Tuesday 28 July 2015

Training in China: Guo Yan's Young Shine TTC, Beijing #1

So I left Zhengding and the safety of my team from Lily Yip Table Tennis Center and ventured alone into the unknown and unexpected. I took the bullet train to Beijing and was picked up at the airport and brought to a nice modern looking campus.

My small room is right on the sideline of the table tennis playing areas. From my door to table 1 is about 20 metres. It's hugely convenient considering I changed my shirt 5 times on the first day. The club has been open just 2-3 months and I arrived to find a small group of dedicated young Chinese kids. I won 3-0 against the top 2 kids and in doing so did myself a huge favour.

I had an amazing opportunity to train with head coach Zhou Fangfang,  former Chinese National Team and Guangdong Super league team. She has been an exceptional training partner and I have spent part of both of my 2 days here so far training with her, as well as a former Shandong team women's player. I lost 3-1 in my first full match against Coach Zhou. Not bad.

I also had a good multiball session on my first afternoon, it's much hotter here inside the gym so I had to consume 7 bottles of water but there is AC by the front. The food is pretty basic, I'm quickly learning that vitamin supplements are a good idea. I have also had a couple of new English speaking friends Rachel and Andy helping me along the way and also Sergio (a Sergio Ramos fan no less!).

Yesterday evening I took a bus to the city area in South West Beijing (center is in South). I pounced on the opportunity to go to Pizza Hut because training center food gets old real fast. It was bordering on lifesaving. The air quality here is better than I was expecting which has been a plus also.

Guo Yan is in competition currently but returns tomorrow so I'm looking forward to that. I like the vibe here, I like the convenience. The team here have made a big effort to make sure everything is OK for me (being the first foreign player here) and that has made things great.

I'm uploading a lot of material to Instagram so if you aren't following mhtabletennis already make sure you do. The WiFi is a little patchy so hopefully I can get some more YouTube material up!

Stay posted! :)

Saturday 25 July 2015

Training in China: Zhengding Final Blog

Well today marks the end of my 2 weeks at the Chinese National Table Tennis Base in Zhengding and it has been a great experience. Today I pack my things and prepare for my next little adventure. I have my new bats prepared for the China Open and I'm excited that more new experiences are coming and that home time is soon.

On my last morning of training we played best of 5 matches and I went undefeated. Of the 15 matches I played here I won 14.  While the training was a good standard I felt the matchplay was a little lacking. While I was able to beat all but one of my opponents they were definitely not the best players there so it would have been nice to play some even better players.

On that note I had the opportunity to play a little with 3 time English National Champion and World Champion of Ping Pong, Andrew Baggaley. We had good fun and I have organised an interview with him for after his 16 day training schedule in China.

Tonight I travel to Beijing where I will be the first foreign player to train at Guo Yan's new training center. I'm very much looking forward to it!

So it is goodbye to Zhengding and I'm sure I will return in the future :)

Sunday 19 July 2015

Training in China: Zhengding Blog #3

So the end of my first week of 2 has arrived and I actually feel pretty good. Today (Sunday) was a half day so we had the second half of the day to rest. I felt in good shape this morning and we played matches. We were split into groups of 10 and played each other among our groups. Each match was best of 3 and starting at 5-5. I was a little nervous because I thought I would get destroyed in matches. Well it was quite the opposite.

Found this misspelled sign in the gym amusing
I won my first 6 encounters before losing one and then finishing off my last opponents, overall I played 8 matches and won 7 of them. I think my style bugged a lot of the players, particularly my service and my inside out forehand. I still have plenty to work on especially with my service receiving but it was nice to get some confidence and I'll be ready to head into the second week.

As I mentioned I didn't bring a tripod so getting video footage has been difficult, I did get one video up onto YouTube of a full bucket of two point forehand.

So I'm all ready for week 2 and after that my adventures continue as I travel to Beijing!

Thursday 16 July 2015

Training in China: Zhengding Blog #2

I just finished my 4th day training here and I'm starting to get a hold on how things work here. Each day there are two training sessions in the men's gym one half is single ball table drills and the other half is multiball.

The multiball has been really tough and I end up sweating completely through my clothes so I have been using three sets of clothes each day. Thankfully some of our rooms have washing machines and with the heat and a washing line in a little sunroom balcony, it doesn't take long to dry.

My training partners have been a pretty solid standard, I saw one of the old coaches from SVTTC here yesterday, Geng Shupeng and also Wang Yang is here the chopper. I have been working as hard as I can to earn as much respect as I can get (especially on my blocking so I can ensure their drills are high enough quality).

Some of my training partners have given me some small pieces of advice which have been helping a lot with my technique for different strokes. All in all I think at the end of my 2 weeks here I will be in much better shape.

I have managed to get to the gym on a couple of evenings so far and do some back squats and bench press exercises, just keeping it light so I can keep my body intact for training.

I'm managing to hit the reset overnight and wake up feeling relatively fresh the next morning for now, we'll see what I'm like by the end of my first week!

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Training in China: Zhengding Blog #1

So after the US Open I left America and headed for China with a training group from Lily Yip Table Tennis Center. I'm currently in Zhengding at the National Training Base which was used by the National team to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games.

So far the living standard has been better than I expected. You always hear that the food is awful and the beds are like rock. To be completely honest it's not all that bad, at the end of a day of training any bed is going to be comfortable anyway.

There are three gyms and I'm training in the largest one, there are about 30 tables in there. I arrived and slept at midnight and started the afternoon session the next day.

Let me tell you it was torture. Two hours of multi ball in incredible heat and humidity. The gym is large so there is not much the aircon units can do to help. The heat is really the one thing you can't avoid, you just have to deal with it (it's summer here now of course).

I was fed by another training partner and twice a coach came and fed for me. It was hard to get into the zone. I drained 2 bottles of water and probably sweat a bottle back out. I was suffering but I was more than satisfied.

The session ended with a short physical session of push ups and some sidestep shuffles between table and barriers. I was glad to be done, even though it was 30 minutes shorter than usual that day.

That evening I went to the gym and did some back squats and leg press exercises as well as some bench press.

Day 2 I was up for breakfast at 7.30, training started 8.30. It's always intimidating to train with the partners at first because you can feel inadequate. The last thing I want is for my partner to be annoyed that they got stuck with the useless guy. So there is more pressure to train as hard as you can. After 3 hours and another 2 bottles of water I was drenched again. I had lunch and rested.

Back at 2.30 and it was more multi ball.  I died and went to heaven then came back. My stamina was much better than the first day and I was dealing with the heat because I knew I had no choice.

So my first full day was over. Only by experiencing this place can I begin to understand why the Chinese are so dominant. They endure mental and physical torture day in and day out, repetition. It's a loveable hell for any table tennis lover but I can't imagine the lifetime they must have endured. It's really quite incredible.

Anyway it's the morning of day 3 and it's time for me to get ready soon. I will do my best to keep you posted and find a way to shoot some videos!

Thursday 2 July 2015

MHTT Heads to the China Open

The next 5 weeks are going to be an exciting time for me and hopefully for the blog too. On Saturday I will be leaving New Jersey where I have been at the Lily Yip Table Tennis Center for the past several months (don't worry I'm coming back haha). So where exactly am I going and what will I be doing?

US Open 2015

My first stop is the amazing Las Vegas, one of my favourite places in America. Las Vegas will host the 2015 US Open and the World's Biggest Ping Pong Pool Party. I will be playing a handful of events and it will be a great opportunity to link up with players and create some great content for the blog, the likes of Adrian Crisan and Quadri Aruna who have both been very supportive of MHTableTennis!

The US Open has over 1000 entries so it promises to be a great competition!

Training in China: Zhengding

The morning of the US Open finals (yes I will be missing them, much to my disappointment), I will be jetting to Shanghai and then through to Zhengding. I will be training for 2 weeks at the National Training Center there with a handful of students and a couple of my fellow coaches from the Lily Yip Table Tennis Center. Hopefully I will be able to share some of my experiences there and do some blog posts and videos!

Training in China: Beijing

At the end of my 2 weeks of training in Zhengding, I will take the train to Beijing where I will be training at the new training center of, former World Number 1, Guo Yan. I will be spending 10 days there and again it will be a great opportunity to not only train but create a lot of content and hopefully get some more knowledge from the 2 time world cup champion.

ITTF World Tour China Open 2015

On the 4th August I will fly from Beijing to Chengdu, Sichuan and will be participating in the China Open. Granted the field is incredibly tough, I'm definitely more in this for the experience than any hopes of success in matches, regardless I will do my best and at least I will have strong preparation. The China Open will host a number of top players and it will be great to be on the ground at one of the biggest international events in the sport.

New Zealand

From Chengdu I fly back to Beijing and connect through to New Zealand with a one day stop in Sydney (which I will probably sleep through). I have some preparation time for a few tournaments and the New Zealand Open which is at the end of September. There are also team trials which I am hoping to be able to qualify for also.

So everything is exciting, it will be a very busy schedule over the 5 weeks. I'm looking forward to every second of it and it will be great to spend some time at home, which I'm sure I will really enjoy after such a busy month!