January 28, 2019

Tip of the Week
Progressive Drills to Improve Your Rallying Skills.

Invitation to Members Interested in Committee Service
Here's the USATT news item. There are 17 USATT Committees. (Some are currently vacant and so are not listed.) The USATT news item gives a description of what each committee does. Here are the Super 17:

  • Classic Table Tennis Committee
  • Clubs Committee
  • Coaching Committee
  • Ethics and Grievance Committee
  • High Performance Committee
  • Juniors Committee
  • Leagues Committee
  • Membership Development Committee
  • Nominating and Governance Committee
  • Para High Performance Committee
  • Resource Development Committee
  • Rules Committee
  • Selection Committee
  • Technology Committee
  • Tournaments Committee
  • Umpires' and Referees' Committee
  • Veterans Committee

So why would you want to serve on a USATT Committee? Other than that it's much more fun than jamming a red-hot poker down your throat while dancing on a ping-pong table in the vacuum of outer space? Well, it's either serve on a committee or go practice, and we all know how hard it is to practice.

Many people complain about USATT, but few actually step in to help out. This is your chance to not only help out, but you can get your "I can now complain about USATT without being a lazy hypocrite" membership card. There's a good chance you are an "expert," or at least reasonably knowledgeable, about one of these 17 areas. Take your pick!!!

I've served my time, many times over. Besides being on the USATT Board of Directors, I've chaired the Coaching Committee the last two years, as well as from 1991-95. (My terms for both expire around March 1, and then I'm free to practice and swallow red-hot pokers while dancing on a ping-pong table in the vacuum of outer space. I've told USATT powers-that-be that I don't want to chair any more committees, though I may consider staying on the Coaching Committee.) I've also chaired the League Committee, Club Committee, and Resident Training Program Committee, and have been a member of the Junior, Senior, Grassroots, and Ratings Committees, as well as a member of the Coaching and Club Committees when I wasn't chair.

Much of committee work is setting or recommending policy. Other times the committee takes the lead in an activity. Some of them work closely with the full-time staff members. For example, the High Performance Committee, Coaching Committee, and Junior Committee all work closely with the USATT High Performance Director.

Committee work can be both greatly rewarding and terribly frustrating. Some of my favorite moments in table tennis have been when something from a committee became a reality that changed the course of USATT history, and with no red-hot pokers involved. We did some ground-breaking stuff in my first term as coaching chair and when I chaired the club committee. You can do the same. If you have some great idea you want to work on and develop, here's your chance!

There have been down moments as well. Once, in a USATT Strategic Meeting, we broke up into smaller groups to focus on specific areas. I was in the Full-Time Training Centers group with five others. (So technically, this wasn't committee work, but it was the same thing.) At the time there were only about five such full-time training centers in the country, the first of which was the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which I co-founded in 1992 and still coach at. I'd created a successful model that was copied by others, and I could see the future was in such centers. (I was right - there are now 94 full-time training centers that I know of.) So I could reasonably say I was an "expert" on the topic. So what happened? One person took over the meeting. We could barely get a word in as this one person, who had never run a full-time center or even a club, and literally had no idea what he was talking about, went on and On and ON about what we had to do. When I managed to get a few words in pointing out some realities that contradicted his world-view, it only got him more assertive. I finally sat back and gave up, and only sort of listened as the four others bickered with him for 60 minutes. When we reported back to the main group, the Type A Personality who had taken over the meeting gave a report on his views, and I then pointed out that these were his views, and that the others in the group had very differing views. It was a wasted meeting and a wasted opportunity.

Don't be that person.

On the other hand, I've been in committee meetings where people came prepared, they respectfully listened when others spoke, they discussed various experiences, ideas, and visions for the sport, we came up with great plans and policy, and unicorns nuzzled our hands and we played ping-pong with angels.

Be those people.

Weekend Coaching
It was a rather "easy" weekend as two of the three group sessions did season-ending practice tournaments. For these two, I ran part of the tournament while observing the players. We also had the season-ending part for the Talent Development Program, where awards were given, much food was eaten, and the kids got to play table tennis without any adult supervision, often with mini-paddles and hardbats, and with their own rules. Here's the group picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) You can see me in the back in the light blue shirt with a white stripe on the sleeves, toward the left.)

In the Beginning Class on Wednesday, we did forehand and backhand review, and started some on side-to-side footwork. However, the focus was on deep serves. Before the session began I cut twelve five-foot pieces of string. I also brought in a case of water bottles and a ruler. I put 24 water bottles on the four corners of six tables. Then I put the string across the end of each table, ten inches from the end-line. Then, after a demo, they spent ten minutes trying to serve and hit the bottle, with the first bounce past the string. (In the demo, I kept asking the kids if they thought I could hit the bottle, and three times we bet push-ups. I hit the bottle all three times. Our kids will have superior upper-body strength due to my serving accuracy. I can hit a bottle on the far corner probably 80% of the time with my normal forehand pendulum fast serve. ) As usual, we finished with games, with the older kids playing up-down tables while the younger ones did various target practice games, mostly involving stacked cups.

Upcoming International Events

Hungarian Open
Here's the ITTF page for the event held in Budapest, Jan. 15-20. (I linked to it last week.) Here are three new links:

Japanese Championships
Here are two articles and video of the men's final. (Note - in the original posting there were two incorrect links that went to articles on the Japanese Championships in 2017, which led to an incorrect summary of results.)

$100,000 World Ping-Pong Championships
Here's the home page for the event held this past weekend in London, where they players use sandpaper rackets. Congrats to Andrew Baggaley (ENG), who defeated defending champion Wang Shibo (CHN) in the final to win for the third time.

2019 US Table Tennis Hall of Fame Nominations Open
Here's the USATT news item by Hall of Fame Chair Sean O'Neill.

The Tactical Mindset: Post-Tournament Analysis
Here's the article by Samson Dubina. "Just like any other table tennis skills, developing a tactical mindset takes discipline."

How Long Does It Take to Become a Pro at Table Tennis?
Here's the article by EmRatThich. "Let's learn the secret to be a very good player in table tennis."

Table Tennis Balls
Here's the article by Eli Baraty. "How important are table tennis balls and do the characteristics and different ball companies, truly affect your game?"

Beyond Stereotypes
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "Every now and then a lightning bolt of an idea strikes."

Four Killer Serves to Destroy Your Opponents
Here's the video (11:37) with Craig Bryant, from Tom Lodziak.

Backhand Serve Deception
Here's the video (16:35, in Japanese, with English subtitles).

"Ghost Serves" by Patrick Franziska
Here's the video (17 sec) of the world #15 from Germany as he does backspin serves that bounce back into the net.

Kanak Jha, Aiming to Add to Pan American Success
Here's the ITTF article. "Winner last year of the boys’ singles title at the Pan American Junior Championships in Santo Domingo, four months later the same record of success at the senior version in Santiago; even though only 18 years old Kanak Jha of the United States heads the challenge from north of the border at the forthcoming Universal 2019 ITTF Pan America Cup."

Kumar's Table Tennis Passion Lifting Him to New Heights
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. "When it comes to the battlefield of life, Navin Kumar is a warrior. The Bionic Man has faced more than his share of challenges, but has the attitude of a winner and a big passion for the sport of table tennis." (I was Navin's coach until I hurt my shoulder last year. He has Parkinson's and a partially artificial heart.)

Japanese Table Tennis Star Ai Fukuhara Awarded
Here's the article.

Table Tennis to Feature at Paris 2024 Paralympic Games
Here's the ITTF article.

History of USATT – Volume 22
Here is Chapter Five and Chapter Six of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis. They are subtitled "The Old and the New" and "March - April Tournaments." 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!

Sofia Polcanova | Ask a Pro Anything
Here's the ITTF video (4:42) with the world #16 from Austria and Adam Bobrow.

2018 Pan American Junior Championships - Sharon Alguetti Highlights
Here's the video (4:15).

WAB Club Feature: Denver Table Tennis Alliance
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Wausau Table Tennis Club Breathes New Life into Wausau Center Mall
Here's the article and video (2:38) on this Wisconsin club.

Time to Bounce: The Port City Ping Pong Throw Down is Back
Here's the article and videos featuring the Wilmington TTC in North Carolina.

The Jolly Green Giant Plays Table Tennis
Here's the video (1:45)! Also playing is his apprentice, The Little Green Sprout.

Novak Djokovic Plays Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:14)! He uses both a ping-pong paddle and a tennis racket; hits under his leg; imitates John McEnroe; and demonstrates "The Fantasma"!

Trump Shuts down USA Table Tennis
Here's the video (3:06)! (Can you figure out who he is? Hint - he's rated about 2000, has been rated as high as 2387.)

Non-Table Tennis - "Christmas GI Joes"
The story just went up at Factor Four Magazine. (Alas, you have to buy a subscription to read it.) What happens when there is an alien invasion, and there's only one person with the distribution system to get the needed weapons to everyone to defend Earth? He didn't want to do it, but after calls from the presidents of every major country begging for his help, Santa Claus gave in and instead of toys, distributed AK-47's and Glocks to the world on Christmas eve. . . and one other thing.

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