March 17, 2017

More Table Tennis Tips
As noted in my blog yesterday, my new book, More Table Tennis Tips, is out! It’s 200 pages, $11.99, and covers the 150 Tips of the Week from 2014-2016, organized by topic, in logical progression. It’s the follow-up from "Table Tennis Tips," which covered the 150 Tips from 2011-2013. (Kindle version will come later.) By now so I’ll have money for dinner!!! (UPDATE on Saturday morning - kindle version is up!)

USATT Coaching Committee
On Monday I was appointed chair of the USATT Coaching Committee. (This will be my second tenure. I chaired the committee back in 1991-1995, and was on the committee 2010-2013.) This is a big honor, and will allow me to work directly on some of the things I promised to do when I ran for the USATT Board. (I’m also a bit more enthused about this position then I was with chairing the League Committee the last two years – that was important, but not as much my area of expertise or interest.) In particular, I said I wanted to set up a “USATT Coaching Academy.” Alas, many have noted that that makes it sound like an actual building or campus. While USATT doesn’t have the funding for that, I do have plans for the equivalent.

So what exactly are my plans? Well, my immediate reaction upon taking power was this. However, once I was through cackling, it was time to make plans. Here are some.

  • Recruitment and Training of Coaches. (Acronym – “RAT”?) It’s not enough to just set up an ITTF coaching course, put out a notice, and see who comes. We need to sell the idea of being a full-time table tennis coach, and train them to do so. The primary selling point is you can make good money doing so, generally from $30-$70/hour, depending on your region, and sometimes over $100/hour for group sessions. (The higher hourly fees are mostly in a high-cost area, like New York City.) We also have to sell the idea that you don’t have to be a star player to be a top coach; with proper training, study, and experience, 1800-2000 players can be great coaches and make a living coaching. We’d likely run seminars at the U.S. Open, Nationals, and in conjunction with ITTF coaching courses where we teach the professional side to coaching - setting up and running a full-time center, recruiting students, setting up and running junior programs, maximizing income through multiple streams, etc.  Much of this could be taught right out of the Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook, which I wrote, and will donate at cost.
  • Emphasis on Junior Programs and Full-Time Centers. We simply need more of them. I co-founded the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992, and it was the first successful full-time training center. Fifteen years later, in 2007, there were only about eight of them. Then it began to take off, and now, ten years later, we have over 90, with nearly all of them running junior programs. This has been the single best thing that has happened to table tennis in the U.S. in modern history. (The only other thing that’s close was the Olympic debut in 1988.) The side effect, of course, is that the level of play among our top cadets and juniors has skyrocketed. They used to struggle to get out of the preliminary groups at major cadet and junior tournaments around the world. Now they’re beginning to win these championships!
  • Coaching Seminars at U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open. We used to do them, but stopped. We’re going to start them up again. We’d recruit a top coach to run them, with different topics each time. USATT certified coaches would be allowed in free, others would pay perhaps $15, with the revenue going mostly to the instructor. If there is interest, is there any reason why we should run only one seminar at these tournament? Why not several? When I go to a science fiction convention (my outside table tennis interest), they have multiple panels going on all day, and they are well attended. Why don’t we do the same? (I’m a regular panelist at these SF conventions, so I know it from both ends.)
  • Review and Update USATT Coaching Certification. Here’s the current certification process. I’ll go over this with the rest of the Coaching Committee, once appointed. We currently have both USATT and ITTF certification. We’ll decide later whether to continue with both, or to simply adopt the ITTF system.
  • Coaching Links to Coaches. I link to various coaching articles, videos, and podcasts here on a daily basis. Many of these should be collected and sent to coaches – perhaps a monthly newsletter. Learning is a lifelong endeavor!

My first task is to appoint a coaching committee. I already put together a list of ten coaches I’d like on it, and think I’ve got it narrowed down to the 3-4 I will nominate, as well as 1-2 player reps I’d recommend. (If I decide to go with a five-person committee, I nominate three, subject to board approval, and the Athlete Advisory appoints an athlete rep. If a seven-person committee, I nominate four, with two athlete reps.) I’m still mulling them over, and will finalize the nomination list soon.

ITTF President Thomas Weikert Ensures Work to Improve Quality of Balls
Here’s the ITTF article. “Since the change, the main issue that has been put forth is that a ball from different manufactures acts differently, thus making it difficult for the players to adjust to the change. The ITTF understands this issue, and has been relentlessly working to minimize such differences in order to provide the best equipment to the players.”

Ping Pool Shark
Here’s a site with lots of coaching tips and articles, in two categories.

Articles and Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis

Third Ball Attack In Table Tennis: Chinese training
Here’s the video (10:04).

2017 Butterfly Cary Cup: Largest Prize Pool in Cary Cup History
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei.

Belarus Open
Here’s the ITTF home page for the event, March 15-19 in Minsk. Follow the action all weekend!

A Clean Sport, Table Tennis Holds Head High at World Anti-Doping Agency Symposium
Here’s the ITTF article.

How Long Has It Been Since a Non-Chinese Opponent?
Here’s the meme! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Ma Long - Top Spin Machine (The Dragon Warrior)
Here’s the video (6:45).

Spectacular Doubles Rally
Here’s the video (51 sec). Actually the point should have ended immediately - the receiver moved the table while returning the serve, so his team should have lost the point right there! 

Blast from the Past: Sweden d. China 5-4 (1973 WTTC Final)
Here’s the video (4:15), featuring Kjell Johansson, Stellan Bengtsson, and Ingemar Wikström vs Li Jingguang, Liang Geliang, and Xu Shaofa. Stellan (now coaching in San Diego, and the defending World Men’s Singles Champion from 1971) wins all three! In the last match, Johansson defeats an attacking Liang Geliang, who would lose all three matches. Liang had originally been a chopper with medium long pips, but (according to interview below) the style was denounced by Chiang Ching (wife of Chairman Mao), and so he was forced to switch to inverted on both sides. He would later go back to pips, and be a mainstay on the Chinese team for many years, including making the semifinals of Men’s Singles at the Worlds in 1977 - where he was ordered to dump to Mitsuro Kohno of Japan (who Liang said he'd beaten five times in a row), who would go on to win. (Info provided by John Olsen from OOAK forum interview.)

Coach Looking for Work
Here’s the email I received from this Portugal coach, who is currently in Peru. Email him directly if interested.

I am Alexandre Gomes, table tennis coach. At this moment I am working on the selection of Peru as the main coach and I have trained several clubs in Portugal as well as I trained the selection of Portugal. I was player of the selection of Portugal in all the categories and several times champion. I trained several world-class players such as Aruna Quadri, Fu Yu, Andre Silva, Sas Lasan Diogo Silva. I would like to work in the U.S.A, I know that table tennis is going to have a very big development and that is why I am interested in working in U.S.A. I would like to know if you would be interested in my services. I send my C.V if interested.

It's St. Patrick's Day!
Wear green to the table tennis club tonight. Did you know I searched the entire Internet for a picture of a Leprechaun playing table tennis and came up empty? (Just Leprachauns or St. Patrick's Day slogans on paddles and balls, or people in green from Ireland or Notre Dame.) 

Would You Like a Ping-Pong Ball?
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Cow Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

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