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PostPosted: 15 Nov 2020, 14:18 
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Location: Midwest USA
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Blade: SpinLord UltraSpin
FH: SpinLord Tanuki
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Today I spent the better part of 8 hours working in my barn to transition about a third of it to a table tennis practice space - and I'm extremely excited about it. In the process I learned that I'm very bad at leveling gravel, and the end product isn't particularly perfect as a result - though I hope in time some it will will settle better in use, and if not I can always revisit the leveling later, at the end of the day it's just time.

Tomorrow I'll be making a radical switch, maybe? With coaching comes.. the need to respect and listen to coaching and so tomorrow we'll be making a grip change to see how it goes and maybe start working in a new direction, I'll probably leave that update for afterwards so I can see how it ends before digging into it overly much.

Underlay and tiles went down fairly smooth, on a truly level surface I imagine there are very few things that install easier.

Table was the easiest to put together of any that I've been part of to date, so that was very nice.

And the 2055 seems like it's going to be a lot of fun as long as I don't let it become a means to drill a poor stroke!

Between the new club and coaching, the new space, and also finding someone whom I think I can practice with in said space I should be building up to a strong 2021 of table tennis. I guess that'll be my 2020 silver lining, when all is said.

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(These images might not load in right, they didn't in preview, I could certainly use some help figuring out the best way to do photos!)

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PostPosted: 16 Nov 2020, 08:56 
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Blade: SpinLord UltraSpin
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Well! Today went well enough I suppose, I had been nervous because I went out to hit with the robot for a bit prior to going today, and that didn't quite go well at all - maybe due to not having the heat set up yet, just felt dead on the inverted and deader than dead on the anti.

From here on out we'll be moving back to full-time Seemiller! I believe the direct comment was "Now you look like a player where before you just looked like a bunch of strokes" and while I don't entirely know what that means, I'll take it. Got some strong pointers on the backhand and forehand, and I have a base understanding of the three positions for the grip itself.

I'm running a SpinLord UltraSpin with Tanuki max in black, and Gigant II in 1.5 red now. I'm not super sure how I feel about the Gigant II, if I could have found somewhere that carried Tanuki and Ellen I likely would have kept using Ellen. I also bought a sheet of Gigant in 1.5, but when I was discussing which anti to use it was decided that may be just a bit -too- slow.

With the best possible coaching for the grip, and the ability to record reps with the robot, I hope to only experience a very temporary setback as I adjust, and then of course hopefully some continuity will help me keep growing still.

Depending on when my heating unit arrives I'll either get practice in this week, or pick up where I left up at club on Thursday. Only time will tell.

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PostPosted: 23 Nov 2020, 13:19 
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Ok! We're now safely one week into the change, which gave us a night of league play, an additional afternoon with coaching, and some four or five hours of practice on my own through that time.

In the early week I focused primarily on adjusting to the forehand stroke, and working on the grip transition with alternating drills. Nothing especially fancy, used video to identify if I thought I was doing things well, made small adjustments, and felt at least some improvement with each day. Still, as Thursday approached I wasn't feeling particularly comfortable but tried to remind myself that this was going to be for the long term good.

League night was... rough. There's no other way to describe it, as I adjust to the new timing I find myself rushing and it turned into a fairly ugly string of matches where I ended 0-5 in a round robin where I might have had a fighting chance at 5-0 playing as I had been. That was certainly demoralizing and at times throughout the night the temptation to change back had already cropped up - still I didn't do it and was able to identify a few things I was doing especially poorly and used them as my late week training focus.

Using that I finished out Friday and Saturday with more video form check and further simplified my drilling options to just try to build up the foundation more. I'm more comfortable with what I put on video in those last two days for sure, but it sure will take some time.

Today I got finer points to work on, elbow position and follow-through, as well as using my wrist less on the backhand, and patience and timing on the forehand. Opening up strongly against underspin is to be my main focus for the next week in any match play I maybe find myself in, and having that simple one rule mindset should help clean up my game in the short term. In my one practice match today I was able to win against someone whom I had handily lost to on Thursday - the stakes are slightly different at practice, but it was far less of me beating myself.

Sunday is also hardbat league now, and I've been doing that for the change of pace and absolute fun of it. I'm playing that pen as to not negatively impact the strokes I'm working on that are still quite new. Certainly hardbat is a fun place to chop and run around.

With the US Thanksgiving on Thursday there won't be any league, so it should just be me in the barn unless something super odd happens, and then another round of coaching and open play on Sunday. Given that, it'll probably be around two weeks before I feel the need to update this again. Which, as an aside, I still have no heating in the barn and the cold is quickly moving in - I might have to just bite the cost increase and cancel the order I placed that's been continuously delayed so I can find a local product in stock.

Overall it is still an exciting change to be making and I absolutely believe in it and look forward to what's to come~

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PostPosted: 01 Dec 2020, 11:48 
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Joined: 29 Mar 2018, 12:58
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Location: Midwest USA
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Blade: SpinLord UltraSpin
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Well, turns out I found something worth noting sooner after all~

First, the second to last stage of my barn setup is complete, as I now have a nice 80k BTU heater that can in theory heat the whole thing slowly, but should be quite capable of heating up the section for table tennis once the tarps are hung. I might additionally put in some ceiling insulation if it still proves difficult to maintain a reasonable temperature, but honestly if I can just get above something like 50 I should be able to at least get good practice in - give or take some cold sponge weirdness.

Second: The big focus of coaching on Sunday was the backhand and how to go for a smooth, full stroke, vs just using a small punch and block motion. One thing that came to light as a result was that I was shifting the blade just a touch too shallow down my thumb - I had been resting it on the knuckle vs the deeper grip I've moved to. This makes a world of difference on my ability to close the blade through the stroke using my index finger. I'm still struggling at times to start with an open enough blade angle at times, and I'm still reaching for balls rather than letting them come into me - both of which I tried to make focal points today when I had some time to practice.

Today I maybe only hit for around 30 minutes, but I can feel my consistency getting better on both wings, and I can physically see evidence of it as well. I'm keeping enough balls back on the table now that I can comfortably keep the robot running for 10+ minutes, which is an amazing step up from a week or so back where it all felt so foreign that I would shank every other ball.

I'm back on track with fitness as well, I trawled the forum here for good recommendations on sport specific strength, but have opted to keep with my full body plan, though I have shifted my agility style work to using the table and doing different footwork drills I've seen. I'm trying to keep to a pretty aggressive schedule in terms of fitness and table time. My rough estimate, if I got to club twice a week, and also keep to my general fitness, is that I'll have anywhere from 16-19 hours a week into it all. I think maybe 8 hours of that would be table time... a decent amount of it is dead time waiting on matches and the like on the club days.

Another thing of note is that I finally wore all the way through the ASICS Split Second that I've been using for a few years. I had the option to just order the newer model of the same shoe, but instead decided to head out to the local sporting goods store and try some things on. This has me moving into the ASICS Matflex 6, and I'm pretty excited for it. I thought the old shoe was nice, but since I had gotten it second hand it was already fairly worn down - though it wasn't until I experience the new shoe bliss that I realized just how different that little bit of padding could be!

The week ahead has my old training partner coming up to help me finish out the tarps, so I should get a few extra days of live ball play in addition to my normal club and robot time - fairly excited for that, especially as having two people playing in the barn will let me see if I designed the space large enough. Fingers crossed!

I'm gonna continue to hold off on video until the one month mark of the transition, that feels like enough time to maybe be at a point where there's more to see? Maybe it's pointless to wait, unsure.

Oh! And I've placed my first Gambler order after reading about the rubbers here, having them recommended to me by a club member, and just overall finding that it looks like it could be a really good value. They don't have an anti, so I've opted for their GXL with .6 white sponge and a 2.1 Burst on that new Oh-toro sponge. I'm not 100% sure that'll work as an anti alternative, but I do know at least one other local Seemiller player using long pips, so it's not unheard of. Oh, it's also a combination blade, their new Balsa Knight. It's supposed to be OFF/ALL which feels like a huge difference. The Alligator Combi that I love so much is only what.. ALL+/ALL- ? Exciting either way. Someday if I can be consistent enough and good enough, it might be interesting to try a bunch of the Gambler rubbers and review them, as I think I read that's kind of an info void - especially given they seem to have just overhauled their lines.

Though I'm going to absolutely stick with Seemiller for at least the short and medium term, basically unless coach says to give it up, I don't think I'll ever shake the EJ in me now. Just slowly and surely collecting a bunch of blades and rubbers, and now curiosity itself kills me. I don't really think I can find a rubber based competitive advantage, I just like trying things.

Man, this turned rambly and long - oh well!

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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2020, 15:35 
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Joined: 29 Mar 2018, 12:58
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Alright! One month into the change:

In league matches in that time I am 8-7, which at face value looks respectable enough, but comes with a caveat that I've not yet had a victory in a truly competitive match. The nature of being low on the round robin means I get paired with true beginners from time to time, and no grip change could cause me to lose those matches. I'd say of my eight losses, the first six were complete blow outs in week one of the change, the next two were fairly quality losses in terms of my ability to play the match, try to work my own game, and getting meaningful repetition out of it.

In this month I've had five training sessions, and in the first two weeks I definitely was getting the same feedback, more or less. From there I think I've made some steady progress on getting a new tip each time, working on a new point of emphasis, and showing continued growth. I can especially feel this in the way my counter-drives feel off of both wings. The backhand I still have a tendency to take too early and that's causing a lack of top spin and creating more of a swipe than a stroke - but it's still steady improvement.

In terms of Gambler and their products - I like them! I got the Burst and the GLX, and I might switch to the GLX over anti moving forward. Soon I'll have Mech-tek and Big Gun to try, also in 2.1. I'm hoping to find that the Mech-tek plays similarly to the Tanuki I use, as I don't love the throw on the Burst, I do enjoy the tack - which is why I'm thinking maybe the Big Gun could also be neat. It's a company I want to support, so I will surely keep trying things they have. (I have a GSX blade coming tomorrow, in fact, which I won't really get to use, but wanted to see how that short pip felt.) If I like the GLX and I like either Big Gun or Mech-tek, I'll get getting their Fire Dragon Touch blade to put them on. The big issue I ran into with the Balsa Knight was the thickness is just too much and it becomes unwieldy with the Seemiller grip shifts - the Touch is a similar thickness and weight to the UltraSpin I use now. Time will tell.

This is probably where I come clean about my fanatic want to have my blades and rubbers match brand. It's a really peculiar thing, but it absolute drives me. I feel much happier when it all matches, so that's another big reason to go through the process.

Hardbat is going better each week, still using pen for that. It gives me my pip fix in a sense. I think my lifetime record is like 2-9? Something around there. Certainly not going to focus overly much on it, just a nice way to end out the Sunday session.

Since coach hasn't told me to give up on it, I believe it remains full steam ahead on the Seemiller, and I'm hoping to be back to competitive matches in that 1100-1300 club rating range by the end of the year. In part that will come down to how many league nights we're able to fit in with the holidays, and how many I'm actually available for as well.

Ah, a last note for when I look back on this: My feet have been lazy, it's not a fitness issue, it's a mental issue - I'm going to try doing more footwork drills to make the movement feel more natural and see if that helps me stay engaged better. Hopefully it helps!

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PostPosted: 08 Jan 2021, 12:36 
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Joined: 29 Mar 2018, 12:58
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Blade: SpinLord UltraSpin
FH: SpinLord Tanuki
BH: SpinLord Gigant
Alrighty! Bring on 2021!

While there is ample evidence to suggest that 2021 is still going to be weird for a bit, I can at least say with confidence that my TT year is off to the best possible start.

Last Sunday I was very happy with practice and coaching time, not exactly a light bulb kind of day but more or the pieces of the puzzle clicking just a bit. As I get more and more repetitions with this forehand I start to have faith in it more, which in turn has me hunting for forehand chances and moving much more naturally that I had been. I also really feel like I'm gaining stability on the backhand side, the timing has improved and I'm getting more true topspin and less hookspin. The newest focal point will be improving the timing and severity of my push on both wings, which is absolutely something that isn't consistent right now.

Coming off of Sunday I was really looking forward to today, even more so considering some of my takeaways from the prior week. Unfortunately, but also fortunately, we had enough players for three groups today, which will almost always slide me firmly into group three, and almost always coincides with having at most one or two meaningful matches. This was the case, as out of my four matches, only one was 'in doubt' - usually I'm not mentally strong enough to come away from playing learning games with new players and settle into the real match mood. Today I was able to overcome that, and came away with my first meaningful win since switching grips. It was a tightly contested 3-2 win, but finally getting one is like a huge weight off my shoulders.

Unfortunately I'll be missing this coming Sunday with some familial obligation, but it sounds like the club is ramping up to three days a week starting next week. The idea is to focus on the junior program on the additional day, but as that isn't quite up and running yet it will instead be open play for a time. I will certainly at least scope it out the first few weeks, best case scenario I get good additional live reps, worst case scenario I can still help with things around the club. It's good to be involved, especially as I'm hopefully joining the BOD soon.

Video is for sure coming soon, for my own sake mostly. The delay was worthwhile because I no longer feel shame on tape review, ahahaha.

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