Posted November 21, 2013

Orioles Reliever Darren O’Day Is Taking Ping-Pong Lessons This Offseason



The Orioles have apparently been playing ping-pong in their clubhouse “almost non-stop” for the past several years, and all that competition has led several players to ask table tennis coach Larry Hodges, who has previously taught JJ Hardy and visited the team in August, for lessons. In the guru’s latest blog, he discusses Darren O’Day’s ongoing education:

He had learned to put some spin on his forehand serve, probably by watching JJ, who has pretty good serves. But he was using the same grip to serve as he played, and so wasn’t getting much wrist into the serve. So I showed him how to change the grip to maximize the spin on his forehand pendulum serve.

So the focus of the first session was forehands (including a lot of smashing drills), backhands, footwork, and serves. Like most professional athletes, he was great at focusing on one topic to perfect it, and picked things up quickly. He, JJ, and Brady [Anderson] all [have] that the same “Get it right!” attitude, and were willing to do any technique over and over until it was perfect. He was surprised at how physical table tennis was.

The lesson took place at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which is the same club whose crew stepped to RG III back in October. It’s not a place you enter lightly.


[Table Tennis Coaching via Baltimore Sports Report]


The photo was taken by Chris Zhang at the Maryland Table Tennis Center on Nov. 1, 2013. The players are, L-R, Nathan Hsu (2011 U.S. Under 16 Junior Olympic Champion and #1 Under 18 in Maryland), Derek Nie (U.S. Open Under 12 Boys' Champion), Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day, Crystal Wang (#1 Under 14 in U.S. at age 11), and me.
-Larry Hodges