Butterfly Online


Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, a little later on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week).
Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of seven books and over 1400 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
21 chapters, 240 pages, 102,000 words. Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!

His book, Table Tennis Tips, is also out - All 150 Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, in one volume, in logical progression!!!

His newest book, The Spirit of Pong, is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis and ends up training with the spirits of past champions. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

June 24, 2016

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 – DONE!!! (and Cleaning Up Eyebrows???)
Our My long national nightmare is over. For the past two years weeks, as readers of this blog know, I've been working with USATT Historian Tim Boggan on this volume, and it's done, complete, out the door! Soon it'll join the other 17 volumes at the History of U.S. Table Tennis page, now that it's finished.

Well, almost.

We got through all of Tim's edits yesterday, and finished at 444 pages and 1548 graphics. Then, last night, I spent an hour getting it ready for printing via Createpace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. (This is how I now publish my table tennis books.) But Tim is doing a final proofing, and promises to get back to me with any final edits by Monday. Then I input those, and upload the files to Createspace.com. Within two days it'll get approved for print, and then I order a proof copy sent to Tim. He gives it a final lookover, and then we can order copies.

Life does become fun around that time. I'll be at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas July 3-10; at the USATT Supercamp in New Jersey July 11-22; at a writing workshop in Manchester, New Hampshire, July 22-30; and coaching at the Junior Olympics in Houston Aug. 1-3. If there are any complication on the book that drag into this time, things get complicated.  

Now about those photos. Tim can be pretty picky about things. He notices things that take superhuman senses to notice. We'll bring up a picture on the screen of Eric Boggan playing Dan Seemiller, and I'll notice the quality of the pictures, the action, and so on. Tim? He'll point out the blemish on the floor ("Take it out!"), a window or light in the background ("Take it out!"), the bored-looking spectator ("Take him out!"). I spend a lot of time removing and fixing stuff. He also notices any imperfections that need to be perfected. Yesterday he had me zoom in on a picture of former Iranian champion and USA Team Captain Houshang Bozorgzadeh and (I kid you not) had me darken his eyebrows! (He agreed to let the world know of this. He left early this morning to return to New York.)

The last few days were a bit difficult as I was working with him, coaching at the MDTTC camp, and trying to do all my other work. It got done, and all would be well if I could now sleep for a few days . . . except tomorrow I'll be coaching at the MDTTC camp, and then this weekend running the $5000 Maryland State Championships. (I'm still accepting entries for most events until 6PM tonight.) I cannot wait for Monday . . . except, uh oh, we have another camp all next week, 10AM-6PM. (So I'm counting the minutes until I leave for the USA Nationals in nine days…13,680 to go as of 6:28AM this morning. Of course, right after posting this blog I'm also off to the club to coach at this week's camp.)

Maryland Table Tennis Center Camps
We have camps all summer long at MDTTC. Here's a group picture from Week One, which finishes today. Then we do it all over again the next week; and the next; and so on, all summer! (Only exception – no camp July 4-8, since all the coaches, including me, will be coaching our players at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas.)

Goal-Setting for Drills
Here's the coaching article by Samson Dubina.

USATT Board of Directors Meeting Actions
Here's the list of the two actual actions taken at the June 18 board meeting in New Jersey. (I'm a member of the USATT board.) We met for roughly eight hours, with most of the meeting take up with various reports, as I blogged about on Tuesday. (Here is the USATT Minutes page.)

Experienced Olympians Head List for ITTF-North America Cup
Here's the article.

Zhang Jike Knocked Out of ITTF World Tour Korea Open
Here's the ITTF press release, and here's the home page for the Korea Open. (Side note – Timo Boll just got knocked out as well. Both lost in the first round of the main draw.)

2016 Para Spanish Open Slide Show
Here are the pictures, featuring Team USA.

1947 Table Tennis
Here's the video (10:06). I didn't watch it all, but it starts off with Hungarian Ferenc Sido (big guy on left) apparently defeating Lou Pagliaro in the semifinals of the 1947 Worlds. This was five years before Satoh and sponge at the 1952 Worlds changed everything.

Zhang Jike & Ma Long Training
Here's the video (20:55).

Police Pong
Here's the picture from England. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Hermit Crab Pong?
Here's a picture and short article about an actual hermit crab using a broken ping-pong ball as his home! (Click on image to see larger and incredibly detailed image.)

Send us your own coaching news!

June 23, 2016

It's Fun Hitting with the (Future) Stars!
Yesterday in our MDTTC camp I got to work with someone who I'm guessing you'll be hearing about in a few years – but for now, I'll just call him "Smash," since that's what he likes to do, and I started calling him that during the session. As he will carefully explain, he's not five years old, he's five and a half. He was in my multiball group for three hours, so I worked with him a lot. (I'd worked with him a few times before.) He's got nice strokes, can do footwork drills at a pretty fast pace without missing much, and is already starting to loop. How did he learn all this so young? Well, it helps living near a club like MDTTC. It also helps that his older brother is another fast up-and-coming junior (who you'll be hearing about even sooner), who, as Smash explained, has been teaching him to smash. He has good form, great focus, is very physical, and with an older brother to practice with, the sky's the ceiling.

Or perhaps I've just been hit in the head with a ping-pong ball one too many times. Or perhaps to me it's happened to two too (giggle) many times – yes, that's how many times I was smacked REALLY HARD in the head yesterday. It's part of the profession, but I probably get hit like this perhaps once a month. I got smacked twice in the forehead about five minutes apart by two very hard-hitting kids in multiball, and it left me with a headache.

But then ping-pong is a dangerous sport. One girl yesterday cut her finger trying to pry a broken ping-pong ball into two equal halves, and needed a band aid. The day before one ran into another during a two-player multiball footwork drill, and a player went left when he was supposed to go right, and they collided. And of course we spend a lot of time killing.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
We're DONE – almost. All 26 chapters and the covers are complete; I've even done the advertising flyer for him. However, he has lots and Lots and LOTS of corrections, and tomorrow is correction day. We started on them this afternoon and got through 94 pages worth. We should finish today, and then he'll go home Friday morning – allowing me to focus on resting up for running the Maryland State Championships this weekend.

The final totals: 444 pages and 1548 graphics, and that's just for the years 1990-91. The last volume was an even 450 pages and 1500 graphics. (It was 1499 before I added one just to get to 1500.) Now here's an exercise: imagine taking a picture into Photoshop, and spending some time cleaning it up with various filters, adjusting the contrast and brightness, cropping, and then pulling it into the final document and placing it. Now do that 1548 times. Check back with me when you're done. That's what I've been doing for 15 days.

I did get to read some interesting stuff along the way, and there's a lot of stuff I wrote that's in this volume – probably 20 different articles. I posted one yesterday, "The Ping-Pong Apartments," and may post others later on, if they are pertinent. Most are coaching articles, player profiles, or player analysis. I had a series of articles back then where I'd analyze two top players (international or USA), going over their strengths and weaknesses, and about what each wanted to do tactically against each other.

Ask the Coach Show
Episode #262 (19:05) - Developing Unique Serves

Have You Practiced Your Serves Today?
Just do it!!!

USATT Insider
Here's the new issue that came out yesterday.

Battle for Olympic Seedings at the 2016 Korea Open
Here's the ITTF press release about the battle in Korea for higher seeding at the upcoming Olympics.

Interview with Robert Eriksson
Here's the video (4:12) by Samson Dubina of the Swedish player, who's been playing in the European Super Leagues for the past twelve years.

Datto Ping
Here's the video (70 sec) from Table Tennis England of Datto Ping's launch, showing the benefits of table tennis.  

Table Tennis Strangulation
Something MUST be done about the recent surge of deaths by ping-pong net strangulation.

Send us your own coaching news!

June 22, 2016

The Ping-Pong Apartments
Below is an essay I wrote in USATT Magazine in 1991. (It was then called Table Tennis Today.) Tim is including it in his latest history volume (see segment below). The state of our sport has dramatically improved since then – we have a much better product to sell. We've gone from 100 USATT certified coaches to 692; six full-time coaches to several hundred; one or two full-time clubs to almost 90; and from nearly all clubs using the "winner-stay-on" format to many or most clubs now offering regular leagues. (Note that the "Ec" in "Mr. Ec" referred to the USATT Executive Committee, which is now called the Board of Directors.)

The Ping-Pong Apartments
By Larry Hodges
(First published in USATT Magazine in 1991)

Mr. Ec bought the Ping Pong apartments in 1933.

The first thing he did was to take a tour of the facilities. He found the rooms were unheated, the plumbing broken, and there was no air conditioning. The building was drab and unkept, and rats and cockroaches infested the building. Paint was chipping.

Mr. Ec did not have the money for renovations, and so he couldn't fix up the building. He spent 52 years lamenting what he would do if he only had more money.

In 1985, Mr. Ec. received a grant from the Olympic Committee to fix up the Ping Pong Apartments. Suddenly he had more money than he knew what to do with!

It was a great time for ping pong. According to a Gallup Poll, over 21 million Americans had expressed an interest in the Ping Pong Apartments. Ping Pong was now an Olympic Sport. Yet, for some reason, few wanted to stay at the Ping Pong Apartments, once they saw the condition of the building.

For some reason, the other Apartments always did better. The Football Apartments, the Basketball Apartments, the Baseball Apartments, the Tennis Apartments, even the Bowling Apartments - all of these buildings were full of happy tenants. And the Ping Pong Apartment complexes of Asia and Europe were full. Mr. Ec was determined to do something about this.

He bought ads in newspapers and TV, advertising the Ping Pong Apartments. He sent agents to the other Apartments to do exhibitions, trying to get them to come to the Ping Pong Apartments. He went to the schools, urging kids to come to the Ping Pong Apartments. He sent literature out to everyone, telling them all the advantages of the Ping Pong Apartments. And all of these ideas were good.

But nobody would come to the Ping Pong Apartments.

The rooms are still unheated. The plumbing is still broken. There is no air conditioning. The building is drab and unkept, and cockroaches and rats still infest the building. The paint is still chipping.

Why won't people come to the Ping Pong Apartments?

The purpose of this essay is to point out the difficulties and problems faced in fixing up our sport. Some think we need to only work on our image. Others, myself included, think it is equally important to work on the structure of our sport - what we have to offer potential members.

According to Gallup Polls, 21 million Americans played table tennis last year. Of these, one in 3000 is a USATT member. We have a club for every 80,000 of them. We have a coach for every 210,000 of them. We have a full-time, professional coach for every 3.5 million of them. 78% of our major cities (over 50,000 population) do not have a table tennis club. Most of the clubs that we have are unprofessional and poorly kept. Our tournaments are often shabby and poorly run. Our top players eke out a living for ten years and then are stuck. Our juniors see no future in table tennis and go on to other sports.

What can we do about this situation? "Mr. Ec," the Executive Committee of USATT, is split on this, as they have been since the founding of USATT (then called USTTA) in 1933. Some well-meaning members think all we need to do is work on our image. But for the first time in our history, I think we have a majority for fixing the building. I'm optimistic, but we have a long way to go.

Image is important, and we have to continue to work on it. Television is important if we want our sport to grow. But we need to have a product to sell first.

Why won't people come to the Ping Pong Apartments?

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
The big change is that I'm coaching at the MDTTC camps in the mornings. So for Tue-Thur, my schedule is roughly: get up at 5AM; work with Tim from 5:30AM-9:30AM; coach at camp from 10AM-1PM; work with Tim from 1:30PM until he starts to fall asleep, usually around 4:30PM. Then I spend that night fixing the photos for the next day, writing the next day's blog, plus all my other work….

Yesterday was a big day – we did three chapters, 54 pages, 180 graphics. Here's the current status:

  • 25 chapters completed, plus covers and four intro pages; one more to go! (Plus a day of inputting corrections.)
  • 415 pages (plus covers)
  • 1475 graphics

Ask the Coach Show
Episode #261 (17:10) - Liu Shiwen and Ai Fukuhara (and other segments).

US Rio Contingent Repel LYTTC Challenge in New Jersey
Here's the article and video (7:25). (I was there – you might see me in the background a few times.)

Thank You from the 2016 US Olympic Team
Here's the USATT note and picture.

One World Sports to Present the 2016 Super Micro USA National Championships
Here's the USATT article.

Wanted: Jewish Paralympic Table Tennis Players to Represent USA
Here's the info page.

Practice Makes Perfect: US Olympians Need Work to Prepare for Media Interaction
Here's the article.

12-year-old Japanese table tennis star eyes gold in 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Here's the article.

ITTF's YouTube Channel Reaches 100 Million Views
Here's the press release.

Interview with Willy and Shelly Leparulo
Here's the USATT interview with the President and First Lady of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, by Rahul Acharya.

11 Questions with Sam Smith
Here's the USATT interview.

Mini-Pong: Liu Guoliang vs. Ma Long
Here's the video (42 sec)!

Lobbing from Stands, Switching Sides
Here's the video (32 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 21, 2016

USATT Board Meeting
The last few days have been a whir of activity. The main event, however, was the USATT board meeting in New Jersey on Saturday. Alas (or fortunately?), there were no fireworks, no one jumped on the table screaming political slogans, and against all expectations, we didn't vote to build a wall to keep out Chinese table tennis players, and make China pay for it.

I drove up (222 miles) with USATT lawyer Dennis Taylor on Friday afternoon. That night we had dinner with the board and all six USA Table Tennis Olympians – Timothy Wang, Yijun "Tom" Feng, Kanak Jha, Jiaqi Zheng, Lily Zhang, and Yue Wu. I had a long discussion with Cory Eider and Kagin Lee regarding what players should do about hidden serves.

Much of the board meeting the following day was reports followed by discussion. We had a roughly 40-minute discussion with new High Performance Director Cory Eider, where we had updates on the Olympics, National Team, funding, and (most important to me at the moment), the upcoming USATT Supercamp, July 10-24 at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey.

Regarding the USATT Supercamp, 22 of the best junior players from around the country will attend it, including the three Alguetti brothers, Allen and Amy Wang, Michael Tran, Klaus Wood, Tina Lin, and more. Regarding coaches, Cory will be there the entire time, and I'll be there for all but the last two days. Coaching for the first week will be Han Xiao, Wang Qing "Leon" Liang, and Richard McAfee. Coaching the second week will be Sean O'Neill, Lily Yip, and Samson Dubina. I plan to blog daily about it, both here and at the USATT page.

Next at the board meeting was a series of reports from CEO Gordon Kaye regarding membership, clubs, sponsorship & fundraising, tournament and league ratings, the Nationals, ITTF and North American events, finances, USOC matters, and a closed session on personnel. My main interest here was the ratings, which some of you may have noticed haven't run smoothly in recent times, due to problems with the database. They are being worked on. Regarding finances, I believe the financial reports will be posted later.

One rating problem that was fixed was a problem with age group searches. Just last week, if you did a search for, say, under 10 boys, you'd get ten players with ratings from 2300 to 2550 – and when you checked their birthdate, you'd find all ten were born in 2016!!! They are working to fix these problems, with one simple temporary fix that solved most of the problems – the ratings searches no longer includes anyone under age five. (I wonder if we have any current four-year-olds with ratings? I doubt it.)

There was another closed session where we went over various legal matters. Then there was the audit report, where the only highlight was the discovery that some reimbursements to athletes were being listed as stipends, which might make them taxable income, or something like that – so that was changed.

The final discussion was about governance – in particular, the upcoming huge overturning of the USATT Board. There are currently nine members of the board. At the end of this year, four will be leaving, due to term limits – At-Large Director Mike Babuin; Independent Director and current Board Chair Peter Scudner; Player Rep Han Xiao; and National Organization Director Kagin Lee. Independent Director Carolyne Savini only joined the board a few months ago (and had to miss this meeting), and Player Rep Ed Levy lives in England, and can't attend meetings. This means there will only be three "experienced" board members at upcoming meetings – myself, Club Representative Ed Hogshead, and Independent Director Anne Cribbs.

So . . . with Mike's spot opening up, who's going to run for the Board this fall? If interested, contact the USATT Nominating and Governance Committee, which is listed near the end of the USATT Committee page. If you are a glutton for punishment, then go through the USATT bylaws on elections.

After the meeting ended, we headed over to the Lily Yip TTC, about ten minutes away, where they were having a Friends with Paddles Fundraiser, which featured a Men's and Women's team match, with the six USA Olympians taking on local stars. One interesting side note for me – a player walked up to me and asked if I knew who he was. I had no idea. He introduced himself – it was Ken Silverstein! He was one of the top players at my club when I started out in 1976 (at the "late" age of 16), about 1900, and a part-time coach. I took one lesson from him back then where we focused on forehand looping, but as I laughingly pointed out, the lesson "didn't take" – it would be several more years before I finally figured out looping.

On Sunday, the six Olympians were honored at a New York Mets baseball game (here are lots of pictures; here's a picture from Butterfly), with Kanak throwing out the first ball, but alas, I had to get back that night so I could be back at my desk at 7AM working with Tim Boggan on the History of U.S. Table Tennis – see segment below. (I had a pile of work that night, and ended up getting to bed at 2:30AM, and was up again at 6:30AM. That can't happen many more times. Last night I wrote most of this blog, and then stayed up past 1AM fixing up photos for the next day. Also did my class accounting; updated entries, sent out press releases, and sent some emails out about the Maryland State Championships; and made plans for some future classes.)

Maryland State Championships
Time is running out – not only is the deadline to enter the Maryland State Championships this Thursday at 5PM, but there is a hard limit of 32 players in each time slot – so enter now!

Capital Area League
The Capital Area Table Tennis League had their league finals this past Saturday. Here's the nice write-up by League Commissioner Stefano Ratti, with links to results – and most important, info on the Fall season! This past season had 24 teams and 126 players, all in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC area.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
We hope to finish all 26 chapters by Wednesday, and spend Thursday inputting edits and preparing for publication. Tim would then go home on Friday morning. I'm coaching at the MDTTC camps this week, but I'm only doing the afternoon sessions for now, which start at 3PM. This allows me to work with Tim from 7AM to 2:15PM, then I coach the rest of the afternoon and night, and then I come home and do my usual work, and then get a full three or four hours sleep….

Here's the current status:

  • 22 chapters completed, plus covers and four intro pages; four more to go! The bad news – Tim has alerted me that two of them will be "monster" chapters, like chapter 21, which took us about eight hours to complete.
  • 361 pages (plus covers)
  • 1295 graphics

The Best Table Tennis Blades
Here's the new article from Expert Table Tennis. (Note that I use a Timo Boll ALC – which is listed in the article as one of the "really awesome offensive blades" from Butterfly – and I concur, it's a great blade, and easily the most popular blade at MDTTC.

How to Practice with a Player of Lower Ability
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.

Ask the Coach Show – Yes, They're Back!
Episode #260 (21:30) - Champions Shunned (and other segments).

Top 10 Servers of Table Tennis
Here's the new video (11:09).

Lily Zhang Ready for Olympic Rerun
Here's the article from Olympic.com.

Fan & Liu Bounces Back After Olympic Selection Disappointment
Here's the ITTF press release.

12-Year-Old Harimoto Creates History and Sets Sights on Olympic Gold
Here's the ITTF press release. Here's some video (35 sec).

At Jets Camp, the Fiercest Competition Is the Ping-Pong Tournament
Here's the article from the Wall Street Journal.

Proficiency at Table Tennis Helps LaMonte Wade Turn into a Midwest League All-star
Here's the article.

Witness Olympic-grade Table Tennis Action in City Calm Down’s ‘Border On Control’
Here's the article.

Puzzle Wizard Plays Island Ping Pong
Here's the article on Will Shortz in Hawaii.

Crazy Roller by Fan Zhendong
Here's the video (45 sec, including slo-mo replay and watching player reactions!).

Great Exhibition Point
Here's the video (34 sec) – at least I think it's exhibition, with the lobbing, behind back shots, and crazy finishing shot!

Doubles Behind-the-Back Shot
Here's the video (9 sec).

Angry Paddles
Here's the picture!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 20, 2016

No Regular Blog Today…
Alas, just like last Monday, I just ran out of time. I drove up to the USATT board meeting in New Jersey on Friday at noon, and returned late Saturday night. After taking care of a pile of work, I went to bed at 2:30AM – and was up at 6:30AM so I could continue work with Tim Boggan on his History of U.S. Table Tennis by 7AM, as I'd promised him. We worked until 3PM, then I was off to the club to coach, returning at 9PM, just in time for Game of Thrones – which it's my Constitutional right to watch. (Fine, I admit it, I also watched Silicon Valley and Veep. Sunday 9-11PM is my weekly TV night.) At that point I was just too tired to do anything else, so I went to bed – and as promised, I'm back at my desk with Tim at 7AM, writing this as he taps his foot with folded arms and an icy stare that screams, "Will you gosh darn hurry up?" (But with slightly more colorful language.) The good news – while I'll be working all day and afternoons this week, I'll be free nights to do the blog, so no more missed blogs after today. (At least until I leave for the USA Nationals in July.)

However, I did the Tip of the Week in advance, so here it is!

Tip of the Week
Always Have at Least Two Options.

USATT and ITTF News Items
USATT has several more news items, as does the ITTF.

And here's a video of cats playing table tennis – set to music!

Cats Playing Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:54)!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 17, 2016

Private Coaching
Despite the long hours working with Tim as well as all the USATT and MDTTC work, plus blogging and a zillion other things, I've managed to make all my private coaching sessions this past week. But coincidentally, five of my most regular students are now either out of town or about to go out of town, and we're starting our MDTTC summer camps on Monday, and so I will have no more private coaching for the next ten days or so. (However, this is offset because I'll likely be coaching at least in the mornings at the summer camps. I'm hoping to get some time off since I'm so busy right now.)

I had a session Wednesday night with "The Bionic Man," Navin Kumar, the man with the mechanical heart and Parkinson's. On Sunday he'd been taken by ambulance to the hospital with very bad flu. He spent the night, and was discharged on Monday – and we had a session scheduled that night. At first he planned to make it, but he finally decided (helped by doctor's imploring, no doubt) to postpone it, and so we did the make-up on Wednesday.

He's leaving on June 21 for Romania for a Paralympic tournament, so we're gearing up for match play. They are using Donic 3-star 40+ balls, so I'd told him to buy a dozen in advance – and that's what we used during the session. (For perspective, 11-year-old Daniel, another of my students, played two tournaments recently. In the first, he trained with regular training balls right up to the tournament – I didn't know until the last minute he was playing in it – and said afterwards he felt really uncomfortable with the very different tournament balls. I explained to him that you have to train with the ball you are going to use. So for the last few sessions before the MDTTC June Open this past weekend we only trained with Butterfly 40+ balls, the tournament ball – and he won Under 1700, his only event.)

Navin's a long pips blocker, no sponge, but with an improving forehand. Because he'd just gotten out of the hospital, we decided no footwork drills. We did the following drills:

  1. Forehand to forehand
  2. Forehand smash to my forehand block
  3. Backhand to backhand – I hit steady backhand topspin to his blocks
  4. Backhand to backhand – I mixed in topspins, hits, and pushes
  5. My forehand loop to his backhand – so he could practice off of more powerful shots
  6. My forehand loop to his forehand block
  7. Games, where I played varying styles – sometimes consistent topspins, other times mixing things up, other times playing power loops.
  8. Then I told him to make sure to practice his serves, and visualize how he'd follow them up.

And now, with Navin and most of my other private students at least temporarily away, it's time to focus on the MDTTC Summer Camps…

MDTTC Summer Camps
Our summer camps start on Monday, and continue all summer long, Mon-Fri, 10AM-6PM for nine weeks (with July 4-8 off due to USA Nationals). Turnout will likely be light on the first day; today (Friday) was supposed to be their last day of school, but due to snow days, they are being forced to have a half day on Monday. (Perhaps the afternoon session will fill up.) Starting Tuesday, we'll likely have a full crowd every day, mostly kids, probably 30 at a time. I will likely be coaching just in the morning session (10AM-1PM), though I'm hoping to get next week off since I'm so busy working with Tim Boggan on his History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18…

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
So where do we stand, you ask? Yesterday morning I was up at 5:30AM (somehow), and we worked from 6AM to 2:30PM, and got three chapters done (54 pages, a whopping 261 graphics). Here are the current totals:

  • 16 chapters, plus covers and four intro pages; ten more to go!
  • 254 pages (plus covers)
  • 898 graphics

Alas, things will slow up somewhat as I'll be gone from Friday at noon to late Saturday night at the USATT Board meeting…

USATT Board Meeting
It starts at 8:30AM on Saturday at the Holiday Inn South in South Plainfield, NJ, near the Lily Yip TTC. (8:30AM??? After starting work with Tim by 7AM every day for a week, this'll be like sleeping in!) Items on the agenda include approval of past meeting minutes; meeting and discussion with recently hired High Performance Director Cory Eider (including updates on the Olympics, National Team, Super Camp, and National Team Programming and Funding); Committees (including segments on the Club and Coaching committees); CEO's Report on membership, clubs, sponsorship and fundraising, technology, Nationals and other USATT events, ITTF and ITTF-North America Events, personnel and staffing (closed session); financial update; and ratings. Then comes a legal update from Dennis Taylor on various issues. Then come USOC Matters; Audit Report; Strategic Initiatives and Governance; and then an open "Old Business" and "New Business" segment (where board members can bring various things up); and then we adjourn!

Afterwards is a Friends with Paddles Fundraiser at the Lily Yip TTC at 3PM – hope some of you can join us! There's also a dinner with the six 2016 Olympic Team Members that night, and more festivities the following day – including a Mets baseball game where Kanak Jha throws out the first pitch! – but I have to miss it all as I have to drive back Saturday night so I can start work with Tim again at 7AM (or 6AM?) on Sunday morning. I'll try to give a synopsis of the board meeting next week.

ITTF Development and Education and Training Job Opportunities
Here's the ITTF's "Help Wanted" news item. Want to work for the ITTF? They have three half-time job openings:

  • ITTF Development Projects Officer
  • ITTF Education and Training Projects Officer 
  • ITTF Coach Accreditation Scheme Officer

What About Bob? A Table Tennis Story with a Moral
Here's the article from Coach Jon. Bob uses long pips no sponge on both sides – and you have to go through him and others like him if you want to go up the ratings ladder!

TT Car Window Stickers
Want a nice table tennis sticker for your car? Then help with the Table Tennis Car Sticker Kickstarter! I just pledged $10 (plus $1 shipping for the three stickers). There's also a video (2:20) explaining the project by artist and table tennis player Steve Worthington. I just wish it could be rushed a bit so I can get them by July 9 so I could have them on my car at the USATT Super Camp held right after the Nationals!

SPiN San Francisco to Host 2016 US Olympic Table Tennis Team
Here's the USATT article.

Japan Open
Here's the home page, with results, articles, video, and pictures. It started on Wednesday in Tokyo, June 15-19.

Japan Open Crazy Rally
Here's the video (24 sec) Grigory Vlasov and Kenta Matsudara.

Pachyderm Pong!
First three are must-sees.

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June 16, 2016

Why Timmy Wore a Dunce Cap and Other Fascinating Stuff
As readers here know, I'm working with Tim Boggan on Volume 18 of History of U.S. Table Tennis. Tim had some old Executive Committee reports that he wanted in – but he'd unthinkingly underlined a number of passages that he wanted to focus on, forgetting that when I scanned them, the underlines would show. He asked if I could remove them in Photoshop, and I said yes, though it'd take about ten minutes. (I'd have to zoom in, and use the eraser tool at a very small size and go through it meticulously to avoid deleting any text.) I agreed to do it, on one condition. I rolled up a sheet of paper into a dunce cap and made him wear it until I was done with the corrections. He took it well. I think.

We've now done the covers, the four intro pages, and 13 chapters, totaling exactly 200 pages with 637 graphics. There will be 26 chapters, so 13 more to go. Figuring that the covers and intro pages are about as much work as a chapter, we're 14/27 of the way through. There's a lot of articles in this volume written by me, especially coaching articles and player profiles.

Here's the content, in order, of the last chapter we did, Chapter 13, pages 190-200:  

  • What's IN/OUT for 1991, by Larry Hodges
  • Ulpiano Santo – Over 80 U.S. Star, by Tim Boggan
  • In Memoriam: Joyce Anderson
  • Snow Camp at the Eastern Training Center by Richard McAfee
  • Club Catalyst and Creation Program by Larry Hodges
  • A Good Training Method for Learning How to Play Against a Chopper, by Man Chai
  • Reflex Strengthening, by Sean O'Neill
  • A Day in the Life of the RTP Kids, by Kathy Reed
  • Khoa Nguyen Racks up #2 in World Corporate Games, by Dan Goodman
  • Picture of Bill and Hillary Clinton playing table tennis
  • Thinking of the Ball in the Sense of a Clock, by Matthew Winkler
  • Advances in Technique by the Swedes, by Richard McAfee
  • Jim Butler, No. 1 Rated, by Roger Gottfridsson
  • The Showdown: Sean O'Neill vs. Jim Butler, by Larry Hodges
  • Letter from Terry Timmins to USTTA President Dan Seemiller on Running USA Nationals
  • USA Nationals Staff Listing

And since you all want to know what was IN/OUT for 1991, here it is!

  • IN: Quality tournaments for both players and spectators
    OUT: Overly constricted, poorly-staged events
  • IN: Open Executive Committee meetings
    OUT: Secret Executive Committee meetings
  • IN: Real membership increases
    OUT: Questionable/Imaginary increases
  • IN: Topics with content ("Tastes great") [Note – USATT Magazine back then was called Table Tennis Topics.]
    OUT: Topics that looks good ("Less filling")
  • IN: New tournament directors
    OUT: Better possibilities for hosting World events
  • IN: Senior Champ Dave Sakai and wife Donna
    OUT: Ten-time Champ George Brathwaite – wait'll next year
  • IN: Junior Champs Todd Sweeris and Chi-Sun Chui
    OUT: Former Junior Champ Dhiren Narotam – into Men's division
  • IN: Junior Girls Champions Tomiko Ly and Sylvia Lee – they showed up to play
    OUT: Former Champions Li Ai and Jane Chui – where were they?
  • IN: Jan-Ove Waldner, shakehand loopers, Sweden
    OUT: Jiang Jialiang, pips-out penholders, China
  • IN: Potomac TTC juniors – 37 at Junior Olympics
    OUT: Boys Club juniors – only two at Junior Olympics
  • IN: Relaxed eligibility rules
    OUT: Too strict eligibility rules
  • IN: Anderson College – lots of top Nigerians
    OUT: Augusta College – Scott Butler and Derek May momentarily overseas
  • IN: Greater New York Table Tennis League, Butterfly Volunteer Cup League
    OUT: Iraqi Table Tennis Team
  • IN: Money from Brother International
    OUT: Money spent on Tournament of Champions
  • IN: Yellow and orange balls
    OUT: White balls
  • IN: Griping about spin
    OUT: Griping about illegal serves
  • IN: ESPN table tennis commercials, Chi-Sun Chui Nerf Ping-Pong commercials
    OUT: Gary Shandling's sometimes table tennis show

MDTTC June Open Ratings
I ran the MDTTC June Open on Saturday, and sent all the results in electronically that night. And here it is Tuesday, and they are processed! I remember when it took many hours to get all the paperwork done to send in tournament results, and then you'd have to wait several weeks for them to get processed. Using Omnipong, there was no paperwork – even memberships were done electronically, with the software pulling the needed info typed into the database when the player entered. (Most of them entered online, so I didn't even have to do that.) And I get to do it all over again June 25-26 for the Maryland State Championships.

The Best Table Tennis Shoes
Here's the article from Expert Table Tennis.

USATT Insider
Here's the new issue that came out Wednesday.

USA Olympic Team in Training
Here's the video (27:34) as they train at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey. Want to learn something from this? Early on you'll see Kanak Jha (near side) backhand blocking. Watch how he flexes and bounces his legs between each shot. This gives you the fine movement needed to make great blocks without reaching.

Yue Wu Trains with Massimo
Here's the video (18 sec) of Coach Massimo drilling 3 point forehand with Yue Wu as part of the Olympic Training event at LYTTC.

Live from Waimea... Will Shortz & Robert Roberts…Day 1351
Here's the video (3:38).

Newly Qualified Olympic Players Head to Laox Japan Open
Here's the ITTF Press Release.

Sushi Ping-Pong Cats
Here's the picture, and here's the article that explains it!

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June 15, 2016

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 – Status, Plus Other Stuff
We've been at it all day starting Thursday morning, excluding Saturday (when I ran the MDTTC June Open), so it's been five long days so far. We've done the covers, the four intro pages, and 11 chapters, totaling 169 pages with 421 graphics. There will be 26 chapters, so 15 more to go. Figuring that the covers and intro pages are about as much work as a chapter, we're 12/27 of the way through. (Alas, some of the latter chapters appear to be rather long.)

We're hampered by the fact that I'm putting in a good eight hours every day in addition to working with Tim from 7AM to 2:30PM each day. Mon-Fri I leave at 2:30 for the afterschool program, then private and group coaching, and then I return after 8PM or so to a huge backlog of work to do – last night I started work about 8:30PM and didn't finish until 2:30 AM – and went to bed right as Tim was getting up! (As I've mentioned, he keeps strange hours.) So we had a "late" start this morning, starting at 8AM instead of the usual 7AM. Tim was good about it, only smacked me across the face a few dozen times.

There's also the problem that on Friday afternoon I have to leave to drive to the USATT board meeting in New Jersey, and won't return until late Saturday night. Even worse, the MDTTC summer camps start on Monday – and though I might try to get out of them that week, I might be needed in the morning sessions (10AM-1PM). The good news? Four of my regular private students are all out of town (or about to do so), meaning I'll have more time with Timmy.  

Good news – last night was the first full night of sleep I've had since last Thursday morning – I got to bed at 11:30PM, was up at 6:30AM. There will be few of those in my future over the next couple weeks.

I mentioned "Other Stuff" in the headline above – and there's been a few:

  • 11-year-old Daniel, who won Under 1700 at the MDTTC June Open, has developed this backhand serve from the very wide forehand corner that's getting to be deadly. Because of where he stands, he can curve the ball very short to the forehand so it's very hard to reach. He does pop it up slightly sometimes, and I flip kill those, but when he keeps it low – as he does more and more – it's very hard to do much with. You'd think his standing way over there would put him out of position, but the awkward position he puts opponents in when they have to reach so far over the table as the ball spins away from them, almost parallel to and only inches away from the net, puts them in an even worse position – and Daniel is quick at recovering. He usually follows with an aggressive shot to the wide backhand before opponents (or me, when we play points during our sessions) can recover.
  • We had to stay late on Saturday night after the tournament. Why? Because a player was driving up 2.5 hours to buy a racket from us, and said he'd arrive around 10:20PM. I don't know which racket he bought (I don't handle sales), but let's just say I was a bit surprised someone would drive that far just to buy one of our rackets.
  • Yesterday, about ten minutes before I was set to coach on the back table (by the robot), an Islamic player had set out pads on the floor in the court and was bowing toward Mecca (as required five times per day). I wasn't sure what to do, so I slowly backed away and went up front until he was done. At least now I know the direction to Mecca, if I ever need it.
  • Anyone who thinks kids don't know what's going on in the world do not know kids – or at least modern connected kids. Even the 7- and 8-year-olds know all about the shootings in Florida, and most even know what type of gun was used. (They also know much of the stuff Trump says – but universally seem to despise him.)
  • I'm aware of the problems with the USATT ratings and USATT singles league, and have been in contact with the USATT front office on this. (If you are not aware of the problems, then let's keep it that way, okay?) They are working on it. I'll get a much better idea of what's causing all the problems at the USATT board meeting this Saturday. (It's at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey – USATT members are welcome to listen in except during occasional closed sessions, which are generally short.)

Here's the new coaching article (with links to video) by Samson Dubina. This is an excellent article, which also illustrates the difference in stance between normal players and world-class players. Bear in mind that the world-class players who use the same stance for forehand and backhand are training full-time, including physical training – and so have very fast transitions. Most "normal" players might have difficulty with this, but if you are highly athletic (and perhaps have a rather supple waist), then perhaps try it. 

Jiaqi Zheng Does Physical Training to Prepare for Olympics
Here's the video (29 sec).

Franklin Mejias Spotlight Interview
Here's the video (4:17). "Nothing's impossible, I can do everything - Franklin Mejias. A remarkable 16 year old quadruple amputee who has touched us with his hard work, perseverance and passion for table tennis."

USATT News Items
They have added NINETEEN new items since yesterday! So rather than link to some of them myself, why not go to the USATT News Page and browse them over? Or you can go directly to the USATT pages for each. (Numbers 5-7 were in my blog yesterday – I wrote #5 and 6.)

  1. How Rockstar Games Made Ping Pong Cool
  2. Ma Long Getting Ready for Rio
  3. Physical Exercise for Table Tennis
  4. Table tennis making way to Arctic Winter Games
  5. Butterfly MDTTC June Open
  6. Will Shortz – 50 States, 1348 Consecutive Days!
  7. 2200 vs 2600
  8. Sportfist Online table tennis tournament software
  9. AceBounce, The Loop's Relaxed Ping Pong Restaurant, Has A Serious Menu
  10. Village residents make strong showing in table tennis tourney
  11. 3 US Umpires Pass 2016 IU Exams
  12. Alabama Juniors Compete in New York
  13. USA Boys Invited to Japan
  14. 2016 ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge
  15. David Rockwell Wins Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical
  16. Eau Claire Wisconsin Selected to Host 2017 Collegiate Table Tennis Championships
  17. United Nations win the Tai Shan Cup 2016 Team Event!
  18. 11 Questions with Eric Pattison
  19. ICC Table Tennis Center raises $150K to send athletes to the Rio Olympics

Hunter College High School Table Tennis Club
Here's their Facebook page, with lots of pictures! I wonder how many high school table tennis clubs have their own webpage or Facebook page?

Table Tennis Psychic
Here's the video (1:29) of Adam Bobrow predicting in advance – in writing – where his opponent will hit his next three serves. It's sort of a parlor magic trick, except, of course, he's just using spinny serves against a beginner – but the presentation is excellent. I do the same trick all the time, but with a slightly different presentation. Normally I either station kids on either side – once with catcher mitts! – and tell them to catch the ball, and then serve sidespin both ways. The other way is I put a box of ball on the left, and there's a water fountain on the right where I usually coach. Before each serve I say, "The ball's lonely," and serve so they hit toward the box of balls, or "The ball's thirsty," and serve so it goes to the water fountain, or I say, "Can you promise me one thing, please, please, please don't put this in the net!" as I serve backspin.

Table Tennis Dress-Up
Here's the article (actually titled "All American Air Table Tennis Classic") where you'll see pictures of table tennis players dressed up as mutant turtles, American pilgrims, and a chicken playing with a pot ("Chicken Pot Pong"?).

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June 14, 2016

Tip of the Week
The Difference Between a Drop Shot and a Short Push.

Will Shortz – 50 States, 1348 Consecutive Days!
On Sunday, Will Shortz did something we're pretty sure no one else has ever done before – he's now played table tennis in all 50 U.S. states! The final state was Hawaii, where Will played at the Aloha club. But it wasn't just 50 states – it also marked his 1,348 consecutive days playing table tennis! (That's every day for about 3.7 years.)

He's not through. Over the next three days during his Hawaii adventure he'll be playing in the Kona TTC, the North Kohala TTC, and the Waimea TTC. Accompanying him on this journey is Westchester TTC coach Robert Roberts.

There are pictures at the Aloha TTC Facebook page, including a nice one of Will with a cake commemorating both the 50 states and 1,348 streak. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

What, you don't know who Will Shortz is? Yes, you, the one staring at the page in befuddlement? Shame on you, you illiterate klutz! He's the puzzle editor for the New York Times as well as the owner of the Westchester Table Tennis Center. Oh, and he can probably beat you – he's rated 1842, using the Seemiller grip.

Now I've been around this sport a long time – over 40 years now – and while I've been to all 50 states, I've only played table tennis in 40 of them. Alas, I've never played in any of the six New England states, which kills my stats. The ten states I haven't played in are Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, West Virginia, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Alaska. (I keep thinking I might have played tournaments or something long ago in MA, MN, or WV, but can't remember any.)

So . . . how many states have you played table tennis in? And what's the most consecutive days you've played table tennis? (I played every day in 1978, when I was 18, and probably hit 500 days in a row or so.)

Butterfly MDTTC June Open
By Director Larry Hodges; Saturday, June 11, 2016

An even 70 players from ten – yes, 10! – states participated in the tournament. How often does a 2-star tournament get players from MD, VA, PA, NJ, NC, IL, IN, MO, NM, and DC? (I'm counting DC as a state here.) There were seven events: Open Singles, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 2350, 2000, 1700, and 1350. Here are the complete results, care of Omnipong, with a summary below. (Click on names to see photos.)

While Wang Qingliang chopped and power looped his way to winning the Open and $550, it was Raghu Nadmichettu who caused the most havoc, upsetting #1 seed Lyu You (2474) in the semifinals to make it to the final against Wang. But Raghu wasn't through – immediately after the Open final he won the Under 2350 final over Toby Kutler, and so came out $450 richer than that morning. USA Cadet Boys' Team Member Derek Nie (2413) won the first game in the semifinals against sometimes-coach and practice partner Wang, but after losing the second 14-12, it was all Wang.

Local junior chopping star Eric Li won Under 2000 over Yunhua Gong, while local junior lobbing star Daniel Sofer (age 11) won Under 1700 over Tamim Rajendram in a five-game battle. Under 1350 was another junior over a senior final, with Ainish Dassarma defeating Chris Buckley.

Hall of Famer Dave Sakai survived a five-game battle with Carl Bradley of Indiana in the Over 50 semifinals, and almost came back to win the final against Lixin Lang, coming back from down 0-2 before losing 13-11 in the fifth in a battle of bang-bang countering where neither player ever missed. Joon Chung made it to the semifinals against Lixin.

In the Under 15 final, it was all-out looping Adrian Yang over hyper-steady Hanfei Hu. Making it to the semifinals were Stanley Hsu and Lance Wei – the latter winning the first against Hanfei in deuce before going down in four.

Open Singles – Final: Wang Qingliang d. Raghu Nadmichettu, 7,6,-6,7,8; SF: Wang d. Derek Nie, -9,12,7,4,5; Nadmichettu d. Lyu You, -6,10,7,-7,-9,7,9; QF: Lyu d. Louis Levene, 4,7,4; Nadmichettu d. Stefano Ratti, -5,4,12,8; Nie d. Toby Kutler, 4,15,9; Wang d. Jessica Lin, 7,3,5.
Under 2350 – Final: Raghu Nadmichettu d. Toby Kutler, 6,-9,9,9; SF: Nadmichettu d. Eric Li, 8,6,1; Kutler d. Ronald Chen, 9,9,-9,9.
Under 2000 – Final: Eric Li d. Yunhua Gong, -2,9,6,7; SF: Li d. George Nie, 7,-5,5,9; Gong d. Xinsheng Michael Huang, 9,5,7.
Under 1700 – Final: Daniel Sofer d. Tamim Rajendram, 9,-8,6,-9,4; SF: Sofer d. Benjamin Parness, 5,8,8; Rajendram d. Ranjan Bhambroo, 8,9,10.
Under 1350 – Final: Ainish Dassarma d. Chris Buckley, 7,6,7; SF: Dassarma d. Jeff Howes, 5,10,-6,-2,10; Buckley d. Hanfei Hu, -8,2,10,7.
Over 50 – Final: Lixin Lang d. Dave Sakai, 9,7,-9,-9,11; SF: Lang d. Joon Chung, 9,7,6; Sakai d. Carl Bradley, 2,-9,5,-7,3.
Under 15 – Final: Adrian Yang d. Hanfei Hu, 7,-9,9,8; SF: Yang d. Stanley Hsu, 10,7,9; Hu d. Lance Wei, -10,8,6,5.

2200 vs 2600
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

The Backhand Push
Here's the video (3:14) from PingSkills – not sure if I've linked to this in the past.

Table Tennis Edge Update
Here's the new video (73 sec) as they show you how to return serves.

Sharon Alguetti Multiball Training with Coach Lily Yip
Here's the video (3:15). Sharon, 15, is #1 on USA Cadet Team with a 2558 rating.

International Table Tennis
It's been four days since my last blog, so there are some new articles on these sites. You can great international coverage at TableTennista (which especially covers the elite players well) and at the ITTF home page (which does great regional coverage). Butterfly also has a great news page.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 17 (1989-1990)
Here's chapter 13! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com.

The Ping Pong Man/Ambassador
Here's the video (3:15) featuring table tennis showman Scott Preiss.

"In a minute, senior, we're playing ping-pong"
Here's the Doonsbury strip from last Wednesday (but originally from 1986).

Golf and Table Tennis Trick Shot
Here's the video (43 sec, including slo-mo replay)!

Crazy Comeback Shot
Here's the video (42 sec, including slo-mo replay)!

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June 13, 2016

Well, it finally happened - just too busy to do the blog this morning. I ran the MDTTC June Open on Saturday (here are the results), and got all the results sent to USATT for ratings that night, then on Sunday worked all day with Tim Boggan on the History of U.S. Table Tennis, and coached all night. (Yes, I also watched Game of Thrones, but who doesn't?) This morning I was up at 6AM, but have spent it all on publicity work for the upcoming Maryland State Championships. I promised Tim I'd be ready to work with him by 9AM today (we usually start at 7AM), and it's now past 9AM, and I haven't even been able to start on the blog or Tip of the Week. So let's skip today - but here's 45 seconds of four-table pong to tide you over! See you tomorrow. 

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