Dan Seemiller

October 30, 2014

George Brathwaite Statement to The View

On Tuesday morning table tennis was disparaged on the TV show The View. First they showed footage of the Zhang Jike barrier-kicking celebration after he won the Men's World Cup. Afterwards, co-host Nicolle Wallace said, "table tennis can be boring without stuff like that." (Wallace was communications chief during the George W. Bush presidency and a senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.) Here's a link to 11:40 into the show, where the table tennis starts. At 12:49 is when Wallace makes her statement. The table tennis ends at 13:20. USATT Hall of Famer George Brathwaite sent the following statement to The View. (I may send something as well, but I only saw the video for the first time this morning.)

Hello,

My name is George Braithwaite and I am an original member of the United States Table Tennis Team that participated in the Historic PING PONG DIPLOMACY tour of the People's Republic of China in 1971. I was watching THE VIEW TV episode this morning and was appalled at the ludicrous remark made by Nicole Wallace in reference to table tennis being a boring sport and needed a demonstration like what occurred at the recently concluded World Tour for Table Tennis which was won by Zhang Jike of the People's Republic of China.

After winning the championships, Zhang displayed an unnecessary degree of anger by kicking and breaking down the barriers surrounding the arena, which triggered the reaction of the promoters to forfeit his prize money of $45,000 and which was in absolute contrast and in violation to the principles of the Chinese Table Tennis Association which also holds their athletes to a strict code of conduct.

However, in reference to Ms. Wallace's preposterous remark about the sport of Table Tennis, let me point out and bring to her attention as well as to the knowledge of those who may not be aware, that "TABLE TENNIS IS THE MOST POPULAR RACKET SPORT IN THE WORLD AND IS RANKED SECOND OVERALL IN TERMS OF PARTICIPATION”

Table Tennis is and has been an Olympic Sport since 1988 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) never accepts a sport unless it has a great degree of Athleticism for spectators to VIEW. 

For further information you may access my website at the following: www.GeorgeBraithwaite.com

Disabled Veterans Camp in South Bend, Indiana

Dan Seemiller ran a Disabled Veterans Camp at his club in South Bend, Aug. 23-24 - and got 31 players!!! These camps were made possible by a grant to USATT by USOC, and organized by USATT Director of Para Programs Jasna Reed. Here's the Disabled Veterans Camp listing and other info on Para events. I also ran a Disabled Veterans Camp at MDTTC in August, but mine had only six players. How did Dan get 31?

Dan had earlier contacted me about how to get players in the camp, but frankly, I wasn't much help. We had a player who worked at a local VA hospital, and he distributed flyers for us, but there wasn't exactly a huge surge of players for the camp I ran. Dan decided that he needed to set up an info table in front of a local VA hospital. But first he had to get permission - and that's when he ran into bureaucracy and red tape. He was hassled every step of the way, but wouldn't take no, and kept moving up the ladder until he found someone who gave it the okay. (Dan admitted that it got so bad that he almost gave up.) And so he set up a card table, brought rackets and balls to attract attention, and talked to an estimated 500 people. A total of 51 people signed up for the camp, though "only" 31 were able to make it - but he has all their emails to send future info.

Coaching at the camp were Dan, his son Dan Jr., Barry Chan, and Zach Steele.

World Cadet Challenge

Here's the ITTF home page for the event. It's taking place right now in Barbados, with singles and doubles events starting today. (Team competition already finished - Asia won Cadet Boys while Europe won Cadet Girls.) Follow the action, including USA stars Kanak Jha, Jack Wang, Crystal Wang, and Amy Wang - or, as I put it, Jaws and the Triple Wangs! Yes, I'm officially suggesting we nickname Kanak Jha as "Jaws," a play on his name, what he does to opponents, and named after this and this.

Wang Hao Ordered to Dump to Zhang Jike in 2012 Olympic Men's Singles Final?

Here's the article. Unbelievable! I thought they had stopped doing this. I think there's a cultural thing with this - I've had discussions with people from China who believe dumping like this is the right thing to do, and that players should dump if asked to do so as the coaches and other leaders have the best interests of the team and country in mind rather than individual achievement. (See the comments under the article where one person says that Coach Liu Guoliang was misquoted.)

Table Tennis Needs a Big Name like Zhang Jike

Here's the article.

Twenty Tips by Tahl

Here are 20 tips by Tahl Leibovitz. You can learn from all of them, but I especially like #1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 16, and 18.

Ask the Coach

Here's Episode 19 (10:50):

  • Question 1 (0:35): Many people just turn around and drive my service. Where do I do the service and what should I do? Srikanth Pyaraka
  • Question 2 (1:55): When looping it seems easier to wait for the ball to reach the top of the arc and start dropping before you brush it up. I hit well when the ball is rising but swing and miss a lot when I try to brush the ball after it starts dropping. Can I improve? Ken
  • Question 3 (5:17): I normally stand on the left side of the table. I face difficulty if short backspin service comes to my forehand. I try to push the service & the opponent attacks with topspin. How to place the ball in such a manner so that I can attack the return? Anushka
  • Question 4 (7:35): Most of my serves have sidespin but when the opponent finds an answer to return it, I'm in trouble because all the sidespin is coming back at me especially if it is pushed back. Should I stop serving with sidespin as it can make life more difficult? Thijs

Zhang Jike, Ma Long, and Timo Boll Review the Plastic Balls

Here's the article, with links to videos.

Interview with Georgina Pota

Here's part 2 of the interview by Dora Kurimay, which went up this morning. (I linked to part 1 last week.) "How Did Georgina Póta Multiple Times European Champion Professional Table Tennis Player Change From Shy To Self-Expressive?"

Top Ten Shots from the Men's World Cup

Here's the video (6:36). If you want to see one of the best "get" returns ever, see #1 at 5:42. The point was over, as even Zhang Jike believed, right? Nigeria's Quadri Aruna - a breakout star at the World Cup as he made the quarterfinals - didn't get the memo.

PingPod #41: Zhang Jike's Fine and the Plastic Ball

Here's the video (6:02).

Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's the ITTF article.

Ariel Hsing's Home Page

Here it is - bet you didn't know the three-time USA Women's Singles Champion had one!

Top Spin the Movie

Here's the home page, and here's info on the premiere at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4:30 PM. "In Sara Newens and Mina T. Son’s spirited sports film, three driven teenage athletes attempt to go for Olympic gold. Their sport? The perpetually popular but underappreciated game of table tennis. Northern California’s Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang balance friendship and professional rivalry to see who’ll come out on top, while Long Island’s Michael Landers sacrifices his senior year of high school to devote more time to training at NYC’s SPiN."

How Bugs Bunny Cheats

Here's the cartoon! (Actually, wouldn't this mean every ball comes back, and so Elmer Fudd would win?)

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August 21, 2013

Exhibition and Challenges with the Baltimore Orioles!!!

Today I'm leaving the MDTTC camp at 11:30 to pick up some players so we can go to Orioles Park at Camden Yards (about an hour away), where from 2-3PM we're giving a demo for and taking challenges from the Baltimore Orioles baseball team! They have a huge clubhouse which includes a nice table with lots of room. We'll be surrounded by (on average) 6'3" 230lb multimillionaires. (Average major league salary in 2012 was $3.4 million; the Orioles are a little above that. Here's their listing.)

This all started in May when Orioles star shortstop JJ Hardy and former centerfielder and now vice president of operations Brady Anderson visited the Maryland Table Tennis Center, where I gave each a lesson and then they played our local juniors. (Here's my blog on that.) They, along with Jeff Lantz, the Orioles Manager for Media Relations, invited us for a return visit. It took a while, but we finally got it arranged. We even had to get approval from Manager Buck Showalter - who I'm hoping to meet, along with a few others, such as Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, Manny Machado, and others.

I discussed with Jeff the idea of bringing in a large contingent of players, who'd get a tour of the Orioles clubhouse, then stay for the game, with a few of us giving the demo and exhibition. However, he and Buck discussed it and decided it'd be better to keep it a smaller affair so it wouldn't be a big distraction, and suggested we bring in three top juniors. So I invited Nathan Hsu, Tong Tong Gong, and Derek Nie. (See listing below.) Tong Tong, Derek and I plan to stay for the game - they're giving us free tickets. Nathan had a previous commitment; he'd volunteered as a guide for the incoming freshman class at his high school. (Bravo!) So he has to leave as soon as we're done at 3PM. His mom quickly recruited Qiming Chen to give him a ride to and from the event since she'd be out of town at the time. I explained the situation to the Orioles, and they agreed to add him to the list.

A number of locals (both juniors and adults) had asked if they could go on the reciprocal visit to the Orioles park, and I'd hoped I could, but it was not to be.

MASN TV (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network), home of the Orioles and Washington Nationals, is planning to do coverage and turn it into a pre-game show. One thing we hope to catch on video - JJ Hardy and Jeff are planning a "surprise" for one particularly brash player (the Orioles third best TT player after JJ and Brady), who won't know what he's getting into when he agrees to play a "friendly" game with a visiting kid, Derek Nie, 70 lbs, rated 2291.

Since all four of the players I'm taking are Chinese (and at least two have parents from Taiwan), they were pleasantly surprised to learn that Wei-Yin Chen of Taiwan will be pitching for the Orioles in tonight's game. (Well, Tong Tong and Derek were, since they're staying to watch with me.)  We're playing the Tampa Bay Rays, with who we're in a pennant/wild card race.

Players going with me:

  • Derek Nie, 12, 2012 U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Champion (and looks about 10, only 4'7" and 70 lbs)
  • Nathan Hsu, 17, 2011 USA Junior Olympic Under 16 Boy's Singles Champion and 2012 USA Junior Olympic Under 18 Boy's Singles Finalist, #1 Under 18 player in Maryland (U.S. citizens)
  • Tong Tong Gong, 16, member of USA Cadet National Team (15 & Under), 2011-2012, who lives only 15 min from Camden Yards in Ellicott City, and is a big Orioles fan
  • Qiming Chen, 21, University of Maryland Champion and President of the Univ. of Md. Table Tennis Club 

I'll write more about this in my blog tomorrow.

Speaking of the Orioles, there was an article in the Washington Post Sports section on Monday that said, "[Adam] Jones has at least 25 home runs in three consecutive seasons, joining Hall of Famer Frank Robinson as the only Orioles to accomplish the feat."

On Tuesday there was a correction: "An Aug. 19 Sports article about the Baltimore Orioles' 7-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies incorrectly said that Adam Jones joined Frank Robinson as the only Orioles to hit at least 25 home runs in three consecutive seasons. Eddie Murray also accomplished that feat."

I just sent in a correction yesterday: "Dear Washington Post, the correction in the Post this morning (Aug. 20) about Eddie Murray also hitting 25 or more home runs at least three consecutive seasons for the Orioles (as well as Adam Jones and Frank Robinson) left out Cal Ripken, who did it six years in a row (1982-1987), Rafael Palmeiro four years in a row (1995-1998), and Lee May three years in a row (1976-1978). Jim Gentile and Miguel Tejada both missed it by one home run."

As of this morning, they haven't run my correction  For the record, Ripken from 1982-87 hit 28, 27, 27, 26, 25, and 27 HRs. Palmeiro from 1995-98 hit 39, 39, 38, and 43 HRs. Lee May from 1976-78 hit 25, 27, and 25 HRs. How could they miss this? Especially Hall of Famer Cal Ripken??? (Who, by the way, used to play table tennis with Brady Anderson; both have their own sponge rackets.)

MDTTC Camp

Yesterday's focus was the backhand. We had some interesting sessions. One kid had pretty good control, but kept sidespin swiping the ball; I finally took him aside for 15 minutes and straightened that out. Another also had good control, but had a very backhand grip and just jabbed at the ball. I also took him aside for a while and straightened that out. Both had some difficulty making the change as their old stroke was pretty ingrained. It's always easier when working with someone who hasn't played much. One older player had a pretty good backhand but almost no forehand; we worked on and off all day on his forehand, and it's gradually improving.

There's one girl who's a complete beginner, and perhaps the only one who can't really play games yet. All day long for two days she's struggled to hit forehands or backhands. Then, late yesterday afternoon when we played the "cups" game, where we stack the cups and let the kids take turns knocking them down, something happened. Out of the blue she kept smacking them, over and over! Before this she had about a 20% success rate in hitting the table, not to mention a three-inch wide cup. This time she knocked more cups off the table than anyone else (about ten players) two games in a row!

USATT Tip of the Day - Serve Violently!

Here's a tip on serving from Dan Seemiller, five-time USA Men's Singles Champion and former USA Men's Coach.

Table Tennis Good for the Brain

Here's a nice compilation of articles on this from Table Tennis Nation, with five links and a video (4:26).

Ping Pong Only Gets Better When You Add Crazy Visuals

Here's a video (1:12) of some serious psychedelic ping pong.

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January 9, 2013

Regionalization

As I've blogged about numerous times, they key to huge USATT membership figures is leagues, along with coaching development. But the U.S. is too big to try to set up leagues all at once. The key is to break the country into numerous regions. Even England, about the size of Alabama, has nine regions. (The English TTA has over 500,000 members, with a population of 53 million, about 1/6 of the U.S., which has 9000 members.)

USATT has tried regionalization a few times. I did so in the early 1990s with the Club Catalyst & Creation Program, which had pretty good results. I explained this program at the 2009 Strategic Meeting and at other times to board members. Here are excerpts from an email where I explained this to a board member yesterday.

We actually started regionalization in the early 1990s. I created the program, called the Club Catalyst & Creation Program. (That was my sense of humor at work - the acronym was CCCP. Google it if you don't recognize it, and note that the CCCP fell right about this time.) Dan Seemiller was president at the time, and strongly supported the program.

I was chair of the Coaching Committee, and started the process by appointing (if I remember my numbers correctly) 43 state coaching directions. Then I switched to chairing the Club Committee, and appointed 47 state club directors. (All of these appointments were made with consultation of locals.) The next stop was to appoint state league directors, which we were about to do before disaster struck in 1995 (see below).

The purpose of all these directors was to set up a club in every city with a population over 50,000 (I created a list), then a coach and league for each club. Once we had the state league directors set up, I was going to get a group of them together to plan out the actual creation of a nationwide network of regional leagues.

With all this infrastructure set up, the next step would be to set up the actual regional organizations, which I thought would be difficult to do effectively without a few years creating the needed infrastructure. (It would also allow those interested in developing their region to get active, and we'd be able to identify these people and encourage their work.) The various aspects of the program would play off each other, catalyzing an increase in the number of clubs, coaches, and leagues, and the leagues would lead to major membership increases. Once the regional organizations were set up, they would have open elections for their own officers. Those officers would then select future league, club, and coaching directors.

During the four years of this program (1991-1995, though we started work on it in 1990 when Dan was elected president) we increased the number of clubs from 223 to 301, greatly increased the number of coaches, and USATT membership went from about 5500 to 7500 - the only major membership increase we've had in modern memory. But those are still very small numbers in comparison to the potential of leagues. Superficially, this program started with clubs, but that was short-term and was for the explicit purpose of setting the structure for leagues and coaching programs. As I wrote before, they all go together.

Unfortunately, this program ended when Terry Timmins defeated Dan Seemiller in the 1995 election. When he came in, he brought in his own people and ideas, and all the regional stuff I'd been working on came to an end. (Ironically, he wanted to set up regional elections, but that didn't work out.) A lot of work went to waste, and a lot of state directors were left pretty angry.

We wrote back and forth a few times on this and related issues. I believe that the key is that we can't just set up regional organizations and hope things work out. USATT or some other organization needs to set up league and coaching programs so the regional people can implement them. They do this very well in table tennis overseas, and in other sports in the U.S. such as tennis.

Number of Daily Readers

We've had at least 500 readers for 25 consecutive blogs now, going back to Nov. 19 last year. I've been doing the blog for over two years now; this is the 477th blog. (I've also done 101 Tips of the Week - here's the Archives, with links to them all.) It started slow, and I spent a long time averaging 300 or so, but now we're averaging over 600. The topics vary quite a bit. I tend to jump around a bit. While it's usually coaching-centered, I also write a lot about related topics. Any suggestions on what type of stuff you'd like to see blogged? Here are the daily reader totals:

  1. Jan. 8: 539
  2. Jan. 7: 692
  3. Jan. 4: 924
  4. Jan. 3: 577
  5. Jan. 2: 584
  6. Dec. 17: 2884
  7. Dec. 14: 900
  8. Dec. 13: 615
  9. Dec. 12: 597
  10. Dec. 11: 658
  11. Dec. 10: 815
  12. Dec. 7: 1073
  13. Dec. 6: 599
  14. Dec. 5: 644
  15. Dec. 4: 528
  16. Dec. 3: 506
  17. Nov. 30: 732
  18. Nov. 29: 577
  19. Nov. 28:  573
  20. Nov. 27: 557
  21. Nov. 26: 825
  22. Nov. 22: 1060
  23. Nov. 21: 564
  24. Nov. 20: 660
  25. Nov. 19: 471

USATT Committee Openings

Want to serve on a USATT Committee? Here's a call for volunteers! Here's a link to the USATT Committee listing which the notice inadvertently leaves out. (I emailed about this, and presumably it'll be added soon.)

USATT Committee Reports

Here's a link to the 2012 USATT Committee Reports. (Minutes for USATT Board meetings are here.)

Top Ten Table Tennis Points of 2012

Here they are! (7:27) They replay each of the points in slow motion, which is why the video is over seven minutes.

1940 U.S. Open

Here's vintage footage (1:31) of the 1940 U.S. Open and the final where Lou Pagliaro defeats Sol Schiff.

Liquid Nitrogen vs. 1500 Ping-Pong Balls

Here's the video (1:08). The explosion takes place 22 seconds in, and is then replayed from different angles and in slow motion.

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March 8, 2012

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 12

As mentioned in this blog, USA Table Tennis Historian Tim Boggan moved in with me for two weeks starting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, so that I could do the page layouts and photo work on his next volume of History of U.S. Table Tennis. Yep, it's volume 12! I've done the layouts for all except the first one. I get to read a lot of it as we work, with him sitting next to me and pointing at the screen saying, "That photo goes there. No, I said there, you fool!"

We've now finished the covers, Acknowledgements, Introduction, and 25 chapters (370 pages) of the 31-chapter book. We should finish it all on Friday. He'll spend Saturday proofing the pages, and on Sunday and Monday we'll be making the corrections. Then I'll do all the pre-press work, and send the 500-page PDF file to the printer. Since we're not leaving for the Cary Cup until Thursday morning, we should finish two days early. What'll we do on Tues & Wed? I don't know. Movies, sight-seeing, maybe even some ping-pong.

Here's an excerpt, from page 332 on the Rochester Michigan Open between Danny and Ricky Seemiller (as written by Cody Jones), when matches were still best of three to 21:

Ricky won a seesaw first game from brother Danny, 28-26, and seemed to be in the driver’s—or looper’s—seat. Ricky was aggressive, took chances, while Danny played more of a control game. The second game Danny won at 14. In the third, at 22-21 his favor, Ricky missed a set-up kill—which, since Danny went on to win this game, might well have cost him the match.

Said Danny, "At ad down I had to lunge to my left to return the ball, and when I saw it float back high, I knew Ricky was going to put it away and that I had no chance to get back into position and return it. So it flashed into my mind that my only chance was to keep on going to my left and hope wildly that Ricky would be so surprised by my movement that he’d be watching me instead of the ball. And, unbelievably, that’s just what happened."

50 forehands, 50 backhands

I have a new informal "policy" for beginning/intermediate juniors I coach. They have to hit 50 forehands and 50 backhands in a row before we do anything else. This forces them both to groove their shots while improving their focus. (I also tell them that they don't really have a forehand or backhand until they can hit 100 in  a row, a goal I want them all to strive for.)

Another injury

As if having an injured arm weren't enough, on Tuesday night I strained my hip. I'm walking with a limp, and will have to somehow find a way to coach. It's not too bad, but these (mostly minor) injuries are a real problem. It's not easy coaching one-on-one when you're 52 and have very stiff muscles. The good news is the arm is healing nicely. I'm going to play as a chopper in some matches this weekend, and hope to start playing regular (i.e. lots of forehand hitting and looping) in perhaps two weeks.

Mark your Calendars for Saturday, April 7

That's the Grand Opening for the expanded and renovated Maryland Table Tennis Center. Lots of activities that day, starting around 11AM - demonstrations, exhibitions, coaching seminar, junior program, raffles, refreshments, parade of champions tournament, with lots of top coaches and players. Details coming soon! (If you would like to be on the MDTTC mailing list, send me an email.)

Spring Break Camp at MDTTC

We're having our first camp at the newly expanded and renovated Maryland Table Tennis Center, April 2-6, with coaches Larry Hodges (that's me), Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Jeffrey Xun Zeng. It's mostly for junior players (locals are off school that week for spring break), but all ages are welcome. Here's more info. Come join us!

Who was having a ball yesterday?

Yesterday I asked if anyone knew who this player was, with all the balls in the air. Aaron Avery emailed that it was Polish paralympic player Natalia Partyka, and sure enough her web page includes that photo. Thanks Avery!

Tampa Bay baseball and hockey stars playing table tennis

Here's baseball star Evan Longoria and hockey star Martin St. Louis playing table tennis (1:45). They play for the Tampa Bay Rays and Lightning, respectively.

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March 7, 2012

Returning Serve

It's everyone's biggest weakness, or so it seems. But it shouldn't be that way. Let's review:

  1. If the ball is deep, return it aggressively, ideally with a loop.
  2. If the ball is short without backspin (i.e. sidespin, side-top, topspin, or no-spin), mostly return it aggressively with a flip.
  3. If the ball is short with backspin, either push it long (deep, low, good backspin, quick off the bounce, angled, and hide the direction until the last second), push it short (so that it is low and that, given the chance, would bounce twice on the opponent's side of the table), or flip it.
  4. Above all else, returning serve is about BALL CONTROL. If you have trouble controlling the ball, or reading the spin, play against players with good serves until you can read the spin and control the ball. If you don't have anyone like that you can practice against, then you better find someone because you aren't going to learn to do something unless you practice it.
  5. That is all.

How arm problems are improving my game

More specifically, it is helping my backhand tremendously. Ever since I hurt my arm ten days ago I've avoided hitting or looping forehands with any power. It's really helped the healing process while allowing me to continue coaching every day. However, it's meant a huge amount of backhand play since I'm having everyone play most there in drills. And since I'm not looping forehands, guess what? When we play points, I'm opening with my backhand loop. The result is my backhand blocking, hitting, and looping have both improved tremendously. My normally steady backhand is still steady but at a faster pace, while I'm backhand looping in pushes and serves to all parts of the table, something I don't usually do as I'm more the all-out forehand looper type. Also, after nine days of non-stop backhand play, my backhand muscles are now tireless - I can hit backhands forever without my arm getting tired.

Take me out to the Ball Game--that'd be Ping-Pong
You all know the lyrics to the baseball version, which can be found here (with the second stanza the commonly sung one). Here's my version!

Take me out for some ping-pong,
Take me out for some fun.
Buy me a racket and ping-pong balls,
I don't care if I don't score at all!
Let me hit, hit, hit with my forehand,
If they don't land it's a shame,
For it's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven points and you're out,
In the new pong game.

Talking to the Curator of the World's Greatest Collection of Photos of Celebrities Playing Table Tennis

Oh, that would be me! Yes, I was interviewed about my "Celebrities Playing Table Tennis" site. The interview went up yesterday - here it is!

Dan Seemiller article

Here's an article on Dan Seemiller in yesterday's South Bend Tribune.

Zhang Jike

Here's a tribute video (9:21) to World Men's Singles Champion Zhang Jike, strangely titled, "World Champion or Small Boy?"

Lots of Ping-Pong Balls

Yes, that's a lot of ping-pong balls in the air. I keep thinking I recognize the player, but I'm not sure. Anyone know? [NOTE: Aaron Avery emailed that it was Polish paralympic player Natalia Partyka, and sure enough her web page includes that photo. Thanks Avery!]

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February 7, 2012

Seven-year-old looper

He's been playing only about six weeks. Last week he learned to loop for the first time. Normally I start players looping against backspin with multiball, but he'd seen others looping against block and wanted to try it, so we started with that. Apparently he practiced it all week. Yesterday he showed up, and he's looping against my block like a pro! He lets the ball drop very low, since he's very short, but he was getting very good spin with textbook technique. Wow. Can't wait to see how he develops.

You may remember this kid - he's the one I blogged about last week, on Jan. 31. Here's what I wrote: "A third kid, age seven, has the weird habit of hitting until the ball is high. Then he'll wait for it to drop, and loop it! He has loop written all over him, and will probably be looping everything soon. The interesting thing here is that at age seven, he already knows all the best players in the world, and likes to mimic them. Yesterday he was showing off his 'Ma Lin backhands,' mimicking both Ma's conventional and reverse penhold backhands, though he's a shakehander. He also tried to mimic Timo Boll's loop - needs work." Okay, now he has the Timo Boll loop down cold.

This is how many Europeans coaches teach kids - starting them off early looping against the block, where the kid lets the ball drop down to his level, so contact is below table level. This kid's going to be counterlooping in another month.

Next week I'm going to spend a good portion of the session split between looping against block and looping against backspin, using multiball for the latter. When he's ready I'll get out my hardbat chopping blade and have him loop against my chop.

U.S. Olympic Trials

Here's USATT's news item on the U.S. Olympic Trials in Cary, NC, Feb. 9-12, including the rough schedule and the broadcasting schedule at the end. I'll be there coaching. My notes on potential opponents (from many hours of watching videos and past experience) are ready. I'm coaching John Hsu in the Qualifier and Han Xiao in the Final Twelve. Han also write extensive notes on each of the other top ten players.

All that's left to do is laundry, packing, and four hours of coaching tonight. Then I'm off to the Trials early tomorrow morning. I'm going down with Cheng Yinghua and the Hsu's - John, Nathan, and their mom, Wen. We'll have an afternoon practice and then the jury meeting at 6PM, where we'll see the draws for the Qualifier, and find out who will be John & Nathan victims there - but first we'll adjourn to the room to watch videos of these potential victims.

Dan Seemiller and Joey Cochran in the News

Here's an article and video on these two from South Bend, IN, about their training for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Ma Long Tribute

Here's a tribute video to Chinese star and world #1 Ma Long (3:18).

The Magic of Table Tennis

Here's another table tennis music video (5:16).

How to Hit the Forehand

Here's Chris Grace's humorous video on how to hit the forehand (1:43).

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January 24, 2012

Standing up too straight

Many players stand up way too straight when they play. The result is they are unable to move as quickly as they could if they kept their legs father apart (which also adds stability and power) and bent their knees slightly. It also tends to mess up some strokes, especially on the backhand, where you lose leverage if you stand up straight.

Some players do this because they are getting old and have knee problems, or are overweight, but even then you can get in the habit of bending the knees slightly, as well as keeping the legs a little farther apart. And very young players (or short players) don't want to get down too low because they are already rather short and if they get down any lower they'll have problems on their backhand. 

There's a rather easy cure. Rather than think of getting down, imagine you are covering someone in basketball, or playing shortstop in baseball, or you're the goalie in soccer. As soon as I tell a player to imagine this, they immediately get lower. It's almost impossible not too - you can't do these things in basketball, baseball, or soccer without getting down, and so players instinctively get down. They don't have this same instinct in table tennis, so the habit needs to be learned.

U.S. Olympic Trials Dream

This is a weird one. Last night I dreamed I was at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are coming up in Cary, NC, Feb. 9-12. (In real life, I will be there coaching.) Player after player asked if I would coach them, and I kept saying yes. Next thing I know I'm committed to coaching about a dozen players. The players began arguing over me, and then they got hostile toward me. Then I found myself at a match where five-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller was playing current U.S. Men's Doubles Champion and Singles Finalist Han Xiao - and I was coaching both sides!

Between games they both came over for coaching. That's when I explained that according to Citizens United, I couldn't coordinate with them on tactics. (I'm an amateur presidential historian, and follow politics closely, alas.) They began arguing with me, and we finally agreed that I could talk to them as long as they didn't talk back, since if they did that would be "coordinating." (In the dream, this made sense.) Then I started telling them both how to play each other, and then the two of them got into an excited discussion about their strengths and weaknesses, and soon I was just listening as they got into a mutual admiration thing.

Then suddenly I found myself coaching USATT Hall-of Famer Diana Gee McDonnell (a U.S. National and Olympic team member circa late 80's and early '90s, who was a resident at the Olympic Training Center back then when I was at various times the manager/director/a coach) against Han! Then I was interrupted by several others who were demanding that I coach them, then Han got angry that I was coaching against him, and Dan's brother Randy Seemiller started yelling at me for not coaching Dan, and then I woke up at 6AM all sweaty and nervous about who I was supposed to coach.

If you want to read about two other weird dreams I've blogged about, see my entries from June 28, 2011 ("U.S. Open Table Tennis Dream") and Jan. 9, 2012 ("Dan Seemiller, ping-pong and waiter"). Will someone tell Mr. Seemiller to please stay out of my dreams!???

Use of the wrist

Here's an interesting discussion of use of the wrist in table tennis. In particular see the ninth posting, which links to videos of wrist usage by "some of our sport's biggest starts." My "short" take on wrist usage? I'll quote Dan Seemiller (geez, here he is again): "When the ball is coming at you slow, use more wrist. When the ball is coming at you fast, use less wrist." Additionally, beginning players shouldn't use much wrist except on the serve and pushing. Instead, just put the wrist back and let it go through the ball naturally. As you advance, you can start using more and more wrist, especially when looping against slower balls.

Anne Cribbs joins USATT Board

Anne Cribbs, an Olympic Gold medallist for swimming at the 1960 Olympics, was named to the USATT Board of Directors. (Strangely, the USATT article mentions she was an Olympic gold medallist but neglects to mention which sport.)

Backhand Sidespin of the Year

Don't practice this in your basement or you might break a side window.

Roller-Coaster Ping-Pong?

Here's the picture - I'd like to see video!

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