Larry Hodges's blog

May 20, 2019

Tip of the Week
Recipe for Table Tennis Success. I had a little fun this week!

Virginia Sung Appointed New CEO of USA Table Tennis
Here's the USATT article. She starts work today. Here main credentials (from the article, and these are only a very brief outline):

Ms Sung founded and served as CEO of a number of large scale businesses in China, some with over 200 employees. She also holds a Bachelor of Philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. As a player, she represented the USA on numerous occasions, including as a six-time member of the US World Championships team between 1993 and 2001, a finalist in the Women's Singles event at the 2001 National Championships, and the co-winner of National Champion Women's Doubles event in 1998.

I knew her from many years ago, but mostly as a seemingly very shy junior after she moved to the U.S. from China at age 14, when her English wasn't so good. (She's very fluent now, almost no accent.) She lived and trained here in Maryland for a couple of years; I had a few practice sessions with her. (She's a chopper.) She and I spoke for nearly an hour at the U.S. Open in December, and she seemed almost a different person - far more outgoing, highly savvy on current table tennis issues, and obviously very enthusiastic about the possibility of being the USATT CEO and leading our sport into a new era. (At the time she was one of many candidates applying, but she quickly moved to the forefront for many.)

It's a sad truth that she'll also face some prejudices. Not everyone will accept a not-so-tall Asian woman as a CEO. Some will try to talk over or down to her. Welcome to the darker side of human nature. But she's run large businesses so presumably she'll know how to handle this and other situations. 

At some point I may put together a list, perhaps a Top Ten list, of things I think USATT (and thereby her, as the "captain") should do to really develop the sport in this country. It's not an easy thing to do as any time someone from USATT tries to do something good for the sport, they face:

  • Politics - who'd have thunk it?
  • Highly opinionated naysayers with their own (often not so good) ideas. Hopefully not me!
  • Organizational inertia. It's hard to make major changes in a sport in the U.S. that's proven itself most resistant to change for its first 86 years.
  • Seemingly weekly "emergencies" that have to be taken care of. When I was on the USATT Board of Directors, I wanted to focus on developing the sport, but we were in an almost constant state of putting out the latest "fires," and so that was mostly the focus. Far more time was spent on this and various "fairness" issues (how to choose a U.S. Team, Codes of Conducts, etc.) than on actual development.
  • A lack of money and staff. Always a problem . . . unless the CEO or someone brings in more money. Local sponsorships are much easier to get as local businesses like to advertise locally, but getting national sponsors has proven to be very difficult for an organization that doesn't get much exposure and has only about 9000 members spread out over an area of 3.8 million square miles. (That's about 420 square miles for each member, or roughly one member for each 20 mile by 20 mile square.) Why would a big business want to sponsor a small sport like ours that gets so little exposure? Why would a small business want to sponsor a nationwide sport as opposed to something local? There are answers to these questions, but not always persuasive ones for the potential sponsors.

Here's the USATT Staff Listing - I wonder how long it'll take to get this updated to add our new CEO? C'mon, USATT, impress us! :)
***UPDATE*** - it went up on Tuesday! 

Weekend Coaching
In both the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Junior Classes, the focus was on Forehands Down the Line and on Forehand Smashing. (We'll focus more on backhand this next week.) On Friday I watched and scouted our junior players in league matches for two hours (as I did the previous Friday), and reported the results to the other coaches at our Sunday night dinner/coaches meeting. In the Sunday Talent Program, we're really focusing on basics, both strokes and footwork, as well as physical training

Final Day to Enter USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Final deadline is May 20 - TODAY. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. There are currently 719 players entered. Here's my blog about this last week.

ITTF Calendar
Here's the ITTF calendar for upcoming events, such as the Thailand Junior & Cadet Open (Bangkok, Thailand, May 15-19) and the China Open (Shenzhen, China, May 30 - June 2).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Otocec, Slovenia, May 8-12, 2019, with complete results, news, photos, and video. Here's the article Zhang Upsets Order to Finish in Slovenia Quarterfinal by Matt Hetherington, featuring USA's Lily Zhang.

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Zagreb, Croatia, May 14-18, 2019, with complete results, news, photos, and video. Here are some links.

ITTF Level 3 Course in Akron, Ohio at Samson Dubina Academy
Here's the info page for the course, held Sept. 4-11. Here's what was posted about on Facebook - I've combined it into one paragraph:

We are delighted to announce that the NEW Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy will be hosting an ITTF Level 3 Course here in Akron, Ohio on Sep 4-11. Christian Lillieroos will be the course conductor! This is the ONLY ITTF Level 3 course worldwide in 2019 (in English) and we ONLY have 20 spots available. The early-bird deadline is June 1st, but I won't wait until then. It will likely fill up in the next 1-2 months. Register NOW www.SamsonDubina.com. This will likely be the only time during the next 5-10 years that we will offer a level 3 course here in Ohio. To be eligible for the course, you must have passed level 2 with a score high enough to take the level 3. If you have questions about your eligibility, please send me a message. See you soon at the NEW Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy in Akron, Ohio, USA.

New from Tom Lodziak

Recommending a Racket
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Breaking New Group, First for Southern India
Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF courses ran in India by USA's Richard McAfee.

Dexter St Louis, Caribbean Stalwart, Passes Away
Here's the ITTF article.

Wang Chen and Victor Liu Arbitration Demand
Here is the Demand for Arbitration (65 pages, but main document is 11 pages, the rest "Exhibits"). They are taking USTT to Arbitration over the Olympic and Pan Am Selections. I have not fact-checked this. USATT will no doubt have their own side to this, though I expect it won't go public until after the Arbitration. Here is the USATT Selection Procedures Page.

Fort Lauderdale to Host World Veteran Tour Event
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington, on the event to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Oct. 17-20, 2019.

Jenson Van Emburgh's Exceptional Performance at World's Biggest Para Event
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

WAB Club Feature: Broward Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

ITTF Pilot Testing "Thickness measurement on dismantled rubbers" Project
Here's the ITTF article.

Table Tennis Tidbits #46
Here's the article by Robert Ho, "Li’l Liu", Big Bang. "At the '19 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Liu Shiwen of China, # 1 woman player in the world periodically for about a decade, finally won the Women's World Championship for the first time at 28 years of age, 5'3" tall, weighing 106 lb.  If the foregoing description sounds like that of a boxer, it's meant to be as Liu is a relentless fighter."

English Table Tennis National Junior Championships 2019
Here's the article by Eli Baraty, and he's not happy. "It's truly sad for me to say this but honesty is said to be the best policy and it pains me to say it but the foundations of English table tennis is at an all time low."

Germany in Decline? Rosskopf: Working to Revert It
Here's the article in Chinese, with an English translation (and some discussion) at mytabletennis.com.

ITTF Museum
Here's a tour (4 min) of the ITTF Museum in Shanghai. Alas, it's in Portuguese, but it shows the many exhibits, including close-ups of the English explanations. Here's a pictorial.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter 21 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "October-December 1996 Tournaments." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

DHS Top 10 | Liebherr 2019 World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (6:35).

Unbelievable Table Tennis
Here's the highlights video (π).

Samson Dubina - Jacob Boyd Exhibition
Here's the video (42 sec).

Comedian Frank Caliendo Talks about Table Tennis
Here's the video (21:25, link should go to the table tennis, from 14:26 to 16:56). 

Backyard Cat Pong
Here's the video (13 sec)!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

May 13, 2019

Tip of the Week
First Block and First Counterloop.

USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Final deadline is May 20. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. There are currently 673 players entered, and if you aren't there, we will be talking about you - and it won't be nice! I'll be coaching there, and playing in Over 40 Hardbat. (I normally use sponge, but hardbat is a sideline.)

Here are two articles by Matt Hetherington on players who will be competing at the Nationals:

Here's another article on the Nationals from NCTTA, Play or Volunteer in US Nationals at Vegas!

There are 96 events this year. They include:

  • Men's and Women's Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.
  • 24 junior events, ranging from Under 10 to 21 and Under, for boys and girls, with numerous singles, doubles, and team events. (This is in addition to the various junior rating events.)
  • 34 senior events, ranging from Over 30 to Over 80, with both singles and doubles, for men and women.
  • 17 rating events, from Unrated and Under 1000, to Under 2400, including the ever-popular Under 2200 tiered Super Round Robin (lots and lots of matches!). Most of them are divided into Adult and Junior rating events, so adults can avoid those way-underrated kids, and kids get to play other kids.
  • Under 4200 and Under 3200 Doubles/
  • Ten hardbat and two sandpaper events.
  • Open and Women's Para events for Classes 1-11.

But the Nationals is much more than just playing and competing. You also get to mingle with your friends and peers from around the country, as well as perhaps a contingent from your club - a built-in cheering section when you play. (But make sure to cheer for them when they play as well!)

You get to spectate as the best players in the country battle it out, with you right there at courtside. You can follow your favorites around like a groupie! (Okay, go easy on that.)

There's also the equipment booths. It's like the Garden of Eden for table tennis players as the various manufacturers and distributors exhibit their stuff on huge, seemingly endless tables - Butterfly, JOOLA, Paddle Palace, Newgy, and more! There will be unending rows of sponge, rackets, shoes, balls, clothing, books (including mine!), robots, playing bags, and all sorts of knick-knacks from towels and racket cases to mini-paddles and keyrings. Plus there's the "shirt shop," where all players get a free US Nationals t-shirt, which (for additional cost) you can upgrade to something really nice. (I always do.)

There's also the Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday night (July 4). Come and see Michael Ralston, Li Zhenshi, and Sharon Brooks as they are inducted into the USATT Hall of Fame, and Richard Hicks receive the Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award. You'll get to meet and hobnob there with the greats of our sport - Dan Seemiller, Sean O'Neill, Insook Bhushan, the Sweeris's, Sakai's - heck, seemingly half the people from the USATT Hall of Fame will be there! (Here are links to the annual Hall of Fame program booklets from 1979 to 2018, which show that year's inductees and their credentials, etc.)

If you want to be pampered, for just $50 you have access to the Players' Lounge: Unlimited snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, Games, and a place to relax between matches. Or the VIP package for $99, which includes the Player's Lounge plus a personalized locker and a Finals ticket.

There are also other reasons to go to Las Vegas, something about gambling and shows, but I wouldn't know about that as I'm always at the hotel or playing hall, or traveling from one to the other - well, mostly.) This year I plan on doing a bit more sightseeing, perhaps doing a Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam trip or visit the Mob Museum or the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium.

There's also a USATT Board meeting during the Nationals - feel free to show up and watch as they solve the problems of our sport (or don't)!

Now admit it - you are either going, or you are thinking about going. C'mon, you're a table tennis player, you don't want to miss the Nationals!!!

Weekend Coaching

  • In the Thursday Beginning Class we had a general practice session, with the players rotating from station to station, working with different coaches, the robot, with each other, or practicing serves. In my station I focused on the backhand, while I also oversaw the players on the robot, which was on the adjourning table. We ended with games.
  • During the Friday night league I spent two hours scouting out our players, noting what needed to be worked on. For example, I noted one player had a tendency to go off balance after looping, leading to problems with the next shot. Another was way too passive on the backhand. Another had no variation on his serves. 
  • On Saturday in the Junior League, there were a number of adjusted games, where players had to start out each rally with specified serves or scores. Lots of serve and attack games!
  • On Sunday in the Beginning Class, the focus was on pushing. We also spent about 30 minutes doing regular drills, and ended with games.
  • On Sunday in the advanced Talent program, I was in charge of the ten players in Groups 3. Lots of table drills! Lots of footwork! And then I rushed home to watch Game of Thrones (of course).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend in Otocec, Slovenia, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23
You can now order your copies! Vol. 23 (by Tim Boggan) covers 1997-1999. It's 491 pages with a new record of 1841 graphics! As some USATT Hall of Famer once said, "How can any serious player not buy these books?" Note that Tim Boggan signs each volumes you buy!

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Twenty of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Viewpoints." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Belgian Jean-Michel Saive Ends Table Tennis Career
Here's the article from Xinhuanet. Here's video of Saive's last league match (7:36), with some great lobbing points and audience participation, from Arnaud Scheen.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens Talks History, His New Book and Ping-Pong
Here's the article from MPR News. "When you interview a 99-year-old Supreme Court justice, one who has written some of the landmark opinions of modern times, you don't imagine in advance that the subplot of the interview is going to be Ping-Pong."

New From Samson Dubina

New from Eli Baraty

New from EmRatThich

Serve + 3rd ball attack – with Craig Bryant
Here's the video (10 min) from Tom Lodziak.

Liu Guoliang on Who's Better: Jan Ove Waldner or Ma Long!
Here's the article.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Table Tennis
Here's the podcast (48:32) from Expert Table Tennis.

Table Tennis Calculus
Here are a series of videos from Geoffrey Cheng covering a number of table tennis (and a few other) topics.

New from Coach Jon

New from Steve Hopkins

Report on the ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course: Flushing New York
Here's the article by Sydney Christophe.

Houston's Tim Wang Excited About 2021 Table Tennis Championships Coming Here
Here's the article from the Houston Chronicle.

2019 World Table Tennis Championships Recap
Here's the article from PingSkills by Matt Solt.

Encouraging Participation and Young Talents Crowned at 2019 USA Hopes Week and Challenge
Here's the USATT article by Mike Lauro.

Lily Zhang is All In on the Road to Pan Ams and Tokyo 2020 Qualification
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Van Emburgh Solely Focused on Making 2020 Paralympics
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Table Tennis Tidbits #45: Mattias Falck nee Karlsson ’19 World Runner-up to Ma Long
Here's the article by Robert Ho.

RACVB, RAVE and ITTF North America Announce First-Ever Olympic Trials in Rockford
Here's the article.

Adriana Diaz vs Zhang Lily | 2019 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open (R16)
Here's the video (13:23) as USA's Lily (world #81) upsets Puerto Rico's Adriana (world #31).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs Fang Bo | Champions League 2019 (FINAL)
Here's the video (10:46).

DHS Top 10 | 2019 ITTF Qatar Open
Here's the video (6:04).

2018 ITTF Year in Review
Here's the video (2:20).

Ping Pong Literacy Promo
Here's the video (5:30).

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart​ Tokaev Plays Table Tennis
Here's the video (43 sec). He comes in about 17 sec in.

Ball-Bouncing on Side of Table
Here's the video (46 sec) of a whole class doing it! Can you?

Sid & Nandan on Pickler and Ben TV Show
Here's the video (5:24) of the Narash brothers.

Aruna Quadri TATATrickshot
Here's the video (33 sec) of the Nigerian star!

Top Best of Blocking Magic
Here's the video (4:17) of mostly humorous blocks!

Ma Lin Poker Joke
Larry Bavly emailed me this one: "2008 Olympic gold medalist Ma Lin joined a poker table. Once the cards were dealt and it was his turn, he introduced himself to the table and everyone folded. They heard him say "I'm Ma Lin." (Okay, you may groan now.)

Best Table Tennis Jokes and Funny Memes
Here's the listing from EmRatThich!

Non-Table Tennis - Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Sales and Publications
I had a flurry of recent sales (yes, I get paid for these!) and publications in my other life as a SF writer. Here's a rundown.

  • Flame Tree Publications (one of the big ones) published my story, The Apocalyptic Wormhole Video, about an alien who comes to earth to sell us video of our planet's destruction in 50 years.
  • Alternative Truths: Endgame came out, a series of stories that satirize Trump, with two stories by me, "The Ballad of Cadet Bone Spurs" (new lyrics for the opening song to the old TV show the Beverly Hillbillies that foretell Trump's future) and "The Great White Wall" (which satirizes the future of the Mexican wall).
  • The upcoming anthology Space Opera Libretti, which features humorous science fiction stories, announced its table of contents, which includes my story, "Confederate Cavalry on a Plane." A physicist on a plane argues with another that anything you can imagine must have happened somewhere in the multiverse, and the titles tells you the rest - and the story tells how it came about. One of the funniest stories I've ever written. It should be out this month.
  • The upcoming anthology Tales of the Old Black Ambulance came out with the cover and table of contents, which includes my story, "Ded Society." (Yes, "Ded.") It tells the story of a 12-year-old Charles Darwin, who in this reality died as a kid (as he almost did in real live) and lives with other Ded in a graveyard, where he tries to figure out where the origin of the Ded. It should be out this month.
  • A super-short story of mine got honorable mention and was published at On the Premises. Alas, no payment for this one.

***
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May 7, 2019

Tip of the Week
Playing Short Pips on the Forehand.

Sorry, no regular blog this week. I just went through the most painful 24 hours of my life. I came down with a "minor" toothache last week, but since I had a dentist appointment already for this week - ironically, at 9:40AM today (Tuesday), which is about when I'm writing this - I thought I could wait. But on Sunday it got very, very painful, and I barely made it through the two classes I teach those days.

I discovered that if I swirled room-temperature water over it the pain went away for about 30 seconds. So starting sometime on Sunday night, and until a little before noon on Monday (when I saw the dentist), I literally sat in my lounge chair with cases of water and some big plastic cups, and every 30 seconds or so would take a small mouthful of water, swirl, and spit out into the big cups. I kept that up for about 15 hours straight, never sleeping - I had no choice, it was either that or searing pain. I went through 47 bottles of water, was up for over 40 hours straight, and ate nothing but room-temperature Slimfast breakfast shakes since I couldn't chew anything. (I also popped Ibuprofen like M&Ms, but that didn't help much.)

Anyway, the dentist mostly fixed the problem, but as he warned, the tooth will hurt for a few more days - and he was right. It's not as bad as it was on Sunday and Monday, but it's pretty painful despite the Codeine prescription he gave me. (Today's regular check-up was cancelled - as he predicted, I'd be in no shape for it.) My arm, mouth, and the rest of me are also very, very sore and tired from that 15-hour bottle grabbing and water swirling marathon.

For your weekly news fix, here are a few links:

May 6, 2019

This week's blog will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). I have an incredibly painful toothache and have an "emergency" appointment at noon today. Until this is fixed I won't be doing much of anything. 

April 29, 2019

Tip of the Week
Rope-a-Dope Defense.

World Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event that finished yesterday in Budapest, Hungary, April 21-28, with results, and lots and Lots and LOTS of news articles, video, and pictures.

USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Entry fees go up significantly after May 6, so make sure to enter by then! Final deadline is May 20. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. Numbers are currently low - only 219 so far - but they will likely end up with around 700 or so. I'll be coaching there, and am debating whether to enter one or two events.

ITTF World Rankings
Here they are, after the Worlds. Let's face it, the new ITTF ranking system, which rewards participation, just isn't working. Even after winning the World's (and the Qatar Open just before that), Ma Long, obviously the best player in the world, is only #5, behind three Chinese teammates who didn't do so well at the Worlds (Fan, Lin, Xu) and Japan's Harimoto, who also did poorly. On the women's side, Liu Shiwen won the Worlds and improved from #5 to #4, behind three Chinese teammates. So probably the best man and woman in the world right now are both ranked #4 just on their team!!!

Last Week's Coaching

  • I ran a two-hour Serving Seminar on Wednesday, with 21 players, as a fundraiser for the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. We raised $400, but with a matching donor, actually raised $800! (Here's the flyer for the event.) Seminar was supposed to be 90 minutes but we stayed an extra 30 minutes.
  • In the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Classes we focused on serving. Both classes had a mixture of beginners who were just learning to serve, and more advanced ones, so I had to cover both. We then broke into two groups, based on level. Some focused on spin serves, some on fast serves, some of the younger ones on just getting the serve on and hitting targets. After the serving practice, we did a number of other drills, including a forehand-to-forehand consistency contest. (We'll do backhands this week.)
  • In the Sunday Talent Program (run by HW Global), the focus was on playing points, so we had lots of up-down table drills, where the players had to start the rally out in certain ways - sometimes serving backspin to a specific spot, receiver pushes back to a specific spot, then attack and play out the point; or serve topspin to the backhand and then go backhand-to-backhand until the serve changes direction, either to wide forehand or to middle. Afterwards we had a coaches meeting at a local Chinese restaurant, which caused me to miss the 9PM showing of Game of Thrones, so I saw the midnight showing, and afterwards spent some time Googling and reading about it, and didn't get to bed until around 3AM, which is why this week's blog went up an hour late!
  • A couple of weeks ago I had a talk with one of our top juniors who had had a series of bad losses in tournaments. He was having trouble mentally getting into his past mode where he'd had many good wins. I told him he needed to remember his mental condition during one of those good wins - but he said he couldn't remember. So we made it a goal to remember this the next time he had a good win. Sure enough, he had a great win in a tournament. We talked about it yesterday, and now he can use that match as the one to emulate mentally. I wrote about this mental technique three weeks ago in Remember Your Best Match. It currently had 4827 reads! (But they all get about that many - last week's No More Excuses - Develop World-Class Serves with TNT has 4424. The blog itself gets about the same number of reads, with last week's at 4722.)

The 'Extreme Extrovert' on a Mission to Make You Love Ping Pong
Here's the article featuring Adam Bobrow. "Over the years, Bobrow has parlayed both his lifelong obsession with table tennis and endless, unabashed exuberance into viral fame, receiving millions of views on YouTube for goofy videos like “Enter the Snake: Twist of Fury” and “Excessive Ping Pong Celebration”. He’s also made a career out of it. As the official commentator for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the sport’s main governing body, Bobrow is known as the “voice of table tennis” to fans across the world."

Kanak's Deceptive Backhand in Slow Motion
Here's the video - link goes to a slow motion replay of the shot against Ma Long at the Worlds. Notice how he aims crosscourt, then at the last second, after Ma starts to move to his left, he switches directions for a clean winner? This type of shot - where you aim one way, and then change directions at the last second, are way underused by most players. 

Tennis Great Andre Agassi on Confidence
Here's the video (1:47) every player and coach should watch. "Focus on the right goal. The goal is not to win, winning you cannot control. … What you can control is your focus, determination, concentration and your discipline. … Be more prepared than your opponent."

Ouch I Lost (>.<) Learning From Losses
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Playing Offense With Better Defense
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Pro Table Tennis with Rowden Fullen
Here's a site with lots of useful coaching articles.

New from EmRatThich

Fan Zhengdong in Slow Motion
Here's the video (6:38). 

Difficult Start But Successful Finish in Ajmer
Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF Coaching Course taught in India by Richard McAfee.

Best of the Best--NCTTA 2019
Here's the voting page for Male Athlete, Female Athlete, Rookie, Coach, Rookie Team, Most Improved Team, Divisional Director, and Regional Director of the Year.

League Champions at Last – a Review of My League Season
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

WAB Club Feature: Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Paddle Palace Spring Open
Here's the article by Jay Crystal.

ITTF President on New Rubber Colors & More
Here's the video (28:23) from Table Tennis Daily.

Open Internacional Yucatán 2019 - Sharon Alguetti (USA) Highlights
Here's the video (7:57).

41 Fascinating Facts About the Game We Love
Here's the page.

Ma Long and His Marvel Action Figure Collection
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) He just became my favorite player ever!

Table Tennis Shower Curtain
Why don't you have one???

Lily Zhang TATA Trick Shot at Budapest WTTC
Here's the video (55 sec) - she beat Ma Long! 

Table Tennis Gifs
Here's a page of them!

Ping-Pong Bandit
Here's the page about this great villain from Blazing Paddles! It's in Spanish; here's the video (link goes to the ping-pong scene). "The Ping Pong Bandit is a Western outlaw known for taking paddles away from anyone who loses a game of table tennis to him. He uses a special move called the "Bandit Slam-It" to ensure his victories. He also appears in a western "Wanted" poster, with a reward of $500 for his capture."

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 22, 2019

Tip of the Week
No More Excuses - Develop World-Class Serves with TNT

Serving Seminar at Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here's the info flyer for the Serving Seminar I'll be running at MDTTC in two days (Gaithersburg, MD, USA), on Wednesday, April 24, 7-8:30PM - hope to see you there! 100% of all fees will be donated to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. I'm dividing the seminar into two parts - third-ball serves (serves that set up attacks, which should be the majority of your serves) and trick serves (serves designed to win the point directly, if not overused - I'll demonstrate a number of these). There is, of course, overlap between the two, as I'll go over. We already have a bunch of people signed up - hope to see you there! I'll likely stay late to work with players.

2021 World Championships - in Houston, USA!!!
Yep, we won the bid this morning at the ITTF meetings in Budapest, 83-44 over Morocco. This will be for Singles and Doubles, as are the current 2019 World Championships - for roughly the last 20 years they've alternated each year between that and World Team Championships. This is the first regular World Championship ever held in the USA, though we've had others for Veterans, Juniors and various World Cups. (See listing below.)

Here is the USATT article, The World Table Tennis Championships is Coming to USA for the First Time in 2021!, by Matt Hetherington. Here's the ITTF article. Here is video of USA's Bid - the link should take you to the start of the roughly 15-minute bid. There were four presenters:

  • Dragomir Cioroslan, main presenter (Director of International Relations for the U.S. Olympic committee, a 1984 bronze medalists in weightlifting, and husband of former USATT President Sheri Cioroslan, then Sheri Pittman)
  • Janis Schmees Burke, CEO of the Harris Country Houston Sports Authority
  • Anne Cribbs, Chair of the USATT Board of Directors
  • Lily Zhang, USA Olympian and member of the U.S. Women's Team and four-time Women's Singles Champion

Here's an updated version of my listing of World Championship-type table tennis events that have been held (or will) in North America:

  • 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2021 World Championships, Houston, USA
  • 2018 World Veterans Championships, Las Vegas, USA
  • 2017 Women’s World Cup, Markham, CAN
  • 2016 Women’s World Cup, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2007 World Junior Championships, Palo Alto, USA
  • 2000 World Veterans Championships, Vancouver, CAN
  • 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, USA
  • 1995 World Team Cup, Atlanta, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1992 World Doubles Cup, Las Vegas, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1990 World Veterans Championships, Baltimore, USA

World Championships Coverage
Here's the ITTF home page for the event in Budapest, Hungary, April 21-28, with results, and lots and Lots and LOTS of news articles, video, and pictures. (For USA coverage, check the USATT News page daily.) Here are more World Championships links:

Stress Indicating Illusion - Sports Application?
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Under the picture, it says, "This image was created by a Japanese neurologist. If the image is still, you are calm, if the image moves a bit, stressed, and if it moves like a carousel, you are very stressed. Tell me how you are doing?" I tested it, and sure enough, if I clear my mind - as I would before playing a serious table tennis point - the image goes still. I think this could have a serious application in sports as a way for players to practice calming themselves before sports activities. (Alas, too much viewing hurts my eyes.)

How to Make the 2020 United States Olympic Table Tennis Team
Here's the USATT news item. I blogged about how I and others didn't like the initial plan, where up to 4 of 6 potential members of the U.S. Olympic Team could have been selected by committee. They've changed it now so that at most 2 of 6 will be selected that way, with the others making the team by their finish at the current Worlds (quarters or better, unlikely) or highest world ranking, Trials, and then committee selections.

World's Best Table Tennis Robot vs TableTennisDaily's Dan!
Here's the video (9:15) of the latest generation of robots that can actual play table tennis, not just throw balls at you for practice. This one not only rallies really, really well, but reads spin. I don't think the player gave him his best serve, so I'd like to test the robot out against world-class serves, or even my own, or see how it does against pushes or against a chopper. Here's discussion at the TableTennisDaily forum.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23
Tim Boggan and I finished work on it on Wednesday. It's 491 pages with a record 1841 graphics, covering 1997-1999. The proof copy is already in the mail to Tim, which he should receive tomorrow (Tuesday). Assuming all is well, it'll go on sale this week! Info on buying it will be at Tim Boggan Table Tennis (which I maintain for him), along with info on buying any or all of the previous 22 volumes.

Happy Birthday to Jorgen Persson
The 1991 World Singles Champion and 4-time World Team Champion from Sweden turned 53 today!

Three Tips to Improve Mental Strength in Table Tennis
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

How to Beat Flat Hitters at Table Tennis
Here's the article by Ben Larcombe.

Right Footed?
Here's the article and video (13 sec) by Samson Dubina.

Table Tennis From the Heart
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

The Real Value of Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Zhangliang Emphasizes Benefits of Multiball Training
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington and Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!).

Collegiate Articles by Matt Hetherington

WAB Club Feature: Folsom Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Paddle Power: Employers Find Net Profits in Ping-Pong
Here's the article from the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Zhang Jike Practicing Backhand Loop at WTTC in Dortmund
Here's the video (53 sec).

Best of 2019: Marvelous Twelve
Here's the video (5:15).

Top Backhand Table Tennis Moments
Here's the video (4:37).

Timo Boll 2009 Wonder Rally at the Qatar Open
Here's the point (41 sec) against Mizutani of Japan.

Incredible Point
Here's the point (26 sec), including some incredible returns and changing hands!

Incredible Chopping and Lobbing Defense!
Here's the point (43 sec) - including two body-spinning chops!

How Good Is The Pongfinity Trick Shot Team?
Here are two videos (4:38 and 3:31).

Table Tennis Magic: LEON the Magician Live Footage!
Here's the video (6:35)!

Players Have Too Much Fun with Bunny Ears at the 2019 U.S. Collegiate Championships
Here's the video (34 sec)! They push a button to make the ears flop.

New Table Tennis Cartoons

Table Tennis is Fun and Good!
Here's the great and hilarious video (47 sec) of Izabel, the enthusiastic daughter of Jasna Rather, two-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion, 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist in Women's Doubles, and current USATT Director of Para Programs.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 15, 2019

Tip of the Week
The Lead Problem.

MDTTC April Open, Weekend Coaching, Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, and a Serving Seminar
It's been a BUSY week, finishing with an even busier weekend. Here's a rundown.

  • JOOLA MDTTC April Open - Here are the complete results, care of Omnipong. (It was a wild Open final, with Lidney Castro winning over Chen Bowen in a wild duel with lots and Lots and LOTS of wild counterlooping - but Lidney can also block and lob really well. I ran the tournament with Klaus Wood, who is gradually taking over as the MDTTC tournament director. We ran things together on Saturday, but he ran it alone on Sunday - smaller turnout - while I mostly worked on other things in the back room. On Friday night we had serious computer problems - it took me 90 minutes and five restarts to get my laptop computer to work! Klaus brought his laptop as a backup, but for technical reasons, it wouldn't print on our printer. We then brought in the MDTTC's laptop computer - I didn't even know we had one! - but for some technical reason, it wouldn't allow us to load the Omnipong software! Carolyn Klinger (who along with Klaus helped in dealing with these technical issues) brought in a second printer, but again, for technical reasons, we were unable for a time to print to it from Klaus's computer. I finally got my laptop working and we ran the whole tournament off it, but it was scary for a time.
  • In the new Sunday Beginning Class (Week Two) we did forehand review and the backhand. Because of the tournament, we didn't have the advanced HW Global Junior Program (see below), so I stayed late and demonstrated and taught trick shots to them - the 50-foot serve, blowing the ball so it says in the air (sideways), backspin serves that come back over the net, speed ball-bouncing on the table, and smacking tossed balls out of the air.
  • But the bulk of this past week, and upcoming week, is on Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 23. We started last Sunday morning and worked Sun-Fri, 7AM-5PM. We took the weekend off while I ran the tournament (he watched the Masters, rooting passionately for Tiger), and then we'll be back at it as soon as I finish this blog, probably a little after 10AM. I estimate we'll finish on Wednesday, and then he'll drive back to New York on Thursday, and I'll spend that day in bed.
  • Serving Seminar at Maryland Table Tennis Center - Here's the info flyer for the Serving Seminar I'll be running at MDTTC on Wednesday, April 24, 7-8:30PM. ***100% of all fees will be donated to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC.*** I'm dividing the seminar into two parts - third-ball serves (which should be the majority of your serves) and trick serves (serves designed to win the point directly, if not overused). There is, of course, overlap between the two, as I'll go over. We already have a bunch of people signed up - hope to see you there! I'll likely stay late to work with players.
  • If I weren't so busy working with Tim I'd be writing more on some of the segments below - especially on our bid for the World's (we are favorites) and on the Hall of Fame inductees. Hopefully I'll have more time for that after this week.

HW Global Foundation Talent Development Program - They need your support!
Here is their GoFundMe page, where they are trying to raise $15,000. (They are currently at $9500.) I'm one of their coaches, and I hope some of you can help out! Until May 1, Hans & Wen Hsu, the HW Foundation founders, will match all donations for this Campaign, up $10,000. (All fees from the Serving Seminar I'm running - see segment above - will go to this.)

2019 USATT Hall of Fame Inductees
Here's the USATT announcement, by Sean O'Neill. Congrats to Michael, Zhenshi, Sharon, and Richard!

World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the home page for the event, April 21-28 in Budapest, Hungary. (So it starts next Sunday.) There are already a lot of news articles there.

U.S. National College Table Tennis Championships
Here's the page for the event held this past weekend in Greensboro, NC. Also see NCTTA Segment below. Here's USATT's livestreaming:

New from National Collegiate TTA

Forehand Attack Down the Line . . . A Simple Shot to Win Cheap Points
Here's the video (7:50) from Tom Lodziak.

New from EmRatThich

New from Matt Hetherington

New from Steve Hopkins

USA Hopes Week and Challenge: 15-21 April, 2019, Sacramento, CA
Here's the USATT info page. Five top kids from my club (MDTTC) are going - Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, Ryan Lee, James Zhang, and Michelle Kang.

Would You Like To See Your Balance?
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "Sometimes, just like your bank balance, your table tennis balance might not be as positive as you thought. There have been numerous articles written about this by Larry Hodges and others. In Larry’s Balance Is a Habit, he relates the epiphany he had about balance, and its importance. Eight years later, I’m having the same epiphany."

Table Tennis Fan
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Table Tennis Recognition: Learn about the importance and pitfalls of recognition
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Seventeen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Voices wanting to be heard." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

8 Questions with Mima Ito!
Here's the ITTF interview.

Inside My Mind | Timo Boll
Here's the ITTF video (64 sec).

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - March 2019
Here's the video (18:30).

Table Tennis from the 1920s
Here's the video (63 sec).

Like A Boss! Ma Long x TATA Trickshot Challenge 2019
Here's the video (2:25)!

Pong-Pool Long Distance Serve
Here's the video (13 sec) of Scott Preiss!

World Table Tennis Day with Adam Bobrow
Here's the video (48 sec)!

Giant Z-Pong?
Here's the video (2 min)!

Table Tennis Arcade Game
Here's the video (27 sec)!

Table Tennis Tricks
Here's the latest video (1:28) from the Ping-Pong Kid!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 8, 2019

Tip of the Week
Remember Your Best Match.

Miscellaneous Topics

  • Weekend Coaching - I was actually supposed to spend Fri and Sat at the Ravencon Science Fiction Convention in Williamsburg, VA, but had to drop out because I was sick. The only coaching I did was on Sunday, 3.5 hours of group sessions. We started a new ten-week Beginning Junior Class. The focus in the first class was grip, stance, ball-bouncing, and the forehand. We finished with games, with half the class playing real ones, the younger ones playing first around-the-world, and then taking turns trying to hit my Gatorade bottle, with me feeding multiball - if they hit it, I had to drink the "worm juice" inside.
    In the more advanced Talent Development Program, the younger kids usually do lots and lots of multiball, but this time we had them do footwork drills among themselves. For some of them, it was the first time they'd done footwork drills except with a coach, either live or multiball. They did surprisingly well - ingraining the strokes with all that multiball worked! Afterwards I went out for dinner with the other coaches (ten of us) and we went over each of the kids. I had a lot of input, especially with the five kids I'd coached at Cary Cup.
  • Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23 - Yep, you read that right - Volume 23. USATT Historian Tim Boggan moved in with me once again Sunday morning so we can put together the latest volume in his History of U.S. Table Tennis series. As usual, we'll be working something like 7AM to 5PM each day for about ten work days. This time there's going to be a two-day break in the middle as I have to run the MDTTC April Open next weekend, April 13-14. (Klaus Wood is now my co-director.) So things will be a bit busy for a while. To complicate things, I caught a cold from the Cary Cup last weekend, and have been sick since Wednesday.
  • April Fools Day Blog - A number of people didn't realize that last week's blog was on April 1 - yep, April Fools Day. See the segment "ITTF and USATT Rule Changes and Announcements and a Board Brawl," and read the first letter of each line, going down. But the idea of umpires awarding both players a point after a great rally - it falls just within the realm of possibility that maybe, just maybe, ITTF would do it!!!
  • 101 Dalmatians Full-Time Clubs - Here's the listing - yep, we broke the 100 mark! (I added in the latest Spin TT Clubs in NY and DC.) I still remember in December, 2006, when there were about eight full-time clubs in the U.S., that I gave a presentation to the USATT board of directors, trying to convince them to make it a goal to have 100 full-time clubs within ten years. Two of them literally laughed at the idea, and no one would support it. But here we are! (Imagine if USATT had helped out in those early years?)
  • JOOLA MDTTC April Open - I'll be running the MDTTC April Open next weekend with Klaus Wood, in Gaithersburg, MD. Enter early! Some events fill up by Thursday or so. Events include Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 12.
  • USATT Update Notice on Olympic Selection Procedures - Here's the USATT news item. They've changed the procedures. As for me, I'm no longer on the board of directors (didn't run for re-election), and so I'm no longer involved in this issue. Thank God!!! :) But frankly, I'm tired of even discussing the issue.  

USATT and Houston Sports Authority Announce Bid for 2021 World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the cover letter! We have a really good chance. We'll know in about two weeks.
=>BREAKING NEWS (added Wednesday morning): Houston Makes Bid to Create History in 2021 (USATT article by Matt Hetherington)

Actions and Notices from the March 30-31 USATT Board of Directors Meeting
Here they are. Minutes will go up later, after they are approved by the board. Here is the USATT Minutes page.

ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup
Here's the ITTF page for the event to be held in Yokohama, Japan, April 5-7.

New from Eli Baraty

Brilliant Blocking Skills – with Paul Drinkhall
Here's the video (8:27) from Tom Lodziak.

New from Samson Dubina

I Am Standing Where the Ball Comes
Here's the Waldner meme. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) The point is that if you watch the opponent, you can figure out early where the ball is going, and so get there early rather than having to move at the last second.

Coaches Thinking Outside the Box
Here's the video (3 min).

Inside My Mind | Manika Batra
Here's the ITTF video (70 sec) on the world #56 (formerly 46) from India.

8 Questions with Timo Boll!
Here's the ITTF interview.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from the National Collegiate TTA

Dangerously Fast Table Tennis
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong | 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup (Final)
Here's the video (16:04).

2019 XIOM Cary Cup Final - Filip Szymanski vs Jishan Liang (Highlights)
Here's the video (5:47).

World Table Tennis Day
Here's the ITTF World Table Tennis Day page, which took place Saturday.

Heading in the Right Direction, Exciting Future Ahead for USA Stars
Here's the ITTF article.

Kumar's Clean Sweep and Sung's Revenge Highlight Final Day
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington on the Youth National Ranking Tournament.

Sticking to What You Love, Even if it Means Late Nights & Long Commutes
Here's the article by Adar Alguetti.

Not Your Typical Fundraiser: Nonprofit Promotes Cheating to Raise Money
Here's the article. "Between black-tie galas and silent auctions, fundraising events in D.C. can get pretty stale. But one local nonprofit is shaking up the philanthropic scene."

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Sixteen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Liu takes Sears title." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

The Making of the Ping-Pong Scenes in Forrest Gump
Here's the video (2:55)!

UCLA Pong Fundraiser
Here's the video (9 sec)!

A New Cat Pong
Here's the video (12 sec)!

David vs. Goliath Pong?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Ping Pong Stereotypes
Here's the video (2:56)!

Table Tennis on a Tight Rope
Here's the video (23 sec)!

Hot Stuff: Little Devil Pong?
Here's the comic book!

Move It Like Pauli!
Here's the video (25 sec) of this new table tennis dance!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

April 1, 2019

Tip of the Week
Positioning After Serve.

Donald Trump Visits MDTTC
We were all excited to welcome the President of the United States to our club. He played some matches, bragged about how good he was. Here's a picture of him playing

ITTF and USATT Rule Changes and Announcements and a Board Brawl
And so this is what happens the minute I leave the USATT Board of Directors? The ITTF
proposed and approved a new rule that says that the umpire, at his discretion, after a great
rally, may award both players a point. This has got to be the single most ridiculous rule
idea ever, and yet has been approved, first by the ITTF, and now by USATT. And so,
literally right after winning an incredible point, your opponent will now also get a point!
Foolishly, when I first heard about the proposal, I assumed it would be voted down,
or perhaps laughed into oblivion, but it passed unanimously. Suppose there is no umpire,
only you and your opponent, and you win a great point - and your opponent applauds and
laughs, and says, "We each get a point!" I just hope they will rethink and revote on this
silly new rule.

Also, USATT made three other announcements. First, because rallies are getting too fast for
players to even react, we will be switching to a 40.1 mm ball. This will lower ball speed and
reduce spin. Second, former ITTF President Adham Sharara has been hired as a USATT
intern, in charge of accounting. While he is serving a four-year ITTF suspension, we are
lucky to have someone with his experience and history, who can help us tremendously.
Finally, USATT announced suspensions for the fight at the last USATT board meeting. It's
only now that some of the details of the infamous fistfight are coming out. I was in the middle
of it, arguing with the USATT Board of Directors that we needed Oxford commas in our by-
laws. I lost track of how many of them I punched, but I admit I was way, way out of line, and
so I have agreed to a serve another term on the USATT coaching committee as penance.

Cary Cup
The tournament was held this past weekend at the huge, 32-table Triangle Club in Cary, North Carolina. Here are the results! I was there to coach five Maryland junior players - James and Stephanie Zhang, Lance Wei, Todd Klinger, and (on Friday night) Nicholas Nash. I went down with Todd and his parents, Carolyn and Ron. I coached 27 matches, 18 of them on Saturday.

It was sort of a weird tournament for Stephanie, Lance, and Todd. They each played eleven matches on Saturday, with Lance also playing five on Friday night, and Todd three on Sunday (playoffs). Well over half the players they played either had long pips, short pips, or played with the Seemiller grip (with long pips or anti on one side). Lance played three Seemiller grip players, something he'd never played against before, and Todd played two. As I explained to them, the key isn't to learn how to play every single type of style - though you should know the general way to play each style. The key is being able to flexibly adjust your game for any opponent, which leads to you forcing your game on them. But it's easier said than done!

There was also a small scheduling problem on Saturday. For the "Big Round Robin," players started out in groups of five, with the top finisher to advance to Group A, the second finisher to Group B, and so on. For their first matches, it had B vs. E and C vs. D, with A getting a bye. This meant that for every C player, the first match was their most important match of the tournament. Lose it, and they'd almost for certain be down a division the rest of the tournament.

Todd, 14 and rated 1683 (but recently over 1800 until one bad tournament…), was a C player, and his first match was against the D player (1607), who had long pips. Todd lost the first, easily won the next two, was up 11-10 match point in the fourth, but ended up losing in five. And so he went down to the D's. But in this case, this actually led to a good thing! He followed up that loss by going 7-0 in the D Division, and then winning his quarterfinal and semifinal matches - nine consecutive wins against players who, while mostly rated lower, were all competitive, with some of them rated about the same or higher. Twice he was pushed to the end, only to play very well in the pressure points to win deuce in the fifth. In the final, he played a "ringer" rated 1448 but actually at least 400 points better than that. But the second-place trophy was HUGE! So was the $125 prize money check. So Todd was pretty happy. Here's a picture of the finalists, with Todd on the left. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

James, 12 and rated 1896, was seeded for the B division, but the 2600 A player didn't show, and was replaced by a 2039 player from a waiting list. James beat the 2039 player 3-0 to advance to the A division. He had some great matches there, and gave at least two much higher rated players a good battle. Stephanie, 15 and rated 1967, a chopper, got stuck with some rather unorthodox players, including a long pips player who rolled ball after ball. But she got better and better, and pulled off two nice wins in her last two matches. Lance, 12, and rated 1790, also got stuck with lots of unorthodox players, plus he kept losing 11-9 games - but toward the end he was playing better and better, even getting his rapidly developing backhand loop into play. On Sunday, Lance also volunteered to help at the control desk, since he was hugely experienced with Omnipong from helping at MDTTC tournaments for the past year or do, without any mistaken results - and so, with Referee Wendell Dillon's permission, got to do data entry at a 4-star tournament for a couple of hours.

My Upcoming Tours
I've got a busy upcoming schedule - both work and travel. This is sort of my sightseeing year.) I just returned from coaching at the Cary Cup in North Carolina. Next weekend I'll be at the Ravencon Science Fiction Convention in Richmond, Virginia, where I'll be a panelist, and doing both a reading and a signing session. (Here's my Ravencon bio, where I make my claims that I'm the best science fiction writer in USA Table Tennis, and the best table tennis player in Science Fiction Writers of America!) I plan to go down early on Friday and visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. On Sunday, almost when I return from Richmond, USATT Historian Tim Boggan moves in with me for another 10-12 days to work on his latest History of USA Table Tennis, Volume 23. We'll be interrupted in the middle as I'll be running, along with Klaus Wood (who is gradually taking over) the MDTTC April Open, April 13-14.

But this really is my year of sightseeing. I'll be coaching at the US Nationals in Las Vegas, June 30-July 5, and then plan to spend a day at the Grand Canyon. (I'm told I was there when I was one year old, but strangely don't remember this.) From July 19-27 I'll be at my annual science fiction writing workshop vacation in Manchester, NH - this will be my eleventh one. But I plan to go up a few days early to tour Boston, which is one hour away: the Freedom Trail Tour for certain, and possibly some or all of the following: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (I'm a presidential history buff), Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, USS Constitution and Bunker Hill, Franklin Park Zoo, and perhaps visit the three local full-time table tennis clubs: Boston Table Tennis Academy, Boston Table Tennis Center (in Medford), and Massachusetts Table Tennis and Badminton Club (in Waltham).

And now we get to the BIG TOUR. After the MDTTC August Open (Aug. 10-11), on August 12 I'm flying to Dublin, Ireland, for the World Science Fiction Convention, Aug. 15-19. I'm going up early both to make sure things like my cell phone works (apparently a new SIM card), and also to tour Dublin and other parts of Ireland a bit. On Aug. 20 I'm on an official tour of ancient Ireland castles. And then the real fun begins. I'm doing a roughly 4-5 week tour of Europe and Egypt. (I especially want to visit historic sites. I've been to China, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and all 50 U.S. states, but never to Europe.) I have rather detailed plans now for travel and tours, etc., with the idea that I will not set dates in stone so I can stay in any place as long as I choose. I'll be traveling mostly by Eurail, though I will likely rent a car in some areas.

The planned itinerary includes sightseeing in and around London (lengthy itinerary there), Edinburg (Scotland), Paris (lots of things there!), Omaha Beach, ITTF headquarters and other sites in Lausanne (Switzerland), Italy (Florence, Pisa, Sienna, Rome, Pompeii), then I fly from Rome to Berlin (historical sites and perhaps a Bundesliga match), then back to trains for Warsaw, Krakow (including Auschwitz and the Oskar Schindler factory), an unknown number of Eastern European countries (still undecided on this, but possibly quick stops in Prague and/or Vienna, maybe others on the way to Athens), and then many of the ancient sites in Greece (a driving tour of Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi). Then I fly from Athens to Cairo on a tour of the Great Pyramid and Sphinx in Egypt and a Nile cruise. After returning to Athens, I fly home. My expectation is that it will be toward the end of September before I return.

Youth National Ranking Tournament
It was held this past weekend at the ICC club in the Bay area. Here are some links.

Qatar Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend in Doha, Qatar, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Lots of great stuff to watch and read, much of it featuring the return of Ma Long, who (SPOILER ALERT!) won Men's Singles. Here's the article 2019 World Tour Qatar Open Recap by Steve Hopkins. Here's the ITTF article, All hail Ma Long, the Comeback King of Qatar!

The Life of a Full-Time Table Tennis Coach
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak. "I’ve completed my first year of being a full time table tennis coach. Whoosh! The past 12 months have flown by. But what has it been like? Am I bored of table tennis yet? Did I earn enough money to pay the bills? Has my body survived the hours and hours of coaching? And what are my plans for the future?"

New from Eli Baraty

How to Maintain Mental Toughness in Table Tennis
Here's the article.

Out of SYNC
Here's the article by Samson Dubina. "After not playing for a few weeks, you might feel a bit sluggish or out-of-sync with your game.  In this article, I want to explain why and give a few helpful tips that you can use to quickly restore and build your playing-level!"

New from EmRatThich

Forcing Forehands and Believing in Backhands
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

5 Key Secrets to Improve Your Consistency
Here's the video (6:51) from Table Tennis Daily.

Inside My Mind | Hugo Calderano
Here's the ITTF video (61 sec) featuring the world #6 from Brazil.

Werner Schlager - Unconventional Playing Style
Here's the video (3:02).

Ma Long & Fan Zhendong Training | World Team Championships 2018
Here's the video (7:58).

Kanak Jha vs Alexey Liventsov | 2019 ITTF Challenge Oman Open Highlights (R32)
Here's the video (11:40).

Akron Entrepreneur Hopes Table Tennis Academy Is a Hit
Here's the article featuring the new Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy.

USATT Announces Recipients of 2018 Pong 4 Kids Grant
Here's the USATT article.

National Collegiate Table Tennis

This Orthodox Female Teenager is a U.S. Ping Pong Champion
Here's the article featuring Estee Ackerman. "She’s 17-year-old Estee Ackerman, winner of multiple gold medals at the U.S. Table Tennis championships and ranked #22 in the country. She’s the media sensation who, at age 11, beat tennis champion Rafael Nadal in ping pong. And she’s the one profiled in a lengthy article in the New York Times for prioritizing Judaism over sports, refusing to play on Shabbat or Jewish holidays."

SoCal Schools United in Table Tennis Competition
Here's the USATT article.

8 Questions with Kasumi Ishikawa!
Here's the ITTF interview with the world #4 from Japan.

WAB Club Feature: Houston International Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

TT Dream Building Fund: Successful Candidates Revealed!
Here's the ITTF article, with the National Youth Table Tennis Association in Milwaukee one of the six winners.

Denver Table Tennis Alliance’s 2nd MENSUAL Tourney of 2019… Went GREAT!
Here's the article by Angelo Gandullia.

Southern Calif. Schools Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Fifteen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Members Speak." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

UCD Table Tennis: Nationals Campaign 2019
Here's the video (6:15) featuring the UC Davis TTC. (They are also asking for donations to go to the Collegiate Nationals.)

Another Incredible Secretin-Purkart Exhibition from Long Ago
Here's the video (3:31)! They were the Champions of France for many years, and Secretin was top five in the world.

Upside-Down Car Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Don't Do Drugs; Do Table Tennis
Here's the "Before and After" cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Fireman Water Pong?
Here's the picture!

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March 25, 2019

Tip of the Week
Advanced Sponge but No-So-Fast Blades.

USATT Committee Selection Task Force
Did your eyes glaze over just reading that headline? I'm on the task force, along with Eric Wu and chair Gary Schlager. We had three teleconferences, sometimes joined by USATT board chair Anne Cribbs and USATT attorney Dennis Taylor. The purpose of the task force was to sort through the 45 people who had volunteered for 19 USATT committees and make recommendations for the USATT board on who should chair and be members of each committee. It was a herculean task, made much easier by the herculean efforts of Gary and Dennis, who kept us updated on all the needed info. This weekend the board will meet for two days in the Bay Area in California where they will, among other things, finalize and approve the committees for the next two years.

As noted before, my latest two-year term as coaching chair ended recently, and Pieke Franssen has already been approved as the new coaching chair. I have agreed to stay on the coaching committee as a member, pending the board's approval.

Cary Cup
I'll be coaching at the Cary Cup in North Carolina this next weekend, and so no, I won't be at the USATT board meeting held 3000 miles away. I'll be in coaching four kids. This will actually be my first trip to the Triangle Club there since they were super-sized into the largest club in the country. 

Weekend Coaching
Well, it finally happened . . . again. On Saturday I put down on my todo list "6PM: coach at club," as I was one of the coaches in the Saturday junior league coaching session (it's half league, half coaching). At 5:10 I got a phone call from one of the coaches asking if I was coming in - it actually started at 5PM, as I should have known! So I rushed over and go there at 5:25PM. It's the first time I've been late for a session in about a decade, and only the third time since we opened in 1992. (Once I was late because of a huge traffic jam, and the other time I had my coaching schedule wrong.) So my record of timeliness has dropped to about 99.985%, about 19,997 out of 20,000 sessions.

I spent thirty minutes of the session coaching doubles. As usual, the focus was on good doubles serves, receives, and positioning. We emphasized attacking deep serves - too many of the kids were passively pushing back serves that were loopable. They are often playing to win, and figure pushing is safer than looping, but if they can't loop here, in practice, how will they learn to do it in a real match? Yeah, if you have trouble with a shot, you don't avoid it, you find every opportunity to practice and use it until you no longer have trouble with it - and then you keep doing so until you the best in the world at it!

On Sunday, in the Beginning Junior Class, we introduced them to looping against backspin. I'm sometimes hesitant to teach that shot this early as many of these kids are 7-10 years old and have only played for two months, often just once a week during that time in our class. But it's good for them to see the more advanced shots so they both understand the game and can work toward doing these shots. After the looping session, we had a forehand-to-forehand and backhand-to-backhand contest. This not only helps develop their basic shots, but is sort of needed - after learning to loop, most of them would tend to lift many shots off the end, and so needed to get back to the basics.

In the more advanced Talent Program afterwards we also focused on fundamentals, with lots of multiball. We also did some up-town table games where players had to serve and attack to a specific spot - and one of them was where they had to serve and attack the opponent's middle, which was relatively new to the younger ones.

Qatar Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event in Doha, Qatar, March 28-31 (with preliminaries on March 26-27).

Spanish and Oman Opens
Here are the home pages for the Spanish Open and Oman Open held this past weekend, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here's the Oman Open Recap by Steve Hopkins.

Bruce Liu Elected to USATT Board, Savini and Hogshead Reappointed
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

ITTF Level 1 Coaching Course - April 24-28, Flushing, NY
Here's the info page.

New from Samson Dubina

Table Tennis Short Game
Here's the article and video (7:14) by Eli Baraty.

Regional Collegiate Championships
They recently held six regional championships. They were livestreamed. Here are the results:

Four Tours, One Team: USA in Action Across the Globe
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington, featuring USA players Wu Yue, Lily Zhang, Kanak Jha, Michael Tran, Amy Wang, Nick Tio, Kai & Aziz Zarehbin, Joanna & Rachel Sung,

First Appearance Of Year, United States Duo Upsets The Odds
Here's the ITTF article featuring Kai & Aziz Zarehbin.

US Para Team Lands Medal Haul in Europe
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Matchpoint Table Tennis Center Grand Opening a Success
Here's the article on this new full-time club in New Jersey.

Where Are They Now? Marcus "Ping Pong" Jackson
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

WAB Club Feature: Golden Link Sports
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Two Local Juniors Battle it Out at Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article by Andre Stoner, featuring Dion Payne-Miller and Marty Stoner.

Ryu Seungmin Anticipates Close Race in Tokyo
Here's the ITTF article on Ryu's predictions for the 2020 Olympics. (Ryu won gold in Men's Singles in 2004.)

5 Reasons Why We Can't Wait for the Liebherr 2019 World Championships!
Here's the ITTF article. "Just 30 days remain until the Hungarian capital of Budapest welcomes the world's biggest table tennis stars for the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships from 21-28 April."

Ask a Pro Anything: Georgina Pota
Here's the video (5:21) with the world #34 (formerly #11) from Hungary, with Adam Bobrow.

ITTF Top 10 | 2019 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup
Here's the video (4:53).

Timo Boll vs Fang Bo | Champions League 2019
Here's the video (15:17).

"I Love This Game" - Part 2
Here's the video (5:45) with lots of great shots. Here's Part 1 (6:26) from 2016. Here are more table tennis videos from MrTheportal.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Twelve ("1996 U.S Open Hall of Fame Banquet"), Chapter Thirteen ("Olympics - Part 1") and Chapter Fourteen ("Olympics - Part 2") of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Olympics - Part 1." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Paddlestar Galactica Returns for a Full Month of Ping-Pong Madness for a Good Cause
Here's the article and video (2:08). "On April 7th, $200 will buy you a lot of dirty tricks for a good cause at 826DC’s Paddlestar Galactica ping-pong tournament. You could make your opponent play with their hand instead of a paddle, wear an eye patch, or be pummeled by ping-pong balls while receiving your serve. No, this is not your typical fundraiser–but 826DC is also not your typical DC nonprofit."

Xu Xin Smack and Catch
Here's the video (7 sec) - can you do this?

Crazy Trick Serve
Here's the video (20 sec, including slo-mo) - even in slow motion it's hard to pick it up!

Unbelievable Behind-the-Back Backhand
Here's the video (28 sec, with slo-mo replay).

Leon the Magician
Here's the video (1:52) as he does card tricks for the Japanese Women's Team.

Funniest Table Tennis Match Ever
Here's the video (5:25) of the exhibition between Jorgen Persson and Chen Weixing.

Paddle-Belly Pong?
Here's the video (44 sec) of the Saive brothers - Jean-Michel hitting and Philippe sort of standing there making faces.

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