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

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

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

June 17, 2019

Tip of the Week
Six-Step Training Progression. (This is an old article that I never used as a Tip, so I did some updating.)

Weekend Coaching
In our Thursday Beginning Class, we introduced the players to forehand looping - or, for most of them, rolling the ball with topspin. For some of the more advanced ones we had them both looping and following it up with a smash. (Key issue: drop shoulder some for loop, keep up for smash.) We also did some service practice.

On Saturday I fed multiball for two hours to John Olsen and Kevin Walton, getting them ready for the table tennis events at the World Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 19-21. We've been doing this most Saturdays for the last two months. We finish each session with me serving to them so they can work on receive, about 7 minutes each.

In the Sunday Beginning Class we introduced them to random drills. The main drill was putting the ball randomly to the forehand or backhand, and they had to correctly react, not anticipate.

In the advanced Talent Program we had our last session of the season, and held a practice tournament, followed by a party. Here's a group picture (and here's the non-Facebook version). The highlight was when I brought out the huge quantities of bubble wrap that our trophies came packed in. The kids put them on the floor in a long row - almost the length of the club! - and took turns running across, stomping on them. It was like firecrackers going off. Many of them will be traveling to Las Vegas early next week for a five-day training camp we're running there before the Nationals. (Afterwards, most will spend the summer training at the MDTTC Summer Camps.)

You Can't Please Everyone!
A while back a number of USATT people were unhappy with me when I disagreed with the USATT High Performance Director (Jörg Bitzigeio) and High Performance Committee over some of our national team selection procedures. Last week in my blog I praised Jörg for finding training and playing positions for our top players and juniors in overseas professional leagues - and, of course, some people on "the other side" were unhappy with that. I hope we're not about to turn into a two-party system!!!

But criticism comes with blogging. Here's a doozy - in my May 20 blog I wrote about Virginia Sung, the new USATT CEO. My intro statement about her was the following:

"I knew her from many years ago, but mostly as a seemingly very shy junior after she moved to the U.S. from China at age 14, when her English wasn't so good. (She's very fluent now, almost no accent.) She lived and trained here in Maryland for a couple of years; I had a few practice sessions with her. (She's a chopper.) She and I spoke for nearly an hour at the U.S. Open in December, and she seemed almost a different person - far more outgoing, highly savvy on current table tennis issues, and obviously very enthusiastic about the possibility of being the USATT CEO and leading our sport into a new era."

Afterwards I received an email from a lawyer (not related to Virginia or USATT in any way) that demanded I "Retract or delete the sexist, chauvinistic, agist comments describing Virginia Sung as a 'little Chinese girl' who 'didn't speak good English.'" Okay. First, I didn't say the things he quoted me as saying. Second, nothing I wrote was "sexist, chauvinistic, agist (sic)." But this type of drivel is often the norm when you are in a public position.

Japan Open
Here's the home page for the event held in Sapporo, Japan, June 12-16, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Xu Xin wins Triple Crown and a Clean Sweep for China! Here's the Japan Open Recap by Steve Hopkins.

Exclusive Interview | Liu Guoliang Talks China vs Japan Rivalry
Here's the ITTF video (6:02) with the Chinese coach and former superstar, in Chinese with English subtitles.

Coach Opening Position in Northern California
Fremont Table Tennis Academy (FTTA), a USA Table Tennis National Center of Excellence situated in the San Francisco Bay Area, is looking for a new coach to join its coaching team. FTTA is one of the top performing clubs in the nation with group and private lessons given daily to students, mainly kids but also adults, of various levels. A new coach can be part-time or full-time and should be able to deal effectively with kids. There are many upcoming kids aged between 6-15 years old who are looking to improve and playing seriously. If interested, please email FTTA Owner Shashin Shodhan at

Understanding the Purpose to a Table Tennis Training Drill
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

How Important is Multi-Ball in Table Tennis?
Here's the article and video (76 sec) by Eli Baraty.

Beat Your Opponent with Quick Counter Topspins – with Paul Drinkhall
Here's the video (5:35) from Tom Lodziak.

How to Warm Up Correctly
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

Dumb Questions
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

The Little Lunch Nutrition Plan for Serious Table Tennis Players
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Tomokazu Forehand Slowmotion: Rotate the Whole Body
Here's the video (37 sec) of the 15-year-old world #4 from Japan. (He turns 16 in ten days, June 27.)

Coaching Videos from Jason and Alex Piech
These videos feature this fantastic coaching duo from Rogers, Arkansas - ages 12 and 9, and already rated 1746 and 1552! I linked to the Forehand video last week; the Backhand video is new.

Footwork Drills on Cut-Down Table
Here's the video (18 sec) where the table has been cut so players have to hit the ball to specific spots!

Las Vegas Referee Seminar
Here's the info page on the seminar to be held Monday, July 1, at the U.S. Nationals.

Hoarfrost Fondly Recalls Barnstorming Tours as Teenage Prodigy
Here's the USATT article.

Ping-Pong Diplomacy and US-China Relations: The Game and the Players That Changed the Course of History
Here's the article from the South China Morning Post, featuring Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter 26 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "International Play." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

Maryland Crowns a New State Champion
Here's the article by Klaus Wood. (I added this to last week's blog one day late.)

Sky High June Open
Here's the article and results of the tournament in Aurora, Colorado, by Richard McAfee. In other Aurora news, Table Tennis Will Be on Display at Aurora Games.

WAB Club Feature: My Table Tennis Club
Here's the article on this Toronto club by Steve Hopkins.

Table Tennis Star From United Christian College in Hong Kong Proves Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Diagnosis Is No Barrier to Sporting Success
Here's the article from the South China Morning Post.

Westchester Table Tennis Center May 2019 Open Singles Final - Eugene Wang vs Kazeem Makanjuola
Here's the video (22:20).

Arnaud TTBelgiumTV VS Schlager and Kreanga Kalinikos @ Legends Tour
Here's the video (6:13).

Sid and Nandan Naresh on the Pickler and Ben Show
Here's the video (5:12) of the two junior stars.

Unimagined Talents of our Top Players: Yue Wu Bounces Ball Against Table Side
Here's the video (18 sec) of the USA team member.

2019 Star Elite Team Building Camp - The Table Tennis Dance!
Here's the video (3:34).

Grandma's Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (3:21)!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 10, 2019

Tip of the Week
Should You Play Differently at Deuce?

USA Players Training and Competing in Europe
Here are two new articles on this, both by Matt Hetherington:

This is HUGE news - from the first article, we now have 23 USA players, mostly juniors or under 20, all training and playing in Europe (mostly Germany), representing clubs in professional leagues. This is GREAT news, and here's why.

I've always thought that for a USA players to reach the highest levels, either USATT needs to find a way to set up professional leagues across the country (very difficult and expensive, and you have to attract lots of top overseas players to raise the level), or we need to send our players overseas to those professional leagues. Since we can't get do the former, we are now doing the latter. When USATT was looking to hire High Performance Directors twice in the last few years, I had one very strong recommendation - that we include in the job description that the HPD would be in charge of finding overseas opportunities for our top players and juniors.

You can get good training in the U.S., but to really reach your highest potential, you have to train and compete regularly at a high level - and by far the best way to do that is to be part of a team that trains together, with regular professional league matches. The best U.S.-born players in modern history all went this route, training in Europe as part of a team representing a club - Dan Seemiller, Eric Boggan, Sean O'Neill, Jim Butler, and in recent years, Kanak Jha. (Those five have combined for 19 U.S. Men's Singles titles, and some pretty good international results.) And now we have 23 of them doing this! Just think about their training situation - they are on a team that works together to improve as they strive to win those professional league matches. It gives them incredible incentive to work hard and improve as they train full-time with two, maybe three sessions per day, plus physical training.

I wrote a few years ago that the U.S. had the strongest group of players in the mini-cadet range in our history, and it wasn't even close - and now that generation is getting some serious overseas training. This bodes well for our future. Our HPD, Jörg Bitzigeio, has done a lot of things, but in my mind, connecting these players with these overseas opportunities could end up being the most consequential one.

Summer Training Camps in the U.S.
There are lots of clubs running training camps this summer. Some are mostly for kids, others for all ages. Here is a listing of some of the major ones. I put a note in my blog last week asking for clubs running camps to let me know. Only a few responded. Those, and a few others I know about (I did some quick browsing of major clubs looking for camp info), are listed below. I'm sure there are many others - if you email me with a link, I'll add it to the list below.

  • Maryland Table Tennis Center, Gaithersburg, MD. This is my club, but since I will be traveling most of July and August, and we have nine full-time coaches and a number of part-time ones, I'm not really needed. We will be running camps every week all summer, Mon-Fri, starting June 17 and ending Aug. 30, except for the week of the U.S. Nationals (July 1-5). Camps are primarily for kids of all ages, but all ages are welcome. Other coaches include Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Wang Qingliang, Bowen Chen, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, Martin Jezo, Lidney Castro, and others.
  • Dan Seemiller Camps in South Bend, IN. The five-time U.S. Men's Champion will be running camps July 25-27 and Aug. 22-24.
  • Ohio Mega Camps in Akron, OH, June 20 - Aug. 9, with Samson Dubina and others.
  • Farmington Hills TTC in Farmington Hills, MI, runs four five-day camps this summer.
  • Lily Yip TTC in Dunellen, NJ, runs camps all summer, June 10 to Aug. 30. Here is their registration form.
  • Triangle TTC in Morrisville, NC, runs camps all summer, June 12 - Aug. 23. These camps focus on table tennis, but also have basketball, soccer, badminton, dodgeball, cricket, and board games.
  • Atlanta TTA in Atlanta, GA, runs camps most of the summer, June 3 - Aug. 2.
  • World Champions Academy in Santa Clara, CA, runs camps June 10-14, 17-21, and 24-28, with coaches Li Zhenshi, Nan Li, and Stefan Feth. Here is their camp flyer.
  • India Community Center in Milpitas, CA, runs camps all summer, June 20 - Aug. 23.
  • Fremont TTA in Fremont, CA, runs camps all summer, June 10 - Aug. 23, with Shashin Shodhan. Here is Online Registration.
  • USATT Training Camps at Lily Yip TTC (Dunellen, NJ, July 15-28) and SITTA (Sacramento, CA, Aug. 4-17), USA team members get priority, others may apply for open spots. Contact USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio

Maryland State Championships
They were held this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here are complete results. Sometime later today the tournament should be processed for USATT ratings. (Addendum added on Tuesday: Here's the write-up by Klaus Wood.) 

I was still co-director, but in reality, 90% of it was run by Klaus Wood and Greg Mascialino. I did a lot of the preliminary work (along with Klaus), and helped with setting up on Friday night and Saturday morning, but after that they took over, with a number of our local juniors helping with data entry. Starting with our next tournament in August they will be completely in charge as I retire from running tournaments - after running exactly 207 USATT tournaments! All but a few were two-day events, so that's well over 400 days running tournaments. I decided it was someone else's turn, and they stepped up and did a great job. Klaus will take over doing all the work that's done before and after the tournament, while he and Greg will run them together. They have learned all about running tournaments now, and are now coming up with all sorts of ideas to make me look bad to improve the tournaments. I spent much of the tournament in the back room working on some writing projects, plus coached a few matches.

Stephen Yeh also took over as referee for the first time, replacing long-time referee Paul Kovac, who retired and moved to Ohio. Steve did an excellent job, and umpired several of the big matches. (When he umpires, I take over as the acting referee.)

I did make one serious mistake this tournament. Because of shoulder problems I retired from private coaching over a year ago. (I still do group sessions.) I also had knee problems. But I'm mostly over those problems. However, I hadn't played an actual table tennis match in over a year! In classes I regularly do demonstrations and I often warm players up, but no actual matches. On Sunday morning, noting that the top seed in Over 40 was inexplicably was only rated 1763 (though a bit under-rated), and knowing that I don't think I've lost to a player rated under 2000 in a tournament since 1983 (about 400 tournaments ago), on the spur of the moment I decided to enter Sunday morning. So I played four matches, but when you haven't played a match in a year, you lose certain things - and my return of serve, my attack (kept missing both high balls and opening loops), and my footwork (especially covering the wide forehand) were poor, and at age 59 I wasn't quite as fast as I used to be. So I ended up with a big 50-point loss and a second-place finish. Oops!

On the other hand, here's a strange thing. For decades I've worn glasses when I play serious matches as my distance vision wasn't very good. But in recent years I've noticed it getting better. I don't even wear the glasses anymore at movies or when driving. I also didn't wear glasses in this tournament as I don't really need them now. I saw an optometrist last week, and discovered that over the last three years, the vision in my left eye has gone from 20-150 to 20-60, and in my right eye from 20-40 to 20-25! However, for reading, my eyes have gotten worse, and I now use reading glasses or I get a headache after a short time.

Hong Kong Open
Here's the home page for the event held this past week, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here are some links.

Exclusive Interview with Reigning World & Olympic Champion Ma Long
Here's the ITTF interview (5:37), in Chinese with English subtitles.

How Important Is It to Take a Table Tennis Break?
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Top 10 Ways to Make Improvements This Year!
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

How to Do a Legal Table Tennis Serve
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from EmRatThich

Ma Long Serve Analysis vs Tomokazu Harimoto
Here's the graphic and discussion at Table Tennis Daily. Apparently 100% (!) of his serves in the fifth game were short to the forehand.

The Science of Success (and Failure) – Ri Science Podcast
Here's the podcast (81 min) featuring former English star Matthew Syed.

How to Forehand Counter in Table Tennis
Here's the video (67 sec) by Jason and Alex Piech. (I put this in last week's blog, but it went up half a day late, and so am including it again. It features this fantastic coaching duo - ages 12 and 9, and already rated 1746 and 1552!)

Chatting with Jiwei Xia
Here's the USATT article by Jay Crystal.

Tran Triples Down and Chan Tops Group at ITTF North American Hopes Challenge
Here's the ITTF article featuring USA's Daniel Tran and others.

WAB Club Feature: Washington DC Table Tennis Center
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Picking NBA Winners… with Table Tennis Logic
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Clubbing in Atlanta
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Defying Statistics; Left Handers in the Majority
Here's the ITTF article. "Statistics suggest and of course they may vary that approximately 10 per cent of the world’s population is left handed; statistics in the men's singles event at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hang Seng Hong Kong Open suggest that it's not a bad idea to be left handed. At the quarter-final stage of proceedings the minority is the majority; overall 62.5 per cent of those competing in the round of the last eight on Saturday 8th June are left handed." . . . "So, if the percentage is high for male left handers, why have only three ever won the men’s singles title at a World Championships and not one of them Chinese or Hungarian, the two most successful countries in the history of the sport?"

Why Walker Owes So Much to First Coach
Here's the article featuring English star Sam Walker and his first coach, Howard Knott.

Registration Open for Full Slate of 2019 ITTF World Veterans Tour Events!
Here's the info page. This includes a stop in Florida in October. The events are:

The Great Escape! Lin Gaoyuan vs Dimitrij Ovtcharov | 2019 China Open
Here's the video (13:52 and 3:22).

Best Point of Each Day | 2019 China Open
Here are four videos.

2019 Polish Super League Final - Highlights
Here's the video (5:18).

Paddle Palace Atlanta Summer Open
Here's the article and results.

Paddle Palace Rose City Open
Here's the article, results, pictures, and video.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter 25 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "On/off-court action." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

Trump administration Cancels English Classes, Soccer, Legal Aid for Unaccompanied Child Migrants in U.S. Shelters
Here's the article from the Washington Post - and the key part is this: "While they wait in the shelters, minors attend school, study math and English, and participate in extracurricular activities such as table tennis, soccer and other sports." Wait, he's cancelled the table tennis?!!! (On a side note, I'm tempted to fly out there and volunteer - I can teach math, English, and table tennis.)

What Our Sport Should Be Called?
Here's the cartoon!

Broken Table Pong
Here's the video (16 sec)! Did termite engineers, using precise measuring equipment, eat the rest of the table?

Pongfinity Plays Mini Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:42)!

Toddler String Pong
Here's the video (27 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis - Wormhole Videos, Great White Walls, and Cadet Bone Spurs!
I had three science fiction stories come out this past week. One of them is The Apocalyptic Wormhole Video at Flame Tree Press, which is rather short and features an alien who comes to earth to sell us a video made of the Earth's upcoming destruction.

I usually keep politics out of my blog, but I also link to the science fiction/fantasy articles I get published, with the "Non-Table Tennis" tag. Recently a new anthology came out, "Alternative Truths III: End Game," which is a collection of science fiction & fantasy satires about the aftermath of the Trump presidency. I have two articles in it. One is a satire on the future of the Mexican wall, "The Great White Wall." (This is one of my favorite stories, but you'll have to buy the anthology to read it - print or ebook.) The other is "The Ballad of Cadet Bone Spurs," which are the new, satirical lyrics for the famous opening song (53 sec, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett") for The Beverly Hillbillies, a TV comedy that ran from 1962-1971, with 274 episodes. At the Soonercon Science Fiction Convention this past weekend in Norman, Oklahoma, Melinda Lafevers sang the song with my new lyrics! Here's the video (58 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 3, 2019

Tip of the Week
What to Think About Between Points . . . and What NOT to Think About.

Why Many Top Players and Up-and-Coming Players are NOT Innovative
Here's a strange thing I've noticed. I sometimes let up-and-coming players (especially juniors) practice against my serves, which are notoriously rather tricky. Especially the first time out, they miss, over and over. What I've noticed is that it is the weaker players who immediately try to copy my serves!

I think I know the reason. Suppose you have two players starting out. One copies the best players like Ma Long, and keeps working to develop perfect shots like them. This player hones those shots and improves rapidly until he too is a top player. Now imagine the second one, who is more innovative. Because of this, he experiments more than the first player, and keeps trying new ways of doing his shots. Result? He never quite perfects his shots like the first player. The moral here is that when it comes to fundamentals, you really want to copy the top players and hone your shots until they are nearly perfect. This doesn't mean top players don't experiment on these fundamentals, but the experimentation is more subtle as they strive to perfect the technique. (Many top players do develop perhaps one innovative technique, but mostly they copy, very successfully, the tried and true methods. Your average non-top player has, shall we say, dozens of "innovative" techniques.) 

Note how I italicized fundamentals, because that's where you generally don't want to be too innovative on the technique itself - there are tried and true techniques, and you should learn them. But there are times to be innovative, such as tactics and serves. With serves, you also want to copy the top players, but at the same time there's more room for innovation than with most rallying shots. But the problem is that the same type of mentality that tends to get good in table tennis - focusing on matching the perfect shots of the top players - means that type of player will tend to also only copy the serves used by those players. But here's the problem - there's a LOT more going on when a top player serves than meets the eye. You have to actually face them to realize this. Unlike, say, a forehand loop (where you can see and copy it), it's harder to do that with a serve. And so many of these future stars copy the serving motion of top players, but don't always really get the subtleties of it - and it's the subtle part of the top serves that make them so effective. (Very few fans watching top players serving really see that subtleties going on as the server varies the tricky, quick motions and contact point of his serve.)

The result is that many of these future stars never really start working on truly "elite" serves until they are older and years behind others. When they face a serve they have trouble with, they practice returning it, but since they don't connect those serves with what many top players are doing, they often don't practice or develop such serves themselves until later.

The argument against developing some of these tricky serves is that, while many are effective, period, many of them are more like "trick" serves that are only effective the first few times used, if spaced apart. But if you can develop a serve that gets you 2-3 "free" points a match, that's a big increase in level - not to mention winning most of your close games! Most established players could probably improve more in three months by focusing on developing really high-level serves than just practicing the same rallying shots they have long worked on. (You need both!)

Alas, another problem is that since players who get good tend to copy the top players, it means there are less top players innovating. The result is that there are probably techniques and styles out there that are way under-used, since the main ones trying them out are "less talented players" - and then, because they aren't as good as the more talented ones, this "proves" that the techniques and styles they are using are inferior! It's a Catch 22 situation.

Weekend Coaching

  • Thursday Beginning Class. We set up four stations, and the players rotated between them. Station One was the robot. Station Two was with me, where they practiced smashing. Station Three was serving low, where we set up two tables with adjustable serving bars. One of them was built by local player John Olsen, which has about ten settings - here is picture in a high setting (for beginners), and in a low setting (for more advanced players). On the other table we had Samson Dubina's TT-Serve. Station Four was footwork. We finished by letting the kids take turns on the robot where we set it at full speed and full frequency - basically a smash coming at your every half a second!
  • Saturday Junior League. This is half league, halve instruction. There were about 30 players, divided into three groups. I was in charge of the third group, where we played up-down tables for an hour, where winners moved up, losers down, but with various improvised rules. (For example, serve would serve backspin to the backhand; receiver pushes to the forehand; serve loops; then play out point. Or serve serves topspin to backhand; receiver returns to backhand; and they continue backhand-to-backhand until the serve changes direction, and then play out point.) For the second hour, we continued the up-down play with other improvised games, but with all 30 players in one group, so players who were in a lower group would sometimes play stronger players.
  • Sunday Beginning Class. For the first 20 minutes we practice serves, with the players taking turns using the adjustable serving bars used in the Thursday class above. Then the focus was on backhand attack against topspin, with the main drill the "Hard-Soft" drill, where the players go backhand-to-backhand, and one player alternates a regular backhand and then an aggressive one, while the player plays steady. The last 30 minutes was games, some playing "King of the Table" (we could use "King" because there were no girls in that group), and the others doing first Around-the-World (three misses and you are out), and then the ever-popular Cup Game - they stack the cups, then knock them down as I feed multiball.
  • Sunday Talent Program. This is for the more advanced juniors. I ran the third group, where we did lots of multiball. The focus was on footwork (always!) and flipping. At the start I gave a short demo of forehand and backhand flipping. They also did a number of serve and attack drills. We also did ten minutes of physical training near the end. We finished by playing Brazilian Teams.

Maryland State Championships
I'll be running the Maryland State Championships next weekend, along with Klaus Wood and Greg Mascialino. On Saturday there are six events, all rating events, and those are open to all players - you DON'T have to be a Maryland resident to play in those. (Under 2400, 2100, 1800, 1500, 1200, and 1000.) On Sunday are the "Championships" events, where you do have to be a Maryland resident for at least three months. (Military personnel assigned to Maryland and full-time Maryland students are immediately eligible.) There are also four doubles events on Sunday, and while you have to be a Maryland resident for Open Doubles, you don't have to for Under 4200, 3200, or 2400 Doubles. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday, so enter soon - you can enter online through the Omnipong link.

Blog and Tip Reads
The number of reads for each Blog and Tip are going up! In May, each blog averaged 5936 reads, with the last one, May 27, hitting 6811. That's a big jump - they averaged 4733 reads in April, and 4287 in March. The Tips averaged 6235 reads each, with the last one on May 27 hitting 6788. That's also a big jump - they averaged 4875 reads in April, and 3550 reads in March (the latter inexplicably brought down by only 2956 on the April 1 Tip). Of course, they continue to get reads, which is why it's surprising that recent ones have more hits than older ones that have been out there longer. For those who missed them, here are the Tips from the last two months, or just click on Tip of the Week from the menu.

Summer Table Tennis Camps - Send Links If You Are Running Any!!!
Next week I'm going to blog about summer table tennis camps (primarily in the U.S.), so if you have one, email me with a link to online info!

Hong Kong Open
Here's the home page for the event to be held June 4-9. Preliminaries (June 4-5) start tomorrow.

China Open
Here's the home page for the event held in Shenzhen, China this past weekend, with results, articles, pictures, and video. Here are some headline stories:

2019 ITTF North American Hopes Week and Challenge
Here's the USATT info page on the Camp and Tournament, held at the Broward TTC in Florida, May 27 - June 2, with links to results.

New from Samson Dubina

Training with Panagiotis Gionis (defense) and Kreanga Kalinikos
Here's the video (17:22), from Arnaud Scheen.

New from EmRatThich

How to Forehand Counter in Table Tennis
Here's the video (67 sec) by Jason and Alex Piech. (I added this late, and so will include in next week's blog, including any new videos by this fantastic coaching duo - ages 12 and 9, and already rated 1746 and 1552!)

Patrick O'Neill Obituary (1941 - 2019)
Here's the USATT Obituary. Pat was a USATT Vice President and father of five-time Men's Champion and 2-time Olympian Sean O'Neill.

USATT Website Under Maintenance
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

The Table Tennis Underground
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Westchester Ready, Entries Open for Inaugural ITTF 2019 Parkinson’s World Championships
Here's the ITTF article.

Ryu Seung-min Elected KTTA President
Here's the ITTF article. He was the 2004 Olympic Men's Singles Gold Medalist for South Korea.

Solidarity Through Table Tennis
Here's the ITTF article.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter 24 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Voices Heard." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

Incredible Point Between Jun Mizutani and Timo Boll
Here's the video (41 sec)!

Ball Tracking Technology in Table Tennis
Here's the ITTF video (1:36) from the 2019 China Open.

"Hill" Pong?
Here's the video (54 sec) as Tawny Banh takes on challengers on a slanting table!

Camping Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Mickey Mouse and His Ping-Pong Weapon
Here's the cartoon - "I have a PING-PONG PADDLE, and I'm not afraid to use it!"

Send us your own coaching news!

May 28, 2019

Tip of the Week
Why You Should Develop a Backhand Loop.

USATT Leaders and Editors
I've just spent an incredible amount of time compiling three lists. It involved going through the USATT Minutes, going through piles of old magazines and Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis (especially Volume 17, 1989-1990, page 272, which had lists of USATT presidents and editors), and getting info from Tim Boggan, Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Pittman), and Doru Gheorghe. If you find any corrections, please email me!

As a clarification, Presidents and Board Chairs are unpaid, volunteer positions. They mostly preside over the Board of Directors, including setting much of the agenda. Executive Directors and CEOs are full-time, paid employees, usually working out of USATT headquarters in Colorado Springs, who run the sport on a day-to-day basis.

The three lists are:

  • USATT Presidents and Board Chairs. Starting in 1934, we've had 29 Presidents (including three who had two tenures), through 2007, and since then four Board Chairs (one person had two tenures). The longest tenures were by Sol Schiff (10 years in two tenures), Sheri Pittman (8.5 years), and Elmer Cinnator and Dan Seemiller (five years each). All of the presidents were table tennis players, but only one of the Board Chairs has been.
  • USATT Executive Directors and CEOs. We've had 16 (the first in 1977), but this counts Doru Gheorghe twice (two tenures), and includes Bob Tretheway (who technically was only Program Director, but in reality acted essentially as Executive Director during much of his tenure), and includes a few who had "Acting" or "Interim" appended to their titles. Of the 16, 7 were table tennis players.
  • USATT Editors. This is my favorite list, since I'm on it! We've had 51 editors. Tim Boggan did the most issues, doing an even 100 in his two tenures. I am second with 71, also in two tenures (1992-1995, 1999-2007). Next up is Steve & Marie Hopkins (46), Otto Ek (32), and a bunch who did 20-30. Think it's an easy job? Look at the tenures of all the editors who came just before and just after me!

So . . . how many of these people have you met? Count 'em up! If someone you know has multiple tenures, you count each one. If there are two co-editors and you know both, you get one; if you only know one, you get 1/2. I know or have met 15 of the 33 Presidents/Chairs, 15 of the 16 EDs/CEOs (never met Haid), and 23 of the 51 editors, for a total score of 53. I'm guessing I'll have the highest score of anyone under the age of 60 (I'm 59). 

My Weekend

  • On Thursdays I teach a Beginning Class, 6:30-7:30PM. We had a big thunderstorm last Thursday, and when I arrived to set up for the class around 6PM I discovered the power at the club had been out since around 3PM - no lights! So I called up everyone in the class and let them know we'd have to cancel. I hung around for a bit, and then, as I was leaving around 6:20PM, the power came back! But it was too late to start the class up again.
  • I spent the weekend at Balticon, a science fiction convention in Baltimore, where I was a panelist and did a book signing. Signing right next to me was Dr. Gregory Benford, who (if you read any SF) you might know! Let's just say his line was longer than mine. I also shared a panel with Elizabeth Bear, and sat next to her - the panel was on "Characters with Agency," i.e. characters that do what they should do, not what the plot calls for. (The subject of the last few episodes of Game of Thrones came up quite a bit, where characters did what the plot called for, often seeming to act out of character.)
  • I was interviewed by China Daily. They are doing a feature on Table Tennis in America, and have also interviewed Cheng Yinghua, Dell & Connie Sweeris, Navin Kumar, and others.

Oceania Cup
Here's the home page for the event held May 25-26 in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

China Open
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Shenzhen, China, May 28 - June 2.

3 Weeks. 3 BIG Events. 10 Things You Need to Know!
Here's the ITTF article on the upcoming China Open (May 28 - June 2), Hong Kong Open (June 4-9) and Japan Open (June 12-16).

Chinese-American Lady to Head USA Table Tennis
Here's the article on USATT's hiring of Virginia Sung as CEO, from Xinhuanet.

The Importance of Small Steps in Table Tennis
Here's the USATT article by Wang Qingliang. (I helped with some editing. He's a coach at my club and one of the USATT National Team Coaches.)

3 Steps To Master The Backspin GHOST SERVE
Here's the video (8:40) from Table Tennis Daily. I do this serve regularly in my beginning classes to demonstrate backspin, and to more advanced players as an exercise they should do to develop extreme spin on their serves.

New from Tom Lodziak

New from Samson Dubina

International Table Tennis Training Camps
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Dealing With Frequent Table Tennis Frustration
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Players at the USA Nationals
Here's the final list of all 756 players, by name, and by event. Here's the home page for the event, June 30 - July 5 in Las Vegas.

US Table Tennis Schools
Here's the home page. "USA Table Tennis School site is your resource guide to find table tennis school teams, clubs, etc… We are here to help provide you the tools needed to create a table tennis school program in your area. We are here to collaborate with all the schools, school districts, local communities, organizations, administrators, and students to introduce this wonderful lifetime healthy sport to the masses. Click on your state below to find current programs in your area."

Player and Coach Alex Tan Zhuolin Passes Away
Here's the USATT obituary.

New from Steve Hopkins

ITTF Steps Up Measures Against Boostering
Here's the ITTF article. "Boostering"? I've always known it as "Boosting."

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter 22 and Chapter 23 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "1996 U.S. National Championships" Parts 1 and 2. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran | Ask a Pro Anything Presented by Andro
Here's the ITTF video (5:31) featuring the world #24 from India, with Adam Bobrow.

Two of the Best Table Tennis Rallies You Will Ever See
Here's the video (68 sec)!

Best of Mattias Falck | WTTC 2019
Here's the video (7:31). The Swede has short pips on the forehand and made the final of Men's Singles at the recent Worlds.

Kalinikos Kreanga vs Laurens Devos - 2019 Belgium League Super Division
Here's the video (15:32) - Kreanga was, for years, the most spectacular player in the world! He didn't have the deadly efficiency of players like Ma Long or Zhang Jike, but everything he did seemed highlights worthy with the big swings from both wings.

New from Arnaud Scheen from the Legends Tour 2019

United by Ping Pong, These Players Find Community in a New York Park
Here's the article and video (15:08) from National Geographic.

Sidespin Backhand Loop Around Net Through Duct Tape Tube
Here's the video (13 sec, including slo-mo replay) of Matt Hetherington!

Ping Pong Dash
Here are at least 39 issues of this Japanese Manga table tennis comic book, on sale at Amazon. They are in English!

You're Not Taking This Policy Meeting Seriously Enough
Here's the cartoon!

This Board Meeting Will Come to Order!
Here's the cartoon!

Me at Practice, Me at Tournament
Here's the cat cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Non-Table Tennis - Tales from the Old Black Ambulance
This anthology featuring stories of the dead came out just today, and includes my story, "Ded Society." (Yes, "Ded.") It's the story of a dead kid living in a graveyard society that doesn't know about the living or where they came from. He's 12-year-old Charles Darwin, who in this reality died at age 12 (as he almost did for real) . . . and now he's searching for the origins of the Ded! It's the longest story I've ever sold (other than four novels) - just under 10,000 words (about 40 double-spaced pages in 12-point Times).

Send us your own coaching news!

May 20, 2019

Tip of the Week
Recipe for Table Tennis Success. I had a little fun this week!

Virginia Sung Appointed New CEO of USA Table Tennis
Here's the USATT article. She starts work today. Here main credentials (from the article, and these are only a very brief outline):

Ms Sung founded and served as CEO of a number of large scale businesses in China, some with over 200 employees. She also holds a Bachelor of Philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. As a player, she represented the USA on numerous occasions, including as a six-time member of the US World Championships team between 1993 and 2001, a finalist in the Women's Singles event at the 2001 National Championships, and the co-winner of National Champion Women's Doubles event in 1998.

I knew her from many years ago, but mostly as a seemingly very shy junior after she moved to the U.S. from China at age 14, when her English wasn't so good. (She's very fluent now, almost no accent.) She lived and trained here in Maryland for a couple of years; I had a few practice sessions with her. (She's a chopper.) She and I spoke for nearly an hour at the U.S. Open in December, and she seemed almost a different person - far more outgoing, highly savvy on current table tennis issues, and obviously very enthusiastic about the possibility of being the USATT CEO and leading our sport into a new era. (At the time she was one of many candidates applying, but she quickly moved to the forefront for many.)

It's a sad truth that she'll also face some prejudices. Not everyone will accept a not-so-tall Asian woman as a CEO. Some will try to talk over or down to her. Welcome to the darker side of human nature. But she's run large businesses so presumably she'll know how to handle this and other situations. 

At some point I may put together a list, perhaps a Top Ten list, of things I think USATT (and thereby her, as the "captain") should do to really develop the sport in this country. It's not an easy thing to do as any time someone from USATT tries to do something good for the sport, they face:

  • Politics - who'd have thunk it?
  • Highly opinionated naysayers with their own (often not so good) ideas. Hopefully not me!
  • Organizational inertia. It's hard to make major changes in a sport in the U.S. that's proven itself most resistant to change for its first 86 years.
  • Seemingly weekly "emergencies" that have to be taken care of. When I was on the USATT Board of Directors, I wanted to focus on developing the sport, but we were in an almost constant state of putting out the latest "fires," and so that was mostly the focus. Far more time was spent on this and various "fairness" issues (how to choose a U.S. Team, Codes of Conducts, etc.) than on actual development.
  • A lack of money and staff. Always a problem . . . unless the CEO or someone brings in more money. Local sponsorships are much easier to get as local businesses like to advertise locally, but getting national sponsors has proven to be very difficult for an organization that doesn't get much exposure and has only about 9000 members spread out over an area of 3.8 million square miles. (That's about 420 square miles for each member, or roughly one member for each 20 mile by 20 mile square.) Why would a big business want to sponsor a small sport like ours that gets so little exposure? Why would a small business want to sponsor a nationwide sport as opposed to something local? There are answers to these questions, but not always persuasive ones for the potential sponsors.

Here's the USATT Staff Listing - I wonder how long it'll take to get this updated to add our new CEO? C'mon, USATT, impress us! :)
***UPDATE*** - it went up on Tuesday! 

Weekend Coaching
In both the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Junior Classes, the focus was on Forehands Down the Line and on Forehand Smashing. (We'll focus more on backhand this next week.) On Friday I watched and scouted our junior players in league matches for two hours (as I did the previous Friday), and reported the results to the other coaches at our Sunday night dinner/coaches meeting. In the Sunday Talent Program, we're really focusing on basics, both strokes and footwork, as well as physical training

Final Day to Enter USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Final deadline is May 20 - TODAY. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. There are currently 719 players entered. Here's my blog about this last week.

ITTF Calendar
Here's the ITTF calendar for upcoming events, such as the Thailand Junior & Cadet Open (Bangkok, Thailand, May 15-19) and the China Open (Shenzhen, China, May 30 - June 2).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Otocec, Slovenia, May 8-12, 2019, with complete results, news, photos, and video. Here's the article Zhang Upsets Order to Finish in Slovenia Quarterfinal by Matt Hetherington, featuring USA's Lily Zhang.

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Zagreb, Croatia, May 14-18, 2019, with complete results, news, photos, and video. Here are some links.

ITTF Level 3 Course in Akron, Ohio at Samson Dubina Academy
Here's the info page for the course, held Sept. 4-11. Here's what was posted about on Facebook - I've combined it into one paragraph:

We are delighted to announce that the NEW Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy will be hosting an ITTF Level 3 Course here in Akron, Ohio on Sep 4-11. Christian Lillieroos will be the course conductor! This is the ONLY ITTF Level 3 course worldwide in 2019 (in English) and we ONLY have 20 spots available. The early-bird deadline is June 1st, but I won't wait until then. It will likely fill up in the next 1-2 months. Register NOW This will likely be the only time during the next 5-10 years that we will offer a level 3 course here in Ohio. To be eligible for the course, you must have passed level 2 with a score high enough to take the level 3. If you have questions about your eligibility, please send me a message. See you soon at the NEW Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy in Akron, Ohio, USA.

New from Tom Lodziak

Recommending a Racket
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Breaking New Group, First for Southern India
Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF courses ran in India by USA's Richard McAfee.

Dexter St Louis, Caribbean Stalwart, Passes Away
Here's the ITTF article.

Wang Chen and Victor Liu Arbitration Demand
Here is the Demand for Arbitration (65 pages, but main document is 11 pages, the rest "Exhibits"). They are taking USTT to Arbitration over the Olympic and Pan Am Selections. I have not fact-checked this. USATT will no doubt have their own side to this, though I expect it won't go public until after the Arbitration. Here is the USATT Selection Procedures Page.

Fort Lauderdale to Host World Veteran Tour Event
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington, on the event to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Oct. 17-20, 2019.

Jenson Van Emburgh's Exceptional Performance at World's Biggest Para Event
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

WAB Club Feature: Broward Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

ITTF Pilot Testing "Thickness measurement on dismantled rubbers" Project
Here's the ITTF article.

Table Tennis Tidbits #46
Here's the article by Robert Ho, "Li’l Liu", Big Bang. "At the '19 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Liu Shiwen of China, # 1 woman player in the world periodically for about a decade, finally won the Women's World Championship for the first time at 28 years of age, 5'3" tall, weighing 106 lb.  If the foregoing description sounds like that of a boxer, it's meant to be as Liu is a relentless fighter."

English Table Tennis National Junior Championships 2019
Here's the article by Eli Baraty, and he's not happy. "It's truly sad for me to say this but honesty is said to be the best policy and it pains me to say it but the foundations of English table tennis is at an all time low."

Germany in Decline? Rosskopf: Working to Revert It
Here's the article in Chinese, with an English translation (and some discussion) at

ITTF Museum
Here's a tour (4 min) of the ITTF Museum in Shanghai. Alas, it's in Portuguese, but it shows the many exhibits, including close-ups of the English explanations. Here's a pictorial.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter 21 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "October-December 1996 Tournaments." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

DHS Top 10 | Liebherr 2019 World Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (6:35).

Unbelievable Table Tennis
Here's the highlights video (π).

Samson Dubina - Jacob Boyd Exhibition
Here's the video (42 sec).

Comedian Frank Caliendo Talks about Table Tennis
Here's the video (21:25, link should go to the table tennis, from 14:26 to 16:56). 

Backyard Cat Pong
Here's the video (13 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

May 13, 2019

Tip of the Week
First Block and First Counterloop.

USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Final deadline is May 20. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. There are currently 673 players entered, and if you aren't there, we will be talking about you - and it won't be nice! I'll be coaching there, and playing in Over 40 Hardbat. (I normally use sponge, but hardbat is a sideline.)

Here are two articles by Matt Hetherington on players who will be competing at the Nationals:

Here's another article on the Nationals from NCTTA, Play or Volunteer in US Nationals at Vegas!

There are 96 events this year. They include:

  • Men's and Women's Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.
  • 24 junior events, ranging from Under 10 to 21 and Under, for boys and girls, with numerous singles, doubles, and team events. (This is in addition to the various junior rating events.)
  • 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/
  • Ten hardbat and two sandpaper events.
  • Open and Women's Para events for Classes 1-11.

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 4). Come and see Michael Ralston, Li Zhenshi, and Sharon Brooks as they are inducted into the USATT Hall of Fame, and Richard Hicks receive the Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award. 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 - 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 2018, 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 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 they solve the problems of our sport (or don't)!

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!!!

Weekend Coaching

  • In the Thursday Beginning Class we had a general practice session, with the players rotating from station to station, working with different coaches, the robot, with each other, or practicing serves. In my station I focused on the backhand, while I also oversaw the players on the robot, which was on the adjourning table. We ended with games.
  • During the Friday night league I spent two hours scouting out our players, noting what needed to be worked on. For example, I noted one player had a tendency to go off balance after looping, leading to problems with the next shot. Another was way too passive on the backhand. Another had no variation on his serves. 
  • On Saturday in the Junior League, there were a number of adjusted games, where players had to start out each rally with specified serves or scores. Lots of serve and attack games!
  • On Sunday in the Beginning Class, the focus was on pushing. We also spent about 30 minutes doing regular drills, and ended with games.
  • On Sunday in the advanced Talent program, I was in charge of the ten players in Groups 3. Lots of table drills! Lots of footwork! And then I rushed home to watch Game of Thrones (of course).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend in Otocec, Slovenia, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23
You can now order your copies! Vol. 23 (by Tim Boggan) covers 1997-1999. It's 491 pages with a new record of 1841 graphics! As some USATT Hall of Famer once said, "How can any serious player not buy these books?" Note that Tim Boggan signs each volumes you buy!

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Twenty of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Viewpoints." Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

Belgian Jean-Michel Saive Ends Table Tennis Career
Here's the article from Xinhuanet. Here's video of Saive's last league match (7:36), with some great lobbing points and audience participation, from Arnaud Scheen.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens Talks History, His New Book and Ping-Pong
Here's the article from MPR News. "When you interview a 99-year-old Supreme Court justice, one who has written some of the landmark opinions of modern times, you don't imagine in advance that the subplot of the interview is going to be Ping-Pong."

New From Samson Dubina

New from Eli Baraty

New from EmRatThich

Serve + 3rd ball attack – with Craig Bryant
Here's the video (10 min) from Tom Lodziak.

Liu Guoliang on Who's Better: Jan Ove Waldner or Ma Long!
Here's the article.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Table Tennis
Here's the podcast (48:32) from Expert Table Tennis.

Table Tennis Calculus
Here are a series of videos from Geoffrey Cheng covering a number of table tennis (and a few other) topics.

New from Coach Jon

New from Steve Hopkins

Report on the ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course: Flushing New York
Here's the article by Sydney Christophe.

Houston's Tim Wang Excited About 2021 Table Tennis Championships Coming Here
Here's the article from the Houston Chronicle.

2019 World Table Tennis Championships Recap
Here's the article from PingSkills by Matt Solt.

Encouraging Participation and Young Talents Crowned at 2019 USA Hopes Week and Challenge
Here's the USATT article by Mike Lauro.

Lily Zhang is All In on the Road to Pan Ams and Tokyo 2020 Qualification
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Van Emburgh Solely Focused on Making 2020 Paralympics
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Table Tennis Tidbits #45: Mattias Falck nee Karlsson ’19 World Runner-up to Ma Long
Here's the article by Robert Ho.

RACVB, RAVE and ITTF North America Announce First-Ever Olympic Trials in Rockford
Here's the article.

Adriana Diaz vs Zhang Lily | 2019 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open (R16)
Here's the video (13:23) as USA's Lily (world #81) upsets Puerto Rico's Adriana (world #31).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs Fang Bo | Champions League 2019 (FINAL)
Here's the video (10:46).

DHS Top 10 | 2019 ITTF Qatar Open
Here's the video (6:04).

2018 ITTF Year in Review
Here's the video (2:20).

Ping Pong Literacy Promo
Here's the video (5:30).

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart​ Tokaev Plays Table Tennis
Here's the video (43 sec). He comes in about 17 sec in.

Ball-Bouncing on Side of Table
Here's the video (46 sec) of a whole class doing it! Can you?

Sid & Nandan on Pickler and Ben TV Show
Here's the video (5:24) of the Narash brothers.

Aruna Quadri TATATrickshot
Here's the video (33 sec) of the Nigerian star!

Top Best of Blocking Magic
Here's the video (4:17) of mostly humorous blocks!

Ma Lin Poker Joke
Larry Bavly emailed me this one: "2008 Olympic gold medalist Ma Lin joined a poker table. Once the cards were dealt and it was his turn, he introduced himself to the table and everyone folded. They heard him say "I'm Ma Lin." (Okay, you may groan now.)

Best Table Tennis Jokes and Funny Memes
Here's the listing from EmRatThich!

Non-Table Tennis - Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Sales and Publications
I had a flurry of recent sales (yes, I get paid for these!) and publications in my other life as a SF writer. Here's a rundown.

  • Flame Tree Publications (one of the big ones) published my story, The Apocalyptic Wormhole Video, about an alien who comes to earth to sell us video of our planet's destruction in 50 years.
  • Alternative Truths: Endgame came out, a series of stories that satirize Trump, with two stories by me, "The Ballad of Cadet Bone Spurs" (new lyrics for the opening song to the old TV show the Beverly Hillbillies that foretell Trump's future) and "The Great White Wall" (which satirizes the future of the Mexican wall).
  • The upcoming anthology Space Opera Libretti, which features humorous science fiction stories, announced its table of contents, which includes my story, "Confederate Cavalry on a Plane." A physicist on a plane argues with another that anything you can imagine must have happened somewhere in the multiverse, and the titles tells you the rest - and the story tells how it came about. One of the funniest stories I've ever written. It should be out this month.
  • The upcoming anthology Tales of the Old Black Ambulance came out with the cover and table of contents, which includes my story, "Ded Society." (Yes, "Ded.") It tells the story of a 12-year-old Charles Darwin, who in this reality died as a kid (as he almost did in real live) and lives with other Ded in a graveyard, where he tries to figure out where the origin of the Ded. It should be out this month.
  • A super-short story of mine got honorable mention and was published at On the Premises. Alas, no payment for this one.

Send us your own coaching news!

May 7, 2019

Tip of the Week
Playing Short Pips on the Forehand.

Sorry, no regular blog this week. I just went through the most painful 24 hours of my life. I came down with a "minor" toothache last week, but since I had a dentist appointment already for this week - ironically, at 9:40AM today (Tuesday), which is about when I'm writing this - I thought I could wait. But on Sunday it got very, very painful, and I barely made it through the two classes I teach those days.

I discovered that if I swirled room-temperature water over it the pain went away for about 30 seconds. So starting sometime on Sunday night, and until a little before noon on Monday (when I saw the dentist), I literally sat in my lounge chair with cases of water and some big plastic cups, and every 30 seconds or so would take a small mouthful of water, swirl, and spit out into the big cups. I kept that up for about 15 hours straight, never sleeping - I had no choice, it was either that or searing pain. I went through 47 bottles of water, was up for over 40 hours straight, and ate nothing but room-temperature Slimfast breakfast shakes since I couldn't chew anything. (I also popped Ibuprofen like M&Ms, but that didn't help much.)

Anyway, the dentist mostly fixed the problem, but as he warned, the tooth will hurt for a few more days - and he was right. It's not as bad as it was on Sunday and Monday, but it's pretty painful despite the Codeine prescription he gave me. (Today's regular check-up was cancelled - as he predicted, I'd be in no shape for it.) My arm, mouth, and the rest of me are also very, very sore and tired from that 15-hour bottle grabbing and water swirling marathon.

For your weekly news fix, here are a few links:

May 6, 2019

This week's blog will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). I have an incredibly painful toothache and have an "emergency" appointment at noon today. Until this is fixed I won't be doing much of anything. 

April 29, 2019

Tip of the Week
Rope-a-Dope Defense.

World Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event that finished yesterday in Budapest, Hungary, April 21-28, with results, and lots and Lots and LOTS of news articles, video, and pictures.

USA Nationals
Here's the home page for the event to be held in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5. Entry fees go up significantly after May 6, so make sure to enter by then! Final deadline is May 20. You can see the current list of entries by player or by event. Numbers are currently low - only 219 so far - but they will likely end up with around 700 or so. I'll be coaching there, and am debating whether to enter one or two events.

ITTF World Rankings
Here they are, after the Worlds. Let's face it, the new ITTF ranking system, which rewards participation, just isn't working. Even after winning the World's (and the Qatar Open just before that), Ma Long, obviously the best player in the world, is only #5, behind three Chinese teammates who didn't do so well at the Worlds (Fan, Lin, Xu) and Japan's Harimoto, who also did poorly. On the women's side, Liu Shiwen won the Worlds and improved from #5 to #4, behind three Chinese teammates. So probably the best man and woman in the world right now are both ranked #4 just on their team!!!

Last Week's Coaching

  • I ran a two-hour Serving Seminar on Wednesday, with 21 players, as a fundraiser for the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. We raised $400, but with a matching donor, actually raised $800! (Here's the flyer for the event.) Seminar was supposed to be 90 minutes but we stayed an extra 30 minutes.
  • In the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Classes we focused on serving. Both classes had a mixture of beginners who were just learning to serve, and more advanced ones, so I had to cover both. We then broke into two groups, based on level. Some focused on spin serves, some on fast serves, some of the younger ones on just getting the serve on and hitting targets. After the serving practice, we did a number of other drills, including a forehand-to-forehand consistency contest. (We'll do backhands this week.)
  • In the Sunday Talent Program (run by HW Global), the focus was on playing points, so we had lots of up-down table drills, where the players had to start the rally out in certain ways - sometimes serving backspin to a specific spot, receiver pushes back to a specific spot, then attack and play out the point; or serve topspin to the backhand and then go backhand-to-backhand until the serve changes direction, either to wide forehand or to middle. Afterwards we had a coaches meeting at a local Chinese restaurant, which caused me to miss the 9PM showing of Game of Thrones, so I saw the midnight showing, and afterwards spent some time Googling and reading about it, and didn't get to bed until around 3AM, which is why this week's blog went up an hour late!
  • A couple of weeks ago I had a talk with one of our top juniors who had had a series of bad losses in tournaments. He was having trouble mentally getting into his past mode where he'd had many good wins. I told him he needed to remember his mental condition during one of those good wins - but he said he couldn't remember. So we made it a goal to remember this the next time he had a good win. Sure enough, he had a great win in a tournament. We talked about it yesterday, and now he can use that match as the one to emulate mentally. I wrote about this mental technique three weeks ago in Remember Your Best Match. It currently had 4827 reads! (But they all get about that many - last week's No More Excuses - Develop World-Class Serves with TNT has 4424. The blog itself gets about the same number of reads, with last week's at 4722.)

The 'Extreme Extrovert' on a Mission to Make You Love Ping Pong
Here's the article featuring Adam Bobrow. "Over the years, Bobrow has parlayed both his lifelong obsession with table tennis and endless, unabashed exuberance into viral fame, receiving millions of views on YouTube for goofy videos like “Enter the Snake: Twist of Fury” and “Excessive Ping Pong Celebration”. He’s also made a career out of it. As the official commentator for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the sport’s main governing body, Bobrow is known as the “voice of table tennis” to fans across the world."

Kanak's Deceptive Backhand in Slow Motion
Here's the video - link goes to a slow motion replay of the shot against Ma Long at the Worlds. Notice how he aims crosscourt, then at the last second, after Ma starts to move to his left, he switches directions for a clean winner? This type of shot - where you aim one way, and then change directions at the last second, are way underused by most players. 

Tennis Great Andre Agassi on Confidence
Here's the video (1:47) every player and coach should watch. "Focus on the right goal. The goal is not to win, winning you cannot control. … What you can control is your focus, determination, concentration and your discipline. … Be more prepared than your opponent."

Ouch I Lost (>.<) Learning From Losses
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Playing Offense With Better Defense
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Pro Table Tennis with Rowden Fullen
Here's a site with lots of useful coaching articles.

New from EmRatThich

Fan Zhengdong in Slow Motion
Here's the video (6:38). 

Difficult Start But Successful Finish in Ajmer
Here's the ITTF article on the ITTF Coaching Course taught in India by Richard McAfee.

Best of the Best--NCTTA 2019
Here's the voting page for Male Athlete, Female Athlete, Rookie, Coach, Rookie Team, Most Improved Team, Divisional Director, and Regional Director of the Year.

League Champions at Last – a Review of My League Season
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

WAB Club Feature: Atlanta International Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Paddle Palace Spring Open
Here's the article by Jay Crystal.

ITTF President on New Rubber Colors & More
Here's the video (28:23) from Table Tennis Daily.

Open Internacional Yucatán 2019 - Sharon Alguetti (USA) Highlights
Here's the video (7:57).

41 Fascinating Facts About the Game We Love
Here's the page.

Ma Long and His Marvel Action Figure Collection
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) He just became my favorite player ever!

Table Tennis Shower Curtain
Why don't you have one???

Lily Zhang TATA Trick Shot at Budapest WTTC
Here's the video (55 sec) - she beat Ma Long! 

Table Tennis Gifs
Here's a page of them!

Ping-Pong Bandit
Here's the page about this great villain from Blazing Paddles! It's in Spanish; here's the video (link goes to the ping-pong scene). "The Ping Pong Bandit is a Western outlaw known for taking paddles away from anyone who loses a game of table tennis to him. He uses a special move called the "Bandit Slam-It" to ensure his victories. He also appears in a western "Wanted" poster, with a reward of $500 for his capture."

Send us your own coaching news!

April 22, 2019

Tip of the Week
No More Excuses - Develop World-Class Serves with TNT

Serving Seminar at Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here's the info flyer for the Serving Seminar I'll be running at MDTTC in two days (Gaithersburg, MD, USA), on Wednesday, April 24, 7-8:30PM - hope to see you there! 100% of all fees will be donated to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. I'm dividing the seminar into two parts - third-ball serves (serves that set up attacks, which should be the majority of your serves) and trick serves (serves designed to win the point directly, if not overused - I'll demonstrate a number of these). There is, of course, overlap between the two, as I'll go over. We already have a bunch of people signed up - hope to see you there! I'll likely stay late to work with players.

2021 World Championships - in Houston, USA!!!
Yep, we won the bid this morning at the ITTF meetings in Budapest, 83-44 over Morocco. This will be for Singles and Doubles, as are the current 2019 World Championships - for roughly the last 20 years they've alternated each year between that and World Team Championships. This is the first regular World Championship ever held in the USA, though we've had others for Veterans, Juniors and various World Cups. (See listing below.)

Here is the USATT article, The World Table Tennis Championships is Coming to USA for the First Time in 2021!, by Matt Hetherington. Here's the ITTF article. Here is video of USA's Bid - the link should take you to the start of the roughly 15-minute bid. There were four presenters:

  • Dragomir Cioroslan, main presenter (Director of International Relations for the U.S. Olympic committee, a 1984 bronze medalists in weightlifting, and husband of former USATT President Sheri Cioroslan, then Sheri Pittman)
  • Janis Schmees Burke, CEO of the Harris Country Houston Sports Authority
  • Anne Cribbs, Chair of the USATT Board of Directors
  • Lily Zhang, USA Olympian and member of the U.S. Women's Team and four-time Women's Singles Champion

Here's an updated version of my listing of World Championship-type table tennis events that have been held (or will) in North America:

  • 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2021 World Championships, Houston, USA
  • 2018 World Veterans Championships, Las Vegas, USA
  • 2017 Women’s World Cup, Markham, CAN
  • 2016 Women’s World Cup, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2007 World Junior Championships, Palo Alto, USA
  • 2000 World Veterans Championships, Vancouver, CAN
  • 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, USA
  • 1995 World Team Cup, Atlanta, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1992 World Doubles Cup, Las Vegas, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1990 World Veterans Championships, Baltimore, USA

World Championships Coverage
Here's the ITTF home page for the event in Budapest, Hungary, April 21-28, with results, and lots and Lots and LOTS of news articles, video, and pictures. (For USA coverage, check the USATT News page daily.) Here are more World Championships links:

Stress Indicating Illusion - Sports Application?
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Under the picture, it says, "This image was created by a Japanese neurologist. If the image is still, you are calm, if the image moves a bit, stressed, and if it moves like a carousel, you are very stressed. Tell me how you are doing?" I tested it, and sure enough, if I clear my mind - as I would before playing a serious table tennis point - the image goes still. I think this could have a serious application in sports as a way for players to practice calming themselves before sports activities. (Alas, too much viewing hurts my eyes.)

How to Make the 2020 United States Olympic Table Tennis Team
Here's the USATT news item. I blogged about how I and others didn't like the initial plan, where up to 4 of 6 potential members of the U.S. Olympic Team could have been selected by committee. They've changed it now so that at most 2 of 6 will be selected that way, with the others making the team by their finish at the current Worlds (quarters or better, unlikely) or highest world ranking, Trials, and then committee selections.

World's Best Table Tennis Robot vs TableTennisDaily's Dan!
Here's the video (9:15) of the latest generation of robots that can actual play table tennis, not just throw balls at you for practice. This one not only rallies really, really well, but reads spin. I don't think the player gave him his best serve, so I'd like to test the robot out against world-class serves, or even my own, or see how it does against pushes or against a chopper. Here's discussion at the TableTennisDaily forum.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 23
Tim Boggan and I finished work on it on Wednesday. It's 491 pages with a record 1841 graphics, covering 1997-1999. The proof copy is already in the mail to Tim, which he should receive tomorrow (Tuesday). Assuming all is well, it'll go on sale this week! Info on buying it will be at Tim Boggan Table Tennis (which I maintain for him), along with info on buying any or all of the previous 22 volumes.

Happy Birthday to Jorgen Persson
The 1991 World Singles Champion and 4-time World Team Champion from Sweden turned 53 today!

Three Tips to Improve Mental Strength in Table Tennis
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

How to Beat Flat Hitters at Table Tennis
Here's the article by Ben Larcombe.

Right Footed?
Here's the article and video (13 sec) by Samson Dubina.

Table Tennis From the Heart
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

The Real Value of Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Zhangliang Emphasizes Benefits of Multiball Training
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington and Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!).

Collegiate Articles by Matt Hetherington

WAB Club Feature: Folsom Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Paddle Power: Employers Find Net Profits in Ping-Pong
Here's the article from the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Zhang Jike Practicing Backhand Loop at WTTC in Dortmund
Here's the video (53 sec).

Best of 2019: Marvelous Twelve
Here's the video (5:15).

Top Backhand Table Tennis Moments
Here's the video (4:37).

Timo Boll 2009 Wonder Rally at the Qatar Open
Here's the point (41 sec) against Mizutani of Japan.

Incredible Point
Here's the point (26 sec), including some incredible returns and changing hands!

Incredible Chopping and Lobbing Defense!
Here's the point (43 sec) - including two body-spinning chops!

How Good Is The Pongfinity Trick Shot Team?
Here are two videos (4:38 and 3:31).

Table Tennis Magic: LEON the Magician Live Footage!
Here's the video (6:35)!

Players Have Too Much Fun with Bunny Ears at the 2019 U.S. Collegiate Championships
Here's the video (34 sec)! They push a button to make the ears flop.

New Table Tennis Cartoons

Table Tennis is Fun and Good!
Here's the great and hilarious video (47 sec) of Izabel, the enthusiastic daughter of Jasna Rather, two-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion, 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist in Women's Doubles, and current USATT Director of Para Programs.

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