USA Nationals Entry Form
Here's the home page for the 2012 USA Nationals, with a link to the entry form. I'll be there mostly to coach, though I'll probably enter one event - Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff, which I'll try to win for the 14th time, including ten with Ty. (I'd like to play other events, but there are just too many conflicts with all the junior events I'm be coaching in.)
As I noted in my blog on Aug. 9, I was in a car accident on Aug. 8, two weeks ago. The other driver was at fault (she pulled right in front of me as I was driving to the club), and their insurance will be paying to repair my car. I also said no one was hurt.
Not so fast.
About a week ago (I'm not sure exactly when) my neck started bothering me. At first it was more an irritation, and I kept massaging the neck muscles, trying to get them to loosen up. But it got worse and worse. By Monday, the first day of the last MDTTC camp of the summer, it was painful, and by Tuesday morning it was excruciatingly painful just to hold my head up - meaning it was excruciatingly painful ALL THE TIME. I went to see a doctor during lunch break on Tuesday, but had to leave before seeing him when things ran late and I had to get back to the camp. But I found one who saw me that night at 7PM. The x-rays were negative, and there's no apparent nerve damage, so it's probably muscle and tendon problems.
I'm now wearing a neck brace, along with various medications (pain relievers and muscle relaxants). When I go to the camp this morning, there'll be some stares because of the neck brace, but it should allow me to at least do multiball and complete the camp through this Friday. The odds are I'm going to have to cancel all coaching for at least a week after that, though I may be able to do multiball - we'll see.
I'm starting to miss the back problems I had last year.
MDTTC Camp, Week Eleven, Day Two
Yesterday I gave lectures on the backhand, on receive, and on ball placement. For ball placement, I talked about the three or four placements for nearly all shots: to the forehand corner, to the backhand corner, and the middle. What's the fourth placement? Against a ball that goes to your wide forehand or backhand, you have an angle outside the opponent's wide corner, so you can go down the line, to the middle, to the crosscourt corner, or crosscourt wide outside the corner. You should normally go for such extreme angles only if you use lots of topspin to pull the ball down, or against a short ball. I also talked about moving players in and out, and how to be deceptive with your placement by aiming one way, and at the last second rotating your shoulders to change directions. (Here's a Tip of the Week on Forehand Deception with Shoulder Rotation.)
The afternoon session had me with two tables (one with a robot) and eight kids, and was excruciatingly painful - see "Neck Problems" above. Most of the kids understood what I was going through and were on good behavior - not only was the pain obvious, but I told them that today was not a day to give me any flak. (But you'll note I said "Most" above. Maybe my wearing a neck brace today will get through to the one or two not in the "Most.")
A relatively new ritual is the daily five-minute trek to 7-11 after lunch. Yesterday 15 of us made the trip; on Monday we had 13. The 7-11 manager gives me a small mini Slurpee each time I bring in all these kids.
Table Tennis Music Video
On Saturday, Sept. 15, we'll start (and hopefully finish) the band Edie Sedgwick will be filming a table tennis music video at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. The video will star 11-year-old Derek Nie, who will play and defeat the band members in the video. I'll be along as a consultant, and will be well paid in pepperoni pizza. Here's an example of another music video they did.
Team USA in London
Here's a video (1:50) of USA Olympians Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu doing interviews, exhibitions, and promotional work in London.
Top 50 Points
Here's a video (18:36) that shows the "Top 50 Table Tennis Points."
Justin Bieber Playing TT in Commercial
Here's a commercial (2:01) starring Justin Bieber for a medicated cleansing bar that shows him playing table tennis. He says, "After a concert or playing ball I use the bar to shower." He's playing table tennis as he says this, for about two seconds starting at second 21.
Table Tennis Rules
Here's a video (6:26) from PingSkills that explains the rules - with a panda. Really! I like it.
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The Brad Pitt Story - the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
Yesterday I blogged about the upcoming move, Brad Pitt To Star In Film Adaptation Of "Table Tennis Tales and Techniques." It was all fake - but I didn't do it! I just played along.
Late on Sunday night I received an email from Richard McAfee, who had been table tennis surfing the net and found the story in The Daily Quarterly. I had no advance knowledge of this, and didn't know about it until I received Richard's email. Now readers, brace yourselves - The Daily Quarterly is a satirical website, like The Onion. Click on the "About" section at the top, and it says, "And for the few of you who found your way onto this site by chance, or couldn’t already tell, be advised: This is ALL SATIRE. Honest. If you have no sense of humor, you are wasting your time here." And just below that, it says, "Did we mention this is a SATIRICAL SITE?"
So no Brad Pitt movie. No great exposure for table tennis. No $3.5 million for me. Sigh. But I still love the poster.
If you are angry at Brad Pitt for this, here's a video entitled "Brad Pitt Ping Pong" which shows Pitt getting hit by cars for three minutes and seventeen seconds. If you are angry at me for this, then buy a copy of the book that started it all, "Table Tennis Tales and Techniques," and use the wisdom of the book to learn to beat me in table tennis. All I have to do is sell about 700,000 copies and I'll get that $3.5 million.
The Fastest Serve in the World
A few days ago videos began to surface of a Japanese kid named Asuka Sakai demonstrating what appeared to be the fastest serve in the world. I was at first skeptical because I literally couldn't see the ball bouncing on his side of the table in the video. But here's a slow-motion version (1:04), which clearly shows that the serve hits both sides, and how he does it. The secret, of course, is lots of topspin to pull the ball down, with the difficulty being in creating the power needed for all that topspin and still having enough left over for speed.
I spent a few minutes experimenting with the serve this weekend, and could mimic it at maybe 2/3 the speed. (I may work on it some more later.) Note that while he seems to set up for a forehand serve, he actually hits it with his backhand side, which allows him to stroke the ball vigorously (that's an understatement), creating great speed and topspin. I can also do this serve with a regular forehand motion or a backhand motion, with lots of topspin, but I'm beginning to think the kid had it right - for this serve, you might need to use his backhand-from-the-forehand-side motion to get that much speed and spin.
Could this be a paradigm switch in the way players serve? Who knows. At the higher levels, top players will have little trouble reacting to the serve and at least blocking or stroking it back. But it might be too fast to loop back, and at the higher levels, a deep serve that isn't looped back gets looped. On the other hand, the serve is so fast that perhaps the server will have trouble doing the serve and then reacting in time to loop the next ball.
After forehand looping for thirty minutes straight on Friday so a student could practice blocking, my back tightened up. Then, after a few more hours of coaching, my neck tightened up, and I could barely do forehand shots. It was like whiplash. I managed to survive my coaching sessions, and the neck is getting better, but I'm taking it easy today. I cancelled a two-hour practice session I had scheduled (not a coaching session, an actual practice session, since I'm getting back in shape), and have no other coaching today. Hopefully it'll be better tomorrow when I have more coaching scheduled.
USA Table Tennis Coach of the Year
Coaches, it's time to nominate the USATT Coaches of the Year. There are five categories: National, Developmental, Paralympic, Volunteer, and Doc Councilman. I was the 2002 USATT Coach of the Year, and I was a finalist three times for National Coach of the Year. (I wonder if this blog and TableTennisCoaching.com qualifies me for the "Doc Councilman" award? Hmmm....)
Table Tennis Drills in China
Here's U.S. Junior Champion, U.S. Team Member, and U.S. National Men's Singles Finalist Peter Li describing his training drills in China.
Ping-Pong and Pop Culture
Here's a short article on the headline above. (That's the problem with descriptive headlines - they give away the text. For now on maybe I'll just headline each item as "Something About Table Tennis.")
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