May 18, 2018

The Ongoing Hidden Serve Saga
Here is a draft of the letter I plan to send to the ITTF at some point. I will likely ask the USATT Board of Directors to get behind this so the letter (or a version of it) can come from USATT. (NOTE - on Monday afternoon I updated the letter to a newer draft.)

Dear ITTF Rules Committee, Umpires and Referees Committee, and Athletes Commission:

The illegal hiding of serves is a major problem in our sport. Video and still pictures show that most world-class players regularly hide the ball when they serve, thereby gaining a huge advantage over those who serve legally. (Examples are given in the Net Visibility Rule proposal, one of a number of proposals to solve this problem - this is not an endorsement of any specific one of them.) Cadet and junior players see that most world-class players regularly hide their serve illegally and almost always get away with it, and so they are forced to either do so themselves, or be at a huge disadvantage. Coaches have to explain to these cadets and juniors, and their parents, that if they want to compete on an equal basis and reach a high level, they too have to serve illegally - basically, coaches are forced to tell players that they must cheat to compete. We are likely the only Olympic sport that allows such open flaunting of the rules. We believe this is a very bad situation.

We respectfully request that ITTF make it a Top Priority to resolve this problem, by requiring worldwide enforcement of the rules as they are written, including Rule 2.6.6, "It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws." They should also strongly consider changing the serving rule to make this task easier to accomplish. Umpires are requested to enforce the rules at the start of every major tournament, but in the case of hidden serves, it simply isn't being enforced. Few umpires want to be the one who starts calling them when other umpires are not, and some umpires believe the current rules are difficult to enforce. From the umpire's point of view, it is difficult to tell if a borderline serve is hidden or not, though of course that falls under Rule 2.6.6.

One possibility would be for ITTF to set a date whereby all referees and umpires worldwide would be required to strictly enforce the service rule, in particular Rule 2.6.6 in regard to hidden serves, with players notified well in advance. There could also be a six-month period where umpires are allowed to give two warnings in a match before faulting. We are aware that ITTF is working on this, but this has been the case for several years, and resolving this must become a priority.

A Shameless Reminder to Support a Poor Table Tennis Writer and Coach and Buy His Books
Yep, it's time to buy some of my table tennis books. C'mon, you know you want to!!! Here's my Amazon page. Here's the book listing here at, which might be more convenient with all the descriptions and links on one page. Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is by far the biggest seller, but the two Tips books also do pretty well.

I'd really like to write a sequel to The Spirit of Pong, but there just haven't been enough sales to justify it. Apparently not enough TT players read SF! C'mon, why not pick up a copy, it's only $5.99 for 100 pages of great table tennis! It's actually a fantasy novel about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis and ends up training with the spirits of past champions, facing betrayal as he seeks the Body of Pong, the Mind of Pong, and the Paddle of Pong. Many of the greats of the past make appearances, from Hiroji Satoh (first sponge champion in 1952) to Waldner, and the section with Ogimura as he seeks the Body of Pong is like the training sequences from Rocky. There's also a bonus humorous 4-page table tennis story at the end about a guy who is determined to be the greatest table tennis player in the world, and while training on a robot, he hits the ball so hard it cracks, and out comes a genie, who grants him one wish. You can guess what the wish is, but you'll never guess how the genie grants it, nor the identity of the genie!

Here's the official description from Amazon:

Andy "Shoes" Blue wants to be a table tennis champion, but he’s just another wannabe American. And so he goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. He is trained by the mysterious Coach Wang, and begins an odyssey where he learns the secrets of table tennis from the spirits of Ichiro Ogimura (who helped spawn China’s greatness), Rong Guotuan (China’s first world champion in 1959, whose tragic story Andy must relive), and others, and must face the mysterious "Dragon." Can he overcome treachery and learn the final secret of table tennis in time to defeat his ultimate nemesis?

Here are the two Amazon reviews:

Review #1:

A fascinating story of an American wanting to be the best in the world of table tennis, going to China for some magical and intriguing training sessions, and how he eventually achieved his hard-earned success. The best part is in the journey of it - vivid, colorful descriptions of the matches, processes, psyches, and sometimes point-by-point analysis. This was a real page-turner, and was one of the best binges I've been on.

Review #2:

If you're a ponger, you know that an American doing well in the World Championships is about as rare a Loch Ness monster sighting. But hey, if you thought the U.S. hockey team could win the gold medal in 1980, if you thought Argentina could beat the U.S. in basketball in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and if you cried during the ending scene of "Rudy", then this book is for you.

You really do have to keep your fantasy hat on while reading the book. Set aside that Chinese National Team fanboi-ism for a little bit and you'll be guaranteed a nice literary experience. The story is basically what it says in the back cover, an American who goes to China to learn the Chinese secrets of table tennis.

Pros: I really liked the chapter with Ogimura. The physical preparation for table tennis really pumped me up to go out and do a few sprints and some push-ups. It was like a motivation CD that you listen to in your car before hitting the gym. Once you arrive, you're ready to get down to business. I also enjoyed reading the chapter with "The Dragon". It was really very funny for me. Again, keep your fantasy hat on. There was also a good bit of history in the book. I knew a little bit being a ponger but there were a few things that I had to search online for verification. The World Championship match was complete insanity. The development of the characters of Andy and Coach Wang were excellent in that a reader can identify with both of their motivations.

Cons: The chapter with Rong Guotuan was a bit dark. I was not put off by it as I enjoy those kinds things in other books also. I just did not think it fit in well with the overall feel of the book. I suppose it would be like putting bacon in an ice cream cone. Some might like it and some might not.

Overall, Larry did a great job mixing TT history, fantasy, and fiction in a 100-page package.

Thailand Open
Here's the home page for the event, which takes place in Bangkok, THA, May 16-20.

How to Destroy Opponents With Long Serves
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak. "If you play table tennis at an amateur level, especially at lower levels, you can dominate your opponents with long serves. These are serves which land very deep on your opponent’s side of the table, ideally with a lot of speed and spin. In this blog post, I explain why long serves are effective (especially at lower amateur levels) and how to do devilish long serves which can give your opponents nightmares."

Free Live Stream Coaching Session - Tonight!
Here's something new. Coach Samson Dubina will be answering questions live tonight at 9PM eastern time at his Facebook page. "We have had hundreds to questions submitted to the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy. Tonight, I'll be answering some of those questions on Facebook Live Streaming at 9pm Eastern Time. We are offering this as a FREE service to the table tennis community! Join us tonight and ask your own questions! Here is a short list of questions that I'll be answering..."

  • Should I change my stance from backhand to forehand?
  • How can I compete in tournaments without feeling pressure?
  • When playing against a sweaty opponent, how can I deal with wet balls?
  • How can I best return no-spin serves?
  • When serving, where should I position my fingers?
  • How can I master the drop-shot?
  • When gripping the racket, how much pressure should I apply?
  • Join us tonight and ask me your personal table tennis questions during the facebook live stream session! I'll be looking to answer about 10-20 questions during the 30 minute session.

Full-Time or Part-Time Coach Needed in Northern California
Fremont Table Tennis Academy (FTTA), situated in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, is looking for a full-time or part-time coach to join its coaching team. FTTA is one of the top performing clubs in the nation and has a large junior program. A potential coach can start this summer or in the fall. If interested, please contact FTTA Owner Shashin Shodhan at

Worlds Recap: A China Sweep, Sweden and England Headline for the Men and Two Koreas Show the Power of Sports
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

New to International Scene, Chinese Trio Upset Seeding
Here's the ITTF article.

Denver Table Tennis Alliance’s 4th Mensual Tourney
Here's the article.

Top 4 Women Table Tennis Team 2018
Here's the video (9:23) from the Worlds from EmRatThich.

Zoran Primorac and Chen Weixin Ready For The LEGENDS TOUR Tonight!
Here's the video (1:44).

1961 Beijing and 1963 Prague World Championships Featuring Zhuang Zedong
Here's the video (7:48). It's fascinating to watch how they played in the days before looping. A surprising amount of lobbing. Zhuang, and I believe most of his opponent, are using short pips.

Stock Table Tennis Images
Here's the page from I like the green paddles dressed up in various outfits and activities.

Stupid Ping Pong
Here's the video (2:55) - basically two kids (amateurs) doing lots of silly stuff while they play1

Rio Animal Olympics Table Tennis
Here's the video (65 sec, but link goes to 33 sec in where the table tennis begins). I bet you've never seen an Olympic table tennis final between a plush killer whale and a teddy bear!

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