Jorgen Persson

September 26, 2014

The Ping Pong Diet, Table Tennis, and Academics

Dr. Chris Ko just came out with a new book, The Ping Pong Diet: The Twenty-One Point Plan. A few of you may remember Chris as a top MDTTC junior from the early 1990s, usually known back then as Christopher Ko. Here's his home page/blog, where he focuses on diet and nutrition. (The diet part might be of interest to me, though I think I've figured that part out, going from 196 this past summer to 178 this morning.) I just ordered the book, and will likely write about it after I read it. I'm not sure yet how much it applies to table tennis. Here's the book description:

"The Ping Pong Diet teaches you how to use the power of plants and protein to control your hunger and manage your weight. No counting. No calculations. Just eating, and a lot of it! But unlike other diet books, this book teaches you how to both lose the weight and keep it off. These strategies make up the twenty-one point plan for weight management that teaches you to eat well, be well, and finally feel well again. Engaging and inspirational, the Ping Pong Diet combines practical nutritional insight with motivational psychology to give you a new appreciation for food and for yourself. So pick up the Ping Pong Diet and get in the game!"

Here's a list of Chris's titles, where at the Junior Olympic, Junior Nationals, and U.S. Open he won three silvers and seven bronze in various junior events. (I only have a listing from 1992 on, when MDTTC opened, so don't have some of his earlier titles. I believe he also won Under 10 Boys at the Junior Olympics before 1992.) 

  • 1992 Junior Nationals Under 14 Boys' Singles Bronze Medalist
  • 1992 Junior Olympics Under 14 Boys' Singles Bronze Medalist
  • 1992 Junior Olympics Under 14 Boys' Doubles Bronze Medalist
  • 1992 Junior Olympics Under 14 Boys' Team Silver Medalist
  • 1992 U.S. Open Under 14 Boys' Doubles Finalist (Silver)
  • 1993 Junior Nationals Under 16 Boys' Doubles Bronze Medalist
  • 1993 Junior Nationals Under 18 Boys' Team Bronze Medalist
  • 1993 Junior Olympics Boys' Singles Bronze Medalist
  • 1993 Junior Olympics Under 18 Boys' Teams Silver Medalist
  • 1995 Junior Nationals Under 18 Boys' Teams Bronze Medalist

Chris isn't the only former top Maryland junior with a medical degree, i.e. an MD MD. Vivian Lee, Jessica Shen, and Michael Terao all have MDs, and I'm sure there are many others I don't know of or have forgotten about. But it's not just Maryland juniors who are academically oriented - the same is true of kids from training centers all over the U.S. - and I hesitate to list any because I'll leave out some obvious ones. (Readers, please list in the comments former top juniors who now have MDs or equivalent high-level degrees.) Eric Owens, the 2001 USA Men's Singles Champion, either has his MD now or is on the verge. Dennis Hwang, a member of the Resident Training Program for Table Tennis at the Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs in the late 1980s, trained three hours a day, graduated as the valedictorian, and is now an MD. There are many more. Even Crystal Wang, the 12-year-old 2400 phenom from my club, who recently became the youngest player ever to make the USA Women's Team and win Under 22 Women's Singles, goes to a magnet school because of her advanced academics. But she's just one of the many juniors at my club (and other clubs) who have the discipline to excel at both table tennis and academics.

So why are top junior players in table tennis so successful in academics? There are two primary reasons. Let's face it, one of the reasons is because of the Asian community, which places so much emphasis on academics (bravo!), and since they also dominate the table tennis world, we get a lot of academically-minded table tennis stars. The other reason is that training at anything teaches self-discipline, which applies to other activities as well - so if someone has or develops the self-discipline to train hard and become a top table tennis player, he usually has the same self-discipline to become good at whatever he tries.

European Team Championships

It's going on right now in Lisbon, Portugal, and finishes this Sunday. There's lots of coverage at the ITTF page and Tabletennista.

ITTF Trick Shot Competition

They are down to the Final Five - chose your favorite!

Olympic Coach Magazine

Here's the new issue.

Epic Point Between Ma Lin and Jorgen Persson

Here's the video (53 sec, including slow motion replay).

Amazing Come-Back Scoop Return

Here's the video (29 sec - watch the replay from the side)

The Six-Bounce Ping-Pong Plate Trick

Here's the repeating gif image. It's hypnotizing as it repeats over and over - careful or you'll be watching it all day.

Ping-Pong Balls Gone Wrong

Here's the video (90 sec) of this video prank.

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September 8, 2014

Tip of the Week

Easy Power.

The Ball at the USA Nationals

USATT has made the smart decision to use only one type of ball at the USA Nationals. Here is USATT Board Chair Mike Babuin's blog entry on this. They will be using the Nittaku Premium 40+ ball, a non-celluloid one. This is a departure from their original plans, announced on Aug. 14, that they would be using two types of balls at the Nationals - celluloid for rating and senior events, non-celluloid for men's and women's singles & doubles, and in junior events. That would have meant players having to switch back and forth in the tournament, as well as serious problems at clubs as players have to decide which ball to use for practice and training.

This obviously doesn't solve all the problems. Many don't want to change to non-celluloid, but like it or not, the ITTF has pretty much mandated it. (Not by forcing it on everyone, but by mandating it in their tournaments, meaning others have to follow or their top players will have to switch back and forth.) I think they jumped the gun because the new non-celluloid balls still aren't really standardized - depending on which manufacturer makes them, they play differently, unlike celluloid where the balls are much more similar. Also, there are no training balls available, so training centers are stuck trying to decide what to do, since most training involves using large quantities of balls (especially for multiball).

There's also the problem that the ball to be used at the Nationals isn't actually available yet - it'll be out in mid-October, about two months before the Nationals. It'll be on sale at Paddle Palace. (Note that Paddle Palace is already selling a Nittaku Sha 40+ ball, which is non-celluloid, but I'm told that ball plays very differently and is of lower quality than the Premium. Don't get the two mixed up.) Here's an info page from Paddle Palace on the new balls.

There's a good argument to use celluloid balls one more time, and I was actually leaning toward that. However, I think it's more important to use one ball or the other at the Nationals than which one they actually use. If they had stuck with celluloid, the top players would have been frustrated since they are already competing internationally with non-celluloid balls. While we may have jumped the gun and made the switch a few months too soon, the switch was inevitable (given the ITTF's actions), and so we might as well do it now.

I received an advance Nittaku Premium 40+ ball - just one, which came in a one-ball box. I reviewed it in my June 16 blog. It plays similarly to a celluloid ball, but is slightly larger and heavier, and harder to spin - but once spun, the extra weight keeps the spin on the ball more than a celluloid.

Dana Huang Wedding

On Saturday night I joined over 100 others for the wedding reception of Dana Huang and Charles Song, at the Silver Fountain Restaurant in Silver Spring. Dana is not only the daughter of MDTTC coach and former Chinese Team Member Jack Huang (Huang Tong Sheng), but she was also a pretty good player herself. (And yet, during her playing years she mostly acted as a practice partner for others in her father's coaching sessions and camps.) From my archives - where I compile all the MDTTC medalists from the Junior Olympic and Junior Nationals - here is her record - and note the two bolded ones:

  • 1998 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Singles Silver Medallist
  • 1998 Junior Olympics Under 14 Girls' Singles Silver Medallist
  • 1998 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Doubles Gold Medallist
  • 1998 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Team Gold Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Olympics Under 16 Girls' Singles Gold Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 16 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 14 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Doubles Silver Medallist
  • 1999 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Teams Gold Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Olympics Under 18 Girls' Singles Gold Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 22 Women's Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Doubles Gold Medallist
  • 2001 Junior Nationals Under 18 Girls' Teams Gold Medallist
  • 2002 Junior Nationals Under 22 Women's Singles Bronze Medallist
  • 2002 Junior Nationals Under 22 Women's Doubles Gold Medallist

Here's a picture taken at the wedding reception of Coach Jack with three national junior girls' singles champions he's coached. L-R: Katherine Wu, Coach Jack, Barbara Wei, and current junior phenom Crystal Wang.

1983 USA Pan Am Trials

I've added an action picture to the home page here. That's me at the 1983 U.S. Pan Am Trials in Colorado Springs, where I made the final 16, finishing 15th. (Photo is by Donna Sakai. The lefty in the background is Brian Masters playing Brandon Olson. Brian, who was one of my regular practice partners from when I first started in 1976 until 1979, would not only make the team but would go on to win the Gold Medal for Men's Singles at the Pan Am Games.)

The Countdown Comes to an End

Here's the ITTF's wrap-up article about the 100+ articles during the last 100 days of the Sharara ITTF presidency. Here are all the articles, including the interview with me (the last one, other than the wrap-up).

Backhand Receive from Forehand Side

Here's a video (9 sec) where a Chinese coach or player demonstrates a drill where he receives a ball short to his forehand with his backhand, and follows with a regular forehand. (I've also seen this drill where the forehand is done from the middle or even the backhand side.) Ten years ago this type of receive would have been frowned upon by most coaches, but now it's a basic technique at higher levels, since it's easier to create topspin with the backhand against a short ball with a banana flip.

Serving - More Handy Hints

Here's the article from PingSkills.

Backhand Topspin to Topspin

Here's the video (1:55) from PingSkills.

Wang Liqin and Jorgen Persson at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games

Here's a nice article with lots of photos on the two former world men's singles champions attending the Games.

Incredible Rally

Here's the video (40 sec) of this rally. Note the player on the far side switches hands to return the ball 22 seconds in!

Tunisian Table Tennis

Here's video (33 sec) of a woman doing very fast multiball footwork with a Chinese coach, in full Arab dress.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Meet the King Kong of Ping Pong

Here's the article and pictures of this $14,500 table, a "700-pound, Bluetooth-compatible, ten-speaker table feels designed for high-stakes tournaments."

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September 1, 2014

Tip of the Week

How to Execute a Fast Serve.

Disabled Veterans Camp

Friday was the final day of our four-day Disabled Veterans Camp. It was an honor working with these servicemen. I'd like to thank them for all the hard work they put in, both in uniform and at the camp! I'd also like to thank the USOC and USATT, the Department of Veteran Affairs, MDTTC officer Wen Hsu, and especially Jasna Reed, USATT's Director of Para Programs. 

The focus for the day was backhand attack - smashing, and backhand drive and loop against backspin. We started off by putting the players in six stations, and rotated them every 7.5 minutes. I fed multiball so players could work on their backhand attack against backspin. Steve Hochman had them serve backspin, he'd push it back, they'd backhand attack, and the rally would continue backhand to backhand. Sameer Shaikh had them do backhand-forehand footwork, side to side. Ram Nadmichettu worked on their pushes. Plus I set up the serving bar on the robot table so players could practice serving low. (This is an adjustable bar that goes over the net. Here's a picture of it set high, and here's a picture of it set low. John Olsen made this for our club. It has about ten height settings.) 

Next up was equipment and playing styles. I brought out my "show and tell" super-large racket case, which contains six rackets: an all-around hardbat racket; a pips-out penhold racket; a shakehands racket with inverted and short pips; a shakehands racket with inverted and antispin; and two shakehands rackets with inverted on one side and long pips on the other, one with thin sponge (chopping racket), the other no sponge (pushblocking racket). I went over each of the surfaces and now to play against them, as well as various playing styles that commonly use them. I was planning on some doubles play, but we ran into time problems, and so I only gave a short lecture on doubles tactics. We finished with up-down tables, where they played 11-point games, with the winning moving up, the "runner-up" moving down, with the goal to reach the first table. Steve and Sameer joined in, spotting points to most of them to equalize things. 

It was one of the more fun camps to coach. We used to run senior camps at MDTTC for players over age 50 (and over 40 if they were "old of heart"!). But in recent years the camps we've run were mostly for juniors, where we go easy on the lectures, and there are few questions. This camp was more like the senior camps, with lots of questions and discussion. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Table Tennis

I went to see the movie on Saturday, and despite the mostly negative reviews, I kind of liked it. Out of the blue there was a table tennis scene! The four turtles were being punished for refusing to tell their sensei, Splinter (a giant rat) why they had sneaked out. Each had to spend many hours in some uncomfortable position doing something. Donatello, the smartest of the turtles (the one with the purple mask) was punished by being forced to hold ping-pong paddles in both hands and bounce a ping-pong ball back and forth for hours, while standing on a block of wood that's balanced precariously on a basketball. I've searched but was unable to find a video or picture of this.

North American Championships

They were held this past weekend in Mississauga, Canada. Here's the ITTF home page for the event, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here's the USATT page with lots of video. Note how Canada dominated all the Men's and Women's events, while USA dominated all the junior events. Also, see the final of Junior Boys' Teams, where USA won 3-0 - but in all three matches the USA player was down 0-2 before winning in five, with each pulling out at least one deuce game. One thing I didn't like about the format was that players could only enter one singles event, which hurt USA, since essentially all the players on the USA Boys' and Girls' team would have been competitive in Men's and Women's Singles but were not allowed to compete. Congrats to all the Champions - see below!

  • Men's Singles: Eugene Wang (CAN)
  • Women's Singles: Mo Zhang (CAN)
  • Junior Boys: Jack Wang (USA)
  • Junior Girls: Crystal Wang (USA)
  • Men's Teams: CAN (Pierre-Luc Theriault, Filip Ilijevski, Xavier Therien)
  • Women's Teams: CAN (Mo Zhang, Anqi Luo, Sara Yuen)
  • Junior Boys' Teams: USA (Kanak Jha, Kunal Chodri, Krish Avvari)
  • Junior Girls' Teams: USA (Angela Guan, Prachi Jha, Crystal Wang)

New ITTF President Thomas Weikert

Here's the ITTF press release. He took office on Sept. 1 and becomes only the seventh ITTF president since its founding in 1926. He succeeds Adham Sharara, who was president for 15 years. Here's the TableTennista story, which mostly features Sharara. 

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan just finished doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. And today she finishes - one hundred down, zero to go!

Zhang Jike's Serve

Here's the video (3:25).

Slow Motion TT

Here's the video (25 sec) - some nice shots, and you get to see footwork in slow motion. That's Ernesto Ebuen on the left.

Trend: Playing Table Tennis to Enhance Brain Fitness and Mental Health

Here's the article. Well, yeah!

Scientists Teach Ping-Pong Robots to Master Spin

Here's the article. Prepare to meet our future Masters. 

Ice Bucket Challenge

Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers Play TT for Charity

Here's the article and video (2:43).

Six Seconds of Very Strange Rallying!

Here's the video.

***
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August 21, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge - My Video

I was challenged to do the ice bucket challenge by Nathan Hsu, who will rue the day. For those of you living under a ping-pong ball or lost in a forest of long pips, this is a charity for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Find out more at the ALS Association home page.

I put together a skit for my ice water dousing. Dumping a bucket of ice water on my head wasn't enough for me. Special thanks to Leon Bi and Darwin Ma for their help.

I have challenged three others: Todd Sweeris, Jim Butler, and Dan Seemiller Sr. They have 24 hours to complete their assignment of either dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads or donating $100 to ALS!

While we're on the subject, here are a few others that have come up since yesterday (when I posted others) in the table tennis world:

USATT's July Meeting

Here are the minutes to the meeting, which went up yesterday. A few items I found interesting:

  1. In D-Magazine, it says, "About $10,000 in advertisements were sold in the Spring Issue, which resulted in a $4,000 shortfall to projections." In my blog on February 11, 2014 on the cancellation of the print magazine and going digital, I wrote, "But they'll lose money on advertising and membership." I also wrote, "I'm told they are budgeting advertising to stay the same, which of course won't happen." Of course it was going to drop - anyone in the industry knows you get more ad revenue from print than online. But for some reason USATT budgeted something that they should have known wouldn't happen. Roughly multiply this time six, and at the end of the year they are going to have a roughly $24,000 shortfall. Or maybe, just to spite me, they'll focus on advertising and get ad revenue back up!

    This isn't me retroactively criticizing; I wrote this as soon as they cancelled the print version and went all-digital. It was an easy prediction. I still believe they messed up badly here, and should have kept the print magazine, added the online version (which is easy to produce once you have the print version), and simply increase ad rates because of the added online exposure. This would have substantially increased revenue without cancelling the print magazine that was such a valuable tool to clubs for promoting our sport, as well as for the roughly 1/3 of our membership who get nothing from USATT except the magazine. The loss in ad revenue is verified, but we may never know how many members we lost (or will lose) when they discover they no longer get the magazine.

    But even before the drop in advertising they were only getting $14,000 in ad revenue. That's almost exactly what I'd brought it up to when I resigned as editor at the end of 2006 (though I did two more issues in 2007). Adjusted for inflation, I was bringing in about $16,500/issue. (When I first took over in my first tenure as editor, ad revenue was running at $2300/issue. I brought that up to $5500/issue. When I took over for my second tenure, ad revenue had dropped a little - forget the exact amount - but over the next eight years I brought it up to $14,000.)

    One thing I'm confused about. In these minutes, it says that the Spring issue received about $10,000 in advertisements, about $4000 short of projections. But in the May 19 minutes, it says, "The digital magazine generated $9000 in ad revenue for the Spring 2014 issue, constituting a $6,000 shortfall to budgeted revenue." So one says there was $10,000 in revenue, the other $9000; one says a $6000 shortfall, the other $5000. It can't be both. (I blogged about this on July 15. But there is a discrepancy in their numbers.)

  2. There are two items of direct interest to coaches, so I'll paste them both here.  Coaches, take notice! (Here's the link to the SafeSport info page - you have to click on the attachments at the end to do the background checks.)
    1. K. USATT's SafeSport Program - Background Checks, RailStation Rollout
      ​​USATT is fully committed to implementing the SafeSport program as mandated by the U.S. Olympic Committee ("USOC").  Our SafeSport program now appears on USATT's website, with 50 coaches completing background checks.  It is reasonable to give coaches notice of an August 1st deadline to complete their background checks. Mr. Scudner suggested that USATT provide a "SafeSport" informational packet to its clubs which includes a notice that their coaches must complete background checks.  Mr. Gheorghe will send an email to coaches containing an easily accessible website link to the SafeSport program. 
    2. V. Fede Bassetti - Coaching Presentation
      Mr. Bassetti presented a coaching education program based upon the ITTF curricula (i.e., levels 1, 2, and 3) to the Board.  Under his program, coaches receive certification at the end of a two year program, consisting of 40 credits of continuing education. Under his approach, schools are categorized as competitive, developmental, recreational, and business.  Each school is divided into 4 levels of coaches.  He seeks USATT's and ITTF's endorsement of his program and $2500 to $5000 to create each course.  Coaches would maintain their teaching credentials on two year cycles, with background checks every two years. Mr. Danner recommended that he speak with professional table tennis coaches/training centers for their feedback.

      The COB said that the USATT will send its questions to Mr. Bassetti via email, and the Board then will revisit this program after Mr. Gheorghe and Mr. Basetti review the certification system we now have in place--this should not occur until after the new CEO has been recruited.  Additionally, all USATT coaches must complete their background checks by August 1st, or they will be removed from the list of active coaches.  Tentatively, the Board may address the coaching issues at its December meeting.

    3. Here's info on upcoming U.S. Opens and Nationals.
      Y. Future Tournaments
      Currently, the 2015 U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open are planned to be held in Las Vegas.  Dallas submitted a bid for the U.S. Open, and a Dallas information packet was distributed to Board members.  
    4. I blogged about the National Volunteer Coordinator position before, but here it is in the minutes. I may blog more about this later. This is a great idea - why not apply? Even if you don't become the National Volunteer Coordinator there'll be plenty of volunteer positions they'll be looking to fill.
      MOVED that the Board adopt the proposal to develop the position of National Volunteer Coordinator and request that the CEO proceed as soon as possible to find a volunteer to fill this position.
      Movant: Han Xiao
      Second: Anne Cribbs
      Discussion:  The USATT, with its limited resources, should create an organized volunteer organization. When the Board has tasks to be performed, expertise is needed to carry out these tasks.  A National Volunteer Coordinator position should be created, reporting to the Board.  The Coordinator's job will be to work with staff and volunteers, perhaps on a daily basis, to accomplish the Board's assigned tasks.  Expenses for this Coordinator will be minimal at first--the Coordinator will present an annual report once a year to the Board and occasionally report progress at Board teleconference meetings. 

Forehand Loop Technique - Correct Use of Legs and Waist

Here's the video (13:37) by Gregg Letts.

USA Youth Olympic Games Home Page

The page now has a number of quotes from Lily Zhang, Coach Lily Yip, and a slideshow at the end featuring Zhang and Krish Avvari, the other USA player.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety down, 10 to go!

Day 11: Michel Gadal Urges Worldwide Table Tennis Family to Embrace P5 Plan

People in Sports Who Are Unexpectedly Ripped

Here's Wang Liqin in the listing. But this is true of essentially every top table tennis player. "Unexpectedly"? Only to the non-table tennis person.

Beat the Best, Beat Jean-Michel Saive

Here's the ITTF article on the contest, sponsored by Stiga, where you challenge the competitive Saive to various contests.

Floor Table Tennis

Here's the article and video (1:11). "If your kids aren’t quite tall enough to see over a table tennis table yet, consider floor table tennis."

Berlin Style Ping-Pong

Here's the article and pictures of this new type of table tennis that's sweeping the world!

Clayton Kershaw Plays Table Tennis

Here's a new video (5:24) of the Dodger superstar pitcher where he talks about his table tennis and his charity table tennis event.  

Jorgen Persson, Chef

Here's the picture from the Youth Olympic Games. I mean, gee whiz, the guy hasn't been World Men's Singles Champion since 1991, the last of his World Team Champion titles was in 2000, and he hasn't been world #1 since 1991-1992. He obviously needs a new line of work.

Dogs Playing Table Tennis to Music

Here's the video (15 sec)! This is hilarious. Can someone translate the Asian words that come up right at the end?

Non-Table Tennis: Baltimore Orioles

They now have a nine-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays, 9.5 games on the Yankees. As some readers know, I often get published at Orioles Hangout, mostly with humorous stories or top ten lists. I just created this image for them that shows the state of the American League East.

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July 14, 2014

Tip of the Week

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Table Tennis Players. (Note - this is a complete rewrite of an article I did on this long ago.)

Learning from Reading

Here's an interesting thought: I used to believe the way to improve in sports was primarily by reading books! In fact, that's how I got started in table tennis - I was looking for a book in the Track and Field section of the library to help improve my mile running. (I was 16.) Sure, I knew you had to practice, but deep down I thought there were "secrets" that would be more important than actually, you know, going out and running. I had the same ideas when I was even younger (around 12) and tried to become a great baseball player by reading.

As one who has written eight books, including six on table tennis (plus 1500 published articles plus 3.5 years of blogging and weekly tips), I want you to believe this as well, so repeat after me: "The way to improve in table tennis is through reading." Say that five times. Now go buy my books.

The truth, of course, is that reading does help, but is only one aspect. There are some aspects of table tennis that are pretty much perfect for learning from books, when combined with practical experience - tactics, for example. But whether it's tactics or technique, you need to put in the hours of practice to put what you learn into practice. The primary virtue of reading is it points you in the right direction for what you need to learn, and you then learn it by practicing it, whether it's technique or applying tactics.

I try to pick and choose topics for this blog and the weekly tips that are best suited to writing. An example of a topic that's not easy to write about is serving technique. I've written extensively about the tactics of serving, and have written about the various serves themselves and how to do them, but overall it's the most difficult part to teach in writing. There are just so many subtle things about serving that you need to see it demonstrated live (usually in slow motion) or on video (also in slow motion) or you'll miss most of it. Most of it can be demonstrated with photo sequences, but even there it's tricky catching the subtle aspects of how the racket moves deceptively. (However, a photo sequence with good commentary could suffice, especially if the player also watches top players executing the serve.)

My original belief that there were "secrets" I could learn from reading was true, it just wasn't a complete answer. I was hoping for secrets that would show me how to do something that would immediately lead to massive improvement, when all that reading can do is point you in the direction of what you need to learn to do - and learning to do it takes a lot of practice, alas. Reading opens doors but you have to go through those doors, and that's the hard part.

Maryland Junior Rankings

The new ratings came out a few days ago from the U.S. Open. Our juniors did pretty well. As noted in my blog on Monday, Crystal Wang won Cadet Girls' Singles (15 & Under), and Derek Nie won 13 & Under Boys' Singles. In the newest rankings, Crystal (2384) continues as the U.S. #1 ranked player in Girls Under 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18. Derek "sort of" regains his spot as #1 under 14 at 2336. (The depth in that category is incredible, with at least six  players who in previous years might have completely dominated that category - Derek, Jack Wang, Gal & Sharon Alguetti, Victor Liu, Michael Tran, with others not far behind. And just one year ahead of them is Kanak Jha. Jack Wang is #1 in Under 14, but wasn't eligible at the U.S. Open for that because he turns 14 this year.) Tiffany Ke takes over the #1 spot for Under 10 Girls at 1767. Here is a listing of Maryland juniors in the Top Ten (including Virginia players who train at MDTTC).

  • Crystal Wang, #1 in Under 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 Girls at 2384
  • Derek Nie, #2 in Under 14 Boys at 2336 (but in ITTF rules, where it's ages as of the following Jan. 1, he's #1)
  • Tiffany Ke, #1 in Under 10 Girls and #5 in Under 11 Girls at 1767
  • Jason Lu, #2 in Under 11 Boys and #7 in Under 12 Boys at 1958
  • Alex Ruichao Chen, #3 in Under 17 Boys and #4 in Under 17 Boys at 2602
  • Daniel Sofer, #4 in Under 10 Boys at 1406
  • Jiu Lu, #6 in Under 12 Girls, #8 in Under 13 Girls, #10 in Under 14 Girls at 1924
  • Chen Bowen, #7 in Under 17 Boys and #9 in Under 18 Boys at 2513
  • Lisa Lin, #8 in Under 11 Girls at 1509
  • Jessica Lin, #9 in Under 11 Girls at 1411
  • Ryan Dabbs, #9 in Under 11 Boys at 1885
  • Amy Lu, #9 in Under 14 Girls, #10 in Under 15 Girls at 1937
  • Alexander Yang, #10 in Under 10 Boys at 1074

Top Player Serves

Here are animated gifs of the serves of 19 top players. You should study these and learn a few.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Fifty-one down, 49 to go!

  • Day 50: “We are blessed to have such a talented, caring and unique table tennis family.”
  • Day 51: Petra Sorling Discusses Para TT, ITTF Finances, and the Future

Nittaku ITTF Pongcast - June 2014

Here's the video (12:57).

Trick Shot of the Day

Here's the video (40 sec) by Kento Nomura.

Jorgen Persson and Famed TV Chef Tareq Taylor

Here's the picture.

Ghost in Pajamas

Here's a new artwork from Mike Mezyan, but this time instead of a drawing, it's a paddle! He calls it "Ghost in Pajamas," but to me it'll always be "Devil in a Blue Dress."

The Man, the Mountain, the Shots

Here's video (2:54) of Larry Bavly's top 15 shots at the U.S. Open. The Viper(s) never had a chance. (Yeah, that's a "Game of Thrones" reference.)

Blue Paddle Beer

Here's the article and picture of New Belgium Blue Paddle Beer, which features a ping-pong paddle on its packaging.

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March 29, 2012

Pushing the limits

Last night I was coaching an 8-year-old girl. We've been working on her strokes for months, and while she could occasionally get 50 or so in a row at a slow pace, it was sort of a "just keep the ball in play" type rally, at a slow pace, with her mostly standing stationary as she patted the ball back. She was looking pretty bored as I encouraged her to get 50 in a row. So I tried something different - I decided it was time to teach her to forehand loop. Normally I'd want her to have a bit more ball control and athleticism in her game before I'd start this. So I got a bucket of balls and fed her backspin with multiball. At first she struggled, but after a few minutes she made a rather nice loop, and then another, and after a while she was able to hit about every other one on the table with a good stroke and decent topspin. She ran off to tell her mom (who was hitting on another table). Then she ran back and did some more.

Here's the real surprise. We ended the session hitting forehands - and after all the struggles, suddenly she came alive, her feet moving, and for the first time ever we were steadily smacking the ball back and forth, at a faster and more consistent rate than ever. I decided to test her backhand as well, and the same thing. So it was a triple whammy.

Maybe next week I'll teach her counterlooping.

MDTTC Spring Break Camp and other activities

It's not too late to register for our Spring Break Camp next week, Mon-Fri, 10AM - 6PM (with a two-hour lunch break in the middle). It's also not too late to join our beginning junior class starting this Saturday, 10:30AM-Noon. I'll be teaching the class, with Jeffrey Zeng Xun assisting. (We postponed the first session from today to Saturday as we still have people working all day on the club's new expansion, which should be complete by tomorrow.) We also have a new Tuesday Night League starting April 10, along with our usual one on Friday nights.

Once the expansion is complete I plan on starting a beginning adult class and a weekly service practice session. The latter will start off with a service seminar where I teach the basics of advanced serves, and then we meet 30 minutes each week to practice.

Jorgen Persson vs. Ma Lin

Here's a great match from the Worlds between two great veterans (6:03). Of course Persson (who'll turn 46 on April 22) was 1991 World Men's Singles Champion when Ma Lin (32) was 11.

Susan Sarandon

Here's an old article from Sept. 2010 in NY Magazine on Sarandon and table tennis, with a picture of her playing table tennis. And here's a more recent picture of her also playing table tennis, this time on the cover of what I think is Home Magazine.

"Interestingly no one has ever been killed playing ping-pong."

This video (1:47) starts out innocently enough, and for the first 18 seconds seems to be a video about guns deaths. Then it takes a deadly turn into table tennis! Lots of photoshopping, with scenes and actors from numerous major movies, all strangely playing ping-pong.

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February 22, 2012

Why good serves and steadiness go together

Many players believe that good serves and an attacking game go together. It makes sense - the good serves set up the attacking game. But I'd argue that good serves work even better if you have a control game. Why is this?

Suppose your good serves set you up to attack effectively against your peers two-thirds of the time. Then one-third of the time when you serve you are stuck not opening with a strong attack. On the other guy's serve you are also forced to start the rally playing more control as you look for a ball to attack. This means that you are starting out about one-third of the time using your strong attack, and stuck on the rest of the points. (Yes, you could attack the serve, but if the opponent is a peer, you shouldn't be able to attack his serve that strongly.)

Now let's suppose you have a control game. Even if you are a control player, those good serves are going to set you up for some easy putaways. Let's suppose you can do this one-third of the time when you serve. Plus you are able to play control on the other guy's serve 100% of the time. Result? You get to serve and attack easy balls one-sixth of the time, and play your control game the rest of the way. With the free spot from the good serves that set you up for some easy points, you should be able to win with control the rest of the way, if that's your game. (Plus the good serves will set the control player up to attack more and more, and so he'll develop his attack.) 

This doesn't mean everyone should become a control player. It means everyone should develop both control and attack. When people watch top players, they see the obvious attacking ability, but not as many notice how much ball control they have.

MDTTC webpage

See the MDTTC new and updated web page! We are doubling in size over the next month, plus starting up a series of new programs.

Timo Boll vs. Jorgen Persson

Here's a 70-shot rally between these two, with Persson back lobbing.

Aerobic Table Tennis

Here's a video on "Aerobic Table Tennis Beginners Session" (6:18), and here's the Aerobic Table Tennis home page, with lots of links. It's mostly for women, and is based in England, but there's no reason why others can't join in. (And I just had an article similar to this on "Cardiopong" published in USA Table Tennis Magazine!)

Anagrams of U.S. Team Members

Before we start, let me point out that "Hodges" is just an anagram for "He's God." Be nice to me or I might smite you. Tomorrow - the women! (Gao Jun, Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Erica Wu)

Michael Landers

  • Me Learn As Child
  • Handles Miracle
  • He Lands Miracle
  • Lame Child Nears
  • Mean Laser Child
  • Sane Child Realm
  • Me Child Arsenal
  • Nice Llama Herds
  • All Merchandise
  • Malice Handlers
  • His Elm Calendar
  • Calms Headliner

Barney Reed

  • Been Dreary
  • Ye Bear Nerd
  • Be Nerdy Era
  • A Nerdy Beer
  • Ye Darn Beer
  • Any Red Beer
  • Year Bender

Adam Hugh

  • Hug Ham Ad
  • Had Gum - Ha!
  • Had Ma Hug

Timothy Wang

  • I Own That Gym
  • I Won That Gym
  • Not With A Gym
  • Into What Gym?
  • Who Gym Titan
  • Hit A Gym Town
  • A Mighty Town
  • A Towing Myth
  • Hang Mitt - Yow!
  • Giant Ow Myth
  • Among Thy Wit
  • Goat Win Myth
  • Might Not Way
  • My Own Hit Tag
  • Hit My Tag Now
  • Go Thy Man Wit
  • Why Man Got It

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