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
Reading Service Spin.

Weekend Coaching
I had a busy Sunday - was at the club almost all day. I started with the advanced beginning junior class, where I spent much of the time working on basics and serves. When we went to the more advanced sessions later in the day, I acted as a practice partner for an hour - I may not be as fast as before, but I can still block very consistently, and I wore a few players out. One of the advanced players was having some problems with his serves, so I spent a full half hour on this with him - the main problem was his contact point was too high, and it's often difficult to make that transition. But I also showed him how to make the serve bounce really low. I finished the day with the beginning junior girls' group, where I introduced them to serving with spin. (I'd built up to this the last few weeks by having them practice tossing a ball up and spinning it off their racket.)

All players and coaches are required to wear masks at all times in the club, even when playing. It's a hassle, though the kids have adjusted well. Those with glasses have problems with them fogging up. But things might get a bit easier soon with the vaccines out. Soon everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be. I have my two vaccinations now scheduled - the first is tomorrow (Tuesday, April 6), with the follow-up on April 27.

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 will have a large supply of them by the end of this week. They are already available on Amazon, but why not get a signed one?

USA Table Tennis Magazines I Edited
Here's a secret project I've been working on - all 71 issues of USA Table Tennis Magazine that I edited are now online!!! One huge thing - they are all searchable! You can do a search for the name of your favorite player (or your own name) and find them all. This includes 24 issues I did from 1992-1995, and 47 from 1999-2007. Also included are the three copies of Table Tennis World I did independently in 1996.

I initially put together a page that links to them all, but I thought it best that it be a USATT page, so I had Hall of Fame Committee Chair Sean O'Neill copy and paste the page to the new USATT page.

I could have tried doing it myself, taking a picture of each page, but I wanted the text searchable, and I wanted a professional job, so I hired Arc Document Solutions in Gaithersburg to do it, and supplied them with backup copies of all my magazines. Their charge was 15 cents/page if they could destroy the binding (i.e. destroy the magazine), or 45 cents/page if they could not. Since I had backup copies, I went with the 15 cents/page version. Total cost, which I paid myself, was $740.

Here is a listing I put together of every USATT Magazine editor since they began in 1933. (It also lists all past presidents, board chairs, and CEOs/EDs.) There have been a total of 556 print magazines done. I'm hoping someone will spearhead an effort to get them all scanned and put online, either by doing the work or by funding it. It would take an effort to collect copies of all of these magazines, especially since few will allow vintage magazines to be destroyed. (I know of some people with extensive collections, and I have most since 1976.) There are 556-71=485 issues to be scanned. The older ones were smaller. Let's say they average 32 pages each. Then there are 485x32=15,520 pages to scan. At 45 cents/page, that's $6984, or about $7000. Someone can either sponsor this or start a GoFundMe. Unfortunately, I'm just too busy on other things to get more involved in this, but if you are interested and have questions, email me.

USATT's Nominating and Governance Committee, and Clubs and Leagues Committee
The deadline to volunteer for either of these committees is TODAY, Monday, April 5. Here is more info:

USATT Board Meeting
They have an online meeting tonight (Monday, April 5) at 8PM eastern time, on Uberconference. (It's similar to Zoom - not sure why they don't use that, but there must be advantages.) The meeting is open to anyone, and I will be there. You can watch and listen; you can't say anything without permission from the chair. However, you can speak up in the chat box, the board does see that, and usually responds to questions there. The agenda is not up as I write this, but it says it will be posted prior to the meeting.

I believe the main issue is going to be the Proposed Bylaw Changes. (Make sure to page below the actual note, where the proposed bylaws changes are listed. The note doesn't mention they are below, and so many, including me, didn't realize they were there at first.) USATT is getting a lot of flak from members over these, with a number of emails from prominent table tennis people. At issue are whether there should be direct elections of the two new athlete reps or if one should be selected by the Athlete Advisory Committee, and the apparent extension of the terms of some board members.

USATT Nationals Entry Form and USATT Coaches Meeting
It's out!!! Here are some links:

Why am I combining the US Nationals and the USATT coaches meeting? Because that was the primary discussion in the coaches meeting, by far the longest we've ever had, almost two hours. Here's the video (1hr 55min). There are a number of issues with this year's Nationals entry form, though many are communication problems. I'm told there will likely be updates to the entry form to address these communication issues.

Here's a rundown of some of the issues, which I hope will clear up some of the confusion on these issues.

  • Why Single Elimination. I tried to convince USATT to put in the entry form the reason why they are going all single elimination this year, but they chose not to. (Alternately, they could put in large letters that the explanation is in the FAQ page, and put it there.) It seemed to me and others that, regardless of the pandemic, you can have just as many tables and so just as many matches as needed with round robin events - and it's even easier since they are not having any doubles events (to avoid Covid spreading). It was explained to me at the coaches meeting - but why not simply give the following explanation up front? Here's what I was told, primarily by High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, who runs the weekly coaches' meetings.

    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.

    Now this makes some sense, and I wish they'd had the sense to explain this up front. At least there is an argument for why they went all SE, especially if they were being extremely conservative. However, I still disagree with the decision. By the time of the Nationals, anyone over age 16 who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated. Plus, there's been no Nationals or Open since 2019. People are starved for one. I'm pretty certain this year would have had a huge turnout, easily justifying the larger hall. However, by going with all SE, it's sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy as they may now end up with a small turnout. The irony is if they still get a large turnout, imagine what they might have gotten with regular RR! (I'm told that if there is a large turnout, they may then go for a larger hall.)

    UPDATE - at the USATT board meeting tonight (Monday, April 5), USATT CEO Virginia Sung said, "Reason for running all single elimination is to better manage schedule and conflicts more efficiently." This seems to differ with the reasons given above. If this really is the reason, then it seems to imply that this is a permanent change. Someone in USATT recently told me that often the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is thinking and doing. This seems to be another case of that. 

  • Consolation Events. In the earlier version of the entry form that I proofed for USATT, there's no mention of Consolation events. (A Consolation event is where all of the first-round losers are put into another draw and play it out to the final, with prizes.) In the version that went online, it says in the small print near the back, "For further information on the rules for preliminary round play, consolation events, qualification for the Main Draw and Seeding, please refer to the USATT website." Hidden in there was a passing mention of Consolation events. What they should be saying is, "Every event has a Consolation event, so players are guaranteed at least two matches in every event they enter." See the difference? It should be highlighted, in HUGE letters, that players will get at least two matches in every event, due to the Consolation event. Instead, players are left in the dark on this, and so believing they only get one guaranteed match.

    I do think USATT made another mistake here. As I blogged previously and suggested to some USATT people, instead of consolation events, why not simply have a 2020 and 2021 National championships for each event? You end up with two single elimination draws, and except this way we can crown our 2020 champions. It would mean a few more matches and conflicts, but with SE, you have fewer matches and so this should have been relatively easy.  

  • Parents Coaching. The entry form says, "Minor-Aged players are permitted one parent or adult guardian to enter the venue during their match." Then it says, "Coaches must be on the USATT coaching registry to enter the venue for the player(s) match(es)." The problem is that while parents/guardians are allowed in the venue, the moment they coach their kid's match, they become coaches - and so, by this wording, are required to be on the coaches registry. (That means undertaking the USATT's online club coach course for $299, passing SafeSport, getting a background check, paying $75 for an annual USATT "Pro" membership they will likely never otherwise need, and paying an annual $50 for a USATT Coaching License that they also will likely never otherwise need.) When I brought this up at the coaches meeting, I was told that was NOT what USATT intended, and that parents CAN coach their kids. Hopefully, they will fix the wording on this. I was also told that to be a guardian, they would need a signed letter from the parents. (I wonder if anyone will abuse this and get signed letters from all their students, and so be able to coach them as "guardians" without getting on the USATT Coaches Registry!)
  • Event Completion. The entry form says that events are not guaranteed to finish on the day they begin. So players don't know how long to book their hotel and flights for. I'm told that all events will finish by the day after they are scheduled - this should be on the entry form. So, for example, all the junior events are starting on Sunday, July 4, and will finish that day or on Monday. If your last rating event starts on Tuesday, you will be done on Wednesday. And so on.  
  • Hopes. Normally the Nationals has Hopes events, for boys and girls. They are for players under age 12 as of Jan. 1 of that year. When the entry form came out without the events, there were some unhappy players and parents. (My club has two of the top three seeds on the boys' side, and they were training hard for this event.) But ITTF is now phasing out the Hopes event, and instead is going with the following age events - Under 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21, which is what USATT went with. That's understandable, but again, why no explanation? Plus, it turns out USATT is looking to run the usual Regional and National Hopes programs in the fall, so there will likely be a National Hopes Championships after all. I just wish this had all been communicated widely in advance.

There are other things I wish they'd done. The lowest rating event is Under 1400. Why not Under 1200, for example? I just checked, and 13 of the 74 players currently entered are rated under 1200 (including two unrated players). That's 17.6%, a pretty big proportion - and that's without running Under 1200. If they had the event, presumably there'd be even more players rated under 1200 entered. That's pure lost revenue, plus making it a better tournament for some.

The entry form also says that water will not be provided, so I'm hoping they'll make sure water will be available in some way. Imagine the plight of someone who shows up the first day without bringing a gallon of water! Basically, players will need to buy a case of water on the first day of the Nationals and bring as many as needed for each session. Perhaps USATT can communicate to all players the closest place where they can buy a case of water - but with hundreds of players, they will likely get sold out quickly.

Regarding the Coaches meeting, there were six attendees, Sean O'Neill (High Performance Director as well as Hall of Fame Chair), Larry Hodges, Britt Salter, Mike Lauro, Dave Fullen, and Priya Kannan. We also discussed the USATT licensing fee, the new $50 annual fee coaches must pay to be certified. That too was a long discussion. I blogged about this issue in last week's blog. (Search for "USATT Licensing Fee".) I still think we should drop that fee, and instead charge a coach's pass at the Nationals, Open and Team Trials, for those who choose to coach at those events.

Let's do some math. We now have about 50 coaches paying the $50 licensing fee. That's $2500. But we lost 138-49=89 coaches, or around 90 coaches who were USATT certified on Feb. 28 but no longer on March 1. Suppose half of those 90 were paying the $75 USATT "Pro" membership fee just to stay certified as coaches, but decided the additional $50/year was just too much (i.e. $125/year), especially on top of all the hassle of SafeSport and background checks. Then we lost 45x$75=$3375 in membership fees. $3375-$2500=$875 in lost revenue. Now it's not that simple - extra members cost office overhead, and a number of coaches will pay the $50 to get recertified at the Nationals (including me) - but overall, USATT will likely only come out a little ahead with this, and it's simply not worth the loss of all these certified coaches, not to mention the anger over this. As I said in the video, when you go from 400 to 138 to 49 certified coaches in a short period of time, you have a coaching pandemic. To put it another way, the market has spoken. (My suggestion: Cancel the licensing fee until the pandemic is over, and when we have more advanced online coaching courses to offer, and start with a lower fee.)

For me personally, the entry form works well. I'll be coaching the first four days of the Nationals, Sun-Wed. And then, on Thursday, I play in three hardbat events! (I'm normally a sponge player, but play hardbat on the side for fun.) I'm the defending and six-time champion (Nationals and Open) in Over 40 Hardbat Singles, and will likely be top seed in Over 60 Hardbat, where I'm playing for the first time. I'm also playing Open Hardbat, which I've won twice - back in 1991-1992! So I'm playing that more for warm-up, though there'll be a glint in my eye as I secretly expect to win it. Alas, no doubles - I've won Hardbat Doubles 13 times.

USATT Coaching Committee
The new coaching committee has been approved by the USATT Board. I'm returning as a member, as is Chair Pieke and member Dave. The others are new. They are: Pieke Franssen (chair), Larry Hodges, Dave Fullen, Qiumars Hedayatian, and athlete reps Jennifer Wu, Terese Terranova, and Juan Liu.

New from Samson Dubina

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Ti Long

Table Tennis Penhold Grip (Feeding Multiball)
Here's the article and video (40 sec) from Eli Baraty, on why he often feeds multiball with a penhold grip.

Butterfly Training Tips: Rachel Yang – Defensive Specialist – Drill #2 Video
Here's the video (1:21). Here's Drill #1 (1:18) from last week.

Bruce Lee Philosophy in Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:35) from InMotion Table Tennis.

The Fitness Tests Before the Chinese National Games 2021
Here's the video (6:54).

Explained: The Science Behind TT Racquets with Pimples

Here's the article from the Indian Express. It's written for non-table tennis people, but still pretty interesting.

New from USA Table Tennis

New from Steve Hopkins

All the Things We Don’t Know About Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Table Tennis Climbs Up Social Standing
Here's the article from World Table Tennis.

New from the ITTF

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

Hou Yingchao vs Liang Jingkun | 2021 Chinese National Games (QUAL)
Here's the video (8:47) of this nice chopper vs. attacker match. Spoiler Alert - the chopper Hou, who has no world ranking, upsets world #10 Liang Jingkun.

Linn Sandstrom is Stunning Table Tennis Star Who Quit Sport for Boxing
Here's the article and video (59 sec) from the U.S. Sun.

Come to the Dark Side: We Play Table Tennis All Day
Here's where you can buy the shirt from Etsy!

Darth Vader vs. the Martian
Here's the cartoon!

20 Funniest Moments in Table Tennis
Here's the video (8:06)!

Funny in Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:46)!

Playing Ping Pong With A Cap | Annikas Roller
Here's the video (6:08) from XOLAY!

King of the Frozen Table
Here's the video (7 min) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Power Player Control Shots.

Weekend Coaching
This Sunday I had three group sessions. In the first, I worked with Lidney Castro with our "Advanced Beginning Junior" group. It was an easy session - we had a practice tournament! Afterwards, I gathered them and quizzed them on what they had learned regarding their strengths and weaknesses. I emphasized that you should work on everything, but focus on getting rid of weaknesses while developing overpowering strengths.

In the Intermediate Group (mostly up to about 2000 level), I acted as a practice partner, mostly blocking for an hour. The last ten minutes we did a drill where two players took turns returning my deep serves (mostly to backhand) and playing out points - and I gave them fits! I especially worked with them on returning my big breaking serve that breaks sharply into the backhand, with backspin or topspin, though I focused more on a fast, side-backspin serve that broke a foot. I also had a discussion with one of our really promising players, who has great power. I pointed out that because his shots have such hop and power, most he plays now can't block them back - and so he often doesn't need to worry about placement. But placement is a skill you need to develop, and if he doesn't develop it now, by the time he plays players who can block them back, he'll be way behind. So I told him that even if the opponent can't block his loops, he should really focus on placement - not only going to wide corners and middle, but also knowing when to go where. 

I also had a session with three beginning girls - usually there are four, but one was away. Introduced them to spin by lending them a "spin ball" (with two colors), and had them practice spinning it off their rackets. That's the first step toward teaching spin serves!

Plagiarized Book
Last week I wrote about Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers being plagiarized on Amazon. On Monday, I contacted Amazon and filled out the online paperwork. On Tuesday, they responded, asking for more info, which I gave them. You'd think it would be a quick thing - a glance at the Amazon page showed it was identical to my book, including both the book description and the interior (much of which you can see using the Amazon "Look Inside" tool - just click on the book's picture). Anyway, whoever plagiarized it got to continue selling until Saturday, when Amazon finally took it down. I begrudgingly ordered a copy, both as evidence and as a souvenir.

There were actually TWO plagiarized copies of my book, both going up on Jan. 17, 2021. Both had preposterously unwieldly titles. The first one was this one:

Notice the typo in the title, "Ans" instead of And"? Once you publish on Amazon, you can't change the title. So whoever did this realized his mistake, and redid it under another unwieldly title:

Both books were almost exact duplicates. There were three main differences. The covers were of course different. For some reason, both versions left out the Introduction. And for some weird reason, neither had page numbers. I'm a little baffled by all this - if they got a PDF copy of my book, then it would have the page numbers, not to mention the Introduction. The pages (and especially the pictures) look to sharp for them to have been photocopied from a printed copy of my book. But somehow they must have gotten a PDF version but somehow without page numbers, and for some reason without the Intro (or they left that out on purpose for some reason). The two author names are no doubt made up. I did Google them and table tennis, but nothing comes up.

Dan Seemiller Books
Dan's third book, "Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips," is done! You can order it directly from Amazon. Or you can wait until circa April 8-10, when Dan will have a large quantity available, and then you can order autographed copies directly from him. Full info is on the Dan Seemiller Book page, where you can order this or his previous two books.

Larry Hodges Books
While you are busy buying plagiarized books and Dan Seemiller books, don't forget to order copies of mine! Here are all of my books - nine on table tennis, eight science fiction & fantasy, and a travel book!


  • USATT Board of Directors Seeks Applications for Open Position with Clubs and Leagues Committee
  • USATT Board of Directors Seeks Applications for Nominating and Governance Committee
  • USATT Coaches Meeting. Here's the video (61 min) of the Zoom meeting we had on Friday. (I arrived 13 minutes late - something came up.) They are every Friday, normally at noon eastern time. There was a lot of discussions of the regional qualifiers for the Nationals, US Junior Team Trials, and various other topics. All coaches are welcome - you don't have to be USATT certified. Info is posted in USA Table Tennis Coaches page on Facebook.
  • USATT Bylaw Proposals. On March 23, USATT put up a news item with the proposed bylaw changes, with a deadline to comment of March 30 - but when you go there now (and yesterday) and click on this news item, you get "Access Denied." (I linked to it in my March 22 blog a day late.) I also paged through the USATT news items, and this news item about the proposed bylaws is no longer there. So, for unknown reasons, they took it down yesterday, on March 28, two days early. In its apparent place, this morning they put up this notice: USA Table Tennis Board of Directors Statement on Proposed Bylaw Amendments. There are serious problems with the proposed bylaws, including many that were just put out there with no rationalization given. (Most of them involve board tenures and elections.) Yesterday, former USATT Rules Chair Kagin Lee sent a rather blunt email to the USATT board about the problems with the proposed bylaws, including bylaws they are already breaking. For now, he said he'd rather just keep it between him and the board, and so I'm not going to post his letter. (Addendum: I've heard other prominent USATT people have also sent notes to the board, opposing the proposed bylaws.) 

    In the new statement, it seems to come to an end where it is "signed" as "The USATT Board of Directors," followed by "End.21 03-26a" (note the "End"), with no mention that the updated proposed bylaws are online. Then you go through a bunch of blank space, and then the USATT name, logo, and address. If you keep paging down (and you have no reason to do so), through more blank space, you will find the updated proposed bylaws. When I first wrote my blog this morning, I didn't see them, and I'm guessing neither did most people, since there was no reference to them being below the statement, or any link to them in the statement. (I had to do some rewriting of this blog when I discovered them.) At this point, since so many others are dissecting them and pointing out the problems, I might not have to. (Wouldn't that be great?) But if anyone does have comments that they put online, let me know and I'll likely link to them, either this week (as an addendum) or in my blog next Monday. 

  • US Nationals. I've heard that the entry form will be out by today (Monday), so we'll see. USATT has had me proof every US Nationals and Open entry form since the December 1999 Nationals. (I do it as a volunteer and always get back to them the same day they send it to me.) Including the 2020 Nationals (which I proofed before it got cancelled), that's 42 in a row. Typically I find dozens of small mistakes, and often a few big ones. Proofing is one of my particular set of skills - I'm the type who will notice something on page 200 that contradicts something said on page 10. I haven't seen this year's yet - at this point, perhaps they have others proofing it, and it'll go online today or soon afterwards. (When it goes live, I'll post a note here.)
    UPDATE1: They did send it to me, it's proofed, and will likely go up within a day. 
    UPDATE2: US Nationals Entry Form is up! You can enter via Omnipong. (The big change - all events are single elimination and no doubles.)
  • USATT Coaches Licensing Fee. As of today, we are down to just 47 certified coaches in the entire US. Just 3.5 years ago we had over 400, including 77 who had qualified at the National level. The pandemic had brought us down to 138 certified coaches, including 29 at the National level. There are now only ten coaches certified at the National level, and three of them are USATT employees or contractors. This huge drop is a serious problem we needed to address. As I pointed out at the time, I think it was a mistake to do this in the middle of a pandemic, when coaches are going through the hassle of annual SafeSport testing and background checks (many didn't realize it was an annual thing), and without advanced coaching classes yet offered.

    However, the term of office just ended for the previous coaching committee and there will be some changes/additions. When the new group is approved by the USATT board (presumably including me, who agreed to continue), I'll approach them with the idea of reconsidering this - at the least, it should be postponed until later, and with a lower annual fee. To be certified, coaches are required both to join USATT at the annual $75 "pro" rate and pay the new $50 annual "licensing" fee - so $125/year for most. Between this and SafeSport, the market has shown that few are willing to do this. We can't help SafeSport, but we should be focused on fixing the problem of losing so many coaches rather than aggravating the problem.

    Stellan Bengtsson, Dan Seemiller, the entire professional coaching staffs at MDTTC, Lily Yip TTC, Westchester TTC, ICC, World Champions TTA, Samson Dubina TTA - none are USATT certified coaches any longer. There are now zero certified coaches in many states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, and Massachusetts, and only one in Maryland (an inactive coach), New Jersey, and Nevada. Of the 47 who are certified, some are full-time coaches, but many are part-timers or "hobbiests," i.e. those who earned their certification and wish to continue it, but are no longer coaching much on a regular basis. I was told the point of this licensing fee was to get the "serious' coaches, not the hobbiests - but we seem to be getting mostly the reverse. Of course, some coaches will become certified again before the Nationals in July, not because of anything new offered by USATT, but because USATT will likely require it to coach at the Nationals. (I hope that my naming names above won't lead to a witch hunt where USATT coerces coaches into paying the $50 licensing fee - if USATT can't convince them on the merits, then we have to rethink the program.)

  • Kanak Jha vs. Fan Bo Meng - TTBL Selected (5:54)

New from Samson Dubina

Coaching Tip on Mentality
Here's the article by USA Team Member Crystal Wang

Seth Pech Vs Dan Liu 2021 10,000 Dollar Invitational
Here's the video (8:18), with Seth's point-by-point analysis. "Table tennis match between Dan Liu 2600 player vs Seth Pech 2450 player."

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday
He's been active!

New from Ti Long

Rachel Yang - Defensive Specialist - Drill #1
Here's the video (1:18).

How Dimitrij Ovtcharov Solved the Lin Yun-Ju Problem at WTT Doha
Here's the article, with links to a number of short videos of specific points. Lin (TPE) is world #6; Ovtcharov (GER) is world #9 and former #1.

Crystal Wang Interview With Rachel Sung
Here's the video (2:50). Just a few weeks ago it was Crystal interviewing Rachel (3:06)! Both are on the US Junior Girls Team.

US Opens and Nationals Results
Here are all available results, 1931 to present! Vince Mioduszewski, who created and maintains the web page, is still hunting down some results, but the huge bulk are there.

New from Steve Hopkins

Table Tennis – Members Only??
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "Jon’s Table Tennis Training has survived the pandemic. While 2020 earnings were cut in half from 2019, people are starting to ease back into training. As COVID cases have gone down, interest in table tennis has gone up."

Table Tennis Player Wins Eighth State Crown
Here's the article featuring Steve Emmons, West Virginia Champion.

New from the ITTF

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

I Will Strive to Win More than Gold - I'll Raise Awareness of Para Sports
Here's the article from Tokyo 2020, featuring Koyo Iwabuchi of Japan. "With no search results of 'para table tennis video' showing up on the web, I decided to make one myself, and launched my YouTube Channel."

12th Paralympics Anime Short is Team Futari Novel's 1st Anime
Here's the article.

Meet the Talented Quincy, a Ping-Pong Playing Cat
Here's the article and video (36 sec). I linked to a video of Quincy last week, but this is a longer version.

You Just Got Served Table Tennis Shirt
Here's where you can buy it on Amazon!

Pingpong Lucu
Here's the video (7:11) - it's in Chinese, but still interesting and funny to watch!

The Love of Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:32)!

Funny Ding Ning and Chen Meng
Here's the video (1:25)!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Rally Down Faster & Quicker Players.

Coaching Niches
Recently, I've sort of fallen into four "niche" coaching roles. I used to coach all aspects of the game to all levels, but that's gradually changed. More and more these days at the Maryland Table Tennis Center I've been doing these four things:

  • Coach the Beginning Junior Classes. I've been doing this for years. A look at the USATT ranking pages show that kids that started out with me currently are #1 in 11 and Under; #1, 4, and 6 in 12 and Under; #4 in Under 16 Girls; and a whole slew of others among the top twenty or so of their age group. (Many thanks to the great coaches who continued their development!) There are two keys to success at coaching at that level: Give them a good foundation, and keep it fun. Some think that you put the least experienced coach in charge of beginners, but that's a recipe for huge headaches later on when the "experienced" coaches have to fix all those problems! But you don't need to be a top player to teach beginning juniors - you need to have a solid foundation on how to teach the basics, and know how to teach it. (And again, half of that is keeping it fun!)
  • Coach at Tournaments. Since I did write Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, this has always been a big focus of mine. Even in the pandemic, I've coached our top juniors at two recent tournaments in Ohio, and will be doing so next month at the Butterfly Invitational in North Carolina next month. (A big part of this is also doing writeups for other coaches on what the kids need to work on - both to fix up weaknesses and to develop overpowering strengths. Plus, I've had Covid tests afterwards each time, both negative.) I also spend a lot of time talking tactics with our junior players. Of course, much of coaching matches isn't just tactics; there's also a lot of sports psychology, which leads to...
  • Sports Psychology. I've been doing this for decades, both when coaching matches and in training sessions. I'm not a trained psychologist - they are expensive! - but I've took a number of sports psychology sessions at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs when I was at varying times there as a player, manager, coach, and director. I've also read about ten books on the subject. More importantly, I have many decades experience at it. So recently I've been working with our kids, one-on-one, using Dora Kurimay's Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros! as a reference. Since I know the players pretty well, I know which aspects to focus on for each. For example, one player I'm working on doesn't really get that nervous, but he gets very frustrated when things don't go well (hint - that happens in every competitive match), and so we work on that. Another simply gets nervous and so doesn't play as well as he should.
  • Serves. Along with receive and tactics, this has always been one of my favorite topics. I've taken to mixing this in with the sports psychology sessions. Serves have always been one of my big strengths, and so I'm able to demonstrate by having the kids - often 2000+ players - try to return them, and they miss over and over. (The last two kids I worked with - both rated over 2000 - missed my first five serves. In a game situation, those are called "free points"! It opens their eyes to the possibilities, and pretty quickly they were learning those serves.) They all have good "third-ball serves" the primary serves you should use to set yourself up for an attack (often varying backspin-sidespin and no-spin), and the serves that should be emphasized if you want to get good. But I'm also teaching them "trick" serves - serves designed to often win the point outright, if used as an occasional surprise, and which also make your other serves more effective since the receiver has to guard against the "trick" serves. (Most of these serves are long serves.) So I'm teaching them serves like fast no-spin to the elbow or wide backhand; big breaking serves to the wide backhand, both fast and slow; sudden down-the-line serves to the forehand; and innocent-looking short serves that look like backspin but are actually topspin. You always assume these serves will come back and prepare for that, but if used occasionally, they often are free points, either from outright misses or pop-up returns.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers - Plagiarized!
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers has been the best-selling table tennis book for much of the past eight years - and now some no-good crook has plagiarized it! Someone alerted me to it last night - and there it was, published in January on Amazon, with a different title and cover, and someone else's name! When you do the internal search on Amazon, you can see it's my book - the words, pictures, and every page layout. (The person with the book also verified this.) I googled the "author" of the this "new" book, but nothing came up - likely a fake name. I'm contacting a lawyer later today to see what my options are, and of course will be contacting Amazon. I grudgingly ordered a copy as evidence, and as a memento and reminder of the lowlifes of humanity. (This isn't my first experience with plagiarism - someone also did this in both China and Indonesia with my book Table Tennis: Steps to Success. The book is from 1993, a bit out of date, and out of print - the only ones on sale now are used copies that I don't get royalties on - so I hope to someday go back and update it.)

USATT Board of Directors Seeks Member Comment on Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws
Here's the USATT news item. "Proposed Amendments Seek to Increase Athlete Representation and Expand List of Eligible Elite Athletes." Deadline to comment is March 30. (USOPC now requires us to have 1/3 athlete representation on the board. This segment went up on Tuesday afternoon, when USATT put it up.) 

Tournament 5-Star Sanctioning
There's something weird going on with USATT tournament sanctioning. I'm sure they are following the rules in assigning star values, but when the result of those rules don't make sense, it's time to re-examine the rules. Let's take a look at two tournaments that were both held last weekend:

  • Patty and Si Wasserman Junior Table Tennis Tournament: $10,000 in cash & prizes; 115 players; 964 matches; played on 18 tables; 18 events; nine players rated over 2400, 21 over 2200, 37 over 2000.
  • 2021 US National TT Championships North Carolina State Qualifier: Zero prize money; ten players; 24 matches; two events held (Men's Singles, over 65); zero players rated over 2000.

What is strange about this? The first one was a 2-star tournament (and seemed like a 4-star); the second a 5-star tournament!!! (This is from the USATT listing; in the Omnipong listing, the NC tournament is listed as 4-star for some reason.) It doesn't make sense. There's nothing wrong with holding regional qualifiers, like the one in North Carolina, and there's nothing wrong with the tournament itself, which I'm sure was run expertly (and this has nothing to do with the tournament itself, just its star designation). But it's NOT a 5-star tournament (or 4-star, for that matter), not in any way that makes sense. The US Nationals and US Open are 5-star tournament, the highest level; they are national tournaments with large prize money and typically 800 players. The NC Qualifier is, by definition, a State tournament. Calling a state tournament with ten players and zero prize money a 5-star tournament simply doesn't pass the smell test. I hope USATT or the USATT tournament committee - hard-working volunteers all - can take a look at this - something is out of whack here. (Note also that when people go to the USATT tournament listing and see something listed as a 5-star event - or even search for 5-star events - they are expecting something big.)

The State Qualifiers do have a list of 31 potential events to be held, if they get a minimal number of entries, which range from 2 to 8 (most require 4), but in a state qualifier, most states won't reach the minimum in the vast majority of events. Here, for example, was the NC Qualifier entry form - see page 4.

USATT Coaches Meeting
We had our weekly USATT Coaches Zoom meeting on Friday at noon (eastern time). Here's the video (45 min). We only had four this time - Sean O'Neill, Ty Hoff, Britt Salter, and me. Topics discussed included traveling (especially cross-country) and how to deal with it; US Team Trials, Nationals, and Olympics; and Covid testing.

Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips, by Dan Seemiller
As I wrote last week, the book was done, but many of the photos in it had been scanned at a lower resolution than was optional. So I spent the past week redoing a lot of it, both from scans by Dan's son, Dan Jr., and scanning others myself. The new and final version of the book, with photos scanned at higher resolution, should be up and ready by the end of this week. It's actually done, but a test copy is being sent to Dan for final proofing. I'll update here when the book is available. Once ready, you can order autographed copies directly from Dan Seemiller!

No-Look Forehand
Here's the video (6 sec) as Matt Hetherington pulls it off against John Hsu. The shot was made famous by USATT Hall of Famer Tim Boggan, who demonstrates and explains the shot in his 1976 book Winning Table Tennis. (Amazon doesn't show the actual cover - here it is.) The book is both instructive (circa 1976) and autobiographical. Tim, 90, also has his History of US Table Tennis series.

Fundamentals by Abid Sheikh at the Newton TTC.

Butterfly Training Tips

3 Very Common Mistakes in Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:41) from Pingponged TV.

New from Ti Long

Seth Pech Vs Gabriel Perez 2021 Petty Si Wasserman Tournament
Here's the video (7:30) where Seth analyzes the points.

Magical Number 7
Here's the video (2:32) by Dave Fullen. "Mental preparation for a table tennis match, and all racket sports. Short term memory. Mental focus during competition."

A Practical Path to Table Tennis Improvement
Here's the article by Coach Jon. It's an interesting take from someone who, as he wrote, started at age 40. Most top players start very young. I'm sort of in the middle, since I started at the relatively "old" age of 16. (But I started training many hours almost from the start, and from the start, was a student of the game instead of just practicing and hoping to get better.)

THE Honest Most Complete Blades Guide
Here's the video (13 min).

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Samson Dubina

  • NEW Record - featuring Sarah Jalli, now rated 2467. (Technically, USATT ratings began I believe in 1974, 47 years ago, but they did have rankings before that.)
  • Sponsorship Secret (This one does contain some religious content, which I try to avoid here, but on the whole, it's mostly about how to get sponsors.)
  • Tournament Videos
  • NEW Training Videos

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

New from Steve Hopkins

New from the ITTF

Missed Serve, Flying Racket
Here's the video (47 sec) of these two serves as Mima Ito (JPN, world #2) serves to Yu Mengyu (SGP, world #48).

Explosive Rackets
Here they are!

Guys Play Ping Pong With FIVE Balls | Racquet Sports Compilation
Here's the video (8 min)!

Quincy The Cat Plays Ping Pong And He Can Probably Whoop Your Tail, Too
Here's the video (14 sec)!

XOLAY vs. JENGA - Who is the KING? + Funny Rap Outtakes
Here's the video (7:12) from XOLAY!

World's Most Ridiculous Ping Pong Serves
Here's the video (3:49) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Do You Really Play the Middle?

The $10,000 Patty and Si Wasserman Junior Table Tennis Tournament
Once again I had a great time in Akron, Ohio, where I went this past Friday and Saturday to coach two of our junior players from Maryland. Here are complete results, care of TTLive. There were 116 players in the tournament, played on 18 tables.

Five juniors from the Maryland Table Tennis Center went to the tournament: Stanley Hsu, Ryan Lin, William & Winston Wu, and Tiffany Ke. I was in charge of coaching Stanley and Ryan; Cheng Yinghua had William & Winston; and I believe Tiffany's dad coached her. Here's a group picture (Tiffany missing) - L-R: Larry Hodges, Stanley Hsu, Ryan Lin, Winston Wu, William Wu, Cheng Yinghua.

Here's a Facebook posting by Stanley about the tournament, along with 16 pictures taken by his dad. Here are some of them:

Here are hordes of photos from the tournament, from CLJ Studio Photography. 

The tournament was sponsored by USATT Hall of Famers Patty Martinez and Si Wasserman, and held at the Samson Dubina TTA. Here's info on the tournament's history:

"This event was originally called the Nate Wasserman Junior Table Tennis Classic, this prestigious annual tournament initiated in 2007. It was dedicated to the memory of Si's younger brother Nate, who helped Si run the famous California Table Tennis Center in Hollywood, California in the 1950s. The tournament over the years expanded a number of events and has been conducted every year under the leadership of Danny Seemiller. This is the 14th annual classic. In 2016 the title was changed to the 'Si and Patty Wasserman Junior Table Tennis Championship' to commemorate the marriage of USATT's living legends. These cash awards are given each year to help inspire young champions to continue their table tennis success!"

I went up with Stanley and Ryan and their dads (Steve and Hung) on Thursday afternoon, returning on Sunday morning. We had a lot of fun in the ride - Stanley and Ryan both love brain teasers so I came supplied with hordes of them, and the time went by quickly.

As usual, the tournament was run very well by Samson & crew. The tournament staff was Steve Graber, Josh Graber, Dan Seemiller, Mike Boyd, Blake Cottrel, and Samson Dubina. It's a great facility, with rubberized floors on all 18 tables, and perfect lighting. Once again they offered free lunch (various deli sandwiches) and dinner (delicious pasta with tomato sauce and optional meatballs, I had two plates) on Saturday. All the expected Covid precautions were taken, with everyone's temperature taken on the way in, social distancing, and masks required except when actually at the table playing. The level of play was very high.

The tournament was divided into six time segments: 10AM, 2PM, and 6PM on Fri and Sat. Each time slot had two to four events, with a total of 18. With round robins often of seven, and with four advancing, it was a LOT of matches! Stanley ended up playing 34 matches in two days, Ryan 27, with both playing in five events. I coached 36 matches - fortunately, the matches were spread out enough, and there were enough non-competitive matches, plus matches where the Maryland juniors played each other (so no coach) that I was able to be there for essentially every match that mattered or was competitive.

Coaching at a tournament is both fun and scary. Fun, because you get to work with someone in helping them play well. Scary, because you don't want to be the one to mess up and cost them a match! But Stanley and Ryan are fun to work with. Stanley, 12, came in rated 2274, #1 in the US for 12 and Under. Ryan, 11, came in rated 1992, #2 in the US in 11 and Under, and #6 in 12 and Under. (Teammate Winston Wu is #1 in 11 and Under at 2001, and #5 in 12 and Under.) Both Stanley and Ryan had very nice tournaments, with Stanley winning 13 and Under and making the final of 15 and Under, and Ryan winning 11 and Under.

Stanley played two players named Kai with identical ratings of 2416: Kai Jiang and Kai Zarehbin. Against Jiang, he was up 2-1 in games and, despite some disappointing nets and edges, was up 10-9 match point in the fourth, only to lose 11-9 in the fifth. But then he turned it around and won against Zarehbin, also 11-9 in the fifth. (But Zarehbin would have his revenge, winning 3-0 in their rematch later in the tournament.) Stanley also lost 11-9 in the fifth to Sid Naresh (2492) - on a net ball!!! He had a number of other good wins. However, we ran into a problem on Saturday morning. On Friday, Stanley played the final of 15 and Under, losing to Nandan Naresh. It was the last match of the tournament for that day - but didn't end until 11:45PM. So Stan went to bed late, and had to get up early, just as he had had to do in his last tournament - and for the second time in a row, he woke up with a headache. He played with it on Saturday morning, and had two "bad" losses to 2200 players, before he got over it. But it means we have to make plans for future tournaments - no more late-night events followed by morning events; Stanley gets nine hours sleep for now on! When he gets his sleep, he's 2400 level. He won 13 and Under Boys by winning eight straight 3-0 matches, and gave Nandan Naresh a good battle in 15 and Under Boys.

I could write a book on the 11 and Under Boys' Event. Winston was top seed, followed by Ryan, and then Rignesh Padamanur, rated 1852 but about 2000 level. In the round robin, Ryan was caught off guard by Rignesh's excellent short pushes, strong backhand, and consistent forehand, and lost in five. Emotionally, it was a devasting loss, since he felt like he wasn't in control because he wasn't able to flip Rignesh's short pushes. But he got past it, and determined to play better, fought his way to the final, winning 3-0 against teammate Winston in the semifinals. Before the final, I had Ryan spend 20 minutes practicing with Stanley, where Ryan served short, Stanley pushed short, and Ryan flipped, forehand or backhand. It paid off - this time Ryan was more prepared for Rignesh's short pushes, and won the final, 9,8,7. Ryan played well in other matches, including a win over a 2152 player, and pushed some 2200 players pretty hard.

I got permission from Stanley's and Ryan's parents to write about their matches - but can't give out tactical secrets! Stanley generally dominates with his close-to-table two-winged looping game - few can withstand his relentless backhand loop, done so quick off the bounce it's on you before you can blink. His forehand is also close to table - when players loop there, his off-the-bounce counterloop is often past them before they can react. There are a few things he needs to work on, but I can't write about them here. Ryan plays a similar two-winged attack, with a more forehand-oriented game - but his backhand loop this tournament was very consistent. He gets frustrated when things don't go well, but was much, Much, MUCH better this tournament at dealing with adversity. I've been working with him on sports psychology, and it seems to be paying off. I like that he's taken to nodding his head in acknowledgement when an opponent plays a great point and so doesn't let it bother him. He can also separate disappointment at losing from judging his own play. So when he plays well but loses, he’s more okay with it. Fortunately, this tournament, he mostly played well!!!

There were a lot of tactical things that went on. For example, one thing I stressed with both was having a go-to serve. You should have a general one that you like to use against most players, but it may change, depending on the opponent. For example, back when I was an active player, my "go-to" serve was often a forehand pendulum short side-top serve that allowed me to follow up over and over with my forehand - it was tricky for opponents to attack it to my forehand side, and so I could edge over to my backhand side and cover nearly the whole table with my forehand, and not worry about them dropping it short since the serve had topspin. But against a player without a good backhand loop, my go-to serve might change to a big breaking serve to an opponent's backhand. Similarly, Stanley and Ryan both have go-to serves, but it sometimes changes, depending on the opponent.

I think Stanley and Ryan used their trophies as pillows on Saturday night. And then it was back to Maryland - and Covid tests before we can go back to the club.

Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips, by Dan Seemiller
I blogged about this two weeks ago. The book was done, and was actually up on Amazon - but since it's essentially a picture book, it's important that the pictures be as good as possible. Dan realized that the pictures he'd had scanned and sent to me hadn't been scanned at high enough resolution. And so, he had someone take pictures of 90 of the originals, at higher resolution and clarity. That means I have to go through all 300, do any needed fixing up, and then place them into the book again. Yikes - there goes my week! :) Hopefully, I'll get it done this week, and the book will be ready again by next week. I'll give an update next week.

USATT Coaching Certification and Licensing Fee
I blogged about this on March 1 - see segment on USATT Coaching Excellence Licensing Fee. As I'd feared, we lost a lot of coaches. According to the USATT listing, USATT is down to just 39 certified coaches in the whole country. Hopefully, that'll pick up soon. 

For perspective, on Feb. 28, the day before the licensing fee was required, there were 138 USATT certified coaches. And that was after huge losses in recent years, much of it due to SafeSport requirements. For further perspective, when I stepped down as coaching chair in 2017, there were around 400 USATT certified coaches. (I am still on the coaching committee.) Not all of them were active of course, but neither are all of the 39 who are now certified. (All of California now has only six certified coaches; New York two; New Jersey and Maryland one each.) Many of our most successful and most active coaches are no longer certified - in fact, the huge majority of full-time coaches in the US are no longer certified. Between the hassle of SafeSport (mostly unavoidable), and now the added $50 licensing fee, on top of the required $75 USATT "Pro" membership fee, in the middle of a pandemic when coaches (like many others) are already struggling, it's simply gotten to be too much. I hope I can convince USATT to cancel this licensing fee, and perhaps consider it later on, after the pandemic is over, when we have more USATT coaching courses (we only have ones for club level right now), and with a lower annual fee. We need to think of our coaches as a resource for bringing players into the game, not as a direct revenue source.

We really need to start focusing more on our sport's infrastructure. A few years ago, there were nearly 400 USATT sanctioned clubs. Now there are 161. Again, much of this was because of SafeSport, but USATT needs to find ways to overcome this. I'm fairly certain there are actually more clubs now than before, they just no longer find it in their interest to be USATT sanctioned. We need to find ways to change that because USATT needs them more than they need us. 

On a related note, in the new USATT CEO blog, March Chop and Smash Blog, it says, "Furthermore, requiring [bold is added] that all persons engaged in coaching activities at USATT Member Clubs are properly certified allows the organization to maintain the protections available to those Member Clubs under USATT's Comprehensive Liability Insurance Policy." I don't believe this is accurate - there is not and never has been a requirement for this. There are many dozens of full-time coaches who are not (and have not been) on the certified coaches list who coach at USATT sanctioned clubs. If a non-certified coach coaches at a club, then that club may not get the full benefits of USATT insurance, but that's different than saying that all persons engaged in coaching activities at USATT Member Clubs are required to be certified. (USATT insurance only helps some clubs - why not simply charge the clubs that need it instead of the coaches who usually don't?) I have emailed the chair of the coaching committee on this, but haven't received a response yet.

Serve & Attack Sequence
Here's the video (2:58) by Jishan Liang, featuring Yudi Jin.

Coaches Corner: The Hook Serve
Here's the USATT article by Shuang Wang.

Loop Against Underspin With Zelin Ye
Here's the video (3:16). Zelin, 13, is rated 2246, #5 for his age in the US.

Foundational & Advanced Skills
Here's the video (2:01) with Gabriel Perez.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

PingSkills Ask the Coach Podcasts
Here they are, on various topics.

ITTF High Performance & Development Webinar 38 - Coaching Pathway
Here's the video (76 min).


Lily Zhang at WTT Star Contender Doha
Here's the video (47 sec).

14-Year-Old Prodigy Will DOMINATE You In Table Tennis!
Here's the video (8:37) featuring Faith Hu. She is on the TTTeamUSA Female National Team.

2021 World University Games Selection Procedures
Here's the info page from NCTTA.

The Table Tennis Writer
Here's the article by Coach Jon. Hey, he's giving out our trade secrets!!!

Genius Skills in Table Tennis
Here's the video (8:03) from Table Tennis Central.


World Singles Qualification Tournament
The ITTF event is taking place in Doha, Qatar, March 14-17.

World Table Tennis Middle East Hub 2 - Coverage by Steve Hopkins

New from Steve Hopkins
(See also his articles on the WTT Middle East Hub)

Tomokazu Harimoto, Mima Ito Claim Singles Titles in Doha
Here's the article from the Kyodo News.

World Table Tennis
Here are lots of great videos! Here's a good one to start with: World-Class Table Tennis Rallies (6:18, Day Three at the WTT Star Contender Doha 2021).

Masters of Skill: International Women's Day Special
Here's the ITTF video (6:28).

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


Ping-Pong Ninja Shirt
You can get one at Amazon!

Multi-Sport Ping-Pong?
Here's the cartoon!

Ping-Pong Murder Mystery
Here's the cartoon! Long-pips Phantom users, take note!

German Speedrun Ends Here
Here's the video (10:38) from Adam Bobrow!

One Will Go Home HUNGRY - Stella or Simon? Chocolate Special!
Here's the video (8:36) from XOLAY Table Tennis!

Finally, a Real Chopper
Here's the video (28 sec)!

Quicksilver Plays Table Tennis

Butterfly Manyball Dance Battle
Here's the video (30 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Experiment with Serves and Receives Early.

Sports Psychology, Weekend Coaching, and Ohio, Oh My!!!
I may have to go back to college and get another degree, this one in psychology. I’m starting to do more sports psychology sessions with our up-and-coming juniors. I wrote about this in my February 15 blog, under “Weekend Coaching.” As a match coach, I’ve been both learning and teaching sports psychology for about 40 years (including many group sessions with the sports psychologist at the US Olympic Training Center during my four years there), but now I’m doing one-on-one sessions on it. From those years of coaching and learning, I have a whole basket full of mental tricks to help players overcome almost any sports psychology problem - but rather than deal with it during a tournament, it’s best to address it and solve the problem before the tournament begins.

I’ve actually found a unique mix - the sessions are actually joint sports psychology and serves. For the sports psychology, I’m using Dora Kurimay’s book Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros! - here's my review. (So she’s getting a bunch of sales from Maryland - a number of them have ordered copies now.) While the whole book is valuable, for our specific purposes I’ve picked out about 2/3 of the book that I assign the player to read. Our first session is before they read it, where I outline what they are going to go over - in particular, the four R’s covered in the book: Reaction, Recover, Ready, and Ritual. While I’d never formulated it that way specifically, I’ve always done the same four things she teaches, as do most top players. In the second session we go over the four R’s, one by one. I also pick out specific parts of the book that apply specifically to the player - that’s the advantage of knowing the players as I do. For these sessions, I have to do some prep work each time.

The serving aspect is both to teach serves and a release. (And it’s easy for me - I don’t even have to prepare since I’ve been coaching serves for many decades.) All our kids have what I would call well-developed third-ball serves. These are serves that somewhat consistently set up their attacks, and are the main serves top players should use. However, it’s valuable to have some “off” serves as well - trick serves that might give you one or two “free” points a game (and probably far more below the 2000 level) - but perhaps even more importantly, they give the opponent something else to worry about, thereby making your regular serves more effective. I start off by throwing all my trick serves at the player, and unless he’s over 2200, he’s going to have a terrible time at first! (I always go in early to practice my serves before such a session.) But pretty much by definition, trick serves only work when used sparingly - but as I point out, think of the value of a few “free” points per game, and how much better it makes your other serves as the opponent guards against the occasional trick serve! I tend to go over fast no-spin to the middle and wide backhand; big breaking serves to the backhand; fast down-the-line to the forehand; tomahawk or reverse pendulum serves short or half-long into the forehand, and ways to make a side-top serves look like backspin (by having racket tip go down during contact, but contact is on other side of paddle, going up, as paddle rotates in a circle; plus exaggerating the downward motion). There are others, but these are my favorites.

I may end up doing group Zoom sessions for a bunch of the kids. This might be more efficient, but I’m leery because 1) it means giving less personal attention to each player in the group session, since each is different, 2) I’ve never taught a class on Zoom, and 3) I wouldn’t be able to do the “fun” serve session we finish with.

On Sunday, I ran one junior session and assisted in another. In the one I ran, we did a lot of serve practice, and I brought out the two serving devices. One is the serving bar (here set high for beginners) created by John Olsen. The other was the TT-Serve (search on the page for it) created by Samson Dubina. Both have adjustable heights. They force servers to serve low, so that the ball goes under the bar or screen. The kids enjoy this challenge, especially when I put Froggy on the far side, so they have to serve under the bar and hit the poor frog. I also spent some time with one of the kids who was trying to learn to serve effectively, since he’d discovered I could loop all of his deep serves. If I do a good job on this, someday he’ll beat me. If I do a bad job of this, he’ll never beat me. Either way I win!!! (But let’s go with the former.)

I also had a session with Navin Kumar. Here are two videos he put up.

  • Blocking (35 sec). I’m feeding multiball loops to his backhand or forehand, and he has to react to each. He’s doing well with the footwork here - note the bouncing between shots and moving to each ball - but he needs to chop down more on the backhand where he deadens the ball with his pips. I should have caught that while doing the drill - earlier he was chopping down much more, returning all my topspin as backspin.
  • Smashing lobs (25 sec).

This next weekend I’m off to Ohio for The Patty and Si Wasserman Junior Table Tennis Tournament. Cheng Yinghua and I will be going there to coach Stanley Hsu, Ryan Lin, and William & Winston Wu. (I’m in charge of Stanley and Ryan, while Cheng has the Wu’s.)

USATT’s T2 Challenge: Season Two
Here’s the home page - they just completed week one, where Jimmy Butler defeated Deng Zhen. Here’s the upcoming schedule:

Matches Team Omega   Team Alpha Premier Date Watch

Match 1




4 March 2021

Watch Now

Match 2

LI Kewei


Shahin Akhlaghpasand

11 March 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 3

LIN Jiaqi


WANG Huijing

18 March 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 4




25 March 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 5



LIANG Jishan

1 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 6

LIU Juan



8 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 7

Matilda EKHOLM



15 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 8



LI Jian

22 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 9

Jon Ernesto EBUEN



29 April 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 10

Jayden ZHOU


Massao Kohatsu

6 May 2021

Stay Tuned

Match 11

Nikhil KUMAR


Angie TAN

To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 12

YE Tian



To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 13

William BAI


WEI Dianren

To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 14

PU Zheng


LYU Boliang

To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 15

ZHANG Xiangjing



To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Match 16

Ted LI



To Be Announced

Stay Tuned

Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips, by Dan Seemiller
I blogged about this last week. The book is actually done, but before going public, Dan did one more proofing, and has a number of corrections/changes that I’ll get to after finishing this blog. If all goes well, it’ll be ready and available this week! When it is, besides Dan and I announcing it on Facebook, I’ll add a note and link to it here. It’ll be on sale both at Amazon and by Dan, who will sell autographed copies at a lower price than Amazon!

Ball Picker-Uppers
You may have noticed a new ad on the left here, for Babo Ball Pickers. They have two types - a tube version, and a multiball picker that picks up a whole bunch at once. I tried out the tube one with the kids yesterday, and they had a lot of fun with it. Here are some of the common ball picker-uppers. If you have one or know of one I should add to the list, email me. (I may run this again if I missed some - and I know I did.)  

Junior Representative Poll and Discussion
Here’s the poll and Discussion, on Facebook, put together by USATT board member Thomas Hu. “Your overwhelming response on the previous poll is to add a new director to the USATT board to represent the junior membership. A large group that has never been represented in the USATT at all. Now, I’d like to ask you to help me by answering what type of representative you’d like to see. I have offered four options, if you have another please add it in the comments!”

New from Samson Dubina

New from Seth Pech

New from Ti Long

Training Tips: Loop Against Underspin
Here’s the video (3:16) from Zelin Ye.

Decision-Making Under Uncertainty: Tips for Receiving Serves
Here’s the article by Vikash Sahu & Rajko Gommers. “Service and receive are at the essence of competing at a high-level in table tennis.”

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

New from Steve Hopkins
(See also his articles under Middle East Hub.)

Table Tennis Talk Podcast - Episode 22 - February 2021
Here’s the video (56:37) from Joey Cochran. “In this month’s episode of Table Tennis Talk, we cover the All Japan 2021 tournament and Ryan’s first tournament in VR with Eleven Table Tennis VR. Then we profile notable Black US Table Tennis players including George Braithwaite, Norman Bass Jr, Jennifer Johnson, and Marcus Jackson.”

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

91-Year-Old Senior Plays Ping Pong to Stay Active and Mentally Fit
Here’s the video (2:31). “Eileen Greene is 91 years old and enjoyed a lifetime playing tennis, but once she was diagnosed with diabetes, she had to find a way to stay fit safely. That’s when her son Richard got her a ping pong table.”

Massachusetts SQT - Westford TTC, Qiumars Hedayatian
Here’s the USATT news item.


International Women’s Day: Online Conference Open to All
Here’s the ITTF info page. IT’S TODAY!!! (Monday, March 8.) Here’s the USATT news item on it, with various links.

Middle East Hub Articles by Steve Hopkins
“The first ITTF event of 2021 is officially underway in Doha, Qatar.  The “Middle East Hub” is a series of four events that begin with the WTT Contender Event this week, then the WTT Star Contender Event on March 5, then the World Singles Qualification Tournament on March 14, and finally the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament on March 18.”


Why Did Ma Long Choose Table Tennis as His Sport?
Here’s the article by EmRatThich at PingSunday.

Man in China Plays Ping-Pong with Elderly Mother Using Rolling Pin and Other Objects
Here’s the video (4:26). They make bats out of novel objects and practice two hours per day for the past 20 years.


Virtual Reality Table Tennis | Eleven | The Most Realistic VR Game!
Here’s the video (9:14) from Table Tennis Daily.

XOLAY Table Tennis
Here’s a site that features lots of funny and weird table tennis videos!

Ping Pong Legend Tommy Lee Jones Vs An Amateur Challenger
Here’s the video (5 sec) which seems to be someone smashing balls at actor Tommy Lee Jones, who effortlessly returns them, and then the challenger screams.

Ping Pong Trickshot 2 (quarantine edition)
Here’s the video (42 sec)!

Frozen Table Challenge
Here’s the video (9:26) from Pongfinity!

Ping-Pong Can Be Funny
Here’s the video (8:58) of what seems the best of Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Learn Something New Each Time You Play.

Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips, by Dan Seemiller
I spent most of last week working on Dan Seemiller’s new book, which will be about 200 pages (8.5x11), with over 300 pictures. Each page features a vintage photo from his 50+ years in the sport, with Dan’s notes about it. Most pages also feature a Tip. Dan had put together the rough layout, with the photo and text; my job was to fix up all the photos (they were mostly old ones in need of lots of work in Photoshop); finalize the layouts; edit; write the foreword; and do the front and back covers. Dan is now proofing it - he said he has lots of changes, including some new pages - and will send me those changes probably later today. Then I put in the changes, do the final pre-press work, and send it off for publication in Amazon’s KDP Publisher. It should be ready by March 15. There are still some complications to work out (such as how much color), but we’ll have it done this week. It’s my third time collaborating with him on a book, since I also worked with him on Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion (his autobiography) and recreating his book from 1996, Winning Table Tennis (instructional). I bet you can’t order and read both before “Smash!” comes out!

Weekend Coaching
I spent all day Sunday at the club (MDTTC), though I only had two actual group sessions that day - in between I went to the back room to do some of my other sideline, science fiction writing. Alas, I didn’t get much done as I kept getting contacted by coaches about the new USATT $50 licensing fee - see segment below.

In both group sessions, we did a lot of work on serving, especially deep serves. One kid had developed a very fast serve, but it wasn’t that effective - it was straight topspin. I demonstrated this to him, doing the same serve to his backhand, which he had little trouble returning. Then I put in some sidespin, so the ball broke away from him - and suddenly he struggled to return them. Then we worked on developing that serve for him. Another player had a good forehand pendulum serve, but could only do backspin and side-backspin. It’s always a tricky thing for players to learn to do side-top, and sometimes they have to keep at it, over and over, until it suddenly clicks. This time, it worked after about five minutes, and then he spent extra time working that serve. His opponents are going to have fits with it!

I also did a private session with Navin Kumar. Here’s video (49 sec) of him working on his down-the-line forehand to my backhand. To go down the line, unless you have a very supple waist, you need to bring the right leg back a bit and take the ball a bit later.

I am 99.9% sure that this is the last time I will have to write about the USATT-NCTTA issue.

The Ongoing USATT-NCTTA “War” - RESOLVED!!!
I originally wrote at length about specific problems with the two USATT motions passed by USATT last Monday, regarding NCTTA and their running of the World University Games Trials and their position on the USATT board of directors. However, today the two sides reached an agreement. So, I've decided that enough is enough, and I've removed the text on that issue. In its place, here is the USATT news item on the resolution, which NCTTA has also agreed to:

USATT Authorizes NCTTA To Manage US Entry in the World University Games

And so, the long back-and-forth ping-pong between USATT and NCTTA is over.

ADDENDUM - Brandon Lawrence, the new "National Organization Representative - NCTTA," is now pictured on the USATT board page - see last photo. 

NCTTA Town Hall on the USATT-NCTTA Conflict
The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association had a townhall meeting on Zoom last Monday night, for an open discussion of the USATT-NCTTA conflict. Two of the eight USATT board members attended (Thomas Hu and Dan Reynolds), as did USATT High Performance Director Sean O’Neill. The meeting was attended by 38 people. NCTTA President Willy Leparulu ran the meeting. He started with a presentation, which included a number of slides and a timeline of events. Here is video of the entire townhall meeting (52 min). Here are the slides presented by Willy: Slides One and Slides Two. (And all's well that ends well - USATT and NCTTA reached an agreement on this - see above.) 

USATT Coaching Excellence Licensing Fee
Here’s the news item, which gives the USATT’s reasoning for this. It takes effect today (March 1). Basically, it means that USATT coaches, to remain on the certified list and the other benefits listed for certified coaches, you have to pay a new annual $50 fee to USATT. It’s really $125/year for most, since unless you have a lifetime membership (like me), you are also required to have a USATT “Pro” membership, which is $75/year, in addition to the $50 fee. 

The four members of the USATT Coaching Committee (I’m a member, and formerly a two-time chair totaling six years) had a Zoom meeting on this, with the CEO and High Performance Director also attending. I objected to the new fee, thinking we need to develop the sport a bit more and have more to offer coaches before we do this, and that $50/year (in addition to the $75 member) was too much. However, I was the only one to disagree with this.  (Note - I've known about the new fee for some time, but felt I should wait until USATT went public first. Technically, all USATT meetings are open sessions unless the chair closes them, and so the coaching committee meeting where this was decided was actually an open meeting. But it would appear that I was taking advantage of my position on the committee if I were to report on it first, or give details of what took place in the meeting other than the final result.) 

I understand their reasons - they want to set up a professional group of coaches. I think it’s an admirable goal, and I praise them for the work they've done. The news item linked above give the benefits of the new fee. The coaching committee members are volunteers, giving up their time to help the sport. They have the sport’s best interests in mind. But we used to have over 250 USATT certified coaches (I think it broke 300), and as of Feb. 27, we were down to 138. Much of the loss was because of SafeSport. Being a USATT certified coach has become too much of a hassle for many, with SafeSport, background checks, and payments to USATT.

Plus, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, where there are far fewer students and many coaches are struggling to make ends meet, and so this might not be the best time to ask them to pay more. It might have been better to postpone this fee, and start at a lower amount. But maybe I’m wrong. You decide.

Many of the benefits don’t apply to most coaches - for example, at my club, we have insurance that covers us already, and the two types of USATT insurance listed specifically for coaches is not needed. Perhaps just bill the clubs or coaches that need that type of insurance, at the amount it costs USATT? Plus, since USATT certified coaches have never had to pay coaching fees at USATT events (that was supposed to be one of the main benefits and reasons to get USATT certified), saying they don’t have to pay them if they pay the $50 licensing fee isn’t really a benefit, since they didn’t pay them before. (Plus, as noted already, we’re in the middle of a Pandemic, and haven’t held a US Open, Nationals, or Trials in a year, and the upcoming Nationals, scheduled in July, is iffy as well.)

I don’t like the “Excellence” in the licensing fee - it’s premature. USATT (with some assistance by me) is setting up a USATT Coaching Development Program, and has already set up an Online Club Level Coach Certification, which is a fantastic first step. But it’s only the first step. For us to earn the “Excellence” part, we need to be training coaches to higher levels. Until then, the word “Excellence” is just marketing that I don’t think works with our coaches, which is the audience for this. There is some irony that what we’ve done so far is mostly a great first step for those who are not yet certified, but it’s the certified ones who have to pay more, when we’re not really offering them more than before. I look forward to the day when we begin to really train our coaches to higher levels of true Excellence!!!

My phone has been ringing off the hook this past week as coaches are asking and complaining about this. Nearly every coach at my club gave me a phone call, trying to figure out what’s going on. Of course, the coaches are against it because they are being asked to pay a new fee to USATT, when many believe they are the ones that bring in USATT members through the many students they recruit and develop. And I’m a firm advocate of that - the students coaches bring in are the key to what makes a full-time training center successful, and the same applies to USATT. So it just comes down to whether USATT is offering more than before in return for this extra $50 fee.

I debated all week on what to write about this, and actually wrote quite a bit more. But I’ve decided it’s better to just let the market decide. Presumably, later today or this week, when they start taking those that have not paid off the certified listing, that 138 will start dropping, but how much, I have no idea. (Some essentially have no choice - the 19 on the National Team Coaches page would lose their positions if they do not pay the $50 plus the $75 USATT “pro” membership. Presumably, they were chosen for their “Excellence!”, not their willingness to pay money!)

But, as I said, I do understand the reasoning behind this move, even if I think it is premature. We’ll see.

I do think they should put a new picture up over the Coaches List - they have Stellan Bengtsson there, perhaps the most illustrious and best coach in the US. But he hasn’t been a certified coach in a while, and wasn’t on the list well before the $50 licensing fee started today. (He was a member of the coaching committee the last few years, but resigned from it early last year.)

Poll and Discussion on USATT's Expanded Board
Here's the Facebook page, where USATT board member Thomas Hu set up a poll and discussion about how USATT should expand their board. (No, it's not a scientific poll.) I linked to this last week, but now there are a lot of results and discussion. USOPC now requires the USATT board to have 33% athlete representation on the board, so they will be adding positions. Here's what Thomas wrote of the poll and discussion:

"I am biased because I have been working with kids in table tennis for the last five years. I understand their voice has not been heard and there is a lack of mechanism to fully protect their vulnerability. However, I want to hear from you. In light of the necessity to change the USATT bylaw to satisfy the new regulation requiring minimum 33.33% athlete representation, what do you think is the best action USATT should take with respect to the board structure? Please vote and share with everyone your reasons. Your opinion matters."

California SQT - Table Tennis America, Hailong Shen & Miya Zhu
Here’s the USATT news item by Joshua Dyke.

USATT News Items
This past week there were only three USATT “News” items, and one of those was just the weekly link to the weekly USATT Insider. (The others are the ones of California SQT and the new Coaches Licensing fee.) As I once wrote about, this past year they changed their policy. The USATT news page used to be the “go to” place for news on table tennis in the US, but now they only put up news items specifically about USATT. So others have had to take up the slack. My blog gained a LOT of new readers because of this, and yet, I think it would be a whole lot better if USA Table Tennis were the place to go for news on USA table tennis.

US Table Tennis Athletes Association
Mike wrote me the following: "Michael McFarland is happy to introduce the USTTAA, US Table Tennis Athletes Association, an association that truly belongs to its members,, and click here to find why the organization was created. The USTTAA mission is to promote a healthier lifestyle through the wonderful lifetime sport of table tennis by developing grass-roots programs throughout the US to reach individuals and families from 3-100+ in age. Our sport could not be possible without all the hard work so many of you do; therefore, as a special thank you for every club that 70%+ of their business is table tennis related is published for free on the USTTAA site, and if you don't see your club, we will be happy to add your club, please email us at"

New from Ti Long - Returning the Hook Serve

New from Samson Dubina

Jörg Bitzigeio ETTU Presentation: Professional Coaching in Table Tennis - Find Out and Discuss How to Do It
Here's the presentation (2 hr 35 min) - Double click on "22/02/2021 - Jörg Bitzigeio". Jörg is the former USATT High Performance Director and now ETTU Development Webinar Expert.

Weekly Training Lessons - Play Well, Play Parallel | High Performance & Development
Here’s the video (5:49) from the ITTF.

Thinking About Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Coach Jon. It has some nice things to say about my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!

New from Steve Hopkins


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

Speedrunning Germany
Here’s the video (8:31) from Adam Bobrow! “Germany has been a table tennis powerhouse for several decades now and Berlin is an AMAZING city. Thanks to andro, I was able to experience a lot of Berlin... but it's not over yet.”

Most Unbelievable Plays in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (8:01) from Table Tennis Central.

Junior Table Tennis Players Helps Biden on Climate Change
Here’s the article and video (3 min) from CNN. The 14-year-old Welsh junior star had become a climate change activist. (Also, this isn’t the first time she’s been featured in this blog - here’s a video (3:44) from 2016, when she was nine.) 

To Tell the Truth - Table Tennis Champ
Here’s the video (TT portion is about 6 min) - Steve Thoren found this video from a segment of “To Tell the Truth.” The show had segments where three people would claim to be someone, and the panel would question them and try to figure out who was the real person. In this segment, starting at 18:10 (link should take you there), one of the three is 1958 US Open Women’s Singles Champion Shizuko Hoshi of Japan. Can you figure out which one she is? The panel is also pretty famous - Betty White, Ralph Bellamy, Kitty Carlisle, and Tom Poston!

Why Not Get Some Accessory Table Tennis Clothing?
Go to Amazon (or other major online retailers, though few will have as much as Amazon), and do searches for “Table Tennis Hats,” Table Tennis Socks,” “Table Tennis Ties,” and so on.

Table Tennis Pins at Etsy
Here’s the page!

Who’s the Luckiest One?
Here’s the video (4:01).

That Ball Has a Mind of Its Own!
Here’s the video (25 sec) from World Table Tennis.

Is Stella Hitting Simon? Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here’s the video (4:14) from XOLAY.

Funny Video Compilation
Here’s the video (16 sec)! (It starts slow, but gets interesting six seconds in.)

Getty Table Tennis Images
Here are some interesting table tennis photos.

Beetle Bailey Pong
Here’s yesterday’s (Sunday) Beetle Baily cartoon! While this one only has table tennis in one panel, as an example of what Sarge does to Beetle when he loses (see where he puts ping-pong paddle), it’s from a long history of Beetle Bailey table tennis cartoons.

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Rote vs. Random Drills.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association Hosts Townhall Meeting - Open to All
MEETING IS TONIGHT (Monday) at 9:30PM. Here's the Facebook info page. They will discuss various table tennis issues, but there will likely be a focus on the USATT-NCTTA ongoing battle over the NCTTA's position on the USATT board (see below). From the page, "Thank you to the hundreds of you that have supported NCTTA with emails to USATT. Many of you asked to have a zoom meeting, so we have organized it! We will present to you the why's and what's and any updates and answer any questions too. Any USATT or NCTTA player, volunteer, coach, alumni is welcome to attend!" Here is the direct link to the meeting. Remember, the meeting is open to All, not just college players. (There will be USATT board members present. I will attend, hopefully just to listen.)

The Ongoing USATT-NCTTA War
[Skip this if not interested in such internal USATT fighting. See the segment above if you want to discuss or hear others discuss the situation with USATT and NCTTA. There will be USATT board members present. Here's my blog on this topic last week.]

As noted in previous blogs, USA Table Tennis started a "war" with the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association a year ago when, after 13 years of having a spot on the USATT board of directors, they suddenly decided that NCTTA no longer qualified as a "National Organization," and so no longer qualified to hold a board seat. As also noted in previous blogs, USATT is completely wrong on this. (Here's the NCTTA take on this. USATT has no such public statement.)

To reiterate, here is what the USATT bylaws say about the National Organization position, which are essentially word for word taken from the Ted Stevens Act (passed by congress), making it illegal not to follow them (bolds are mine):

5.1.b.2: National Organization Members. National Organization members are those amateur sports organizations that register as a national organization and which conducts, on a level of proficiency appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition, a national program or regular national amateur athletic competition in the sport of Table Tennis.

NCTTA conducts the National Collegiate Championships each year. Is it, "on a level of proficiency" appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition? Since the best college players in the country compete in it, the level of "proficiency" is obviously high enough. Here are the top players at the 2020 Championships (alas, it was cancelled due to the pandemic):


  1. Baiyu "Bob" Chen (Ohlone College) 2017 US Open Men's Doubles Champion, 2688 rated (previously over 2700)
  2. Yijun "Tom" Feng (NYU), 2015 US Men's Singles Champion, 2016 USA Olympic Team, USA National Team Member, 2667 rated (previously over 2700)
  3. Sharon Alguetti (Indiana University) USA National Team member, 2622 rated (previously over 2700)
  4. Gal Alguetti (Indiana University) USA National Team member, 2618 rated


  1. Jiaqi Lin (Texas Wesleyan University), 2489 rated
  2. Angela Guan (UC Berkeley) USA World Team member, 2433 rated
  3. Yixiao Wang (San Jose State University), 2401 rated
  4. Qiao Jiao (Ohlone College) 2369 rated

These are basically the best college players in the country. (Some of the other champions who have won singles in recent years include Lily Zhang, Ariel Hsing, Wu Yue, Jishan Liang, and Kai Zhang.) So yeah, NCTTA obviously qualifies on "level of proficiency." (Note that some players who compete in the US Collegiate Championships may not be eligible for the World University Games, so you simply remove those players in the selection process. If USATT doesn't like this procedure, then they can simply request that NCTTA run them in a different fashion - but that doesn't change the "level of proficiency.")

And yet, USATT, or rather the chair of the board, Richard Char (or whoever is advising him), continues to insist they do not qualify. There was no board vote on this; a year ago, Char apparently ruled, as the chair, that they were not eligible. Despite constant requests, no real reason has ever been given. When asked, invariably, there one of three responses:

  • "They do not qualify." They simply assert it over and over without giving a reason.
  • "Our lawyer has ruled they are not eligible." Yes, when you bring in a lawyer to argue your case, he is going to argue your case. The key thing is they also have not given a reason.
  • "NCTTA does not conduct a selection process for selecting athletes to the World University Games." This is probably the worst one of all, as it is blatantly misleading. The bylaws and the Ted Stevens Act do not require this. What is required is running such an event "...on a level of proficiency appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition." At this point, there's nobody from USATT who doesn't know these words, since it has been repeated to them over and Over and OVER. (The people who wrote the Ted Stevens Act weren't stupid; they had good reasons to word it in this way, but that would require an entire new blog, so I won't get into that.)

So once again, NCTTA obviously qualifies. This is a completely unnecessary and dumb war, brought on by USATT's internal politics, to the detriment of our sport. NCTTA literally did nothing to deserve this.

And so what is USATT doing? They are "negotiating" NCTTA's spot on the board. They are trying to get certain agreements in return. They are holding a hammer over NCTTA's head, and essentially are saying, "Do this, or else." It's coercion and bullying. (Some from NCTTA think they should just walk away from USATT at this point. Yep, USATT is splitting our sport.)

Since NCTTA clearly qualifies, the appropriate, legal, and smart thing for USATT is to immediately place them on the board. Char could simply rule from the chair that they are eligible (just as he previously ruled they were not), but that's not likely to happen. So why don't they just have a vote? The chair (Char) sets the agenda, and so far, he won't put it on the agenda. When someone made a motion to put NCTTA back on the board, Char ruled (correctly) that it was invalid since he hadn't put it on the agenda - and then refused to allow such a vote. The only other way to get it on the agenda is if a majority of the board (five of the current eight) request it. If Char keeps blocking this, eventually that will happen. I think it'll pass somewhat easily.

I said it's the smart thing, because right now USATT is actively alienating its membership with their internal politicking on this issue. They already alienated many of the National Team with their doings regarding the US National Team Selection process, which I blogged about previously. Now they are actively fighting NCTTA and their many thousands of current and past members. These members play at clubs all over the country, and are outspoken. USATT already had a bad reputation, and they are making it worse. For what??? There is no upside.

From the USATT side, some think they are simply negotiating, requiring NCTTA to run a World University Games Trials (which NCTTA was already planning to do), but with an overseeing panel, half of them from USATT - giving USATT possible veto power on anything the panel wants to do. If USATT wants to do this, then fine - but negotiate after they have put NCTTA back on the board, and stop using that to coerce and bully NCTTA. And stop claiming it is required by the bylaws or Ted Stevens Act, because it is not.

The NCTTA position had already started a four-year term early in 2017, through the end of 2020, so they lost their last year on the board. This implies NCTTA qualified as a National Organization and for that four-year term. USATT had no right to undeclare this in mid-term, thereby taking away the final year of NCTTA's position on the board. Even if they believed that NCTTA no longer qualified, that would require a board vote. If the board chair can arbitrarily make such rulings, then he could also kick off any other member of the board without a vote, simply claiming without reason that they are not eligible.

NCTTA has filed a grievance against USATT, but that's a long, slow process that could go on for a long time. I'm a little leery of that, actually - a USATT Board-appointed Grievance Committee is judging a grievance against the USATT Board that appointed them. A simpler solution that would end all this would be to have the USATT board vote on this, which would likely end this silly "war" and the grievance process. What are they waiting for???

The irony is that USATT can't win on this issue. If they "win" and manage to keep NCTTA off the board, then they have lost much credibility while tearing our sport apart. If they "lose," they lose. Their best option is to simply do the right thing, put NCTTA back on the board, and maybe after a year tempers will have cooled. I hope they don't dream that it's going to be business as always with NCTTA (and others) after this mess they've created. They are going to have to let things cool down for quite some time, and they will have to work to get credibility again. 

And once again, I have no connection to NCTTA.  I am simply infuriated at USATT's actions on this issue.

History is watching, and it will name names. 

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association 2020 Annual Report
Here it is!

Poll and Discussion on USATT's Expanded Board
Here's the Facebook page, where USATT board member Thomas Hu has set up a poll and discussion about how USATT should expand their board. USOPC now requires the USATT board to have 33% athlete representation on the board, so they will be adding positions. Here's what Thomas wrote of the poll and discussion:

"I am biased because I have been working with kids in table tennis for the last five years. I understand their voice has not been heard and there is a lack of mechanism to fully protect their vulnerability. However, I want to hear from you. In light of the necessity to change the USATT bylaw to satisfy the new regulation requiring minimum 33.33% athlete representation, what do you think is the best action USATT should take with respect to the board structure? Please vote and share with everyone your reasons. Your opinion matters."

USATT Coaches Meeting
We had another USATT Coaches Zoom meeting this past Friday, at noon (eastern time) for about 45 minutes. They are now every Friday, with information and the link normally going up the day before on the USA Table Tennis Coaches Facebook group. Eight coaches attended - USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill (who runs the meetings), myself, Britt Salter, Jay Crystal, Mike Lauro, Sameh Awadalla, Jasna Rather, and Gao Jun. Here's a group picture. The focus of the discussion was coaching beginners.

Weekend Coaching
We're into week two of our return to junior group training. I was at the club all day on Sunday, arriving around 11AM and not leaving until 7:30PM. I ran one of the group sessions, and assisted in two others. Between sessions I went to the back room and did some writing - nope, not table tennis, worked on a science fiction story, my "other" career.

During one of the sessions we focused on half-table games. Everyone put a towel or jacket on the table to block off half the table. Then they'd play games, using just half the table. Some would be crosscourt backhand side to backhand side, or forehand side to forehand side, others would down the line, forehand to backhand side and vice versa. We also played some games where one side only played half the table, while the other side had to play the whole table. It was a nice change for the kids, who could focus on developing one side of their game.

On Sunday night at 8PM, after all the sessions were done, MDTTC had an online Zoom meeting about the junior program. Attending were 26 coaches, parents, and players. They went over the future of the program, Covid restrictions, and other topics.

Meanwhile, here's my new T-Rex Playing Table Tennis outfit - hat, mask, and shirt!!!

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

Learning Incredible Ghost Serve - Super Backspin
Here's the video (5 min) from the Sri-Lankan TTA.

10x Home Table Tennis Challenges
Here's the video (4:08) from Eli Baraty.

Weekly Training Lessons - Last Moment Action
Here's the ITTF video (5:14), part of their High Performance & Development series.

Zhang Jike - Career Highlights
Here's the video (3:08) of the two-time World Men's Singles Champion, two-time World Cup Men's Singles Champion, and 2012 Men's Singles Olympic Gold Medalist. He is the only player in history to win five major titles in a row (singles at the Worlds, World Cup, and Olympics).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov at Age 9
Here's the video (53 sec), just posted by Dimitrij himself.

New from Steve Hopkins

Table Tennis Restart
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "Even with my own private training studio, I’m starting to miss table tennis. I’ve probably been able to play more this year than most people; but I think it’s about time to bust loose on the greater world of our sport. Coaching has been going well; and I get to play competitive matches on a regular basis. Still, I was never meant to be a hermit, even a table tennis hermit."


Can Aruna Quadri Become the First African Table Tennis Player to Win an Olympics Medal?
Here's the article.

Texas SQT - San Antonio TTC, Vlad Farcas
Here's the USATT article by Joshua Dyke.

Crazy Rallies and Shots from Table Tennis Central

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

Meet Stephen Curry's Unlikeliest Coach
Here's the article from the New York Post, featuring Soo Yeon Lee

Jimmy Butler's 50th Birthday Video Celebration
Here's the video (20:14) of the four-time US Men's Singles Champion and two-time Olympian.

Ma Long and Dimitrij Ovtcharov Playing Left-Handed
Here's the video (11 sec)!

What Did They Do With That Ping-Pong Ball!!!
Here's the video (6 sec)!

Frozen Ice Racket Challenge
Here's the video (6:17) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Pushing Short: When to Learn?

Ongoing USATT Sagas
I'm resigned to the fact that I'm going to need to have a USATT segment in every blog, just to keep up with all the crazy things going on. If you have no interest in USATT matters, skip over this segment - though you might find the final item, the $200,000 arbitration case (technically, $170,000-$200,000), a doozy. (Keep in mind that when I speak of USATT, I'm speaking of their leadership as a whole. There are USATT people who are trying to fix these problems.) Here's the latest - and I hope there's nothing to write about next week.

  • USATT-NCTTA Grievance. I blogged about this in last week's blog. Here's the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association's news item on this, The USATT Motion and Grievance. It's still mind-boggling to me that USATT has chosen to pick this fight with NCTTA, one they will almost for certain lose, leading to great animosity toward USATT, both from NCTTA and their thousands of members, and others. Heck, even if USATT somehow "won" the grievance, they lose, due to the huge animosity they are causing. (NCTTA obviously qualifies, as I've pointed out in past blogs, but of course you never know for certain what a few people on a panel might decide.)

    One thing I've verified - there was no board vote on the apparent USATT decision that NCTTA no longer qualified for the National Organization position on the board - apparently it was just a ruling from the chair. (If there was a vote, it'd be in the USATT minutes.) If so, there's nothing I see in the bylaws that allow this. The board chair can't on his own decide who is or is not eligible for the board, or he'd essentially have absolute power. At the time of this apparent ruling, there were only five board members. There are now eight - four new ones and one who left. I think if they were to actually vote on this, they'd grant NCTTA their position, since they obviously qualify, just as they have for the past 13 years. But who knows what politicking is going on behind the scenes on this issue?

    I think this is a good time to reprint the email I sent to the USATT Board of Directors two weeks ago, before a board meeting where they might have resolved this conflict, but chose not to:

    "I've been in this sport for 45 years and I've attended about 100 USATT board meetings. And it's with a feeling of déjà vu that I watch as USATT seems on the verge of making the same mistakes as so many past boards. Apparently, USATT is seriously planning on leaving the National Organization position vacant, even though NCTTA obviously fulfills the requirements of the bylaws. If you do so, you will make a huge number of enemies and be rightly and widely criticized. Once again USATT will be split and once again it will be doing endless damage control, both on this issue and on other issues that are the inevitable result of dividing our sport rather than uniting it and focusing on developing it. And for what? You will gain absolutely nothing by doing this. I've seen one board of directors after another do these same self-destructive things, often with the best of intentions, and afterwards all they can do is defend the decision while wondering, "What were we thinking?" Here's the key thing to remember: We're all in this together. Dividing the sport is not the way to go. I implore you to not go down that path, because once you do, it's very hard to change course."

  • Emails to USATT. I have been told a lot of people have been emailing USATT about NCTTA and the proposed bylaws, overwhelmingly in favor of NCTTA and against the contradictory proposed bylaws. I know of a number of people who sent such emails. Willy Leparulo, president of NCTTA, also said that NCTTA members and others have sent large numbers of emails to USATT. Hopefully, the board will carefully consider these emails before making any decisions.
  • Board Choosing Athlete Reps. I wrote extensively about the contradictory proposed bylaws last week. There's another serious problem in the proposed bylaws - USATT wants the Board to choose an athlete rep. This is both a seeming USOPC violation as well as making no sense. An athlete rep selected by athletes is an athlete rep, but an athlete rep selected by the board is a board rep. Here's how Kagin Lee (former USATT Rules Chair) explained the problem (with his permission to quote - and I believe he has written an email to the board on this issue.):

    "The proposed section 11.11 describes a new Athlete Director position, including this text: "The Board shall appoint the initial 10 Year+ Athlete to fill the vacancy and serve a 4 year term." If passed, this bylaw would transfer power from the athletes and give it to the board. It would be a clear violation of the USOPC bylaws, section 8.5.3.b: "All athlete representatives (10 Year and 10 Year+) will be directly elected by the pool of athletes who meet the requirements as 10 Year Rule Athlete Representatives for that NGB." In order to serve as an Athlete Director, you must (1) be an eligible athlete, and (2) be elected by the athletes. Someone who is appointed by the board, rather than the athletes, is by definition not an Athlete Director. The board should not be permitted to make this appointment."

    This, of course, is in addition to their violating the USATT bylaws recently by trying to appoint a third athlete rep to the board, even listing him on the USATT Board page. (The current bylaws specify the board shall have only two athlete reps, so adding a third violated those bylaws.)

  • Board Terms of Office. Kagin also pointed out that USATT seems to be playing somewhat loose with board terms of office. I may get into this more later (Kagin wrote more about this), but briefly, when USOPC forced the previous USATT board to resign, the new board came in and took their place. Presumably, if someone resigns and you take their place, you finish out their term. Based on that, at least two of these terms have already ended. So it comes down to whether they finished out the terms of their predecessors (as is usually the norm and seems required by the bylaws), or whether they all start from scratch with new four-year terms.
  • "New" Proposed Bylaws? [I added the following to last week's blog a day after it went up.] A day after I put up my blog last Monday, USATT put up a new news item, linked to an apparently "new" set of proposed bylaws, with no explanation for the change. So I had to change the link here. However, the new version still limits the board to ten members and athlete reps at three, so they have not addressed the problem - explained below [last week's blog] - of contradictory bylaws that seem to be used to block NCTTA from their legal position on the board. I am not sure what, if any, changes they made to this new version, and the news item strangely doesn't explain how these proposed bylaws are different than the previous ones. Are we really supposed to have to go over them, word by word, to try to figure out what new changes they are proposing from the version they posted a few days ago? I considered emailing them - again - but I'm starting to feel like a babysitter. I'm tired of wasting time on what shouldn't even be an issue. I'll never understand why USATT chose to create this huge self-inflicted mess by starting a "war" with NCTTA, one which makes no sense and that they are unlikely to win.
  • High Performance Committee. Bruce Liu resigned from his position as chair of the High Performance Committee on Oct. 27, 2020, partially in protest of actions by the USATT CEO. It's been almost four months, and there still is no chair. I've heard they plan to just operate without a chair for the foreseeable future. I'm still mulling this one over. How can they even create an agenda for a meeting without a chair? The USATT bylaws are clear on this: "Section 9.2. Assignments. Committee agendas shall be developed by the Committee Chair in consultation with the appropriate members of management and with the input of other directors." (Italics are mine.)
  • $200,000 Arbitration. USATT lost an arbitration to former High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio (losing on five of six counts), but I'll write more about that some other time. Jörg had claimed USATT violated his contract and resigned for this reason. The $170,000-$200,000, which were awarded by the arbitrator, included Jörg's legal fees. It doesn't include USATT's own legal costs, so the actual cost to USATT was likely over $200,000. USATT had the opportunity to go to mediation, which likely would have saved them money, but turned it down. This could lead to severe financial problems. This actually happened three months ago, but somehow was kept secret. How many other sports would be involved in such a major case and be able to keep it secret?


Weekend Coaching
This Sunday had our first group junior sessions since early December. But there were severe precautions, the number one being that everyone - EVERYONE!!! - had to wear a mask at all times, including players and coaches at the table. This was new, but I got used to it rather quickly. Besides, I had the best mask of anyone, my T-Rex Playing Table Tennis mask. (It was too tight at first, and was hurting my ears - and then I made the rather obvious discovery that it was adjustable, and then it fit perfectly.) One girl made the interesting point that the mask wasn't realistic - "Dinosaurs weren't purple!" she insisted. So . . . a purple dinosaur wasn't realistic, but a dinosaur playing ping-pong, no problem? Because we still have to limit how many players can be in a session, we had them in four groups. I worked in two sessions with two of the groups, mostly the younger kids.

I also did a sports psychology session last Thursday with one of our kids. (I'm not a sports psychologist, but have a lot of experience in it, as a coach and player, from reading, and from numerous sessions at the Olympic Training Center many years ago when I was at various times the manager/director/one of the coaches for the Resident Training Center Table Tennis Program in Colorado Springs for four years.) I used as a reference two books:

First, I went over a number of sports psychology examples and principles. Then I gave an assigned reading: I marked off about 2/3 of the chapters in Dora's book to be read in the next two weeks, and then we'll discuss the "Four R's" from the book:

  1. Reaction (use the 80-10-10 rule - 80% neutral, 10% celebration, 10% challenged response, i.e. instead of "That was terrible!" try "You can make that!")
  2. Recover (recover from the point, relax, etc., with nine methods listed)
  3. Ready (this is where you do your tactical thinking, with a very good listing of things to think about - "Think before you play")
  4. Ritual (to prepare mentally for the next point)

As a long-term assignment, I asked him to read the second book as well. It's longer, about 190 pages, and packed with info. I gave him six weeks to read this one, with one stipulation - any section he doesn't feel applies to him he could mark with a red X, and skip that section. Later we'll go over it and see if I agree with him. I also gave him a multi-colored pen and told him to feel free to mark up the books with notes in the margins.

USATT Coaches Meeting
We had another USATT Coaches Zoom meeting this past Friday, at noon (eastern time) for about an hour. Six coaches attended - USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill (who runs the meetings), myself, Dan Rutenberg, Dave Fullen, Sameh Awadalla, and Britt Salter. Here's a group picture, and here's video of the meeting (57:43). Discussions included Stupa Analytics (see segment below) and the next step for USA Coaching Classes. We talked about what makes a good coach - as others pointed out, not all top players become good coaches, and not all good coaches started out as elite players. My input on this was that while some top players are students of their own game, while others are students of the game, period. The latter are the top players who become top coaches. As to non-elite players who become top coaches, they too have to become students of the game - but that means more than just watching videos. It means going to top training centers to observe elite training sessions, perhaps volunteering to assist (at least with the lower-level players - they might not yet trust you with the elite ones!), and so on.

An elite player may know what it takes to be a top player, but might not remember much of how he got there - it might have been 15 years or more since he was a beginner, and may not remember much of it, plus he was only a kid at the time. He also might not really know how to fix technique problems with most players, since he likely started with good technique, and so while he knows what a player should do, he might have trouble finding ways to fix a player's technique to make it correct. A non-elite player may have a better understanding of the struggles to develop their game and fix bad technique, but won't have the experience of watching the development of top players unless he goes out of his way to see it.

Stupa Analytics
Here's the new version, available in the Google App Store. USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill wrote "I tested in last week and there are many new and exciting stats that aren't available in the standard version. Ball Speed, a new heat map of shots, etc." Here's a USATT news item on Stupa Analytics from last year that explains how they analyze your game for you.  

Liu Guoliang's Instruction Course
Here's the video (2:58), featuring Lily Zhang and Adriana Diaz.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

Short Table Tennis Touch in Motion
Here's the video (36 sec) from eBaTT.

Forehand Flick and Follow Up with a Forehand Topspin from the Middle
Here's the video (27 sec) from Nick Li TTA.

Chinese Backhand Flick Serve Return
Here's the video (2:20) from inMotion Table Tennis.

Weekly Training Lessons - The Business Card
Here's the ITTF video (4:23) - where "The Business Card" is a serve where you send the opponent a message.

How Table Tennis Can Change The World
Here's the video (15:10) from TEDx Talks.

Nikhil Kumar from Valley Christian
Here's the video (7:22) from 49ers Cal-Hi Sports, featuring US star and national team member Nikhil Kumar, who just turned 18.  

Why China Dominates the World of Table Tennis?
Here's the article from the News Interpretation.

The Evolution of the Table Tennis Racket: From 50 cm Long Handles to Boosters (and Everything in Between)
Here's the article. It's from 2017, but I found it pretty interesting.

Harmeet Desai Hopes to Break into Top 50 Rankings in 2021
Here's the article and interview on the world #73 from India, from The Hindu.

New from Steve Hopkins



Sally's U19 Taiwan Team Qualifications
Here's the article by Sally Moyland.

Table Tennis Canada National Team Newsletter Feb 2021
Here it is.

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

Man and Robot Break World Record for Most Ping Pong Balls Hit with Nunchucks in 1 Minute
Here's the article and video (3:03)!

Bored Lad Creates Incredible 'Sport' In Lockdown
Here's the video (3:26). It's official, we've been stuck inside too long!

Hand Switch Pong
Here's the video (22 sec) - can you count the hand-switches by Tahl Leibovitz (near side)?

Hop Pong!
Here's the video (14 sec) - "Champions don't do different things. Champions do things differently."

Funny Pics of Dogs Playing Ping Pong
Here's the page, with both pictures and animated gifs!

Ping Pong Player Cartoons
Here's the page!

When the Cat is Away...
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Locking Up Your Opponents.

USATT Board of Directors Seeks Applications for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
Here's the USATT news item. Let's start with something positive!

USATT and NCTTA and Bylaws, Oh My!
The next three segments involve lots of USATT issues and politics. If you have no interest in these issues and battles between USATT and the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, feel free to skip ahead! This blog starts with a LOT of USATT stuff, but there's plenty other things afterwards. 

USATT Board of Directors Seek Member Comment on Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws
Here is the USATT news item. (NOTE - on Wednesday, Feb. 10, USATT put up a new news item, linked to an apparently "new" set of proposed bylaws, with no explanation for the change. So I had to change the link here. However, the new version still limits the board to ten members and athlete reps at three, so they have not addressed the problem - explained below - of contradictory bylaws that seem to be used to block NCTTA from their legal position on the board. I am not sure what, if any, changes they made to this new version, and the news item strangely doesn't explain how these proposed bylaws are different than the previous ones. Are we really supposed to have to go over them, word by word, to try to figure out what new changes they are proposing from the version they posted a few days ago? I considered emailing them - again - but I'm starting to feel like a babysitter. I'm tired of wasting time on what shouldn't even be an issue. I'll never understand why USATT chose to create this huge self-inflicted mess by starting a "war" with NCTTA, one which makes no sense and that they are unlikely to win.) 

If you have a comment on this, you are asked to email USATT directly, and your email will be forwarded to the board of directors. (It's best to page down to the end and click on this: Download the full "USA Table Tennis Board of Directors Seeks Member Comment on Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws" here.) The issue has major implications for certain groups, in particular the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

I've been rather involved in this issue since I had pointed out the serious problems with these bylaw proposals in the chat box at the recent USATT board meeting (see next segment) and in previous blogs. The only purpose of some of the language in the proposed bylaws seems to be to set up a roadblock to keep NCTTA from their long-time seat on the board, even if they qualify for the position, as they have for roughly the last 13 years. Here is my email from last Thursday, Feb. 4, to the USATT Board of Directors - and skip ahead to paragraphs four and five if you want to ignore the "wonky" parts and get right to the "What does this mean" part:

Dear USATT Board,

I have gone over the proposed bylaws carefully. My main reaction is, "Is this for real?" You don't have to be a member of Mensa to see the contradictory nature of these bylaws, and the insidious way they "allow" USATT to illegally bypass the Ted Stevens Act of 1978 and make sure that there is no National Organization Director on the USATT board, such as NCTTA.

The Ted Stevens Act and our own bylaws (see 7.6.b.5, with essentially the same language) require USATT to seat a National Organization Director on the board if one qualifies. Let's suppose NCTTA does qualify. (They obviously do, but for now, that's a separate issue.) Then the USATT bylaws REQUIRES that USATT place their representative on the board as National Organization Director. It would be a bylaw violation NOT to seat them.

But the proposed bylaws state explicitly, in 7.5, that the board shall be made up of TEN members. It also requires that 1/3 shall be athlete reps, as now required by USOPC. Section 7.6.b.4.a of the proposed bylaws specify that, beyond the two Athlete Directors, "There shall be one additional 10 Year+ Athlete Director or at large Athlete Director." That limits the number of Athlete reps on the board to a maximum of THREE.

What does this mean? It means that if you do seat NCTTA, you would have ten board members, as the bylaws specify. But then you would also have to have four Athlete Reps, in order to keep the number at 1/3 or more. To do so, you would have to:

  1. Have four athlete reps, which violate the proposed bylaws;
  2. Go to eleven board members, which violate the proposed bylaws.

Let's suppose NCTTA qualifies for the National Organization position, as per our bylaws. Then these proposed bylaws make it a bylaw violation NOT to seat NCTTA, and a bylaw violation if you DO seat NCTTA.

So I fall back on my original thought - "Is this for real?"

May I once again respectfully point out that, unless you want to eliminate one of the current positions on the board, you will have to expand the board to at least eleven members, and allow up to four athlete reps?

-Larry Hodges

I had a short email exchange with the USATT lawyer on this afterwards, but nothing that added to the discussion - the USATT argument is that since NCTTA is not currently on the board, they can put it directly into the bylaws that there will be a maximum of ten board members and three athlete reps, ignoring the contradictory nature of these bylaws and how this essentially sets up a roadblock to keep NCTTA off the board (since if they ever fill that tenth spot, they'd need a fourth athlete rep and therefore an 11th spot on the board), even if they qualify. (I'm also not sure if it would be appropriate to post copies of the lawyer's emails. If he asks me to, I will post our entire exchange.) But here's an excerpt I wrote that further explains the issue.

Let's suppose NCTTA qualifies for the National Organization position, as per our bylaws. Then these proposed bylaws make it a bylaw violation NOT to seat NCTTA, and a bylaw violation if you DO seat NCTTA. You are setting up contradictory bylaws. You are literally setting up a case where you will have to get a 2/3 majority to change the bylaws just to follow the bylaws. This puts tremendous pressure on the board to agree that neither NCTTA nor other groups that might be considered National Organizations actually qualify (thereby violating our bylaws and the Ted Stevens Act), since to agree they qualify would mean they would have to change the bylaws. If a majority of the board agrees NCTTA qualifies, but you can’t get 2/3 to change the bylaws for this, then you have the worst case – NCTTA has to be given their position or you break your bylaws and the Ted Stevens Act, and if you do, you break your bylaws.  

I think we can agree that setting up such contradictory bylaws is not best practices. The statement by the USOPC lawyer about 1/3 athlete reps among those actually seated does not mean he was telling us to create contradictory bylaws that make it impossible to follow the Ted Stevens Act (or our own bylaws) unless we change our bylaws.

The irony is that fixing the problem is extremely simple – just don’t cap the number of board members at ten or the number of athlete reps at three. All that does is make it a bylaw violation to follow the Ted Stevens Act or to follow our own bylaws. There is no downside to this, unless the intent is literally to make it more difficult to seat a National Organization that otherwise qualifies for the board. Is there an argument for WHY we would want to cap these numbers in the bylaws at ten and three, thereby setting up such contradictory bylaws? Or do you agree that we should solve the problem in this simple way, by capping the board at perhaps eleven members, and athlete reps at four? There is no downside to this.

On a related note, I heard that someone made the argument that NCTTA doesn't qualify as a National Organization because they only run tournaments for college players, and so when they run the National Collegiate Championships, it potentially only qualifies for the World University Games, not the World Championships. Except, of course, the bylaws require that they run them at a level to qualify for an international amateur athlete competition, and the World University Games is, of course, an international amateur athlete competition. (And that's how USATT and their lawyers have ruled it for the past 13 years.)

Since it it keeps coming up, I have no connection to NCTTA. Nor am I working for or with anyone. 

USATT Board Meeting
The USATT Board of Directors had an online meeting on Uberconference on Monday, Feb. 1. (I wonder what the advantages of Uberconference are over the seemingly more commonly used Zoom?) There were 49 people in the meeting, about twice the norm because about 30 people from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association attended, in addition to the USATT Board of Directors and many staff and volunteers. Why were there so many NCTTA people? Because USATT has been refusing to seat the NCTTA board spot that they have held for approximately 13 years. (See my rather long January 18 blog on this.) Not attending was USATT CEO Virginia Sung, who was not feeling well, so representing her was USATT COO Mark Thompson.

There were only three things on the agenda:

  • Amendment to Bylaws to increase Board size for additional Athlete Director and authorize 10 Year+ Athlete Director
  • Creation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee - PASSED (See segment on this above)
  • 2021 Board Committees

Strangely, the meeting didn't go by the agenda the first half hour. It started with COO Mark giving the 2020 CEO report, which included numerous items (I didn't take careful notes), but included the new USATT membership structure, Coaching certification, the Nationals and Open, and the T2 Challenge matches. (Perhaps they should post these for the membership?) There was also the High Performance Director's Report by HPD Sean O'Neill and the Audit Report by Kelly Watson. During these meetings, only board members, staff, and those recognized by board chair Richard Char can speak, but there's a chat room for anyone, which all participants can see. I asked why they weren't going by the agenda, and Richard responded (verbally), that the CEO and Audit reports always go first. That's generally true, but shouldn't they still be on the agenda?

Then they got to the actual agenda. Most had thought the issue involving NCTTA's not being on the board would be on the agenda, or part of the first item on the agenda (hence the large NCTTA participation), but it wasn't. Instead, it was strictly about adding one spot to the board to allow an extra athlete rep, to allow for 33% representation, as now required by USOPC. However, this doesn't really make sense, as I pointed out in the chat room - see the segment on this above. Briefly, if you go to ten board members with three athlete reps, that's only 30%, and the requirement is at least 33%. (Actually, 1/3, but I'm rounding off.) The explanation, from Richard Char and the USATT lawyer? Since the National Organization spot was not currently filled, they didn't need to have a fourth athlete rep or go to eleven spots (to allow a fourth athlete rep). All they had to do is make sure the National Organization spot remained vacant, keeping the board at nine members, and then the three athlete reps would fulfill the 33% requirement. 

Meaning that if NCTTA or some other group qualifies for the National Organization spot, then these proposed bylaws make it a bylaw violation NOT to seat NCTTA, and a bylaw violation if you DO seat NCTTA! (Again, see segment above.)

I wrote in the chat box, "I think the board needs to go to 11 or more members, since they will need four athlete reps." This seems somewhat obvious. Unfortunately, it seems like some people have entrenched themselves on opposing this and going for the contradictory bylaws. For what possible reason would they do that? (The USOPC person there, Dave Patterson, said that they only count the 33% against those currently on the board, but the key problem here is that the proposed bylaws seem set on keeping the number at 9, meaning the 10th spot, the National Organization spot, would stay vacant. Otherwise, they'd need to add a fourth athlete rep and therefore an 11th board member, both of which would violate the new proposed bylaws.) 

Of course, as I and many others have pointed out, NCTTA clearly qualifies as a National Organization (see my January 18 blog), and should have the spot on the board they've held for many years. I asked several times in the chat room why NCTTA didn't qualify, and the only response, over and over, was various recitations (mostly a quote from the bylaws rules for a National Organization) in various ways that, "They didn't conduct, on a level of proficiency appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition." But no matter how many times asked, they wouldn't specify how they didn't qualify in this way or how they could qualify. Since the best college players (and nearly the entire US Olympic teams) participates in the National College Championships that NCTTA runs, what more are they expecting? How does one argue against flat assertions made without evidence or explanation? It's not easy, when the ones making the assertions are also the ones making the decision. (NCTTA is currently in a grievance against USATT over this. I expect they will win.) As I wrote in the chat box, "So the reason why they are not eligible is top secret?" No response. The net result, of course, is a LOT of very angry people, especially from NCTTA, which has thousands of players. And for what possible purpose???

Here is the email I sent to the USATT Board of Directors before the meeting:

Dear USATT Board of Directors,

I've been in this sport for 45 years and I've attended about 100 USATT board meetings. And it's with a feeling of déjà vu that I watch as USATT seems on the verge of making the same mistakes as so many past boards. Apparently, USATT is seriously planning on leaving the National Organization position vacant, even though NCTTA obviously fulfills the requirements of the bylaws. If you do so, you will make a huge number of enemies and be rightly and widely criticized. Once again USATT will be split and once again it will be doing endless damage control, both on this issue and on other issues that are the inevitable result of dividing our sport rather than uniting it and focusing on developing it. And for what? You will gain absolutely nothing by doing this. I've seen one board of directors after another do these same self-destructive things, often with the best of intentions, and afterwards all they can do is defend the decision while wondering, "What were we thinking?" Here's the key thing to remember: We're all in this together. Dividing the sport is not the way to go. I implore you to not go down that path, because once you do, it's very hard to change course. 

-Larry Hodges
Member of USATT Hall of Famer
2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Two-time member of USATT Board of Directors
USATT Employee for 16 years

Here is the email I sent to the USATT Board of Directors after the meeting:

Dear Board,

I just got off the teleconference. The language of the bylaws clearly show NCTTA qualifies, and many have pointed this out with facts and logic, including me in my blog. The counter-argument is the simple assertion that they do not, and the reason is top secret? And we’re supposed to just accept that? Seriously, is this really the way USATT wants to handle this? I really hope you will rethink this. Remember that the USATT Board of Directors is in charge, and they get the blame or credit if they choose this route – not the employees, volunteers, or lawyers, but you. If you or your lawyers cannot voice a reason publicly for why they do not qualify, what type of an argument can you possibly have? It does appear that what I wrote below was for naught, and once again USATT history will repeat itself. Note that at least 26 people from NCTTA were in the meeting (probably over 30), and you just told them they aren’t eligible but won’t say why. Are you literally trying to anger them? (And once again, I have no connection to NCTTC, just a strong belief in fairness and truth.)

-Larry Hodges

The USATT Motion and Grievance
Here's the NCTTA's posting about the USATT-NCTTA Grievance (covered in the two segments above).
NOTE - this was posted early Tuesday morning, Feb. 9, so I'm putting it up a day late.)

USATT Coaches Meeting and Other Coaching Issues
We had another USATT Coaches Zoom meeting this past Friday, at noon (eastern time) for about an hour. Six coaches attended - USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill (who runs the meetings), myself, Samson Dubina, Dan Rutenberg, Wei Qi, and Mike Lauro. Here's a group picture, and here's video of the meeting (59 min). Discussions ranged from Covid to the proper footwork and recovery when moving to the wide forehand (see the Samson Dubina item, 90% of TT Players Have THIS Problem).

One thing I pointed out, based on my observations at the Ohio Open last weekend - this is going to be the "Year of the Weird Style." Because of the pandemic, there are fewer tournaments, but when we do have tournaments, players with weird or rare styles will tend to dominate. Why? Because right now, players are far more limited than normal in opponents to play in practice, and so they are not used to playing a wide variety of styles. As players return to playing in tournaments, they will at first not be "tournament tough," meaning they won't adjust well at first to styles they aren't used to.

The USATT Committee also grandfathered in a new Regional coach - as a member of the committee, that meant going over their credentials, etc. I also received an automatic email from USATT telling me that I had to take the SafeSport refresher course (every two years), so I took that - it took about half an hour. I also took a Covid test last Wednesday (as a precaution after coaching at the Ohio Open last weekend), and the result came back Friday - Negative. So I'm going to live.

USATT Magazines Wanted
After putting it off for months, I finally put up two new sets of shelves, and then went through the many disorganized boxes of old USATT Magazines and organized them. They are now organized!!! Some of you may remember that USATT had a print magazine until 2014, usually bi-monthly, though some years it came out more often. I started in 1976, and have all but seven issues since then, plus one magazine from Nov, 1952, and 28 others from 1962 to 1975. (Much thanks to John Merkel, who sent me a box of his old magazines, so I have fewer missing ones.) I lost a bunch of my old issues in a flood years ago.

I've been going through old magazines and helping Vince Mioduszewski compile all results at every US Open and Nationals at Here's a picture of the shelves, which I set up in the stairway landing. The magazines are on the shelf on the right, and now that they are all organized, take up a lot less room than expected. (The ones on the bottom shelf, and in front of it, are extras.) The shelves on the left have copies of my books (I have 17 books published), along with the boxes on the floor. On the walls behind and on both sides are copies of the 71 issues of USATT Magazine I did as editor.

Here are the issues I'm still missing - if anyone has a copy of any of these, I'll trade you signed copies of my books for them! Missing issues:

  • July/Aug 1982
  • Nov/Dec 1986
  • Nov/Dec 1987
  • Jan 1988
  • Apr/May 1988
  • May 1989
  • Aug 1991

New from Samson Dubina

Long Distance Forehand Counterlooping
Here's the video (3:13) from Coach Jinxin Wang.

New from Joey Cochran/Table Tennis Junkie

How to Calm Nerves Before a Match
Here's the article by US Team Member Rachel Sung.

The Power of the Forehand Push
Here's the video (49 sec) from Eli Baraty.

Ultimate Guide to Playing Table Tennis at Home
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Your Table Tennis Coordinates
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins

How Japan Plans to End China's Olympic Table Tennis Dominance
Here's the article from Tokyo2020, with an interview with head coach Mike Baba.

Liam Pitchford on His Breakthrough and Setbacks
Here's the article on the English world #15, from the Olympic Channel.

Let Those Backhands Rip
Here's the video (26 sec) of Germany's world #12 (former #1) Dimitrij Ovtcharov ripping backhands, just as you should be doing.

Timo Boll
Here's the latest on the German world #10 (former #1).

How the Mozart of Table Tennis Learned the Rules & Became a World Champ
Here's the article on Jan-Ove Waldner from The Sports Daily.

Who Hits Hardest?! | TTD Team Speed Gun Challenge
Here's the video (4:39) from Table Tennis Daily.

Spin Shots! Who Did It Best?
Here's the ITTF video (1:40).

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

New from USATT


Super Bowl Michelob Pong
Here's the video (60 sec, but link should take you 34 sec in, where there's 3 sec of table tennis), one of the Super Bowl ads. Since 185 million people saw it, is this the largest "showing" of table tennis ever?

Scott and Austin Preiss Exhibition
Here's the video (57 sec)! Scott of is on the right.

Top 10 Best Table Tennis Trick Shots 2020
Here's the video (3:32)!

Trampoline Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (8:08) from Pongfinity!

Tom Brady and Table Tennis

Non-Table Tennis - News Sales and Publications, and an Online Workshops
On Feb. 1, my science fiction story “The Pushovers of Galactic Baseball Fame” was published in Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction. What happens if baseball spreads to the galaxy – but instead of great baseball players that make spectators feel inferior, what’s in great demand are really bad players so spectators can feel good about themselves?

On Feb. 3, 2021 I sold my science fiction story “Love Drops” to New Myths Magazine. (This was my 117th short story sale.) It starts out, “The greatest and most tragic love story began with a bomb exploding on a packed plane, six miles in the air.” But what happens to this elderly, loving couple after the bomb goes off and they are falling to the ground is the real story. It is tentatively scheduled to come out in September.

The cover for the May/June issue of Dark Matter Magazine just came out, with my SF story, “Nanogod,” and my name on the cover! What happens when a nanobot – i.e. a microscopic robot – has its processing system damaged, becomes an egomaniac, and travels the galaxy in a huge ship, enslaving entire civilizations and forcing them to build huge monuments to honor it? (Hint – now we know why the Great Pyramids were really built!) I’ve sold them two stories – I have another SF story coming out with them in November, “Ninety-Nine Sextillion Souls in a Ball.”

Meanwhile, I (and 14 others) just finished a one-month online writing workshop with Scott Andrews with the Odyssey Writing Workshop, “Emotional Truth: Making Characters Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers.” (It’s like a table tennis training camp, but for writers.)

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Tip of the Week
Play the Middle Against Tall Players, Wide Angles Against Short Players.

$3000 Nittaku Ohio Open
I had a great time this weekend coaching at the Ohio Open  - as always, they run nice events at the Samson Dubina TTA. The tournament staff was Steve Graber Josh Graber, Sam Dubina, Mike Boyd, Blake Cottrell, and of course Samson Dubina (who also acted as referee). Here are complete results, with Gal Alguetti over Sharon Alguetti in the Open final. Here's video (21:53) of Sharon Alguetti's five-game win over Yahao Zhang in the Under 2650 final. All the expected Covid precautions were taken, with everyone's temperature taken on the way in, social distancing, and masks required except when actually at the table playing. (As a precaution, I'll get Covid testing in the next day or so.) And they had free lunch and dinner for everyone on Saturday!!!

I was there coaching Stanley Hsu (12, 2286, #1 in 12 and Under in US) and Ryan Lin (11, 2038, #2 in US in 11 and Under). Between them, I coached an even 40 matches (including four where I coached about half the match), though I had to miss a few when they played at the same time. (Stanley played 23 matches in three events, Ryan played 25 in four events, with groups of 6-8 in each event, with four advancing to playoffs.) Due to the pandemic, they faced the same problem that many others faced - there have been few tournaments this past year, and so "tournament toughness" is an issue. What does that mean? It means the ability to adapt to the different playing styles and pressures of playing in a tournament.

Stanley had a nice tournament, making the semifinals of Under 2400 and quarterfinals of Under 2650, beating one player over 2300 and generally dominating against all "normal" (i.e. modern inverted styles) rated lower than him. He did have trouble adapting after all this time to some weirder styles, but that'll come back. It started out scary for him - in his first match back, he played a long pips blocker rated much lower, one that should have been easy for him. Instead, after game four, Stanley walks over, smiling in amazement at how poorly he's playing as they prepare to play the fifth, and I try to hide how nervous I am as we go over tactics for the last game. Then he goes up 9-0 in the fifth, wins 11-1. Ryan also had a struggling start, also having to go five with a much lower rated player - and up 10-6 in the fifth, he lost four in a row! But he managed to pull it out in deuce. Here's a Facebook album of Stanley at the tournament. (Here are two non-Facebook version - Me with Stanley ("The Masked Duo"), and a nice action one against Seth Pech.)

Did I mention they had free lunch and dinner on Saturday? Lunch was your choice of chicken or vegetarian fried rice; dinner was a selection of sandwiches.

There were lots of tactical and mental battles at the table, and I could write a book on it. Here's one interesting coaching decision that came up. Ryan started out poorly against a much weaker player, and barely won the first game at deuce after being down game point. When I spoke to him between games, should my focus be on tactics to win the match, or getting him to play well? Since he won the first game, I decided to focus on him playing well, and so focused on certain tactics that would simplify things so he could get back into rhythm. But if he had lost that first game, then I had a different series of tactics he should use, since after losing the first game in a best of five to eleven, you can't risk losing the second game just to get your rhythm back. In both cases I focused on the mental game as well, though that would have been even more important if he had lost that first game. In this case, things worked out and he played much better in winning the next two games easily.

Several times between games, when Stanley or Ryan were winning easily against weaker players, I'd wave my arms about and mimic serves and other dramatics while telling them, "This is where I pretend to be saying something really important and you just nod your head like I'm saying something really profound." Table tennis can be fun. Of course, you have to adjust your between-games coaching to the player. Joking may work with one player, but could be distracting for another.

I went up with Ryan and his dad, Hung. He hired a driver so he could work during the five-hour drive from Maryland. Due to a miscommunication, I left my bags in the car on Friday, not realizing the driver was immediately leaving for another driving job - in New Jersey! So that night I discovered that, other than my playing bag, all my stuff was gone - my bags, laptop computer, even my kindle! I had to make do that night, but survived. I even had to borrow a spare comb from Samson!!! The driver returned to pick us up at the end of the tournament, with my stuff still in his trunk. (Ryan finished first, and since Stanley had several more matches to play since he'd advanced in Under 2400, Ryan and his dad were able to leave and I went back later that night with Stanley and his dad, Steve.)

These days I don't coach at tournaments as part of a paying job - I'm basically retired and don't need the money. So it's more fun going as a volunteer as I did this time and will in the future. I've already put together a few items Stanley and Ryan should work on as they continue to improve.

I had a fun discussion with Stanley about what would happen if I were to play him when I was at my peak. As I explained to him, much of his game would be challenging to play, but none of it would scare me - except one thing, which wasn't common back in my day - his off-the-bounce backhand loops, both in rallies and in returning serves ("banana flips"). My whole game plan against him would be about avoiding those shots when possible - not an easy task. The rest of his game (especially his off-the-bounce forehand loops) is very strong and would be difficult to handle, but nothing I wasn't used to. I also pointed out the various ways his physical training has helped his game.  

Did I mention how good the chicken fried rice was?

USATT Online Board Meeting Monday Night
Here is the USATT Agenda and Notices page, with a link to the info page for the USATT board meeting tonight, Monday, Feb. 1, at 8PM Eastern Time, on Uberconference. Anyone is allowed to attend as an observer (plus you can use the chat box), though you cannot speak in the meeting unless recognized by the chair. (I believe you can ask to speak via the chat box, though I'm guessing they limit that.) The agenda is not yet included on the page, but the note says it will go up before the meeting. This will be the first board meeting for new board members Will Shortz, Thomas Hu, and Dan Reynolds. There might be some explosive discussion about possible bylaw changes and board makeup involving adding a third player rep (with the USOPC requiring 33% athlete representation), as well as the status of the National Collegiate TTA National Organization position (which I blogged about on January 18). I'll be there - see you in the chat box!

Seeking Info for Past US Open and Nationals Results History
Here's the note from Vince Mioduszewski, who has created, a compilation of results for every event in every US Open and Nationals, with the Opens going back to 1931.

I'm seeking information to complete the U.S. Open & Nationals tournament results history website. Looking for any of the old Table Tennis Topics magazines from 1989 and older that would have the U.S. Open results and U.S. Nationals results. The Nationals results would normally be in the Jan/Feb issue of Topics (for the following year) and the U.S. Open results (years 1976 and up) would normally be in the July/Aug or Sept/Oct issue. For U.S Opens 1975 and older the results would be anywhere from April to June possibly July issues. All I need is a good picture of the results that you can email to me, or if you have a collection of them that you no longer want, you can mail them to me, and I’ll reimburse the shipping cost. Also interested in any of the old Open and Nationals programs that are given out at the tournament. If you can help out, please email me.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Joey Cochran

The Backhand Serve
Here's the article by Wang Qingliang.

7 Backhand Flicks That Will Surprise Opponent
Here's the video (12:31) from Ti Long.

Table Tennis "Highest IQ" Moments
Here's the video (3:05) from Table Tennis Central.

USATT Updates Coaching Excellence Certification Program
Here's the USATT article by Mark Thompson. As a member of the USATT coaching committee, I helped out with some of this.

New from USATT

New from Steve Hopkins


Alas, there's been a rash of ITTF obituaries:

Think Americans Wouldn’t Wager on Russian Table Tennis?
Here's the NY Times article.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov Ripping Backhands Against Stephan Fegerl
Here's the video (23 sec) of Ovtcharov (GER, World #12, #1 in 2018) vs. Fegerl (AUT, world #87, #19 in 2017)

The Evolution of Ibrahim
Here's the video (2:47) - showing video from beginner to advanced.

Best and Funniest Points of Male Table Tennis Players
Here's the video (8:10).

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

NCTTA Pongcast Poetry
Here's the NCTTA poetry!

CalTTC - Hella Pong (A Hello Parody)
Here's the music video (4 min).

Sidewalk Prophets - Table Tennis with a Smile
Here's the video (3:31) that all about smiling . . . and table tennis. (The table tennis aspect increases as the video goes on.)

World's Craziest Tournament - Win £1000!!!
Here's the video (16:57) from Table Tennis Daily! "In today’s episode the TTD Team compete in a straight knockout competition using random objects as table tennis bats."

Air Pong?
Here's the video (37 sec)! I often introduce this to the kids in my beginning classes, though we usually play it along the short side of the table, so there's often two games going on, one on each side of the net. (No, we don't do it during class, it's for after class.)

Funny Table Tennis Tricks
Here's the video (49 sec, but the table tennis is in the first half)!

French Table Tennis Cartoon
Here's the cartoon - I can't read the words, but the pictures tell the story!

Table Tennis Defeats the Corona Virus
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) But I think I did it first - here's my own Why the Coronavirus Hates Table Tennis cartoon, as well as my Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smackers cartoon.

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