspin, and sidespin, and their effects, advantages, and disadvantages - plus I taught him how to push for the first time, backspin to backspin, which he found fascinating. The funniest moment came after I explained and demonstrated sidespin, and he said that's how the earth spins! At some point I'll explain corkscrewspin to him.

Spring Break Camp

Our Spring Break Camp at Maryland Table Tennis Center is Mon-Fri next week, 10AM - 6PM. Come on out and join us! It's for all ages and levels, but will be pretty much dominated by local junior players on spring break from school. I mostly run the morning sessions, where I give short lectures and the mostly do multiball training. (Since it's mostly locals, the lectures will be very short - they've heard them all a zillion times.) We have a two-hour lunch break (with Chinese food delivered), and then the kids play various games, such as "Jungle Pong," while a dedicated few practice their serves or do other training. The afternoon sessions (run by Cheng and Jack) are about half drilling at the table, and half games. 

Table Tennista

Here are new articles at Table Tennista. They do great international coverage.

You Think Table Tennis Is Not a Sport Then Watch This

Here's a recent highlights video (9:13).

Jean-Michel Saive vs. Segun Toriola

Here's a video (8:59, with time between points removed) of an interesting match of two veterans from Belgium and Nigeria at the 2008 Olympics.

Aerobic Table Tennis in Spain

Here's a video (9:48) of an aerobic table tennis session with kids in Spain. Most of it takes place away from the table, but they hit the tables toward the end.

"Well, Kid, Ya Beat Me"

Here's one of my favorite table tennis cartoons, from the Far Side.

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March 21, 2013

Exhibition and Demo

This morning I'm doing a three-hour exhibition and demo (9:30AM-12:30PM) at a local Bar-T. They are devoted to "...after-school childcare, summer day camps, outdoor education, corporate team building and events." My exhibition partner will be Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen") and Chen Jie ("James"), though I'm not sure if both are coming. Also helping out will be John and Wen Hsu, who will set up and run an MDTTC booth to answer questions, give out brochures, etc. I'll be doing most of the talking as we go through one demo after another for three hours. 

Roughly speaking, every 30 minutes or so I'll give a short intro on table tennis, give a demo on the shots, play a "challenge" exhibition match, then take on challenges and answer questions, especially about local table tennis. Then repeat, six times in all.

I've done a zillion of these. As usual, I'll bring my big and mini-rackets; a clipboard; a trick racket where a ball-sized hole has been cut out, with the hole refilled so when my opponent smashes I can push it out and then hold up the racket as if the ball put the hole in it; and a few others. I'll do the 50-foot curving serve from the side; blow the ball over the net, and there'll be lots of lobbing, including while lying on the ground or sitting in a chair. However, the most important aspect is the basic shot-making, where we demonstrate how table tennis can be played.

Want to do an exhibition to promote table tennis? Contact your local schools or other organizations. Many already have tables. Make sure to have something to offer new players - a junior program, or some other coaching program.

The exhibition might be complicated by the muscle pull I suffered in the upper left thigh in the hardbat event at the Cary Cup last Friday. I coached last night, aggravating it slightly, and I'm still limping a bit. But I can still run around the court enough. Most likely I'll just have to avoid any serious matches for about a week.

Here's an article I wrote ten years ago on Exhibition Tricks.

Help Wanted - Three USA Paralympic Coaching Positions

Here's the info for the three openings:

Hugo Hoyama Interview

Here's a video (2:55) of an interview with Brazil coach (and former star) Hugo Hoyama at the Latin American Championships after Brazil swept Men's and Women's Teams. (It's in English.)

Chen Weixing

Here's an article on Chen Weixing going from a Chinese practice partner to a star in the German Leagues.

PaddleYou Celebrity Ping Pong Madness

Who's the best celebrity ping-pong player? You choose. (I'm guessing they got most of their celebrity pictures from my Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page!)

Unwritten Rules of Table Tennis

Here's a discussion of these unwritten rules at the OOAK Table Tennis Forum. Do you agree with them? Any to add?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Here's a picture of Arnold playing table tennis with Scott Preiss at the recent Arnold Sports Festival.

Living Room Table Tennis

This picture may be the weirdest "action" table tennis shot I've ever seen.

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