Blogs

Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, more like noon on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week and has three days to cover). Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of eight books and over 1500 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
21 chapters, 240 pages, 102,000 words. 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 ficiton, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

March 31, 2017

$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC April Open and Coaching at Tournaments
I'm running the tournament next weekend (April 8-9) at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD. I hope to see many of you there! We've expanded our tournaments from last year, going to two days and three-star events, doubling the prize money, and going from seven to ten events. Here is our tournament page and here is the entry form. You can also enter online at Omnipong. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12.

Some of you are playing a tournament this weekend. According to the USATT Tournament Page, there are four this weekend in the U.S.:

  • 4-star Butterfly Cary Cup in Morrisville, NC
  • 3-star DAC April Open in Davison, MI
  • 2-star NYISC April Over 40 Open in College Point, NY
  • 2-star Clearwater Spring Grand Open in Clearwater, FL

For these players, and for others in future tournaments, here is my article, Top Ten Ways to Play Your Best in a Tournament. Hope it helps! (Note – the following weekend there are ten USATT tournaments.)

But one thing that’s not on that list is having a match coach. What does a match coach do? He scouts out future opponents, prepares you for matches (often warming you up himself), gives last-minute tips before you go out to play, studies you and your opponent while you play, and coaches you between games and during timeouts, and (with the new ITTF coaching rule) at any time necessary, except when the ball is actually in play. This will be the topic of Monday’s Tip of the Week, “How to Be a Match Coach.”

How valuable is it having a match coach? It can make a huge difference - there's a reason essentially every top player in the U.S. (and around the world) has a coach at nearly all of their matches. However, to maximize this, the coach needs to be familiar with the player, and the player must have confidence in the coach. The last chapter of my book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is about this. Here's an example from my November 29, 2016 blog - start with fourth paragraph under "North American Teams," which starts, "Does coaching make a difference? You better believe it!" A coach also should be able to teach the player to develop the habit of tactical thinking, a habit which will help them lifelong in table tennis and other endeavors as well. 

So if you are one of those happy souls playing in a tournament this weekend, or any future one, consider getting a match coach. Or perhaps arrange with a practice partner to coach each other – often one gets a better perspective by watching on the sidelines than the one actually playing. Often the smartest people don’t see things as well when they are actually playing, and can gain by having an outside observer.

Why I Coach Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Eli Baraty.

Table Tennis Training: Ma Long Forehand Loop Against Heavy Backspin
Here’s the video (3:36). 

2017 Butterfly Cary Cup Championship: Photo, Results & Live Stream
Here’s the Cary Cup Page! Follow the action all weekend from North Carolina from this 4-star tournament with 209 players.

USA Team Trials Videos
They are highlighting some of the best matches there on the USATT News Page, including Amy Wang vs. Rachel Sung, Adar Alguetti vs. Kanak Jha, and Crystal Wang vs. Rachel Yang. Or see the USATT Video Page, which includes the Team Trials and videos from past events.

Yet Another Comeback, on Home Soil Jörgen Persson Ready to Return
Here’s the ITTF article.

Jan Ove Waldner - Documentary
Here’s the video (58:49) – I’m not sure if this is new, but it’s dated March 22, 2017. It’s in Swedish, but you can pretty much follow what’s going on, from childhood on for the one often called the Greatest of All Time.

World Champs Top 10 Moments: Rowe Twins Triumph
Here’s the ITTF video (42 sec).

College Table Tennis: The Pong Potpourri
Here’s the article.

Retirement Community Teaches Ping Pong at Schools
Here’s the video (1:51)

A Little Paralympic Pong
Here’s the video (8 sec) – just another rally.

Curry, Serena Set to Square Off in Epic Ping-Pong Match
Here’s the article and 3 videos! So . . . are you Team Stephen or Team Serena?

Big Paddle, Big Ball?
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Ollie and Quentin Table Tennis
Here’s the cartoon!

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March 30, 2017

USA Nationals Entry Form
While browsing around this morning I discovered that the entry form for the 2017 Supermicro USA Nationals was up. (Here’s a direct link to the print entry form.) This is the first I’d seen it – I printed it out and will go over it more closely later today. The tournament will be in Las Vegas, July 3-8 (Mon-Sat). (The hotel link still links to the U.S. Open hotel from December.)

There are a mind-boggling 97 events. Most are similar to last year’s Nationals. I did find some interesting items – for example, what appears to be Men’s and Women’s Singles are currently named simply “Hsing Family Foundation.” Presumably that’s a sponsor, but it probably should be “Hsing Family Foundation Men’s/Women’s Singles.” Beyond that are the usual events – Men’s & Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles; Junior, Cadet, and Mini-Cadet Team Trials (with the Cadets strangely listed differently as “Singles Team Trials”) for boys and girls; Under 10 and 21 & Under (also for boys and girls); numerous senior events, singles and doubles, ranging from Over 30 to Over 85; lots and lots of rating events, from U1000 to U2400, with the events from Under 2000 down mostly divided into Adult and Juniors categories, plus U4200 and U3200 Doubles; ten Hardbat and two Sandpaper events (Open and U1700); five Paralympic events; and something new, on Saturday, the last day - Junior and Adult Teams!

So what’s this about Team Events at the Nationals? We’ve had Junior Teams before, and there are both Boys’ and Girls’ Teams. But the Adults Teams is new. From the last page of the entry form:

Nationals Team Day

Saturday, July 8 2017

New – Adult Teams. Teams of 2-4 adult players. Teams must have matching uniform colors!

Teams will be divided into divisions of 8 teams. Limit of 80 teams (10 divisions).

Round Robin team play in two groups of four teams. Winners of each group will play for division championship.

Teams will be seeded by combined player rating of the team’s top-two players.

All team matches played in Corbillion [sic] Cup format (2 singles/1 doubles/2 singles).

Players must be 18 or older.

While I’ll be busy coaching, attending meetings (USATT Board, Coaching Committee, Hall of Fame Banquet), selling my table tennis books, taking on clipboard challenge matches, and probably running a coaching seminar, I’ll still find time for a few events. I’m playing Over 50 Men’s Doubles and Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff (so don’t even bother entering those events!), plus I’ll likely enter Over 40 Hardbat Singles. (I normally use sponge, but have won a number of hardbat titles at the Nationals and Open – Hardbat Singles twice, Over 40 Hardbat Singles four times, Over 50 Hardbat Doubles twice, and Hardbat Doubles 13 times (!) – nine of them with Ty.)

So now’s the time to start planning to spend July 3-8 in Las Vegas, playing, spectating, browsing the many equipment vendors, meeting old and new friends - plus, I'm told, there are other things to do in Las Vegas. Hope to see you there!

Videos from the USA Team Trials
Here’s the USATT Video Page, which includes the Team Trials and videos from past events.

China Confirms Players for the 2017 World Championship
Here’s the article and listing. Once again they are pairing up with non-Chinese in some of the doubles events, including Ma Long with Timo Boll (see below). The main surprise in the team listing is the #5 player on the Chinese Men’s Team is Lin Gaoyuan (world #49), not Fang Bo (world #10 and Men’s Singles Finalist at the last Worlds). The top four men on the Chinese team are also the top four men in the world – Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, and Zhang Jike.

Together Again: Timo Boll and Ma Long
Here’s the ITTF article.

ITTF Headquarters in Lausanne
Here’s the video (2:23) – “Take a walk with us inside the International Table Tennis Federation Headquarters in Lausanne!”

Lance's 'Lincoln Table Tennis' Journal
Here’s the local news video (4:03) featuring the Lincoln TTA in Nebraska.

Outrageous No Look Chopping Skills by Stephane Ouaiche
Here’s the video (69 sec)!

Winter Pong?
Here’s the video (82 sec).

School Table Tennis in Germany?
Here’s the cartoon!

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March 29, 2017

Tip of the Week
Serve and Forehand Loop.

Pre-Tournament Preparation
One of the kids I coached last night is preparing to play in the 4-star Cary Cup Open this weekend. I had gone into the session preparing to really work on his looping game, both forehand and backhand. However, he was noticeably glum about this, and admitted he didn’t think he’d be looping much in rallies at the Cary Cup, that he’d mostly be looping against backspin and then hitting.

Now I could have said, “No, you have to think long-term and focus on looping more,” or the opposite, “Sure, we’ll forget about looping and worry about developing that later on.” Instead, I did something in between. I pulled out an invisible piece of paper, and wrote with invisible ink with an invisible pen the invisible words, “After the Cary Cup, I will focus on looping in rallies.” I then pricked his finger with an invisible pin, and he signed the agreement with invisible blood. And so we spent the session preparing him for the Cary Cup – looping backspin, then hitting, as well as serves, receive, and other shots. Next week we’ll focus on looping in rallies – and I’ll wave that invisible paper at him if necessary.

I also made him promise to practice his serves the day before the Cary Cup. This is one of the biggest mistakes players make, showing up at a tournament where they haven’t been practicing the shot they’ll be using at the start of half the rallies, the serve, and so end up serving mostly to just get the ball in play. Often they don’t even realize how much they are losing because their serves aren’t as low, as fast, as spinny, or as varied as they could be.

I also made him promise to arrange in advance who he would warm up with on Saturday morning at the tournament. It’s another common mistake players make, where they prepare all aspects of their game for the tournament (except often their serves – see above), and then show up and randomly hope to find someone good to warm up with. Top players almost always arrange in advance who and when they will warm up with in the morning. Those who aspire to not play their best don’t.

How to Improve the Placement of Your Attacks
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak.

Mobile Multiball
Here’s the video (50 sec) – I may have to try this! We do so much multiball, but it’s almost all from the same spot.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter one! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

Premier University, Texas Wesleyan the Ideal Venue
Here’s the ITTF article.

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
Here’s the highlights video (66 sec)!

Alex Piech Competing in the 2017 Winter Classic
Here’s the video (1:54), set to music, of the 7-year-old on his way to getting second place in his bracket!

Table Tennis Philippines vs France
Here’s the video (3:40) – but what makes this interesting is the exhibition antics of the two players!

Crazy Cat Pong!
Here’s the video (39 sec) from the fifties of a cat that really could rally! (I may have linked to this long ago.)

Crazy Table Tennis Movie!
Here’s the video (4:40) – I think it’s in Chinese, with someone apparently translating it into another Asian language, but you can follow much of the strange table tennis battle.

Crazy Chinese Pong!
Here’s video (1:47) as Chinese team members do exhibitions and rally with fans, including sit-down pong, “triples,” and around-the-table.

Monty Pong
Here are two cartoons, care of Marv Anderson.

Non-Table Tennis – Space and Time Magazine Now Out!
The new issue of Space and Time Magazine is out, with my cover story “The Many Heads of Mr. Krup.” It’s my 20th “cover story” in the science fiction & fantasy world, that other universe I attend when I’m not doing TT. (Here’s my bibliography there.) It’s a time travel story about (spoiler alert!) the world’s greatest female hunter/greatest hunter period (there’s some argument about that in the story), who is forced to hunt the ultimate game - herself! Sorry, no table tennis, though lots of kills! Space and Time will be on sale nationwide at Barnes and Noble.

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March 28, 2017

Stomach Queasiness and the Tip of the Week
For the second day in a row I woke up to what feels like the World Table Tennis Championships going on in my stomach. I’m guessing it’s some sort of stomach virus, or some sort of cold or flu, or perhaps I swallowed a gross of ping-pong balls or something. Symptoms are extreme stomach queasiness and discomfort; runny nose; extreme exhaustion; and an extreme compulsion to lie down for a few years. I started writing the Tip of the Week (Serve and Forehand Loop), but I think I’ll finish that tomorrow. I did manage to get through 3.5 hours of coaching yesterday, despite exhaustion, helped out by one player having to cancel (I had 4.5 hours scheduled). Tonight I only have two. (My current schedule: Sun 8.5 hours; Mon 4.5 hours; Tue 2 hours; Wed 2 hours; Thu & Fri off - writing days; Sat 5-7 hours.) 

Some of this might have been brought on by recent very bad sleep habits. I generally go to bed sometime between midnight and 1AM, and up at 7AM, but recently I’ve been up until 3AM, and still getting up at 7AM as that’s when I keep waking up – probably because the sun is up. Last night I went to bed at 9:30PM, and got up at 7:30AM – ten hours! – something I never do except when I’m sick or completely exhausted.

USA National Team Trials
They were held at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina this past weekend, Thur-Sun. Here’s the USA Team Trials page for the event, with results, articles, and video. I was going to blog about this, but I think the articles by Matt give a pretty good picture.

New Articles from Samson Dubina

The Ten Commandments of Table Tennis Serves
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

Backhand Topspin - Chinese Coach Learn
Here’s the video (5:48).

How to Serve Short with Side Spin in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (7:53) from EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach.

Essential Warm Up and Stretching Techniques for a Healthy Table Tennis Player Part 1
Here’s the ITTF video (16:49).

New World Ranking Scheme; Effective from January 2018
Here’s the ITTF article.

Women's Teams Bring Star Power to National Championships in Wisconsin
Here’s the NCTTA article.

Tribute to Kunal Chodri
Here’s the video (63 sec) of the new USA Team Member.

Incredible Rally at the ITTF World Junior Championships!
Here’s the video (46 sec) featuring USA’s Kanak Jha and Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes.

Bill Gates Receives Signed Oversized Paddle
Here’s the picture of the gift he receives from Peking University students in Beijing. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Dining Room Table Folds Out into Full-Sized Ping-Pong Table
Here’s the video (46 sec).

Chinese Park Pong
Here are videos of Scott Preiss (57 sec, there will be lobs) and son Austin Preiss (44 sec) playing locals in a park in China.

Coach Max Between the Paddles
Here’s the repeating video (5 sec) as Indian Coach Massimo “Max” Costantini (formerly USA and Italian coach) sidespins loops between the paddles.

Awesome Japanese Skills in Ping Pong 3
Here’s the video (2:19).

Look Back on a Hilarious Year of Ask A Pro Anything with Adam Bobrow
Here’s the video (32 sec).

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March 27, 2017

Alas, I woke up this morning feeling sick to my stomach. So I think I need to take a sick day - or at least a sick morning. I have 4.5 hours of coaching scheduled today (3:30-8:00), and I'm determined to make that somehow. (The nice thing about coaching is that you can stay ten feet away from your student.) But I'm probably going to spend most of the day in bed, and see how things are this afternoon. (I don't think I have a fever, but I'll take my temperature later today.) I'll be back tomorrow. While I'm gone, you can browse over the results, articles, and videos at the USA Team Trials page - they were held this past weekend. 

March 24, 2017

USA National Team Trials
They had the preliminary qualifier yesterday, with the main Trials today through Sunday. Tournament is at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina. Below are links. Livestreaming  starts at noon today, Eastern time. I wish I were there!

USATT Team Funding Week
USATT has a funding page, Friends with Paddles, where you can “directly fund USATT’s National Team programming, including coaching, travel, training, participation in international tournaments, and direct athlete support.” Over the course of a year, funding comes in gradually, and it really helps. But we’re always short of funding.

I’m thinking of creating a “USATT Team Funding Week.” This would be an annual event where we direct all our efforts into raising funds for USA Teams. We’d solicit funding via all the media outlets and connections USATT has - USATT Insider, USATT News Page, direct email, USATT clubs, and ask regular table tennis bloggers everywhere to join in. We’d also ask “celebrity” members and contacts to help spread the word. This would dramatically raise awareness of the event. We’d also publish the names of the donors (unless anonymity is requested), and donors might receive some sort of USATT memorabilia (as they do with Friends with Paddles). 

Once the week is over, rather than struggling to support our national team members with limited funding, maybe for once we’d be able to instead struggle to figure out how to best use all the extra funding? I’ll run the idea by the USATT CEO and the Resource Development Committee. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions on this, comment below or email me.

Table Tennis Book Battles
I spent a bunch of time the last two days in a pair of “Book Battles.” First, I had to get the 25 chapters of Tim Boggan’s Volume 19 of History of U.S. Table Tennis into shape for online publication at USATT, as they’ve done with the previous 18. This involved taking one huge file - about 500MB at the start, 200MB after some reducing in Photoshop - and breaking it into 25 parts, and then having to go to about half of them in Photoshop to reduce them to under 10MB each, since the software USATT uses can’t handle anything larger for online publication.

Then I had another little battle with the cover of More Table Tennis Tips. Though it’s been on sale for over a week, I had only proofed it online. I finally got my copy yesterday, and decided that the cover picture of me was too dark, that it blended into the background. So I lightened it, and resubmitted to Createspace.com, where I publish most of my books. (The front and back covers, as well as the spine in between, are submitted as one wide file.) When I got the digital proofs this morning, the front cover was fine, but for some reason the bar code on the back cover, which Createspace.com places, cover slightly overlapped the text. So I moved some of the text away from that, and resubmitted it again this morning. If all goes well, it’ll be finalized later today. (If you buy a copy now, it won’t go out until the new version is ready, so no need to wait. If you already have a copy, don’t worry, the only change is my picture on the cover is slightly lighter. UPDATE: New version went live at 7:40 PM Friday.)

Meanwhile, More Table Tennis Tips just got its first Amazon review:

"A very nice collection of tips that famed table tennis coach Larry Hodges has included in his blog postings over the past 3 years. Aimed at the intermediate and up player (or perhaps a rapidly advancing advanced beginner), it doesn't focus on the mechanics of the basic table tennis strokes, but instead how to improve your play generally. It ranges from tactics within points (sections on serve, receive, rally tactics) to more general game strategies and even how to do things like developing practice partners or what to do when you're playing in an unfamiliar tournament. It'a an invaluable supplement to table tennis lessons which tend to concentrate on stroke improvement but not on what you should do with your newly improved strokes! This is a stand-along volume - my favorite of his earlier books is his 'Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers'."

Dimitrij Ovtcharov Unhappy with New ITTF World Ranking System
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Daily. As he points out, with this new system (partially based on the tennis system), Timo Boll (for example) would drop from #12 to #44 in the world, and #6 in Germany, neither of which makes sense.  The change is meant to encourage more activity, but when the results don’t make sense, you should go back and make adjustments.

How to Smash
Here’s the article from Pingpoolshark, with links to five videos.

Short Ball Then Loop
Here’s the video (53 sec).

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association Articles

Maccabi USA Announces the Paralympic Table Tennis Athlete for the 20th World Maccabiah Games
Here’s the article - Congrats to Tahl Leibovitz.

William Henzell; Athlete to Academic
Here’s the article from the ITTF.

Integrity after a Bad Call?
Here’s the Facebook posting, and here’s a direct link to the start of the very nice point in question (at 5:21), at 8-10 in the fifth. Make sure to watch the next point. (The return was clearly a side, though it's a tough call from where the umpire was sitting.) 

Ma Long Backhand Against a Chopper
Here’s the video (62 sec).

Ping-Pong for Charity
Here’s the new video (31 sec) from the Table Tennis Charity Foundation.

World Champs Top 10 Moments: Xu Xin & Yang Haeun Win Gold
Here’s the video (54 sec) from the ITTF.

Rockies Ping Pong Tournament Gets Heated with Heavy Action on Vinny Castilla
Here’s the article and video (1:35)!

Some Serious Doubles
Kids vs. Seniors! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

The Moon Table Tennis Olympics?
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Octopus Pong - in German?
Here’s the cartoon. My online translator says the caption is, “You've won again - 21 to zero. And now I have no more pleasure!” And since we’re on the topic of Octopus Pong, here are other Octopus links, from a previous blog. (The first one may be my favorite table tennis video ever!)

Non-Table Tennis - Cover of Space and Time Magazine
Here’s the cover for the upcoming Spring issue of Space and Time Magazine - look at that name on the cover!!! It’s my 20th “cover story” in the science fiction & fantasy world, that other universe I attend when I’m not doing TT. (Here’s my bibliography there.) My story, “The Many Heads of Mr. Krup,” is a time travel story about (spoiler alert!) the world’s greatest female hunter/greatest hunter period (there’s some argument about that in the story), who is forced to hunt the ultimate game - herself! Sorry, no table tennis, though lots of kills! Space and Time will be on sale nationwide at Barnes and Noble.

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March 23, 2017

Tips of the Week and Equipment
I’ve been doing them almost every Monday since January, 2011 - in all, 306 of them. I’m still coming up with them, but it’s not as easy as before. Do you have something you’d like me to write about? Here’s your chance - comment below! Serve (my second favorite topic!), receive, strokes, footwork, tactics (my favorite!), training and improving, sports psychology, equipment, tournaments - take your pick!

Tips can cover nearly all aspects of the sport. The only thing I avoid are ones on specific equipment. I’m sponsored by Butterfly, so writing about rival equipment would be a problem. At the same time, if I write strictly about Butterfly equipment, then my writing is a bit biased. So long ago I decided to stay away from discussing specific equipment in the Tips.

The Tips are all online, but in chronological order. If you want to see them organized in logical order, by subject, with a table of contents, then you can read the first 300 of them this way in Tips of the Week and More Tips of the Week.)

While I don’t write about specific equipment in the Tips, I can blog about my own equipment. For the record, I use a Butterfly Timo Boll ALC FL blade, with Tenergy 05 black 2.1 on forehand, Tenergy 25 red 2.1 on backhand. Tenergy 05 is great for looping, and makes it easy for me to loop over and over with power even at age 57. I use Tenergy 25 on the backhand because, while it’s also easy to loop with, it’s great for counter-hitting and blocking. Few world-class players use Tenergy 25 because it’s not designed for players who take a big swing at the ball, as most world-class players do, but for players under 2000, and really well beyond that, unless you loop all-out on the backhand, I’ve always thought Tenergy 25 was the best one.

I blogged about Tenergy 25 and other related issues on Oct. 14, 2015, “Emulating the Equipment of the Top Players.” It starts off, “One of the best and worst habits intermediate players make is copying the equipment of the top players.”

There’s a story behind the Timo Boll ALC blade I use. About five years ago I was coaching 13-year-old Tong Tong Gong at the USA Cadet Team Trials (under 15). He was seeded ninth, with only the top four making the team. I’d tried out his racket, the Timo Boll ALC blade, and kept raving about what a great racket it was. (At the time, I was between sponsors.) Tong Tong pulled off a series of upsets to make the team, and as a reward, he and his dad presented me with his racket. It’s still the one I use - ask me sometime at the club or tournament, and I’ll show it to you - you can still see “Tong Tong” etched into the blade’s throat! Tong Tong went on to make the team again the following year as well, pulling off nine upsets those two years without losing to anyone below him.

Fan Zhendong, Zhou Yu, Xu Chenhao, Wang Hao Training
Here’s the video (7:35).

Interviews - Watch the Interviews with Coaches and Pros
Here’s a selection of six video interviews put together by Samson Dubina.

College TT March Madness Challenge
Here's the info page - “Predict the results of the 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships and win fabulous prizes! . . . TMS is offering up a 500 dollar 1st place prize; 2nd place 300 and 3rd place 100. Doublefish is offering its winners a Gross and ½ gross of tournament quality balls!”

New Schools Brighten the College Table Tennis Landscape
Here's the article by Willy Leparulo.

Triangle Table Tennis a Smashing Success
Here's the article from VisitRaleigh.com.

ITTF President Thomas Weikert attends “SPORT.CITY.BUSINESS. - The Experts Talk” 
Here’s the ITTF article.

World Championships Flashback
Here’s the new ITTF video (39 sec).

Zhang Jike and Liu Guoliang Take on World Champion at Sandpaper Table Tennis!
Here's the article and video (1:23) from Table Tennis Daily.

Power Woman!
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Protect Your Face!
Here's video (29 sec) as George Li repeatedly protects his face against the sheer power of Greg Mascialino's attack!

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March 22, 2017

Serve and Attack
One of my junior students (age 10, about 1600) is a great rallier, but often just serves to put the ball in play. So now we’re focusing on third-ball attacking. He knows he’s supposed to do this, but to make it a habit, he has to do it in games. The problem is most of his games are either league or tournament matches – and he doesn’t want to lose those. So we’re arranging for him to play regular practice matches once a week where he just plays games, where he can work on new things such as this.

The problem with league matches is 1) they are rated, and players get protective about even league ratings, and 2) if you do poorly, you move down a division the following week. As I explained to him, 1) you shouldn’t take the league ratings seriously (or other ratings, for that matter), and 2) if he moves down a division one week, it’s actually an opportunity, as that means he can focus on beating these “weaker” players with his third-ball attacks.

I’m working with him on three types of third ball attacks:

  1. Serve short, follow with forehand.
  2. Serve short, follow with forehand or backhand.
  3. Serve long, mostly big breaking serves to the backhand, and follow from both sides.

Today’s session focused on serve short and follow with forehand. I demonstrated by doing it myself – and this is a strength in my game, even at age 57. I served short backspin to the middle, he pushed long anywhere, and no matter where he put it, I was able to forehand loop very aggressively, almost always for a winner. (This will be the topic of next Monday's Tip of the Week.) Then he took his turn, and it was almost a new concept for him, this serve and going for the forehand. In theory he’s always known he should do this, but in practice he’d avoided it. No more! I made sure he understood that unless the return is weak, the first loop shouldn’t be a rip, but just an aggressive, well-placed, heavy topspin shot.

Next we’ll be focusing on serve and two-winged attacks. But first I want him to be able to serve and forehand loop whenever needed against passive returns. (We also did some work on his backhand loop, to prepare him for following up on short serves, #2 above, and on backhand kill, to prepare him for following up on deep serves, #3 above.)

More Table Tennis Tips
Here’s the USATT news item! Let’s face it – I’m going to keep posting about More Table Tennis Tips until YOU – yes, the one reading these words right now – buys it!!!

Don’t Ever Question Yourself
Here’s the article from Eli Baraty.

Forehand Chop Tutorial
Here’s the video (3:12) from PingSkills.

 “Recruiting Enthusiastic Kids”
That’s how this video (2:39) begins, where he talks about attitude. The speaker is Geno Auriemma, Head Women's Basketball Coach at Univ. of Connecticut for 32 years. According to Wikipedia, “The UConn Huskies are the most successful women's basketball program in the nation.”

2017 World Table Tennis Day - April 6
Here’s the video (73 sec).

Interview with Chen Bin - Coaches Grow Together with their Players
Here’s the video (9:25).

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (1990-1991)
Here's chapter 26! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

Table Tennis/Ping-Pong T-Shirt ALIEN Design
Here’s the Kickstarter page for these new TT t-shirts.

Zhang Xielin- the “Magic Chopper”
Here’s video (13 sec) of this Chinese penhold chopper from the 1960s, who chopped with both backspin and sidespin, and gave Europeans fits.

Jorgen Persson – Leg in Cast!
Here are the pictures and comments. (Here’s one of the non-Facebook pictures.) And note my comment: “My years of patiently waiting have finally paid off!!! Jörgen, I hereby challenge you to a match. (Scary part: I'll still probably lose.)”

Afloat Without a Ball
Here’s the cartoon!

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March 21, 2017

Coaching Almost Non-Stop from 11:15 AM to 8:30 PM Takes Its Toll
Yeah, I did that this past Sunday, not easy at age 57, and now I’m paying the bill. On Monday I had 4.5 hours of coaching scheduled, but one kid came down sick and so I “only” did three hours – but toward the end my back was killing me. I had to “retire” any looping in rallies with students. On top of that, my right Achilles tendon was screaming, “Stop moving or I’ll throw a fit,” and throw a fit it did as I developed a subtle limp toward the end that wasn’t so subtle later that night.

Anyway, after a good night’s sleep, the back and Achille’s tendon are back to mostly just angry muttering. I only have two hours of coaching today and two tomorrow, and then I can rest them on Thurday and Friday. (I’m normally off those two days, but I’m subbing on Thursday, teaching a class, but that’s not as physical as private coaching. I’ll wear running shoes instead of table tennis shoes – I’m sure Mr. Achilles will approve.)

I remember back in my late teens and early and mid-twenties being able to practice hour after Hour after HOUR, with no side effects. Once, on a “day off,” I played 15 sets of tennis in one day (!) - and had no trouble going back to table tennis training the next day. Ah, the good old days. . . .

But doing those long hours on Sunday (and a growing number of hours on Saturdays and Mondays) allows me to go a bit easier the rest of the week, so I can get more writing and USATT work done. Some of the coaching – group sessions and multiball – aren’t as physically demanding.

Meanwhile, I’m off to see the dentist at noon today – we’ll see what other bad news I can have today! And then I can attack that growing todo list.

More Table Tennis Tips as ITTF News Item
Here’s the article! C’mon, you KNOW you want to buy copies of Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips!!! (Or Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, still my best seller.) 

Traditional Backhand Flip vs Banana Flip
Here’s the video (1:44). I actually linked to this video in January, but the title was simply “Backhand Flip” and some may have missed it – so here it is again! I spent my playing days with a regular backhand flip – and a pretty effective one! – and only learned the banana flip later on as a coach. I sometimes think it would be valuable for players to have both as each has advantages (as you’ll see in the video), but that would mean perfecting still another technique, and it might be harder to learn both – so if you are to specialize, the banana flip is the stronger shot.

3T Table Tennis Training
Here’s the video (2:44) where they practice half-long serve, counter topspin, and other techniques.

Chopper/Looper Training
Here’s the video (30 sec).

World’s First Down Syndrome Table Tennis Coach
Here’s the video (2:08) from the BBC.

Grace Lin TTC Hosts Superb Hopes Camp and Trial
Here’s the USATT article.

If You’re Leading 10-0, Do You Give a Mercy Point?
Here’s the video (1;25) where you see how different players reacted.

International Day of Happiness
Here’s the video (31 sec) from the ITTF!

Sixty Seconds of Two Six-Year-Old Girls Hitting Forehand Without Miss
Here’s the video! Their heads are barely over the table.

China vs Yugoslavia (1975 WTTC final)
Here’s the video (3:25) - China wins 5-3. Lu Yuansheng, Li Zhenshi, Xu Shaofa vs Antun Stipancic, Milivoj Karakasevic, Dragutin Surbek.

2017 Nut Cup
Here’s the video (1:18) of Allen Wang highlights at the Coconut Cup tournament held at MDTTC this past Saturday – some crazy shots! He was in town and so played the tournament, which is a non-rated “fun” team tournament.

Fetch! Fetch! Fetch!
Here’s the cartoon – poor dog!

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March 20, 2017

Tip of the Week
Everything You Wanted to Know About Down the Line.

Sunday Coaching
Sundays is my “big” coaching day, though to some of the full-time Chinese coaches, it would be just another day. Many of them coach 50 or more hours per week, while I’m only doing 24 this next week. (I’m such a slacker.) This Sunday I mostly coached from 11:15AM – 8:30 PM, with a rare 1.5 hour break in the middle where I’d normally teach the Beginning Junior Class – we had a snow day built into the schedule, but since there were no snow days, we were off yesterday. (Another ten-week session starts next Sunday.)

After doing private coaching from 11:15AM – 4:00PM, and that 1.5 hour break, I worked with the “Talent” program from 5:30-7:00PM, where I supervised shadow practice, serve practice, and then fed multiball for almost an hour. We did a lot of interactive multiball, where I fed the first ball (usually backspin), and the two players played out points. There are 22 kids in the program, ranging from about 7 to 12, all advanced for their age.

For the Adult Training Session (7:00-8:30PM), after the usual stroking and footwork drills, the night’s focus was on “Brick Wall Backhand Blocking.” One player would attack crosscourt from the backhand corner, hitting or looping, using either backhand or forehand (or alternating or switching back and forth as they wanted), while the other player had a simple goal: get everything back. I explained how you watch the opponent’s stroke to see where his shot is going and how hard, and so begin to react before he even hits the ball. Then just stick your racket in the way of the ball, and watch it go back! As I’ve often said, it’s a crime to get your racket on a hard-hit ball and not get it back – see my Tip, Returning Smashes: Reacting and Racket Angles.

More Table Tennis Tips – Print and Kindle
It’s now out in both formats! 200 pages, 150 Tips in logical progression – what are you waiting for? (If you don’t buy it, I go hungry. Is that what you want?)

How to Stop Changing Grip Between Shots
Here’s the article and podcast (6:27) from Expert Table Tennis.

Dexterity - Learn How to Improve Your Game 500 Points This Year!
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

12 Steps On How To Serve A Ping Pong Ball Like A Pro
Here’s the article from Ping Pool Shark, with links to video.

4 Key Skills You Need to Become a Match Winner
Here’s the article from Table Tennis University.

Pips Appreciation Days
Here’s the article from Coach Jon on our new National Holiday. But what’s on the menu these three days? Since chips are like pips, I’m going to suggest we eat only chip ice cream those three days - Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Mocha Chip, Raspberry Chip, and so on. This just became my favorite holiday!

USA Team Trials Articles by Matt Hetherington
The USA Team Trials are this week, March 23-26, Thur-Sun, at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina.

Commencing in Korea, New DHS Plastic Ball to Be Used at All ITTF World Tour and Challenge Tournaments
Here’s the ITTF article.

Belarus Open
Here’s the ITTF page for the event, held this past weekend, with results, articles, video, and pictures. Congrats to Champions Samsonov and Sato!

Minnesota Brings Diverse Table Tennis Team to Nationals
Here’s the article by Andy Kanengiser.

Ask A Pro Anything - Miu Hirano
Here’s the video (6:07) with Adam Bobrow.

Best Points Of Lin Gaoyuan - The Marvelous 12
Here’s the video (4:28) of this new Chinese sensation, who even upset Ma Long!

Great Backhand
Here’s the video (40 sec, including slo-mo replay)!

Moves like Ogi
Here’s the article and video (15 min) – “Have you got the moves like Ichiro ‘Ogi’ Ogimura?” “Japan’s Ichiro ‘Ogi’ Ogimura was a two time men’s singles World Champion during the 1950s and went on to become President of ITTF. If you’ve never seen Ogi in action, now’s your chance.” (Ogimura was one of the prime characters in my fantasy table tennis novel, “The Spirit of Pong.”)

Steve Shirts Artist Shop
Some new table tennis shirt selections from Steve Worthington!

21st Century Neon Pong?
Here’s the picture!

Size Restriction on Racket?
Here’s the cartoon!

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