February 17, 2020

Tip of the Week
Footwork: Wide Stance and Two-Step?

US Olympic Trials and Round Robin Format
I blogged about this last week. I also said I'd contact the Trials Referee (Joey Yick) and ask what the rule is if a player drops out in the middle of the competition. There have been past Trials where it was ruled that if a player dropped out at any time, none of his results counted. This meant that, for example, in a Final RR of eight players, if a player had played six of his seven matches but was out of contention (as would typically be true of at least half the players), then if he had any wins over players in contention, he might be able to dramatically affect the results by simply faking an injury and dropping out. (Imagine this in the hands of an unscrupulous player.)

However, the ruling is that all matches played count, but once a player defaults, he's out of the Trials and all subsequent matches are defaults. As I've written before, there is no truly fair Trials (or elections) - there's even a math proof of this I studied in college many decades ago - so all you can do is go for the fairest, and then try to ignore nitpickers (like me!). In this case, the potential problem is a top player goes out and beats a bunch of contenders, then drops out for whatever reason. His wins over those players stand, but players he hasn't played gets a win over him. This is a potential huge advantage to some players. However, as noted, all Trials have problems in some way. Ultimately, if you want to make the Olympics (i.e. Top Two), then you have to beat nearly all of the other players.

In many cases, the case I gave above won't affect things. For example, in the Final Eight RR, suppose Xin Zhou (top seed) goes undefeated and gets the second Olympic spot, leaving the others to battle for the third and final one. (Kanak Jha already has the first, by virtue of his world ranking, and so doesn't have to try out.) Suppose Hodges defeats Seemiller in the first match, and then defaults the rest of his matches. (Ow, my shoulder!!!) Suppose Seemiller goes 5-2, with losses only to Zhou and Hodges. Suppose Sharon Alguetti also goes 5-2, losing to Seemiller and Zhou, but defeating Hodges via default. At first, it seems unfair to Seemiller, since he had to play the invincible Hodges while Alguetti got a default. After all, if Hodges had played everyone, he'd no doubt have beaten Alguetti, dropping him to 4-3 and putting Seemiller ahead of him. But it doesn't matter - in the example where Hodges defaults, Seemiller and Alguetti were both 5-2, but since Seemiller won head-to-head, so he still comes out ahead of Alguetti. So the order is unchanged - other than the fact that if Hodges hadn't had that shoulder problem and dropped out, he and Zhou would have gotten the two available spots at the Trials, and Seemiller and Alguetti could only sit back and admire their great play.

However, there are also cases where defaults do make a big difference, especially in the final round, where a player can affect things by defaulting or dumping.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to doing coverage of the US Olympic Trials. I'm flying out next Monday night (probably leaving for the airport shortly after I finish my blog), and will do a bit of sightseeing in LA and Hollywood on Tuesday before switching to coverage on Wednesday, with the Trials starting Thursday morning (Feb. 27), and finishing on Sunday (March 1).

Here's the home page for the event, and here's the final list of players - gosh, they left me out!!! So Seemiller and Alguetti are safe. (And here I was planning on beating all three Alguettis...)

Weekend Coaching
For the Thursday Beginning Class, the focus was on Spin Serves. Surprisingly, this is one of the funnest parts for many of the kids. They get pretty excited the first time they serve a backspin ball and make the ball come to a stop or even bounce backwards! There are 14 in the class; about half were able to do that at least once. Afterwards, we did a backhand-to-backhand competition - the record was 59. (There was no Sunday Beginning Class since it's President's Day Weekend - when we run such classes on three-day weekends, about half the class doesn't show.)

We started a new season for the Talent Program at MDTTC, which is the advanced junior program. Normally they play lots of matches on Saturday (most of them using various rules so they have to work on specific aspects of their games), but for this weekend, it was mostly training, both days. For me, it was Multiball Weekend as I spent most of both sessions feeding multiball. A key thing for all coaches is to have a large multiball library in their head so they can throw all sorts of drills at players. For beginners, it's more basic, but for advanced players, you sometimes want to throw more variations at them.

On Sunday, during the first hour of the session, there was a Parents meeting, where former MDTTC junior star Barbara Wei gave a talk on her experiences as an up-and-coming junior, her years on the USATT cadet and junior girls' teams, and best practices for parents in such situations. Her dad then gave a talk from his point of view and what he learned from those years. Alas, I was coaching, so didn't get to hear any of it.

Reads per Blog and Tip
Here are recent stats.

  • Feb 10 16,447 reads
  • Feb 03 17,799 reads
  • Jan 27 15,164 reads
  • Jan 20 16,635 reads
  • Jan 13 14,854 reads
  • Jan 06 15,875 reads
  • Dec 09 54,052 reads - but this covered nearly a month!
  • Dec 02 16,628 reads

Portugal Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held Feb. 12-16 in Lisbon, Portugal, with results, articles, photos, and video.

2020 US Nationals Returns to the Great City of Las Vegas
Here's the USATT article. Can't wait to go back!

Lily Yip Table Tennis Center Paves the Way on the Road to LA 2028
Here's the USATT article, by Matt Hetherington, about the Hopes event (for kids born in 2008 or after) held last weekend. (I was one of the coaches - I wrote about it in last week's blog. That's me in the back-left of the group picture and wandering about in the background of both videos below.) Here are two videos from the camp:

  • Lily Yip (2:41) - "The first Road to LA Hopes Camp kicks off at Lily Yip Table Tennis Center with some words of encouragement from 2-time US Olympian Lily Yip!"
  • Jayden Zhou (1:55) - "North American Hopes representative Jayden Zhou sharing his past experience at the ITTF World Hopes week with the first camp group of the 2020 US Hopes Tour!"

Spin and Smash Provides Perfect Home for US Hopes Talents on the Road to LA 2028
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel (MLFM)

New from eBaTT

New from Samson Dubina

Decoding Backhand Technique
Here's the video (3:10) featuring South Korean star player (now coach) Joo Se Hyuk. In Korean with English subtitles.

How to Change Course Using Backhand
Here's the video (8:15). In Korean with English subtitles.

How to Attack High Backspin Balls
Here's the video (5:36) from Tom Lodziak.

A Little Footwork Training?
Here the video (20 sec) of Hugo Calderano of Brazil (world #7). What, you can't do this? What's wrong with you?

Walking and Chewing Gum in Table Tennis
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

New from Steve Hopkins

USATT Extends Thanks to Coronavirus Aid Donors and Supporters
Here's USATT article.

Chinese National Team Training in Qatar amidst Coronavirus Outbreak in China
Here's the video (11:05). "Due to the widespread outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus across China, the ITTF and Qatar Table Tennis Association helped to arrange a high-quality training environment for the Chinese National Team in Doha with just a single day’s notice."


Nittaku Monthly Pongcast - January 2020
Here's the video (17:05).

Beltway Plaza's "Have a Heart" Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the flyer/poster for the event held this past Saturday to benefit the American Heart Association. Navin Kumar was the featured player. They raised $5383. Here's a picture of Navin and others with the big check! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) You can see more pictures and videos on Navin's Facebook page.

Ping Pong and Going Strong: Seniors Still Got It at Table Tennis Club in Medford
Here's the video (3 min) from NBC in Boston.

Episode 11 - Everybody's Trying for the Olympics
Here's the podcast (76 min), episode #11 from Table Tennis Talk.

Ping Pong, Vol. 1
Here's the new table tennis graphic art book, coming out on May 19 - looks interesting! But sort of expensive at $29.99, though it is 520 pages. Not sure when Vol. 2 comes out. "Ace high school table tennis players push their passion to the limit in this story of self-discovery, told by Eisner Award winner Taiyo Matsumoto. Makoto "Smile" Tsukimoto doesn’t smile even though he’s got a natural talent for playing ping pong. As one of the best players in school, all hopes are on him to win the regional high school tournament, but winning is not what Smile really wants to do. Will the fierce competition to be number one bring out his best or drive him away from the game? Ping Pong is Taiyo Matsumoto’s masterwork reflection on friendship and self-discovery, presented here in two volumes, featuring color art, the bonus story Tamura and an afterward by the original Japanese series editor."

Tomahawk Racket Flip Serve
Here's the video (11 sec), from Adam Bobrow - watch closely!

Handy Looper
Here's the video (30 sec) - watch the kid on the left about five seconds in, when he serves. He drops his racket, but unfazed, follows his serve with a winning forehand loop using just his hand!

Table Tennis Anytime Anywhere
Here's the video (14 sec)! Who needs rackets or balls when you have a picnic table and a little imagination? (Shadow practice like this is actually very good practice.)

Furniture Pong
Here's the video (12 sec) - you too can use a few cabinets to work on your side-to-side footwork!

Table Tennis Tricks - This guy makes it look so easy
Here's the video (28 sec)!

Richie Rich Ping-Pong Covers
I found two:

Sonic the Hedgehog: Ping-Pong Player
I saw the movie a few days ago - and loved the table tennis scene! Below are various speedsters playing table tennis "alone" by racing in a circle around the table.

Sumo Ping Pong
Here's the video (6:21) from Pongfinity!

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