Blogs

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

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

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

Tip of the Week
Tournament Experience vs. Practice.

Weekend Coaching,  Larry's Six-Month Rule, and the Junior Trials in Westchester
Most of our junior training sessions are done for the season, with our summer training camps starting up on June 21. But our Group A juniors, who mostly all went to the US Junior Trials at the ICC TTC in California last weekend (for Under 19 and 15) had a make-up session. I spent most of the session just watching, especially when they played games at the end, to prepare for coaching them at the US Junior Trials at the Westchester TTC in NY this coming weekend (for Under 17, 13, and 11). I also had a session with Navin Kumar, where the focus was on fundamentals (since we hadn't had a session in several weeks) and serves. Here's video (30 sec) with a humorous finish! Overall, it's been a slow week for me, coaching-wise. (I also did a sports psychology session with one of our kids on Wednesday.) Things will pick up dramatically in the summer.

One issue that's come up quite a bit recently is Larry's Six-Month Rule. A number of our junior players have dramatically improved from training during the pandemic - and when they played tournaments, it showed, as they battled with much stronger players than before. But far too often they lost these matches, often losing in deuce or in five games. What's happening? It's simple - they are new to this higher level, while their opponent are experienced at that level, both psychologically and tactically. As I wrote above, it can take up to six months of tournaments before the improvement full kicks in - but they key words are "up to," as it can happen much quick that that.

We leave for the Westchester US Junior Team Trials on Thursday morning, after a morning session at our club (MDTTC). We also will have a session at Westchester, but just one hour - we don't want to tire them out, just get used to the facility. We have nine players and four coaches going, many of the kids the best or among the best of their age in the country. In the Under 13 Trials, we have the #1, 4, 6, and 8 seeds. (If it were Under 12 Trials, we'd have #1 and #2 in the country!)

US Nationals
The deadline to enter the US Nationals is tomorrow (Tuesday, June 15). Hope to see you there! I'll be there, as one of the four MDTTC coaches. We have eleven of our kids going. The schedule is good for me - most junior events start on Day 1 (Sunday) and most of our kids will be done playing by the end of Wednesday. And so I get to play the hardbat events on Thursday - Hardbat Singles (2-time champion, but that was long ago), Over 40 Hardbat (6-time and defending champion) and Over 60 Hardbat (first time and top seed!). I'm normally a sponge player, but have played hardbat on the side for years - including winning Hardbat Doubles at the Nationals or Open 13 times! (Alas, no doubles events this year.) I pulled out my hardbat yesterday for the first time since the pre-pandemic 2019 US Open (where I won Over 40 Hardbat) and hit with it some with Navin Kumar. The forehand was there but running forehands, my specialty, are back to being a work in progress.

USATT has had only two news items since June 2 on their news page, and both were on the Nationals:

As I write this, there are 410 entries. This would top the all-time low for the Nationals, the 335 at the 1986 Nationals in Pittsburgh (sort of an aberration), but they are unlikely to top the second lowest, the 502 at the 2011 Nationals in Virginia Beach. (But there could be a last-minute surge, due to the return to RR format.

BREAKING NEWS - there was a last-minute surge, likely due to going to RR. As of Wed morning they were at 557, "topping" Virginia Beach. The norm in Las Vegas, of course, is over 700, but 557 is better than what it was looking like before they went back to RR. Over and over players tell me they were skipping this year, not because of Covid, but because of the original single elimination format, which was done to "better manage schedule and conflicts more efficiently." They changed that last week, one week before the deadline, but for many, it was too late, plus many don't go to the USATT news page and so don't know about the change. I'll write about this more probably next week.

Garbage on the Home and Tips Home Pages
Some of you might have noticed all the error messages at the top of the Home Page and the Tips Home Page. I'm aware of the problem - it's apparently because I need to update to Drupal 7, which turns out to be a complicated process. I will likely be hiring someone to take care of this in the next few days. But if you happen to be a Drupal expert and can do this (volunteer or pay!), let me know.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Fundraiser
NCTTA is coordinating a National Fundraiser where all donations are doubled (thanks to a generous NCTTA Alum). Can you help them reach their goal of $200,000?

USATT Minutes for June 7 Meeting
Here are the minutes from the USATT Minutes Page. Lots of interesting stuff - I'd love to know what the four cities are that are bidding for the US Open in December. (Why is that a secret?) One thing of note - see the section titled, "Athletes Advisory Council – First and Second Athletes – Third and Fourth Athletes." It says: "The USOPC also noted that the USATT Bylaws are currently in violation of the Ted Stevens Act with respect to the selection of the First and Second athletes and that USATT’s Bylaws must be revised to ensure two separate fair elections of (i) the First and Second Athlete; and (ii) the Third and Fourth Athletes." I've blogged about this problem so I'm glad it's being fixed.

Kanak Jha - Nikhil Kumar Footwork
Here's the video (10 sec) of the two USA Olympians, with Kanak blocking on the left. You can watch the ball hypnotically go back and forth, or you can watch their looping and blocking technique and learn from that. But the thing you can learn the most from, and the first thing good coaches will look at, is their feet. Study it!

The Chinese Drill
Here's the video (3:11) from Timo Boll. "Today we're going to talk about an exercise that I learned when I participated in the Chinese Super League. This exercise is always part of a classical Chinese training session. It is one of my favorite drills."

New from Samson Dubina

New from Tom Lodziak

Top 5 secrets of Chinese Table Tennis on Forehand Topspin Forward
Here's the video (4:58) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Table Tennis - Irregular footwork (In & Out)
Here's the video (52 sec) from Eli Baraty.

When Good Beats Great
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Off-Season with PechPong Vlog!
Here's the video (3:03) from Seth Pech, and set to music. "A fun video about how I spend time during breaks or vacations to stay in shape and rest my mind to come back and practice twice as hard as I did before!"

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

New from Steve Hopkins

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

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

Five Nations Interested in Hosting 2024 World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the article from Inside the Games. "Sweden, South Korea, Portugal, Argentina and India have all entered the race to host the tournament."

Great Britain Table Tennis Squad Named for Tokyo 2020
Here's the article from Team GB - and yeah, they are calling it Tokyo 2020, though it was postponed to 2021.

1 Hour Ping Pong Challenge
Here's the video (14:57) from Pongfinity! "We invited Finnish YouTube Star @Roni Back and Pop Star @Robin Packalen to compete in the first ever Pongfinity Showdown match! How good did they get after a 1 hour coaching session by Emil and Miikka and who was the champion?"

Is That The Longest Table Tennis Serve In History?
Here's the video (5:14) from XOLAY!

Ping Pong Stereotypes!!!!
Here's the video (3:51)!

Alive For Table Tennis
Here's the video (21 sec) - and this is just weird!

Space Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Jesus Pong
Here's the cartoon!

King Pong Shirts
You know you want one - and you have ten choices, each with a different design!

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Tip of the Week
What to Do in the "Big Points."

BREAKING NEWS - 2021 US Nationals Preliminary Rounds to Play RR Format, Masks Not Required
Here's the news item that went up Tuesday night. Deadline to enter the US Nationals is in one week, June 15. Note the changes in starting days and times listed at the end. (At the time this went up, there were only 328 entries. I'll write more about this next week.)

US Junior Team Trials - Under 19 and Under 15
I spent last week at the US Junior Trials at the ICC Table Tennis Center in Milpitas, CA, in the Bay area, June 3-6. Here are complete results, care of TTLive. (Besides the Trials, for boys and girls, they also had separate events for Under 17 and a combined Under 11/Under 13.) Here is the USATT graphic showing the members and names of the players making the four teams. A total of 101 players competed in 516 matches. (The rating results are already up.)

Special thanks for the event goes to USATT, ICC, to the staff who put it together: High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, Tournament Director Gao Jun, Referee Yelena Karshtedt, Josh Dyke (who did the streaming and helped with results), Umpires Steve Lee and Sophie Chen, Tiffany Lam and Purvi Soni (who helped at the control desk), and the many scorekeepers, many of them players in the tournament - I don't have a complete listing, but email me of others you know or of any corrections: Sid & Nandan Naresh (who would come 1-2 in the Under 19 Trials, with Nandan winning the Under 15 Trials), Nicole Deng, James Zhang, Winston Wu, Isabella Xu, and others.

I arrived along with most of the Maryland Table Tennis Center contingent on Tuesday night after a 2800-mile flight (about six hours). On Wednesday, we had two training sessions. Since they were running a training camp at ICC and using all the tables, we had arranged in advance to train at nearby Table Tennis America. The second session was at ICC. Throughout out stay, we ate a lot of Chinese food for lunch and dinner; one of our players, Mu Du, who "lives" for McDonalds, lamented at the lack of McDonalds cuisine, saying, "This is a slight disaster." Then the action began on Thursday morning!!! Since the six boys from MDTTC were all in the Under 15 event, that was their primary focus, but the Under 19 event was a great training and a warmup for them.

The MDTTC players were Stanley Hsu (12, 2313), Ryan Lee (14, 2216), Mu Du (13, 2139), Nicole Deng (15, 2125), James Zhang (14, 2091), William Wu (15, 2061), and Winston Wu (11, 2018). The coaches were Wang Qingliang, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Wang Cheng, and Larry Hodges (me!). Including parents, we had 17 in our group.  

Stanley Hsu, 12, rated 2313 coming in, had a nice tournament, making the Under 15 team as the youngest member - all the others are 14 or 15, except for Daniel Tran, who turns 14 in July. Stanley finished fifth, which actually makes him the #6 player on the team - see explanation below. But he had a weird tournament. He lost deuce in the fifth in Under 19 to Kai Zarehbin (2420), and beat a number of others in the 2250-2350 range, and mostly played like a 2400 player. Against Under 15 #1 Nandan Naresh (2442), he was up 10-8 in the fourth and missed a pair of forehands or it would have gone into the fifth. But the truly weird match was against Keenan Zhou (way, Way, WAY underrated at 2091 - more accurately rated afterwards at 2254). Stanley wins the first 11-5 and goes up 9-0 in the second . . . and lets up. As I later told Stanley, that was the worst thing that could happen - because right then, at the same time, as Stanley started to let up, Keenan, having nothing to lose, started to play really well. Stanley had to take a timeout to win that game, 11-8. Keenan continued to pour it on while Stanley struggled to regain his focus, with Keenan winning the third, 11-4. At this point, Stanley had outscored Keenan 20-5 at the start, but been outscored 19-6 since! In the fourth, Stanley goes up 7-3 and is coasting, but in this streaky match, Keenan wins eight in a row. In the fifth, at 4-4, in this (did I say streaky? Make that SUPER-streaky) match, Keenan wins seven in a row to win. The final scores, -5,-8,4,7,4, don't really tell the tale. (Keenan would also go on to make the team, finishing seventh.) Later I would discuss with Stanley the idea that, when you are in the lead, your thinking needs to be, "Take it!," not "Let's be careful."

Each team will (usually) have eight players. The winner of the age event at the upcoming US Nationals will get the #1 spot. The Trials here are for spots 2-8. What that means is that whoever finishes first here is #2 on the team; second place is #3; and seventh place is #8. Since all four Trials had a Final Eight, it means that whoever finishes eighth is #9, and so technically isn't on the team - yet. If any of those eight players wins at the Nationals - and the odds are extremely high that that will happen - then that player moves up to the #1 spot, and all those who finished behind that player move up a spot - meaning the number eight finisher moves from #9 to #8, and becomes an official member of the team.

Here are some photos taken by Lingda Hsu, Stanley Hsu's mom. L-R: Stanley's Under 15 Team trophy (it weighs a ton!); most of the Maryland players and coaches; the US Under 15 Boys' Team; Stanley; Stanley and me; Stanley with Coach Wang Qingliang and me; Coach Wang and Stanley; MDTTC players Stanley Hsu, James Zhang, and Mu Du; and three more pictures of Stanley with Coach Wang.

Alas, it's not all roses for MDTTC. Nicole Deng I believe had at least one match point before losing 15-13 in the fifth against Kayla Goodwin - if she wins that match, she's in the Final Eight and almost for certain on the National Team. James Zhang was up 10-8 match point on Ryan Wu (2266) in the match to make the Final 12. But they'll have many more chances, including the Under 17 Trials in ten days, where Nicole is currently seeded #5. 

I did have one serious gripe about the Trials - the rules said there would be no geographic separation. This has been an ongoing issue for me - I think it's silly not to do so. And this time, it seriously affected our team, which seemingly flew 3000 miles to play each other! In Under 15, we had six players in the nine groups of four - and three of them were in the same group, as the top three seeds! (And sure enough, one of our players was knocked out of the event by another of our players in an upset win.) In Under 19, we also had six players in the eleven groups of four - and two groups had two of our players! In Under 17, we only had three players in the initial six groups, and two of them were together! (That event was later redrawn, with the MDTTC players in separate groups.) The groups were done legally, strictly by the "snake" method, and it just so happened that it kept putting MDTTC players together.

I sent an email to the USATT High Performance Director and High Performance Committee on Thursday night, asking that they use geographic separation at the upcoming Trials in NY (Under 17, 13, 11). After a number of messages, it was agreed, and we won't have to deal with this again. Players from the same club or family will be separated in preliminary groups. They will also play first in subsequent rounds, which I agree with. I don't want some kid to be in the position where, after he's clinched his spot on the team or is no longer in contention, he plays a teammate who needs to win to make the team. That kid could be under pressure to dump that match to his teammate.

On Saturday, since most of our players were done, we headed back over to Table Tennis America for a joint training session of six of our players and about a zillion of theirs. MDTTC Coach Wang Qingliang was the guest head coach for the session, which I and the other MDTTC coaches also assisted in. On Sunday afternoon, after the Trials were done, we headed over for a tour of the new 888 Training center, which opens in the next two weeks. It'll be huge, with about 40 tables. Our kids ended up playing fun matches with some of the locals, including an improvised Brazilian Teams (players take turns at the table playing one game that starts at deuce, stay up until you lose), and then, for about half an hour, we played with smart phones, kindles, driver's licenses, a roll of tape, and whatever items we could dig up! (You can chop pretty well with a kindle.)

Most of our contingent left on a red-eye flight at midnight on Sunday, landing at 8:06AM at Dulles Airport. I got home at 9:45AM. And now we start training for the US Junior Trials for Under 17, 13, and 11, to be held at the Westchester TTC in NY in ten days, June 18-20 - and we have an even larger contingent going! I even bought up and donated to our club all the leftover Nittaku Premiums from the Trials (47 of them, 36 new) for our kids to train with, since they'll be using those at the NT Trials.

USATT Board Meeting and Minutes
There was a USATT board meeting on Zoom last night. I attended most of it. Nothing ground-shattering happened, and I only took a few notes. Here was the agenda:

  • CEO Report. [I missed the start, but there was mention of four bids for the next US Open.]
  • [High Performance Director Report - came next but wasn't on the agenda. Sean spoke about various past and upcoming events.]
  • Update re: Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws Update re: Athletes Advisory Council – First and Second Athletes – Third and Fourth Athletes [Lots of discussion on this, but the two main points: they will all be elected, no more appointments; and the elections will take place after the Olympics, so as not to interfere with players training for that.]
  • Consideration for Approval of Proposed Committee Assignments and Chairs: (including new Chairs for Juniors Committee – Diversity, Equity Inclusion Committee – Tournament Committee) (including new members on Nominating and Governance Committee – Tournament Committee). [There was also talk of creating a committee to oversee the abuse of USATT intellectual property - specifically, distributors and manufacturers who use the USATT logo without authorization.]
  • Consideration of Issues Related to Officiating and Tournaments

I also noticed that the minutes for the April USATT board meeting are up - see the USATT Minutes Page.

New from Samson Dubina

3rd Ball Attack From The Backhand
Here's the video (1:58) by Rachid El Boubou

The Secret of My hand Switch - the Most Difficult Shot in Table Tennis
Here's the video (4:29) from Timo Boll.

Importance of Practicing the Basic Fundamentals
Here's the video (29 sec) from Eli Baraty.

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Seth Pech
Here are his latest expert commentaries.

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Videos (some overlap with the above)

New from Edges and Nets

ITTF High Performance & Development Webinar 48 - Para Table Tennis Coaching
Here's the ITTF Webinar (94 min).

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins

Lily Yip Table Tennis Center
Here's the video (6:05) by Jimmy Butler on his visit.

A Holiday From Holidays
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Meet Navin P. Kumar: Movie Actor & USA Table Tennis Athlete & Motivational Speaker
Here's the article from Shout Out LA. He's one of my students!

What Is Table Tennis?
Here's the slideshow, created by Hina Sheikh, daughter of Coach Aabid. (Click on icons on left one at a time, or click on "Present" for slideshow. There are 18 slides.)

Jan-Ove Waldner Talks About Ma Long, Fan Zendong, and World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (4:57).

ITTF News
They are back to their pre-pandemic activity, so rather than my link to all of their news items, why not browse over their news page?

The Factors Behind China's Olympic Table Tennis Dominance Ahead of Tokyo 2020
Here's the article from Nation.

Top Indian Table Tennis Players Prefer to Train Individually
Here's the article from the Business Standard.

Timo Boll vs Shang Kun | MT-FINAL | German League 2021
Here's the video (10:11).  

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

Top 50 Incredible Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (9:14)!

Finding The What Happened Guy
Here's the video (12:57) from Adam Bobrow!

One of These Shirts Should Be Yours!
So . . . which are you?

Cat Playing Ping Pong !!
Here's the latest (51 sec)!

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Tip of the Week
How to Play the Attacker/Blocker with Dead Rubber.

Have a Happy Memorial Day
But remember who are being memorialized. 

Recovering from Injuries - an Opportunity!!!
Recently, a top junior hurt his wrist and so his table tennis play became limited - he couldn't loop forehand or backhand without aggravating the wrist, which made things tricky, since he's a two-winged looper. But I pointed out to him and his dad (via Facebook) that this is really an opportunity! This is what I posted.

He definitely should see a sports medicine doctor and/or therapist, and take time to let the wrist heal. But that doesn't mean taking a break from training. It means he'll finally have time to really focus on the aspects that don't involve the movements that hurt his wrist. He can get himself into top-notch physical shape; work on his pushing (short and long); forehand flipping (less wrist needed than backhand flip); work on his blocking; do footwork drills where the opponent is looping and he's blocking; shadow-practice; and if the motion doesn't hurt the wrist, work on his serves. He should experiment and list all the table tennis moves he can do that don't hurt the wrist, and work on those - but be absolutely certain to avoid those that do. (It could also be a time to have a little fun and practice chopping and lobbing.) It's not lost time; it's an opportunity!!!

Weekend Coaching
On Saturday I went to the club and just got to sit around and watch. Why? They were having the Elite League, so I came in to watch our top juniors play, since I'll be coaching them this next week at the Junior Trials. (See segment below.) I had a few tips for them in helping them prepare, but mostly took notes, especially on serve and receive.

On Sunday, in our Group 3 Session (players up to 1200), I was mostly a walk-around coach. It's been an amazing year, watching these players improve - and a number of the Group 3 players from a year ago are now in Group 2. I worked extensively with one promising player who still tends to use too much arm instead of body on looping, but he picked up on it quick, after some extensive shadow-practice. (See segment below on Muscle Memory and Saturation Training.)

In the Group 2 session (players up to 2000), I spent half as a walk-around coach, and half as a practice partner. For the latter, I did two drills with each player as they rotated to my table. Either they'd serve short backspin, I'd push back deep anywhere, they loop (forehand or backhand), and we play out the point; or they serve short backspin, and I had to either drop it short or flip, they attack, and then play out the point.

For the Group 4 session, we now have seven kids in the 6-8 age group. We did a lot of serve practice, lots of footwork drills, lots of shadow practice, and then target practice games - and lots of toy frogs and cups were smacked with pong-pong missiles. (This session runs at the same time as the Group 1 session - juniors up to 2350 - but nearly all of the advanced ones started out in the beginning group sessions, where I helped develop their foundation, and still coach them at tournaments, on serves, and on sports psychology. They regularly come by to watch, nostalgically missing the simple days where the primary goal was to knock over a stack of cups.)

US Under 19 and 15 Team Trials
I'll be coaching at the US Team Trials for Under 19 and Under 15 this next week, to be held at the ICC Table Tennis Center in Milpitas, CA. (They also have Under 13 and Under 17 events.) We have seven junior players from MDTTC going (ages 12-14, ranging from an even 2000 up to 2313), along with five coaches, four of them MDTTC coaches (myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Wang Qingliang) plus Wang Cheng. We have a training camp at MDTTC today (Monday) along with a USATT info Zoom meeting at 3PM, then on Tuesday, nearly the entire contingent (including parents) fly out of Dulles at 6:35PM. On Wednesday, we train at ICC. Then the Trials begin - four consecutive days, Thur-Sun, June 3-6. Here are some helpful links.

Butterfly Bio
Here's my new Butterfly Bio! Regarding my Butterfly sponsorship, I'm often in this tricky position in that I'm sponsored by Butterfly, but my club switched to JOOLA a few years ago. They also sponsor our junior team. I have a long relationship with the owners of both. I was a one-time practice partner with both Bowie Martins (Sr. and Jr.), way back in 1979-81, and have been sponsored by them semi-continuously since that time. On the other hand, I was one of Richard Lee's coaches/practice partners when he was winning nearly every age group (singles and doubles) at the Junior Olympics and Junior Nationals back in the 1990s, and he now owns JOOLA (worldwide, not just in the US) - and as noted, they now sponsor my club and the junior program I coach at. So I'm always walking a tightrope!

USA Nationals Entries
As I write this the morning of May 31, there are only 242 entries to the upcoming US Nationals. The deadline is June 15, so they have 15 more days. As I've blogged about in the past, I think there would have been a huge turnout if they had run a "normal" Nationals instead of all single elimination - there's a huge hunger out there for a US Nationals and/or US Open, since we haven't had one since 2019. Essentially everyone over age 13 or so who wants to would be vaccinated before the tournament. The reason they went single elimination, according to the USATT CEO at the April board meeting, had nothing to do with the pandemic, saying "The reason for running all single elimination is to better manage schedule and conflicts more efficiently." 

Historically, the lowest entries we've ever had were the 335 at the 1986 US Nationals in Pittsburgh. That year was an aberration - the next lowest were the 502 at the 2011 Nationals in Milwaukee. This year, of course, is in the usual Las Vegas, where the norm is usually over 700 more. So, as the entries come in, we'll see if they can top those "magic" numbers of 335 (maybe) and 502 (highly unlikely).

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
Here's the review by Samson Dubina! Here's where you can buy it from Amazon (read the reviews) or Butterfly. (I didn't know about this until I saw it on his page this morning as I put this blog together.)

Top 35 Table Tennis Blogs and Websites To Follow in 2021
Here's the listing from feedspot.com. I'm not sure if I should say, "Yes, I'm #11" or "What, I'm only #11???" Of course, this is a mixing of actual blogs, and websites with news items, which are different things.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Fundraiser
NCTTA is coordinating a National Fundraiser where all donations are doubled (thanks to a generous NCTTA Alum). Can you help them reach their goal of $200,000?

Muscle Memory Application to Tennis
Here's the article, which also applies to table tennis. It's similar to my tip, Saturation Training.

Quick Tip - How to Start After a Break
Here's the video (1:56) from Timo Boll (world #11, formerly world #1). "I hope many of you are currently returning to the halls to play table tennis. In the video you will find some short tips how to start again after a longer break."

New from Samson Dubina

New from Eli Baraty

New from Ti Long

New Drills from Huijing Wang

Transition From Underspin To Topspin
Here's the video (2:37) from Yu Di.

Stroke Chemistry & Footwork
Here's the video (1:48) from Gabriel Perez.

Seth Pech vs Jeremy Hazin Akron Barbara Wurster Memorial Open
Here's the video (7:13) with Seth's expert commentary.

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

How To Assemble Your Own Table Tennis Racket
Here's the video (2:09).

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

USATT News

New from Steve Hopkins

Photos by Grant Bergmann in Fort Worth, TX

Welcome to 888 (Triple Eight) Table Tennis
Here's the article by 888 TTC Director and former USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio: "A new International training center in the Bay Area."

One Size Fits All Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

My Table Tennis Experience in Poland
Here's the article by Patryk Zyworonek (US #2 12 and Under, rated 2196)

Table Tennis Pins and Coins
Alexander Klimoff of Russia sent me the links to his table tennis pins and table tennis coins collections. Nice collections!

New from Edges and Nets

ITTF News

Gionis Panagiotis vs Jakub Dyjas | MT-FINAL | 2021 Polish Super League
Here's the video (7:49) of this nice chopper vs. attacker match.

INSANE Table Tennis Shot After Shot
Here's the video (24 sec) - Ding Ning vs. Zhu Yuling.

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

'The Butterfly Lady' of Paralympic Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (3:26) from CNN.

3-Year-Old Playing with a Table Tennis Robot
Here's the video (31 sec)! Just think, she has five more years of training before she's eight, a typical age many start playing.

Ping Pong is Life
Here's the simple shirt at Amazon!

Impossible Ping Pong Trickshot
Here's the video (8:13) from XOLAY!

Frozen Ping Pong Ball Challenge
Here's the video (5:17) from Pongfinity!

Crazy Cat Playing Table Tennis
Here's the new cat video (14 sec)!

Poochpong - Me And My Poddle Ping-Pong Play Time !!
Here's the new dog video (24 sec)!

Funniest Ping Pong Game Ever
Here's video (1:44) of this golden oldie! I ran this ten years ago when I first started this blog, but now a new generation gets to see it. Here's a new version (1:46) with sharper images.

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Tip of the Week
Inside-Out Backhands.

Olympian Lily Zhang at MDTTC
On Sunday, May 24 (yesterday), at 5PM, Olympian and 5-time (and current) US National Women's Singles Champion Lily Zhang visited the Maryland Table Tennis Center to give a talk, answer questions, do a demonstration and exhibition, and signed autographs. It was arranged by Richard Lee (owner of JOOLA and part-owner of MDTTC). The event went off great, with about 100 spectators. Here are pictures:

After a short talk, Lily took questions from the audience, and there were many! I even asked one - "Since you are about to play a chopper/looper in an exhibition, in general, how would you advise players on how to play a chopper?" She answered that playing choppers was not her strength, but that the key was patience. After the Q&A, she and MDTTC Coach Wang Qingliang did an exhibition, best two out of three to 11. It was spectacular!!! Wang won game one, 11-8; Lily game two, 11-9. They started the third game at deuce. Lily won the first point to have match point, but Wang won, 13-11. (But remember, this was an exhibition. But they really went at it - some points featured Lily attacking and Wang chopping, others had Wang ripping forehands while Lily blocked, plus a few counterlooping rallies.)

Afterwards, there was a LONG line for autographs. Everyone got a free autographed paddle and table tennis keychain. Lily personalized each autograph. She also spoke at length with each player, asking them about their table tennis, how long they've played, who their coach was, and so on. She was extremely gracious and made a lot of new fans! (There might be a video up soon - if so, I'll post it here.)

Weekend Coaching
I ran or helped run three group sessions. In the first (Group 3, players up to about 1200), they sent players to me, three at a time. I put one on the robot, one on ball pickup, and did multiball with the other - with the focus on forehand and backhand looping against backspin. Each got about four minutes, rotating. So I fed nothing but backspin for about an hour, side to side. If a player had trouble on one side, then we'd focus on that. Once I was done with a group of three, three others rotated in. I think we are going to run more sessions this way, where three are sent to me for multiball, while the rest do drills run by Lidney Castro. Also assisting, as always, was practice partner Mu Du (just turned 13, rated 2139).

Next up was Group 2 (players up to about 2000). I acted as a practice partner for this one, with players rotating to my table every five minutes or so. Lots of footwork drills!!!

Next up was the Lily Zhang event - see above!

Next up was Group Four, which is five girls, all ages 7-8, plus a 6-year-old boy who joined the session and may be permanent. All six of them had been there for the Lily Zhang exhibition and all six had gotten autographs, and were still in awe!!! Helping out as a practice partner was Kurtus Hsu. The focus for the session was forehands down the line, which always give beginning kids trouble - unless taught otherwise, they almost always want to tilt their racket back with their wrist and just pat the ball rather than stroke it. (Key: rotate shoulders back, contact ball a little later, in front of right leg for righties.) They also each had a turn with Kurtus, where they had a competition to see who could get the most forehands or backhands (their choice) in a row - the winner got 98, while most of the rest got at least 30.

USATT Hall of Fame Program Book
I spent much of last week putting together the 2021 USATT Hall of Fame Program Book. (Actually, it's for those selected for induction in 2020, but postponed because of the pandemic.) The induction will take place on Thursday, July 8, at the US Nationals. Here's info on the induction banquette and the five honorees - David Sakai (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Hall of Fame inductees Sebastian DeFrancesco (athlete), Pam Fontaine (athlete), Christian Lillieroos (contributor) and Roman Tinyszin (contributor).

This is the eleventh year in a row (starting in 2009) I've done the program book, which I do for free, other than a ticket to the banquet. (Technically, I get paid $100, but I donate that to the Hall of Fame Boosters.) This year's was the most difficult to put together since the first time. First, for years I've been doing it in Pagemaker, using the previous year's as a template. (I used Pagemaker to do all 71 issues of USATT Magazine when I was editor.) But not only has Pagemaker been phased out, but it's so out of date it doesn't even run on my new computer. Plus, no one else can make changes to the program when I did it in Pagemaker. So I had to redo it from scratch in Word. Second, the profiles for the inductees were very long, and so I had to do a lot of cutting and consolidating - which is tricky and tedious. But it got done!

2021 National Team & 2021 Pan Am Junior Games Team Trials
They are going on right now, May 21-26 in Fort Worth, TX. A number of videos and live play are on the USATT Facebook page. Here's the info flyer. Men's and Women's Trials are first, ending today, with the Pan Am Junior Games Trials starting today. (Kanak Jha and Lily zhang made the team automatically as the #1 players by their world ranking and so didn't need to try out. A number of other top players didn't try out, including Xin Zhou, Yijun Feng, Juan Liu, and Wu Yue.)

Breaking News - here's the top four finishers in Men's and Women's:

  • Men's: 1st Sharon Alguetti; 2nd Nikhil Kumar; 3rd: Jishan Liang; 4th Dan Liu.
  • Women's: 1st Amy Wang; 2nd Sarah Jalli; 3rd Huijing Wang; 4th Tiffany Ke.

Here's a graphic from USATT showing the Men's and Women's National Team - 8 men, 8 women. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

The National Under 19 and Under 15 Team Trials will be held at ICC in Milpitas, CA, June 3-6, and the National Under 11, 13, and 17 Team Trials will be held at the Westchester TTC in Pleasantville, NY, June 18-21. Info is at the top under USATT Events at Omnipong. I'll be coaching at both of these events.

Kanak Jha vs Benedikt Duda | FINAL | 2021 Düsseldorf Masters V
Here's the video (9:23).

USATT Announces Updated Policy and Protocol for 2021 US Nationals
Here's the USATT news item. Spectators will now be allowed.

Help NCTTC Raise $200,000 to Strengthen College Table Tennis in North America!
Here's the GoFundMe fundraiser.

New from Timo Boll

Managing Sports Aggression: Four Tips for Athletes
Here's the article by Dora Kurimay.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
He has many new items on his Video and Articles pages.

Forehand Loop From Underspin
Here's the article and video (1:26) from Jabdiel Torres, narration by Brian Pace.

Tips on Reading Service Spin
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

How to Learn & Play the Forehand Flick
Here's the video (7:33) from Dublin TTC. (Note - flick and flip are the same thing.)

New from Eli Baraty

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

Table Tennis Exercises At Home
Here's the video (90 seconds) from Huijing Wang.

New from the ITTF

New from Steve Hopkins

Tremendous, Terrific, Tournament Time
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

$5000 Barbara Wurster Memorial Open Recap
Here's the article by Jabdiel Torres.

Goodbye Ding Ning - She's Retiring
Here's the new video (9:16) that highlights her career, from inMotion Table Tennis.

China Table Tennis Facing 'Unprecedented Threat' at Olympics
Here's the article from Yahoo Sports. "China have won 28 of 32 table tennis gold medals awarded at the Olympics, but their supremacy could face its biggest test yet in Tokyo this summer." "Home advantage for fierce rivals Japan, inconsistent form among China's top players and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic suggest the world's most populous country might not have it all their own way when the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics start in just over two months."

Four-Year-Old Talent in Chengdu Practices Table Tennis Blindfolded
Here's the article and video (2:22) from ecns.cn - but the key thing to note here isn't when he does the blindfold thing, but that he's playing on a raised platform, allowing him to start at a much younger age than most kids, who usually aren't tall enough to play on a normal-sized table until they are at least five or six years old.

Catching Up with Michael Godfreys: Swinging for the Games
Here's the article from Pro Rodeo, on this former pro bronc and bull rider's journey to wheelchair table tennis.

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

Stashka - Dreams in One Ball
Here's the table tennis music video (3:23).

My Lucky Ping-Pong Shirt (Do Not Wash)
Here's where you can buy this at Amazon!

Funny Table Tennis Fight Anime Style VFX
Here's the video (2:45)!

Actin'Funny
These are somewhat funny as three kids battle it out in what is the very definition of basement ping pong.

Jan-Ove Waldner Imitates Liu Guoliang
Here's the video (20 sec). I'm guessing some will find his facial expressions offensive, but the movements are dead-on, with only a bit of exaggeration. Waldner and Liu were huge rivals in the 1990s, and Liu is now the head coach for China.

Kangaroo Pong
There is a serious shortage of kangaroo table tennis pictures or videos. This is all I could find. I'm very disappointed.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Patient Decisiveness.

The Subconscious and Table Tennis
One of the hardest things to convince up-and-coming players to do is to just let go, and let their training take over. What that really means is letting your subconscious do what it was trained to do.

Your brain has about 90 billion neurons. On average, each connects to 7,000 others, for a total of roughly 70 trillion connections. Nearly all of that is your subconscious. If I say, "Who was the first US president?", those neurons immediately cough up George Washington. When you tie your shoe, you don't consciously think about each movement - the movements are stored in your subconscious, ready to be brought up on command by your conscious mind.

Similarly, every time you train at table tennis, those neurons are making connections as they learn what they are supposed to do. Once they learn, they are pretty good doing it, as long as you don't interfere. Who is the "you"? That's the conscious mind, which doesn't have all these neurons that instantly do things the way they are taught. Once you bring the conscious mind into it, you start a fight as your conscious mind tries to take control of a process it isn't well trained at, while the subconscious is trying to do what it is well trained at. Here are some examples.

When I teach the forehand, I'll often set up a filled water bottle on the far side of the table. Then I'll systematically grab balls and, from across the table, smack ball after ball into it, almost never missing, the whole time giving a lecture on the stroke. The key thing is that I can only do this if I do not aim at the water bottle - at least not consciously. All I have to do is decide to hit the bottle, and watch it, and the subconscious takes over - and it's really good! I get all the credit, when all I (the conscious me) is doing is watching the bottle and trying hard to do nothing, while the subconscious, which is smacking the bottle over and over, gets no credit. I almost feel guilty! The key I try to get across to students is that you first learn the stroke, which means training the subconscious. And then you let go, and let it take over.

Another example is my serve. For 45 years I've had this habit as I'm about to serve of pulling my racket arm back and then forward. If I don't do that, I lose most of the control and precision on my serves. But as soon as I bring my arm back and forward, the subconscious part of my brain that has learned to serve lights up, and the rest is easy - I decide what serve to do, visualize what I want it to  do, and then just watch it happen.

I used to play tennis. Because of table tennis, I have very good placement. If I see an opening, my subconscious jumps on it, and I smack the ball there. But I made a bad discovery - when I go to the net to volley, whatever part of my subconscious that controls this doesn't turn on! It was frustrating for at time - I felt like an amateur. Then I made good discovery - when I do a swinging volley, that part of my subconscious immediately turned on, and once again I had great placement! What I realized is that, after all these decades of table tennis, it was my backswing on any given shot that alerted my subconscious that I was about to hit a shot, and could it please find the best spot to aim for? Normally, when volleying in tennis, you don't backswing - you often don't have time, and it's harder to control. But for me, except on pure reflex volleys, I started to use swinging volleys all the time, which drove my coaches crazy, but worked for me.

Many years ago I learned about the power of the subconscious in a completely non-table tennis way. Circa 1983, the famous math puzzlist Martin Gardner posed a challenge to college math students in the US - five different math problems where you had to find an algorithm that could be put into a computer to solve the problem. If I remember correctly, two were soon solved by students at MIT and Caltech. Three remained unsolved. I believe I was a sophomore math major at University of Maryland when I took a class from Dr. Harold Reiter, a visiting professor from University of North Carolina. (I was so active in local table tennis I didn't apply for any other colleges than U of M, five minutes' drive from my parent's house where I grew up.) He told the class that if anyone wanted, they could join a research group that was trying to solve the remaining Gardner problems. He promised three things: 1) You will learn a lot about math research; 2) there was roughly a 0% chance of us solving the problem; and 3) if anyone solved any of the problems, they'd get an automatic A for the course.

I signed up and spent a lot of time going over one of the problems. Nothing really came to mind. Then, one night (or rather morning), at 2AM, I literally sat up in bed - the entire solution had just popped into my head! I had no idea where it came from; when questioned about it, I was unable to explain the step-by-step process that got to the solution. I just know that at 8AM, when Dr. Reiter came in, I was at his office door, probably slurring my words and talking 500 mph, yelling, "I solved it! I solved it!" (I had a printout from the computer with the solution from my algorithm.) I got the automatic A. The article with the solution (by myself and Dr. Reiter) was published a few years later (these things take time!) in a math journal, the Spring, 1986 issue of Mathematics and Computer Science Education. (The article was titled, "Magic Rectangles Revisited," since they had done a previous article on a similar topic.)

Where did the solution come from? While my conscious mind was inputting the needed info to solve the problem, my subconscious had been hard at work. I had no clue until the entire solution just popped into my head! But just as you must training your subconscious in table tennis, I had to first spend a lot of time studying the problem, so the subconcious had what was needed to solve the problem. (Alas, little of this is online - there was no public Internet back then. But I have a copy of the math journal.)

So it's no different than table tennis. Train your subconscious - that's why you do table tennis drills and perhaps work with a coach - and then let it go to work! 

Weekend Coaching
As usual, Sunday was my busy day - I'm at the club from 11AM to 7:30PM. Things started with the Group 3 session, with players up to about 1200 level. I alternated between being a roving coach and being a practice partner for some of the kids. I put a lot of them through the usual footwork drills.

After a quick lunch, that was followed by a session with Navin Kumar. (As mentioned before, I'm retired from private coaching, but made an exception for Navin.) Here are two videos:

  • Backhands (30 sec, backhands, a shot off the face, and a forehand smash)
  • More Backhands (22 sec, where he blocks with the pips and then switches to inverted to smash)

Next up was a sports psychology session with one of our players, where we focused on specific issues from the recent tournament in Cary, NC, and on specific situations.

Next up was the Group 2 session (players up to about 2000), where I acted as a practice partner for one hour. The first half were lots of footwork drills, where I blocked side to side. The second half was mostly the player serving backspin, I push to a specific spot, they loop, and play out the point. I worked with several players on improving their opening and follow-up loop, including one who too often just rolled the ball, guiding the shot instead of just letting the shot go.

Next up was the weekly circus, or rather, the Group of Five, or rather the five girls, all ages 7-8. Most coaches are terrorized by such a group, but I know the secret - I constantly banter with them, keep it interesting, and that holds their attention. Plus, of course, regular water breaks so they can do selfies. We always do an hour of practice and then 30 minutes of games. For the games, I started off by setting the robot at full speed, both velocity and feed speed, and let them take turns trying to return it. Surprisingly, they all got the hang of it! Then, as always, we finished with cups - they built the usual pyramids, walls, and forts, and then they knocked them down as I fed multiball. One small change - I brought in "Draggy the Dragon" a stuffed dragon that's about the size of a toaster. Besides using it for target practice while on the robot, they built a fort around him with the cups. At the end, after all the cups had been knocked down and all that was left was Draggy, I stuck a ping-pong ball - a nuclear bomb - under one of his arms and gave them sixty seconds to knock it off before it exploded. Took them 42 seconds, so we were saved from desolation by 18 seconds.

USATT Coaches Meeting
Here's the video (48 min) of the meeting this past Friday. (They meet every Friday at noon eastern time, run by USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill - info is posted in advance each week at the USA Table Tennis Coaches Facebook Page.) This week's main topic was "Keeping it fun!" I shared the picture at the top of the MDTTC Group Classes page as an example. I have the kids create huge pyramids and walls of paper cups, and then, as I feed multiball, they take turns knocking it down! (See all those open mouths!) I may do a video later, but I'm a little leery as I'm told I should get permission from all the parents of all the kids in the video, and that's quite a hassle.

California Recall Election
C'mon, people - if there's going to be a recall election and it only takes $4000 and 75 signatures to get on the ballot, we need someone to run on a Table Tennis Platform! The publicity from that stunt would be well worth the $4000!

The Lost Legend And Secret Legacy Of Table Tennis Master Rong Guotuan
Here's the article. Rong Guotuan was the 1959 World Men's Singles Champion - China's first world table tennis champion - and coach of the 1965 Chinese Women's Team that won the Worlds for the first time. But it ended in tragedy during the Cultural Revolution, ending with his suicide. His story is featured in one chapter of my 100-page table tennis fantasy novel, The Spirit of Pong. (You can read the first two chapters - 17 pages - for free.)

USATT Weekly Pongcast Ep 5
Here's the video (13:43) where USATT COO Mark Thompson and HPD Sean O'Neill talk RQT, Hall of Fame Cup, and more.

Para Table Tennis Coaching
Here's the ITTF info page and registration page. It takes place at 7AM Eastern time (yes, 4AM Pacific time) on Tuesday, May 19 - that's tomorrow. "Join us for our webinar on “Para Table Tennis Coaching”. We will be joined by panelists Alois Rosario (AUS), Gorazd Vecko (ENG) and Ela Madejska (GER)."

New from Brian Pace

New from Samson Dubina

Have You Discovered the Benefits of Mindfulness Techniques Yet?
Here's the article by Dora Kurimay.

Half-Long Ball - Effective Backhand and Forehand Topspin Off a Backspin Ball
Here's the video (42 sec) from Eli Baraty.

Serve Position in Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:46) with Truls Moregard (SWE, world #102, #18 in 2019) from PingPonged TV.

Seth Pech vs Martin Jezo 2021 Presper Financial Architects Open Quarterfinals
Here's the video (7:50) with point-by-point analysis from Seth.

Defensive Specialist – Drill #4
Here's the video (1:37) from Rachel Yang.

USATT 1300 Table Tennis VOD Review - Feeding Your Opponent!
Here's the video (34 min) from Louis Levene as he coaches a 1300 player, with commentary.

New from Ti Long

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
(Some of the videos are repeats from the articles.)

Taking Aim at the Georgia Games
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

My Table Tennis Journey
Here's the article by Aabid Sheikh from Massachusetts.

New from Steve Hopkins

2021 Butterfly Sandhills Open Tournament Summary
Here's the article and video by Tony Murnahan.

New from the ITTF

Final Point in Under 2650 Final
Here's the video (16 sec) between Jishan Liang (far side) and Jeremy Hazin (CAN) from the $5000 Barbara Wurster Memorial Open in Akron, OH this past weekend. Why do the best points so often come at the end of a match?

The Best Table Tennis Rally You'll See All Week
Here's the video (38 sec).

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

Amateur vs. Semi-Pro
Here's the video (11:35) from Adam Bobrow. "Josiah is way better than most people and in table tennis there are so many levels. When you discover spin the game completely changes."

Funny Table Tennis with Syrian Woman, Loop vs. Block, and Some Multiball
Here's the video (64 sec)!

Zhang Jike VS Ren Jialun on Entertainment Show
Here's the video (9 min) - it's in Chinese but you can pretty much see what's going on.

World's Longest Ping Pong Shot? Pongfinity vs. XOLAY Challenge
Here's the video (4:42)!

Extremely Hard Ping Pong
Here's the video (11:29) from Pongfinity! "We drilled a table full of holes and tried playing a table tennis match on it"!

1 VS 4 Tennis Challenge Blind Fold
Here's the video (7 sec)!

Your Serve
Here's the cartoon! (Choo-choo pong?)

Cheater!
Here's the cartoon!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

 

Tip of the Week
How to Play a Player Who Attacks With Long Pips.

Eastern Regionals in New Jersey
I coached at the Eastern Regional Qualifier this past Saturday at the Lily Yip Table Tennis Center in Dunellen, New Jersey. As usual, Judy Hugh ran a great tournament, with everything on time in a very nice facility. I've been there many times before, including coaching at a two-week USATT Elite Camp, for a week-long ITTF Coaches Camp, and a number of tournaments.

I went up with Manager/Driver/Dad Ron Klinger (3.5 hour drive), along with Todd Klinger and Christian Funderberg. While there I had a tricky balancing act as I was coaching Todd and Christian, as well as Rachel and Jeremy Ku. One little problem I also faced is that the LYTTC has two floors. This is fine for players, who go to the floor where they play and play their RR. But since I was continuously jumping from match to match, it meant I was going up and down the stairs quite a bit! I ended up hurting my right knee, though it's not too bad. But I was limping a bit on Sunday.

As usual, I could write a book on the tactical and mental aspects of the tournament, but here are some interesting ones. In two matches against opponents with very good forehands the main tactic was simple - return every serve to the extremely wide backhand - or, as I kept reminding the player, WIDER!!! This mostly took out the server's forehand. The key to another match was big breaking serves into the wide backhand. In another, it was deep, dead serves. In another, against a player with long pips, it was patience until you find the right shot. In another, it was to stay at the table. I regularly remind the players never to start a point until they are completely ready. A key part of many matches was deciding the best place to attack, and there are generally seven possibilities:

  1. Go after middle
  2. Go after wide forehand
  3. Go after wide backhand
  4. Go after middle and wide forehand
  5. Go after middle and wide backhand
  6. Go after extreme corners
  7. Go after all three spots - wide forehand, wide backhand, middle

Todd, a bit underrated at 1816, had some crazy results. In the Under 2000 round robin, he played players rated about 1860, 1650, and 1600. In all three he won the first two games, often easily. In all three he lost the next two games. He won all three matches in five. He likes to make things exciting. I think this is a first - in 45 years of table tennis, I don't think I've ever seen someone win the first two in all three matches in a preliminary and end up winning all three in five.

Christian learned the value of fighting for every game. In his Under 2000 group, he only lost one match - but he lost it 0-3. When that player lost to another player, it became a three-way tie, and he came in third, with two advancing. That's painful! (Okay, not as painful as a player in a tournament I once ran, who literally lost by, if I remember correctly, 1/65th of a point. He was in a three-way tie that went to points, and he came in third, with two advancing. As I worked out mathematically and showed him, he would have advanced if he'd scored one more point in any of the two key matches - and, in fact, really only needed 1/65th of a point to advance!!! Yeah, every point counts.)

Todd's results weren't my only first. The Klingers took me to a place called Peruvian restaurant and introduced me to Peruvian Chicken and Inca Kola. Both are delicious. I'm now addicted to Inca Kola. (It tastes like a cross between Dr Pepper and Coke, with a touch of some fruity flavor.)

Just before the tournament, Jeremy, age eight, had ten days of fame. He had played his first tournament two weeks before, also run by Judy Hugh. His playing level was probably about 1000 to 1200, and his results showed about that level. However, due to some rating mistake, he came out listed as 1601!!! Result - for ten days, he was #1 in the US in Under Nine and #2 in Under Ten! For the rest of his life he can claim he was the top ranked eight-year-old in the US. Alas, a few days before the tournament his rating was adjusted to a more realistic 1200. But he'll be back to 1601 within a year - just watch!

Weekend Coaching
I returned from coaching at the Eastern Regionals a few minutes after midnight on Saturday night (so technically Sunday morning). Then I was back at the club on Sunday from 11AM to 7:30PM.

First was the Group Three session of our junior program, 90 minutes, with 11 kids, which I run with Lidney Castro. I spent the first third rotating the kids around, where I'd hit with one (footwork drills), another one would be on the robot, and another picking up balls. The second third was similar, but now we went into multiball, mostly working on looping. The last third was up-down tables, where they played games with various rules, such as only serve to the backhand or only serve backspin. This allows them to hone their skills in rallies that start this way, both for the server and receiver.

Next up was a one-hour session with Navin Kumar. He'd has to miss several sessions recently for various medical reasons.

Next up was a 50-minute sports psychology and serving session with Kurtus & Stanley Hsu. This was our second meeting. We went over some of what we'd covered previously, and some of their matches at their recent tournaments. Then we went into various other techniques.

Next up was the Group Two session of our junior program, 90 minutes. I acted as a practice partner for much of this session, blocking for others in various drills. I also did some roving coaching.

Last session was the Group Four session of our junior program, 90 minutes. This one has five girls, all ages 7-8, and all intensely improving at table tennis and all intensively insane. We always have a lot of fun in this session. We started with a number of ball-bouncing drills - I keep challenging them to more advanced versions - and then we went to serve practice. Then we did a couple of circuits where they rotate between me, the robot, and ball pickup. As usual at the end, they do not run, they sprint to where we keep the plastic cups so they can create large walls and pyramids, and then knock them down as I feed multiball. I've been having them do it with their forehands; next week I'm going to challenge them to do it with their backhands.  

USATT Coaches Meeting
As usual, we had our Friday Zoom meeting at noon eastern time. Here's the video (59 min). Alas, I had to leave at 12:25 to go coach at the Eastern Regional Championships in New Jersey, so only made the first half. The primary discussion this week was the use of table tennis robots in coaching.

I pointed out that many years ago I wrote about the three Holy Grails of table tennis robots: 1) Robots that could allow you to do standard table tennis drills, such as side-to-side footwork; 2) Robots that could mimic standard rallies, such as a backspin ball followed by perhaps two quick topspins, to pre-set or random locations; and 3) Robots that hit the ball out to you with an actual table tennis racket, mimicking real table tennis strokes, so that you could practice reacting to a ball hit as it is actually done in a game. Modern smart robots now do the first two. There are robots I think in China that can do the third, though in a somewhat primitive way, but they are not yet on the market that I know of, at least in the US or at an affordable price.

The other problem with modern table tennis robots is that you seem to have two choices. You can get an inexpensive one that basically hits the ball to you with topspin or backspin to one spot (or perhaps can move side to side, shooting out balls to essentially random locations), but have very simple controls; or you can get a modern smart robot that can do almost anything, but takes a while to learn. When we got the latter at my club, we found ourselves spending way too much time explaining how to use it for new players. The simple ones are limited, but you can explain their use in about 30 seconds. What's needed is a hybrid that is a smart robot, but with a "Beginner" mode that you can switch to can be explained in at most 60 seconds. The latter would only hit to one spot with one spin, with hopefully at least one built-in side-to-side drill.

US Hall of Famer Errol Resek Loses Cancer Battle
Here's the USATT article. He was both a Hall of Famer and one of the last surviving members of the 1971 US Ping-Pong Diplomacy Team that went to China. I didn't really know him that well. However, I had a memorable first meeting with him. I think it was in 1977, when I was 17 and rated only about 1700, that I first met him when I had to play him at the New Jersey Open at Westfield. In the very first point of the match, I served short to his forehand. He reached in to flip crosscourt, and I moved to cover my wide forehand. Just before he hit the ball, he tilted his wrist back and flipped it down the line to my backhand instead, acing me with just a medium-speed shot. I was practically open-mouthed - I'd never seen that shot before. I lost the match (of course), but immediately began working on that shot, with the result that I developed a really good forehand flip - either aggressively crosscourt, or deceptively down the line, as he had done. (It also taught me the value of deception and placement.) That one shot of his practically changed my table tennis career, both in sponge and in hardbat, where I'd later use that shot to win lots of titles, especially doubles where I could flip in winner after winner. All because of that one memorable shot he did in the first point we ever played.

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Eli Baraty

New from Ti Long

Seth Pech vs Sid Naresh $10,000 Invitational
Here's the video (6:15) with Seth's excellent point-by-point analysis.

7 Tips to Get Back into Your Table Tennis Groove
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

The Backhand Loop Against Underspin
Here's the video (72 sec), from Pingispågarna, in Swedish but with English subtitles.

How to Be Fast in Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:36). "You want to be faster at the table? Take a listen to Marie Migot from France. She is one of the fastest players on the world tour!"

Getting All Your Table Tennis Ducks In A Row
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Chinese Olympic Trials
Here are videos of all the big matches, from ttlondon2012. Here's coverage by Edges and Nets.

Champion of the 2021 Chinese Trials! | BEST OF ZHOU Qihao
Here's the video (10:18).

Ma Long and Hou Yingchao Interview After Facing Each Other
Here's the video (1:22), in Chinese but with English subtitles. Here's video (5:34) of their match at the Chinese Olympic Trials. Ma is the reigning world champion; Hou is just another of hordes of unranked Chinese super-players.

Automated Table Tennis Video Editing
Here's BetterPlay.ai. "This service allows you to automatically edit your TT videos to cut the time between points. You upload video of a table tennis match and it will create a video with all the time between points taken out (you can choose how many seconds before and after the serve). The AI works very well already and is able to handle many types of angles, play levels and video quality. WTT and some of the most prominent YouTubers are already using it. This can be an invaluable tool for coaching, as it can help you and your coach analyze matches a lot more efficiently. It's currently a free service anyone can use it and the more it's used the better it gets."

Ping-Pong Playing Robot Proves AI-Driven Machines Can Sense Human Emotion
Here's the article from TechRepublic. "Today on BMF we are checking out some Table Tennis Oculus Quest gameplay with Eleven Table Tennis VR on the Oculus Quest."

How a Ping-Pong Game Helped End the Cold War
Here's the article from Upworthy.com.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the ITTF

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

World Championship Videos from the 1950s
Günther Angenendt put up links to a number of them all last week on his Facebook page. They are in German, but you might find them interesting if you are of the historically-minded.

365 Days of Training
Here's the video (14 sec) from Kanak Jha about the upcoming Olympics and Stupa Analytics.

Now THIS Is Table Tennis On The Oculus Quest | Eleven Table Tennis VR
Here's the video (10:40)!

Ping Pong Paddle Used by Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump Sells for More Than $25,000
Here's the article and video (38 sec). But now, due to my investigative journalism, the truth is coming out - Forrest Gump is a Cheater!!! The article has a picture of the racket. Here is a closeup. Notice that the label at the bottom of the sponge has been cut off? Yes, Forrest Cheats!!! From the ITTF Handbook:

3.2.1.3 Any ordinary pimpled rubber or sandwich rubber covering the racket shall be currently authorised by the ITTF and shall be attached to the blade so that the ITTF logo, the ITTF number (when present), the supplier and brand names are clearly visible nearest the handle.

Table Tennis Rollercoaster | Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (5:20) from XOLAY!

Pongfinity Extras
Here's the video (2:40)!

***
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Tip of the Week
Team Lineup Strategies.

Weekend Coaching
On Sundays, I did sports psychology sessions with four of our junior players. The sessions range from 45-60 minutes, which usually include up to ten minutes of serve practice at the end. Two of them were first timers; the other two were follow-ups. I generally meet with each of them three times, and then after that play it by ear, but perhaps review sessions before major tournaments. I am running into "session creep" - I keep thinking of more examples and other things to add to the sessions, and so they get longer. So I'm going to move some of those to follow-up sessions.

One of my group sessions on Sundays is a group of five girls, all 7-8 years old, that meet for 90 minutes every Sunday at 5:30PM. They are improving fast! I think all are also signed up for private coaching, but it is the group sessions that they really look forward to. The first hour is practice, then we do 30 minutes of games. But I keep the practice part fun. For example, I usually rotate them around, and often have two taking turns on the robot. For that, I put Froggy on the table as a target, and warn them to NEVER hit the poor frog. Of course, they take great joy then in pelting it. I also have a ping-pong ball with a picture of a cat on it, and sometimes I'll balance that on Froggy's head, and warn them not to hurt poor Kitty, with the expected result. I regularly bring in different targets for them. (Meanwhile, they are developing their forehand technique, consistency, and accuracy.) For serve practice, I no longer have to bring out the two serving low devices - they clamor for them, and bring them out themselves. One is the serving bar (here set high for beginners, but usually set much lower) created by John Olsen. The other was the TT-Serve created and sold by Samson Dubina. I challenge them to serve under the bar/serving net and hit a target, and they take to the challenge - while developing low, accurate serves.

Their favorite game is always "Cups" - they build pyramids and walls of paper cups, often building a "fort" around Froggy, and then, while I feed multiball (usually two shots each, taking turns), they knock it down! Another game I introduced them to is the Serving Game. If there are five, then four of them stand on one end of the table, without their rackets. I put a paper cup in front of each, about a foot from the edge - but they can't touch that. The fifth player gets to do ten serves, where they serve fast and deep. If they can serve so the other four can't catch the ball (so the ball hits the floor), they get a point. If the ball hits one of the cups and then the floor, they get three points!

They had another fun thing to do this past Sunday - one of them had a smart phone where she could take pictures of me, and then write doodles and other nasty stuff on my picture. I'm pretty sure I don't have a nose that goes down to my stomach and those tattoos they put on me are fake. Every break they got together for another selfie. Yes, we also did table tennis.

The scary thing is it looks like all five may sign up for our summer camps, and I've already been asked if I could take charge of them. Five little girls, once a week - survivable. Five little girls, 3-6 hours/day? AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! (Just kidding - I'll survive. Probably.)  

On a related note, I'm vaccinated! So should you.

USATT Coaches Meeting, Goals, and Sports Psychology
We had our weekly USATT coaches meeting this past Friday at noon eastern time. (These are open to all coaches - info is posted each week on the US Table Tennis Coaches Facebook Page.) Here's the video (59 min). The primary discussion was about sports psychology - specifically on goal setting, recall, rehearsal, and affirmations, plus a few other tangents on related topics. Attending were Larry Hodges (me, a member of the USATT Coaching Committee), Sean O'Neill (USATT High Performance Director), Jasna Rather (USATT Director of Para Programs), Dave Fullen (member of the USATT Coaching Committee), Daniel Rutenberg (member of Para High Performance Committee), Britt Salter, and Samson Dubina.

Regarding goals, it's common for coaches to recommend short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals, and these are important. Note that these goals can be about achieving specific results, but they can also be about attaining various levels of proficiency in specific techniques. (For example, until I was 1900 I was primarily a hitter; my long-term goal at that point was to break 2000 as a looper.) However, I've found I've needed to add a fourth - super-long-term goals. What do these four terms roughly mean?

  • Short-term goals: What you want to achieve in the very near future, usually in the next 1-4 weeks.
  • Intermediate-term goals: Usually your next major tournament, perhaps 1-6 months away.
  • Long-term goals: A major event you are training for that's perhaps a year or more away.
  • Super-long-term goals: What you want to be at your peak - an Olympian, National Champion, State Champion, Club Champion, Rating Over 2000, etc.

How do you get good at sports psychology? In my case, it's from:

How To Defeat Your Table Tennis Nemesis
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Gameplay Exercise With Yu Di
Here's the article and video (3:09) from Yu Di.

How To Handle Balls To The Middle
Here's the video (1:47) from Huijing Wang.

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Swerve Table Tennis Zoom Fitness: Shadow Play and Reaction Training Sessions
Here's the Facebook info page, and here's video (1:44) of one of their sessions with Stevie Brunskill. They meet each week on Wednesdays at 6:30PM English time, which is 1:30 PM Eastern Time in the US. (The other well-known table tennis aerobics site is Aerobics Table Tennis.)

How to Watch the China Olympic Scrimmage
Here's the article from Edges and Nets. "The China Olympic Scrimmage has begun and will finish on May 7. It likely has major implications for which one of Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong (assuming Ma Long is a lock) play in the Olympic men’s singles event, and who out of Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, Wang Manyu, and Liu Shiwen play in the women’s singles and team events. May 3 and 4 are the group stages, in which the star players will not play each other."

UPDATE: You can see many of the Chinese Olympic Trials matches here

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the ITTF

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Westchester Table Tennis Club
Here's the video (3:44) - not sure if it's a newscast or promotional, but it's pretty well done.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs Kay Stumper | MS-QF | 2021 Düsseldorf Masters IV
Here's the video (10:23).

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

Pyramid Pong
Here's the picture of the famed armless Egyptian Ibrahim Hamato playing in front of the Great Pyramids. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) It's almost like the cover of my book, Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper! Yeah, that's me on the colorful camel (named "Michael Jackson"), taking a camel trip around the Great Pyramid - that's not Photoshopped. 

Ping-Pong Diplomacy
Here's the cartoon!

Unluckiest Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (4 min)!

Top 10 Pongponita Crazy Shots
Here's the video (5:46)!

Amazing Ping Pong Trick Shots With Ole
Here's the video (3:52) from XOLAY!

Pongfinity Ball With 100 Holes
Here's the video (5 min)!

Non-Table Tennis - Nanogod
The May/June issue of Dark Matter Magazine is out - and it includes my humorous science fiction story, "Nanogod"! What happens when a microscopic nanobot is damaged and becomes an egomaniac, and travels from star to star forcing civilizations to worship it and build huge monuments in its honor - including the Great Pyramids 4600 years ago! And now it's returned to earth! (You have to subscribe to read it. Alas, no table tennis in this one.) "The alien ship landed in early morning sunshine on the grounds of the United Nations Building in New York City, the de facto capital of Earth. It had been nearly forty-six centuries since its last visit, back when the Great Pyramid of Giza had been completed in 2560 BC, accompanied by the unfurling of a "Mission Accomplished" banner made of papyrus. The banner had long been lost to the mists of time. The Great Pyramid had been the tallest man-made structure in the world for nearly 4,000 years after its creation. Modern humans erroneously believed it was created as a tomb and monument to the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Cheops. Actually, the Pharaoh only commandeered it after the fact. The true creator had returned."

***
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Tip of the Week
Looping a Push is Not Going for a Shot.

Three Things Table Tennis Can Learn from Nomadland and the Oscars
I'm a movie buff. I sometimes go several years in a row where I see over 100 movies at the theater - yes, two per week, with a Dr Pepper and small popcorn. Before they closed down due to the pandemic, they were my primary source of throwing away hard-earned money.

Last week I saw Nomadland, which won Best Picture at the Oscars last night. My thoughts on this movie? I had always thought that to be the best picture of the year, a movie shouldn't be boring. It shouldn't be nearly two hours of mundane activities, mostly by amateur actors, and all this allowed because it is a "character movie." ("The Trial of the Chicago 7" should have won.) Here are three things the world of table tennis should learn from this.

  1. Boring is Good. Nomadland got rave reviews from those who were able to stay awake for the nearly two hours of mundane activities. For now on, table tennis tournaments will be limited to backspin play only, with no expedite. No more smashing, looping, or counter-hitting, no more attack vs. defense, only pushing duels allowed. The ultimate highlights reel will be a two-hour pushing duel.
  2. Expertise is Not Needed. The main professional actor in Nomadland was Frances McDormand. There were many supporting actors, but only one of them (David Strathairn) was a professional. The supporting actors even went by their real names. And yet, these amateurs got rave reviews, showing that expertise is not needed. Table tennis should learn from that. From now on, teams at the World Table Tennis Championships can only have one professional. The rest of the team will be chosen from people randomly found in the countryside, with one simple question to filter them out: "Have you ever played table tennis before?" If the answer is yes, they are disqualified. China has the top three men in the world and six of the seven top women, but they will have to choose one of each and send the rest home. USA will send Kanak Jha and Lily Zhang, and the rest of the team will be chosen from some random bar that has no ping-pong table.
  3. Tactics Are Not Needed. Nomadland was nearly two hours of random activities. If that's all that's needed to make a great movie, why do we need tactics to play high-level table tennis? Instead, all play will be random, with no thought to any type of strategy.

Weekend Coaching and Sports Psychology
I had two group junior training sessions on Sunday. I did a lot of multiball where I had one player forehand loop while another player blocked the loop, and repeat. Halfway through I had them play out the points, crosscourt only. The bigger highlights of the weekend were two sports psychology sessions with two of our top junior players, where we went over their matches at the Butterfly Invitational last weekend in Cary, NC, and re-enforced some of the sports psychology techniques we'd been working on. As usual, I ended the sessions with serve practice. I'm working with one of them on what I call the three "Holy Grails" of deep serves - big breaking serves to the backhand that spin away from the receiver; fast no-spin at the elbow; and fast down-the-line where you disguise the direction right up until contact.

My "pet" topics in coaching are serve, receive, tactics, and now sports psychology. (I'm also pretty good at teaching the foundation to beginning kids while keeping it fun.) Why is sports psychology so important? If you are just slightly nervous or tense and it throws you off just 1% - well, 1% off in table tennis often means a 100% miss.

I have five more sports psychology sessions this next week with five of our junior players. (I'm now working with eight of them.) I do have to prepare for each session - probably ten minutes outlining what we'll go over. But first sessions are now easy as I know exactly what we'll cover. Follow-up sessions take more preparation. For example, to prep for one of the sessions on Sunday, I watched video of two matches in Cary by one of the players.

I use Dora Kurimay's "Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros" as a text. However, I am planning this week to reread "The Inner Game of Tennis" - the classic book on sport psychology, which uses tennis as an example but is for all sports, and is the most-read and most-recommended book on sports psychology. Soon I will introduce it to some of our junior players.

Periodic Reminder About My Books
Since you, as a table tennis person, is way, Way, WAY above average in intelligence, and of course you read a LOT (you are smart, right?), this is my periodic reminder to support this poor, starving table tennis writer by buying my books!!!

On Tuesday, I'll Be Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank Ma Long Almighty, I Will Be Free at Last!
Yes, tomorrow at 11:45 AM I get the second Pfizer vaccine.

The Original European Table Tennis Union
Q: What ancient Roman first named the European Table Tennis Union?
A: Julius Caesar, who said to Brutus as he was being stabbed to death, "Et tu?"
(You may tar and ping-pong ball me at your leisure. Yeah, I made this up.)

Houston World Championships in November 2021 and Chengdu 2022
Here's an article from Sports Travel Magazine. "The event is currently being planned without spectators and will follow strict COVID-19 protocols for participants. All events will be held at the convention center, with the finals staged in the venue's General Assembly Theater."

Hopefully, they will find a way to allow spectators. Otherwise:

  • If you run the Worlds in the US and nobody sees it, was it actually run?
  • If you run the Worlds and we see no points, was it pointless?

As noted in my blog last week, since the Worlds in Houston coincide with the Teams in Maryland, and I'm committed to coaching our kids at the latter, I will likely be missing the Worlds this year. However, I'm now planning on attending the 2022 Worlds in Chengdu, China. It hasn't been scheduled yet, but will likely be in April or May of 2022. (I may volunteer to do some writeups.) Immediately afterwards I'm going to take two tours - one of the Shanghai region of China, and then one of Japan. I went to the 2001 Worlds in Osaka, Japan, but basically saw the hotel, the huge gym, and the walk between. I only got to spend a few hours randomly walking the streets of Osaka. In 2005, I attended the Worlds in Shanghai, and again, mostly saw the hotel, gym, and the walk between. Immediately afterwards I took a bullet train to Beijing, where I had a memorable three-day tour of that region (with Tom Nguyen and Alan Williams, arranged by Richard Lee), which included The Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Tiananmen Square. Now I'm hoping to go back and tour the Shanghai region and Japan.

USATT Coaches' Catch-up - 04/23/21
Here's the video (one hour). As always, we met on Friday at noon eastern time. High Performance Director Sean O'Neill questioned me extensively about the sports psychology sessions I'm running at MDTTC, so I spoke at length about that.

Forehand Topspin Fan Zhendong
Here's the video (4:40) from the Performance Biomechanics Table Tennis Academy. "Biomechanics is the science of movement of a living body, including how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement. Biomechanics is part of the larger field of kinesiology, specifically focusing on the mechanics of the movement. Today, Today it is a tool, to decipher the best of each table tennis player."

Learn and Improve the Basic Backspin Serve
Here's the article and video (13:36) from Matt Hetherington.

New from Dora Kurimay

New from Edges and Nets

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

Seth Pech vs Hector Berrios 2021 Presper Financial Architects Open
Here's the video (9:17) with Seth's point-by-point analysis.

The Under-Used, Under-Valued "Strawberry" or "Reverse Banana" Shot
Here's the video (63 sec).

5min Basic Table Tennis Shadow Practice
Here's the video (4:10) from Ultimate Table Tennis.

A Different Path to Better Serves
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "I've practiced serves for years. They have gotten better, but not as much as I would have hoped. When I do practice, I almost always gain new insights into serving; but the overall quality (speed and spin) rarely improves. I’ve read about serving and watched videos. Nothing seemed to help. I was just about to concede that there might not be any improvement in my future. But, I may have stumbled onto a different approach that shows real promise."

Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Racket
Here's the article from EmRatThich/PingSunday. I agree with most of these. The only one I'm hesitant about is "Never choose a too-soft rubber," which also says, "If you want to improve fast, choose the hardest rubber that you can manage to hit. The harder you choose, the faster you improve. Chinese kids always play with hard rubbers." My club is full of Chinese coaches and Chinese kids, and few use really hard sponges. Using a softer sponge often makes it easier to learn to loop. I may talk to some of the Chinese coaches about this one.

More from EmRatThich/PingSunday

Table Tennis Participation Report 2020
Here's the preview.

  • In 2019, there were 14,908,000 total Table Tennis participants 
  • 4.92% of the total U.S population aged 6 or older played Table Tennis in 2019
  • 2.8% of core participants were between the ages of 13 to 17

NCTTA Internships - Available for Summer 2021
Here's the info page. "Wondering how you’re supposed to get experience when you need experience to get an internship? Do you want to gain real-world skills while helping your favorite sport? Or are you perhaps even frustrated with aspects of NCTTA and want to change things? Apply to our one of summer intern roles! We are offering internships in technology, media, marketing, and grassroots."

New from USA Table Tennis

New from Steve Hopkins

Ping Pong in the Parks?
Here's the article from the Sun Times in Dexter, Michigan. "Dexter residents Jim and Lori Sprague have come up with a fun idea to encourage them to get outside, get moving in a low-impact way, and socialize in a socially distant way. The couple has taken the concept of outdoor Ping Pong that has been successfully implemented in other cities and presented the idea to the Dexter City Council at its April 12 meeting."

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Turning the Tables: Why the ITTF Believes World Table Tennis Will Revolutionise the Sport
Here's the article from Pro Sports Media. "Despite being played in hotel lobbies, WeWork offices and underground bars around the world, table tennis has until now struggled to gain a regular foothold outside of Asia. But with a new commercial model and revamped event structure in place, the International Table Tennis Federation believes the sport is finally in a position to realise its global potential."

New from the ITTF
They have a of new items, so why not browse their news page, and video page ("World Table Tennis"), along with their home page.

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

Jorgen Persson's Top Shots - Birthday Showreel
Here's the video (3:48) of the 1991 World Men's Singles Champion.

Table Tennis Star's Alleged Illicit Romance Bouncing All Over Asia
I really don't want this blog to turn into a gossip column about top player romances . . . but, through gritted teeth, here's the article from Japan Today, about Ai Fukuhara and Chiang Hung-chieh.

Crazy Pong - Do You Have This Ball Control?
Here's the video (1:22)!

Fight Club Table Tennis
Here's the video (10:56) from Adam Bobrow! The muscle-bound guy he plays, Jayden Wang, is a body-builder and looks about 2100.

Missed Shots in Table Tennis: Funny & Fail Moments
Here's the video (3:10)!

Kids Consulting TT Book

Sinking Boat Pong
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) The caption is, "Ricominciare," which apparently means "start over" in Italian. I have no idea what that has to do with the cartoon. Here are my suggested captions:

  • "Let! The ball was wet!"
  • "The point isn't over until the ball hits the ground!"
  • "Better go expedite. The rescue boats are almost here."
  • "My stupid coach taught me footwork but never taught me to swim."
  • That sinking feeling as the ball goes past you that you've lost the point.

Ping-Pong Shirts from Etsy
You know you want one!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Imagine a Score or Situation.

Butterfly Invitational in Cary, NC
I had a great time this past weekend coaching at the tournament. We had ten juniors and five coaches - but with the huge RR format, there were LOTS of matches, so LOTS of coaching. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. The tournament gave out about $10,000 in prize money and prizes. AJ Carney did a great job running the event. Sharon Alguetti was the dominant player, winning all three "Opens" - Thursday Open, 1800 & Over, and Division A of the Giant RR. There were 116 players, including four over 2550, seven over 2400, 18 over 2200, and 35 over 2000. 

Our kids from MDTTC played really well - lots of great wins, very few bad losses. Some of them we knew were under-rated, since some hadn't played tournaments in a while, due to Covid. (Others had been playing tournaments somewhat regularly the last few months.) The main worry was that when you don't play tournaments for a while, you lose some of your "tournament toughness" - the ability to adapt to the different playing styles and pressures of playing in a tournament. They were able to overcome this far better than I'd expected.

One early dynamic is that they seemed to lose a lot of five-gamers early on, but then the tide changed, and they seemed to win them all the second half. I'm looking forward to seeing the ratings results - these days, tournaments are often processed on the Monday afterwards, so I'll be refreshing the USATT Tournament Ratings Page every few minutes the rest of today! (Shhh, don't tell the kids. Ratings aren't important, and we try to stress this to our students - but when they all go up, they sure are fun! Plus, they are an indicator that all that training paid off.)

I think the story of the tournament, for our players, may have been sports psychology. One or two are already very strong on this, and did well. But it's a perennial problem for most players, especially junior players. Over the last month I've been doing sports psychology sessions with four of them, and it seems to have helped. I've written about one of them in past blog, Ryan Lin, who responded by playing his best table tennis at an Ohio tournament, and achieved the #1 ranking in the country for 11 and under. (He missed this tournament - he's training in Taiwan.) This time around, it was Ryan Lee, Mu Du, and James Zhuang who had very good tournaments - and I've been doing sports psychology sessions with all three. (Ryan Lee may break the rating system - he went in rated 1986 but with a new attitude, and beat two 2250 players and a bunch of other 2000+ players. He just turned 14.) One aftermath is I'll be doing more sports psychology sessions with our other kids. I may have to double my hourly rate from volunteer to volunteer x 2. (Maybe I'll charge one Dr Pepper per session. Yeah, my one vice.)

US Nationals Update
They opened for entries a little over two weeks ago. Here is the entry list - they currently have 81 paid entries. One new feature in Omnipong - they now have columns for State and Club. I'd emailed Craig Krum at Omnipong two weeks ago about this, and he emailed me yesterday letting me know it was done. I then asked if he could make them sortable by State and Club - and he said he'd guessed I'd be asking about that next, and was already working on it! So we'll likely have that feature added soon.

As I blogged about last week, I'm pretty unhappy with it going all single elimination. I'm pretty certain they would have had a very large turnout otherwise. It'll likely be a rather low turnout instead due to this, and also because they are charging about the same for single elimination events as they did in the past for round robin events, where you play more matches. ($80/event or $250 for up to six events. At the last Nationals in 2019, it was also $80/event or $250 for up to SEVEN events.) There was a lot of discussion of the Nationals at the Cary tournament this past weekend (see segment above) - very little of it positive. A lot of players told me they were planning to go but changed their mind when they saw it was all single elimination and other problems.

Another problem is this one, from the entry form: "Players are permitted to physically enter the playing venue fifteen (15) minutes before their match scheduled time." That's obviously because of Covid, but I sure hope they negotiated like crazy to try to let players come in sooner. If you can only enter 15 minutes in advance, it's unlikely you'll get more than ten minutes to warm up for a match. Yikes! (Make it at least 30 minutes.)

World Table Tennis Championships to Be Held in Houston
Here's the ITTF news item, and here's an article from Inside the Games. They will be held Nov. 23-29, 2021. They were awarded to USATT in April, 2019 and were originally scheduled for Houston in June this year before they were postponed.

One problem - this coincides with the Thanksgiving weekend dates for the North American Teams in Washington DC, which are held Nov. 26-28. (Nov. 25 is Thanksgiving.) This means players/spectators have to choose between attending and spectating at the Worlds, or Thanksgiving and playing at the North American Teams. Since I'm committed to coaching our junior players at the Teams (about 30 of them), I will likely miss these Worlds. (I've been to two, in Japan and China.) I may fly out for the first few days of the Worlds and then fly back to Maryland. If I were there the whole time, I'd likely volunteer to do lots of online coverage for USATT as I've done so often in the past, but alas, it looks like that won't happen.

I really wish USATT would learn to communicate. Hopefully, they did everything they could to avoid coinciding with the dates of the Teams. If they had no choice and were forced to do so for some reason, then they should explain that rather than just throw it out there with no explanation. Instead, they are trying to ignore the 800-pound ping-pong ball in the room - that they are running the Worlds at the same time as the largest table tennis tournament in North America. For perspective, the 2019 Teams had 1031 players and 9620 matches; the 2019 Nationals had 721 players and 7260 matches; the 2019 US Open had 684 players and 3743 matches. (All three events were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid.) Since USATT chose not to explain - a long-running problem with issue after issue - instead, I'm hearing repeated conspiracy theories that this was done on purpose. (North American Table Tennis/JOOLA USA ran the US Nationals and US Open for many years, but when USATT CEO Virginia Sung took office in May, 2019, they had a rather inharmonious split.)

Larry Hodges Table Tennis Mask Collection
Here it is! I have nine, and alternate them when at the club. My favorites are the two dinosaur playing table tennis masks.

Help Wanted - USA Table Tennis Coaches
There are two clubs currently looking to hire new coaches.

International Olympian Table Tennis Clinic
Here's the info page (here's the non-Facebook version) for the clinic to be held May 21-23 in Norcross, Georgia, with coaches Matilda Ekholm (Swedish Olympian, world #50) and Yue Wu (2020 USA Women's Table Tennis Team Captain, world #32). You can enter via the Omnipong Tournament page - see listing under Georgia, where you can also see a list of players currently signed up.

Dan Seemiller's "Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips"
Now's the time to go to the Dan Seemiller Book page and order a signed copy of his new book, "Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips"! (Or his two previous books, also listed there.) He has a large supply of them now. They are already available on Amazon, but why not get a signed one?

USATT Coaches' Catch-up - 04/16/21
Here's the video (51:35). I had to miss this one - I was in a car going down to North Carolina. I considered joining via cell phone, but I was too busy entertaining the kids with brain teasers. Priorities! The meetings are for all coaches, every Friday at noon eastern time.

New from Samson Dubina

Side To Side Footwork Movement For The Forehand Loop
Here's the video (1:40) of Bella Xu, narration by Brian Pace.

Stroke Chemistry & Footwork
Here's the video (1:50) of Liu Juan, narration by Brian Pace.

Cross Court & Down The Line Attack
Here's the video (1:28) from Crystal Wang.

Rachel Yang – Defensive Specialist – Drill #3 video
Here's the video (67 sec).

How to Super Chop Block with Long Pimples
Here's the video from Ti Long (3:49).

Footwork Drills for Kids
Here's the video (3:22) from InMotion Table Tennis. 

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Steve Hopkins

Health Care Access Presents Karaoke - with a Table Tennis Entry
Here's the page. The last entry is "You'll Never Beat Me Again" (2:20) from Nick Flor. Here's where you vote - and vote TT! "I created a table tennis themed karaoke video for a contest held by our local community health care organization, Health Care Access of Phoenixville. It is a fundraiser event, 1 vote is $1. I intend on giving the money back to the organization if I win anything, so I am not in it for any monetary gain. My video is "You'll Never Beat Me Again" sung to the style of "Cry for You" by September. The video is based on my great desire to beat my friend and co-organizer of the Phoenixville Table Tennis Club!  I'm gonna get you Brady!"

Table Tennis Star Returns to Bay Area to Prepare for Tokyo Olympic Games
Here's the article and video (2 min) featuring Kanak Jha.

Top Things to Know about the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021
Here's the info page from Olympic Channel.

The Duel | Zhang Jike vs Hou Yingchao | 2020 Premier League Challenge
Here's the video (10:31). "Zhang Jike comes out of retirement for one match."

Anton Kallberg vs Omar Assar | FINAL | 2021 Düsseldorf Masters
Here's the video (7:59).

Picking Up the Pieces of Public Ping Pong
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "I spent the pandemic anticipating an eventual return to playing at the Atlanta Table Tennis Center. If you are interested in buying their building and starting your own table tennis center, it can be purchased for $1,399,000.00."

U.S. Players Look Back on 50 Years of Ping-Pong Diplomacy
Here's the article from Ecns.cn. (Last week's blog had ten other articles on Ping-Pong Diplomacy.)

How a Few Games of Table Tennis Raised over $60,000 for Individuals Living with a Disability
Here's the article from Her Canberra.

Table Tennis Grand Slam Winner Ding Ning to Enroll in Peking University Master's Program
Here's the article from Xinhua.net.

12-Year-Old Hana Goda: The Rising Star of African Table Tennis 
Here's the article from the Olympic Channel. "Hana Goda is one of Egypt’s youngest stars, a fast-rising talent with many tipping her as the next big thing in African table tennis. The 12-year-old has got game. She is currently ranked first in the ITTF Cadets category, a position she has held since December 2019."

Ping! Springs into Action with Easing of Lockdown
Here's the article from Table Tennis England.

New from the ITTF

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

Ping-Pong Star Shows Off Skills on Tiny Table
Here's the video (3:11) featuring Zhang Shuo. "A table tennis coach in southern China’s Guangdong province has made a mini table and uses it to show off her skills."

Ping-Pong Around-the Net Challenge
Here's the video (5 min) from Ultimate Ping Pong.

Table Tennis Canada Trick Shot Competition
Here's the info page. "Each Monday starting February 8, 2021, we will be sharing a theme for that week's Table Tennis trick shot." To see each week's theme, go to their Facebook page. This week's

Table Tennis Cartoons
There seem to be a lot of new ones out this week.

Lucky Ping Pong Shirt
Here it is!

Bumblebee Pong
Here's the video (54 sec)!

TABLE tennis
Here's the video (6 sec)!

Padel Trick Shots
Here's the video (4 min) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Learn from a Match.

Breaking News - World Table Tennis Championships to Be Held in Houston
Here's the ITTF news item, and here's an article from Inside the Games. They will be held Nov. 23-29, 2021. (I added this Tuesday morning.) They were awarded to USATT in April, 2019 and were originally scheduled for Houston in June this year before they were postponed. One problem - this coincides with the Thanksgiving weekend dates for the North American Teams in Washington DC, which would normally be held Nov. 26-28. (Nov. 25 is Thanksgiving.) 

Weekend Coaching
I squeezed a lot into Sunday, pretty much non-stop from 11AM to 7PM. Two of the group sessions were with beginning-intermediate junior players, where (as always) the focus was on fundamentals, though I always keep it fun. The key to coaching younger beginning kids? F&F: Fun and Fundamentals!

I also had a one-hour session with Navin Kumar. For various reasons, he had to take most of the past month off, so we worked a lot on fundamentals again. Here's video (56 sec) where I'm warming up his forehand block. The next drill? Multiball looping, where I feed (multiball style) forehand loops to all parts of the table, at first side to side, then random.

I also had two 45-minutes sports psychology sessions with two of our top juniors. It was the third session for one, the first for the other. I use Dora Kurimay's Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros! as a reference - she can thank us for seven book sales so far! I have another top junior taking his first session with me this week. (We're getting them all ready for the Butterfly Invitational in North Carolina this weekend - I'll be coaching at it.) 

Student of the Game
Last week I linked to Samson Dubina's Help Wanted Video, Hiring!!!! The Samson Dubina TT Academy is now hiring! (4:58). He had an interesting statement about how he is looking for coaches who can see the game "from the lens of the student." This is similar to a concept I've blogged about before - becoming a student of the game. Here are four levels - where are you on this spectrum?

  • Level 1: Student of the Game. Learns all aspects of the game. Classic example - Chinese Men's Team Coach Liu Guoliang, probably the most successful table tennis coach of all time. He was a pips-out penhold hitter/blocker, and yet his coaching is almost entirely with shakehand inverted loopers. But because he was as student of the game, it didn't matter - he simply knows and understands the game. He can see the game from the point of view of a student, not just his own.
  • Level 2: Student of Your Game. This type really knows his game. He knows exactly what he needs to do in any given situation, and adjusts his game as needed to opponents. He is a smart player - but he only knows his own game. This type has difficulty coaching others because he only knows his own game. Some elite players have this problem when coaching - they simply cannot understand the game except from their own perspective.
  • Level 3: Student of Your Game Limited. This type of player knows his game pretty well, in most situations, and is often good tactically against most players. But against unorthodox styles that he's not familiar with, he doesn't really know what to do. I know of a former 2750 player who was incredible against most players - but there were certain players that he was almost clueless about how to play.
  • Level 4: Non-Table Tennis Thinker. May have good strokes, but doesn't really know how to use them. Doesn't really play much tactically and so has difficulty winning or improving.  

Ping-Pong Diplomacy
April 10 was the 50th Anniversary of the start of 1971's Ping-Pong Diplomacy, where the US Table Tennis began its tour of China. (Here's Tim Boggan's book on it - here are his other table tennis history books.) There were articles and videos on this all over the place - here are a few. (Ray Arditi helped compile this.)

Rules Changes
There was a discussion on one of the table tennis forums about rules changes. Somehow, my name came up - a well-known table tennis "troll" claimed I was responsible for the Aspect Ratio rule, which (as he knows) is false. (I didn't even know about that rule until after it was announced.) However, someone then mistakenly said that I hadn't been involved in any rule changes - and that too was false, though this time probably an honest mistake. Back in 2013 I blogged about the three rules changes I was involved with, including two that pretty much instigated - here's the blog!

US Nationals
I really, Really, REALLY do not like writing negative things about USATT, an organization I've been with for 45 years. I'm a life member and a member of their Hall of Fame. I'd really like to focus more on things like coaching and promoting the sport, and other interesting stuff - like the segment above about "Student of the Game." But they make it so hard to ignore these problems, and as a table tennis blogger, I'm feel stuck writing about these problems.

SINGLE ELIMINATION. I blogged at length about this in last week's blog, in the segment "USATT Nationals Entry Form and USATT Coaches Meeting." The more I think about it, the more I feel let down by USATT in their decision to go all single elimination this year. I think USATT owes its membership more than this. For most players, it's going to be a pale imitation of past Nationals. (I've been going to Opens and Nationals since my first in 1976, and I've been to every Open and Nationals starting in 1985.)

I gave the explanation in last week's blog on why USATT decided to go all single elimination, as explained to us in the coaches meeting. Here's what I wrote last week:

"Because of the pandemic, it was feared there would be a low turnout at the Nationals. If USATT rented the normal hall, expecting perhaps 800 players, but only got 300, they'd lose a fortune on the tournament. So instead of getting one with room for perhaps 90 tables, they rented one with room for only 45. But then they realized that if they did get a big turnout, they'd be overwhelmed running RR events on just 45 tables, and decided they couldn't risk that - and so went with all single elimination."

However, at the USATT board meeting last Monday, CEO Virginia Sung gave a completely different explanation, saying, "The reason for running all single elimination is to better manage schedule and conflicts more efficiently." I sort of fell out of my chair when I heard this. Now I feel even more let down - they are running all single elimination because they can't do the scheduling and handle conflicts, as they've done at every Nationals and Open for many decades? I spent all week debating whether to email for further comment, but what's the point? It'll just be another circle-the-wagons, Larry's a trouble-maker moment. Besides completely contradicting what we were told in the coaches meeting, it also seems to imply they want to run future Nationals and Opens this way - if they want to go all single elimination this year to "better manage schedule and conflicts more efficiently," the situation won't change in future Nationals and Opens. The quote speaks for itself, and I'll let readers interpret it as they see best.

Regardless of the reason, running it all single elimination is a mistake. If you go by the first argument, the worry of a low turnout (likely self-inflicted, due to going all single elimination), they seem out of touch with what's going on in the table tennis world. First, they are getting large turnouts at recent tournaments held in Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey, and other locations. Second, people are HUNGRY for a Nationals - there hasn't been one since 2019. Third, by the time of the Nationals, anyone over age 16 who wants to will be vaccinated. Conclusion? If they'd run the Nationals with the usual RR format, there would have been a very large turnout and a nice financial windfall for USATT at a time they really need it. As to the second reason, that's basically an admission that they don't feel they can do what others have done in every past Nationals and Open since I began going to them in 1976.

On a related note, single elimination does not make it easier to manage the schedule. Round robin events are easier to schedule - you just send them out and let them play it out, with fewer SE matches afterwards. Single elimination is more difficult to schedule since you have to schedule every round, while in RR events you have fewer rounds after the RR stage to schedule. The only thing that makes SE easier to schedule is the presumption that by going all SE, you'll get fewer players. And THAT makes it easier to schedule.

Someone told me that if they'd run the Nationals with the usual RRs, they might get stuck with too MANY players - and they can't really handle more than a thousand. While I disagree that they can't handle more than a thousand, there's a simple solution - cap the entries at a thousand.)

CHANGES TO ENTRY FORM. There were two major changes to the entry form since it went up last week. At the coaches meeting on Friday, April 2, we spent much of the session discussing the Nationals. I pointed out (repeatedly) that if they were going to have a consolation event for every event in the tournament, it should say this on the entry form. (I can't believe something so basic needed to be pointed out - it literally doubles the minimum number of matches you play in each event.) I also pointed out that the wording on the entry form implied that parents couldn't coach their kids unless they were certified as USATT coaches, which is exactly what I thought they meant based on past discussions, but I was assured that wasn't what they meant. A week later, at the coaches meeting on April 9, I pointed out that none of the changes had been made. After that meeting, I think that very day, they made those two changes to the entry form. To those who fixed this, we appreciate it!!!

SCHEDULING PROBLEMS. There is still a major scheduling problem for players and parents. Several parents at my club last night were frustrated over this. If you look at the entry from (page 5, first column), you can see the scheduling is very top-heavy - lots of events scheduled on the first two days (Sun and Mon), then a lot fewer after that. We were told at the coaches meeting that events should finish by the day after they start - but that's not what it says on the entry form. What it actually says is:

"Event Scheduling: Events are not guaranteed to be completed on the same day that they begin. No refunds will be given for early departure. All events will be completed by Friday (July 9, 2021) evening."

To use the example of the 20 or so kids from my club who plan (or planned) to go to the Nationals, the majority only play in events that start on Sunday and Monday, so presumably they'll be done by Tuesday. A few might stay an extra day for Under 2300 on Tuesday. So, can they fly home on Tuesday or Wednesday, or do they actually have to stay through Friday, where they would likely spend three days stuck there with no events? I've run over 200 USATT tournaments and was Operations Director for two US Opens with large turnouts (i.e. did the scheduling with the Director), and know that USATT should have no problem in finishing these SE events by the day after they start (including the SE consolation) - but the players and parents don't know that, and we don't know if they will schedule it that way. So players and parents are stuck, trying to guess what to do. The entry deadline for the tournament is June 15, and presumably USATT is playing it safe on their side, waiting to see what the turnout will be before making these scheduling decisions. But players and parents need to work out schedules well before that - flight plans, hotel plans, and even their own plans at home if they don't have to stay through Friday. Since the tournament is all single elimination, USATT shouldn't need to wait on this - just put it on the entry form that all events will finish by the day after they begin. Don't leave us in the dark like this - there are junior players whose only events are on Sunday and perhaps Monday (if they play rating events) - are they and their parents really expected to block out Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for this? (They did in past Nationals, but that was because the events were RR and spread out over six days, instead of all SE and at the very start of the tournament.) USATT - PLEASE FIX THIS!!!

Some Nationals links:

  • 2021 USA Nationals Home Page
  • Omnipong listing (You'll have to search for the Nationals - it's in CAPS. The problem is that it should stand out as a 5-star tournament, with the regional ones as 3-stars, the state ones as 2-stars.)
  • Entry Form
  • Player Listing (Alphabetical, by rating, and by event. I've emailed Omnipong asking if they could add a State and Club column. If you hover the cursor over a player, club info appears, but that means hovering over every player if you want to find the players from a club.)
  • USATT News Item

USATT Board Meeting
They met last Monday night, April 5. It was supposed to start at 8PM, but they ran into technical problems on Uberconference and so switched over to Zoom. The meeting began around 8:10PM, then went into executive session an hour later, at 9:10PM, and so I had to get off while they presumably discussed legal and personnel matters. There were 23 people in the meeting. The minutes for the meeting are not yet up, but will go up at some point on the USATT Minutes and Actions page. Here are some highlights.

  • CEO Report: Membership, Clubs, Nationals, Coaches Licensing. Membership and clubs are way down due to Covid. Membership 7007 to 4536. Clubs from 207 to 145. Understandable, with Covid.
  • Mark Thompson (COO) gave a report on SafeSport. SafeSport is important, but I am so tired of it that whenever I hear it, my mind goes to sleep. The "S" in USATT has almost become SafeSport - more time is spent on that than probably any other topic.  
  • Sean O'Neill gave the High Performance Director Report on upcoming events and trials.
  • Kelly Watson gave the Audit Committee report.
  • Bylaw proposals - no vote at this meeting. I wrote about this briefly in my blog last week in the "USATT Board Meeting" segment, where I wrote about the meeting to be held that night. Based on lots of input, they will be rewritten again. (I've blogged about this a few times.) One interesting quote - Dave Patterson from the USOPC said, "Athletes should select who represent them." This sort of ended the argument over whether one of the two incoming athlete reps should be appointed by the Athlete's Advisory Committee and approved by the USATT board (as some on the board were pushing for) or elected directly by the athletes. I wrote about this briefly in last week's blog, but frankly, I'm so tired of USATT bylaw battles that I haven't gotten to involved in this one or the other proposed bylaws.

USATT Coaches Meeting
We had our weekly meeting last Friday at noon, lasting almost an hour. (Here's the video, 58 min.) There was more discussion of the Nationals and Team Trials. Here was the agenda:

  • Welcome
  • Schlager Interview (China) - Linked below
  • Kanak Interview (High/Low) - this is with Stupa Analytics, linked below
  • National Team (Trials)
  • Nationals (2021 &2022) - see mention above about the entry form and the changes that came out of this discussion here and in the previous week's meeting.
  • Use of Titles (dropping words). Some people advertise themselves as, for example, the "US Open Champion" when they won a rating event, such as maybe Under 1800. I've run into this problem - when news reporters ask me about my playing career, if I honestly tell them I was the US Open and National Champion in Hardbat Table Tennis, they don't know that's different than "regular" table tennis unless I explain it. (I'm normally a sponge player, but play hardbat on the side, and have won a lot of hardbat titles.)
  • Ball Speed (100mph?) Some still claim this, but test show the fastest smashes seem to be just over 70mph. I think if players trained just for this, they could get it higher with wristy smashes, but at most they might approach 80mph.
  • Questions

Happy World Table Tennis Day (April 6)

RIP Fred Tepper, 1928-2021
Here's the obit of Mr. Baltimore Table Tennis. I knew him pretty well from many years ago. I even have a copy of his book, "Ping-Pong is Not Table Tennis!" by Fred Tepper, 1990. (I don't think it was published professionally, but I have a copy of the manuscript.)

Heaviest Spin Ever!? My Signature Shot
Here's the video (3:43) from Timo Boll.

How To Create More Spin
Here's the video (3:37) from David Zhuang.

Short Game Play
Here's the video (2:15) from Zhou Xin.

Flip to Random Play
Here's the video (1:29) from Crystal Wang.

Top 6 Exercises for Powerful Forehand
Here's the video (2:24) from inMotion Table Tennis.

Backhand Table Tennis Topspin Technical Tips
Here's the video (26 sec) from eBaTT.

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

Werner Schlager - "Talk to Me"
Here's the video (33:08) with the 2003 World Men's Singles Champion, from the Canadian TTA and Adham Sharara.

Kanak Jha Joins Stupa Analytics for a Fun Interview
Here's the USATT video (45:30).

Mandy Yu: Byron's Table Tennis Sensation
Here's the article from The Post Bulletin in Rochester, MN.

Ma Long Multiball Training with Liu Guoliang
Here's the video (68 sec). So, how's your backhand loop?

Five Things to Know About Table Tennis Olympic Champ Ma Long
Here's the article and videos from the Olympic Channel.

A Big Stack of Table Tennis Skills
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Interview with Sweden Olympian Matilda Ekholm
Here's the interview (21:21) from Kevin Table Tennis. Ekholm is currently #50 in the world, and was #20 in 2017.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Steve Hopkins

New from the ITTF

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

I Played Against a Long Pips Player
Here's the video (12:43) from Adam Bobrow.

When Players Go Around the Net
Here's the video (23 sec) from Table Tennis Central!

Hawaiian Table Tennis Shirt
Here it is!

Nick Kyrgios Table Tennis
The controversial tennis player also plays table tennis.

Grasscourt Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Riley Dog Pong
Here's the video (63 sec)!

Real Dog Pong
Here's the video (9 sec)!

Ma Long, Timo Boll or Harimoto? Guess The Table Tennis Pro Player
Here's the video (6:18) from XOLAY!

***
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