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!

March 30, 2018

NOTE - no blog on Monday - power will be out from 7AM-5PM for electrical repairs, plus local schools are closed for Easter holiday, and so I'm off too. 

Upcoming USATT Stuff
As usual, there's all sorts of time-consuming USATT stuff going on behind the scenes. I get a double-whammy because I'm both on the USATT Board of Directors and chair the USATT Coaching Committee, both unpaid volunteer positions. (I'm probably going to have to drop one of them next year - just too much.) A lot of it is email correspondence. Fortunately, I'm a writer, so emailing is a strength. But then you add all the local volunteers stuff (such as the monthly MDTTC newsletter I'll be working on today), and then add in all the actual paid stuff, and I'm pretty busy. 

This past year there's also been a major headache with one individual who believes there's a huge conspiracy against him, and has lodged numerous complaints - a total of 64 (!!!), to be exact - against about 20 USATT people with both the USATT and the ITTF Ethics Committees, with one big filing to each containing the complaints. (I'll give a full report on this later on, when all the complaints have been dealt with by the two committees, hopefully within a month or two.) I've already spent about 90 hours now on this person's "issues," over and over finding his charges to be false and often made up. (Most are easily proved false, but it takes time to do so each time.) And now I've had to spend more time on him again, since I'm named in both of these "Complaints." I ended up writing a response to each, one 10 pages, the other 13. I really, Really, REALLY am looking forward to going public with all this, and then never having to deal with this time-wasting person again. The USATT Board has spent more time this past year on this one person than the rest of the membership combined. If you ever wonder why USATT doesn't get more done, this will be Exhibit A. (We do need to find a better balance where we never let one person waste so much of our time like this again while not taking away USATT members' rights to file grievances. We don't want to take the latter away, but we also don't want one person to be able to highjack USATT's time like this ever again.)

The Event Listing for the upcoming USA Nationals in Las Vegas (July 2-7) came out this morning. The entry form for the Nationals should be out soon, hopefully next week. I haven't asked why it's been held up, but my best guess is, well, see what I wrote above. I'll post here as soon as it's up. 

There most likely will be a USATT board meeting during the World Veterans Championships in Las Vegas, which is June 18-24. The meeting will most likely take place on Wednesday, June 20, which is sort of an "off" day. The membership is welcome to attend, except when we go into "executive session" to discuss legal and personnel issues. (We also have USATT teleconferences on March 12 and April 9.) 

I will be attending both the World Veterans (where I'll primarily be doing daily coverage) and the USA Nationals (where I'll primarily be coaching). I'm entered in singles in the Veterans, but because of my shoulder problems I'll likely drop out. For that reason I'm also not playing doubles - three people have asked me, but I've had to say no. I haven't done any private coaching in a month, though I've done a number of group sessions and fed a lot of multiball. Tentatively I might try some private coaching next weekend - we'll see. But I can feel that the shoulder still hasn't healed. Dang. 

The Veterans are June 18-24, the Nationals July 2-7, so I'll have about a week in between where I plan on taking a reading and writing vacation right there in Las Vegas. I'll likely run a USATT coaching seminar on July 1, which is a Sunday. I might also help out with some training sessions at the playing site just before the Nationals. 

Have You Practiced Your Serves Recently?
Well why the heck not? Get to it!!! Here's Practicing Serves the Productive Way.

Tentative Event Schedule Released for 2018 US National Championships
Here's the USATT listing.

Spanish Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, March 28-April 1, in Guadalajara, Spain. The first two days were preliminaries; the main draws start today. Articles, results, pictures, and video.

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup Championship: Photo, Results & Live Stream
Here's the home page for all this. You can also see the results when they go up on Omnipong. (Thursday results are already up.)

Chinese Table Tennis College in Shanghai, Home for Youth Olympic Games Training Camp
Here's the ITTF article.

Insane Rally
Here's the video (26 sec)!

Just Your Basic Inside-Out Falling-Back Forehand Sidespin Countersmash
Here's the video (19 sec, including slo-mo) by Adam Bobrow. Why does Adam get so many videos like this? Because 1) he goes for lots of "crazy" shots, and 2) he videotapes them, and 3) he puts them online. Why don't you?

Ping-Pong Ball Math
Here's the video (52 sec).

Multiplication Math Ping Pong - Commutative Property Math Videos
Here's the video (3:17).

Skeleton Pong

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March 29, 2018

MDTTC Spring Break Camp: Day Three
Yesterday I had six players in my group for most of the session, so I decided to put them in three groups of two. Two of them would practice on a table by on their own. Two would be on the robot, taking 15 shots each, sometimes with a target on the table to aim for. And two would be with me, with one on ball pickup. It worked pretty well. I did some changes in the pairings after each cycle so they'd get different players to hit with when they were on their own.

Much of the session was stroking and footwork drills. But for one cycle I hit with each player live (rather than multiball), and so each got to do some steady forehand-to-forehand and backhand-to-backhand, and some did live footwork drills. (This was the morning session, which emphasizes multiball. In the afternoon session it's almost all live play.)

We also had a serving session, where I worked with the various levels, from one who is still struggling to serve on the table, to several who were well into learning spin serves. One was hard at work the whole session on his tomahawk serve, and he can now do sidespin, backspin, or side-backspin.

I always have a number of possible table tennis games to finish the session, but the younger kids always have one demand: "Cups!!!" So once again we finished the session with them building pyramids and forts made of cups, and then I fed multiball as they took turns knocking it down. (The older kids from my group and others play up-down tables, games to 11, 11-10 wins.) Often one or two of the kids will go to the cup side and try to rebuild the pyramids and forts as fast as they are knocked down. When they get down to a single cup, I often end it by putting a ball under the cup and explain it's the most powerful nuclear bomb in the world, and if it blows up it will destroy the galaxy, and they have 60 seconds to knock it off - two shots each. So far they've managed to save the galaxy all three days. Be thankful.

Are You Ready for Table Tennis Success?
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Lessons From One Billion Backhands
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Everybody Jumps: Fitness Challenge from Chen Longcan
Here's the article, with links to video, by Bruce Liu and Steve Hopkins.

Three Year Eurosport Agreement Signed; World Class Events Covered in Tokyo 2020 Build Up
Here's the ITTF article.

Edghill Wins St Joseph Garden Open Table Tennis Championships
Here's the article. However, I think they mean the St. Joseph Valley Open!

Airport Tennis Pong
Here's the video (40 sec) of Adam Bobrow and MDTTC Coach Jeffrey Zeng Xun! Coach Jeffrey was on his way back from a vacation in China and apparently he and Adam just happened to bump into each other. Jeffrey was already at the club yesterday coaching! Here's some more Airport Pong (2:47) from 2012, featuring Lilly Lin, Amy Lu (lefty), Nathan Hsu, and myself.

Send us your own coaching news!

March 28, 2018

MDTTC Spring Break Camp, Day Two
I focused on basics in my group today - forehands, backhands, footwork, and serves. The strokes are coming along nicely. One girl "invented" a heavy topspin serve, with almost a looping contact - she did this on her own, I hadn't even taught her yet about the different spins or what a loop was. She was so excited about it I didn't have the heart to tell her that she hadn't invented the serve. Others in the group had difficulty returning it, and so were trying to copy the serve.

It was interesting contrasting two players and their forehands. One had a tendency to take a short, quick stroke, and hit the ball on the rise with a jerky, almost slap-like stroke. The other tended to take a long, wandering backswing, with a flapping wrist, and hit the ball late with a very flat contact. Both improved as the session went on, but the two shots were such extremes I told them that, on average, they had perfect forehands. 

We did the ten-cup challenge, where I stacked ten cups into a vertical pyramid (four on bottom, then three, two, and one on top), and with me feeding multiball, each got ten shots to see how many they could knock down. In the first round, two knocked over seven, three got six. The second time around, three got seven, but the last player got eight - or as I put it, no one had ever gotten that many in billions of years, not on that table on that morning.

Someday I'm going to figure out if, to the kids, I'm a towering pillar of ping-pong wisdom, or just that guy who gives them Jolly Ranchers (candy) and my smart phone to play with during breaks. Hmmmm….

Table Tennis Tidbits #21
Ramen in Slovenia and Australia, but Lo Mein in Japan, by Robert Ho.

US Sister Duo Combine for Pair of Medals in Italy
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Calderano a Beacon of Light for Latin America
Here's the USATT article by Ray Huang.

ITTF CEO Steve Dainton Talks 2018 Plans
Here's the ITTF article.

Double Skipping Challenge to Table Tennis Players
Here's the video (48 sec). 

Fan Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 27, 2018

Tip of the Week
Finding Simple Tactics That Work.

MDTTC Spring Break Camp
We had a great first day of camp yesterday. As usual in recent years, I worked with the beginners - though they weren't all exactly "beginners"! I got to work with one five-year-old for the first time. I was expecting to have get him started, but lo and behold, he'd been taking lessons regularly with our coaches, and already had an excellent forehand, a decent backhand when in position (not easy when your head barely comes over the table and so the racket hides the ball when you hit backhands unless you hit from the side), and had incredible focus for his age. He was fun to work with.

There were five in my group. All had played, though two (both about 8) hadn't had formal coaching. With those two, I focused on the basics, while the others did more footwork. By the end of the morning training session, all five were doing the two-one drill.

They had great stroking practice at the end of the session when we did the cups game, where they'd stack cups into walls and fortresses, and then knock them down as I fed multiball.

During break I taught two of the older players (both about 13) the "backspin game." Each serves backspin five times, twice each. (No rallying in this game.) If the ball bounces back into the net, one point. If it bounces cleanly back over the net on one bounce, three points. If it bounces back over the net but takes more than one bonce on the far side, or nicks the net in either direction, it's two points. My record for three-points in a row (i.e. bounceback serves) is 14. I took one turn, didn't do so great, but scored 14 points in ten serves, with four three-pointers and a pair of one-pointers. The two new players played for a while and both did a few three-pointers. Soon they'll be challenging me, so I better go practice!

Seamaster German Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which was held this past weekend in Bremen, GER. Ma Long is back!!! Here are some links.

Mastering the Mental Approach to Tournament Play
Here's the article by Brian Pace.

The Perfect Stroke?
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Ma Long Seeking Number 1 Ranking
Here's the new podcast (25:47) from PingSkills. Other topics covered:

  • Joke of the Week
  • On this Week
  • Tournament Wrap
  • Tip and Drill (Trill) of the Week
  • Advanced Forehand Footwork
  • Chopping Against a Pusher
  • Playing a Backhand Dominant Player

Join my Journey to the Olympics - Estee Ackerman
Here's her Go Fund Me page.

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 21
Here’s chapter 21 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at Chapter 21 covers "Jan/Feb 1994 -Tournaments."

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2018 Qatar Open
Here's the video (5:30).

Westchester Table Tennis Center March 2018 Open Singles Final - Jian Li vs Kai Zhang
Here's the video (22:29).

Mixed-Reality Table Tennis
Here's the video (61 sec) of an "interactive digital table tennis experience."

Around the Bottle Serve Challenge
Here are two new videos.

  • Roy Ke (13 sec) - set to music, with a bottle flip AND a back flip! (This was at MDTTC, my club.)
  • Keenan Southall (65 sec) - set to music, with dancing fire! (Here's the shortened version - 36 sec.)

Play Table Tennis with a PILLOW I Challenge Pongfinity Ep. 13
Here's the video (5:03)!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 26, 2018

I'm coaching this morning at the MDTTC Spring Break Camp, and ran out of time to do my blog. I'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's a Doubles Fighting Pong Cartoon - could one of them be you?

March 23, 2018

Coaching "Future Stars" vs. Coaching "Older Players" and Fixing Bad Habits
There's a huge difference between coaching, say, a young, up-and-coming player, who started out with a good coach and has good basic technique; and coaching either an older player, or one who has technique problems.

Many top players, without extensive coaching experience, can be somewhat effective in working with young, up-and-coming players, since they are basically coaching younger versions of themselves, and are simply molding the player as they hone those good techniques as they player develops. In fact, much of the coaching may be inspirational, where you help the player strive to be the best. There's more to it than this, but there's less creative thinking involved in trying to solve problems, as opposed to continued pushing of the player to higher and higher levels, where the biggest need is often exactly what the top player brings - high-level play as a practice partner. (Alas, there are aspects where a top player with less coaching experience might miss, which may hurt the player eventually, but they are often subtle, and mostly effect the player when he's striving for the highest levels. It might eventually mean the difference between a 2600 and a 2700 player - but both levels are rather high.)

Now compare this to coaching older players and players with technique problems. Older players are not striving to play like younger top players, since they are less physical, and so the coaching is different. But inexperienced coaches often have trouble with this, since their experience is often from their own past as a younger, highly physical player. Even I have to remind myself sometimes that there's little point in having older or out-of-shape players do, say, the 2-1 drill, except as a fitness exercise.

The focus on coaching players with poor technique is either fixing the technique or compensating for it. At first glance, this can seem easy for a top player - he knows what good technique is, and simply shows the player with bad technique what he should be doing. Sounds easy, right? But it's far from that as fixing bad technique is more about identifying the root problem or problems. Changing Bad Technique is tricky, and it takes coaching experience to identify problems and how to fix them. Worse, Technical Problems Often Come in Pairs, and inexperienced coaches often see one problem and try to fix that, without noticing that second one - and so they are doomed to fail since you can't fix one without also fixing the other. Meanwhile, a coach is always walking a fine line, balancing the idea of fixing a player's technique with whether it's worth doing so. If a player has reached a high level of play with techniques that aren't considered sound, that doesn't mean they need to change. The shots might be too ingrained to significantly change for the better, and it might be better to focus on other aspects of the player's game, which might lead to better long-term improvement.

I had this experience in tennis. Because of my table tennis, I had a very strong forehand in tennis, better than some of the tennis coaches at my tennis center. But the rest of my tennis game wasn't nearly as strong. The irony is that because of my "ping-pong technique," I didn't have perfect forehand technique, but I had very good technique on other shots where I wasn't very good, such as my backhand. The good coaches understood that all my years of table tennis meant that my forehand technique was ingrained, and while I lost a small percentage of power because of this, I still hit the ball very hard, with great consistency and accuracy, and so the focus should be on the rest of my game. I had one very bad coach who almost ruined my game by doing the reverse - trying to "fix" my forehand technique, which led to a year where I could barely play as he turned my forehand into a beginner's shot while the rest of my name languished. I finally made a rule - work on every aspect of my tennis game except my forehand, and let me worry about that part. That coach didn't like that, so I finally switched coaches. Soon all aspects of my game improved, and my forehand continued to get better, without "perfect" tennis technique. (I compensated for that small loss of power by often taking shots aggressively on the rise, something that came natural with my "ping-pong technique.")

Some might argue, "But Larry, if you'd listened to the coach, you might have had an even better forehand!" Sorry, but that only would have worked if the coach had gotten me many years earlier, and if I had many hours to work on it. In theory, if I were to devote myself 100% to tennis, 40 hours/week, then perhaps I should have worked on the forehand technique, and after a long period of work, it might have gotten subtlety better. But that's not the real world, in tennis or table tennis, and so it was far more important to work on all the other aspects of my game. There was some frustration that I was winning all my matches by pounding consistent forehands, while losing on my backhand, overheads, volleys, and serves, and all that one coach wanted to work on was my forehand!

So it takes some experience to work with older players or those with technique problems. It also takes judgment, where you work with the player in choosing priorities. Trying to turn a 60-year-old, who has been blocking and hitting for forty years, into an all-out looper is silly, yet I've seen coaches try to do that. Of course, it might be the 60-year-old's choice to do so, in which case it isn't silly - and it's never too late to learn new tricks!

Seamaster German Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which starts today in Bremen, GER, March 23-25, 2018.

How to Make Coaching a True Profession
Here's the article.

Improve Your Table Tennis Fast, Beginner to Advanced
Here's the article from Eli Baraty.

Best Table Tennis Serves Tutorial. (Pt 1: backspin, hook)
Here's the video (20:54) from Pongnews/Tomorrow Table Tennis.

ITTF Foundation Manager Position Announced
Here's the ITTF article.

USATT Insider
Here's the new issue that came out on Wednesday.

Ten Tips for Sports Parents
Here's the video (60 sec).

Sung Sisters Play in Main Draw for Junior Girls Singles
Here's the article by Bruce Liu.

Indiana University South Bend Hosts National Tournament
Here's the article and video (1:53) featuring the St. Joseph Valley Open this past weekend.

2018 Butterfly Canada Cup Finals

  • Men’s Singles Finals - Jeremy Hazin vs. Antoine Bernadet (35:31)
  • Women’s Singles Finals - Siqian Wu vs. Joyce Xu (24:30)

Book Pong
Here's the picture!

Ghostly White Creatures Play Pong
Here's the video (19 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 22, 2018

Shoulder and Snow
Just a short blog as I'm off for a morning shoulder therapy session to make up for the cancelled one yesterday, due to the snow (about eight inches). I'm still a bit worried about the shoulder as at least once a day I do something that reminds me that there is still an injury in there. Much of the therapy is not about the injury, but loosening up the muscles around it that are constantly pulling on it. (I probably have the tightest shoulder muscles in the history of the galaxy.) As noted in a previous blog, I aggravated the shoulder last Wednesday while tossing a power cord under a table. That's all it took.

Tentatively, I plan to start private coaching with beginners starting Saturday, March 31, and see how it is. I'm leery of testing it against stronger players, where I'd have to get more physical.

Return to Ready Stance Drill
Here's the video (32 sec) from EmRatThich.

To Boost Or Not To Boost …..
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

77 Events in More Than 50 Countries
Here's the article. "The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace coincides with World Table Tennis Day. The International Table Tennis Federation will celebrate with events around the world and will also make a big announcement that day."

Three-way Forehand-to-Forehand Counterlooping Practice
Here's the video (68 sec).

Jan-Ove Waldner Serving Aces
Here's the video (31 sec).

Colorado Rockies Annual Spring Training Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the video (2:50).

Big Paddle Pong
Here's the picture - but is that a badminton or tennis net? (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!

March 21, 2018

It's Snowing
Yes, it's snowing - we're supposed to get 5-8 inches here in Maryland. But that barely affects us, an indoor sport, correct? Well, obviously it does affect us as players have to get to the club before they can take part in the world's greatest indoor sport. We had to cancel our Tuesday night league last night due to weather.

Except why do we insist on believing table tennis is an indoor sport? Do you really need walls around you to play? I once did an outdoor exhibition with Scott Preiss in the rain, with the wind blowing. (Okay, we looked like amateurs.)

Table tennis can be played anywhere. Don't believe it?

10 Fundamental Skills for Modern Table Tennis
Here's the article from Ping Sunday by EmRatThich. Here's the list they cover:

  1. Forehand drive technique
  2. Backhand topspin close to the table
  3. Forehand push and backhand push
  4. Forehand flick
  5. Backhand flick
  6. Backhand loop the underspin ball
  7. Forehand attack the semi-long ball
  8. Learn Forehand fast serve
  9. Forehand pendulum serve
  10. Backhand sidespin serve

Tomorrow Table Tennis
Here are two coaching videos.

2018 German Open Highlights: Kanak Jha vs Cristian Pletea
Here's the video (2:30) of USA's Kanak in the round of 32 of Under 21.

Nicholas Tio Thrives Under Trial and Rises to Face World Stage Again
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Spin & Smash Table Tennis & Ping Pong Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Glen Head Table Tennis Center and Chess Academy
Here's their grand opening notice for April 6 in Glen Head, NY. Though it's only a part-time club, I like the combining of chess and table tennis - after all, the latter is often called "chess at light speed." Or should we call chess "table tennis at molasses speed"?

Panda Pong Products
Here's the page.

Afghanistan vs. Pakistan Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 20, 2018

Doctors Over 2000
At the 1995 U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas, a player suffered a massive heart attack while playing. I was standing nearby when it happened, and was amazed at the response. Within minutes, he was surrounded by seven doctors and two nurses, all of them players or attendees at the Nationals. The patient survived. So now you know you are safe if you have a medical emergency at a big tournament! Here is a list of the doctors and nurses who saved the player:

  • Dr. Mark Schaffner
  • Dr. Robert Ho
  • Dr. Jiing Wang
  • Dr. Donald Geeze
  • Dr. Grady Gordon
  • Dr. Richard Poole
  • Dr. Michael Scott
  • Nurse Grace Matossian
  • Nurse Mary An Geeze

So there are a lot of doctors who play table tennis. But how many have reached a high level of play, such as over 2000? I'm going to include anyone who is a medical professional referred to as "Dr." (So this includes dentists, and other titles, such as a DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.) I put together a preliminary list of all I could think of, and then asked the question on Facebook on Saturday, and here is the alphabetical list I came up with, with a few notes on some of them. I'm sure there are more, so feel free to post any I missed in comments, and I'll add them to the list. I'm guessing there are a number of former junior stars who went on to be doctors, such as the three listed below from my club (Chris Ko, Vivian Lee, Jessica Shen). I know of other former junior players who went on to become doctors, but they didn't achieve a 2000 rating.

  • Tommy An - former junior star.
  • Donald Geeze - one of the doctors in the story above.
  • Grady Gordon (RIP) - one of the doctors in the story above.
  • Steve Horowitz - famed cardiologist, here's his bio.
  • Dennis Hwang - member of the Resident Training Program for Table Tennis at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the late 1980s, graduated as class valedictorian while training three hours/day. Now a pulmonologist.
  • Chris Ko - former junior star from Maryland Table Tennis Center, author of the book The Ping Pong Diet.
  • Mike Lardon - sports psychologist and former junior star from the late 1970s, made the finals of Under 18 at the Nationals, wrote the book, Finding Your Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life.
  • Tuan Le - has been rated as high as 2434, very active in California tournaments.
  • Vivian Lee - former junior star from Maryland Table Tennis Center.
  • Rick Mueller - star dentist and chopper.
  • Gary Osmanoff - star dentist.
  • Jessica Shen - former junior star from Maryland Table Tennis Center, has her offices right down the street from my house.
  • De Tran - I believe the only doctor to also have made the U.S. National Team, he has been rated as high as 2573, making him the highest rated on this list.
  • Marius Wechsler - Pediatrics expert who has been rated as high as 2182.
  • Norman Yeh - former pips-out penhold junior star.

USATT Hall of Fame
I adapted my blog last Friday on the USATT Hall of Fame into this USATT news item, which they just published.

2018 US Youth National Ranking Tournament
Here's the article by USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio, on the event to be held Sept. 27-30 in Sacramento, CA.

Defenders – Deceive or Die
Here's the article from Table Tennis Spot.

Cary Cup – Unique for Seventeen Years
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Wilmington Table Tennis’ Southeastern Sportsman of the Decade
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 20
Here’s chapter 20 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at Chapter 20 covers "Jan/Feb 1994 - Off Court Views."

Interview with Indian Star Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Here's the interview with the world #49.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - February 2018
Here's the video (23:25).

Moose Playing Table Tennis Phone Case
Here it is!

The Table Tennis of Ageha
Here's the Manga comic! (It says "To be continued" at the end, but I can't find the next segment.)

Send us your own coaching news!

March 19, 2018

Tip of the Week
Your Goal Should Normally Be to Win Playing the Style You Are Developing.

Serving Backspin, Tim's Latest History Book, the Flu, and an Irritating Writing Project
Let's go in order here!

  • Serving backspin. Too many of our local kids don't really have heavy backspin serves. So I'm starting to take it on as a project to solve this problem. Yesterday I gave a short lecture/clinic to eight of them, demonstrating this, and worked with them on it. The key thing is that some have developed the habit of contacting the ball in a certain way, rather than on trying to graze the ball more and more finely for maximum spin. Once they are getting decent backspin, I'm going to introduce them to the backspin game, and then they'll all go crazy competing at it, and soon they'll all be able to serve heavy backspin. What is the backspin game? Everyone gets five or ten serves. If you serve with enough backspin that the ball comes back into the net, you get one point. If it bounces back over the net cleanly on once bounce, you get three points! (Yes, this means serving high on purpose, but that's fine since they'll be learning to put heavy backspin on the ball, and it's easier at first doing it this way.) If you serve so the ball comes back over the net but takes more than one bounce, or nicks the net in either direction, it's two points.
  • History of U.S. Table Tennis: Volume 21. A proof copy would already be in Tim's hands if not for an irritating mistake. I did all the online setup, and the files were approved, and I was about to order a proof copy sent to Tim - but the cost was astronomical, five times the normal rate! I contacted, and they identified the problem - unlike all 20 previous volumes, while setting up the interior for this volume I had neglected to uncheck the default "full color," and check "black and white," so the software thought the entire interior of the 438 page book was full color! (It's all black and white.) It also turns out that the ISBN number is linked to the type of interior, and once set, cannot be changed. After going back and forth with them on this a few times, I finally did a run-around. I recreated the volume again as a new book. The software wouldn't let me use the same title, so I changed the title from "History of U.S. Table Tennis Volume 21" to "History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 21." Notice the difference? Yes, I inserted a comma. It won't affect anything as the title on the cover stays the same. Anyway, I resent the same files for the "new" book, and should be able to send a proof copy to Tim later today.
  • Flu. It's hard to believe, but for the third time this season I came down with the flu. I felt it coming on all day on Thursday (the day Tim left), and it came on full throttle on Friday. That night my temperature hit 102.6. If it had reached 103, I might have gone to the hospital. By Saturday, it was back to around 100, and by Sunday morning the temperature is gone - but I still feel like I just boxed Mike Tyson all weekend. (And I did all the work above on Tim's book while sick.)
  • Irritating writing project. There's a certain person, who shall remain nameless, who has wasted more time with USATT this past year than just about anyone this past decade. The USATT Board of Directors has had numerous discussions about dealing with this person, who used to have several USATT positions, but no more. Over the past year he has sent out an enormous number of long, meandering emails, many of them full of accusations. Because he was in a USATT position, I've spent an enormous amount of time researching his many claims, and invariably found them groundless, with many blatantly false claims. In October I finally told him I was done responding to his emails. He got involved in still another controversy in December, and is now making up things about me and others in his latest complaints to the USATT Ethics and Grievance Committee, the ITTF, and seemingly everybody else in USATT. (Some people should not be allowed behind a keyboard.) Sadly, I have to respond. I don't know if it's sad or great that the claims about me are so easily refuted - he claims I wrote things in emails to him that I didn't write, and I have the emails to prove it. But once again I have to waste time on this person, as do others. I've spent over 75 hours on his issues, and it will break 80 very soon, time that would have been better spent, say, cutting my nails. In fact, the USATT Board of Directors has likely been forced to spend more time this past year on this one individual than on the other 8000 or so members combined - and that has to stop. I will likely write more about this after his latest complaints are officially dealt with by the Ethics and Grievance Committee and the ITTF. It's sometimes hard to stay enthusiastic about USATT work when so much of that work is wasted time putting out fires by this person. Of all the votes I've been involved with on the USATT Board, the only ones I regret are the ones that put this person in a position to do all this time-wasting damage. I was warned about him repeatedly, but I just didn't believe it as until recent times I was seemingly friends with this person and had many intelligent conversations with him in person - but once he starts sending emails, he's a different person. Alas. 

USATT Actions
The actions of the March 12 USATT Teleconference are now online. Congrats to Dan Reynolds, the new chair of the Ethics and Grievance Committee!!!

Polish Open
Here's the home page for the Polish Open, held this past weekend in Spala, POL - check out the results, news items, pictures, and video!

How to Spin the Ball Like a Pro
Here's the article from Ping Pong Passion.

Training With Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Anton Kallberg @ Dusseldorf Table Tennis
Here's the video (18:06) from Arnaud Scheen.

You Don't Have to Be a Superstar to Make Great Shots
Here's the video (3:08) of the Top Ten Rallies by Quinn Baker (rated 1916, recently 1964).

Zheng Pu Jumping Barriers
Here's the video (10 sec) - a little physical training anyone? (He's rated 2618.)

Ping-Pong for Charity
Here are the latest pictures and videos.

A Perfect Performance and Lucky Socks
Here's the ITTF article on the Oceania Championships.

Timo Boll, Age 4 and Now
Here's the video (1:44).

Serving Down the Line

Chop-Lob Receive
Here's the video (6 sec) of the ultimate in "short receive," by Adam Bobrow (far side). I do this regularly with my students!

JENGA Ping Pong Trick Shots I Pongfinity
Here's the video (2:58)!

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