High Performance Director and Supercamps
As those of you at the U.S. Open's USATT Assembly learned, High Performance Director Cory Eider resigned. (I think it's effective Dec. 31.) It was depressing for me as I'd had high hopes for this. But the problems had been mounting, many of them communications problems, as well as some policy problems, such as the youth team selection process. I hope Cory won't get mad at me for this (!), but IMHO, communicating was not his strength, and so often many of us had little idea what was going on, including the athletes and coaches.
Cory and I had a number of long late-night discussions, often via Facebook Messenger. We agreed on a lot, but also disagreed on a number of issues, but I'm not going to go into that. He brought a focus on aiming high, with a 52-week a year training mentality that aimed at beating our overseas rivals rather than our domestic ones.
One cornerstone to all this were the Supercamps (though in the end we only did one, plus an ITTF Cadet Camp at MDTTC). Below are the write-ups of the one held in July in New Jersey. (Why was it held at the Lily Yip TTC, Cory's home club, owned by his mother-in-law? Because it had to be put together very quickly, and other clubs, such as ICC, weren't able to do so at that last minute. It was a huge task, and far easier to do locally, where you have built-in help, then trying to do it alone elsewhere. As it was, they did an incredible job. But alas, the appearance to many was not good. The plan was – is? – to have the camps move about at the various high-performance facilities.)
USATT SUPERCAMP ARTICLES
Some would argue that the players get the same training at their home clubs, usually with top coaches and practice partners. There's a partial truth to that, but it misses the key aspects of the Supercamps. When you get the top USA juniors training together, they see their USA "rivals" training, and it spurs them on to work even harder – both there and the rest of the year. Plus it turns them more into team players, where they focus together on beating overseas players, rather than just each other. Finally, the tips and inspiration they get from the great champions and coaches at the camps gives them a new outlook they cannot get from their own coaches – any good coach has something extra to contribute, and when you have five-time USA Men's Singles Champions like Dan Seemiller and Sean O'Neill, plus other great coaches like Lily Yip, Richard McAfee, Samson Dubina, Han Xiao, Wang Qing Liang, and Cory Eider, there's a lot of extra there. (Hey, I was there too!) The camps also introduced most of them to high-level physical training, something USA juniors are lacking in comparison to their overseas rivals.
Now the future of the Supercamps are in doubt – there were just so many complaints from people who were not at them, and they are expensive and complicated to put together. Since USATT doesn't have the budget to fund them, the players themselves have to pay. (One other big problem was that the Supercamps were used to select some players, which was a mistake. I was skeptical of this from the beginning, and they will no longer be used directly for selections.)
What exactly is the role of the High Performance Director? (Not to be confused with the High Performance Committee. I'll call them the HPD and the HPC.) Here is the criteria developed earlier this year by USATT.
So we're back to finding a new HPD. One change is that while before we focused on finding someone with a table tennis background (such as Cory, a 2500+ player, former USA National Men's Singles Finalist and Men's Doubles Champion, and a professional coach), now they are looking to recruit from outside the sport, looking for more of an administrator type. (When I say "They," I mean the USATT CEO, Gordon Kaye, and the Chair of the High Performance Committee, Carl Danner, as well as various advisors, such as the Player Reps, the National Team Coaches, and the Board of Directors, of which I'm a member.) I'm a bit leery of this as I think a high-level table tennis coach with administrative and communication skills would be ideal, but I'll keep an open mind. Obviously a non-table tennis HPD wouldn't be able to do all of the above, such as the last item ("Coaching"), and would have to rely on others for table tennis knowledge. We'll see.
The key thing here is that a HPD has to justify the huge expense (salary and expenses). How will he make our top up-and-coming players better? Specifically, if a top junior is already training full-time with high-level coaches and practice partners, what can the HPD director do to make him even better? If the HPD doesn't have a positive impact on, say, the Kanak Jhas and other up-and-coming USA stars, then he doesn't justify the expense.
At the board meeting at the recent U.S. Open I made my views on this clear to those making the decision. I'd really like a HPD who can also work indirectly to improve the level of our up-and-coming players – specifically, one who can recruit and train coaches and entrepreneurs to set up and run full-time training centers, which is where we get our up-and-coming players. We might even want one who might even be able to help set up a professional league for our players. I also want one who can investigate overseas training and professional league opportunities for our players, and make these opportunities available to them. The HPD position is a full-time, 40-hour/week job, so I'm hoping a few of those hours can be devoted to these issues.
I'll finish by posting my email to the Board, CEO, and HPC Chair back on Jan. 6, 2016, when we first began the process of hiring a HPD, which was basically a numbered list.
Tip of the Week
Maximize Coverage For Your Stronger Side. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated December 25 – Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year as well!)
Ma Long Backhand Loop Slow Motion 2016
Here's the video (2:18).
Milestone Year for PingPong.GIVES
Here's the video (2:42) about this table tennis charity. "Greater24 Positive World Network reports impact PingPongforCHARITY having to benefit Mental Health!" Note that PingPong.GIVES is their website.
Nice Table Tennis Rallies
Here's the new music video (5:30), which includes a lot of slow motion.
World-Class Rally Between Marcos Freitas and Stéphane Ouaiche
Here's the video (26 sec).
Top 10 Jean-Philippe Gatien
Here's the video (3:29) of the 1993 Men's Singles World Champion.
Beerless Beer Pong – Ten for Ten on Vertical Pyramid!
Here's the video (33 sec).
Jonathan Groth - Funny Olympic Training
Here's the humorous video (3:05). Somehow I didn't see this when it came out in August. (It's in Danish, with English subtitles.) It's especially good a little over a minute in when one puts on the Knight suit!
Beetle Bailey Cartoon
Here's another Beetle Bailey table tennis cartoon, found by Marv Anderson. This time it's Zero who is stymied by Beetle! Here's my Sept. 28, 2016 blog, where (at the end) I've compiled (and updated) all the Beetle Bailey table tennis cartoons I know of, all 19 of them.
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