December 1, 2017

Ball Madness
There used to be a debate about whether there really was a difference between Nittaku and a Butterfly 3-star balls. But there really wasn’t a serious debate – every top player and coach knew that the Butterfly ball was slightly lighter than the Nittaku. The real debate was whether the difference was enough that you’d want to train with the ball to be used in your next tournament. I was firmly on the side of using that ball, since even a very slight difference made a difference to your timing – but the difference was so small that it was more psychological, where you wanted to use the same ball so that you’d know that it would play the same.

That were the good old days of celluloid, when the difference in balls was so small as to be almost a non-issue. These days, with the ITTF’s rush to adopt plastic balls, and with every tournament I know of now using them, you have to adjust to many different types of balls, and unlike before, the differences are much larger.

I’ve taken to buying a dozen or more of each major type that’s used in tournaments, plus of course we have three types of training balls at the club – the old celluloid ones, plus two types of Butterfly training balls. Keeping them separate is like cooking chili and then trying to separate the ingredients afterwards. So here’s my current ball situation.

I use plastic Butterfly training balls for most of my coaching. Except – when there’s a tournament coming up, I use the ball to be used in that tournament for coaching them. (Sometimes we’ll use a box of training balls the first half, so that we don’t have to keep picking them up and for multiball, and then switch to the tournament ball the second half.) So I’m sometimes switching balls on almost a session-by-session basis, based on the next tournament of the player I’m coaching. Here’s a rundown of what I have to deal with. (Note – I’ve been told that the three seamless balls below – Asian Pacific, JOOLA Flash, and Xiom – come from the same factory and are the same, but am not certain. I’m also told that different batches from different times come out differently, but I haven’t tested them.)

  • Three types of Training Balls for most coaching: Easy Ball Training 40+ (two types – old version and new version), and Butterfly training balls (celluloid)
  • Butterfly MDTTC Opens, four times per year, and 2017 Butterfly WDCTT Dec Open (next weekend): Butterfly 3-star G40+ balls
  • Howard County Opens: JOOLA Super-P 3-star 40+ balls
  • U.S. Open (December) and local Capital Area League: Nittaku Premium 3-star 40+ balls
  • Most international events (for some of our top juniors): DHS 3-star 40+ balls
  • Maryland State Championships: Asian Pacific 3-star 40+ seamless balls
  • North American Teams (last weekend): JOOLA Flash 3-star 40+ seamless balls
  • Tournament at Smash TT in Virginia: Xiom 3-star 40+ seamless balls

Nearly all of these balls play differently. THIS IS MADNESS!!!

Book Sales
It’s not too late to buy some of my books as Christmas presents! Here’s the Amazon page where you can buy them. I had a pretty good month in November, selling 178 books (not including bulk sales from major distributors). Here are the numbers for the month, combining print and kindle sales. Strangely, there were no sales of Table Tennis Tales & Techniques, which usually sells about 5-10 each month. The Tactics book sells pretty well in France, and is currently being translated into Korean. I need to find someone to do a Chinese translation.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers 144 (95 English, 49 French)
Table Tennis Tips 16
More Table Tennis Tips 8
Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook 6
The Spirit of Pong 4

World Junior Championships
They are taking place right now in Riva del Garda, Italy, Nov. 26 – Dec. 3. Teams are done; they are now starting singles and doubles. Here’s the article on the team competition, Tried and Trusted Trio, China Supreme. I wonder why Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto (world #16 at age 14) didn’t play?

Over 40 Tour Final Coming to Westchester Table Tennis Center
Here’s the article. It’s this weekend in New York, with $12,000 in prize money. “Entries are accepted up to the start time of each event so players may register to compete on the day and with over 200 players eligible to compete in the event from all age categories and abilities it promises to be a great event. The competition will be hot with players like US Olympian Jimmy Butler and top Over 40 contenders from the New York area - Gao Yanjun, Shao Yu and De Tran, all on the list of eligible contenders for the top spot.”

Who is the Greatest of All Time, J-O Waldner or Ma Long?
Here’s the article by Eli Baraty. (One small nit-pick – speed glue was around long before Waldner played, and he used it from the start of his career.) One other argument for Waldner, which for many is the deciding point, is that he led a very small country, Sweden (population around 7 million at the time) to the World Team Championship four times, overcoming the Chinese juggernaut.

Thirst for Knowledge Undiminished in Sri Lanka
Here’s the ITTF article on Richard McAfee’s coaching.

Evolution of the Laws of Table Tennis and the Regulations for International Competitions
Here’s the listing.

Irvine Levine – A Witness to 70 Years of Rhode Island Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Steve Hopkins.

7 Min of Heaven & Lesson at NYCTTA!
Here’s the video (7:10). (If you go directly to the Youtube version you can see the description underneath.)

IFO Veteran Open 2017
Here’s the video (5:07). See the article under the video (click “Show More”), which starts out, “First staged in 1991, the west coast Swedish city of Gothenburg was the recent home for what has become the biggest tournament for veteran players in northern Europe.”

Never Before Seen Smash By Timo Boll!
Here’s the video (51 sec) – or should we call this a non-smash? You decide!

Shot of the Tournament?
Here’s the video (16 sec) – as a wheelchair player goes wide to his right!

It's Time for Fun and Games!!!
Here’s the video (31 sec) from Andrew Williams.

Racket Sharing Table Tennis
Here’s the video (78 sec)!

Fight to the Death!
Here’s the video (1:38) – from the Scorching Ping Pong Girls. This is how table tennis is really played. If you do not play like this, you are an amateur who should be kururi-senpaied and banished from the galaxy.

Non-Table Tennis - Compelling Science Fiction
My story "Redo" just came out in the magazine Compelling Science Fiction. It's the story of a large, caterpillar-like galactic alien census taker who has spent the last 83,000 years doing a door-to-door census of earth - and he's only halfway done. After each interview, he hits a redo device, and while time doesn't stop, all the matter and energy on earth and around it zip back to where they were at the time that interview started, the one he interviewed has no memory of the interview, and he goes on to the next house. Then things go wrong, he gets killed by a Doberman (sort of), and another group of aliens (who've been caught in sort of a time loop those 83,000 years) is about to annihilate Earth. Can he (with his "redo" device - and a fire extinguisher?) and a resourceful human scientist save the world?

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