Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will normally go up on Mondays by 1:00 PM USA Eastern time. Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of  eight books and over 1900 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!
Also out - Table Tennis TipsMore Table Tennis Tips, and Still More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, 2014-2016, and 2017-2020, with 150 Tips in each!

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

Tip of the Week
Side-to-Side Training for Improvement and Health.

Subconscious Table Tennis
I noticed an interesting during a session with Navin Kumar on Saturday. (If you Google "Bionic Table Tennis," about a zillion articles on him comes up.) We were about to do a drill where he has to smash (forehands and then backhands) and hit a bottle on the table. The key, as I always point out, is to not consciously aim for it. That's the common mistake most make. Whether it's in a game or practice, the minute the conscious mind takes control, much of your training disappears, since the whole point of training is to make it reflexive, so you are really training your subconscious.

When I demonstrated this, I put the bottle on the far side, bounced a ball on my side, and smacked the bottle with a barrage of forehands, almost never missing. (When it misses, it's by less than an inch.)  I moved the bottle around to show that you can change your target and still have great accuracy. And that's when I noticed something.

When aiming for the bottle, all my conscious mind has to do is look at the target and decide I want to hit it. The subconscious does the rest. But the part that was fascinating, and which I hadn't really focused on before, was how my subconscious would adjust my foot positioning each time. I wasn't consciously aware of it, but each time I went over and moved the bottle to another part of the table, I'd come back, and when I'd look at it, my feet reflexively moved into position to line me up for the shot.

Of course, once I thought about it, it mostly fell apart. The conscious mind can somewhat closely match what the subconscious mind is trained to do, but only somewhat so. And so when I thought about where my feet should be and then tried hitting the target, I could always tell that I wasn't perfectly set, and I'd have to adjust a little with my upper body for this, and suddenly the accuracy wasn't there - the balls sprayed about the area where the bottle was, sometimes hitting, but with nowhere near the precision when I don't think about it. (It's even worse if you think about or try to consciously control your stroke!) Once I blanked my mind out again and let reflexes take over, everything fell back into place, and I smacked the poor bottle ten times in a row.

To show an example of reflexive foot positioning, here's a video (18 sec) I saw recently of Pete May vs. George Cooper from three years ago. As the video says, they have been competing since the early 1970s. Pete turns 80 next year, and is still rated 1868. (George is 73.) Neither has world-class foot speed, but guess what they both have? Reflexive footwork. Watch their feet as they play - it's all subconscious. For example, watch how Pete (the chopper on far side) reflexively reacts to each of George's attacks, putting him in perfect position for each shot. It's all done subconsciously, from years of training and playing.

Here are two videos Navin took of our session.

RIP John Tannehill
Surprisingly, I only really met John once, though I've seen him at a number of tournaments. I played him in the hardbat event at some big tournament in the Midwest (probably late 1990s), best of three to 21. It was a battle, and I could just see him adjusting to me as the match went on. It was a battle of his efficient two-winged attack versus my all-out forehand attack. Alas, after I won the first, he figured a few things out and won a close three-gamer.

New from Samson Dubina
He's been busy!

Butterfly Favorites

Influence: Key to Success in Sports
Here's the article by Shashin Shodhan.

Olympic Athlete Lily Zhang Explains What It Takes to Be a Pro at Table Tennis
Here's the video (1:42).

Robot Training with Humanized Robots
Here's the video (15 sec). I've argued for years that the main problem with table tennis robots is that you aren't learning to react to a ball coming off an actual paddle, which is what you face in a real game. Well, this solves that! I hope they will be available in the US soon, at a reasonable price.

Blindfold Training
Here's the video (65 sec). I think the point is to train the player to react not just to the sight of the ball, but its sound as it hits the table. Notice how about halfway through the girls got pretty consistent? (I'm sure there's a really good coronavirus mask joke in here somewhere...)

Q&A with Kevin Nguyen Part 2
Here's the video (4:05).

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

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USATT

Coronavirus: Table Tennis Must Seize the Opportunity to Reinvent Itself, Says World Head of Sport News & Top Stories
Here's the article.

Pandemic Nostalgia has Hetherington Excited for NCTTA 2021
Here's the article by Michael Reff from the National Collegiate TTA.

Bless His Heart …..He Still Plays Ping Pong
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Puerto Rico to Host Inaugural Open International Tournament
Here's the ITTF article.

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

Incredible Point, Plus a Hand Switch
Here's the video (55 sec)!

Table Tennis Elf Shirt
Here it is!

So Tell Me About Your Backhand
Here's the cartoon! I think the "psychiatrist" is supposed to be George Brathwaite. The cartoon is from this story in the New York Times from 2011.

Playing with Household Items
Here's the video (28:11) as a father and son have it out with pillows, towels, rolls of tape, scissors, a Ritz crackers box, and whatever else is handy - including their hands! Yes, this is what coronavirus has led us to. (Best viewing is to keep jumping ahead to see what they do next. They are obviously good players - the kid's obviously had some good training.)

Adam in Singapore
Here's the video (7:41)!

Ping Pong Battleship 2
Here's the video 5:18) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Training Down the Line.

USATT Coaching Excellence Program
As a member of the USATT Coaching Committee, I'm helping USATT put together their upcoming Coaching Excellence Program. (Others on the committee are Pieke Franssen, Gao Jun, and Dave Fullen. USATT CEO Virginia Sung and High Performance Director Sean O'Neill are also involved.) Right now they are working on the Club Coaching Certification Program. (There are four levels - club, state, regional, national.) The biggest question is what should be taught at the Club level, which is for coaches for beginners to about 1500. It's easy to say, "They should know this, and this, and this,..." and pretty soon everything is taught at the club coach level, and there's nothing left for the State, Regional, or National level!

Here was my recommendation on what should be taught at this level. In a regular training camp, I figured you could teach all this in a barebones minimum of 12 hours, but really could be 15-20 hours. At the higher levels, you would expand on most of these segments, along with segments on physical training, multiball, and other topics.

  • Rules
  • Grip
  • Ready position
  • Stroking techniques (forehands, backhands, looping, blocking, pushing, flipping, lobbing, chopping)
  • Footwork
  • Spin
  • Serving
  • Receiving
  • Basic styles and tactics

I also toyed with having a segment on equipment, and emailed the coaching committee their thoughts on that. However, that could also be covered in "Basic styles and tactics," where you talk about what equipment each style might use. Note that not everything taught has to be explicitly in the course listing. For example, in teaching the various techniques, the coach would also teach the drills where you learn that technique, and so a separate section on "drills" isn't really needed at this level.

There is also a USATT Coaching Excellence Program video (5:03), which hard-working Dave Fullen put together. I wrote a page of recommendations for this, which I won't go into here.

There are also nine videos (so far) that would be used in conjunction with teaching the class, where Vladimir Samsonov demonstrates the various techniques. Dave Fullen again did an excellent job in putting together text and voiceovers that went with the videos. Alas, being a spoilsport, I wrote three pages of recommendations for updating and improving the text and voiceovers. He will probably smack me with a ping-pong paddle next time he sees me. The basic idea of the new program will be that much of it can be taught online, with much of the courses taught in Zoom. While I gave a lot of input on table tennis specific things for this new program, I'm personally a bit leery of teaching table tennis this way, but perhaps that'll change after I see how others do it.

Weekend Coaching
I'm still only doing one one-hour session per week, with Navin Kumar, Saturdays at 5:30 PM. I've spent most of the last 3.5 months in my lounge chair, so I better start exercising again soon!

  • Video 1 - Forehand Block (39 sec): He's a wall on the backhand with the long pips, but the inverted forehand side needs to be just as strong. The focus here is keeping it simple - as I loop each ball (multiball style), he cuts the ball off quickly, taking very little backswing, and a short forward swing, while giving the ball a solid "jab," with each block going wide to the forehand. A big key here is contacting the ball the same each time, which you can tell by the sound of the contact. If the sound changes, then your contact is changing, and it'll be hard to be consistent. (Before doing this drill I looped some to his block to warm it up.)
  • Video 2 - Nets and Edges (54 sec)! He went net-edge, edge, edge, net, edge, white line!

Liu Guoliang Accepts Position as Chair of WTT Council
Here's the ITTF press release.

US Olympic and Paralympic Council Calls in IOC and IPC to Allow Freedom of Expression
Here's the letter, which calls for IOC Charter Rule 50 to be abolished. "The IOC and IPC cannot continue on the path of punishing or removing athletes who speak up for what they believe in, especially when those beliefs exemplify the goals of Olympism." (Note that the chair of the Council, and the first name on it, is Han Xiao, long-time USA Men's Team Member and four-time US Men's Doubles Champion.)

New from Samson Dubina

Half-Long Loop from Forehand Corner with Jinxin Wang
Here's the article and video (1:46).

How to Ghost Serve Like Patrick Franziska
Here's the video (1:21)

New from Matt Hetherington (MH Table Tennis)


USATT Coaching Excellence Program
Here's the video (5:03). (This is also linked above.)

Ask the Champion Interview Series
Here are the USATT videos!

Summer Splash Challenge Camp Interviews
Here are USATT interviews with the coaches of the upcoming Summer Splash Challenge Camp.

More USATT PongPrudent Interviews

Chinese National Women's Team vs The USA Men's Team - TOP 10
Here's the video (2:52).


The Inappropriate Cho
Here's the USATT article by Mark Thompson, USATT Chief Operating Officer. A culture clash between hockey and table tennis, and "love means never having to say you’re sorry."

The Amazing Table Tennis Summer of 2020
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

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

Hot Stuff: The Little Devil
Here's the comic book cover from 1979!

Jim Butler vs. Wang Huijing . . . and Oscar
Here's video (4:18) of their latest training match between the Olympians. The video also co-stars Oscar, Wang's dog. Here's the page with links to their other training matches and other videos.

Cat Pong
Here's the video (10 sec) - that's three perfect forehands in a row!

Pingpong Story from the Smallest to the Biggest
Here's the video (5:53)! Here are seven more trickshot videos from Pingpong Story.

New from Pongfinity!

  • Ping Pong Gun Game 3 (10:39) - where they play with 21 different types of sports equipment, from dartboards, skateboards, soccer ball, volleyball, Lacrosse sticks, squash racket, boxing glove, boomerang, hockey stick, yoga mat, bike helmet, darts, a bicycles, and others!
  • Ping Pong Stereotypes 4 (3:11)!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Do You Really Have Control of Your Shots? (See also "Through the Scoreboard Practice" below.)

Winning Table Tennis by Dan Seemiller and Mark Holowchak
Winning Table Tennis is back! This is a reprinting of the best-selling table tennis book from 1997. Whether you're a competitive tournament player or a serious recreational player, Winning Table Tennis: Skills, Drills, and Strategies will help you improve your game. Dan Seemiller, 5-time U.S. singles, 12-time doubles champion, and long-time US Men's Team Coach, shows you all the shots and strategies for top-level play. This book features 19 drills for better shot-making, plus Seemiller's own grip and shot innovations that will give you an edge over the competition. Featuring the most effective table tennis techniques and strategies Winning Table Tennis: shows you how to

  • choose the right equipment,
  • serve and return serves,
  • use proper footwork and get into position,
  • practice more efficiently,
  • prepare for competitions
  • make effective strategy decisions in singles and doubles play, and
  • condition your body for optimal performance.

It's also a perfect companion piece to Seemiller's autobiography, Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. Learn from the champ AND learn about the champ!

Disclaimer - I helped Dan recreate the book, doing a bunch of technical stuff to recapture the text from an old program, formatting it, and also did a bunch of work to fix up the photos, which were scanned directly from an old copy. I brought in a science fiction writing friend of mine to do the page layouts. I also edited Dan's earlier book, Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. (I did all this as a volunteer for a Table Tennis Legend - I did not take any money for it.)

On a side note, I've done a lot of work helping out Dan with his two books above, Samson Dubina with his two, and Tim Boggan with his 23 history volumes. These are some great book, and you can learn a lot! But I'm hoping I can now retire as an editor/page designer/photo fixer for future table tennis books - and perhaps focus on mine. (Though I'll probably continue working with Tim, when and if he's able to do a Volume 24.)

10,000 Hours and a Million Words "Rules"
A few days ago, David Gerrold - famous for writing the famous "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode of original Star Trek, and a full-time science fiction writer and curmudgeon - posted on Facebook about what it takes to master something. He started the rather long posting by writing, "People who have demonstrated skill, or even mastery, in their respective fields often talk about muscle memory, or ten thousand hours of practice. For writers, this is the million words theory. You must write a million words to learn how to write well."

This was one of those rare times where my two worlds intersected - table tennis and science fiction writing! Below was my response. And pardon for the second paragraph, where I give my "table tennis resume" - I was writing this for the SF audience, who mostly don't know my TT side, though many do. The issue has great relevance to both communities - it's all about "Deliberate Practice," which is how you become good at table tennis, writing, and many other endeavors. Some of you may have heard of the "10,000 hours" rule (really just a guideline), but it has a well-known parallel in writing - as David says above, the "million words theory."

This is a fascinating topic, and one I'm sort of uniquely qualified to discuss since I'm in both worlds that David brings up. And sorry about the length of this - I really got into this topic.

I'm a professional table tennis player/coach/writer and did my "10,000 hours" of training long ago. I've won the US National and US Open Hardbat National Table Tennis Championships once each (and doubles 14 times!), and have hordes of other national and state titles. I'm in the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame and was awarded the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award - and most of this was for my 40 years of professional coaching and writing. I was the match coach for over 200 gold medal winners at the Junior Olympics and Junior Nationals, the most by any table tennis coach in history. And yes, table tennis is an Olympic sport - I've coached Olympians.

I'm also an active member of Science Fiction Writers of America, with 113 short story sales, including 33 "pro" sales, and four novels. I'm a graduate of the six-week 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop. I did my "million words" long ago. (I also have nine books on table tennis and over 1900 published articles, and over 1800 blog entries.) I often joke that I'm the best TT player in SFWA and the best SF writer in USATT!

So . . . what does my experience in these two fields tell me? I'll start with table tennis and then get to writing. The 10,000 hour rule in sports is a misunderstood guideline. What's needed is something in the range of 10,000 hours of what's known as "Deliberate Practice."

With Deliberate Practice, you don't just do repetition; you focus on each aspect needed at a high level, and do various drills (with lots of repetition) that make those a habit. From this, you develop the proper muscle memories and reactions to compete at a high level. The player and coach are constantly keying in on very specific techniques of the game, not just putting in the hours. Here's the Wikipedia entry on this:

Here's the key part: " expert one becomes at a skill has more to do with how one practices than with merely performing a skill a large number of times. An expert breaks down the skills that are required to be expert and focuses on improving those skill chunks during practice or day-to-day activities, often paired with immediate coaching feedback. Another important feature of deliberate practice lies in continually practicing a skill at more challenging levels with the intention of mastering it."

Here's a thought experiment. Suppose you take four brothers who are quadruplets, so all about the same age and talent level. Two of them play table tennis together for 10,000 hours, trying hard to improve, but do not receive any coaching and do not study or play top players, where they'd learn what top players do. Give me the other two brothers for 1000 hours (and really, 200 hours would probably do). I guarantee the two I coach would easily beat the two who did the 10,000 hours, who'd be showing up for a gun fight with a pair of water pistols. They'd get creamed.

The two with 10,000 hours would have spent their time learning how to play low-level table tennis, and would become very good at that. When they play someone who's learned how to play high-level table tennis, they'd get blown away. They'd be what we call "basement players" - players who play a lot and think they are good until they go up against real players and face things they haven't seen before - spin serves, topspin loops, heavy backspin, flips, counter-hitting, and so on. They don't know how to move or position themselves properly, won't be able to return most serves (or return them without setting up an easy put-away), won't be able to rally against spins, and when they hit a shot that they think is a "winner," they'll be shocked at how easily a well-trained player effortlessly counter-hits it back just as aggressively.

Now let's look at writing. Suppose someone writes story after story, maybe doing a new one every day, and keeps doing this until he's written a million words. Suppose he does this without getting regular feedback on his writing, or serious instruction about professional writing. He'd be just like those two basement players, and would become very good at low-level writing. But he wouldn't have learned what it takes to write at a higher level - character development and arc; point of view; plotting; subtext; dialog; description; openings; three-act structure; voice; beats; and so on. (Not all top writers are expert at all these things, or even use them all, but all are expert at most of them.) When their stories are compared to someone who has learned these techniques, they get blown away - they have shown up at a gun fight with water pistols. Their stories are rejected.

So a writer may need to write a million words to become truly proficient, but it needs to be with that "Deliberate Practice" idea in mind - they need to be learning as they go along, usually from critiques, workshops, books, and so on. And then they can practice what they learn and get better, just as a table tennis player would learn what's needed to reach a high level, and would practice that.

One big difference between writing and table tennis: writers usually start out as readers, and so they experience high-level writing, and so many start out their writing careers with a decent understanding of what it takes to write at a high level. It's a little different in table tennis and most skill sports, as watching it isn't quite the same as playing against it. It's sort of a culture shock when a recreational player first goes up against a top player and realizes just how out-matched he is, as much of what happens when they play isn't so obvious from just watching. But many who read a lot don't really think about or really understand what the writer is doing - and so they don't learn from it, or miss out on major aspects. And so the first time they show a story they've written to an editor or critiquer, they are shocked at the response, just as those basement table tennis players are shocked when they play a real player. But if they get regular feedback on their writing, and learn from it (and from workshops, reading top writers, books on writing, etc.), then by the time they've put in those million words, they will be the ones with the guns at the gunfight, and they'll likely start making sales.

What is my conclusion here? Not everyone has the ability to play table tennis or write at an extremely high level. But anyone can, with deliberate practice, become very good, and much better than those who just blindly put in those 10,000 hours or million words and just keep getting better at doing the same old things without learning what it takes to do so at a high level.

And in case my writing and coaching are only "very good" and not "extremely high level," and so I'm unable to make a living at them . . . anyone here want to play table tennis for money? :)

USATT Board Seeks Membership Comments on Proposed Bylaw Amendments
Here's the USATT News Item. (This was in last week's blog, but went up late. Deadline to comment is 7PM Eastern Time TODAY.)

Online Coaching with LearnPong
Here's their page, with coaches Kai Zhang, Brad Robbins, Chase Bockoven, Alfred Dela Pena, Christian Stelting, Bjorn Stelting, and Vlad Farcas. "LearnPong is an online table tennis training center specializing in real-time video lessons and match analysis. Our coaches pride themselves in being patient, positive, professional and versatile. We recognize that every student has individual styles and goals and we tailor our lesson plans accordingly. Our team covers various timezones and offers lessons in multiple languages."

New from Samson Dubina

Should I Start Taking Coaching Lessons?
Here's the article by Aabid Sheikh.

Leszcek Kucharski on the Forehand Flick
Here's the video (1:55) - in Europe they call it "flick," in the U.S. it's "flip." Leszcek Kucharski was a star Polish player in the late 1980s, getting a silver and bronze in Men's Doubles and a bronze in Men's Teams at the World Championships.

Jimmy Butler Working on His Backhand Loop
Here's the video (2:20) of the Olympian and 4-time US Men's Singles Champion, in a practice match with US Olympian Wang Huijing - see Jim's comments. (On the right are links to videos of their previous training matches.)

Coach. Connect. Contribute - Jun Gao
Here's the USATT article and video (90 sec) of the 9-time US Women's Singles Champion. (She was at my club, MDTTC, when she was winning all those titles!)

Table Tennis Interview - Timo Boll
Here's the video (54 min) with the former world #1, by Matt Hetherington. (For some reason, no matter how I set it, it takes me about 12 minutes in, so you might have to go to the beginning. I checked with Matt, and he said it goes right to the beginning for him.) Also, Matt just finished his "30 videos in 30 days" - see the other links in his YouTube Page! (I linked to the last of them last week, other than this new Timo Boll interview.)

Through the Scoreboard Practice
Here's the video (45 sec), with Samson Dubina - and see the kid's reaction the three times he makes it!

What I Have Learned & Gained From Playing Table Tennis
Here's the video (5:13), who is (probably) better than you, rated 2062 at age 12.

The GREATEST Table Tennis Shots for 2019
Here's the USATT video (5:49).

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

My Epic Match with USA's #1 (U13)
Here's the video (14:55) from Adam Bobrow. Lots of lobbing - and guess who wins, 19-17 in the seventh?

New from Steve Hopkins

Common Ground in Table Tennis and Beyond
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

National Collegiate Table Tennis - 2020 Superlative Winners
Here's the article and award winners.

Kanak Jha, Seeking Two Steps Higher, Top Seed in Düsseldorf
Here's the ITTF article.

Interview with ITTF President Thomas Weikert
Here's the video (40 min) by Adam Bobrow.

ITTF High Performance & Development Webinar 9 - Training with Style on Different Continents
Here's the ITTF video (62 min).

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

NBA Rules on Table Tennis
Here's the article from USA Today, "NBA safety protocols include interesting rules: No licking hands on court; ping-pong limited to two players."

Ping-Pong Legend Products
Here they are - shirts, mugs, and phone cases.

Broken Table Tennis Paddle Leather Phone Case Cover for Apple iPhone
Here it is!

Trickshots from Pingpong Story
Here's the page with six videos!

Best of Switch Hand Shots
Here's the video (6 min)!

Head Pong
Here's the rally (57 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis - Why Confederate flags and monuments are still up, 155 years after the Civil War ended
Here's my cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Practice Partner Collaboration - the PPC of TT.

The Play That Changed . . . Everything
Some of you may have heard of the "Butterfly Effect," whereby something seemingly small and insignificant can have major ramifications. It happens in table tennis as well, and I'm not talking about Butterfly table tennis. In fact, if not for at least two seemingly minor things, I wouldn't be in table tennis, and much of the table tennis world would be different. Here's how I switched from baseball to track & field to table tennis.

When I was 13, my sport was baseball. I was obsessed with it - I memorized the results of EVERY World Series (1903-1973), including the winning team, scores, and winning pitcher of every single game, and the MVPs and their stats. I also memorized every stat about the Baltimore Orioles. As a player, I was only so-so - didn't hit or field that well, and due to arm problems, I had a weak throwing arm. (From the start I threw with my feet parallel, which puts tremendous strain on the shoulder, and no coach corrected it until I'd hurt my arm repeatedly. They used to call this "Throwing like a girl," but most girls probably throw better than me.)

I did have a good on-base percentage because I refused to swing the bat unless I had a perfect strike - which usually meant I went almost the whole season without swinging the bat until I had two strikes, to the chagrin of the coaches, who were always yelling, "Swing the bat, Larry!" (I had a home plate that I'd put on my bed, and then attached strings to the walls over it so I could see the exact strike zone, and so memorized it. I also spent a huge amount of time learning to hook slide.) So I basically walked or struck out most of the time, with occasional weak pop-ups or grounders. (I did once hit a triple and got thrown out at the plate going for a home run, but that's another story.) I wanted to play third base like my hero, Brooks Robinson, but I literally couldn't make the throw. So I often played second, which has a much shorter throw - and I often struggled even with that. But sometimes the coach put me in right field, which was strange, since I didn't have the arm for it.

On the last day of the season in 1973, I was in right field. Our star pitcher, who was about twice my size, had moved from pitcher to center field. It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and our team led by one run - and the opposing team had the tie run at second. The batter hit a single to right, directly at me. I fielded it cleanly. Anyone else on the team would have tried to throw the ball to home. But even then, at 13, I was tactically minded, and I knew I couldn't make the throw. In fact, the only person on the team who could have made that throw and gotten the runner at the plate was our star pitcher, now playing center field - who had run over, backing up the play. So what did I do? I did the really smart thing, and without hesitating, I flipped the ball to him. He didn't hesitate either - he caught it cleanly in his bare hand, then reared back and uncorked the throw of the ages, a perfect strike over the plate. Our catcher tagged the runner out to end the game. We won!!!

The team completely mobbed him. But me? I walked toward them, but stopped near first base and just watched. All I could think was . . . why wasn't anyone congratulating me? I'm the one who had the foresight to flip the ball to the one person on the team who could make that throw. To my 13-year-old mind . . . and to this 60-year-old one . . . it seemed so unfair. I stood out there for the longest time, watching the celebration, somehow not feeling a part of it. Deep down, I also realized that with my throwing arm, I could never be that good. I finally walked off the field and never played baseball again.

If not for that play, I wouldn't have quit baseball. The chance that I'd later just happen to take up table tennis seriously was essentially zero. I never would have started up the Maryland Table Tennis Center, the first successful full-time training center in the country (along with coaches Cheng and Jack, who, without a full-time club, would have gone back to China), and all the clubs around the country that later copied our model wouldn't have happened, at least in the way that they did. Maybe some would have eventually happened, but the history of all the full-time clubs in this country would have been different - and if you got into table tennis because of one of them, including MDTTC, that club probably wouldn't have existed, and you wouldn't be reading this. Everything I've ever done in table tennis - and I did get the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 - would not have happened. 

But the story doesn't end there. I next became a miler, and got pretty good - I lettered in it, with my best time, when I was 15 or 16, at 4 min 53 sec, though I never really liked running. And then, one day (early 1976), I went to the library to get a book on Track and Field. I just happened to look to my left - and there it was, under Table Tennis, "The Money Player," by Marty Reisman! I'd been playing ping-pong with some of the other kids in our neighborhood, and on the spur of the moment, I checked it out. I discovered a table tennis club a few miles away, and again on the spur of the moment, convinced my parents to take me there. Pretty soon table tennis had replaced track and field, all because I happened to look to my left.

If not for that play, and for that look to my left, I most likely have become a math professor . . . or maybe a science fiction writer! But table tennis? Unlikely. 

Years later, when I met the great and colorful Marty Reisman, I told him the story. His exact words: "Great - another life I've ruined." Hilarious!

Weekend Coaching
For the second Saturday in a row, I had a session with Navin Kumar. Here's the video he put up afterwards (2:15). For now, this is the limit of my active table tennis coaching. At some point soon, the club will open up for group sessions, and then I'll have to see if I still remember how the game is played. Since Navin hasn't been able to play for a while, we're focusing a lot on basics, but also working on his backhand attack, where he flips his racket from his long-pips blocking side to the inverted he usually has on the forehand. A key part then is the decision on whether to keep the inverted on the backhand after the first attack, and try to win the point with it (and moving to the center of the table so as to cover as much of the table as possible with the inverted backhand), or to immediately switch back to his usual long pips on the backhand combo.

USATT Did a News Item on My Book, "Still More Table Tennis Tips"
Here's the news item! C'mon, you know you want to buy my books!!! :) It includes links to some of my other ones. (This went up last Tuesday, so I added it a day late to last week's blog.)

Why Table Tennis? 10 Aspects of the Sport That Will Change Your Life
[I ran this last week, but thought I'd run it one more time.]

The new table tennis book is out! The link takes you to Amazon, or you can get it directly from Samson Dubina Table Tennis. The book is by Samson Dubina, Sarah Jalli, and Jacob Boyd (the latter two are two of Samson's top junior students), and edited by Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!). It's 50 pages. Here are testimonials by Richard McAfeeDora Kurimay, and Christian Lillieroos.

Here's the Amazon description: "The Olympic sport of table tennis is well-respected worldwide for the dexterity of the athletes, the speed of the rallies, and the excitement of watching players of all ages and nationalities compete for world titles. Here in the US, very little is known about table tennis … Until Now! Why Table Tennis takes you on a one-hour journey where you will explore the vastness of the sport, understand how it is healthy for the mind and body, how it has impacted world history, and why it can impact your life too!!! Buckle up for this one-hour journey… The Olympic Sport of Table Tennis!"

MH Table Tennis: 30 Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days
Here's the video page. Matt Hetherington of MH Table Tennis is making one every day! (If you find his videos of value, here's his GoFundMe page.) Below are the recent ones (also see the playlists at the bottom of the page).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov's Serves vs TableTennisDaily's Dan!
Here's the video (3:37). In the video, you'll see Dimitrij mostly serving long, since he's trying to get Dan to outright miss - and long serves are almost always better at that. These are examples of what I call "trick" serves, designed to force an outright miss, but risky if done too often since they usually allow an opponent to attack your serve, while not setting up your own attack. See what he says at the end about Ma Long's serves and "Building on your serve" - in other words, third-ball serves, where the serve doesn't win the point like a trick serve, but sets you up to attack and take control of the point. Here's a short tip I wrote about this, Trick Serves and Third-Ball Serves.­­­

Can You Push Short Like This?
Here's the video (31 sec). The key thing to learn from this is that when you push short, you don't just pat the ball back softly; you brush it with a fine grazing motion. It's that grazing motion that makes the ball bounce off your paddle softly, while also imparting backspin. Most don't put as much backspin as done in this video, but it gives you an idea of what the contact should be like.

New from Samson Dubina

USATT Happy Hour
USATT had another Happy Hour, 7-8:15 PM this past Thursday. They are every Thursday at 7PM eastern time - see the USATT news page or calendar (on the USATT home page) for link to it, and you can come join us!  This time we had 15 people attending, including me, USATT CEO Virginia Sung, COO Mark Thompson, High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, Director of Para Programs Jasna Rather, and others. Topics discussed included table tennis content for the USATT news page, showcasing table tennis, and (at the start), presidents playing table tennis! These include Obama, the Clintons, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and cartoons of George W. Bush and Richard Nixon (there are many more of Nixon).

=>NOTE - Was told on Tuesday night that it's cancelled this week, due to low turnout - not sure if this is permanent.

USATT Board Seeks Membership Comments on Proposed Bylaw Amendments
Here's the USATT News Item. (NOTE - this was added late, on Monday night.)

USATT Board Meeting on June 1 - Minutes
The Minutes for the meeting are now up in the USATT Minutes page. I blogged about this a bit in my blog last week. (Back in my days as USATT co-webmaster - one of a zillion positions I've had with USATT - I'm the one who argued back in the "early days" of the Internet, in 1999, that we should put our minutes online, and I the created the page.)

Ask a Champion Series - Jean-Michel Saive
Here's the video (59:48) with Jean-Michel Saive former World #1 and Men's Singles Finalist at the Worlds and World Cup.

Coach. Connect. Contribute - Wang Chen
Here's the USATT video (63 sec) with Wang Chen, former World #4 from China, and after emigrating, two-time US Women's Singles Champion.

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

New from Steve Hopkins

The 7th Match on Saturday
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association - Election Results
Here's the results page.

ITTF United Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination
Here's the ITTF press release. "The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has always held a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and all forms of discrimination."

Table Tennis United | Help Our Community Overcome COVID-19
Here's the video (1:18). "We are asking for your kind donations to the #TableTennisUnited campaign in order to support the athletes, coaches, umpires, national associations and field projects who are all in need of a helping hand in these difficult times." DONATIONS

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

Safety Procedures to Enter a Club in the Age of Coronavirus
Here's the video (2:50).

New from Kevin Table Tennis

Ping-Pong Conference Tables
Here's the video (27 sec)! Why don't you have one of these at work?

Girls High School Team: The Saga Continues
Here's the video (10:39) from Adam Bobrow. Here's part 1, which I linked to last week: Adam vs. Girls High School Table Tennis Team (10:11).

This is How You Should Treat Your Table Tennis Blade
Here's the video (35 sec)!

Mike Tyson Playing Table Tennis
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Tyson's shirt says, "Pardon Jack Johnson." Jack Johnson was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1908-1915, the second black to do win it, and was, for many years, the most famous black man in the world. He was arrested and served time for what most consider trumped up charges, which is what Tyson is protesting.

Superman and Batman Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) From his grip, you can tell Superman is about to do a forehand pendulum serve, while Batman waits to follow up. Both look focused and "In the Zone." Their opponents, likely Lex Luther and the Joker, have little chance.

Anger Pong
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Hole in the Racket Challenge and Wheelbarrow Pong
Here's the video (4:42) from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - Best Picture Movies
It's official - I've now seen all 92 Academy Award Best Pictures! Last week I watched the World War I epic "Wings" from 1927, the very first winner and the last one on my list. It's a silent movie (but lots of dialog shown in text), one of only two to win Best Picture - the other being 2011's "The Artist." The aerial dogfighting scenes were spectacular. It's supposedly in black and white (actually, sepia), but surprisingly they have flashes of yellow when machine guns fire or in explosions. It was a breath of fresh air after watching the following year's winner the night before, "The Broadway Melody," the lowest rated Best Picture ever by far at 36% on Rotten Tomatoes (to "Wings" at 93%).

Non-Table Tennis - "Nanogod"!
Yesterday I sold my SF story "Nanogod" to Dark Matter Magazine! (They pay "pro" rates, 8 cents/word. It's my 133rd short story sale, but first to this market.) What happens when a microscopic nanobot, designed for brain surgery, is damaged and becomes an egomaniac that travels the galaxy, conquering civilizations and forcing them to build huge monuments in its honor? It forced us to build the Great Pyramids 4600 years ago . . . and now it's back and wants more! (Coincidentally, the story is 4600 words long.) Sorry, no table tennis in this one.

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
How to Never Miss an Easy Smash.

LATE ADDITION (Tues) - USATT Did a News Item on My Book, "Still More Table Tennis Tips"!
Here's the news item! C'mon, you know you want to buy my books!!! :) (It includes links to some of my other ones.) 

They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again!
Remember my When Will They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again cartoon? The answer, for me, was this past Saturday! It had been 83 days - one day short of twelve weeks - since the last time I'd played. Navin Kumar contacted me about taking private coaching again - MDTTC reopened last week for limited private coaching, with various limits on how many can be there at a time, taking everyone's temperature as they enter club, rules on masks (not required at the table, but required off the table), social distancing (the tables are well spaced out, making this easier), sanitizing (I had to sanitize the table afterwards), and so on. I retired from private coaching two years ago - I only do group sessions now - but he talked me into doing some private coaching. After twelve weeks of lying around my house, I needed the exercise, so I agreed. And so we did the one-hour session at 5:30PM on Saturday. There was no one else in the club at the time, though I'd been told there had been others earlier.

Navin put up three videos of the session:

  • Video 1 (98 sec) - forehands
  • Video 2 (60 sec) - forehands and footwork (multiball)
  • Video 3 (37 sec) - backhand long-pips block, backhand hit (multiball)

Table Tennis Abuse Horror Stories
In the segment below on USATT SafeSport Meeting for Parents and Coaches, there was a lot of discussion of SafeSport and abuse from coaches and parents. Sean O'Neill asked me about my experiences - and frankly, I could fill up a few hours with such stories!!! Here are a few examples. (In the meeting, I mentioned #1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 below.) 

  1. It seems every junior program has at least one parent that constantly yells at his/her kids. Some can get really abusive, even physically. But most of it is just yelling, which isn't a good way to motivate someone in table tennis.
  2. One of the worst case of abuse by a parent I know of took place at a US Open. I was coaching the final of Under 14 Boys. The other kid was up double-match point, but my kid came back to win the title. A few minutes later, several of our kids came running up, saying, "Larry, Larry, Mr. [kid's dad] is throwing [kid's name] against a wall! I ran outside just in time to see the father walking away, with the 13-year-old kid sitting against a brick wall crying. The kids said the father had thrown him against the brick wall over and over for losing the match. We reported it to the referee, and I was told action was taken - the kid moved out from living with his dad. (I think the parents were divorced.)
  3. For a few years in the 1990s, there was an opposing coach who made it his thing, when his students were playing mine, to come over and "trash talk" with my kids. He thought it was funny, but it made my kids very nervous, and at least one was almost terrorized by it. I talked to the coach, but he just reacted sarcastically. So I had to spend several years watching for him when our players played, and I would literally have to walk over and cut him off, blocking his path each time. The first time I did this he got angry, but after a few times he finally stopped doing it.
  4. I was coaching a kid against a higher-rated one, both among the best of their age in the country. The other kid won the first game easily - but in the last point, he popped a ball up, and my kid creamed it to the other kid's forehand. The kid made a miracle forehand block to win the point and game. Things did not look good for my player. But between games, the opposing coach started screaming at his player, demanding to know why he'd blocked that last ball instead of doing what he was trained to do, which was to always counterloop on the forehand. By the time they went back to the table, the opposing kid was crying, while I'd told my kid exactly how to play someone whose coach is yelling at him. My player came back and won! At the very end of the last game, when my kid went up match point, the other coach walked off - but later I saw him yelling at the kid. Afterwards, the kid dropped him as his coach for a short time, but soon they were back together. About six months later, the kid quit, and has never played since.
  5. I've been tempted to write an article on how to play someone whose coach is yelling at them - there are specific things you can do - but I feel it's already so unfair what such a player has to go through, it feels wrong to write an article taking advantage of it. And yet . . . when it happens, I generally tell my player how to deal with it. But only then.
  6. There was a kid I coached who reached #1 for his age in the country. There was a top player who had become his idol, since they both played a similar, unique style. When that top player was in town, the kid's parents arranged a coaching session with him. The kid was really excited. But during the session - which I only saw from a distance - he spent much of it yelling at the kid. Then, after the session, he told the kid, "You'll never be any good." (About ten people witnessed this.) The kid left, crying, and he never seemed enthusiastic about playing after that, and he quit a year later. (I later checked, and discovered this player was notorious for this type of thing. Thankfully, I'm told he no longer coaches.)
  7. I coached a kid who pulled off a great win. Both players were athletic, inverted players, which is what my player was used to. In his next match, he played an old guy (rated about the same), with long pips, who dead-blocked everything - and my kid lost. But his father, after seeing how well his kid played against the stronger player, couldn't seem to understand why his kid struggled and looked so bad against the long-pips player, and so kept yelling at him, insisting he hadn't tried, and threatened to pull him from the tournament. The kid was crying, and kept trying to explain to his dad how hard it is to play long pips, but the dad wouldn't listen. I finally pulled the dad aside and explained what long pips was and why younger kids often have trouble with it, and he sort of backed off - but the kid had great difficulty playing the rest of the day after that.   
  8. You can often tell which kids will turn it into a lifetime sport. At the end of a training session, if he wants to stay and goof off with the other kids, and is allowed to, he'll have fun, will love the sport, and will likely play forever. When I say goof off, that means they lob, chop, play with hardbat or clipboard, opposite hand or opposite grip, big ball, move tables together so they can play on two or more tables, or whatever else they feel like. I've been told that the great Swedes Waldner, Persson, Appelgren, and others always did this not only when they were developing, but even when they were the best players in the world. On the other hand, if they can't wait to leave, or if their parents always drag them out immediately so they can't have some fun with their friends, they tend to drop out eventually.

Why Table Tennis? 10 Aspects of the Sport That Will Change Your Life
The new table tennis book is out! The link takes you to Amazon, or you can get it directly from Samson Dubina Table Tennis. The book is by Samson Dubina, Sarah Jalli, and Jacob Boyd (the latter two are two of Samson's top junior students), and edited by Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!). It's 50 pages. Here are testimonials by Richard McAfee, Dora Kurimay, and Christian Lillieroos. Here's the Amazon description: "The Olympic sport of table tennis is well-respected worldwide for the dexterity of the athletes, the speed of the rallies, and the excitement of watching players of all ages and nationalities compete for world titles. Here in the US, very little is known about table tennis … Until Now! Why Table Tennis takes you on a one-hour journey where you will explore the vastness of the sport, understand how it is healthy for the mind and body, how it has impacted world history, and why it can impact your life too!!! Buckle up for this one-hour journey… The Olympic Sport of Table Tennis!"

USATT Board Meeting, Monday, June 1
It took place on UberConference. I listened in on the online meeting, though it was a relatively short meeting for most of us - they covered the first eight items on the agenda in 25 minutes, and then reached the last item, Executive Session, and that's when I and most others had to get off. Here's the notice and agenda for the meeting. (As you'll see in my notes below, they had some problems with getting the agenda online, and so we didn't get to see it until after the meeting Board Chair Richard Char sent out a note afterwards, apologizing for the problem, which came about because of technical problem.) The minutes for the meeting are not up yet, but they should soon in the USATT minutes page. You can also browse the USATT Agenda and Notices page. I believe they'll have another meeting in July, and I'll try to put it in the blog when it goes up.)


  1. Approval of Minutes (for May 4, 2020)
  2. CEO Report
  3. Audit Committee Report
  4. Appointment of Board
  5. Re-election of Board Chair
  6. Re-election of Audit and Compensation Committees
  7. Club Committee
  8. Update Umpire and Referee Committee Update
  9. Executive Session

The meeting started at 8PM, with about 30 in attendance. CEO Virginia Sung gave opening remarks. Alas, I missed much of what she said because I was in the chat box asking where the agenda was. I was told by two USATT people it was on the USATT site at the Agenda and Notices page, but as I kept pointing out, all that was there was the notice of the meeting, no agenda. We were then told the agenda would be posted after the meeting, which was disappointing. Meanwhile, one person (who has a long history of . . . how shall I put this gently? . . . making stuff up, and has already said he's running for the USATT board) falsely insisted that USATT had taken down the Agenda and Notices page, which was obviously not true since at the time he was arguing this I was on that page, and a link had been provided to him even before he made the claim. And so, while I was dealing with that irritating distraction, I missed most of what was said at the start. (At one point, someone gave me the link to the USATT Minutes page. I found that funny, since I'm the one who created that page back when I was USATT co-webmaster!!!)

Next up was discussion of the upcoming USATT election. Because of the pandemic they had to postpone it, since some candidates may need to get signatures to qualify, which is difficult to do when clubs and tournaments are closed, and you have to keep six feet distance, and most of us don't have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-like arms. We were told the rules for the election would be posted as soon as they were approved by the USOPC.

Next up were committee approvals. They approved various members of the Audit, Compensation, Club, and Umpires & Referees Committees. At some point they also approved the Technology and Innovation Committee - I'm guessing they must have ended the meeting by coming out of executive session so they could make this motion. (I don't believe they can make such a motion in executive session.)

At 8:25PM, they went into executive session to discuss personnel or legal matters, and so I had to get off. It was fun while it lasted!

USATT SafeSport Meeting for Parents and Coaches
This online meeting took place on Zoom, on Tuesday, June 2. The participants varied from 33-37, and it lasted about 75 minutes. Here's the notice of the meeting. Here are some notes I took from the meeting.  

  • Welcome Statement – Virginia Sung, Chief Executive Officer - The Importance of the Physical and Mental Health of our Athletes. She spoke about how in China, the parents and coaches can be stricter and become abusive.
  • SafeSport Compliance – Mark Thompson, Athlete Protection Officer. What is SafeSport and Who Must Be Compliant
  • Tara Profitt, USATT Board Member – Athlete Advisory Council. Info on SafeSport and the USATT Athletes Advisory Council
  • The National Team and Athlete Safety – Sean O'Neill. Maintaining Proper Parental Involvement for Young Elite Athletes

During his presentation, Sean put up links to five articles. #4 is probably the most extreme! (The Iraqi torture of soccer players who lost. The others are problem more relevant to what happens in the US and most of the world.)

All these USATT Meetings
USATT will have another "Happy Hour" meeting on Zoom this Thursday at 7PM Eastern Time. It's where USATT members, staff, volunteers, and anyone else get together to talk about . . . anything. We actually had one this past Friday, but due to a technical problem, few people were able to join us, and so we ended up with only nine people, while the previous week we had 33. (When you clicked on the link, it didn't work - you had to copy and paste it. It's been fixed.)

Here's the bigger question - Why do I attend these USATT online meetings?

  1. I am interested in what happens in USATT.
  2. I report on them in my blog.
  3. People often ask me what happens in them.
  4. I honestly have nothing better to do. :)

Maryland Table Tennis Center Junior Program Featured in Chinese World Journal
Here's the article - alas, it's in Chinese, though it has some nice pictures. I used Google translate to read it, and got a somewhat broken version. (It translates "Maryland" into "Massachusetts," though I'm assured the Chinese version has it right.) The article came about when I sent out press releases to various media, and they contacted me. (The press release also became basis for the news item I did for USATT, Juniors at the Maryland Table Tennis Center Training Online with Zoom.)

The Best Ping-Pong Paddles, According to Experts
Here's the article from New York Magazine, featuring Sean O'Neill, Judy Hoarfrost, Will Shortz, and John Hsu. (The author initially contacted me, and since I'm not really an equipment junky, and I forwarded him to the others, though I think he had already contacted Will Shortz.)

MH Table Tennis: 30 Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days
Here's the video page. Matt Hetherington of MH Table Tennis is making one every day! (If you find his videos of value, here's his GoFundMe page.) Below are the recent ones (also see the playlists at the bottom of the page).

Hooks and Fades (Elevate Your Loop Game)
Here's the article from Expert Table Tennis.

New from Samson Dubina

Jimmy Butler and Huijing Wang
Here's video of their practice match (2:53), with Jimmy's commentary below on fixing a forehand looping problem. They're both Olympians!

"Fun" Physical Training on Four Tables
Here's the video (2 min)!

30+ Table Tennis Players Humiliated by Xu Xin
Here's the video (9:11).

New from USATT

New from Steve Hopkins

Time, Space, Ping Pong, Church, and Logistics
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

Adam vs. Girls High School Table Tennis Team
Here's the video (10:11) featuring Adam Bobrow. "I was invited to come and challenge one of the Top 3 Girls High School teams in Taiwan. It was a ton of fun."

The Most Insulting Hilarious Drop Shot Ever
Here's the video (16 sec) - watch how Lily Yip immediately puts her paddle down and goes for her phone - and don't miss Matt Hetherington's reaction! (Turn sound on.)

Scott Preiss Behind-the-Back Counter-Smash
Here's the video (10 sec)! (I always hate these shots - because of stiff shoulders, it's the only shot in table tennis I never can do!)

Great Fishing and Lobbing Point, Vráblík vs. Prokopcov
Here's the video (77 sec)!

Shot-Making Compilation
Here's the video (4:51) from Table Tennis TV!

New from Kevin Table Tennis

Target Practice
Here's the video (14 sec) of Nandan Naresh picking on cups and tape dispensers. If you think it is easy, give it a try!

Ping Pong on a Non-Existent Table
Here's the video (34 sec) from AR Ping Pong! It "uses Virtual and augmented reality together."

Pool Pong Lobbing and a Diving Counter-Smash
Here's the video (31 sec)!

High Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Next time you have 104 bricks handy, you know what to do!

Happy Ping-Pong Balls
Here they are! Is 2020 getting you down? Getting sick of pandemics, economic collapse, nationwide protests, and marauding carnivorous dinosaurs (oh wait, that's later this month)? Then put these balls on your screen and just stare at them for a bit. And I promise you that 2021 will be here soon, in just 211 days. (Think of 2020 as just a really, long deuce game, with lots of nets and edges, but it'll be over eventually.)

Non-Table Tennis - My Posting on Attending a Black Lives Matters Protest
Here's my Facebook posting about the rally I attended last Wednesday night. It is completely non-political other than some analysis at the end.

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Do You Have a Quadruple Threat Receive?

Franchise-Based Professional US Table Tennis League
If you want to be a world-class player in the US, then the first thing you have to do after high school (after years of training!) is to get out of the US. It's almost impossible to reach a world-class level unless, at that stage, you spend a few years training and competing against the best in the world, and that means going overseas to play on a team. Most top US players who do this do so in the German leagues, where they both compete regularly against other top players (and gain experience against different styles), and train daily, usually two sessions per day, with the members of their team, along with extensive physical training and serve practice. Most top US players, from past champions Dan Seemiller, Eric Boggan, Sean O'Neill, and Jim Butler, to current US #1 Kanak Jha and other current US players (including Lily Zhang, Nicholas Tio, Wue Yue, and Kai Zarehbin, who were all overseas in leagues when the pandemic began), all developed extensively in European leagues. (The complication, of course, is that this is also the time that many stop training seriously and go to college. But some continue their training and go to college later, after their professional career is over.)

But wouldn't it be great if, someday, top players didn't have to do this because of a Professional US League? Yeah, easier said than done. Where do you get the money? Without money, there's no "professional," and you end up with just top recreational players while the pros go overseas.

Years ago I put together a draft of how to do this. This past weekend I updated it a little, though I still list it as "VERY ROUGH DRAFT." Here's it is:

The Creation of a Franchise-Based Professional US Table Tennis League

The basic idea is to sell franchises, perhaps $10,000 each along with an annual fee, starting in one region with perhaps eight teams. The incentive for the owners is that, who knows, these franchises might be worth millions someday! (Plus they get to be Major League Table Tennis Team Owners!) But it has to start somewhere. The proposal roughly explains how it would be set up, with a commissioner running things (almost as a dictator the first two years to get things going), and players getting paid. At the start they wouldn't make much, but the incentive for players is that those who join in and support it from the start get favored status later on, as the league grows. Owners make money based on ticket & refreshment sales, and sponsorships. Umpires also get paid.

Just imagine it - suppose it were in the Northeast and feel free to come up with names from your own region!

  • The Long Island Lobbers!
  • The Brooklyn Bashers!
  • The Baltimore Blockers!
  • The Boston Backhands
  • The Philadelphia Flippers!
  • The Pittsburgh Pushers!
  • The Rhode Island Receivers!
  • The Providence Pippers!
  • The Chesapeake Choppers!  
  • The Rochester Rackets!
  • The Staten Island Sponge!
  • The Connecticut Counterloopers!
  • The Westchester Waldner Wannabes!
  • The Maryland Ma Long Masters!

If there's anyone wants to become the next Rob Manfred (MLB), Roger Goodell (NFL), or Adam Silver (NBA), feel free to use this!


USA Table Tennis to Lift Suspension on Sanctioned Tournament Play
Here's the news item - yes, Our Long National Nightmare is Over!!! Get Ready for This!!!

USATT Happy Hour
It was held this past Friday from 7-8PM Eastern Time - here's the USATT news item on it, which was linked to from my blog last week. USATT hosted "the first in what will be a weekly series of 'Happy Hours' for USATT Members." So presumably there'll be another one this Friday! About 30 people attended, with the number peaking at 33. Here's a picture of my screen during the meeting. This one became primarily a discussion about table tennis leagues - especially professional, regional, and junior leagues. I spoke up about my ideas for a franchise-based Professional US Table Tennis League - see segment on this above.

New from USA Table Tennis
There's a LOT of new and important news items this week - read them over carefully!!! See especially . . . well . . . all of them!

USATT Board Meeting Tonight
The online meeting starts at 8PM Eastern Time on Monday, June 1, and is open to any USATT member to listen in. (You may ask the chair for permission to speak.) No agenda is listed yet. I will likely attend. Here's the USATT listing of  Agendas and Notices and of Minutes and Actions - both of these link to each other at the top. The latter is part of the drop-down menu under USATT at the USATT home page.

USATT Online Meetings
In the two segments above I've listed a number of USATT online meetings. To make things easier for you, here's a complete compilation. All meetings take place on Zoom except for the USATT board meeting, which is on Uber Conference. All meeting notices include a link that automatically takes you to the meeting. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.


Backhand Looping with Coach Ojo
Here's the video (1:57).

MH Table Tennis: 30 Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days
Here's the video page. Matt Hetherington of MH Table Tennis is making one every day! (If you find his videos of value, here's his GoFundMe page.) Below are the recent ones (also see the playlists at the bottom of the page), along with the interview with Dan Ives from Table Tennis Daily. (The other twelve videos were linked from my blog last week.)

New from Samson Dubina

New from Steve Rowe and Aerobic Table Tennis

Kevin Table Tennis, Parts 1 and 2
Here are the new Ping Pong for Beginners videos by Kevin Nguyen of Portland, OR. He's 12 and already rated 2062. He also does trickshot videos, which you can find on his YouTube home page. He also has a table tennis home page.

The Limitations of Defensive Table Tennis
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Kanak Jha & Bruna Takahashi | Ask A Pro Anything at home
Here's the video (48:04). US #1 Kanak is word #27; Brazil's #1 Bruna is world #47.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

ITTF High Performance & Development Webinars
A new series featuring ITTF's High-performance Department covering a whole range of topics. (The first was from three weeks ago, the most recent three days ago.) These and other YouTube videos can be at the ITTF Official Channel.

Ping Pong, Vol 1 is a Terrific, Grounded Sports Manga, for Better or Worse
Here's the review.

Table Tennis Never Seen Before
Here's the video (5:12) from PingSunday/EmRatThich. "Table tennis with a new view angle. Most of the public just seen table tennis with the ITTF camera angle. Some of the shots can be seen better with another camera. If not filmed, you won't believe it."

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

Table Tennis Fishing
Here's the video (7:25)!

Insane Table Tennis Dive Shots | Who Did It BEST?
Here's the video (1:59)!

Ping-Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (3:01)!

Next Level Trickshot
Here's the video (18 sec) - with a behind-the-head forehand!

Jedi Ping Pong Cartoon on the Death Star
Here's the video (35 sec) from Steve Worthington! It's Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker!

Flying Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:05) from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - "Journey to Perfection"
I just sold this short story to the anthology "Unidentified Funny Objects," the highest paying science fiction & fantasy humor market. (To give you a taste of the finances in the science fiction world, I was paid 10 cents/word, or $370 for 3700 words.) A wealthy, snooty "doctor" buys the newest car model, and with a few misunderstandings, they're off to see and meet some rather strange places and people!!! It's the 112th short science fiction and fantasy story I've sold. (Out of a total of 1968 published articles in 167 different publications - not including over 1800 blog entries - including 1736 on table tennis, and 17 books.)

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Three Types of Anticipation.

Cartoon of the Week:
Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. I had some free time.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
As noted in my blog last week, my book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" came out last Monday! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right? A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)

Juniors at the Maryland Table Tennis Center Training Online with Zoom
Here's the USATT article I wrote, which features MDTTC junior team caption Stephanie Zhang, along with brother James, and coaches Wang Qingliang and John Hsu.

USATT Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Athletes, Coaches, and Parents
It was held on Zoom last Thursday, May 21, and lasted just under an hour. Attendees varied from 39 to 42, including many US National Team members and coaches, along with USATT CEO Virginia Sung, COO Mark Thompson, High Performance Director Sean O'Neill, Director of Para Programs Jasna Rather, National Team Coach/Manager Teodor "Doru" Gheorghe, High Performance Committee Chair Bruce Liu, US Men's Team Captain Yijun Feng, US Women's Team Captain Wu Yue, and board members Richard Char (chair), Niraj Oak (athlete rep) and Tara Profitt (athlete rep).

The items of most interest to me were the ones by Yijun Feng and Doru Gheorghe, where they are setting up weekly meetings and online training for juniors. See the USATT news item soon on the "Ask the Champs" program. The Weekly Junior and Cadet Online Training Program is open to any USATT member age 18 and under - for information, email Doru Gheorghe.

Here was the agenda:

  1. Virginia Sung – Welcome Message
  2. Tara Profitt – Reminder on Athlete Safety
  3. Mark Thompson – Return to Play and Code of Conduct Forms
  4. Bruce Liu – Update on National Team Selection Procedures
  5. Jasna Rather – ITTF Updates (Olympics, Worlds, Pan Ams, Hopes)
  6. Yijun Feng – "Ask the Champs" - weekly meetings to help the young players.
  7. Doru Gheorghe – Weekly Junior and Cadet On-line Training Program (physical & mental) – Each week the coaches will choose MVP
  8. Sean O'Neill – Summarize the completion Sports Psychology and Off Table Training. Online Collaboration (Google Docs/Microsoft Teams). STUPA. Mention Coaches meeting on Friday, will open the floor for Q&A, depending on the time.

MH Table Tennis: 30 Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days
Here's the video page. Matt Hetherington of MH Table Tennis is making one every day! (If you find his videos of value, here's his GoFundMe page.) Here are the recent ones (also see the playlists at the bottom of the page), along with the two-part interview at the end with Zoran Primorac (Chair of the ITTF Athletes Commission, former world #2, two-time Men's World Cup Champion, semifinalist at the Worlds in Men's Singles, Silver Medalist in Men's Doubles at the Olympics).  

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT

New from Ping Sunday/EmRatThich

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


ITTF COVID-19 Guidelines

Handsfree Infrared Thermometer for Table Tennis Clubs
Here's the video (60 sec) from Mossa Barandao, founder of PongMobile, which has pivoted to help address the current crisis. "Prevention will be the key as many businesses begin to reopen their doors. Be a step ahead of COVID-19 and consider including the accurate, simple, quick, and precise Handsfree Infrared Thermometer." (Video is from the Washington DC TTC.)

Broward Table Tennis Club - Rules for the Covid-19 Period
Here are their new rules - see the first six, which might be a model for other clubs reopening. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

JOOLA Medical
Here's the page for JoolaMedical. JOOLA Table Tennis has pivoted into making medical masks, as previously reported. Here are videos from NBC News (1:44) and MoCoCouncilMD (3:20).

New from Steve Rowe
Four more of his Aerobic TT at Home videos came out this week (#7-10). Here are all ten so far. Here's his video Ping-Pong Literacy and Aerobic Table Tennis (45 sec) and the home page for Aerobic Table Tennis. (Why is this in the Covid-19 section? So you can exercise at home while we wait for table tennis clubs to reopen! Some have reopened - it's a gradual process, and mostly based on region.)


USATT PongPositive Interviews
Here's the page. This week they interviewed Dell & Connie Sweeris, and Jessica Yu.

New from USATT

New from Steve Hopkins

Who Loves College Table Tennis? Join NCTTA Directors!

The Top Three…The Table Tennis Survey Results
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Sports Without Fans - Time for Boring Sports
Here's the article by Shashin Shodhan.

New from ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

ITTF High Performance Development Webinar - Planning for Training & Competition
Here's the ITTF video (64 min).

TTBL Top 10: Kanak Jha Video Shots
Here's the video (4:20).

Jimmy Butler (4-time US Men's Singles Champ - 1990, 1992, 1993, 2014!) and 2021 Olympian Huijing Wang - Training Session and Match
Here's the video (5:53). Jimmy: "Didn't end well for me."

Sweden VS China at the 1989 World Team Table Tennis Championships: When the Looping Game Ended the Reign of the Pips-Out Quick Hitter/Blocker
Here's the video (3:14) showing highlights. This was really the moment when the superiority of the European looping game over the Chinese pips-out hitting game became apparent. China stuck with that style for a few more years, until getting clobbered in 1993, after which they almost completely transitioned to loopers (with the notable exception of Liu Guoliang) - and now they are the dominant masters of that style.

Kanak Jha on The Voice
Here's the video. Normally it's a show about singing, but they highlighted Olympic sports in this episode (table tennis, curling, and artistic swimming), as explained at 41:40. They jump back and forth between the sports. US Olympian Kanak Jha (also US Men's Singles Champion the last four years in a row) tries to teach table tennis to Nick Jonas, and shows up at 42:34, 43:00, 43:57, 44;33, and 41:59.

Will Shortz on To Tell the Truth
Here's the video - go to 18:35 (he's in the middle). Besides being the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Editor, Will Shortz is the owner of the Westchester TTC and has been rated over 1900. At 30:33, see where one of the contestants says to him, "And you live to play ping-pong"! One thing - near the end, when they are trying to figure out which of #2 and #3 is the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Editor, #3 says he's used "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" in a NY Times crossword - which should immediately have told everyone that he was NOT the NY Times Crossword Editor, since you can't fit a 45-letter word on one of their crosswords! Also, he badly mispronounces the word, which I'm pretty sure Will could roll off his tongue like it was nothing. (When I was in elementary school I learned of this word, and nerdy me learned to both say it and spell it. It's a lung disease!)

Wally Green - Celebrity Table Tennis Player
Here's the podcast (34:56).

Table Tennis Caricatures
Here's the ITTF page! (Here's the non-Facebook version, though you'll have to go to the Facebook version if you want to verify, via the comments, who each of the nine characters/top players are.) Here's what appears to be the original source, in Chinese, with 33 caricatures.

Ping-Pong in Small Apartments?
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

New from Adam Bobrow
See his many other past videos on his YouTube Channel!

Weird Ping Pong
Here's the video (3:35) from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - Philosopher Rex
I just sold "Philosopher Rex" to Zooscape Magazine. It's about a philosophizing T-Rex that meets our earliest ancestors - lemur-like creatures - during the final days of the dinosaurs, and how their attitudes toward each other change after this pivotal meeting. (No talking animals, but we get the T-Rex's thoughts.) It's my 111th science fiction & fantasy short story sale.

Non-Table Tennis - "Going My Way" Made Me Famous!
I'm famous! While watching the movie "Going My Way" on Monday (Best Picture 1945), I noticed a mistake. So I sent it in to the IMDB "Goofs" panel. I received an immediate email that it would go through their fact-checking  team first. Later I checked on it, and it was up!!! Now the huge numbers of people in world who watch "Going My Way" every day and click on "Goofs" will see my immortal words (without my name on it since all "Goofs" are anonymous):

"After seeing the bishop, Father Fitzgibbon calls Father O'Malley into his office where they have a long talk. There's a clock in the background, often seen over O'Malley's shoulder. From the first and last time you see it about three minutes goes by, but the clock always says 5:35."

Watching "Going My Way" was part of my goal of seeing all 92 Academy Award Best Picture winners. I've now seen 81 them, including all of them from 1944 to the present. Of the fifteen from 1928 to 1943 I've seen four (Gone with the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, It Happened One Night, and All Quiet on the Western Front), so eleven to go. Next up, probably tonight: 1942's Mrs. Miniver (the winner in 1943).

Send us your own coaching news!

Happy Memorial Day! Like many others, I'm taking today off, and so this week's blog will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). However, the Tip of the Week is up: Three Types of Anticipation. To help tide you over, here's Weird Ping Pong (3:35) from Pongfinity! Plus, since I had some free time, here's a cartoon I created: Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Enjoy, and see you tomorrow!

How am I spending my day, you ask? I've spent part of this past weekend as a panelist at the online Balticon Science Fiction Convention, but my panels are done, so I may attend a few panels as a spectator. But I plan to spend most of today moving toward a new goal of mine - to see all 92 movies that have won best Best Picture at the Academy Awards, from "Wings" in 1928 to the present. I've seen 79 of them, including every one from 1947 to the present, so 13 to go! From the link above, from 1928 to 1946 the ones I have seen are Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, It Happened One Night, and All Quiet on the Western Front. (Note that the year listed is the year they won, but it's actually for movies that came out the year before.) I'm going in reverse order, so next up is The Lost Weekend.

If I get tired of watching, I may take a break and write up some future Tips of the Week - I have several outlined. I plan to write up a bunch of them this week. Don't forget to buy your copy of Still More Table Tennis Tips!!! (You have, of course, already gotten your copies of Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips, of course. In three years, we'll have "And Still More Table Tennis Tips"!)

Tip of the Week
Mind Games: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
My book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" is now on sale at Amazon! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right?

A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. The book was originally going to come out on June 1, but they got back to me quickly, and these days it doesn't take long to publish.  (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)

When Will They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again?
Here's the cartoon! (I had some free time.)

Numerical Musings on Table Tennis and the Coronavirus and Other Issues
I finally found a use for my math degree! (Skip ahead if your eyes start to glaze over.)

  • You can fit about 3.05 x 10^26 coronaviruses inside a ping-pong ball. That's 305,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 305 septillion.
  • If you completely covered a ping-pong table with coronaviruses, you could fit about 2.7 x 10^20 viruses, or 270 quintillion.
  • A coronavirus has a diameter of about 0.125 nanometers. That means 8 billion coronaviruses in a line would be about one meter long, and 8 million of them would be a millimeter long. If your rubber and sponge covering is 4mm wide, then it would take 32 million of these viruses standing on top of each other to reach that height. It would take about 1.2 billion to reach the height of a net.
  • If you were to arrange coronaviruses into a 40,000 x 40,000 square (that's 1.6 billion viruses), and had very good eyesight, you could just barely see it as a tiny, almost invisible speck. The same would be true if you arranged them into a 40,000 x 40,000 x 40,000 cube, which would be 64 trillion viruses.
  • This Friday I will be 22,000 days old, according to the online Days Old Calculator.
  • Since the lockdown began, I've had at least five times where I went five days without talking to anyone (excluding giving orders at restaurant drive-throughs and an occasional "Hi!" to the people who rent from me downstairs). The record was nine days, which ended with the Ping Pong Playa interview below last Thursday - I wasn't sure if I still remembered how to speak! (But I'm getting a lot of reading and writing done, and am active online.)

Ping Pong Playa
I wrote about the movie Ping Pong Playa in my blog last week. Coincidentally or not, USATT arranged an online interview last Thursday with the director (Jessica Yu) and star (Jimmy Tsai), and invited many to attend. The interview, mostly conducted by USATT COO Mark Thompson, lasted 75 minutes, with about 35 people attending, including almost the entire USA National men’s and women’s team and coaches, along with all sorts of other prominent people – the entire USATT staff, Dell & Connie Sweeris, Adam Bobrow, Diego Schaaf and Wei Wang, and many more. I was able to ask three questions near the end, about how they prepared for the table tennis scenes; plans and ideas for a sequel (which had already been brought up); and about the ball that was put in by computer.

=>BREAKING NEWS - Here's the video (51 min) - it went up late on Tuesday afternoon. I was told that the screen went bad for the last part, including when I asked questions, so that's not included - it apparently lost to posterity.

30 Table Tennis Coaching Tutorials in 30 Days from MH Table Tennis
Here's the MH Table Tennis video page - from Matt Hetherington. It has a plethora of new coaching tutorials, plus new interviews with Adrian Crisan and Liam Pitchford.

But the coronavirus has affected lots of coaches, including Matt, who (like many of us) can't coach right now. But he's decided to stay busy, and work for your support. If you like his videos and interviews, perhaps see his GoFundMe page. Here's an excerpt from it:

"As some of you know I left my job with USATT a couple of months ago, and my next plans fell through because of COVID-19. I'm also no longer able to coach at the club. Due to my ongoing health issues I have relatively expensive health insurance and medical costs that are constant and have had 0 income for the past 2.5 months. I'm currently in a position where I am throwing as much effort as I can into a number of projects to try and keep myself afloat."

He also writes on his home page, "You can also reach me at for Zoom/Skype coaching, video analysis or other online coaching options."

Connect. Coach. Contribute.
Here's the new USATT initiative to help member clubs provide remote coaching services to their members with US Olympians.

Backhand Tutorial with Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here's the video (4:11) - you don't want to miss this! (It's in English.) The German is #11 in the world, but was #2 just a year ago (April 2019). He's known for his backhand.

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT

How to Stay in Shape and Improve with Shadow Practice
Here's the video (15 sec) - if you can't go to the club, you can at least do this! Can you identify the five-stroke sequence she's repeating?

Smartest Serves In Table Tennis History
Here's the video (4:13)!

A Life Without Table Tennis (sort of)
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Touchless Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

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

USATT PongPositive Interviews
Here they are - 23 as of this posting. The latest are of Samson Dubina, Si and Patty Martinez, and Roman Tinyszin.

New from USATT

New from Steve Hopkins

National Collegiate Table Tennis Elections
Here's the news item.

Jorgen Persson Named Head Coach of the Swedish National Team
Here's the video announcement (26 sec) from Jorgen himself. See also the ITTF news item.

New from the ITTF

Bettor Wins an Astounding $25K on Wild Table Tennis Parlay
Here's the article from USA Today.

Creative Pong
Here's the video (1:48) - "We set our players a challenge of who could hit the ball into a tub in the most creative way."

The Fifty-Foot Serve
Here's the video (15 sec) of Scott Preiss demonstrating the serve - it's my favorite exhibition serve as well! At breaks at our camps in the past I've taught the serve to the more advanced kids, where they compete to see how many they can do and from how far. It's also great in my beginning classes, where they line up and try to return it. The serve can be done both the way shown in the video (tomahawk style) and forehand pendulum style, but I think you get more distance tomahawk style.

Dude Sets Guinness World Record for Hitting Ping Pong Balls with Nunchucks
Here's the article and video (40 sec). This looks legit - he's just hitting the balls off a robot, not rallying, unlike the infamous fake Bruce Lee Nunchuck Table Tennis video.

Jamie Oliver Channel 4 Ping Pong Table Tennis Commercial Advert Funny
Here's the video (58 sec) - it's from 2011, but I don't think I've seen it.

Cartoon Adam Bobrow's Excessive Ping Pong Celebration After Future Match
Here's the video (1:26) from Steve Worthington!

Table Tennis Trump Announces World Championships
Here's the video (5:15) from Larry Bavly! Warning - some Republicans might not like this! But you have to love the hat.

General Grievous Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:16) - and here's the original General Grievous!

Non-Table Tennis - Balticon
This weekend I'll be a panelist at the virtual Baltimore Science Fiction Convention. It's all online this year, as you can guess. I'm on two panels: "Write What You Know! Wait, What Do I Know?" (Friday 8PM) and " Dealing with Literary Rejection" (Saturday 5PM).

Send us your own coaching news!

Tip of the Week
Five Ways to Take Away an Opponent's Big Shot.

This is the 450th Tip of the Week I've posted since I started putting them up every Monday starting Jan. 11, 2011, except for a few times when I was out of town. (This is in addition to 177 I did for USA Table Tennis before that, which were published as part of Table Tennis Tales & Techniques.) The first 150 went into my book Table Tennis Tips; the next 150 went into More Table Tennis Tips; these last 150 (ending with today's) make up Still More Table Tennis Tips, which comes out on June 1. The advantage of getting them in book form? I put them in logical progression, by topic, rather than in a random fashion as a weekly tip, plus you get them all right in front of you, making it easy to browse, refer to, and even make notes in the margins. Or you can download them onto a kindle, and also have instant access in logical progression . . . though no margins to scribble in!

Ping Pong Playa
On Saturday night I finally watched Ping Pong Playa (96 min), the table tennis movie that came out in 2008 - somehow I missed it that year. Here's info on it from imdb.

The central character, Chris "C-Dub" Wang, is basically a self-centered airhead, perhaps 18-20 years old. He thought he was a basketball hotshot because he dominated in games against younger, smaller kids on a shortened basket that allowed him to dunk, though he wasn't so good against older, better players on a regular basket. His parents run a table tennis store, with his mom and older brother teaching a table tennis class. The brother was a table tennis champion, and by winning the local tournament each year, it brought them students. But he and his mom injure their wrists in a car accident and (for reasons that don't make sense) can't teach the class, and (also for unknown reasons - too busy at the store?), the father can't teach the class - so the self-centered basketball-playing brother takes over. He's a mess - he doesn't really teach, choosing instead to hustle the kids for money, who worship him as a hero. But he finally turns things around, and ends up training himself, where he has to win the local tournament to save their class. The players are actors with awkward strokes, with the ball put in by computer, as it was done in Forrest Gump.

I thought it was funny, though I'd have liked to have seen the table tennis training a bit more serious, and the trash-talking central character was a bit too much of an airhead for me, even after he supposedly turned things around. I was hoping the father, who was coaching Chris, would give some real tactical advice, like, "He has a good forehand, so serve short and low to his forehand to bring him over the table, and then attack his backhand." This would make sense even to non-table tennis players.

The Indian kid who can't play but reads about and analyzes everything? That was me at that age . . . and probably still is. Okay, I can play some.

A number of prominent table tennis players show up in the tournament scenes toward the end, including former US Team member Barney J. Reed (the lefty who, at one point, rallies with a racket in his pants), Diego Schaaf (often hitting with Barney), Adam Bobrow (now the Voice of the ITTF), Wei Wang (1990 US Women's Champion), Biba (the tournament committee woman on far left), and Ichiro Hashimoto (sitting in the stands).

Ping Pong Playa and Balls of Fury are the two top table tennis comedies - since we're stuck at home, why not watch both? Here are some other table tennis movies. Here's an article I wrote that was published in Fantasy Magazine back in 2009, The Table Tennis Fantasy Tour, which also talks about table tennis in movies and TV.

New from Samson Dubina

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

Multiball and Shadow-Practice Training
Here's the video (29 sec). 

Living Room Multiball
Here's the video (28 sec) - why don't you create this set-up? It only takes a box of balls and a blanket or sheet hung from the wall or ceiling! (Plus someone to feed the balls!)

Top 10 Serves
Here's the video (2:23) of Mishel Levinski. Here's his Youtube channel where you can see videos of many of his matches.

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


USATT Pong Positive Interviews
Here they are - 20 as of this posting. The latest are of Donna Sakai, Tahl Leibovitz, Nick Tio, Kai Zhang, Elna Garcia, and Jishan Liang.

USATT Minutes of the May 4, 2020 Board Meeting
Here they are, though there's no news on whether the Force was with them on that date. Here are all USATT minutes.

New from Steve Hopkins

JOOLA Medical
Here's the video (3:20). A Montgomery County Maryland company is turning the tables on their business plan to help citizens and hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Almost Essential Table Tennis Workers
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Instagram Live Takeover | Kanak Jha & Hugo Calderano
Here's the video (48:31) as the two chat on Instagram on various table tennis-related topics, including how coronavirus is affecting them.


New Record for Bouncing Ball on Paddle
Here's the video (5:21:30)! Dan bounces the ball for 5hrs 21 min 8 sec, breaking the old record of 5hrs 2min 37 sec. Here's where he misses!

Man Plays NBA Theme Song Using a Pingpong Ball, Pots, Pans and Determination
Here's the video (38 sec)!

Table Tennis's 10 Funniest Moments
Here's the video (7:21)!

Timo Boll - Top 3 Best Points - Lego Table Tennis Animation
Here's the video (2:02), with Adam Bobrow doing the play-by-play in the first and third points!

Shaun The Sheep Table Tennis
One of the best animated table tennis videos ever is the "Shaun the Sheep - Championsheeps" (see below). That came out in 2014. I just found out they did another one in 2018 - "Ping Pong Poacher"!

Pongfinity Game Battle
Here's the video (5:05) from Pongfinity!

Beetle Bailey - "I Won the Tournament!"
Here's the Beetle Bailey cartoon for May 9, 2020 (Saturday)! Here are all 27 Beetle Bailey cartoons that I know of that feature table tennis.

Send us your own coaching news!