Larry Hodges's blog

September 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Weapons to Allow Opponents to Beat Themselves.

Fall Coaching and USATT Stuff
My fall schedule keeps changing and getting busier. But the good news is I’ve managed to keep Mon, Tue, and Fri open for rest, writing, and various USATT and MDTTC activities. The bad news it means longer hours on other days. Here’s my updated coaching schedule:

  • Wed: 5:30-8:45 (one 15 min break)
  • Thur: 5:30-9:30
  • Sat: 11AM-4:00PM (will likely have a 4-5PM student, and twice a month also have 6:30-8:30PM)
  • Sun: 2:45-8:30PM (one 15-min break, and I will likely have more Sunday hours before 2:45PM)

Meanwhile, now that the summer is over, I’m about to launch into a number of coaching committee activities. (I’m chair.) I’d hoped to get into these issues this week, but they may have to wait until next week as I have a number of other issues still to deal with from my todo list, but I won’t get into that now. (They are a mixture of table tennis and my outside science fiction writing side career. See segment below at the end for upcoming publications.)

This Friday I’ll post my USATT Coaching Committee Report where I go over the things the coaching committee will be working on this fall. They include creating a six-hour club coach certification class; updating the coaching certification process; coaching recertification seminars; coaches education (seminars, webpage, possible newsletter, invitations to coach at national team training camps, the recertification seminars mentioned above); confusion between “USATT Certified National Coach” and “USATT National Team Coach”; and scheduling an ITTF Level 3 Course.

This weekend will be extra busy as we have a USATT board meeting nearby in Washington DC, about 45 minutes from me. It starts on Saturday night and continues much of Sunday. I’ve already reworked my coaching schedule to accommodate. On Saturday, I’ll be coaching 11AM-4PM, then at the meeting from 5:30PM on (not sure when it ends). On Sunday it’ll be crazy – the board meeting is 8AM to 3:30 PM, but I’ll be leaving at 2:30PM so I can coach three consecutive 90-min group sessions: 4:00-5:30 PM (first meeting of our new fall Beginning Junior Class); 5:30-7:00 PM (Advanced Junior Class – “Talent Development Program”); and 7:00-8:30 PM (Adult Training Session).

USATT News
There are lots of new items since I last blogged on the USATT News page. Why not browse them over?

Westchester Over 40 Tournament
Here’s the entry form. The 4-star tournament is only for players over age 40. On Saturday they have the Open, and U2200, U1800, U1400, and U1000. On Sunday they have age events for over 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, and 80. (I don’t usually have segments on upcoming tournaments, but this one is unique.)

Maryland Table Tennis Center Newsletter
Here's the MDTTC September Newsletter. I'm the editor. 

Time to Relax – Table Tennis for When You Are Not Playing Table Tennis
Here’s the article from Epic Table Tennis.

Snappy Backhand: Check Out the New Tool!
Here’s the video (1:58) from Samson Dubina.

Sidespin Forehand Topspin
Here’s the video (5:10) from PingSkills.

Butterfly Presents: Footwork Drills by Stefan Feth, Drill No. 7
Here’s the video (1:18).

Sports Psychology
Here’s the podcast (26:44) from PingSkills.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Austin to Abu Dhabi, Destination Fort Worth
Here’s the ITTF article on the ITTF Level 2 course in Austin, Texas, run by Christian Lillieroos.

The Evolution of the Table Tennis Racket
Here’s the article by Radivoj Hudetz at Table Tennis 11.

Another Guinness World Record for Mima Ito
Here’s the ITTF article.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter twenty-four - December 1992 - World Doubles Cup. Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, Volumes 1 to 19! (Volume 20 is about ready – copies were sent to Tim for distribution, and the online tracker says he’ll get them by the end of Thursday.)

New from Sports Flu

ITTF’s New “Multi-Balls” System
Here’s the video (2:01), where they test out having the umpires toss a ball to the player to start each point, instead of the players picking up the ball. Ballboys/ballgirls pick up the balls and deliver them back to the umpire.

Prodigy vs. Legend
Here’s the video (66 sec) of this great point between 14-year-old whiz kid Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan (world #20) and 36-year-old former world #1 (currently #7) Timo Boll of Germany.

Xu Xin’s Great Forehand
Here’s the video (25 sec) where he unleashes one on the falling-backwards run.

Audrey After the Talent Program Trials
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) Note who’s on her forehead! All the players, parents, and coaches wore nametags at the trials this past weekend at MDTTC.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ping-Pong Music Video
Here’s the hilarious video (58 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis - Galaxy’s Edge, Gothic Time Travel Stories, and When Parallel Lines Meet
I have two short stories and a novel coming out! (Outside table tennis, which is my main “paying” job, I write science fiction & fantasy as a second profession. Here’s my science fiction page.)

  • My fantasy horror story “The Theater of Death” just came out in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine. Alas, you have to buy a subscription to read it. (You can also get it on Amazon – kindle now, print coming.) This is the humorous story of Death through about 20 billion years, where he meets “the creepy guy” at the theater, visits the “Big Crunch” and subsequent “Big Bang,” and eventually learns who dropped that refrigerator on him that started his life (or death) journey.  
  • My science fiction fantasy story (yes, it’s both), “Eternity and the Devil,” is coming out Sept. 29 in the anthology Gothic Time Travel Stories. The story is a twist on the "Deal with the Devil" story. A physicist sells his soul so he can make discoveries that will benefit mankind. When the Devil shows up and takes him to Hell, the scientist escapes into the future in a time machine - and with numerous stops, 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.
  • Best of all, I co-wrote a novel with Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn, “When Parallel Lines Meet,” which comes out Oct. 31, but you can pre-order now. Mike is the most decorated science fiction writer on the planet. (Description is on the Amazon page, linked above.)

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September 5, 2017

After trying to take Labor Day off, I found myself wanting to catch up on work that I’d planned to do today – and ended up working half the night. When I tried going to sleep, I was too wound up. When it reached 4:30 AM and I was still up, I realized I was going to have a problem. I finally got to sleep, then woke up at 7:30 AM. My head is pounding like I’d gone twelve rounds with The Hulk, my eyelids weigh more than The Hulk, and my eyes feel like Ma Long and The Hulk plucked them out and played a best of seven with each. Sorry, no blog today, but at least I’m (mostly) caught up on various table tennis and writing matters. I’ll be back tomorrow with the blog and Tip of the Week. I need to put on my wall, “Early to bed, early to rise, is what morning bloggers must prioritize.”  Oh, and speaking of The Hulk:

(Good night, everyone; I’m back to bed.)

September 4, 2017

It's Labor Day, so no laboring on my blog today. I'm spending the day in my lounge chair reading "Brave New World," which somehow I'd never gotten around to reading, and perhaps watching "Giant," which is on TCM at 4:30PM. See you all tomorrow. Oh, and here's a video of cats and table tennis (2:19). 

September 1, 2017

USATT Club Coach Certification Course
Much of the current USATT coaching certification process was set up when we had few coaches in this country, and were desperately trying to get coaches certified. (I was coaching chair for four years in the 1990s, and remember those problems.) Currently you can become a club coach just by passing a test, having two years USATT membership, and a 1400 rating, current or past.

I don’t think you should have specific rating requirements for specific coaching levels – they are separate things, though closely related. A better rule would be to require (along with other criteria) a specific minimum rating achieved, or similar relevant experience. So that’s going to change.

We’re looking to change the certification process, now that we have so many more coaches than before. Below is a very rough outline of a six-hour coaching seminar for becoming club coach. Later I will expand on it, giving more details on what should be taught in each segment and how. It should be somewhat easy for any high-level coach to run such a seminar at any club in the country, where they’d just roughly follow the seminar schedule, and we’d assume that the high-level coaches would know how to teach each aspect listed. Those who take the seminar would, with the approval of the coach teaching the course, become USATT certified Club Coaches.  (There are four levels - Club, State, Regional, and National. There's also Instructor, but that's designed for non-table tennis people, such as a PE instructor. Here are the current USATT coaching certification guidelines.) 

I toyed with calling it the Club Coach Certification Program, or CCCP – but some might remember that has a rather onerous vibe to it! (It’s the Russian abbreviation for the Soviet Union.) Some of you might also remember that I already did this – when I was Club Chair in the 1990s, I set up the Club Catalyst and Creation Program (CCCP)! (It led to an increase from 226 to 301 clubs in two years.)

USATT Club Coach Certification Course
By Larry Hodges (USATT coaching chair)

Qualifications:

  • USATT membership
  • Minimum 1400 rating, or 3 years USATT membership or equivalent and 100 tournament or league matches. This is to show minimal experience in table tennis.
  • Certification fee (would be part of the course fee)
  • Pass SafeSport

For each topic, the coach should start with a demo, then have the students do a short session where they practice and demonstrate the technique. The following assumes a 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM schedule. Coaches can vary as needed. (Note – I’m 90% certain I’m going to take out the section on Tactics near the end – save that for State level – and find room for sections on chopping, fishing & lobbing, and smashing lobs.)

  1. Introductions (9:00-9:05)
  2. Multiball (9:05-9:30)
    1. Topspin
    2. Backspin
    3. Short
    4. Various drills
  3. Grip & Stance (9:30-9:40)
    1. Shakehand
    2. Penhold
    3. Ball bouncing
    4. Stance
  4. Forehand drive and smash (9:40-10:05)
  5. Backhand drive and smash (10:05-10:30)
  6. Footwork (10:30-10:50) Students can practice at the table or just shadow practice
    1. Side to side
    2. In and out
  7. Break (10:50-11:00)
  8. Pushing (11:00-11:25)
    1. Backhand
    2. Forehand
    3. Short
  9. Blocking (11:25-11:45)
    1. Backhand
    2. Forehand
  10. 11:45-Noon Q&A
  11. Lunch (Noon-1:00
  12. Forehand loop (1:00-1:30)
    1. Purpose, contact, acceleration
    2. vs. backspin (students feed multiball to each other)
    3. vs. block
    4. counterlooping
  13. Backhand loop (1:30-1:50)
    1. vs. backspin (students feed multiball to each other)
    2. vs. block
  14. Forehand flip (1:50-2:00) (students feed multiball to each other)
  15. Backhand flip (2:00-2:15) (students feed multiball to each other)
    1. Regular
    2. Banana
  16. Break 2:15-2:25
  17. Serve (2:25-3:15)
    1. Creating spin
    2. Serving low
    3. Depth
    4. Fast & deep
  18. Receive (3:15-3:30) (Mostly lecture and demonstration)
    1. Reading spin
    2. Against long serve (aggressive)
    3. Against short serve (push long or short, flip)
  19. General tactics (3:30-3:40, Q&A)
  20. Coaching kids (3:40-3:50)
    1. Ball bouncing
    2. Lots of multiball for beginners
    3. 2/3 practice, 1/3 games?
  21. Q&A (3:50-4:00)

Update – History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 20
On Tuesday Tim Boggan received the proof copy. He found three more typos to fix. I fixed them, and yesterday I sent in an order for 50 copies to be sent to him. He’ll have them by Sept. 8, and then he’ll be able to start sending them out! Here’s the Tim Boggan Table Tennis Page, where you can order copies. (Volume 20 covers the years 1993-94, with 460 pages, 1714 graphics.)

ITTF Education Page
Here’s the page – have fun browsing!

Boll – Harimoto: The Kid’s Revenge
Here’s the analysis article and video of Tomokazu Harimoto’s win over Timo Boll in the Men’s Singles final of the Czech Open this past weekend. (Harimoto’s the 14-year-old whiz kid from Japan, now #20 in the world.) Here’s the ITTF page for the event, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

New from Samson Dubina

Table Tennis for One, With Help From a Robot
Here’s the article from the Wall Street Journal. I linked to this on Monday, but that version seemed to require a subscription. This one does not. (I changed the previous link to this one as well.)

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2017 Bulgaria Open
Here’s the ITTF video (6:01).

Aggressive Backhand - Fan Zhendong
Here’s the video (30 sec).

Ma Long Hand Switch Shot 2017
Here’s the video (50 sec, including slo-mo replay).

Ma Long Lost Again (due to injury) Chinese National Games 2017
Here’s the video (8:48) with commentary in Chinese with English subtitles.

Xu Xin vs Fan Zhendong (2017 Chinese National Games)
Here’s the video (10:03, time between points removed). Here are articles and more video from the ITTF.

Umpire Surrounded by Crazy People
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) “We had a lot of fun at the 2017 Aurora Ford Sales South Slave Open in Fort Smith.”

Larry vs. Derek, Crystal Umpiring
Here’s a video (8:43) of an exhibition I did with Derek Nie five years ago, with Crystal Wang umpiring.

Suh Hyo Won Dropping Some Goal Tricks!
Here’s the video (3:27)!

Wild and Crazy Table Tennis Serve
Here’s the video (3 sec).

***
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August 31, 2017

$2700 Butterfly MDTTC August Open
Aug. 26-27, 2017 • Gaithersburg, Maryland
By Larry Hodges (tournament director)
[NOTE – not interested in reading about a local tournament, with a final between two of the best players in the country? Then jump ahead to the other segments below!]

The MDTTC August Open was the day the choppers, juniors, and women & girls roared. There were choppers in the final and quarterfinals of the Open, and they won Under 2200 and Under 1500. There were juniors in the final of five of the six rating events (and – surprise! – both junior events). And women & girls won three of the six rating events. The ultimate winner was Stephanie Zhang, a chopping junior girl who won Under 1500!

Top-seeded Jishan Liang (2671) of New York, a powerful lefty two-winged looper, won the Open over second-seeded chopper/looper Jian Li (2660) of New Jersey, 2-1 win in this best of seven. Well, it was scheduled to be best of seven, but both players asked if they could play best of five, and we agreed. Then, after Liang went up 2-1 (with all three games being 11-5), Li was forced to retire due to an arm injury. The other chopper/looper in the mix was Wang Qingliang, who lost to Liang in the quarterfinals, 8,6,11. So $1000 to Jishan, $500 to Li, and $250 to the two semifinalists, Jeffrey Zeng and Chen Bo Wen, both MDTTC coaches, as is Wang.

Making his U.S. tournament debut was Czech Under 21 Men’s Team Member Jakub Nemecek, who by most estimates was about 2650. In the preliminaries he clearly showed that level – he might have the most powerful backhand loop in the country right now. But he might have suffered “first American tournament” jitters as he lost the first two games to Chen Bowen (2598) in the quarterfinals. He fought back valiantly before losing a close five-gamer, 5,8,-4,-9,8. Also making his American tournament debut was Martin Jezo of Slovakia, now a full-time coach at MDTTC. He was estimated at 2500, but alas, lost a close five-gamer to Khaleel Asgarali, who has been practicing with Nemecek and may be playing close to 2500 level himself.

Khaleel won Under 2400, defeating 14-year-old George Li (2240) in the final, -8,4,10,7. (Neither are choppers, but George does like to lob and sometimes chop!) Chopper Ed Watts, age 71, with long pips on the backhand, won Under 2200 over 15-year-old Abbas Paryavi at 4,2,-9,7, who probably had never played such a pure retriever who got everything back, and perhaps attacked once per game at most – but as the scores show, after a slow start, Abbas began to figure things out, but it was too late. Thirteen-year-old Kallista Liu won Under 2000 over senior Xisheng Michael Huang, -8,11,9,-8,8 – and she also made the semifinals of Under 2400 – and her rating skyrocketed from 1764 to 1993 as a result. Haoran Aries Guan was down 0-2 in the Under 1800 final against sometimes-chopping Steven Thoren before she mounted a comeback to win, -9,-9,9,7,3. Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Zhang, as noted above, was the chopping junior girl who won Under 1500 over Allan Anzaqira, 7,2,5. And 12-year-old Todd Klinger won Under 1200 over Aaron Thaul at 7,-9,8,9, as well as making the semifinals of Under 1500.

Xisheng Michael Huang, the Under 2000 finalist above, won Over 50 in an upset over Thomas Sampson (2067), 5,-6,6,8, and saw his rating jump from 1832 to 1933. In Under 15, it was George Li (the Under 2400 finalist above) over 8-year-old Stanley Hsu, who gave him a scare before George pulled it out, -12,9,9,8. Stanley went on to win Under 12, going 5-0 in the final round robin, and (with a win over a 2059 player) saw his rating jump from 1761 to 1812 – not bad for age eight! Mu Du came in second in Under 12 at 4-1, with Ryan Lee, Kay O’Hara, James Zhang, and Jacob Lee coming in third through sixth.

A great thanks goes to sponsors Butterfly and HW Global Foundation, which sponsors the MDTTC Talent Development program. A great thanks also goes to Mossa Barandao of PongMobile. What is PongMobile? Mossa sets up a station at our tournaments and leagues so players can easily look up their ratings and ratings histories, both in numbers and graphic form. (The station is always surrounded by players looking up all their friends, coaches, and rivals.) It allows you to follow your favorite players, find clubs nearby or when traveling, and easily find tournament results. Thanks also goes to referee Paul Kovac and umpire Stephen Yeh. Also a thanks to John Hsu (one of our coaches), who not only took care of credit card payments (saving us time at the control desk), but also took charge of running the Under 12 RR. And above all, a great thanks to all 71 players who competed in the tournament!

Complete results are available at Omnipong. Here is a summary – click on event links to see pictures of the finalists! Here are the post tournament ratings.

Open Singles – Final: Jishan Liang d. Jian Li, -5,5,5, ret. (arm injury); SF: Liang d. Jeffrey Zeng, 12,5,-6,5; Li d. Chen Bo Wen, -10,6,8,8; QF: Liang d. Wang Qingliang, 8,6,11; Zeng d. Roy Ke, 9,9,2; Chen d. Jakub Nemecek, 5,8,-4,-9,8; Li d. Khaleel Asgarali, 8,4,10.
Under 2400 – Final: Khaleel Asgarali d. George Li, -8,4,10,7; SF: Asgarali d. Kallista Liu, 2,7,4; Li d. Richard Bowling, 8,5,-8,-9,7.
Under 2200 – Final: Ed Watts d. Abbas Paryavi, 4,2,-9,7; SF: Watts d. Gary Schlager, 4,7,14; Paryavi d. Burak Cevik, -8,6,7,8.
Under 2000 – Final: Kallista Liu d. Xinsheng Michael Huang, -8,11,9,-8,8; SF: Liu d. Michael Cai, 4,-9,3,-3,8; Huang d. Bob Slapnik, -8,11,9,-8,8.
Under 1800 – Final: Haoran Guan d. Stephen Thoren, -9,-9,9,7,3; SF: Guan d. Jozef Simkovic, 8,9,-9,8; SF: Thoren d. James Zhang, -5,10,-5,5,8.
Under 1500 – Final: Stephanie Zhang d. Allan Anzaqira, 7,2,5; SF: Zhang d. Todd Klinger, 9,7,8; Anzaqira d. Jeff Pepper, 5,-6,7,7.
Under 1200 – Final: Todd Klinger d. Aaron Thaul, 7,-9,8,9; SF: Klinger d. Eugene Zhang, 4,9,6; Thaul d. Steve Brown, 4,9,-9,6.
Over 50 – Final: Xinsheng Michael Huang d. Thomas Sampson, 5,-6,6,8; SF: Huang d. Jozef Simkovic, -8,7,8,7; Sampson d. Patrick Lui, 8,6,6.
Under 15 – Final: George Li d. Stanley Hsu, -12,9,9,8; SF: Li d. Hanfei Hu, 7,8,9; Hsu d. Mu Du, 6,2,9.
Under 12 – Final RR: 1st Stanley Hsu, 5-0; 2nd Mu Du, 4-1; 3rd Ryan Lee, 3-2; 4th Kay O’Hara, 2-3; 5th James Zhang, 1-4; 6th Jacob Lee, 0-5. 

Fall Coaching Scheduling and Injury Update
As I noted in a previous blog, working out a coaching schedule is like trying to do a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle where the pieces keep moving around, changing shape, and sometimes disappearing, with new ones showing up randomly. Well, it’s finally done. Things kept changing up until it was finalized, and it’ll always be changing week to week. But below is the basic schedule. And the really nice thing? After doing some maneuvering, I was able to get it all on four days!!!

This does several things. First, it gives me more time to rest – physically, mentally, and to let various nagging injuries heal. Second, it gives me more time for USATT, MDTTC, and writing. (Technically, it doesn’t do this since it would be the same amount of hours if spread over five days, but I find I get more focused on other work when I have no coaching scheduled that day.) And third, it means I’m going to get really, really tired on Sundays – which makes it great that I’m off on Mon and Tue!!! Here’s the basic schedule, about 20 hours/week:

  • Mon: OFF! (Well, I may give one lesson or so a month to one player.)
  • Tue: OFF!
  • Wed: 5:30-8:45PM
  • Thur: 5:15-8:45PM
  • Fri: OFF!
  • Sat: 12-5PM, plus 6:30-8:30PM twice a month
  • Sun: 1:00-8:30PM (with two 15-minutes breaks)

As to the Injury Update, I have nothing but good news. (I blogged about these injuries on Aug. 17.) Here’s a rundown.

  • Neck injury: For two weeks I struggled with this, barely being able to look to my left, but it’s over now. Most students didn’t even notice.
  • Right knee injury from Nationals: 80% healed. I’m still a bit skittish walking up and down stairs, but I use the railing to help support my weight. At the table I’m also a bit leery of moving too quickly to my right, but nothing like before. I still wear a knee brace, and probably will for some time.
  • Shoulder problems: I hurt my shoulder a bit a couple weeks ago demonstrating my 50-foot serve, but it seems fine now. I refuse to give up doing that serve, but I’ll have to make sure to really stretch out the shoulder first.
  • Arm problems: Nothing to report, the arm has been fine for some time. This is probably because I still wear an arm brace when I play, mostly to prevent injury.
  • Back problems: While I still periodically have them, nothing right now.
  • General exhaustion: That’s an ongoing thing, but knowing that I’ll now have THREE days off each week will solve that problem, especially having two consecutive days!!!

Don’t Be Scared! How to Return a Smash
Here’s the video (2:55) by Samson Dubina. “Just as a disclaimer... I highly recommend for other coaches to NOT use this exercise. This is some risk involved. If you hit their eyes, you could be in huge trouble.” (Note – you’ll understand when you see the video. It depends on the level of play of the coach – I know I can safely do this smashing drill without hitting the student. Regarding the drill where the student only has to touch the ball, I might try that one out – perhaps one point for touching the ball, two for returning it?)

Table Tennis Power and Control
Here’s the new article by Coach Jon.

New Table Tennis Articles from Sports Flu

China National Games
Here are ITTF articles on it.

Bids Open for 2018 ITTF World Hopes and Challenge
Here’s the ITTF info page.

Third Edition of the Young Umpires’ Project Announced
Here’s the ITTF article.

2017 Butterfly Canadian Championships – Women’s Final: Alicia Cote vs Leisy Medina
Here’s the video (38:07).

Show #290 - Tibor Klampar's Birthday
Here’s the podcast (34:06) from PingSkills.

Pong Bowling!
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) We do this regularly in my beginning junior classes!

Table Tennis: Moments of Love ❤
Here’s the new ITTF video (1:39)!

***
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August 30, 2017

Capital Area Team League and Other Leagues
The Capital Area Team League is for players in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area. The “early bird” special deadline is tomorrow, August 31. Final deadline to enter is Sept. 12. If you don’t have a team, the league committee can help you find one. First league matches are on Oct. 1. Here are the basic rules:

  • Teams have a roster of at least 3 players.
  • Team contests will have 6 individual matches and one doubles.
  • Each team will be placed in a division according to their ratings, with similarly-rated teams – priority consideration will be given to teams who have participated in the last season.
  • No USATT membership required to play.
  • Detail league rules here.

So . . . you want to play in such a league, but don’t live in the Capital area? Here’s the USATT League page, where you can find info on other such team leagues currently operating, how to start one, as well as info on singles leagues.

This is also a good time to mention that USATT is currently without a League Committee Chair, or a League Committee. If you are interested in chairing it, let me know, and I’ll forward you to the appropriate person. (Here’s the USATT Committee listing.)

USATT Remembers Robert Tretheway
Here’s the article. (I blogged about him on Aug. 16.)

Table Tennis Tidbits #7
Here’s the article, with link to video, by Robert Ho.

Miu Hirano Hook Serve
Here’s video (58 sec) of the world #5 woman from Japan demonstrating her hook serve variations (also called a tomahawk serve). Alas, as you can see, she illegally hides contact each time with her head – but these days nearly all the top players illegally hide their serves, and umpires and referees allow it, even though the serving rules not only make such hidden serves illegal, but state that the serve is illegal if the umpire is “not sure” about its legality. So, by not calling the serve, they are claiming the serve is clearly visible, when of course it is not.

High Marks, Outstanding Response in Iran
Here’s the ITTF article on USA’s Christian Lillieroos recent camp in Tehran.

Chinese National Games Videos
Below are three from EmRatThich. (Here’s an ITTF article on them, but I don’t see the results online anywhere in English.)

Pong Universe Point of the Week: Ning vs. Mattenet
Here’s the video (29 sec).

Andrew (from Pong Universe) and Shaia Williams Play Outdoor Pong in the Alps!
Here’s the video (22 sec).

Chen Weixing vs Jörgen Persson - Exhibition Match
Here’s the hilarious video (5:43) from EmRatThich!

***
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August 29, 2017

Fall Scheduling
With local schools starting next week, I’m working out my new Fall coaching schedule. This is one of those surprisingly tricky things, sort of like trying to do a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle, which sounds easy except the pieces keep moving around, changing shape, and sometimes disappearing, with new ones showing up randomly.

During the summer we have little private coaching before 6PM (Mon-Fri) due to our summer camps. (Only available times are before 10AM and during the 1-3PM lunch break, but I rarely schedule during those times.) So while we often have sessions after school at 4 or 5PM, during the summer everyone has to move to after 6PM. But now, with school nights, the kids generally do their sessions earlier. But strangely, most of them have other afterschool activities (!), so we have to schedule around them. Worse, their schedules aren’t set in stone – they keep changing as they get new info, and sometimes it changes, week to week. Plus I have to work the schedules around my group sessions, which are mostly on Thursdays and weekends.

My weekend schedule won’t change much, just my Mon-Fri schedule. If I were one of the 50-hour/week coaches (we have several at my club), I’d be spreading them out all week. But since I generally can’t do more than about 20 hours per week, I’m trying to corral all the sessions into three weekdays, plus Sat & Sun. But last night I saw a glimmer of a chance, just a chance, that I might be able to schedule all my weekday sessions into two longer days and nights – something that would make me very happy. That would give me three days off three days to do more writing and other USATT & MDTTC stuff!!!

Drop Ceiling
Here’s the video (28 sec) from Samson Dubina – “Many of my students don't bend their knees. Many of them bend their knees at the start of the point, then begin to stand up or bounce too much during the long rallies. I have been threatening them for years that I would add an adjustable drop-ceiling to my tt room. Ok, I finally did it. Now, if they stand up, they are reminded by the drop ceiling.”

Table Tennis – Old vs New Ball
Here’s the article, with a link to a PingSkills video, on celluloid vs. the new plastic balls, from Sports Flu.

Titans Clash in Final, Wu Takes 7th Title at Westchester
Here’s the article by Matt Hetherington.

Exceptional Prize Money for 10-Year Anniversary Butterfly Badger Open
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei.

Eligibility Testing for Class 11 Participation and Table Tennis Training Camp
Here’s the USATT info page.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter twenty-three - 1992 – Non-Tournament Articles. Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, Volumes 1 to 19! (Volume 20 is almost ready – a final proof copy was sent to Tim for final inspection.)

Ping-Pong Diplomacy Comes to Britain
Here’s vintage video (65 sec) of the Chinese team visiting England, circa 1972.

Thailand TV Game Show?
Here’s video (10:29) of what appears to be some Thailand game show, where two kids (twins) put on a table tennis show.

Amazing Ping Pong Battle: Knife vs Brick
Here’s the video (13:08) of this amazing play – both serious and exhibition – between these two Vietnamese players, one using a knife, the other a brick!

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August 28, 2017

Tip of the Week
Covering the Wide Angles.

$2700 Butterfly MDTTC August Open, PongMobile, and that Nasty Todo List
Getting up to blog after a pair of 15-hour days is like facing Mayweather for 12 rounds, then fighting The Mountain from Game of Thrones, and then jogging a marathon or two. This past weekend I ran the tournament, with great help from Mossa Barandao of PongMobile. I plan to do a write-up later today, with pictures, which I’ll send off for publication at the news sites at USATT and Butterfly, and link to from my blog afterwards. You can get complete results at Omnipong. Congrats to champions Jishan Liang, Khaleel Asgarali, Ed Watts, Kallista Liu, Haoran Guan, Stephanie Zhang, Todd Klinger, Xinsheng Michael Huang, George Li, and Stanley Hsu!

What’s PongMobile? Mossa sets up a station at our tournaments and leagues so players can easily look up their ratings and ratings histories, both in numbers and graphic form. (The station is always surrounded by players looking up all their friends, coaches, and rivals.) But it’s more than that. It allows you to:

  • Follow your favorite players - Stay up to date with matches played at USATT tournaments.
  • Where can I play? Find clubs nearby or when traveling.
  • Looking for tournament results? Navigate through recent tournaments with ease.

Special thanks for helping with the tournament also goes to referee and umpire Paul Kovac and Stephen Yeh. Also a thanks to John Hsu (one of our coaches), who not only took care of credit card payments (saving us time at the control desk), but also took charge of running the Under 12 Final Six RR (which also allowed him to study the players in our HW Global “Talent Program” at MDTTC).

As near as I can tell – plus or minus about two – this was the 191st USATT tournament I’ve run. Nearly all of them were two-day events. That means I’ve spent more than a year running tournaments. (On the other hand, I’ve also run or coached at training camps for over 1000 days. I blogged about the hours I’ve spent at each aspect of table tennis on June 27.) Our next one is Oct. 14-15.

When the tournament was done, I wasn’t. I had to do a lot of post-tournament paperwork. This is greatly helped by Omnipong, and as I always make sure to do, the tournament report and results were sent to USATT on Sunday, for quick processing. They sometimes get it done on Monday (today), but at the latest they will likely be up by tomorrow. (If they go up today, I’ll put up a note here.) I also had to coach a 90-minute group training session on Sunday night. Later that night I also had to do some proofing/editing of a USATT document, update the previous Hall of Fame program booklet (some new donations), and a bunch of other little stuff. Then I got to watch Game of Thrones!!! (I had it on record, and didn't start until about 11PM.) 

Today’s Table Tennis Todo list – though I doubt I’ll get to all of these today.

  • Tip of the Week
  • Blog
  • Tournament accounting
  • Tournament write-up and results
  • Tournament photos (organize, label, and link from results). Mossa took pictures of all the finalists, plus some action shots.
  • Class accounting
  • Work on USATT Coaching Committee Report (due Friday)
  • Schedule next week’s coaching (school starts, so major changes in schedule)
  • Compile list of changes in scheduling for next year’s tournaments
  • Finalize tournament sanction requests for next year
  • Respond to dozens of emails
  • Coaching from 7-9PM (6-7PM student is away)

How Training Drill Selection Can Impact Your Improvement
Here’s the article from MH Table Tennis.

How to Get More Spin on Serves (Cool Trick!)
Here’s the video (2:38) from Sam Huang. This is from 2014, but I don’t think I ever linked to it. “This video discusses a simple method to practice getting more spin on your serves.”

Tuan Le in Slow Motion
Here’s the video (5:15). Dr. Le, currently rated 2278, has been as high as 2434, and has some nice strokes.

New Videos from EmRatThich
Here are six that he put up over the weekend.

World University Games
Here’s the table tennis page. The event is taking place in Taipei, with 22 sports, with table tennis finishing on Aug. 29 (Tuesday). Alas, USA is out of all events.

Czech Open
Here’s the home page for the event that was held this past weekend in Olomouc, CZE. Here’s the Finals Summary video (69 sec).

ITTF Young Umpires’ Project – Exciting Times for Young Officials
Here’s the ITTF article.

Mudit Dani, Budding Player, to Participate in Tournaments Before Taking the Academic Plunge
Here’s the article from the India Times. “Come fall, Mudit Dani . . . will begin his undergrad studies at New York University. However, before he takes the academic course, the youngster, who is a national level junior table tennis player, has decided to squeeze in two tournaments — the Edgeball International, Chicago, and World Junior Circuit, El Salvador — this month.”

Across the Net
Here’s the September Newsletter from the Melton TTA (from Australia), with a number of interesting articles.

Table Tennis for One, With Help From a Robot
Here’s the article from the Wall Street Journal. 

Ping Pong Tournament (Extreme Pain!!!)
Here’s the video (5:37). It gets rather funny toward the end when the winner gets to hit the loser with the ball, but the winner keeps missing!

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August 25, 2017

USATT Coaching Questions
I’ve been very busy this summer - coaching, traveling, and writing. One casualty of this is that I haven’t done as much as chair of the USATT coaching committee as I’d have liked. However, sometime in the next few weeks I should be able to focus more on that. Here are upcoming coaching items. (Here’s the list of USATT committees – we’re third on the list.) I also have a coaching committee report due to the board, which I should have by Sept. 1. (We have a USATT board meeting in Washington DC, Sept. 9-10.)

What is the primary responsibility of the coaching committee? I’d say to recruit, train, and certify coaches. Recruitment basically means encouraging potential coaches into taking the plunge, either as part-time or full-time coaches. For the latter, this essentially means showing them that they can make a good living as a table tennis coach – as over 300 currently do in the United States.

Training means educating coaches so they become better coaches. I’ve had numerous discussions with USATT people on how best to do this, especially USATT High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio and past coaching chair Richard McAfee. Here are some possibilities:

  • Coaching seminars. For example, at the recent USA Nationals we started up “USATT University,” with eight courses, including ones on Serving, Return of Serve, and How to Set Up a Successful Junior Program.
  • Coaching courses. We currently have ITTF coaching courses, with two going on right now, in Portland, OR, and Flushing, NY. More will be scheduled later on.
  • Web page. We have a USATT coaching page, with numerous links. When a coaching article makes the USATT news page, it also makes the USATT coaching articles page. We may be setting up something more extensive later on for our top coaches.
  • Invitations to National Team Training Camps. If a coach wants to learn to coach players to a high level, he needs to see how the top players train. We are looking into setting up an ITTF Level 3 course late next year where we combine it with such a national team training camp. We’re starting to look at the idea that if you want to be a National Coach, you really need to be working with National players.
  • Recertification seminars. Currently, once you are certified at a level, you stay there for live. We may need to add something like “active” to this list, or require recertification every few years, as is done in many countries and many sports. USATT might then set up such recertification seminars, and require coaches at various levels to attend them to keep up their coaching knowledge.
  • Newsletter. We’ve periodically had a USATT Coaching Newsletter in the past. (I was the editor for a time in the 1990s.) I’ve debated about whether it’s worth bring that back.

Certification is the final major thing the committee does. Here is the current USATT certification program. However, it is greatly in need of updating. I’ve already marked up a printed copy, and will be updating much of this in September. We’ve already adopted the ITTF certification process as part of ours, with Level 1 equating to State coach, Level 2 to Regional coach, and Level 3 to National coach. Here are three issues coming up, besides the changes in the certification process already mentioned, and the question of recertification and other educational ideas.

  1. Club test vs. Club course. Much of the current certification process was set up when we had few coaches in this country, and were desperately trying to get coaches certified. (I was coaching chair for four years in the 1990s, and remember those problems.) Currently you can become a club coach just by passing a test, having two years USATT membership, and a 1400 rating (current or past). Putting aside that there shouldn’t be rating requirements for any level, should we change this process, now that we have so many more coaches than before? I’ve put together an outline of a six-hour coaching seminar that might become the basis of becoming a club coach. It would be somewhat easy for any high-level coach to run such a seminar at any club in the country, where they’d just following the seminar schedule, and we’d assume that the high-level coaches would know how to teach each aspect listed.
  2. Grandfathering. Here are the current guidelines for Grandfathering. Some of this likely needs updating. Also, should we grandfather below the National level? If so, under what circumstances?
  3. National coach term. When I last checked, we had 77 USATT certified National Coaches. (Some of since dropped off the list because they haven’t done SafeSport – see below.) Last year we had 11 USATT National Team Coaches. The latter are the ones chosen by the USATT High Performance Committee to coach our national teams. But there’s occasionally been some confusion on this, since the terms are similar. So there has been some discussion of changing the National Coach designation. However, I don’t know of a similar term, and of course the currently USATT certified National Coaches wouldn’t be happy. So this item is on hold until and unless someone comes up with a good solution.

One headache I’m hoping not to have to get too involved in is SafeSport. The USOC (in my opinion) prematurely forced this on us with a flawed program, and all USATT coaches (and most other officials) are required to take this online seminar and do a background check. Fortunately, USATT headquarters is primarily in charge of this, and so I don’t have to worry about it much. (I blogged about this a bit on April 26, toward the end of my report on the board meeting.) However, it is required of all USATT coaches, so I urge you to do it if you are a coach.

Table Tennis Books
It’s been a while since I put in a plug for my table tennis books . . . so here we go!!! Why not help a starving table tennis writer by buying one of mine? You have so many choices!!!

Of course, there are other table tennis books out there as well, such as Tim Boggan’s History of U.S. Table Tennis, Dan Seemiller’s Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion, and Samson Dubina’s 100 Days of Table Tennis. (These are ones I helped the authors put together in various ways.) At some point in time I’ll be doing an update of my old Table Tennis: Steps to Success Book, which is currently out of print, as well as Instructor’s Guide to Table Tennis.

Probabilities VS Indicators
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills!

World University Games
Here’s the table tennis page. The event is taking place in Taipei, with 22 sports. Table tennis is scheduled for Aug. 22-29, with Men’s and Women’s Singles, Doubles, and Teams, plus Mixed Doubles. They just started the Singles events. You can follow Team USA or any other country!

Czech Open
Here’s the home page for the event, Aug. 22-27 in Olomouc, CZE.

2017 World Tour, Czech Open
Here’s the article by Shashin Shodhan.

Strange Blocking Style
Here’s video (13:38) of Simon Csaba of Romania, against one of Romania’s top juniors. He plays with inverted on the black side, and what appears to be frictionless antispin (not long pips) on the red side – and constantly flips. With the anti on the backhand, he’s sort of a conventional pushblocker. When he flips the inverted to the backhand side, he plays an extremely aggressive, almost flat backhand, while blocking and chopping on the forehand. Estimate for his level range up to 2650, though I’m guessing it’s not quite that high – but I don’t really know. Here’s discussion of him at the Mytabletennis.com forum. There are many more videos of him playing at youtube if you put in his name and “table tennis.”

Zhou Yu Multiball Training
Here’s the video (2:16). He's a member of the Chinese National Team, getting bronze and silver in Men’s Doubles at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds, and winning Men’s Singles at the Chinese Nationals in 2012. His highest world ranking was #13 in March, 2014.

 “The Tables” Wins Best Documentary at Holly Shorts Film Festival
Here’s the awards listing – see “Best Doc,” directed by Joe Bunning. Here’s their Facebook promotional page. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) The table tennis documentary features Wally Green (here’s the non-Facebook version) and perhaps others – I haven’t yet seen it and can’t find an info page with more info than the above.

USATT Insider
Here’s the new issue which came out on Wednesday.

Exceptional Prize Money for 10-Year Anniversary Butterfly Badger Open
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei. The tournament takes place in Franklin, Wisconsin (15 miles from Milwaukee), Sept. 15-17.

England to Host 2018 ITTF Team World Cup
Here’s the article from Table Tennis England.

We Want You to Ask Kristian Karlsson Anything
Here’s the article and video (19 sec) from Adam Bobrow. Karlsson is world #25 and #1 from Sweden.

Incredible Japanese Shot-Making
Here’s the video (1:58).

Billy Ding Shoots Lily Zhang with Ping-Pong Ball
Here’s the video (6 sec) from the World University Games.

Badminton Pong
Here's the video (32 sec)!

How Doughnuts Are Made
Here’s the video (25 sec) - now you know why doughnut holes are ping-pong ball sized!

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August 24, 2017

Play Hardbat or Sandpaper – Here’s Why
No, this will not be an evangelizing blog entry on why we should make sponge illegal and go back to a simpler time when everyone used hardbat, politicians were honest, and life was perfect. (No, those times never happened.) There’s a better reason why you should bring out that cheap hardbat or sandpaper paddle you have stored away at the back of your closet (or borrow one from someone), and learn to play with it.

Putting aside the fact that it is fun, as a sideline, to play with these rackets, there’s a better reason. There are table tennis tables all over the place. Unless you are some oddball who carries his $300 table tennis racket (and table tennis shoes, plastic balls, table tennis towel, net measurer, etc.) everywhere, you will someday find yourself someday at a table without your racket, watching inferior players play each other, each believing themselves to be champions, or at least competitive with the best players – of whom they have never seen. You will be forced to do one of the following:

  1. Watch and smile;
  2. Challenge one of them, but forced to use one of the local paddles – some cheap thing similar to what you have sitting in the back of your closet – you either lose and feel humiliated (and sound like an idiot when you complain that you don't have your regular racket), or at least struggle, and in no way impress anyone with your table tennis skills;
  3. Because you practiced with a hardbat or sandpaper in advance, you have no trouble using one of the cheap paddles and absolutely destroying the locals, who then ask if you are a professional player. You can then choose to explain to them about “real” table tennis, or you can just sagely nod your head.

The thing to remember is this – once you learn to play with one of these cheap paddles, you can play with just about anything – a book, a pot, even a smart phone, like Matt Hetherington here. (I’ve beaten people with an ID card and an ice cube.) But the key thing is you have to learn how to use these cheap paddles or you will face #1 or #2 above. A good basement player who has spent years using a cheap paddle can often beat a good club player who isn’t using his normal racket and isn’t used to using anything else. With his normal racket, the club player might win 11-1, but without it, all his instincts and reactions are wrong.

Last December I went on a science fiction writing workshop cruse in the Bahamas. I checked in advance and was told the ship had no ping-pong table, so I didn’t bring my table tennis stuff. The first day on the cruise (a HUGE ship!), I discovered they not only had two ping-pong tables next to the pool, but that there would be a cruise ping-pong tournament! All they had were cheap hardbat rackets. What to do? Oh wait, I’m the current U.S. Over 40 Hardbat Champion (five times, and twice in Open Hardbat Singles, though I normally use sponge), so I got to go the #3 route above, and nobody got more than two points against me. And guess what? I was asked if I was a professional player, and I got to say “yes.” But you don’t need to be a “champion” to use one of these rackets effectively, you just need to be a good club player who practices with one a bit.

How do you play with a cheap paddle? (This includes cheap sponge rackets, which basically play like hardbats.) There are basically two things you should learn to do. First, learn a basic forehand or backhand drive. With a little practice, you can do this. The key is to learn to be steady with it, not try to blast everything, and above all, don’t try to loop. Just stroke the ball consistently, and you’ll seem like a world champ at the table against most non-coached players.

Second, learn to chop a bit, or to just chop the ball back with a light backspin. Use this shot when you are in trouble, such as when reaching for the ball, or when the opponent makes an aggressive shot. You might be able to counter these, but a simple chop is very easy with a cheap paddle – they are practically designed for that. You might think you can’t chop, but that’s because you are playing with super-fast blade covered with tensored sponge, and against an opponent who is super-looping everything.

With these two basics down, you’ll become the champion at every basement, rec center, bar, or other gathering of amateur players who think they are very good but aren’t, and you’ll spend the rest of your life knowing that you can play well with just about anything with a hard hitting surface. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to report back that you too beat someone with an ID card or an ice cube.

Butterfly MDTTC August Open
Here’s the home page, and here’s the entry form. I’ll be running it this weekend, Aug. 26-27, at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD. Entry deadline is 7PM Friday. It’s a 3-star event, with $2700 in prize money. Top seeds in the Open (so far) include Jishan Liang (2677), Chen Bo Wen (2575), Jeffrey Zeng (2558), Wang Qingliang (2492), and the wild card from the Czech Republic, Jakub Nemecek, who we’re seeding at 2550, but I’ve been told he could be more like 2650. (We estimated the 2550 based on his world rankings from 2015, as high as #569, but ITTF rankings can vary based on participation, and so aren’t always accurate.) Hope to see you there!!!

The Art of Calling Timeout
Here’s an interesting analysis of the topic, and discussion at the Mytabletennis.net forum. It gives a lot of actual stats on when top players call time-outs. Here’s my Tip of the Week, Time-out Tactics. I also blogged about this on June 11, 2013.

Good, Better, Best!
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina. “Most table tennis players have Good practice sessions on a weekly basis but it isn’t THEIR VERY BEST! Many players continue practicing the same things over and over without pushing themselves to improve their spin, placement, variation, power, and shot selection.”

Internal vs. External Factors – Making the Table Your Only Focus
Here’s the article from Epic Table Tennis. “The story of a 25 year old who foolishly decided to try to get to the Olympics at a sport he had never played before.....”

The Conundrum of Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Coach Jon.

Master Stroke Table Tennis Training Device
Here’s the video (2:41).

Olympic Experience Carries Team USA to World University Games Main Draw
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. Here’s the table tennis page , where you can follow the action, Aug. 22-29 in Taiwan. They are finishing the Team events today, and singles start tomorrow (Friday).

2017 Hopes Team Announced
Here’s the ITTF article. USA’s Swathi Giri made the team.

Czech Open
Here’s the home page for the event, Aug. 22-27 in Olomouc, CZE.

Insane Rally
Here’s the video (56 sec) of the exhibition rally between Kristian Karlsson and Stefan Fegerl!

Behind-the-Back Bottle Bashing Serve
Here’s the video (43 sec)!

Lighting a Match with a Table Tennis Shot
Here’s the video (45 sec)!

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