Dan Seemiller Table Tennis Camp (2007 June)

by Varghese on September 17, 2007

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I had a passion for sports from the childhood. In my childhood, I have spent my evening hours from 4 to 7 at either school ground or friends house playing different games. We did not have any indoor building to play – I’m talking about the years between 1980 and 1985 – still we enjoyed playing badminton, seven tiles (a local sport) outside in parks. I became an addict to the game of cricket in the year 1986. However it was hard for me to play cricket because anybody at that time never wore gear – it was expensive -, and the hard looking cork ball scared me every time. My passion turned then to badminton, at the same time to table tennis. Our church youth group brought a table from somewhere, and that’s where I started playing table tennis in 1988. Within a month, a senior at the YMCA donated a brand new kettler table from Germany. I started playing with a wooden paddle (called ‘bat’ in Asia). At that time, my brother who was living in Mumbai brought a Nisaku table tennis racket for me along with a training book. From my early days of play, I was a defensive player. In the college, I became a top player because of my blocking style - the attackers had hard time getting through me.

I love playing table tennis. After some 15 years, I took the game again last year. It was at the end of the year, my club president Mr.John asked me to go to US National. I took that serious and received my first rating which was 1386. I spent a lot of time learning this game, but I really wanted to receive a formal coaching. The state I live in called Utah does not have a certified coach. The top player in Utah gave me some basic coaching in backhand drives and looping. His basic coaching helped me to release my chicken wing backhand. When I was at Columbus, Ohio playing at the Killerspin tournament, a player suggested me to attend Dan Seemiller camp. At that time, I was not aware of a camp like that.

About Dan Seemiller

Dan Seemiller is a USA TT certified coach. He is a 5 time US Singles champion from the late ’70s and early ’80s. He was a US Olympic coach before. He was inducted into the USA Table Tennis (USATT) Hall of Fame in 1995. He was recently awarded the 2006 Coach of the Year Award by the USATT — the official governing body of American table tennis — in honor of his success in coaching the South Bend Junior Team and the U.S. National Men’s Team. Dan and his brother Rick Seemiller reached the quarter finals of the world doubles in 1977. Above all, Danny is a good guru who can explain the game well. I heard his commentary in a Killerspin tournament DVD, and I really liked his commentary.

About the place

The clinic takes place at a place called New Carlisle, a small town in Indiana. New Carlisle is not a busy town – I heard that this town has a population of 100 people only. There are not a lot of hotels in this area, so I had to take hotel at Mishawaka – famous for hummer suv manufacturer - which is 30 minutes drive from New Carlisle. There are two good restaurants at a five minutes driving distance. If you are not a type of person who does not like to eat between play, you can bring in your favorite food and eat at the camp building.

About the camp

The camp starts at 8:00 AM in the morning. The coaches explain what you are going to do before each practical session starts – the practice session lasts for 1 hour. The world class players like Mark Hazinski and Coaches Dan Seemiller and Mark Nordby will explain how to execute strokes. They will explain the position, the hand movements, the backlift, follow through etc… You can ask questions and they will explain to you. They will never shout at you or curse you. You have to utilize your full potential, learn the strokes and play until it is fixed. The coaches will visit your table evey 5 - 10 minutes to monitor your strokes. I think Danny and Mark is very particular about making the strokes correct. Someone made this comment that Danny is a good corp and Mark is a bad corp - may be because Mark makes very critical comments about your strokes.

You will be provided with instructional material and a pen to write down notes - Mark often looks at your notes. I think I was the one who asked more questions in the camp. Danny and Mark were so happy to answer the questions.

You will also see world class players like Mark Hazinski and national level players like Joe Cochran, Dan Seemiller Jr. playing there to improve their games. You will get a chance to see how these players execute their strokes. I had some wonderful time with Mark Hazinski who helped me to increase the spin on the ball while serving. I watched him making serves which almost touch the net.

About what you learn

From beginners to expert level, this camp suits every level. I have seen beginners in that clinic, also people who know a little about the game. The training is very systematic without wasting a single second of yours. Danny and Mark will teach the group as a whole, the strokes such as (1) looping top spin and under spin from forehand and backhand (2) pushes (3) block (4) top spin drives from fore hand and back hand.
I felt great about this game when there was a session for just doing the serves. Danny and Mark will serve to you different kinds of serves with different spin – this will help you to learn the spin. They will teach you how to do serve returns, and stop the third ball attack.

In my four days there, I have seen most of the camp attendees improving their strokes. The coaches Dan Seemiller and Mark Nordby will watch you play with your partners, and will give you tips and instructions where you need to improve.

About what I have improved

There are many areas where I have improved my game. I attended Danny’s camp to improve my defensive strokes. Danny and Mark made a lot of adjustaments for me so that I can play defensive strokes throughout the camp. They watched my forehand chop strokes and encourgaged me to do it quite often. They helped me to understand the tactics used against long pips players and taking control of the game when the opponent goes passive. Danny had so many advises for me where I was worse at - looping from the forehand. Mark game me a list of areas where I have to improve.

How to join this camp?

I’m sure the membership to this camp is limited – may be to 30. To find out the details, just call the telephone number which can be seen on the South Bend table tennis website http://www.sbttc.org/. Talk to Danny if possible.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Noel May 12, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Thank you too for your review of the camp…I have met Danny and many of his students and I find him to be a very decent and respectable person….. I didnt need to read your review because I have heard from my own table tennis collegues that the camp is a fantastic place….I am definitely planning to attend this camp when my time allows….I believe they have a weeklong camp and a shortened three day camp during the holidays…..I am sure either will benefit the hard core, or should I say ‘obsessed’ (lol), player like myself.

Varghese May 15, 2007 at 12:00 am

If you are living in the Chicago / Indiana area, don’t miss Danny’s camp. I would say attend his camp regularly like 2-3 times every year.

Mark Nordby September 6, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful analysis.

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