Blogs

Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will normally go up on Mondays by 1:00 PM USA Eastern time. Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of  eight books and over 1900 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

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

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

Next Blog on Monday, Dec. 27
There will be a Tip of the Week every Monday, but my next blog will be on Dec. 27. I'm going out of town for three weeks - coaching the ITTF Hopes Camp and Tournament in Amman, Jordan, Dec. 6-15; the US Open in Las Vegas, Dec. 16-22 (where I have to adjust in one day to the ten-hour time difference between Jordan and LV!), and a family gathering in San Francisco, Dec. 22-26.

Tip of the Week
How to Get Lucky.

Christmas Table Tennis Book Shopping
Don't forget to do your Christmas table tennis book shopping!!! Below are my seven books on table tennis that are in print. You wouldn't want me to go broke and have to live and play ping-pong on the streets? (And note that "And Still More Table Tennis Tips," fourth in the series, will come out early in 2021.) Or, if you are a non-reader, skip this and move on to the sections on the Teams, the Worlds, and so on!

North American Teams
Just had three exhausting days coaching at the JOOLA North American Teams!!! Actually, five days, since I was coaching at our pre-Teams coaching camp for two days before. This was my 45th consecutive time at the Teams, every year starting in 1976 (excluding last year, which was Covid-cancelled). Here are complete results. It also signified another milestone. My first 22 years, 1976-1997, the Teams were in Detroit, with the annual Thanksgiving drive there. This makes 23 years in Maryland/DC (where I live), so I've now played more Teams here than in Detroit.

My club, MDTTC, had ten junior teams with about 40 players. Since we only had five MDTTC coaches (myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Lidney Castro, and Wang Qingliang, with Jeffrey Zeng Xun coaching some players), it meant we had a coach for a little over half the team matches. (Since some teams had byes in some rounds, we were able to be there for over half.) A number of the parents are players, and they, along with players on the team, also helped coach, so most players ended up with someone in their corner. It's actually a great learning experience for players to coach their teammates - not only do they learn to be team players, but they learn tactics by watching other players and thinking about what's happening. I'm often amazed at some of the insights kids have - it's often easier to think tactically when watching then when actually playing.

Our kids did really, Really, REALLY well! I can't wait for the new ratings to come out. Coaching was both tactical and psychological - one of the trickiest parts of coaching between games is recognizing which to focus on, and how much. I'm pretty good at pep talks, but they always come at the expense of coaching tips, since you only have 60 seconds - and you often want to emphasize certain things, so you do sort of a recap in the last ten seconds or so. (Or just do what one opposing coach did - I started timing him, and he averaged over 2.5 minutes coaching between games and in time-outs. I actually yelled "Time!" at him a few times, but he just ignored me. I almost called for an umpire.)

I had a good run in close matches, going 5-0 in deuce-in-the-fifth matches that I coached. In three of them, I called a timeout right at the end and called the serves to use - and magically, it worked each time!!! ("Magically" in this case means the kids executed flawlessly.)

I spent a large percentage of my coaching time reminding kids to focus on attacking the "three spots" - wide forehand, wide backhand, and middle (roughly opponent's playing elbow). Next to serve and receive advice, it's probably the thing I emphasize most. Receive advice was mostly about where to play the return, and how aggressive on average. Often the best advice was simply to have them control the serve back to the wide backhand, and then rally. Other times it was important to play aggressive off the serve, though they should always vary it.

I coached one girl who caused havoc in her division. She played a number of old players who, despite all the experience and having much higher ratings, couldn't play at her pace. The tactic there was simple - serve fast and deep to the three spots, and then keep attacking those three spots. In each match, we'd usually narrow down the two best spots to attack, though we'd make sure to go to all three - and her execution was great. We pretty much put backspin serves on hold. The older players were very gracious about losing to a girl 1/4 their size, helping turn the tournament into a great experience for her. In new ratings, I think she may come out #1 in her age group in the country - she beat at least three players rated higher than the current #1, and I don't think she had any "bad" losses.

One of our juniors played a higher-rated player who blocked with long pips, no sponge. That's a touch match for a junior - this is where older, experienced players do well, while the long pips players feast on less experienced players. But we quickly found the two spots the player had trouble covering - extremely wide backhand and middle forehand, which was his "middle" (since he covered most of the table with his backhand blocks), and went after those two spots. He won, deuce in the fifth! Most players would likely have automatically gone to the wide corners, but he covered the wide forehand well. Many players might have tried to go his "middle," and gone right at his elbow - which was where he blocked best. His "middle" was where most players played their forehand best. Once again, good tactics + good execution = another win!

Meanwhile, I heard rumors there was some other major tournament going on...why in the world were they scheduled at the same time???

World Championships in Houston
USA's Lily Zhang teamed with China's Lin Gaoyuan to reach the semifinals of Mixed Doubles and win a bronze. It's the first medalist at the Worlds for a USA player since Dick Miles made the semifinals of Men's Singles at the 1959 Worlds - 62 years ago!!! We've had a few close calls - Gao Jun (while representing USA) made the quarterfinals of Women's Singles in 2003 and 2005, and Dan and Rick Seemiller once made the quarterfinals of Men's Doubles. Plus, of course, Kanak Jha reach the quarterfinals of Men's Singles this year, the first time a USA player has done that since Miles in '59!

Here's where you can find videos of the major matches, such as the men's semifinals between Truls Moregard vs. Timo Boll.

The Men's Singles Final is tonight (Monday, Nov. 29) at 7PM Houston Time (8PM Eastern Time), between China's world #1 Fan Zhendong (as expected) and Sweden's Truls Moregard (not expected!). How did 19-year-old world #77 Truls get to the final? This is how:

  • Round of 64: defeats Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE, world #25), 4-3
  • Round of 32: defeats Patrick Franziska (GER, world #14), 4-3
  • Round of 16: defeats Lim Jonghoon (KOR, world #71), 4-3
  • Quarterfinals: defeats Quadri Aruna (NGR, world #17), 4-2
  • Semifinals: defeats Timo Boll (GER, world #11), 4-3

Now let's look at Fan Zhendong's route to the final:

  • Round of 64: defeats Amir Hossein Hodaei (IRI, world #165), 4-0
  • Round of 32: defeats Emmanuel Lebesson (FRA, world #39), 4-0
  • Round of 16: defeats Wang Chuqin (CHN, world #16), 4-2
  • Quarterfinals: defeats Lin Gaoyuan (CHN, world #7), 4-1
  • Semifinals: defeats Liang Jingkun (CHN, world #9), 4-1

Notice how Fan coasted to the final, only losing a few games to the three fellow Chinese teammates he played in the last three rounds before the final? Contrast that with Truls, who needed to lose just one more game to Quadri and he'd have made the final with five straight 4-3 wins!!! Plus, of course, Truls didn't have to face any of the Chinese players. Most interesting match was his semifinal win over former world #1 Timo Boll (now #11), who almost reached the final at age 40!

Women's Singles wasn't quite so interesting - the four semifinalists are all Chinese. Wang Manyu (world #5) upset Chen Meng (world #1) 4-3 in one semifinals, while Sun Yingsha (world #2) defeated Wang Yidi (world #10) 4-1 in the other semifinals. So the final is between Wang Manyu and Sun Yingsha at 6PM Houston Time (7PM Eastern Time).

For info on how to watch the finals live, go to the World's Where to Watch page. Here are some links, including daily wraps:

Houston Vlog #3 - My way to the quarterfinals
Here's the video (4:20) from Timo Boll.

World Championships Coverage by Steve Hopkins

World Championships Coverage by Amy Karpinski

News From the ITTF Annual General Meeting Held During the Worlds

USA Table Tennis Star Celebrates Thanksgiving Day with Stellar Performances
Here's the ITTF article on USA's Kanak Jha.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

12 Movement Exercises and Coordination with Table Tennis Training Tool (Part 1)
Here's the video (5:53) from Ti Long.

Ask the Coach
Here's the page at PingSkills.

Learning Spin Through Multi-ball
Here's the video (4:55) from Coach Jon.

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

WAB Club Feature: Alameda Ping Pong Gym
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Reflections of a Legend - Jorgen Persson
Here's the video (6:30).

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

Man VS Machine: Who Plays Table Tennis Better?
Here's the video (6:26).

55 Ping Pong Sounds
Here's the video (9 min) from Adam Bobrow!

aMAZING sKILLS sHOTS iN pING pONG
Here's the video (26 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis - Story Sale to Daily Science Fiction
Just sold a short story to Daily Science Fiction (one of the major "Pro" SF magazines), "Four Score and Seven Years of the End of America: A Bibliography." It's literally a fictional bibliography of books published from 1953 to 2040 whose titles humorously show the downfall of America. It's my 121st short story sale. Sorry, no table tennis this time!

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Tip of the Week
How to Fix a Weakness in Your Game.

Classic Hardbat World Championships
I had an adventurous weekend in Sugar Land, TX, just outside Houston, where I played in the first Classic Hardbat World Championships. It was held on Sunday, Nov. 21, just two days before the start of the "Sponge" World Championships in Houston. (Results are not yet online - they may go up later on Omnipong or Facebook.) Thirty-seven players competed, including nine over 2400. (Draw included Mario Genovese, who flew in from Malta, plus a number of players from other countries who now live in the US.) Prize money was 1st $2000, 2nd $1250, 3rd $750, 4th $500, 5-8 $150. (Here's the single elimination stage; RR group results should go up later.) 

Special thanks goes to Director Steve Claflin (who organized all this), referee Dan Reynolds, the many sponsors (including sponsor and presenter "We R Table Tennis," a new startup - no web page yet - that "will endeavor to put a FREE ping pong table into every school in America." I had a great time and can't wait to return next year! (Did I mention the free pizza they served for lunch? They also had free shuttle service from the very nice Marriott hotel in the Sugar Land Town Square.)

The final, between top seed Jimmy Butler and current US Nationals Champion AJ Carney, was a classic - an incredibly entertaining and well-played match that got better as it went on. Here's video - go to 2:33:30 for the Final. Jimmy is a steady attacker from both wings, who normally stays relatively close to the table, counter-hitting consistently from both wings. (But late in the match he added in chopping, and played his aggressive forehands more off the table as the rallies got faster.) AJ also mostly attacks from both wings (sometimes close to table, other times backing up), but also chops a lot.

It looked like AJ had it wrapped up in the best of five to 11. Jimmy wins the first, 11-9, but AJ wins the next two at 7 and 6, and leads 7-2 in the fourth. It's over, right? From here on, Jimmy played like a champion . . . and also had a bit of luck. Jimmy switches to a super-steady countering and chopping game, and AJ makes four straight mistakes, and it's 7-6. Then AJ smashes . . . and Jimmy chops back a net dribbler! (AJ lunges for it and pops it up, Jimmy kills.) It's now 7-7. Jimmy misses his own serve, then AJ puts Jimmy's next serve into the net, 8-all. But Jimmy misses a backhand kill, and AJ smashes a forehand, and he leads 10-8 match point. Jimmy hits a forehand off, the match is over - but no, it just nicked the edge! (See it at 3:05:49.)  He then deuces it. AJ has five match points before losing that game, 16-14. The only net/edge point - at 13-all, AJ gets a net, except instead of winning the point, it popped the ball up, giving Jimmy an easy kill. So, we're into the fifth!

AJ goes up 2-1, and smashes one - but Jimmy chops it back on the edge! Jimmy wins four in a row, 2-5 (AJ missing his own serve at 2-4) - and Jimmy then gets another net dribble winner, and it's 2-6, and then scores a sixth in a row to make it 2-7 - the same score that AJ led the previous game. But no comeback this time. At 4-9, AJ gets a net dribbler (5-9). Jimmy scores the next point to go up 10-5, and yells, "That's it!", just about the first thing he's said all match. He wins, 11-5.

As to me, I was in Group C with five others. I went 4-1, including a win over Randy Hou, a 2125 pips-out penholder, which is almost like hardbat, so very tough. I had a struggle with mostly-chopper Rick Mueller (1880), who caught me off guard early with his aggressive chops, almost chop-blocks but coming fast. After losing the first, I won the next two pretty easily. In the fourth, he began pick-hitting like crazy, but I'm up 10-9 match point - and he pops up my serve on the edge to deuce it! He wins in deuce with more pick-hits, and then - by continuous pick-hitting (should be illegal for choppers!), has me 10-8 match point. But I smack in two winners and win in deuce. Whoo!

Against the top seed in my group, Vlad Farcas (2450, with a win over Jimmy Butler in sandpaper), I was up 8-4 in the first and had a few game points before losing the first on a net ball, 14-12. I won the next, then he won the third, and the fourth, 11-8. If I'd pulled out that first game, we'd might have been in the fifth!!!

In the single elimination, in the round before the quarters, against Mishel Levinski (2576), I had several games points in the second before losing it, 14-12. He won the other two games pretty easily - it's not easy playing all-out forehand attack at age 61 against a near-2600 player!!! 

It was a great and fun weekend adventure. I initially hoped to stay a few days and tour Houston, but alas, I needed to get back to help prepare our players for the Teams, and so flew back on Monday morning. Steve promises to run it again next year, and so that time I will schedule a Houston tour either before or after.

World Table Tennis Championships

USA-China Ping-Pong Diplomacy

2021 ITTF Pan American Championships
Here's the ITTF page, with complete results and news for the event held Nov. 13-19, 2021, in Lima, Peru.

North American Teams and US Open

  • Here's the 2021 JOOLA North American Teams page. The event will be held Nov. 26-28, 2021, in Washington DC. There are 160 teams. I'll be there! My first Teams (then in Detroit) was in 1976, my first year playing. I've been to every Teams since (Detroit, Baltimore, now DC) ever since - this will be my 45th in a row (not counting 2020, when it was cancelled due to Covid). Originally I always went as a player, then as a player/coach, now just as a coach. I'd likely be at the Worlds in Houston except I'm committed to coaching at the Teams. It's silly that USATT/ITTF chose the same time frame to run the Worlds as the Teams, which were already scheduled.
  • Here's the 2021 US Open page. The event will be held Dec. 17-22 in Las Vegas. There are currently 680 entries. I'll be there! My first US Open was in 1976, in Philadelphia, my first year playing. I've been to every US Open and US Nationals starting in 1984.

New from Timo Boll

2 Backhand Loop & 2 Forehand Loops
Here's the video (1:35) from Jishan Liang.

Game Play Drills
Here's the video (60 sec) from Ted Li.

How to Hit the Powerful Backhand Rocket Against Backspin
Here's the video (10:15) from Ti Long.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Tom Lodziak

New from Coach Jon

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Worlds Visa Issues
Here are three somewhat cryptic ITTF news items involving visa issues at the Worlds and USATT.

RIP: Bill Guilfoil - Memories
Here's the video (6:42). Bill died on Nov. 12, six days short of his 99th birthday. Here's his legacy obituary.

Two Sisters Tashiya and Tiana Excel at Pan Am TT Championship
Here's the article from The Daily News ePaper.

Ping-Pong Phenomenon Estee Ackerman Visits Hempstead Town
Here's the video (3:40).

Young Hockey Goalies Tried Table Tennis to Improve Coordination - It Worked
Here's the article and video (2:55).

New from Steve Hopkins

Call for Nominations: The Center for SafeSport Athlete Director
Here's the USATT info page.

Help Wanted: ITTF High Performance Manager
Here's the ITTF help wanted info page. "Main Responsibility: The High Performance Manager will be responsible for the development, management, improvement and monitoring of various programs and projects within the High Performance Unit that aim at establishing a high performance platform within the international Table Tennis community in the pursue of the related strategic objectives set in the ITTF Strategic Plan."

Presentation of the Candidates for the ITTF Executive Committee
Here's the article and video (73 min) from the ITTF. Sixteen people are running for eight positions, including USATT CEO Virginia Sung, China's Liu Guoliang, and French coach Michel Gadal (Jean-Philippe Gatien's coach).

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

Cartoon Ping Pong Paddle Shirt, Anyone
Here it is!

I Don't Like the Looks of This . . . This is a Ping-Pong Ball!
Here's the NASA cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Fiery Table Tennis
Here's the video (50 sec)!

Waterbomb Special
Here's the video (3:57) from XOLAY!

Playing Table Tennis With Your Wife - With Anything!
Here's the video (37 sec)!

Superheroes Playing Ping-Pong
Here's the video (3:51), with Batman, Spider-Man, Deadpool, and Wonder Woman!

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Tip of the Week
Don't Give a Quick Player Too Many Short Balls.

MDTTC Open, Weekend Coaching, and Jordan, Oh My!
It was held this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, where I coach. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. I spent much of Saturday coaching matches, including Stanley Hsu in the semifinals and final of the Open. (I wish I could blog about the tactics used, but alas, that's secret.) Here are the rating results!

I also helped coach the Novice Junior Class on Sunday, 5:30-7:00PM. Lots and lots of multiball!!! Most of it involved on player on ball pickup, one doing multiball, and one shadow-practicing behind him. I also had them do some two-person multiball drills, so two players could do multiball at the same time.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing to coach for a week at the ITTF Hopes Camp and Tournament in Jordan, Dec. 8-14. (I fly out on Dec. 6.) The top 20 boys and 20 girls from around the world will be there. (Except for China, which doesn't seem to be participating in this.) I'll be coaching Ryan Lin, the US #1 eleven-year-old until he turned twelve a week ago. Also going are Mandy Yu (with coach Wei Qi) and Tashiya Piyadasa (coached by father Thilina). The time-consuming part is that ITTF requires all 37 coaches who are going to take a three-week online course. I did the first week's course already, finishing it yesterday. The next session goes up next Thursday, and the final one the Thursday after that (Thanksgiving). With these courses, the Jordan trip itself, the World Hardbat Championships, the North American Teams, and the US Open, this next month is going to be extremely busy. But thanks goes to USATT, USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, and Director of Para Programs Jasna Rather (who obviously is involved in other activities besides Para) for their help in organizing the Jordan trip!

Joerg Bitzigeio Arbitration
I've blogged about USATT losing roughly $200,000 in the arbitration case with former High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio. USATT should have had a news item on this, where they not only could have been upfront with the membership, but could have given their side. Several people (including USATT board members and committee members) told me they have never heard about this and asked me where I get it from, since there has never been a USATT announcement on it. So here's a public notice from June, 2021, from the law firm of Benezra & Culver, Firm Prevails in Two Arbitration Hearings/Trials (see paragraph 4).

In August of 2020, our firm participated in an arbitration hearing for its client, Joerg Bitzigeio against his former employer, USA Table Tennis (“USATT”). Mr. Bitzigeio is the former high performance Director of USATT. During his tenure, the US Table Tennis team experienced unprecedented success. Nonetheless, a new Executive Director essentially forced him from his position and failed to pay him the $90,000 in severance due to him under his employment agreement if USATT materially reduced his job responsibilities. After the hearing/trial, the arbitrator awarded Mr. Bitzigeio $90,000 in severance and $8, 222.57 in prejudgment interest. It also ordered USATT to reimburse Mr. Bitzigeio for the $74, 931.50 in attorney fees and the $7,67.40 in costs that he incurred pursuing his claim.

If you add up the numbers, it shows that USATT was forced to pay about $174,000. But that doesn't include USATT's own legal fees, which presumably would have been similar to Joerg's - so perhaps about $75,000. So that comes to about $250,000 in all, more than my initial estimate. (Perhaps USATT's legal fees were less, but we have no way of knowing without their telling us. And note that while we would have had to pay the $90,000 fee to Joerg either way, in this case we had to pay it while simultaneously paying the salary of his successor.) Hopefully, nobody is going to get mad at me for publicizing a public matter that's already public about a public organization!

ITTF Pan American Championships
Here's the ITTF page for the event taking place now in Lima, Peru, Nov. 13-19. There have been three ITTF news items so far, all featuring USA players.

Classic Hardbat World Championship in Houston
Here's the info page - it's this Sunday! I'm playing in it, along with Jim Butler, AJ Carney, and many others - here's the player listing. I'm coaching until 4PM on the Saturday before, then driving straight to the airport for a 7PM flight (arriving at 9:45PM), play on Sunday at 8:30 AM, fly back Monday morning. (So next week's blog will likely be on Tuesday.) Great thanks to Steve Claflin (former junior star) for setting this up. Here's an article on a Malta star flying in for it: Mario Genovese Ready for the Classic Hardbat World Championship in Texas.

USATT to Conduct Elections for Elite Athlete Seats on the Board of Directors
Here's the USATT news item. "Pursuant to Newly Adopted Bylaws, Eligible Elite Athletes Will Choose Four Representatives to Serve on the USATT Board of Directors in Two Separate Elections – Eligible Elite Athletes Are Encouraged to Submit Their Request to Run in Elite Athlete Elections Starting Today." As of now, I know of four players running in the first election for two spots: Lily Zhang, Nikhil Kumar, Tahl Leibovitz, and Jennifer Johnson.

ITTF Emergency Executive Committee Meeting Called [About Worlds in Houston]
Here's the ITTF news item. The main discussion will be related to the remaining entry and visa issues for the Worlds in Houston. But it also has this seemingly cryptic statement: "As USA Table Tennis issued a legal letter to the ITTF insisting that the Annual General Meeting must be held in the United States in accordance with the ITTF Constitution, this therefore also obliges them to perform their duties. The ITTF now must look at measures in the highly likely case that these duties will not all be met."

The Hardest Step in Table Tennis - the Step Around
Here's the video (1:26) from Timo Boll.

New from Samson Dubina

Ball Placement
Here's the video (58 sec) from Brian Pace.

Forehand & Backhand Counterlooping
Here's the video (46 sec) from Angel Luis.

Continuous Forehand Loop Development
Here's the video (1:58) from Jinxin Wang.

Opening Attack & Footwork
Here's the video (60 sec) from Wang Hui.

Backhand & Forehand Attack with Footwork
Here's the video (65 sec) from Patryk Zyworonek

The Key to Consistency
Here's the video (4:42) from Coach Jon.

Seth Pech vs. Andrew Cao 2021 Edgeball Open
Here's the video (10:58) from Seth, who gives point-by-point analysis.

Felix Lebrun vs Chuang Chih-Yuan Analysis of the Points
Here's the video (1:54) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

How to Hit Backhand with Long Pimples Against Backspin
Here's the video (6:49) from Ti Long.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

15th Si and Patty Wasserman Junior/Open Tournament Results and Photos
Here's the links page.

Coach Lin: "Get Better with Me"
Here's the video site I recently discovered.

Portland Ping-Pong Club Needs Better Lighting
Here's the fundraiser! Junior star Kevin Nguyen is leading the charge to raise $4000 for the better lighting.

Table Tennis Player Killed In Chicago
Here's the article/obit and video (2:35) on Shaoxiong 'Dennis' Zheng.

FISU World University Games Announcement
Here's the USATT news item. "With the US Open being just a little over a month away, many athletes will be preparing for one of the biggest events at the Open; the University Games Trials."

New from Steve Hopkins

Timo Boll: Fan Zhendong is the Favorite, But Other Chinese Look Vulnerable
Here's the article from Edges and Nets.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

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

$120,000 YouTuber Ping Pong Competition!
Here's the video (2hr 54min)! Adam Bobrow does some commentating.

Zazzle Table Tennis Shirts
Take your pick!

TT Trump Shows Different Grips
Here's the video (7:57) from Larry "Trump" Bavly!

No Look Shots from Level 1 to 100
Here's the video (3:45) from Pongfinity!

Adam vs. Toa 2.0
Here's the video (15:36) from Adam Bobrow! You should see the kid bouncing the ball on the handle of his racket while riding a scooter.

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Tip of the Week
Relentlessly Reliable Receives with Systematic Practice.

Weekend Coaching and Upcoming Schedule
It almost didn't happen. On Thursday I took the Pfizer booster shot. Alas, I was one of the small minority to have a bad reaction to it. I spent much of Thursday night shaking in bed, feeling like I was freezing to death and nauseous. It wasn't helped that the heating in my house had broken down and the temperature dropped to around 50 degrees inside! On Friday, I was still nauseous and could only eat cream of wheat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (But I got the heating problem fixed.) By Saturday I was still a bit weak and slightly nauseous (cream of wheat for breakfast and lunch, then a real meal for dinner), but I managed to coach two group sessions at the club. However, having these symptoms is far better than the alternative - having the real thing!

Saturday was "multiball day" - for both the beginning and advanced junior groups I fed multiball nearly the whole session, with a twist at the end of each session. At the end of the beginning class session, I and other coaches hit live with the students, who took turns, staying up until they missed three shots. At the end of the advanced session, we had the advanced kids feed each other multiball. Yeah, I'm training them to take my place, so I'm no longer needed!!!

For the advanced session on Sunday, I was a practice partner - and this is where I realized those two days in bed from the booster reaction was still affecting me as I struggled to move. But I got better as the session continued. We finished with Brazilian Teams doubles, where doubles teams stayed up until they lost a point or won three in a row. I was with Riley Yang, and we did surprisingly well! I dominated with my serves (not easy in doubles!) and otherwise just kept the ball in play and let Riley do the damage. But I pulled off a nice backhand loop near the end for a winner! (We won't talk about the short serve that I somehow got aced by.)

One nice thing is that several of the kids from the recent Ecuador trip have sent me thank you notes and cards. They have no idea how much they are appreciated!

My upcoming table tennis schedule is packed. Here are the highlights, excluding the normal group sessions.

  • Nov. 13-14: Coaching at the MDTTC Open.
  • Nov. 20-22: Competing at the Classic Hardbat World Championship in Houston. Here's the list of players. I coach two group sessions the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 20, then fly out that night to Houston, compete all day on Sunday, and fly back on Monday morning, Nov. 22, just in time to help prepare our players for the upcoming Teams.
  • Nov. 26-28: Coaching at the JOOLA North American Teams. This will be my 46th consecutive year playing or coaching at the Teams, starting in 1976 and excluding 2020, when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. (I've also been to every US Open and US Nationals starting in 1984, and several before that, including the 1976 US Open.)
  • Dec. 6-15: Coaching Ryan Lin at the ITTF Hopes in Jordan. This is for the best players in the world under age 12 (as of Jan. 1) - though China isn't participating. Other US players going are Mandy Yu (with coach Wei Qi) and Tashiya Piyadasa (coached by father Thilina).
  • Dec. 16-22: Coaching and playing hardbat events at the US Open in Las Vegas. (I'm normally a sponge player, but play hardbat on the side and have won a lot of titles.) I'm only entered in Hardbat Singles (which I've won twice at the Open or Nationals) and Hardbat doubles (which I've won 14 times!). Alas, no hardbat age events at the Open - I've won Over 40 Hardbat six times and am the current National Champion in Over 40 and Over 60 Hardbat. Because of school (especially for those who took off up to two weeks for the recent Hopes, Pan Am Youth, and ITTF Contender tournaments in Ecuador), most of the MDTTC juniors are not attending the US Open. But they are all playing in the Teams (above) and attend the Nationals each year en masse.
  • Dec. 22-26: Family gathering in San Francisco.
  • Dec. 27-Jan. 1: I'm toying with taking off a few days and training as a player, possibly at the Samson Dubina camp in Akron, OH. If so, I'd be going up with Ryan Lin and his dad.

Christmas Table Tennis Book Shopping
It's that time of year again - time to do your Xmas shopping, either for some other table tennis player, or for yourself. (Interesting tidbit - I sell almost as many table tennis books in November and December as the rest of the year combined - lots of Christmas shoppers.) Here are some choices.

=>Books by Larry Hodges

=>Books by Dan Seemiller

=>Books by Samson Dubina

=>Books by Dora Kurimay

=>Books by Tim Boggan

=>Books by Graham Frankel

=>Other Table Tennis Books Published in 2020-2021

USATT Bylaws
In my blog last week, I wrote about USATT Bylaws Problems, focusing on the new Bylaw 7.5 that will allow a majority of the board to appoint another board member, thereby further cementing their majority. If they choose to take advantage of this bylaw, I'm not going to hesitate to call it what it is - a power grab. This one is by far the most problematic one. But my idealist side tells me there's no way they can fail to fix this bylaw - right? Seriously, I'll be impressed by the board member who first stands up and proposes fixing it. (And while I may sound critical below, I do appreciate the time and effort spent on redoing all these bylaws . . . again. We do seem to spend a lot of time doing that.)

Here's the USATT news item about the proposed bylaws (since passed). Here's the actual revisions. Here are a few problems. (And note that while some of these perhaps could be explained, the simple reality is that they have not been publicly explained to my knowledge - and the idea of "never explain," often cited as a leadership principle, doesn't work in a public organization like USATT, or really any other organization or group with thinking, reasoning members.) The document to go over, comparing the changes to the previous version, is 106 pages, so I haven't even come close to examining it line by line. If someone else wants to do a more thorough analysis and puts it online, and it's done thoughtfully, I'll likely link to it.

In 7.10, it says, "At the end of 2020, the Directors were selected in accordance with these Bylaws and all Directors began their four (4) years terms on January 1, 2021." This does not seem to be accurate. Many of the board actually began their terms in 2020, some as early as February, 2020. While some have made the argument that these board members didn't start their term on the "permanent board" until Jan. 1, 2021, that is not true. For example, in the minutes of the June 1, 2020 board meeting, it specifically states that five people had been appointed to the "permanent board" - and three of them are still on it, with terms that started well before Jan. 1, 2021. (The minutes even say that the USOPC required USATT have a permanent Board in place by June 1, 2020.) By putting in the bylaws that their terms began on Jan. 1, 2021, they seem to have increased their four-year terms an extra seven months. I wish they could have simply put in that the initial terms would be slightly longer so as to get to that nice, tidy Jan. 1 date for terms to begin.  

It says, "all Directors began their four (4) years terms on January 1, 2021," but this isn't correct in another way. As I've blogged about a number of times, initially the board did not allow the National Collegiate Director his position on the board, despite it being required by both the USATT bylaws and the USOPC's Ted Stevens Act, until Feb. 22, 2021, and so he did not begin his four-year term on Jan. 1, 2021. Why put something in the bylaws that is factually incorrect? (And this also doesn't change the problem that for nearly a full year before Jan. 1, 2021, USATT had a board that was setting up procedures for the "permanent board," but did not allow the NCTTA rep to be seated and take part in this.)

In 7.13, it says, "Unless otherwise restricted by law, by the articles of incorporation or by these Bylaws, any Director or the entire Board may be removed, with or without cause." It then explains how individual members may be removed. But how would the "entire Board" be removed? It doesn't say who can do this. Twice in the past the USOPC has stepped in and done this, but this doesn't specify they are the ones who can do this.

There is also some confusion about the term "permanent board." For example, in the minutes of the June 1, 2020 board meeting, it refers to the "Appointment of Permanent Board" as taking place by June 1, 2020. While this can be interpreted multiple ways, some believe they appointed themselves as permanent members of the board! However, since they are individually listed as having their terms end on Dec. 31, 2024, they are obviously not permanent. (They simply have longer than four-year terms, since they took office seven months before Jan. 1, 2021.)  

The Perfect Receive Position
Here's the video (1:58) from Timo Boll.

Coaching DURING the Game
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Slow Down! You're Playing Too Fast
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Executing the Short Forehand Push
Here's the video (78 sec) from Bob Chen.

Footwork and Stroke Chemistry
Here's the video (65 sec) from Anav Gupta.

Serve Attack & Random Play
Here's the video (68 sec) from Patryk Zyworonek.

Counter Topspin
Here's the video (49 sec) from eBaTT.

Punny Boy - the Forehand
Here's the video (3:04).

Why Your Next Table Tennis Racket Should Have a Straight Handle
Here's the video (7 min) from Coach Jon.

Reaction and Anticipation Training for Table Tennis
Here's the video (6:25) from Dr. Table Tennis.

How to Train with Multiball Alone
Here's the video (4:23) from Everything Table Tennis.

10th Anniversary Westchester Open
Here's the USATT article by Will Shortz.

New from the National Collegiate TTA

New from Steve Hopkins

Inspiring Conversations with Adam Davis of Salt Lake City TTC
Here's the article from VoyageUta.

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

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

Point of the Day!! Champions League Day 1
Here's the video (36 sec).

Table Tennis Jigsaw Puzzles
Here's what my Google Search found!

The Best Table Tennis Players in the World
Here's the video (20 sec)!

Tears of My Opponents
Here's the must-have table tennis mug!

Funny Serves
Here's the video (7 sec)!

Ping Pong Stereotypes 5
Here's the video (3:19) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Back from Ecuador
I was coaching in Ecuador for nearly three weeks, and it's been a month since I last blogged. And boy, is there a lot to cover! Here's a quick Table of Contents.

Tip of the Week
Use Practice Matches to Practice.

=>START ECUADOR
19 Days Coaching in Ecuador
I returned last week from almost three weeks coaching in Cuenca, Ecuador. I could write a book on it!!! So much happened. For all their help in these events, I want to thank USA Table Tennis, High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, Team Leader Daniel Rutenberg, the players and parents, and my three fellow coaches - Thilina Piyadasa, Qiumars Hedayatian ("Q"), and Wei Qi. I also went to thank Ecuador Table Tennis for the excellent job they did in putting together these events. I also want to thank the umpires and referees for the professional jobs they did - I had no problems with them throughout.

While in Ecuador, I went on a diet. First, I tried to limit my calory intake. Second, I stopped drinking soft drinks, in particular Dr Pepper, my go-to drink. Result? I lost eight pounds. But Stanley Hsu lost five, and he had less to lose - some of this due to getting sick. More on that below.

Here's a summary, with great apologies to anyone or anything left out.

PART 1 - Oct. 10: Arrival. There were a number of complications in getting to Cuenca. I was on a flight with Ryan Lin and his dad, Hung, connecting in Miami. But the flight to Miami was delayed, and we wouldn't have been able to make the flight to Cuenca. So we had to cancel that entire flight and get a new flight - this time connecting in Panama City, Panama!!! I have fond memories of my 61 minutes in Panama - 15 minutes sitting on the plane waiting to get off; 15 minutes speed walking through the airport and barely making it to our connection just minutes before they closed the door; and about half an hour sitting on the plane waiting to take off. Ah, the sites of Panama!!! (I told Ryan the famous palindrome about the Panama Canal and Teddy Roosevelt: "A Man, a Plan, a Canal . . . Panama!" (Of course, there's a bit more to the story, but I won't get into that.) Here's a good place to thank Steve Hsu (Stanley's dad) and Hung Ling (Ryan Lin's dad) for their help in arranging my flights - which seemingly had to be changed every day due to changing circumstances.

Then it was a 3.5-hour wild ride from sea level to Cuenca at 8400 feet altitude, a roller-coaster ride that went on and On and ON! I got pretty nauseous. Next time, on the way back, I remembered to take Dramamine.

PART 2 - Oct. 11-16: Hopes Week. This involved a four-day camp and a two-day tournament. The camp was run by head coach Zoltan Batorfi and assistant coach Rafael Armendariz - and they did an excellent job. The top ten boys and girls from the Americas (under age 12 as of Jan. 1) took part. The four US players were Ryan Lin, Charles Shen, Manda Yu, and Tashiya Piyadasa. The two US coaches were myself (working with Ryan and Charles) and Thilina Piyadasa (working with Mandy and daughter Tashiya). I could write a book about this week alone!!! They trained six hours/day for four days, training with others in the group and multiball with the coaches. A key thing was adjusting to the thin air, where the ball travels differently than at sea level. (Most players were in this same situation, but some opponents were used to training at high altitude.)

One of the boys in the camp wasn't eligible for Hopes (but was allowed to train with them), so there were nine boys and ten girls in the Hopes tournament. On the first day of the camp, I remember the smallest kid in the camp, Emanuel Otalvaro from Columbia, as he went about his training, seemingly always smiling, and often doing "silly" things like throwing weird experimental serves at people, or bouncing the ball against the side of the table over and over. He didn't seem to stand out in practice. But when the tournament began, that's when we discovered how consistent he was. He plays a soft, mostly off-table spinning, fishing, and lobbing game, about 2250 level. He dominated the Hopes on the boys' side, going 8-0.

Finishing tied for second were Enrique Rios of Puerto Rico (with a 2274 USATT rating) and Ryan Lin, both 6-2. (Charles came in fifth, just missing the playoffs.) But since Ryan had defeated Rios head-to-head (deuce in the fourth), Ryan finished second in the RR, Enrique third. However, there was a secondary stage, where the players who finished first and fourth, and second and third, played semifinals. And so Ryan played Enrique again. This time he was down 0-2 in games, but fought back to 8-all in the fifth. We had a timeout, I called two serves - and Enrique missed both! So Ryan won again, 11-8 in the fifth. In the final against Emanuel, Ryan lost the first badly, but made it to deuce the next two games (leading 10-8 in the third), but lost both. Here's a picture of Ryan and Emanuel. Ironically, they were the two smallest players in the camp.

On the girls' side, coached by Thilina, Mandy Yu came back in the final from down 0-2 to win against Dafne Sosa of Dominican Republic, while Tashiya finished third. Here's Mandy and Dafne. And so USA came first and third on the girls' side, and second and fifth on the boys' side.

CHEESEBURGER SPECIAL - Alas, I had made a promise that if a USA player came in first, I'd eat a cheeseburger. (Here's the story behind that.) And so, afterwards, they ordered a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds, and while everyone watched and cheered, I was forced to eat it!!! Thanks a bunch, Mandy!!! Here's the video (8:19) - don't you dare watch it!!!

Meanwhile, the Pan Am Youth players arrived on Thursday, Oct. 14, and began training on Friday (getting used to the air) for the Pan Am Under 11 and Under 13 Championships. How does the air affect players? On the first day, in the first five minutes of counterlooping, Xianyao broke four balls, Mu Du three, all off the edge of their rackets as the balls came in higher than expected.

PART 3 - Oct. 18-24 - Pan Am Under 11 and Under 13 Championships. Now USA had 16 players, 4 coaches, a team leader (Daniel Rutenberg), and 17 parents. We went from the 20 players in the Hopes to over 160 players from countries all over the Americas. Here's the ITTF page, with complete results and other info. (This page is probably better for results.) Here are ITTF News stories, many of them featuring USA players. Here are pictures taken by Daniel. Here's the entire entourage!

Officially, I was in charge of Under 13 Boys (Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, He Xianyao, and Krish Gandhi); "Q" was in charge of Under 11 Boys (Kef Noorani, Brian Wu, Max Mouchinski, and Kyler Chen); Wei Qi in charge of Under 13 Girls (Amber Liu, Yishiuan Lin, Mandy Yu, and Aria Shi); and Thilina Piyadasa in charge of Under 11 Girls (Tashiya Piyadasa, Geetha Krishna, Abigail Yu, and Tiana Piyadasa). We each oversaw the training and daily schedule of the four in our charge. But for the tournament, where players in the same event would go out together, we coached players from outside our group. I ended up coaching mostly Stanley, Mu Du, Kyle, Max, Brian, Mandy, and one huge key match for Geetha.

I could write another book on this week. Instead, here are bullet points.

  • The coaches often worked one-on-one with the players. I had brought along my "racket bag," a huge racket case with four rackets - long pips with sponge (for choppers); long pips without sponge (for blockers); short pips; and antispin. Throughout the tournament I and other coaches would pull them out so players prepare for a player using that equipment. For example, Geetha had to play the second seed in Under 11 Girls' Singles, Paola Zerpa Flores of Venezuela, a chopper with long pips. I brought out the chopping blade and chopped to her for 45 minutes. We devised a tactical plan involving her using her short backhand pips to alternate driving and pushing, with mixed in forehand loops and smashes. Geetha then executed the tactics brilliantly and pulled off the upset, 3-2!!! Which led to her getting the bronze in singles.
  • In the final of Under 11 Girls' Singles, Tashiya was down 1-2 in games and 0-5 in the fourth against Karolayn Maldonado of Ecuador. Tashiya won the next 15 points in a row (!), winning game five 11-4. Fourteen of those points came exactly the same way - she slow looped against a push, and the opponent blocked off. At high altitude, slow, spinny loops are deadly - they just shoot off the end when you block. The irony is that at high altitude, pushes are deadly as they jump at you and have more spin then expected (since there's less air resistance to take off the spin). But if a player just drops the racket and spins, the push becomes a trap, as they have to face that spinny loop. This tournament was Tashiya's coming out party - she swept Under 11 Girls' Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Teams!
  • In Under 11 Boys' Doubles, Brian and Max faced the top-seeded and seemingly overwhelming favorites from Columbia, Emanuel Otalvaro and his partner, Juan Mineros. Emanuel swept singles in the Hopes and Pan Am Hopes Under 11. But Brian/Max pulled off the upset in the quarterfinals. Alas, in the semifinals, up 9-7 in the fifth, they lost to a pair from Guatemala. Kyler and Kef won the final over the Guatemalans.
  • We had downpours nearly every day. This led to some problems with humidity. Most were minor. But just before the Under 13 Boys' Team final (Stanley & Mu Du vs. Puerto Rico), it not only downpoured, but it poured in through leaks in the roof onto the playing area. They postponed the final for an hour. But due to the essentially 100% humidity and the water pouring in, the players found their rackets were slick, and no amount of drying seemed to help more than temporarily. And so ball after ball slid off their rackets. This especially hurt Stanley and Mu Du, who play aggressive close-to-table looping games, and had to change their games dramatically. Stanley barely pulled out his two matches, but we lost the final 3-2. But the conditions simply weren't realistic - you won't play in humidity like that at the Olympics, Pan Ams, Worlds, Team Trials for any of these, the US Open, Nationals, or other major tournaments.
  • We also had a problem with noise, but that we need to get used to, as that's the norm at many tournaments, including the Worlds. During many matches people in the crowd chanted and played musical instruments during points. This meant the players couldn't hear the ball hit the table, a key part to timing. I'm told this is the norm in Latin American tournaments, and so our opponents were more used to this. It's not the norm in the US, so we weren't as prepared for it. I told the players to focus on watching the ball hit the table, which helped some. As with humidity, the noise affected certain players more than others.
  • The high altitude also caused problems. While the Hopes players had 24 hours of training to prepare for their tournament, the Pan Am Youth players only had ten hours, since we had to share the tables with other countries and so there was limited table time.
  • Another interesting dynamic we faced was the language. Latin American coaches called out advise between nearly every point, mostly in Spanish (the Brazilians in Portuguese). We couldn't do the same in English since many of the opposing coaches and players understood English. (I toyed with talking very fast!) Having Wei Qi coach our Chinese-speaking players (10 out of 16!) was an advantage as few, if any of the opponents understood Chinese.
  • And then the stomach virus struck. It started with Xianyao He, who came down sick just before the singles, with a 102 fever. (A doctor came in and diagnosed it.) He had to drop out of singles. Then we found out several of the parents had also come down with it. Then Stanley Hsu came down with it - not as bad as Xianyao's, but it put him in great discomfort. He tried to play singles - he was likely the favorite - but wasn't able to play effectively and lost to Sebastian Bedoya of Columbia, who Stanley had beaten 3-1 in the Teams. (Sebastian went on to win Under 13 over Enrique Rios.) And then I came down with the virus. I spent three days coaching while grabbing my stomach. It wasn't fun.
  • A serious topic of discussion were the many "13-year-olds" who towered over me and looked like high school seniors. But they all had passports that "proved" they were 13. This was ironic, considering the two top Hopes players were the two smallest players, with the smallest winning.
  • With all these tribulations, all 16 USA players won a medal!

PART 4 - October 25-27: ITTF Contender. Most of the USA contingent left after the Pan Ams. But three players stayed for the final event - Stanley, Mu Du, and Kef. Also joining us was USA's Nathaniel Hwang and his dad, former USA junior star Dennis Hwang, now a medical doctor. Kef was in Under 11 and Under 13 Boys', the other three in Under 13 and Under 15 Boys. Here's the ITTF page, with complete results and other info. Here's the ITTF News Page.

Kef got second in Under 11, losing the final to Emanuel. Once again Stanley seemed the favorite - and now he was healthy and pretty much used to the air! In the quarterfinals, he played Hamilton Hato Yamane of Brazil, a chopper/looper who Stanley and Mu Du had both beaten somewhat easily in the Pan Ams. At the Pan Ams, Hato had played very aggressively - so aggressive that I told Stanley and Mu Du to play him as an attacker who sometimes chopped. However, in the ITTF Contender, he switched to a steadier chopping game, and attacked less - but more effectively when he did. He caught Stanley off guard, winning the first two games at 4 and 8. Stanley won the next two easily at 4 and 5, and led 7-5 in the fifth. But he made some mistakes, and Hato attacked more, and Hato led 10-8 match point. Stanley deuced it but lost 12-10 in the fifth. Hato went on to win the event, defeating Enrique Rios in the final, 3-0. (Hato essentially came out of nowhere - nobody was looking at him as a contender.) There's a key tactical thing we'll need to work on next time the two play, but I can't really go over it here. Mu Du made the quarterfinals of Under 15, losing to Enrique.

And then it was time to leave - or was it? Kef, Nathaniel, and their dads had already left, but Stanley and his dad, Mu Du and his mom, and I were the last to leave, with a 4 AM pickup for the 3.5 hour ride to the airport. At 11:25 PM, there was a knock on my door, the panicked van driver. It turns out a nationwide anti-government protest had just erupted, and that we needed to leave immediately. We quickly got our things together and went to the lobby. Unfortunately, the word came back that all the roads out of Cuenca were blocked by protesters, with fires, barricades, and rioters. We were shown images and video - it was pretty nasty. So, the five of us, and dozens of other players/coaches/parents from all over South America and elsewhere were stranded in the hotel. We couldn't even step outside due to the violence. Here's video (2:33).

So we went back to bed and awaited our fate. At about 8AM, there was another knock on my door, and it was driver, saying the roads were now open. So we got into the van and took the 3.5 hour ride to the airport, just making our flight. (Others were not so lucky, and missed theirs.) And then, late that night, I was home!!!
=>END ECUADOR

USATT Bylaws Problems
Last week, while I was in Ecuador, the USATT board passed a series of bylaws. There are a number of problems with them, but I'm going to focus on one of them in this blog, buried in 106 pages of bylaw revisions. (I'll likely write about other problems in next week's blog.)

7.5: The Board, in its sole discretion, may also appoint an Interim Director until 2024. The Interim Director shall be either the Chair of the AAC or another member of the AAC as selected by the Board in its sole discretion.

What does this mean? It means a majority of the board can now pad its majority by simply appointing another voting member (from anyone they choose from the Athletes Advisory Council) who fits in with their majority, thereby increasing their majority (for the next three years) by 1/11, or 9%. This is just wrong.

The US Senate is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-deciding vote giving the Democrats the majority. Suppose the Democrats decided to appoint nine new members to the Senate (9%), thereby increasing their majority to 59-50. Or if they decided to increase their current 220-212 lead in the House (three vacancies) by 39 (9%), thereby increasing their lead to 259-212. Do you think Republicans would object? The same if the Republicans held the majority and padded their majority. Allowing a majority to arbitrarily increase their majority by 9% changes a small majority into a nearly insurmountable majority. And that's the point! They are literally appointing a majority representative to increase that majority.

Some will try to make the argument that, "We need this person on the board!" You can make the same argument for many people. Since the person they appoint will be an athlete from the AAC, that person will have the opportunity to run for not one, not two, not three, but four athlete rep positions on the board this fall. (See 7.6.4, the election of the four athlete representatives, and the USATT news item on the elections.) If they need a specific person's advice, that person doesn't need to be on the board for that. But here's the key part - the USOPC has mandated that all Olympic sports have boards composed of at least 1/3 athletes, and so USATT will now have four athletes representing them - and yet, the USATT board wants to appoint another. Does USATT believe they know better than the athletes over who should represent them?

I hope the USATT board will rethink this one, and take out that provision.

US Open Volunteers
Here's the USATT News Item. I'm singling this one out for a reason - they no longer are offering hotel or partial air fare for volunteers. Normally, all volunteers get half a room and up to about $250 in air fare, along with two free events. This year - neither, just the two free events and a t-shirt for five days work. Presumably, this is because USATT is nearly broke, due to the pandemic and the roughly $200,000 lost in the (former high performance director) Joerg Bitzigeio arbitration case. But seriously, they really need to offer volunteers more than this. Five days of work, and to do so, you have to pay for your own flight and hotel?

There's another serious problem that I've already heard grumbling about. It says that the two events they play in cannot conflict with their shifts. But since they only know the starting time of their two events, how can they schedule their events and shifts so as to not conflict? This is the obvious question that the Volunteer form should have addressed. USATT needs to have someone oversee this, so volunteers can trade time slots or times so as to complete their events. 

George Brathwaite Tribute

Peak Performance Table Tennis: Unlock Your Potential and Play Like the Pros
Here's the new book that just came out by Kevin Finn, table tennis player and strength training and nutritional consultant. From the opening of the back cover: "What athlete hasn't become frustrated at losing a game, not because they were outplayed or outmatched, but because they gassed out, had a mental lapse, or just couldn't get in the zone? Peak Performance Table Tennis comprehensively covers those game aspects needed for peak performance and provides actionable steps for athletes to ensure they are in the best possible position to perform at their peak when it matters most."  

I haven't had a chance to read it - my reading queue is rather long - but I like the opening to the chapter on Tactical Skills on page 48: "When I first sat down to write this chapter, I unironically explored the possibility of simply making it one sentence long: 'Go buy Larry Hodges' Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.' If you are at all interested in improving your game via tactics, that book is your one-stop shop!"

Weekend Coaching and the MDTTC Halloween Party
After 19 days in Ecuador, it was great to be back coaching at MDTTC! It took only minutes to adjust to playing at sea level again - going up is hard, coming down is easy. (Of course, I didn't really train much at high altitude, so unlike the players, I didn't really get as used to playing in the thin air.) On Saturday, Oct. 30, we had the Halloween party - not at MDTTC, but at a local park, where we had a barbecue (hamburgers and hot dogs) and a huge number of other food dishes brought in by players and parents, about 70 of us in all. The kids came in costume. Lots of games were played, from beanbag toss to throwing a football and frisbee around.

Then it was back to MDTTC. My first session back was with the Beginning kids, where we did (as usual) lots of stroking and footwork drills. Then came the advanced group (1800-2350), where I fed multiball for about 90 minutes. On Sunday and Monday, I worked with the advanced group again - including much of the sessions as a practice partner. One drill involved a player serving long to backhand, receiver backhand looping it back, and then into a footwork drill - but the kids had a hard time returning my tricky long serves, where I vary the spin and serving motion. I do need to spend some time just serving to some of them.

News of the Last Month
If I were to comprehensively cover every table tennis news item that went up this past month, as I often do, this blog would be rather looooong. Instead, here are some links to browse.

Ma Long Multiball Looping
He makes it look so easy! (46 sec)

Dimitrij Ovtcharov Finding Ways to Play Table Tennis After Surgery
Here's the video (5:53)!

Marvel and Table Tennis
They seem to like table tennis! In Ant-Man, at 1:33:40, Ant-Man swats the evil enemy Yellowjacket with a ping-pong paddle! In Spider-Man: Homecoming, at 34:40, here are two pictures of Spider-Man running past a pair playing table tennis in a garage:

Here are some others, mostly copied and pasted from a past blog:

There's No Crying in Table Tennis
Here's the shirt!

Large Objects for Paddles Pong
Here's the video (36 sec)!

Many Objects Pong
Here's the video (41 sec)!

The Other 12 Ways of Playing Table Tennis
Here's the video (69 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis - SF Stories
On November 1 (Monday), I had two new science fiction stories published. (Alas, I think you have to buy the magazine to read them.) With five other stories coming out in December, it's going to be a fun Christmas! Here are the two that just came out:

  • "99 Sextillion Souls in a Ball" in Dark Matter Magazine. What happens if a religious world government (helped by advanced computers) takes "Be fruitful and multiply" to its logical conclusion, ending in the complete conversion of the earth's mass into humans?
  • "The Purple Rose of Retribution" in Utopia Science Fiction. What happens when an elderly luddite is forced to live in a virus-filled virtual world?

***
Send us your own coaching news!

This week's blog will go up on Wednesday, Nov. 3. I just got back from coaching in Ecuador for 19 days (lots to blog about!), and need a couple more days to catch up on other things. 
NOTE - the blog will go up late Wednesday afternoon. I'm working on it, but not only is there a lot to write about, but the heat in my house broke down, and so it's 58 degrees inside and my fingers are freezing!

Next Blog and Tip of the Week on November 1 3
I'll be coaching the US Junior Team in Ecuador Oct. 10-28. See segment below.

Tip of the Week
Ten Table Tennis Quotes for Improvement.

Ecuador
I'm off to Ecuador on Sunday morning - and when I say "morning," I do mean it! I'll be leaving at 3:30 AM for the airport for a 6AM flight to Miami, then transferring to a flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador, arriving at 12:46PM (1:46 PM eastern time). From there we have a 122-mile bus ride to the playing site in Cuenca, Ecuador. Traveling with me will be Ryan Lin and his dad, and Mandy & Abigail Yu and their mom. Guayaquil is 12 feet above sea level; Cuenca is 8400 feet. It'll be a long, uphill ride!!! The 18-day trip can be divided into four segments.

  • Oct. 11-16: ITTF Americas Continental Hopes Week & Challenge. Twenty of the best Hopes players from the Americas (under 12 as of Jan. 1) will train together, with a tournament at the end. I'll be coaching the two USA players in it, Ryan Lin (2121) and Mandy Yu (2017). They are ranked #1 in the US in Under 12 for boys and girls, respectively.
  • Oct. 14-17: The US Under 13 and Under 11 Teams and coaches arrive on Oct. 14, and will train through Oct. 17 in a "mini-camp," in particular getting used to playing in the high altitude. (At 8400 feet, air resistance is 74% what it is at sea level, and oxygen is 16% instead of 21%. The ball plays very differently.) This overlaps with the Hopes, so I'll be jumping back and forth. The other coaches will likely run most of these sessions.
  • Oct. 18-24: ITTF Pan Am Under 13 and Under 11 Championships. We'll have 16 players, 1 team leader, 4 coaches, and 16 parents. Here's the USATT news item, USA Table Tennis Announces 2021 ITTF Pan Am Youth Championship U13 and U11 Teams. Daniel Rutenberg is the Team Leader. Coaches are Larry Hodges (me) for Under 13 Boys; Wei Qu (U13 Girls); Qiumars Hedayatian (Under 11 Boys); and Thilina Piyadasa (U-11 Girls).
  • Oct. 25-31: WTT Youth Contender. USA players competing in this are Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, Kef Noorani, and Nathanael Hwang. (I'm coaching Stanley and Mu Du.)

Weekend Coaching
We did a lot of work on pushing and on attacking pushes this weekend. Way too many players just pat the ball back when pushing, instead of really doing something with the ball. You can push quick, heavy, angled, and short or long. Or you can just pat it back and be a patsy. We also did a lot of doubles play, capped off by Brazilian Teams Doubles on Sunday - the kids loved that. We paired them off (with established teams playing together, such as Stanley Hsu/Mu Du, Ryan Lin/Winston Wu, and so on), and they battled it out. One side note - I spent one 90-minute session as a practice partner . . . yeah, I need to get back in shape. Shots that used to be easy aren't so easy anymore. As I kept crying out, "That used to be easy!" After I get back from Ecuador, I have to do some physical training, practice, and get back into playing shape. (The only good news - many of the kids, even the advanced ones, still have great difficulty with my serves!)

USATT Board Meeting Tonight
The USA Table Tennis Board of Directors will have an open Zoom meeting tonight at 8PM eastern time. The agenda and info on joining in is at the USATT Agendas and Notices page. I'll be coaching at MDTTC when they start, but may join in around 8:30PM or shortly after.

MDTTC and WDCTTC Opens
There are two local tournaments this month. I'll be coaching on Saturday at the MDTTC Open. (And leaving for Ecuador at 3:30AM on Sunday!)

Late Guyanese Table Tennis Champion George Braithwaite to Be Honored
Here's the article. "The George Braithwaite Table Tennis Court will be unveiled at Capobianco Field, Roosevelt Island during the late sportsman’s Ping Pong Diplomacy Commemoration on Saturday, Oct. 23."

ITTF Proposals
Here's the ITTF AGM Working Documents, which shows the various proposals to be considered at their meeting at the upcoming Worlds. Here's the one I find most interesting - it allows doubles teams to serve crosscourt from the left-hand court, instead of always crosscourt from the right-hand court. See Proposition A-22, proposed by Iran, which would require a 3/4 majority to pass.

  • To amend 2.6.3 As the ball is falling the server shall strike it so that it touches first his or her court and then touches directly the receiver's court; in doubles, the ball shall touch successively the right half court of server and receiver, or it shall touch successively the left half court of server and receiver.
  • Rationale:   The extension of the service rule removes the disadvantage for right hand players and allows more flexibility to use their best position when starting a rally.

ITTF News

How to Destroy a Defender: 5 Tips
Here's the video (5:36) from Timo Boll.

New from Samson Dubina

Tips to Improve in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Vikash Sahu - Practicing Serves, Spare Equipment, Stretching, Competing.

Footwork in Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:31) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Optimization of Adaptability and Resilience in Sports and Life
Here's the article by Adam Formal.

2 x Backhands & 2 x Forehands
Here's the video (54 sec) from Nandan Naresh

Short Ball Backhand Return
Here's the video (2:41) from Bella Xu

Preparing For a Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the video (6:47) from Coach Jon.

Why Ma Long Picked Up Only One Ball?
Here's the video (3:29) from PingSunday/EmRatThich.

The Lasting Legacy Of The Seemiller Brothers On Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:55) from KDKA (CBS) in Pittsburgh.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from Table Tennis Central

$100,000 JOOLA Global Championships
Here's the info page on this huge international tournament to be held next year, Sept. 1-4, in Orlando, Florida, minutes away from Disneyworld and Universal Studios.

Egypt's Superstars Ready to Challenge for 2021 World Table Tennis Championship in Houston
Here's the article from World Table Tennis.

Why Were So Many Fans at the China National Games Women?
Here's the article from Edges and Nets.

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

Ping-Pong Gun
Here it is, from Etsy! It's only $5, but you have to assemble it yourself. You may not be the best player at your club, but now you can be the biggest nuisance!!!

Real Beer Pong Shirt
Here it is! I don't drink (well, except water, Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice, and Dr Pepper), but I've heard others do. And now they are playing REAL table tennis.

World's Okayest Ping-Pong Player
Here's the shirt! C'mon, unless you are Ma Long or one of his peers, this is the shirt for you!

If Table Tennis Were Like This...
Here's the video (50 sec)!

Best Table Tennis Points
Here's the video (5:54) from Pongfinity!

Mostly Non-Table Tennis - Capclave Science Fiction Convention
I spent much of the weekend jumping back and forth between coaching at MDTTC and the Capclave SF Convention, held in Rockville, MD, 25 minutes away. I was on three panels (moderating one), did a reading, and had a two-hour author signing session (along with others). Here's a picture of me at the signing! I have eight SF books, including The Spirit of Pong, which is both SF and TT. I have nine books on table tennis - here's all my books. One interesting note - my "secret identity" is really getting out - SF fans and writers keep coming up to me to ask about or mention table tennis! (In the picture, that's my science fiction & fantasy pen collection on display.)

***
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Tip of the Week
Forehand Push for Playing Choppers.

Weekend Coaching
As always, active feet was a priority in the sessions over the weekend. Another emphasis was forehand attacking from all parts of the table. This was fun for me since, during my active playing career, I started off most rallies as an all-out forehand attacker. The key is balance and recovery. So often a player can't get to a ball, and yells, out, "I'm too slow!" No, they weren't too slow - they were off balanced from the previous shot, or didn't recover as part of their follow-through, and so had little chance on the next shot. Another emphasis, repeated from last week, was serving low - I'm really trying to create a club of net-grazing servers.

In an intermediate group session, when they played points, I kept calling out when a player had great ball placement, or when they did not. Many of them are starting to get into their heads that nearly every ball should go to the wide corners or the opponent's elbow. There were two back-to-back points that emphasized this. One player serve and smashed to the opponent's middle forehand, where the other kid was standing and waiting, and counter-hit a winner. Poor placement!!! The very next point the smash went to the middle, and the opponent couldn't even get his racket on it. Great placement!!!

Ecuador
I'm continuing to prepare for 18 days in Cuenca, Ecuador, Oct. 10-28. We had a 95-minute Zoom meeting on Friday on the trip, with 22 participants. (Actually more, since some parents and players shared their link.)

Originally I was only going down from Oct. 14-28. However, it turns out ITTF is running a Hopes (Under 12) camp and tournament, Oct. 11-16. USATT is sending out top rated 11-year-old boy (Ryan Lin, 2121) and girl (Mandy Yu, 2017), and I was asked if I could go down as their coach. I've worked with Ryan for years, starting five years ago when he started in my beginning table tennis class, and coach him regularly at tournaments and group sessions. I didn't really know Mandy or her game, but her parents sent me videos, and I'm now an "expert" on her game! (I took notes.)

Right after the Hopes Camp is the ITTF Pan Am Youth Championships for Under 13 and Under 11, Oct. 18-24. Our 16 players are going down early to practice three days to get used to the 8400 foot altitude, a major concern. So the 16 players, ~18 parents, 4 coaches, and team leader will arrive on Oct. 14. Immediately after that event is the ITTF Youth Contender, Oct. 25-27, where I'll be coaching Stanley Hsu and Mu Du, both from my club. And then I fly home!

Mount Rushmores of Table Tennis
Who are the four best players of all time? I thought about that recently, and realized you really had to divide it into four groups, men and women, hardbat and sponge. After some browsing on the list of World Champions, here's my list. Some of these choices were relatively easy, such as Men's Hardbat. Others were difficult. For example, for Men's Sponge, Zhuang Zedong won Men's Singles three times in a row - but later a number of people came forward and said that Li Furong, runner-up all three times, was ordered to dump. And there are others that could be on that list, such as Zhang Jike, Jiang Jialiang, and Ichiro Ogimura. And it was painful leaving off USA's Ruth Aarons (2-time World Singles Champion) from Women's Hardbat. But to add one of these, you have to take someone off!

  • Men's Sponge: Ma Long, Jan-Ove Waldner, Guo Yue-Hua, Wang Liqin
  • Women's Sponge: Deng Yaping, Wang Nan, Ding Ning, Zhang Yining
  • Men's Hardbat: Viktor Barna, Richard Bergmann, Bohumil Váňa, Johnny Leach
  • Women's Hardbat: Angelica Rozeanu, Mária Mednyánszky, Gizella Farkas, Gertrude Pritzi

USOPC Audit: USATT
Here's the USATT audit report from June 18, 2021. I don't remember seeing this before, but someone posted a link to it this morning at the Mytabletennis.net forum (see 14th post). The report is linked from the USOPC's NGB Audit page - scroll down and click on "NGB Audit Reports," and five reports come up. (The others are USA Archery, Climbing, Field Hockey, and Judo.) USATT normally posts these on the USATT Financial Reports page - if you scroll down, you'll see the audits from 2005-2019. However, they have not posted the reports for 2020 or 2021, even though USOPC has already posted the 2021 audit. Someone had already sent me the link to the report yesterday, but I haven't had a chance to really go over it, but it does look like USATT has some things to fix. If someone puts together a thoughtful analysis of this, I'll probably link to it. Or USATT could post a report on how they are addressing these issues. (The due date for most of the things USOPC is asking for is Oct. 4, Monday.) 

Late Gyuanese Table Tennis Champion George Braithwaite to Be Honored
Here's the article. "The George Braithwaite Table Tennis Court will be unveiled at Capobianco Field, Roosevelt Island during the late sportsman’s Ping Pong Diplomacy Commemoration on Saturday, Oct. 23."

The Around-the-Net Shot Tutorial
Here's the video (9:30) from Adam Bobrow!

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

5 Bad Mistakes in Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (7:41) from Eddy Zeile from the Dublin TTC.

How to Lob Like a Pro (in 4 Steps)
Here's the article from Alex Horscroft at Expert Table Tennis. (This went up on Sept. 9, but since the reorganized their page, I somehow missed it.)

Stroke Chemistry & Footwork Drill #2
Here's the video (62 sec) with Gabriel Perez.

New from Edges and Nets
Here's their page. They have ten new articles, covering the Chinese National Games and the WTT Contender in Doha.

A Different Perspective On Table Tennis at Jon’s Table Tennis Training
Here's the video (5:27) from Coach Jon.

Rachel Yang Interview
Here's the video (4:39), interview by Sally Moyland.

Tournament Highlights With Nandan Naresh
Here's the video (2:10).

USA Table Tennis Team Takes Home a Big Medal Haul from 2021 Pan Am Youth Championships
Here's the USATT article.

Table Tennis: A Breaking Method
Here's the new book by Oscar Roitman. (Kindle only - I already ordered my copy!) "Oscar Roitman gives us an approach of a new way of teaching table tennis and throughout this book - which used a very didactical and clear narrative - he describes the teaching process of Table Tennis through up to day pedagogical and methodological tools. The foundation of all these tools are the author's own experiences as a table tennis player and as a coach."

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Steve Hopkins

ITTF News

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

Americans Champs at Pingpong Table, Not So Much Ryder Cup
Here's the article from USA Today - which went up before Team USA won the Ryder Cup over Europe, 19-9. The article is about how the best USA golfers are highly competitive among themselves in table tennis, with many of them bringing their own rackets. Golf/table tennis players in the article include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Daniel Berger.

Party on the Plaza
Here's the picture from the Colorado Gazette. "Bernie, mascot of the Colorado Avalanche, and Miles, mascot of the Denver Broncos, helped kick off the ping pong tournament that was part of Party on the Plaza."

Tongue Pong?
Here's the video (58 sec)!

Ping Pong: Spider-Man vs. Ant-Man
Here's the video (18 sec)! Of course, Ant-Man is no stranger to ping-pong - in the Marvel movie Ant-Man, at 1:33:40, he swats the evil enemy Yellowjacket with a ping-pong paddle!

Non-Table Tennis - Capclave Science Fiction Convention
This next weekend is the Capclave SF Convention in Rockville, MD. As with most years, I'm a panelist, plus I'll be doing a reading at 7PM on Friday night, right after my 6PM panel. Here's my schedule and my Capclave Bio. (See the table tennis quote in my bio!) I'll also be in the mass author signing at 8PM on Saturday night. Saturday is going to be tricky - I'll be in a panel at 11AM for an hour, then drive to MDTTC (25 minutes) to coach from 1-4PM, then back to the convention for a 7PM panel and then the mass signing. (Regarding readings, they have erratic attendance - sometimes there's a roomful, other times nobody shows. The most awkward is when one person shows up!)

***
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Tip of the Week
A Good Warm-up.

Weekend Coaching
It was a busy three-day weekend for me - it looks like I'll be doing group sessions every week on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. The 51 kids in the Maryland TTC junior program are divided into four groups. I work with Group 1 ("Select," 15 kids from about 1800 to 2350, ages mostly from 11-15) in all three of their weekly sessions; once a week with Group 2 ("Progress"); and with Group 4 ("Novice") in their one weekly session. Other coaches/practice partners include head junior coach Wang Qingliang; Cheng Yinghua; Jack Huang; Lidney Castro; John Hsu; Nathan Hsu; Matt Hetherington; and Greg Mascialiano. For their age, there are some really strong players in Group 1, including the #1, #3, and #5 in 12 and Under, and the top two in 11 and Under. They include (with apologies to those not listed - too many of you!):

  • Stanley Hsu (12, 2330), #1 in 12 and Under, #2 in 13 and Under Boys
  • Ryan Lin (11, 2121), #1 in 11 and Under, #3 in 12 and Under Boys
  • Winston Wu (11, 2027), #2 in 11 and Under, #5 in 12 and Under Boys
  • Riley Yang (10, 1790), #5 in 10 and Under, #7 in 11 and Under Boys
  • Mu Du (13, 2186) #8 in 13 and Under Boys
  • James Zhang (14, 2196), #15 in 14 and Under Boys
  • Ryan Lee (14, 2125), #20 in 14 and Under Boys

With the elite players, my focus is generally on footwork and positioning, placement, consistency, serve, and receive. I spent an inordinate amount of time just watching their feet; a good coach gets to know everyone's footwear. Several players still lean too often instead of moving to the ball, so that's something we're working on. I also worked a lot with players on serving low, a common problem that many never recognize. (Many players, even strong ones, think they serve low enough, but they are not really.) The key isn't just making the ball cross the net low (though that's important); it's also making it bounce low, which isn't quite the same thing. (See link on serving low above.) I demoed this a number of times.

With the novice group, the focus is on fundamentals. It's mostly multiball, often two at a time (a player on each corner, and I rapid feed to both sides); other times one does the multiball and the others line up behind, shadow-practicing (i.e. mimicking the motions of the player doing the multiball, as if they were actually hitting the ball). You'll note from the bulleted list above that, currently, we don't really have many high-ranked girls in our "elite" group. However, at the advanced beginning level, we are packed with up-and-coming girls - it's a wave that's going to hit the tournament world in about two years!!!

US Open
Here's the page for the event, to be held Dec. 17-22 in Las Vegas. The entry form ("Prospective") went up a few days ago, along with a link to Omnipong for entering online. As usual, I'll be there coaching. I've been to every US Open and US Nationals starting in 1984 (and a few before that). I've also been to the US/North American Teams (they changed names in 1998) every year starting in 1976, my first year!

USATT Announces 2021 ITTF Pan Am Youth Championship U13 and U11 Teams
Here's the news item. (This went up after I put up my blog last week, so I added it there late. Hope you enjoy my humorous quip!) Here's the ITTF page on the event, where you can see both the listings of players from each country and the doubles pairings. (Team pairings will likely go up soon - they will be the same as the doubles pairings in most cases, though not all.) I have my flights - I'll be in Ecuador Oct. 14-28. We have a big group - at last count, 16 players, 1 team leader, 4 coaches, and 17 parents. I'll be coaching the Under 13 Boys' Team - Stanley Hsu (2330), Mu Du (2186), He Xianyao (2208), and Krish Gandhi (2268). I'm looking forward to working with all of them!

Support Your Local Table Tennis Coaches and Writers!
This is my periodic note about my books - if you don't buy them, then you can't read them!!! (Well, you could borrow them from someone else who bought them.) Here's where you can find out about all 17 of my books, including 9 on table tennis:

But I'm not the only coach with books. Here are other active USA coaches with table tennis books you should add to your library.

=>Dan Seemiller

=>Samson Dubina

=>Dora Kurimay

=>Richard McAfee: Table Tennis: Steps to Success (the successor to my book of the same title)

=>Tahl Leibovitz: Ping Pong for Fighters

ITTF Pan American Youth Championships (U19 & U15)
Here's the ITTF page for the event that took place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sept. 12-18, with complete schedule, draws, results, and articles. USA won a bunch of medals, winning 8 of the 15 events! (Here's the USATT News Item on it, which went up on Thursday, Sept. 23.) Here are some articles

Houston Ready for Successful World Championships
Here's the ITTF news item.

Forehand Loop Sequence
Here's the video (1:57) from Jishan Liang

Ball Placement Secret Tips! and More!
Here's the video (10:59) from Seth Pech. "In this episode of how I practice I talk about Ball Placement and how it can be the difference maker! I also talk about movements and increasing spin on shots."

Precision Placement Multiball Drill
Here's the video (26 sec) from eBaTT. "To elevate your game you must be able to not only place the ball in different location but change location within split seconds."

Serve Like a Pro
Here's the video (3:05) from PingPonged TV, with four tips from Spanish Olympian Maria Xiao.

Short Pips Forehand or Short Pips Backhand
Here's the video (5:03) from Coach Jon.

Parkinson's Symptoms Fighting with Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:37) from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Steve Hopkins

Ping Pong for Good
Here's the page for this site, "a movement for brain health." (JOOLA just announced a partnership with them - here's their news item.) Their objectives:

  • Making playing ping pong accessible to all, anytime, anywhere, intergenerationally.
  • Ping Pong Therapy in physical therapy offices, rehabilitation centers & assisted living facilities.
  • Ping Pong Fitness activated in schools, gyms & community centers
  • Support Clinical Research to develop more protocols for treatment and widespread adaption

Mastering Your Own Game: Meet Nenad B. of Ping Pong Parkinson
Here's the article. "There’s magic in a spinning [ping pong] ball. It's so addictive. When you're playing, you're completely focused. Nothing else matters."

ITTF News
Here's their news pagevideo page ("World Table Tennis") and home page.

China National Games Table Tennis Commences
Here's the article from Edges and Nets.

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

Top 20 Table Tennis Comebacks
Here's the video (29:53) from Table Tennis Report.

Ping Pong Champion and Other Table Tennis Shirts
Here's the page from Teenavi! (I'm toying with getting "Ping-Pong Because Murder is Wrong," but someone will take that the wrong way.)

Crazy French Table Tennis Cartoon
Here it is! I'm told the words on the left are, "It's hard to believe! Even with a robot he is rubbish!!!", and on the left, "Help meeeeeeeee!!!…" (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I love how people are hiding or diving behind tables and barriers, and the person with the umbrella!

Best Ping Pong Game Ever
Here's the video (3:32) - Table Tennis Tic-Tac-Toe from Pongfinity!

Cat Forehands
Here's the video (10 sec) - he's two for two!!! Note the relaxed ready position, how he moves to the ball, and how he does a perfect weight transfer as he rotates into the shot, with a strong follow-through. There's nothing I can teach this cat.

Moment of Victory
Here's the video (14 sec) from the Fremont TTC as one kid knocks off the cup and wins it for the team. Make sure to have the volume turned up! (That's Shashin Shodhan feeding the winning shot.)

***
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Tip of the Week
A Different Measure for a Match Coach.

Pan American Under 11 and U13 Championships in Ecuador
I'll be going down to Ecuador for two weeks in October as the coach of the US Under 13 Boys' Team. There will be four teams - Under 13 and Under 11 for boys and girls. The other coaches are Qiumars Hedayatian (U11 Boys), Wei Qi (U13 Girls), and Thilina Piyadasa (U11 Girls), with Daniel Rutenberg going as Team Leader, and he fortunately speaks Spanish. Here is the USATT news item, USATT Announces 2021 ITTF Pan Am Youth Championship U13 and U11 Teams. (Hope you enjoy my humorous quip!) There are actually two tournaments, both in Cuenca ("kwen·kuh"), Ecuador.

  • Oct. 18-24 is the Pan American Under 11 and U13 Championships, the main event. Each player will play singles, doubles, mixed doubles, and teams for their age group.
  • Oct. 25-31 is the World Table Tennis Youth Contender tournament. This is only singles, with U11, U13, U15, U17, and U19, with a maximum of two events. I'll be staying for that. The boys' events are only Oct. 25-27, so I won't need to stay for the rest of the tournament.

We had a 100-minute Zoom meeting on Friday for the four coaches, team leader, and USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill. (Previously there had been one for all of those interested.) Lots of discussion. The coaches are also working out doubles and team parings. The Under 13 Boys' Team I'll be in charge of is Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, He Xianyao, and Krish Gandhi. Initially I had thought they would be one team in the team event, but it turns out they can enter as two teams, so most likely Stanley & Mu Du will be a team, and He and Krish. (Same for doubles pairings.) Disclosure - Stanley and Mu Du are both from my club. (If both teams play at the same time, then one of the other coaches will coach one of the teams. The same for all events - if they send out, for example, four of the girls at the same time, the four coaches would be paired off with them.)

One big issue is the altitude, which I've blogged about. Cuenca is at 8400 feet altitude. The air pressure is about 74% compared to sea level, and oxygen content is about 15%, compared to 21% at sea level. The ball travels quite a bit differently, and so the players will need extra practice to prepare. (The kids will likely adjust quickly to the lower oxygen level - I'm more worried about the parents and coaches, who might find walking up a stairway exhausting!) The tentative plan is to travel down on Oct. 14, practice Oct. 15-17, and then the tournaments begin. Then I fly home on Oct. 28, along with the boys and parents who stayed for the second tournament.

There will be a USATT news item on this soon - perhaps today - and I'll link to it here when it comes up. I hope they use the quote I gave them - yes, they eat guinea pigs down there!!! (I won't.)

Fall Junior Training Season Begins
We started on Saturday, with a welcome party and parents info meeting. And then we started actual group sessions on Sunday, with another one tonight. So here's how my weekend coaching went.

We have 51 kids in our junior program, divided into four groups: Select, Progress, Intermediate, and Novice. But for simplicity, I just refer to them as groups 1-4. Group 1 is really strong, including many of the best players in the country for their age in the 10-13 boys' side. (Two are #1 for their age, and several others are in the #2-5 range.)

On Saturday, groups 1 & 2 came in for the party and info meeting, followed by groups 3-4. While head junior coach Wang Qingliang and others spoke with the parents, someone had to take charge of the 20-25 kids in the two sessions for one hour each - and that was me! But this wasn't a training session, this was a "fun" session, i.e. a welcome back party. So the kids had their choice of:

  • Playing on extra long tables. We moved two tables against each other, end to end, so we had an 18-foot table. We removed the nets, but put a chair on each side of the middle of the table, with a barrier between the tables, so that they got a roughly one-foot net in the middle. The kids were just smacking and looping the ball back and forth - and even lobbing!
  • Mini-paddles. I had five.
  • Frankenpaddle! (Here's a closeup.)
  • Rackets with long pips (one with sponge, one without), antispin, short pips, and four hardbat rackets. Many of the kids got to try out these new surfaces for the first time. Most had played against them, but playing with them gives a better understanding of how to play them.

On Sunday, the real training began! We have eight "official' group sessions scheduled each week, plus two others run separately. I'll be in five of them. I'll be there for all three of the group 1 sessions (including one joint group 1 & 2 session), plus one group 2 session, plus the one group 4 (novice) session. I'm working mostly with the elite and novice groups, less with the ones in between. Wang Qingliang runs most sessions. (I used to, but I'm semi-retired and so we have a new generation. I think of myself as a "head coach emeritus.")

On Sunday, for the group 2 session, I spent half the session as a "walk around" coach. The second half I was a practice partner for one of the players. Lots of focus on footwork. For the group 1 session (16 kids, roughly 1800-2350, with six coaches/practice partners), I was a walk-around coach. For both sessions, I told the kids I was mostly watching their feet - I wanted active feet! Much of the session was focused on serve & attack, and receive. We have another group 1 session tonight, 5-7PM, which I'll be helping with.

American Youth Table Tennis Organization Coaching Clinic
They held the three-day clinic at the Maryland Table Tennis Center this past weekend, taught by Sydney Christophe. I watched and listened in on a few sessions. It's a version of the former ITTF Coaching program that ITTF used to do, which I used to teach. (The ITTF version is currently on hold while they do some revamping of it.) Here's some info sent to me by the AYTTO CEO (and member of the USATT Board of Directors) Thomas Hu:

"In order to support the growing table tennis interest in the schools of Maryland area, AYTTO successfully completed the school base coaching certification course this weekend in MDTTC. Thanks to the support of MDTTC and JOOLA for providing and connecting the necessary resources, both the course and AYTTO program garnered much interest from coaches in our club as well as many parents. The course was taught by renowned ITTF course instructor Sydney Christophe. AYTTO is committed to building the supporting structure needed to capture new opportunities for the sport of table tennis in America. Anyone interested to start table tennis program in a school near them, please contact Thomas Hu at Thomas.hu@aytto.org."

ITTF Pan American Youth Championships (U19 & U15)
Here's the ITTF page for the event taking place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sept. 12-18, with complete schedule, draws, results, and articles. Team USA has 16 players and 3 coaches:

  • Under 19 Boys: Jayden Zhou, Aziz Zarehbin, Kai Jiang, Sid Naresh
  • Under 15 Boys: Nandan Naresh, Jensen Feng, Darius Fahimi, Daniel Tran
  • Under 19 Girls: Amy Wang, Rachel Sung, Angie Tan, Joanna Sung
  • Under 15 Girls: Emily Tan, Faith Hu, Sally Moyland, Sarah Jalli
  • Coaches: Gao Jun (U19 & U15 girls, Team Leader), Cory Eider (U19 boys), Samson Dubina (U15 boys)

Timo's Week #3 - Why my motivation is still high in 2021
Here's the video (4:35) from Timo Boll.

Your First Table Tennis Lesson
Here's the video (15:58) from Coach Jon.

New from Samson Dubina

  • 3:1 Principle - Learn to evaluate your training sessions!
  • Success - Quiz Yourself on the 12 Aspects of Mental Success!

Hand Speed & Footwork
Here's the video (3:16) featuring Rachel Wang, commentary by Brian Pace.

Footwork & Transition Drill For Beginners
Here's the video (2:07) from Jishan Liang, commentary by Brian Pace.

Are You a Drifter? Here's the Big Benefit of Playing Closer to the Table
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Forehand Serve: Active or Forward Phase
Here's the video (2:44) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis. It follows last week's Forehand Serve - Pendulum Initial Phase (2:52).

New from Edges and Nets

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins

2021 Butterfly Cup Results and Photos
Here's the articles, pictures, and video by Tony Murnahan.

ITTF News

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

Emma Raducanu, Tennis and Table Tennis Champ?
Here's a video (16 sec) of her hitting forehands - she's pretty good! This past weekend she won Women's Singles at the US Open Tennis Championships. Here's an article, Emma Raducanu – Who is Britain’s Chinese-Romanian teen tennis star?, which also mentions her table tennis.

Table Tennis Pillow
Here's where you can buy one!

1001 Excuses for When I Lose
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Don't Do Drugs: Do Table Tennis
Here's the meme! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Ma Long and Qiu Yike Fight on the Roadside!
Here's the video (65 sec)!

Funniest Moments In Table Tennis History REVEALED!
Here's the video (8 min)!

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