December 31, 2018

Tip of the Week
The Next Point is the Biggest Point of Your Life.

U.S. Open
Wait, was a U.S. Open going on while I was coaching at the U.S. Open? Because I'm busy coaching, I rarely actually see the "big" matches at major tournaments, this this year's U.S. Open was no different. However, I did see the Men's and Women's Singles Finals, and they were incredible! Before I go further, here are a few links:

Many thought the Men's Final would be an execution, with the way Wang was playing - could anybody beat him? (He's previously won the U.S. Open in 2012 and 2013.) But Kanoya of Japan went up 3-1 in games. And then, a seemingly innocuous occurrence apparently changed everything. On the second point of give five the umpire, apparently correctly, faulted Wang for not tossing the ball up at least six inches. Wang has a habit of following the ball up with his tossing hand, and according to most referees, there must be six inches of clearance between the hand and the ball. (Here's video, and here's discussion at But Wang may have used this for incentive, because for the next 2.5 games (including an 11-1 game six thumping) I don't think anyone on Earth could have beaten him, not Ma Long even Fan Zhendong. Then, down 3-8 in the seventh, Kanoya ties it up 9-all. Wang leads 10-9 and finally wins 12-10 in the seventh!  Final scores were 9,-12,-11,-9,7,1,10. On the women's side, it was Liu Juan over Lily Zhang, -4,12,7,-8,5,12.

As to coaching, Coach Wang Qingliang and I were coaching the Maryland contingent, with Stanley Hsu easily winning 10 and Under Boys' Singles, winning in the quarters, semis, and finals by scores of 7,3,6,6,4,6,6,6,5. He and Mu Du won 10 and Under Boys Doubles, going 5-0 and 15-2 in games. The two are #1 and #3 in the country now in 10 and Under Boys with ratings of 2129 and 1989. I was pretty happy about the doubles as I've been working with them once a week for about 45 minutes for the past two months, and it's paying off - their doubles play has really improved, especially in their positioning.

My table tennis books were on sale at the Butterfly booth, and several sold out. I think I signed over 20 copies during the Open. You can buy them at Amazon or Butterfly.

After the Open I spent a day at Universal Studios, where I bought Batman and Dr. Seuss pens (I sort of collect SF & fantasy-type pens), and rode the following rides: Men in Black, Simpsons, Harry Potter, Hogswarts Express, Jurassic Park water ride (got wet), Spider-Man, Shrek, and the extremely scary Hulk roller coaster. During the Open I spent my nights eating pizza and reading in the hot tub.

And I almost forgot - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

U.S. Open Meetings
I didn't take careful notes during the USATT board meeting, held most of Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16, but the minutes of the meeting should go up sometimes probably in January, after they are approved by the USATT Board. Here's a very quick rundown of what was covered: Review of September meeting minutes; Status report of U.S. Open; High Performance update; Committee reports - I have the Coaching Committee report, and there were others from the Club, Juniors, Rules, Tournaments, and High Performance Committees; Foundation report; Proposed bylaw amendment to create Paralympic High Performance Standing Committee; Tournament Update Ideas; Discussion of Strategic Plan, now renamed Strategic Priorities (because I refused to approve it as a "plan" since it is not, at this point, a plan); CEO search plan; SafeSport audit; Financials; and Planning for USATT General Assembly.

We had the USATT Assembly on Tuesday night, Dec. 18, from 7:00-8:42PM. I counted 33 attendees, including four USATT board members; myself; Ed Hogshead, who ran the meeting; Deepak Somarapu; and Gary Schlager. Also attending were USATT staff members Mark Thompson (COO); Chris Mauro (accountant); Jörg Bitzigeio (High Performance Director); as well as former CEO Gordon Kaye, who had resigned as of Dec. 1. Also attending were committee chairs Carl Danner (High Performance), Linda Leaf (Nominating and Governance), Ed Hogshead (Clubs) and myself (Coaching). Other luminaries were USATT attorney Dennis Taylor and long-time official Wendell Dillon.

The meeting began with a video of our High Performance athletes. Next Gordon read an election statement from Mike Babuin, who is one of three know people running for the At-Large spot I currently hold. (As noted previously, I'm not running for re-election - too busy. Others who are planning to run include Bruce Liu and Lily Yip.) Then came a thank you plaque to former CEO Gordon Kaye; discussion of our upcoming elections and committee openings; finances; SafeSport; Membership numbers; CEO search; Strategic Priorities; USATT tournaments; Ranking tournaments (especially Hopes); and Hardbat. On a side note, five of the seven people I know of who have expressed interest in being our next CEO were in attendance, but I'm not going to give out those names at this time.

I made a proposal at this meeting, which I've also discussed with others. For many years, we held team events on the first day of the U.S. Open - Men's and Women's, Junior and Cadet Boys and Girls. But sometime in the 1990s they stopped running them. Jörg Bitzigeio (HPD) and I are discussing bringing them back. It gives added incentive for foreign countries to send their players, plus it's international experience for our players without having to travel internationally. At this year's U.S. Open, on the first day, Sunday, Dec. 16, we had all of the tables set up, but only a fraction used for the two events run that day - Paralympic events and the Ranking tournament, so players without ratings could establish their level for seeding purposes. I proposed that we do two additions. First, we add the team events. Second, we run all the hardbat events on that day, with the option to run some finals on following nights. This way there's no conflict between hardbat and sponge events, so players can play both. (At this Open you mostly had to choose, with Hardbat getting its own "track," where you played only hardbat.) We have lots of tables, so why not use them this way?

Upcoming USATT Meetings
We have a USATT board teleconference this Thursday at 7PM eastern time, where we'll be discussing the CEO search, Strategic Priorities, and personnel matters. The next day, Friday at 9:15PM, the Coach of the Year Committee meets to go over this year's nominations.

Shoulder Update
As readers here know, I retired from private coaching in March due to shoulder problems. Since that time I've run lots of group sessions, and did simple demonstrations, but no serious play. But the shoulder is probably 90% better now. During the Open I was a practice partner each morning for our kids, and had no problems. A couple of days ago I volunteered as a practice partner during our Christmas Camp, where I spent 90 minutes not just blocking for someone, but did the drills myself - especially looping and footwork drills. I'm pretty stiff, but the shots are still there, and I can still do long rallies in a drill. My guess is I've got a ways to go before I can play games that well. However, regardless of the shoulder, I am retired from private coaching. But there's a good chance I'll play some events at the U.S. Nationals in July in Las Vegas. 

USATT Opens Applications for Chair of Coaching Committee
Here's the USATT news item. Yep, after two years as coaching chair (and a previous four-year term), I'm stepping down as coaching chair - just too busy. So why don't you apply for the position? My term ends on March 1. Information is in the link.

New from EmRatThich/Ping Sunday

New from Samson Dubina

New from Eli Baraty

3 Tips for Developing 'Feeling' in Table Tennis
Here's the article from Ben Larcombe. "Have you ever heard a fellow table tennis player described as having great 'feeling'? It's clearly a good thing, but what does it actually mean? And how do we improve our table tennis 'feeling'?"

Create Confusion by Using Disruptive Shots
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from Coach Jon

ITTF Reviews 2018

USATT, ITTF, Butterfly News
I've been gone three weeks, and there's been a LOT of new items up on these three sites! So why not browse over them?

Table Tennis Serves
Here's are links to a huge number of videos of top players and their serves.

Wang Hao Slow Motion Footwork
Here's the video (3:20, from August) of Wang Hao, the 2009 World Men's Singles Champion and 3-time Olympic Men's Singles Silver Medalist.

WAB Club Feature: Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins on my club.

History of USATT – Volume 22
USATT has started to put up Tim Boggan's latest volume, which covers 1996-1997. Here is Chapter One and Chapter Two. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at These chapters cover "International happenings" and "Member Interactions." Volume 22 is 469 pages with 1447 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1996-97 - 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!

Season of Giving--Helping College Table Tennis
Here's the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

Liam Pitchford | Ask a Pro Anything
Here's the ITTF video (5:45).

Who Is The Best Athlete?
Here's the online poll, with athletes from six sports, including Fan Zhendong from table tennis. Alas, here are the current results, which give Fan 90 votes, or 1.1%. LeBron James leads with 3220 votes, or 39.9%.

First Look: SPIN Is a Surprisingly Fancy Place to Play Ping-Pong
Here's the article on Spin DC, which recently opened. They are having a New Year's Eve Party tonight -maybe I should visit! Spin Table Tennis now have locations in New, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, and Toronto.

17-year-old Ping Pong Player Scores Big Wins at Table Tennis Championships in Florida
Here's the video (68 sec) featuring Estee Ackerman from News 12 in Long Island.

ITTF Posts Record-Breaking Numbers on TV, Social Media, and Online Streaming
Here's the ITTF press release.

Little Girl Feed Multiball
Here's the video (10 sec)! Who needs a paddle to feed multiball?

Scott "PingPongMan" Preiss Goes Through Security at Palm Beach
Here's the picture! (I think I posted a similar picture once before, or it might have been this one.) The security guy has no idea what to make of this oversized racket. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Two Unarmed Players?
Here's the video (2 min)! The player on the left is a feature on Ibrahim Hamato, who has been featured many times, including this video (3:33) from last month.

Best Ping Pong Trick Shots 2018
Here's the video (5:02) from Pongfinity!

Labrador Pong
Here's the video (60 sec)!

Superhero Table Tennis Videos

Season's Greetings from Table Tennis
Here's the video (47 sec) as top players sing Jingle Bells!

Santa Claus Pong
Here's the video (60 sec)! Table tennis starts about 15 seconds in.

Send us your own coaching news!

Re: December 31, 2018

Is it really the case that "according to most referees, there must be six inches of clearance between the hand and the ball"?   The rules don't say that, and that wasn't what was called in this case (the referee seemed to indicate the problem was a non-vertical toss - tossed near the center line and hit outside the outside line of the table).  The toss has to go six inches, but I thought the hand can go anywhere as long as it doesn't obscure the ball.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: December 31, 2018

I actually thought as you did before the Open, but when I asked the umpires and referees there, nearly all said that the rule implied a 6-inch clearance. When I'd asked the same question a few years ago, I'd gotten the opposite answer. Anyway, that's how many or most are now calling it. Regarding Wang's toss, I was told he was faulted for not tossing the ball up six inches. I actually spoke with the umpire involved on this, and I'm pretty sure that's what he said.