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TT camp Trip

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mjamja View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04/20/2017 at 10:54pm
I finally got back home from my TT camp, Redwood NP, Saguarao NP, and match coaching for ATTA spring classic (Austin,Tx) road trip. Highlights of the trip included three days of 800+ mile per day driving, 5 days of physical and mental abuse by two saddists who call themselves TT coaches, driving through a freak snow storm, multiple cuts, scrapes, and pricks from various cactti, three local players who are now looking for a new coach, and a dead battery on a dark country road somewhere south of San Antonio.

It is really not fair to call Stellan and Angie saddists.  But they did seem excessively happy when I collasped on the floor at the end of each day and rolled around yelling "Help. I've fallen and I can't get up".  I guess my game was not as bad as I thought.  The only changes I came away with were
1. A new grip
2. A new stance and ready position
3. A whole new concept of how the Fh against topspin swing works
4. A new footwork technique for moving to my left
5. A new blocking technique
6. A complete change to my concept and technique for pushing short
7. A minor change to my Bh backswing

Of course they also confirmed I few things I already knew
1. I have no Fh to Bh transition (nor Bh to Fh).
2. My serves are too high
3. If there is any way to avoid moving my feet I will find and use it no matter how unprepared and out of position it leaves me.

I did get one compliment on my game.  When I was hitting with one of the true beginners Angie commented that I must be doing a lot of coaching because I was hitting such a nice ball for beginners to work against.  I would have felt better if I had been in coaching mode instead of hitting back the best ball I could.  Out of the 16 students I would say I was about 13th best at doing drills.  I was always the one missing in the drills both as the blocker and as the hitter/looper.  Even those rated several hundred points below me totally outperformed me in the drills.

If I start working diligently on all the things I learned at the camp I think that in about 9 months I can get my rating to 1700 (current rating is 1881).  In about 3 years I might get to 2000.

Mark




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mickd View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/20/2017 at 11:58pm
Welcome back! Great to hear from you again, Mark! Sounds like you had an interesting experience, and the opportunity to play a lot of table tennis :)

I know it probably won't apply to lots of people, but maybe sometime in the future when you have time, and if you feel like it, let us know more specifically about the changes!

Personally, I'm interested in number 3 and 6, and wouldn't mind knowing about 4, 5 and 7, too :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 2:37pm
mickd,

For #3 - I was using a 3 position backswing for my Fh's.  For the counters the backswing was horizontal and the forward swing was therefore almost horizontal.  For the loop the backswing was slightly down ending with the racket about hip high (or just a little lower).  For the opening loop (against underspin) the backswing is very low with the racket down by my knee.  The new concept is that there are only 2 backswing.  The counter and loop of topspin use the same backswing.  The increased spin of the loop comes from closing the blade angle and snapping the forearm closed rather than the old way which used a more vertical, brushing swing plane for the loop.

The more horizontal backswing does require me to get down and forward leaning in my stance.  Also I have to use my knees to adjust to low balls instead of just dropping my hand lower.  One bonus of the change is that it seems much easier to generate put away power.  I have always struggled with finishing points with my loops and often resorted to flat hits to finish points.  With the more forward stroke and just slightly opening the blade angle I can go from spin loop to power loop.

The other change to the forehand was in the method of direction control.  I have always used a slight timing change to switch from cross-court to down-the-line shots.  Stellan wants me to adjust my feet (opening the stance) to hit down-the-line.  The benefit is that every shot is the same no matter where I am hitting it.  The problem is I have to move my feet and that is just not natural.

I will post on #6 later.

Mark


Edited by mjamja - 04/21/2017 at 2:38pm
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robjkc View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robjkc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 3:30pm
Thanks for sharing your experience at the camp. If you could also comment on the grip change that would be great. I'm working on adjusting my grip at the moment and would be interested in their recommendations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 3:39pm
I will take some grip pictures and post them later today.  Hard to describe in words only.

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rocketship222 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 3:47pm
Lovely write up Mark! Can't wait to hear more tips on technique, this really helps us all improve!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mts388 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 4:49pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

I will take some grip pictures and post them later today.  Hard to describe in words only.

Mark


I'm hoping the camp has left you totally confused (same as before) so I will have a chance next time I play you. 

For the next 6 weeks I'm making the 7 hour drive to see Nan Li at the WCTTA just to keep up with you.  We will be studying your before and after videos looking for flaws.  My money is on Nan.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cole_ely Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 6:34pm
Sometime I'd like to visit cc and your club Mark.
W6 fl with Illumina 1.8

Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 7:48pm
Originally posted by cole_ely cole_ely wrote:

Sometime I'd like to visit cc and your club Mark.

We would love to have you or any other forum members visit.  Corpus Christi is a pretty good tourist town if you are into any water activities (except maybe SCUBA).  We have some world class salt water fly fishing, lots of protected water for boating, and great wind for sailing, wind surfing, and kite boarding.  We have 2A baseball in the spring and summer, the Lexington Aircraft Carrier (WWII) is a floating museum, the Texas State Aquarium, and a couple of nice waterparks.

Winter weather is pretty nice although we do get some short duration cold spells that South Florida does not get. 

And of course the main attraction of playing TT with the internationally known mjamja is available to all visitors.  Believe me it is something you will never forget even if you really want to make it go away.

Mark - Head of TT tourism for Corpus Christi Visitor Bureau.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 10:36pm
As to the grip change:

Stellan and Angie did not spend any general time discussing the grip although I am sure they worked with some of the beginners on it.  Most of us had been to at least one of their camps before so that was not a priority in this camp.  I knew my grip was not really standard so I paid close attention to their grips and tried to imitate it during the camp.  Not surprisingly their grips match that demonstrated by Waldner in one of the training videos he made.

In my old grip the handle went a little diagonally across my palm and rested against the pad at the base of my thumb.  My thumb and index finger angled up a bit on the blade.  And my fingers were clear of the wings in a shallow grip.  I also had a tendency when hitting a Bh to move the thumb so it pointed straight up the blade.  And when hitting a Fh the index finger tended to move closer to the racket center and point more vertically.

The new grip is deeper with the middle finger and thumb web touching the blade wings. The handle runs straight down the base of the fingers (perpendicular to fingers) and there is a visible gap between the handle and the pad at the base of the thumb.  The index finger and thumb are low on the blade and point parallel to the rubber label (perpendicular to the length of the handle).  My thumb tends to stay in position all the time, but the index finger still tends to move up on the blade.  However the amount it can move is very limited and I am working on doing better on keeping it fixed for all strokes.

Sorry but I am having problems uploading pictures for reference.

The new grip feels wrong in the ready position.  However it feels fine and even more natural than the old one when I backswing on either side.  It also seems more stable (less wiggle to be at an unwanted blade angle) than the old grip. 

Mark


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jfolsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 10:57pm
Hi Mark,

What you are describing is a low grip (blade not touching the web between thumb and finger) and a high grip. Jörgen Persson plays with a low grip, generally considered to have more power but less control over the racket head. I play with a high grip, mine is actually very high, my middle finger is not level with my ring and pinky because it is resting on the other blade wing. Neither grip is really wrong.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 11:16pm
High or low grip can both be okay.  However if the racket handle angles across the palm too much and the index finger and thumb end up pointing vertically up the center of the racket I think you have real problems in hitting backhands and in keeping the blade angle consistent on the Fh side.  I think I got away with the old grip by changing  grip for Fh an Bh shots.  Works okay when away from table or slower rallies, but failed me in quick exchanges with both players close to the table.

However, grips are very personal and I have seen lots of players that are a lot better than me with non standard grips.  So I am not suggesting that people need to make the change I am making in order to play well.  But for me I think it will help.

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jfolsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/21/2017 at 11:59pm
Yeah, grip shifting is a bit of a controversial coaching subject. Conventional wisdom for decades has been that it's a bad habit, particularly close to the table. But a few coaches say that is bunk, if you have time to stroke you have time to grip shift. Timo Boll is usually cited as an example of successful grip shifting.

I remember when swinging volleys in tennis were a big no-no, too risky. Now they are the norm. Who knows, the next generation may be trained to grip shift on every shot and run around your forehand to hit the chiquita backhand opening on every serve.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robjkc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/22/2017 at 12:00am
Hi Mark,

Thanks for the explanation of your grip.  I've also had the same issues of my index finger and thumb creeping up the blade face.  I'm now experimenting with more of a backhand oriented grip where the pad of my index finger rests on the top ledge of the backhand handle.  I guess this would also be considered a low grip.  Thanks again! Robert
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/22/2017 at 12:15am
Originally posted by jfolsen jfolsen wrote:

Yeah, grip shifting is a bit of a controversial coaching subject. Conventional wisdom for decades has been that it's a bad habit, particularly close to the table. But a few coaches say that is bunk, if you have time to stroke you have time to grip shift. Timo Boll is usually cited as an example of successful grip shifting.

I remember when swinging volleys in tennis were a big no-no, too risky. Now they are the norm. Who knows, the next generation may be trained to grip shift on every shot and run around your forehand to hit the chiquita backhand opening on every serve.

Good point.  I think how much practice time you have to perfect a technique influences whether a more complicated technique (like grip shifting) can produce better results.  With lots of practice time people are often able to do tasks that seem near impossible.  In my case of low ultimate performance expectations (I am never going to play on the national team or even close to that) and limited practice time, keeping things simple probably gets me to a higher level of performance than complicated or very physically demanding techniques. 

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote benfb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/22/2017 at 2:49am
Mark,

Your post was missing some of the most important things you learned:

1. How early in the morning can you start eating cookies?
2. Which jokes are the most fun when Ben shows up late for every session?
3. How the reputation for bad weather in Salem is exaggerated.
4. The fine dining opportunities in Salem.
5. And how Salem, Oregon has the best table tennis venue in the country.Wink

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cole_ely Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/22/2017 at 7:32am
It strikes me that you have time to grip shift usually, but on rapid fire exchanges close to table you need to have a grip that can be used without modification to at least block with
W6 fl with Illumina 1.8

Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote berndt_mann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/22/2017 at 10:02pm
(jfolsen)  I remember when swinging volleys in tennis were a big no-no, too risky. Now they are the norm.

In a 1925 movie clip entitled "How I Play Tennis" Suzanne Lenglen, the best female player of her day, demonstrates both a swinging forehand and backhand volley, in slow motion and in real time.  This movie clip, a little over fifteen minutes long, can be seen on YouTube.  A slight, lithe woman, Lenglen of course lacked the power of today's female players, but her athleticism and footwork are damn near balletic.  

Even in the late 1950s, the tennis coach at Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High School, a Mr. Norris, who also taught math, showed all of us how to take a swinging volley at a slow traveling ball when advancing to the net.  The alternative was to let such a ball bounce, which was safer, but it gave more time for your opponent to react to youe subsequent drive.


Edited by berndt_mann - 04/22/2017 at 10:04pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote patrickhrdlicka Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/23/2017 at 1:03am
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

If I start working diligently on all the things I learned at the camp I think that in about 9 months I can get my rating to 1700 (current rating is 1881).  

This is humor at a very high level Clap
Feedback: http://mytabletennis.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=69419&title=feedback-patrickhrdlicka

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/23/2017 at 1:30pm
Originally posted by benfb benfb wrote:

Mark,

Your post was missing some of the most important things you learned:

1. How early in the morning can you start eating cookies?
2. Which jokes are the most fun when Ben shows up late for every session?
3. How the reputation for bad weather in Salem is exaggerated.
4. The fine dining opportunities in Salem.
5. And how Salem, Oregon has the best table tennis venue in the country.Wink


1. It was the bear sausage that I found was the most interesting breakfast fare.

2. When discussing what time to meet for dinner we always asked "PST or BST (Ben Standard Time)"

3. The pictures of Angie bundled up in that Antarctic parka each morning says a lot about the weather.  The locals running around yelling about death from fire in the sky on the one sunny day we had is also informative.

4. Salem has an excellent Subway and Dairy Queen. That is more a comment on my eating habits than on Salem dining.

5. It is the only venue were I had to crawl under a fork lift to retrieve balls.  And the only place where you had to read and sign a set of bathroom safety instructions and a liability waiver before using the facilities.

Of course being with great people makes everything better and the people at the camp made it a tremendously enjoyable experience for me.

Mark


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pgpg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/23/2017 at 2:06pm
Originally posted by patrickhrdlicka patrickhrdlicka wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

If I start working diligently on all the things I learned at the camp I think that in about 9 months I can get my rating to 1700 (current rating is 1881).  

This is humor at a very high level Clap

Indeed, at least 2000, if not higher. 

@mjamja - please post more! 
USATT: 1725
BTY Defense Alpha - Rasant Beat - Cloud & Fog OX
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mts388 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/23/2017 at 4:46pm
Originally posted by pgpg pgpg wrote:

Originally posted by patrickhrdlicka patrickhrdlicka wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

If I start working diligently on all the things I learned at the camp I think that in about 9 months I can get my rating to 1700 (current rating is 1881).  

This is humor at a very high level Clap

Indeed, at least 2000, if not higher. 

@mjamja - please post more! 


More humor is required the further you get from 2000. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote heavyspin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/25/2017 at 10:53am
Originally posted by patrickhrdlicka patrickhrdlicka wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

If I start working diligently on all the things I learned at the camp I think that in about 9 months I can get my rating to 1700 (current rating is 1881).  

This is humor at a very high level Clap
I took it part serious, part humor. For the serious part, Mark faces the reality of taking several steps back in performance if he chooses to stick with the unnatural feeling of correct technique. Once that becomes more natural (at least 9 months), he can begin to improve.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/25/2017 at 1:23pm
For sure, making a major technique change often does entail some backword movement before moving forward, especially if it is something you have to think about constantly in order to execute it. Thinking is anti-zen.

I admire Mark's ability to laugh about all of this.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mts388 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/25/2017 at 7:22pm
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had Marks attitude.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/25/2017 at 8:01pm
At this time my only realistic TT goal is to have as much fun as humanly possible.  Writing for you guys is a big part of reaching that goal.  I sincerely appreciate your kind comments and hope I caused a few smiles.

Mark - Proud member of MYTT.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote benfb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/03/2017 at 2:21am
I just posted the information on our summer Stellan camps.  We're going to have two camps, with a two day break between. That means people can attend one camp or the other, depending upon their schedule, or attend both camps for a more intensive experience.

You can check out the Stellan camp thread, but these are the dates:

Session 1: Friday August 4 – Tuesday August 8
Break: Wednesday August 9 – Thursday August 10
Session 2: Friday August 11 – Tuesday August 15
 
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