January 20, 2020

Tip of the Week
Whenever You Miss, Shadow Stroke.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!
Alas, I couldn't find a single picture of him playing table tennis...Photoshop, anyone, for next week?

USATT Turnover - and a Fresh Start?
I don't think USA Table Tennis has ever had so much turnover in such a short period of time - see listing below. They are almost unrecognizable from just months ago. This could be both a good and a bad thing. But it's definitely a huge opportunity!!!

It could be a good thing as it gives USATT a fresh start. And that could be a GREAT thing! (However, at least on the elite level, USATT has made great strides in recent years. The level and depth of USATT players has gone up dramatically, though this is mostly due to the rise of full-time training centers with professional coaches all over the country, a relatively new thing. The more USATT encourages this, the better things will get here.)

But fresh starts don't always work out. When the USOC essentially took over USATT in 2008 and completely changed the board of directors, I was excited for the chance of a fresh start. They held a Strategic Meeting in 2009 with 26 people to plan things out, which I attended. I spent an inordinate amount of time creating plans and practicing presentations. Alas, IMHO, much of the meeting was hijacked by a few people with bad ideas, and a huge opportunity was wasted. (Exactly zero of my plans were adopted.) Here is my Sept. 26, 2011 blog about that. Bottom line - in most organizational meetings, experience and forward thinking can't beat people who look good in a suit. :)

A fresh start could be a bad thing because it means a loss of organizational memory and continuity. (A primary reason the bad ideas mentioned above were adopted.) I've been to USATT meetings where people would bring up ideas as if they were obvious and fresh things, with no clue that they had been tried repeatedly in the past. That doesn't mean you can't try them again, but if you don't know why past attempts failed, guess what? You will likely do the same mistakes that led to failure before. It's important to have organizational memory so that you can learn from those mistakes. It's mind-boggling how often USATT has repeated the same mistakes during the 44 years I've been a member.

One problem USATT always faces during these transitions is that they are trying to serve two masters - Elite Table Tennis (in particular the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee) and the Membership. I've proposed several times that USATT solve this problem by recommending they "Instigate a Professional Players Association with its own ED, with the goal of getting sponsorships and TV for a professional circuit." I did formal proposals on this back in 2003 and 2004, and brought it up again in 2015. Alas, it would mean USATT giving up power, plus there's the problem that the USOPC partially funds USATT - if we created a professional players association, who would get that money?

Perhaps there should be more changeover. There's a USATT volunteer who recently posted on Facebook, about presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, "If Petey gets in, will we have a First Fairy, or a First Fagot?" (I called him out on it, and he deleted it, but I kept a screenshot.) I don't know if that's a USATT issue or not - but since we only have one member of the USATT Ethics and Disciplinary Committee left (see below), it's sort of moot. (I'm sure if we thoroughly investigated all USATT volunteers and staff, we'd find worse.)

Here's a listing of recent USATT personnel changes.

  • USATT Board of Directors. As I've blogged about, USOPC (formerly USOC) forced all nine members of the USATT board to resign, and they did so a couple of weeks ago. One of the nine, Tara Profitt, was voted back in as player rep, but the others are not allowed to return. I'm told USATT will be back to nine board members by the end of March - but eight of them will be new. (The current board listing has only two, the recently elected player reps - Tara and Niraj Oak.)
  • USATT Committees. There's been a huge turnover there. (See far left column.) All five members of the Audit Committee have resigned. All four members of the Compensation Committee have resigned. Six of the seven members of the Ethics and Grievance Committee have resigned. Three of the eight members of the High Performance Committee have resigned. One member each of the Nominating & Governing, the Tournaments, and the Umpires and Referees Committees have resigned.
  • CEO. Virginia Sung became the new CEO in May, 2019. This now seems a long time ago!
  • High Performance Director. Sean O'Neill became the Interim High Performance Director in September, 2019.
  • USATT Headquarters Staff. Accountant Chris Mauro and SafeSport Specialist Becky Bill both left sometime late in 2019. I believe an outside firm is now doing USATT accounting (there's no accountant in the USATT staff listing), while Josh Dyke is the SafeSport Specialist.
  • USATT Media Team. Three of the four are resigning. Director Matt Hetherington is resigning as of March 1, while Tony Murnahan and Ryan Green are leaving as of Feb. 1, when their contracts end.
  • USATT Lawyer. The Paul Hastings law firm is taking over the legal duties for USATT from long-time lawyer Dennis Taylor. Here's the USATT article, USATT Taps on International Law Firm Paul Hastings LLP for Support. They are a huge law firm, a Fortune 500 company - according to Wikipedia, "It is one of the largest law firms in the United States, with over $1.22 billion of revenue in 2018." But will they attend all board meetings, as Dennis did? They won't have the organizational memory that Dennis had, who's been closely involved with USATT for about twenty years, not only as lawyer, but as a board member, secretary, and as chair of the High Performance Committee. (Plus a number of other positions I can't remember at the moment.)
  • US Open and Nationals Staff. Omnipong Director Craig Krum took over running them this past December with the Nationals, bringing in a mostly new staff. North American Table Tennis had been running them both for nearly 20 years.

Weekend Coaching
This past Thursday we started a new ten-week Beginning Class, with 14 kids. The focus in the first session was grip, ball-bouncing, stance, and the forehand. This Thursday we'll do more on the forehand, and then start on the backhand.

In the more advanced Talent Development Program on Sunday, I was mostly with the younger players. We started off with a series of shadow-practice. A big feature of the session was backhand games, where players played only on the backhand side on both sides - but they could use forehand or backhand. Toward the end I switched over to the older players. One interesting thing - they played games at the end, and I realized one of our more advanced players served illegally almost every time - her serving hand and ball went below the table over and over. I pointed it out to her - she didn't realize she was doing this. We'll get that fixed. (I remember a kid I coached once got faulted for that in the semifinals of the Under 14 National Championships.)

MDTTC Opens in Gaithersburg, Maryland
The entry form for the year's four MDTTC Opens is now online. I used to run these tournaments, but I've turned the reins over to Klaus Wood. The first one is Feb. 8-9. See you there! (They should show up in the Omnipong tournament listing soon.)

Table Tennis Community Fundraiser to Support Sally Boggan
Here's the USATT article by Larry Hodges and Sheri Soderberg Cioroslan. Here's the GoFundMe page for Sally, wife of Tim Boggan - hope you can help out! We've raised $3764 as of this writing.


New from Samson Dubina

Super Easy Backhand Flick Technique
Here's the video (7:35) from Tom Lodziak.

Building a Better Blocker
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins

Wang Returns to the Limelight for 2020 US Olympic Trials
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

Experior Expanding Excellence in Chicago’s Table Tennis Scene
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

ARKTTA's December Open and Review of 2019
Here's the article by Mike Lauro, featuring Arkansas table tennis.

Turn of the Decade: ITTF's Feature on Rising Stars
ITTF has started a new semi-daily feature on rising stars. USA's Kanak Jha was featured on Jan. 16.

China Announces World Team Championships Selection, Debuts for Liang Jingkun and Sun Yingsha
Here's the ITTF article.

2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament
Here's the info page for the event to be held Jan. 22-26 in Gondomar, Portugal. The event serves as a qualification event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020. Here's the ITTF article Five teams, five reasons: follow the Tokyo 2020 World Team Qualification.

Liang Jingkun Interview
Here's the ITTF video (3:09) with the men's world #9 of China.

Ask A Pro Anything | Best Of 2019
Here's the ITTF video (5:09).

New Videos from MaLong FanMade Channel (MLFM)

New from PingSkills

Table Tennis Rules and Knowledge Posters
There are three versions, sold at different places - take your pick!

One Minute, One Sport | Table Tennis
Here's the video (1:17) that tries to give a complete review of the sport in record time!

Comeback Receive and Fifty-Foot Serve
Here's the video (52 sec) as Scott Preiss demonstrates both in this exhibition!

It's a Dog Eat Ball World
Here's the repeating gif!

Powerpuff Girls | Ping Pong Z
Here's the video (2:27)!

Tom & Jack in Table Tennis Game
Here's the video (4:01)!

Penhold Ping Pong
Here's the video (10:03) from Pongfinity!

Playing Alone by Circling Table
It takes super-human speed to play alone by racing around the table, returning your own shots. Here are videos and gifs of these super-beings in action!

Send us your own coaching news!