October 15, 2018

Tip of the Week
Style Experimentation.

Table Tennis Inventions
Table tennis regularly has new innovations, both in technique and equipment. The major equipment manufacturers are constantly coming up with new products. For example, Butterfly (which sponsors me) came up with Tenergy rubber a few years ago, and as a truly innovative product, with high-tension sponge and rubber surface, it became a huge seller. They've since innovated on it in numerous ways, including coming up with four types (05, 25, 64, and 80, and please don't ask me how they got those numbers), as well as FX versions of each, which are softer. And now they have come out with Tenergy 05 Hard! (Here's the Here's the review by Stefan Feth.)

But that is NOT the subject of today's blog. Instead, I'm writing about other table tennis inventions. We'll start with Samson Dubina, who has two recent table tennis inventions: TT-Serve and TT-Flex. TT-Serve (which I tried out last week) is put over the net so that players can practice serving low, but with the added feature that it extends about six inches on both sides of the net. If it were just a rod going across the net, you could potentially serve the ball too high, but have it cross the net a low point, and so seem to be low - but still bounce too high on the far side. TT-Serve forces you to serve truly low, so that the ball stays low before and after it reaches the net, and thereby bounces low on the far side. You can adjust it up and down. TT-Flex is "a full body strengthening system designed to enhance your loops, smashes, flips, chops, serves, and much more!"

Another interesting invention is the TSP Spin Wheel, which I wrote about in my January 11, 2018 blog. "It’s basically a small tire attached to the table that allows you to practice looping by spinning the wheel. Included with it is a speedometer (technically, a tachometer) that tells you how fast you are spinning it! That’s half the fun – the kids at the club were battling to see who could make it spin the fastest. Here’s video (4:02) of the wheel in action."

Another are the Spin Balls sold by JOOLA, which are half white, half yellow, with a black circle separating the hemispheres. This makes it easy to see the spin on the ball, which is very helpful when teaching beginners. I keep a bag of them in my playing bag, especially for demos in group sessions. (JOOLA also has Paddle Wipes and Table Wipes.)

There are many innovations in blades and grips. Most players play either shakehands or penhold. There are also players with the Seemiller grip, as well as the Hammer grip (all four fingers on handle, including index finger) and the V-Grip (here's video). But these grips use "normal" paddles. How about the Pistol grip?  It needs a special racket! Here's video.

As a coach, probably the best invention EVER was ball nets, such as the Butterfly Ball Amigo. When we opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992, for our first year or so we didn't have ball nets, and had to pick the balls up by hand - murderous in private coaching where you often use baskets of balls at a time! While I prefer nets, some like to pick up balls with a tube, such as the Newgy's Pong-Pal and Pong-Pal XL

Not all inventions are for training purposes - some just make you look good! For example, meet Pong Revolution, who want to make you look cool with t-shirts and hoodies!

Probably the highest table tennis tech are table tennis robots. Don't get me started on them - there are just too many!!! Here are links to some of them.

Some inventions are lifesavers. Imagine you are marooned on a deserted island with nothing but sealed bottles of water. You could die of thirst if you didn't have a Butterfly Bottle Opener! And if a boat comes near, you'll need Butterfly Cheer Sticks to get their attention!

MDTTC October Open
Here's my write-up, with complete results, pictures, and video, of the tournament I ran this past weekend.

Larry Interviews
Here's my interview with Butterfly, by Ayan Bagchi, which went up on Friday. I was also interviewed by Analog Science Fiction the week before (I linked to that last week). The first was about table tennis, the second on my science fiction writing. They just can't shut me up, can they?

Review of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
Here's the review by Samson Dubina of my tactics book!

USOC and USATT Teleconferences
I was on two USATT teleconferences, one last Friday, one last night.

  • USATT/USOC/USA Archery Teleconference. It lasted about an hour, with five people from USATT (myself, Anne Cribbs, Erica Wu, Ed Hogshead, and Gary Schlager), plus one person from USA Archery and one from the USOC. USATT is investigating regionalizing. There are a number of ways of doing this. Surprisingly, I was told we could learn about regionalizing from USA Archery, but their representative actually advised against it. However, she was talking about regionalizing in the sense of each region being a semi-independent association that collects membership, etc., in place of USATT.

    A better way of doing it is to do it roughly state by state, with some large states divided into multiple parts, and possibly other regions that don't coincide with a specific state. The regional directors would be appointed, and would be responsible for developing the sport in their state/region - specifically, clubs, tournaments, leagues, coaches, junior programs, and training centers.

    We did this successfully in the early 1990s, where we appointed 47 State Club Directors, then 43 State Coaching Directors. Next we planned to appoint State League Directors and State Tournament Directors, and then, with infrastructure set up, we'd appoint (or possibly have state/regional elections?) a State/Regional Director. The Club Directors had one simple assignment: Find or get a club started in every city in their state/region with a population over 100,000, then 50,000, then 25,000. Result? In just two years, we went from 223 to 301 clubs, and membership went from about 5500 to 7500. State Coaching Directors had the job of finding a coach or player willing to act as a coach for every club. We were just getting started on that, and were about to appoint League Directors, when a new USATT president was elected, and ended the program.

    USATT has a Strategic Meeting on Nov. 3-4. I plan to send an email to the participants outlining how we did this before. I could have gone to the meeting myself, but decided not to this time.

  • USATT Board Teleconference. The teleconference was last night, from 7-9PM. Main topics were:
    1. High Performance Update
    2. Strategic Meeting Planning (November meeting)
    3. U.S. Open in Orlando, Florida in December update
    4. Financial Report and Discussion
    5. Preparation for December In-Person Board Meeting
    6. Upcoming Board Election and Nominating and Governance Committee Membership
    7. Closed Session for Personnel and/or Legal issues

ITTF Meets Jan-Ove Walder
In a special 5 part series, the ITTF brings to you an exclusive in-depth interview with Swedish Legend Jan-Ove Waldner. (Here's his Wiki page.)

  • Part 1 (6:09) - see host Fredrik Berling seat down with one of the greatest players to talk about his achievements and early days in table tennis.
  • Part 2 (3:12) - Jan-Ove Waldner shares with us his desire to win that helped him reach the very top of table tennis.
  • Part 3 (4:52) - Jan-Ove Waldner discuss the time he trained in 

Takashi Watanabe Japanese Pathway System
Japan's Women's National Team Coach and Girls' Junior National Team Head Coach, Takashi Watanabe was one of the two head coaches at the 2018 ITTF World Hopes Week & Challenge. Alas, his English isn't that good, but you should be able to follow it.

Youth Olympic Games
Here's the home page for the event in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which ended yesterday. USA players were Kanak Jha and Amy Wang. Kanak won a bronze in Junior Boys' Singles. There were some huge clashes between the top junior players from China, Taipei, Japan (including Harimoto), Sweden, Romania, India, and yes, USA! Here are two related articles on Kanak.

New from Samson Dubina

New from EmRatThich

New from Eli Baraty

New from Tom Lodziak

Peaks, Streaks, and Table Tennis Geeks
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

WAB Featured Club: Fullerton Table Tennis Academy
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Lillieroos Has Spanned the Globe Preaching His Unique Coaching Philosophy
Here's the ITTF article.

He Will Play for His grandmother
Here's the article featuring USA wheelchair star Jenson Van Emburgh.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - September 2018
Here's the video (18:59).

GT Table Tennis Videos
Here's their video page, with lots of links.

The Liebherr 2018 ITTF Men's World Cup is Coming!
Here's the ITTF promotional video (30 sec).

History of USATT – Volume 21 – Chapter 21
Here's chapter 21 of Tim Boggan's latest volume, which covers 1994-1995. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. This chapter covers "1995 off-court potpourri." 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!

Christmas Table Tennis Decorations
Here's the Zazzle page - it's never too early to start your Christmas decorations shopping, right?

Acrobatic Table Tennis Shot
Here's the video (9 sec)!

Belly Pong?
Here's the repeating gif!

Rubik's Pong
Here's video (60 sec) of Jacob Boyd and Ricky Martin solving a Rubik's Cube while rallying at table tennis! Here's another video of them (2:27)!

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