Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will go up on Mondays by noon 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 1500 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 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!

May 6, 2019

This week's blog will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). I have an incredibly painful toothache and have an "emergency" appointment at noon today. Until this is fixed I won't be doing much of anything. 

April 29, 2019

Tip of the Week
Rope-a-Dope Defense.

World Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event that finished yesterday in Budapest, Hungary, April 21-28, with results, and lots and Lots and LOTS of news articles, video, and pictures.

USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Entry fees go up significantly after May 6, so make sure to enter by then! Final deadline is May 20. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. Numbers are currently low - only 219 so far - but they will likely end up with around 700 or so. I'll be coaching there, and am debating whether to enter one or two events.

ITTF World Rankings
Here they are, after the Worlds. Let's face it, the new ITTF ranking system, which rewards participation, just isn't working. Even after winning the World's (and the Qatar Open just before that), Ma Long, obviously the best player in the world, is only #5, behind three Chinese teammates who didn't do so well at the Worlds (Fan, Lin, Xu) and Japan's Harimoto, who also did poorly. On the women's side, Liu Shiwen won the Worlds and improved from #5 to #4, behind three Chinese teammates. So probably the best man and woman in the world right now are both ranked #4 just on their team!!!

Last Week's Coaching

  • I ran a two-hour Serving Seminar on Wednesday, with 21 players, as a fundraiser for the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. We raised $400, but with a matching donor, actually raised $800! (Here's the flyer for the event.) Seminar was supposed to be 90 minutes but we stayed an extra 30 minutes.
  • In the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Classes we focused on serving. Both classes had a mixture of beginners who were just learning to serve, and more advanced ones, so I had to cover both. We then broke into two groups, based on level. Some focused on spin serves, some on fast serves, some of the younger ones on just getting the serve on and hitting targets. After the serving practice, we did a number of other drills, including a forehand-to-forehand consistency contest. (We'll do backhands this week.)
  • In the Sunday Talent Program (run by HW Global), the focus was on playing points, so we had lots of up-down table drills, where the players had to start the rally out in certain ways - sometimes serving backspin to a specific spot, receiver pushes back to a specific spot, then attack and play out the point; or serve topspin to the backhand and then go backhand-to-backhand until the serve changes direction, either to wide forehand or to middle. Afterwards we had a coaches meeting at a local Chinese restaurant, which caused me to miss the 9PM showing of Game of Thrones, so I saw the midnight showing, and afterwards spent some time Googling and reading about it, and didn't get to bed until around 3AM, which is why this week's blog went up an hour late!
  • A couple of weeks ago I had a talk with one of our top juniors who had had a series of bad losses in tournaments. He was having trouble mentally getting into his past mode where he'd had many good wins. I told him he needed to remember his mental condition during one of those good wins - but he said he couldn't remember. So we made it a goal to remember this the next time he had a good win. Sure enough, he had a great win in a tournament. We talked about it yesterday, and now he can use that match as the one to emulate mentally. I wrote about this mental technique three weeks ago in Remember Your Best Match. It currently had 4827 reads! (But they all get about that many - last week's No More Excuses - Develop World-Class Serves with TNT has 4424. The blog itself gets about the same number of reads, with last week's at 4722.)

The 'Extreme Extrovert' on a Mission to Make You Love Ping Pong
Here's the article featuring Adam Bobrow. "Over the years, Bobrow has parlayed both his lifelong obsession with table tennis and endless, unabashed exuberance into viral fame, receiving millions of views on YouTube for goofy videos like “Enter the Snake: Twist of Fury” and “Excessive Ping Pong Celebration”. He’s also made a career out of it. As the official commentator for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the sport’s main governing body, Bobrow is known as the “voice of table tennis” to fans across the world."

Kanak's Deceptive Backhand in Slow Motion
Here's the video - link goes to a slow motion replay of the shot against Ma Long at the Worlds. Notice how he aims crosscourt, then at the last second, after Ma starts to move to his left, he switches directions for a clean winner? This type of shot - where you aim one way, and then change directions at the last second, are way underused by most players. 

Tennis Great Andre Agassi on Confidence
Here's the video (1:47) every player and coach should watch. "Focus on the right goal. The goal is not to win, winning you cannot control. … What you can control is your focus, determination, concentration and your discipline. … Be more prepared than your opponent."

Ouch I Lost (>.<) Learning From Losses
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Playing Offense With Better Defense
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Pro Table Tennis with Rowden Fullen
Here's a site with lots of useful coaching articles.

New from EmRatThich

Fan Zhengdong in Slow Motion
Here's the video (6:38). 

Difficult Start But Successful Finish in Ajmer
Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF Coaching Course taught in India by Richard McAfee.

Best of the Best--NCTTA 2019
Here's the voting page for Male Athlete, Female Athlete, Rookie, Coach, Rookie Team, Most Improved Team, Divisional Director, and Regional Director of the Year.

League Champions at Last – a Review of My League Season
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

WAB Club Feature: Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Paddle Palace Spring Open
Here's the article by Jay Crystal.

ITTF President on New Rubber Colors & More
Here's the video (28:23) from Table Tennis Daily.

Open Internacional Yucatán 2019 - Sharon Alguetti (USA) Highlights
Here's the video (7:57).

41 Fascinating Facts About the Game We Love
Here's the page.

Ma Long and His Marvel Action Figure Collection
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) He just became my favorite player ever!

Table Tennis Shower Curtain
Why don't you have one???

Lily Zhang TATA Trick Shot at Budapest WTTC
Here's the video (55 sec) - she beat Ma Long! 

Table Tennis Gifs
Here's a page of them!

Ping-Pong Bandit
Here's the page about this great villain from Blazing Paddles! It's in Spanish; here's the video (link goes to the ping-pong scene). "The Ping Pong Bandit is a Western outlaw known for taking paddles away from anyone who loses a game of table tennis to him. He uses a special move called the "Bandit Slam-It" to ensure his victories. He also appears in a western "Wanted" poster, with a reward of $500 for his capture."

Send us your own coaching news!

April 22, 2019

Tip of the Week
No More Excuses - Develop World-Class Serves with TNT

Serving Seminar at Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here's the info flyer for the Serving Seminar I'll be running at MDTTC in two days (Gaithersburg, MD, USA), on Wednesday, April 24, 7-8:30PM - hope to see you there! 100% of all fees will be donated to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. I'm dividing the seminar into two parts - third-ball serves (serves that set up attacks, which should be the majority of your serves) and trick serves (serves designed to win the point directly, if not overused - I'll demonstrate a number of these). There is, of course, overlap between the two, as I'll go over. We already have a bunch of people signed up - hope to see you there! I'll likely stay late to work with players.

2021 World Championships - in Houston, USA!!!
Yep, we won the bid this morning at the ITTF meetings in Budapest, 83-44 over Morocco. This will be for Singles and Doubles, as are the current 2019 World Championships - for roughly the last 20 years they've alternated each year between that and World Team Championships. This is the first regular World Championship ever held in the USA, though we've had others for Veterans, Juniors and various World Cups. (See listing below.)

Here is the USATT article, The World Table Tennis Championships is Coming to USA for the First Time in 2021!, by Matt Hetherington. Here's the ITTF article. Here is video of USA's Bid - the link should take you to the start of the roughly 15-minute bid. There were four presenters:

  • Dragomir Cioroslan, main presenter (Director of International Relations for the U.S. Olympic committee, a 1984 bronze medalists in weightlifting, and husband of former USATT President Sheri Cioroslan, then Sheri Pittman)
  • Janis Schmees Burke, CEO of the Harris Country Houston Sports Authority
  • Anne Cribbs, Chair of the USATT Board of Directors
  • Lily Zhang, USA Olympian and member of the U.S. Women's Team and four-time Women's Singles Champion

Here's an updated version of my listing of World Championship-type table tennis events that have been held (or will) in North America:

  • 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2021 World Championships, Houston, USA
  • 2018 World Veterans Championships, Las Vegas, USA
  • 2017 Women’s World Cup, Markham, CAN
  • 2016 Women’s World Cup, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2007 World Junior Championships, Palo Alto, USA
  • 2000 World Veterans Championships, Vancouver, CAN
  • 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, USA
  • 1995 World Team Cup, Atlanta, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1992 World Doubles Cup, Las Vegas, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1990 World Veterans Championships, Baltimore, USA

World Championships Coverage
Here's the ITTF home page for the event in Budapest, Hungary, April 21-28, with results, and lots and Lots and LOTS of news articles, video, and pictures. (For USA coverage, check the USATT News page daily.) Here are more World Championships links:

Stress Indicating Illusion - Sports Application?
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Under the picture, it says, "This image was created by a Japanese neurologist. If the image is still, you are calm, if the image moves a bit, stressed, and if it moves like a carousel, you are very stressed. Tell me how you are doing?" I tested it, and sure enough, if I clear my mind - as I would before playing a serious table tennis point - the image goes still. I think this could have a serious application in sports as a way for players to practice calming themselves before sports activities. (Alas, too much viewing hurts my eyes.)

How to Make the 2020 United States Olympic Table Tennis Team
Here's the USATT news item. I blogged about how I and others didn't like the initial plan, where up to 4 of 6 potential members of the U.S. Olympic Team could have been selected by committee. They've changed it now so that at most 2 of 6 will be selected that way, with the others making the team by their finish at the current Worlds (quarters or better, unlikely) or highest world ranking, Trials, and then committee selections.

World's Best Table Tennis Robot vs TableTennisDaily's Dan!
Here's the video (9:15) of the latest generation of robots that can actual play table tennis, not just throw balls at you for practice. This one not only rallies really, really well, but reads spin. I don't think the player gave him his best serve, so I'd like to test the robot out against world-class serves, or even my own, or see how it does against pushes or against a chopper. Here's discussion at the TableTennisDaily forum.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23
Tim Boggan and I finished work on it on Wednesday. It's 491 pages with a record 1841 graphics, covering 1997-1999. The proof copy is already in the mail to Tim, which he should receive tomorrow (Tuesday). Assuming all is well, it'll go on sale this week! Info on buying it will be at Tim Boggan Table Tennis (which I maintain for him), along with info on buying any or all of the previous 22 volumes.

Happy Birthday to Jorgen Persson
The 1991 World Singles Champion and 4-time World Team Champion from Sweden turned 53 today!

Three Tips to Improve Mental Strength in Table Tennis
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

How to Beat Flat Hitters at Table Tennis
Here's the article by Ben Larcombe.

Right Footed?
Here's the article and video (13 sec) by Samson Dubina.

Table Tennis From the Heart
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

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

Zhangliang Emphasizes Benefits of Multiball Training
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington and Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!).

Collegiate Articles by Matt Hetherington

WAB Club Feature: Folsom Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Paddle Power: Employers Find Net Profits in Ping-Pong
Here's the article from the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Zhang Jike Practicing Backhand Loop at WTTC in Dortmund
Here's the video (53 sec).

Best of 2019: Marvelous Twelve
Here's the video (5:15).

Top Backhand Table Tennis Moments
Here's the video (4:37).

Timo Boll 2009 Wonder Rally at the Qatar Open
Here's the point (41 sec) against Mizutani of Japan.

Incredible Point
Here's the point (26 sec), including some incredible returns and changing hands!

Incredible Chopping and Lobbing Defense!
Here's the point (43 sec) - including two body-spinning chops!

How Good Is The Pongfinity Trick Shot Team?
Here are two videos (4:38 and 3:31).

Table Tennis Magic: LEON the Magician Live Footage!
Here's the video (6:35)!

Players Have Too Much Fun with Bunny Ears at the 2019 U.S. Collegiate Championships
Here's the video (34 sec)! They push a button to make the ears flop.

New Table Tennis Cartoons

Table Tennis is Fun and Good!
Here's the great and hilarious video (47 sec) of Izabel, the enthusiastic daughter of Jasna Rather, two-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion, 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist in Women's Doubles, and current USATT Director of Para Programs.

Send us your own coaching news!

April 15, 2019

Tip of the Week
The Lead Problem.

MDTTC April Open, Weekend Coaching, Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, and a Serving Seminar
It's been a BUSY week, finishing with an even busier weekend. Here's a rundown.

  • JOOLA MDTTC April Open - Here are the complete results, care of Omnipong. (It was a wild Open final, with Lidney Castro winning over Chen Bowen in a wild duel with lots and Lots and LOTS of wild counterlooping - but Lidney can also block and lob really well. I ran the tournament with Klaus Wood, who is gradually taking over as the MDTTC tournament director. We ran things together on Saturday, but he ran it alone on Sunday - smaller turnout - while I mostly worked on other things in the back room. On Friday night we had serious computer problems - it took me 90 minutes and five restarts to get my laptop computer to work! Klaus brought his laptop as a backup, but for technical reasons, it wouldn't print on our printer. We then brought in the MDTTC's laptop computer - I didn't even know we had one! - but for some technical reason, it wouldn't allow us to load the Omnipong software! Carolyn Klinger (who along with Klaus helped in dealing with these technical issues) brought in a second printer, but again, for technical reasons, we were unable for a time to print to it from Klaus's computer. I finally got my laptop working and we ran the whole tournament off it, but it was scary for a time.
  • In the new Sunday Beginning Class (Week Two) we did forehand review and the backhand. Because of the tournament, we didn't have the advanced HW Global Junior Program (see below), so I stayed late and demonstrated and taught trick shots to them - the 50-foot serve, blowing the ball so it says in the air (sideways), backspin serves that come back over the net, speed ball-bouncing on the table, and smacking tossed balls out of the air.
  • But the bulk of this past week, and upcoming week, is on Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 23. We started last Sunday morning and worked Sun-Fri, 7AM-5PM. We took the weekend off while I ran the tournament (he watched the Masters, rooting passionately for Tiger), and then we'll be back at it as soon as I finish this blog, probably a little after 10AM. I estimate we'll finish on Wednesday, and then he'll drive back to New York on Thursday, and I'll spend that day in bed.
  • Serving Seminar at Maryland Table Tennis Center - Here's the info flyer for the Serving Seminar I'll be running at MDTTC on Wednesday, April 24, 7-8:30PM. ***100% of all fees will be donated to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC.*** I'm dividing the seminar into two parts - third-ball serves (which should be the majority of your serves) and trick serves (serves designed to win the point directly, if not overused). There is, of course, overlap between the two, as I'll go over. We already have a bunch of people signed up - hope to see you there! I'll likely stay late to work with players.
  • If I weren't so busy working with Tim I'd be writing more on some of the segments below - especially on our bid for the World's (we are favorites) and on the Hall of Fame inductees. Hopefully I'll have more time for that after this week.

HW Global Foundation Talent Development Program - They need your support!
Here is their GoFundMe page, where they are trying to raise $15,000. (They are currently at $9500.) I'm one of their coaches, and I hope some of you can help out! Until May 1, Hans & Wen Hsu, the HW Foundation founders, will match all donations for this Campaign, up $10,000. (All fees from the Serving Seminar I'm running - see segment above - will go to this.)

2019 USATT Hall of Fame Inductees
Here's the USATT announcement, by Sean O'Neill. Congrats to Michael, Zhenshi, Sharon, and Richard!

World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the home page for the event, April 21-28 in Budapest, Hungary. (So it starts next Sunday.) There are already a lot of news articles there.

U.S. National College Table Tennis Championships
Here's the page for the event held this past weekend in Greensboro, NC. Also see NCTTA Segment below. Here's USATT's livestreaming:

New from National Collegiate TTA

Forehand Attack Down the Line . . . A Simple Shot to Win Cheap Points
Here's the video (7:50) from Tom Lodziak.

New from EmRatThich

New from Matt Hetherington

New from Steve Hopkins

USA Hopes Week and Challenge: 15-21 April, 2019, Sacramento, CA
Here's the USATT info page. Five top kids from my club (MDTTC) are going - Stanley Hsu, Mu Du, Ryan Lee, James Zhang, and Michelle Kang.

Would You Like To See Your Balance?
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "Sometimes, just like your bank balance, your table tennis balance might not be as positive as you thought. There have been numerous articles written about this by Larry Hodges and others. In Larry’s Balance Is a Habit, he relates the epiphany he had about balance, and its importance. Eight years later, I’m having the same epiphany."

Table Tennis Fan
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Table Tennis Recognition: Learn about the importance and pitfalls of recognition
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Seventeen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Voices wanting to be heard." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

8 Questions with Mima Ito!
Here's the ITTF interview.

Inside My Mind | Timo Boll
Here's the ITTF video (64 sec).

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - March 2019
Here's the video (18:30).

Table Tennis from the 1920s
Here's the video (63 sec).

Like A Boss! Ma Long x TATA Trickshot Challenge 2019
Here's the video (2:25)!

Pong-Pool Long Distance Serve
Here's the video (13 sec) of Scott Preiss!

World Table Tennis Day with Adam Bobrow
Here's the video (48 sec)!

Giant Z-Pong?
Here's the video (2 min)!

Table Tennis Arcade Game
Here's the video (27 sec)!

Table Tennis Tricks
Here's the latest video (1:28) from the Ping-Pong Kid!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 8, 2019

Tip of the Week
Remember Your Best Match.

Miscellaneous Topics

  • Weekend Coaching - I was actually supposed to spend Fri and Sat at the Ravencon Science Fiction Convention in Williamsburg, VA, but had to drop out because I was sick. The only coaching I did was on Sunday, 3.5 hours of group sessions. We started a new ten-week Beginning Junior Class. The focus in the first class was grip, stance, ball-bouncing, and the forehand. We finished with games, with half the class playing real ones, the younger ones playing first around-the-world, and then taking turns trying to hit my Gatorade bottle, with me feeding multiball - if they hit it, I had to drink the "worm juice" inside.
    In the more advanced Talent Development Program, the younger kids usually do lots and lots of multiball, but this time we had them do footwork drills among themselves. For some of them, it was the first time they'd done footwork drills except with a coach, either live or multiball. They did surprisingly well - ingraining the strokes with all that multiball worked! Afterwards I went out for dinner with the other coaches (ten of us) and we went over each of the kids. I had a lot of input, especially with the five kids I'd coached at Cary Cup.
  • Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23 - Yep, you read that right - Volume 23. USATT Historian Tim Boggan moved in with me once again Sunday morning so we can put together the latest volume in his History of U.S. Table Tennis series. As usual, we'll be working something like 7AM to 5PM each day for about ten work days. This time there's going to be a two-day break in the middle as I have to run the MDTTC April Open next weekend, April 13-14. (Klaus Wood is now my co-director.) So things will be a bit busy for a while. To complicate things, I caught a cold from the Cary Cup last weekend, and have been sick since Wednesday.
  • April Fools Day Blog - A number of people didn't realize that last week's blog was on April 1 - yep, April Fools Day. See the segment "ITTF and USATT Rule Changes and Announcements and a Board Brawl," and read the first letter of each line, going down. But the idea of umpires awarding both players a point after a great rally - it falls just within the realm of possibility that maybe, just maybe, ITTF would do it!!!
  • 101 Dalmatians Full-Time Clubs - Here's the listing - yep, we broke the 100 mark! (I added in the latest Spin TT Clubs in NY and DC.) I still remember in December, 2006, when there were about eight full-time clubs in the U.S., that I gave a presentation to the USATT board of directors, trying to convince them to make it a goal to have 100 full-time clubs within ten years. Two of them literally laughed at the idea, and no one would support it. But here we are! (Imagine if USATT had helped out in those early years?)
  • JOOLA MDTTC April Open - I'll be running the MDTTC April Open next weekend with Klaus Wood, in Gaithersburg, MD. Enter early! Some events fill up by Thursday or so. Events include Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 12.
  • USATT Update Notice on Olympic Selection Procedures - Here's the USATT news item. They've changed the procedures. As for me, I'm no longer on the board of directors (didn't run for re-election), and so I'm no longer involved in this issue. Thank God!!! :) But frankly, I'm tired of even discussing the issue.  

USATT and Houston Sports Authority Announce Bid for 2021 World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the cover letter! We have a really good chance. We'll know in about two weeks.
=>BREAKING NEWS (added Wednesday morning): Houston Makes Bid to Create History in 2021 (USATT article by Matt Hetherington)

Actions and Notices from the March 30-31 USATT Board of Directors Meeting
Here they are. Minutes will go up later, after they are approved by the board. Here is the USATT Minutes page.

Here's the ITTF page for the event to be held in Yokohama, Japan, April 5-7.

New from Eli Baraty

Brilliant Blocking Skills – with Paul Drinkhall
Here's the video (8:27) from Tom Lodziak.

New from Samson Dubina

I Am Standing Where the Ball Comes
Here's the Waldner meme. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) The point is that if you watch the opponent, you can figure out early where the ball is going, and so get there early rather than having to move at the last second.

Coaches Thinking Outside the Box
Here's the video (3 min).

Inside My Mind | Manika Batra
Here's the ITTF video (70 sec) on the world #56 (formerly 46) from India.

8 Questions with Timo Boll!
Here's the ITTF interview.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from the National Collegiate TTA

Dangerously Fast Table Tennis
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong | 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup (Final)
Here's the video (16:04).

2019 XIOM Cary Cup Final - Filip Szymanski vs Jishan Liang (Highlights)
Here's the video (5:47).

World Table Tennis Day
Here's the ITTF World Table Tennis Day page, which took place Saturday.

Heading in the Right Direction, Exciting Future Ahead for USA Stars
Here's the ITTF article.

Kumar's Clean Sweep and Sung's Revenge Highlight Final Day
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington on the Youth National Ranking Tournament.

Sticking to What You Love, Even if it Means Late Nights & Long Commutes
Here's the article by Adar Alguetti.

Not Your Typical Fundraiser: Nonprofit Promotes Cheating to Raise Money
Here's the article. "Between black-tie galas and silent auctions, fundraising events in D.C. can get pretty stale. But one local nonprofit is shaking up the philanthropic scene."

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Sixteen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Liu takes Sears title." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

The Making of the Ping-Pong Scenes in Forrest Gump
Here's the video (2:55)!

UCLA Pong Fundraiser
Here's the video (9 sec)!

A New Cat Pong
Here's the video (12 sec)!

David vs. Goliath Pong?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Ping Pong Stereotypes
Here's the video (2:56)!

Table Tennis on a Tight Rope
Here's the video (23 sec)!

Hot Stuff: Little Devil Pong?
Here's the comic book!

Move It Like Pauli!
Here's the video (25 sec) of this new table tennis dance!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 1, 2019

Tip of the Week
Positioning After Serve.

Donald Trump Visits MDTTC
We were all excited to welcome the President of the United States to our club. He played some matches, bragged about how good he was. Here's a picture of him playing

ITTF and USATT Rule Changes and Announcements and a Board Brawl
And so this is what happens the minute I leave the USATT Board of Directors? The ITTF
proposed and approved a new rule that says that the umpire, at his discretion, after a great
rally, may award both players a point. This has got to be the single most ridiculous rule
idea ever, and yet has been approved, first by the ITTF, and now by USATT. And so,
literally right after winning an incredible point, your opponent will now also get a point!
Foolishly, when I first heard about the proposal, I assumed it would be voted down,
or perhaps laughed into oblivion, but it passed unanimously. Suppose there is no umpire,
only you and your opponent, and you win a great point - and your opponent applauds and
laughs, and says, "We each get a point!" I just hope they will rethink and revote on this
silly new rule.

Also, USATT made three other announcements. First, because rallies are getting too fast for
players to even react, we will be switching to a 40.1 mm ball. This will lower ball speed and
reduce spin. Second, former ITTF President Adham Sharara has been hired as a USATT
intern, in charge of accounting. While he is serving a four-year ITTF suspension, we are
lucky to have someone with his experience and history, who can help us tremendously.
Finally, USATT announced suspensions for the fight at the last USATT board meeting. It's
only now that some of the details of the infamous fistfight are coming out. I was in the middle
of it, arguing with the USATT Board of Directors that we needed Oxford commas in our by-
laws. I lost track of how many of them I punched, but I admit I was way, way out of line, and
so I have agreed to a serve another term on the USATT coaching committee as penance.

Cary Cup
The tournament was held this past weekend at the huge, 32-table Triangle Club in Cary, North Carolina. Here are the results! I was there to coach five Maryland junior players - James and Stephanie Zhang, Lance Wei, Todd Klinger, and (on Friday night) Nicholas Nash. I went down with Todd and his parents, Carolyn and Ron. I coached 27 matches, 18 of them on Saturday.

It was sort of a weird tournament for Stephanie, Lance, and Todd. They each played eleven matches on Saturday, with Lance also playing five on Friday night, and Todd three on Sunday (playoffs). Well over half the players they played either had long pips, short pips, or played with the Seemiller grip (with long pips or anti on one side). Lance played three Seemiller grip players, something he'd never played against before, and Todd played two. As I explained to them, the key isn't to learn how to play every single type of style - though you should know the general way to play each style. The key is being able to flexibly adjust your game for any opponent, which leads to you forcing your game on them. But it's easier said than done!

There was also a small scheduling problem on Saturday. For the "Big Round Robin," players started out in groups of five, with the top finisher to advance to Group A, the second finisher to Group B, and so on. For their first matches, it had B vs. E and C vs. D, with A getting a bye. This meant that for every C player, the first match was their most important match of the tournament. Lose it, and they'd almost for certain be down a division the rest of the tournament.

Todd, 14 and rated 1683 (but recently over 1800 until one bad tournament…), was a C player, and his first match was against the D player (1607), who had long pips. Todd lost the first, easily won the next two, was up 11-10 match point in the fourth, but ended up losing in five. And so he went down to the D's. But in this case, this actually led to a good thing! He followed up that loss by going 7-0 in the D Division, and then winning his quarterfinal and semifinal matches - nine consecutive wins against players who, while mostly rated lower, were all competitive, with some of them rated about the same or higher. Twice he was pushed to the end, only to play very well in the pressure points to win deuce in the fifth. In the final, he played a "ringer" rated 1448 but actually at least 400 points better than that. But the second-place trophy was HUGE! So was the $125 prize money check. So Todd was pretty happy. Here's a picture of the finalists, with Todd on the left. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

James, 12 and rated 1896, was seeded for the B division, but the 2600 A player didn't show, and was replaced by a 2039 player from a waiting list. James beat the 2039 player 3-0 to advance to the A division. He had some great matches there, and gave at least two much higher rated players a good battle. Stephanie, 15 and rated 1967, a chopper, got stuck with some rather unorthodox players, including a long pips player who rolled ball after ball. But she got better and better, and pulled off two nice wins in her last two matches. Lance, 12, and rated 1790, also got stuck with lots of unorthodox players, plus he kept losing 11-9 games - but toward the end he was playing better and better, even getting his rapidly developing backhand loop into play. On Sunday, Lance also volunteered to help at the control desk, since he was hugely experienced with Omnipong from helping at MDTTC tournaments for the past year or do, without any mistaken results - and so, with Referee Wendell Dillon's permission, got to do data entry at a 4-star tournament for a couple of hours.

My Upcoming Tours
I've got a busy upcoming schedule - both work and travel. This is sort of my sightseeing year.) I just returned from coaching at the Cary Cup in North Carolina. Next weekend I'll be at the Ravencon Science Fiction Convention in Richmond, Virginia, where I'll be a panelist, and doing both a reading and a signing session. (Here's my Ravencon bio, where I make my claims that I'm the best science fiction writer in USA Table Tennis, and the best table tennis player in Science Fiction Writers of America!) I plan to go down early on Friday and visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. On Sunday, almost when I return from Richmond, USATT Historian Tim Boggan moves in with me for another 10-12 days to work on his latest History of USA Table Tennis, Volume 23. We'll be interrupted in the middle as I'll be running, along with Klaus Wood (who is gradually taking over) the MDTTC April Open, April 13-14.

But this really is my year of sightseeing. I'll be coaching at the US Nationals in Las Vegas, June 30-July 5, and then plan to spend a day at the Grand Canyon. (I'm told I was there when I was one year old, but strangely don't remember this.) From July 19-27 I'll be at my annual science fiction writing workshop vacation in Manchester, NH - this will be my eleventh one. But I plan to go up a few days early to tour Boston, which is one hour away: the Freedom Trail Tour for certain, and possibly some or all of the following: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (I'm a presidential history buff), Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, USS Constitution and Bunker Hill, Franklin Park Zoo, and perhaps visit the three local full-time table tennis clubs: Boston Table Tennis Academy, Boston Table Tennis Center (in Medford), and Massachusetts Table Tennis and Badminton Club (in Waltham).

And now we get to the BIG TOUR. After the MDTTC August Open (Aug. 10-11), on August 12 I'm flying to Dublin, Ireland, for the World Science Fiction Convention, Aug. 15-19. I'm going up early both to make sure things like my cell phone works (apparently a new SIM card), and also to tour Dublin and other parts of Ireland a bit. On Aug. 20 I'm on an official tour of ancient Ireland castles. And then the real fun begins. I'm doing a roughly 4-5 week tour of Europe and Egypt. (I especially want to visit historic sites. I've been to China, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, and all 50 U.S. states, but never to Europe.) I have rather detailed plans now for travel and tours, etc., with the idea that I will not set dates in stone so I can stay in any place as long as I choose. I'll be traveling mostly by Eurail, though I will likely rent a car in some areas.

The planned itinerary includes sightseeing in and around London (lengthy itinerary there), Edinburg (Scotland), Paris (lots of things there!), Omaha Beach, ITTF headquarters and other sites in Lausanne (Switzerland), Italy (Florence, Pisa, Sienna, Rome, Pompeii), then I fly from Rome to Berlin (historical sites and perhaps a Bundesliga match), then back to trains for Warsaw, Krakow (including Auschwitz and the Oskar Schindler factory), an unknown number of Eastern European countries (still undecided on this, but possibly quick stops in Prague and/or Vienna, maybe others on the way to Athens), and then many of the ancient sites in Greece (a driving tour of Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi). Then I fly from Athens to Cairo on a tour of the Great Pyramid and Sphinx in Egypt and a Nile cruise. After returning to Athens, I fly home. My expectation is that it will be toward the end of September before I return.

Youth National Ranking Tournament
It was held this past weekend at the ICC club in the Bay area. Here are some links.

Qatar Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend in Doha, Qatar, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Lots of great stuff to watch and read, much of it featuring the return of Ma Long, who (SPOILER ALERT!) won Men's Singles. Here's the article 2019 World Tour Qatar Open Recap by Steve Hopkins. Here's the ITTF article, All hail Ma Long, the Comeback King of Qatar!

The Life of a Full-Time Table Tennis Coach
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak. "I’ve completed my first year of being a full time table tennis coach. Whoosh! The past 12 months have flown by. But what has it been like? Am I bored of table tennis yet? Did I earn enough money to pay the bills? Has my body survived the hours and hours of coaching? And what are my plans for the future?"

New from Eli Baraty

How to Maintain Mental Toughness in Table Tennis
Here's the article.

Out of SYNC
Here's the article by Samson Dubina. "After not playing for a few weeks, you might feel a bit sluggish or out-of-sync with your game.  In this article, I want to explain why and give a few helpful tips that you can use to quickly restore and build your playing-level!"

New from EmRatThich

Forcing Forehands and Believing in Backhands
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

5 Key Secrets to Improve Your Consistency
Here's the video (6:51) from Table Tennis Daily.

Inside My Mind | Hugo Calderano
Here's the ITTF video (61 sec) featuring the world #6 from Brazil.

Werner Schlager - Unconventional Playing Style
Here's the video (3:02).

Ma Long & Fan Zhendong Training | World Team Championships 2018
Here's the video (7:58).

Kanak Jha vs Alexey Liventsov | 2019 ITTF Challenge Oman Open Highlights (R32)
Here's the video (11:40).

Akron Entrepreneur Hopes Table Tennis Academy Is a Hit
Here's the article featuring the new Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy.

USATT Announces Recipients of 2018 Pong 4 Kids Grant
Here's the USATT article.

National Collegiate Table Tennis

This Orthodox Female Teenager is a U.S. Ping Pong Champion
Here's the article featuring Estee Ackerman. "She’s 17-year-old Estee Ackerman, winner of multiple gold medals at the U.S. Table Tennis championships and ranked #22 in the country. She’s the media sensation who, at age 11, beat tennis champion Rafael Nadal in ping pong. And she’s the one profiled in a lengthy article in the New York Times for prioritizing Judaism over sports, refusing to play on Shabbat or Jewish holidays."

SoCal Schools United in Table Tennis Competition
Here's the USATT article.

8 Questions with Kasumi Ishikawa!
Here's the ITTF interview with the world #4 from Japan.

WAB Club Feature: Houston International Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

TT Dream Building Fund: Successful Candidates Revealed!
Here's the ITTF article, with the National Youth Table Tennis Association in Milwaukee one of the six winners.

Denver Table Tennis Alliance’s 2nd MENSUAL Tourney of 2019… Went GREAT!
Here's the article by Angelo Gandullia.

Southern Calif. Schools Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Fifteen of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Members Speak." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

UCD Table Tennis: Nationals Campaign 2019
Here's the video (6:15) featuring the UC Davis TTC. (They are also asking for donations to go to the Collegiate Nationals.)

Another Incredible Secretin-Purkart Exhibition from Long Ago
Here's the video (3:31)! They were the Champions of France for many years, and Secretin was top five in the world.

Upside-Down Car Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Don't Do Drugs; Do Table Tennis
Here's the "Before and After" cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Fireman Water Pong?
Here's the picture!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 25, 2019

Tip of the Week
Advanced Sponge but No-So-Fast Blades.

USATT Committee Selection Task Force
Did your eyes glaze over just reading that headline? I'm on the task force, along with Eric Wu and chair Gary Schlager. We had three teleconferences, sometimes joined by USATT board chair Anne Cribbs and USATT attorney Dennis Taylor. The purpose of the task force was to sort through the 45 people who had volunteered for 19 USATT committees and make recommendations for the USATT board on who should chair and be members of each committee. It was a herculean task, made much easier by the herculean efforts of Gary and Dennis, who kept us updated on all the needed info. This weekend the board will meet for two days in the Bay Area in California where they will, among other things, finalize and approve the committees for the next two years.

As noted before, my latest two-year term as coaching chair ended recently, and Pieke Franssen has already been approved as the new coaching chair. I have agreed to stay on the coaching committee as a member, pending the board's approval.

Cary Cup
I'll be coaching at the Cary Cup in North Carolina this next weekend, and so no, I won't be at the USATT board meeting held 3000 miles away. I'll be in coaching four kids. This will actually be my first trip to the Triangle Club there since they were super-sized into the largest club in the country. 

Weekend Coaching
Well, it finally happened . . . again. On Saturday I put down on my todo list "6PM: coach at club," as I was one of the coaches in the Saturday junior league coaching session (it's half league, half coaching). At 5:10 I got a phone call from one of the coaches asking if I was coming in - it actually started at 5PM, as I should have known! So I rushed over and go there at 5:25PM. It's the first time I've been late for a session in about a decade, and only the third time since we opened in 1992. (Once I was late because of a huge traffic jam, and the other time I had my coaching schedule wrong.) So my record of timeliness has dropped to about 99.985%, about 19,997 out of 20,000 sessions.

I spent thirty minutes of the session coaching doubles. As usual, the focus was on good doubles serves, receives, and positioning. We emphasized attacking deep serves - too many of the kids were passively pushing back serves that were loopable. They are often playing to win, and figure pushing is safer than looping, but if they can't loop here, in practice, how will they learn to do it in a real match? Yeah, if you have trouble with a shot, you don't avoid it, you find every opportunity to practice and use it until you no longer have trouble with it - and then you keep doing so until you the best in the world at it!

On Sunday, in the Beginning Junior Class, we introduced them to looping against backspin. I'm sometimes hesitant to teach that shot this early as many of these kids are 7-10 years old and have only played for two months, often just once a week during that time in our class. But it's good for them to see the more advanced shots so they both understand the game and can work toward doing these shots. After the looping session, we had a forehand-to-forehand and backhand-to-backhand contest. This not only helps develop their basic shots, but is sort of needed - after learning to loop, most of them would tend to lift many shots off the end, and so needed to get back to the basics.

In the more advanced Talent Program afterwards we also focused on fundamentals, with lots of multiball. We also did some up-town table games where players had to serve and attack to a specific spot - and one of them was where they had to serve and attack the opponent's middle, which was relatively new to the younger ones.

Qatar Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event in Doha, Qatar, March 28-31 (with preliminaries on March 26-27).

Spanish and Oman Opens
Here are the home pages for the Spanish Open and Oman Open held this past weekend, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here's the Oman Open Recap by Steve Hopkins.

Bruce Liu Elected to USATT Board, Savini and Hogshead Reappointed
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

ITTF Level 1 Coaching Course - April 24-28, Flushing, NY
Here's the info page.

New from Samson Dubina

Table Tennis Short Game
Here's the article and video (7:14) by Eli Baraty.

Regional Collegiate Championships
They recently held six regional championships. They were livestreamed. Here are the results:

Four Tours, One Team: USA in Action Across the Globe
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington, featuring USA players Wu Yue, Lily Zhang, Kanak Jha, Michael Tran, Amy Wang, Nick Tio, Kai & Aziz Zarehbin, Joanna & Rachel Sung,

First Appearance Of Year, United States Duo Upsets The Odds
Here's the ITTF article featuring Kai & Aziz Zarehbin.

US Para Team Lands Medal Haul in Europe
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Matchpoint Table Tennis Center Grand Opening a Success
Here's the article on this new full-time club in New Jersey.

Where Are They Now? Marcus "Ping Pong" Jackson
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

WAB Club Feature: Golden Link Sports
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Two Local Juniors Battle it Out at Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article by Andre Stoner, featuring Dion Payne-Miller and Marty Stoner.

Ryu Seungmin Anticipates Close Race in Tokyo
Here's the ITTF article on Ryu's predictions for the 2020 Olympics. (Ryu won gold in Men's Singles in 2004.)

5 Reasons Why We Can't Wait for the Liebherr 2019 World Championships!
Here's the ITTF article. "Just 30 days remain until the Hungarian capital of Budapest welcomes the world's biggest table tennis stars for the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships from 21-28 April."

Ask a Pro Anything: Georgina Pota
Here's the video (5:21) with the world #34 (formerly #11) from Hungary, with Adam Bobrow.

ITTF Top 10 | 2019 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup
Here's the video (4:53).

Timo Boll vs Fang Bo | Champions League 2019
Here's the video (15:17).

"I Love This Game" - Part 2
Here's the video (5:45) with lots of great shots. Here's Part 1 (6:26) from 2016. Here are more table tennis videos from MrTheportal.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Twelve ("1996 U.S Open Hall of Fame Banquet"), Chapter Thirteen ("Olympics - Part 1") and Chapter Fourteen ("Olympics - Part 2") of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Olympics - Part 1." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Paddlestar Galactica Returns for a Full Month of Ping-Pong Madness for a Good Cause
Here's the article and video (2:08). "On April 7th, $200 will buy you a lot of dirty tricks for a good cause at 826DC’s Paddlestar Galactica ping-pong tournament. You could make your opponent play with their hand instead of a paddle, wear an eye patch, or be pummeled by ping-pong balls while receiving your serve. No, this is not your typical fundraiser–but 826DC is also not your typical DC nonprofit."

Xu Xin Smack and Catch
Here's the video (7 sec) - can you do this?

Crazy Trick Serve
Here's the video (20 sec, including slo-mo) - even in slow motion it's hard to pick it up!

Unbelievable Behind-the-Back Backhand
Here's the video (28 sec, with slo-mo replay).

Leon the Magician
Here's the video (1:52) as he does card tricks for the Japanese Women's Team.

Funniest Table Tennis Match Ever
Here's the video (5:25) of the exhibition between Jorgen Persson and Chen Weixing.

Paddle-Belly Pong?
Here's the video (44 sec) of the Saive brothers - Jean-Michel hitting and Philippe sort of standing there making faces.

Send us your own coaching news!

March 18, 2019

Tip of the Week
Challenge an Opponent's Strength.

USATT Election
As I write this, I am a member of the USATT Board of Directors. However, very likely later today I will no longer be on it as they will be counting the ballots in the current election. (I chose not to run for re-election.) The result will be announced on the USATT news page, though I don't know for sure if it will go up today. (I'll link to it directly from here when it goes up.) BREAKING NEWS - Bruce won, 260-208. Congrats to him!

The two candidates in the final runoff are Bruce Liu and Mike Babuin. While both have been sharply critical of USATT in many ways, I'm fine with either of them; I know I can talk to either of them. But that might not be the case for some of the people with USATT - there's going to be some friction involved with either of them. But maybe that's a good thing as it makes us really look at what we're doing.

When I ran for the USATT Board, I made it clear that I wanted to focus on "Progressive" issues, not "Fairness" issues. Both are equally important, but due to the nature of USATT, Fairness issues tend to dominate at the expense of Progressive ones. Here's where I blogged about this, USATT: Fairness Versus Progressive Issues. Unfortunately, during my four years on the board, Fairness issues completely dominated - every week there'd be another "emergency" issue of this nature, many of which few people even know about. Board members dealt with these time-consuming issues consciencously, but it took up much of our meetings. A huge amount of my board time (not just in meetings) was spent on issues such as SafeSport; the fairest and best way to choose National Teams (including the recent controversies over how the Olympic Team will be selected); whether USATT should get involved in trying to resolve the hidden serve problem (see below); changes in the Nationals and Open (and whether the Board should get involved, as most of these issues are currently decided at headquarters, not by the Board of Directors); dealing with disgruntled USATT members (including one member who managed to take up more board time in one year than the other 8000 combined - I spent 110 hours on his issues); numerous confidential personnel and legal issues; and many more.

In the end, I did set up a USATT League page, with a Prototype Regional Team League (and hope that eventually this will lead to something); got started on a USATT Education and Certification Program (with USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio, who is in charge of the developing program); and a zillion other smaller things. Back in 2015 I tried to set up a Professional Players Association, but ran into so many problems (mostly involving whether non-citizens could play) that I finally dropped that one. We had a "Table Tennis Academy" at the Nationals, but with a small turnout, we didn't continue it. I'm still involved in a number of issues - I'm on the USATT Committee Selection Task Force, and have a teleconference this afternoon (Monday) at 3PM. (Addendum - and another Tuesday at 6:30PM.) I chaired the USATT coaching committee the last two years, and will likely stay on as a member.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that our sport needs, and whoever wins the election today will likely have plenty to do their first year. Good luck to both!

Pan Am Team Trials - Hidden Serves
I've blogged about this many times. Here are some of the serves in the recent final between Victor Liu and Nikhil Kumar, using the same illegal serving techniques used by most top players, including Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, and so on. (I don't like posting this since they are both juniors, but this was the Men's Final.) It's a big advantage to be able to hide the ball during the serve as it makes it much harder for the receiver to read the spin. (At the highest levels, they get used to this since it's so common, and it actually is a major weapon against up-and-coming players, who aren't as used to them yet - which is a reason most top players don't make an issue out of this.)

Before I get to the videos, let me be clear:

  • I don't blame the players or their coaches. If they don't learn to serve like this they are at a disadvantage since most of their opponents do so. If the rules were enforced, they too would serve legally. As it is, every coach has to take his junior student aside at some point and explain to him that if he wants to compete at the high levels without being handicapped, he too has to serve illegally. It's a ridiculously bad situation coaches and players are stuck in.
  • I don't blame the umpires. Almost no other umpires are calling these serves, so why should they? When they do, not only do fans boo, but most referees ask them to stop. It's even unfair to the players, who would never know if the serving rules would be enforced in any given match. It's also unfair to the umpires, who no doubt want to enforce the rules but are under great pressure not to.
  • I only partially blame the referees. They aren't enforcing the serving rules because few other referees are. I just wish they'd get together and decide, as a group, to require umpires to enforce the rules as they are written.  
  • I do blame the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee for ignoring this issue. I also blame USATT for not asking them to do so. I've tried to get the USATT Board, Umpires and Referees, and Rules Committees to act or to ask the ITTF to do so, but haven't been able to get them to do so. I tried. Twice I've made it a USATT Board issue, and both times I was unable to get them to act on this issue. And so we are stuck with a sport where our top players openly break the rules (i.e. cheat), and we do nothing about it.

Some will argue that regardless of what an opponent does, one should follow the rules, even if it means losing a match. To them, I ask this question. Suppose you have trained since you were a little kid as a sprinter, and now are the fastest sprinter in the world. You go to the Olympics. As they are about to start the race, all the other sprinters take two steps forward. The officials allow it. The spectators and fans don't notice it. You have trained all your life for this, but can't win if you start two steps behind everyone else. Do you take the two steps forward? It's pretty easy to sit on the sidelines and take the high road if you aren't the one about to throw away a lifetime of training. The blame here isn't the athletes taking the two steps forward or who hide their serves; it's the officials who, worldwide, allow such travesties.

Now to the videos! And note that most of the serves are like this, with the hard part in most videos finding good camera angles. When you watch them I suggest freezing the video, then advancing it one frame at a time by hitting the period key. You can go back one from with the comma key. Notice the head dips that help hide the ball and contact.

The pertinent rules - and is really the key one that is rarely enforced, i.e. if the umpire isn't sure about the legality of the serve, rather than fault the serve, they allow it, thereby allowing hidden serves. Yes, this means some non-hidden serves will be called, but that's the fault of the player who should be following rule 2.6.6. 

  • 2.6.4 From the start of service until it is struck, the ball … shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry.
  • 2.6.5 As soon as the ball has been projected, the server’s free arm and hand shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net. The space between the ball and the net is defined by the ball, the net and its indefinite upward extension.
  • 2.6.6 It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws, and either may decide that a service is incorrect.
  • If either the umpire or the assistant umpire is not sure about the legality of a service he or she may, on the first occasion in a match, interrupt play and warn the server; but any subsequent service by that player or his or her doubles partner which is not clearly legal shall be considered incorrect.

Ping-Pong Restaurants
I know of four table tennis themed restaurants in the U.S. - places where you can have a regular sit-down meal and play table tennis. (So I'm not including bars that have ping-pong tables.)

  • Bubba-Gump Shrimp Company, a nationwide chain based on the Forrest Gump movie. I've been to three of them. They have 48 restaurants worldwide, 29 in the U.S, and others in Mexico, Japan, Malaysia, Colombia, London, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada, the Marianas and the Philippines. They are table tennis themed, even serving food on ping-pong paddle trays, and with table tennis pictures all over the walls. Here's their Wikipedia listing with more info. Interesting trivia there - Actor Chris Pratt was discovered in 2000 while working as a waiter at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Maui, Hawaii. He waited on the table of actor/director Rae Dawn Chong, who had starred in one of Pratt's favorite films, Commando. Chong offered Pratt a role in a short movie she was directing at the time.
  • Comet Ping Pong is a pizza restaurant in Washington DC, which I've visited a couple of times, though not in a few years. They have three ping-pong tables in their basement, and everything is ping-pong themed, even serving the pizza's on what look like big ping-pong paddles. They were also the site of the crazy Pizzagate conspiracy theory and 2016 shooting, showing that table tennis is not the only group that has crazy people. Here's their Wikipedia listing with more info
  • Ace Eat Serve is an Asian table tennis themed restaurant in Denver, which also has ping-pong tables. They have Tuesday night tournaments and regular open play.
  • Spin Table Tennis is an upscale social table tennis club with an extensive menu and bar, with locations in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, and Washington DC. Here's the DC menu. The chain was primarily founded and owned by actress Susan Sarandon. Here's their Wikipedia entry. They have professional coaches and open play. They are more of a table tennis club with a kitchen than a table tennis themed restaurant. I've been to the one in New York City twice, but haven't made it to the local one in Washington DC yet - they just recently opened. (There's a second one opening in New York City.)

Spanish Open
Here's the ITTF page for the ITTF Challenge event in Guadalajara, Spain, March 22-24 (with preliminaries March 20-21).

Oman Open
Here's the ITTF page for the ITTF Challenge Plus event in Muscat, Oman, March 22-24 (with preliminaries March 20-21).

RIP: Ulf Bengtsson
Ulf Bengtsson died yesterday at age 59. He was the 1984 European Men's Singles Champion, won bronze at the 1984 World Men's Cup, and was on the Swedish Men's Team that won Silver at the 1983 and 1985 World Championships. There will likely be an Obit on the ITTF news page sometime soon. Here's one from the English TTA. (Don't get him confused with Stellan Bengtsson, who is alive and well, and coaching in San Diego. As far as I know, they are not closely related.)

Here's Jan-Ove Waldner's Facebook tribute: "A good friend, fantastic teammate and master have left us yesterday. My thoughts go to your children and your family. The memories are many but I will never forget our time in Kalmar when we took Swedish championship gold together! Obviously, the European championship gold in Moscow in 1984 was the most memorable one! An amazing achievement from a fantastic player! Rest in peace my friend you will always be missing!" Here are four photos Waldner posted:

ITTF Executive Committee Statement on Former President Mr Adham Sharara
Here's the article. "The International Table Tennis Federation [ITTF] Executive Committee today confirms the suspension of Mr Adham Sharara, former President and current Honorary President of the ITTF, from all activity within or in connection with the ITTF for four years."

Strangely, Sharara seems to have recently been elected or named president of Table Tennis Canada (the Canadian TTA) - click on "Board of Directors." (Sharara is a former member of the Canadian national team and I think president of the Canadian TTA many years ago.)

3 Easy Drills To Improve Timing in Table Tennis
Here's the video (6:30) from Table Tennis Academy Coaches Dan Ives & Tom Maynard. "One of the biggest challenges in table tennis in our opinion is not technical but timing and rhythm of the shots, so we've released this coaching tutorial which has 3 exercises to help improve your timing and demonstrates the importance of getting this area in your game right."

New From Tom Lodziak

New From Eli Baraty

One Trick to Get More Spin on Your Sidespin Serves
Here's the article by Ben Larcombe.

Learnin' Experience - Read about 4 main keys to improvement
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

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

Visual Perception Training for Table Tennis Athletes
Here's the article and video (10:50) from Richard McAfee.

Inside My Mind | Ma Long
Here's the ITTF video (61 sec).

Heming Hu Videos
Here they are! Lots of instructional ones. He is the #1 ranked player from Australia (world #126) and a 2016 Olympian.

Timo Boll's Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (52 sec).

Timo Boll | Top 10 Shots | Table Tennis Legend
Here's the video (5:21).

Timo Boll vs Patrick Franziska | 2019 German National Championships | FINAL
Here's the video (6:36, time between points removed).

Who Will Host the Future ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals?
Here's the ITTF article.

Players Confirmed for Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the ITTF article.

Omar Assar and Quadri Aruna to Lead African Charge
Here's the ITTF article.

Setting the Example: Chuang Chih-Yuan
Here's the ITTF article.

ITTF March Rankings – And a Peek at April
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

How One Woman Brought Ping Pong — And Feminism — To Work
Here's the article and podcast (7:19).

2019 Maryland Hopes Regional Camp and Tournament
Here's the USATT news item - this was from my blog last week.

Double-Ball Gnip-Gnop Doubles
Here's the video (31 sec)! "Gnip-gnop" - yeah, ping-pong spelled backwards - is the informal name of the game where you hit the ball downward and then over the net, instead of directly over the net. Give it a try! But maybe with one ball to start.

Blondie Table Tennis
Here are four Blondie comics that feature Dagwood and table tennis. (There are a couple of others that mention table tennis, but don't feature it.) 

  • August 13, 2017 - my favorite, on the wall at MDTTC. Elmo returns from table tennis camp and annihilates poor Dagwood!
  • July 7, 2017 - Dagwood suggests ping-pong tables in the break room to the Boss.
  • August 20, 2016 - table tennis and archery as a combined Olympic sport?
  • March 8, 2009 - Dagwood and Herb go at it, with trash-talking.

Benny the Bull Does Multiball
Here's the video (12 sec) as Mimi Bosika "destroyed him." Benny the Bull is the mascot for the Chicago Bears basketball team.

Send us your own coaching news!

March 11, 2019

Tip of the Week
How to Beat a MUCH Stronger Player.

U.S. Open and Nationals
The entry form for the US Nationals recently went up at the 2019 US Nationals Home Page. It's in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5, and I'll be there! I'll mostly be coaching, though I'm toying with entering Over 40 Hardbat Singles - I've won it five times, and from the schedule it won't conflict with my coaching. (I'd like to play Hardbat Doubles, which I've won 14 times, but it would conflict with events I'd be coaching in, alas. Note that I normally use sponge, but like hardbat on the side.)

There's been some controversy about the cut in prize money. For example, first place in Men's and Women's Singles last year was $7000 each; this year it's only $3000. Overall, prize money dropped from last year's $44,725 to this year's $27,700. However, $7050 of this year's prize money is in the form of vouchers for junior events, which can only be used for "payment towards ITTF Tournaments, USATT National Ranking Tournaments and/or TTTeam USA / USATT Training Camps. Such vouchers are non‐transferrable." If you exclude the vouchers, prize money this year is $20,650, less than half of last years. I don't think we need to get into exact numbers; roughly speaking, prize money is about half of last years. (Here is the 2018 US Nationals entry form for comparison.)

I'm a member of the USATT Board of Directors (for another week, until they finish the current election, since I chose not to run for re-election). The decision to make these cuts was made at USATT headquarters (obviously as a cost-cutting change, we do have to operate within a budget), not by the Board of Directors or the USATT Tournament Committee. There was no board discussion about this and the USATT Tournament Committee chair says they were not consulted. (I was shown some sort of internal memo that said there would be "some changes in the prize money compared to the past," but I've checked and triple checked my email, and I wasn't CCed on that memo - and it's rather vague anyway, with nothing about the drastic cuts.) 

There is an internal debate going on right now on whether this was a policy decision (which would come under the jurisdiction of the USATT Board and Tournament Committee) or part of the day-to-day running of the sport (which is run by USATT headquarters). It does seem like a big policy change, but at this point, with only one week left in my four-year term, I'm going to let my successor and others on the board debate on this issue. But there really are two questions: Who should make this type of decision, and whether it was the right decision.

Below is the email I wrote to the board when we started receiving emails complaining about the cut in prize money - I since found a copy of last year's entry form. The James is James Therriault, who first emailed the board on this issue.

I confess that I proofed the Nationals entry form in advance and didn't pick up on the prize money cuts. No one said anything about this big change and I proofed mostly the wording, and so didn't catch it. (I also didn't have a copy of last year's entry form to compare it to. Does anyone have a copy, or is there one still online? The 2018 US. Nationals page doesn't seem to be online anymore.) The first I knew about it was from the letter from James. Presumably these were cost-cutting changes from headquarters, but I really don't know - it wasn't a board decision. Like James and Dan, I'm a little leery on what the effect is going to be for members when they see the cuts in championships events, and how it will affect entries.

There has been other discussion about the Nationals and Open. Here's what Carl Danner wrote about the Nationals (reprinted with his permission), and my response. (Carl chairs the USATT High Performance Committee and is president of the USATT Foundation. I did some minor formatting.)

I think it's a good time for a broader discussion about the Nationals.  When I stand in the middle of the playing hall, it's hard to tell by looking around what year it is (or even decade).  That seems somewhat odd.   

To me, today's Nationals:

  • is a service that USATT provides to its members at a typical financial loss -- because even where there is a profit on the books, that generally doesn't count all the paid time that USATT staff also puts in;
  • is not growing as it has drawn about the same number of players for decades, plus or minus a hundred or two depending on particular circumstances;
  • provides pretty good conditions for the advanced players (at a cost, including floor mats and many of the umpires), and mediocre ones for everyone else;
  • is run well, something that's easy to overlook except for those of us who remember what a poorly-run event feels like;   
  • has typically offered perhaps $40,000 - $60,000 in prize money, largely provided by the participants themselves; as an example, $40,000 divided by 800 players is an added $50 per person in entry fees;     
  • has been consistently hampered in hotel sponsorships because many players don't use the tournament hotels and rates; 
  • is not spectator-friendly and makes little from paid admissions;
  • does meet the needs of many regulars who want to play some matches, socialize with friends, and watch some good players also;
  • has been able to draw some sponsorships (thank you, partners!), but not enough to transform any significant aspect of the event.

Now a few things have been tried in recent years, including the separate finals venues and all-court floor mats at the World Vets and the Open.  But none of those have been transformative either, and the notion that we should just find someone who will rain sponsorship money on the event is a nice idea that's been tossed around forever without consistent results. 

Throw into the mix what we have been hearing about Las Vegas as a venue, that it's getting more costly as a site and that our really good deals there may be gone.  

What are some questions and options? 

  1. Why is the event so costly to run?  The financial losses seem real despite the high level of entry fees.  Maybe it's easier to explain in light of the number of matches or some other variables, but it's probably worth understanding better.   
  2. Would splitting off some other events make sense and permit more growth?  Perhaps it's time to consider a separate junior or senior Nationals.  The World Vets seemed to bring out many U.S. players who don't go to the Nationals, what was better about that? 
  3. Should we aim to elevate the top player aspect of the event, with better presentation, prize money and a push for spectators?  Or enhance the average player's experience, as they are most of the base and paying most of the freight?  Or should these be two different tournaments?   
  4. Should players continue to be able to enter the Nationals directly, or should there be regional qualifications in some way?  Perhaps these could be a source of growth.   
  5. What about small cash prizes for ratings and age events (the topic of these emails)?  Are they essential, or would nicer awards and some enhanced prestige factors be an effective substitute? 
  6. What about local organizing committees that might want to build the event over time?  For example, Grand Rapids did a nice job with its Opens in local sponsorship and publicity, but some players said they didn't like going there.  Are we better off in a bigger destination city, but mostly ignored?
  7. Do we care about growth, or is this just a good service to members in its present form (with only fine-tuning needed)?      
  8. USATT HQ staff are pressed already with all they have to do, and the Nationals and Open activities absorb up a great deal of their time and thus limit other services they could provide.  Is that ok? 

And of course, there is no need to go drastically in any of these directions all at once -- but it might be helpful for us to figure out if there is a direction that we intend to move over time.  

As an innovation, our current Nationals mostly dates from the 1970s.  Is it time to innovate further?

Here is my response:

Very good points, Carl. An underlying problem is that we are trying to satisfy two masters - the USATT membership that wants to play in the event, and the top players and spectators that want a more professionalized event. I suggest we consider what our vision for the Nationals and the Open should be. Here's mine. 

US Open: Aim to turn this into a huge annual professional event, like the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Bid it out, look for entrepreneurs with a vision and action plan to make it so, one that would be enticing to TV and major sponsors. Hiring a CEO with the vision and ability to get this done should be key. USATT's willingness to give up some control of the event may also be needed. A one-day Giant or Tiered RR run in conjunction, perhaps at the very start or end, might be possible to draw players/spectators and raise revenue (if we can get enough tables), but otherwise only "championship" events. (This could include senior and junior events, run single elimination.) This is our "Professional" event, and hopefully a major ITTF event. 

US Nationals: Keep this as the classic historical event we've had for many years, with the goal of a thousand or more USATT members getting together each year in lots of events, with progressively more prize money in the major events as the numbers and sponsors go up. By having only one such event each year, instead of running both the Nationals and Open this way, means we'd get more players at the Nationals as "The Event" the members all go to each year. With a thousand players, we not only get much more in entry fees, but we can also charge sponsors more for booths and for sponsoring tables, balls, and clothing, as there would be more players. With all this extra revenue, we can afford very good prize money in major events while giving USATT members a great annual event that everyone will want to attend. We should also consider bringing back some historical things we stopped doing, such as the huge players party, as well as clinics, "Meet the Pros," and other features that would turn it into a "must attend" event for members. This is our "USATT members" event. 

2019 Maryland Hopes Regional Camp and Tournament
Here is my write-up of the Hopes Camp and Tournament we just held at MDTTC - I was one of the coaches and ran the tournament. (There are a LOT of links afterwards, so don't miss those!)

2019 Maryland Hopes Regional Camp and Tournament
March 8-10, 2019 at Maryland Table Tennis Center
By Larry Hodges

Forty-two kids, the large majority ages 9-11, congregated at the Maryland Table Tennis Center for two days of training on Friday and Saturday, and (for those born after Jan. 1, 2007, i.e. 12 and under) the regional Hopes tournament on Sunday. Here's a group picture. Here is a photo gallery by Jay Chelur.

Running the camp was USATT National Team Coach and Alameda TTC Coach Pieke Franssen, who flew in from California - taking an all-nighter to Charlotte, NC, and then to Dulles Airport in Virginia around noon, where I picked him up. Wang Qingliang was the main assistant coach - he's on the USATT National Coach Development Team. Others assisting were myself, Lidney Castro, Jeffrey Zheng, and two new Vietnamese Regional Team Members who just moved to Maryland, the brothers Khai and Khoi Dinh. (Khoi Dinh was #2 player on the Vietnamese Junior National Team this year before their family immigrated to the U.S. three weeks ago.) Also hosting were organizer Wen Hsu, and Carolyn Klinger, who took charge of meals at the club. (Here's her non-Facebook picture.) The camp had four sessions, Friday 4:30-6:30PM and 7:30-9:30PM, and Saturday 12:00-2:30PM and 5:30-7:30PM. (Players in the Hopes Tournament were required to come to the camp.)

Each session started with jogging, followed by agility exercises. This usually took up to 30 minutes. Pieke had a range of different ones, all involving various side-stepping. Then we got the tables. The level of play was very high, with two rated over 2140, eight over 1890, and nineteen over 1700. Here are pictures and video (from Facebook). (The kid running side to side in one video is U.S. Open and Nationals 10 and Under Champion Stanley Hsu, who is demonstrating the drill for others. They then broke into six groups and everyone did this and other speed drills.)

How do you run a camp with 42 players on 17 tables? Pieke and Wang organized it so that for the first three sessions, about one-third of the players would do multiball. We had four multiball tables, with Lidney, Jeffrey, Khai, and Khoi feeding as I called the drills. We generally had 14-16 players, so each table had 3-4 players. For many drills, we'd do two players at a time (the others doing ball pickup), with the players doing a footwork/stroking sequence and the rotating out so the player did the drill. Other times one player would do the drill while one or two others stood behind them, shadow-stroking the drill. We also did some interactive drills, where 2-3 players would sometimes get involved. We finished each multiball session with the "box" challenge, where we'd put a box (actually a spaghetti colander) one racket length from the far end of the table, and the players on each table would do drills where they took turns, 2-4 shots each, trying to knock it off the end. It took a number of hard shots, but when they did it, the winning team each got a "trillion dollar bill" (I had a collection of them), or, later in the camp, their choice of that or a Jolly Rancher candy.

The rest of the tables were one-on-one practice, with Pieke and Wang calling the drills and coaching. Alas, I rarely got to see that since I was back in the multiball area. However, I had a copy of the practice schedule, with lots and lots of drills that were mostly centered around serve, receive, and footwork. The players worked hard! (We didn't really give them a choice, did we?)

On Sunday we had the Hopes Tournament, with 20 boys and 7 girls. The girls played a complete round robin while the boys played five groups of four, with two advancing from each group to single elimination. Congrats to the Champions and Final Four! Here are the main results:

  • BOYS: 1st: Patryk Zyworonek; 2nd Mu Du; 3rd Andrew Cao; 4th James Zhang
  • Here's a group picture of the Boys - L-R the players are Andrew Cao (3rd), Patryk Zyworonek (1st), Mu Du (2nd), and James Zhang (4th). Coaches are Jack Huang, Wang Qingliang, Larry Hodges, Pieke Franssen.
  • GIRLS: 1st: Michelle Kang; 2nd Rachel Wang; 3rd: Rachel Ku; 4th: Alyssa Kang
  • Here's a group picture of the Girls - L-R the players are Rachel Ku (3rd), Michelle Kang (1st), and Rachel Wang (2nd) (Alyssa Kang missing). Coaches are Wang Qingliang, Pieke Franssen, and Jack Huang.

After the Hopes events, we had three rating events - Under 2300, 1900, and 1400. Here are complete results (including Hopes), care of Omnipong. And here are the ratings, processed by USATT on Monday. Below are the main results, linked to pictures:

A big thanks goes to all those who helped with the camp, to the superlative job of fellow coaches Pieke, Wang, Lidney, Jeffrey, Khai, and Khoi, and to Referee Paul Kovac and Umpire Stephen Yeh, to Jackson Beaver (and half the local junior program!) for helping at the control desk, and to sponsors USATT, MDTTC, JOOLA, and HW Global Foundation.

Little Rock Hopes
Here's the article by Michael Lauro about the Regional Hopes camp and tourament in Arkansas, with pictures and video.

USATT At-Large Board Director Election - Round 1 Results
Here's the USATT article. If you think about it from a purely political point of view, Lily might have been handicapped. Why? Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that East Coast voters tend to vote for East Coast candidates (Mike and Lily), while West Coast voters tend to vote for West Coast candidates (Bruce). Let's also assume that Chinese voters tend to vote for Chinese candidates (Bruce and Lily), while non-Chinese voters tend to vote for non-Chinese candidates. (Remember, we're talking tendencies in a political framework.) Giving these assumptions, Bruce gets most of the west coast vote and splits the Chinese vote; Mike gets most of the non-Chinese vote and splits the east coast vote; while Lily only gets to split both the east coast and the Chinese vote. Now if someone wants to look deeper into this, they could investigate if there are tendencies, as I hypothesize here, or other ones, and also the number of voters in each of these demographics - but I'll leave that to someone else.

Here are the first-round results, with a second round this Wed-Sun (March 13-17) to decide who takes my current position on the Board. (When I blog next week they will likely be counting the votes, and hopefully they'll know the winner by the end of the day.)

  • Bruce Liu: 140
  • Mike Babuin: 119
  • Lily Yip: 116

HW Global Foundation Talent Development Program - They need your support!
I'm one of their coaches on Saturdays and Sundays, and I hope some of you can help out! Here is their GoFundMe page, where they are trying to raise $15,000. Until April 1, Hans & Wen Hsu, the HW Foundation founders, will match all donations for this Campaign, up $10,000.

USATT Nominates Players for the 2019 World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary
Here's the USATT article.

How to Do a Forehand Flick – with Paul Drinkhall
Here's the article and video (5:43) from Tom Lodziak. (A flick is another term for a flip, i.e. an attack against a short ball.)

More Spin
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

New from EmRatThich

ITTF Level 3 Coaching Course - September 4-11, 2019 - Akron, Ohio
Here's the USATT info page. From the USATT Coaches Courses Page, there are three upcoming courses:

Lauro's Passion Rewarded with National Volunteer Coach of the Year Award
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Why is Boll Strong? #6
Here's the article and video (4:08).

Is There a Table Tennis Offseason? Should There Be?
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Table Tennis Atmosphere
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Big Matches Upcoming for US Players in Europe
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington, featuring Lily Zhang, Kanak Jha, Michael Tran, Victor Liu, and Rachel & Joanna Sung.

Canadian Championships Underway
Here's an info page.

Hugo Calderano: The Brazilian Looking to Take Budapest by Storm
Here's the ITTF article.

Pitchford Aims to Open Dialogue Around Depression and the Pressures and Expectations of Succeeding in Sport
Here's the article from MH Table Tennis. English #1 Liam Pitchford is world #17.

Díaz Sisters on Female Idols and Celebrating International Women's Day
Here's the ITTF article featuring Puerto Rican stars Adriana and Melanie Diaz.

China’s 2019 Championships Team: Not Marvellous?
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Germany Still Chasing First Singles Gold, Will 2019 Be the Year That Changes?
Here's the ITTF article.

Olympian & Paralympian Business Development Program
Here's the info page.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast | February 2019
Here's the ITTF video (16;24).

WAB Club Feature: California Table Tennis
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

JOOLA Sponsors ICC
Here's the article. They recently sponsored my club, MDTTC. They also just signed Triangle TTC.  

Navin Kumar's Movie Character Publicity Poster
He recently had his first film role in the upcoming movie, "Attack of the Unknown," as Atul, the SWAT Team Driver. Here's the publicity poster. (Here is the non-Facebook version.) Navin is "The Bionic Man" from table tennis. (He's actually be in a number of news videos.)

Scoop Off Floor, Backspin Comeback Return
Here's the video (19 sec)!

We Don't Have Exhibitions Like This Anymore
Here's the video (1:53) of the famed French players Jacques Secrétin and Vincent Purkart.

Jason and Alex Piech at the 2019 Arnold Sports Festival
Here's the video (3:09)! Here are some of their past videos.

Ping-Pong Trickshots
Here's the video (3:35)! These are some incredible and crazy trick shots. (I think I can do any individual trick shown, but doing them all together, in sequence . . . how many attempts would it take?)

Advice, Skill, or New Rubber?
Take your choice! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!

March 4, 2019

Tip of the Week
Be an Olympian - In Your Mind.

USATT Election, Coaching Committee, and the USATT Committee Selection Task Force

  • The election ended yesterday for my position on the USATT Board of Directors. (As noted previously, I decided not to run for re-election.) Today they are counting the votes between Mike Babuin, Bruce Liu, and Lily Yip. If one of them gets a majority then he/she wins and takes my spot immediately. If none get over 50%, then there will be a run-off between the two highest finishers, which will take about two weeks. Whoever wins, can you PLEASE get 50%+ so we can get this over with???
  • As also noted previously, I decided not to continue as USATT Coaching Chair. (I was appointed to the position two years ago, my second time - I also chaired it for four years in the 1990s.) My term ended on March 1, but according to the bylaws, I would continue as chair until my successor was named. Since they likely wouldn't do this until the in-person board meeting in Milpitas, CA, March 29-31, I took matters into my own hands and called an email vote to approve Pieke Franssen as my successor. (He was the only one who applied, but is highly qualified.) The vote was 9-0, and so he took office on March 1, last Friday. As I pointed out to him via email, at midnight eastern time on Friday night, he became the chair only for the Eastern Time Zone, while I continued in the rest of the country. And then, as the night went on, each hour another time zone hit midnight and March 1, and he took over another region, until finally, after five hours, my coaching chair powers ebbed away as he became coaching chair in Hawaii.
  • Regarding the USATT coaching committees, over 30 people applied to serve as chair or members of our 19 committees, with many applying for multiple positions. This was too much for the USATT Board, so they appointed a USATT Committee Selection Task Force to go over all of them and make recommendations. Board Chair Anne Cribbs called me up and convinced me to join the task force, along with Gary Schlager and Erica Wu. We had a long teleconference Thursday on this, and figured most things out, but there are about three committees that will likely have a lot of debate at the board meeting March 29-31.

Show Biz Pong!
Back in 2013 I had a wild day as a table tennis consultant on the set of the TV show Veep. Here's my blog about it. At their request, I also brought in three other local players, Khaleel Asgarali, Toby Kutler, and Qiming Chen. We all got paid, and I know at least Toby appeared in the episode - but none of us got any official credit, and so didn't get our own IMDB pages. Dang!!! (IMDB = Internet Movie DataBase, which also includes TV shows.)

Recently a student of mine, Navin Kumar, had his first acting and producing job, as "Atul," a "SWAT driver" in the movie Attack of the Unknown. I started wondering how many other USA players have IMDB pages.

I knew of some of the more obvious ones, and others who had bit roles in table tennis movies. But how many were there? So I asked on Facebook - and found there were a lot more than I expected! The reality is that, based on how many I got just from my Facebook friends, there are a LOT more that I don't have here. So if you have an IMDB page and have ever had a USATT rating (my minimum standard), feel free to comment below, including the web address of your IMDB page. Here are the ones I know of.

  • Judah Friedlander - he has 77 credits just as an actor! I've coached him several times, including back when he was a kid. He was in Star Wars 7, 30 Rock, Fresh off the Boat, Rio, Meet the Parents, Zoolander, Along Came Polly, and Ping-Pong Summer - and those are just the ones I saw him in. (We won't talk about Sharknado movies.)
  • Adoni Maropis - he has 48 acting credits, including 15 episodes in "24" as the terrorist Abu Fayed, who nukes Santa Monica. I've also seen him in Troy, The Scorpion King, and Lazarus Rising. I've had many battles with him at the table - he's won a number of hardbat titles at the Open and Nationals. He has a USATT rating of 2103, and that's playing with a hardbat.
  • Adam Bobrow - he has 26 acting credits, including Ping Pong Playa and Balls of Fury. He's now the Voice of Table Tennis for the ITTF, doing commentating at all their major tournaments. He has a USATT rating of 2143, had been as high as 2183.
  • Graciella Evelina Martinez (formerly Tomiko Ly) - she has 20 acting credits. As Tomiko Ly, she was also one of the top junior table tennis players in the late 1980s. She was a member of the Resident Training Program back when I was (at various times) manager, director, and one of the coaches. I practiced with her many times.
  • Frank Caliendo - he has "only" 17 acting credits, but he's better known for his standup comedy and impersonations. I played doubles with him once. He has a 1665 rating.
  • Alex Mayzlin - he has 11 acting credits.
  • Soo Yeon Lee - she has 9 acting credits - and a USATT rating of 2468!
  • Yichi Zhang - he has 3 acting credits. He has a rating of 2631.
  • Elmira Zainabudinova - she has 3 acting credits, including "Entourage" and "Balls of Fury." She has a rating of 2188, has been as high as 2228.
  • Laura Paglin - she has 7 credits as a Producer, 6 as a Director, 3 as a Writer, 2 as an Editor, 4 as a Cinematographer, and 7 as camera and Electrical Department.
  • Will Shortz - he has 3 acting credits, 13 as "Self," and one each for Producer, Cinematographer, Soundtrack, Miscellaneous Crew, and Archive footage.
  • Yau-Man Chan - he was in "Creep," "Reality Obsessed," and 19 episodes of "Survivor." Has a rating of 1573.
  • Chi Ngo - he was in six episodes of "It's Gary Schandling's Show," 1988-1990. He was also a member of the USATT Resident Training Program in the late 1980s, when I was (at various times) manager, director, and one of the coaches. I practiced with him many times - he was about 2200 at his peak.
  • Navin P. Kumar - he has 1 acting credit as Atul, the SWAT Driver in Attack of the Unknown. He is also credited as an executive producer. He's a student of mine, with a rating of 1385 (was 1434).
  • Barney D Reed - he has 1 acting credit for "Ping Pong Playa," and 2 as Self for the documentary Top Spin and with "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." I've known him since he was a kid. He was on the 1994 U.S. Junior Team that I coached that upset a bunch of teams to make the semifinals of the World Youth Cup Championships in Taiwan. He was on the USA Men's Team for many years.
  • Eric Finkelstein - he has 7 producing credits and 1 writing credit. I coached him at training camps when he was a kid! He is rated 2235 and has been as high as 2293.
  • Diego Schaaf - he was a consultant and technical advisor for Ping Pong Playa and Balls of Fury. He has a short cameo play in the latter. He was 1800-1900 at his peak.  
  • Wei Wang - she was a consultant and technical advisor for Ping Pong Playa and Balls of Fury. She has a short cameo play in the latter. She was the 1990 U.S. National Women's Singles Champion and about a 2400 player at her peak.
  • Jimmy Pelletier - he was in Ping-Pong Summer (actor and crew). He's a sandpaper expert, also plays hardbat. I've hit with him before.
  • Mike Meier - he played an umpire in the movie "As One" - and in real life, is an International Umpire! He has a rating of 1652.
  • Steve Hoch - he was a writer and producer for "Whacked!" I've played him a few times. He has a rating of 1963 and has been as high as 2101.
  • Wally Green - he has 2 acting credits, "Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis" and "Grand Theft Auto IV." He has a 2331 rating. I've hit with him before.
  • Nicky Garratt - he has 2 credits for Sound Track, and one for "Self. He has a USATT League rating of 1798.  
  • Biba (Todorovic) - she has 1 acting credit for "Ping Pong Playa," and for crew in "Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis."
  • Sid Naresh - he has 4 credits as "self" as a star table tennis junior - he's on the USA National Team as a Cadet. He has a rating of 2426.
  • Nandan Naresh - he has 4 credits as "self" as a star table tennis junior - he's on the USA National Team as a Cadet. He has a rating of 2291.
  • Arcot Naresh - he has a credit as "self" in "No Days Off" - he's the father of Sid and Nandan. He has a rating of 2057.
  • Sangita Naresh - she has a credit as "self" in "No Days Off" - she's the mother of Sid and Nandan.

HW Global Foundation Talent Development Program - They need your support!
I'm one of their coaches on Saturdays and Sundays, and I hope some of you can help out! Here is their GoFundMe page, where they are trying to raise $15,000. Until April 1, Hans & Wen Hsu, the HW Foundation founders, will match all donations for this Campaign, up $10,000. Here's the first paragraph from their page:

"Continuing last year's fundraising success, which brought our coaches to the U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas, this year we are establishing the HW Global Foundation Annual Campaign. Our annual campaign will partially fund the participation of our talented, young athletes in training camps and tournaments all year long. To stand out among other rising stars, our kids work hard all year to qualify for these special events, and we do not want their families' inability to pay for these events to hinder their progress. It is important to note that our annual campaign will not cover any operational costs HW Global Foundation may have; 100% will go to our young athletes to allow them to train and compete at a high level at national training camps and tournaments. We will have a process for families to request funds to help their worthy kids attend special training and competition events. We will summarize these events on our website."

Weekend Coaching
Or should I say - non-weekend coaching? I did coach the Thursday Beginning Junior Class, where we introduced pushing. The Saturday Junior League (which is half league, half coaching) was on hiatus as there was this big Chinese Alumni Tournament at MDTTC all day and night. Meanwhile, we were watching the weather forecasts, which predicted snow all day on Sunday, starting around noon and going past midnight, with up to six inches. By Sunday morning the forecasts had changed, with mostly rain, and then snow starting around 3PM. But that was still a problem, with a Beginning Junior Class at 4PM and the advanced Talent Development Program at 5:30PM. So we ended cancelling both around 11AM on Sunday. But it turned out we were right on the edge of the storm, and after we cancelled, it took a slight turn - and almost completely missed us! There was light snow, but not enough to stick on the roads.

Table Tennis Books by Larry Hodges
Yep, this is one of those periodic postings where I ask you to support a poor (relative to Jeff Bezos), starving (I had a small breakfast and it's almost lunchtime) table tennis (and science fiction) writer by buying my books! Here are my table tennis books that are currently sold on Amazon:

Or you can try out Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis series; Dan Seemiller's Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion; or Samson Dubina's 100 Days of Table Tennis.

2019 USA Nationals in July
The USATT page and entry form are now up! The Nationals will be in Las Vegas, June 30- July 5. (The first day, Sunday, June 30, is only for Junior and Mini-Cadet Teams.)

2019 Pan American Games Trial and First Adult National Ranking Event Tournament Homepage
Here's the USATT page with complete results, video, and photos. Here's an article on it, Pan Am Games Team Trial Review, by Steve Hopkins.

ITTF Coaching Courses in the U.S.
There is a Level 1 and a Level 2 course coming up in Tigard, Oregon - see below. (Here's a USATT news item on the Level 2 course.) There is also a Level 3 course scheduled September 4-11 at the Samson Table Tennis Academy in Ohio, but info on that is not out yet.

Simple Foundations of Balance and Movement in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Backhand to Forehand Grip Change and Footwork
Here's the video (5:32) from Eli Baraty.

New from EmRatThich

New from Tom Lodziak

Friction Videos
Here are the two video (3:31 and 3:04) from Samson Dubina.

'Inside My Mind': Bernadette Szocs
Here's the ITTF article and video (1:12). She's the world #21 (previously #12) from Romania.

Timo Boll Signs Off in Style on Dramatic Weekend of National Championships Action
Here's the ITTF article on Timo Boll winning Men's Singles at the German Nationals for the 13th time.

Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng Book Budapest Places
Here's the ITTF article on the two winning the Trials to represent China at the Worlds. Includes results at the end. Here's a related article, Ding Ning responds, Fan Zhendong stands alone. Here is another, Marvellous Twelve Review, by Steve Hopkins.

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

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Eleven of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "1996 U.S. Open." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Unbelievable - Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:14) from GT Table Tennis.

The Incredible Boy Harimoto
Here's the video (6:02). Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) is #4 in the world (and #1 outside China) at age 15. (He'll turn 16 on June 27.)

John Travolta vs. John Travolta Pong
Here's the video (24 sec)! It's really about a 2-sec video repeated over and over, but it's kind of mesmerizing.

Happy Table Tennis Birthday
Here's the video (1:23)! Make sure to send it to table tennis friends and family on their next birthday. (Now I can't get that irritating tune out of my head…)

Goping Pong
Here's the video (30 sec) of this huge lawyer vs. insurance adjuster battle!

Around-the-World Against Lob
Here's the video (35 sec) with Adam Bobrow doing the nonchalant lobs.

Super Trick Shot
Here's the video (16 sec) of one of the more elaborate and impressive trick shots I've seen. I especially like the rebound shot off the block!

Non-Table Tennis - "Plop Plop"
My humorous science fiction story "Plop Plop" is now up at Galaxy's Edge! What happens when you are trying to murder your skydiving father and uncle, but they must hit the ground in the right order ("Plop Plop") to get your inheritance . . . and unexpected visitors from the future keep dropping by?

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