Blogs

Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, more like noon on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week and has three days to cover). Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of eight books and over 1500 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio.
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Board of Directors and chairs the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

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

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

October 27, 2017

Ten Miscellaneous Mostly Table Tennis Items

  • Lucy at the table with backspin. She just turned nine, and she just learned how to put enough backspin on her serve so that it comes back into the net. This is the most memorable moment in any kid's life, as we all know. Once she learned how to do it, she didn't want to stop.
  • Halloween. Lucy will be a witch for Halloween. I pointed out that in a fight between a witch and Superman, all she has to do is turn Superman into a frog and she wins. Another student, Aarya, is going to be Wonder Woman – and during our session we argued on and off about who would win in a fight, Wonder Woman or Superman. Aarya worked hard that session, so at the end I admitted that she was right, that Wonder Woman would win, and she was very happy. (But seriously, since Superman's only weaknesses are supposedly kryptonite and magic, why hasn't he ever been turned into a frog by some magical creature?) I may give a full report on costumes by our juniors next week. Meanwhile, if you stop by my house, I'm giving out your choice of Snickers, Milky Ways, or Skittles. I'll probably be giving out the leftovers all week at the club.
  • Injury update. My shoulder is still hurting – I still have to avoid smashing high balls or extending my arm for shots. Worse, I can't do my 50-foot serve, which I normally do several times a night. However, the breaking news is somehow, someway, I managed to injure my hip yesterday. It's painful to move around. However, it seemed to go away after a time while I was coaching – but this morning it feels like it's on fire.
  • Contagious injury? Matt, who I coached last night, had to stop five minutes early – his shoulder was bothering him. Did he catch it from me? Actually, he hurt it playing ultimate Frisbee the day before. (He's captain of his team.)
  • Double-Contact No-Return Serve. I picked up this "serve" from USATT High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio, and have been using it on students for weeks. Basically, you toss the ball up, then sidespin it one way with your racket, then hit it again with the opposite sidespin. It's not legal, but it's fun watching opponents attempt to return this almost unreadable serve. I have several variations. Ask me to demonstrate it at the US Open.
  • Volunteering at the World Veterans. I'm a volunteer there – I'll be doing daily press coverage. Here's the info page. You'll get all or most of your expenses paid. The event takes place June 18-24, 2018, in Las Vegas. About 5000 players are expected. If you are age 40 or over, you should be there!
  • Early Deadline for US Open Ends Today. After today, the rates go up. Here's the info page. It's in Las Vegas, Dec. 17-22. I'll be there, attending meetings, coaching, and playing.
  • History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 20. I finally managed to put all 28 chapters together and send them to Ryan, the USATT Webmaster. He still has to do some work on them, and then they'll publish them, one by one. There are a few rather large chapters that might be broken into two. Why not buy one of the volumes?
  • Or one of mine?
  • Non-Table Tennis – Running with the Dead. It's a dark fantasy I wrote that just went up at Astounding Outpost this morning. It’s the story of a dead high school kid – yeah, a zombie – who just wants to go to school and try out for the track team as a miler, and the rejection he faces from everyone, especially the “Mile Mafia,” the high school kids who rule the track team. (It’s basically a civil rights allegory.) Strangely they put my name at the end of the story instead of the start, as is the norm. I have another short story coming out on Nov. 1 at Galaxy's Edge, "The Nature of Swords" – in addition to my current story there, "Theater of Death." More importantly, my science fiction novel, "When Parallel Lines Meet," which I co-wrote with two others, comes out Oct. 31. (I get paid for each of these. But table tennis still primarily pays the bills.)

2017 Women's World Cup
Here's the info page – follow the action! The event starts today in Markham, Canada, Oct. 27-29. Here's the player listing. Lily Zhang (world #80) is representing USA. In the preliminary RR she'll be playing Hyowon Suh (KOR, world #27) and Mo Zhang (CAN, world #59). The top eight seeds are seeded out of the preliminaries.

2017 ITTF World Cadet Challenge
It’s being held right now in Suva, Fiji, Oct. 21-29. Here’s the ITTF page with results, articles, pictures, and video. Team North American (USA and CAN) just got the silver in Cadet Girls, losing to Team Asia in the final, 0-3. Here's the article, Asia Doubles Down on Gold. They are now playing singles and doubles. USA players are Nikhil Kumar, Michael Tran, Rachel Sung, and Amy Wang. 

Coaching Videos from PingSkills
Here are two new ones.

How Table Tennis Saved My Life
Here's the article by Eli Baraty. "Pulling out a knife on another person is one memory I wish to forget."

Gionis Panagiotis​: A Modern Defender in Table Tennis​
Here's the video (5:08) about the 37-year-old Greek star and world #32. He was #27 last month. Unfortunately, in the new ITTF ranking interface that just went up, there doesn't seem to be a way anymore of finding a player's highest ranking ever, just his current one and last months. I'm not happy about this.)

Most Viral Table Tennis Rallies from the Internet World!
Here's the video (6:11).

Watch a PGA Tour Rookie Take Down Table Tennis Legend Matt Kuchar
Here's the article and video (42 sec) from Golf Digest as he loses to PGA Tour rookie, Zecheng "Marty" Dou. However, I'm pretty sure neither of them would win against Baltimore Orioles shortstop JJ Hardy, who I've coached at my club, where he beat players over 1800 and made it to deuce one game against a very surprised 2450 Nathan Hsu. He's around 1850-1900 level.

Aussie Pair Bounce Ping Pong Balls Off Walls, Tables and Kitchen Containers for Trick-Shot Game
Here's the article with lots of pictures.

Your Lies Bounce Off Me Like Ping-Pong Balls
Here's the repeating gif image of Chris Farley!

The Animated Ping-Pong Song
Here's the video (3:34), with great animation! (This is from 2008, but I'm not sure if I've ever linked to it.) 

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October 26, 2017

A Song of Celluloid and Plastic
For many weeks now I've been coaching exclusively with Butterfly plastic training balls. Most players I work with still prefer celluloid, but accept plastic balls since they have no choice – it's what's used in nearly every tournament and league. In the MDTTC Tuesday and Friday night leagues they only made the final switch to plastic about a month or so ago. (Until then it had been optional, and most had still preferred celluloid.)

Yesterday I went in to coach. (I had four scheduled, but one called in sick, so only three.) At the same time I was coaching we were running our afterschool program with a bunch of kids, and they, and other coaches doing private coaching, were using all of the plastic training balls. There was only a basket of celluloid balls. Since my students had mostly been lamenting their not being able to use the preferred celluloid, I thought, what the heck, and grabbed that basket rather than check if we had more plastic ones in storage.

Instant problem. My first student, Todd, had recently gone over 1500 in league ratings, which closely match USATT tournament ratings. But when they switched over to plastic, he had trouble adjusting at first and immediately dropped 150 points. He is now working himself back up, and felt like he was finally used to the plastic balls. So when I brought over the celluloid balls, he was rightfully unhappy. "I just got used to the plastic balls!" he said. We decided to stick with the celluloid balls. They do play similar to the Nittaku Premium plastic balls he'll be using at the Open in December, though quite different from the plastic ball used in the league and in the upcoming North American Teams during Thanksgiving Break. These days we all need to be able to adjust back and forth.

But he had a point. I'm going to make sure to use only plastic training balls for coaching from here on, except perhaps with beginners. I'll go in a little early today to make sure to get them – if necessary, going to the back room where I believe we have more plastic training balls stored.

Shoulder Update
My shoulder has not gotten better. While I've done a reasonably good job of avoiding anything that hurts it, about once every hour while coaching I seem to strain it. I'm avoiding stretching out to my wide forehand to block, hit, or loop, and certain serves that aggravate it. I've also learned not to reach out to pick up balls from the table with my playing arm – it's surprising how many times I've strained the arm doing that. But yesterday I hit a new low as the shoulder began to bother me when I fed multiball backspin – and that I NEED to do. I had to stop doing it during a multiball segment as my shoulder began screaming at me. If it doesn't get better soon I might have to take a week off. We'll see. (Meanwhile, when I got up this morning my hip was killing me.)

Bronze Medallists Found in Fiji
Here's the ITTF article that features Team North America getting the bronze in Cadet Boys' Teams at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge. North American Girls are in the final of Cadet Girls' Teams against Team Asia. Next up: Team Finals, and then Singles and Doubles.

Training with Ma Long-Lin Gaoyan, Part 1 (World Cup 2017)
Here's the video (19:46) from BelgiumTV.

Subtle Variations: Variations at 100 Balls/Min
Here's the article and video (36 sec) from Samson Dubina.

Loop It Like Larcombe
Here's the article from Epic Table Tennis, which features Ben Larcombe from Expert Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach Show #294: Ma Long's Birthday
Here's the podcast (30:36). Topics covered include On This Week; Joke of the Week; Tip of the Week; Drill of the Week; Tournament Wrap; Improving Topspin Against Backspin; Spin on Fast Shots; and Slow and Fast Footwork.

Looping Against HEAVY Backspins (from a chopper) with Chinese National Player - Sun Jianfei
Here's the video (4:02).

Loops For Those Who Don’t Loop
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Competitive Brain Food: Milwaukee Teens Passionate about Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (2:50) from FOX6 that features Austin Cherian, Emma Canga, and Milwaukee TTC president Linda Leaf.

The Best 5 Table Tennis Robots of 2017
Here's the article from PongBoss. (I normally avoid equipment review articles, but I'll allow this one on robots.)

Table Tennis Legend Michael Maze is Back!
Here's the video (20 sec).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: My Little Princess
Here's the video (24 sec) as Dimitrij's baby daughter hits 16 forehands in a row. Ding Ning, you are in serious trouble.

Circling Table
Here's the video (37 sec) – no, not players circling a table, a circling table!

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October 25, 2017

Sometimes English Just Doesn’t Have the Word: Ruminating on the Word "Mócā"
Recently during one of our advanced junior training sessions, I kept hearing some of the other coaches say something like “Mocha.” We were feeding backspin so the kids could work on looping, and over and over I heard this “Mocha.” I finally asked what they were saying. The word was “mócā.” In Chinese, that’s 摩擦. You can get the pronunciation here. (Click on “say it.”) The definition is roughly “to rub, to create friction.” However, I'm told there isn't really an accurate English description. 

When I want a player to create more spin, I might say, “More spin!” or “Graze the ball!” But saying “More spin!” really talks about the result, not how to do so, which is what we want. Saying “Graze the ball!” is better, and may work when coaching spinny serves, but for looping is not as accurate unless you are teaching very slow, spinny loops, where you truly graze the ball. But for most looping, you sink the ball more into the sponge, and so grazing isn’t quite accurate.

The Chinese “mócā” seems more accurate, as here the key is to rub the ball, which more accurately describes a looping contact. Perhaps I should tell students to “Rub the ball!”? Perhaps, but somehow in English that doesn’t come off as well, though I might try it. Perhaps “Rub the ball, create friction!”? That’s a bit wordy, but more accurately reflects what’s wanted – and is basically the definition of “mócā.”

Since a large percentage of players at our club are Chinese, perhaps I should just start saying “mócā!”? The non-Chinese will quickly learn what it means. And then I can join the Chinese coaches with their chorus of “mócā!” But I’m told I still don’t pronounce it right, and my saying it will likely just elicit giggles from the Chinese kids and rolled eyes from the Chinese adults. Alas.

USATT Announces First “Youth” Ambassador Council Members
Here’s the USATT news item.

2017 ITTF World Cadet Challenge
It’s being held right now in Suva, Fija, Oct. 21-29. Here’s the ITTF page with results, articles, pictures, and video. USA players are Nikhil Kumar, Michael Tran, Rachel Sung, and Amy Wang. 

China Accused of Mass Doping
Here’s the article by Shashin Shodhan, which also touches on other scandals, such as falsifying ages.

Shadow Training
Here’s the video (2:41).

Should You Use Pips??
Here’s the video (4:55) by Keenan Southall. “Short answer: No.”

Simon Gauzy Hits Ridiculous Wiggle Shot at the World Cup 2017
Here’s the video (40 sec) as the world #13 from France pulls it off against Jeong Sangeun (#36 from South Korea).

Eye Pong?
Here’s the repeating gif image! It’s hypnotic – watch it bounce up, and down, up, and down, up, and down….

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October 24, 2017

Coaching, Injuries, Volume 20, and All That Pushing in Class
I spent much of last week with a cold, but was mostly over it by the weekend. Meanwhile, the right knee I injured way back in July at the Nationals, and re-injured several times since, is about 70% okay now, though I still wear a knee brace just in case. The back is fine - it's been a year or so since that's been a problem. And my arm is okay, though I also still wear an arm brace. So I'm the peak of health, right?

Except for the dumb moment last Thursday (first day back while still fighting the cold) when I found a celluloid ball mixed with the plastic training balls, and tried to backspin smack it all the way across the club to a court where they were being used. Ow!!! I tore my shoulder up doing so. It's the same shoulder injury I've had in the past, but I think it's been okay for something like two years. So it was due. 

So since Thursday I've haven't been able to really extend my arm, whether going to my wide forehand to loop or even on some forehand pendulum serves. I can’t smash high balls. When students loop to my wide forehand I can't reach out to block - I have to completely step over. In theory, I should be able to do that, but in reality, when someone loops aggressively to the wide forehand, you have to be able to reach out to cut it off to block, and if I do that now it's another Ow!!! Anyway, I'll survive if I manage to rest it. On Saturday while coaching I strained it three times - twice inadvertently reaching for balls to my wide forehand, and once, while feeding multiball, just reaching for a loose ball on the table. 

Anyway, I still managed to make all my sessions. Fortunately, on weekends a lot of the coaching is group sessions, where at most I'm feeding multiball. As long as I don't reach for those loose balls, I should be okay. Unfortunately, it's hard to ignore 41 years of conditioning to reach for balls that need to be reached for. 

On Sunday we had a big party at MDTTC for the Talent Development Program, which is our top junior players, ages 7 to 13. Over 20 kids attended, along with parents and coaches. Lots of great Chinese food was delivered to the club in a huge cafeteria-style banquet. I pigged out on Sesame Beef. They ordered a LOT of food, and I was able to take a large supply of the Sesame Beef home, and had it for lunch and dinner yesterday, and still have enough to do the same today. I'm lucky - when I like something, I can eat it over and Over and OVER!!!

Afterwards, the kids spent an hour divided into two groups, with the younger kids having a long, non-stop ping-pong ball fight, while the older ones played Jungle Pong. This is a favorite of the kids, who often play this non-stop on break. You get a group together, and number themselves in order, so each player knows who he goes after. Then player 1 serves. Player 2 (and all subsequent players) have to let the ball come off the table and bounce on the floor, then he hits it back on the table, on either side, and the next player does the same. When a player fails to make a return, he’s out. This continues until you have a champion. There are a lot of tactics - sometimes they loop aggressively off the floor, other times they smash it into the net so it rebounds backwards. In all cases they are trying to get it to bounce on the floor twice before the next player can get to it. The kids are really good at this and the rallies surprisingly long.

Now comes the big problem - all that pushing and shoving in class. Okay, there was no shoving, but lots of pushing as I introduced our Beginning Class on Sunday afternoon to pushing. New players are fascinated by spin, especially backspin. The hardest part is sometimes convincing them to push low, since they discover if they push high, they can get the ball to bounce backwards!

Yesterday's big project was getting all 28 chapters of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 20 (!) ready for online publication by USATT. That meant breaking the original PDF into 28 pieces, and then doing a series of filters to get them so each chapter is under 10MB. Alas, I've run into technical problems with four chapters, but I'm working on it. 

Chinese National Team Accused of Doping?
Here’s the article by EmRatThich. He has serveral sources for it. All I can say is Wow! “Chinese doctor Xue Yinxian (former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team) has revealed 2 days ago to German Media: ‘If you refused to dope, you had to leave.’” This could be a huge story - since doping is illegal, wouldn't that mean anyone caught doping would have to give up, for example, their Olympic medals, World Championships titles, etc.?

A Busy Month for US Players Internationally
Here’s the article by Bruce Liu.

2017 ITTF World Cadet Challenge
It’s being held right now in Suva, Fija, Oct. 21-29. Here’s the ITTF page with results, articles, pictures, and video. USA players are Nikhil Kumar, Michael Tran, Rachel Sung, and Amy Wang. Here’s an article, “Early upset; North America on the rise,” featuring Rachel and Amy.

Butterfly Southeast Open
The 4-star event was held this past weekend at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina. Below are some links. The articles are all by Barbara Wei.

Review Day Three: German Stars Impress on Final Day in Liège
Here’s the ITTF article and video (4:35).

Timo Boll Swaps Hands Against Ma Long
Here’s the video (39 sec) as he does this in the semifinals of the Men’s World Cup this past weekend, on the way to winning, 12-10 in the seventh. Here’s another video, from 2013. Here are some related videos.  

Insane Table Tennis Point!
Here’s the video (34 sec), with Keenan Southall against the top seed on the far side, Tung Pham.

2017 World Series: LA Dodgers, Jose Altuve, and Ping-Pong
Here’s the article and video (2:52) by Shashin Shodhan.

Pong Cupcakes
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) The picture was sent to USATT Hall of Famer Dell Sweeris for his birthday, which is today.

Crazy Ping-Pong Drawing
Here it is! (It’s actually on sale here.)

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October 23, 2017

Tip of the Week
Top Sixteen Reasons Players Don’t Improve.

Liebherr Men’s World Cup
It was held this past weekend in Liege, Belgium. As usual in table tennis, one country dominated, with another all- China German Final – wait a minute, what happened there!!! Yes, it was Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs. Timo Boll in the all-German final. So what happened to the Chinese? To be concise, they were Timoed. Ovtcharov won the final over Boll, but he really should share the prize as it was Timo who took out the Chinese. But only barely.

First, note that China was handicapped because at the World Cup, there’s a limit of two players per country, and so their great depth is not rewarded there. Instead of their usual lineup of world #1 Ma Long, world #2 Fan Zhendong, world #3 Xu Xin, world #6 Zhang Jike, and world #9 Lin Gaoyuan (not to mention world #12 Fang Bo and #17 Yan An), they sent only Ma and Lin. (Lin qualified by winning the Asian Cup.) These days, it’s obvious that Ma Long and Fan Zhendong are the two best in the world, and rarely lose to other players. Xu, their #3, is a bit shakier, as is Zhang these days – both occasionally lose to non-Chinese players, which is a no-no for the modern Chinese team. So perhaps China is looking to develop another big star with Lin? He has the game to do so. 

However, at the last Worlds, Lin was up 10-5 match point against teammate Xu and lost. This time? In the quarters, against Timo, he was up 10-4 match point in the seventh against Timo Boll . . . and lost. (He had another match point at 11-10. See link to the video below. Here’s the ITTF article.)

But nobody can beat Ma Long, right? And he did lead 3-1 in games against Timo in the semifinals, and then he too was Timoed, 12-10 in the seventh. (Here’s the ITTF article.)

And so the final was world #4 Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs. world #5 Timo Boll, two Germans who practice regularly against each other. After all his heroics, you’d think Timo should win, but he was perhaps a bit exhausted from his two deuce in the seventh matches, and remember – this guy is 36, which is really old in table tennis. (Here’s the ITTF article.) And yet, this oldster knocked out the two Chinese, made the final of the World Cup, and after being #1 in the world back in 2002-2003, he’s climbed his way back to #5 – and after this World Cup, perhaps higher.

So . . . how did this happen to the invincible Chinese? At my club last night there was discussion of this, and there seems a universal belief that it’s very simple. Liu Guoliang was arguably the most successfully Chinese coach of all time, with China dominated perhaps more than ever in their history during his years as head coach. And then, for apparently political reasons, with the belief that China would dominate regardless, he was “promoted” out of his coaching position to become one of something like 17 vice presidents for the China Table Tennis Association. More than anyone else, he was the one who seemed to keep the Chinese not just on top, but dominating on top, but with his removal, there are now cracks developing. Or perhaps Ma was just recovering from injuries or having trouble adjusting to the ball? If so, why would he have been sent, instead of Fan Zhendong? (See his interview below.)

So what should or will the Chinese do with Lin? If they are smart, they will focus on sports psychology. If they do, Lin could develop to the same level as Ma Long and Fan Zhendong. However, it’s also likely that they will decide he’s too risky, and while he’ll stay on the Chinese team, he won’t be one of their “Big Guns.” At the World Championships, you play three players in the team event, and for the foreseeable future, Ma and Fan hold two of those spots. But there’s a huge battle for the third spot. Zhang Jike used to have a lock on one of the top three sports, but no more as Xu Xin has mostly passed him – but those two and Lin are the main competitors for that third spot. (Fang Bo is another possibility, if he raises his level just a bit.)

At the next Worlds, for the first time in a while, the Men’s Team competition might get interesting. China will face a Germany sending up their world #4 and #5 stars, along with one of Ruwen Filus (world #24), Bastian Steger (#29) or Ricardo Walther (#43). They will also face a Japan with Jun Mizutani (#7), Noki Niwa (#8), Kenta Matsudaira (#11), and of course the up-and-coming superstar, Tomokazu Harimoto, already world #18 at age 14 (and #13 in last month’s rankings). Maybe, just maybe, China might want to bring Liu Guoliang and begin the difficult task of once again going from best to dominating best?

Here are some links.

Between Points - Learn about the most under-developed part of table tennis
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

How to Improve Your Table Tennis Game in One Month
Here’s the article by Eli Baraty. This actually came out last week, while I was sick, and I somehow missed it.

Best Rubbers and Blades for Advanced Players
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

Fifteen Unwritten Rules of Table Tennis
Here’s the article by EmRatThich – with three more added “with your comments,” so there are (at this writing) actually 18.

Table Tennis Tidbits #11
Here’s the article and video (54:50) by Robert Ho.

Backhand Counter Technique
Here’s the video (1:53) from ReSpin Table Tennis. More coaching videos are linked on the right.

Training with Kanak Jha and David Powell at the World Cup
Here’s the video (1:50).

Greatest Table Tennis Shot Ever – Revisited with Fire!
Remember this video (54) second of that crazy, incredible behind-the-back countersmash made by Kit Jeerapaet against “Bogeyhunter” (Sutanit Tangyingyong)? Here’s Bogeyhunter’s fiery revenge!

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October 20, 2017

Not Worth a Nuisance Lawsuit
I wrote a long blog this morning (Friday) on the recent happenings regarding the long saga and removal of Lee Kondo as chair of the USATT Ethics and Grievance Committee. (He was removed as chair last night in a board teleconference by a vote of 7-1.) However, while I believe all of it to be accurate, after consulting with a lawyer, and considering the reactionary history of Lee (covered in the blog), I could be facing a nuisance lawsuit, which USATT would also inevitably be drawn into. (Lee's a lawyer.) We've already spent a huge amount of time on this issue, and who knows how much longer it would go on. Sufficient to say that it simply isn't worth spending any more time on this issue just so I could win a nuisance lawsuit while spending who knows how many thousands of dollars to do so, as well as wasting more USATT time. Just as Lee shared his version of events with the USATT Board of Directors and others, I will share my version with those involved as needed. 

$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC October Open, Oct. 14-15
My write-up and photos of the tournament went up yesterday. Here’s the USATT news version, and here’s the Butterfly News version. (The only difference is the feature photo at the top – USATT went with the four Under 12 Semifinalists all laughing as they all grabbed at the first-place trophy (with the picture taken before they played the semifinals), while Butterfly went with the four Open Singles semifinalists (who all wore Butterfly!).

Normally write these things on the Monday after the tournament, but as readers who know I was sick most of this week, and so didn’t write it until Wednesday night. The results section links to photos of all the finalists, with the pictures taken by Mossa Barandao of PongMobile. I ran the two-day, 3-star tournament, and between that, my cold, and the long saga of the Ethics and Grievance Committee Chair (see above), I now have about as much energy as a dead stick. (The first person to mention E=MC2, i.e. I have lots of potential energy, gets beaten with said stick.)

Table Tennis Books Selling Like Hotcakes
I checked the sales listing for my book sales at Amazon and had a pleasant surprise. Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers always sells well, but this month the sales are even higher than normal. But what really jumped out is that for some reason, Table Tennis Tips is suddenly selling like hotcakes! (Don’t forget, there’s also More Table Tennis Tips.) Also surprising were the number of sales for The Spirit of Pong. Why not join in the fun – here’s the Larry Hodges Amazon Page.

Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men's World Cup
Here’s the home page. It starts today, in Liege, Belgium, Oct. 20-22. Here’s the news page with lots of great articles. Representing USA is Kanak Jha. Here are some videos and an article.

3 Basic Footwork Drills for Intermediate Table Tennis Players
Here’s the article, with links to video, from Expert Table Tennis.

How to Play Backhand Loop
Here’s the video (6:37) from Yangyang's table tennis lessons.

How to Serve
Here’s the video (6:00). It’s nicely animated, but in German, but you can make sense of what’s going on just by watching. I have a vague memory that I might have posted this before, or something similar, but I can’t find it.

7 Benefits of Table Tennis
Here’s the picture/poster. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

2017 Butterfly Badger Open – Interview With Jishan Liang
Here’s the video (1:14) by Barbara Wei.

Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan Training 2017
Here’s the video (3:55).

Seth Pech vs Samson Dubina at the Millcreek Open in Erie, PA
Here’s the video (69 sec). You get to read a lot of Samson’s articles here, now you get to see him play – he’s on the far side.

SkeletonPongster
Here’s the video (45 sec) of a skeletal looper from Steve Worthington! He says he plans to turn it into a bronze sculpture or t-shirt. Technically, I’d say that the backswing is a bit too much around the body (and so to his left) instead of more backwards, but perhaps that’s because he’s moving so wide to the forehand – plus if the arm goes more backwards instead of to his left behind him, it won’t show up as well on a t-shirt. (Here’s they are on his web page, as a possible poster.)

Ping-Pong Shower
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) This is a great picture - we have to do that at our club in one of our junior sessions!

Top Twelve Tactical Rallying Mistakes – Revisited
Here’s the Tip of the Week from this past Monday (though it didn’t actually go up until Wednesday, since I was out sick). See Mark’s comments underneath – they are rather funny and perhaps more realistically depict what really happens with many players!

Best of Pongfinity Part 3: Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here’s the video (3:48).

Table Tennis Trick Shots
Here’s the hilarious video (3:11)!

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October 19, 2017

Table Tennis Cold
Yes, when you catch a cold from some evil player while running a two-day table tennis tournament, you get to call it a cold. I’ve had one since Monday, meaning I must have caught it at the latest on Saturday. However, though I skipped my blog on Mon and Tue, I’ve gotten some work done. (Though I’ve spent most of the time in my lounge chair reading, doing crossword puzzles, watching movies, making funny pictures of cold viruses, and eating chicken soup.)

I had sort of a good break on Wednesday. I normally have four hours of coaching on Wednesday nights, my busiest day other than weekends. However:

  • One student was out of town, visiting Rome on business. (I mistakenly told a few people she was in Australia, but it’s easy to get the two mixed up, right? It was a friend from science fiction, my other world, who was visiting Australia.)
  • One student came down sick and cancelled, not knowing at the time that I was also sick. Maybe we had the same donor?
  • One student cancelled because of Diwali, a Hindu holiday.
  • The parents of the final student saw in my blog that I was sick and told me it would be okay to cancel, so we did so. So I got another full day of rest.

Tonight I normally have two hours of coaching, from 5:30-7:30PM. (There was three, but one moved to the weekend.) However, USATT is having an “emergency” teleconference tonight at 7PM regarding certain matters I expect to blog about tomorrow, but pertaining to the chair of the Ethics and Grievance Committee. So I’ve cancelled the 6:30-7:30 session, and will rush home for the teleconference after the first. On my todo list for today is preparing for the meeting.

Last night I finally did the write-up of the MDTTC October Open I ran this past weekend. Normally I’d do that the day after, on Monday, but that silly cold thing got in the way. I also formatted and put captions on ten pictures of the event finalists, and put them online, linking to them from the results section of the article. I’ll do a final proof of it today and then send it to USATT and Butterfly to publish on their news pages. I’ll link to it tomorrow, assuming it’s up.

Alas, while I was sick work built up. There’s a complication in the tournament accounting from the MDTTC tournament I ran this past weekend, and it looks like I’m going to have to go over all 79 players, one by one, to find the discrepancy. I have to prepare Tim Boggan’s History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 20 (you read that right) for online publication, which means taking the 460 page document in PDF form, breaking it into its 28 individual chapters, and then, one by one, shrinking each down in size to publishable size using various filters. I also need to redo the tournament event time schedule for our 2018 tournaments.

And then there are all those calls from President Trump where he desperately asks me what to do. It’s quite Exasperating!!! I tell him how he should build a big wall, cancel lots of health insurance, lower taxes on the rich, go to war with North Korea, pick fights with his fellow Republicans and everyone else, play lots of golf, and have a funny hair style, but he knows I’m kidding.

Liebherr 2017 ITTF Men's World Cup
Here’s the home page. It starts tomorrow, in Liege, Belgium, Oct. 20-22. Here’s the news page with lots of great articles. Representing USA is Kanak Jha.

Which Events Should I Enter?
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

My Table Tennis Apologies
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

Interview with Ferenc Karsai on Long Pips
Here’s the video (4:18).

TABLE Tennis Cartoon
Want to literally play table tennis? Here are earlier versions that didn’t quite work out.

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October 18, 2017

Tip of the Week
Top Twelve Tactical Rallying Mistakes.

Table Tennis North America Submits Letter of Interest To Host 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships
Here’s the article. “Table Tennis North America, a partnership which includes USA Table Tennis (USATT) and Table Tennis Canada (TTCAN), today announced that the group has submitted a Letter of Interest to host the 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships in San Jose, CA.”

So, when was the last time the World Championships were held in U.S., or North America, or even South America? Answer: NEVER!!! So this would be a first. USATT has been doing a lot of that in recent times – last year we held the first World Women’s Cup in the U.S., and next year we’ll have the first World Veterans Championships in the U.S. since 1990. (As the article says, other than the 1939 Worlds in Cairo, Egypt – practically a suburb of Europe! – the Worlds has always been held in Europe or Asia.

To quote USATT CEO Gordon Kaye from the article above, “With table tennis exploding across North America, we felt strongly that now was the time to bring a World Championship event to our continent. With the success of last year’s Seamaster Women’s World Cup in Philadelphia and the much-anticipated Uncle Pop’s Women’s World Cup presented by Polar Naturals in Toronto later this month, there is absolutely a strong interest in North America for world-class table tennis.”

Want to be a volunteer at these events? Why not volunteer for the 2018 World Veterans? For one thing, it’ll put you on track to be an experienced pro at this when you volunteer for the 2020 Worlds! (I’m already a volunteer at the World Veterans – I’ll be doing daily coverage.)

Mastering the Flip
Here’s the article by Brian Pace, with links to numerous videos.

New Articles and Videos from EmRatThich

National Collegiate Table Tennis Newsletter
Here’s the October issue.

The Secret to Returning Illegal Table Tennis Serves
Here’s the video (4:04).

Adoni Maropis Has a Web Page
Here’s the page. He’s won numerous hardbat and sandpaper singles titles at the U.S. Open and Nationals, but is perhaps best known as the evil Fayed from the TV show “24” (where he nuked Valencia, CA) and as the flamboyant evil sorcerer, Quan Chi, in the TV show “Mortal Kombat Conquest.”

Matt Hetherington Wins New Zealand Men’s Doubles Championship
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) Matt (the technocrat in the hat, who’s not fat, with no bat, who’s not sat, and has come back from his New Zealand flat) is USATT’s Digital & Social Media Manager. If I weren’t sick with a cold I’d come up with better rhymes. (With apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

Senior Table Tennis Champs Share Love of the Game and Each Other
Here’s the article featuring Si Wasserman and Patty Martinez.

Triangle Table Tennis to Host 4-Star Southeastern Open (Giant RR)
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei.

Successful Premier Capital Plastics Butterfly Youth Championships Held in California
Here’s the article by Kevin Yu.

Sarah Jalli Training Video
Here’s the video (2:52) from Samson Dubina. Sarah, 11, is rated 2108.

Junior Training Session
Here’s the video (2:31) of a junior training session in France.

Roger Federer Challenges Klay Thompson to Ping-Pong Game
Here’s the article about the possible challenge match between the tennis and NBA stars.

Puppy Pong!
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Tiger and Lily, Standing at a Table, S-M-A-S-H-I-N-G!
Here’s the video (3 sec) of Tiger Woods smashing in a winner as he plays doubles with Olympian and 3-time U.S. Women’s Singles Champion Lily Zhang.

Non-Looking, Watch-Watching, Waving-to-Crowd Short Exhibition
Here’s the hilarious video (10 sec)!

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October 17, 2017

Nasty Cold Virus Playing Pong and Making USATT Great
To whoever gave me the cold virus at the MDTTC October Open this past weekend for safe keeping – you can come and pick it up at any time. I know you meant well, but this virus you gave me has multiplied beyond its original numbers, and it has annoying taken up residence in various locations in my throat and lungs, where it is now studying to become a doctor, lawyer, or pneumonia. While I applaud its attempts to better itself, and I may help it out financially if it chooses to go to medical or law school, I’d prefer it not go the pneumonia route, and in fact I’m leaning toward kicking it out at any time as it is no longer welcome. So please come and pick it up at any time.

Here’s a picture of the nasty critter playing pong and crusading to make USATT great again.

Because of the cold, and the struggle to get some timely work done, I need to skip the blog again today. Assuming I'm still alive tomorrow, nothing in the universe can possibly stop me from blogging again. 

October 16, 2017

No Blog Today
There should be a rule that if you run a 2-day, 3-star tournament over the weekend, you should get Monday off. (Plus it looks like someone there gave me a cold...) However, there is no such rule, and so I was going to do the blog this morning. Unfortunately, I’m involved in three major time-consuming projects – one USATT, one MDTTC, one involving Tim Boggan’s History of U.S. Table Tennis (preparing the 28 chapters for online publication for USATT), plus my ongoing battle with Amazon (see my Thursday blog), and a dozen other smaller items, such as doing the tournament write-up and photo work. So I need to work on these today. But to tide you over, here’s a question to you: Who would win between these dizzying table-circling speedsters?

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