September 4, 2018

Tip of the Week
The Flat Smash That Isn't.

USATT League Ratings as Initial USATT Ratings
Below is a proposal I made a few days ago to the USATT Tournament Committee about using USATT League ratings as initial ratings for tournament. I think it's self-explanatory. Note that both regular USATT ratings (i.e. tournament ratings) and league ratings are in the USATT database, and both are in each player's profile when you look up their rating in the USATT ratings page. In the August Open I ran recently we had three "unrated" players who had league ratings that could have been used - but instead, we had to treat them as unrated players, so they could only play in the preliminaries of rating events.

Dear USATT Tournament Committee,

The USATT League is rather widespread, with (I'm told) more rated matches every month than tournament matches. Many clubs, including mine (MDTTC) have many players with extensive and accurate league ratings but no tournament rating yet. (We have USATT Leagues three times/week.) When they want to play their first tournament, they are stuck as unrated players even if they have an accurate league rating. The two systems are essentially the same. When I co-founded the system many years ago one of the goals, once it was widespread enough, was for it to be used as an initial rating in USATT tournaments, so players could play (and advance) in the appropriate rating events. I believe we reached that stage several years ago.

What I'd like to propose is that tournament directors be allowed, at their discretion, to use USATT league ratings as initial ratings for rating events in tournaments, so that these players may advance as rated players. The pertinent rules or guidelines from the USATT Tournament Guide are below:

5. Unrated Players. Round robin play is designed to allow players to play several matches with the best player winning or advancing.

5.a. If you are running rating events and have unrated players win those events, it may be disturbing to the rated players.

5.b. It is recommended to allow unrated players to compete in rating events but not advance if they win their group. Such limitation must be announced in the entry blank, e.g. "Unrated players may enter round robin rating events but will not be permitted to advance from the group. The rated player with the highest finish will advance."

5.e. Tournament directors, at their discretion, may assign unrated players their USATT League rating as an initial tournament rating, and treat those players as rated players who can both compete and advance in appropriate rating events.

In a subsequent email I was asked the following, with my answer afterwards.

Should it be discretionary or mandatory that a tournament director use league ratings when a player has a league rating?  If we use this system, why should it not be mandatory to use such a league rating if a player has one?

Later on I (or the Tournament Committee) would likely make the proposal that league ratings be used as initial ratings in all cases. However, we first should test it out. There are several potential problems.

First, we don't know how well established or accurate they are everywhere. At MDTTC, we have so many league nights that the system is well established. For all we know, there's some isolated club in Alaska where the average league rating is 500 points off.

Second, players tend to take tournament ratings more seriously. There are far fewer tournaments than league nights in most clubs that have USATT leagues, and you have to pay a bit of money to play in a tournament. So it's very rare for a player to enter a tournament for the first time with the express purpose of dumping matches so as to establish a low rating so as to clean up at the next tournament, whenever that might be. But for a league, if you are a club member, in most clubs (including mine) you just show up and it's free. So it could be easy for an unrated player to show up one time just before a tournament and establish an abnormally low initial rating on purpose, so he could clean up on the tournament held right afterwards. (A player could theoretically enter the MDTTC Friday night league for the first time, dump some matches to get an abnormally low initial rating, and since league ratings are processed instantly after input, play the next day in our tournament on Saturday, since we allow late entries with a late fee.) A player can do this with tournament ratings as well, but there we know it's not too common for the reasons given above. We don't know that yet for league ratings.

Third, tournament software is not yet set up to automatically use league ratings, if available, for those without tournament ratings. In Omnipong, which I use, the director has the discretion to manually assign a rating, and would simply check the unrated players one by one to see if they have league ratings. I don't know how other tournament software works and whether they have this discretion. If we make it mandatory, then the tournament software should have this programmed into it.

Fourth, for unforeseen problems that we haven't thought of yet. That's why it's always good to test something before going nationally in a mandatory fashion.

Having given these reasons not to make it mandatory at the start, if the Tournament Committee finds that these objections are not a problem – for all I know you have more info than I do – then I wouldn't object to making it mandatory right from the start. That was the initial plan when the league system was developed. It is how I would treat them locally, i.e. I would always use league ratings as initial ratings unless I had strong reason to believe the player had dumped to establish an artificially low one. The only question is if we are ready to go mandatory yet.

Table Tennis Coaching Account Applications
If you have newly tried to register, there might be a delay. For nearly eight years I've managed spam by requiring all those who register to mention "table tennis" in their registration. I'd get about ten a day and quickly go through them. However, in the last few days I've received over 600 spam emails. There are likely a few legitimate ones mixed in, but it's too many for me to go through one by one. For technical reasons I haven't been able to set up a proper spam filter here yet with Drupal. (All these applications do is allow you to comment on the blog. You don't need to do so to just read it.)

Capital Area Table Tennis League
The Capital Area Team League is for players in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area. Tomorrow (Wed., Sept. 5) is the deadline for the "Earlybird" special, after which the cost per team goes from $225 to $275. Final deadline is Sept. 15. If you don't have a team, the league committee can help you find one. First league matches are on Sept. 29. There's over $2000 in prize money and prizes. Last season we had 17 teams and 84 players. Come join us! Here are the basic rules:

  • Teams have a roster of at least 3 players.
  • Team contests will have 6 individual matches and one doubles.
  • Each team will be placed in a division according to their ratings, with similarly-rated teams - priority consideration will be given to teams who have participated in the last season
  • No USATT membership required to play.
  • Detail league rules here.

Here's their news page - they've had 16 new items since my last blog, so why not browse them? There's some duplication, but I'm mostly linking below to items not already in the USATT news page. 

China Completes Clean Sweep of Table Tennis Titles at 2018 Asian Games
Here's the ITTF article.

African Table Tennis Championships
Here's the home page for the event, Sept. 3-9, in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Super Backspin Short Pushes
Here's the video (45 sec) of Can Akkuzu (world #81 from France), who had a recent win over China's Fang Bo (world #4 last year). I'm always amazed that many players believe that when you push short, you just pat the ball back without spin. If you do that, it's very hard to control - the ball tends to pop up. By skimming the ball, the energy goes into backspin, and so the ball tends to stay both low and short, plus the opponent has to deal with the backspin. You don't need to push short with quite this much backspin, but with a good amount. Here's another video (17 sec) that I linked to before, of Jin Ueda (world #47, but #9 last year, from Japan) also pushing short with heavy backspin.

Ma Long's Technique
Here's the article with links to video from EmRatThich. This is a MUST watch and read.

10 Ways to Improve Faster at Table Tennis
Here's the article by Ben Larcombe.

Should I Change My Grip? Learn from Ma Long's Serve
Here's the video (6:12) from EmRatThich.

Yu Di Tip of the Week: The Pivot
Here's the article, with links to video.

How to Shift Weight Effectively with Richard Prause
Here's the article and video (54 sec).

Details of Flipping Serves
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Play Ping Pong Table Like a Pro?
Here's the article. "Whether you are up for a tournament or a friendly match, the rules remain pretty much the same! But knowing certain key tips and tricks will surely increase your chance of winning."

Ping Pong Techniques Help You Learn
Here's the video (2:53) - "focused" and "diffused" thinking.

Tomahawk Serves, Regular and Reverse
Here's the video (68 sec).

Timo Boll Training Slow Motion High Quality Table Tennis Technique Analysis
Here's the video (10:37) from Arnaud Scheen.

Greatest Table Tennis Players in the World
Here's the article from EmRatThich.

Monsters of Multiball
Here's the video (12:32). 

Cosmic Table Tennis
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "If a table tennis ball was traveling directly towards the middle of the opponent's side, at the speed of light, weighed 2.7 grams, was 40 mm in diameter, but the table was on the moon, would the ball still hit the edge?"

WAB Featured Club: Silicon Valley Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

First Filipino Table Tennis Olympian Ian "Yanyan" Lariba Dies at 23
Here's the obit from ESPN.

Off The Table - Fan Zhendong
Here's the ITTF video (6:31).

Tomokazu Harimoto Highlights Reel
Here's the video (16:24) of the 15-year-old whiz kid from Japan, world #8 (#6 last month).

Long Island Teen Table Tennis Star Aims for Tokyo Olympics
Here's the video (1:56) featuring Estee Ackerman.

Meet the Lad Who Plays Table Tennis with His Mouth
Here's the article and video (38 sec). "Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ibrahim Hamato, the inspirational table tennis player who hasn't let the fact he has no arms stop him from playing the sport he loves."

Believe That
Here's the video (29:19). "The film follows the journey of Team Santos, three players from Brighton Table Tennis Club, as they prepare to represent their country at the European Down's Syndrome Championships."

Unbelievable Retrieves!
Here's the video (42 sec) of Freitas (world #15 from Portugal, in green) and Fegerl (world #51 from Austria).

Best of Ryu Seung Min
Here's the video (6:33). Ryu Seung Min was the 2004 Olympics Men's Singles Gold Medalist, and is considered by many to have had the fastest footwork in table tennis history.

The Ma Long and Zhang Jike Show
Here's the video (27 sec) as they show off their exhibition skills!

Laszlo Bellak and Viktor Barna Exhibition Play
Here's the video (40 sec) of the two Hungarian stars, circa 1940s? Barna was five-time World Men's Singles Champion.

History of USATT – Volume 21 – Chapter 15
Here's chapter 15 of Tim Boggan's latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at This chapter covers "1995 World Championships - Part 1." Volume 21 is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Backboard Pong with Power!
Here's the video (11 sec).

Trickshot Video
Here's the video (1:51) from Harish Tiwari.

You Can Tell They're Table Tennis Shoes
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) When I used to train on cement, all my shoes ended up like that.

When Ping Pong Meets Boxing
Here's the video (31 sec)!

Shaun the Sheep vs. Bitzer the Sheepdog
Here's the new video (56 sec). This is the second "Shaun the Sheep" table tennis video - here's the original one (78 sec), with "around-the-world lobbing"! (I've linked to this one before.)


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