USATT Magazine

July 11, 2014

How to Maximize Use of Your Tables

A common problem at clubs is that there are too many players, not enough tables. It's a good problem to have, of course, but perhaps not to those waiting in line to play. How can club leaders handle this problem?

The simplest solution, of course, is either another club night or another club. That's how the sport grows, folks - not by trying to jam too many people into a small club, but by having more clubs, and when they fill up, they also split into more clubs, and so on. But for this to happen, someone has to take initiative to start one. Here's the online USATT Club Handbook.

Or you could have your club open up another day, assuming it's not already full-time. When I started up the University of Maryland club back in 1981 we started out twice a week, with eight tables in one room. Within a year we'd expanded to seven nights a week, with 16 tables in two adjacent rooms. For a couple of years before I graduated it was the busiest club in the country, with students coming in every night to play. (We had two nights a week designated for non-college members, and on those nights players from all over would come in.)

Or you could expand your club, as we did at the University of Maryland club, and as we did at MDTTC, which expanded from 5000 to 10,000 square feet a few years ago.

Another is to have a Doubles Night. That's four to a table (or perhaps six, with teams sitting out to rest), and lots of players like doubles. Perhaps designate one night a month as Doubles Night, or more often if your club is full-time.

But probably the best way is to start up a league. While players may not like waiting to play on limited tables, they may be more likely to do so if they are cheering for a team - and a league (especially a team league) allows you to put 4-6 players on a single table. Here's the USATT League page, which allows you to organize your league and use league ratings. This is really the best way to make use of your facilities, and I strongly recommend it. We have two league nights at MDTTC (plus an elite league on Sunday afternoons), and they are our busiest times - players know it'll be crowded, and yet that's when the most players come.

Here's an idea I came up with last week while at the U.S. Open. Ever notice how top players practice at tournaments when there aren't enough tables? They warm up by going four to a table, with two getting the forehand crosscourt diagonal, the other two the backhand diagonal. But they also want to play points and do full-table drills. So they take turns. Two play a rally, and while they are fetching the ball, the next two take the table. (Sometimes they do this six on a table.) So I had a thought - why not play two-for-one matches? You'd have two sets of players playing a match. Two of them would play a point. When the point is over, while one of them fetches the ball, the other two play out a point of their match. And they'd take turns, so the table is in almost continuous use. When two players finish a game, they switch sides, and continue just like any other match, except they'd alternate use of the table. Anyone want to try this?

July Open at the Lily Yip Center in New Jersey

This afternoon I'm driving up with two others to the Lily Yip Center in New Jersey, where I'll be coaching on Saturday at their July Open. Hope to see some of you there!

Summer USATT Magazine

Here's the new issue. I have two articles in it, Topspinny Backhands and Review of Ping Pong Summer movie.

Mal Anderson Named Official USATT Photo-Historian

Here's the article. Mal's in the USATT Hall of Fame, and has taken over 40,000 table tennis pictures.

USATT Para Training Camp

Here's the ITTF write-up of this event, which took place in Grand Rapids just before the U.S. Open. I wish they'd publicize these events a bit more - I actually flew to the U.S. Open a day early a few years ago when I heard they were holding a Paralympic camp, and acted as a volunteer practice partner for a day. I didn't know about this one, and I don't think there was a news item about it. But of course they primarily publicize things like this to the Paralympic players.

Serving From Middle of Table, Serving to Middle Forehand

Here's a video (1951) of the bronze medal match from the 2012 Olympics between Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) and Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE). Note how in this (and in other videos of him), Dimitrij likes to serve backhand from the middle or even forehand side of the table, usually to the opponent's middle forehand. It's a very nice tactic that's way under-used. I still don't understand why more players don't do this type of serve - not necessarily a backhand serve, but a forehand reverse pendulum serve or forehand tomahawk serve, both of which have the same type of sidespin. Or just a regular forehand pendulum serve, where the focus is backspin or no-spin. (Backhand-type sidespin tends to be more difficult to receive forehand than backhand, which is why this type of sidespin is often done short to the forehand side.) Also note how Dimitrij receives so many serves to his short forehand with his backhand - one of the big changes in the game with the advent of the banana flip.

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. Forty-nine down, 51 to go!

  • Day 52: Miguel Delgado Discusses 20 Years of Progress for the ITTF and LATTU
  • Day 53: Koji Kimura Commends Adham Sharara for Rule Changes Made in Our Sport

Japanese Juniors Training in China

Here's a documentary (6:48) of a Japanese junior team training in China. It's all in Chinese or Japanese (not sure which - perhaps someone can tell me?), but it's interesting to watch the training. [EDIT - Bruce Liu informs me that it's in Japanese, with only a few words of Chinese.]

Heritage Oil Table Tennis

Here's video highlights (33 sec) from the Heritage Oil Open in England. Here's a short write-up.

Grammy Nominated Musician Steve Aoki Plays Table Tennis

Here's the article and video (16 sec).

Dawn of the Table of the Ape

In honor of the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (which I saw last night), here's video (2:08) of a gorilla playing table tennis. (He shows up 49 sec in, but the link should take you directly there.) And he's a really good gorilla!!!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

November 27, 2013

Last Blog Until After the Teams

This will be my last blog until Monday. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, so I’m taking the day off, and Fri-Sun I’ll be coaching at the North American Teams in Washington DC. I’ll have lots to write about when I return! Here’s a picture of the facility as they are about to set up the tables.

Preparing for the Teams

This week I’m preparing players for the Teams. Compared to normal, that means fewer rote drills, and more random drills. I do a lot of multiball training, but the focus now is on random shots and simulating match play.  We’re also doing a lot of game-type drills, such as where the student serves backspin, I push back anywhere, he loops, and we play out the point. I’m also making sure they are ready to do the “little” things, such as pushing, blocking, and serving. And we play more games at the end of each session. There’s also the psychological aspect. I keep reminding the players that they need to go into the tournament with their minds clear and ready to play. I also want to keep the sessions fun – I don’t want the players too stressed out over getting ready for three days of almost non-stop competition. I want to see determination, but not grim determination.

USATT Magazine and Membership Rates

I blogged yesterday about the problem with USATT likely moving USATT Magazine in-house. A separate question that comes up periodically is whether it should continue as a print magazine or just go online. There’s an easy solution: go online, with a print option. The editor simply does the magazine as if it’s going to print, which means a PDF version. Then he puts the PDF version online, perhaps with a password required so only members can access it. Those who want a print version, such as myself, would pay extra – and with “print on demand” publishing, it’s easy to send the PDF to the printer and print out only as many copies as needed. This is an obvious solution I’ve pointed out over the years.

The real question is whether current members who are already paying $49/year (too much) should pay still more for the print version, or whether those choosing not to receive the print version should get a discount. I’m for the latter. We keep raising our membership rates and keep wondering why membership stays stagnant; gee, I wonder why? I remember a while back when USATT raised the annual rate in one year from $25 to $40 – and they budgeted as if membership would stay constant! At the time membership had reached 8800. I got into a heated debate with the entire room – all 13 board members – both on the silliness of constantly raising the rates while simultaneously trying to find ways to increase membership, and on the even further silliness of expecting membership to stay constant. All 13 believed raising the rate would have little effect on membership numbers, with one of them explaining to me, “If they’re willing to pay $25, they’re willing to pay $40.” I pointed out that based on that logic, every item in a store that costs $25 should cost $40 (and the logic really applies to all items), but I was told I was wrong. I’m just a coach and a writer, so what do I know about business?

One year later membership had dropped to 7000, and the USATT board spent a marathon session cutting everything since they had budgeted for 8800 members. I was in the room snickering as they did this. And you wonder why I can never convince USATT to do the obvious stuff, not to mention the more difficult things? Maybe if I’d worn a tie at that meeting instead of a warm-up suit I could have been more convincing. (I’m told that, after a decade of slowly recovering, membership is again now close to 9000 or so, though I haven’t seen any membership reports anywhere. I’m guessing at any time the rates will go up again, and we’ll see another big drop. Alas.)

USATT Tips of the Day

Below are the USATT Tips of the Day since last Friday. These are from the 171 Tips of the Week I did for them from 1999-2003 as “Dr. Ping-Pong.” (Click on link for complete tip.)

Nov 26, 2013 Tip of the Day - Inside-Out Forehand Floppy Wrist Flip
When an opponent serves short to the forehand, many players reach in and return it with a nearly stiff wrist, and invariably go crosscourt with a forehand flip.

Nov 25, 2013 Tip of the Day - Back Up Slightly When Opponent Backs Up
Suppose you’ve hit a quick, hard shot, and your opponent has moved five feet back to return the ball with a counterdrive or soft topspin. 

Nov 24, 2013 Tip of the Day - Aim One Way, Go the Other
Many players develop strong rally shots. However, they are often very, very predictable. An opponent can anticipate where each ball is going early in your stroke, and so always has lots of time to get to the ball.

Nov 23, 2013 Tip of the Day - Go Down the Line From Wide Forehand
When an opponent goes to your wide forehand, they give you an extreme angle into their wide forehand.

ITTF Coaching Course in Singapore

Here’s the ITTF article on the ITTF Level 1 Course that was just taught in Singapore by USA’s Richard McAfee. (I linked to the photos yesterday.)

Best of the Chinese Super League

Here's the video (7:31).

Xu Xin on the Mini-Table (and an Interview)

Here’s the video (4:18) of world #1 Xu Xin of China versus TableTennisDaily’s Dan, on a mini-table with over-sized rackets! (And yes, Xu the penholder is playing shakehands here.) And for the more serious-minded, here’s Dan’s interview with Xu.

Little Girl Phenom

Here’s video (21 sec) of a girl, maybe five years old, drilling at a rather high level – watch out China! I believe she’s from the Mideast; can anyone translate what the comments say?

Ma Long’s Amazing Shots

Here’s the video (42 sec), with four Chinese players all counterlooping crosscourt, including Ma Long (near right) with Wang Liqin. Watch what happens right after 30 sec. First, Ma Long does a rather interesting forehand sidespin chop-block. Then he switches hands and counterloops the other two player’s ball.

Ping-Pong Trick Shots

Here’s the video (1:57) of someone with a series of great trick shots! I especially like the very last one, where he’s rallying with a girl with two balls, but catching each of her returns and quickly feeding it to continue. I may try that out in my coaching sessions today.

Happy First Birthday to Uberpong

Here’s their birthday cake!

How to Make a Ping-Pong Ball Turkey

Here’s the article!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content