September 21, 2020

Tip of the Week
Against a Fast Attacker, Make At Least Two Strong Shots.

USA Table Tennis Reschedules US National Table Tennis Championships for July of 2021 . . . and My Recommendation
Here's the USATT news item. Dang! But here is my recommendation.

The problem of moving the 2020 Nationals to 2021 is that you've skipped an entire year (2020), so are the winners of the 2021 Nationals the champions for 2020 or 2021? Or are they going to run the 2020 and 2021 Nationals together or back-to-back? Suppose they run both, running the championship events as they normally do, with lots of round robin events, but only running one set of rating events. This would mean going from five or six days to nine or even ten, and many players can't afford to take that much time off. It could be a logistical nightmare as well. But there's an easier way.

My suggestion is to, this one time, run all the championship events twice, one for 2020, and one for 2021 - but run them all single elimination. (That was the common practice many years ago.) Make it two for the price of one, so when you enter, say, Under 12 Boys, they put you in both events. You get, on average fewer matches in each event, but you get two single elimination events instead of one round robin event. The rating events would be run as always, as round robin events, but you don't need to run them twice.

There will be a small number of players who are eligible for only one of the two championship events. For example, a player might have been eligible for Under 12 in 2020 but is too old for 2021, or a player might not have gotten their citizenship in time for 2020 but did so in time for 2021. (You have to be a citizen to play the championship events, but not the rating events.) For those players, they'd pay half-price for the one single elimination event.

Championship events would include men's and women's singles, doubles, and mixed doubles; age events (seniors and juniors); hardbat and sandpaper events; and disabled events.

Say Happy Birthday to Tim Boggan
This Friday, Sept. 25, the incredible USATT Hall of Famer Tim Boggan will be turning 90! Few, if any, have done more for USA Table Tennis as he has over the past 50+ years - president, editor, writer, historian, Ping-Pong Diplomacy ambassador, and father of two men's singles national champions, Scott and Eric. (See his Hall of Fame profile. And browse the others - Tim wrote all 94 of them!)  He is in good health, and spends much of his time caring for his wife, Sally, who had a stroke a year ago and is mostly paralyzed. Tim's computer died a few weeks ago, and while his son Scott is looking into fixing it or getting another, for the moment Tim can't respond to emails. 

This is your chance to wish Tim a Happy Birthday, and to wish him and Sally well. You can either respond to my posting on Facebook (35 so far), comment below, or email it to me. (Tim isn't on Facebook and can't access it or this page anyway right now, but if you happen to talk to him, let's keep this a secret until Friday.) Next Thursday morning (at 10AM eastern time) I will print them all out and express them to Tim for his 90th on Friday. Feel free to share on Facebook - I'll print those out as well. 

You can also help by contributing to Tim and Sally's GoFundMe page (set up by Sheri Cioroslan, former USATT president as Sheri Pittman). "On August 27 [2019], Sally Boggan had a debilitating stroke, which left her paralyzed on her left side. She is currently undergoing speech and physical therapy. Many people have known and loved Sally for decades. And we appreciate Tim's contributions to our lives through his many table tennis ventures. Let's joyfully support Tim and Sally during Sally's recovery process."

Or you can buy one of his History of US Table Tennis Books!

Weekend Coaching
Due to the pandemic, group sessions are limited to twelve players. So our advanced junior program, which normally trains as one big group, is now divided into groups 1-3. On Sunday I was one of the coaches for groups 1 and 3.

With group 1, I had fun - I got to be a practice partner for players ranging up to 2050. For much of the session I worked with two players at once, where each would alternate playing two rallies while the other player retrieved the balls from his two rallies. I worked with them on following through back into position (or I'd punish them with quick blocks to the corners) and on return of serve - they struggled with my serves at first but got better. One exhausting drill - I would mix up my serve to their backhand, they'd flip to my backhand, and then we'd continue the rally where they keep blocking to my backhand while I forehand looped all over the table. In theory, I'm mostly staying in one spot, but in practice the ball gets moved around a lot - and since the kids are so consistent with their blocks, we had some looooong rallies, where I'd have to loop a looooot of balls in a row.

This is exactly the type of drill I need to do if I want to get in playing shape - and I was secretly planning to start training for the 2020 Nationals in December where I'd be eligible for Over 60 for the first time (and among the higher seeds), as well as the defending champion in Over 40 Hardbat (I've won it six times) and perhaps the top seed in Over 60 Hardbat, which I'd be playing for the first time. (As a reminder, I normally use sponge.) Alas, the Nationals was postponed to July next year - see segment above.

In group 3, I alternated hitting with three players. Much of the focus was on pushing, where I stressed low, deep, and heavy. We also did a lot of random drills, such as my moving the ball around on their forehand side.

On Saturday I had a one-hour session with Navin Kumar. Here are two videos:

Thursday Night Live - Lily Zhang vs. Aditya "Adi" Godhwani
Here's the video from last Thursday. (It's listed as 81 minutes, but video actually ends at 59 minutes. It starts with a lot of excellent commentating by Sean O'Neill and Mark Thompson, with the match actually starting at 22:22.) Here are photos.

Lily, rated 2596, is the current and five-time US Women's Singles Champion; Adi, rated 2563 at age 17, is #2 in Under 18 in the US. SPOILER ALERT - Lily wins 4-1, though it seemed closer than that. Lily was able to play better in the key points, both with her consistency and sometimes by getting more forehand aggressive. At key points, Adi missed big forehands that might have gotten him at least to deuce in some of the games he lost.

Adi has the bigger forehand and is a constant threat to rip winners from both wings. Lily has the edge on the backhand with her relentless off-the-bounce topspins, and she rarely makes mistakes. Tactically, they both play all three spots - wide corners and middle (roughly the opponent's playing elbow), but Lily favors going after Adi's wide backhand, while Adi favors going after Lily's middle, then often ending it with winners to her wide forehand. If Lily goes to Adi's forehand or middle too much, he gets his big forehand in, and so instead she often pins him on the backhand, often finding shorter balls to backhand attack for winners to Adi's extreme wide backhand. Adi plays the middle because Lily almost never misses from the corners, it sometimes forces slightly weaker balls to attack (as Lily has to decide which side to play and then move to the shot), and because by going there, it cuts off the extreme angle into his backhand, giving him more forehand shots. When Adi makes his big shots, he wins, but Lily puts tremendous pressure on him with her quick topspins and so few unforced errors.

On the receive, Lily mixes things up very well, with flips and both short and long pushes. Adi has a deceptive receive where he often backhand flips (favoring going to the middle), but often changes at the last second to a short receive, usually to the forehand. It's a highly effective receive pattern.

USATT Continues Thursday Night Live
Here's the info page. It's every Thursday at 9PM Eastern Time.

My Stories of Mental Toughness On and Off the Table
Here's the new table tennis book by Dora Kurimay. "I believe that the principles of sports psychology can be applied to all aspects of your life. Whether with public speaking, being a great parent, or developing your skills as an athlete. This collection of 11 stories from my life offers insight on gaining a psychological edge and attaining mental toughness."

She is also the author of Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros!: Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros! Mental Skills And Lifestyle Choices To Achieve Peak Performance And Play Your Best Table Tennis.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Tom Lodziak

New from Table Tennis Daily

Three-Step Process For Learning and Improving Serves
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Powerful Forehand Topspin Technique
Here's the video (7:58), from Ti Long, in (I think) Vietnamese, with English subtitles.

Drop Shot Training
Here's the video (26 sec) of Adrien Flavien Cotton. Few players can do this because . . . drum roll please . . . few players practice it.

Pendulum Serve and Service Rules
Here's the video (5:14) from Jin Jeon Ping Pong.

Multiball: Forehand Drop Shot, Forehand Topspin
Here's the video (41 sec) from Mecho Table Tennis Akademy. "Improvement of Forehand Drop Shot with subsequent Forehand Topspin against push and continuation with topspin against block with change of direction!"

Joo Se-hyuk Training
Here's the video (10:25) of the defensive star - who also attacks.

New from Steve Hopkins

Timo Boll: "One of the best shots I ever made!"
Here's the video (37 sec) - and a great rally too, ending with this behind-the-back counter-hit!

Albanese Construction Feature | Ved Sheth from Kennedy
Here's the news feature (3:34) on the US junior star.

Top 5 Oldest Active Professional Table Tennis Players Right Now and Their Best Points so far
Here's the video (4:20).

Welcome to WTT Macau
Here's the ITTF video (65 sec)! That's Adam Bobrow doing the commentating.

Ping-Pong Diplomacy Of 1971, Revisited
Here's the video (4:44), about US-China Ping-Pong Diplomacy, from Jules Apatini.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

New from the ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

Table Tennis Music
I run this periodically. 

Hyper Galactic Psychic Table Tennis 3000
Here's the page for this online table tennis game! Here's a demo page. One benefit of this game - one of the icons you can use is named after Robert J. Sawyer, the dean of Canadian science fiction. I've been to his writing workshops and know him well from that and from conventions. (He even gave me a nice blurb for one of my science fiction novels, that thing I do outside of table tennis.)

Snow Pong
Here's the video (23 sec)!

Car & Ping Pong Story
Here's the video (5:57)!

Barbed Brick Wall Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

World's Weirdest Ping Pong Set-Ups
Here's the video (5:16) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!