Aerobic TT

November 3, 2014

Another Full-Time Club - Table Tennis Exploding Nationally and in Maryland Area

Another full-time club is opening in my area, the Smash Table Tennis Center in Sterling, Virginia, which will open in about one month. (Not to be confused with the Smash Table Tennis Club which recently opened in Fall River, Massachusetts.) This makes 77 full-time clubs in the U.S. (in 23 states and DC), and seven full-time table tennis clubs within 45 minutes of me (probably all within 30 minutes if no traffic). Table Tennis in the Maryland region is exploding!!!

So why is table tennis taking off in the Maryland/Virginia region, as well as other regions such as the SF and LA areas in California, NY and NJ, and other regions? It only takes one successful club in an area (which develops the demand) to grow enough interest that there's a demand for more, plus the locals see how successful a full-time center can be and so copy it. MDTTC spent years as the only full-time club in the region (and often the whole country), but now they are popping up everywhere, to the chagrin of all the doubters of the past. (I've been arguing for something like twenty years for USATT to get involved in the recruiting and training of coaches and promoters to spread these centers, whose rise I've been predicting for many years, including a presentation to the board on this in December, 2006, at the 2009 USATT Strategic Meeting, and many others, always falling on deaf ears, alas.)

It is a scary thing for a full-time club when another one opens up locally. In the short run, it does hurt business. But new clubs bring in new business, and some of that business goes to the other clubs, and in the end, everyone benefits - it is not a zero-sum game. When a new full-time club brings in new players, many of those players end up playing in the other clubs' tournaments, leagues, and coaching programs, become members, and the local table tennis community increases, to the benefit of all. (And word-of-mouth from the new players brings in still more players.) So yes, "A rising tide lifts all boats." I wrote about this in my March 19, 2014 blog.

A key thing, however, is you don't open a club with the thought that there is already a demand for the club - though that helps, and is a reality in some regions due to the hard work of those who created the demand. No, when you open a full-time club (or any club), the point is to create the demand. This means creating programs that players are interested in, and so becoming members. Getting players into a club isn't that hard if you know how to go about doing it, but keeping them is.

And for those of you who are thinking of making the jump to full-time table tennis, here's the manual I wrote on this, Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook. (It also goes over how to get players into a club and keep them)

World Cadet Challenge

It finished over the weekend. Here's the ITTF page for the event, with results, articles and pictures. Kanak Jha got the bronze medal for Cadet Boys' Singles, while he and Jack Wang got the bronze for Cadet Boys' Doubles and Teams. Crystal Wang and Amy Wang got the bronze for Cadet Girls' Teams, and made the quarterfinals of Cadet Girls' Doubles. Crystal made the quarterfinals of Cadet Girls' Singles. Overall in the singles Kanak came in 3rd, Jack 8th, Crystal 7th, and Amy 17th (after winning the "Losers Bracket"). Here's an ITTF article that features. Kanak.

China's History of Match Fixing

Here's the article. With the recent issue about whether the 2012 Olympic Men's Final was fixed, this is of extra interest. The fixed matches featured here are only a fraction of them; fixing matches was considered standard in the past, where coaches and officials would decide who should win to tactically and politically most benefit China. (And there is no denying there is a logic to this, but at the expense of the players who trained for so many years only to be treated like pawns.) I've had some serious discussions with people from China who strongly believe in this type of fixing - I've concluded it's a cultural thing. It happens in America as well; I know of at least four times where players dumped matches to affect who made the U.S. team or equivalent. There's no getting around this type of thing.  

Forehand Looping with Variation

Here's the video (2:26) by Samson Dubina.

Two-Table Training

Here's the video (6:51). I've done this before, but not recently. I think I'll do it in our next junior sessions. It's not only good training (by forcing players to cover extra ground, the actually ground they do need to cover becomes easy), but it's fun and the kids like doing something different.

Learn How to Deliver Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the article.

Northwest Indiana Welcomes Second Butterfly Thanksgiving Event

Here's the USATT article on the upcoming Butterfly Teams.

Ping-Pong Craze Comes to Fall River

Here's the article on the new full-time Smash Table Tennis Club in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Best Points

Here's the video (4:59) - the first one is a doozy!

Table Tennis - Our Story

Here's the motivational music video (5:12)

Edge-Edge-Edge-Edge Point

Here's the video (28 sec, including slow-motion replay). I believe the server serves on the edge, followed by three consecutive edges, two by each player.

Happy and Horrible Halloween From:

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October 30, 2014

George Brathwaite Statement to The View

On Tuesday morning table tennis was disparaged on the TV show The View. First they showed footage of the Zhang Jike barrier-kicking celebration after he won the Men's World Cup. Afterwards, co-host Nicolle Wallace said, "table tennis can be boring without stuff like that." (Wallace was communications chief during the George W. Bush presidency and a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.) Here's a link to 11:40 into the show, where the table tennis starts. At 12:49 is when Wallace makes her statement. The table tennis ends at 13:20. USATT Hall of Famer George Brathwaite sent the following statement to The View. (I may send something as well, but I only saw the video for the first time this morning.)

Hello,

My name is George Braithwaite and I am an original member of the United States Table Tennis Team that participated in the Historic PING PONG DIPLOMACY tour of the People's Republic of China in 1971. I was watching THE VIEW TV episode this morning and was appalled at the ludicrous remark made by Nicole Wallace in reference to table tennis being a boring sport and needed a demonstration like what occurred at the recently concluded World Tour for Table Tennis which was won by Zhang Jike of the People's Republic of China.

After winning the championships, Zhang displayed an unnecessary degree of anger by kicking and breaking down the barriers surrounding the arena, which triggered the reaction of the promoters to forfeit his prize money of $45,000 and which was in absolute contrast and in violation to the principles of the Chinese Table Tennis Association which also holds their athletes to a strict code of conduct.

However, in reference to Ms. Wallace's preposterous remark about the sport of Table Tennis, let me point out and bring to her attention as well as to the knowledge of those who may not be aware, that "TABLE TENNIS IS THE MOST POPULAR RACKET SPORT IN THE WORLD AND IS RANKED SECOND OVERALL IN TERMS OF PARTICIPATION”

Table Tennis is and has been an Olympic Sport since 1988 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) never accepts a sport unless it has a great degree of Athleticism for spectators to VIEW. 

For further information you may access my website at the following: www.GeorgeBraithwaite.com

Disabled Veterans Camp in South Bend, Indiana

Dan Seemiller ran a Disabled Veterans Camp at his club in South Bend, Aug. 23-24 - and got 31 players!!! These camps were made possible by a grant to USATT by USOC, and organized by USATT Director of Para Programs Jasna Reed. Here's the Disabled Veterans Camp listing and other info on Para events. I also ran a Disabled Veterans Camp at MDTTC in August, but mine had only six players. How did Dan get 31?

Dan had earlier contacted me about how to get players in the camp, but frankly, I wasn't much help. We had a player who worked at a local VA hospital, and he distributed flyers for us, but there wasn't exactly a huge surge of players for the camp I ran. Dan decided that he needed to set up an info table in front of a local VA hospital. But first he had to get permission - and that's when he ran into bureaucracy and red tape. He was hassled every step of the way, but wouldn't take no, and kept moving up the ladder until he found someone who gave it the okay. (Dan admitted that it got so bad that he almost gave up.) And so he set up a card table, brought rackets and balls to attract attention, and talked to an estimated 500 people. A total of 51 people signed up for the camp, though "only" 31 were able to make it - but he has all their emails to send future info.

Coaching at the camp were Dan, his son Dan Jr., Barry Chan, and Zach Steele.

World Cadet Challenge

Here's the ITTF home page for the event. It's taking place right now in Barbados, with singles and doubles events starting today. (Team competition already finished - Asia won Cadet Boys while Europe won Cadet Girls.) Follow the action, including USA stars Kanak Jha, Jack Wang, Crystal Wang, and Amy Wang - or, as I put it, Jaws and the Triple Wangs! Yes, I'm officially suggesting we nickname Kanak Jha as "Jaws," a play on his name, what he does to opponents, and named after this and this.

Wang Hao Ordered to Dump to Zhang Jike in 2012 Olympic Men's Singles Final?

Here's the article. Unbelievable! I thought they had stopped doing this. I think there's a cultural thing with this - I've had discussions with people from China who believe dumping like this is the right thing to do, and that players should dump if asked to do so as the coaches and other leaders have the best interests of the team and country in mind rather than individual achievement. (See the comments under the article where one person says that Coach Liu Guoliang was misquoted.)

Table Tennis Needs a Big Name like Zhang Jike

Here's the article.

Twenty Tips by Tahl

Here are 20 tips by Tahl Leibovitz. You can learn from all of them, but I especially like #1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 16, and 18.

Ask the Coach

Here's Episode 19 (10:50):

  • Question 1 (0:35): Many people just turn around and drive my service. Where do I do the service and what should I do? Srikanth Pyaraka
  • Question 2 (1:55): When looping it seems easier to wait for the ball to reach the top of the arc and start dropping before you brush it up. I hit well when the ball is rising but swing and miss a lot when I try to brush the ball after it starts dropping. Can I improve? Ken
  • Question 3 (5:17): I normally stand on the left side of the table. I face difficulty if short backspin service comes to my forehand. I try to push the service & the opponent attacks with topspin. How to place the ball in such a manner so that I can attack the return? Anushka
  • Question 4 (7:35): Most of my serves have sidespin but when the opponent finds an answer to return it, I'm in trouble because all the sidespin is coming back at me especially if it is pushed back. Should I stop serving with sidespin as it can make life more difficult? Thijs

Zhang Jike, Ma Long, and Timo Boll Review the Plastic Balls

Here's the article, with links to videos.

Interview with Georgina Pota

Here's part 2 of the interview by Dora Kurimay, which went up this morning. (I linked to part 1 last week.) "How Did Georgina Póta Multiple Times European Champion Professional Table Tennis Player Change From Shy To Self-Expressive?"

Top Ten Shots from the Men's World Cup

Here's the video (6:36). If you want to see one of the best "get" returns ever, see #1 at 5:42. The point was over, as even Zhang Jike believed, right? Nigeria's Quadri Aruna - a breakout star at the World Cup as he made the quarterfinals - didn't get the memo.

PingPod #41: Zhang Jike's Fine and the Plastic Ball

Here's the video (6:02).

Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the ITTF article.

Ariel Hsing's Home Page

Here it is - bet you didn't know the three-time USA Women's Singles Champion had one!

Top Spin the Movie

Here's the home page, and here's info on the premiere at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4:30 PM. "In Sara Newens and Mina T. Son’s spirited sports film, three driven teenage athletes attempt to go for Olympic gold. Their sport? The perpetually popular but underappreciated game of table tennis. Northern California’s Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang balance friendship and professional rivalry to see who’ll come out on top, while Long Island’s Michael Landers sacrifices his senior year of high school to devote more time to training at NYC’s SPiN."

How Bugs Bunny Cheats

Here's the cartoon! (Actually, wouldn't this mean every ball comes back, and so Elmer Fudd would win?)

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August 27, 2014

Disabled Veterans Camp

Yesterday was the first day of the four-day Disabled Veterans Camp I'm running at MDTTC. We had six players plus three volunteers. One of the players was in a wheelchair, the others were standing disabled. All of the standing disabled were in good enough condition to do footwork. The ages ranged from 32 to 79. All of them were experienced players, with the playing range from about 800 to 1500 in level.

Players in the camp are Marvin Bogie, Anthony Floyd, Bernard Gibson, Honicliff "Cliff" Nitchew, Talmadge "Cash" Nowden, and Crystal Young-Terrell. Volunteers were Steve Hochman, Sameer Shaikh, and Wendy Brame-Bogie. Steve (rated about 2000) and Sameer (age 13, about 1600) acted as practice partners while Wendy did ball pick-up the whole time. Their help was greatly appreciated! Here's a group photo. I got caught with my mouth open wide. As the picture is taken I'm leading the group in a chorus of, "Steve can't smash!"

The camp was made possible by a grant to USATT from the USOC. Not only is the entire camp paid for - the players don't pay a cent - but they sent a large box of goodies for the players, via Paddle Palace. Each of the players received a very nice Stiga blade and sponge. I don't remember the model or types as I'm more versed with Butterfly equipment, but it was top-of-the-line rackets and sponge. The sponge was a type of tensor sponge, and probably retails at $50 to $60 a sheet. I spent a large chunk of time on Monday night putting the rackets together. I'll try to remember to jot down the type for tomorrow. Besides the rackets and sponge, they received Paddle Palace racket cases, free lunches, and each received a one-year membership to MDTTC. 

The focus on the first day was the basics - grip, stance, forehand, and backhand. The main difference from other camps was that we can't be as strict on technique, both because of disabilities, and because some of them have played many years. For example, the oldest, Bernard, 78, has been playing for longer than I've been alive (I'm 54), and uses an extreme backhand grip, and uses the same side for both forehand and backhand. Rather than try to change that the focus for him is to make sure he strokes the ball from both sides, and not just keep the ball in play. From his grip I thought he'd be very backhand oriented, with a weak backhand - but it turned out to be the reverse, with a soft backhand but a very aggressive forehand. So when I worked with him the focus was to play his backhand more aggressively. It reminded me of the story of how Dan Seemiller as a junior went to Dell Sweeris for coaching, and rather than change Dan's "Seemiller" grip, Dell just made sure he stroked the ball rather than just block - and of course Dan went on to be a five-time USA Men's Singles Champion with the grip, where he also hit both forehands and backhands with the same side. 

I set up a six-player rotation, where players had six stations: multiball with me, robot, hitting with Steve, hitting with Sameer, and two of them hitting together (the last counted as two stations). 

We ended the first day with the "ten-cup challenge," where I stacked the cups in a pyramid, and each player had ten shots to see how many they could knock down. One player did all ten, and I think two others did nine. All got at least five. 

New Full-time Club

I've added the Boston TT Academy to the list of full-time clubs in the U.S., raising the number to 74. 

Table Tennis Tutorial in Chinese

Here's the video (59 min), a "Table Tennis Tutorial from Beginner to Advanced, the Secret of the Chinese Team."

Side-to-Side Footwork

Here's the video (2:39) of kids in a junior program doing it really well.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety-six down, four to go!

  • Day 5: Why President Sharara Can Leave the ITTF Presidency with Satisfaction 

IOC President Thomas Bach Gets TT Lesson from Jorgen Persson

Here's the ITTF article and picture.

Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the new trailer (35 sec).

Another Superstar USA Junior Girl

Forget Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Crystal Wang, Amy Wang, and all the others not mentioned. Here's the future of USA Women!

Spiderman Pong!

Yep, the superhero plays, and so does Pikachu - here's the proof! "P is for Peter Parker Playing Ping-Pong with Pikachu."

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February 28, 2014

Making a Living at Table Tennis

I started this article by writing, "Not a lot of people in the U.S. do it," but by the time I was through, I decided to change that to, "A surprising number of people in the U.S do." So who and how does one make a living at this Olympic sport?

  • Professional Players. Right now there's really only one USA player who is basically a full-time professional player, Timothy Wang. Historically we've rarely had more than one or two at a time, though a few times we've had several making a living at it in the German and other European leagues, especially back in the 1980s. (Edit - I'm told that USA's Chance Friend is also a full-time professional player, playing in the German Leagues.) 
  • Coaches. There are a LOT of professional coaches out there. The numbers dwarf where we were just seven years ago, before full-time training centers began popping up all over the U.S.  My club, MDTTC, has seven full-time professional coaches, including me. (The other "full-timers" at my club work longer hours than I do, but I do many of the group sessions.) Four other local clubs have roughly another ten. That makes at least 17 full-time professional coaches within a 45 minute drive of me. There are equal or larger number of coaches in a number of other regions in the U.S., such as the bay area and LA in California, the NY/NJ region, and others. I would guess there are hundreds of full-time professional table tennis coaches in the U.S. right now, all busy plugging away day after day. The irony is that they mostly coach at about 50 clubs, so the other 350 or so USATT clubs never see them, and so most USATT members and leaders are oblivious to what's going on out there. (Want to make a living at table tennis? Then get a copy of the Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook!)
  • Staffing at Professional Clubs. Many of these clubs have professional staffing that run the clubs. MDTTC used to have hired staff at the desk, though now the coaches and owners do this. I'm guessing there are several dozen people making a living primarily running professional clubs. Many of them may have other duties - some also coach part-time, as well as run other activities, such as tournaments.
  • Running Tournaments. A number of people run regular tournaments, but how many make a living at it? Primarily North American Table Tennis. They are closely affiliated with JOOLA USA, with some of their staff working for both. Overall, several people are primarily NATT staffers making a living running their North American Tour and the North American Teams. A number of others make a supplementary income from tournaments, but I don't know of others in the U.S. where it is their primary income. 
  • Leagues. Unlike Europe and Asia, there are few large-scale leagues in the U.S., mostly just small clubs ones. I believe Mitch Seidenfeld makes much of his living running leagues in Minnesota, along with other activities. There are large leagues in the New York, SF Bay area, and LA regions, but I believe they are all volunteer run.
  • Dealers. This includes both those who own such businesses, and their staff. The bigger ones are JOOLA, Paddle Palace, Butterfly, and Newgy. (I was shocked recently at how many people now work for JOOLA USA - not all are listed in their staff listing - but I'm not sure they want the exact numbers public.) There are also a lot of smaller dealers. I'd say well over a hundred people make a living in the U.S. this way.
  • Entertainers. The main ones I know of are Scott Preiss, Adam Bobrow, and Soo Yeon Lee. Scott's made a living for several decades as a table tennis entertainer. He's hired by corporations to put on shows, often at equipment expos and conventions. Adam's a stand-up comedian and actor (including lots of voice acting) who more and more is moving into table tennis entertainment. Soo is an actress, model, and does table tennis shows - sometimes playing in high heels! You don't have to be a superstar to do what they do - at their peaks, Scott and Adam were pushing 2200 level, which is good but not great - while Soo, former South Korean junior champion, is about 2450. All three have mastered the art of flamboyant table tennis play, and all have repertoires of trick shots as well as the usual toolbox of spectacular table tennis play, such as lobbing, long-distance serving, smashing, etc.
  • USA Table Tennis. USATT currently has nine people in their staff listing, each making a living at table tennis. I used to work for USATT, as magazine editor for twelve years (also as webmaster and programs director), and as manager/director/coach for four years for the resident training program they once had at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
  • Authors. Every year a number of new table tennis books come out, but they are primarily just added income for the writer. Only one person in the U.S. that I know of is really making substantial money right now as a table tennis writer - ME!!! Last year I actually made more money as a writer than as a coach, though that was primarily because of the surprisingly sales from my book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. (I've lazily cut down on my coaching hours as a result.) While continued sales of that and my other books will help, I expect my coaching will make more money this year. I also make some money for articles I write, and a small amount from this web page via advertisers.
  • Anything I missed?

USA's Kunal Chodri Picture Featured by ITTF

Here's the article!

Ma Long and Fan Zhendong

Here are two articles featuring these two. Sixteen-year-old phenom Fan recently beat Ma for the first time

Girls in Training

Here's a great music video (3:21) showing top junior girls training in Europe.

Jo Drinkhall Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the video (3:24), featuring the British #1 woman.

Florida Colleges

Here's the article, Great Showing from Florida Colleges at Local Tournament.

LA Dodgers Play Table Tennis

Here's the article and a video (7 sec, looping over and over) of pitchers Brian Wilson and Chris Withrow playing. The article claims the Dodgers are better than the Orioles in table tennis, but sorry, it's not even close. I've watched half the Orioles play, and coached three of them, and I've watched this video, and it's like comparing U.S. table tennis to China. The Orioles have 5-6 players who would destroy either of these Dodgers players. JJ Hardy would beat them so bad they'd be sent back to the minors to work on their ping-pong.

Ping Pong Anime Series

It's coming this Spring - here's the article! This reminds me of the old anime cartoon series Ping-Pong Club from the mid-1990s.

Hovering Table

Here it is!

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December 12, 2013

Developing Training Centers

The best thing that's happened to table tennis in recent years is the rise of full-time training centers. I predicted this for years, but most thought there simply weren't enough table tennis players to support more than a few of these. In December 2006, when there were no more than eight to ten full-time TT centers in the U.S. (including my club, the Maryland Table Tennis Center), I even gave a presentation to the USATT Board, urging them to get involved by using their resources to recruit and training coaches to set up these full-time centers and junior programs. I wanted them to set a goal of 100 full-time training centers in five years. The response was a room full of eyes staring back at me as if I were crazy, with two board members bluntly telling me that there simply aren't enough players in this country to support more than a few full-time centers. Others nodded in agreement. They also didn't like the idea of setting a specific number as a goal, since they thought they'd be considered failures if they didn't reach the goal. (This last was crazy, as if you have ten centers and make a goal of having 100, and get, say, 80, you are an incredible success, going from ten to 80 - and then you continue to strive for the 100.) I made a similar challenge at the 2009 USATT Strategic Meeting; same result. 

In the seven years since the 2006 meeting, we've gone from ten to 64 full-time professional table tennis clubs in the U.S., with more popping up every month. (There's a new one opening up in Houston that'll soon join the list, and another here in Maryland that's opening soon, and others I probably don't know about.) The ones who thought there weren't enough players to support full-time centers simply did not have the vision, experience, or knowledge to understand why this is happening - that when you open these centers, you develop the players needed to support them. They were stuck in the old-fashioned thinking that you opened a club if there are already enough players to support it, which is backwards. Professional clubs develop their own player base.

The result has been mind-boggling to those who have been paying attention. The number and depth of junior players who are now training regularly is so far beyond where it was just seven years ago as to be incomparable. The players who lose in the semifinals of major junior events would have dominated the events back then, especially up to the cadet level (under 15). There used to be one or two kids who'd dominate their age group for a decade; now there are a dozen of them in each age group, all battling for supremacy and at levels that approach or match the best in the world outside China. It bodes well for the future of U.S. table tennis.

The huge weakness in the growth of these centers is there is no manual on putting together a full-time table tennis center. Every time someone wants to do it they have to reinvent the wheel, or go to current centers to learn how to do it. What's needed is such a manual to grease the wheels, not just to make it easier, but to encourage those considering setting up one to do so.

I already did half the job, with my Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook, which covers the professional side of coaching - recruiting and retaining students, setting up and running a junior program, etc. But more is needed on the specifics of opening an actual center, from the finances to the specifics of what's needed to open one. It's a rather long todo list.

So here's my offer to USATT: If they bring in someone or put together a committee to create such a manual (and I'm not volunteering, don't have time, though I might help out), they can incorporate my Handbook, and create a manual, which can tentatively be called "Professional Table Tennis Center Handbook." (Can you think of a better title?) We can then put it on sale at Amazon.com (created via createspace.com, which is how I now create my books), where it can be published "print on demand" at a cheap rate. And that will greatly encourage coaches and promoters to create even more of full-time table tennis centers.

The nice thing about this is that USATT doesn't really have to do much work. They just recruit the person or persons to create the manual, either from volunteers, with a small payment, or (my recommendation), whoever creates it gets the profits from sales, as well as the fame and prestige of being a published author.

Arm Problems

My first physical therapy session for my arm was scheduled on Tuesday. Someone also scheduled a snowstorm on that day. So the session was cancelled. Since I'm leaving for the Nationals this Sunday, I won't be able to get another session scheduled until afterwards. So I'll probably just rest it, and if all goes well, I'll be fine by January.

The Hobbit and Friday's Blog

I may see the midnight showing of "The Hobbit" tonight. If so, I won't get home until around 3AM, and probably not to bed until 4AM - which means tomorrow's blog will probably go up late, probably noonish or so. Brace yourselves!

Table Tennis Funding and the Lottery

For so many years people have wondered how to fund table tennis, when it was so obvious. The Meg-Millions lottery is now up to $400 million, with the drawing tomorrow, which is Friday the 13th. So I'm going to buy a few tickets, and use the winnings to fund table tennis. It's so obvious, why hasn't anyone thought of this before? What can possibly go wrong?

Nervousness and "Winning Ugly"

There's a great piece of advice for dealing with nervousness in the book "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert and Steve Jamison. (I'm referring to the 1994 edition, which I have; there are newer editions.) Chapter 5 is titled, "Four "Nervebusters": Overcoming Pre-Match Nervousness." While he is talking about tennis specifically, all four relate to table tennis as well. The four items are:

  1. Breathe like you've got asthma (take smooth, rhythmic, deep breaths)
  2. Get happy feet (stay on your toes and bounce up and down between points)
  3. Read the label (watch the label on the ball to help you focus)
  4. Sing a song (hum a relaxing song under your breath).

USATT Assembly

In my blog yesterday I wrote, "Unlike past years, there doesn't seem to be time set aside for those who wish to address the assembly." Some seemed to think I was accusing USATT of breaking Article 15.1 of the Bylaws, which includes the statement, "Individual and organization members and other constituencies may be permitted to pose questions to the Board and Chief Executive Officer for response." Technically speaking, this is fulfilled by the 30 minutes set aside in the Assembly this year from 8:15-8:45PM for "Interaction with the Board and Staff." There's just one problem - I never accused USATT of breaking their bylaws. I said exactly what I meant, so I'll repeat it again: "Unlike past years, there doesn't seem to be time set aside for those who wish to address the assembly." I didn't say they didn't get to pose questions to the Board and CEO for response; I said they no longer seem to have time set aside to address the assembly, as had been done in past years.

Aerobic Table Tennis Official Launch

Here's the ITTF article. "After two years of detailed preparation, Aerobic Table Tennis will be launched in January 2014. Aerobic TT is an alternative way to keep fit. Music is played throughout the session to create a high energy zone. The session includes, warm up and stretching, table tennis movement to music, speed agility and quickness exercises plus of course table tennis."

Fan Zhendong Tribute

Here's video (6:16) of a tribute to the 16-year-old Chinese player, who's already winning ITTF Pro Tour events.

2036 U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team

Here's video (1:23) of Fiona (3) and Kenzie (1) demonstrating the beginnings of the forehands that will totally dominate the world in 23 years, care of Coach Samson Dubina.

Non-Table Tennis - "Satan's Soul"

On Tuesday I sold my humorous fantasy story "Satan's Soul" to Stupefying Stories. A depressed Satan knows he's going to lose at Armageddon - until a superbeing appears and offers to have him win, in return for his soul! Satan negotiates seemingly favorable terms regarding his soul, and even gets to keep possession of it though he loses ownership. Jesus and the anti-Christ will soon go at it in a UN parking lot, with the Anti-Christ throwing modern military hardware at Jesus in a somewhat over-the-top scene, while Jesus fights back while listening on an iPod to Beatles music. Oh, and a penguin is central to the story! Sorry, no table tennis in this one.

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April 8, 2013

Tip of the Week

Covering and Recovering From the Middle.

Stellangie Camp

Who/what is "Stellangie"? That's the combination of Stellan and Angie Bengtsson's first names. Who are they? Stellan is the 1971 World Men's Singles Champion and hugely famous coach from Sweden. (I went to one of his camps for two weeks, and can verify it's well deserved.) Angie's a U.S. Hall of Fame player (formerly known as Angelita Rosal) who married Stellan and moved to Sweden for many years. Now both are coaching in San Diego. ITTF Coach John Olsen went to their camp last week, and here's his report, which he wrote for this blog.

I want to give people some idea of what a great table tennis camp is like. I recently attended the Stellan/Angie Bengtsson Training Camp at the Willamette Table Tennis Club, Salem Oregon from March 27-31, 2013. If you ever get the chance to attend one of these camps I highly recommend it.

There were 14 player slots for the camp. The camp had 2 sessions a day, 3 hours each session with a 2 hour break for lunch. A 3 hour session contained 5-6 drills. Most drills had multiple components, such as initially hitting cross court and then down the line. Each player did the drill, Stellan and Angie would tell you when to switch.

At certain times one or two people (depending on whether the camp had an odd or even number) would be taken over to do multiball drills. Angie did multiball in the morning and Stellan did the afternoon sessions. During these multiball sessions you worked on specific things you had asked to improve (in my case return of serve).

Each day followed a similar pattern:

  • 10 minutes of warm-up stretching
  • Find a hitting partner, warm up forehand (FH) for 5 minutes, then backhand (BH) for 5 minutes. Stellan stressed that you should be using the shots you use in a match during warm-ups and drills. It’s OK to hit FH drives for a bit to find your rhythm, but don’t continue to use a drive if you are a looper, go ahead and loop. Players alternated looping and blocking during warm-ups so both partners got practice. At the end of warm-up the players would gather together as Stellan and Angie talk and give us the next drill and explain where it fits into the overall parts of the game.
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • Halfway through a 3 hour session take a 5 minute break and switch hitting partners
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • Do 10 minutes of cool-down stretching at the end of the 3 hour session (different  from the warm-up stretches)
  • 2 hour break for lunch
  • 10 minutes of stretching
  • Find a new hitting partner, warm up FH 5 minutes, BH 5 minutes
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • 5 minute break, switch hitting partners
  • Do 2-3 drills
  • 10 minutes of cool-down stretching

So on any day you would hit with 4 different players. On most drills the level of your partner was not that important. I never had an issue with doing these drills correctly, whether the player was above or below my level. Certain drills, like serve/receive Stellan and Angie would make sure that you were paired with someone close to your own level. Stellan or Angie would circulate during the drills correcting technique, answering questions and make suggestions. Angie would also record you with an iPad and be able to instantly show you what she was talking about regarding your technique.

Every drill related to some aspect of match play. Stellan would explain not only how to do the drill, but what specific skill that drill was designed to help you improve. He would also tell us what bad habits to watch out for so that we were doing the drills correctly and getting the most benefit from them.  I have to say that I have never experienced this kind of detailed information about training drills before.

At times Stellan would substitute competition for a drill. We played Brazilian Teams twice and King of the Table once during the camp.

Also note that you do 4 stretches a day. Normally when I play I do a few minutes of warm-up stretching. What we did at the camp was much more extensive. The point of the cool-down stretches is to not just prevent injury but to relax your muscles and reduce soreness. I am 56 years old and not in the best of shape, but I had fewer sore muscles the entire camp than I normally have from a single casual 3 hour playing session.

What I Told a Student Before a Tournament

I coached a junior player on Sunday morning before he played in the MDTTC tournament. He seemed a bit nervous, so this is what I told him. "If you lose, there will be earthquakes and tornadoes, the polar ice caps will melt and kill off the polar bears, there will be pestilence and hunger, the earth will spin out of orbit and into the sun, and the sun will go supernova, spewing radiation throughout the galaxy and killing off all intelligent life. So the galaxy is depending on you."

I often say things like this to help relax players. Before big matches we often talk about TV shows or sports teams, anything but tactics until maybe five or ten minutes before the match. (We do, of course, discuss tactics well in advance; what we do just before the match is a review.) People often see me in animated discussion with players before a match and assume we're talking high-level tactics when we're really discussing the Baltimore Ravens or Orioles, the TV show NCIS, the latest movies, or who knows what else.

Stefan Feth a Finalist for USOC Developmental Coach of the Year

Here's the article.

Who is the Greatest Celebrity Table Tennis Player?

Table Tennis Nation has been running this online voting contest recently, and they are down to two finalists: Standup Comedian/Actor (of 30 Rock Fame) Judah Friedlander vs. former basketball star Christian Laettner. Who will win? Who should win? You get to vote! (Since I've coached Judah a number of times - he lives near MDTTC when he's not in NYC acting - I voted for him.)

Olympian Iulia Necula Helps Take Aerobic TT to Another Level

Here's the article.

Wang Liqin Demonstrates His Rubber's Tackiness

Here's the video (22 sec).

Korean Open

Here's a video (8:24) of the all-Chinese Men's Final, where Xu Xin defeats Ma Long. Here's an article on it from Table Tennista. Here are the Men's Semifinals, Xu Xin vs. Yan An (4:03), and Ma Long vs. Wang Hao (7:15). Here's the Women's Final (13:22), Seo Hyowon vs. Kasumi Ishikawa - and see the serve Seo pulled out at the end to win! (Time between points has been removed in the videos, so non-stop action.) Here's a video (5:40) of the Korean Open's Top Ten Shots.

Table Tennista

There are more international articles at Table Tennista, covering the Korean Open, the German Bundesliga (Timo Boll injured!), and others.

Albert Einstein Table Tennis Picture

Here it is!

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