January 26, 2015

Tip of the Week

Play the Ball.

Writing Sabbatical

A week ago I wrote that I was taking the week off to work on my new book, "Parents Guide to Table Tennis." But a funny thing happened along the way - I got caught up in a number of USATT issues. The net result was I got a lot of stuff done, but only a little on the book, which I'm putting on hold for now. I've come to realize that I probably won't get much writing done over the next four years (my term on the board), other than this blog and the Tips of the Week, and some fiction writing.

There's a lot of USATT stuff going on, but my focus right now is regional associations, which include setting up state championships, regional team leagues, and training centers (which include coaching and junior programs).

However, I did get some writing done - in a fit of energy and inspiration, I did a lot of work on my new table tennis fantasy novel, now tentatively titled "The Spirit of Pong." It's about a mid-level U.S. player who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. He learns the three secrets of table tennis (The Body of Pong, the Mind of Pong, and the Paddle of Pong), and has to overcome great adversity and treachery while meeting the spirits of a number of table tennis greats. I just finished a chapter where he visits the statue and gravesite and meets the spirit of Rong Guotuan, China's first world champion (Men's Singles in 1959) and coach of their first women's world team title (Women's Teams in 1965), who was then framed during the Cultural Revolution as a spy, condemned and tortured, until he finally committed suicide by hanging himself in 1968 at age 30. He has since been "rehabilitated," but I got a stomachache while writing this chapter, just thinking about this terrible wrong. My protagonist learns "The Mind of Pong" from Rong.

Here's a short rundown of my week:

  • Monday: Spent most of the day working on USATT issues and taking care of a number of other items on my todo list. Did one hour of coaching. Then did a demo and exhibition with Stefano Ratti at SmashTT (see segment below). Then met with the Capital Area Super League Organizing Committee for two hours. (Me, Michael Levene, Stefano Ratti, and John Olsen.) Couldn't sleep, so stayed up half the night on USATT issues.
  • Tuesday: I planned to start on the "Parents Guide" that morning, but after staying up until 4AM I was exhausted, and didn't get much done. I did another two hours of coaching, and then, late that night, wrote a chapter of "The Spirit of Pong."
  • Wednesday: Worked more on "The Spirit of Pong," then studied a bunch of USATT issues for the meeting that night. Had a lot of email discussions with board members on various issues. Coached two hours, then came back for the USATT Teleconference (see segment below). After the meeting I was too energized to go to bed, so worked on USATT issues half the night. I did some work on "Parents Guide," then put it aside.
  • Thursday: Did three hours of coaching, including running one of our junior group sessions for an hour. Also had to spend much of the day on non-table tennis issues - running errands, etc., plus one biggie. A while back the overhang over the front door to my house broke and fell - it was a massive thing, weighing hundreds of pounds. I had a new one installed, which cost a LOT of money, alas. They also fixed once again my perennially breaking front gate.
  • Friday: I spent most of the day on USATT issues, then did three hours of coaching. Then saw the movie "The Theory of Everything."
  • Saturday: Spent much of the day working on "The Spirit of Pong," including a lot of research and reading about Rong Guotuan. Then went to the club from 5-10PM for a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, where I did a demo and exhibition with Sameer, and then helped run a recreational tournament. They raised over $4000! (More on this later, when I get pictures and video.)
  • Sunday: Did 2.5 hours of coaching, including 1.5 hours running one of our junior group sessions. Spent much of the night (and this morning) in email discussions with board members, including a discussion I started on "Vision." While I can't share what others wrote, I can share mine: "I see a USATT with huge membership, where our top players and juniors are competitive with the best players and juniors in the world, and where our U.S. Open and Nationals are premier money and TV events." And yes, achieving this vision is what most of my USATT work over the next four years (and over the past week) has been about.

USATT Board Teleconference

I had my first USATT board meeting since getting elected to the board. It was a teleconference on Wednesday night. I'll discuss it more when the minutes for the meeting come out. A few items: we voted on the new board chair (as required by USATT bylaws), but I'll let USATT do the press release before I write about that. We redefined what an "Associate Membership" is (more on that after the minutes come out); heard reports on RailStation (who now do our ratings, membership, and other software), sponsorships, and the US Open/Nationals (more on that hopefully over the next week); discussed committees and had a vote on a new structure and committee definitions that I disagreed with (more on this after the minutes come out - yes, that's getting repetitive); and had an executive session where we discussed some confidential personnel/disciplinary issues. The meeting started at 8PM and ended at 10:07PM. As noted, once the minutes come out I can comment more on this. Hopefully they'll be out within a month or so.

Smash TT Exhibition

Here's the video (25:08) of a demo and exhibition I did at Smash Table Tennis in Sterling, VA, last Monday (Jan. 19) with Stefano Ratti. Lots of trick shots and fun! Here's Stefano and I afterwards posing with the club's balloon mascot. Then we had a meeting of the Capital Area Super League Organizing Committee for two hours. (Me, Michael Levene, Stefano Ratti, and John Olsen.)

USATT Ratings Page and Webpage

Here's the new USATT Ratings Page. There are still some bumps in the page, but they are working to fix them. There's a "New USATT Ratings Site" discussion of this at the Mytabletennis.net forum, where even USATT CEO Gordy Kaye is involved. There's also "USATT Website - Great or Sux?" discussion of the new USATT website.

USATT News Items

During my sabbatical USATT put up 17 news items - here's their News Page!

$100,000 World Championships of Ping Pong

The tournament, where players only use sandpaper rackets (you heard that right) were held this past weekend in London for the third consecutive year. Here's the home page with results, articles, pictures, etc. Here's the prize money listing. In the final Andrew Baggaley (ENG) defeated Alexander Flemming (GER), 3-2, winning $20,000. In the semifinals Baggaley upset 2-1 Maxim Shmyrev (RUS) who had won the previous two years. Three USA players took part - Jim Butler, Ilija Lupulesku, and Johnard Baldonado, with Lupulesku making the final 16 before losing 2-1 to Flemming. (He made the semifinals last year.)

New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

Here they are - and you can also buy his International Skills DVD!

  • Mood Swings - Learn about making or breaking your next tournament!!!
  • The Perfect Plan - Learn About Feeling Pressure from Outside Sources Learn about feeling pressure from outside sources.

New Videos from Dynamic Table Tennis

Here are two new ones from Coach Brian Pace at Dynamic Table Tennis (lots of videos and books for sale there!):

Ask the Coach (PingSkills Version)

Here are the latest four episodes:

Ask the Coach (Werner Schlager Academy Version)

Here's Episode #2 - Service Tactics (1:42), with English subtitles (it's in German), from WSA head coach Richard Prause. Here's Episode #1 (2:24) - What is Talent in Table Tennis (no English subtitles).

Master Table Tennis in 12 Months

Here's the page that tries to answer the question, "Is it possible to master table tennis in just 12 months?" It goes over the year-long "Expert in a Year" challenge.

This is How You Rip a Forehand

Here's video (68 sec) of Chinese phenom Fan Zhendong ripping forehand power loops against backspin in multiball.

Benefits of Practicing With Both Right-Handed & Left-Handed Players

Here's the article from the I Play Table Tennis page.

2015 To Be the Biggest Year in ITTF History

Here's the ITTF Press Release.

USATT Minutes

Here's the page where you can see the minutes of past USATT meetings. The Nov. 12 Teleconference Minutes just went up recently. (The December meeting ones were up previously.)

China is Beatable at Table Tennis

Here's a short article where Sweden's Jorgen Persson (1991 Men's Singles World Champion) talks about this and other issues.

Rainn Wilson/Dwight from "The Office" and Table Tennis

Here's video (68 sec) of Rainn Wilson playing table tennis on the show, and saying the headline above - as well as naming his heroes: "All of my heroes are table tennis players. Zoran Primorac, Jan-Ove Waldner, Wang Tao, Jorg Rosskopf, and of course Ashraf Helmy. I have a life-size poster of Hugo Hoyama on my wall. And the first time I left Pennsylvania was to go to the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony of Andzej Grubba." Here's a 60-sec video of him doing a Soul Pancake commercial while playing table tennis, "Rainn Wilson is a Master Ping Pong Jedi."

Rubber Band Pong

Here's the cartoon.

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