May 21, 2013

Muscle Fatigue and Backspin

Recently my muscles have been feeling bone-tired, especially the legs. I feel like I've run a marathon before I even start. (I know; I ran one when I was 17, and went to my table tennis club that night just to prove I could do it - and could barely play at all.) The muscles are both tired and stiff. I'm hoping this is just a stage. I eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. (On the other hand, my dog, Sheeba, 15 years old, no longer can last the night without going out, and she gets me up around 4AM every single morning to go out. Maybe there's a connection. Or maybe I'm just an "old" 53.)

One result, of course, is I haven't been playing well. In fact, right now I'm probably playing the worse I've played since the 1970s. I'm a practice partner for our top juniors, but let's just say the last two weeks have been great confidence boosters for some of them. I've been going back and forth between trying to force the muscles to operate properly ("Move or else, you stupid legs!") or falling back on tactics. ("Age and treachery defeats youth and skill every time." Or so the saying goes.) There's a reason why this week's Tip of the Week was "Tools and Tactics for the Physically Challenged."

One solution I used over the weekend was lots of heavy backspin play. I'd recently lost to one of our up-and-coming juniors for the first time, primarily because she kept going after my forehand, and my legs preferred to lounge around my backhand side despite my threats, and so I kept waving as balls went by. (Or maybe we're just great coaches and this hard-working junior was getting better?) Anyway, when I played her this weekend I was again struggling in the first game, and finally decided enough was enough. Instead of looping her mostly long serves, I began to chop them back heavy. I already do that sometimes on the backhand, but she was giving me these lefty serves that break into my forehand, and I began chopping them back with my forehand. I also backed up and often chopped her first loop back. Net result - I won 3-0, though two of the games were close.

You don't need to be a chopper to win with backspin. Here's my article Winning with Backspin for the Non-Chopper.

Non-Table Tennis - Dental Dinero

Yesterday I saw a dentist and had the shock of my life. I brush and floss regularly, and have had only occasional problems. I did have one cavity in 2012, and one back in 2009. I'd been seeing the same dentist every six months for over ten years. However, she recently sold her practice, and a new one took her place. After the usual examination and x-rays, the new one said I had ELEVEN (11!) cavities!!! This makes no sense. I'm not feeling any pain or discomfort, I hadn't changed my brushing or eating habits or anything, and yet now, apparently, I have seven that need immediate attention, and four others that are growing and also need care. Total bill for all of them would be about $2300. Anyway, I'm still stunned by this. I'm going to see another dentist for a second opinion. Anyone have this type of experience? Anyone got $2300 they want to donate to a poor ping-pong coach? (Yes, I have health insurance, but no, it doesn't cover dental.)

World Championships

Below are videos of the singles finals at the Worlds, with time between points removed. There are also a number of follow-up articles on the Worlds, which ended yesterday, at both the ITTF Worlds Page and Table Tennista.


Here's USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh's blog about the Worlds, which went up yesterday. It covers the ITTF meetings, elections, and appointments, including a number of U.S. appointees.

Ping-Pong and Human Rights in Syria

Did you know they were using ping-pong balls in the civil war in Syria? Here's the article - see paragraph four. (Note - in the original version of this morning's blog I included a letter from a human rights group that was soliciting people to send ping-pong balls to Syrian groups, with an address given. They just informed me they don't want to go public on this yet, so I've taken down the letter.) 

Table Tennis Genius Touch

Here's a highlights video (2:40) from a year ago that I've never posted, set to the piano music of Yann Tiersen - La Valse d'Amélie. It features both great touch shots and great shots in general.

Spinning Liquid Nitrogen Ping-Pong Ball

Here's the article and video (40 sec). I think I posted a similar video once, but this one's pretty spectacular.

Just for Men Commercial and Oversized Paddles

Here's a video (31 sec) of a Just for Men commercial that features table tennis played with oversized paddles. The table tennis takes place in the first two seconds and against 20 seconds in. I have my own oversized ping-pong paddle which I use for exhibitions. I'm using it on the cover of my book Table Tennis Tales & Techniques. None of these are as big as the one swung by Warren Buffett.

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