Butterfly Online

Equipment Junkies

January 5, 2012

Busy month ahead

One of our full-time coaches at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, is leaving Monday for a month in China. Sun Ting, who recently joined our staff, is also in China, also returning in about a month. I'm subbing for some of their students while they are away so it's going to be a busy month. (Pray for my back!) We'll be back at full strength around the start of February.

Around that time is when the wall to our club goes down and we take over the space next door to us, doubling the club's size. It'll probably be another month of renovations before everything's ready, and then we'll have 11,000 square feet, around 18-20 tables all on red rubber flooring, the bathroom that's currently in the middle of the club obstructing everything will finally be off to the side, and we'll have our new weight room. We'll also have a new modernized web page, and our new facebook page will be ready for action. Our coaching staff will then include me, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, Sun Ting, Raghu Nadmichettu, and Donn Olsen.

Equipment Junkies: The Next Generation

Yesterday I was coaching a 10-year-old semi-beginner. Unfortunately, he'd forgotten his racket, which was a standard relatively slow beginner's blade with about 1.7mm Sriver on both sides. So he tried out mine - a fast carbon blade with space-aged sponge with built-in glue effect on both sides.

His first ten shots went way, Way, WAY off the end, with his eyes going wide like a pancake after the first one. But then he adjusted. It was like going from a sailboat to a nuclear-powered hydroplane. He loved the way the racket practically trampolined the ball back. He was literally clutching it to his chest, saying "I'm keeping this!"

I explained how he wouldn't be able to control it in a game situation, where he wouldn't get the predictable shots as he got in drills, and how shots he could control with his old racket would often miss with this warp 8 racket, but it was too late. Thus an equipment junkie was born. At the end of the session I had to essentially pry the blade from his cold, EJ fingers.

After the lesson, he called his dad over and I gave both of them my standard lecture on equipment - the advantages/disadvantages of faster blades, different types and thicknesses of sponge, bounciness and throw angles, etc. But there's no turning back. Next week I'm going to put some advanced sponge on his slower blade, giving him a sort of nuclear-powered sailboat. Hopefully that'll work for him. Otherwise he'll be on his way to the dark side like my previous students Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

Ma Long's windmill defense

Watch as China's Ma Long, world #1, improvises and does a windmill-style (or as we call in the U.S., Seemiller-style) backhand chop return of this loop in this slow-motion 60-second video. When you are through oohing and aahing about that shot, watch it again from the perspective of the opponent. When I first saw the video, I thought it was Werner Schlager, but a close look tells me (I think) that it's Tomislav Kolarek of Croatia (Can anyone verify?), world #190, who played Ma Long in the early rounds at the 2011 World Championships in the Netherlands - Ma wins at 2,5,6,5. Even more interesting to me than Ma's improvised defense is the way Kolarek tricked him into thinking he was looping to the forehand by lining up his shoulders as if he were going that way, but instead going down the line. (Also of interest - watch the serve. It's completely hidden from the opponent and illegal. It disappears behind Kolarek's head, and doesn't reappear until after contact when it reappears at his side.)

Pongcast TV Episode 06 - 2011 Year in Review Part 1

This is part 1 (22:47), which covers the first six months of 2011. I'm not sure when Part 2 comes out.

Racket sports bloopers

Here's a blooper video (1:24) mostly for racket sports, including several from table tennis, as well as tennis, racquetball, badminton, tetherball, and volleyball.

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