Blogs

Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will normally go up on Mondays by 2:00 PM USA Eastern time. 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  nine books and over 2000 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!
Also out - Table Tennis TipsMore Table Tennis Tips, and Still More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, 2014-2016, and 2017-2020, with 150 Tips in each!

Or, for a combination of Tales of our sport and Technique articles, try Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
If you are in the mood for inspirational fiction, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

Tip of the Week
Don’t Fix a Problem You’ve Already Fixed.

Classified Information Found in Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
The US Government has announced a recall of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers by Larry Hodges, following an FBI raid on his home where they confiscated dozens of copies. Said FBI Director George Santos, "The book is full of classified information on serving, receiving, and even killing. Nobody is above the law, not even Hodges, and the Forehand Blocking Institute will not rest until we've gone over every tip on how to play long pips."

Said President Biden, "Folks, many of those pages contain classified secrets and other malarky for use only by US table tennis players in their matches with the Red Chinese and the Soviets. If you order a copy, you will be fined 50 rating points.”

Said former President Trump, “BELIEVE ME, if other countries find out, as Larry writes, that tactics isn't about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent, tactics is about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work, then can America be GREAT again? I mean, this book is the BIGGLIEST book ever, the BEST, and it'll lead to so much winning you'll get sick of it, and did you hear about how the 2020 election was stolen from me and all 63 court cases I lost were by backstabbing, disloyal judges? And don't buy a copy of Loser Larry's Trump Tales, it's full of LIES and other true things about me!" 

Fortunately, there is an alternative book you can buy, "How to Be a Great Table Tennis Player Like Me," by 17-time Men's Singles World Champion and current FBI Director George Santos. He'll be signing copies of the book at the post-Academy Awards party, where he'll be accepting his tenth Academy Award, as Best Actor for his role as the ball in Forrest Gump 2: The Fury of Pong.

Hodges is appealing the recall to the Supreme Court, where he claims everything in the book was declassified by himself when he was USATT Coaching Chair, and that the parts about killing were not secret messages to Russian President Putin on assassination methods. Said Pope George Santos, “Trust unto Larry as you would trust unto me.”  

Weekend Coaching, USATT Magazines, and Ping-Pong in the Cambrian
Fundamentals, Fundamentals, Fundamentals!!! They cannot be overemphasized. If you don’t get the fundamentals down, it’s like pulling a trigger on a gun in a gunfight, and instead of firing, the gun explodes. (I learned that from George Santos.) Other related issues that came up this weekend in the five group junior sessions I coached included; playing practice games the way you want your game to develop; how to play hitters and long pips; and serving low. I’m glad to see many of the players are really playing games the way they train, trying to win with their shots instead of panicking and just pushing and blocking.

Meanwhile, while trying to prepare our players for the future, I’m living in the past. I’m still trying complete my collection of USATT Magazines from 1976 (when I started) to 2014 (when it was discontinued, replaced by USATT Insider. I’m missing five issues – anyone have any of these that I could buy/trade/steal? If so, contact me! They are:

  • July/Aug 1982
  • Nov/Dec 1986
  • Nov/Dec 1987
  • Apr/May 1988
  • May 1989

Some old-timers might remember the seven issues of Timmy's North American World of Table Tennis back in 1983-1984. I have six of them, but am missing issue #2, Sept/Oct 1983. Here’s my entire historical collection of table tennis paraphernalia. (I have some table tennis books that I haven’t added to the online listing yet. I may add them tonight.)

Speaking of the past, as some of you probably know I also write science fiction. I recently finalized a short story (3800 words) titled, “Connoisseur of Cambrian Cooking.” It involves a time traveler who goes back 500 million years, to the Cambrian Explosion. I worked in this line: “The closest she ever came to sports was occasional ping-pong, where she'd mindlessly rally with her grad students while pondering the secrets of time and the universe.”

Ding Ning vs. Tahl Leibovitz. Olympic Gold Medalist VS Paralympic Gold Medalist at the United Nations
Here’s the video (36 sec). Here’s Tahl’s TikTok page, where he has lots of other videos.

Butterfly Training Tips and Ask the Experts

  • Backhand & Pivot (64 sec) with Jinxin Wang
  • Stroke Management and Footwork (80 sec) with Anav Gupta
  • Contact Point When Serving Underspin, by Stefan Feth. The question was, “It’s pretty widely accepted that when serving underspin, more spin is produced by contact with the lower portion of the racket than with the upper portion. Can you explain the rotational differences that occur between these two contact locations? What is making the difference?”

New from Samson Dubina

  • Ohio Elite Training Camps – As noted in a previous blog, I’m going to this camp – as a PLAYER!!! Yes, I’ve decided to get back in shape. The camp is for players rated over 2000. The level of play will be very high – look at the current list of 21 players, with more likely to enter. It’ll be the first time since 1980 that I won’t be among the strongest players in a camp! (I could, of course, train at my own club, but it’s easier in a group, and at my club I’d be either a coach or practice partner in our camps, which are for junior players.)
  • Rehearsal
  • Stroke Considerations

New from Ti Long

How to Play with SHORT PIMPLES
Here’s the video (4:10) from Max Noresson/Pingispågarna.

Defeated by KenSpin and the Power of Unorthodox Play
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

New Chapter, New Experiences
Here’s the article by Joanna Sung

New from PingSkills

New from PingSunday

New from TT11TV
Matches from European Team Championships.

New from TacoBackhand

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

ITTF News

Ghost Serve
Here’s the video (9 sec) – can you do this? With practice, you can! It’s great ball control and spin practice. I once did 13 in a row, with the ball bouncing back over the net on the first bounce.

Chair Challenge
Here’s the video (24 sec)! I’ve done this trick a number of times in exhibitions, lobbing while sitting in a chair, as well as while sitting or lying on the floor.

Do You Have a King Pong Sticker?
Well, why not? You can also get a King Pong shirt.

Adam vs. Tina
Here’s the video (11:52) – that’s Bobrow vs. Tina Tsai!

Impossible 0.001% Odds!
Here’s the video (8:13) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Size in Table Tennis.

Weekend Coaching and What's In My Bag?
I coached in four group junior sessions over the weekend. In two of them, I mostly fed multiball for most of the 90 minutes. In the other two I split my time between walk-around coach and practice partner.

A lot of the emphasis this weekend was on remembering the feel of the good shots, and then repeating them. This means that when you mishit a shot, you don't focus on the missed shot – that's a great way of ingraining a bad habit! Instead, you immediately focus on what the shot should have been – and so you think about the feel of when you do it right, and try to repeat that. When a player makes a nice shot, I often tell them to "Remember the feel of that shot!" (This will be the focus of next week's Tip.) There was the usual focus on fundamentals. One player kept shortening his backswing, leading to a jerky, uncontrolled shot, but we fixed that. Another kept lunging for shots instead of stepping, so we worked on that. Another player couldn't seem to hit forehands down the line, so we worked on that. One player was feeling sleepy, so I explained how you can fix half that problem – go in the bathroom and splash water on your face! (But to completely solve it – get more sleep.)

I had a little fun before one of the sessions, when I pulled out my old trusty clipboard and took on a bunch of kids, mostly from 1200-1500, and went undefeated (mostly chopping, sometimes pick-hitting) – but there's this nice gleam in some of their eyes that says, "I'm going to figure out how to beat you." (And they get great practice: looping, playing chop, reading spin, and an exercise in figuring things out tactically.) I'm still about 1800 with the clipboard, used to be 2100. With just a little practice, I think I can get back to 2000 with it.

Someone asked me why I have such a big playing bag. Why, because I have a lot of stuff in it, and every single item in it is absolutely necessary. And so, without further ado, here is the current content of my playing bag (a Butterfly Yasyo sport bag), minus the list of classified documents I just turned over to the FBI. Seriously, is there anything below that isn't absolutely necessary?

  • Two sponge rackets (Timo Boll ALCs, regular and spare, Tenergy 05 black 2.2mm FH, Tenergy 25 red 2.2mm BH)
  • Two hardbat rackets
  • Huge racket case with five rackets I use with students, all with inverted on one side, plus:
    1) chopping racket with 1.0 sponge long pips; 2) long pips no sponge; 3) medium long pips; 4) short pips; and 5) antispin.
  • Five mini-paddles with Tenergy on both sides
  • Clipboard
  • Towel
  • Spare shirt - Baby Yoda Playing Table Tennis
  • Playing shoes in personalized TT shoe bag
  • Two knee braces
  • One arm brace
  • Two bottles of water
  • Fake trillion dollar bills (which I give out sometimes as rewards)
  • Bag of Jolley Ranchers (which I give to the kids after sessions)
  • Box of granola bars
  • Three-pack of Nittaku 3-star balls
  • Bag of two-colored balls for demonstrating spin
  • Two oversized 48mm balls
  • Two masks
  • Notebook full of notes
  • Folder full of MDTTC junior group listings and brochures, entry forms, sport psychology training outlines, Pongasaurus stickers, USATT Rulebook
  • Small carry-case with bottle of glue, scissors, net measurer, comb, small pack of floss-picks, fingernail clippers, racket grip (probably 15 years old!), table tennis business cards, 3-prong power converter, small Phillips screwdriver (for fixing ball nets)
  • Small Kleenex pack
  • Sandpaper (to sand down the sharp edges around the handle on some new rackets)
  • Copy of "Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers"
  • Copy of "First Galactic Table Tennis Championships"
  • Kindle
  • Reading glasses
  • Extra Dominican Republic refrigerator magnet left over from coaching ITTF junior tournament in September

New from USATT and Some Commentary

  • USA Table Tennis Initiates Tournament Series to Crown USATT State Champions
    I'm glad they are bringing this program back. As a member of the USATT board, I started up a State Championships Initiative back in 2015, which helped lead to about twelve new state championships over the next two years, with 34 states holding state championships in 2016. (This includes some that used the State Games for the state championships.) Alas, the USATT page for that seems to have disappeared.
  • Robert Mayer Joins USATT as IT Specialist
    I'm sure he'll do a great job. Long ago, he and I co-founded the USATT League. I initiated the idea and did the overall design, but he did all the hard work – the actual programming.
  • 2022 USATT Club Awards Announced
    I don't like the idea that they are judging and ranking clubs strictly by the tournaments they run - how many, the star level, and the prize money (see the "2022 Top 15 Clubs listing), or on hosting ITTF Feeder events. This makes no sense to me – that's how you would rank tournament directors or hosts. (This doesn't mean the selected clubs aren't worthy, just that the criteria for picking them is wrong.) Just as they have Coach of the Year awards, where coaches are nominated and then judged and voted on by a USATT panel, why not do the same with clubs? (They don't judge coaches based on the number, star level, and prize money of the tournaments they coach at!) Instead of arbitrarily deciding the only way to judge a club is by the tournaments it runs, put together a real list of criteria (mostly objective) that a normal person would judge a club by, such as:
    • Programs - private & group coaching, junior, senior, para, leagues, tournaments, etc. - this is probably the most important way to judge a club
    • Size and number of tables
    • Playing conditions
    • Other features - lounge, pro shop, etc. 
    • Hours open
    • Number of members
    • Quality of the coaches
    • Titles and rankings of their top players in various categories

University of Maryland Table Tennis Club Fundraiser
Here’s their GoFundMe page to help them raise funds to go to the 2023 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships! They have raised $1385, and so are almost halfway to their goal of $3000. C'mon, chip in!

2023 World Veterans Championships
Here’s the ITTF home page for the event that finished this past weekend in Muscat, Oman, with news and results. There are 1,181 players, including 41 from USA. USA Medalists are below – note all the Sakai's and Sweeris's, the all-USA Over 75 Mixed Doubles Final, and all the medals by Cheung and Vinay!
UPDATE - I updated this with a complete list of USA medalists, using this listing.

  • Dave & Donna Sakai – Gold in Over 75 Mixed Doubles
  • Dell & Connie Sweeris – Silver in Over 75 Mixed Doubles
  • Donna Sakai & Connie Sweeris – Gold in over 75 Women's Doubles
  • Donna Sakai – Bronze in Over 70 Women's Singles
  • Dave Sakai – Bronze in Over 75 Men's Singles
  • Cheung TingNing – Gold in Over 70 Mixed Doubles (with ZhaoZhao Jiang of China)
  • Cheung TingNing – Bronze in Over 70 Women's Singles
  • Cheung TingNing & Wendy Fang – Silver in Over 65 Women's Doubles
  • Vinay Chandra – Bronze in Over 40 Men's Doubles (with Shitiz Malhotra of India) 
  • Vinay Chandra – Bronze in Over 40 Mixed Doubles (with Anjana Rao of India)
  • Ray Mack & Simon Shtofmakher – Bronze in Over 70 Men's Doubles

Here are recent ITTF articles:

And one from Steve Hopkins:

PongSpace and NCTTA Enter New Era Together
Here's the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

Residual Spin
Here's the video (3:16) from Samson Dubina.

European Youth Champion Teaches How to Loop Long Fast Serves
Here's the video (26:39) from Seth Pech and Jiří Martinko.

Don't Make These 6 Training Mistakes!
Here's the video (10:41) from Iba Diaw, world #76 from Senegal. He has a lot of other videos.

Stroke Chemistry & Distance Change
Here's the video (65 sec) with Simeon Martin

How to Prepare For Your First Tournament and Your First Match to Maximize Winning
Here's the video (1:28) from PongSpace/Angela Guan. "NCTTA national champion Angela Guan shows you the three tips she use in preparing for her tournaments. Preparation is the key to maximize your chance of winning!"

New from Ti Long

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Taco Backhand

New from Drupe Pong

New from PingSkills

New from Table Tennis Central

Can Virtual Reality Improve Real Life Table Tennis?! | 30 Day Challenge
Here's the video (9:43) from Table Tennis Daily.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Bowmar Sport Tournament Highlights – US Open 2022

Five Net Serves in a Row
Here's the video (39 sec)!

Playing Live Against a Robot
Here's the video (10 sec)!

Cartoon Paddles
Here's what you get when you Google "Cartoon Ping-Pong Paddles" under images!

Doubles Footwork?
Here's the video (13 sec) from the Nittaku Open in Ohio this past weekend!

What Everyone Who Loses a Final Wants To Do
Here's the photo of Laura Paglin publicly assassinating Jay Nelson after she lost to him in the final of Under 1400 at the Nittaku Open in Ohio this past weekend . . . 17-15 in the fifth! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Anticipation.

Weekend Coaching and the Ohio Elite Camp
Another busy weekend coaching group sessions! Here are some issues that came up.

  • Serve placement on fast, deep serves. I had some of our beginning/intermediate players practice serving fast and deep not just to corners, but fast and deep to an opponent’s middle. I lined them up first to take turns receiving them and showed them how hard it is to react to them. Then I put four targets on the table for them to aim for – one on each wide corner, and one each for where a righty and a lefty’s elbow would normally be.
  • Recovering from forehand step-arounds. In a drill that started with serve and forehand loop from the backhand corner, when players were unable to cover the wide forehand they thought they were too slow. I worked with them to show them that it really came down to recover and balance from the previous shot. If you follow through back into position and stay balanced, it’s not so hard to cover that wide forehand.
  • Light on feet. Keep those feet moving!

But the players aren’t the only ones who need training. I gained weight during the pandemic, and since I don’t train anymore, I’m out of shape. So I’ve decided to fix the problem. I could, of course, find someone to train with at my club, MDTTC, or even pay other coaches for training. But it’s a lot easier in a group setting. (At MDTTC, I coach at the group sessions, and if I did play, I’d be a practice partner, mostly blocking.) I saw Samson Dubina’s upcoming elite camps in Akron, Ohio, Feb. 13-23 and Mar. 21-31, and thought, why not? They are for players rated at least 2000, and have a strong group of players already signed up. So I’ve signed up. I’ll fly there on Sunday night, Feb. 12, right after a weekend of coaching. I’ll miss one weekend at MDTTC.

I’ve had some recent knee problems, though it’s a lot better now. However, just in case, I googled the best knee braces, and found and bought the NEENCA Professional Knee Brace. I’ve tried it out, and it seems pretty effective. I’ll be wearing that, along with my BandIt Arm Band for my arm, and a thinking cap on my head so I can figure out how someone my age is training in a room full of people mostly 1/3 or 1/4 my age. But I’ll do every footwork drill to the bitter end.

One sort of interesting thing – this will be the first camp I’ve been to in over 40 years where I’ll be one of the weaker players in the camp! But I’m hoping to get back to 2200+ level, not easy since I’ll be 63 next month and play a rather physical forehand attacking style. But for this camp, I’ll be hitting mostly with the 2000-2200 players.

What do I need to do to get back to 2200+ level? Main things:

  • General fitness.
  • More aggressive backhand – it’s gotten too soft. While I can backhand loop, I’m better playing an aggressive hitting/blocking backhand.
  • Receive practice – it’s the first thing you lose when you don’t play regular matches. This used to be a big strength, but now it’s a weakness.
  • I may also work on my backhand banana flip, which I mostly learned as a coach. My normal instinct is to do regular backhand flips against short serves and pushes.
  • Practice matches. But I won’t do well at first.

SafeSport
I recently had to another SafeSport refresher course, required for SafeSport compliance for coaches, umpires, tournament directors, and others who organize or work at events. (Here's the USATT SafeSport Policy.) It’s required annually. As I’ve blogged in the past, I think they put way too much in these things. Rather than trying to turn us all into experts (it doesn’t), wouldn’t it make more sense to have a one-page thing that gives general guidelines of abuse that would be easy to remember, where if we suspect something is wrong, we go to the appropriate SafeSport page to find out what to do? (In cases where abuse is happening live, we would, of course, have the common sense to stop it, and in other cases, we’d have time to research it.) Of course, for most of us, most issues that would be a SafeSport violation are obvious if you have common sense – and those that don’t probably aren’t going to change by watching the SafeSport video and taking a multiple choice test. (I ran into some technical issues on the refresher, but Tina Ren from USATT headquarters was helpful in fixing them.) 

Some things from SafeSport I disagree with. If a parent says it’s okay for a coach to pick up and drop off a student in their car, then that should be okay – but not according to SafeSport. (But no, I don’t pick up students in my car, though that was a regular thing years ago.) I also don’t think we need to take these “refresher” courses every year. Every two years should be enough.

So, I took the test. It says to allot 30 minutes. But there were 55 pages to go through (many of them short), and five videos (about two minutes each). I’m the academic type, and I can safely say the large majority of people will take longer on this than I took – and it took me 58 minutes, and I was rushing it. In the end, I got 9 out of 10 on the test, but only because I impatiently clicked a wrong button and got one obvious one wrong.

Perhaps it would make sense for USATT to arrange a group session at the US Open or Nationals where lots of coaches, umpires, club directors, and others get together and take the test as a group thing?

University of Maryland Table Tennis Club Fundraiser
Here’s their GoFundMe page to help them raise funds to go to the 2023 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships! Little-known fact – I founded the University of Maryland Table Tennis Club in 1982, and at one point, turned it into arguably the busiest club in the country, with 14 tables, seven days a week. It wasn’t a professional club, just two large rooms in the main gymnasium building with seven tables in each that we could put up any time. During the day, the rooms were used for other sports. At night, the place was packed with students playing table tennis! How did this happen? We did an exhibition every week for about a year in just about every major building on campus – I’d bring in another player and we’d roll a table to the math building, the physic building, the computer building, the journalism building, and so on, and give out flyers. On a campus of 40,000 people, filling a club every night isn’t hard if you put in the time and energy. (Okay, it is hard because it takes time and energy!)

2023 World Veterans Championships
Here’s the ITTF home page for the event, Jan. 15-21 in Muscat, Oman, with news and results. There are 1,181 players, including 41 from USA.

Carl Danner Presidential Award
Here’s the video (8:39)!

New from USATT

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Taco Backhand

New from PongSpace/Angela Guan

Reverse Backhand Serve
Here’s the video (6:03) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis. “A great tool for players with pimple rubbers.”

World’s Fastest Table Tennis Serve
Here’s the video (2:54) from Pingispågarna.

Wiki-How Table Tennis

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Bowmar Sports Tournament Highlights

New YouTube Channel By Los Angeles Table Tennis Association (LATTA)
Here it is!

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

ITTF News

The Difference of the Stroke Effect between Two Types of New Material Seamed Plastic Table Tennis Ball: A Case Study of Nittaku and DHS
Here’s the abstract. (Loads slowly.) Click “Download This Paper” to see full paper. The five authors are all from the China Table Tennis College of Shanghai at the University of Sport CN.

Ping-Pong Bar Co-Founded by Susan Sarandon to Replace NYC Comedy Club Carolines
Here’s the article.

Why Table Tennis Balls Can't Always Be Carried In Hand Luggage?
Here’s the video (53 sec)!

Zits – Donut Hole Ping Pong
Here’s the cartoon from Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023!

Biggest Ping Pong Fails
Here’s the video (8:15) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Developing Fast Reflexes.

Weekend Coaching
I coached in four sessions over the weekend, and part of a fifth. As usual, lots of work on Fundamentals!!! In various times I fed multiball, acted as a practice partner, and was a walk-around coach. Some issues that came up:

  • How to backhand loop against a deep, aggressive push to the backhand. Key is recovering quickly from previous shot or serve to a ready position about arm’s length from the table so you have time to react, and early racket preparation, i.e. getting your racket down and back early so you don’t have to rush it at the end.
  • Recovering from a forehand from a wide corner. Key is returning to ready position as part of the follow through. When forehand looping from wide forehand, you follow through to your left (for righties) to get back into position. When forehand looping from wide backhand, you follow through to your right to get back into position.
  • How to create heavy backspin serves. It’s a matter of wrist and forearm, and grazing contact as much under the ball as possible.

And then it was book delivery time! I’d decided to give out copies of my Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers book to all the kids in our junior program – about 60 in all – for Christmas. I gave out a bunch in December in our Christmas camp and before, but many weren’t there, so I left the big box of books at the club, and gave out the rest this past weekend. For those that already had the book, they had the option of picking any of my other books. Many got Table Tennis Tips, the first in my Tips series, which includes More Table Tennis Tips, Still More Table Tennis Tips, and (coming in May this year) Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips. Some of the younger kids got Table Tennis Tales and Techniques, since it has more pictures.

Speed and Reflexes, or Proper Technique?
Many of you may have seen this video of my lunging return in the Over 40 Hardbat Singles Final at the US Open, including slow motion, put together by Jimmy Butler. (I normally use and coach sponge, but play hardbat on the side.) Here’s the full video of the match from Ping Pong Weekend.

The interesting thing is how many people thought I was able to make this return due to fast reflexes and feet. Actually, neither of those had anything to do with it! It was just a matter of proper technique During the pandemic I gained weight that I haven’t been able to lose, I’m having knee problems, and I’m about to turn 63 – all of these should have slowed me down, but proper technique overcame all of these. I also don’t have huge numbers of fast twitch muscles – while long ago I was a good distance runner, I was never known for my sprinting.

Let’s analyze what REALLY happened, as you can see from the video if you watch closely, especially the parts in slow motion. And note that I’d written this week’s Tip of the Week above, Developing Fast Reflexes, a few weeks ago during a long afternoon writing up Tips. It was going to go up in two weeks, but I moved it to today since it’s relevant to this.

  1. My serve return was relatively deep (though I’d like it to be even deeper), so opponent is less able to rush or angle me on the next shot, giving me time to react.
  2. My return was to the opponent’s middle, forcing him to choose between forehand and backhand, and so, on average, his return is not as quick as it would be if I’d gone right to the forehand or backhand.
  3. Immediately after hitting the ball, I looked up to see what the opponent was doing so I could react more quickly to it.
  4. After making the serve return, I quickly moved back into a ready position, ready to move in either direction.
  5. Before opponent made his return, I did a little hop to prepare me to move quickly in either direction.
  6. From years of watching opponents, I reflexively saw where he was hitting the ball as he started his forward swing, well before contact, and so was able to start moving to my left before he even hit the ball.
  7. By staying balanced rather than lunging and putting my weight on my left foot, I was able to quickly change directions when I saw the ball hit the net and bounce away.
  8. By staying balanced even while making a last-second change of direction as I moved to the ball, I was able to maintain ball control on my return.
  9. Note the quick recovery in case he returned my edge ball.
  10. And, of course, the polite raising of my hand in apology for the edge - sorry, Ilya!

So . . . do I have super-human reflexes and footspeed, or just good technique? Is there anything here than anybody can’t learn (barring major disabilities), and that essentially all top players do routinely and reflexively from years of practice?

Navin Kumar, Dead and Back Again!
On Dec. 26, Navin Kumar “died” and returned from the dead. As he wrote on Facebook, “I woke up in the hospital this morning. I was unconscious and unresponsive yesterday with no pulse and was dead at my parents house. I was dead for a short time. My heart stopped beating for 10 minutes. In the hospital now alive and fighting for my life. Back from the dead and feeling like a zombie minus eating brains.”

He’s written a number of posts on his hospitalization and recovery on his Facebook page. He’s now back home, with a new pacemaker. Navin, also known as “The Bionic Man,” has both Parkinson’s and a mostly artificial heart. I’ve been coaching him for a number of years, and he’s won a number of medals at the US Open, Nationals, and a few years ago go silver in doubles and bronze in singles at the World Parkinson’s Championships. (Google “Navin Kumar bionic man” and see all links that come up!)

Books I Read in 2022
I read 43 books in 2022. For many years I’ve kept track of all the books I read. It’s not an exact thing as far as showing how much I’ve read as books vary greatly in length. The numbers vary, from a high of 84 in 2018 to a low of just 25 (!!!) in 2012. The 43 this past year is a drop – in the past six years I’ve read 43, 52, 67, 68, 84, and 57 books. One “low” – I only read one book on table tennis in 2022, while most years I read a number of them. (Instead, lots of science fiction, science, history, and books on writing.) At some point I might combine the lists into one long one and post it.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from Drupe Pong

New from PingSkills

New from PongSpace

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Taco Backhand

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

Tom’s Table Tennis Quiz 2022
Here’s the quiz from Tom Lodziak.

30-Day Table Tennis Fitness Challenge
Here’s the 30-Day Table Tennis Fitness Challenge from Peak Performance Table Tennis.

“Want to improve your game while getting more fit in the process? Then start your 2023 off STRONG with the 30-Day Table Tennis Fitness Challenge. It’s really simple. Everyone who signs up for the challenge will get a workout program that’s optimized for table tennis, PLUS direct coaching support from Kevin Finn of Peak Performance Table Tennis. He'll answer your questions, review your form, and provide motivation and accountability! This program is fully remote and can be performed on your own time at home, or at your local gym. It will work well for both beginners and more serious athletes. You can also win prizes! Every workout you complete increases your chance of winning one or more of the following:

  • Paddle Palace gift certificate
  • Box of balls
  • Signed copy of Peak Performance Table Tennis
  • And More!
  • So if you’re interested in getting in better shape while also…
  • Increasing the POWER of your point-winning shots
  • Increasing your SPEED & AGILITY so you’re moving like lightning around the court
  • Reducing your risk of injury
  • And increasing your confidence via the “tight jersey effect”

2022 Para ITTF Costa Rica Open: Team USA Wins 5 Medals In The Last International Event Of The Year
Here’s the article by Vlad Farcas. On weekends in our group junior sessions, I often get to work with Samuel Altshuler, the junior near the top left!

Signed Blade from 1981 World Table Tennis Championships in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
The blade is for sale, jammed with autographs. (For example, side one includes Istvan Jonyer of Hungary, the 1975 World Men’s Singles Champion. Look it over and see if you recognize others.) If you are interested, email Dzafer Buzoli. Here are pictures:

Ping Pong Serves Up Therapy for Mind and Body Among People with Parkinson's Disease
Here’s the video (4:18) from CBS News

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

ITTF News

Table Tennis: It’s In My DNA
Here’s where you can buy the shirt – two versions!

Twas the Night Before Christmas . . . Ping-Pong Style
Here it is, by mjamja at the mytabletennis.net forum!

Ping Pong in the Classroom
Here’s the video (16 sec)!

Epic Ping Pong Trickshot Compilation
Here’s the video (57 sec) from Matt Hetherington!

Best Ping Pong Shots of 2022
Here’s the video (8:23) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tips of the Week While I Was Away

2022 US Open in Ontario, California
Other than arguing with certain USATT people about USATT rules and illegal ads for alcoholic beverages (see below), I had a great time at the US Open, Dec. 16-21. I was there as both a player and coach. As I player, I won Gold in Over 40 Hardbat (eighth time - see video below), Silver in Over 60 Hardbat, and Bronze in Hardbat Doubles (with Dan Seemiller Jr.). As a coach, I only had one player - Ryan Lin, who won two bronzes, for Under 13 Boys' Singles and Under 15 Boys' Doubles. (I only coached the singles matches.) The Under 13 semis was so close - Ryan won the first and had five game points in the second before losing, 16-14 - with the lights going out and interrupting play at 15-14. The online scores incorrectly have the score as 14-12.) Here are complete US Open results, care of Omnipong.

In the past, we usually had a large group of junior players from the Maryland Table Tennis Center, but this year they went as a group to the Nationals in July, the Teams in November, and most of the top ones had a number of international and other events, and they couldn't miss more school - so Ryan was our only junior player this time. We'll be back at the Nationals in July, probably with close to 30 players. (I hear rumors it’ll be in Fort Worth, TX again, but nothing official yet.)

Here is video (33:49) of my Over 40 Hardbat Final against Ilya Rozenblat, which I won 21-12, 21-14, 27-25 (!). See this diving point at 24-all in the third, giving me my first match point! I immediately took a timeout to rest after that. (Yes, I need to get in better shape, but I can still move.) Here’s the last point, where I smack in a serve. (NEW - Here's it in slow motion, starting 13 seconds in, care of Jimmy Butler!)

It was strange that I won Over 40 Hardbat but lost the final of Over 60. (I was top seed in both.) In Over 60, held on the first day (Friday), I injured my right knee at 3-3 in the first game in the semifinals, and hobbled around much of the rest of the tournament. (But I figured out how to adjust for it and continued to move about, playing my usual forehand-attacking game.) In the final I played Jian Zhuang, who is normally a shakehand player with short pips on both sides, rated 2185. He was very good, and between that and my knee problem, I lost three straight, with only one game somewhat close. I don't know if I could challenge him healthy - but I wouldn't have to in Over 40, as that event was played on the last day of the tournament, day six, and he couldn't stay the whole time and so he didn't play that event.)

In the semifinals of Over 60, I had a wild match with Steve Claflin, who plays hardbat fulltime and runs the Classic Hardbat World Championships. As noted, at 3-3 I injured my knee, and he won the first, 21-10. (It was a best of five, but we agreed to play best of three.) Twice I came very close to defaulting, but I continued. In the second, I let 18-7 and 19-10, and he almost came back, before I won, 21-17. The third was crazier. I led 17-8, 19-11, and 20-14 match point, and then it was 20-19. I was adjusting for the knee problems, but I think that Steve was often playing down to me for much of the last two games, only turning it on when he was way down and had nothing to lose. I finally won that third game, barely at 21-19.

It was strange that all the hardbat events were best of five to 21 from the semifinals on. I checked, and verified that, just as in past years, that was meant only for Men's and Women's Hardbat Singles. But since it said all hardbat events on the entry form, it was best of five in the semifinals and finals of all events, including Over 40 and Over 60. Not good for my knee and for some elderly players!

It wasn't just the knee - I pulled a muscle while shadow-practicing between points. Jeez. But that was relatively minor compared to the knee problem.

I had a strange experience at lunch at Wendy's one day. Sitting two tables behind me were a man and women (not table tennis players). They had one cell phone and were taking turns SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS into it, passing it back and forth. It was something about their car dying and they were one and a half miles away. But that wasn't the really interesting part. As I got up to go, the man (who had been screaming just seconds before) walked over, and said (and if I gave you one thousand guesses, you would never guess this): "Excuse me, may I recite poetry to you?" I was somewhat stunned. I said I had to go, but he went ahead and recited a poem for about a minute, something about hearts and question marks, probably something about how a question mark with its mirror image looks like a heart with a dot over it.

There were a number of panels at the Open, similar to how they did a few years ago. This included the annual USATT Assembly (see segment below). Since the panels generally started around 6:30 or 7:00 PM, and I was always playing or coaching at that time, I wasn't able to attend others. (Many others had the same problem. I only made the Assembly because the tournament fell behind and so a match I was supposed to coach was postponed two hours.) Other panels were on the USATT Foundation; Club Development and Tournament Sanctioning Process; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in USASTT Membership; Meet and Greet the Olympians; and the High Performance Team. I was a bit disappointed there were no panels on coaching or junior development. At the 2017 US Nationals, I ran two of the panels - "Coaching Clinic: Intermediate and Advanced Serves," and "How to Set Up a Successful Junior Program."

Thanks to all those who put together and ran the tournament! Many of us were especially appreciative that, after years of gradually having more and more rubber-floored courts, they all had rubberized flooring! (With my knee problems, I would not have been able to continue on cement.) With a shortage of tables, the desk crew did a superhuman job keeping things together.  

Afterwards, I flew to San Francisco to spend Christmas with my brother and his family. We toured Alcatraz on the first day. Here's a picture my six-year-old niece Ellie drew after I gave her a table tennis lesson - they have a table in their garage. She loves forehands and serving, absolutely and stubbornly refuses to even try backhands. Maybe next year.

And now, some issues that came up at the US Open. Skip ahead if not interested – a lot of it is about rules and bylaws. (New Year’s Resolution: Pay less attention to USATT so I don’t get drawn into these things...)

<BEGIN US OPEN ISSUES>
Alcoholic Beverages Advertised at US Open
If I gave a blow-by-blow account of the often behind-the-scenes debate on advertising alcoholic beverages on the barriers and table numbers on feature courts one and two, this blog would become a book. A long one. Instead, I'll summarize. And believe me, I’m still amazed that such a seemingly simple thing escalated. It would have been very easy for USATT to simply realize they shouldn’t be doing these ads, since they are barred by ITTF rules - more on that below - but decide it was too late for the Open since they had limited barriers and couldn’t redo all the table numbers.

There were three issues.

  1. Should USATT accept ads and sponsors for alcoholic beverages?
  2. Who should make this decision?
  3. Was it legal to advertise them in the playing courts at the US Open?

The advertiser in question was Dream Blue, a hard liquor company from China. (More on this below.) They had large ads on both sides of seven barriers in the two feature courts 1 & 2 (so really 14 ads), as well as on the table numbers on all 77 tables, plus in multiple signs just outside the playing courts. (On Dec. 20, I emailed the USATT Board Chair, Richard Char, asking how much money USATT received from Dream Blue, and he said he'd get back to me, but he hasn't done so yet. I asked several board members, and none knew anything about it or how much money we were receiving.) Let's go in order.

1) Should USATT accept ads and sponsors for alcoholic beverages?
To start with, here is the ITTF and USATT rule on this:

  • 3.2.5.1.1 Advertisements or markings in or next to the playing area, on playing clothing or numbers and on umpires’ clothing, shall not be for tobacco goods, alcoholic drinks, harmful drugs or illegal products…

This came up in a past USATT board meeting many years ago. I was at the meeting. At the time, it was illegal in the USATT bylaws. The question was discussed for quite some time, with the idea of changing the bylaws. In the end, though there was no vote, and all of the board members at the time were against it, and so none proposed changing the bylaws. Ironically, a few years later the bylaws were rewritten, and that bylaw was left out.

Personally, I'm against the idea, but I'm not going to write an essay here on why. (I'm a non-drinker and my primary role at major tournaments is coaching junior players from my club's training program – so I’d prefer not to have this bad influence.) But I'm not going on a crusade against this if the policy-making branch of USATT decides to change long-standing policy and allow this. Which gets us to the second issue.

2) Who should make this decision?
The policy-making branch of USATT, obviously. From Section 7.2 of the bylaws (bolds are mine):

  • 7.2. Functions of the Board. The USATT Board shall represent the interests of the table tennis community for USATT in the United States and its athletes by providing USATT with policy, guidance and strategic direction.
  • 7.2.d. Set policy and provide guidance and strategic direction to management on significant issues facing USATT;

Alas, the decision in this matter was made by the USATT CEO, not the USATT Board, though the board chair promised me at the Open that it would be an agenda item in an upcoming board meeting. Making such a major change in policy should be made by the policy-making branch of government, the board of directors.

And now we get to the long, nitty-gritty issue...

3) Was it legal to advertise alcoholic beverages at the US Open?
No, it was not. As noted above, the ITTF bylaws make it illegal to advertise alcoholic beverages in the playing area. The prospectus (i.e. entry form) says, "The 2022 US Open Table Tennis Championship matches will be conducted under the ITTF Rules." Based on ITTF rules, the ads were blatantly illegal. Also based on ITTF rules, the referees interpret the rules, which would include the wording on the prospectus. (From the USATT Tournament Guide, 4.4.5a, the referee "Is the final authority on interpretation of the rules and regulations as they apply to the tournament." The ITTF Handbook concurs, saying, "The referee shall be responsible for: 3.3.1.2.10 deciding any question of interpretation of Laws or Regulations, including the acceptability of clothing, playing equipment and playing conditions.")

The prospectus then says, "Rules of match play are determined by the Referee. All matters, issues, guidelines, and ancillary decisions beyond match play will be determined by the Tournament Director in accordance with USATT Policies and Procedures, including the USATT Member Code of Conduct." (We'll get back to this.) After reading the relevant wording, the Referee Team (which is how I was asked to refer to them), which included both the Referee and Deputy Referee/Chair of the USATT Umpires and Referees Committee, both ruled the ads were illegal. (I asked them.)

When the issue came up at the USATT Assembly -  mostly with the USATT CEO (Virginia Sung) and Board Chair (Richard Char) - they insisted that the US Open was not played under ITTF rules, since it wasn't ITTF sanctioned. I had to read to them the specific statement from the prospectus (see above) that it was played under ITTF rules, but they still disagreed. As I pointed out, if it were not being played under ITTF rules, what rules were we playing under? There are USATT rules (effective Jan. 16, 2022), which are basically the ITTF rules with some additions. But they have the exact same statement as the ITTF rules about alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

Then the argument switched to the two follow-up statements in the prospectus that give the Tournament Director (Mike Babuin) limited authority over issues beyond "match play." (Limited because he still has to follow USATT Policies and Procedures, including the USATT Member Code of Conduct – more on that below.) The first problem here is that the term "match play" does not appear anywhere in the ITTF or USATT rules – it’s a made-up term, and so the referees have to interpret it. But as noted, the Referee Team had already ruled that the ads were illegal. (I believe they ruled that anything in the playing area was considered "match play" in this context.)

However, the referees also told me they had been overruled by the CEO. That's illegal – neither the CEO nor the Tournament Director can overrule the referees on a question of rules. Even if you interpret the rules to say that the Tournament Director has the authority to do this (i.e. it wasn't about "match play" and the Referee Team are overruled on this interpretation, even though they are the ones who do the interpreting), we run into a second problem - the Tournament Director wasn't the one who did the overruling. The CEO did.

The third problem here is that even the Tournament Director cannot overrule the referees on this. (And he didn't, to his credit. His focus was on running the tournament.) Why can't he? The prospectus says, "…decisions beyond match play will be determined by the Tournament Director in accordance with USATT Policies and Procedures, including the USATT Member Code of Conduct." And the USATT Code of Conduct says, "Abide by all applicable USA Table Tennis rules and regulations…" Since the USATT rules specifically forbid advertising alcoholic beverages in the playing area (just as the ITTF rules do), the Tournament Director would have to be in accordance with them, based on the very wording on the prospectus. (Italics above are mine.)

[And no, you can’t arbitrarily declare this USATT rule is not “applicable” and then use circular reasoning to declare that since the rule isn’t applicable, the Tournament Director doesn’t have to be in accordance with it, and use that to argue that the therefore the rule isn’t applicable – which was the starting point. Circular reasoning.]

It's the second year in a row that the CEO has overruled the referee on a question of rules. (Last year the referee ruled a racket to be illegal, but the CEO, then also the tournament director, illegally overruled him on this rules question. When umpires subsequently also ruled the racket illegal, the CEO ordered the matches played without umpires, and that the racket could be allowed.) I've run 203 USATT sanctioned tournaments - can you imagine the trouble I'd be in if I illegally overruled a referee like this? In my 46 years in the sport, these are the only two times I've ever seen it happen. Where is the accountability? (If I started citing past issues I've blogged about, this blog would turn into a book.)

They did find video of matches at the 2022 Worlds where there was an illegal logo for an alcoholic beverage company on the flooring, and used that to justify our similarly breaking this rule. (You had to be Chinese to know this as the logo was just Chinese lettering.) I emailed ITTF about this on Dec. 20, but they haven't gotten back to me. However, arguing that it's okay to break the rules because you catch someone else breaking the rules isn't a very good argument. I can show you video of top players serving illegally at those same Worlds, so does that mean we can all serve illegally? Since many athletes have illegally used steroids, does that mean we can too?

Another argument that was made (though not at the USATT Assembly) was that since Dream Blue also sold non-alcoholic drinks, it wasn't actually an alcoholic beverage company. But that's silly - Budweiser,  Heineken, and most other major beer companies also sell non-alcoholic drinks, but few would argue they are not alcoholic beverage companies. If you go the Dream Blue web page (and I’m only giving their web page so people can verify on their own they are a hard liquor company), before you can get there a page comes up asking, "Are you of legal drinking age in your country of residence?" When you click on that, the next headline is, "Dream Blue is our high-end series. Carrying on traditional craftsmanship and distilling techniques from ancient Yanghe, we use base liquor stored for centuries underground…" A little Googling shows that the liquors advertised there range from about 40% to 52% alcohol. Yeah, that's hard liquor. (Let's be honest - these various arguments about allowing alcoholic beverage ads at the US Open were not about whether they were legal; they were about rationalizing rules they had already broken.)

The big issue here isn't just whether to advertise alcoholic beverages in the playing areas at USATT tournaments. It's more about who sets such policies, and the questionable practice of a CEO overruling referees on the rules.

Someone asked, "What do you expect us to do, replace all the barriers when we don't have enough barriers to take their place?" That's not the issue. If a tournament illegally has cement floors - i.e. they forgot to put it on the entry form - then when players show up and discover this, you don't cancel the tournament, the directors simply acknowledge the mistake and make sure the mistake doesn't happen again. Similarly, all the CEO had to do was acknowledge they had made a mistake and promise it wouldn't happen again. Instead, they doubled down, insisting it was legal and throwing every rationalization on the wall they could think of, hoping something would stick.

This whole issue isn't new - I blogged about this issue on December 5, and as the CEO said at the USATT Assembly, "We read Larry's blog every Monday." (I’m really tired of writing about USATT and hope to focus more on coaching in my blogs, but these issues keep coming up. I feel like most discussions with certain USATT people are pointless since they are not discussing what’s right, they are rationalizing what they want to be right.)

The reality is that USATT messed up on this issue, and doubled down when it was pointed out. I'm told I've been called all sorts of names behind the scenes, of which "troublemaker" is just one. But who are the troublemakers, the ones who break the rules of our sport, or the ones who simply point it out?

After all this, I need a drink . . . where’s my Dr Pepper?

USATT Assembly
The start of this was mostly reports from the CEO and others. Then they opened it up to questions, and I had plenty about both the assembly and the alcoholic beverages questions on ads I raised above.

The USATT Assembly was another example of ignoring the USATT bylaws. As I blogged about previously, the bylaws require notice of the Assembly be made 30 days in advance; instead, the news item on it went up seven days in advance. (It was not on the originally published entry form either, though they added it later, I think about the time the news item went up. It wasn’t there 30 days in advance, and it’s not exactly “notice” to retroactively add something to column 2 of page 9 of the entry form well after it had already been published.)

But the bylaws also say, "The annual USATT Assembly shall be held in conjunction with a Board meeting." There is a reason for this - when the idea of the USATT Assembly came up, the whole idea was that board members would listen to members, and then meet where they could discuss those issues. But no board meeting was held at the US Open in conjunction with the USATT Assembly.

I raised this issue at the Assembly, and was told that several members (mostly players) did not want to hold a meeting at the Open, since they were playing. This is reasonable. However, what is not reasonable is that there was nothing in the minutes about the board deciding to ignore this bylaw. The only mention is in the Sept. 6, 2022 minutes, which simply says, "Board Chair Char reported that the next USATT Board Meeting will be held on Monday, December 5, 2022." (That was later changed to Dec. 7, and was a Zoom meeting, held nine days before the US Open.) This is an actual USATT bylaw that's being broken without so much as a vote on whether to do so. To be blunt, they knowingly broke our own bylaws and left it out of the minutes.

My recommendation – if you have to violate the bylaws, then have a vote on it. Better still, have the meeting the afternoon or night of the last day of the tournament, when most players are done. (This came up several times when I was on the board, and we did that sometimes.) Or simply have a Zoom meeting immediately after the Open, which could be said to be in conjunction with the Open. But you can’t just ignore the bylaws when they are inconvenient. (Side note – the USATT Assembly should start at perhaps 8PM, not at 6:30PM when many are still playing or coaching.)

"We Need More Tables!"
While mostly on time, tournament often fell behind, either overall or with individual events, though not nearly as badly as last year’s Open. By most afternoons, many matches were an hour or more behind, though not in all events, and often only due to conflicts that were difficult to resolve with the limited tables. I don't fault those who ran the US Open. When I asked the heroic desk crew about this, I got variations of the same thing: "We need more tables!" The general rule when running large tournaments is you need 10% as many tables as players. Since there were 970 players, that means 97 tables. But they only had 77. (I'm told they were promised more.) This meant that the tables were almost always fully scheduled - which is a recipe for falling behind in large tournaments. Except for matches at the start of the day, you always need about five or more free tables for delayed matches to catch up. Otherwise, there's no place to play them except by holding up other matches, which leads to what I call the "cascading" effect, where everything starts to fall behind. (Note - I've run 203 USATT tournaments and was Operations Director at two US Opens, so I know a little about these issues.)

US Open Improvements

  1. More tables. Need at least 10% of the number of entrants. Except for first matches in the morning, in a large tournament like this you need to always have five or more tables open for delayed matches.
  2. Organize the posted draws. Need to have them in logical order - use listing from entry form - ideally with headings for each. Plan it out in advance. With 100+ draws, it became incredibly difficult to find individual draws when they are posted in chronological order. That’s easier for the organizers, but makes things difficult for players, coaches, and spectators.
  3. Post the draws online the day or night before.
  4. Clarify or reword the term "match play," since it isn't a defined term.
  5. Clarify if setting the policy for accepting alcohol and tobacco ads should be by the policy-making branch of USATT (the board of directors), the CEO, or the tournament director. (Should be the board, of course.)
  6. Need food in playing hall on the last day. For some reason, they didn’t show that day.
  7. Pizza was good, but really, Really, REALLY should have Chinese food. Pizza and Chinese food and everyone's happy.
  8. $5/bottle for water is way too much. (Water has usually been provided in past US Opens and Nationals and are free at Teams.) Either provide it free, provide it cheap from USATT, or require the venders sell it cheaper. Players go through a lot of water, and at $5/bottle it becomes a huge expense. Reality - many just bought a case of water from outside.
  9. Create a "Tournament Hosts" group or equivalent. Their only purpose is to look at the tournament from the players’ point of view and find ways to make the tournament better. An example of this was Dell and Connie Sweeris at the two successful US Opens in Grand Rapids. Bring them, or others such as Dan Seemiller, Dave & Donna Sakai, etc., and we might be amazed at how much better the tournaments become.
  10. USATT Assembly and other meetings should start later, not while everyone's playing. Perhaps at 8PM. It should also have a public agenda and a description for first-timers.

</END US OPEN ISSUES>

George Braithwaite Major League Table Tennis
Here’s the info page. The league, from the Boston to the Washington DC region, with 3-5 on a team, starts in January, with the final in April. “The purpose of the league is to facilitate individual competitiveness and team spirit of players in various clubs thereby creating more interaction and friendship through team-based table tennis competition. By increasing participation in the Olympic sport of table tennis through the vast number of table tennis players in the United States, Pongpace sets the foundation of making table tennis a major sport in the country.” ENTER SOON!

Kanak Jha's USADA Suspension
This was a shocker, but let's wait for more details to come out. All I know about this is what is below. Kanak was US Men's Singles Champion four straight years, 2016-2019 (he hasn’t played in it since apparently due to conflicting overseas matches), and is current world #28, the top ranked US player. On December 18, he posted the following on Facebook:

On December 1, I was given notice by the US Anti-Doping Agency that they are provisionally suspending me from competing or participating in ITTF, any clubs or member associations affiliated events, effective immediately, as a result of having missed three USADA tests within a 12-month period. As a professional athlete competing at a high level, I am required to comply with USADA’s Anti-Doping Rules and make myself available for random testing.

I have requested and will receive an arbitration hearing to contest the missed tests. The judgement for the case will most likely be done in first quarter of 2023. I am hopeful that the arbitration committee will rule that the circumstances warrants a dispensation in one or more of the missed tests.

Here’s a possible explanation – someone posted the following on the mytabletennis.net forum:

According to some German New Articles, Kanak changed his residence in Ochsenhausen but negligently forgot to inform the USADA of his new address. So, when the USADA inspectors went to his old address to conduct the inspection/tests, Kanak was of course not present for the test because he was already residing elsewhere.
Sources:
https://sportky.zoznam.sk/c/317649/americka-hviezda-si-moze-buchat-hlavu-o-stenu-mladicka-nerozvaznost-sa-nevyplaca
https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/baden-wuerttemberg/friedrichshafen/spieler-ttf-ochsenhausen-wird-gesperrt-wegen-verpasstem-dopingtest-100.html

USATT’s Suspension List
I was shocked to discover that a member of the USATT’s Board of Directors, Dan Reynolds, is now on the public USATT Suspended list, effective December 27. I have no idea what happened – just what’s on the page. (See the fifth and last case.) Let’s not jump to conclusions – we have no idea at this point what the facts are or what it's about, who made the complaint, and whether there is any evidence. (Dan is not even allowed to discuss the issue.) This could also have major political implications as the USATT board of directors will be voting for the chair of the board later this month (January), and many believe Dan would be running for the position, or (since the board is somewhat split right now) would cast a decisive vote. (And yes, the timing of this is suspicious – but we just don’t know yet what the facts are.) The suspension is a temporary measure, “Pending Investigation and Resolution of Complaint.” Anyone can make such a complaint, and that leads to an immediate suspension pending investigation. But until the matter is resolved, it says he is “suspended from participating in any and all USATT-related activities and events.” IF it turns out he is innocent, and yet is barred from the running for or voting in the board chair election, then something very wrong has taken place, and USATT should do all in its power to make sure that doesn't happen. I think we need a timeline here of how long before this will be resolved, and the board chair vote should wait until afterwards, assuming the issue will be resolved in a reasonable amount of time. 

Jan-Ove Waldner: When the Feeling Decides: 2022's Updated Version
Here it is on Amazon! It's updated from the 2003 issue. Here's the Amazon description:

Jan-Ove Waldner: When the feeling decides was originally published in Swedish in 1997. For a long time the book has only been translated from Swedish to English, German, Japanese and Chinese. Now I am deeply happy that the English version of Jan-Ove Waldner: When the feeling decides, first launched in 2003, has been republished in an updated version. Since it is now many years since the original version was published some of the material has not really survived the influence of time. Such chapters have been left out in this edition. On the other hand, there is a longer fresh interview with Waldner, which puts the rest of the material in new perspective. I hope you, dear reader, will find the reading pleasant and the content still interesting.

News from All Over
Since I haven't blogged since Dec. 12 (due to US Open and Christmas), rather than try to list every interesting article, for this blog I'll just link to some of the main news and coaching pages, and you can pick and choose.

Best Backhand Ever? - Kalinikos Kreanga
Here’s the video (10 sec)!

Technical Journal Articles on Table Tennis

Happy New Year from Jorgen Persson
Here’s the video (24 sec) of the 1991 World Men’s Champion as he plays on a mini-table with a robot and a funny hat.

Table Tennis Mug – Big Guy vs. Jumpy Guy
Here’s where you can buy it!

Pabst Blue Ribbon Table Tennis Ping Pong Beer Vintage 1942 Ad Magazine Print
Here it is – and it’s only $12.59 on Ebay!

Spooky #161 FINAL ISSUE of Series (Harvey Comics 1980)
Here it is – and it’s only $3.74 on Ebay!

Are You the Table Tennis or Ping Pong Elf?
Here’s where you can buy the shirts at Amazon!

Big Paddle, Many Balls
Here's the gif!

Lego Table Tennis Robot
Here's the article and video (18 sec)!

World's Spinniest Shots
Here’s the video (8:23) from PongFinity!

The Greatest Game of Ping Pong I’ve Ever Seen
Here it is (54 sec)!

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Next Blog on January 2, 2023, But Tips Every Monday
I’ll be out of town the next few weeks at the US Open and for Christmas, so no blogging until after I return. However, the Tip of the Week will still go up every Monday!

Tip of the Week
Should You Use a Super-Fast Racket?

MDTTC Open, Books Sales, and the Novice Class
Here are the results of the MDTTC December Open, care of Omnipong. I usually coach at these tournaments, but this time I spent most of my time . . . selling books! I set up a table and had 18 of my books on sale, both table tennis and science fiction. Here’s a picture! (Table tennis books on the right, science fiction & fantasy on the left. Note that I’m wearing my “Baby Yoda Playing Table Tennis” shirt on Saturday. On Sunday I wore my “Baby Yoda Dressed as Santa Claus with Ping-Pong Paddle” shirt.) I ended up selling 42 books, plus gave a way a bunch. Half the profits will go to the MDTTC junior program. Normally, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers dominates the sales, but most of the locals already have that book. I ended up selling at least one copy of 16 of the 18 books, and three or more of nine of them. (Profits came to about $220, so I'll be donating $110 to the junior program.) 

Speaking of giving away “a bunch,” I’m giving out about 55 of my books for free to those in the MDTTC junior program. The program is divided into four groups; everyone in groups 1-3 will get a free copy of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. (Many of them already have the book, so for them, they get their choice of any of my books. Those in group 4, the novice group, will get a copy when they advance to group 3.) It’ll cost me close to $300 for the books plus shipping. Of course, I’ll require them to say, “Larry has the best forehand” or all they get is a crumpled-up ping-pong ball.

Because of the tournament, the only class we had was the Novice class on Sunday at 5PM, where the age range is about 6-8. As usual (drum roll...) the focus was on fundamentals. A key thing here is finding ways to get them to do “drudgery” drills while keeping it fun and interesting. I usually start with standard drills, but when I detect boredom – and kids at that age don’t hide that – I bring out Froggy for target practice, start counting how many shots they make in a row, and do interactive drills. I actually have two “Froggys” – Grampa Froggy, the original that I bought in 2006 (so 16 years old), who is falling apart (missing one leg, most of his toes, and held together by duct tape) and Baby Froggy, the new one I bought summer of 2021. I often put one on the deep forehand side, the other on the deep backhand side, so the kids are forced to hit deep and wide – exactly what we want them to do. At their demand, we finished the session with a short “Simon Says” – except, since I was wearing the Baby Yoda Christmas Table Tennis Shirt (see above), it was “Baby Yoda Says.”

George Braithwaite Major League Table Tennis
Here’s the info page. The league, from the Boston to the Washington DC region, with 3-5 on a team, starts in January, with the final in April. “The purpose of the league is to facilitate individual competitiveness and team spirit of players in various clubs thereby creating more interaction and friendship through team-based table tennis competition. By increasing participation in the Olympic sport of table tennis through the vast number of table tennis players in the United States, Pongpace sets the foundation of making table tennis a major sport in the country.”

USATT Panels at US Open
Here’s the USATT news item, Open Panel Meetings to Be Held at the 2022 US Open. They are running five, plus the USATT General Assembly. (Presumably there will also be a USATT board meeting held in conjunction with the General Assembly, as required by USATT bylaw 15.2.) Below is the panel schedule – much of which conflicts with my own coaching and playing schedule, so not sure how many I’ll be able to attend. One thing that jumps out to me – no coaching panels! Alas. I used to run such clinics at the Open and Nationals. 

  • FRI      7:00-8:00 PM              USATT Foundation: Meet the Members
  • SAT     6:00-7:00 PM              Club Development and Tournament Sanctioning
  • SUN    6:30-7:30 PM              USATT General Assembly
                7:30-8:30 PM              Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • MON   6:30-7:30 PM              Meet and Greet Olympians
                7:30-9:00 PM              High Performance Team

We’ve had similar panels in the past at the Nationals and Open. I still have the flyer for the 2017 Nationals, where we had eight panels – I think that was the last time we had such panels. I taught two of them, “Intermediate and Advanced Serves,” and “How to Set Up a Successful Junior Program.” (The turnout for the serving clinic I taught was huge!) Others were “Tournament Directors Best Practices 101”; “Advanced Return of Serve” (with Stefan Feth); “USATT Umpires Clinic”; “USATT Club Best Practices”; “One-on-One with High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio”; and “Omnipong 101” (with Craig Krum).

Holiday Shopping – Buy My Books!
Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays are coming up – time to buy my table tennis books! (But feel free to buy my science fiction ones as well.) Here’s a listing with descriptions for each. Below are direct links to the table tennis books. 

New from Samson Dubina
Make sure to see the Michael Jordan quote.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
He’s been busy – see last item!

This Grip Change Which Will Make a Big Difference
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak.

New from Taco Backhand

Forehand Topspin Wins Worlds and Olympics
Here’s the video (74 sec) with slow-motion of forehand loop, from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

New from Ti Long

Butterfly Training Tips - Serve & Attack Forehand Smash
Here’s the video (54 sec) with Tiffany Ke.

Bowmar Sport Tournament Highlights – Darryl Tsao WTT at Lignano
Here’s the video (1:45).

Hungary 2022 WTT Youth Contender
Here’s the article by Sally Moyland.

Videos from Pong Space
Here are recent videos from Pong Space, many featuring defensive star Angela Guan.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from TT11TV
28 new videos this past week!

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USA Table Tennis

New from ITTF

Table Tennis Hawaiian Shirt
Here’s where you can get one!

Table Tennis Shirts at Amazon
Here’s a selection.

Navy Drops Ping Pong Balls on Army
Here’s the CNN story!

Big Guy vs. Little Guy – Who Will Win?
Here’s the cartoon! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Adam vs. Anastasiia 2
Here’s the video (10:53) from Adam Bobrow!

World's Stickiest Ping Pong Racket and Ping-Pong with a Remote Control Car
Here’s the video (8:35) from Pongfinity!

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Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Lobbing.

Weekend Coaching, MDTTC Open, and Books
With the North American Teams over, the focus switches from preparing them for a major tournament to long-term development. Which means lots of foundational work! Footwork, strokes, serve, receive, and so on. I coached in the usual four group sessions this weekend. In two of them, I mostly fed multiball. In another, I did both multiball and hit with various players, working on consistency. In the other, I was a “walk around” coach, where the focus was on good technique. They played games at the end of the session, and I kept harping on some of them that this was the time to practice their shots, because this was practice. (Way too often some get “scared” and just push.) I also worked with players on serves, including working with two on how to do a really effective no-spin serve, i.e. “heavy no-spin,” where the serve looks like heavy backspin but is no-spin. As we demonstrated, receivers often push them as if they are heavy backspin, and so the ball pops up. The returns also have less backspin then returns actual heavy backspin serves. I also had a good discussion with one of our top juniors on sports psychology, and I gave him a copy of “The Inner Game of Tennis.”

We have an MDTTC Open coming up this weekend, Dec. 10-11. (See the Maryland entry in Omnipong.) I have a special this time – two, in fact. First, I’ll have a table and be selling my books at the tournament (discounted), both table tennis and science fiction. Second, I’m giving everyone in groups 1, 2, and 3 in our junior program (about 55 kids) free copies of “Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.” (The kids in group 4, the Novice group, are mostly 6-8 years old and aren’t ready for it – I’ll get them copies when they are older.) For the roughly 15 or so who already have copies, they’ll get to choose any other of my books. (Yes, I have to pay a wholesale price for the books I give away!)

USATT Board Meeting and Alcoholic Beverages Policy
Here’s the USATT Agenda and Notices page, with a link to the info page for the USATT Zoom meeting, to be held this Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7PM eastern time. I usually attend these, but since they’ve turned off the comment section, I’ve lost interest. I and others would often put in polite comments during the meeting. One or two people put in rude comments, and rather than simply kick those people off the meeting, they closed down the entire comment section in a classic case of overreaction. When the board comes to its senses it will return the comment section. Perhaps they should survey the membership, asking this simple question: “When someone posts inappropriate comments during a USATT board meeting on Zoom, should they ban that person or ban all comments?” I think the overwhelming response would be obvious.

One issue that may come up at the board meeting is whether USATT should take sponsors or advertisers for alcoholic beverages (or tobacco products), such as the Dream Blue sponsor for the upcoming US Open. (Dream Blue is a hard liquor company from China.) There really are two issues – 1) Should they take such sponsors or advertisers, and 2) Should such a policy issue be decided by the policy-making arm of USATT governance, which is the board of directors, or the CEO? In this case, the CEO made the decision, with no notice to the board. I’ve had board members (plural) tell me that the first they learned of this was from my blog, when I blogged about it two weeks ago.

I strongly believe this is a board decision, just as it was when the matter came up once before and it was overwhelmingly rejected. I also am against accepting such sponsors or advertisers (especially hard liquor and tobacco products) primarily because it’s a bad influence on our junior players. Even if it’s a large amount of money that might be good in the short run, I’m against it because, in the long run, I don’t want our sport beholden to a hard liquor company. I’ve heard the arguments for taking the sponsor, a primary one of which is that it was allowed by ITTF at some international events. But so what? I don’t believe in the theory of “monkey-see, monkey-do,” and believe we should decide our own ethical standards.

On a side note, I usually have a segment on USATT news here, but there hasn’t been any new news items there since Nov. 25, ten days ago. The USATT news page used to be much more active.

USATT Assembly
It will be held on Sunday, Dec. 18, 6:30-7:30PM, at the US Open in Ontario, California. How do I know? In my blog two weeks ago, I pointed out that USATT was required to give 30 days’ notice of their annual USATT Assembly, and had not done so. Bylaws 15.3 says, “Notice of the annual USATT Assembly stating the place, date and time of the meeting shall be posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting.” Well, they haven’t actually posted it, but they quietly, and without any public notice of the change, added two lines about it, buried on page 9, column 2, of the US Open Prospectus. It wasn’t there before – I have the previous version, both in PDF and a printout. I don’t think this qualifies as “posted on the website of USATT”! (Some of you may remember the opening scene of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which is similar.)

I probably won’t attend. If I did, I would likely feel obligated to react to some of the reports they would give, and frankly speaking, I’d rather a nice, quiet US Open where I just coach and play. I also have heard rumors that they will be running various panels at the Open – but if so, why are they keeping the assembly and panels secret? They should be advertising the heck out of them, with news items all over the place! There’s a reason movies, for example, are advertised many months in advance, to build interest. They don’t send out a Marvel movie by letting people know it’s coming out in a few days! If the plan is to have a USATT Assembly and panels that are poorly attended, they are doing exactly the right thing. But if you want good attendance, then they should be advertised well in advance, multiple times. That’s advertising 101.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

3 Levels of Touch in Push
Here’s the video (57 sec) from Drupe Pong.

The Coin Method: Right Grip in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (1:46) from Pingispågarna.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Kou Lei TTC Dominate 2022 JOOLA North American Team Championships Final
Here’s the article on the North American Teams held last weekend, by Matt Hetherington.

Fan Zhendong vs Wang Chuqin | MT - Chinese Super League 2022
Here’s the video (7:47).

Dan Seemiller vs. Eric Boggan
Here’s the highlights video (4:48) from Jim Butler, featuring their classic 1982 US Men’s Singles Final.

Judy Hoarfrost Reflects on U.S. Table Tennis Team’s China Trip in 1971
Here’s the article from Paddle Palace.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

ITTF News

Did Someone Say Ping Pong
Here’s where you can buy the shirt!

Table Tennis Shirts
Here are lots of funny and interesting table tennis shirts to choose from, from spreadshirt.com.

Man vs. Dog
Here’s the video (10 sec)!

Funny Table Tennis World Compilation
Here’s the video (10:46) – a nice collection of the “classics”!

Killer Ping Pong Trick Shots – Horror Edition!
Here’s the video (4:33) from Table Tennis Daily – this is great!

Yet Still More Pings and Pongs and Flame Tree Interview
My 19th book is out! Nope, it’s not a table tennis book. It’s the fourth book in my “Pings and Pongs” series (170 pages, only $10), which are collections of my best short science fiction and fantasy stories that I’ve sold. (I’ve sold 136, plus 42 resales and four novels.) Typically, when a magazine or anthology buys one of my stories they have the rights to it for 3-6 months after publication. Then, when I have enough stories – about 25 – they are compiled into the newest collection. When I needed a name for the series, I came up with “Pings and Pongs.” I do manage to work in table tennis mentions in some of the stories, and a ping-pong ball is instrumental to the climax of one story, “Christmas Interrupted.” (Here are all 19 of my books.)

Speaking of “Christmas Interrupted,” that story was published in the Christmas Gothic anthology by Flame Tree Fiction. (They’ve bought four stories from me for their anthologies – they are a top-paying market.) They did interviews with the authors on the inspiration for their stories. Here’s my interview, the ninth one down. The story is about Santa Claus in the distant future, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and still trying to deliver toys at Christmas to non-existent children, with his long-suffering elves humoring him.

My next book will be the fourth in the “Tips” series, coming in May, 2023. Like the “Pings and Pongs” series, they have ever-lengthening titles: “Table Tennis Tips,” “More Table Tennis Tips,” “Still More Table Tennis Tips,” and the upcoming “Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips.” For both series, #5 will have “And” added to the start.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
What Comes First, Speed or Consistency?

JOOLA North American Teams
I spent Thanksgiving weekend coaching at the Teams at the National Harbor in Maryland. It was my 46th consecutive Teams – every year starting my first year in table tennis, 1976, back when it was in Detroit from the early 1970s to 1997. (It would be 47 years in a row, but they didn’t hold it in 2020 due to Covid.) I was a player or player/coach for most years, but in modern times I’ve only coached. (I’ve also been to every US Open and Nationals since 1984, plus a few before that.) Here are complete results. (Make sure to set the dropdown menu to 2022 JOOLA NA Teams.) Here is the list of entries.

There were 1119 players, 270 teams, and 166 tables this year – I believe all records. I heard rumors that there were some top players playing in the Championship division on the front tables, but I never really saw any of it except occasionally walking by – I was on the back tables coaching Maryland Table Tennis Center junior teams. We had twelve junior teams but only five coaches, so we were jumping about each round, coaching different teams. (Here’s video of the Team Final, Kou Lei TTC vs. PongPod One, 91 min.)

This is I think the second year in a row where they went paperless, with everything run online. Team captains got their schedules, registered, and put in results via smart phones. Alas, problems arose the first morning when the server went down. Teams couldn’t register for their upcoming round and so things fell behind. Fortunately, they had paper backups, and so got the matches going again after a 45 minute delay. They got the server back up, but it went down other times, especially in the morning when everyone was checking in at once. This led to scheduling problems – including late-starting team match that didn’t finish until 12:25 AM, with a few other teams still playing as we left. But I think this was a one-time problem they’ll be more ready for next year. While I’m old-fashioned and prefer paper, most seemed happy with the new system. They’ve been running the Teams efficiently since they took over in 1998 and there have been few problems like this before. A great thanks goes to the hard-working staff that sets up and runs the event!

 As usual, there were lots of tactical issues that came up. I think I did a lot of emphasis on placement, making sure the players played to the “three spots” – wide forehand and backhand, and middle (mid-point between opponent’s forehand and backhand). I also emphasized figuring out early which two spots were the best to go to. Or sometimes one – there were several matches won with the simple tactic of pushing to the very wide backhand so the opponent couldn’t forehand loop.

One opponent, rated just over 1800, had a 2200 forehand and backhand loop against backspin, but the rest of his game was weaker – in particular, he didn’t block very well– and he was somewhat slow. But since he got to serve half the time, and mostly served short backspin, and since my players were unable to consistently flip or drop the serve short, over and over they were stuck pushing long and facing those 2200 loops. We did find some success by pushing quick to the middle, so he had to move some to loop (and go out of position if my player blocked it back), but even that usually didn’t work. One player found himself down 0-2 in games against this player, and I pointed out that, except for a couple times when the opponent served long and he’d looped the serve, he’d pushed the serve back fifteen times, the opponent had looped all fifteen, and we’d lost all fifteen points! “You might as well try flipping. Even if you miss, it’s better than losing every point pushing.” It almost worked – while he missed most of the flips and went back to pushing, it forced the opponent to be ready for both. They went five, but we lost. But now the three who lost to him know that there are better options against a short serve than pushing back long every time! (I spoke with the opponent later. His level would go up dramatically – well over 2000 – with a few months of serious training, including physical training.)  

One player dominated against an opponent by mixing up short backspin and no-spin serves. When the next player to play him admitted he didn’t really know how to serve no-spin except by just patting the ball on the table (so it doesn’t look like backspin), I took him aside and gave him a quick lesson on it – but it was too late for this match. (To serve a good no-spin serve – often called “heavy no-spin,” one of my favorite terms – you have to use the same motion as heavy backspin, except contact the ball near the handle instead of the tip. You have to really sell it as backspin so they’ll push as if it’s backspin – and then the ball pops way up.)

There were two matches where, at key times, I called timeout, and called for short no-spin serves to the forehand. I was expecting, or at least hoping, the opponents would pop the serves up, since the player hadn’t been serving there much. Both times I was wrong – both times the opponent pushed the serve off the end. Yay!

Coaching kids between games is half tactical, half psychological. Or sometimes, 100% psychological. During that late-night team match that ended at 12:25 AM my main purpose between games was to wake the player up! They were pretty sleepy – one could barely keep his eyes open.

In one of our team matches, the opposing team had what appeared to be a 2300 player on their team, while the rest of the players were around 1500. This guy looked GOOD!!! He had world-class form and athleticism, and his shots were way too powerful for our players. But . . . as he began to play matches, we realized something – he kept missing. I’ve never seen a player look so good but not be so good. As I explained to one of our players, “He’s all swing, no bling.” We ended up winning two of the three matches against him, mostly by serving and looping, and watching him miss shots that most players couldn’t even attempt. If this guy plays a lot for a year, he’ll be really good.

Here's a quiz question I kept asking our kids, and none answered correctly. The question was, “Why am I wearing my arm brace when I’m not playing?” Answer – because my arm was hurting from clapping! I have periodic arm problems. Basically, there are microscopic tears in the muscles or tendons, and the brace holds them together so they don’t tear more. It’s mostly preventive these days, but I wear it when I have to do a lot of playing. If I don’t, the arm starts to hurt after a while.

In one of our matches, my player was down 6-10 in the first game. But he thought he’d already lost, and so came over. I thought it was 6-10, but he said he’d lost 11-6. So for about twenty seconds I coached him for the next game. Then the coach for the other team came over and asked, “Are you taking a timeout?” That’s when we discovered the game wasn’t over! They were nice about it and our player went back out but lost the game, and a minute later we were talking tactics again, preparing for game two. But for the first time in years, I was stuck on a rules question – did that “break” we’d taken at 6-10 count as our one time-out? I wasn’t sure. I kept debating whether I could legitimately call a timeout after that. But late in the fifth game, my player called a timeout on his own, and no one complained. Alas, he lost. Later, I checked with one of the umpires, and he said that while it was a mistake when we started talking, no time-out was called, and so it wasn’t a timeout. (Also alas, there’s probably at least one person reading this who is thinking, “Hey, I’m going to take advantage of that next time I play!” Yes, there are cheaters out there.)

There were other interesting “incidents.” One opponent left the court after every game and sat down on a chair that was a well away from the playing area. Since he was elderly and I didn’t feel like getting into an argument, we let it go, but twice I timed him, and one time he took over five minutes, other time over four. Another opponent had this unique but completely illegal serve – he’d stand about five feet to the left of the table (he’s a righty), and then would suddenly almost jump to the table, waving his free hand with the ball about, including well below the table, and then, in a continuous motion, he’d serve. I explained to him after the first game that he had to come to a complete stop when serving and keep the ball above the playing area, and he agreed and toned it down a bit – though still illegal – for a few points. Then he went back to full illegal serve mode. Since my player was beating him easily, we decided not to make an issue out of it. Another opponent hid his serve with his body, but he stopped when we asked him to do so.

Now we get to the nastier side of table tennis and the boundary between cheating and just not knowing the rules. In one of our matches,  with our team leading 4-3, my player, age nine, won the first two games rather easily against an elderly opponent, who was rated about the same. At the start of the third, first point, the opponent set up to receive and my player served. The opponent put the serve in the net. Then he stepped back and realized that it should have been his serve. The point counted, however, since he had played the point. The opponent then served, and lost that point as well. Then it was my players turn to serve, due to Rule 2.14.1:

2.14.1 If a player serves or receives out of turn, play shall be interrupted by the umpire as soon as the error is discovered and shall resume with those players serving and receiving who should be server and receiver respectively at the score that has been reached, according to the sequence established at the beginning of the match

The facts were not in dispute, but the opponent insisted it was his serve again, and he was holding the ball. I explained the rule to him, but he absolutely insisted it was his serve, as did one of his teammates. It got rather heated. Several times I said we needed to go to the referee’s desk and get a ruling, but both of them were absolutely insistent it was his serve. After five minutes of this, I decided it was better to just let the other guy serve rather than spend more time on this, which could disrupt my player’s focus. Since my player was winning rather easily so far I didn’t really want to make the long walk to the referee’s desk, since the break could disrupt my player’s focus. So I finally said, “Fine, you can serve. But if you do, you are cheating.”

Pandemonium. The opponent and his teammate spent the next five minutes screaming at me, demanding an apology. But what I said was accurate. Not knowing the rules is not cheating, but they were refusing to even check with the referee to get a ruling – the opponent still held the ball and insisted he was going to serve. It was willful ignorance. - "A decision in bad faith to avoid becoming informed about something so as to avoid having to make undesirable decisions that such information might prompt." I'll let readers decide if that is cheating. 

At this point, with matches all around now disrupted by their screaming, I had no choice but to get the referee. They still refused to do so, so I went on my own – but they then followed. Once there, it took about five minutes before we could get them to stop yelling so we could explain the situation to the referee. Of course, the referee explained the rule and said it was my player’s serve. They were dead wrong.

However, the referee also thought I should apologize for calling the player a cheater. As I explained, I didn't call him a cheater, I said that if he served - given that he refused to check with the referee on the actual rule - he would be cheating. (Since he ended up not serving, he didn't actually "cheat.") The referee was insistent that I apologize, and for all I know he'd ban me from the playing hall if I didn't. Rather than spend more time on this (and risking my player's focus even further), I finally said. "Fine. I apologize for calling you a cheater. Now, can we finish the match?" However, I was only apologizing for the benefit of my player. Given the situation, I don't think what I said was wrong in itself. However, I probably shouldn't have said it simply to avoid any more argument, so my player could keep his focus and continue to dominate the match. It's irritating but true that sometimes it's in your player's favor to grit your teeth and let an opponent get away with willfully breaking the rules rather than have a long argument that can change the course of a match. And in this case, my player was winning rather easily, and so of course it was greatly in the opponent's favor to find a way to disrupt things. 

I then asked several times that the opponent apologize to my nine-year-old player for disrupting the match by his ignorance of the rules and his insistence on breaking the rules rather than checking with the referee on the correct ruling. He ignored me and there was no apology. 

We finally went back. My player (who stayed warmed up by hitting with his dad), served, and easily won the third game and the match. I apologized to both the kid and his dad for the whole issue. The risk of his losing his focus or getting cold was greater than the small disadvantage of letting the opponent serve illegally. My player and his dad deserved an apology, from me, and from the opponent and his teammate; the opponent did not. 

In a later team match I coached we had another rules problem. My player was up 2-1 in games, but down 9-10 in the fourth. (Our team was up 4-3.) They played a point, and my player seemed to hit a winner. One of the parents (not this player's dad) yelled, "Yes!" But the opponent made a spectacular return. My player popped the ball back high, and the opponent ran in and smashed - into the net. Deuce!!! Except - the opponent immediately demanded a let, saying the loud "Yes!" call had distracted him. The rule on this is also clear - he could have immediately called a let after making the great return, since he would have already been going for that shot when the disruption occurred. But once he went in and tried to kill the ball, he could no longer call a let - you can't play out a point and then call let after the point. Here's a simple way of explaining this - if the player could have called a let, then if he makes the smash, he wins the point, but if he misses it, it's a let - and my player has no way of winning the point! (I went over this with the referee afterwards, and he of course agreed.)

However, the opponent and his teammates insisted he'd immediately called a let. I wanted to go to the referee again, but the problem was that since the opponent was saying he'd called a let immediately, the referee would have called it a let. I finally relented, and they replayed the point - and the opponent won the point, forcing a fifth game. In the fifth, the opponent was up 10-5 match point, and won 11-9. Afterwards, we had a cordial discussion about what happened, and I asked him point blank if the disruption affected his shot. He said that yes, it distracted him and caused him to miss the smash. That's when I pointed out that he'd just admitted that he'd lost the point, since he attempted the smash after the disruption, as I’d been claiming all along - it was, in fact, his second shot after the disruption. Once I explained the rules, he admitted it shouldn’t have been a let, but it was too late to go back and replay it. The ninth match had already begun (and I had to coach that), which we would win in five.  

Holiday Shopping – Buy My Books!
Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays are coming up – time to buy my table tennis books! (But feel free to buy my science fiction ones as well.) Here’s a listing with descriptions of each. Below are direct links to the table tennis books. 

What Advice Should You Give to Teammates During Matches?
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak. This, in a nutshell, is similar to my thinking on coaching between games. Make sure that you notice that the first three examples are things you shouldn’t do! (At first, when I saw the subheading, “Focus on Technique,” I thought he was advocating that, when (as he explains) that’s a big mistake.

Butterfly Training Tips

Serve Return Lesson
Here’s the video (6:42) from Samson Dubina.

New from Ti Long

New from Taco Backhand

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

The Magnus Effect in Table Tennis and Why Topspin is the Most Dominant Stroke
Here’s the video (8:16) from Drupe Pong. I bet this could be the inspiration for a school science project!

Tomokazu Harimoto Evolution (Age 4-19)
Here’s the video (6:35) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association

  • NCTTA and AYTTO Partner Up for the George Braithwaite Scholarship
  • NCTTA looking for directors!
    =>Minnesota Division Director is available now and is in charge of a division that covers Minnesota, Iowa and Idaho.
    =>Great Lakes Regional Director is available now and is in charge of a region that covers Upstate NY, Ohio schools near Akron and Canadian schools in Ontario and Quebec. This director is also a non-voting member of the NCTTA Board of Directors!
    =>Directors have some perks, getting to come to the NCTTA Championships free, please reach out to hr@nctta.org to get on board with NCTTA in these positions!

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

ITTF News

TT11TV
Lots of videos here.

Table Tennis Character T-Shirt
Here’s where you can buy one – or a hoodie, mug, or mask!

Ping Pong Club Cap
Here’s where you can buy it!

Adam vs. French Champion
Here’s the video (11:21) from Adam Bobrow - he takes on French Champion Simon Gauzy, world #33!

Impossible Penalty Kicks
Here’s the video (5:13) from Pongfinity!

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Tip of the Week
Recovering from Forehand Attacks from a Corner.

Weekend Coaching and the JOOLA North American Teams
Our junior program at MDTTC is divided into four groups (66 players total), and this weekend I worked with one session for each. It was also an exhausting weekend as I acted as a practice partner for three of the sessions, for two reasons. First, we had an odd number of players, though we can work around that by doing multiball or bringing in another player. Second, and perhaps more important, we’re getting them ready for the North American Teams next weekend (Fri-Sun after Thanksgiving), and so it’s valuable they get a good practice session with a good player. (Yay, I’m the “good” player!) For drills, I mostly blocked – and boy, after a short time it really came together and I stopped missing. They rotated the players who hit with me, and each time I greeted them with the warning, “The rumors are true, I never miss.” And, of course, if I did miss, I’d explain I was only showing them what a miss would look like if I were to miss – after all, how could they identify a miss by an opponent if we don’t show them what it looks like?

We also played a lot of games to prepare them for the Teams. I managed to go undefeated (closest game was 11-7) – mostly because I didn’t play games with the first group, just drilled with them. With the other groups (strongest players under 1800), I often relied on my serves. Coach Wang Qingliang warned my opponents that I serve a lot of side-top serves that looked like backspin, but most still had great difficulty in reading them. The hardest part for me about not training or playing matches regularly is in return of serve, and ending the point with the forehand, both of which used to be big strengths. For receive, I mostly just pushed serves back – quick, fast, heavy, low and at wide angles. But as I got warmed up and played better, I got more aggressive and began forehand looping serves, especially from the backhand corner. Because most of our players are trained to be more two-winged, and I mostly attack with my forehand, two of them asked why I stood so far on my backhand side when I received, and why I stepped around to loop so many serves. So I had to explain how the game has changed, though of course most players should still sometimes step around to forehand loop in a serve.

I’m telling parents of players who have never been to the Teams to video their kids as they first walk into the playing hall. The normal reaction is eyes go wide, mouth drops, and they look side to side as they take in this incredibly large hall, with tables in full-sized courts seemingly going on forever! There will be 167 playing courts, with 1113 players on 269 teams.

This will be my 46th straight time at the Teams, starting in 1976, the year I started in table tennis. (It would be 47 except they skipped 2020 because of Covid.) As I pointed out to one of our junior players who will be playing in it for the second time, “We’re experienced pros. Together we’ve played in it 46 times.” (See segment below on The Biggest Table Tennis Tournament in the USA Reaches New Heights by Matt Hetherington.)

Dream Blue Liquor and US Open Sponsors
Should USATT be taking sponsorships for alcohol, especially hard liquor? Here’s the Prospectus (entry form) for the upcoming US Open. On page five it lists the sponsors, and the first one listed is Dream Blue, which is a distilled hard liquor from China. (Their liquor alcohol contents rate very high, at “40.8%, 45% or 52% ABV.”) This issue has come up in the past – I was in the room years ago when the USATT board debated whether they should take sponsorships from companies that sell alcoholic beverages or cigarettes. The decision at the time was overwhelmingly no. Apparently that has changed.

As a non-drinker, I’m personally opposed to such sponsors and would likely vote against it if I were on the Board. I’m pretty sure that there was something on this in the USATT bylaws many years ago, but it’s no longer there. (During my twelve years as editor of USATT Table Tennis Magazine we did not take ads for alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, and I’m pretty sure they were never a USATT sponsor.) Since the US Open is an international event, it comes under ITTF laws. The ITTF doesn’t specifically ban sponsors for liquor, but they do have these restrictions in their rules about such ads, which would apply to the US Open – I bolded the key part:

3.2.5.1.1 Advertisements or markings in or next to the playing area, on playing clothing or numbers and on umpires’ clothing, shall not be for tobacco goods, alcoholic drinks, harmful drugs or illegal products and they shall be without negative discrimination or connotation on the grounds of race, xenophobia, gender, religion, disabilities or other forms of discrimination; however, for competitions not explicitly organised for players under 18 years of age, the ITTF may allow advertisements or markings for non-distilled alcoholic drinks on equipment and fittings in or next to the playing area, provided the local law permits.

One strange thing – while there are eight sponsors listed on the US Open sponsor on the Prospectus PDF (no links), but there is nothing about these sponsors on the US Open page. You’d think they’d be listed there, with links! If I were a sponsor I’d expect this and be pretty unhappy that there is nothing about their US Open sponsorship on the US Open page. The eight sponsors from the Prospectus are Dream Blue, Butterfly, Paddle Palace, Nittaku, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, DHS, Ping Pong Parkinson, and Blossom Houston.
=>UPDATE - they've sort of added a Sponsor section at the very bottom of the US Open page, below the "Directions and Parking" map where few will see it. But the only sponsor listed there is Dream Blue. The other seven are not listed. This implies that the only sponsor is Dream Blue, which is not correct. 

USATT Assembly
I’m told the USATT Assembly will take place at the upcoming US Open, on Sunday night, Dec. 18. This is required by the USATT bylaws as an annual event (Article 15, page 46). However, I haven’t yet seen any announcement, either on the USATT news page or US Open page. Bylaws 15.3 says, “Notice of the annual USATT Assembly stating the place, date and time of the meeting shall be posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting.” Assuming it’s held on Dec. 18, then thirty days before that was Nov. 18, this past Friday.

=>ADDENDUM (added Dec. 5, 2022): Hurray! Apparently USATT read my blog. They added a small mention of the USATT Assembly to the Prospectus, on page 9 (of 10), column 2. It wasn't there before. (I have the copy that had been posted previously.) However, this does not consitute being "...posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting." (See below.) First, adding the lines buried in a PDF file linked from the US Open page without letting people know it had been changed is right out of the novel "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." (Some of you will recognize the reference.) Second, the change was not made 30 days in advance. We'll see if there is any other notice of the Assembly. 

Below is the entire section from the bylaws on the USATT Assembly, for those interested in attending. I’m told there also might be some panels at the US Open on various topics, such as clubs or high performance, but I haven’t heard or seen anything official yet. They’ve done that twice before at Opens or Nationals – I was on several panels – but they stopped doing that. I think it’s a good idea.

ARTICLE XV ANNUAL USA TABLE TENNIS ASSEMBLY
Section 15.1. Purpose. There shall be an annual USATT Assembly at which all individual and organization members and other USATT constituencies in the United States Table Tennis family shall be invited to gather and provide input to the Board on important issues confronting the organization. At USATT’s Assembly, the Board shall provide a report on the “State of the USATT.” The Chief Executive Officer shall provide a managerial report addressing issues of concern and importance to USATT. Individual and organization members and other constituencies may be permitted to pose questions to the Board and Chief Executive Officer for response. The annual USATT Assembly shall be purely advisory and shall have no rulemaking, budgetary, legislative, or other authority, though it, or some of it, may be involved in some appropriate way in the nomination of individuals to serve on the Board as otherwise set forth in these Bylaws. The Board shall determine the agenda of the annual USATT Assembly. Page 47 of 56 USATT 22 02-17a
Section 15.2. Place. The annual USATT Assembly shall be held in conjunction with a Board meeting. If practicable, the annual USATT Assembly meeting shall also be held in conjunction with a major USATT competition.48
Section 15.3. Notice. Notice of the annual USATT Assembly stating the place, date and time of the meeting shall be posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting.

The Biggest Table Tennis Tournament in the USA Reaches New Heights
Here’s the article on the North American Teams by Matt Hetherington. The tournament is Nov. 25-27 in Washington DC. I’ll be there coaching some of the twelve junior teams from the Maryland Table Tennis Center.

USATT News

Multi-Player Training with Shadow Play
Here’s video (24 sec) from the Houston Intl Table Tennis Academy of a coach working with three players at once – one directly, the other two shadow-practicing. We do this type of training at my club (MDTTC) all the time, though I usually do it with multiball, where I’m feeding to one player while the others shadow practice. There would also be one player doing ball pickup, with the players rotating. Sometimes we’ll have a player practice serves on an adjacent table as part of the rotation.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

Physical Training For Juniors
Here’s the video (1:27) from Huijing Wang.

How to Manage Travel Fatigue (Physiologically)
Here’s the article by Lily Zhang.

Pingpong Video Analysis (Forehand Topspin in Table Tennis - Essential Characteristics)
Here’s the video (7:34) from Dr. Table Tennis. Here are more videos from the site.

New from Taco Backhand

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Ma Long Player Profile & Equipment
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Top.

The Most Creative Table Tennis Player Ever?
Here’s the video (8:49) featuring Japan’s Koki Niwa.

New from Steve Hopkins

About 16th Si & Patty Wasserman Junior & Open Championships
Here’s the article by Tawny Banh.

Some People Say
Here’s the video (70 sec) about table tennis from PingPod - it's pretty good!

ITTF News

TT11TV
Lots of videos here.

Table Tennis Postal Stamps
Here they are – on sale at Ebay!

Ping-Pong, Spin, and Third-Ball Attack (Or, Why Dialogue Gets Boring and How to Fix It)
Here’s the article by Gregory Ashe. It’s not about table tennis – it uses ping-pong as a metaphor for a dialogue writing problems for writers. He gets his table tennis terms and tactics right!

Funny Table Tennis
Here’s the video (36 sec)!

I Went to the World Championships… in CHINA
Here’s the video (14:56) from Adam Bobrow.

5 Things Ping Pong Players Hate
Here’s the video (6:28) from Table Tennis Daily – this is HILARIOUS!!!

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Tip of the Week
Backhand Counter Domination.

Weekend Coaching
I coached in four group sessions over the weekend, as is my norm. As usual the focus was on fundamentals, technique, footwork, placement . . . yada yada yada. I did do extra down-the-line drills - too often players focus on crosscourt. I also worked with two players on their grip. One of them has begun changing his grip drastically between forehand and backhand, with a wristy finger-down-the-middle forehand - NO!!! (1967 Men's World Champion Hasegawa might disagree - he used that grip.) It's important to catch things like this early, and the player in question only started this past year. 

I had a realization during one session, which I explained to some of the players. If the players can't beat me after I've coached them for a full 90 minutes, I must be a bad coach. But if they can beat me after 90 minutes of training, I must be a bad player. Hmmm... Of course, I also explain to them that if they are tired during a drill, they must be out of shape and so we must work them harder. If they are not tired then we must not be working them hard enough and so we must work them harder. And if they won't answer us when we ask if they are tired, then we must punish them by making them work harder. Hmmm...

I had a discussion with three of the parents who also play. (We allow parents to hit on open tables during junior group sessions. Some are pretty good.) The topic was footwork, and how kids and adults do it differently. For example, up-and-coming players and world-class players, when near the table in a fast rally, usually play their forehands with their feet parallel. But that takes a lot of training to do properly, and I don't recommend it for players who aren't going to put in the training and who aren't in very good shape. For most of us (including me), it's better to move the right foot back (for righties) as you move to play a forehand in a fast rally. It's not as quick but gives better stability and power. Another difference is the up-and-comers and world-class players often move both feet almost together when moving. For most of us, it's better to start by taking a short step with the foot on the side you are moving toward, commonly called "two-step footwork." 

I also had private session with Navin Kumar on Sunday night. Here’s video (15 sec). (I’m retired from private coaching, but made an exception for Navin.) Navin is somewhat of an equipment junkie, an EJ. During the session I asked him if such experimenting gave an Edge to an Ej.

USATT News and Favoritism
Coach Park Ji-Hyun & Coach Tao Wenzhang to Lead World-class Table Tennis Camp. This news item (which was also featured in the last USATT Insider) caught my eye as it’s basically an ad for a camp at a private commercial club, written by a USATT employee. This isn’t exactly fair to the many other clubs that also run such camps, especially other clubs in the Bay Area that run competing camps, such as ICC, Table Tennis America, and others. I contacted the USATT CEO and asked about this, and she responded, “We will have a section dedicated to promoting clubs’ events. We could either use the articles the club submits or we can help write them if they need some help.”

The problem here, of course, is that this needs to be equal opportunity, and it’s not equal opportunity when one club gets to have such a news item before other clubs even know about the opportunity. Since there hasn’t been any announcement about this, clubs still don’t know about this opportunity, unless of course they are reading my blog – and so, like me, they are probably pretty irritated about this favoritism. There should have been a news item about it, and among those clubs interested, a random drawing for the order they would be run. Or they could have a committee put together objective criteria for such camps, and select an order based on that. Perhaps better still, one article about all of these camps around the country, with links to them.

The club in question, 888, is an excellent one, with excellent coaches, and no doubt will run an excellent camp. But so would others, including my own (MDTTC), which has three coaches in the USATT Hall of Fame, four coaches who have won USATT Coach of the Year awards (eight in total), and two former members of the Chinese National Team (one of whom achieved a USATT rating of 2830) and both former Head Province Coaches in China. Ironically, my club might not even be interested since we tend to fill our Winter camp from local players, but other clubs might be interested. There are also camps, such as the ones at Samson Dubina’s in Ohio, that actively draw players from all over the country, who are likely not thrilled that USATT is actively promoting a competing camp, with no notice about the opportunity. Does USATT understand that if they, say, draw two or three players from one camp to the one they feature, that might be a thousand dollars in revenue lost for that club, not to mention a weaker camp? Do they understand that, once again, they are creating unneeded hostility toward USATT? (Addendum, added at the last minute – I just spoke with one club leader – not from my club - who said they are also unhappy about this, but do not want to deal with USATT anymore and so will likely not bother asking USATT to do a news item on them.)

Here are other USATT news items this past week.

Christmas Books
It’s time for some Christmas shopping, both for others and for yourself!!! Why not get one of my books? Or one of Dan Seemiller’s? Or one of Samson Dubina’s books and other products?

Brian Pace on the Road to Recovery
Here’s his latest update on his GoFundMe page. So far they have raised $47,638 of the goal of $100,000.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from TacoBackhand

New from Ti Long

New from Table Tennis Central

5 Easy Tactics to Outplay Your Opponent in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (6:16). Here are other videos from Rational Table Tennis Analysis.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins

Former Editor Loses Super-Close Election Race
Former USATT Magazine co-editor Marie Hopkins apparently lost a close one last Tuesday. She and husband Steve (author of the articles in the segment above) co-edited USATT Magazine from May/June 2007 through 2014 (46 issues). In the election for Representative in Rhode Island’s General Assembly District 21, Marie, a Republican, lost to Democrat Camille Vella-Wilkinson, 2603 to 2570, losing by 33 votes, 50.0% to 49.4%, with 34 write-ins. However, since the differences is under 1%, there will be a recount before results are finalized. (Side note – here is the page where I put together and update a complete listing of all past and present USATT Presidents, Board Chairs, Executive Directors, CEOs, and Editors.)

Puerto Rico News

ITTF News

2022 Chinese Nationals
They were just held in Huangshi, Hubei Province.

1965 Worlds – Zhuang Zedong vs. Li Furong
Here’s video (1:26) of that final. Here’s the Google [poorly] translated caption:

Zhuang Zedong defeated Li Furong in the final. 1965 Men's Singles World Championship in Ljubljana Slovenia The duo have made history against each other in three consecutive men's singles finals (Beijing, Prague, Ljubljana), none of which has been possible to date. But according to Sun Meiying, a former vice president of the China Table Tennis Federation, who had met Zhou Enlai more than 40 times, behind the scenes of such a not very elegant event.

After Zhuang Zedong won his first men's singles world championship, the first 'result lock' took place, as the above wanted to make Zhuang a three-time champion and become a national role model.

At that time, Li Furong, who was ranked behind Zhuang in the world rankings. Therefore, he had to lose to Zhuang every time when competing in the finals.

“I can keep Li Furong purely by hand.” Zhuang clearly expressed his displeasure. “When Master ordered Li to surrender. I also felt discouraged. Even now, people are saying that all my World Championship results are locked.” Li was also angry, saying, “I can keep Zhuang Zedong, but the Leader wants me to. I lost."

Currently, due to the strong ability of Chinese athletes This makes locking effect much less important. Until then, it was no longer necessary. Former China national team head coach Tsai Zhenhua said in 2005, “Today we hardly have any results locked. I would like to clarify that for the Olympic Games The interests of the nation must come above all else, for example, when comparing which of our athletes is stronger than the next foreign athlete. I think the country should be the first. This is my principle We have been like this for over a decade.”

TT11TV
Lots of videos here.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

Ping Pong Master Shirt
Here’s where you can buy it!

Table Tennis Is My Music
Here’s the video (1:53) from Steve Rowe.

Many-Paddle Pong
Here’s the video (9 sec, but repeating)! I’ve never rallied with a cat (I don’t think the cat minded), but I once stuck a sheet of sponge on the forehead of a three-year-old (with his permission), picked him up, and rallied off his forehead! I wish I had pictures.  

Gigantic Pong
Here’s the video (8 sec, but repeating)!

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Knuckles in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (5:18)!

Ping Pong: Expectations vs Reality 2
Here’s the video (8:09) from Pongfinity!

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