January 21, 2019

Tip of the Week
The Grinding Mentality - How to Play It and Against It.

Sunday Coaching
I ran two group sessions on Sunday. The first was Week #2 of this season's Beginning Junior Class. (Lidney Castro and Aron Zhang are assistant coaches, with Todd Klinger a practice partner.) We did forehand review for 20 minutes, and then the focus was on the backhand. As usual, we finished with games, with half the class playing "King of the Table" (no girls there so we can use the "King" title), and the other half (the younger kids) building the usual pyramids and walls out of paper cups on the table and then knocking them down as I fed multiball.

The advanced junior program at MDTTC is the Talent Development Program, which is run by the HW Global Foundation, using mostly MDTTC coaches. Normally John Hsu runs groups 3-4, but he was out of town this weekend so I ran them. It was mostly a multiball session, where we went through a series of nine different drills. Most of the groups were of three, where one player did the drill while the other two stood behind, shadow-stroking and shadow-moving. Then we did ten minutes of serve practice, and then Brazilian Teams. Then we had a big meeting, where the 30+ kids voted for "Best Teammate." I've never been thrilled with this type of vote as those who don't get votes may feel left out, and it's basically a popularity contest between the stronger kids. But the winners here were deserving - Stanley Hsu came in first, Stefanie Zhang second, Hanfei Hu third.

Afterwards the coaches, as usual, went out for dinner where we discussed the players. I excitedly told them about one of the players in the Beginning Class who likely will be in the Talent Program soon. And there are other possible ones as well. One six-year-old already mimics the top players in his stance and strokes, and it won't be long before he develops consistency to go with that.

USATT Statement on 2020 Olympic Selection Procedures
Here's the USATT statement. I blogged about the 2020 Olympic Selection Procedures extensively in my Jan. 7 blog, and more in my Jan. 14 blog (about the USATT teleconference). I am not happy with these Procedures, nor was I too happy with one part of the USATT Statement. (I'll get to that.) However, there's not a whole lot that can be done about the Procedures. According to the USATT Bylaws, the responsibilities of the USATT High Performance Committee (HPC) include:

9.16.c.1: Approve selection Procedures or other policies as needed for national teams and international events, or the operation of the High Performance Program

So even if the USATT board were to vote against this, it would be meaningless as the bylaws make it clear the HPC has this authority, not the USATT board. (Changing that would require a bylaw change, which requires 2/3 of the board, which has zero chance of happening.) As I noted before, I'm on the USATT board and never saw these procedures until after they were published.

The HPC seems pretty set on staying with the current procedures, even though it means there's a good chance that we might end up with four out of six members of the 2020 Olympic Team selected by committee. I've already blogged about that and am not going to rehash it here. (If you do have questions or comments, you should politely contact USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio and/or the HPC - see the USATT Committee listing.)

Here's the part about the USATT statement above that bothered me. It includes the following statement: "…those raising concerns would prefer that more, or all of the team positions be filled by the Olympic Trial result only." (I bolded the word "only.")  I want to make it absolutely clear that this is NOT what I've argued for, and that the USATT response is NOT a response to what I've argued for.

This same statement was made in the USATT teleconference on Monday last week, and I very vehemently explained that this was NOT what I (and many others) have been pushing for – the word "only" completely changes the meaning of the USATT statement. In my blog, for example, I wrote:

"But if we believe they [top USA players] are good enough to have earned their spots, doesn't that imply they have earned that right by showing they are medal contenders by their international performance? So why not simply put it in the pre-qualifying rules that whatever it is they did to earn that right means they pre-qualify?"

I also wrote:

"I envision a future where we have trials for only one spot because the other spots are all taken by players who prequalify by being medal contenders. But we haven't reached that spot yet."

What I have argued for is that, if we get six players (3 men, 3 women), that at most only one player per team be selected by committee. That leaves two spots on each team by pre-qualifiers AND Trials, and we could adjust the pre-qualifier rules so we are assured that our best players make the team. They would, of course, likely be selected anyway by the committee, but this gives the committee more leeway in the final selection, including taking doubles into account. At no time did I say anything like "Olympic Trial result only."

I emailed the four signees to the letter, and I was assured that the USATT Statement was NOT a response to me, but to the numerous others who have voiced objections. I just don't think that the "only" part of the USATT statement accurately reflects the arguments made by a lot of people, including me. It's only one word, but it dramatically changes the meaning of the statement.   

USA Table Tennis Sets New Strategic Direction Through to 2024
Here's the new USATT Strategic Priorities. Originally this was the USATT Strategic Plan, but I pointed out that in its current state, there are no plans, just a listing of priorities and goals, and I refused to vote for it. So it was renamed "USATT Strategic Priorities." I do commend those who put in the time in coming up with these. However, I have misgivings on two areas here. First, listing priorities and goals are extremely easy; creating implementable plans to achieve them is the hard part. Many think we've accomplished a lot here, but it's like taking the first step up Mount Everest and then celebrating. In my mind, nothing has been accomplished until we actually have plans to implement. Second, there are too many things listed, practically a laundry list of priorities. It would be better to focus on fewer and do them well. (I blogged about past USATT Strategic Meetings in my Oct. 29, 2018 blog. So far - and let me emphasize the so far - they are falling into the exact same traps as all past USATT Strategic Meetings. I'm assured this time it will be different, but I was also assured that in past ones when I raised the exact same objections as I have done here. C'mon, let's break the cycle!)

Hungarian Open
Here's the ITTF page for the event this past weekend Budapest, Jan. 15-20, with results, news, video, and pictures. Here's the Day Four review (1:42), covering the finals.

ITTF-PTT Level 1 Coaching Course: March 18-22, 2019, Tigard, Oregon
Here's the USATT info page.

New from Matt Hetherington

New from Tom Lodziak

New from EmRatThich

Why Having a Table Tennis Coach is So Important
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Barrier Forehand Coaching Technique
Here's the video (43 sec) as Gary Fraiman uses a barrier to get a student to stroke forward and up, to put topspin on the ball.

Jim Butler Interviews Timothy Wang, Daryl Morey, and Niraj Oak
Here's the video (3:51).

Serendipitous Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "If serendipity is a chance occurrence in a happy or beneficial way, table tennis appears to be a very serendipitous sport. Even if you remove all the nets and edges, there are times when players are just in the right place at the right time."

Ma Long Injury "more serious than expected"
Here's the ITTF article. "Over five months have passed since Ma Long last completed a match of international Table Tennis: his round of 32 defeat to Liam Pitchford at the ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open on 16 August 2018." … "When Ma Long injured his knee last year, at first he did not realise that it was especially serious. He thought that he would be able to make a quick recovery."

Sharath Kamal
Here are two articles about and by the great Indian champion.

New from Steve Hopkins

National Collegiate Table Tennis January Newsletter
Here it is.

A Ping-Pong Robot at CES 2019 Made Me Wonder: Could I Go Pro?
Here's the article. "CNET's Katie Collins gets a glimpse of the elite sporting career she might have had."

Three Month Suspension for Zhou Yu
Here's the ITTF article on the world #61 (previously #11) from China.

Jamaica Building a Base for High Performance
Here's the ITTF article by Richard McAfee.

Raising the Bar to Reign Supreme
Here's the article by Johnathan Humbles on Canadian stars Eugene Wang & Mo Zhang in Mixed Doubles at the Canadian Championships.

Picture This: Willy Leparulo's View at the US Open
Here's the article.

LRTTC 2019 Winter Giant Round Robin
Here's the article and pictures by Mike Lauro.

Table Tennis Tidbits #42: Stockholm Syndrome 11-1—4-18
Here's the USATT article by Robert Ho.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Four, subtitled, "Readership offered two magazines." (The second option? Table Tennis World, a new independent magazine I started that lasted three issues.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. 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!

Jimmy Pelletier Takes a Ping-Pong Bath
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Adam Bobrow vs TableTennisDaily's Dan!
Here's the video (14:54).

ITTF Table Tennis Stars do the 10 Year Challenge!
Here's the ITTF video (53 sec)!

Crazy Roller by Fan Zhendong
Here's the video (24 sec, with slo-mo instant replay). The best part is the expressions on their faces! (Fan of China is world #1; Simon Gauzy of France is world #32, but was as high as #8 in March of 2018.)

Bowling Pin Pong
Here's the video (32 sec) - they make good targets!

Literal Table Tennis
Here's the video (20 sec) of playing table tennis . . . with a table!

Jean-Philippe Gatien Having Fun at a Ping-Pong Bar!
Here's the video (44 sec) of the 1993 World Men's Singles Champion goofing off.

Music Ping-Pong Show
Here's the video (3:39), featuring French stars Jacques Secrétin, Patrick Renversé, Francois Farout, Patrick Mozola, and Jean-Marc Boiteux.

Non-Table Tennis - My 100th Science Fiction Sale!
Last week I sold my 100th short story! "Confederate Cavalry on a Plane" sold to the Space Opera Libretti anthology, which will come out this fall. It's a humorous SF romp through physics, time, and alternate universes, about a physicist on a Boeing 737 who claims that, with essentially infinite universes, anything you can imagine happens somewhere. So his student bets him there is no universe where there are Confederate cavalry running down the plane's aisle. Um . . . yes there is! The story is 4700 words long, about 22 pages double spaced. (Sorry, no table tennis.) I've also sold four novels. Here's my science fiction page.

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