Barack Obama

September 17, 2012

Tip of the Week

Why Table Tennis Really Is Chess at Light Speed.

Table Tennis Music Video

On Saturday night the Edie Sedgwick music group came to the Maryland Table Tennis Center to do a table tennis music video. The gist of the video is the group shows up at a nightclub to play table tennis, and then, one by one, they get destroyed by a kid. Starring in the video is Derek Nie, 11, the U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Singles Champion. (Here he is warming up with me at the Open, and here he is in his full green wig and striped sunglasses outfit. And here he is at the Eastern Open last year!)

The band had been planning this video already, but were apparently going to just bring in some kid actor and fake the table tennis scenes. Then they saw Derek in the Washington Post video, and contacted me about hiring him.

The table tennis portion of the taping took four hours, from 7-11PM, though the band members came in around 5PM to start setting up. Also in attendance were Derek's parents and older brother, George (15, a 2050 player), and lots of pizza. In order, here's what happened:

  1. Taping of Derek and the band members arriving by limousine. Yes, they hired a white limousine for this part, and they actually picked Derek up at his school in the limo! (He said it was rather embarrassing explaining this to everyone there.) The chauffeur, Nas, a Pakistani immigrant, just last week drove Clint Eastwood, and has also driven Michael Douglas, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, LL. Cool J, Erin Burnett, and Jon Huntsman.
  2. They rearranged the barriers at the club to create a long, diagonal entrance from the doorway to the playing area set up in the back of the club. Then they taped the four band members walking/sauntering in over and over. Then they did the same with Derek.
  3. Then came the table tennis scenes. They taped Derek mostly hitting and looping forehands while I blocked. Because of the extremely bright light they put behind Derek I couldn't see the ball when blocking forehands, but I made the fortuitous discover that I could block backhands from the forehand side without the light in my eyes. George Nie also joined in for some of the rallies. (George and I won't be in the video, we were just blocking for Derek.)
  4. Then they taped the band members playing. I fed them balls multi-ball style as they smacked shots all over the place, sometimes hitting the table. Two of the four were actually pretty decent. One could barely hit the ball, but after some practice we put on a decent show.
  5. Then each of them taped their "losing" scene. I'd hit a ball hard at them, they'd flail at it and miss, and then each had their own sore loser reaction - throwing paddle down (we used a cheap one for that!), kicking the wall (not too hard, I warned), looks of disgust, and each ending with the band member storming out of the club in some way. (So when you see them losing, remember that it was me who hit the winning shots, not Derek!!!)
  6. Then we filmed Derek's victory scenes, where he'd raise his arms in triumph, shadow practice forehands and backhands in celebration (sometimes left-handed), and other celebratory maneuvers. There was one very complex scene that Derek nailed in a few tries where he'd go through a series of these maneuvers (including his brother tossing him his striped sunglasses, and Derek cleanly snatching them in mid-air and putting them on) and going through a true actor's scene where he started out all happy, gradually realized he'd beaten everyone and was alone, looked crestfallen, and then tosses aside his paddle and sunglasses and runs off. Oscar scene!!!
  7. They also did several short scenes in front of a green screen. They will add in scenes from a night club later on. This saved Derek from having to go there, plus the night club they were going to use doesn't open until midnight (!), well past Derek's bedtime.
  8. We also had several humorous scenes of the band members preparing to play, including one member dressed in an all-white outfit who was constantly preening for the camera. In one scene, after he finished straightening his hair and clothes, we all threw ping-pong balls at him.
  9. Then we all had to spend some time putting the club back together, moving barriers and chairs back into position.

They said the taping for the video will complete next weekend (at the night club), and the video should be done in about a month. They have lots of video editing to do. I'll post when it's up.

Five Days Till the MDTTC September Open!

Have you entered yet? If you aren't there, we'll talk about you behind your back. We'll make Youtube videos about you. There will be rioting in the streets. It won't be pretty. So enter and stop the mayhem. (Tournament is at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, and I'm running it. I've run over 150 USATT tournaments, but this will be my first one in over ten years.)

Lily Zhang and Barack Obama

Here's a picture of Olympian Lily Zhang shaking hands with President Obama at the White House.

ITTF Coaching Program

Here's an article on the ITTF web page about the ITTF coaching program. It mentions USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee, who is currently running seminars in India.

Great Point at the Russian Open

Here's a great point by Xu Xin of China against Russia's Alexey Liventsov. (26 seconds.)

Ping-Pong Record Covers

Here are two:

Penguins Use What For Rackets?

Here's a penguin table tennis cartoon.

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December 27, 2011

Tip of the Week

Balance is a Habit.

Back from break

I've mostly been away the last two weeks, coaching at the USA Nationals in Virginia Beach and at Christmas with family in Santa Barbara, CA. I'm pretty much setting a policy that when I'm out of town, I take a vacation from blogging. But now I'm back, and so expect new blogs to go up every morning, Mon-Fri, normally by 9 or 10 AM. It won't be easy this week - I'm coaching at the Maryland Table Tennis Center Christmas Camp, and so have to get it all done before I leave each morning. (It's our 21st consecutive Christmas Camp - every year starting in 1991 - and roughly our 150th five-day camp overall.)

Coaching Seminar at the USA Nationals

At the recent USA Nationals Stefan Feth and Richard McAfee held a coaching seminar on behalf of the USATT coaching committee. I attended as did about twenty others. USA Men's Coach Stefan Feth went first, with a presentation on "Modern Trends in the Serve and Serve Return Game." Unfortunately, you had to be there to see the demos to really understand these techniques, but I'll cover them briefly.

Serve:

  • Ways to serve forehand backspin but fake topspin with an upward elbow follow-through.
  • Importance of focusing on one or two service motions.
  • Nine spots to serve to - short, half-long, and long to the forehand, middle, and backhand.
  • Inside-out hook serves

Receive - Banana and Strawberry flips. I'm not making this up!

  • Banana flips are becoming somewhat standard for top players. It is done with the backhand against a short ball (usually a serve, often against backspin) where you wrist the ball back with topspin and sidespin, with the sidespin coming from a right-to-left motion. Here's a video from PingSkills (4:09) where they teach the shot, though they call it a backhand sidespin flick.
  • The Strawberry flip (more commonly called a Reverse Banana Flip) is the rarer version where you create a backhand sidespin drive with a left-to-right motion. Many players can sort of do this as a simple sidespin receive, which can be effective as a change-up, but a Strawberry flip is an actual aggressive drive that jumps at you with lots of topspin and especially sidespin - with the ball jumping away from you if it goes to your forehand. Sorry, no video! (This shot was a specialty of Feth's when he was on the German team - not sure how many others use this shot regularly.)

Richard McAfee's presentation was on Half-Pattern Drills - I'll cover that in a later blog, perhaps tomorrow.

2012 US Olympic Table Tennis Trials

Here's a 31-second video promoting the U.S. and North American Olympic Table Tennis Trials. (I'll be there coaching.)

Barack Obama and David Cameron playing table tennis

A while back I posted pictures of Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron playing table tennis - see the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page. Now we have video!!! (I don't think I posted this 2:10 video before.)

2011 Best of Table Tennis

Here's a collection of some of the best rallies of 2011 (7:38).

Liu Guoliang versus Ma Long - on the mini-table

Yes, these two are going at it like champions for 42 seconds! Ma is the current world #1, while Liu is the current Chinese Men's Coach and former World, Olympic, and World Cup Men's Singles Champion.

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