November 30, 2016

Breakability, Playability, and Financiability of Plastic Balls
There are regular complaints about how the new plastic balls (which aren't so new anymore) break more easily than celluloid ones. Someone posted a note about this last night, and I responded as follows, about my experiences at the North America Teams – with the "breaking point" observation.

Most of the new plastic balls break more often than the celluloid ones. All you can do is call a let when it happens. One thing I noticed - I coached junior teams where the players were mostly 8-10 years old, and I don't remember them breaking a single ball. But I kept hearing from others, like you, that the balls kept breaking. Adults smash harder, and there's apparently a "breaking point" speed where they break too often.

Most of them also don't play as well as celluloid, though some of them are pretty good. There's going to be a titanic struggle at some point between the forces of seamed and unseamed balls – I'm guessing that eventually it'll be one or the other.

There are always going to be suspicions that the switch to plastic balls was more commercial than out of necessity due to the flammability of celluloid (which causes shipping and insurance difficulties). Perhaps it was both. Switching to plastic balls both enriches those who have the patents for them, and increases the number sold since they break more often. (I have no idea if they knew that part in advance.) However, I don't claim to be an expert on this.

I often get asked what I, or USATT, will do about the plastic ball situation, with the hope that we'll take legal action of some sort. The problem is how do you go about taking legal action from the U.S. when the ITTF Headquarters is in Switzerland, and the plastic ball manufacturers at various locations around the world (I think China, Japan, and Germany)? Do you hire Swiss lawyers, as well as Chinese, Japanese, and German? Who pays for it? The list of complication goes on and on. It's a non-starter for USATT because they don't have anywhere close to the resources for something like that.

U.S. Open
They are 819 entries, with entries closed. (Make sure to set menu to "2016 US Open.") Here's the home page. And here are two new items:

"Tilden's Doubles Falk Drill" Based on The Falkenberg
Here's the video (45 sec). The Falkenberg Drill is the most popular footwork drill among top players (and wannabes!) but here it's being done by a doubles pair. Note how each player plays a backhand, then a forehand from the backhand side, then a forehand from the forehand side, and then repeat. 

2016 Massachusetts State Championships
They are this Saturday, and you can still enter! Events include Men's and Women's Singles, Over 50, Under 14, and U2300, U2000, U1700, U1400, and U1100.

Teenager but Seasoned Competitor, Fifth Consecutive Appearance for Kanak Jha
Here's the ITTF article.

Top US Table Tennis Player From China Making Her Fame in the U.S
Here's the article on Jenny Wu from the Digital Journal.

Pingpong Tournament Brings in $100,000 for Chicago Tech Academy
Here's the article from the Chicago Tribune.

Fremont Table Tennis Academy Hosts Successful 2-star USA Table Tennis Sanctioned Tournament
Here's the article.

Saturday Morning Pong with Roy and Steve Emmons
Here's the video (5:51). Roy, the dad, is 77; they've been doing this for 33 years.

DHS ITTF Top 10 - Hyboime 2016 Austrian Open
Here's the new video (4:55).

Incredible Table Tennis Point by Jeoung Youngsik
Here's the video (38 sec).

How We Built an Arduino-Powered Ping Pong Scoreboard
Here's the article from The Conversation.

A Little Table Tennis Math and Science . . . Enjoy!

Chinese Astronaut Plays Table Tennis Alone in Zero-Gravity
Here's the article and videos, which include reaction from Chinese National Team members.

It's Pinging, It's Ponging, the Ping-Pong Balls are Thronging
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) So . . . how many ping-pong balls are in this picture?

With Apologies to Clement Clarke Moore
By Glenn O'Dea, Melton Table Tennis

'Twas the night of the finals, and all through the hall
Not a player was playing, 'cause they'd broken the ball.
The manufacturer said they'd been made with great care,
But still they broke open, which caused much despair.

The supplier had said that he's not to blame,
But the balls kept on breaking which was really a shame.
The players had frustration that just kept on growing
And all through the hall the expletives were flowing.

They needed an answer, a fix, a solution.
Balls made, perhaps, by nuclear fusion?
They turned to the ITTF for reaction
'cause this problem with plastic was quite a distraction.

The players said, "Please let's have celluloid back.
This plastic keeps breaking when we give it a whack."
And the answer came down from the leaders on high;
"Just suck it up boys, bad luck and goodbye."
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