Boosting – No, Nobody's Doing It. Move Along. Nothing to See.
What brought this up now? They are openly discussing boosting at Mytabletennis.com right now – yes, right out in the open, they are talking about CHEATING!!! But no, it's not really happening. It's all imaginary. The numerous top players I've seen boosting before people began to complain didn't really boost, and when faced with opponents who strangely get more speed and spin on their shots than would seem possible from their strokes, it's all wizard stuff, not undetectable boosting. Magic.
I've blogged many times about how cheating is prevalent in our sport, both with illegal serves and boosting. Players blatantly hide their serves, but umpires and referees simply won't enforce the rules on this, and so to compete on an even basis at the higher levels you also have to serve illegally – it's sickening to me, but far too many others in authority positions prefer to look the other way. (I've blogged about illegal hidden serves many times, such as July 17, 2015. Here's my Net Visibility Rule proposal.)
With boosting, the problem is subtler – unlike illegal serving, which is done right out in the open where all can see (and ignore – move along, nothing to see!), you can't easily tell if someone is boosting. Here the problem is that boosting is a big advantage for loopers, but it's essentially undetectable. Yes, you heard that right, we've made something that can't be detected illegal, and assume players will simply follow the rule, i.e. the honor system. For years I've watched players illegally boost, and players have protested it, since those who follow the rules are at a disadvantage against those who do not. Here's the ITTF article, Jun Mizutani Boycotts ITTF For His Battle Against Illegal Boosters. Matt Hetherington also blogged about the silliness of this rule, Should ITTF Legalise Boosting? Here's a six-minute video from Samson Dubina on boosting. (Here's discussion of that at Mytabletennis.com.) Bottom line is that boosting isn't harmful (unlike speed glues), and banning it when you can't enforce it creates an unfair playing field.
Samson and I made a big issue about this in 2015, but couldn't get the USATT or ITTF to do anything. I blogged about this on August 18, 2015, and made a rules proposal on Sept. 30, 2015. Here's the actual Racket Testing Rule I proposed.
Alas, my proposal was met with skepticism, with two common responses. One was that we were making cheating legal. That's nonsense, because the very changing of the rule, as in the proposal, would make boosting legal, and so we weren't making cheating legal; we were making most types of boosting (i.e. once that didn't affect health) legal. The basic rule change was that if the boosted racket passes the racket testing procedure at the tournament – which primarily checks for unhealthy fumes – it is legal. Read the proposal for more specifics. (Wikipedia has a good entry on speed glues, which explains why and what they are tested for. Boosting doesn't have any of these problems – they do not contain the halogenated solvents, solvents with benzene rings, or N-hexane, as cited in the article. If they did, they wouldn't pass the racket testing procedure.)
The other common response was the "Prove it!" response, where we set up a rule that can't be enforced about something that can't be detected, and then insist it isn't happening unless we can't detect this undetectable thing as actually happening. Once again, I was sickened by the responses, but there doesn't seem to be any way of getting through the bureaucracy with any common sense.
The funny thing is that if, say, USATT chose to make rackets that pass the racket testing procedure legal, the only real effect would be that those top players who refuse to boost – because, you know, it's illegal – would no longer be handicapped. Those that already boost – seemingly the vast majority – wouldn't be affected in the least, other than when they have to face play players who didn't previously boost. ("Unfair! Now they get to boost just like me!")
Why not read over the thread on boosting at Mytabletennis.com – 27 postings as of now – and the above links from myself, Hetherington, Dubina, and Mizutani, and decide if we should continue this "honor system" regarding boosting, or use a little common sense.
Last night, as I updated my web pages, I realized I'd hit a new milestone – exactly 1700 published articles! This does not include about 1400 blog entries (or I'd be over 3000). This includes 1508 articles on table tennis.
MDTTC HW Global Foundation Junior Teams
Here's a photo gallery (45 pictures) by Ping Du, and another (8 photos) by Steve Hsu. MDTTC HW Global Foundation sponsored four teams (14 players, mostly ages 8-10), with two of the teams playing in the Division Ten Finals.
The Ghostly Dab Serve
Here's video (14 sec) of U.S. Junior Team Member Allen Wang doing a heavy backspin high-toss serve – so that it comes back into the net, i.e. the "ghost" serve – with a quick neck dab during the toss. You never know what's going to go viral – it now has 559,000 views (!), 4700 likes (!) and 4600 comments (!) – and these numbers are going up fast even as I write this. (When I went to bed last night it "only" had 360,000 views, 3200 likes.) Allen, what have you done???
World Junior Championships
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, in Cape Town, South Africa, Nov. 30 – Dec. 7. The USA Boys' Team is Adar Alguetti, Kanak Jha, Victor Liu, and Jack Wang; the Girls' Team is Angela Guan, Amy Wang, Crystal Wang, and Grace Yang. (These are listed alphabetically.) There was some controversy about the teams, with Krish Avvari, who finished first at the junior team trials at the Nationals in July, being left off the Boys' Team – see my Nov. 7 blog (see item #1 in the numbered listing).
2016 Hawaii Island Open and Aloha State Championships
Here are the article, results, and photos.
Table Tennis Achieves Balance of Life
Here's the video (69 sec). "Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) interviews Dean Johnson, Board Member of PingPong. GIVES Charity Foundation, on the Health Benefits of playing Table Tennis." Dean, 84, was inducted into the USATT Hall of Fame in 2015.
Ai Fukuhara and Chiang Hung-chieh Table Tennis Marriage Video
Here's the video (70 sec). Fukuhara of Japan (world #12, formerly #4 for six months, 2015-2016) and Chiang of Taiwan (world #76, formerly #49) married earlier this year. (Google translates his name as Jiang Hongjie, but I'm going with the spelling in the ITTF rankings and Wikipedia.)
Frederick John Perry
Here he is – World Table Tennis Champion (1929), career Grand Slam Champion in tennis (U.S., French, Australian, and Wimbledon champion).
Here's the music video (5:05), with recurring table tennis scenes.
Send us your own coaching news!