March 2, 2018

Table Tennis Inventions Needed
Today I'm going to turn some of you into rich inventors, and someday I'm going to regret all the hordes of money I gave away by not patenting all these inventions. But it's all for the greater good of table tennis, right? When you (or the big table tennis companies and distributors reading this) create these devices and are rolling in money, make sure to credit me with the idea! Here are some table tennis inventions we need you to create.

  • Rackets with Different Speeds on Forehand and Backhand. This is a simple one - just put faster wood layers on one side, slower ones on the other. There's no rule against this. Not everybody wants the same speed on both sides, just as not everybody uses the same surface on both sides. For example, if you only spin steadily on the forehand while playing an aggressive backhand, you might want the forehand side to be slower. Or if you chop on the backhand while attacking with the forehand, you might want slower on the backhand. And so on. (Note - I'm told that some of the smaller manufacturers already make these - see comments below and my suggestion.) 
  • Robot that Feeds with a Racket. Currently, all of the common robots feed the balls by shooting them out of a tube. It's an efficient way of doing it, and if you ever play an opponent who spits balls at you through a tube, you'll be ready. But if you really want to develop your skills so you react to a ball coming at you from a racket, then what we need is a table tennis robot that hits the ball at you with an actual racket. The simplest way would be for the balls to be shot upward out of a tube where it's hit by a robot-controlled ping-pong paddle. This is why multiball is so valuable as it allows you to react to a ball coming off a racket.
  • Robot that Feeds Out of a Video of Someone Doing the Stroke. If the ball is going to come out of a tube, then why not have it come out of a video of someone stroking the ball? If it's topspin, then someone looping; if it's backspin, then someone pushing or chopping.
  • Lightweight Telescoping Ball Pickup Device That Attaches to Belt. Many players, especially older ones, don't like having to lean down to pick up balls. What's needed is a simple telescoping device that clips or velcros to your belt, with a button to telescope it down, which picks up one ball at a time.
  • Thin Playing Gloves for Better Grip. Just as baseball players use batting gloves for a better grip (as well as to protect their hands), why not table tennis gloves? Ideally, they'd be very thin with a non-slip surface to maximize one's grip. This would be great for players who sweat a lot and so have trouble gripping their racket.
  • Ping-Pong Ball That Leaves a Mark. When serving, most players are only vaguely aware of where the ball hits on their side of the table. What's needed is a ball that leaves a temporary mark when it hits the table so players can see the bounce locations. It might be as simple as putting chalk on a ball, but it can't change the ball's playing characteristics when serving. This device would help especially in two cases. First, players have trouble controlling the depth of their serve because the first bounce moves around, so this would them feedback so they can learn where the ball should bounce first for each depth, and allow them to learn to control this. Second, most players do not maximize their fast, deep serves because the first bounce is out over the table rather than as close to their own end-line as possible. This would give them feedback on this.

So there you have it. Six possible table tennis inventions, each of which will greatly help table tennis players while making you into a filthy rich table tennis entrepreneurial tycoon.  

African Cup
Here's the ITTF home page for the event in Nairobi, Kenya, March 1-3. Top seeds in Men's Singles are Omar Assar (EGY, world #16) and Quadri Aruna (NGR, world #22). Top seeds in Women's Singles are Dina Meshref (EGY, world #33) and Olufunke Oshonaike (NGR, world #120).

World Veterans Championships: Two weeks to entry deadline, already more countries than ever before; Las Vegas sets new record
Here's the ITTF article on the World Veterans Championships, June 18-24 in Las Vegas. "An entry from Turkmenistan with just some two weeks to go before the closing day of Thursday 15th March, it means that players from no less than 86 countries have enrolled for the forthcoming 2018 World Veteran Championships. It is a new record." There are currently 3773 players officially entered, with over 400 more on the "pending" list, so there will be over 4000 players. Deadline to enter is March 15 or 5000 entries, whichever comes first.

Best Table Tennis Serves Tutorial. (part 1: backspin, hook)
Here's the video (20:54) from Tomorrow Table Tennis (which has other videos).

Self Discipline in the Table Tennis World
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "Really good players remain focused throughout the entirety of their matches, and don’t leave details to chance. These players tend to train exactly the way they play. You can’t turn self discipline on like a light switch. If you typically play an undisciplined game, it’s unlikely you will be able to play a smarter more focused game just because you paid a tournament entry fee."

Table Tennis Coaching in Schools
Here's the article by Eli Baraty. "I think many under value the power of sport in schools especially minor sports such as Table Tennis. Yes, education is very important but it’s not for everyone and if it wasn’t for sport inside schools we would not have some of the great sportsmen of the past and today. I went to a school in Camden Town and there was access to virtually every sport imaginable: football, Gym, basketball, Gymnastics, netball, athletics, swimming, cricket and table tennis."

A Light-hearted Look at the Team World Cup 2018
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

"I’ll give $100 to any US player who can return 10/10 of these serves"
Here's the robot challenge video (64 sec) by Samson Dubina - of course, you might have to fly to Ohio to take the challenge. About 12 seconds in he starts calling out the ten serves.

Impressive in London, Liam Pitchford Aiming for Commonwealth Games Gold
Here's the ITTF article. "Following a fantastic outing at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup, England’s Liam Pitchford is very much in the table tennis spotlight and is oozing with confidence ahead of the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games set to take place on the Gold Coast in early April."

Fan Zhendong vs. Liam Pitchford World Cup 2018
Here's the video (13:27).

"Ding Ning just doesn't back away from the table!"
Here's the video (32 sec) as she (the lefty on near side) plays Korea's Nam Hae Kim.

Pong Universe Newsletter
Here's the March issue.

Justin Bieber Serves It Up With Ukrainian Ping Pong Master Anastasia Rybka
Here's the video (70 sec). The 2329-rated Rybka might not be, "One of the best table tennis players in the world," but she's among the top players in the U.S. Here's another video (18 sec) from Steve Hopkins, where he wrote on Facebook, "Justin Bieber showed up unannounced at the Gilbert TT Center in LA looking to play a little. Club pro, Anastasia Rybka (formerly a women's national collegiate champion from Texas Wesleyan University) helped with his workout..."

Adam Bobrow Exhibition in the Philippines
Here's the video (60 sec)!

Red and Black Frankenpaddle
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Not to be confused with the original Frankenpaddle (which I created).

Tom & Jack in Table Tennis
Here's the video (4:01)!

Non-Table Tennis - "The Electrifying Aftermath of a Demon Thrice Summoned"
My story is now up at Galaxy's Edge.

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Re: March 2, 2018

Combination blades already exist from niche manufacturers like Re-Impact Tachi, Hallmark Aurora, der-materialspezialist Wizard, Giant Dragon Kris and probably few others. Don't think they are rich yet... :) 

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 2, 2018

Then they need to be popularized, and perhaps distributed by the major distributors. Suppose, for example, that Butterfly were to come out with a version of, say, the Timo Boll ALC (my blade and one of the most popular high-end blades), with the wood on one side switched to something slower for a "combination" racket, and sold it as, say, the Timo Boll Combo blade, I bet it'd sell well. 

Re: March 2, 2018

Fair point - for better or worse these current offerings are mostly aimed at pips/anti players, and we are a feisty miinority at best. If I read your suggestion corectly, you are saying that even double inverted players could potentially benefit from such blade design, so wider marketing by Butterfly and other major brands aimed at their base woudl be more successful.