Interview with Coach Jack Huang
(By Ayan Bagchi)
Coach Jack Huang is a member of the USATT Hall of Fame and a full-time coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center since 1992. Here is his Butterfly bio and his Hall of Fame bio.
What Butterfly equipment do you use and why?
I used Mizutani Jun ZLC, because it is fast but still provides control for blocks as well as counter loops. On the Forehand side, I use Tenergy 05 – Max, it is the best combination of speed and spin, whereas on the Backhand, I use Tenergy 64 – Max, as it provides ample speed and close to the table control on blocks.
What have you enjoyed about coaching at MDTTC?
I enjoy seeing the sport grow, the number of people, both adults and kids have grown immensely, especially in the past 10 years. The most satisfaction I have gotten is from seeing players go from a small age and beginner skill level to world class players, such as Han Xiao, Peter Li, Crystal Wang, etc. It has been a real joy to see them grow as players and people.
How have you seen table tennis evolve in the past 20 years, the speed glue era, plastic ball change, 21 points to 11 points? Have you enjoyed the evolution of the game?
I like the changes, they make the sport more appealing and more universal. The change from 21 points to 11 has been excellent. It makes the games quicker, more stakes/high leverage points, and more urgency. The speed glue ban has been countered by the rubber technology, so that has not been impact to the level of the sport. The ball change has made for some longer rallies which is fun and tests more players mental strength to be able to play longer points and then recover.
How has the emergence of the Chinese coaches in the US enhanced the level of play and coaching? What techniques are they bringing to the US?
The older coaches are well-trained and are good for the basics and building a player from a novice to an advanced player. The new Chinese coaches have improved the advanced players into elite/world-class players by focusing on increasing power, spin, and more in-game strategies that are taught by the world-class Chinese national team and the coaches there. There is a real emphasis on in-game situations, playing short games starting at 8-8, which focus on building a go-to serve or go-to return and being able to be strong and focused for a few points.
What age do you recommend kids start taking group and/or private lessons?
Typically, I like to see players start at age 5, but depending on the size and strength of kids, sometimes 6 years old is ideal. It depends on the child and parents.
What do you recommend as a typical practice schedule for kids 5-8, 8-10, 10-13, 13-16, 16 – 18?
Typically, for kids that are starting, the more they play the better, obviously, it helps with muscle memory and development. But, ideally two times per week is a great start and then as they advanced perhaps three to four times a week is great. It is important to do BOTH practice AND matches/leagues to get better.
What is your proudest USA table tennis accomplishment?
I won the 1997 National Men’s Doubles Championship with Cheng Yinghua and that is my proudest title.
What is your best singles win?
I don’t recall the individual tournament, but I beat David Zhuang, multiple time Olympian.
Do you miss competing in tournaments?
No, that is a long time ago, and now I just enjoy coaching!
Anything else about you?
I want to thank Butterfly for the years of support, both financially, equipment wise, and helping us grow our club!