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Training Tips

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Easy Way to Prevent Dust From Entering Your Robot 0

Sarkis Isikbay 
Speedway, Indiana

Picking up table tennis balls after practice is what I dread the most. I also appreciate the importance of a dust free environment for the problem free operation of my Newgy Robot. I have found that by pushing the balls with an electrostatic dry sweeper (SwifferTM, Grab-ItTM, PledgeTM), I can get most of the balls to a corner where I can easily pick them all at once. Meanwhile, the electrostatic dry sweeper is getting rid of the dust!

A clean practice area is crucial for the robot as well as the person practicing (s/he is eventually breathing all that dust) and the easier it is to collect the balls, the more I enjoy my practice.

(Editor's Note: Sarkis is right, dust is a frequent problem for all Newgy robots. Dust typically enters the machine by clinging to the balls and then falling off the balls as they are pushed through the robot. Dust can accumulate on the rubber surfaces of the Discharge Wheel and Friction Block, causing erratic delivery and lack of spin. Dust can clog gears and I've even seen cases where dust has literally "strangled" a motor's drive pin, preventing it from turning. Use Sarkis' tip to prevent dust from entering your machine and your robot will last longer and give you more trouble-free service..)

Clean Your Robot For Best Performance 0

Glenn Wilson 
Cleveland Heights, OH


"When setting up Robo-Pong 2000 take time to clean the area properly. Block off areas where you might easily lose a ball. If it is a pleasure to use the robot, you will use it uch more often and have a better time, while increasing your skills and improving your health." 

Technical note: Another advantage to playing in a clean setting is that maintenance on the machine is greatly reduced. Depending on the amount of dirt in the room with the robot, the robot must be periodically cleaned, in particular, the Ball Discharge Wheel, Friction Block, and the Ball Feed Transfer Gears. The reason these parts get dirty is that when balls roll on the floor they pick up minute amounts of dust and dirt. These particles fall off the ball as they travel through the machine, ending up on one of the parts mentioned above. The worst enemy of the machine is hair (e.g., pet hair), dust balls, and carpet fibers. These can become entangled in the Ball Feed Transfer Gears and stop the machine from pushing balls up the ball chute. In the case of someone playing on the robot in a carpeted room who also has pets running around, that person might have to clean the Ball Feed Transfer Gears once a week. In the case of someone without pets who plays on a tile floor that is mopped weekly, that person may only have to clean the Ball Feed Transfer Gears once a year, or even less! 

PLAY PONG & LIVE LONG!

How to Use the Newgy Robot to Develop Chaotic Relaxation 0

Matthew Clune 
San Diego, CA

One of the key techniques to developing a higher level of play is to learn to relax while accurately focusing ones energy during a game, especially when making a stroke at the ball. Fluid motion may be that extra ingredient that has made a decisive world champion out of Waldner.

The best environment for testing relaxation ability is, of course, a chaotic one. Chaos is very easy to create with the Newgy robot, though it is not merely a matter of turning all of the controls up to 10! Here are the settings that I use. Place the head angle to deliver the ball onto the player's side of the table first, the spin control to topspin, the oscillator range levers to position 3 & 4, the ball speed to 10, the ball frequency to 5, and the ball oscillation speed to 6.

The oscillation lever settings sweep balls across the whole table, the high speed forces one to react quickly, the frequency (being at the midpoint) provides plenty of aerobic challenge, and the oscillation speed at 6 is chosen to form an unpredictable spray pattern.

These settings will prove at least 3 things to any developing player. First, returning most of the balls is impossible without relaxing the shoulders, elbow, wrist, and grip. Second, you really don't relax as much as you think you do, until you put yourself to a test like this one. Third, using the Newgy robot is the only way to provide a sustained test of your relaxation ability and the means to improve this essential aspect of your game.

HAND EYE COORDINATION 0

Before anyone attempts to learn a sport that involves hitting a ball with a racket or bat, it is necessary to do 

some preliminary hand-eye coordination drills. These drills must be mastered before any progress can be made 
for a beginner, these drills must be practiced until perfected before hitting a moving ball. For someone who 
already plays, take a few minutes to be sure you can do these drills. An experienced player can do these 
drills in one or two minutes. 

Lesson 2: Developing Basic Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Drill One: Using the shakehands grip, bounce the ball repeatedly on the forehand side of the 
    racket (the side of your thumb is on) fifty times without missing or moving the feet. The bounce 
    should be 8-10 inches above the racket. See photo 5.
  • Drill Two: Same as Drill One, but bounce the ball on the backhand side of the racket (the side 
    with your forefinger). See Photo 6.
  • Drill Three: Bounce the ball repeatedly on the racket, first with the forehand side, then with the 
    backhand side, then with the backhand side, alternating sides until 25 hits have been counted for 
    each side without missing or moving your feet.

Once you find these drills easy to do, you should be ready to learn the basic strokes. However, if you have 
trouble contacting the ball as it moving, more hand-eye coordination drills are called for. Several examples 
follow:

  • Do any of the above listed drills but move your feet by walking forward or backward, or sideways, 
    either to your the left or right.
  • Bounce the ball on the floor using your racket to dribble the ball.
  • Hit the ball against the wall, let the ball rebound off the floor then strike it again. (Just like practicing 
    against a wall in tennis).
  • Have a partner stand about 10 feet apart away and hit the ball with your racket so it strikes the floor 
    midway between you and your partner. Your partner will do the same. See if you can keep a rally going.
  • Have a partner stand about 5 feet away and volley the ball back and forth without letting it touch 
    the ground.

Photo 5: Basic Hand and Eye Coordination Drill (Forehand Side)
Notice that the racket is held with the shakehands grip in front of the stomach with the handle pointing toward the body. The ball is bounced only 12 inches or so above the racket, and the eyes follow the bouncing ball.

 

Photo 6: Basic Hand and Eye Coordination Drill (Backhand Side) 
Same as Photo 5 except handle of the racket points sideways away from you, and the back of the hand is turned up, instead of down.

UNDERSTANDING SPIN 0

More so than any other sport, table tennis is a game of spin. In order to be successful at table tennis, you must learn about and understand the different types of spin and how to counteract the effects of these spins on your racket. 

There are two general ways to contact a ball with a racket. The first is by using force. In other words, the racket is forced through the path of the ball in a manner similar to hitting a baseball with a bat. The primary result of force is forward direction or speed. This is often the only way that beginners and novice players have learned to contact a ball. 

The second way to contact a ball is by using friction–to contact the ball with a brushing motion so the rubber grabs the ball and makes the ball rotate. The primary result of striking the ball using friction is spin. The type of spin produced depends on the racket angle and the direction the racket is traveling. 

Top players primarily use friction to contact the ball. They apply spin to almost every shot, sometimes severe amounts of spin. Robo-Pong 2000 simulates the play of a top player–it produces spin on every shot it delivers. Untrained players often comment that the robot's spin seems unusually strong. While this is true for an untrained player, a trained, competitive player thinks the robot's spin is quite normal. So if the spin seems strong at first, bear with it and you'll soon adjust by following the suggestions and lessons later in this manual. Table tennis is much more exciting and dynamic when you can produce your own spin and control your opponent's spin. 

The figures below are simple explanations of the four major types of spins–topspin, backspin, right sidespin, and left sidespin. Each type of spin has two figures. The first figure shows what happens when a particular spin contacts a vertical, still racket. The second figure shows how to correct your racket angle to compensate for the effect of the spin on your racket. 

Topspin is normally produced by making your racket travel from low to high while brushing the upper surface of the ball. Topspin has a dipping effect on the flight of the ball. For this reason, a ball carrying topspin can be hit with full force because the spin will cause the ball to dip down and hit the table instead of going off the end of the table. When the ball hits the table, the topspin grabs on the table surface, which both compounds the dipping effect and slightly increases ball speed. Topspin is considered to be offensive in most cases. 

When topspin strikes a vertical racket, the spin will grab on the rubber surface and rebound upward, usually quite high and off the far end of the table. To correct for topspin and make the ball go back low over the net, tilt the leading racket face down toward the table and contact the ball on its upper surface. The more topspin on the ball, the more the racket needs to be tilted down. (See Figures G & H )

Figure G:Flight of Topspin Ball 
Topspin is produced by racket traveling from low to high, striking the ball on its upper surface. Trajectory is arched. Ball dips after bouncing and rebounds upward after striking a vertical racket. 


Figure H: Correction for Topspin 
Since topspin causes the ball to rebound up after contacting a vertical racket, it is necessary to tilt the leading racket face down toward the table and contact the ball on its upper surface. The correct racket angle will send the ball back low to the net. It is not necessary to move the racket forward to make the ball go back across the net.
 

Figure I:Flight of Backspin Ball 
Backspin is produced by racket traveling from high to low, striking the ball on its lower surface. Trajectory is flat. Ball rises slightly after bouncing and rebounds downward after striking a vertical racket.
 

Figure J:Correction for Backspin 
Since backspin causes the ball to rebound down when it strikes a vertical racket, it is necessary to tilt the leading racket face up toward the ceiling and contact the ball on its lower surface, sometimes actually on its bottom. It is also necessary to add some forward direction to your racket to make the ball go over the net.
 



An important fact to remember about topspin is it takes almost no effort to counteract its effect on the racket. You only need to angle the racket correctly. The topspin will cause the ball to go back across the net on its own. No force needs to be applied to your racket other than the effort it takes to tilt the racket. 

Backspin is generated by making your racket travel from high to low and brushing the ball on its lower surface. Backspin has a floating or rising effect on the ball. When the ball hits the table, the backspin grabs on the table, slowing the ball and making it rise slightly. It's very difficult use full force when doing a backspin return because the harder you hit it, the more it rises and it tends to sail off the far end of the table. Backspin is almost always considered defensive. 

When backspin strikes a vertical racket, the spin grabs onto the rubber and the ball rebounds almost straight down. The ball seems to die and lose all of its speed and spin. To correct for backspin, and make the ball go back low over the net, tilt the racket face up toward the ceiling and contact the ball on its lower surface while pushing the racket gently forward. The more backspin, the more the racket must be tilted up and the more towards the bottom you must contact the ball. (See Figures I & J ) 

Backspin is unlike topspin in that you must provide some forward momentum to make your return clear the net. It is more difficult and takes more energy to attack a ball with backspin because the ball has a tendency to go down. The lifting action necessary to make the ball clear the net takes away from the amount of forward force you can apply when attacking a backspin ball.In general, a topspin ball will be easier to attack than a backspin one. If you're a defensive player, backspin should be your spin of choice because it makes it harder for your opponent to attack forcefully. 

Right sidespin is created when your opponent brushes his racket across the ball from your right to your left. This spin has a curving effect on the flight of the ball. After leaving your opponent's racket, the ball will momentarily hook to your left, then curve to your right. When it hits the table, the spin grabs, and the ball jumps out and curves to your right. 

When right sidespin strikes a vertical racket, the spin grabs onto the rubber and jumps quickly to your left. To correct for right sidespin, the leading racket face must be angled to the right and you must contact the ball on its left surface. (See Figures K & L ) 

Left sidespin is produced when your opponent brushes across the ball with his racket from your left to your right. Left sidespin is exactly like right sidespin, but in reverse. Left sidespin hooks to your right, then curves to your left. When left sidespin hits a vertical racket, it rebounds to the left. To correct for this spin, angle your racket to the left and contact the ball on its right surface. (See Figures M & N ) 

Sidespins are seldomly used in their pure form in table tennis. Normally they are combined with topspin or backspin to produce a combination spin such as
 right sidespin/topspin or left sidespin/backspin. Combining two spins produces the effects of both, but to a lesser degree than if they were in their pure forms.
Figure K:Flight of Right Sidespin Ball 
Right sidespin is produced by your opponent's racket traveling from your right to your left. Trajectory is curved. Ball curves to your right after bouncing. Ball rebounds to your left after striking a vertical racket.
Figure L:Correction for Right Sidespin 
Since right sidespin causes the ball to rebound to the left when it strikes a vertical racket, it is necessary to tilt the leading racket face to the right and contact the ball to the left of its middle.
Figure M: Flight of Left Sidespin Ball 
Left sidespin is produced by your opponent's racket traveling from your left to your right. Trajectory is curved. Ball curves to your right after bouncing. Ball rebounds to your right after striking a vertical racket.
Figure N:Correction for Left Sidespin 
Since left sidespin causes the ball to rebound to the left when it strikes a vertical racket, it is necessary to tilt the leading racket face to the right and contact the ball to the left of its middle.


For example, a ball with right sidespin/topspin will both dip and curve to the right as it is comes toward you, particularly after it bounces on your side. To correct for this combination spin, it is necessary to contact the ball on its left upper surface by tilting the racket down and angling it to the right. 

Understanding spin and its effects is crucial to a player's success in table tennis. The player with greater mastery of spin will almost always control the play. By using spin, you can limit the responses of your opponent and make him play your game. Two important table tennis skills to develop are: 

(1) Be able to instantly judge the type and amount of spin on the ball. Deduce the type of spin by carefully watching the direction that your opponent's racket is traveling when it contacts the ball. Deduce the amount of spin from the speed of your opponent's racket at contact and the type of rubber being used. The faster your opponent's racket is going at contact and the finer his graze of the ball, the more spin he can apply to the ball. 

Rubbers vary in their ability to spin the ball primarily because of the grippiness of their top surface. In general, inverted rubber is grippier and will produce more spin than pips-out rubbers. But even within these two broad categories of rubber, the spin producing capabilities of rubber will vary widely. If in doubt, test the grippiness of an unknown rubber by running a ball across its surface and comparing it to your own rubber. 

(2) Once you determine the type and amount of spin, be able to instantly adjust your racket angle to correct for the spin's effect on your rubber. The tension of your grip, the looseness of your wrist, the flexibility of your forearm, and the position of your body all play major roles in developing this important skill.

TABLE TENNIS EQUIPMENT 0

There is an endless variety of rackets, blades, and rubber sheets available. It is beyond the scope of this manual to cover all the different kinds. Therefore I recommend getting a racket of good quality and medium price capable of producing all the strokes discussed in this manual. 


A racket is composed of two main parts-the blade or wooden part, and the rubber covering on the face of the racket. Please look at Photos 1 & 2 on the next page. According to official table tennis rules, the rubber covering must be colored bright red on one side of the blade and black on the other side. Plain wooden rackets with no rubber covering and sandpaper rackets are both prohibited. These types of rackets do not permit a player to perform the strokes described in later sections, so please use one of the recommended types. 

If you have been using sandpaper, plain wood, or hard rubber, a sponge rubber racket will feel heavy and uncontrollable at first. By following the instructions in this book, you will soon learn how to angle your new racket correctly to compensate for spin and how to apply your own spin to the ball. Robo-Pong 2000 simulates playing with inverted sponge rubber so you should be able to quickly adapt to your new racket. 

It is important to have your own racket and to take good care of it. Look for a racket that is comfortable in your hand and feels well-balanced and not too heavy or too light. The fit of the handle in your hand is important. Handles come in several shapes, so try out a variety of shapes and sizes before deciding on one. The wood from which the racket is made should be of medium stiffness, such as basswood, willow, or birch. The blade should be of 5-ply construction. A good starting blade would be the Newgy Acclaim or the Newgy Applause. 

The rubber is the next item to select. The most versatile rubber, and therefore the one that I strongly recommend for learning the basics, is inverted rubber. Inverted (pips-in) rubber has a smooth, grippy surface on top of a layer of dense cellular sponge (see Photo 2 ). The smooth, grippy outer surface is the best surface for applying spin to the ball. The underlying layer of sponge rubber gives a catapult action to the ball and increases the amount of speed that can be applied to the ball. This is the rubber choice of 95% of all top players. 

The rubber, such as Newgy Mercury or Omega, should be rated medium in spin and speed, high in control, and be 1 1/2 millimeters thick. If these ratings are not displayed on the package, you may need to ask the vendor for these ratings. Look for the ITTF logo on the rubber surface to assure that the rubber is manufactured to ITTF specifications. 

Be sure to keep your rubber clean by washing with soap and water after every use and storing it in a protective case. Dirty rubber does not play as consistently as clean rubber. 

Although you may buy preassembled rackets (blades with rubber already attached), it's much better to select the blade and rubber separately and have the supplier glue the rubber onto the blade. This way, you may replace the rubber without also replacing the blade. The rubber on most preassembled rackets is all but impossible to remove. Your rubber should be replaced when the tackiness of the surface is noticeably different between the center of the racket where you frequently strike the ball and the edge of the racket where you seldom hit the ball. If you need additional help with equipment selection, contact the Newgy Customer Service Department. 

When purchasing a table, look for a smooth, even surface of 3/4" thickness with a sturdy frame underneath. Your net set should be made of cord and have top and bottom strings for adjusting the net tension. Since the side nets of Robo-Pong 2000 attach to your table net, having a good net set is crucial to having the side nets function correctly. Cheap plastic nets and flimsy net posts do not offer enough support for the attachment of side nets. If you have trouble finding good net sets locally, call Newgy Customer Service. 

When setting up your table, give yourself plenty of playing room at the player's end of the table. You need a lot of space so your strokes will not be hampered and to give yourself a sense of unrestricted movement. Also it is helpful to keep your playing area clean and free of objects that balls can roll under or into.

Photo 1: Table Tennis Racket, Front 
Typical table tennis racket with inverted rubber, front view
Photo 2:Table Tennis Racket, Side 
Typical table tennis racket with inverted rubber, side view.