August 25, 2017

USATT Coaching Questions
I’ve been very busy this summer - coaching, traveling, and writing. One casualty of this is that I haven’t done as much as chair of the USATT coaching committee as I’d have liked. However, sometime in the next few weeks I should be able to focus more on that. Here are upcoming coaching items. (Here’s the list of USATT committees – we’re third on the list.) I also have a coaching committee report due to the board, which I should have by Sept. 1. (We have a USATT board meeting in Washington DC, Sept. 9-10.)

What is the primary responsibility of the coaching committee? I’d say to recruit, train, and certify coaches. Recruitment basically means encouraging potential coaches into taking the plunge, either as part-time or full-time coaches. For the latter, this essentially means showing them that they can make a good living as a table tennis coach – as over 300 currently do in the United States.

Training means educating coaches so they become better coaches. I’ve had numerous discussions with USATT people on how best to do this, especially USATT High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio and past coaching chair Richard McAfee. Here are some possibilities:

  • Coaching seminars. For example, at the recent USA Nationals we started up “USATT University,” with eight courses, including ones on Serving, Return of Serve, and How to Set Up a Successful Junior Program.
  • Coaching courses. We currently have ITTF coaching courses, with two going on right now, in Portland, OR, and Flushing, NY. More will be scheduled later on.
  • Web page. We have a USATT coaching page, with numerous links. When a coaching article makes the USATT news page, it also makes the USATT coaching articles page. We may be setting up something more extensive later on for our top coaches.
  • Invitations to National Team Training Camps. If a coach wants to learn to coach players to a high level, he needs to see how the top players train. We are looking into setting up an ITTF Level 3 course late next year where we combine it with such a national team training camp. We’re starting to look at the idea that if you want to be a National Coach, you really need to be working with National players.
  • Recertification seminars. Currently, once you are certified at a level, you stay there for live. We may need to add something like “active” to this list, or require recertification every few years, as is done in many countries and many sports. USATT might then set up such recertification seminars, and require coaches at various levels to attend them to keep up their coaching knowledge.
  • Newsletter. We’ve periodically had a USATT Coaching Newsletter in the past. (I was the editor for a time in the 1990s.) I’ve debated about whether it’s worth bring that back.

Certification is the final major thing the committee does. Here is the current USATT certification program. However, it is greatly in need of updating. I’ve already marked up a printed copy, and will be updating much of this in September. We’ve already adopted the ITTF certification process as part of ours, with Level 1 equating to State coach, Level 2 to Regional coach, and Level 3 to National coach. Here are three issues coming up, besides the changes in the certification process already mentioned, and the question of recertification and other educational ideas.

  1. Club test vs. Club course. Much of the current certification process was set up when we had few coaches in this country, and were desperately trying to get coaches certified. (I was coaching chair for four years in the 1990s, and remember those problems.) Currently you can become a club coach just by passing a test, having two years USATT membership, and a 1400 rating (current or past). Putting aside that there shouldn’t be rating requirements for any level, should we change this process, now that we have so many more coaches than before? I’ve put together an outline of a six-hour coaching seminar that might become the basis of becoming a club coach. It would be somewhat easy for any high-level coach to run such a seminar at any club in the country, where they’d just following the seminar schedule, and we’d assume that the high-level coaches would know how to teach each aspect listed.
  2. Grandfathering. Here are the current guidelines for Grandfathering. Some of this likely needs updating. Also, should we grandfather below the National level? If so, under what circumstances?
  3. National coach term. When I last checked, we had 77 USATT certified National Coaches. (Some of since dropped off the list because they haven’t done SafeSport – see below.) Last year we had 11 USATT National Team Coaches. The latter are the ones chosen by the USATT High Performance Committee to coach our national teams. But there’s occasionally been some confusion on this, since the terms are similar. So there has been some discussion of changing the National Coach designation. However, I don’t know of a similar term, and of course the currently USATT certified National Coaches wouldn’t be happy. So this item is on hold until and unless someone comes up with a good solution.

One headache I’m hoping not to have to get too involved in is SafeSport. The USOC (in my opinion) prematurely forced this on us with a flawed program, and all USATT coaches (and most other officials) are required to take this online seminar and do a background check. Fortunately, USATT headquarters is primarily in charge of this, and so I don’t have to worry about it much. (I blogged about this a bit on April 26, toward the end of my report on the board meeting.) However, it is required of all USATT coaches, so I urge you to do it if you are a coach.

Table Tennis Books
It’s been a while since I put in a plug for my table tennis books . . . so here we go!!! Why not help a starving table tennis writer by buying one of mine? You have so many choices!!!

Of course, there are other table tennis books out there as well, such as Tim Boggan’s History of U.S. Table Tennis, Dan Seemiller’s Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion, and Samson Dubina’s 100 Days of Table Tennis. (These are ones I helped the authors put together in various ways.) At some point in time I’ll be doing an update of my old Table Tennis: Steps to Success Book, which is currently out of print, as well as Instructor’s Guide to Table Tennis.

Probabilities VS Indicators
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills!

World University Games
Here’s the table tennis page. The event is taking place in Taipei, with 22 sports. Table tennis is scheduled for Aug. 22-29, with Men’s and Women’s Singles, Doubles, and Teams, plus Mixed Doubles. They just started the Singles events. You can follow Team USA or any other country!

Czech Open
Here’s the home page for the event, Aug. 22-27 in Olomouc, CZE.

2017 World Tour, Czech Open
Here’s the article by Shashin Shodhan.

Strange Blocking Style
Here’s video (13:38) of Simon Csaba of Romania, against one of Romania’s top juniors. He plays with inverted on the black side, and what appears to be frictionless antispin (not long pips) on the red side – and constantly flips. With the anti on the backhand, he’s sort of a conventional pushblocker. When he flips the inverted to the backhand side, he plays an extremely aggressive, almost flat backhand, while blocking and chopping on the forehand. Estimate for his level range up to 2650, though I’m guessing it’s not quite that high – but I don’t really know. Here’s discussion of him at the Mytabletennis.com forum. There are many more videos of him playing at youtube if you put in his name and “table tennis.”

Zhou Yu Multiball Training
Here’s the video (2:16). He's a member of the Chinese National Team, getting bronze and silver in Men’s Doubles at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds, and winning Men’s Singles at the Chinese Nationals in 2012. His highest world ranking was #13 in March, 2014.

 “The Tables” Wins Best Documentary at Holly Shorts Film Festival
Here’s the awards listing – see “Best Doc,” directed by Joe Bunning. Here’s their Facebook promotional page. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) The table tennis documentary features Wally Green (here’s the non-Facebook version) and perhaps others – I haven’t yet seen it and can’t find an info page with more info than the above.

USATT Insider
Here’s the new issue which came out on Wednesday.

Exceptional Prize Money for 10-Year Anniversary Butterfly Badger Open
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei. The tournament takes place in Franklin, Wisconsin (15 miles from Milwaukee), Sept. 15-17.

England to Host 2018 ITTF Team World Cup
Here’s the article from Table Tennis England.

We Want You to Ask Kristian Karlsson Anything
Here’s the article and video (19 sec) from Adam Bobrow. Karlsson is world #25 and #1 from Sweden.

Incredible Japanese Shot-Making
Here’s the video (1:58).

Billy Ding Shoots Lily Zhang with Ping-Pong Ball
Here’s the video (6 sec) from the World University Games.

Badminton Pong
Here's the video (32 sec)!

How Doughnuts Are Made
Here’s the video (25 sec) - now you know why doughnut holes are ping-pong ball sized!

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Re: August 25, 2017

I think that Zhou Yu is still on the Chinese national team, he just doesn't get much international exposure.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: August 25, 2017

Thanks, I fixed it. I should have checked.