December 10, 2018

Next Blog on Monday, December 31
I'll be away the next couple of weeks for the U.S. Open and Christmas, so will skip the next two weeks. See you on Monday, Dec. 31!

Tip of the Week
Punish Passivity.

U.S. Open
The U.S. Open will take place in Orlando, Florida, Dec. 16-22. I'll be there to coach and attend meetings. I fly out this Friday, Dec. 14, and will likely attend the "Pong on the Plaza" event that night, 5-7PM (see link below). Then I will attend the USATT Board meeting, held all day long on Sat & Sun, Dec. 15-16. On Sunday there's also a "Rating Classification" event, and if I'm out of the meetings in time, I'll go over to coach our players in that. Then I'll be coaching MDTTC juniors throughout the tournament. I'll also be at the USATT Assembly at 7PM on Tuesday (see link below). Finally, on Sun and Mon after the tournament, Dec. 23-24, I'll be handing around, probably going to Disneyworld or Universal Studios, or perhaps just taking a reading/writing "vacation." Then I fly home late on Dec. 24, arriving home on Christmas morning! Here are some links.

Weekend Coaching
On Saturday, in the Junior League (which is half league, half coaching), I worked a lot with Stanley Hsu and Mu Du on doubles. They are playing in three doubles events at the upcoming U.S. Open. They are getting better at footwork and positioning, which is key to them playing well. One key thing for all doubles teams (with two righties) is recovering after going to the wide forehand, especially if the opponents hit to the same spot. Most players automatically move to the right to get out of the way of their partner, and so go way out of position for the next shot. It's important to instead take a step back so the partner can cut in front, and as the partner moves to the wide forehand, you move to the left and into position for the next shot.

In singles, I spent a lot of time watching them and two other juniors who will be at the Open, especially focusing on what serves they are using. After watching one player play two games, I pointed out to him that he hadn't served short to the forehand a single time. But it turned out he'd thought it through - he said the other player had a good forehand flip, and he'd learned not to serve there or he'd face that flip to his wide forehand. I told him to give it a try next time as a variation, and anticipate that flip, and counter-attack. Plus, if the opponent is easily flipping your serve, then you need to focus on serving low!!!

In the Beginning Junior Class, it was the tenth and final week of this session. The focus was "Player's Choice" - yep, they got to tell the coach what they wanted to work on. Then we did smashing lobs, where we split into groups, with the players smashing to the coaches' lobs until they missed three, and then the next player was up. (Lidney Castro and John Hsu were the lobbers.) While they did this, I took the youngest ones, who weren't ready to smash lobs, and played the "Serving game." One player served ten times, the others (defenders) stood on the other side without their paddles. In front of each of them was a cup. The server's job was to serve so that that it got past the defenders. If the defenders caught the ball, the server got zero. If the ball got past the defenders and hit the floor, the server got one point. If the serve hit one of the cups and then hit the floor, three points! (At this age group, roughly 6-7, catching a moving ping-pong ball is hard.)

In the advanced Talent Program, as usual I did lots of multiball the first half. Then I had four players, rotating about. On one table, the player served short and attacked. On the other table the server had to serve long. We finished with physical training, and then around-the world!

Craziest Table Tennis Shots
This started out as the title suggests, but sort of turned into a compilation of Behind-the-Back shots. Here's the listing - which is the craziest shot? Of course, these are only ones that were caught on video.

I've seen some crazy ones that weren't caught on video, such as a Waldner underhand counter-smash (from way off the table) and Mike Bush lobbing the ball off the end but an air-blower blowing it back. But perhaps the best shot I've ever seen not on video was by the #1 14-year-old from England, circa 1987. He was visiting and training temporarily at the Resident Training Program for Table Tennis at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. (I was the manager and one of the coaches.) He was playing Chi-Ming Chui, a pips-out penholder who was also about 14 and about 2150 rated. The English kid mishit a serve almost straight up, and Chi-Mind absolutely creamed the ball. Without backing up, the English kid turned his back to the table, jumped into the air, and did a wild no-look swing at the ball with the backhand side of his racket - and counter-smashed the ball on the rise!!! He was as surprised at making the shot as we were watching it.

My best shot ever was a shot against left Allen Barth, circa 1980. He looped the ball to my backhand. I prepared to block, but the ball hit the net, and then the side edge on the left! As the ball bounced away, I did a diving, in-the-air backhand counterloop around the net that just rolled on the other side, unreturnable!

Behind-the-Back Shots

World Junior Championships
Here's the home page for the event that just finished in Bendigo, Australia, Dec. 2-9. USA Boys' Team: Nikhil Kumar, Kanak Jha, Sharon Alguetti, Nicholas Tio; Girls' Team: Rachel Sung, Rachel Yang, Crystal Wang, Amy Wang. Here are some articles and a video featuring USA players. (The last two I linked to last week.)

USATT Guides
Want to better run or promote your tournaments? Set up a club? Learn how to coach beginners? Set up a league? Better understand the rules? Here are some USATT guides that might help you!

New from Samson Dubina

Nine Important Backhand Techniques
Here's the article by EmRatThich.

How to Move Quicker
Here's the video (5:36) by Tom Lodziak.

Why is Boll Strong?
Here are two new links that go to English versions of this.

Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here are three features! On a related note, the MDTTC juniors (all part of the HW Global Foundation's Talent Development Program, which trains at MDTTC) had 24 players in the North American Teams. The ratings just came out - they averaged a 133-point gain!!! The three kids on the team I coached started at 1736, 1730, and 1668, and came out, respectively, at 1901, 1954, and 1827. They learned a lot not only on tactics, but on the proper mentality to play your best.

South Bend Table Tennis Tournament & Clinic News
Here's the info page, featuring the upcoming South Shore Open in Highland, IN, run by Dan Seemiller.

West Coast Teams in Newark
Here's the article by Shashin Shodhan.

Where Are They Now? Wilson Club Series #1
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Table Tennis Is Becoming Popular But Lack of Facilities Hold the Sport Back
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, to take place Dec. 13-16 in Incheon, South Korea.

Ma Long withdraws from World Tour Grand Finals
Here's the ITTF article.

US Junior Teams Among Top 8 in the World
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Ruth Aarons Among Seven Elected To Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame In Israel
Here's the article. She's the 1936 and 1937 World Women's Singles Champion, the only USA singles champion at the World Championships (excluding Consolation Singles).

The Really, Really, Flexible Blade
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

ITTF Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships Announced for 2019
Here's the article on the event to be held at the Westchester TTC, with Will Shortz, Board Member of Ping Pong Parkinson.

History of USATT – Volume 21 – Chapters 27 and 28
Here's chapter 27 and chapter 28 of Tim Boggan's latest volume, which covers 1994-1995. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at These chapters cover "International happenings" and "Member Interactions." 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! (Volume 22 is also now available.)

Table Tennis Tidbits #37
Here's the new USATT article by Robert Ho, "The (Ma) 'Long and Short of the FH Loop.'"

Cristian Pletea Highlights - World Junior Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (60 sec)!

Pong Universe Shot of the Week
Here's the video (16 sec)!

Sit Down Multiball Chop Practice
Here's the video (23 sec).

Musical Pong Juggling?
Here's the video (19 sec)!

Baby Pong, Baby Smash
Here's the video (23 sec)!

Play Pong While Waiting at Traffic Lights in Germany
Here's the article, with pictures and video!

Juggle Pong
Here's the video (2:24)!

Send us your own coaching news!