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

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

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

January 10, 2018

USOC Meeting on Coaching Education and Certification
I returned yesterday afternoon from a whirlwind trip to the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where I met with USATT and USOC people on creating a USATT Coaching Education and Certification Program. Those attending the meeting were:

  • Larry Hodges (Chair of USATT Coaching Committee and member of USATT Board)
  • Jörg Bitzigeio (USATT High Performance Director)
  • Mark Thompson (USATT Chief Operating Officer)
  • Denise Parker (USOC Vice President, National Governing Bodies Services and former CEO for USA Archery)
  • Chris Snyder (USOC Director of Coaching Education)
  • Avery Wilson (USOC Director of Strategic Planning)

The USOC people have extensive experience in developing education and certification programs for Olympic sports, and so we weren’t starting from scratch. They were very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. We spent probably the first half of the meeting going over where USATT currently stood – who the coaches were, where they coached, the current business model of USATT clubs where the coaches develop players, and current resources. We went over the current coaching certification program – USATT has two, both the badly outdated USATT certification program (much of it created by me in the early 1990s when our situation was very different) and the ITTF program, which we have adopted as part of our program.

How is our situation different now than in the early 1990s? Back then, we had one full-time training center (MDTTC, which I opened with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang in 1992); now there are 94. Back then we had dozens of certified coaches, few of them active; now we have 311, and twice that many before we had to trim the field due to the recent SafeSport compliance rules. Back then there were perhaps six full-time coaches in the U.S.; now there are about 300, though only about half are USATT certified. Back then we were desperate just to get anybody out there coaching; now we can focus on quality.

After a lot of discussion of the strengths and weakness of our current situation, we discussed how other sports did it – especially tennis and archery. Then we got into the real nitty gritty of what we could do, which included a lot of brainstorming. Many of the potential opportunities come from doing online programs, especially at the lower levels. They would focus on two aspects – the table tennis part (of which there already is a lot of material we might be able to use), and the non-table tennis part, i.e. how to teach, plus sports psychology, physical training, etc. (and here the USOC already had a lot of material we could use).

We spent a lot of time diagramming the way we could set up such a program, using large sheets of paper on an easel, which we would then tear off and tape to the wall. By the end of the meeting the walls were covered with such notes!  (We took pictures so they are not lost.) Anyway, we now have a rather strong vision and plans on how to develop a USATT Coaching Education and Certification program for the modern age.

After the meeting Mark took me to the USATT storage area, and I was stunned at all the boxes of vintage stuff – film reels of vintage players from the 1930s like Viktor Barna and Lezlo Bellak; boxes and boxes of VHS tapes from the 1980s, USATT Magazines, program booklets, and so on. It was way too much to go over in the short time I had there. I may discuss having a USATT history person do a visit and spend a day going over it all.

Perhaps the hardest part of the meeting for me was just getting there. I had a flight at 6:50AM to Chicago, where I’d transfer to another flight to Colorado Springs, arriving at 11:52PM. The meeting was scheduled 1-5PM. However, when I got up at 3:30AM to get ready for my flight, I had an email that said the flight had been cancelled, and that I’d automatically been put on a “Direct Flight” at 8:40AM. So I lounged about for a time, and then drove over to Dulles Airport in Virginia. It was there that I discovered that the direct flight was to Chicago, and that they had me on another flight to Colorado Springs, which would arrive there at 6PM – an hour after the meeting ended!!

So I spent some time with the agent, trying to find a way to get there on time, but there just didn’t seem to be a way. Then she said, “Well, there is this flight from National Airport, but I don’t think you can make it in time.” To make the flight I would have 55 minutes for the agent to book the new flight; I’d have to find a way to National Airport (about 30 minutes away if no traffic – but we were in the middle of rush hour); get through security; and make it to my gate. Not a chance, right? The cheapest way would have been to take a shuttle or Uber, but there just wasn’t time, so I ran outside and grabbed a taxi. It cost $80 ($68 plus tip), but he drove like a maniac, and magically, there was little traffic. At National, there was almost no line in Security, and I was “TSA Pre,” and I went through that really fast, and lo and behold, I made it with five minutes to spare!

So I made it to Chicago in time for my original flight, though there was a rush there as well, with only 30 minutes between flights. So I rushed through the terminals to the gate - and then, just as I arrived, out of breath, they announced the flight had been delayed two hours, due to weather! This meant I’d arrive around 1:45PM, well after the 1PM meeting began. I let the USATT know I’d be late, they alerted the USOC, and they rescheduled the meeting for 2:30-5:30PM. Once at the Colorado Springs Airport I Ubered over, and arrived around 2:15PM.

I spent the night at the USOC, where I lived in the dormitories from 1985-1990, so it was nostalgia time. Then I caught an 8AM flight back to Maryland on Tuesday.

USATT Announces 2017 National Coaches of the Year Awards
Here’s the USATT article. I was on the selection committee for this, and the choices were not easy as we had to choose between such quality coaches. Congrats to:

  • Coach of the Year: Jörg Bitzigeio (Colorado Springs, CA)
  • Mark Nordby Developmental Coach of the Year: Pieke Franssen (Alameda, CA)
  • Paralympic Coach of the Year: Mitch Seidenfeld (Lakeville, MN)
  • Doc Counsilman Technology Coach of the Year: Samson Dubina (Akron, OH)

Nets and Edges: Learn 5 Key Elements to Returning Some of the Most Difficult Balls!
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

Reshuffling the World Rankings: Progressive or a Mistake?
Here’s the USATT article by Ray Huang.

New World Ranking System Launches Jha into Top 100
Here’s the article by Matt Hetherington.

Estee Ackerman, Long Island Table Tennis Phenom, Spreading the Word
Here’s the article and video (1:38) from Newsday. “You might say that Estee Ackerman is an ambassador of Ping-Pong Diplomacy.” (She and I won Hardbat Mixed Doubles at the U.S. Open a few weeks ago! We both normally use sponge.)

Tom’s Table Tennis Tips
Here’s the monthly newsletter from Tom Lodziak.

Relocation Leads Tom Feng's Charge Towards 2020
Here’s the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Best Year Ever, Now Simon Gauzy Looks Forward
Here’s the ITTF article.

Paddle Palace Club Leads Charge for Safesport Compliance
Here’s the article.

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 10
Here’s chapter ten of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1991-1992. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at

Dimitrij Ovtcharov – The Road to the TOP
Here’s the ITTF video (6:18). “What a year of 2017 it was for Dimitrij Ovtcharov that led him to the TOP of the new ITTF World Ranking! Relive his sensational journey to become the new world number ONE!”

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - December 2017
Here’s the video (8:29).

Ask a Pro Anything: Timo "the Bandana" Boll
Here’s the article and video (9:03) from Adam Bobrow. Great video – features a challenge match where the lefty Boll plays right-handed in a challenge match with Adam!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 5, 2018

Coaching Matters, and Away Mon & Tue
I’ll be away Monday and Tuesday, so next blog will be next Wednesday. I’ll be at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, meeting with USATT and USOC people about setting up a USATT coaching education and certification program. My flight leaves at 6:50AM from Dulles Airport on Monday, so I’ll be leaving for the airport very early. We have a detailed agenda to go over – I’ll likely go over here when I return. It’s actually formulated in the form of questions – 18 of them.

The USOC is in the business of winning medals for the U.S., and part of that business is setting up coaching programs that lead to these medals. They have a lot of experience working with the various sports organizations in doing this, and are willing to support us in this with money and other resources. There was a time when there simply weren’t enough training centers or potential coaches in the U.S. to make this worthwhile for table tennis, but these days we have lots of both. So now we can focus more and more on quality.

Meanwhile, I’m also involved in about a zillion other issues. I’m on the selection committee that’s currently debating the coach of the year awards – we have the nominations, and there are some very tough choices to be made from a number of highly qualified coaches. Picking and choosing among them is perhaps the least favorite part of my volunteer work. The coaching committee is also debating the grandfathering of a top coach, and along with it various requirements in general, such as English skills needed, the value of full-time versus part-time coaches, and the potential problems of being a high-level coach while still competing as a player.

I’m sort of lucky that I hurt my shoulder recently as it’s given me more time to attack that infamous todo list that sits on my desk. Yesterday I was able to finish scanning all the Hall of Fame Inductions program booklets (see segment below), which we’ll put online soon. I also mostly caught up on a huge amount of email that had been piling up. I also did a bunch of planning and preparation for new junior classes starting up this Sunday and on Thursdays, as well as the adult training program which starts up again this Sunday after a one-month break. (I’m still doing group sessions, but had to cancel private coaching due to shoulder injury.)

Other issues for today – ordering trophies for our 2018 tournaments (always a time-consuming, tedious hassle); updating two online info articles; figuring out how to FTP to some of my older table tennis pages (a huge irritation – they discontinued WS_FTP); finalizing the rosters for three upcoming group sessions; some accounting and billing for some of my table tennis books sold; and arm rehab. Tomorrow is set aside to prepare for the USOC meeting so that I’m ready to answer those 18 questions from the agenda. Sunday I’ll be coaching much of the day – three consecutive 90-minute group sessions.

Wanted – the 1989 Hall of Fame Banquet Program Booklet
[NOTE – I ran a version of this yesterday, but thought I’d give it one more try.]
There have been 34 USATT Hall of Fame Induction Banquets, from 1979 to 2017, and 34 Hall of Fame Program Booklets. I’m putting all of them online. But there’s a problem – I’m missing the one from the Ninth Hall of Fame Induction, in 1989, when George Brathwaite and John Read were inducted at the USA Nationals. I’ve checked with George, but he doesn’t have one, and John died years ago. So . . . do any of you have a copy? If so, please contact me or comment below!!!

Do Not Buy Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is so full of lies that the White House has sent a cease and desist order. They do not want you to read this book. Do not under any circumstances buy this book to find out what it is they don't want you to read. In fact, do not buy any of my highly subversive books.

Volunteer at the National College TT Championships
Here’s info on the event held April 18-22 in Round Rock, Texas. They need volunteers for umpiring, scorekeeping, registration, transportation, results processing, venue set-up and takedown, hospitality, information desk, production and announcing, media, video, photography

US Open Ratings
They are up. Memorize them – you will be tested.

Rocky and Pong Road: Episode 06
Here’s the new episode (16:50). You can find the first five episodes at Pong Road. The episodes feature the trials and tribulations of table tennis star Rocky Wang.

Rocky Music
In the 1980s we learned that you train much harder after listening to Rocky music – so why not give it a try?

Rocky Bullwinkle Table Tennis Set
While we’re into Rocky, here’s a Rocky Bullwinkle table tennis set.

In-Out Multiball Training
Here’s the video (25 sec), with a short ball, then a random deep backspin.

Top Table Tennis Mistakes
Here’s the article from Pong Boss.

Bottle Top Pong Challenge
Here’s the video (27 sec) from Eli Baraty.

Top Ten Craziest Shots of 2017
Here’s the video (3:11).

Ping Pong Table Buying Guide
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Spot.

Tom’s Table Tennis Quiz 2017
Here’s the quiz from Coach Tom Lodziak.

The Best Table Tennis Funny Compilation 2015-2017
Here’s the video (23:11)!

North Korea – USA Nuke Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 4, 2018

Books I Read in 2017: "I have no life, and I must read."
Today’s blog is only partly related to table tennis – skip ahead if you have no interests in my book-reading proclivities. Below is a listing of the 58 books I read in 2017, which includes three books on table tennis, and another on coaching. It includes 21 novels by Mike Resnick; I’ve now read 43 of his books, 41 of them science fiction novels, the other two books on writing. I also read biographies of the first ten U.S. presidents (partly in preparation for a SF novel I might write), and lots of other stuff.


  1. How to Coach Table Tennis, by David Hewitt (1990)
  2. History of U.S. Table Tennis: Vol. 19, 1991-92, by Tim Boggan
  3. History of U.S. Table Tennis: Vol. 20, 1992-93, by Tim Boggan
  4. Successful Coaching, by Rainer Martens
  5. Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury
  6. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil De Grasse Tyson
  7. How to Build a Time Machine, by Paul Davies
  8. The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, by Jared Diamond
  9. A Concise History of China, by J.A.G. Roberts
  10. On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder
  11. The Indisputable Existence of Santa Claus: The Mathematics of Christmas, by Dr. Hannah Fry and Dr. Thomas Evans
  12. Encyclopedia of Presidents: George Washington, by Brendan January
  13. Encyclopedia of Presidents: John Adams, by Barbara Feinberg
  14. Encyclopedia of Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, by Jim Hargrove
  15. Encyclopedia of Presidents: James Madison, by Brendan January
  16. Encyclopedia of Presidents: James Monroe, by Andrew Santella
  17. Encyclopedia of Presidents: John Quincy Adams, by Sean McCollum
  18. Encyclopedia of Presidents: Andrew Jackson, by Kieran Doherty
  19. Encyclopedia of Presidents: Martin Van Buren, by Lesli J. Favor
  20. Encyclopedia of Presidents: William Henry Harrison, by Steven Otfinoski
  21. Encyclopedia of Presidents: John Tyler, by Dee Lillegard

FICTION not by Mike Resnick (16)

  1. Buying Time, by Joe Haldeman
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  4. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie   
  5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling
  6. The Ice Dragon, by George R.R. Martin
  7. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
  8. Barry’s Deal, by Lawrence Schoen
  9. The Genius Plague, by David Walton
  10. Supersymmetry, by David Walton
  11. All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
  12. Staked, by Kevin Hearne
  13. Zombies and Calculus, by Colin Adams
  14. H.G. Wells, Secret Agent, by Alex Shvartsman
  15. Funny Horror, edited by Alex Shvartsman
  16. Alternative Truths, edited by Bob Brown

FICTION by Mike Resnick (21)

  1. Gods of Sagittarius, by Mike Resnick and Eric Flint
  2. Soothsayer, by Mike Resnick
  3. Oracle, by Mike Resnick
  4. Prophet, by Mike Resnick
  5. Kilimanjaro, by Mike Resnick
  6. The Castle in Cassiopeia, by Mike Resnick
  7. Stalking the Unicorn by Mike Resnick
  8. Resnick’s Menagerie by Mike Resnick
  9. Sideshow, Galactic Midway #1, by Mike Resnick
  10. The Three-Legged Hootch Dancer, Galactic Midway #2, by Mike Resnick
  11. The Wild Alien Tamer, Galactic Midway #3, by Mike Resnick
  12. The Best Rootin'Shootin' Gunslinger, Galactic Midway #4, by Mike Resnick
  13. The Buntline Special (A Weird West Tale, Volume 1) by Mike Resnick
  14. The Doctor and the Kid (A Weird West Tale, Volume 2) by Mike Resnick
  15. The Doctor and the Rough Rider (A Weird West Tale, Volume 3) by Mike Resnick
  16. The Doctor and the Dinosaurs (A Weird West Tale, Volume 4) by Mike Resnick
  17. Walpurgis III, by Mike Resnick
  18. The Return of Santiago, by Mike Resnick
  19. The Other Teddy Roosevelts, by Mike Resnick
  20. Sideshow, by Mike Resnick
  21. Masters of the Galaxy, by Mike Resnick

Wanted – the 1989 Hall of Fame Banquet Program Booklet
There have been 34 USATT Hall of Fame Induction Banquets, from 1979 to 2017, and 34 Hall of Fame Program Booklets. (Here are the Hall of Fame Profiles.) I’m putting all of them online, scanning all the old ones. But there’s a problem – I’m missing the one from the Ninth Hall of Fame Induction, in 1989, when George Brathwaite and John Read were inducted at the USA Nationals. I’ve checked with George, but he doesn’t have one, and John died years ago. So . . . do any of you have a copy? If so, please contact me or comment below!!! (I was actually at the induction, but somehow misplaced my copy of the program, and nobody I’ve checked with seems to have a copy.)

Sidespin Serve – Tips and Tactics
Here’s the article and video (8:24) by Tom Lodziak.

How Can Having Targets on a Table Can Uplift Your Game
Here’s the article by Eli Baraty.

How to Do the Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here’s the article (lots of pictures) from EmRatThich.

The Complete List of Table Tennis Resolutions for 2018
Here’s the article by Coach Jon.

2018 Projects Ovtcharov to World Number 1
Here’s the USATT article by Ray Huang.

The Best Points of Lin Gaoyuan
Here’s the video (4:22).

Smart Phone Chopping
Here’s the video (22 sec) of Rory Scott – personally, I’m rooting for Hodges!!! (No relation.)

Send us your own coaching news!

January 3, 2018

North American Youth Olympic Games Qualification – Boys’ Final
Here’s the match, Kanak Jha vs. Jeremy Hazin (17:35, missing first game). This was one of the few top matches I got to see at the US Open, since I was so busy in meetings, coaching, and playing. But it was a great tactical match – basically, Kanak, age 16 but already over 2700 and #90 in the world, gave a clinic in receive and ball placement.

The match epitomizes something I’ve been quoted saying many times: “Tactics isn’t about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. It’s about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work.” In this case, Kanak used disarming receives to take away Jeremy’s serve advantage, and then used one seemingly simple tactic that completely dominated the match – attack the middle and wide forehand.

It seems simple, but the execution is far more difficult than it appears. If you just keep going after someone’s middle or forehand, they can anticipate it, and jump on that shot, so you have to be ready to switch back and forth. If you attack too aggressively, you make mistakes; if not aggressive enough, opponent has time to react.

Watch the rallies, and you’ll see over and over that when Kanak attacks the middle, Jeremy would struggle to react, either going for erratic counterloops (ones he’d likely made if the attack were to a corner) or awkward blocks. If Jeremy hedged over to cover the middle, usually with his forehand, Kanak immediate attacked the opened forehand corner.

For example, see the point at 3-1 in game two (0:28), where Kanak attacks a corner, than the middle, then the open corner. At 5-2 he spins a serve back to the middle, catching Jeremy, who appears to be guarding the wide forehand and so is slow to cover the shot. (Note how irritated he is after the point, since he should have been jumped on it quicker.) Often in this game Kanak finds openings to the wide forehand as Jeremy seems to be covering the middle, perhaps in reaction to Kanak’s attacks there in the first game, which isn’t seen here, but which I watched, and where Kanak went after the middle even more.

On receive, Kanak focused on consistency and variation. I’m not going to rewatch the whole video, but I don’t remember him outright missing a single serve. But more important, watch the variation – a mixture of flips, and short and long pushes, with last-second changes of direction that kept Jeremy from following up his serve effectively. (Ironically, Kanak’s first receive in the video is one of his weakest.)

Watch the first point of game three at 4:55. Kanak fakes a backhand flip but instead drops the serve short, then flips the next ball to the middle, setting up an easy winner. On the next point, Kanak quick-pushes to the wide forehand for a winner. Watch closely and you’ll see Jeremy start to move to his backhand the split second before Kanak contacts the ball – and Kanak instantly picks up on that. On the next point, Jeremy again leaves the forehand a bit open as he’s covering the middle, Kanak again jumps on the wide forehand. Jeremy is reacting to receives before Kanak has committed, and so Kanak is able to catch him off guard by changing his receive at the last second.

Another interesting thing you’ll notice about the match is the seemingly lack of pure counterlooping rallies. Normally when you see two top players go at it, there's a lot of counterlooping, and both of these players are great at counterlooping. But this is a big strength for Jeremy, who would love to turn the match into a pure counterlooping duel. While that might have been interesting to watch, Kanak shut that down almost completely, rarely letting Jeremy to get into a straight counterlooping battle. Kanak might have won such a counterlooping battle, but why should he play into the opponent's strength?

These tactics are seemingly simple. On paper, many could execute them. But in practice, they are very difficult - but Kanak made them look easy. As to Jeremy, he knows what he has to do next time out against Kanak – if he’s smart, he’ll be doing lots of drills where his partners vary their shots to the middle and wide forehand. He also probably needs to be less reactive to the opponent’s receive – most players telegraph their receive too early, and Jeremy was used to reacting to that. Against Kanak and other players his level, he’ll have to lose that instinct since he often seemed to react to Kanak’s receive before Kanak had committed, and so was caught off guard. Two seemingly simple things, and yet they made all the difference in this match. Take them away, and unless Kanak comes up with another simple yet effective tactic, we have an even match.

Kanak Jha to Top 100
The new ITTF ranking system definitely has shaken things up, since it gives an advantage to those who are more active. This helped our top two USA players. In the new rankings, Kanak Jha jumped from #200 to #90, while Lily Zhang went from #92 to #60. It’s been a while since USA had men in the top 100 – we had several in the 1990s - Cheng Yinghua, David Zhuang, Jim Butler, and Sean O’Neill. Since then the only other USA man in the top 100 I know of was Ilija Lupulesku in the 2000’s.

Decoding Jun Mizutani's serve
Here’s the video (12:25).

10 Stages of Footwork Summary
Here’s the video (4:46) by Samson Dubina.

New from EmRatThich
He has lots of new material up. Here are his two pages:

Table Tennis Tidbits #15
Here’s the article by Robert Ho, “Qatar Open ’16:  Genes and Memes—the Cream Rises to the Top.”

Irregular Drills, Positioning, and Anticipation – Problems of the Intermediate Player
Here’s the article from Epic Table Tennis.

Equipment – How Important Is It to the Sport?
Here’s the article by Eli Baraty.

Top 10 Best of 2017
Here’s the ITTF video (6:38).

History of USATT - Volume XX - Chapter 9
Here’s chapter nine of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1991-1992. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at

Samson Dubina in the Movies?
Samson gets a lot of coverage in my blog (and here’s his news page, with lots of coverage of his recent MegaCamp), but that’s because he creates a lot of great articles and videos. But now the truth is out – he’s secretly a movie star!!! Don’t believe it? Here’s video (38 sec) of a Regal Theaters Coca-Cola ad that they’ve been showing before movies the last month or two. When you see the character behind the counter selling the drinks and popcorn – tell me that isn’t Samson Dubina!!! (For comparison, see “10 Stages of Footwork Summary” segment above.) So . . . which of you is the guy in the glasses?

Colorful Beach Table
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Dimitrij “Santa” Ovtcharov
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Santa Ninja Table Tennis Cross Training
Here’s the video (90 sec) – table tennis is only in the first six seconds.

Send us your own coaching news!

January 2, 2018

Tip of the Week
Elbow Drill.

U.S. Open
It seems like ancient history now, but the US Open ended only eleven days ago. A lot happened there, and a lot’s happened since! In case you missed them, here are the complete results.

I flew to Las Vegas on Thursday, Dec. 14. We had USATT board meetings all day Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16. I blogged about the agenda on Dec. 13. The minutes for the meeting will go up later, but the list of Actions and Notices is already up. They don’t really give a proper reflection of all that went on – the minutes will do a better job of that. I’ll likely blog more about the meeting when they go up. (Note – I’m on the USATT Board of Directors, and chair the USATT Coaching Committee.)

I also had a long, productive meeting with USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio on USATT Coaching Education and Certification. I’m flying to Colorado Springs on Jan. 8-9 (USATT and USOC headquarters) to meet with him and USOC officials on creating a USATT Coaching Education Program.

I also attended the USATT Assembly on Tuesday night. It was shorter than usual and sparsely attended. In advance of the meeting one USATT member – who happens to be a lawyer and a former USATT committee chair – had circulated a notice making numerous accusations against USATT. He’d been doing this via email for many months, and I’ve now spent over 70 hours dealing with his issues, nearly all of which I’ve found to be non-issues. Since he said he was going to speak up at the meeting, I spent three hours on Monday night reviewing his emails and preparing notes so I’d be ready to respond. That was a fun night. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.) And then, at the meeting, when he was given the chance to speak out, he said he had nothing to say at this time. Great!!! There went another three hours for nothing. Ironically, he later had a big issue with the tournament referee, and tried to recruit my support in the matter. I referred him to the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. He’s wasted 70+ hours of my time (that’s all unpaid, volunteer work), and he’s way past his lifetime quota.

The US Open itself was Dec. 17-22. My time was mostly split between coaching and playing. We had a rather small turnout of MDTTC players at the Open, since it’s 3000 miles away and takes place during a school week. (We’ll have a much bigger turnout for the Nationals, which is in July.)

Though I’m primarily a sponge player and coach, at national tournaments like this I generally only enter the hardbat events, where I win a lot of titles. I was in four events: Hardbat Mixed Doubles, Hardbat Doubles, Over 40 Hardbat Singles, and Hardbat Singles.

I won Hardbat Mixed Doubles with Estee Ackerman. It’s a relatively new event, started just a few years ago, and this was the first time I played in it. In the final round robin we actually lost our first match when I made a strategic mistake. Against a team that had an attacker and a defender, I decided to play more passive in the first game when the attacker hit to me. Tactically, it made sense, since his partner, the defender, didn’t attack my passive shots. But strategically, it cost us, as it took me out of my normal game, which is aggressive forehand attacking, and so I played poorly. Meanwhile, the other team stuck to what they did well – the attacker mostly attacked, the defender mostly defended, and so they played well Estee also played well (she would later win Hardbat Women’s Singles), but my lack of attack hurt us, and we lost in three games. Fortunately, I regained my senses in the next match and went back to all-out attacking, and when the team that we had lost to lost to that team, we won in a tie-breaker.

I won Hardbat Doubles with A.J. Carney. He played really well, and would also go on to win Hardbat Singles, as well as Sandpaper Singles and Sandpaper Liha Singles. It would have been easy for me to go back to playing passive and rely on his attack, but that would have been the same mistake I’d made in Mixed Doubles. So I stuck to my all-out attack, only playing defense when forced, and we won all our matches. In the final, A.J. pulled out a brilliant tactic when he started chop-blocking serves back short, which stopped the opponent’s attack and set up mine over and over. (This was the 14th time I’ve won hardbat doubles – nine times with Ty Hoff, four times with Steve Berger, and now with A.J.)

The 800-pound gorilla at the table this whole time were my ongoing shoulder problems. I was having trouble reaching in for short balls or extending my arm to reach for balls to my forehand. We’d covered for this partly in doubles by my partners favoring shots off to the right (a righty’s backhand), so opponents couldn’t angle into my forehand, where I was having trouble with the shoulder. But now I was in singles. I won my three round robin matches in Over 40 Hardbat, and was in the quarterfinals against Ken Pinili. I’ve won this event five times, and was the defending champion from the U.S. Nationals in July.

In the first game, two things happened – he played great, and he exposed my shoulder problems with a steady barrage of short balls and attacks to my wide forehand. I lost badly, 21-8. Ken was playing really well, but so could I – but not if I kept holding back because of my shoulder. So I made a fatal decision to simply let loose, ignoring any shoulder problems. It was my only chance to win. In the second point of the second game, he attacked my wide forehand. I went for it, reaching out and making a strong counter-hit – but as I did so, I could actually feel the shoulder muscle tearing. I dropped the racket as I yelled, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” And that was the end of my tournament.

I’ve emailed my students I’ll be out until at least Jan. 13. We’ll see how the arm is at that time. I was supposed to set up a rehab appointment last week, but stomach flu got in the way. (See previous blog.) I’ll be setting up an appointment later today.

I didn’t get to see many of the top matches since I was busy in meetings, coaching, and playing. However, one great match I saw the final of the Boy’s Youth Olympic Qualifier, Kanak Jha vs. Jeremy Hazen (17:35). I’ll likely blog about this later, probably tomorrow – it was a great example of a seemingly simple tactic implemented brilliantly by Kanak. Can you see the tactic?

Had a memorable night when the one of my students, Todd, and his family treated me to the legendary “The Beatles Love: Legendary Musical at Cirque du Soleil.” My best description of it is that it’s indescribable!

After the Open I flew to San Francisco on Dec. 22 to spend Christmas with family, then flew home on Dec. 27. Then, on Friday, Dec. 29, I came down with stomach flu – see previous blog.

New ITTF World Rankings
The new rankings are out for Men and Women, with the new system – and they are controversial!!! I’ll blog about this later.

I’ve been away a while, so there’s been a lot of new items on their news pages – so why not browse them? USATT has lots of coverage of the US Open, the USATT SuperCamp, and the MegaCamp in Ohio with Samson Dubina. Samson also covers the MegaCamp on his news page.

Other News
While I’ve been away there has obviously been a lot of other new items on numerous other table tennis pages. Rather than compile all of it in one batch today, I’m sort of doing half today, half tomorrow. So there’ll be a lot of other stuff coming tomorrow.

New from PingSkills
Here are three new videos.

Training with New World #1 Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here are two new videos from Arnaud Scheen, both from the 2017 World Cup.

New from Coach Jon
Here are two new ones.

Kickstarter for SpinBlock Table Tennis Center
Here’s the page. They are trying to raise funds for a full-time table tennis center in Indianapolis.

On Ping Pong and Other Addictions
Here’s the new table tennis novel by Bill Rees, kindle only. I just bought it and will read and perhaps review it sometime soon. It’s a “satirical work by an author who seems destined to end his days in some therapeutic centre for ping pong obsessives.” You can read full description on the page.

The Coolest Ping-Pong Table?
Here’s the video (49 sec)!

Sound Ping-Pong
Here’s the video (1:48)!

Send us your own coaching news!

December 29, 2017

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. I battled the flu just before the U.S. Open. During the Open I battled shoulder and knee problems – and after badly injuring my shoulder, I’ve had to cancel all private coaching for the next 2-3 weeks. And now I’ve come down sick again - chills, queezy stomach, complete exhaustion, and just miserably sick. I got up this morning fully expecting to start blogging again, and then reality hit – and I’m about to go back to bed. (I’m still on west coast time, so 9:30AM feels like 6:30AM.) I’ll get back to my usual daily blogging, Mon-Fri, next Tuesday, Jan. 2. Until then, check out the news items at USATT and ITTF. Plus here’s a dog trying to play table tennis (12 sec). 

5 PM FRI UPDATE: I spent the day in the hospital. Diagnosis is Gastroenteritis, better known as stomach flu though its not actually the flu. I'm in agony. Was dizzy and could barely walk, so had to take Uber home, leaving my car there. Haven't eaten since breakfast, can't keep anything down, and can barely drink water, so am dehydrated as well. Have to go back tomorrow for a follow-up. Hope your day went better. 

10 PM FRI UPDATE: Still in agony, fever over 102. Managed to eat a bowl of cream of wheat.

9 PM SAT UPDATE: I thought I was getting a little bit better today, but tonight it's come back in full relapse. I'm wearing warmups and under a heavy quilt, but have been shaking like a leaf in a hurricane almost non-stop for hours. In between are short periods where I'm burning up. But head is on fire. The rest of of me is just agony. In two days I've eaten only two small bowls of cream of wheat, and that was a struggle. 

10 AM SUN UPDATE: Slept over 12 straight hours, 10PM to 10AM - first time I've been able to really sleep in days. Woke up 90% better. Hopefully no relapse this time. Was able to eat a banana nut muffin for breakfast, first food other than two bowls of cream of wheat since Thursday. I might actually get some work done today - have a long todo list. Need to get the MDTTC January Newsletter out, for one. Plus about a million emails!!!

9 PM SUN UPDATE: My stomach has been going crazy all day, and the very sight of food makes me nauseous. Haven't eaten anything since that muffin this morning. I'm staring at a can of chicken soup in a monumental battle of wills, but so far it's winning. But I think I'll win . . . eventually. I did the MDTTC newsletter today, but that was my energy limit for the day. Now I'm watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy. 

11 PM SUN UPDATE: I won the battle of the chicken soup. It fought well. It's now doing footwork drills in my stomach. I think it plans to set off fireworks at midnight. 

11 AM MON UPDATE: Just in time for the new year, the miracle new Larry Hodges Diet Program is now available! Here is the process:

Step One: Catch Gastroenteritis

That's it - it's a one-step process!!! You too can lose five pounds in just 2-3 days. Here's a limited time offer - for just $10, come by my house and I'll drag myself out of bed and shake your hand, and if all goes well, you'll curse me for a few days, but a week from now you'll be five or more pounds lighter!!!

December 13, 2017

Last Blog Until Friday, Dec. 29
I leave tomorrow for two days of USATT board meetings, the US Open, and then Christmas with family, so this will be my last blog until Dec. 29. (I originally said Dec. 28, but after being out of town two weeks, my todo list has reached epic size and I need another day to catch up.) 

USA Open, Meetings, and Christmas
I’m leaving tomorrow morning for two weeks, which I’ll divide into three parts below. Here’s the US Open home page, where you can follow all the action. Here’s the player listing, the event listing (showing who is in each event), and perhaps most importantly, the results page (where the draws will go up in a few days, and then results). Here are the two USATT articles that might be of interest for your US Open viewing:

PART ONE: Meetings

  • USATT Board of Directors Meeting
  • USATT Coaches Education and Certification Meeting
  • USATT Assembly

=>USATT Board Meetings
We will be meeting Dec. 15-16 (Friday 1-6PM, and Saturday 8AM-5PM) in the Diamond 3 & 4 rooms at the Las Vegas Convention Center, near the playing hall. (I’m a member of the board.) The meetings are open to all USATT members, except for occasional closed sessions when legal or personnel issues come up. There’s a LOT of material on the agenda, so I’m gearing myself up for an action-packed two days of sitting around a table and solving the major problems of our sport, and perhaps adding a few major commas to the bylaws. I’ll be giving the USATT Coaching Committee Report. (I chair the committee.)

Major items on the preliminary agenda include: Approval of Past Minutes; Committee Reports; NCTTA Update; Approval of the Foundation Board; Committee Assignments; Fundraising; North American Ratings System Proposal; ITTF-North American Initiatives; Club and Membership Discussion; Financial Update; USATT Events Discussion; High Performance Program Discussion; USOC Update and Discussion; ITTF Update and Discussion; SafeSport; Legal Update; Athlete Support and AAC Involvement; Discussion Regarding General Assembly; and Old and New Business.

=>USATT Coaches Educaton and Certifciation Meeting
After dinner on Friday I have a follow-up and less formal meeting (with High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio) regarding USATT Coaches Education and Certification. On the agenda there is USATT Coaches Education and Certification Program; Review of Current Requirements; New Requirements for Each Level of Certification; Team USA Mobile coach; “National” Coach Name Conflict; Recertification; English Requirement; and Grandfathering.

=>USATT Assembly
It is on Tuesday at 8PM, for about two hours, in Room N250 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (near the playing hall). Here is the description of this from the USATT Bylaws:

“There shall be an annual USATT Assembly at which all individual and organization members and other USATT constituencies in the United States Table Tennis family shall be invited to gather and provide input to the Board on important issues confronting the organization. At USATT’s Assembly, the Board of Directors shall provide a report on the “State of the USATT.” The Chief Executive Officer shall provide a managerial report addressing issues of concern and importance to USATT. Individual and organization members and other constituencies may be permitted to pose questions to the Board and Chief Executive Officer for response. The annual USATT Assembly shall be purely advisory and shall have no rulemaking, budgetary, legislative, or other authority, though it, or some of it, may be involved in some appropriate way in the nomination of individuals to serve on the Board as otherwise set forth in these Bylaws. The Board shall determine the agenda of the annual USATT Assembly.”

My first US Open was in 1976 in Philadelphia, and I’ve been to every US Open and Nationals starting in 1984, so this is my 34th year in a row. (I also went to the Teams in 1976, and last month attended for the 42nd year in a row.) On the other hand, Homer Brown is practicing up for his 49th US Open in a row. This year, as usual, I’ll be both coaching and playing. Though I normally play and coach with sponge, at major tournaments (where I’m primarily coaching) I play the hardbat events, with pretty good success. This year I’m entered in four events:

  • Hardbat Singles. I’ve won this event at the Open or Nationals twice, but alas, it’s been a few years – yeah, I’m getting older. But hopefully I can still battle with the top players. We’ll see.
  • Hardbat Over 40 Singles. I’ve won this event at the Open or Nationals five times, and am the defending champion from the USA Nationals in July.
  • Hardbat Doubles with A.J. Carney. We’re top seeded – I’ve won this event 13 times, nine times with Ty Hoff, four times with Steve Berger.
  • Hardbat Mixed Doubles with Estee Ackerman. We’re top seeded, but this is the first time I’ve played this event, which is relatively new.

PART THREE: Christmas
This year we will be gathering in San Francisco, hosted by my nephew. I fly there from Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 22, and then fly back to Maryland on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

Christmas Table Tennis Camps
Here is a rundown on Christmas or Holiday Training camps at the end of the year that I know of – but I’m sure there are others I don’t know about. (If you know of a camp I left out, send me the link and I’ll add it.) Many of these camps are geared toward kids, but most or all take adults as well, if you don’t mind training with hard-working kids. (Note - Samson Dubina is also running a Christmas Camp in Ohio, but he advertised early and already maxed out.) 

Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
Here’s the home page for the event in Astana, Kazakhstan, Dec. 14-17, with draws, results, articles, photos, and video.

Distractions! Learn How to Focus During an Intense Match
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

How Do You Control Your Nerves at Big Tournaments?
Here’s the article from Pong Universe, which I linked to previously. I’m linking to it again to emphasize one of the quotes which happens to match exactly what I do, and what I recommend most players should do. Here’s what four-time U.S. Men’s Singles Champion Jim Butler says:

“I try and clear my mind, not thinking about it much other than game planning a strategy in my head versus my opponent.”

New from EmRatThich at PingSunday

Table Tennis Tidbits #13
Here’s the article and video (5:34) by Robert Ho – “2016 World Team Championships: Retroactive Telepathy.”

Training With Jeong Sangeun and Lee Sangsu at 2017 World Cup
Here’s the video (16:24) from Arnaud Scheen. They are ranked #23 and #10 in the world, respectively.

Table Tennis and the F Word
Here’s the article from Coach Jon. (No, it’s not that word – but read if you are frantically focused on finding the facts, and want to know about Funktapuss.)

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

12 Years On – Can Timo Boll Reclaim Title Glory?
Here’s the ITTF article.

Table Tennis Quotes by Renowned Players
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Spot.

One Match From Number One
Here’s the ITTF article on how Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany is just one match away from being world #1. In fact, Dimi will be #1 as of Jan. 1 unless he loses first round at the upcoming ITTF World Tour Grand Finals AND Fan Zhendong wins the tournament, in which case Fan becomes #1. (Dimi plays Koki Niwa in the first round. Here’s the Men’s Draw.) Either way, the reign of Ma Long, who has been world #1 since March, 2015, will end, mostly due to lack of participation, which features more prominently in the new ITTF ranking system. If Dimi becomes #1, he’ll be the first non-Chinese world #1 since teammate Timo Boll was #1 for three months in 2011.

A First for India, Government Support for Coach Education
Here’s the ITTF article. "Led by Richard McAfee of the United States, the course had a special significance; it was the first to be held in the country with government support; the fees of all the students were paid, previously the cost at fallen on the shoulders of the individual."

Tournament Software
Here’s the article Table Tennis Tournament Software. The other major option on the market that I know of, the one I use, is Omnipong.

RIP: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
Here are pictures of him playing table tennis and posing with players. Here’s his obit.

History of USATT - Volume XX - Chapter 6
Here’s chapter six of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1991-1992. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at

5 Unique Serves in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (2:13).

Kjell Johansson vs. Olof Palme
Here’s the video (1:23) of Sweden’s former star Kjell Johansson playing Sweden Prime Minister Olof Palme. The clip comes from the 1972 Swedish table tennis video “Pingis - Allas Idrott” (“Table tennis – everybody’s sport”). Here is the entire movie (in Swedish). (That’s 1971 World Men’s Singles Champion Stellan Bengtsson, now coaching in San Diego, at the start.) Johansson was three-time World Men’s Doubles Champion, one-time World Team Champion, two-time European Men’s Singles Champion, and lost 21-18 in the fifth in the final of Men’s Singles at the 1973 Worlds to China’s Xi Enting – the last two points on net balls. Palme was prime minister twice, totaling over ten years, sadly ending with his assassination while in office in 1986. Bengt Grive, former Swedish champion in Men’s Singles, Doubles, and Teams, and former world #9, is the umpire.

Around the Table
Here’s the video (44 seconds) as three kids circle the table.

The Seventeen Guide to Table Tennis Reaction
Here’s the video (11:12).

Cow Pong

How to Play Table Tennis During the Holidays
So you want to play table tennis around Christmas, but the wife (or husband or parents?) won’t let you? A student of mine had this very problem. And that got me thinking how he should have responded. Here’s my top ten list of things to tell the wife (or husband or parents) so you can get to the club during the holidays. (And for the love of God – or rather Jesus – don’t miss the Santa vs. Jesus video, #10 below!!!)

  1. “Honey, you know that table tennis is number one for me. But you’ll ways be number two, or at least top five.”
  2. “I need to work off all the calories from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. And so do you, you’re starting to put on some pounds, so why don’t you join me? Hey, stop hitting me!!!”
  3. “But honey, the rackets are Christmas colors, with red for berries and black for dead, rotting leaves!”
  4. “But all my rivals are training on Christmas and New Year’s, and gosh, 365 days a year, and so I have to! You want me to lose to them?!!! Why do you hate me so???” (If you prep with a raw onion in advance, you should be able to fake crying at this point.)
  5. “Oh sorry, honey, I left the Christmas presents at the club last night, again. So I guess I’ll have to go there, again. Darn it. Sorry.”
  6. But even Santa Claus plays table tennis!”
  7. Really, Santa plays table tennis!”
  8. See, Santa’s playing table tennis!” (Wait, he’s a fake, ignore this one.)
  9. Seriously, if Santa can play, why can’t I?”
  10. In fact, Santa and Jesus play table tennis all the time!!! Can’t I be like Santa and Jesus?” (Here’s where you give a big puppy-eyed look.)

Send us your own coaching news!

December 12, 2017

Tip of the Week
Push-Button Matches - Playing the Scary All-Out Attacker.

Top Ten Ways to Describe My Weekend with the Flu

  1. I went 100 rounds with Mike Tyson. I lost the first 99 rounds.
  2. Or maybe that was the Chinese team used me for smashing practice. With golf balls.
  3. I alternated freezing and boiling over. Yeah, climate change every ten minutes.
  4. If you’d bought $100 in stock in Kleenex on Friday, by today you’d be a millionaire.
  5. I’ve proven you can live on nothing but cream of wheat, chicken soup, and Dayquil/Nightquil for three days – but it isn’t fun. Just looking at anything else made my stomach explode like a thousand celluloid ping-pong balls in a microwave.
  6. I can’t decide whether I can now check “Flu shot” off my todo list, since I’ve now had the flu. It’s been on the todo list for a month or so, and I was going to do it….
  7. My fever hit 101.5 on Saturday night. That may not seem high, except I normally am around 97, for whatever reason.
  8. At least I could imagine all my poor, forlorn students, tears in their eyes, missing out on their lessons. Misery loves company, even if it’s delusional.
  9. I went in on Sunday for one session where all I had to do was feed multiball. About halfway through I was on the verge of collapse, but I finished the session. I now know what it’s like to be a zombie.
  10. Strangely, my voice wasn’t affected until the worse was over. And then, on Monday, after the fever was gone, my voice went hoarse, and I could barely talk for a few hours. I spent the day in bed reading and running up the stock price of Kleenex. Even more strangely, I had a sudden burst of energy on Monday afternoon, and after mostly lying in bed for three days, I worked for about eight hours straight, almost all on table tennis matters, much of it preparing for meetings at the US Open. (A lot of it was regarding plans for a new Coaches Education and Certification Program, but more on that next year. We’re still in the beginning stages. I also got most of this blog done in advance.) And then I couldn’t sleep, and so, after tossing and turning all night, I went back to my computer at 2:30AM and wrote the first draft of a new science fiction story (my non-table tennis sideline). The story, using a mixture of real science and technobabble, explained the existence of dark matter and involved huge numbers of alien civilizations from other universes using our universe as a dumping ground – yeah, the dark matter, which is nearly undetectable to us because of the differing physical properties of the universes it comes from – and the implications this has on earth, which in the story has reverted to “theoscience,” where the world has become a theocracy that has just awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to a theologian for his theory that our universe is the center of the multiverse. (Turns out he is correct, but only as the central dumping ground.) The story is currently titled, “The Dumping Ground of the Multiverse,” but that sort of gives the story away so will have to change. Then I went back to bed at 6:30AM, got up again at 8:30 AM (crazy hours!), and finished the blog. And now it’s back to table tennis stuff!

North American Teams Ratings
They are up! There were 937 players.

Writers & Bloggers
Tomorrow will be my last blog until Dec. 28. I leave Thursday morning for Las Vegas for two days of USATT board meetings, then playing and coaching in the US Open, and then Christmas with family in San Francisco. (More about all this in tomorrow’s blog.) So if you have something you are about to put up, if you get it to me by tomorrow morning, say 9AM, then it’ll be in the current blog for 15 days.

New From Samson Dubina
He’s been busy since Friday. Here are six new articles or videos. (He put the last three up on Friday after I’d already blogged, but I put up a belated link to them, so you might have seen those ones.)

Pro Table Tennis Team Gives Helping Hand to Youth Education at Topspin New York
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

South Bend TTC Disabled Veterans Camp
Here’s the article and pictures by Dan Seemiller.

Left-handed Sportspeople Have Greater Advantage in Cricket, Baseball and Table Tennis
Here’s the article from ABC News in Australia.

Timo Boll Exclusive Car interview With TableTennisDaily!
Here’s the video (26:58).

Sabine Winter: Ask a Pro Anything
Here’s the video (5:56) from Adam Bobrow.

Moregard Truls – Strong Playing Style? Best of the 2017 World Junior Championships
Here’s the video (10:13) from Arnaud Scheen. Truls is the new sensation from Sweden who made the final of Boy’s Singles at the World Junior Championships. (Here’s the draw.)

T2 APAC: Grand Finals Live Streams
Here are links to the videos.

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2017 Swedish Open
Here’s the video (4:40).

Vanishing Point: Leon the Magician Makes Table Disappear
Here’s the article and video (1:50).

Send us your own coaching news!

December 11, 2017

No blog today - sick with flu. I went in to coach on Saturday, had to leave early when my fever hit 101.5. The fever's gone, but I feel like I just went 100 rounds with Mike Tyson. I singlehandedly have sent Kleenex's stock soaring while living on a diet of cream of wheat, chicken soup, and Dayquil/Nightquil. I also somehow lost two pounds from dehydration. And yes, I had a flu shot - last year. It's been on my todo list for a while to get a flu shot this year. Oops. 

December 8, 2017

Physical vs. Mental Stiffness, USATT &USOC Coaching, Sidespin/Backspin Serves, the Christmas Rush, and I Do Not Have A Cold

  • Here’s an insight that many don’t understand. Some players are physically stiff, especially as they get older – I’m one of them. It can lead to stiff shots, and make the player look, yes, stiff. But that’s completely different than mentally playing tight. You can have the stiffest muscles in the world and still be mentally loose and relaxed. I know, because I have the stiffest muscles in the world – 10,000 on the Vickers hardness scale – and yet I’ve always played relaxed and mentally loose, even if I don’t look it. I’m always warning my students not to copy the stiff, mechanical nature of my strokes (except perhaps for my forehand smash, which is pretty textbook), and to instead copy some of our 2600 coaches/practice partners, especially their looping strokes. But don’t mistake physical stiffness with the mental side, where anyone can learn to play relaxed and loose.
  • Yesterday at 2PM I was on a teleconference with USATT and USOC people about setting up a USATT coaching education and certification program. I have meetings about it at the U.S. Open, and will be flying out to USATT and USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs in early January for two days to work on this. (USOC is paying for it.) I’m working closely with USATT High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio on this. Ultimate plan – a USATT Coaching Academy.
  • I had a lot of fun yesterday demonstrating one of my trick serves to students who were trying to develop spinny serves. It’s a forehand pendulum serve from the forehand side of the table, served crosscourt, about 3/4 backspin, 1/4 sidespin, where if I do it just right, I can get the ball to stop just short of the opponent’s end-line and break right, and just roll along the table, parallel to the end-line. Here’s an example (32 sec) I found online. Instead of cups, I put a ball net along the far side of the table, near the edge, and make the ball roll between the net’s handle and the end-line.
  • The Christmas rush has officially begun! In the first week of December I’ve sold 93 of my books. As usual, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers leads the way with 63 copies sold.
  • I do not have a cold. I Do Not Have A Cold. I DO NOT HAVE A COLD. (The power of positive thinking…) 

Coaching Articles
There don’t seem to be any new coaching articles since yesterday – how will we survive the weekend? I know – why not browse over some of the nearly 350 weekly Table Tennis Tips? Or just buy the books, Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips – a Christmas present to yourself!!! (Wow, what a shameless plug for my books!) Or check out the archives for others, such as MH Table Tennis.
(BREAKING NEWS - shortly after I put up this blog, Samson Dubina posted three new articles/videos, on In and Out Footwork, Table Tennis Nutrition, and Dynamic Table Tennis Warm-up. I'll link to them again on Monday.) 

T2 Grand Finals
Here’s their home page, with links to the matches. The Championship playoffs started yesterday, and continue to the Finals on Sunday. Today’s matches start at 6PM GMT, which is 1PM Eastern Time in the U.S. Playing today:

  • Timo Boll vs. Jun Mizutani
  • Yang Haeun vs. Suthasini Sawettabut
  • Chen Chien-An vs. Joo Saehyuk
  • Strangely, the schedule shows these three playing a second time, six matches in all, but I think that’s a mistake.

Final Publication, Ma Long Concludes at Top of Order
Here’s the ITTF article on the newest world rankings. Here are the Men’s Rankings, Women’s Rankings, and links to other ranking lists.

Ever Present, Just Not the Same Without Him
Here’s the ITTF article on the upcoming ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, Dec. 14-17 in Astana, Kazakhstan, featuring Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan.

Olympic Table Tennis Champ Wang Chen to Open Jersey City Club
Here’s the article.

Timo Boll Reflects on the Greatest Shot Ever Played in the T2 Cavern!
Here’s the video interview (67 sec) where they talk about his incredible opposite-hand counterloop (33 sec), which I linked to yesterday.

Interview with Jenson Van Emburgh
Here’s the video (2:24) with the USA Paralympic player, who came back from down 0-2 in the semifinal singles match at the 2017 ParapanAmerican Championships in Costa Rica. (Alas, I can’t find a results page so don’t know how he did in the final.)

Final of Spin & Smash Open in Ohio
Here are the videos of each game between Chen Bowen and Samson Dubina.

Olivia Stack Reading Up on Her Favorite Topic.....Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!!!
Here’s the video (78 sec) as she pages through and gives valuable insight on Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. The picture she’s talking about halfway through is of Joo Se Hyuk chopping. I think she thought it was her dad!

Football vs. Ping Pong
Here’s the video (4:27) where the compare the two, with athletes from each competing. That’s soccer for us Americans! (This is from 2016, but I don’t think I ever linked to it.)

Send us your own coaching news!

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