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 Tips and More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013 and 2014-2016, 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!

January 20, 2020

Tip of the Week
Whenever You Miss, Shadow Stroke.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!
Alas, I couldn't find a single picture of him playing table tennis...Photoshop, anyone, for next week?

USATT Turnover - and a Fresh Start?
I don't think USA Table Tennis has ever had so much turnover in such a short period of time - see listing below. They are almost unrecognizable from just months ago. This could be both a good and a bad thing. But it's definitely a huge opportunity!!!

It could be a good thing as it gives USATT a fresh start. And that could be a GREAT thing! (However, at least on the elite level, USATT has made great strides in recent years. The level and depth of USATT players has gone up dramatically, though this is mostly due to the rise of full-time training centers with professional coaches all over the country, a relatively new thing. The more USATT encourages this, the better things will get here.)

But fresh starts don't always work out. When the USOC essentially took over USATT in 2008 and completely changed the board of directors, I was excited for the chance of a fresh start. They held a Strategic Meeting in 2009 with 26 people to plan things out, which I attended. I spent an inordinate amount of time creating plans and practicing presentations. Alas, IMHO, much of the meeting was hijacked by a few people with bad ideas, and a huge opportunity was wasted. (Exactly zero of my plans were adopted.) Here is my Sept. 26, 2011 blog about that. Bottom line - in most organizational meetings, experience and forward thinking can't beat people who look good in a suit. :)

A fresh start could be a bad thing because it means a loss of organizational memory and continuity. (A primary reason the bad ideas mentioned above were adopted.) I've been to USATT meetings where people would bring up ideas as if they were obvious and fresh things, with no clue that they had been tried repeatedly in the past. That doesn't mean you can't try them again, but if you don't know why past attempts failed, guess what? You will likely do the same mistakes that led to failure before. It's important to have organizational memory so that you can learn from those mistakes. It's mind-boggling how often USATT has repeated the same mistakes during the 44 years I've been a member.

One problem USATT always faces during these transitions is that they are trying to serve two masters - Elite Table Tennis (in particular the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee) and the Membership. I've proposed several times that USATT solve this problem by recommending they "Instigate a Professional Players Association with its own ED, with the goal of getting sponsorships and TV for a professional circuit." I did formal proposals on this back in 2003 and 2004, and brought it up again in 2015. Alas, it would mean USATT giving up power, plus there's the problem that the USOPC partially funds USATT - if we created a professional players association, who would get that money?

Perhaps there should be more changeover. There's a USATT volunteer who recently posted on Facebook, about presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, "If Petey gets in, will we have a First Fairy, or a First Fagot?" (I called him out on it, and he deleted it, but I kept a screenshot.) I don't know if that's a USATT issue or not - but since we only have one member of the USATT Ethics and Disciplinary Committee left (see below), it's sort of moot. (I'm sure if we thoroughly investigated all USATT volunteers and staff, we'd find worse.)

Here's a listing of recent USATT personnel changes.

  • USATT Board of Directors. As I've blogged about, USOPC (formerly USOC) forced all nine members of the USATT board to resign, and they did so a couple of weeks ago. One of the nine, Tara Profitt, was voted back in as player rep, but the others are not allowed to return. I'm told USATT will be back to nine board members by the end of March - but eight of them will be new. (The current board listing has only two, the recently elected player reps - Tara and Niraj Oak.)
  • USATT Committees. There's been a huge turnover there. (See far left column.) All five members of the Audit Committee have resigned. All four members of the Compensation Committee have resigned. Six of the seven members of the Ethics and Grievance Committee have resigned. Three of the eight members of the High Performance Committee have resigned. One member each of the Nominating & Governing, the Tournaments, and the Umpires and Referees Committees have resigned.
  • CEO. Virginia Sung became the new CEO in May, 2019. This now seems a long time ago!
  • High Performance Director. Sean O'Neill became the Interim High Performance Director in September, 2019.
  • USATT Headquarters Staff. Accountant Chris Mauro and SafeSport Specialist Becky Bill both left sometime late in 2019. I believe an outside firm is now doing USATT accounting (there's no accountant in the USATT staff listing), while Josh Dyke is the SafeSport Specialist.
  • USATT Media Team. Three of the four are resigning. Director Matt Hetherington is resigning as of March 1, while Tony Murnahan and Ryan Green are leaving as of Feb. 1, when their contracts end.
  • USATT Lawyer. The Paul Hastings law firm is taking over the legal duties for USATT from long-time lawyer Dennis Taylor. Here's the USATT article, USATT Taps on International Law Firm Paul Hastings LLP for Support. They are a huge law firm, a Fortune 500 company - according to Wikipedia, "It is one of the largest law firms in the United States, with over $1.22 billion of revenue in 2018." But will they attend all board meetings, as Dennis did? They won't have the organizational memory that Dennis had, who's been closely involved with USATT for about twenty years, not only as lawyer, but as a board member, secretary, and as chair of the High Performance Committee. (Plus a number of other positions I can't remember at the moment.)
  • US Open and Nationals Staff. Omnipong Director Craig Krum took over running them this past December with the Nationals, bringing in a mostly new staff. North American Table Tennis had been running them both for nearly 20 years.

Weekend Coaching
This past Thursday we started a new ten-week Beginning Class, with 14 kids. The focus in the first session was grip, ball-bouncing, stance, and the forehand. This Thursday we'll do more on the forehand, and then start on the backhand.

In the more advanced Talent Development Program on Sunday, I was mostly with the younger players. We started off with a series of shadow-practice. A big feature of the session was backhand games, where players played only on the backhand side on both sides - but they could use forehand or backhand. Toward the end I switched over to the older players. One interesting thing - they played games at the end, and I realized one of our more advanced players served illegally almost every time - her serving hand and ball went below the table over and over. I pointed it out to her - she didn't realize she was doing this. We'll get that fixed. (I remember a kid I coached once got faulted for that in the semifinals of the Under 14 National Championships.)

MDTTC Opens in Gaithersburg, Maryland
The entry form for the year's four MDTTC Opens is now online. I used to run these tournaments, but I've turned the reins over to Klaus Wood. The first one is Feb. 8-9. See you there! (They should show up in the Omnipong tournament listing soon.)

Table Tennis Community Fundraiser to Support Sally Boggan
Here's the USATT article by Larry Hodges and Sheri Soderberg Cioroslan. Here's the GoFundMe page for Sally, wife of Tim Boggan - hope you can help out! We've raised $3764 as of this writing.


New from Samson Dubina

Super Easy Backhand Flick Technique
Here's the video (7:35) from Tom Lodziak.

Building a Better Blocker
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins

Wang Returns to the Limelight for 2020 US Olympic Trials
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Experior Expanding Excellence in Chicago’s Table Tennis Scene
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

ARKTTA's December Open and Review of 2019
Here's the article by Mike Lauro, featuring Arkansas table tennis.

Turn of the Decade: ITTF's Feature on Rising Stars
ITTF has started a new semi-daily feature on rising stars. USA's Kanak Jha was featured on Jan. 16.

China Announces World Team Championships Selection, Debuts for Liang Jingkun and Sun Yingsha
Here's the ITTF article.

2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament
Here's the info page for the event to be held Jan. 22-26 in Gondomar, Portugal. The event serves as a qualification event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020. Here's the ITTF article Five teams, five reasons: follow the Tokyo 2020 World Team Qualification.

Liang Jingkun Interview
Here's the ITTF video (3:09) with the men's world #9 of China.

Ask A Pro Anything | Best Of 2019
Here's the ITTF video (5:09).

New Videos from MaLong FanMade Channel (MLFM)

New from PingSkills

Table Tennis Rules and Knowledge Posters
There are three versions, sold at different places - take your pick!

One Minute, One Sport | Table Tennis
Here's the video (1:17) that tries to give a complete review of the sport in record time!

Comeback Receive and Fifty-Foot Serve
Here's the video (52 sec) as Scott Preiss demonstrates both in this exhibition!

It's a Dog Eat Ball World
Here's the repeating gif!

Powerpuff Girls | Ping Pong Z
Here's the video (2:27)!

Tom & Jack in Table Tennis Game
Here's the video (4:01)!

Penhold Ping Pong
Here's the video (10:03) from Pongfinity!

Playing Alone by Circling Table
It takes super-human speed to play alone by racing around the table, returning your own shots. Here are videos and gifs of these super-beings in action!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 13, 2020

Tip of the Week
Don't Learn to Play Every Style - Learn to Adjust.

Tim and Sally Boggan Need Your Help!
Here's the GoFundMe page. Sally, wife of USATT Historian Tim Boggan (former president, editor, father of two U.S. Men's Singles Champions (Eric and Scott), Hall of Famer, and pretty much everything else table tennis-wise), had a stroke last year. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. Many people have known and loved Sally for decades. Let's show how much we appreciate Tim's contributions to our lives through his many table tennis ventures and joyfully support Tim and Sally during her recovery process. The medical bills are huge, and not all covered by insurance. Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Sheri Pittman, former USATT president) created the GoFundMe page for them (which includes their picture), with the goal of raising $20,000. It only opened a week ago but has already raised $2414. Can you pitch in? Here's a note from Tim:

"Four and a half months ago my wife Sally suffered a stroke--blood clot on the brain that can't be removed because the arteries are all tangled. She's paralyzed on her left side, can't speak, has a tube in her stomach that brings enough nourishment to keep her alive, gets oxygen through her nostrils. She remains in a nursing home, getting some therapy, and I'm with her 5 days every day. She's often sad, often tired, but she can still think well, can write (quite legibly if she prints), and gives a thumbs up or down to simple questions. So Sally (going on 87) and I (going on 90) are functioning but have considerable problems, and much appreciate whatever help anyone can give."

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 25
Here is Chapter 25 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, "1998 U.S. Closed Part 1." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Weekend Coaching
It's always strange how the numbers fluctuate in the two Beginning Junior Classes I teach. Historically, the Sunday class (4-5:30PM) has more players, typically twelve or more. But the new ten-week session, which started this past Sunday, only has six. Meanwhile, the new ten-week Thursday session (6:30-7:30PM), which starts this Thursday, already has 13 players signed up. The previous Thursday session finished this past Thursday (nine players), with the focus on Player's Choice (they choose what they need or want to work on), and smashing lobs. The focus of the first meeting of the new Sunday session was grip, ball control (ball bouncing), stance, and forehand. We'll do roughly the same for the new Thursday session this week.

I also coached in the more advanced Junior League (Saturdays, 5-7 PM, half league, half coaching) and Talent Development Program (Sundays, 5:30-7:15 PM). Here's an interesting exchange. Coach Wang told me on Saturday that I'd be working that session with the strongest players, "which is much easier than working with beginners." I disagreed, saying working with beginners is easy - "Far easier to find things to work with them on, since they're all working on fundamentals." Working with the top players is more difficult because at that point, they pretty much have the fundamentals down, and there's more subtle and subjective work - and you have to be careful not to get stuck in one of those, "But Coach [Fill in Name] said I should do it this way!" But it's pretty rewarding working with the stronger players. I spent some time working with one who, when he looped from the forehand side, often didn't move back quickly, so I got him to focus on following through back into position. (See Follow Through Back Into Position After Forehand Looping.)

Another focus was players avoiding shots they have trouble with. As I explained to several of them, if you have trouble with a shot, then don't avoid it - use it every chance you can! This is practice, and if you can't practice the shots you have trouble with in practice, when can you practice them?

USATT Board of Directors
Here's USA Table Tennis CEO's USATT Statement to Membership on Reform Process. (It went up last Tuesday, the day after my blog, so I linked to it from that blog one day late.)

So all nine USATT board members resigned. This past week, two Athlete Representatives were elected, so we currently have a two-person board of directors. Here's the article Athlete Representatives Appointed to Interim Board of Directors. Here's the USATT Board of Director's Listing, with (as of now) just the two of them, Tara Profitt (who was one of the player reps from the nine from before) and newly elected Niraj Oak. I'm told that by the end of January, USOPC will appoint three more members, and then, using USATT bylaws, the board will go to the full nine, probably by the end of March - including a USATT election for two spots. (Other than the two player reps, the other seven members of the previous board are not eligible for the new board.)

Here's the interesting thing about this. I don't know if Tara and Niraj know this, but based on our bylaws, a quorum is "The presence of a majority of the directors of the Board of Directors at the time of any meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business." We only have two board members right now. This means that if the two agree, they have both a quorum and a majority. They can't change the bylaws, which takes a majority of the "full board" - which is defined as having nine members, and so six votes are needed - but they can do just about anything else. They can vote to fire or hire people, change committees, decide where the Open or Nationals will be, approve a budget that puts 100% of our money into Paralympics, name me Coach of the Millennium and my forehand the greatest of all-time, or vote that pi equals 3. C'mon, Tara and Niraj, let's have some fun!

I left the USATT Board of Directors early in 2019 after a four-year term - but things seemed to have changed a lot after I left, which likely is part of the reason why the USOPC intervened. There were always political disagreements, but during my tenure, it wasn't too nasty. This past year? Here's a pair of quotes from the December 15, 2019 minutes.

Bruce Liu: since I joined the Board in January every board meeting has been acrimonious.
Carolyne Savini: I have been on this board since August 2015 and have experienced many healthy debates in board meetings in the last few years but not dysfunction like this until recently. 

Why the Chinese Dominate
I was recently asked why I think China dominates in table tennis. Here was my response (with a few edits).

The Chinese dominate because they have several advantages. Briefly:

  • They have more players training at an early age with top coaches and practice partners than the rest of the world combined. 
  • Those who finally make the Chinese national team are perhaps 2900-level players, who get to train on a daily basis with multiple other players at that same level - something no other country can match. (As Waldner once famously quipped, "When do I get to practice with someone my level?" The Chinese don't have that problem.)
  • There are more Chinese coaches than probably the rest of the world combined, working with more players than the rest of the world combined, and so the result is that the ones that rise to the top are among the best, or the best, coaches in the world. (Unless politics intervenes.) 
  • The top Chinese coaches get to study the best players in the world - those 2900-level players mentioned above - on a daily basis, along with watching tapes of their competitors, and from that, work out strategically what they need to do to beat the rest of the world. (Which, I will add, includes training their players tactically so they can use those strategic plans.) Coaches from other countries do not have the opportunity to work with on a daily basis this many players at that level. (Strategic in this context means overall plan; Tactical means what you do in a given match to apply that strategic plan. I wrote about this extensively in my Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers book, much of which was based on my experiences working with Chinese coaches and players.) 
  • They have the team aspect down pretty well, where they work together to beat their common foes. 

With all of the above, it's easy to see why China dominates. As long as politics doesn't intervene, it's difficult to match these advantages. I don't think the actual match coaching is a huge deciding factor for the Chinese - it is what happens strategically before the match (sometimes in the years before) that makes the main difference, and is why the best Chinese are, on a whole, technically better. 

On a related note, I'm fine with China dominating right now - as long as they continue their policy of allowing top players and coaches to go to other countries to begin careers as professional coaches, thereby helping other countries develop. The depth and level of play in the US is stronger now than at any time in the sponge era (going back to the 1950s), and that's due to the rise of full-time training centers with professional coaches - and Chinese coaches staff most of those facilities.

Utilizing Body Mechanics in Table Tennis Techniques
Here's the article by Meng Lingshuai

How to Play Against Awkward Long Pips in Table Tennis
Here's the video (12:17) from Louis Levene.

U.S. Ping Pong Legend Hopes for 2020 Olympics
Here's the CBS video (4:35) featuring the legendary five-time US Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller! Here's his GoFundMe page ($12,620 raised out of $15,000 needed as of this writing) and his book, Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. And here's the article, Technique Over Age Is Mantra for Dan Seemiller’s Inspirational Tokyo 2020 Run, by Michael Reff.

US Team for 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships Announced
Here's the USATT Announcement. Here's the ITTF article, United States Announces Busan Team, Five Teenagers on Duty.

Princeton Pong - NJ's Premier Table Tennis Club
Here's the video (1:21). While I'm sure one or two clubs in New Jersey might contest the "Premier" part, it's a pretty nice video! And yeah, that's six-time US Men's Singles Champion David Zhuang shown in the video, head coach at the club.

Santa Monica College with Prominent Ponging Past Excited to Host Olympic Trials
Here's the USATT article by Michael Reff.

Special National Team Uniform Offer for USA WVC 2020 Competitors
Here's the USATT article.

ITTF Articles
Here are some interesting articles and videos from ITTF.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from Tom Lodziak

Finding Table Tennis Equipment in Tokyo
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

USA Players Overseas
Here are two videos.

New Videos from MALONG Fanmade Channel
They put new videos every week featuring the Chinese National Team.

Navin Kumar on ABC News!
Here's the video (1:54) from ABC 7. 

The Decade Meeting With My Table Tennis Family
Here's the video (4:16). It's in Vietnamese, with English subtitles.

Nick Sundberg Hopes Redskins Can 'Earn Back' Ping-Pong Table in the Future
Here's the article. And here's the article I linked to last week about the head coach taking the table away.

Table Tennis for Everyone, Everywhere
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

It Made Things Easier for the Guards
Here's the cartoon!

Today Anchors Face Off in a Game of Ping-Pong
Here's the video (4:47).

Bizarre Follow to a Whiffed Smash
Here's the video (31 sec)! It's hard to see the ball because of the white background, but if you watch closely, he completely whiffs the smash, then does a 360 while making the return on the second try!

Ping Pong Stereotypes (Dude Perfect Parody)
Here's the video (4:57)!

This Man Just Invented His Own Sport
Here's the video (18 sec)!

Table Tennis for Everyone, Everywhere
Here's the mini-pong ski-lift video (2:01)!

Rallying with . . . Everything!!!
Here's the video (27 sec)!

Double Bladed Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:36) from Pongfinity! So . . . how does this compare with Darth Maul?

Non-Table Tennis - Sale to Galaxy's Edge
Last Wednesday night, I sold a story, "Prototype Solar System with Strings Attached," to Galaxy's Edge, one of the big science fiction and fantasy magazines. (I have a story in the current issue, "Releasing Hitler.") The editor is the famous Mike Resnick, who holds the record for the most Hugo nominations in history (37, with five wins), the big prize for science fiction writers. It was the 18th story he's bought from me. But now the sad and morbid aftermath - I'm told my story was the last he bought for the magazine. Shortly after midnight that night he died in his sleep at age 77, from lymphoma cancer, which he had kept mostly secret from others. Mike had helped me a lot in my career, both by buying my stories and from a five-day writing workshop I attended that he helped run, plus ongoing email discussions on various topics. He will be greatly missed.

Send us your own coaching news!

January 6, 2020

Tip of the Week
How to Develop a Nasty Forehand Flip.

Tim and Sally Boggan Need Your Help!
Sally, wife of USATT Historian Tim Boggan (and former president, editor, father of two U.S. Men's Singles Champions (Eric and Scott), Hall of Famer, and pretty much everything else table tennis-wise), had a stroke last year. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. The medical bills are huge, and not all covered by insurance. Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Sheri Pittman, former USATT president) created a GoFundMe page for them, with the goal of raising $20,000. It only opened yesterday (Sunday), but has already raised $700. Can you pitch in? (Tim will be a young 90 this September.)

USOPC Letter and USATT Board Resignations
I wrote about this in my Dec. 2 (third segment) and Dec. 9 (fourth segment) blogs. Here's a rehashing.

First, here's the actual USOPC letter itself. Attached to it were over 100 pages of confidential material, and unfortunately, that's not public and I haven't seen it either. But the letter gives a gist of the USOPC's thinking. The letter itself demands that all nine USATT board members resign by Dec. 18, 2019, or USATT would be decertified. (Here's a screen shot of the listing, since it'll likely be changed soon.) Here's the Dec. 31 USATT news item, USATT CEO Makes Announcement on Current State of Affairs.

As of Dec. 18, two board members hadn't resigned - Carolyne Savini and Ed Hogshead. 

Technically, Rajul Sheth and Tara Profitt were still board members as of this morning (Jan. 6). They had turned in resignations that would take effect the moment all other board members had resigned. They did this since, if they didn't, then the holdouts at the end would essentially be the USATT board and could vote and pass anything - all you need to pass something is a quorum -  a majority - of the current board, and if they had both resigned, then Carolyne and Ed could, in theory, pass anything they agreed on - including putting whatever they wanted in the minutes, and board members were still in disagreement over what should be in them. (More on that in the next segment.)

What did this mean? We were told that USOPC would start the Section 8 proceedings against USATT this morning, Jan. 6, and that once it started, it wouldn't not stop, even if the rest of the board resigned. (We were lucky in this - USOPC essentially shut down during the holidays, or they would have started the proceedings sooner.)

Carolyne refused to resign until all minutes from recent board meetings had been approved and put online. This was accomplished just yesterday, Sunday, Jan. 5. (See January 5 minutes.) Last night (Sunday) Carolyne resigned. Ed, however, did not resign last night. And so I wrote an entire blog based on that.

Ed had written, "I will resign as a member of the USATT Board of Directors when the missing board minutes are posted and when the current financial statements are posted." (Italics are mine.) CEO Virginia Sung agreed in writing to post the financial statements, saying they were still incomplete but promising they would be up by Jan. 31. Ed at first wouldn't agree to this, and as of this morning, he hadn't resigned.

However, the breaking news today, shortly after lunchtime (so a little after 10AM Colorado time, where USOPC and USATT headquarters are located) was that Ed had resigned. So I deleted the stuff I'd written.

What happens next? Virginia messaged me that they had informed USOPC that all nine had resigned, and that all was well. So at this point it is likely USOPC will not follow through with the Section 8. (I still think it is funny that it's called a Section 8, which has a different meaning in the military.)

What happens next, now that USATT has no board of directors? I covered that in my Dec. 2 blog. I'll blog more about this as things unfold and may add updates here this week.

=>BREAKING NEWS (12:36 AM Tuesday morning) - USATT CEO Virginia Sun released the following news item: 
USATT Statement to Membership on Reform Process

USATT Minutes
The USATT Minutes, from October to the present, went online yesterday (Sunday). There are ten different items. There's a LOT of material, much of it controversial - there's a reason why getting them approved was delayed as board members and others often disagreed on what should be in the minutes. The December 15 minutes were taken essentially verbatim and are 63 pages long, with the USOPC letter discussed on pages 41-51. (I was mentioned once, in regard to the USATT Strategic Initiatives, where it says, "It was brought to the board for approval and Larry Hodges challenged us to get something done.") There are four items October 15 items alone on the Rajul Sheth expulsion move.

US Open
It was held in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 17-21. It's sort of ancient news now, so I won't go into it too much. I was there as a coach. Here are some notes and links.

  • Complete Results
  • Defense Turns Offense as Miuchi Takes 2019 Seamaster US Open Men's Singles Crown by Matt Hetherington.
  • Lily Zhang Brings it Home at the 2019 Seamaster US Open by Matt Hetherington. My short analysis - Lily was excellent in attacking the middle.
  • I coached nearly all of Nicole Deng's matches at the Open, including her matches in MiniCadet Girls' Singles, which she won. Here's a picture - L-R Wang Cheng (who gives her private coaching), Nicole, and me.
  • I think I set a personal record for most comeback wins after a timeout while coaching. Nicole Deng was down 2-6 in the fifth in one match, I called a timeout, and she won nine in a row! (I told her to do more deep serves, including fast down the line; to stop attacking the serve; and to open more with her backhand loop.) In another, she was down 1-5 in the fifth, I called a timeout, and she won 11-8. Todd Klinger was down 2-6 in the fifth when I called a timeout, and he won 11-8. There were several others but I didn't record them.
  • Coaching is not only telling players things, but knowing what not to tell them. In one match, 1775-rated Ryan Lin (age 10) upset a 2046-rated player. Throughout the match I was amazed at how well Ryan returned serves - and so the single best thing I did in that match was not to mention his return of serve between games. If I had, he would have started thinking about it, and instead of instinctively doing what he'd been trained to do (and was doing so well), he'd have started making mistakes. I just talked about what serves he should use and where he should place the ball, and everything worked.
  • Coaching can get complicated. I had three primary students - Nicole Deng, Todd Klinger, and Ryan Lin. Each had entered the maximum number of events. So each night I put together a schedule for the following day. Since we didn't know in advance how far each player would advance in each event, I had to assume they advanced. As the day went by and they lost matches (no!), I'd cross those matches off my schedule. The toughest part was choosing which match to coach when they had conflicts. Sometimes, when I knew who my player was playing, I'd go to youtube (on my laptop at night, on my phone at the playing hall) and see if I could find videos of the player to study.
  • Here's something you don't see too often. Many of the tables at the Open were in barriered groups of three. One time I was walking by one of these groups and did a double-take. Something looked weird, like I was looking into a mirror or something. And then I realized why - all six players playing were lefties!!! About ten percent of people are left-handed, so the chances of all six would be one in 10^6, or one in a million!!!
  • I saw and heard players talking about a guy named Vasyl Kushnir. His first US Tournament was the South Shore Open in November, 2019. He went 0-6, losing to players rated 866, 706, 569, 503, 492, and 452. In those six matches, he was 2-18 in games. He lost to the 436 player at 1,3,4! Based on those results, he deservedly got a rating of 415. And then, at the Open, one month later . . . he beat players rated 2440, 2289, 2283, 2246, 2241, 2208, 2193, 2160, 2155, 2145, 2141, 2132, 2113, 2017! His losses were to players rated 2552, 2565, 2407, 2356, and 2291. A couple of days into the tournament I brought this to the tournament director's attention, and that the player was entered in Under 1800 and Under 1900! After conferring with USATT CEO Virginia, he was taken out of those two events. This may be the most extreme example of dumping I've ever seen. His new rating after the Open? 2616!!! Now he's probably over-rated, but he should be somewhere in the 2400 range. 
  • The USATT Assembly took place on Thursday at the Open. There were about 50 people. The main topic was the USOPC's letter, demanding that all nine USATT board members resign. I write about that elsewhere in this blog.
  • We had a new group running the tournament, and with that, there were problems that, hopefully, will be fixed next time. Matches were often late, with the tournament falling 1-2 hours behind each day. There were technical problems that kept them from putting results online in a timely fashion the first few days. There were also a number of rating events where, instead of the standard of groups of four, they had mostly groups of three. The program listed all the participants, but didn't list their player number, rating, or state. (People use the program to identify players, which means they need the player number listed - all players are required to either wear their player number or have their names on the back of their shirt.)
  •  After coaching essentially all day and into the night for four straight days, I discovered I was free on the last day, Saturday. So I took an uber to Dallas (about 30 miles away), and visited the Sixth Floor JFK Museum, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and the Dallas Aquarium.

Weekend Coaching
Now that holiday break is over, it's back to coaching! This past weekend I coached in the Talent Development Program on Saturday (5-7PM) and Sunday (5:30-7:15PM). In the Sunday session I was in charge of eleven players with three coaches - and the kids were animated after their break.

I also coached the Sunday Beginning Class (4:00-5:30 PM), which was the tenth and final week of the session, with a new ten-week session starting next Sunday. Focus was Player's Choice (player chose what they needed to work on, with consultation with the coach), and smashing lobs.

2020 US Nationals in Salt Lake City
They will be held in June 29 - July 4, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (They announced this at the USATT Assembly at the US Open.) One thing of concern - Salt Lake City has a 4200-foot elevation. This means the air will be considerably thinner than at sea level. I have considerable experience with this, as from 1985-1990 I was at various times a player/manager/director/coach for the table tennis program at the Olympic Table Tennis Center in Colorado Springs, with an elevation of 5200 feet. Using this online Air Density Calculator, I find that Colorado Springs has an air pressure of .83 atmospheres, and Salt Lake City .86, while sea level is 1.00. (The numbers don't go up linearly.) My experience in Colorado Springs is that the ball travels typically about six inches further on the table, so it'll be close to that in Salt Lake City. Topspins don't drop as fast and backspins don't float as much. Balls shoot at you faster than expected. Balls are spinnier than expected as there's less air friction to slow the spin. Also, of course, if you are out of shape you get less air with each breath. It takes time to adjust to these differences.

USATT, ITTF, and Butterfly News Items
There have been a LOT while I've been away. Rather than link to them all, why not browse over them? (I'll link to a few of them directly. Disclaimer - I'm sponsored by Butterfly.)

U.S. Ping Pong Legend Hopes for 2020 Olympics...
Here's the CBS video (4:35) featuring the legendary five-time US Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller! Here's his GoFundMe page ($12,135 raised out of $15,000 needed as of this writing) and his book, Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. And here's the article, Technique Over Age Is Mantra for Dan Seemiller’s Inspirational Tokyo 2020 Run, by Michael Reff

New from Samson Dubina

New from Tom Lodziak

New from PingSkills

New from Coach Jon

How to Identify Fake Butterfly Products
Here's the article from EmRatThich/Ping Sunday.

USATT Year in Review

2020 US Olympic Table Tennis Trials
Here's the info page for the event to be held at Santa Monica College, CA, Feb. 27 - Mar. 1, 2020.

USATT Adopts New Slogan - "Keep Life in Play, Keep Play in Life"
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

ITTF World Rankings
Here are the January 2020 world rankings. Here's January 2020 ITTF Rankings: Fan Starts 2020 On Top by Steve Hopkins.

2020 NCTTA Divisional Winter/Spring Schedule is Out!
Here's the info page from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

MLFM Table Tennis
They have lots of new videos featuring the Chinese Team.

Ma Long Faulted for Hiding Serve, Unsuccessfully Challenges
Here's the video (2:27) from the 2019 ITTF Grand Finals. The serve in question is shown in slow motion at 0:43 (time is played backwards, so that means 43 seconds from end). Obviously the serve is illegal, as are most of the serves of most world-class players - see how the ball goes behind his head, which is of course illegal (ball must be visible to opponent throughout the serve).

First Ever Table Tennis Review Challenge
Here's the video (2:16). "The FIRST EVER challenge to an umpire's call using Table Tennis Review technology is made by Lin Gaoyuan at the 2019 ITTF Grand Finals." Leading 10-9 in the third (1-1 in games), Lin's serve was faulted for the toss being more than 30 degrees from vertical, and so he challenged it. However, video replay showed the toss was about 52 degrees, and so the call stood.

History of USATT - Volume 23
Here are links to all 23 chapters that have gone up so far (out of 31 total). Or you can buy it and previous volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now! (Alas, Volume 24, while mostly complete, is on hold while Tim tends to his wife Sally - see segment above.)

"Ping-Pong Diplomacy" and China-US Relations: Judy Hoarfrost Recalls History
Here's the article from China Plus (in English).

They Came to Play Table Tennis. They Were Deported at Gunpoint in the Dark
Here's the story from the New York Times. Here's another article, from the Croatia News.

Ron Rivera Removes Ping Pong Table from Redskins' Locker Room
Here's the article. Yep, that was the source of the Redskin's woes last year. "The source of turmoil and losing has been identified in the Washington Redskins’ locker room, and new head coach Ron Rivera has successfully rid of it less than a week after taking the job."

Best Ping Pong Shots 2019
Here's the video (10:12). "It has been a truly incredible year and these are our favorite clips of 2019!"

Table Tennis- If Were Not Filmed, Nobody Would Believe (around the net edition)
Here's the video (5:23)!

Behind the Back Shots Master
Here's the video (3 min)!

Cat Pong
Here's the new video (3:35)!

Two-Bat Juggling and Dancing Routine
Here's the video (15 sec)!

T-Rex Multiball
Here's the video (12 sec)!

Santa Claus vs MLFM Table Tennis
Here's the video (5:52)!

Hope You Had a Smashing Christmas!
Here's the Rudolf vs. Santa graphic. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

New from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - My 2019 Books and Movies Listing
I read a lot and see a lot of movies. (I'm on the Regal Theater Unlimited plan - about $25/month - and there's a Regal theater one mile away, and so I see about two movies per week.) Here's a complete listing of the 68 books I read and 104 movies I saw in theaters in 2019.

Non-Table Tennis - Lancer Kind Interviews Chip Houser
Here's the science fiction podcast (11:52) that went up Dec. 11 at Lancer Kind's SciFi Thoughts. At 3:08, they talked about me for about 30 sec! Chip Houser said, "I do not write like Larry [Hodges] writes, he comes up with a thousand ideas, and he has very specific, wild, way-out-there stuff." Lancer said, "I interviewed Larry in Episodes 53 through 56. You'll find those in the show archive if you want to hear from the brainstorm that is Larry Hodges."

Non-Table Tennis - "Releasing Hitler"
My story, "Releasing Hitler," was published by Galaxy's Edge on Jan. 1. (See links on left.) What if, one million years from now, Hitler is paroled from Hell?

Send us your own coaching news!

December 9, 2019

Tip of the Week
Six Ways to Learn Tactics.

Last Blog and Tip Until January 6, 2020
I'm leaving for the U.S. Open next weekend, and then Christmas with family in Sonoma, California. See you in 2020!

Weekend Coaching, Party, and Longpong
It was another busy weekend in TT world at MDTTC!

We had the final Thursday Beginning Class of the year. The focus was Player's Choice (player decided what he wanted to work on) and smashing lobs. At the end, Lidney Castro, Todd Klinger, and I each had a small group that took turns smashing our lobs, with each staying until they missed three.

The focus of the Sunday Beginning Class was spin serves and the 2-1 footwork drill. (The latter is where you hit a backhand, then a forehand from the backhand side, and then a forehand from the forehand side, and repeat - the three most common movements in table tennis.)

The Saturday Junior League (which is half league, half coaching) focused on singles (we've been doing a lot of doubles this season), with lots of improvised games, with players moving up-down tables. For example, the server might have to serve short to the forehand, and the receiver had to either push short or flip to the backhand, and then play out the point. Or server had to serve long, and receiver had to attack. And so on.

The Sunday Junior Talent Program did the usual drills, with 30+ kids. I was in charge of three tables, where they started with footwork drills, and then went on to serve & receive drills and games. After an hour and 45 minutes of practice, it was time . . . to Party!!! Both pizza and Chinese food were brought in. (I went mostly for the chicken chow mein.) And then it was off to games.

I've seen various videos of player who put together tables to play improvised TT games. Perhaps someone has done this one already, but I hereby am copyrighting, trademarking, and patenting "Longpong"! I put two tables together, lengthwise, and removed the nets. Then I put a table tennis barrier between them, propped up on each side by a chair, so that it gave us a "net" about 15 inches high, to go with our 18' table. And then the kids took over! Here are pictures from Facebook by Carolyn Klinger. (Click on the pictures to see two of Longpong, and then general party pictures. Here's a non-Facebook version of Longpong.) It became so popular that I put together a second Longpong court.

The kids quickly evolved rules. They settled on playing three-on-three. One player played at the end of the table, with two others on either side to return shorter balls. They decided that volleying was legal except to return serve. They also decided that if one player missed, another player on his team could keep the ball going, volleyball style! Halfway through they also switched to using my 50mm oversized ball. They played games for over an hour, and only stopped when their parents dragged them off to go home.

USOPC, USATT, and the Resignation Request Letter
I wrote about this in the third segment of my blog last week. I'm told that there is a lot of resistance on the board to resigning, as the USOPC requested, or even having a teleconference to discuss the situation.

The letter from the USOPC had a five-page cover, and confidential attachments that I'm told add up to about 100 pages. I haven't seen the attachments, but like me, a lot of people have seen the cover. At this point I think it is fair to post what is the single most pertinent part of the letter, from paragraph 2 of page 2. (It even refers to the "confidential" attachments, implying that the cover letter is not confidential - and it isn't marked confidential.) Before reading this, keep in mind that I'm told that most board members strongly disagree with the findings. (On the other hand, at least one board member told me he/she almost completely agrees with the letter.) Here is paragraph 2 of page 2 of the USOPC letter. (Arent Fox is the firm that did the independent review. Yeah, I want to put an apostrophe in there too.)

"Arent Fox has completed its review of USATT and issued a comprehensive independent report detailing its findings (the "Confidential Independent Report"). Based on that report and the USOPC's audit findings, it is evident to the USOPC that, as discussed in further detail below, serious problems exist with USATT. These problems are numerous, but appear to result from (1) the inability of the USATT Board to consistently reach consensus on contested matters, or to effectively and efficiently deal with issues confronting USATT; (2) the failure of USATT's Board to act at all times in the best interests of USATT; (3) the lack of a trusting and collaborative relationship amongst the USATT Board and between the Board and USATT staff; (4) the failure of USATT's Board and certain Committees to recognize and avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interest, and (5) the failure of numerous USATT Board members to act in accordance with the USATT Code of Conduct. The Confidential Independent Report is enclosed for your reference."

Keep in mind that the letter also says:

"The USOPC does not base these requirements on its belief that any one Board member is particularly at fault for USATT's current predicament. Rather, our position comes from a clear sense that the challenges confronting USATT can only be solved if their leadership is acting both cooperatively and collaboratively, and that cannot happen with a Board that is so fractured and distrustful of one another."

Basically, it appears to me that there are well-meaning members of the board who have strong disagreements, both over issues, and over how to interpret various documents, such as the USATT Code of Conduct. (And some may remember my Oct. 15 blog on the USATT teleconference where the board voted 5-3 to expel board member Rajul Sheth - but it failed as it needed a 2/3 majority. You can see the official USATT note on this in the October 15, 2019 entry in the USATT minutes.) Anyway, I'm sure we'll learn more about the situation next week at the USATT Assembly, scheduled for Wednesday night, Dec. 18, at the U.S. Open - the very date the USOPC is asking all board members to resign by. There's a chance I might post an UPDATE here after that. (NOTE - I heard they might move the Assembly to Thursday night.) 

Upcoming Table Tennis Work
Rarely have I had so many upcoming projects, mostly of the literary kind. Here's a rundown.

  • Dan Seemiller's "Winning Table Tennis." This book, by Dan Seemiller (5-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion, 12-time Men's Doubles Champion, 8-time Mixed Doubles Champion, and long-time U.S. Men's Team Coach), and Mark Holowchak, 176 pages, came out in 1997. It is now out of print. Dan asked if I could recreate the book for him. He had a copy in an old version of InDesign, which I don't have on my desktop computer. However, I remembered that I did have a copy in my previous computer, which was sitting in a closet. So I brought that out, dusted it off, and started it up - and was able to open the files. Much of the text came out weird, and none of the photos would come out. So I'm going through it, copy and pasting the text into a Word document. I was able to rescue the graphic figures used, but not the photos (other than the cover photo), which I'll have to scan directly from the old printed version. And then I have to put together all of the page layouts. I hope to have it out in January.
  • Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt. I put together a book from my nearly seven weeks there, in August and September, much of it from my Facebook postings. I'm about halfway through the page layouts and hope to have it out in January or shortly thereafter.
  • Still More Table Tennis Tips. About every three years I have 150 new Tips of the Week (which go up here every Monday), which I compile into a book, in an organized and logical sequence. So far there has been Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I should have enough Tips by the end of March next year for "Still More Table Tennis Tips." I expect to write a number of new Tips over the Christmas holidays - I have a page of Tip ideas.
  • Still More Pings and Pongs. While table tennis is and has been my primary job for many decades, I also write science fiction and fantasy. I've sold 107 short stories and four novels. Periodically I put together collections of my best short stories I've sold, after the publication rights reverts back to me (usually six months after publication). The first was Pings and Pong, then came More Pings and Pongs. I now have enough stories for Still More Pings and Pongs, which I hope to have out early next year.
  • Trump Tales: A Taunting. Some of you won't like this, but others will love it. I've written a number of Trump satires and plan to put this out sometime early next year, hopefully by February. It will have eleven stories in it, seven previously published, four of them new. For example, my most recent work is "Plucky Billionaires Squad," a humorous superhero satire that features seven multi-billionaires with superpowers who are out to save the world from President Trump - Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, and Alice Walton.
  • Coach of the Year. Besides the more literary stuff above, I'm putting together USATT Coach of the Year nominations for two coaches - one for National Coach of the Year and one for Developmental Coach of the Year.
  • Short Stories. Outside table tennis, that's what I primarily do, and I'm in various stages of a number of stories. But this is a table tennis blog, so I won't get into that here. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention . . .

My Table Tennis Books
Here's where all my table tennis books are linked. Great Christmas presents - to others or to yourself!

Team JOOLA Produces Magical Finish at 2019 North American Team Championships
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Kanak Jha Repeats Top 16 Finish at World Cup
Here's the USATT article by Michael Reff

North American Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend, Dec. 4-8, in Markham, Canada, with results, news items, photos, and video. See also:

ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, to be held Dec. 12-15 in Zhengzhou, China. See also Ending the Year in Grand Fashion: World Tour Grand Finals Preview by Steve Hopkins.

Beat the Defensive Blocker
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Using Mental Rehearsal to Reduce Nerves and Boost Performance in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from Dora Kurimay

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

South Bend Table Tennis Star and Two-time Olympic Coach Takes His Own Swing at the Games
Here's the article featuring Dan Seemiller in the South Bend Tribune. "Dan Seemiller of New Carlisle is trying to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in table tennis."

Zhang and Wu Sail to New World Ranking Highs
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

World Table Tennis Day 2020: Register Now!
Here's the ITTF article.

ITTF Foundation Launches First Donation Campaign at 2019 ITTF Star Awards
Here's the ITTF article.

New from Steve Hopkins

Lessons From Watching Dad Find Ping Pong In His 70s
Here's the article

Whitney Houston Played Ping-Pong
Here's the Washington Post story - page down to see photo of her (on right), with author Robyn Crawford on left.

Lubomir Pistej Makes Magical Chop Winner
Here's the video (46 sec).

Smack into the Camera
Here's the video (15 sec, in slow motion) from Scott Preiss!

Roller Pong
Here's the video (30 sec)! And now with net (28 sec).

Impossible Trick Shots?
Here's the video (2:29)!

Amazing Trick Shots #3
Here's the video (3:26)!

TikTok Take on Table Tennis Includes Chair, Cup, Cat and Sword
Here's the video (43 sec)! Here's another one (33 sec)!

Unliveably Small Ping-Pong Room
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

New from Pongfinity

  • The Pongfinity Game (2:09). "We have just launched our own mobile game!! DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE!"
  • 1 Million Subscribers (17:56). "A few weeks ago we hit 1M subs and thought we would make a very special video about our journey to the milestone."
  • Best Ping Pong Shots 2019 (10:12). "It has been a truly incredible year and these are our favorite clips of 2019!"

Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles
This is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories that feature the Beatles, which came out Dec. 3. "This collection is a Magical Mystery Tour through alternate universes where the familiar narrative of the Beatles is turned on its head." No, I don't have a story in it - but Cat Rambo, a fellow science fiction writer, tuckerized me in it! Here is an excerpt from her story, "All You Need."

No matter what, all major deals on this side of the boardroom of the Larry B. Hodges Memorial Museum of Ping-Pong History.

The original furniture was long gone; the only remnants of the original décor were the murals on the wall depicting a series of ping-pong tournaments on one side and the history of ping-pong on the other, beginning with a scene of lawn tennis players fleeing raindrops and snowflakes by taking their game indoors, and concluding with a scene of the museum's construction, overseen by a smiling man Vito had always presumed was Larry Hodges.

And just for the record, I'm the best science fiction writer in USA Table Tennis, and the best table tennis player in Science Fiction Writers of America! Yeehaw!!!

Send us your own coaching news!

December 2, 2019

Tip of the Week
What to Watch During a Point.

JOOLA North American Teams
When I tell the kids I'm coaching at the Teams that this is my 44th consecutive Teams (starting in 1976), I can't tell if they are in awe of my experience or that they just think I'm really old. I probably sound and look it. My throat is still a bit sore from cheering and my hands hurt from clapping.

There were 1083 players on 272 teams (3.98 per team) on 154 tables, the biggest Teams in history. Wow!!! It's especially fun watching the reactions of new players when they first walk into the venue and see all this. Their eyes go wide, they look side to side as they pan everything, and then they get a big grin on their faces. Here's a camera pan (25 sec) of the whole arena from Pongmobile.

Here are complete results. Here are the results for the Final. Here's the Live Streaming of Quarters, Semis, and Final (10 hr 56 min). Alas, I didn't get to see the finals, or any matches in top division. During the semis and finals there I was coaching in the semis and finals of various divisions, where I was one of the coaches for the seven junior teams from the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with the junior teams and training sponsored by HW Global Foundation.

NOTE added Monday night - you should watch at least the last game of the finals, between Eugene Wang and Xi Wang, which starts at 10:39:47. SPOILER ALERT - Eugene won the first two games at 9 and 5, then got killed the next two at 4 and 3. In the fifth, Eugene leads 6-1, 7-2, 8-3, 9-5, and 10-7 triple match point - but Xi wins the last five in a row!

I ended up coaching at least one team match for six of our seven teams (most of them ages 9-13), but mostly was assigned to coach our #2 junior team, Ryan Lee, Mu Du, and Stephanie Zhang, coaching eight of their eleven team matches. All three had very good tournaments, as did nearly all of the players on our seven junior teams - most of them took part in the six-day USATT camp just before the tournament and were primed and ready. The #2 team went 6-1 in their division, with the top two teams advancing - but alas, two other teams also went 6-1, and in the three-way tiebreaker (where you take matches won and lost just among those three), they came in third and did not advance.

Each team played four team matches on Friday, starting at 9AM and finishing by dinner time. That was a relatively relaxing day!

On Saturday I arrived at the playing venue at 7AM to help warm up our players, who had to play at 8AM. There were six time slots in the day (8AM, 10AM, 1PM, 3PM, 6PM, 8PM), with each team playing five team matches and getting one bye. However, many matches went long, including our own. Our #2 team included a chopper - Stephanie - and her matches often went very long as players struggled to find ways to get through her defense. And so our final 8PM match didn't start until about 9:30PM. And then it went on . . . and On . . . and ON!!! We were down 2-4, and the huge arena was nearly empty. Ryan and Mu Du won their matches, and it went to the ninth match, where Stephanie (under-rated at 1855) took on a 2021 player.

The final match started at one minute to midnight - as I pointed out to the team, her match started in November and ended in December! The opponent was patient, picking his shots carefully, and it was a dead even battle. The first three games all went deuce. But finally at around 12:25AM, Stephanie pulled out the match, 11,-10, 11, 7! The players went crazy - they had gone 5-0 for the day - or should I say two days? I was in the playing hall from 7AM to 12:30AM, 17.5 hours.

On Sunday each team played two more matches finish their divisional play. The #2 team was disappointed when they didn't advance - for about an hour we thought we would, until a team we had beaten upset the team we had lost to, forcing the three-way 6-1 tie. Alas, the #1 team knew they had clinched advancing and knew they could lose 2-5 and still advance in first. So they didn't play their strongest team and ended up losing 3-5. It's understandable as if you play your strongest three every match, then the others don't ever get to play, and they had five players on the team. I helped coach one of our two teams that did make the playoffs. Both won in the semifinals but lost in the final. The highlight for me, and perhaps for one of our players, about 1600, was down 0-2 against an 1800 player. I told him to 1) start serving to the guy's forehand, and 2) look to forehand loop every chance. He won the next three easily! (Ironically, it was just before this match that I received the irritating email and text that I mentioned at the end of this segment, so I was getting rather impatient that our player, down 0-2, kept dragging the match on and on!)

Craziest match I coached was Winston Wu (age 10, rated 1747, on Team #3) vs. a 2014 player, a powerful two-winged looper. Playing steady and smart, Winston goes up 2-1 in games and leads 8-3 and 10-9 match point in the fourth, but can't pull it out. He's almost inconsolable, and immediately falls behind 1-5 in the fifth. I call a timeout, he gets his emotions in check, and ties it at 5-all. Then he loses five in a row and is down 5-10 quintuple match point! Yep, he wins five in a row, deuce! Then he's down 10-11 and 11-12 match point (missing an easy smash that would have won it for him), then is up 13-12 match point, then 13-all, finally wins 15-13 in the fifth!

There were some funny moments. Here's a recap:

  • On the first day in the first team match, we lost the pen we'd been given by the desk for keeping scores. So I went up and borrowed another. In our next team match, that one was lost, so I sent up a member of the team to get a new one. Later that day we lost that pen, and so I sent another member of the team to borrow a pen. Sure enough, that pen was also lost, and so I had to send up the third member of our team to borrow another, our fifth, and we were only on the second day. If we lost it again, one of us would have to go up a second time, and none of us wanted to do that. So this time I assigned one of the players to keep the pen - he became our team's penholder. (He did a good job - managed to avoid losing any more pens.)
  • We had to play a team that had three 1900+ players and a player rated about 1500. But we all knew the player and knew that he was actually better than 1900 as well. They jokingly confronted him on it, saying, "You're no 1500 player!" He kept insisting that he was just a 1500 player. I finally leaned over and said, "If you're a 1500 player, let's keep it that way."
  • At one point I told one of the parents, "There's no crying in baseball, but there's a lot in table tennis." (But only if you coach junior teams.)

There were the usual less-happy moments, when players lost close ones and otherwise faced diversity. As I told the kids, after playing the Teams, college will someday seem easy! But there was one really irritating moment - see final paragraph below in segment "USOPC Requests USATT Board Resignations."

USOPC Requests USATT Board Resignations
Last week the USA Table Tennis Board of Directors received a rather ominous letter from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. (That's USOPC - they were USOC, but recently added the "P".) I first heard about this last week when someone prominent in our sport (but not directly connected with USATT) emailed me about it. It turns out that USOPC had brought in an independent firm to investigate USATT. (I'd previously heard rumors about this.) Alas, the report apparently found many alleged problems. I have seen the five-page letter, but not the roughly 100 pages of attachments that went with it, which give the specifics of the alleged problems. (The attachments are likely confidential because of personnel matters. Perhaps a redacted version will go public later.) I am not going to quote from the letter as it is somewhat confidential at this time, although I'm told it will likely go public later. (Apparently SafeSport is NOT one of the "major" problems they found - some have guessed that might be the issue.) One board member I spoke with vehemently disagreed with the findings and said that the report had many mistakes.   

The news has already gone public at the forum. (No, it did not come from me.) The news there is primarily correct - USOPC is asking that all nine members of the USATT Board of Directors resign by Dec. 18. While I am not going to quote the letter yet, it does say specifically that they do not blame any individual members. 

If all nine resign by Dec. 18 (day 2 at the US Open, the day after the USATT Assembly meeting there), the USOPC will appoint three interim members, and two would be appointed by the Athlete's Advisory Council, giving us an interim five-person board. The full board of nine members would be created next year via our bylaws, including USATT elections for two spots. Other than the two current athlete reps, none of the current board members would be eligible for election or appointment.

If any of the nine refuse to resign, then the USOPC will likely move to decertify USATT as the National Governing Body for table tennis in the USA - they apparently have the authority to do so. They'd create a new one, which would essentially take over from USATT, and ITTF would almost certainly recognize the new one. Regardless of how it happens, from a player's point of view, essentially nothing would change - the USATT staff would continue doing their jobs, tournaments would continue to be sanctioned, ratings processed, and so on. The USATT CEO (also a member of the staff) would continue as she is not a member of the Board. I'm not sure of the details, but I'm told that the new one would likely simply take over our membership and ratings database, hire our staff, and so on. But I don't know if this is correct, if the USATT board were to fight this and refuse to turn over anything. But at this stage this is mostly conjecture.

At the North American Teams on Sunday, just before I was about to coach one of our junior teams in the semifinals of a division, I received an email and a text saying that someone was claiming that I had a printout of the confidential attachments and was showing it to people. This is completely false - I do not have a copy and have not seen it. This was really irritating. I had to grit my teeth and coach matches for the next two hours before I was able to respond that someone was making up stuff.

TTTeam USA Training Camp at MDTTC
Here's my article on the USATT camp, held Nov. 23-28 at MDTTC. I was one of the coaches.

ITTF Men's World Cup
Here's the home page for the event held this past weekend in Chengdu, China, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video.

Kanak Jha at the Men's World Cup

World Junior Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Korat, Thailand, Nov. 24 - Dec. 1, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video.

North American Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event to be held in Markham, Canada, Dec. 4-8. (Dec. 4-5 are preliminaries.) 

Top Ten Men in the World, 2001-2019
Here's the video (5:37) - it's fascinating! "Respect to Timo Boll and Vladimir Samsonov! Almost 20 years in Top 10! And then no one can beat Ma Long around 2013-2017! The Dragon! The prime of Zhang Jike! and then the rise of Fan Zhendong!" (And let's not forget Wang Liqin's domination at the start.)


Section 9 Complaint against USATT
Here's the Complaint filed by Wang Chen against USATT over the US Olympic Trials Selection Procedures, which she posted on Facebook last week. It's about 50 pages. If you are not on Facebook, you might not be able to read it.

How to Forehand Loop Like a Pro
Here's the video (5:47) from Feel the Game.

New from MLFM Table Tennis

New from Samson Dubina

This is How We Start Our Day
Here's the video (19 sec) of counterlooping from a great angle.

How to Overcome "3rd Game Syndrome"
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from EmRatThich at Ping Sunday

MIA Table Tennis (The Two Ingredients to Grow Table Tennis)
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

WAB Club Feature: Los Angeles Table Tennis Association
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Thailand Hosts Its First ITTF Level 3 Course, A Dream Realized!
Here's the article by Richard McAfee, who ran the course.

Team World Cup - 2020 Olympics Test Event
Here's the article by Shashin Shodhan on the team match between China and Korea, with a link to video of Korea's Jeoung Youngsik and China's Liang Jingkun (12:04).

Timo Boll Exclusive Interview | German Table Tennis Legend
Here's the video (12:53).

Mattias Falck: Behind the Table
Here's the ITTF article with links to video.

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapters 18 & 19
Here is Chapter 18 and Chapter 19 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, "1998 U.S. Open," Parts 1 and 2. (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

MALONG Fanmade Channel
They've seven more videos in the past week, many of them players training at the World Cup.

Lily Zhang vs Matilda Ekholm
Here's the video (5:03) from the German Bundesliga.

Highlights of the South Shore Sports Butterfly Open
Here's the video (4:21).

Westchester Table Tennis Center November Open Final
Here's the video (17:25) of Sharon Alguetti vs. Kai Zhang.

Adam Bobrow vs. World #3 Lin Gaoyuan
Here's the video (5:23)! Adam's rated 2143.

2019 - The Year that the ITTF Invested in its Future!
Here's the ITTF Press Release.

Interview with Nenad Bach - Ping Pong Parkinson

Funny Table Tennis Match
Here's the video (4:16), from the Philippines!

One-Eyed Shock Collar Table Tennis
Here's the video (6:02)!

Table Tennis Trick Serves
Here's the video (2:21) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

November 25, 2019

Tip of the Week
Serving from the Forehand Side.

USATT Training Camp
I'm one of the coaches at the USATT Training Camp here at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, Nov. 23-28. Actually, I'm spent over half the sessions so far as a practice partner - I may be getting older, but I can still block pretty consistently. (And when needed, I can loop!) I also made two trips to the airport (an hour away) to pick up players.

Wang Qingliang is the head coach. He's one of the USATT National Development Team Coaches. The rest of the coaching staff is myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Alex Ruichao Chen. Khoi & Khai Dinh, and Vikash Sahu, are practice partners (with Vikash leading the warmup routines in the morning - jogging and stretching). Wang's a strict disciplinarian and has the players' respect, but he still has fun with the kids - this morning, before practice, he joined the kids in a winner-stay-on battle on the mini-table with mini-paddles.

There were 27 junior players, most of them ages 10-15, and five of the top eight are girls. The strongest include Aziz Zarehbin (13, 2432), Sarah Jalli (13, 2305), Sabrina Zhu (15, 2270), Lavanya Maruthapandian (16, 2240), Andrew Cao (12, 2208), Stanley Hsu (10, 2204), Nicole Deng (13, 2176, and Emily Quan (12, 2156). Here's a picture during a lecture/demo (by Carolyn Klinger). (Here's the non-Facebook version. The Facebook version has several other pictures.) Here's a video (3:04) taken by Coach Cheng.

The camp started Saturday night, 7-9PM. Then it's Sun-Wed, two three-hour sessions per day, plus half an hour of physical training in the morning. We also have a video session on Wednesday where we'll be watching and analyzing videos - I'm looking forward to that. On Thanksgiving Thursday we have a 10AM-1PM session, and then everyone's off for Thanksgiving - which for most, means driving out to the Gaylord National Resort Convention Center in southern Washington DC for practice for the North American Teams, Fri-Sun (Nov. 29-Dec. 1). There are currently 1080 players in 271 teams! (I tried but failed to convince the kids I'm having roast puppy for Thanksgiving.)

As usual, there are lots of footwork drills and serve & receive drills, and lots of fun counterlooping. When I'm a practice partner, I let the other player go first. When it's my turn, I only do half my time, then let the other player do the rest. When I'm coaching, I get to walk around, spending much of my time watching their feet and reminding them to move them. (They all move them, but some less than others. We want lively feet!) I'm also reminding a lot about balance - often players can't get to balls because of how they finished the previous shot, either off-balance or out of position.

Many of the drills take the players outside of their "comfort zone." At least one player was heard saying, "My brain can't handle this." But they all adapt, which is half the point. There are drills that start off with up to five set shots. There are serve and receive drills with restrictions - for example, the server can only serve short, while the receiver had to return long (either flip or long push). Or the server has to serve long. Or the receiver must receive to the server's middle. And so on. The point is to allow players to focus on specific aspects of an otherwise complicated situation so they can become proficient at each part, making it easier to do any of them when needed.

Most sessions end with up-down tables, where some of these rules are in place. At the end, they usually play regular, but often starting at various scores, such as starting with the server down 7-9. This afternoon we finished the camp with an improvised version of Brazilian Teams, where each team sent two players at a time to two tables. If both players from a team scored the point, their team won a point. If they split, no points for either team. (I acted as umpire.)

I'll write more about the camp in a USATT article I hope to send in on Wednesday, along with more photos and video. (I'll probably start with what I have above and add to it.)

Men's World Cup
Here's the ITTF home page for the event to be held in Chengdu, China, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1.

World Junior Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event going on right now in Korat, Thailand, Nov. 24 - Dec. 1.

Common Questions of FH loop and Their Solutions, Part 1
Here's the USATT article by National Team Coach Wang Qingliang.

Table Tennis Stance and Ready Position (with Fan Zhendong)
Here's the article from Ben Larcombe.

New from Samson Dubina

  • Shadow Strokes. "Your imagination is your most powerful tool. Are you using it?"
  • 3:1 Principle: Learn to Evaluate your Training Sessions

How to Return Long Serves, Part 2
Here's the video (10:10) from Louis Levene. Here is Part 1 (14 min) from three weeks ago.

Practice Multiball Movement Footwork One-One
Here's the video (3:02) from Dennis Darmawan.

Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (3:20) from GT Table Tennis.

How to Play Like Desmond Douglas
Here's the video (8:55) from Tom Lodziak. "Desmond Douglas played in the 1970s and 1980s and was 11 times English champion. He reached number 7 in the world rankings. He is still the most well known table tennis played in the UK. Desmond had a unique playing style. He played close to the table and used short strokes and quick reactions to put his opponents under pressure."

Kids Training in China
Here's the video (44 sec). "Shadow training without the ball is very important at the young age."

Inspired to Bounce
Here's the video (48 min) featuring Richard Bowling - the password is ibounce. Here's a trailer for it (2:41) and a 30-sec teaser. "Inspired to Bounce is a documentary of how one man's bold and imaginative 20-yr table tennis adventure reinvented his life, and led him on a mission to inspire the world. For details visit:" (And since I know you are thinking the question, Richard has been rated as high as 2243.)

Hugo Calderano - Outside The Venue | Meet "The Thrill from Brazil!"
Here's the ITTF video (21:59) featuring the world #6.

DHS Top 10 Points | Zen-noh 2019 ITTF Team World Cup
Here's the ITTF video (4:53).

MLFM Top 10 Table Tennis Points Of 2019
Here's the video (6:37) from MLFM.

Spreading the Net in Thailand
Here's the ITTF article featuring USATT Coach Richard McAfee. "The Table Tennis Association of Thailand is for sure a model to follow for many national associations. They take corporate social responsibility very seriously; they work on the social legacy of the event, by bringing more players to the movement but also more visibility to the event. They perfectly understood that doing good actions brings also a benefit for them. This is what we want to promote through the Table Tennis Legacy programmme of the ITTF Foundation."

New from Matt Hetherington

New from Steve Hopkins

Stellar US Para Junior Athlete Breaks into Top Ten World Ranking After Shining Performance in China
Here's the USATT article featuring Jenson Van Emburgh, by Michael Reff.

Nenad Bach (Ping Pong Parkinson) Part 1
Here's the interview with musician and peace activist Nenad Bach, who has Parkinson's and plays table tennis.

Taiwan School Team's Training in Yokohama
Here's the article by Sally Moyland

The Significant Special Sounds of Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 17
Here is Chapter 17 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, "Varied Interests." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Table Tennis Christmas Card
Buy one today!

Basic Serving Spins
Here's the video (13 sec) from Louis Levene!

High Bounce Off Net Post and a Premature Yell
Here's the video (15 sec) - Jeremy Hazin on near side, Nandan Naresh on far side. Here's the entire match (15:13, time between points removed) - it went seven games! (And guess who led 3-1 in games?) Nandan (13) is rated 2343, Jeremy 2598 (member of Canadian National Team). 

Playing Table Tennis with Golf Clubs - Waldner, Persson, Jiang
They won Men's Singles at the Worlds five times: Jiang (1985, 1987); Waldner (1989, 1997); and Persson (1991). Here are two pictures where they use golf clubs as rackets, as part of a Volvo commercial in China, with pro golfers Ian James Poulter and Jason Dufner. Alas, I was unable to find the actual video - can anyone post it?

We're Pinging in the Rain!
Here's the video (11 sec)! Here's another - that's Timo Boll on left.

Mini-Table Mini-Player Multiball
Here's the video (14 sec)!

Sonic the Hedgehog Trailer
Here's the video (3:01) - link should take you to 15 sec in when he plays super-fast table tennis for three seconds! (Move comes out Feb. 14, 2020.)

Funny Table Tennis
Here's the trickshot video (3:14)!

Send us your own coaching news!

November 18, 2019

Tip of the Week
"Proper Way" is What Works for You.

Illegal Serves History
I regularly get emails from people asking about illegal hidden serves, since I've been known to campaign against the current situation where the rule is rarely enforced. In recent times I've sort of thrown up my hands in disgust and despair - nothing I do is going to convince ITTF or USATT to take action, and many still ignore the evidence of their eyes when it's pointed out that most top players hide their serves, usually by tossing the ball behind their head, or thrusting out their head or shoulder.

Remember that the problem isn't that umpires don't call serves that they see are hidden; the problem is they don't call serves where they aren't sure, which, of course, is exactly why top players have developed such serves, which are hidden but in ways where the umpire isn't quite sure, and so they are not called and the players get away with it regularly - and to compete on an equal basis, others must do so as well. The rules state that umpires should call a serve that they aren't sure about, and that it is the responsibility of the server to serve so the umpire can see that the serve is legal. Alas, this rule is rarely followed. Someone emailed me about this a few days ago. Below was my response (with a few minor edits), which briefly explains how the situation came about.

When the hidden serve rule first came out, it was enforced and players learned to serve legally. Then top players discovered that if they hid their serves in ways that the umpire (sitting to the side) couldn't tell for sure if the serve was hidden, the umpires rarely called it, despite the fact that the rules say they should fault (or warn the first time) serves where they weren't sure about the legality, and that the rules say it is the responsibility of the player to serve so the umpire can see that the serve is legal. Once this became widespread, it became so standard that umpires didn't call hidden serves that any who did would stand out, and so they don't.

Many argue that umpires shouldn't call hidden serves because it's unfair to have different standards in different matches, and since most umpires allow illegal hidden serves, they should too. When I tried to get USATT to clamp down on this, the High Performance Committee was against it, since they argued that if we enforced the hidden serve rule in the U.S., our top players wouldn't be prepared when they played internationally, where the rule isn't enforced - and the same argument is made in every country, so every country allows hidden serves.

Basically, top players have no choices but to "cheat to compete." High-level clubs can't even ban hidden serves among their players - if they did, then their up-and-coming players wouldn't be able to practice against players using those serves (or do them themselves), and they'd get killed when they face them in tournaments and are handicapped by their own less effective serves. It needs to come from the ITTF, a worldwide directive to enforce the rules, but they won't do anything because, I'm told, it would be "insulting" to umpires to insinuate they aren't enforcing the rules. (I tried to get USATT to petition ITTF to do this, to no avail.) 

Weekend Coaching
The focus of the Thursday Beginning Class was spin serves. I had them do the spin and catch exercise where they spin the ball off their racket (with a forehand pendulum grip) and catch. Then, after a demo, they went out and practiced the serve. I also challenged them to see if any could serve with enough backspin to make the ball come to a stop or even bounce back, and demonstrated the "come-back" serve that bounces on the far side and then directly bounces back over the net. (Top players see it coming and smash it as it goes back over the net - but it's great fun to do with beginners.) I showed them how to "scoop" the ball with backspin (hit the ball with an extremely open racket) so that the ball gets great backspin though often too high. To my utter astonishment, one kid, who had never served with spin before, managed to pull off the come-back serve! He was pretty excited. Then we had a forehand-to-forehand contest - one kid got I think 143 in a row hitting with Coach Spencer. (I gave him the more advanced players while I worked with the younger beginners.)

In the Sunday Beginning Class the focus was on backhand pushing. I also gave them a demo on all the different types of spins and how they affect the ball. Then we finished with a forehand-to-forehand and then a backhand-to-backhand contest to see how many they could get in a row. The record this time was 106 with Coach Lidney. (I gave him the more advanced players while I worked with the younger beginners.)

In the Sunday Talent Development Program, we had a practice tournament, where all the kids were put into three-person teams and played team matches, as most of them will be doing in ten days at the North American Teams. My main task was to watch and take notes of the kids who will be playing at the Teams, who I might coach. I also coached between games in some of the matches, often coaching both players at once. For example, one kid kept pushing back topspin serves deep to the forehand, so I point out this was PRACTICE, and she'd never get better if she didn't attack them now. She got more aggressive, even looped in a few. Another kid kept missing against forehand pendulum side-top serves, so I suggested he have his regular coach do this serve against him for practice. Another kept playing into his opponent's extremely good backhand and forehand, so I suggested (out loud, so both could hear) that he play into her middle instead, and made sure the opponent understood that this is what she needed practice against here in PRACTICE.

Periodic Reminder to Help a Poor, Starving Table Tennis Writer and Coach
Here are my books, both table tennis and science fiction! Great Christmas gifts, both for others and yourself! I will have three more coming out early next year - "Still More Table Tennis Tips," "Still More Pings and Pongs," and "Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt." (I'm currently doing the page layouts for the last one - it might be out by the end of the year.)

Maryland Junior Boys Among Top Ranked in the U.S.
Here's the USATT news item on some of the kids from my club - hey, it's by me!

USATT CEO Virginia Sung Reflects on First 6 Months in Office
Here's the USATT article. "Now that I have reached the six months mark of my tenure at USA Table Tennis, I would like to take a moment to share with you the progress our team has made." … "Vincent Van Gogh once said, 'The greatest work of art is to love someone.' In our case, the greatest work of art is to love the sport."

Austrian Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Linz, Austria, Nov. 12-17, with complete results, news, pictures, and video. Here are some links.

Indonesian Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Batam, Indonesia, Nov. 13-17, with complete results, news, pictures, and video.

US Open
They finished with 740 entries - you can browse the list by name, rating, or event. (Final deadline to enter was Friday.) Top seed is Aleksandar Karakasevic (2835). Event will be in Fort Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Here are some USATT articles.

Overplaying vs Taking the Risk: Learn to Find the Balance
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

How to Beat a Blocker
Here's the video (8:19) by Tom Lodziak.

One Change to Enhance Your Forehand Against Backspin Opener
Here's the video (1:53) from GnoP GniP.

Learning KILLER Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (8:29) from MLFM Table Tennis Tutorial.

Anxiety in Sports and Everyday Life
Here's the video (12:21) from sports psychologists (and table tennis players!) Dora Kurimay (Mental Performance Coach and championships table tennis player and coach) and Paul Matkovic (PSY.D and a licensed Clinical Psychologist who many years ago played at my club).

New from EmRatThich

Ping-Pong Literacy
Here's the promotional video (1:57) for the upcoming ITTF kids coaching video.

New from Steve Hopkins (in addition to his article above on Austrian Open)

US Team World Cup Athletes Granted Operation Gold Awards by USOPC
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. "Kanak Jha, Yijun Feng, Kai Zhang and Lily Zhang, Wu Yue and Amy Wang all received an award payment of $3750USD each."

Unraveling a Five-Way Tie
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Swan Warriors Table Tennis Club Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary
Here's the USATT article by Michael Reff.

Table Tennis Tidbits #48: '19 German Open: Teen Terrors and Rubbery Issues
Here's the USATT article by Robert Ho.

Table Tennis Match Edge - Table tennis Videos, Equipment and Clubs
Here's the table tennis app! Has anyone tried this?

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 16
Here is Chapter 16 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, "International happenings." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Ma Long (The Movie): 2009-2019 10 Years on Top
Here's the video (7:53).

USA Players Featured in Videos

New Videos from MALONG Fanmade Channel

Ping Attitude
Here's a site with lots of table tennis videos. They have a "Best of" video for each month, such as "Best of October" (13:37).

For the First Time an Event Of Its Kind in Manhattan - The Big Apple
Here's the video (4:46) by Jules Apatini, featuring Michael Landers (near side) and Nishaad Shah of India.

Female Table Tennis Star | 2019 Star Awards
Here's the ITTF video (1:36).

Waking up in Tokyo | Zen-noh 2019 ITTF Team World Cup
Here's the ITTF video (67 sec).

The First to 21 Points Gets into the Country
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Satan's Sponge Sandwich?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) 

It's Table Tennis! It's Ping Pong!!!
Here's the meme! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) 

Boomerang Flick
Here's the video (21 sec) of this contender for Shot of the Year!

Table Tennis & Juggling
Here's the video (2:25) featuring Hugo Calderano (world #6 from Brazil) and a professional juggler.

Ram Pong
Here's the video (46 sec) where we learn that sheep aren't good at table tennis. 

Table Tennis Incredible Film
Here's the video (4:39)!

Incredible Ping-Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (3:01)! "This kid makes incredible ping-pong shots look easy."

Ping Pong Stereotypes 3
Here's the video (4:07) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

November 11, 2019

Tip of the Week
Three Spots or Two?

Happy Veterans Day!

Weekend Coaching
The focus of the Thursday Beginning Class was pushing, especially backhand pushing. (We'll work more on forehand pushing later.) Due to an apparent car accident, there was a huge traffic jam in the road leading to the club, and over half the class came in 10-15 minutes later. I had planned a forehand-to-forehand consistency contest, but we ran out of time and will have to do that later. (We'll also have a backhand-to-backhand contest.)

There was no Sunday Beginning Class due to Veterans Weekend. However, we did have the advanced Talent Development Program. I mostly ran drills on two table - the usual footwork and serve and attack drills, followed by Brazilian Teams. Later today I have to put together my player evaluations for the players I've been working with. Next Sunday we go over these with the players and their parents after the training session, followed by a party. After the session Sunday the coaches went out for Chinese food and discussed the players.

It's always interesting watching how the players develop. One kid who started out a year ago didn't seem as coordinated as some of the others, and honestly didn't show much promise. But he had two big things going for him - he was focused on practicing hard, and practiced regularly with his dad, who is a good player. One year later, he's pulled away from most of the others who started with him and who (at the time) seemed to have more promise, and now seems one of the most coordinated! During the dinner, I singled him and a couple others out as ones that I predict will "explode" in level in about a year.

There's another girl, about eight, who is beginning to devastate her peers with pure shotmaking - big backhand and forehand hitting, and strong forehand loop (when not rushed). The problem is she jams the table so much she often gets caught on deep balls, plus she has a tendency against short balls to the forehand to smack them all over the place, plus her receive is so aggressive that against good serves she is erratic. With a few minor fixes, she is another that'll soon "explode."

Malls for Table Tennis Clubs
I spend many afternoons at the Lakeforest Mall Eatery, usually eating pizza, drinking Dr Pepper, and writing. There was a time when the mall was always jammed, just like malls all over Europe are still jammed (as I learned in my recent seven weeks in Europe and Egypt). But in the U.S., malls are dying. Except for clothing and shoe stores (where people want to try on things), most people prefer to use Amazon, and so when I walk around Lakeforest Mall, it's like a ghost town compared to its heyday. Store are closing left and right, and I'm sure the monthly rent must have dropped dramatically, since few stores could afford to pay what they paid back when the malls were full.

As I peered into one of the vacant stores, I had a brainstorm - wouldn't this be a perfect opportunity for table tennis? I wonder if we could start opening full-time clubs in malls. You could pretty much choose your size. Plus, though the crowds are smaller, you still get a steady stream of people who might see the club and try it out. I'm guessing that there are already such "mall" clubs - I remember a few from the past, but they were mostly in rural areas.

ITTF Team World Cup
Here are links for the event that took place Nov. 6-10 in Tokyo. USA Men and Women BOTH reached the quarterfinals!!! Some of us remember a time when results like this were only a dream, except when we relied on immigrants. I think twice in the recent past Team USA contended at the world-class level - about ten or more years ago when we had former Chinese stars Gao Jun and Wang Chen on the team (at their peaks ranked #3 and #4 in the world), and again at the 1995 Men's Team World Cup, where the USA Team made the semifinals, with two of the players from China (Cheng Yinghua and David Zhuang), along with Jim Butler.

The current USA Teams were mostly developed in the U.S., at the many full-time training centers that now develop top players on a regular basis, in contrast to the past when we didn't have them, and top players were developed only sporadically. The USA Women's Team that made the quarterfinals was Lily Zhang, Wu Yue, and Amy Wang, and the USA Men's Team was Kanak Jha, Kai Zhang, and Feng Yijun. Of these, only Wu Yue and Kai Zhang developed primarily in China, and Kai came to the U.S. as a junior star and continued to develop here. All of them train at full-time training centers in the U.S.

One of the problems USATT has always faced is having two "masters" - the USOC, which wants them to focus on developing elite players, and the membership, which primarily wants them to focus on developing the sport by focusing on clubs, coaching, junior programs, leagues, and so on. I've always argued that there is one big overlap between the two that USATT should focus on - full-time training centers, which are also full-time clubs. You can't really develop many top players without a lot of full-time training centers to develop them, and until we had that base, there was little chance of, say, making the quarterfinals at the World Team Cup with players developed in the U.S. Our situation is now a lot different than before, and now we are challenging most of the top countries in the world. (My club, MDTTC, which I co-founded in 1992, was the first successful full-time training center in the U.S., and as recently as 2007 there were only eight such centers in the U.S. Now there are over 100.)

Hungarian Junior & Cadet Open

Serving Seminar
Here's the flyer for the Serving Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center by Alex Chen Ruichao, this Wednesday, Nov. 13, 7-8:30PM. I'll be assisting.

US Open - Deadline Nov. 15
Here's the home page for the U.S. Open to be held in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Final deadline to enter is Nov. 15, which is this Friday. There are currently 678 entries - here's the listing, which you can sort by Name, Rating, or Event. (Note - it has since dropped to 611 - did a large foreign continent drop out? Or it might be people who inadvertently "entered" the tournament, but didn't enter any events - this happens a lot in the tournaments I've run on Omnipong.) (I've emailed them requesting that they add listing by Club and State.) This will be my 36th consecutive U.S. Open - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 (and a few before that). I'm not playing, just coaching.

USATT/ITTF Club Coaching Course to Precede 2019 Seamaster US Open
Here's the info page.

2020 USA Hopes Tour Request for Proposals
Here's the USATT info page.

Ma Long Forehand Loop in Slow Motion
Here's the video (56 sec) - you should be studying this! It's a model of simplicity.

Why is Backhand Topspin vs Backspin so Difficult?
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Devastate the Short Pips Attacker
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

New from MLFM Table Tennis

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Malong Fanmade Channel
Their Youtube page has a number of new videos of the top Chinese players training.

How to Act Like a Champion No Matter What
Here's the article

Finding Your Points in the Table Tennis Lost and Found
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

October Kicked off NCTTA Divisionals, With Them Exciting Matches
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

WAB Club Feature: Allen & Sons Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 15
Here is Chapter 15 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis. (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Amazing Point! - Emil Johnsson - David Björkryd Ängbys 2019
Here's the video (1:28) of this really incredible point between these two kids. (It's shown twice, from different angles.)

DHS Top 10 Points | Uncle Pop 2019 ITTF Women's World Cup
Here's the video (4:29).

Here's the ITTF video (6:13). "Table Tennis for NepALL is our project nominated to SPIA Asia - Sports Industry Awards & Conference. It was a 3 year initiative aimed to develop Table Tennis for people with a disability as vehicle for a positive social change. The project provided opportunities for empowering, strengthening, and integrating them in the community."  

Ten Steps on How to Build a Table Tennis Table
Here's the video (1:47). 

Potomac Team Championships
Here's the video (3:23) from the tournament held Nov. 3 at the Potomac TTC.

Background Pony Pong
Here's the cartoon!

You Don't Apologize for Nets and Edges?
Here's the cartoon!

Unlocking Zazz in Table Tennis - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Here's the video (3:42)!

Ever-Changing Ping-Pong Balls
Here's the video (21 sec)! Some would say this is what the ITTF plans.

Send us your own coaching news!

November 4, 2019

Tip of the Week
How to Push Extremely Heavy.

Weekend Coaching
In both the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Classes the focus was on footwork - forehand-forehand backhand-backhand, and forehand-backhand side-to-side. We also had a forehand-to-forehand competition - the Sunday winner got 153 in a row.

In the Saturday Junior League (which is half coaching, half matches), we did a lot of doubles practice, and then singles. One of our players spent much of the night working on attacking the opponents' middle, and had great success with it. On Sunday we had a camp tournament. I ran group three, with eight players - and the kids learned the importance of every game and match! There was a three-way tie for first, all 6-1, so it went to games, and each position was then decided by one game. There were also ties for 5-6 and 7-8, broken up by head-to-head.

After several were frustrated with their early matches, I told them the story of Tong Tong Gong. At age 11 or so, he was one of the youngest to make the Final 12 for the National Mini-Cadet Team Trials about ten years ago. (I was coaching his matches.) He was in a group of six, with the top two making the National Team. He was seeded last in the group and played the top seed in the first match. He led 10-8 all three games - and lost all three in deuce! He was inconsolable afterwards, and I pretty much thought it was over - not because of the loss, but because he seemed mentally gone. But then he listened to some music, calmed down - and went out and pulled off four upsets in a row to make the National Team!!!

2018 and 2019 USATT Strategic Meetings
Today is the one-year anniversary of the 2018 USATT Strategic meeting, held Nov. 3-4. I didn't go to it, but I did write a letter to the participants. They came up with the 2019-2024 Strategic Priorities. It was originally called the Strategic Plan, but I was on the board of directions at the time and strongly objected, since there was no actual plan, just a listing of priorities - and so they changed the name.

Anyway, nothing has come of it as of yet, but we'll see. As I argued at the board meeting afterwards, coming up with a bunch of "Priorities" is easy; creating and executing plans to reach them is the hard part. Just as in past such meetings, I thought they should have focused on creating such plans, not just come up with priorities and goals without any plans to reach them. (The counter-argument is that the plans will come later - but why bring all these "experts" together and not take advantage of their expertise in creating the needed plans?) They had a smaller Strategic Meeting a month or so ago, but I haven't yet seen the plan from that one, or know if they are creating plans to reach the Priorities from the year before or starting from scratch - we'll know soon! Here is my blog about the infamous 2009 Strategic meeting and why it, and previous ones, didn't accomplish anything because they always make the same mistakes. Normally they have these meetings about every five years or so.

US Open - Deadline Nov. 15
Here's the home page for the U.S. Open to be held in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Final deadline to enter is Nov. 15. There are currently 630 entries - here's the listing, which you can sort by Name, Rating, or Event. (I've emailed them requesting that they add listing by Club and State.) This will be my 36th consecutive U.S. Open - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 (and a few before that). I'm not playing, just coaching.

New Articles/Stories by Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!)
I had four very different articles come out this past week.  

Christmas Table Tennis Shopping
Here are some choices for table tennis books for table tennis players, and that most especially includes you!!! (C'mon, help out us starving table tennis writers.) I'll start with some of my own books. (Here is a listing of all 261 books I own on table tennis.)

Want Novels?

Want Biographical?

Want History?

Want to Play Better?

Serving Seminar
Here's the flyer for the Serving Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center by Alex Chen Ruichao, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 7-8:30PM. (I'll be assisting.)

ITTF Team World Cup
Here are links for the event taking place Nov. 6-10 in Tokyo.

ITTF World Rankings

Funding for USA Players Training for Olympics
Want to fund an Olympian Hopeful? Here are two funding pages that I know of. Let me know if there are others.

New from EmRatThich

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

World Veterans Tour Event Shines in Sunny Florida
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

Ekholm to Bring International Prestige to Fort Worth
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

WAB Club Feature: Greater Vancouver Table Tennis Association
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

ITTF Feature Articles

India Close Second Behind China: McAfee
Here's the article featuring Richard McAfee in the Deccan Herald in India. "Hall of Fame table tennis coach Richard McAfee opined that India now has the infrastructure and the talent pool to become one of the top five teams in the world."

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 14
Here is Chapter 14 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Members Speak Up." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Chinese National Women's Team vs The USA Men's Team - TOP 10
Here's the video (2:52).

DHS Top 10 Points | 2019 ITTF German Open
Here's the ITTF video (5:54).

85-Year-Old Table Tennis Player vs. World Number 1
Here's the video (39 sec) as USATT Hall of Famer and 1971 Ping-Pong Diplomacy Team Member George Brathwaite takes on world #1 Xu Xin of China.

Roma Ping Pong Fest: TTX comes to Rome!
Here's the ITTF video (1:21).

Adam in China
Here's the video (10:09), featuring Adam Bobrow.

Crazy Backhand Around Net Sidespins
Here's the video (12 sec) - with multiball!

Amazing Hand Switch Shot
Here's the video (37 sec)!

Eight Racket Smackdown
Here's the video (25 sec)! (Technically there are nine rackets.)

Lola Marsh - Only for a Moment
Here's the table tennis music video (60 sec)! It starts slow but gets better and better with the table tennis antics. 

Xing Xong
Here's the video (6:07) from Pongfinity! (This went up a few hours late, so I might relink it next week.)

Table Tennis Halloween Pong

Send us your own coaching news!

October 28, 2019

Tip of the Week
A Lightbulb in Your Head: Mindless Swinging or Tactical Shot-making?

Weekend Coaching - Doubles and Footwork and Halloween Hitches, Oh My!
In the Saturday Junior League (which is really half league, half training/coaching), I worked with some of our top kids on their doubles. Some of them are getting very good now at positioning themselves. In singles, when a player is caught out of position, he usually thinks to himself, "I got out of position." In doubles, when a player is caught out of position, he usually thinks to himself, "They got me out of position." WRONG! (Well, usually.) Just as in singles, when you get caught out of position in doubles, it's usually because you went out of position after your previous shot. But unlike singles, where you get immediate "punishment," in doubles many players don't connect their own poor positioning with getting caught out of position, and so don't fix the problem. I worked with several of our kids who, to get out of their partner's way, either went off to the side too much or too far back, and others who waited too long to return to the table after their partner made their shot. Some of the more advanced kids are now working on circling footwork, where two righties (or two lefties) try to circle around so each can approach the table in their regular ready stance.

In the Sunday "Talent" Program (advanced kids, over 30 of them), I ran the drills for six players on three tables - lots of footwork at the start, then lots of serve and receive practice. Two of them still don't rotate much on many forehands and so get caught on that side, and are often caught on that side. I did a lot of emphasis on attacking any deep ball, especially serves that went long, as well as attacking the middle.

In the Thursday Beginning Class, the focus was on footwork. However, the biggest concern was that the schedule, created by the local schools (which organizes the Thursday class, though we run it at MDTTC), had scheduled the following class for Thursday, Oct. 31 - Halloween! It's not a school holiday, so of course kids would have no problem showing up from 6:30-7:30PM rather than go trick-or-treating! However, by a unanimous vote of the class, I was asked to skip this Thursday, and with permission of Montgomery County Schools, we will do so, and will instead go an extra week into December. I tried, and failed, to convince any of the kids to dress up as a ping-pong ball for Halloween.

In the Sunday Beginning Class, the focus was on serving, followed by stroking drills. The age and level of play in that class this season is a bit lower than the Thursday class, so the focus was mostly on just serving on the table, keeping it low, and hitting targets. (Poor Froggy took a beating! We actually have two of them now - I bought a second one.) We used the Adjustable Serving Bar both here and in the Thursday class.

China Daily
China Daily (which is in English) has featured USA players in four recent articles and videos by Zhao Xu. (I'm featured or mentioned in all of them, especially in Oct. 2.) I did a search and found a total of 147 articles by them that had the word "table tennis" in them - feel free to browse them.

US Open and North American Teams
Here's the home page for the U.S. Open to be held in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Final deadline to enter is Nov. 15. There are currently 598 entries - here's the listing, which you can sort by Name, Rating, or Event. (I've emailed them requesting that they add listing by Club and State.) This will be my 36th consecutive U.S. Open - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 (and a few before that). I'm not playing, just coaching.

From Nov. 29-Dec. 1 I'll be attending the JOOLA North American Teams in Washington DC, for the 44th consecutive year, since 1976, the year I started playing. (I'll be coaching one of the seven junior teams from my club.) They currently have 1026 players on 275 teams - here's the listing. (They used to be called the U.S. Open Teams, and were in Detroit for many years, and then Baltimore, before moving to DC a few years ago.) It's past the deadline to enter, though they take players on a space available basis, with a late fee.

World Veterans Tour – Fort Lauderdale
The event was held last weekend, Oct. 17-20.

2019 World Cadet Challenge
Here's the home page for the event currently being run in Władysławowo, Poland, Oct. 23-31. USA players are Ted Li, Sid Naresh, Joanna Sung, Angie Tan, and Emily Tan.

Winning the Warm-up
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "It’s pretty remarkable that there are players who have been playing for decades that don’t make the best use of their preparation time before a match. Consider a few guidelines that will be beneficial for you, and show consideration for your opponent."

Copying the Pros Can Make You Worse
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

How to Return Long Serves in Table Tennis (Part 1)
Here's the video (14 min) from Louis Levene.

Zhang Jike Learns New Table Tennis Techniques
Here's the video (5:26) where he works on his "Strawberry" flip.

Learning CRAZY Sidespin Serve
Here's the video (7:10) from MLFM Table Tennis.

Ping Pong Literacy
Here's the video (2:30) from Steve Rowe, featuring his table tennis program for kids, ages 4-8 years old.

MALONG Fanmade Channel
Here's the Youtube page with lots of new videos this past week, including a number of Fan Zhendong.

Sid Naresh Serve and Loop Winner
Here's the video (19 sec) in slow motion. Sid's on the US Cadet Team (under 15) with a 2489 rating.

Women's World Cup
Here are new ITTF videos.

DHS Top 10 Points | 2019 ITTF Swedish Open
Here's the video (5:31).

The King Never Gives Up - Part 1
Here's the documentary (25:06) from EmRatThich.

USATT Community Voice Positive Vibes for 2021 WTTC in Houston
Here's the article by Michael Reff. "The 2021 World Table Tennis Championships will be held in Houston, Texas, and positive vibes are already abound in regards to the chosen venue and what it has to offer for the players as well as the public."

WAB Featured Club: Han-In Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Ace Ping Pong: Grand Slam – Official Launch
Here's the article and video  (20 sec) on this new table tennis video game!

Table Tennis at 22 Months
Here's the video (1:27).

Robot Table Tennis Ball Retriever
Here's the video (9:42)! I wonder if this will ever get made.

Pooh Pong vs. Pooh Table Tennis
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Color Pong?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Halloween Pong
Here's what you get when you Google "Halloween Table Tennis"! But if you are a real table tennis person, you should find a way to play this ghostly repeating gif image in your front yard!

Adam vs. THE CLAW
Here's the video (8:26) from Adam Bobrow featuring a unique Japanese girl!

Lake Trick Shots
Here's the video (10:08) from Pongfinity! Some really hilarious play here.

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content