Backhand Drive

August 8, 2013


Yesterday's focus was forehand looping. It's always my favorite day as this is when players really begin the route to becoming top players. As I explain in my lecture, starting at the intermediate level looping dominates the game, and everyone's game is based either on looping or stopping the other guy's loop.

I had a player who was having trouble positioning his feet when he stepped around his backhand to play his forehand. I showed him how to solve this problem with what I call the "Hop" method of foot positioning. I demonstrated by first showing him how I positioned my feet when playing a forehand crosscourt from the forehand side. He had no trouble doing this on his side. Then, while standing in the forehand ready position on the forehand side, I pointed my non-playing hand crosscourt. (We're both righties.) Then, while holding my body, arms, and legs as rigid as possible, I literally hopped over to the backhand side and rotated my body until my non-playing hand was pointing crosscourt toward his backhand side. This put me in exactly the same positioning for hitting a forehand from the backhand side crosscourt as hitting a forehand from the forehand side crosscourt. But the hopping part looks pretty comical!

I mentioned last week how the younger kids all loved Froggy, the large latex frog (actually a toad) I bring out for various target practice games where I feed multiball. In previous weeks they went crazy for various cup games, where we'd stack paper cups in pyramids and then knock them down. This week the craze is for the Gatorade game, where I put a Gatorade bottle on the table, tell them it's something disgusting (worm juice, beetle juice, snake blood, dog saliva, etc.), and if they hit it, I have to drink it. We play all these games at the end of sessions in all the camps, but it's interesting how certain ones become the favorite one week and others in other weeks. This week I'm getting absolutely sick of Gatorade - the kids are getting too good at hitting the bottle. (Plus I have to act shocked and disgusted when they do - I'm running out of different ways to do this comically.)

How to Play a Backhand Table Tennis Drive

Here's a four-part series on the backhand by English Level 4 Coach Jim Clegg.

Part 1 - Control (5:05)
Part 2 - Speed (5:11)
Part 3 - Wrist (4:18)
Part 4 - Posture (2:54)

Shot Selection Mentality

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master. The primary points: avoid a safe game; placement over power; reading the spin; and don't rush.

World Class American Table Tennis Players of the Classic Age, Volume I

From the USATT article:

World Class American Table Tennis Players of the Classic Age, Volume I, authored by Dean Johnson and Tim Boggan, is the first of a new series to be published by United States Table Tennis Hall of Fame. The Series covers the players, officials and contributors of the period 1931-1966.

Volume I contains 182 pages of profiles, 170 Photos and Articles of two of the earliest players from the period – Ruth Aarons and Jimmy McClure, two of our greatest Legends. Many of the photos are from the private collection of renowned photographer Mal Anderson who retains the largest collection of U.S. table tennis photographs in the world taken over almost half a century, some of which were never-before published. Many photos are in full color.

Much of the material in Chapter 1 is from Ruth Aarons’ personal album. The book features detailed Profiles by Tim Boggan author of the multi-volume Treatise on the “History of U.S. Table Tennis” -- the single most comprehensive work published to date on the sport.

In addition to the Profiles are career highlights and complete records of Ruth Aarons and Jimmy McClure. Ruth Aarons is the only American player to win world singles titles (1936/1937); Jimmy McClure is holder of 3 World doubles titles – 1936, 1937 and 1938 – and U.S. National Championships in 1934 and 1939.

Foreword is by Mike Babuin, current Chairman of the Board for USA Table Tennis and President of the Cary Table Tennis Association and the Curator and Founder of the Cary Table Tennis Museum – one of the largest private collections of table tennis artifacts, memorabilia, and publications in the USA.

Available at Amazon Bookstore. Proceeds from sales of all books in the Series will benefit the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame Museum.

Never Give Up the Point!

Here's a video (44sec) that shows a top player literally falling to the floor and crawling about as he gets back into the point - which he wins!

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April 18, 2013

No Blog Tomorrow (Friday)

I'm off to the Hopes Trials in at the Westchester TTC in Pleasantville, New York. See you on Monday!

Hopes Trials at Westchester TTC in NY

I'm going up to coach the two Maryland players who qualified, Crystal Wang and Derek Nie. We've been training for this for weeks! I did a 90-minute session with Derek just last night, while other coaches worked with Crystal. What is it?

Every year the ITTF has Hopes Week. This year it's going to be at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria, June 10-16. (I think it was there last year as well.) The best 11- and 12-year-olds from around the world will be invited there for a week of training, culminating in a tournament. The North American Hopes Trials are this weekend, coinciding with the North American Cup. Here are some info links:

For the Hopes Trials, USATT chose the top four boys and girls born in 2001 or 2002, so they are all 11 or 12 years old. Canada did the same. (USA is only sending three girls - I don't think others applied - but the top two girls are going, Crystal Wang and Amy Wang, as are the top four boys. No, Crystal and Amy are not related.) Because ITTF requires a joint Trials for each continent, the Trials are combined. The top finishing player from each country then qualifies for Hopes Week. (So if USA players finish first and second, and a Canadian third, then the Canadian goes, not the #2 USA player. At least that's my understanding.)

Gal Alguetti (NY, 2283)
Sharon Alguetti (NY, 2271)
Victor Liu (CA, 2226)
Derek Nie (MD, 2215)
Edison Huang (CAN)
Alexander Bu (CAN, 2093)
Edward Ly (CAN)
Boris Kalev (CAN)

Crystal Wang (MD, 2292)
Amy Wang (NJ, 2203)
Estee Ackerman (NY, 1721)
Benita Zhou (CAN)
Laura Yin Lai (CAN)
Sophie Gauthier (CAN)
Christian Lin (CAN)

Backswing Practice

Having trouble smashing against medium-high balls, or (for more advanced players) low topspin balls? One of the keys is to have the exact same backswing every time. Here's a way to learn to do that, as shown to one of my students last night. This is also how I developed my smash many years ago.

First, do a few smashes with someone (ideally have them feed multiball, or just serve topspin, they return the ball, and you smash), and when you make good ones, note where you backswing to. The question is how to repeat this over and over? Go near a wall and shadow practice the shot. Do your backswing just like you did in the good smashes. Then find a mark on the wall and move so the mark is just above where your racket is when you backswing. (You might have to put a mark on the wall yourself, alas.) Once you've done this, you can backswing to that same spot over and over. Get a feel for where the backswing should be. If you do this enough, it'll become so automatic that backswinging any other way will feel awkward.

Expert Table Tennis

Two new articles are up at Expert Table Tennis:

Table Tennista

Lots of new international articles at Table Tennista, mostly featuring China. Here are the current front-page stories:

Table Tennis Spectacular

Here's a new video (1:54) of some nice exhibition play between Jan-Ove Waldner and Jorgen Persson, with Dan Seemiller giving animated commentary.

Ping-Pong Ball in the Face

Here's a new video (25 sec) of someone getting smacked in the face by an opponent's mis-hit smash. Shown in slow motion!

One Twisted Table

Maybe they Hopes Trials should be held on these tables?

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