Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, more like noon on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week and has three days to cover). 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 1500 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio.
Busy Table Tennis Week
This was one of those incredibly busy table tennis weeks. It started with the weekend, where I ran the MDTTC February Open - "The Days the Juniors Howled." Afterwards there were some corrections and lots of accounting, and of course the results sent to USATT for ratings processing - and it was processed on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, I was busy all week coaching. Despite running the tournament on Sat and Sun, on Sunday night I still ran my 90-min beginning junior class (the day's focus: attacking backspin), and ran the 90-min adult training session. (My featured drill for the latter session was serving and following up on long, breaking serves into the backhand.) Afterwards there was the weekly class accounting (for group and private coaching). And then the week began, with the usual private coaching - eight hours the first three days, then off Thursday. (As noted in my "short" blog yesterday, I was up late working on Wednesday, went to bed with a headache, woke up with a headache, and spent much of yesterday with that headache. It's gone now, hopefully for good.)
In between all this was the usual USATT, MDTTC, and other work. Yesterday I wrote a letter of recommendation for Tong Tong Gong, who is applying for an internship with Senator Ben Cardin. A coach was planning a presentation at a school and I helped with that. We're running the Hopes Camp and Tournament at MDTTC this coming weekend, and there was all sorts of work on that. (I'm running the tournament and will be one of the coaches in the camp.) It's for kids born in 2005 and 2006.
On the USATT front the USATT Board (I'm on it) had an email vote on committees, and approved committee chairs for eleven committees, with several more to go. (I was going to blog about that this morning, but decided to wait for the official USATT announcement.) Most were straightforward, two were contested, and I believe three are upcoming, with various complications that postponed their vote.
On the private coaching front, let's see:
New Articles/Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
Dima Ovtcharov Table Tennis Backhand Tutorial
I may have linked to one or both of these before, but they are worth a second look.
Tactics for Beating a Good Junior Player
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.
What It Takes To Be An Olympic Table Tennis Player
Here's the video (3:40) featuring Allen Wang.
Project Table Tennis
Here's the site. Tahl Leibovitz is the CEO/owner. Others listed on the team include Dawn Leibovitz, Mitch Seidenfeld, Sean O'Neill, Jackie Lee, Jimmy Butler, Cory Eider, and Judy Hugh. "Project Table Tennis is a team oriented company which operates nationally throughout the United States implementing, managing or supporting a series of ongoing projects centered around communities and families. Most of our projects utilize Table Tennis as a vehicle to create meaningful relationships between people. Project Table Tennis addresses Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Veterans with Disabilities, Drug & Alcohol Abuse as well as Obesity by serving seniors, youth and children." Their programs include:
- Workshops & Clinics
- Private Lessons & Camps
- Exhibitions & Demonstrations
- Pro Shop & Equipment
- Tournaments & Competitions
- Player Support & Sponsorship
It's in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 21-26 (the first two days are qualifiers).
IN or OUT??
Here's the video (29 sec) of the final (spectacular) point of the match between Kenta Matsudaira (JPN, near side)) Liang Jingkun (CHN), with this point winning it for Liang, 13-11 in the seventh, in the first round of the main draw at the Qatar Open. The ball didn't bounce up, just sideways and down, so it was clearly a side - but it's an easier call for us, after the fact and watching on video, then for the umpire in real time.
Longest Point in Modern History?
Here's the short version (40 sec) of this rally at the Qatar Open (10 min 13 sec, 766 shots). Here's a longer version (4:47), narrated by Adam Bobrow, with a short write-up.
Thanks For The Memories Vladimir Samsonov
Here's the article from Table Tennis 365 on Samsonov's exit from the Qatar Open.
Puerto Rican Princess Adriana Diaz "Growin' Up"
Here's the article.
National College Table Tennis Regional Championships
Here's the video (30 sec) - I have no idea why Trump seems to be stroking forehands the whole time. (Here's the picture of him looping a forehand I created long before he was elected. Here's a picture where some evil person has photoshopped Wang Liqin's head onto the picture.) I will refrain from making any political comments here….
The International Wrong Pong Association
Here's the page - I'm not even going to comment, just have fun browsing!
Non-Table Tennis - Zombies Anonymous
My short story "Zombies Anonymous" went up at Galaxy's Edge (one of the top science fiction & fantasy magazines) in January (for the Jan/Feb issue), and will stay up until March 1 (Wednesday), so you only have a few more days to read it. It's the lead story - listed first in the table of contents and the cover. It's the humorous story of a zombie math professor and the three steps to not being a zombie. It just got reviewed by Tangentonline, one of the top SF reviewers. "The year for Galaxy's Edge starts out with a piece of flash fiction by Larry Hodges. "Zombies Anonymous" is a cheerful zombie story, where Professor Wills, now a zombie, is happily devouring a family. The daughter Suzy starts to get him to start thinking about controlling his urges to eat every human in sight. It's fun and funny and nicely paced for the maximum comic effect."
Send us your own coaching news!
I went to bed way too late last night with a headache, and woke up this morning with a headache. Meanwhile, my todo list keeps banging me in the head, further aggravating said headache. I'm going back to bed for a while, and hopefully wake up refreshed and ready to attack that todo list with a tensor-sponge machete. So no blog this morning, alas - call it a sick day, my first in a while. Meanwhile, here's the best table tennis rally ever (22 sec).
West Coast Open Cancellation and Past Near Tournament Disasters
As noted in my blog yesterday, the 4-star West Coast Open was cancelled at the last minute due to the venue's mistaken double-booking. Here is the letter sent out to players by tournament director Meng-Yu Wang on this. Here is a notice on this by USATT CEO Gordon Kaye on it. (Not sure why it's not up as a regular news item.) I know that there is going to be a lawsuit against the venue, and USATT will likely get involved. It got me wondering about past such disasters - but frankly, I couldn't think of anything similar. However, it brought back memories of a number of near-disasters! Here's a listing of ones where I was involved. (I'm sure I'm missing an obvious one.)
How to Play Great Table Tennis in Your 50s
Here's the article and podcast (8:15).
How To Hold the Racket
Here's the four-part series from EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach. I believe I've previously linked to the first three parts. I have not had time to watch them all, but he seems to know what he's talking about.
In Memory of Richard Lee Butler
Here's the USATT obit of the Hall of Famer.
Table Tennis Needs to Follow Chinese Model: Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here's the interview from the India Times, following Ovtcharov winning the India Open this past weekend. He talks about using multiple balls (including one with less spin), the Chinese Super League, his training regimen (and maintaining it as you age), meditation, and fatherhood.
Table Tennis Equipment Junkies, Here You Go!
Here's EquipmentJunkie.com. It's been out there a while, a site that reviews essentially every TT item. (But remember, if you are an EJ, you have a disease. It can be controlled but never cured. You are the backbone of the equipment industry, without which it would collapse!)
World's Fastest Serve
Here's the video (19 sec) as Adam Bobrow attempts to return the serve of Asuka Sakai. And unlike previous videos I've seen of this kid doing this serve, this time he tosses the ball up six inches, so it's legal! (How good is Sakai? He upset Samsonov at the India Open!)
My New Shirt!
Here's the shirt I just received in the mail. It's an early birthday present to myself - I turn 57 next Monday. I showed it off at the club last night. The kids thought it was hilarious. It became an English lesson for our newest coach, Coach Wu, who is learning English. Helped by an 8-year-old, he was able to sound out the words and figure out the meaning.
Send us your own coaching news!
Tip of the Week
Hitting Accurate Shots.
$2700 MDTTC Butterfly February Open - the Days the Juniors Howled!
by Larry Hodges
Kids dominated at the tournament this weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD, winning five of the six rating events (the five highest ones), not to mention Under 15 and Under 12. (Here are complete results from Omnipong.) Only in the Open, Over 50, and Under 1200 were the kids fought off. Taking part were 83 players from nine states (MD, VA, PA, WV, NC, NY, OH, MA, and MO, plus DC), as well as players from Nigeria (Azeez Jamiu), Brazil (Lidney Castro) and Ghana (Courage Nanevie), plus of course a number of Chinese stars now playing and coaching in the U.S. - Jishan Liang, Ruichao "Alex" Chen, Chen Bo Wen, and Wang Qing Liang
I ran the tournament, but with great help from Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile (who acted as assistant director) and Wen Hsu, as well as Referee Paul Kovac and Umpire Steven Yeh. Thanks also goes to sponsors Butterfly and the HW Global Foundation.
Jishan Liang, now coaching at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina, won Open Singles over Ruichao "Alex" Chen in an all-lefty final, 7,8,7,8. If you wanted to see ferocious counterlooping, this was the match to see. In the semifinals, Jishan defeated Nigerian Azeez Jamiu, 8,4,9,-7,-9,9. The match was slightly marred by a controversy at 7-8 in the sixth, with Jishan leading. He apparently ripped a winner, but Azeez and some witnesses claimed it went through the net. Sure enough, the net had become frayed and there was a part where the string had broken out of the netting, and so could be pulled apart. But it's a quick judgement call for the umpire, and he called it good (and you can't change a judgment call), and and so the point stood. (We immediately changed nets - that will never happen again I promise!) Azeez took it pretty well after the match, even staying to watch the final.
In the other semifinal, Alex defeated fellow MDTTC coach Chen Bo Wen, 6,5,10,4, in an all-out two-way power display. Few players can rip the ball as hard as these two players, and yet the more savvy viewers may have studied their serve and often controlled receive, which is what sets up those rips.
The most interesting quarterfinal match was Chen Bo Wen's monumental comeback against Lidney Castro from Brazil. Lidney won the first two games at 6 and 12, but an all-out third-balling Chen won the next two at 7 and 3. In the fifth, down 0-4, chen came back to 9-all, only to fall behind 9-10 match point. His next serve was probably meant to be "half-long," with the second bounce at the end-line, but it went a few inches too long, and Lidney absolutely ripped it - just off! And so Chen saved that match point, and won the next two points. Another great quarterfinal match was Jishan's battle with another MDTTC coach, chopper/looper Wang Qing Liang. Jishan won 3-0, 8,7,9, but all three games were battles.
Now we get to the kid-killing part of the tournament - not killing kids, but kids killing everything and winning the top five rating events, three of them by girls. In Under 2400, it was 12-year-old Tiffany Ke (rated 2238) over Courage Nanevie of Guyana, 11,5,9. In the semifinals, she had barely gotten past 14-year-old Spencer Chen (under-rated at 2057), -11,9,-9,8,8. In the other semifinal, Courage also came back, from down 0-2, to win at -5,-7,8,6,4 against 15-year-old Klaus Wood (rated 2363).
In Under 2200, it was 13-year-old Kelly Liang over Claudia Ikeizumi, 4,5,-9,6. In Under 2000, it was 12-year-old Jessica Lin over Nicholas Wetzler, 9,5,7. In Under 1800, it was 8-year-old Stanley Hsu over Justin Hensley, 7,6,8 - is it even legal to win an event that high at that age? Stanley had come in way under-rated at 1406. In the preliminaries, he'd actually lost a deuce-in-the-fourth battle with Justin (rated 1696), but apparently he (or his coach) had figured something out for the final. Justin had a battle in the semifinals, defeating 12-year-old Daniel Sofer at 12,-7,9,-9,8, in a battle between two players with great lobbing skills. Another 8-year-old took Under 1500, with Mu Du over 10-year-old Nicole Deng, 9,-7,-5,7,9. But the junior howling came to an end in Under 1200, which was a family affair as Jordan Dovel (21, coming in with a rating of 932) upset brother Matthew (17, 1121) in another monumental struggle, 9,12,-9,-10,8.
The juniors came back sweep both junior events. In Under 15, it was 13-year-old Kelly Liang (adding to her Under 2200 title) over 14-year-old Spencer Chen, where she'd won one game from down 7-9, and down 5-7 in the fifth, won five in a row. Spencer had won against his younger brother, 12-year-old Ronald, while in the other semifinals Kelly had to come back to win against William Huang, -9,-8,6,6,6. In Under 12, it was 10-year-old Ainish Dassarma over 8-year-old Stanley Hsu, 3,10,7. Both had titanic semifinal matches, with Ainish winning out against 9-year-old chopper Andy Wu, 9,10,-8,-10,6, and Stanley just edging out 9-year-old Ryan Lee, 2,-5,7,-6,9. In the quarters, Andy had to battle back to win against 10-year-old Nicole Deng, -9,-8,8,11,7. In Over 50, however, the juniors were completely shut out, with James Deng winning out over Eugene Zhang, 11,2,5.
MDTTC Butterfly February Open Results
Here are complete results from Omnipong.
(Click on names to see pictures.)
Open Singles - Final: Jishan Liang d. Ruichao "Alex" Chen, 7,8,7,8; SF: Liang d. Azeez Jamiu, 8,4,9,-7,-9,9; R. Chen d. Chen Bo Wen, 6,5,10,4; QF: R. Chen d. Nathan Hsu, 6,8,11; Chen Bo Wen d. Lidney Castro, -6,-12,7,3,10; Jamiu d. Roy Ke, 6,8,-7,9; Liang d. Wang Qing Liang, 8,7,9.
Under 2400 - Final: Tiffany Ke d. Courage Nanevie, 11,5,9; SF: Ke d. Spencer Chen, -11,9,-9,8,8; Nanevie d. Klaus Wood, -5,-7,8,6,4; QF: Wood d. William Huang, 3,9,-9,3; Nanevie d. Naveen Vaddadi, -8,7,3,4; Chen d. Kelly Liang, 2,-9,-6,7,3; Ke d. John Wetzler, 5,-9,7,-12,8.
Under 2200 - Final: Kelly Liang d. Claudia Ikeizumi, 4,5,-9,6; SF: Liang d. Courage Nanevie, 6,4,-3,4; Ikeizumi d. Costel Constantin, 7,8,5.
Under 2000 - Final: Jessica Lin, d. Nicholas Wetzler, 9,5,7; SF: Lin d. William Xu, 11,9,-9,7; Wetzler d. Frederick Nicolas, -7,9,8,6.
Under 1800 - Final: Stanley Hsu d. Justin Hensley, 7,6,8; SF: Hsu d. Nicole Deng, 8,8,7; Hensley d. Daniel Sofer, 12,-7,9,-9,8.
Under 1500 - Final: Mu Du d. Nicole Deng, 9,-7,-5,7,9; SF: Du d. Andy Wu, 9,-4,6,5; Deng d. Debabrata Ghosh, 5,-9,-7,9,7.
Under 1200 - Final: Jordan Dovel d. Matthew Dovel, 9,12,-9,-10,8; SF: J. Dovel d. Stephanie Zhang, -9,11-11,1,8; M. Dovel d. Eugene Zhang, -5,6,-7,8,9.
Over 50: 1st James Deng, 3-0; 2nd Eugene Zhang, 2-1; 3rd Alex Nguyen, 1-2; 4th
James Wilson, 0-3.
Under 15 - Final: Kelly Liang d. Spencer Chen, -8,9,-6,8,8; SF: Liang d. William Huang, -9,-8,6,6,6; Chen d. Ronald Chen, 6,6,4.
Under 12 - Final: Ainish Dassarma d. Stanley Hsu, 3,10,7; SF: Dassarma d. Andy Wu, 9,10,-8,-10,6; Hsu d. Ryan Lee, 2,-5,7,-6,9.
RIP Richard Butler
The USATT Hall of Famer and father of TT stars Jimmy and Scott Butler passed away peacefully on Friday. Here is the Richard Butler 2014 Hall of Fame Induction.
USATT SafeSport Policy Implementation
Here's the USATT article. I blogged about this on January 26. As noted in my February 14 blog, I did manage to get some of the SafeSport requirements narrowed down to mostly those directly involved with athletes. (Note for the suspicious: I already passed the SafeSport background check.)
Cancelled 4-star Butterfly West Coast Open
This weekend they were supposed to have the Butterfly West Coast Open in Livermore, California. Except - the tournament venue accidentally double-booked their gym for the weekend, for both table tennis and volleyball! When the trucks from Butterfly arrived to set up the 36 tables, the gym was already in use with the volleyball tournament, and they were refused entry. And so, very late on Friday night, the announcement went out that the tournament was cancelled! With 244 entries, and many players from around the country flying in, this was a huge "inconvenience" for many. I'm already told there'll be a lawsuit against them. From what I know, the tournament organizers were not at fault.
Newgy Ohio Open
Here are results, pictures, and video.
Harimoto and the India Open
History was made (and almost made further) as 13-year-old Japanese whiz kid Tomokazu Harimoto made the final of Men's Singles at the India Open, losing in the final (6,8,4,12) to Dimitrij Ovtcharov (world #5 from Germany). Going into the tournament Harimoto was already world #69, easily the best of anyone his age in men's history. To reach the final he defeated in the semifinals Sharath Kamal Achanta (India, world #62) at 7,-5,7,-11,9,9; and in the quarterfinals Robert Gardos (Austria, world #46) at -4,7,8,-8,10,6.
New Articles and Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
These are articles with linked podcast.
Three-Point Forehand Training
Here's the video (51 sec) of 2015 Men's Singles Champion Yijun 'Tom' Feng doing forehands from the corners and middle.
Making Table Tennis Great Again
Here's the article from Coach Jon.
How to Protect Your Table Tennis Racket
Here's the video (5:26) from the EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach.
Will Shortz, Master of Puzzles and Ping Pong
Here's the video (5:58) featuring the Ping-Ponging Puzzlemaster!
Why an Olympic Table Tennis Player Came to Memphis
Here's the article and video (22 sec) from USA Today Network, featuring Atanda Musa.
Here's the picture from Mike Mezyan!
Send us your own coaching news!
It's President's Day, a Federal holiday, and so I'm off today celebrating the YUUUUGE success of all 45 of our presidents. In other fake news….
St. Andrews Invades MDTTC!!!
Yesterday afternoon, for 75 minutes, MDTTC was invaded by hordes of small creatures, students ages 8-10 from the nearby St. Andrews School - 75 of them to be exact. I ran a demonstration and exhibition, assisted by fellow MDTTC coaches Wang Qing Liang ("Leon") and John Hsu. After giving a short introduction to the sport, Coach Wang and I demonstrated the various techniques - forehands, backhands, looping, footwork, and serves. The serving demo always is a big hit as I use backspin to make the ball bounce back into the net, then directly bounce back over the net (made it on the first try), and then sidespin to make the ball curve and hit a target off to the side.
Then I went into my, "A very bad thing happened today" routine, and explained how Coach Wang told me that he believes he can beat me (!) in table tennis. And so we had it out, one game to 11, with the loser to sweep and mop the entire club. We did lots of fast counter-hitting, lobbing, smashing lobs while on my knees, blowing the ball, big racket vs. small racket, 50-foot serve from the side, the world's "first" table tennis wave (for about the 500th time). It all ended with me lobbing four of Wang's smashes back while rolling about on the ground before he finally smacked one past me to win, 11-9. (I always play the "bad guy" in these exhibitions, and always lose.)
Then I explained how to play "Master of the Table" (commonly called "King of the Table," except that's not fair to the girls). One player is "Master" and the others line up, taking turns, until one of them scores, and then that player becomes the "Master." (The more advanced version is you have to win two points to become the Master, but for this level winning one point is more fun.) Then they fanned out and played this on 16 tables for about 45 minutes. We had great fun, and hope to get a few new players out of this.
$2700 MDTTC Butterfly February Open
Last chance to enter - deadline is 7PM tonight! I'm running the 3-star tournament on Sat and Sun.
USATT Veterans and Resource Development Committees
These are newly formed USATT Committees. Are you interested in being on one of these committee, perhaps even chairing it? If so, email me. It's timely - we're actually supposed to send in our recommendions for committee chairs by 5PM Saturday. We're also getting new chairs for the Ethics and Grievance Committee (two people have already applied), the Coaching Committee (one person has already applied - not me), the Tournament Committee (Larry Rose is term limited out), and the League Commttee (I did my two years). We also will be getting a new chair for the Compensation Committee, but that person must be a current member of the USATT Board. All USATT Committee Chairs have to be approved every two years, but the rest of the committees have current chairs who wish to continue - but you can apply to replace any of them. Here are the two new committees:
History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19
Volume 19 of this series is available! Once again USATT Historian and Hall of Famer Tim Boggan has brought out another of these mammoth volumes. It covers 1991-92, with 483 pages (8.5x11 pages) and over 1800 graphics. Cost is $40, which is personally autographed by Tim. Buy the whole series - all 19 of them! - and it's $30 each. As I'm quoted on the web page, "How can any serious player not buy these books?" (Disclaimer: I do the page layouts and photo work, with much help from Mal Anderson, who scans the photos and takes about half the pictures.)
Here's the current issue.
Pong Talk With the Stars: Interview with Angela Guan
Here's the interview by Rahul Acharya.
Kanak Jha with His Team in Sweden
Here's the picture.
Training for the Worlds
Xu Chenhao Highlights (Chinese Trials 2017)
Here's the video (8:10) of this rising Chinese star.
German Women Physical and Table Training
Here's the video (52 sec).
What to Look at While Betting on Table Tennis?
Here's the article, which gives eight things to look at.
Darth Vader vs. the Martian
Here's the cartoon!
Minions Playing Pong
Here's a page devoted to the Minions playing table tennis, with four videos. The latter two I've never linked to before.
Photoshopping the Pros!
Here's the video (27 sec) - Ma Long as a cowboy? Zhang Jike as a fire-breather? Or as a Prima Ballerina? Ding Ning as a sword fighter?
Send us your own coaching news!
Training to Loop Against Backspin
I had a nice session with a ten-year-old on Tuesday, Jackson Beaver, who's about 1300 but will soon be shooting up. He'd been having some trouble looping against backspin - but the reason was somewhat obvious, he stood up too straight when he played. (He's tall for his age.) So we focused on staying down for much of the session. With him, it was somewhat easy - he played basketball a lot, and so I had him "cover me." He'd immediately go to a wider stance, bend his knees, and put his weight forward, which is exactly what you want to do whether you are covering someone in basketball or playing table tennis, as explained in this tip, Your Ready Position - Think Basketball.
Then we did a three-part process to work on his loop against backspin. Throughout it I urged him to make sure at least half his power went into topspin, not just speed. First, we did multiball, where I fed backspin. Once he was in a proper ready position, he was able to generate great force and made many formidable loops. When I thought he was ready, I pulled out my defensive hardbat racket, a very slow, oversized blade that allows me to chop anything back. Then I chopped to his backhand, and he forehand looped over and over - and while I acted like this was completely normal, I was really surprised how quickly he picked this up. He quickly saw and adjusted to the balls having only a little backspin at the start of the rally, then heavy backspin as I chopped his loops back, and was able to loop over and over.
Then we went to serve and attack, where he'd serve backspin, I push to his forehand, he looped, and we played out the point. After all that looping in multiball and against chopping, he was really timed in, and was very consistent with strong loops. One of his best sessions.
And now the funny anecdote. We have a relatively new Chinese practice partner/coach, Wu Jiacheng, who doesn't speak English yet. He's about 2500-2550 or so. I asked the student above (who's Chinese) to ask Wu if he was playing in the tournament. He turned to Wu and said, in perfect English, "Are you playing in the tournament?" After I stopped laughing, I pointed out that Wu didn't speak English, and I wanted him to ask him in Chinese! (Alas, Wu will be very busy coaching this weekend, so can't play.)
$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC February Open
[NOTE - this is a repeat from two days ago. You can enter until 7PM on Friday!]
I'm running the tournament this weekend (Feb. 18-19) at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, in Gaithersburg, MD. I hope to see many of you there! We've expanded our tournaments from last year, going to two days and three star events, doubling the prize money, and going from seven to ten events. Here is our tournament page (with a link to Omnipong where you can enter online), and here is the entry form. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12. The current top seeds are:
How to Improve Your Consistency
Here's the article and podcast (9:30) from Expert Table Tennis.
5 Tips to Build an Online Presence for Your Table Tennis Club
Here's the article from Pong Universe.
AGTTA Host Successful NCTTA Spring Divisional
Here's the story.
Buy a Ping-Pong Ball Costume!
Here's the page - for only $199, you can be a ping-pong mascot! (Or a baseball or golf ball.)
Here's the picture (with a little help from duct tape).
White Creature vs. Green Creature
Here's the cartoon!
Send us your own coaching news!
NCAA and NCTTA
When I talk to members about how to develop the sport in this country, one seemingly simple idea inevitably comes up - they want to know why we haven't become an NCAA varsity sport. It would seemingly solve many of our problems, adding exposure to the sport, giving players incentive to develop their games in high school so as to make a college team (and perhaps get a scholarship), and of course lead to huge numbers of college players, and perhaps college table tennis on TV. It'd be the answer to our prayers! It's also something I looked into shortly after I became a USATT board member.
Alas, the devil really is in the details, and it turns out that becoming an NCAA varsity sport isn't something that's going to happen in the foreseeable future, though perhaps someday. When the topic was raised recently via email from a player, I CCed Willy Leparulo, president of the National College Table Tennis Association (NCTTA), with my response, and asked for his input. Here is his response. (My response was somewhat similar, but without the detail Willy provides.)
(Thanks to Larry for ccing me on this email).
So Larry is correct that the NCAA option is very difficult to do. This is something that I have been working on for over a decade and as an organization we are no longer actively pursuing this option. Let me explain why.
1) NCAA is not accepting sports for men or coed, it is ONLY doing so for women. Currently College TT is a coed sport, not just only men or only women.
2) In College tt currently about 25% is women, not a high percentage to start with
3) There is a large proposal process that we have to go through and we have gone through its requirements and seen that we would not be able to reach the goal without a serious grassroots effort (i.e.) High School table tennis support.
In addition, it requires that 10 Athletic Directors where Table Tennis already exist to agree to sponsor (with letters of commitment) the sport at a Varsity level (highest level). We have not had success. Currently only one NCAA institution sponsors table tennis, Lindenwood University. (Note: Texas Wesleyan is not NCAA but offer scholarships and is a varsity sport.)
If we managed to get these 10 letters of commitment than we would have a decade to get 40 schools to become a full-fledged NCAA sport, and this is the killer of this all, these schools do NOT have to sponsor scholarships for the players. It is up to the school in question. The whole concept for us was being able to provide college scholarships for Table Tennis more than the affiliation of being with NCAA.
Here is the information that was provided to me a couple months ago (I get regular updates from NCAA):
On the High School table tennis side, I really wish there was more effort pushed into this area. We as NCTTA are only able to cover Collegiate Table Tennis, but we do help the NYTTA (the organization that handles High School TT in the USA) as much as we can. https://nytta.us/
Our current approach is to create as many scholarship programs in whatever kind of school be it NCAA or NAIA or any other type of collegiate organization possible. We feel that scholarship schools may be easier to help foster then being a championship sport in NCAA or NAIA. There were 3 schools that we have been assisting to help get scholarships for Table Tennis on board, all 3 fell apart when the Athletic Director's bosses (Board of Directors) of that school nixed the idea. There is interest, but it is unfortunately not catching as I thought it would be.
Last year we attended the NAIA national conference where we were invited to speak to 150 athletic directors in NAIA, we plan to attend every year as there is interest. Our overall goal is to get more schools to create a scholarship program though.
On a related note, Willy mentions high school table tennis above. Many believe that getting table tennis into the schools is the secret to developing table tennis in this country. Alas, we've tried many times, and while it sometimes happens locally, in general U.S. schools simply aren't interested in a small sport (in this country) like ours. When we grow the sport ourselves (through club-based programs), then the schools will be interested in us, and that's when they might be able to take us to the next level. But we have to get this started ourselves, though club-based programs such as junior and coaching programs, and leagues. That's how the sport developed, for example, in Europe. (In China, it was often school-based, but that was because the government ordained this. That doesn't happen in the U.S.)
How to Recover After a Wide Forehand
Here's the article and podcast (6:16) from Expert Table Tennis. (My book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, is mentioned in the article.) One small note on the article: It says, "If you play a pivot forehand – where you go around the corner of the table and you play a forehand from the backhand side – what you want to do is make sure you never play it down the line. If you play that shot down the line you’ll be giving your opponent a really easy diagonal block which gets you wide out to your forehand making it tough for yourself."
I generally agree with this, and of course the article is focusing on how to avoid getting caught with those angled blocks to the wide forehand. But there are two times where you might want to loop this ball down the line. First, some blockers crowd the backhand, assuming you won't go down the line, and so leave it open. Against them, a down-the-line loop is an easy winner - so you should go that way if you can ace the player. (This is actually one of my favorite tactics.) Second, some blockers are slow on the forehand side, and if you slow loop down the line, they aren't quick enough to attack it, and so may have trouble with this variation - and the very slowness of the loop gives you time to cover that wide forehand. On the other hand, during my heyday I was very quick to cover my wide forehand, and looping down the line there was usually suicide - but I always had trouble covering loops into my very wide backhand, the ones Ben recommends.
Why learning to play table tennis is like learning to drive a car
Here's the new article by Coach Tom Lodziak. This is an excellent analogy that I might steal. I usually tell players how they must trust their subconscious, which is the whole point of training, to develop that muscle memory, which is exactly what you do in both table tennis and driving a car.
USATT Board Unanimously Elects Anne Cribbs as New Chair
Here's the USATT article.
USATT Club Logo Program
Here's the USATT article. "Does your club logo represent the true passion for the sport? Want to stand out from the crowd? USA Table Tennis (USATT) announced today a partnership with Manna Creations to offer USATT Affiliated Clubs the opportunity to design its own customized logo for use on websites, apparel, and more! For just $100, clubs will receive a design consultation with Manna Creations’ Charlie Jahner, the choice of two customized logos, and multiple file formats for virtually every use (embroidery file not included)."
USA's Brotherhood of Table Tennis Ready to Take on France
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington on the Alguetti brothers in France.
Love Table Tennis
Here's the video (7:27) featuring the "Ten Best Table Tennis Shots." (I don't think I've linked to this.)
One-Legged Looping Pong
Here's the repeating video (7 sec) - why can't you loop like that with your TWO legs? He has amazingly good form. I wonder if he was a top player who lost a leg, or learned to play with only one leg?
Deadly Green Monster Plays Pong
Here's the picture!
Non-Table Tennis - Funny Horror
This anthology of humorous horror stories went up on Amazon just yesterday. It includes a story by me, "Happily and Righteously." (Yes, they paid me for it!) The story is about paranoia, where every paranoid thing comes true, and features numerous assassins out to get you, a "deadly green alien" (see coincidental segment above!) and "the unimportant person who is no longer a part of this story" who keeps popping up in strange situations. The story was cited by the reviewer as one of the best in the anthology, and described it as "Brilliant!"
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$2700 3-star Butterfly MDTTC February Open
I'm running the tournament this weekend (Feb. 18-19) at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, in Gaithersburg, MD. I hope to see many of you there! We've expanded our tournaments from last year, going to two days and three star events, doubling the prize money, and going from seven to ten events. Here is our tournament page (with a link to Omnipong where you can enter online), and here is the entry form. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12. The top seeds most likely are:
We had a USATT Teleconference last night at 7PM. (I had to cancel or reschedule 1.5 hours of lessons, but that's part of being on the USATT Board.) We had 100% attendance at the meeting, with all nine board members present, which hadn't happened in years (mostly because one of the previous player reps missed most meetings).
The meeting started with a welcome and introduction to new At-Large Board Member Rajul Sheth, who was elected to the Board in January. Then came election of the new Chair of the Board, since outgoing chair Peter Scudner was term-limited out. I had considered running, and a couple of people had urged me to do so, but the position is mostly bureaucratic (running meetings, etiquette, etc.), and I don't think I'd be interested or particularly good at it. The only person running was Anne Cribbs, and so she won unanimously. We also voted and unanimously approved Dennis Taylor as USATT Secretary, which is also a volunteer position that takes the minutes for USATT meetings.
The bulk of the meeting we discussed upcoming USATT Committee appointments. Many committees will stay the same, but there will be a few changes. I'm stepping down as chair of the League Committee. I blogged about this on February 2 - see the last part. We don't currently have anyone in mind for that position. The Coaching Committee hasn't had a chair for about a year; I may be interested in that. (I chaired that committee from 1991-95, and was a member of it again 2010-2013.) Committees that will likely remain unchanged (subject to Board approval at our March meeting) include the Rules, Umpires and Referees, Clubs, Classic Table Tennis, Juniors, High Performance, Nominating and Governance, and Audit Committees. We'll be getting new chairs for the Ethics and Grievance Committee (two people have already applied), the Compensation Committee, and the Tournament Committee (Larry Rose is term limited out).
We also brought back two past committees, the Veterans Committee and the Resource Development Committee. (I made the motion for both of these.) For many years we had a Senior Committee, but it had been vacant for the last few years, and so was dropped from the committee list. I've had several times where I needed to deal with senior issues, such as when I tried to arrange for printouts of USATT Insider to elderly members who didn't have Internet access, but there was no committee to work out the details on this. We also could use such a committee to deal with USATT issues with the 2018 World Veterans Games coming up in Las Vegas in July next year. (I initially moved for a Seniors Committee, but CEO Gordon asked if I could change it to Veterans, as the preferred name these days for all events from over 40 on up.)
My initial motion was also for a Fundraising and Marketing Committee, another committee we'd had that had become vacant and dropped. Ed Hogshead and others recommended calling it the Resource Development Committee, and I agreed. I believe Rajul might get involved with this one.
Board members are supposed to put together their recommendations for committee chairs by this Friday.
Next we discussed the USATT Board meeting schedule for this year. We agreed to have monthly teleconferences at 7PM on the second Monday each month, I think for the next six months. We'll discuss our in-person meetings at the next teleconference, on March 13.
Next we discussed SafeSport and NewCo, which I discussed in my January 26 blog, which included my criticism of some of the SafeSport requirements. There'll be USATT news items on these soon. I did manage to get some of the SafeSport requirements narrowed down to mostly those directly involved with athletes.
And now we get to the Great USATT Scandal of 2017, the one that puts Watergate, Flynngate, and the great Bowling Green Massacre Scandal to shame. The meeting was done, and we agreed to adjourn, but someone had to make the motion to adjourn or we'd be stuck there on our telephones forever. I made the motion, and a split second later, Ed Hogshead did so. I WAS FIRST!!! But scandalously, the new Chair of the Board heard Ed's motion and not mine (we were talking at the same time), and so HE will officially get credit for the move to adjourn, while I only got to second it. This is scandalously inaccurate, and someday perhaps historians will act to address this historic and YUUUUUGE wrong. So sad. I WAS FIRST!!!
Happy TT Valentine's Day
This is what you get when you Google "Table Tennis Valentines Pictures."
3 Exercises to Improve Your Consistency
Here's the coaching article from Coach Me Table Tennis.
How to Select Which Rubbers to Buy
Here's the new article and podcast (7:50) from Expert Table Tennis.
Can Dimitrij Ovtcharov record a hat trick of titles?
Here's the ITTF article.
Some Great Points from Last Year
Here's the video (2:34), with some great British commentary!
Kanak Jha at the Swiss Open
Trick Shot Challenge
Here's the video (27 sec) where players are challenged to go around the net and hit a ball on a stand. It's part of a promotion for the Indian Open.
"Bunsen is a Beast" Pong
Here's an octopus playing Bensen, the "monster" who is standing on Mikey's shoulders. It's an animated Nickelodeon show that I never knew existed until I saw this picture and researched it.
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Tip of the Week
When Caught Off Guard, Roll or Chop, and Keep the Ball Deep.
Club Friday at Potomac Community Center
On Friday night, 7-8:30PM, I helped run an exhibition/demonstration/clinic at the Potomac Community Center, which is also home to the Potomac Country TTC. Several dozen kids took part, roughly ages 8-10, as part of the weekly Club Friday, where hundreds of kids meet at the Center for various activities and games. We shared the gym with basketball.
A big thanks goes to PCTTC president Herman Yeh, who helped set things up, and to the PCTTC volunteers - Zhuqing Li, Kangmin Zheng, Fei Yin, Xin Huang, Matt Wu and Michael Clarke, who all helped out by hitting and coaching the kids. Zhuqing Li took photos - here's a gallery. (In photo 7 I'm teaching some of the kids how to balance the ball in the air by blowing it!)
I gave a short talk at the start, where I talked about table tennis at the Potomac TTC, the junior classes I teach at the local Maryland Table Tennis Center, and table tennis in general. I found that many of them actually knew that table tennis was an Olympic sport! That's new - past generations usually didn't know this, so it was a pleasant surprise. I then did a short demonstration of the strokes with Michael Clarke - forehands, backhands, etc., and then a demonstration of spin serves. The kids went crazy when my backspin serves came back into the net, including the infamous bounce-back serve that bounced back over the net on the first bounce. I demonstrated sidespin by serving from my forehand corner crosscourt, with the sidespin (and a little backspin) pulling the ball sideways so that it hit a paddle I'd stuck on the right side near the net.
Then Mike and I did a rather humorous exhibition, which I introduced by saying, "A very bad thing happened today." When the kids all leaned forward to find out about this "bad" thing, I explained that just one hour before, Michael had told me that he could beat me. "He thinks he can beat ME!" I exclaimed over and over. And so it was on - with the loser having to sweep and mop the gym (or so I claimed). As usual I played the bad guy, and so everyone was quickly rooting for him. I'd insist they cheer when I won the point, and boo when he scored, and of course the kids did the reverse. I cheated, tried bribing the scorekeeper, and so on. We did the first table tennis wave in history (for about the 500th time over the years, but don't tell them). I also managed to throw in my 50-foot serve from the side, blew the ball over the net, lots of lobbing, and brought out the big paddle and mini-paddle. As always, I lost, where I was rolling about on the floor lobbing on the last point before Michael finally smashed a winner to win 11-9.
I explained how to play "King of the Table" (or Queen, for the girls), and sent them out to play on their own. Most preferred free play, and just rallied - we weren't picky about the serve rule. The volunteers from PCTTC fanned out and hit with the kids, who were convinced they were all professionals. The kids had a great time - who knows, perhaps we'll be seeing a few of them again at one of the clubs.
Weekend Table Tennis
It was a pretty busy table tennis weekend, in addition to the Club Friday event (above). On Saturday the highlight was the MDTTC Junior League, which is both a league and training. The focus of the night for the roughly 25 players was serve and attack, with the coaches who ran the league coaching the players between points to be more aggressive on this. I was assigned seven players, who played a RR while I took notes on their play.
Sunday I coached from 1:45-8:30PM, with both private coaching and three 90- minute group sessions. In a private session I worked with Todd, who was pretty happy with his performance in the Junior League the night before - he went 3-2, pulling off two "upsets." In the Beginning Junior Class I teach the focus was on the 2-1 drill (backhand-forehand-forehand, also known as the Falkenberg Drill), and then on pushing. In the advanced "Talent Group," I fed lots and lots of multiball to my group of four players, then worked with four others on serves. In the Adult Training session I run, the emphasis was serve and attack versus push. It finished at 8:30 PM, and then we had to pick up all the balls, and return them and other equipment to the office. And miracle of miracles, I was able to get home by 9PM to watch The Walking Dead!
USATT Announces Schedule of 2017 ITTF Hopes Qualifier Events
Here's the USATT info article, which includes the schedule. There will be five events, each on a weekend, with a camp on Saturday and a tournament on Sunday. The regional events will take place in Maryland (MDTTC, March 4-5), California (GLTTC March 11 and ICC April 1), Houston (HITTC, March 18-19), and New Jersey (NJTTC, March 25-26), with the North American Finals held in New Jersey (LYTTC, April 29-30). I'm running the tournament at MDTTC, and will be one of the coaches in the camp.
How to Add Whip to Your Forehand
Here's the article and podcast (5:34) from Expert Table Tennis.
11 Opponents - This year, become a tactical tournament player!
Here's the coaching article (and links) from Samson Dubina.
Table Tennis Timing: Perfect Your Stroke
Here's the video (9:08).
Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - January 2017
Here's the video (8:17).
Kanak Jha in Slow Motion at the DHS Swiss Table Tennis Open Lausanne
Here's the video (28 sec).
Bids Open for 2018 ITTF World Tour
Here's the ITTF article.
Zhang Jike "having normal training" States Liu Guoliang
Here's the ITTF article.
"I expect our players to produce some surprises": Massimo Costantini hoping to see a few upsets in New Delhi
Here's the ITTF article featuring Indian Coach (and former USA Coach) Costantini.
Avengers assemble; 12 strongest players on earth found at China trials
Here's the ITTF article.
Here's the video (43 sec) where the coach has set up a vacuum cleaner shooting air outward, holding a ball in the air, so a beginning student can practicing hitting it! I may have to try this.
Mozart with a Ping Pong Racket
Here's the video (1:23) as this concert musician plays violin and sings, all while bouncing a ball on a paddle in time to the music!
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