Virginia Camp

August 11, 2014

Tip of the Week

Ten Steps to a Great Service Game.

Virginia Camp

On Friday we had the final day of the camp in Fairfax, Virginia. In the morning we split the players into two groups. One group did various physical training and agility exercises with Wen Hsu (as they had been doing all week). The other group did multiball with me and hit with the robot. We did a lot of smashing and pushing, and a few worked on looping. We also did "player's choice," where the players got to choose what to work on. 

Then we had a practice tournament. There were 14 players, so we divided them into two groups of seven, with the top two from each side playing crossovers. All matches were best of three to 11. For prizes we had a series of "large" prizes - a playing bag and copies of all of my books (signed). We also had table tennis key chains. The first place winner got his choice of two large prizes plus a key chain. Second was one large prize and a key chain. Third through six got their choice of one large prize or key chain. (All took books.) I donated the books - in all, the books chosen were three copies of "Table Tennis: Steps to Success," and one copy each of "Table Tennis Tips," "Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers," and my humorous fantasy novel (which stars a table tennis wannabe), "Sorcerers in Space." I also gave a signed copy of Table Tennis Tales and Techniques to all 14 players. (I have a lot of extra copies.) Camp tournament results: 1. Harrison Tun; 2. Brandon Choi; 3-4: Leo Diperna and Ian Ramanata; 5. Vincent Diperna; 6. Chris Kutscher.

Here's a camp picture, with two players missing - they had to leave early, alas, and we forgot to get a picture when they were there. (Coach John Hsu is in background, that's me on the right.) Immediately after the picture they took turns smacking balls at the cup fort, with me feeding multiball. Many cups dies in the onslaught, but Froggy survived.

Koki Niwa and His Techniques and Tactics

Here's an article on Japan's Koki Niwa, world #15, where he talks about his techniques and tactics. Includes instructional pictures and a link to a Koki Niwa tribute video (3:36). (Note that the "chiquita" her refers to is the banana flip - Chiquita is a major producer and distributors of bananas and other produce, so I'm guessing that's where it comes from.)

Seven Things You Need to Know to Master the New Plastic Ball

Here's the posting and some discussion at the OOAK TT Forum.

Sports Psychology - Recognize Your Feelings

Here's the video (5:27) from PingSkills.

Top 10 Servers in Table Tennis

Here's the video (12:40).

Marty Reisman: The Greatest Sportsman You've Never Heard Of

Here's the article from Esquire Magazine. 

USA's Shivansh Kuma Finds Success at Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open

He made the final of Cadet Boys Singles, and teamed with India's Mudit Dani to win Cadet Boys teams. The two also made the semifinals of Cadet Boys Teams and the quarterfinals of Junior Boys Doubles. Here's the home page for the Aug. 6-9 event, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here's the ITTF article on the Cadet Boys Teams.  

Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open

Here's the home page for the Aug. 6-10 event, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Fifteen USA juniors took part in the event - here's a participants listing. Here's a listing USA major results.

  • Krish Avvari: semifinals of Cadet Boys (here's a picture of him on the podium, second from right)
  • Kanak Jha: quarterfinals of Cadet Boys
  • Krish Avvari and Kanak Jha: Semifinals of Cadet Boys Doubles and Teams
  • Adar Alguetti and Victor Liu: Quarterfinals of Cadet Boys Doubles
  • Lily Zhang and Prachi Jha: Semifinals of Junior Girls Doubles, Quarterfinals of Junior Girls Teams
  • Joy Li and Puerto Rico's Adriana Diaz: Quarterfinals of Cadet Girls Doubles

Bockoven Brothers Netting Success in Table Tennis

Here's the article from the Boston Globe. I remember going to a Seemiller camp in 1977 when I was 17 and father Ralph was one of the big stars of the camp! Connor and Chase are the heirs of that tradition.

Top Ten Places to Play Table Tennis

Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Final of the China Super League - Zhang Jike vs. Dimitrij Ovtcharov

Here's the video (39 min). To save time and add drama they only play to seven in the fifth game in this league. (Spoiler alert!) Dimitrij leads 4-0 in that decisive fifth game - but Zhang scores seven in a row.

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. Seventy-nine down, 21 to go!

  • Day 22: The Gift of Braking and Changing Focus
  • Day 23: ITTF’s Museum Curator Chuck Hoey Preserves Our Heritage
  • Day 24: Shahrokh Shahnazi Promotes ITTF’s P5 Plan, Even to the IOC

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Play Table Tennis

Here they are playing at a homeless shelter.

Ruini Li the Cover for the Milpitas Post

Here's the picture. (If you have trouble seeing the Facebook version, try this one.)

Funny Dog Watching Table Tennis

Here's the video (48 sec) - it's hilarious! (I might have posted this a couple years ago, but it's worth repeat viewing.)

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August 8, 2014

Virginia Camp

Yesterday was Day Four of the five-day camp I'm running at Fairhill Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia, with 14 players, ages 6 to 12. (John and Wen Hsu are assistant coaches, with Wen the administrator.) The focus yesterday was footwork (as usual), serving, and lots and lots of smashing. We also did a lot of relay races. 

After four days of camp, all 14 of the kids can hit forehands and backhands pretty well, at least in multiball. All can smash, push, and move side to side. Most can put spin on their serves. I think I've put more emphasis in this camp on smashing and serves, and the players are well ahead on those two aspects. All were beginners when we started on Monday, though some had been playing on their own. 

When I do multiball forehand smash training, I like to do two players at a time. One stands on the forehand side, the other on the backhand side. The one on the forehand side starts, smashing three forehands in a row, one from the forehand side, one from the backhand side, and one from the forehand side. After the third shot he steps back, and the other player gets three smashes, one from the backhand side, one from the forehand side, and one from the backhand side. Then he steps back, and we repeat with the other player. The drill is continuous, so the players get lots of smashing and footwork practice. If I have a lot of players, I'll do three or more players at a time, with the players smashing forehands from the backhand and then forehand side, and then circling back to the end of the line as the next player gets two smashes. There are many variations, such as smashing on the forehand side and then backhand side, or mixing in backhand smashes, or even doing the "2-1" drill, with the players hitting a backhand from the backhand side, then a forehand from the backhand side, then a forehand from the forehand side, and then rotating to the end of the line. 

Sometimes a simple suggestion cures a problem. One kid was having difficulty timing his forehand - over and over he'd start too soon or too late, and end up with wild swats and lunges. I suggested he start his forward swing right as the ball hit the table, and presto! Instant success. Another couldn't get spin on his serve because he kept patting at the ball. I reminded him that serving with spin is a violent motion, and that if you want the ball to spin 100 mph, you have to get the racket to move 100 mph. Within minutes he was serving serious backspins that often stopped over the table, with a couple even coming back into the net.

I brought out the serving bar so they could practice serving low. (This is an adjustable bar that goes over the net. Here's a picture of it set high, and here's a picture of it set low. John Olsen made this for our club. It has about ten height settings.) The kids had a great time trying to serve under the lowest setting - they insisted on that one. Even I hit the bar about 1/3 of the time with that setting. I also brought out the soccer-colored balls for more spin feedback on serves. Besides spin serves we also practice fast serves. 

I spent the last 20 minutes of the day serving to the kids, who lined up to try to return them. I'd call out where their returns would go in advance, even having kids take turns standing to the side and catching the returns off my sidespin serves. Then I started telling them what they had to do to return them, and some of them were able to make some returns. I also threw in a lot of "trick" serves - backspin serves that bounced back and over the net, under-the-leg serves, fast serves, "blowing serves" (where I'd serve high but then run to the side of the table and blow the ball sideways or back into the net on the opponent's side), and about a dozen others. I also threw in a few 50-foot serves from the side. 

Zhang Jike: The Two-Toned Ball is Okay

Here's the article.

Plastic Ball Reviews from Professionals

Here's the article, with reviews from five world-class players.

Hong Kong Cadet and Junior Open

Here's the info page for the Aug. 6-10 tournament. Fifteen USA juniors are playing in the tournament - here's the player listing by country.

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. Seventy-six down, 24 to go!

  • Day 25: Alison Burchell Hopes to See the ITTF Become the Best Integrated IF

Athletes in Excellence

Here's the info page. "The Athletes in Excellence Award from The Foundation for Global Sports Development recognizes exceptional athletes who uphold the values of good sportsmanship and fair play on the field as well as off the field. Do you know of an athlete who spends countless hours volunteering their skills and time to better the lives of others? Submit your nomination to The Foundation for Global Sports Development, and share the athlete’s good deeds around the world. A total of ten athletes (five international and five domestic) will be awarded unrestricted grants each in the amount of $10,000. Award winners will be announced in fall of 2014."

Three Amazing Points

Here's the video (1:54). Ding Ning vs. Seo Hyowon, Ma Long vs. Jun Mazutani, and Ma Long vs. Fan Zhendong.

Casts of Hot in Cleveland and Glee Play Ping Pong

Here's the article and picture

Doug McDermott vs. Nick Johnson - NBA Basketball Players Play TT

Here's the article, with a link to a 16-sec video.

World Series of Beer Pong

Here's the info page. Oh Jeez!!!

Ulf Carlsson Playing with Racket in Pants

Here's the video (20 sec) of the 1985 World Men's Doubles Champion (with Mikael Appelgren).

Cat Playing Table Tennis

It's been a while since I've shown a video of a cat playing table tennis, so here's one (26 sec) that's probably the best pong-playing cat I've seen on video. We'll ignore that he's standing on the table, touching the net, has no racket, and isn't wearing legal attire. 

Non-TT: Top Ten Ways for Orioles Fans to Cope with a Winning Team

After 14 consecutive losing seasons (1998-2011), the fans of the Baltimore Orioles pretty much got used to losing. They have begun winning the last three years, but many fans are still not used to this weird thing called "winning." So here is my Top Ten List for how they can cope - published at Orioles Hangout. (Here's the thread on their forum where a few are discussing the list.)

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August 7, 2014

Multi-Colored Balls

I don't get it. No sport relies more on spin than table tennis. We complain all the time about how spectators don't understand high-level table tennis the way they do other sports because they can't see how much spin players are putting on the ball. We complain all the time over how serves often dominate, with way too many rallies ended by the receiver missing or making a weak return that the server puts away. SO WHY DO WE USE ONE-COLORED BALL??? We should be using a multi-color ball so both players and spectators can see the spin.

Sure, this would hurt players who rely on disguising spin - but not as much as you'd think, since by the time players read the spin from the ball it will often be too late. It might hurt defensive players, and that's the only reason for any hesitation on such a switch, and why it should be well tested first. But it might not hurt them as much as it might seem, as defensive players will be able to make better serve returns against attacking players. They'll be able to read the serve better, and since defensive players usually take the ball later than others, will have more time to read the service spin from the multi-colored ball than attacking players. 

I've blogged in the past about this, suggesting we either use a soccer-colored ball or have a contest for a design for a multi-colored ball. (The kids love it when I pull out the soccer-colored balls in our camps, which I do to demonstrate various spin shots, and so they can get feedback when they practice their spin serves.) The ITTF is experimenting with a two-colored ball, but there are two problems with the ball they are trying out. First, world #4 Dimitrij Ovtcharov reported that over half the balls broke when he practiced with them. (Here's the article, which I linked to on Monday. Here's a picture of the two-colored balls.) Second, the balls they are trying out are boring - half orange, half white. Perhaps having each hemisphere of the ball a different color makes it easier to see the rotation - I'm not sure, since I haven't actually used one like that. But I know you can see the ball spinning very clearly on the soccer-colored balls. Give us something exciting to look at, like the soccer balls or a nice design created specifically for table tennis!!! (Note - see Matt Hetherington's article below, "Why Catering For Spectators has Backfired," where he argues against going to two-colored balls and other changes to the sport. I wrote the above last night, and didn't see his article until this morning.) 

Virginia Camp

Yesterday was Day Three of the five-day camp. The focus was on footwork, pushing, and forehand loop. I was amazed at how quickly most of them picked up looping against backspin as I fed multiball. I also introduced them to Froggy, and much target practice ensued. 

We've started each day with ball bouncing, which is a great way for kids to develop hand-eye coordination and ball control. The record for most bounces in a row at MDTTC is 2316 by Matt Stepanov (now 13, but 11 when he set the record). While he still holds that record, a new camp record was set by 11-year-old Leo Diperna, who did 3363 bounces in a row. We didn't plan on it, he just wanted to go until he missed, and we let him. It took about half an hour. 

2014 North American Championships

Here's the info page. They will be held Aug. 31 - Sept. 1 (Sun & Mon) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

First Non-Celluloid USATT Sanctioned Event

Here's the entry form for this perhaps historic event, the Texas Wesleyan Open, Sept. 20 in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Review of the DHS Plastic Ball

Here's the video (6:17) of Matt Hetherington's review.

Why Catering For Spectators has Backfired

Here's the article by Matt Hetherington, which came out this morning. He takes the opposing view on changing to the two-colored ball. 

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. Seventy-five down, 25 to go!

  • Day 26: André Damman Has 70 Years of Table Tennis Experience

Harry Potter Plays Table Tennis

Here's the article that talks about Daniel Radcliffe playing table tennis with Zoe Kazan, his co-star in the new movie "What If," and links to a video (1:46) showing them playing. 

Will Ping Pong be Included in the Robot Olympics?

Here's the article!

Ping-Pong Balls on the Floor Eye View

Here's the picture!

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August 6, 2014

Virginia Camp

Yesterday was Day Two of the training camp at Fairhill Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia. There are 14 in the camp, ages 6-14, all right-handed shakehanders, and strangely, no girls. On Day One we focused on forehand and backhand, and beginning serves. Yesterday we introduced them to footwork, forehand smash, spin serves, and doubles. I'm still surprised at the level of play - for 14 kids this age who have never been to a table tennis club, they are pretty talented. In most camps like this there would be several players who simply cannot rally, and so you have to put them with coaches. None of the players in the camp come under that category. 

John and Wen Hsu are my assistant coaches (with Wen the administrator), but John couldn't make it yesterday, so Raghu Nadmichettu substituted. After lunch he and I did an exhibition. I had my usual fun, lobbing while sitting on the floor, blowing the ball back, 50-foot serves from the side, racing side to side as Raghu angled me, playing with mini-paddle and clipboard, and various trick serves. As I usually do, before the match I told the kids to cheer for me when I scored, and to boo when Raghu scored, and predictably (as in past exhibitions) they did the opposite. I had my usual run-ins with the scorekeeper, who always held firm no matter how much I claimed my shot that went way off had actually hit the edge.  I always play the "bad" guy, and I always lose.

Probably the most impressive player in the camp is an 11-year-old who has no hands, and an inability to even lower his upper arms, which are jammed up against his side. He grips the paddle's handle in the crook of his arm, i.e. the inside of his elbow - and amazingly, is one of the better players in the camp! He's been playing a lot he said at a table at his swimming pool, and has an amazing forehand smash. I want you, the reader, to imagine holding a paddle with the inside of your elbow and imagine smashing the ball. If you can't imagine it, neither could I until I saw it. In our multiball session with me yesterday he was making the smash about 80% of the time. He also has a decent backhand. He picks the ball off the floor by squeezing it between his elbow and his chin. He also serves by holding it between his elbow and chin and then tossing it up. He's one of the fastest on his feet in the camp. During the one-hour lunch break on Monday the kids played "bottle soccer" in the cafeteria, and he was perhaps the best player, with all sorts of fancy footwork. 

They also were going to play bottle soccer yesterday during lunch break. (It's just soccer but with an empty bottle as the ball, and two trash cans on each side of the cafeteria as goal posts.) But a strange thing happened - we had rolled a table into the cafeteria for Raghu and I to do the exhibition. (The room we were doing the coaching had low ceilings, and we thought the cafeteria would be a more fun place to do it.) Within minutes, the kids came over to the table and were playing "King of the Table." So despite all the table tennis - six hours a day - they wanted more! 

Tomorrow we'll do more stroke and footwork drills (as always), plus I'll introduce them to pushing, backhand smash, and fast serves. 

International News

As usual, you can find lots of international news at TableTennista (which covers the big names more) and at the ITTF news page (more regional news). 

Vote for Prachi Jha for USOC Athlete of the Month

Here's the ballot!

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. Seventy-four down, 26 to go!

  • Day 27: Christian Veronese Describes ITTF Marketing Strategies and Successes

Quentin Robinot Bullet Shot at the ITTF China Open

Here's the video (34 sec) as he first plays defense (against Yan An), and then makes an incredible counter-smash.

Topspin Charity Event in Las Vegas

Here's the blog entry by Matt Hetherington, where a bunch of NBA players (with Chris Paul hosting) and table tennis players raised money for charity. Also links to a video of the event (10:14).

Table Tennis Anime

Here's some anime table tennis pictures and a video (1:36). 

Texas Tech Red Raiders - College Football and Table Tennis

Here's the article

Coffee Table Ping-Pong Table

Here it is!

Action Packed Cartoon

As near as I can tell, six people get hit in the head and a light bulb smashed in this table tennis cartoon

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August 5, 2014

Tip of the Week

How to Move Up a Level.

TNEO and Table Tennis

This past weekend I returned from "The Never-Ending Odyssey," an annual eight-day writing workshop in Manchester, New Hampshire, for graduates of the six-week Odyssey writing workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers. (I'm a 2006 grad.) This was my fifth TNEO - I went in '07, '08, '09, '13, and now '14. Here's a picture of me during a reading at the local Barnes and Noble. (There were about 30-40 listeners.) Here's a group picture. (If you have trouble seeing these Facebook photos, here are other versions for the reading photo and  for the group photo.) Here's my science fiction and fantasy page.) 

What does this have to do with table tennis, besides the fact that I'm a table tennis player at a science fiction and fantasy writing workshop? Actually quite a bit. During the workshop I had the first seven chapters of my SF novel "Campaign 2100" critiqued, and soon I will start the final rewrite on it. The novel has lots of table tennis! I blogged about this on June 13, where I even listed the table tennis scenes and changes in the sport, including "Spinsey pinhole sponge." (One of the main characters is a professional table tennis player who, up match point in the semifinals of the national championships, walks off the court to join - and eventually run - a worldwide third-party challenge for president of Earth in the year 2100. He also coaches the son of the presidential contender, and coaches and then does an exhibition for the Chinese leadership with an alien ambassador.) The table tennis scenes have mostly gone over well with readers and critiquers, even though they are not table tennis people. 

Since I was out of town for nine days, here's the question that comes up: What does one do to stay in table tennis shape when on vacation or out of town for an extended period for some reason? Assuming you can't arrange TT times at the new location, the answer is to shadow practice. (Here's my article Shadow Practice for Strokes and Footwork.) I brought my weighted racket to the writing workshop. (I bought it at the 2001 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.) At least once a day I shadow practiced forehand loops and smashes, backhands, and side-to-side footwork. 

Coaching Camp in Virginia

The writing workshop pretty much kept us on the go all day the entire time, so I was pretty tired when I returned - and with no break, I went right back to full-time coaching. We have a one-time camp in Virginia this week, 9AM-4PM, Mon-Fri, and so I'm leaving each day around 7:30 AM (because of rush hour) to make the journey. There are 15 kids in the camp, ages 6 to 14. Even though the camp was open to boys and girls, for reasons we still don't understand there are no girls in the camp. Only two are Asian (though two others are I believe part Asian). All 15 are right-handed. I'm head coach, assisted by John and Wen Hsu (the latter is the camp administrator as well). Since I have to leave so early, to do this blog I have to either do it the night before or get up very, very early.

Disabled Veterans Camp

I'm running a camp at MDTTC for disabled veterans, on Aug. 26-29. It's part of a USATT program, which has a grant for such camps. They have seven such camps scheduled - here's a listing. Special thanks goes to Jasna Rather for helping put these together!

Help Wanted - USATT National Volunteer Coordinator

Here's a new volunteer position with USATT - and an important one! 

Help Wanted - Austin Table Tennis Club Coach

Here's the help wanted article

Think Like a Coach

Here's a new coaching article from Oklahoma City coach Britt Salter. (The page is listed as Nov. 27, 2012, but that's when the page was apparently created for the coaching articles. The article just went up.) 

Contact Point for Maximum Backspin

Here's the video (3:14) from PingSkills.

Which Ball Should I Buy?

Here's the new blog entry from USATT Board Member Kagin Lee.

ITTF Coaching Course in Akron, Ohio

Here's the ITTF article.

ITTF Goes Plastic for Future Events

Here's the article.

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. I was posting them all here, but while I was gone they went from #38 to #28. You can find them all on the USATT News page. I'll likely start posting them again tomorrow. 

Kanak Jha and the North American Championships

Here's the highlights video (1:36), by Jim Butler.

Lily Zhang's 2012 Olympic Thoughts

Here's the video (1:41). 

Dimitrij Ovtcharov on the Two-Colored Balls

Here's the article. "More than half of the balls were broken after practice." (Includes picture with the broken balls - looks like about ten broken balls, though there seem to be 11 white halves, 9 orange halves.)

Tampa Tries Free Pingpong in the Park

Here's the article

Table Tennis Touch

Here's a video (2:33) on this table tennis game you can play on your smart phone. 

Pong Was Never Supposed to Be Played By the Public

Here's the article on this revolutionary video game. 

Cartoon Woman Smashes Winner in Front of Big Crowd

Here's the picture - what should the caption be?

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