Art of Table Tennis

May 30, 2012

Summer Table Tennis Training

Now's the time to start seriously thinking about your summer training, especially for those out of school, but also for the rest of you. There are training camps all over the USA. My club, Maryland Table Tennis Center, will be running eleven consecutive weeks of camps, Mon-Fri every week from June 18 to Aug. 24. Here is info on the camps. I will be coaching along with Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Jeffrey Xeng Xun. We will also have several 2400-2600 practice partners.

Don't have time to come to a camp? Or don't feel comfortable training with a bunch of juniors? (Most camps are dominated by kids, though all ages are welcome.) Here's the list of USATT coaches, or if you are in the Maryland area, here's info on private coaching at MDTTC.

Many players practice for years and never improve as much as they'd like. The problem is that they rarely go through a period of intense training, which is where you can maximize improvement. Set aside a week or so for a training camp, arrange a couple months afterwards with both private coaching and a regular practice schedule, and it'll pay off for years to come.

Before undergoing any training, take some time to think about your game. What are your current or potential strengths? What are your weaknesses? How to you envision yourself playing later on? One thing I tell all of my students is that you should be able to write a book about your game, at least in your head. If you can't, then either you don't know your game or you don't have a game. In most cases, players have a game but haven't really thought it through. Do some thinking, perhaps consult with a coach or top player, and decide where you want to go in terms of style, level, and/or goals. Then start your journey. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and your journey to reach your table tennis goals starts with your next practice session.

"As One" movie

This is the first major "real" table tennis movie (as opposed to comedies that poke fun at the sport), about the joint Korean women's team that won the Worlds in 1991, upsetting China in the final. It opens tomorrow in three U.S. cities (New York, Chicago, Philadelphia), as well as in Toronto and Vancouver. It opens in Los Angeles one week later. Here is info on the theaters and times, as well as a link to the trailer. Here's info on the movie from the ITTF. Here's a photo gallery from U.S. umpire Michael Meier, who had a major role in the movie authentically playing a U.S. umpire. Here's the IMDB page on the movie.

New Coaching Video from PingSkills

Backhand Counterhit (4:54)

USA Olympic Table Tennis Team

Here's an article with photo slideshow of the USA Olympic Team, with pictures and info on all four - Timothy Wang, Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu.

Mike Mezyan Table Tennis Art

Here's the page for Mike's table tennis artworks. Or you can go directly to the Album.

Jan-Ove Waldner: The Power of Blocking

Here's a highlights video showing the blocking skills of the great Jan-Ove Waldner. Watch the change of pace and placements he uses. Note how he often sidespin blocks.

Turning Trash into Table Tennis



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November 3, 2011

November 3, 2011

How Leagues Spur Growth

I was asked this morning who could (or would?) play in a nationwide table tennis league. I'd already talked about Germany and its 11,000 clubs and 700,000 players, England's 500,000, France's 300,000, etc., and how other sports also do this, and how these huge numbers come almost exclusively from leagues. Here's an excerpt of my response, which explains a bit more precisely and concisely how this happens.

"Anyone can join the league as part of a team representing a club, with the membership rate to be determined. This is the stage where new clubs are often certified or created, as players list the place they practice as their club (solving the U.S. problem of hordes of non-sanctioned clubs full of non-USATT players), or find and create ones for the purposes of the league (leading to hordes of new clubs, which soon fill up with new players who join the league, snowballing membership). There are always details to be worked out, which is why you go to experienced league directors (in club to club leagues) in the U.S., overseas, and in other sports to see how they did it, and then design a U.S. model."

There was a lot more written in the discussion, but I can't print what others wrote, and much of what I wrote only makes sense in the context of what others had written. I may write more on this later. However, one thing I've concluded is that it is far more likely that an independent group creates such a league - some are already working on it - than USATT, since independent groups can make and implement decisions in ways USATT is simply unable to do.

Plus, of course, leagues simply aren't among USATT's three vague "priorities," as decided at the 2009 Strategic Meeting (and unchanged), which are "Junior Development," "Grow Membership Through Added Value," and "Communications." I do agree with the "Junior Development" one, but not in the direction they are going, which I won't go into. The focus needs to be on recruiting and training coaches to set up and run junior programs. But nothing has been implemented from the task force on "Junior Development" in the two years since it was created.

Someone did say that I had convinced USATT at the Strategic Meeting that leagues should be a priority, and I responded, "On the contrary, I completely failed to convince everyone, or even a majority, that leagues should be a priority, which is why it did not become one of the three priorities. Please, nobody argue otherwise; if a majority agreed that leagues should have been one of the top three priorities, than it would have been one of the top three priorities. A huge opportunity was missed."

Article #1300

In the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of USA Table Tennis Magazine, I have a coaching article on footwork entitled, "Are You a Tree or a Squirrel?" This is my 1300th published article (plus four books). Wowie! Here's a listing of all 1300, many linked online - why not spend the next few weeks reading them all? Here's the opening paragraph of the article:

"Squirrels run circles around trees, and there's a lesson there. If you are a tree, you just stand there, rooted to the ground, waiting on each shot to see if you have to move. By the time you realize you have to move - how often does your opponent happen to hit the ball right into your forehand or backhand pocket so it'll hit right in the middle of your paddle? - it's too late, and so you can only awkwardly reach for the ball. There are no proud redwoods in table tennis, only weeping willows."

Samson Dubina returning half-long balls

Here's Samson topspinning half-long balls, with his forehand (1:57) and with his backhand (1:46). These are balls that, given the chance, the second bounce would be just off the end. These are difficult for some players to loop, but once you get the knack, they are easy to topspin.

The Art of Table Tennis

Here's a video (4:05) of amazing points from 2010 and 2011. A lot of both great forehand and backhand play - many such videos focus mostly on forehand shots. Don't miss the Samsonov backhand counter-kill at 3:29, which they then show in slow motion from two angles.

The Table Tennis Collector

The November, 2011 issue of The Table Tennis Collector just came out, their 62nd issue. The Table Tennis Collector is a quarterly magazine published by the ITTF Museum. If you are really, Really, REALLY interested in table tennis history, especially U.S. history, then buy some of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis books. You won't be able to put them down.

The NBA and Table Tennis

Table Tennis Nation talks about NBA players and table tennis, including Michael Jordan, Yao Ming, Rod Higgins, Carmelo Anthony, and Speedy Claxton. (If you want to see more basketball players, or other athletes and celebrities playing table tennis, see the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page.)


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