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 ten books and over 2100 articles on table tennis, plus over 1900 blogs and over 600 tips. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)

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, Still More Table Tennis Tips, and Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2023, 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!

Junior Trials #2 and No Blog Next Week
I’ll be out of town this next week, coaching at the US Junior Trials Part 2, May 24-27, at the 888 Table Tennis Center in Burlingame, CA. (The broke the trials into two parts this year, with results from both used to finalize the US junior teams.) Here is full info and the player listing. I fly out on Thursday, May 23, and return on Tuesday, May 28. So no blog next week, but there will be the usual Tip of the Week on Monday.

Tips of the Week
I was out of town last weekend, so no blog, but the Tip of the Week went up as usual. In case you missed it, here is that tip and this week’s tip.

Weekend Coaching
Only one group session this weekend. I spent parts of it working with two girls who each had a separate stroke issue. One of them tended to cut her backswing short and so had maybe a six-inch forward swing before contact, with a long follow-through. You want your contact point at the middle of the forward swing. The solution was shadow-practice, where she also (at first) had this six-inch backswing and long follow-through. So I had her exaggerate the backswing. The idea here is if you are in the habit of a too-short backswing, then if you shadow-practice the correct backswing, you’ll likely end up doing something in between the two when you start real hitting. But if you shadow-practice a longer backswing then you really want, then you’ll likely end up doing it more correctly (with some adjustment) when you actually hit the ball.

The other girl had this habit of raising her racket tip before contact, and so meeting the ball with the racket tip pointed almost straight up and just blocking the ball. Again, the answer was shadow-practice first, and then stroking. But the key was that her backswing was too low, and so she felt forced to raise the racket tip up to meet the ball. Once we raised her backswing a bit, her stroke was fixed.

After the session, one of the kids presented me with this Certificate for Best Forehand!!!

As mentioned in past blogs, I have an ongoing thing where I have a different name each weekend. When I was asked my name, I told them I come from the Bad family – Grandma and Grandpa Bad, and my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Bad. My first name was Iam. So, my name was Iam Bad, and if they needed help on something, they just needed to say, “Coach Iam Bad”!

Non-Table Tennis - South Dakota (Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Black Hills, and Dinosaurs and Reptiles and Bears, Oh My!)
I took a vacation last week in South Dakota, flying out on May 11 and returning on May 14. In between I had two action-packed sightseeing days. The first day (Sunday) was the nine-hour Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, which I strongly recommend. That included Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Black Hills State Custer Park. We had a great view of Mount Rushmore (picture by me), especially with my binoculars. There was also a nice museum next to it featuring its history, where I spent another 45 minutes.

We spent much of the day driving through Black Hills Custer State Park, including Custer State Park Resort (the “Western White House” for President Coolidge), Iron Mountain Rd, Needles Highway, and Sylvan Lake. There were lots of great views. I kept track of animals – final totals were 3 bighorn sheep, 1 deer, 1 golden eagle, 5 geese, a herd of cattle, dozens of horses, and 2 cats. (However, those numbers would be greatly topped the next day.) The final stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. It was a good distance away, and in profile, so couldn’t see the face as well as I’d like. Also, it’s not finished – I may have to come back in about fifty years. That night I visited Dinosaur Park (eight large but simplistic dinosaur statues, but little kids seemed to like them) and the Berlin Wall Memorial (small but interesting, with a large segment of the old Berlin Wall and lots of info plaques).

On the second day I visited:

  • Dinosaur Museum - not large but great stuff, spent an hour there.
  • Reptile Gardens - lots and lots of spectacular reptiles, including many huge snakes (pythons, king cobras, etc.), alligators, crocodiles, giant tortoises, and so on, plus lots more, from prairie dogs to a large bald eagle. Even a snake show and bird show. Spent over two hours there.
  • Museum of Geology - both paleontology and geology, and free. Was there for over an hour.
  • Bear Country USA - wow, you stay in your car as you drive through the park, and the animals are right next to you! I spent half an hour surrounded by black bears and other large animals, often within five feet! Here’s a picture of a black bear just outside my car – he was often no more than three feet away. And lots and Lots and LOTS of other animals, many running free and so just outside my car, and others at the end in cages, such as wolves, mountain lions, lynx, badgers, anteaters, skunks, racoons, otters, and others. Running free included bears, reindeer, bighorn sheep, rocky mountain goats, elk, pronghorn, bison, and mule deer.

As is my custom, I collected souvenir magnets at each of the attractions – here’s my catch! Then it was time to fly home. On the spur of the moment, I did something I’ve never done before – I spent $130 and upgraded my flight home to first class. Result – I was able to work on my laptop the whole flight home. I’d already written the Tips of the Week for May, so I wrote four new ones for June, and still had time to work on a new science fiction story.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Review
Here’s a new review of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, from Tampa Bay Table Tennis! You can also read the 212 ratings and reviews at Amazon, where it has a 4.7 out of 5 average.

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions – An Interview With Larry Hodges
In case you missed it - here’s the interview and feature on my recent book, from Racket Insight (by David Bruce), where I answer twelve questions about Table Tennis Doubles for Champions, ranging from questions about the book, doubles strategy, and modern doubles play. (It mentions my other books – here they are!)

Kanak Jha and Nikhil Kumar Seek Olympic Qualification in Lima, Peru
Here’s the USATT article. They are a little behind. I haven’t followed it closely, but I believe they had four SE events in the ITTF Americas Olympic Qualification in Lima, Peru, with the winner of each going to the Olympics. Kanak won his and will be going. Nikhil lost in the final of his. Here are complete results – Nikhil is in KO1, Kanak is in KO3. (We didn’t have any women entered.)

Here’s ITTF Americas Qualifier: Kanak Punches Ticket to Paris by Steve Hopkins.

News from All Over
Since I’ve been away two weeks, rather than try to list every interesting article, here are links to some of the main news and coaching pages that have been active in that time, and you can pick and choose.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Table Tennis Ping Pong Beer Vintage 1942 Ad
Here’s the ad!

Mutt and Jeff
Here’s the cartoon from 1943!

Gentleman's Ping Pong
Here’s the video (11:13) from Pongfinity!

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Tip of the Week
Shadow Practice for Fitness and Improvement.

No Blog on May 13 - Off to South Dakota!
I’m taking a quick vacation to Rapid City, South Dakota (no, I'm not bringing a dog), May 11-14, Sat-Tue, where I’ll see (much of it in a group tour):

I also plan to drive out from the city at night, where it’s very dark, and really see the Milky Way Galaxy for the first time since camping in the Boy Scouts many decades ago. (I’m actually coaching at MDTTC on Saturday morning, then leaving for the airport right after lunch.) This will be my second time in South Dakota – we drove through it on the way to a tournament in North Dakota sometime in the late 1980s when I was at various times the manager, director, and a coach at the USATT Resident Training Program in Colorado Springs. We probably should have taken a detour to see Mount Rushmore and an earlier version of the Crazy Horse Memorial! We might actually have done so – I have a vague memory of seeing it off in the distance, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember who was driving or who else was in the car. (I’ve been to all 50 US states.)

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions
I did a small update to Table Tennis Doubles for Champions. In the original version, chapter 8 was “Secrets from the Pros” while chapter 9 was “Tactical Doubles Stories.” But the latter really goes with the rest of the doubles technique and tactics chapters I’d written. And so I switched the chapters, with “Tactical Doubles Stories” now chapter 8. I also had to change a couple of references to the chapters in the book, including the back cover, and one typo. On the Copyright page you can actually see what version it is – the original version says “v3-7-24” while the updated one is “v5-3-24.”

MDTTC Open
Here are complete results of the tournament at my club this weekend. Due to the tournament there were no coaching sessions this weekend. Here’s one interesting result – usually it’s up-and-coming, way under-rated juniors who sometimes dominate a rating event, and sometimes win multiple events. But this time it was Eugene Zhang, a senior player, who won both Under 1600 and Under 1900. He did so as a long pips blocker, which made things harder as he was playing against players who play him regularly and so presumably know how to play his different style. Players like Eugene usually do really well out of town against players who are not used to this style. The Zhang’s are a family of TT players, with son James (17, rated 2283) and Stephanie (student at University of Maryland, 2097).  

Third Issue of Table Tennis History is Out!
Here’s the page where you can click on the new May 2024 issue, edited by Steve Grant. Also there are the first two issues, September 2023 and January 2024, plus two other historical issues, plus a link to the book Ping Pong Fever, all by Steve Grant. I’m mentioned in the new issue – you’ll have to go there to find out why!

Major League Table Tennis
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ICTTF News
Last week I wrote about the first issue, April 2024, from the International Classic Table Tennis Federation and Steve Claflin, chair of the ICTTF. (Classic here means hardbat, sandpaper, and wood.) Here’s the newsletter signup page so you won’t miss any issues! If you are interested in writing for the newsletter, here’s the info page!

Illegal USATT Chair
It’s now been 455 days (exactly 65 weeks) since USATT elected Richard Char to an illegal third term as chair of the USATT board on Feb. 6, 2023. I’ve twice emailed the board on this. I blogged about it on Feb. 12, 2024 and Feb. 19, 2024. History will not look fondly on this chair and a majority of the current board that has gone along with it, nor the CEO who wrote an email supporting this. Neither will voters in the USATT elections this Fall. (Plus, of course, the CEO shouldn’t be involved in decisions about who chairs the very group she reports to.) I’ve blogged about various USATT issues quite a bit, and will do so again as the elections approach.

Butterfly Training Tips

Mastering the Backhand Chop Block
Here’s the video (1:41) with Yang Xiaoxin from PongSpace.

Simple Tactic When Returning Serves in Doubles
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Will Fan Zhendong Get to Play Olympics?
Here’s the video (2:47) from TacoBackhand.

New from Street TT

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions and answers from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly
(Here’s the home page for the Saudi Smash, with results, etc.)

New from USATT

New from ITTF

Loa Trying Other Sports
Here’s the video (4:03) from Pingispågarna, where a top table tennis player tries other sports!

Appelgren, Jonyer, Waldner & Other Legends Wildin' In 1983
Here’s the video (3:39) from Table Tennis Media.

Wild Pong
Here’s the kickstarter page for this ping pong card game – but I just like the picture of a giraffe and crocodile playing table tennis!

Wild Ping Pong Clothing
Here’s where you can buy them from Novamodish!

Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla
As usual, there’s lots of new AI table tennis artwork from Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla.

Adam vs. The Youngest Pro
Here’s the video (14:45) from Adam Bobrow!

***
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Tip of the Week
Forehand or Backhand Receive in Doubles.
(Excerpt from Table Tennis Doubles for Champions by Larry Hodges. April is Doubles Month!)

Weekend Coaching
Saturday was “Forehand Down-the-Line” day, as I worked with a number of players on that. They’d hit or loop forehands from their wide forehand down the line to my backhand, working on consistency and placement. It means adjusting their foot positioning a bit (right foot more back), turning the shoulders back, and taking the ball a little later than usual so they could line up the shot. I often put a ball net on the table, restricting them to hitting on only half of my backhand court, so 1/4 of the table, or 15 inches. I told them to focus on keeping the ball toward the table-edge side of those 15 inches – if they missed, I wanted misses going too wide, not toward the middle of the table. This is how you learn to play the ball wide when going down the line.

One variation – I put a target on the wide forehand side, such as Froggy. They have to hit five down the line shots, and then they get one crosscourt shot where they try to hit poor Froggy.

There are two reasons for practicing down-the-line shots. First, because in games you want to use the whole table so the opponent has to cover the whole table, and to do that you need to be able to play wide in both directions, crosscourt and down the line. Second, to quote USTT Hall of Famer David Sakai, who I used to practice with regularly, “If you can attack down the line consistently, then crosscourt is easy.” And it’s true – crosscourt, the table is about 10 feet 3.5 inches, while down the line it’s only 9 feet, so you have a shorter target. If you can attack down the line, then that extra 15.5 inches crosscourt looks HUGE! (I just realized I’ve really written a Tip of the Week here. Yes, it’ll probably show up as one in June. I’ve written all the Tips for May. UPDATE - I spent Monday afternoon working on Tips, and wrote four more for June, including expanding on the above for one of them.)

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions – An Interview With Larry Hodges
Here’s the interview and feature on my recent book, from Racket Insight (by David Bruce), where I answer twelve questions about Table Tennis Doubles for Champions, ranging from questions about the book, doubles strategy, and modern doubles play. (It mentions my other books – here they are!)

Illegal USATT Chair
It’s now been 448 days (64 weeks) since USATT elected Richard Char to an illegal third term as chair of the USATT board on Feb. 6, 2023. I’ve twice emailed the board on this. I blogged about it on Feb. 12, 2024 and Feb. 19, 2024. History will not look fondly on this chair and a majority of the current board that has gone along with it, nor the CEO who wrote an email supporting this. Neither will voters in the USATT elections this Fall. (Plus, of course, the CEO shouldn’t be involved in decisions about who chairs the very group she reports to.) I’ve blogged about various USATT issues quite a bit, and will do so again as the elections approach.

ICTTF News
Here’s the first issue, April 2024, from the International Classic Table Tennis Federation and Steve Claflin, chair of the ICTTF. (Classic here means hardbat, sandpaper, and wood.) I’ve got a few articles in it. Here’s the newsletter signup page so you won’t miss any issues!

Table Tennis and Sports Psychology with Dora Kurimay
Here’s her home page, where you can learn more about what she has to offer, as well as receive two free ebooks. She just sent out her April Newsletter – here’s where you can sign up to receive them. Dora is both a championship table tennis player and a sports psychologist. I’ve used her book “Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros!” as a reference book for the many sports psychology sessions I’ve run with kids in the MDTTC training program.

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:

Andrzej Grubba | The Most Entertaining Table Tennis Player Of The 80's
Here’s the video (5:02). I watched Grubba play many times. Tragically, the great Polish star died in 2005 at the age of 47 from lung cancer, likely from the fumes from many years of speed gluing, which was legal during his era. (The speed glue increases the bounciness of the sponge, allowing much better and more powerful loops. But the fumes were toxic, and so were eventually banned. These days you get the same effect with the various “tensored” sponges.) Two interesting and related facts about Grubba – he likely had the best backhand loop in the world during his time, and he was likely the best opposite-hand player in the world – he was #3 in the world for 2.5 years as a righty, but was about 2500 as a lefty! The “tragedy” here was what’s the point of him switching hands and playing a lefty forehand when he arguably had the best backhand in the world? (One answer – you get more range by playing the lefty forehand, and it’s easier to smash high balls.)

Support Kanak Jha Make History at the Paris 2024 Olympics
Kanak is trying to raise funds on his GoFundMe page for his training for the 2024 Olympics. Can you help? Here’s a note from Kanak:

“I am Kanak Jha and I am USA’s top professional Table Tennis player. I started playing in California when I was 5 years old and my love and passion for the sport grew over the years and to pursue my dream of being a world class table tennis player I moved to Europe at a young age of 15. Through 8 years of hard work l managed to reach a world ranking of 19. Along the way, there have been setbacks, obstacles and hurdles and just recently I came back after 15 months of inability to compete. This resulted in a total loss of income for 15 months; however, with the dedicated help of my coaches, my sponsors & supporters, my friends and my family I have remained true to my cause and pursuit of my dream. With my story I hope to continue inspiring the young talent in the U.S. that with determination and hard work, dreams do come true.” [Three more paragraphs follow.]

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

USA Table Tennis Designates 888 Table Tennis Center as a National Training Center
Here’s the USATT article.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Disguising the Direction of Your Serve
Here’s the video (2:35) with Damien Provost/PongSpace.

The Smartest Win of Ma Long's Career!? World Cup 2024 Final: Tactical Breakdown
Here’s the video (6:06) from Table Tennis TimeOut

World’s Best Serve?
Here’s the video (3:12) from Pingispågarna.

Take a Bow: Ved Sheth’s Intrepid Debut Performance
Here’s the NCTTA article by Jia-Yu (Trinity) Sung

Best Points With Best Angle!
Here’s the video (3:57) from the recent ITTF World Cup in Macao, from Street TT.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from ITTF

Bench Bouncing
Here’s the video (15 sec) – I counted 40 bounces. Can you do this against a similar object?

Ma Long, Lin Gaoyuan & Fan Zhendong Interact with Children
Here’s the video (2:01) as they pair up with kids and play doubles, from the MALONG Fanmade Channel.

Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla
As usual, there’s lots of new AI table tennis artwork from Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla. I’ll let you browse over them this time rather than my going through them.

Dog vs Cat
Here’s the cartoon – when dogs play cats you know the game is going to the birds.

Tears of My Ping Pong Opponents
Here’s where you can buy the mug at Amazon!

TableTennisDaily vs Pongfinity | BIGGEST MATCH EVER!
Here’s the video (27:54)!

Ping Pong Survival Game
Here’s the video (10:25) from Pongfinity! “We challenged 50 table tennis players in Bristol for a chance to win £100 if they beat all three of us!” (They only needed to score one point from each, and these were serious players.)

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Serve or Receive First in Doubles?
(Excerpt from Table Tennis Doubles for Champions by Larry Hodges. April is Doubles Month!)

Support Kanak Jha Make History at the Paris 2024 Olympics
Kanak is trying to raise funds on his GoFundMe page for his training for the 2024 Olympics. Can you help? Here’s a note from Kanak:

“I am Kanak Jha and I am USA’s top professional Table Tennis player. I started playing in California when I was 5 years old and my love and passion for the sport grew over the years and to pursue my dream of being a world class table tennis player I moved to Europe at a young age of 15. Through 8 years of hard work l managed to reach a world ranking of 19. Along the way, there have been setbacks, obstacles and hurdles and just recently I came back after 15 months of inability to compete. This resulted in a total loss of income for 15 months; however, with the dedicated help of my coaches, my sponsors & supporters, my friends and my family I have remained true to my cause and pursuit of my dream. With my story I hope to continue inspiring the young talent in the U.S. that with determination and hard work, dreams do come true.” [Three more paragraphs follow.]

Little known fact – I was one of Kanak’s early coaches! Well, sort of. When he was about ten, at a tournament, I taught him and a few others, in a "group" session, how to blow the ball up and sideways so that it just floated in the air. I also coached against him in tournaments probably a dozen times. I knew exactly how to play Kanak when he was a junior, studying numerous videos. Alas, whatever weaknesses I found back then are no longer weaknesses.

This year is also the thirteenth anniversary of “Servergate,” the most ridiculous umpiring fiasco I’ve ever been involved in as a coach. At the 2011 US Nationals I was coaching Tong Tong Gong in the Cadet (Under 15) Boys’ Singles semifinals against Kanak. (Kanak was a true prodigy – he was only eleven at the time. Tong Tong went up 4-2 in the fifth with the serve, so he had all the momentum going for him. He did his usual forehand pendulum serve, and Kanak missed it – but the umpire yelled, “Fault!” What the heck? He claimed Tong Tong had hidden the serve, which didn’t happen. We even had video showing the serve clearly was not hidden from the opponent at any point during the serve. He had served the same way he had the whole match. But there was nothing we could do, and so instead of leading 5-2 in the fifth, Tong Tong led 4-3. Flustered and forced to change his serving motion (and we’d already used our timeout), Tong Tong lost seven points in a row to 4-9, and the match, 11-8 in the fifth.  

Afterwards, we were all over the umpire for this call. The referee asked him what happened, and in front of us, the umpire said, “He hid the ball from me.” The referee (and me, very loudly) explained that the rule was the ball couldn’t be hidden from the receiver, not the umpire, and that it was entirely legal for Tong Tong to turn his back to the umpire as he served as long as he didn’t hide the ball from the receiver – and since his shoulders only pointed at the opponent and didn’t dip in to hide the ball, the ball was not hidden and the serve was legal. (Plus, of course, if the umpire thought doing so was illegal, why didn’t he call it earlier since that’s how Tong Tong served every point of the match?) Alas.

And now Kanak wants money from me??? :) (Go to his GoFundMe page to find out how much I and others have donated.)

ITTF World Cup Coverage
Ma Long and Sun Yingsha are the Champions! (See also Ma Long Secures Third World Cup Title in Macao by Steve Hopkins.) Here are complete results and ITTF coverage.

World Table Tennis Day
Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 23) is World Table Tennis Day. See all the activities that are going on that date, and join in the fun! “World Table Tennis Day (WTTD) has been celebrated annually in April since 2015. It is the day we celebrate table tennis, as well as the universality and social inclusiveness the sport represents. World Table Tennis Day is celebrated on 23 April, honouring Ivor Montagu, organiser of the first World Table Tennis Championships in 1926 and the founder and first president of the ITTF. WTTD celebrates the joy of playing table tennis for fun, bringing people together, focusing less on competition and more on participation and enjoyment.”

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

Butterfly Training Tips

New from PongSpace

3 Different Forehand Techniques
Here’s the video (2:07) from Pingispågarna. Three ways to dominate with the forehand!

Lin Gaoyuan and Fan Zhendong Performing Services of Different Distances and Rotations
Here’s the video (3:24) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Xu Xin's Counterattack Symphony: Precision, Power, and Pure Table Tennis Elegance!
Here’s the video (8:11) from Street TT.

New from Table Tennis Central

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from NCTTA

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Countdown is on: 100 days to Paris
Here’s the ITTF article.

Ian Seidenfeld at the Team USA Media Summit
Here’s the video (21 sec).

Throwbacks from the Past from Table Tennis Media

A Field of Kids Training in China
Here’s the video (14 sec).

Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla
New AI table tennis artwork from Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla. (Click on the image to see the next one.)

5-in-a-Row Challenge w/ Amy Wang & Lily Zhang!
Here’s the video (1:29)!

What Just Happened?
Here’s the video (17 sec)!

I’m a Table Tennis Player, Of Course I...
Here’s the video (18 sec)!

Magnetic Ping Pong Racket and Playing in a Pool
Here’s the video (8:01) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
How to Play Doubles with a Much Stronger or Weaker Player.
(Excerpt from Table Tennis Doubles for Champions by Larry Hodges. April is Doubles Month!)

Weekend Coaching
Had an interesting experience with two of our junior players, both about ten and still relative beginners. They were struggling to even hit three forehands in a row together – their shots just flew all over the table. So I hit with them, taking turns. Immediately they both were able to hit 50 or more in a row, mostly keeping the ball to my forehand corner, no problem. After a time I put them together again, and again they struggled. The problem was their feet weren’t “active,” and so whenever the ball wasn’t exactly where they were standing, they’d reach or lunge after it. So, yes, we spent a bunch of time working on getting their feet more active, including pointing out the obvious, “We do all these footwork drills so you can learn to move to the ball!”

I continued my tradition of having a new name every weekend. This week when they asked my name (since “Coach Larry” is in prison for cheating), I said it was Isserbad. At first they couldn’t figure out what that meant – until I had them call me Coach Isserbad. Say it out loud!

I also had a private session with Navin Kumar. A lot of the focus was on really deadening the ball when blocking against loops, as this allows you to keep the ball on the table over and over. Sometimes he blocks the ball too straight on with the long pips, and so it’s like he’s just hitting with wood – so we’re working on chopping down on the ball, i.e., chop-blocking with the long pips (no sponge). We also worked a lot on smashing. Here are two videos he took:

The Next Hodges Book: Table Tennis Doubles for Champions
My newest book is featured at Butterfly! It also includes links to all ten of my books that Butterfly sells. Their inventory is running low – make them order more! Here are the books of mine that they sell:

  • Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
  • Table Tennis Doubles for Champions
  • Table Tennis Tips
  • More Table Tennis Tips
  • Still More Table Tennis Tips
  • Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips
  • First Galactic Table Tennis Championships
  • Professional Coaches Table Tennis Handbook
  • The Spirit of Pong
  • Table Tennis Tales and Techniques

National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships
They were held this past weekend, Apr. 12-14, in Eua Claire, Wisconsin. Go to the NCTTA page for lots of coverage!

Kanak Jha
He’s back and he’s winning! Here are some links:

Dan Seemiller’s Top Twelve Table Tennis Moments
Here they are, from Eastern Kentucky Table Tennis.

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Pong Space

Talkin' Smash by JOOLA Ep11: The Difficult Task of Handling Pressure in Matches | Vitor Ishiy
Here’s the video (31:17) from Matt Hetherington.

About Rubbers and Why I Don't Talk About my Equipment
Here’s the video (16:48) from Olav Kosolosky, former finalist in Men’s Singles at the Belgium Nationals.

Ma Long and Fan Zhendong and Other Elite Table Tennis Players: Decoding the First Two Balls
Here’s the video (3:35) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Motivation to Break Guiness World Records
Here’s the video (8:23) from Ti Long.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions and answers from PingSkills.

New from Street TT

A Sabbatical of “Anything Besides Table Tennis” Lifted Amy Wang From Her Lowest Point to the Paris Games
Here’s the article from Team USA.

World Ranking Table Tennis
Here’s the new page where they update the world rankings every day.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USATT

New from ITTF

Tables Tennis?
Here’s the video (16 sec) as they take a lunch break.

Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla
Here’s their Facebook page, which has lots of good table tennis stuff. But what jumped out to me are a series of nice table tennis artworks they’ve been posting. (I’m guessing some is created with AI.) Here are some – if there’s a number in parenthesis, click on images to see others! (When I post to images in Facebook, I normally also link to the non-Facebook version, which you get by right-clicking and releasing on “Open image in new tab.” But there are too many here, so you’ll just have to get a Facebook account! It’s easy and free.)

When the Cat is Away...
Here’s the table tennis cartoon!

Adam vs. Enzo Angles
Here’s the video (13 min) from Adam Bobrow, where takes on the best player from Major League Table Tennis!

***
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Tip of the Week
Top Ten Things to Remember in Doubles.
(Excerpt from Table Tennis Doubles for Champions by Larry Hodges. April is Doubles Month!)

Weekend Coaching and My Short Stint as Head Tactical Coach for the Chinese National Team
I only coached one group junior session this past weekend (Beginning-Intermediate group) – our other coaches need the hours more than I do! I fed multiball for most of the session, then hit live with players the last 15 minutes or so. At the start we did a group shadow-practicing session, which is a good warmup, where we put the players through a series of stroking and footwork drills. Key things to remind players when they do this:

  • Lively feet;
  • Cover the wide corners when moving side to side;
  • Take a full stroke, with full shoulder turn on forehand;
  • Imagine you are hitting a real ball.

As always, footwork is key to all drills. Active feet are a must. As I said to one player during the session, “Your feet should move like rabbits, not dead hamsters!” Meanwhile, I continued our weekly “What’s your name, Coach?” joke. This weekend I explained that my name was Esargrate, and even spelled it for them. I told them to call me Coach Esargrate. (Say it out loud. They figured it out quickly.)

On a side note, remember how in last week’s April 1 blog I announced that China had hired me as the Head Tactics Coach for the Chinese National Team? Alas, when they picked me up at the airport I explained to them how I planned to convert the entire Chinese Team to the Seemiller grip. I was joking! But they have no sense of humor, and I never made it out of the airport. They put me on the next flight back home, alas. (If you look at the first letter of each line in last week’s blog, what it spells out is purely coincidental.)

Now go and enjoy the eclipse – and see my Butterfly Eclipse cartoon at the end below!

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action! They have two events left this season, a West Division event in Wichita, KS, Apr. 5-7, and the Championship Weekend at Loyola University, Chicago, IL, Apr. 27-28.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Pingispågarna

New from Ti Long

New from PongSpace

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

The Dark Arts of Serving
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

Roadmap to Learning Forehand Counter from Scratch
Here’s the video (20:43) from Drupe Table Tennis.

New from Ping Sunday/EmRatThich

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions and answers from PingSkills.

New from National Collegiate Table Tennis Association
All articles by Michael Reff.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Post Olympic Trials: A Thank You Note
Here’s the article by Rachel Sung.

Navigating The Role Of An Olympic Alternate
Here’s the article by Sally Moyland.

Coach Mingwei Ju: Shaping Young Talents and Building Community
Here’s the USATT article from Table Tennis America.

New from Table Tennis Media

New from ITTF

Frog Pong

Hypnotizing Ricocheting Ball
Here’s the video (15 sec)!

Someone Said Table Tennis is an Easy Sport
This is what happened to them! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Table Tennis Daily Takes on the Butterfly Legends
Here’s the video (28:09) as they play (with a 3-0 spot) against Michael Maze, Kalinikos Kreanga, Werner Schlager, and Zoran Primorac.

Butterfly Eclipse
Here it is! I didn’t know they made ping-pong balls that big.

***
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Tip of the Week
What Makes a Great Doubles Partnership?
(Excerpt from Table Tennis Doubles for Champions by Larry Hodges. April is Doubles Month!)

=>BREAKING NEWS - I’ve Been Hired as Head Tactical Coach for the Chinese National Team
After 48 years coaching in the US, next week I start my new job coaching the top Chinese
professional players as the new Head Tactical Coach for the Chinese National Team. I’ve
reviewed videos of their players for months, and after weeks of emailing back and forth,
I wrote up a detailed report with my tactical analysis last week to China’s head coach,
Liu Guoliang. He read my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, and says he’s its biggest
fan. I look forward to working with Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin, and the
others. I fly to Beijing on April 8 – I’m already packed. So, to all my fellow coaches and
other US friends, when you next see me, I’ll be coaching China. They’ll use my tactics against
Lily Zhang, Amy Wang, Kanak Jha, Nikhil Kumar, the Naresh brothers, and other US players.
Sorry! (The whole Chinese team is now required to read Table Tennis Doubles for Champions!)

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions
What, you mean you still haven’t bought my new book!!!??? I’ve been patient with you, but if you don’t buy it today, tomorrow you will be docked 100 rating points.
=>SPECIAL NOTE – if you have a table tennis site and would like to feature or review the book, let me know and I can send you a free copy (print or pdf).

US Junior Trials – Part 1
I flew down to West Monroe, Louisiana, March 24-30, for the first of the two US Junior Team Trials. (Part 2 is at the 888 Club in Burlingame, CA, May 24-27 – I expect to be there.) Here are complete results of Part 1. The tournament ran well, run by Vlad Farcas with referee Linda Leaf. They even provided me with a chair when I explained that (when spectating and not coaching) I couldn’t sit in the bleachers for more than five minutes without straining my back, since they had no back support. The hotel was a seven-minute walk away. The playing facility was excellent, with good lighting and flooring, and extra tables for practice. On the down side, getting to West Monroe is tricky – not a lot of flights going there.

Here are two USATT articles:

I ran into difficulties prepping our players before the Trials. Why? Let’s see, first I injured my neck while chopping to a player (to prepare him for a chopper at the Trials), and wore a neck brace for four days, until four days before we left for the Trials. Then, the day before leaving for the Trials, while stepping a barrier, I put my foot down wrong and sprained my right ankle. I hobbled around for the rest of the session, then went straight to Walgreens, where I bought an ankle brace that I would wear throughout the Trials. It worked – I was able to play, though I had to wear running shoes for the extra support, which felt like playing on stilts. While the ankle problem made movement and forehand shots tricky, it didn’t affect my backhand blocking, and so I ended up doing lots of that – my backhand blocking in a drill is still a wall. Another problem is that since I was favoring my right ankle, it put pressure on my knees and back, which also began to hurt. But I survived.

We had six players from MDTTC competing – Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, Ryan Lin, Winston Wu, Richik Ghosh, and Carmen Yu. I coached all but Ryan and Carmen in some matches, along with fellow MDTTC coaches Cheng Yinghua and Wang Qingliang. Coach Lai from Taiwan coached Ryan. (Ryan spent much of the last year training in Taiwan.) Carmen was coached by her dad, Thomas Yu. As usual, there were many ups and downs. It was jaw-dropping watching some of them pull off great wins and then lose to seemingly weaker players – playing in a Trials isn’t easy! Lots of pressure. Stanley (15) won the Under 17 Boys’ Trials and finished sixth in Under 19. Mu Du (15) finished sixth in Under 17 Boys. Carmen finished third in Under 15 Girls and sixth in Under 17.

As usual, I spent a bunch of time watching videos of opponents and taking notes. I also brought my giant racket case, the one with six rackets of different surfaces. All but the hardbat racket have regular inverted (Tenergy) on the reverse side. I used two of the rackets to prepare players for opponents, the long pips chopping racket and the short pips racket. The six rackets had:

  1. Long pips with thin sponge (chopping blade)
  2. Long pips with no sponge (push-blocking blade)
  3. Medium long pips
  4. Short pips
  5. Antispin
  6. Hardbat

As usual, lots of tactical issues came up. Here are a few.

  • One opponent ate up any serve that went the least bit long, even ripping serves that were half-long, where the second bounce was right over the white line – he had enough power to right over the table. So we had to go to shorter serves. Fortunately, the opponent didn’t have a good short game, and so returned the short serves long, which gave my player the attack. Many of the short serves were no-spin and were popped up. He started leaning in over the table as my player served, so a few sudden deep serves paid off.
  • One bad loss came about for one simple reason – the opponent would serve backspin, my player would push long to the backhand, and the opponent would backhand down the line. The backhand loop itself wasn’t that strong, but my player felt uncomfortable against it and missed it over and over, leading to a close loss.
  • One of Stanley’s opponents had short pips on the forehand. Before the match I pulled out my short-pips racket and warmed him up with it for 20 minutes. It paid off.
  • There was a lot of focus on ball placement, both for rallies and serves.
  • Heavy pushes to the backhand were effective in a surprising number of matches, but not always. Against short serves, it’s almost always best to mix in short and long pushes, and flips, and adjust the percentages based on the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and their serves.

US Olympic Trials
Here are the results. Here are some links. (I wasn’t there.)

Ping Pong Leadership: 18 Principles to Succeed at Any Table in Business, Sports, and Life
Here’s the new book by Justin Bookey, 293 pages. I’m in the book, where I told Justin about a match I once played where I used all sorts of theatrics, faking difficulties and missing on purpose, to convince the opponent to keep chopping (which I was very good against) rather than attacking (where he might have challenged me). The section is titled, “When Deception is Fair Play.” Here’s the book’s description from Amazon:

Tens of millions of people worldwide enjoy ping pong on some level. And if you’re looking to enhance your leadership skills, ping pong offers surprisingly relevant lessons for success.

Justin Bookey has spent decades in both worlds. As an Emmy-nominated content creator and strategist, he’s worked with leaders at global companies to accomplish their business goals. As a competitive table tennis player, he’s trained with national and world champions and won medals at the US Open.

Those two worlds rarely overlapped—until Bookey realized that the core principles he learned while training to compete at the table also apply to success in business and leadership.

In the 1970s, the leaders of the US and China famously used friendly table tennis matches as a first step in thawing decades of icy relations—an effort dubbed Ping Pong Diplomacy. Ping Pong Leadership takes the next step, showing leaders of all types how to envision and create meaningful change, from small business to the Fortune 500 and broader communities.

Along with exclusive insights from leaders in commerce, culture, and technology, this book distills lessons from the world’s most-played sport into 18 actionable and unforgettable “Pong Principles.”

For leaders, entrepreneurs, and competitors of all kinds, Ping Pong Leadership is a powerful guide to success at any table.

Dana Hanson RIP
The long-time table tennis aficionado left us two days ago. Here's In Memory of Dana Hanson by the Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina Table Tennis Community. Here’s what USTT Hall of Famer Sean O’Neill wrote of him on Facebook:

The entire table tennis community lost one of our greatest supporters and lover of the game with the passing of Dana Hanson this evening. Dana played out of the Richmond Table Tennis club, but was a regular at the US Open, US Nationals and United States Table Tennis Hall of Fame annual dinners. Dana loved to play singles and doubles. Condolences go out to the members of RTTC, Moni Rot, and David + Donna Sakai who were close friends of Dana. Our sports brings together players of all kinds, young and old, big and small, and kind and generous. Dana possessed all of the best attributes of our game and he will be sorely missed by all that had the pleasure to hid the ball and play a match against him.

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action! They have two events left this season, a West Division event in Wichita, KS, Apr. 5-7, and the Championship Weekend at Loyola University, Chicago, IL, Apr. 27-28.

News from All Over
Since I’ve been away two weeks (coaching at US Junior Trials), as I often do when I’m away for more than a week, rather than try to list every interesting article, here are links to some of the main news and coaching pages that have been active in that time, and you can pick and choose.

Chop Block in Table Tennis: How-To & When To Use It
Here’s the article by Alex Horscroft at PingPongRuler.

Fan Zhendong Slammed
Here’s the article from the South China Morning Post (in English). The full title is, “Champion China table tennis player slammed for losing crucial Singapore game after ‘joyfully singing’ at Taylor Swift gig.”

Chess at Light Speed
Here’s the article from the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, WA. The full title is, “Ping-pong players from all skill levels, ages and countries of origin flock to play ‘chess at light speed’ in weekly club gathering.”

The Talent Has Arrived
Here’s where you can buy this table tennis shirt at Amazon!

Crowd Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

It’s Safe to Say I’m Winning: Rwanda Ping-Pong
Here’s the cartoon! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Beat Me, Win $100 [China]
Here’s the video (15:20) from Adam Bobrow!

Tennis Stereotypes
Here’s the video (9:08) from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis -  Confederate Cavalry on a Plane
My humorous science fiction story, “Confederate Cavalry on a Plane” was published at Metastellar on March 20. A physics professor and his student on a passenger plane argue about the possibility of infinite alternate universes, while being robbed blind by a bratty kid. The professor bets the student that even the most unlikely event possible must happen, leading to three very confused Confederate Cavalry charging down the aisle of the plane.

***
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Next Blog on April 1
Not an April Fool’s Joke! I’ll be out of town, March 24-31, coaching at the US Junior Team Trials. See segment below. So no blog or tip on March 25. 

Tip of the Week
Let’s Talk About Shoes.

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions
It has come to my attention that you - yes, YOU, the one reading these words - have not yet bought a copy of my new book, Table Tennis Doubles for Champions. I know who you are. I have a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long table tennis career. If you buy the book now that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you and I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will beat you in ping-pong and take your rating points. (Oh My God, Liam Neeson has Taken my words and used them in his movie!)

Weekend Coaching, Neck Injury, and a Lot of Blocking
As mentioned in my blog last week, I injured my neck last weekend while coaching. (I was chopping to the student and wrenched it.) I was in a neck brace Mon-Wed, and part of Thursday. I debated whether I could coach this weekend, but it seemed a lot better by Friday, so I came in. While it was still stiff and I had to be careful, I was able to coach. Of course, a lot of coaching is walking around and yelling out tips (“Move your feet!”), and feeding multiball, which weren’t a problem. I had to be careful with both forehand and backhand looping as both put a strain on the neck. But what I could do with no problem was block. For our top group (1800-2550), I spent two hours blocking to a rotation of players, ranging from 1800 to 2200. There were times where my block felt like old times, and nothing could get past me. (Then the player would loop at a wide angle that I couldn’t get to, which would be a wake-up call that my feet aren’t as fast as they used to be.)

At the end of the session with the Intermediate Group they played up-down tables, games to 11, with a one-point tie-breaker at 10-all. There was one player who, over and over, served short backspin, opponents would push to this backhand, and he’d step around and forehand loop and dominate the points. He had a one-point tie-breaker with another kid, and it happened again – serve, push to backhand, step-around forehand loop which won the point. I pulled his losing opponent aside (age 11) and pointed out that he’d been pushing to the backhand over and over, and asked why. He said, “Because his forehand is good, so I want him to play backhand.” I asked him if that had worked, or had the opponent just forehand looped from the backhand corner, since he knew the push return would go there. That’s when it hit him what the problem was. I told him next time he played someone like that, fake a push to the wide backhand, and then, at the last second, push to the wide forehand. I told him not only would it likely be a winner, but then the opponent would have to watch for that – and THEN you could push to the backhand and he wouldn’t be so quick to step around. The kid then moved down a table and played someone else – and on the first point, he did exactly what I’d suggested – and the kid he was now playing also had stepped around, and so the push to the forehand was an ace!  

US Junior Team Trials
I’ll be coaching at the US Junior Team Trials next week in West Monroe, Louisiana. (If I put down “West Monroe, LA,” many will think it’s a suburb of Los Angeles.) I fly down on Sunday, March 24 (the last day of the US Olympic Trials at the same venue), we have a practice day on March 25, then the Trials are March 26-30. MDTTC has five players in the Trials (Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, Ryan Lin, Winston Wu, and Richik Ghosh) and three coaches going (me, Cheng Yinghua, Wang Qingliang, plus a guest coach from Taiwan who will be coaching Ryan Lin). This is the first of two Junior Trials, with Part 2 at the 888 TTC in Burlingame, CA, May 24-27. You can see the results each day at Omnipong – see 2024 US Junior National Team Trials - Part 1.

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action! They have two events left this season, a West Division event in Wichita, KS, Apr. 5-7, and the Championship Weekend at Loyola University, Chicago, IL, Apr. 27-28.

Mental Training Tip: Focus on the “WIN” to Help You Win
Here the article by Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, Ph.D.

Fethomania
With Stefan Feth and Larry Thoman.

  • FETHOMANIA 5: Drill 1 (52 sec) - Forehand Topspin against backspin that comes half long to Forehand. (I linked to this one on March 4.)
  • FETHOMANIA 5: Drill 2 (53 sec) -  Backhand Topspin against backspin that comes half long to Backhand.
  • FETHOMANIA 5: Drill 3 (57 sec) - Forehand flip against short backspin in Forehand to Forehand or Forehand.
  • FETHOMANIA 5: Drill 4 (57 sec) - Backhand flip against short backspin in Backhand to Backhand or Backhand.
  • FETHOMANIA 5: Drill 5 (54 sec) - RANDOM HALF LONG BALLS all over the table and Forehand Topspin.

Butterfly Training Tips

How to PLAY against LEFT-HANDERS
Here’s the article (8 min) from Pingispågarna.

How To Return the Sidespin Serve Tutorial
Here’s the video (6:31) from Nick Rudd.

New from PongSpace

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Ti Long

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Taco Backhand

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions and answers from PingSkills.

Dan Seemiller’s Top 12 Table Tennis Moments (in his own words)!
Here’s the article from Around the Table. They are doing two per week, so they only have moments 9-12 so far. And perhaps pick up a copy of one of Dan’s books!

Talkin' Smash by JOOLA Ep10: Bridging the Gap from Social to Pro Table Tennis
Here’s the video (63 min) from Matt Hetherington with PingPod's Max Kogler.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

United States Coastguard Becomes NCTTA Sponsor!
Here’s the article from the National Collegiate TTA.

New from ITTF

Ping Pong Greeting Cards
Here’s where you can buy them at Fine Art America.

T-Rex Hates Table Tennis
Here’s the shirt at Amazon!

Cow Pong

Two Nancy Cartoons that Feature Table Tennis
Both involve playing in Nancy’s crowded basement with Sluggo.

Hide and Seek Pong
Here’s the video (7 sec) with Marek Záškodný!

5 Best Shots In Table Tennis History Recreated!
Here’s the video (8:56) from Table Tennis Daily!

Non-Table Tennis – The Personary
My very short fantasy story, “The Personary” (500 words) was published last week by New Myths Magazine. If a person goes to the library to read books, where does a book go to get a person to read it? Why, the Personary! And what if adventurous books have to avoid bullying books to get to the Personary?

My humorous science fiction story, “Confederate Cavalry on a Plane” (4700 words) was published at Metastellar on March 20. A physics professor and his student on a large passenger plane argue about the possibility of infinite alternate universes, while being robbed blind by a bratty kid. The professor bets the student that even the most unlikely event possible must happen, leading to three very confused Confederate Cavalry charging down the aisle of the plane.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

NOTE – due to a neck injury (see “Weekend Coaching”) I can barely hold my head up straight. So, I’m doing a shortened version of my blog this week, where I’m skipping all the usual links. (I’ll catch up with them next week.) Much of the below was written in advance. The rest I painstakingly typed this morning.

Tip of the Week
The Four Types of Defense.

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions - NOW ON SALE!!!
My new book is out at Amazon!!! It’s 133 pages, with 109 pictures and illustrations. There have been many instructional books on singles, but rarely more than perhaps a few pages on doubles. So, if you like doubles, this is for you! (I’ve won a lot of doubles titles, but more importantly, I’ve coached a lot of doubles champions.) Chapters include:

  • Great Partnerships
  • The Start of a Doubles Match
  • Serving in Doubles
  • Receiving in Doubles
  • Rallying in Doubles
  • Positioning & Footwork – fully illustrated
  • Secrets from the Pros – see list of interviews below
  • Tactical Doubles Stories
  • The Wacky World of Doubles – the funny side of doubles
  • Doubles Rules
  • World and Olympic Champions – complete listing

The “Secrets from the Pros” chapter includes interviews, tips, and features on great doubles champions such as Stellan Bengtsson, Gao Jun, Nikhil Kumar, Amy Wang, Jasna Rather, Dan Seemiller, Sean O’Neill, Dell & Connie Sweeris, and Dave & Donna Sakai.

The book had an incredible Editorial Board, a virtual Who’s Who of table tennis, that edited, made suggestions, and improved and approved the book. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Angelita Bengtsson, 4-time US National Women’s Doubles Champion; member of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame and the Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
  • Stellan Bengtsson, World Singles and Doubles Champion; long-time Swedish National Coach; and member of the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame
  • Mark Dekeyser, 40 years’ experience in singles and doubles; edited previous TT books by Larry Hodges; and author of “The No. 1 Brain Sport” in Active Seniors Digest.
  • Sean O'Neill, 5-time Men’s Singles, 5-time Men’s Doubles, and 6-time Mixed Doubles US National Champion; Two-time Olympian; member and president of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • John Olsen, USATT (State) and ITTF certified coach; Virginia State Open Doubles Champion; 16 gold medals in doubles (never lost) at the Virginia Senior Games and Northern Virginia Senior Olympics; one silver and two bronze medals for doubles at the National Senior Games.
  • Dan Seemiller, 5-time Men’s Singles, 11-times Men’s Doubles, and 8-time Mixed Doubles US National Champion; former long-time US Men’s Team Coach; member of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Dell Sweeris, 4-time Mixed Doubles and 3-time Men’s Doubles US Open Champion; long-time US Team member and US National Coach; member of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Dennis Taylor, USATT General Counsel for 18 years; past USATT Board Member; past chair of the USATT High Performance Committee; and member of the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.

Get your copy now! And if you like it, give it a nice review at Amazon. If you run a table tennis site and would like to do an interview or other feature of the book, email me. If you are a table tennis distributor, email me for the wholesale price list. (Here’s a listing of all my books.)

Weekend Coaching and Neck Injury
I had a busy weekend, coaching in four group sessions and one private session. Saturday went well until near the end, when I did a private session with Richik Ghosh (age 9, rated 1844) to help him get ready for the US Junior Trials at the end of the month. (We’ll do two more the next two Saturdays.) My neck had been bothering me for a few days, but it wasn’t so bad. During our session I strained it – and soon afterwards I could barely hold my head up straight! It got worse and worse. On Sunday morning I debated whether I could even go in, but decided I had to. But I couldn’t do any actual hitting or even demonstrate shots, could only feed multiball and walk around coaching in the two group sessions that day. I tried to keep my head up straight, but that was painful and so often my head was tilted sideways and forward, to the amusement of the kids.

I’ve had this same neck injury twice this past year. Both times it took about a week of rest to get better. I probably won’t bother seeing a doctor, but I ordered a neck brace from Amazon that should be coming in today. I had one before but I can’t seem to find it.

Some of the focus for the day was on staying closer to the table. Some of our kids like to back up, while others naturally stay at the table. It’s best to be able to play from all distances, while favoring staying at the table. Giving up the table too easily by backing up is almost always a mistake.

We now have an ongoing tradition that I have a different name every session. It’s reached the point that I have to brainstorm for new names. On Saturday, I explained that when I was born, my parents took one look at me and said, “You’re Ugly!”, and the doctor thought that was my name, and put that down on my birth certificate, and my name is Coach You’re Ugly. (Yes, the kids called me by name, over and over.) On Sunday I explained how when I was born, parents though I had a pretty nose and so named me Nose, and that of course my last name is Table Tennis, and so my name is Coach Nose Table Tennis. (Say it out loud.)

US Nationals Entry Form
The entry form is up and you can now enter at Omnipong. It’s in Huntsville, Alabama, July 3-7. I’ll be there, both coaching and playing. As I’ve done every US Nationals and Open starting in 1999, I proofed it for them. (I’m that weird type who can read a book, and on page 350 will point out something that contradicts what was said on page 50, plus I’m a long-time editor, among other things.) I just noticed that a few of my edits didn’t get made – I just emailed them.

USATT Magazines, 1933-2014
Vince Mioduszewski has made it his latest mission to collect and put online every USATT Magazine every done. I’d helped by putting together a listing of every USATT Editor in our history, dates they were editor, and the number of issues they’d done. (There have been a total of 556.) I also put online all 71 issues that I edited. Vince you may remember was also behind putting the results of every US Open and Nationals online – the USA Table Tennis Results History.

He's started to scan some of the old issues he has, including eight from 1935-1938. He sent them to me, and I put them online and created a page with links. Here it is, the USATT Magazines Historical Listing! As of now, it only includes the 71 issues I did and the seven he’s scanned so far. Later we’ll get more, though he’s told me he’ll be really busy for a while and may not be able to get to scanning the rest for a while.

USATT Magazines, 1976-2014
I started playing and joined USATT in 1976. I received every USATT Magazine during that time, but somehow, along the way, lost a few of them. The last year or so I’ve been trying to complete my collection for that period – and I finally got the last one missing! Mike Babuin sent me a copy of the May 1989 issue, and so my collection is complete for that time period. Of course, there were lots of issues before 1976, starting in 1933, but I’ll let someone else collect those. Here’s a listing of my complete table tennis memorabilia collection, including the magazines. (They stopped doing USATT Magazine in 2014.)

NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz Says He Is Recovering From a Stroke
Here’s the article from NPR. Will is the owner of the Westchester TTC and a member of the USATT Board of Directors. Will said, "Hey guys, this is Will Shortz. Sorry I've been out the last few weeks. I had a stroke on Feb. 4 and have been in rehabilitation since then, but I am making progress. I'm looking forward to being back with new puzzles soon.”

Intense Table Tennis Training – with Wheels
Here’s the video (33 sec).

Extremely Hard Ping Pong
Here’s the video (8:08) from Pongfinity! Now they’re playing with holes drilled on the table.

Non-Table Tennis – 200th Short Story Sale
I had a major breakthrough this past week – I sold my 200th science fiction/fantasy short story. (That includes 156 original sales and 44 resales.) The story was, “Two Democratic Civilizations Passing in the Twilight of the Boondocks of the Galaxy” to Ahoy Comics. (It’s my second sale to them.) A huge ship of galaxy-wandering snake-like aliens shows up, and since they outnumber humans (it’s a big ship and they’re crammed into it) and since they worship democracy, they claim Earth as their own . . . and give us one hour to leave.

Another story of mine, “A Tale of One City,” went up at Flash Fiction Magazine this past week. It’s sort of a takeoff of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens and the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. What happens when a developing but average writer starts a mass movement that worships averageness, and condemns all that is great or poor – but runs into the problem of how to grow a mass movement that condemns your very success in growing it?

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Tip of the Week
The Definition of Insanity and Its Table Tennis Implications.

2024 US Table Tennis Hall of Fame Inductions
Here’s the announcement! Inducted this year are Glenn Cowan as a player, Stellan Bengtsson and Dennis Taylor as contributors, and Patty Martinez-Wasserman the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner will be held on Oct. 10 at the Houston International TT Academy, in conjunction with the Si and Patty Wasserman Jr. & Open Championships on Oct. 11-13. (I expect to be there, both for the HoF Inductions & dinner and to coach at the tournament.) I’ll be doing the Hall of Fame program booklet, as I’ve done since 2009. Already started on it! (On a side note, both Stellan and Dennis are on the Editorial Board for my upcoming book, “Table Tennis Doubles for Champions,” which should be out by the end of March.) Here are the honorees:

  • Glenn Cowan was on the US Ping-Pong Diplomacy Team to China in 1971 where he is credited with making friends and exchanging gifts with Zhuang Zedong, which helped lead to Ping-Pong Diplomacy. (He was the only player on the team not yet inducted.)
  • Stellan Bengtsson had a stellar career as a Swedish player (1971 World Men’s Singles Champion, 1973 World Doubles and Team Champion, many-time European and Swedish Champion) as well as a coach, both in Sweden and then the US. For the US, he was instrumental in coaching Jimmy Butler and numerous Para players. [NOTE - As noted in the announcement, Stellan will be inducted with the 2025 Class due to travel concerns.]
  • Dennis Taylor was the USATT pro-bono lawyer for 18 years, a member of the board of directors, and chaired a number of committees, including the High Performance Committee.
  • Patty Martinez-Wasserman has won a zillion titles, including three-time US Open Women’s Singles Champion, and even more titles through the years in various senior events, including a total of 14 medals (7 golds) at the 2023 US Nationals and Open.

MDTTC Open
Here are the results of the tournament at my home club in Gaithersburg, Maryland. There were two notable breakthroughs in this tournament. First, Stanley Hsu, 15, who recently achieved an even 2500 rating, won Open Singles. He’s won a few before, but what’s notable is that he upset Bruno Ventura Dos Anj in the final, rated 2571. (Bruno is one of Stanley’s coaches and practice partners.) The other breakthrough was 9-year-old Ritchik Ghosh’s performance. He came in rated 1632, and won both Under 1900 and Under 2000! Along the way he won 13 matches in the two events, including players rated 1743, 1852, 1877, and 1925, losing only one game to these players, and had no bad losses. I coached him in six of his Under 1900 matches, and he easily won them all 3-0 – I kept waiting for a real match to break out where he might actually need me! His focus is very good, so my coaching is mostly about serve, receive, and ball placement. (He can go from focused champion at the table one minute, to joking around playing other kids on the mini-table the next.) I’ll likely be coaching him at the US Junior Team Trials in West Monroe, Louisiana, March 26-30, where he’ll be in Under 11 and Under 13.

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

Butterfly Training Tips

Tips & Tricks, How to Read and Return a spinny SERVE
Here’s the video (6:19) from Pingispågarna.

New from Ti Long

Do You Practice Returning Serves? If Not, Why Not?
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

Sports Psychology by Dora Kurimay
Here’s her blog page – lots of topics! Here’s her sports psychology books and videos. Who is she? Here’s her bio.

New from Jon Gustavson
They are at his blog page.

  • Roll the Low Ones -Hit The High Ones
  • The Student of Table Tennis
  • A Sticky Situation

Roadmap to Learning the Strokes – Introduction
Here’s the video (5:01) from Drupe Pong.

Attacking with Long Pips
Here’s the video (1:38) from PongSpace, with World #13 Yang Xiaoxin.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Backhand “Ghost” Serve
Here’s the video (13 sec), where the heavy backspin serve bounces back over the net. I can do this with my forehand pendulum serve, but not on the backhand side – though with practice I think I could do it. Developing these types of serves are an excellent way to develop heavy backspin and control. They aren’t too effective against top players, who see it coming and run to the side of the table and (as the ball bounces backwards) kill it! I have seen a few players use this against kids, which I find unsportsmanlike.

Passing the Torch: Modernizing Olympic, Paralympic, & Grassroots Sports in America
Here’s the report. While table tennis is only mentioned in passing, one of the two co-chairs of the report is USATT Hall of Famer Han Xiao. (He was from my club, MDTTC.)

Barbara Wei at the Worlds in South Korea
Here’s the video (75 sec) – she was there doing coverage and play-by-play. (She’s another former long-time junior star from my club!)

Singapore Smash Preview: Could this be Three in a Row for Fan?
Here’s the article by Steve Hopkins.

2025 NCTTA Champs Returns to Rockford Stage After Over a Decade
Here’s the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association by Michael Reff.

New from USATT

New from ITTF

Point of the Tournament - Busan 2024 World Teams Table Tennis Championships Final
Here’s the video (52 sec) from Tony’s Table Tennis.

1 Man vs. 4 Pro Women
Here’s the video (12:30) from Adam Bobrow!

Ep2. Ping Pong With Pineapple | 24 Hours with Roger: Shanghai Edition
Here’s the video (4:14) where tennis great Roger Federer takes on 7-year-old Chinese girl!

Polar Vortex vs. Hotter Summers: Climate Change is a Hoax
Here’s the cartoon that mocks the climate change deniers.

Nancy Playing Table Tennis
Here’s the cartoon!

Watching the First Point Between Two Choppers
Here’s the Titanic video (4 sec)!

The PongFather & The Phoenixville Table Tennis Club, Karaoke 2024
Here’s the video (3:56)!

Non-Table Tennis – Eternity and the Devil
I recently sold a science fiction/fantasy story, “Eternity and the Devil,” to the anthology The Devil You Know Best. It goes on sale tomorrow (Tuesday, March 5). There’s also an online Launch Party on Tuesday at 8PM Eastern Time – I’ll be on it, talking about my story. This is actually the fourth time I’ve sold this story! It was published in various anthologies and magazines in 2009. 2012, 2017, and now 2024, and I’ve been paid over $1,000 for it. (Not bad for a 5,000-word story, about 23 pages double-spaced.) The story is a twist on the "Deal with the Devil" story. A physicist sells his soul to the Devil so he can solve the Grand Unified Theory, which he uses to greatly benefit mankind – he’s a good guy. At the end of his life, when the Devil shows up to take him to Hell, the scientist escapes into the future in a time machine he created using what the Grand Unified Theory. He has numerous stops as he goes a trillion years into the future, pursued by the Devil. At each stop, he is surrounded by billions of systematically tortured souls in Hell - including his long-suffering girlfriend, who he is determined to save.

I split my time between my TT and SF worlds. Recently I’ve had a plethora of science fiction & fantasy short story sales, selling three in Feb, three in Jan, and two each in Dec and Nov, and Oct. Several of them are coming out soon – I’ll post links when they do. Some have TT in them!!! Here’s all my short story sales – all 199 of them! #200 should come any time now.

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