Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will go up on Mondays by noon USA Eastern time. Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of eight books and over 1500 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Board of Directors and chairs the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

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

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

April 20, 2018

Forehand Blocking
Here's the last point of the match (18 sec) where 14-year-old Japanese whiz Harimoto Tomokazu (world #13) recently upset world #1 Fan Zhendong at the ITTF-Asian Cup. The camera angle shows just how fast these players play. But to me the key thing here is what Tomokazu does at the start of the rally when Fan loops to his forehand - he blocks. Yes, at the highest levels of our sport, where nearly everyone tries to counterloops everything on the forehand (and often on the backhand) - he forehand blocks. And this is a well-placed block. He has an angle into the forehand, so Fan has to be ready to cover that - and so when Tomokazu instead blocks down the line, he forces Fan to play his backhand, followed by an awkward, out-of-position forehand, which sets Tomokazu up to win the point. (Fan would have tried to counterloop.)

One of the most under-used shots in table tennis (at all levels) is the down-the-line forehand block - most players automatically go crosscourt, both because of the angle (which forces the opponent out of position) and because it's easier. And that's probably the best shot at least half the time. But with the opponent reflexively moving to cover that angle, he's almost always vulnerable to a down-the-line block to his backhand. It was one of my bread-and-butter shots when I competed regularly. When I play practice games with students it drives them crazy, not just because it catches them off guard, but because they claim few of their other opponents block forehands down the line. And because players tend to copy other players, few of them have developed this shot. Jeez, talk about a simple way to improve!

It's always been a debate whether it's better to become so good at one thing, such as counterlooping, that you become overpowering with that one shot, where you don't even have to hesitate as you decide what shot to do; or whether it's better to develop multiple shots, so you can do the appropriate shot at any given time, such as a well-placed forehand block.

A pure counterlooper would have tried to counterloop Fan's first loop, and it not only would have been a difficult shot, it likely would have forced the player to step back, thereby giving Fan time to play another super-powerful forehand, where he likely would dominate. But there is the argument that trying to have too many shots means none are as dominating. But in this case, Tomokazu's shot flexibility allowed him to play just the right shot, which rushed Fan and took away his powerful forehand.

Years ago I was coaching one of the top 12-year-olds in the country against another kid who was a year older and a little better. The opponent was being developed as a "pure" counterlooper - it didn't matter whether you blocked, looped, or smashed to his forehand, if the ball went long, he was supposed to loop it back. In this match, my player fell behind in the first game, 5-10. Then he served short to the forehand, bringing the opponent in over the table where he made a weak return. My player ripped a powerful forehand to the opponent's forehand, and the opponent reflexively blocked it back for a clean winner, winning 11-5.

When the opponent went over to his coach between games, I couldn't believe what happened - the coach started screaming at him, saying he was insulting him as a coach and more - all because he had blocked that forehand rather than attempt to loop it back!!! Suffice to say that knowing his tactical inflexibility - and taking advantage of the fact that the opponent was now crying and could barely play - I had my player loop all over the table (wide forehand, middle, wide backhand) at varying speeds, and of course the opponent missed his counterloops over and over, and my player won the next three games.

I don't necessarily disagree with the way the other coach was developing his player (which is basically how Fan and Ma Long play, the two best players in the world), just the extremism of it. His player had been caught too close to the table and so, rather than throw away a point he made a perfect, reflexive block. But the way the coach reacted was inexcusable. A better reaction would have been, "Nice shot, but remember you are supposed to counterloop everything on the forehand side." And then, in their next training session, he could work at the root of the problem - that the player had gotten stuck too close to the table, and so was unable to counterloop. Or perhaps, in that one situation, he should block.

Perhaps the coach should learn from 2003 World Men's Singles Champion Werner Schlager, who also sometimes blocked on this forehand. Here's video of him against defending World Champion Wang Liqin in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Worlds, leading 7-4 in the seventh, when he gets caught too close to the table - just as the player above - and so rather than trying to force a forehand counterloop, does a simple down-the-line forehand block (just like Tomokazu above), catching Wang off guard (he makes a soft backhand loop) and wins the point.

Adoni Maropis Stars in "Taken" Friday Night
=>NOTE - it got rescheduled, with Dateline on in its place. It will now play in late May - I'll post when it's coming up.
In the episode on NBC at 9PM tonight (Eastern time), actor and table tennis star Adoni Maropis will be starring as the "arch villain." Here is the episode description: "The team captures an accused bomber and sets out to prove that he's been set up." Adoni is a full-time hardbat and sandpaper player, who has won Hardbat and Sandpaper Singles at the Open and Nationals several times, and has a 2103 rating with hardbat against sponge players. Here's what he wrote on Facebook about the episode:

"I play the arch villain who is a bald gun dealer... errr... I mean a Greek gun dealer who happens to be bald. The lead, Clive Standen... and Jessica Camacho were class acts and fun to be around. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. I was hoping to meet Jennifer Beals... who I told my mother I would marry after seeing her in Flashdance many moons ago... but I had no scenes with her. Oh well, another time perhaps."

Should You Play Chinese or European Style in Table Tennis?
Here's the video (5:42) from Keenan Southall. It has some great insights. However, one thing I strongly disagreed with is where he said of European styles, "You don't need to be as strategic," and "Not a lot of strategy is required." I don't think there's a real difference in the strategic needs of these two styles - I would say it takes just as much strategy to offset the Chinese style and force your European game on them as vice versa. However, putting aside this disagreement, he has some great stuff here. 

Poker Face
Here's the coaching video (2:28) from Samson Dubina.

New from EmRatThich

The 2018 Commonwealth Games and Other Items
Here's the podcast (40:49) from PingSkills. Topics covered:

  • Joke of the Week
  • On This Week
  • Vladimir Samsonov turns 42!
  • Tournament Wrap
  • 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • 2018 Asian Cup
  • Tip and Drill of the Week
  • Basic No Spin Serve
  • Dealing with Long Fast Serve
  • Moving Faster
  • Serving off the Side

National Collegiate Championships
They are this weekend, Apr. 20-22, in Round Rock, TX. Here are links:

Table Tennis and the Brain
Here's the article from PongBoss.

Sharon Alguetti: Work Hard, Play Hard
Here's the video (3:19).

Side-to-Side Multiball Looping Practice
Here's the video (74 sec) of a great way to work on footwork and forehand. I sometimes do similar drills. The kids here look pretty good!

WAB Club Feature: Allen & Sons Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins on this club in the greater LA area.

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

Politics and Sport Don't Mix, Theory Disproved, Universal Party Support for World Championships
Here's the ITTF article.

World Table Tennis Day: Bridge Building, Laying Foundations
Here's the ITTF article.

World Table Tennis Day in Poland
Here's the video (2:34).

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - March 2018
Here's the video (20:18).

Maria Sharapova About to Smack a Forehand
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Strangely, even though she plays tennis right-handed, she plays table tennis lefty! (Here's another picture of her playing table tennis, also playing lefty. There are many more - Google Maria Sharapova table tennis pictures.)

Ball in Cup of Water Shot
Here's the video (15 sec). How many tries would it take you to do this?

Here's the t-shirt! Nice graphic. Note that it comes in your choice of 16 colors. (No, I have nothing to do with it, just found it browsing.) 

Family Table Tennis Showdown
Here's the video (6:30)!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 19, 2018

Tip of the Week
If You Miss a Practice Session, You Will Know. (This normally goes up on Mondays, but I was away on Mon and Tue, and had so much on Wednesday that I decided to postpone it one more day.)

USA Nationals
It's that time of year again - time to enter the USA Nationals! You can enter online or with a paper entry form. They are in Las Vegas, July 2-7.

There are 91 events this year. They include:

  • Men's and Women's Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.
  • 18 junior events, ranging from Under 10 to 21 and Under, for boys and girls, with singles and doubles, plus Junior Teams for Boys' and Girls'.
  • 34 senior events, ranging from Over 30 to Over 80, with both singles and doubles, for men and women.
  • 17 rating events, from Unrated and Under 1000, to Under 2400, including the ever-popular Under 2200 tiered Super Round Robin (lots and lots of matches!). Most of them are divided into Adult and Junior rating events, so adults can avoid those way-underrated kids, and kids get to play other kids.
  • Under 4200 and Under 3200 Doubles, plus the new Adult ABCD Doubles with four divisions and lots of play!
  • Ten hardbat and two sandpaper events.
  • Two Paralympic events for Classes 1-5 and 6-10.

But the Nationals is much more than just playing and competing. You also get to mingle with your friends and peers from around the country, as well as perhaps a contingent from your club - a built-in cheering section when you play. (But make sure to cheer for them when they play as well!)

You get to spectate as the best players in the country battle it out, with you right there at courtside. You can follow your favorites around like a groupie! (Okay, go easy on that.)

There's also the equipment booths. It's like the Garden of Eden for table tennis players as the various manufacturers and distributors exhibit their stuff on huge, seemingly endless tables - Butterfly, JOOLA, Paddle Palace, Newgy, and more! There will be unending rows of sponge, rackets, shoes, balls, clothing, books (including mine!), robots, playing bags, and all sorts of knick-knacks from towels and racket cases to mini-paddles and keyrings. Plus there's the "shirt shop," where all players get a free US Nationals t-shirt, which (for additional cost) you can upgrade to something really nice. (I always do.)

There's also the Hall of Fame Banquet on Thursday night (July 5) - I hope to see you there, considering I'm winning some award! Come and see Li Ai, Dhiren Narotam, Norm Bass, Henan Li Ai, and Doru Gheorghe as they are inducted into the USATT Hall of Fame. (I blogged about this yesterday.) You'll get to meet and hobnob there with the greats of our sport - Dan Seemiller, Sean O'Neill, Insook Bhushan, the Sweeris's, Sakai's, Tim Boggan - heck, seemingly half the people from the USATT Hall of Fame will be there! (Here are links to the annual Hall of Fame program booklets from 1979 to 2017, which show that year's inductees and their credentials, etc.)

If you want to be pampered, for just $50 you have access to the Players' Lounge: Unlimited snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, Games, and a place to relax between matches. Or the VIP package for $99, which includes the Player's Lounge plus a personalized locker and a Finals ticket.

There are also other reasons to go to Las Vegas, something about gambling and shows, but I wouldn't know about that as I'm always at the hotel or playing hall, or traveling from one to the other - well, mostly.) This year I plan on doing a bit more sightseeing, perhaps doing a Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam trip ($142 - I'm planning on going on Sunday, July 8, the day after the Nationals), or visit the Mob Museum or the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium.

There's also a USATT Board meeting during the Nationals - feel free to show up and watch as we solve the problems of our sport (or don't)! I'll be attending that and other meetings, as well as coaching. I'll also likely run a USATT coaching clinic, tentatively on Serve and Receive Tactics. I won't be playing due to shoulder problems.

Now admit it - you are either going, or you are thinking about going. C'mon, you're a table tennis player, you don't want to miss the Nationals!!!

Attacking the Half-Long Ball in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Dog Eat Dog Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

4 Quick Picks: Table Tennis Flicks
Here's the article, which features Balls of Fury, As One, Top Spin, and Ping Pong Playa. "If you are a lover of all things ping pong, these are the movies for you."

National Collegiate Table Tennis
They have five new articles!

Wie Love Ping Pong: Michelle Wie Raises Money for Hawaii Junior Golf
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins. "The celebrity participants included Michell Wie along with LPGA compatriots Danielle Kang and Paula Reto. … Other celebrity participants included actor Daniel Dae Kim, from the CBS series Hawaii Five-O, Miki Ueoka a doctor at Queens Medical Center, Jerry Foltz of the Golf Channel, and Hawaii News Now weather man Guy Hagi."

Raincoat Boat Pong
Here's the video (24 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 18, 2018

USATT Hall of Fame Inductions and Lifetime Achievement Award
They have been announced, and so today is sort of a "WOW!" day. Why?

I'm this year's recipient of the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award! (The official title is "Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award," named after 1931 and 1932 U.S. Open Men's Champion, then called Marcus Schussheim.)

This year they are inducting five new members to the USATT Hall of Fame - most years it's two or three, but this year we're inducting a basketball team!!!  This year's inductees are Li Ai, Dhiren Narotam, Norm Bass, Henan Li Ai, and Doru Gheorghe. The induction ceremony for all six of us will take place at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas, on Thursday night, July 5.

This could also be called the "Resident Training Program" (RTP) induction ceremony, as four of the honorees were from that program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, circa 1985-1992. I was part of it from 1985-1990, at varying times the manager, director, and (mostly at the end) one of the coaches, and as chair of the RTP Committee. Li Ai and Dhiren Narotam were players there. Henan Li Ai was the head coach for about five years.

I worked closely with Doru Gheorghe during his years as USATT Executive Director and as Chief Operating Officer and High Performance Director. However, I don't believe I've ever met Norm Bass, but I'm dying to meet him at the induction ceremony - he's not just a table tennis player, but he's a former major league baseball player (a pitcher) and NFL football player! (Here's his autobiography, Color Him Father: An American Journey of Hope and Redemption.) Maybe he can show me how to throw a slider?

Since I mentioned basketball above, I must mention that Dhiren was good at it - very good, as I played with and against him many times during our years at the RTP. I have many fond memories of playing on Dhiren's team. I couldn't dribble to save my life, and when I'd get the ball, if I was covered, I'd be stuck - but Dhiren, aged 13-16 during those years, would always get open so I'd have someone to throw the ball to. But I was, and always will be, the King of the Two-Footer, as long as I wasn't covered and had enough time to take careful aim.

Since this is my "day" (along with the other five), I'm going to go ahead and post the bulleted list on me from the USATT announcement. Feel free to skip ahead to the more interesting articles afterwards!

2018 Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award:
Larry Hodges

This year's recipient of the annual Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Larry Hodges. He has done just about everything in the sport, despite starting at the late age of 16 way back in 1976. However, it was as a writer, a coach, and a table tennis entrepreneur that he truly made his name. Rather than a long narrative, a simple bullet point list will suffice to show his credentials. (Previous recipients are on the Hall of Fame Profiles page, at bottom.) 

Writer and Editor

  • Author of 8 books, about 1600 articles, and (at over 1800 blog entries on table tennis.
  • Editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine for 12 years, 71 issues.
  • Editor of nearly 200 table tennis program booklets and newsletters.


  • USATT Certified National Coach and ITTF Level 2 coach.
  • Two-time USATT Coach of the Year (Developmental and Science Awards), three-time runner-up for Coach of the Year.
  • Many-time coach of USA Junior National Teams, coaching them at camps and at tournaments around the world.
  • Coached over 250 gold medalists at the U.S. Junior Nationals and Junior Olympics.
  • Ran over 100 five-day training camps. That's 500 days just running table tennis camps, and is in addition to running weekly group sessions for many years.
  • Manager/Director/Coach, USATT Resident Training Program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, 1985-1990.
  • The majority of his 8 books and 1600+ articles on table tennis are coaching related.
  • Founder, head coach, and daily blogger since 2011 at
  • Professional coach at Maryland Table Tennis Center since 1992 with about 30,000 coaching hours. He's been late for a session exactly two times.  

Promoter, Director, and Official

  • Pioneered the idea of full-time table tennis training centers by opening the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992 (with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang), the first successful full-time table tennis center in the country. The model has been copied all over the U.S.
  • Instigated & created (with Robert Mayer) the USATT League Rating System, now used in clubs all over the U.S., processing more matches than the USATT tournament rating system.
  • Created the Club Catalyst and Creation Program, which in 1990-1991 increased the number of USATT clubs from 226 to 301, and membership from 5500 to over 7000.
  • Arranged over 100 TV showings on CNN, Headline News, ESPN, Nightline, and on local stations, and many hundreds of newspaper articles.
  • Director of over 200 USATT sanctioned tournaments, nearly all of them two days long. That's over 400 days just running tournaments.
  • USATT certified umpire
  • Wrote the original draft to cancel the infamous Paddle Point Rule.


  • Reached #18 in the country, won Open Singles at 18 tournaments, and was National Collegiate Doubles and 2-time Team Champion. Though he normally uses sponge, at the U.S. Open and Nationals he was 2-time Hardbat Singles Champion, 5-time Hardbat Over 40 Champion, and 14-time Hardbat Doubles Champion.
  • Has played or coached at 42 consecutive North American/U.S. Open Teams (1976 to present), 34 consecutive U.S. Opens, and 34 consecutive U.S. Nationals.
  • Is about 2100 with a clipboard!!!

USATT Positions

  • Member of USATT Board of Directors, 1991-1992, 2015-2018 (current)
  • Chair of USATT Coaching Committee, 1991-1995, 2017-2018 (current)
  • Editor of USATT Magazine, 1991-1995, 1999-2007 (12 years, 71 issues)
  • USATT Club Programs Director, 2000-2007
  • USATT Co-Webmaster, 1999-2005
  • Assistant to the USATT Executive Director, 1989
  • Chair of USATT League Committee, 2015-2017
  • Chair of USATT Club Committee, 1990-1991
  • Chair of USATT Resident Training Program Committee, 1990-1992
  • Member of USATT Coaching Committee, 2010-2013
  • Member of USATT Club Committee, 2012-2013
  • Member of USATT Junior Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Senior Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Grassroots Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Ratings Committee, 1990-1995
  • Member of USATT Hall of Fame (inducted 2003)
  • 2007 USATT President’s Award for Contributions to Table Tennis

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
Here are the results, are of Omnipong. I ran the 3-star tournament this past weekend. (I should have linked to the results in my mini-Monday blog - they were up already.) The tournament has already been processed - here are the ratings. I did one thing at this tournament I hadn't done before - I set up a table next to the control desk and exhibited and sold all 13 of my table tennis and science fiction books - I ended up selling 18.

USATT News Items
The USATT news page has 12 new items since my last blog. Here they are!

New from Samson Dubina

  • Setting Goals (2:41)
  • Ten Tactical Timeout Tips. "Many international matches have been won or lost based on WHEN the timeout was called and WHAT was said during the timeout.  In this short article, I’m going to give some brief tips about timeouts…"
  • Spin Videos. "Most of the questions that I receive are about spin - importance of spin, types of spin, how to read spin, how to generate spin, how to generate more spin, etc... Today, I wanted to share some of my best videos on spin."

Table Tennis Grips: Pros and Cons
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Training with Calderano Hugo - Serve, Backhand, Forehand, Slow Motion
Here's the video (3:53) from Arnaud Scheen. Calderano is the world #12 from Brazil.

I’m Now a Full-time Table Tennis Coach!
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Candidates for ITTF Athletes Commission
Here's the ITTF article. There are 21 candidates for five positions, including USA's Jasna Rather and New Zealand's Matt Hetherington (who currently coaches and trains at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey and is USATT's Media & Communications Director). USA's Ashu Jain is currently the Vice Chairman of the Commission, with Vladimir Samsonov the Chairman. Others of interest among the 21 include Wang Liqin, Zoran Primorac, Jean-Michel Saive, Krisztina Toth, and Claude Bergeret.

Who Will Create History at the 2018 World Table Tennis Championships?
Here's the ITTF video (46 sec). The World Team Championships are April 29 - May 6, in Halmstad, Sweden.

Grand Opening of Glen Head Table Tennis Center & Chess Academy
Here's the video (14:18). I linked to two previous ones, but this is probably the best of them.

Table Tennis and Soccer Have Fused into Headis
Here's the video (65 sec). But don't they get a lot of concussions? Unless it's a ping-pong ball or nerf ball, I'm going to say no to hitting a ball with my head. You also head the ball in soccer - no thanks - but that's only occasionally, while this is nonstop.

A Small Outdoor Tournament?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) As near as I can count, there are 57 rows of ten tables (including that block of tables on the back right), or 570 tables, but there might be more above or below the picture. I'm guessing this is in China.

Your Next Opponent
Here's the picture! Click on it for more versions. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!

Off Monday and Tuesday


  1. Because I'm totally exhausted from running the 3-star Butterfly MDTTC April Open this weekend, plus teaching a class Sunday night.
  2. Because Tuesday the power will be out from 7AM to 5PM for electrical repairs. (They were supposed to do this a few weeks ago but it got postponed at the last minute.)
  3. Because I have to put together the write-up, formatted results, and photos for the tournament.
  4. Because I have to do catch up on some writing projects.
  5. Just because!

But to tide you over until Wednesday, here's Ukulele Pong (14 sec), with Mary Lieu!

April 13, 2018

Summer Table Tennis Training Camps
Summer is coming, and it's time to plan for your summer training needs!!! Email me if you'd like me to add you to the listing below - I will likely link back to it numerous times. (With apologies to those missed - I put out a note last week asking for those running camps to contact me, plus I listed the ones I already knew about. I visited many of the major full-time clubs to find info on their camps, and listed those I could find.)

Why would you go to a table tennis camp? The simple answer is . . . to get better. But many would say, "I can train at my home club, why go to a camp?" At a camp, besides getting expert coaching, you get intensive training typically for five days, which is enough time to dramatically improve your game. This type of saturation training will lead to far more improvement than just practicing on and off for longer periods of time. Plus, it's a memorable event - you love table tennis, and this is a table tennis vacation! Some of my best table tennis memories are from the late 1970s when I was a regular at the Seemiller Camps. (I've emailed to see whether Dan is running camps this summer.) But I do suggest researching the camps and finding the perfect one for you. Some are primarily for kids; others are for all ages. 

Alameda TTC (Alameda, CA) has 8 weeks of camps with a kids-only and kids/adult program:

WAB Club Feature: Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here's the profile I wrote of MDTTC! It actually started as an interview by Steve Hopkins of me for an article he was going to do, but he decided to mostly just reorganize my answers and publish it as an article by me, which was fine. 

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which finishes tomorrow in Zagreb, CRO, April 10-14.

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which finishes this Sunday in Oxenford, Australia.

The Importance of an Assertive Mindset in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

High Quality Shots in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Long Island's New Table Tennis Center and Chess Academy
Here's the interview (written) with Tahl Leibovitz by Ryan Green.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association
Here are recent articles from them.

World Class Training with Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here are the two videos (18:06 and 24:59). "World Cup Champion Dima demonstrates his unyielding concentration, tremendous forehand and backhand topspins while never giving up the table. Watch the extreme wrist angle change on Dima’s forehand to backhand combo to understand why his backhand attack is so spinny! Table Tennis BelgiumTV provides a real treat to watch Anton and Dimitrij show how the Pros do it in the training hall."

Timo Boll Training at T@ APAC Arena
Here's the video (4 min). Timo's the lefty, not sure who the other player is.

Loop Around the Net Practice
Here's the video (22 sec). Why haven't you done this?

Interview with Jishan Liang
Here's the video (5 min) as Jishan is interviewed by Al Herr at the Butterfly Cary Cup. Jishan will be playing in the MDTTC Open this weekend, which I'm running, and is in fact staying at my house for the weekend.

2018 Asian Cup Recap: An Early Knockdown Doesn’t Deter the Champ
Here's the article on Chinese difficulties in winning the Asian Cup, by Steve Hopkins.

Butterfly America Open Hosted by ICC Features Top Talent
Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Third Place At Start Of Day, First Place At End
Here's the ITTF article that features USA's Amy Wang winning her group at the Croatia Open.

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

Table Tennis in T.V. Ads and Media
Here are numerous links to them from the forum.

Spin and Catch Challenge
Here's the video (52 sec) from Keenan Southall. 

Friday the 13th
Jason says hello!

33 Table Tennis Cartoons from The Cartoonist Group
Here's the page! (Marv Anderson found this one.)

Send us your own coaching news!

April 12, 2018

Michael Maze Short Push
Denmark star Michael Maze retired in 2016 after a series of injuries, but recently has been training for a comeback at age 36. He's a former top ten player, who won the bronze medal in Men's Doubles at the 2004 Olympics, made the semifinals of Men's Singles at the 2005 Worlds, won the Europeans Men's Singles Championships in 2009, and made the quarterfinals of Men's Singles at the 2012 Olympics. At the 2005 Worlds he beat two Chinese players, Wang Hao (Men's Singles Silver Medalist at the 2004 Olympics and world #1 or #2 at the time) and Hao Shuai, often lobbing them down. Against Hao in the quarterfinals he was down 0-3 and saved three match points before winning in one of the great comebacks in history. He's a lefty looper, and probably the best lobber in the world. But he's also known for his soft touch, such as in receive. 

Here's a video (1:35, some of it in slow motion) of him practicing his short push against a side-backspin serve. Most players, when pushing, whether short or long, just aim in the opposite direction of the sidespin to compensate. But at the advanced levels they do more than that. Notice how he not only angles his paddle sideways to offset the incoming sidespin, but sidespin-grazes the ball back, meeting the sidespin straight on and putting his own sidespin on the ball? (Watch how the ball curves away after he hits it.)

By finely grazing the ball, most of his energy goes into spin, and so there's little forward energy, making it easy for him to push short. That's probably the most common reason players do not push short well - they try to just tap the ball back softly rather than graze it back.

Potomac Pizza and Table Tennis
Come join me for Pizza! Today, from 4-9PM, Potomac Pizza at the Traville Gateway Center in Rockville (9709 Traville Gateway Drive, Rockville, MD 20850) will donate 20% of all proceeds. Here's the promotional flyer! You may either bring this flyer with you or tell your server that you’re here to support HW GLOBAL FOUNDATION and they will add you to the totals. I teach a class from 6:30-7:30PM, and plan to drive over afterwards, probably arriving around 8PM. Hope to see some of you there!

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
I'm be running the MDTTC April Open this weekend, April 14-15, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday. It includes a link that allows you to enter online through Omnipong, as well as a link to the PDF entry form you can print out. Events are Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 12. Don't miss the great Promotional video (2:32) put together by Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile! Also, the HW Global Foundation Talent Program Kids will hold a bake sale at the tournament - come support them!

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which started yesterday, which started yesterday in Zagreb, CRO, April 10-14.

Importance of Spin!
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Semi Brilliant Thoughts From a Table Tennis Think Tank
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "As far as I know, there are no table tennis think tanks. There are no brain trusts that we can put our faith in to solve our table tennis issues.  I get to share my thoughts on a daily basis through coaching. Once a week I gather up the best insights and blog about them."

Grand Opening of the Glen Head Table Tennis Center and Chess Academy
Here's the video (3 min), with talks from Tahl Leibovitz and others.

What a Way to Save Match Point from Singapore
Here's the video (31 sec) of this incredible doubles point from the BBC as England wins the point.

Creative "Big Backhand"
Here's the video (1:22, but the actual shot is in the first 8 sec, the rest is various slow-mo replays).

2018 TATA Trickshot Competition
Here's the video (38 sec) as Liu Guoliang challenges you to rally with as many balls as he can!

Super-High Ball Mishit, Set to Music
Here's the video (27 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 11, 2018

Table Tennis Happenings

  • U.S. Nationals Entry Form. Here it is!  (I'd use the pop-out version - easier to read and print.) Hope to see you there - I'll be there.
  • USATT Board Meeting. We had a teleconference at 7PM Monday, which lasted over two hours. Main topics included approval of the minutes of the March 12 and 26 teleconference meetings (they should go online soon on the USATT Minutes and Actions page); notice and discussion of a potential new bylaws involving USADA for compliance with the Ted Stevens Act; Discussion about Para Data Protection Guidelines; Discussion about USTTA Foundation and USATT Financial Statements; and Events Update (World Veterans, 2018 U.S. Nationals, 2018 U.S. Open, and 2020 World Championships). We also had a close session that took up almost half the meeting.
  • Beginning Junior Class. We started a new ten-week beginning junior class this past Sunday at MDTTC, with 13 kids. Surprisingly, most of them were returnees from the previous session. As I always do in the first session, I gave a short demo and lecture on grip, stance, and the forehand, but since so many were returnees I went shorter than usual so I could get them out on the table sooner. I may shorten this even more next week.
  • Talent Program. We started the Sunday session with serve practice, and I was flabbergasted at one 7-year-old - in a good way. Three weeks ago he literally couldn't get backspin on his serve; now he was able to serve with enough backspin to make the ball bounce back into the net. Guess who's been practicing his serves a LOT? He was very happy that we noticed, and I made sure the other coaches also saw it. The rest of the session I fed multiball (topspin only due to my shoulder) - lots and Lots and LOTS of footwork drills.
  • Potomac Pizza on Thursday. On Thursday, April 12 (tomorrow), from 4-9PM, Potomac Pizza at the Traville Gateway Center in Rockville will donate 20% of all proceeds. Here's the promotional flyer! You may either bring this flyer with you or tell your server that you’re here to support HW GLOBAL FOUNDATION and they will add you to the totals. I teach a class from 6:30-7:30PM, and plan to drive over right afterwards, probably arriving around 8PM. Hope to see some of you there!
  • Butterfly MDTTC April Open. I'll be running the MDTTC April Open this weekend, April 14-15, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday. It includes a link that allows you to enter online through Omnipong, as well as a link to the PDF entry form you can print out. Events are Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 12. Don't miss the great Promotional video (2:32) put together by Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile! Also, the HW Global Foundation Talent Program Kids will hold a bake sale at the tournament - come support them!
  • Shoulder Update. I went to the club twice recently to experiment feeding multiball left-handed, since (as I blogged last week) it puts great pressure on the shoulder when I feed backspin repetitively. The first time was on Saturday, but I'd forgotten about the Capital Area League, and they were using every table. I went over early on Sunday (before my two 90-minutes classes), but the robot table (with the net I was going to practice into) was being used. Since nearly all the other tables were also being used, if I used another table I'd have been scattering balls in their courts. So I still haven't tested this. I will likely do so tomorrow - hopefully.
  • Yesterday's Critiquing. As noted in my mini-blog yesterday, I took yesterday off so I could read and critique seven science fiction & fantasy stories for upcoming workshops. (Okay, this isn't a "Table Tennis Happening," but I'm a Table Tennis Person doing it, so close enough.) I started at my desk at 8:30AM and worked until 10AM. Then I drove to Lake Forest Mall (about ten minutes away), and found a table by a window in the eatery, and worked there from 10:30AM to 6:30PM!!! (Pizza for lunch, Bourbon chicken for dinner, while sipping on a huge Dr. Pepper that lasted me all day.) Then I stopped by the club (one mile away) to pick up entry forms for the upcoming April Open and the Hopes Trials and chatted with players for a time. Then I went home and worked there from 8:30PM to 2:00AM - which is when I finished! I do rather extensive critiques. Alas, I'll have another set of stories to critique in May, and one more in June. 

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which started yesterday, which started yesterday in Zagreb, CRO, April 10-14.

Is Truls Möregårdh Sweden's Phoenix Flame?
Here's the USATT article by Ray Huang. "Just four months ago, Truls Möregårdh of Sweden burst out of the blue to take the silver medal at the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championship, defeating Chinese players Niu Guankai and Xu Haidong in the quarterfinal and semifinal stages. At only 15 years of age, he is also the youngest player to ever compete in the Champions League. Many have eagerly predicted that Truls Möregårdh can become the next Waldner. But where exactly did this youngster come from?"

Daily Aerobic Sessions Add to Halmstad Experience
Here's the ITTF article.

Mentorship Programme, Selection Announced
Here's the ITTF article. "The Mentorship Programme matches coaches from around the world with top-level mentors; they work with their mentees through numerous skype and face-to-face sessions."

10 Interesting Facts About Ping-Pong You Don’t Know
Here's the article.

North High Hosts Annual Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article on the tournament in Great Neck, NY. "Table Tennis stormed its way into Great Neck on Sunday, March 11, as more than 100 students representing 22 different schools participated in the Third Annual Great Neck North High School (GNNHS) Table Tennis Tournament."

NJTTC Hopes Qualification Camp and Tournament Ends with High Hopes on a Rubber Tree
Here's the USATT article by Dev Dassarma.

Table Tennis Tidbits #23
Here's the USATT article by Robert Ho, on the 2016 Pyongyang Open, "North of Korea’s Mason and Dixon Line."

USA Olympians Attempt Ping-Pong Ball Challenge
Here's the video (2:32) as they attempt to break the record for most ping-pong balls bounced into a pint glass in a minute. (These are non-table tennis Olympians.)

Ping-Pong, Anyone?
Here's the video (2:11) as Bob Mankoff from The New Yorker introduces you to his table tennis robot, then shows us five table tennis cartoons that have been published in The New Yorker.

Send us your own coaching news!

April 10, 2018

Off This Morning
I have to take this morning off from blogging. I'd like to say it's for some big table tennis reason, but actually it's because I'm in a pair of upcoming writing workshops, and have to read and do extensive critiques on seven science fiction & fantasy short stories. Don't worry, I'll be back to table tennis tomorrow! (Actually, I also have to do player evaluations for about ten junior players from our Talent program, so as soon as I finish the SF critiques I switch back to TT.) I plan to spend the day working at the eatery at Lake Forest Mall, so if you are local, stop by and say hello. (But I really, Really, REALLY need to get this work done, so no more than a few minutes and then I have to get back to work.) But to entertain you this morning, here's Plate Bouncing Pong (31 sec)!

April 9, 2018

Tip of the Week
How to Return Nets and Edges.

Susan Backed Pingpong Parlor Coming to D.C. - SPiN Washington!
Here's the article. I think it's great we'll have one nearby! They really are a different type of club, going for the upper-scale recreational player, with more of a party atmosphere. I've been to the SPiN NY club twice, and had fun playing there. They now have (or will soon) clubs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, and now DC. Here is their main web page. Here's their About Us page, which explains their interesting history. (Addendum added Monday afternoon: As I drove to my shoulder therapy session after lunch they were talking about the new table tennis club on the radio! It was on WTOP - 103.5FM.)

Their location is right in the middle of DC, which according to Google Directions is just over 30 miles driving distance south of my club, MDTTC. So there's no serious conflict between the clubs - and as I've blogged before, having multiple full-time clubs in one region, but not too close, actually helps all of them as each club brings in new players who might also join or attend tournaments and leagues at the other clubs. While MDTTC focuses on serious training, SPiN has great food - here's the rather extensive NY menu. They have pizza!!! They also serve alcoholic beverages. MDTTC has water and gatorade.

Here's the SPiN Washington home page. It includes segment on "Join the Team" and a link to "Work for Us."  While I'm not looking for a new job, I went there, curious if they were looking for coaches, league directors, tournament directors, and so on. Instead, here are the job openings they have:

Assistant General Manager, Banquet Captain, Bar Manager, Barback, Bartender, Busser, Chief Brand Officer, Cook, Corporate Chef, Creative Project & Design Manager, Design Assistant, Digital Marketing Director, Director of Sales, Dishwasher, Event and Program Coordinator, Event Sales Coordinator, Event Sales Manager, Executive Chef, Facility Technician, Floor Manager, General Manager, Guest Experience Leader, Host/Hostess, Lead Bartender, Lead Host/Hostess, Lead Line Cook, Marketing Coordinator, Passer, Payroll/Benefits Specialist, Server, Sous Chef, Trainer.

Notice how different this is from a typical club? Only the very last item, "Trainer," resembles what a normal club might have as a job opening. There are a few other possible ones a normal club might have, such as "Assistant General Manager" and "General Manager," and perhaps "Director of Sales." But it has always been my burning desire to be a full-time Dishwasher for a full-time table tennis club! (Note that I spent some time working as a dishwasher at a Bonanza restaurant in 1979 in Wilson, NC!)

Washington DC already has Comet Ping-Pong (a pizza place with ping-pong tables) as well as the Washington DC Table Tennis Center, so it's a growing area for table tennis. Maybe we can attract more and more players from there for our MDTTC tournaments - and speaking of that. . . .

Butterfly MDTTC April Open and Promo Video
I'll be running the MDTTC April Open this weekend, April 14-15, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday. It includes a link that allows you to enter online through Omnipong, as well as a link to the PDF entry form you can print out. (Note - this is the 199th USATT sanctioned tournament I've run. That's nearly 400 days of running tournaments!) Don't miss the great promotional video below, put together by Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile!

  • Saturday events: Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, Under 15
  • Sunday events: U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Under 12
  • Promotional video (2:32)

Asian Cup and Slovenia Open
They both finished over the weekend. See the results, read the articles, and watch the videos and pictures!

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the ongoing event taking place in Oxenford, Australia, April 5-15. I probably won't keep linking to this every day, so save the link! I'll link to it again when it's finished so we can browse the results, articles, pictures, and videos.

Making Peace with the Edge
Here's the article from Samson Dubina, which covers how to deal with balls that barely come off the edge of the table.

Table Tennis Discipline
Here's the article by Eli Baraty on the discipline it takes to improve, including commitment, hard work, and drive.

New from EmRatThich - All About Harimoto and Fan

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 23
Here’s chapter 23 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Chapter 23 covers "Mar/Apr 1994 - Off Table News." Note that Volume 21 is now out. This volume is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Capital Plastics Tournament is Big Hit for the Juniors
Here's the article by Richard Finn. "Recently more than 50 California junior players had the special privilege of meeting and playing with a dozen top Chinese junior players at the 2nd Annual Capital Plastics Tournament hosted at the California Table Tennis Club in Rosemead on March 17-18."

Incredible India, Inspired, Indomitable, Invincible
Here's the ITTF article on India winning Women's Teams at the Commonwealth Games, upsetting Singapore in the final.

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup Final - Jishan Liang vs Jun Han Wu (Highlights)
Here's the video (4:04).

Training Camp in France
Here's the video (2:31) of their physical and table practice.

World Table Tennis Day
Here are a few of the better World Table Tennis Day (April 6) links I came across.

Foot Pong
Here's the video (18 sec)!

Sharon Alguetti Trick Shots
Here's the video (60 sec)! That's Cory Eider he's rallying with at the end with "one-paddle pong."

Send us your own coaching news!

April 6, 2018

What It Takes to Be Great - and How to Beat the Chinese
Here's a nice video showing what it takes to be a top player: Coming-of-Age of the Ping Pong Kiddo (12:15). It features a kid in China - one of many thousands - who is striving to be the best, and what type of training this means. (Thanks to John Olsen who sent the link to me.)

This is the type of training that goes on all over the world, often out of sight of even local players, who often don't realize how many hours these kids with their coaches are training. I see it on a daily basis at my club, Maryland Table Tennis Center, and it's happening all over the U.S. in training centers, and all over the world. But the sport is more "serious" in China, and so there are far more kids training full time, and making it their top priority, then anywhere else in the world. Even the best U.S. players have to focus more on school (or at most, equally so), and so it's hard to compete against a system where table tennis is the central focus, with numbers far larger than anywhere else. But it can be done! (See below where the Japanese 14-year-old whiz kid, Tomokazu Harimoto, just beat the world #1, China's Fan Zhendong. But Japan might have the second most kids training in the world after China.)

Here's an example of how players are often developed in China. Cheng Yinghua, one of the head MDTTC coaches, from age 5 to 12 trained eight hours a day at table tennis (also training in badminton before that was dropped), with only one hour of school. After that, starting at age 12, he was full-time table tennis, no more school. He became one of the best players in the world, and was on the Chinese National Team from 1977-1987.

These days school is considered more important in China, and fewer players go the extreme route of someone like Cheng. But long hours with top coaches - this is how top players develop and how they are made.

How can USA develop its own players and turn into a powerhouse - maybe even competing with China? Here are five keys.  

  1. Keep opening up training centers. That is a BIG key. MDTTC was the first successful full-time table tennis training center in the U.S. when it opened in 1992, and as of 2007, there were only eight. Now there are 93. This is why our top cadets and juniors are now competitive with the rest of the world, where before they were rarely so. This is what leads to the level and depth of players needed to reach the highest levels.
  2. Develop and bring in more and more and better and better coaches. Neither quantity nor quality will do it; you need quality AND quantity in coaches. Here's the algorithm:
    Many Great Coaches + Many Kids Training = Great Players
  3. Focus first on reaching #2 in the world. Then we can turn it into a USA vs. China battle, and go for #1. Yep, that means we have to catch up to the rest of the world, other than China. But that's at least foreseeable, while beating China isn't at this time. But once you reach #2 and have just one more barrier to break through, it becomes foreseeable.
  4. Don't be pale copies of the best Chinese. We need to take what they and the other best players in the world do and expand on it. That's what every new generation of players has done since the 1920s. We tend to coach players to match the current best players, which is mostly successful, but it's the ones who expand on what the current best players are doing that will become the next generation of best players. Serve and receive are especially areas open for innovation.
  5. Sometimes learn from the past. For example, Waldner could tie up opponents in every rally - no one was comfortable against his variety of deceptive and change-of-pace shots. Take that, add the best of modern top players, and you have someone who will beat the best Chinese. But because such "unorthodox" play develops outside of "orthodox" training, that type of variation game is often forgotten, despite its obvious success.  

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 21 - 1994-95
You can order your copy now! This volume is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! (Plus a good portion of the volume is from articles I wrote back then - I was editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine.) Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed!

Maryland Table Tennis Center April Newsletter
Here it is - I'm the editor for the 71st issue in a row.

World Table Tennis Day
Celebrate 2018 World Table Tennis Day on 6 April! (44 sec)

Asian Cup
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking pace April 6-8 in Yokoyama, Japan. There's already one shocker - Bigger they are, harder they fall; Tomokazu Harimoto beats Fan Zhendong. Here are highlights of the match (1:29).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Otocec, Slovenia, April 2-6. The dates caught me off guard this morning - I assumed it was this weekend, but they are already past the preliminaries (Mon and Tues) and into the main draws starting yesterday.

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Oxenford, Australia, April 5-15.

Ping Sunday
Here's their home page. While I've been linking to their articles as they come up, they have a lot of material there, from EmRatThich. Here are the sections on the web page. (There's another menu lower down that breaks it down into eight categories.)

Ma Long Backhand Loop
Here's the video (67 sec) as he rips ball after ball with Liu Guoliang feeding multiball. This is one of the best videos I've seen of it

Ma Long in Kiehl's, China Unicom, Audi and MONTBLANC Commercials
Here's the video (4:26). "Which commercial do you like the best?"

USATT Training Camp in Davie, Florida
Here's the USATT Facebook page, which links to video and pictures from the national training camp going on there this week, Mon-Fri, ending today. Most of the top junior players in the country from ages 9 to 14 or so are there. Here's a link to video of practice matches yesterday (53:51).

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup

Table Tennis Therapy for Alzheimer's
Here's the video (2:51). "Very few sports work the game, researchers will tell you, as much as the game of ping-pong."

Table Tennis Pins
Is this the world's biggest collection?

Baby Pong
Here's the video (9 sec), with Dimtrij Ovtcharov and Super Baby!

Attacking a Beehive with Ping-Pong Paddles
Here's the video (3:20, with "table tennis" only in the first six seconds) - this is NOT a smart thing to do!

Send us your own coaching news!

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