February 22, 2021

Tip of the Week
Rote vs. Random Drills.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association Hosts Townhall Meeting - Open to All
MEETING IS TONIGHT (Monday) at 9:30PM. Here's the Facebook info page. They will discuss various table tennis issues, but there will likely be a focus on the USATT-NCTTA ongoing battle over the NCTTA's position on the USATT board (see below). From the page, "Thank you to the hundreds of you that have supported NCTTA with emails to USATT. Many of you asked to have a zoom meeting, so we have organized it! We will present to you the why's and what's and any updates and answer any questions too. Any USATT or NCTTA player, volunteer, coach, alumni is welcome to attend!" Here is the direct link to the meeting. Remember, the meeting is open to All, not just college players. (There will be USATT board members present. I will attend, hopefully just to listen.)

The Ongoing USATT-NCTTA War
[Skip this if not interested in such internal USATT fighting. See the segment above if you want to discuss or hear others discuss the situation with USATT and NCTTA. There will be USATT board members present. Here's my blog on this topic last week.]

As noted in previous blogs, USA Table Tennis started a "war" with the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association a year ago when, after 13 years of having a spot on the USATT board of directors, they suddenly decided that NCTTA no longer qualified as a "National Organization," and so no longer qualified to hold a board seat. As also noted in previous blogs, USATT is completely wrong on this. (Here's the NCTTA take on this. USATT has no such public statement.)

To reiterate, here is what the USATT bylaws say about the National Organization position, which are essentially word for word taken from the Ted Stevens Act (passed by congress), making it illegal not to follow them (bolds are mine):

5.1.b.2: National Organization Members. National Organization members are those amateur sports organizations that register as a national organization and which conducts, on a level of proficiency appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition, a national program or regular national amateur athletic competition in the sport of Table Tennis.

NCTTA conducts the National Collegiate Championships each year. Is it, "on a level of proficiency" appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition? Since the best college players in the country compete in it, the level of "proficiency" is obviously high enough. Here are the top players at the 2020 Championships (alas, it was cancelled due to the pandemic):


  1. Baiyu "Bob" Chen (Ohlone College) 2017 US Open Men's Doubles Champion, 2688 rated (previously over 2700)
  2. Yijun "Tom" Feng (NYU), 2015 US Men's Singles Champion, 2016 USA Olympic Team, USA National Team Member, 2667 rated (previously over 2700)
  3. Sharon Alguetti (Indiana University) USA National Team member, 2622 rated (previously over 2700)
  4. Gal Alguetti (Indiana University) USA National Team member, 2618 rated


  1. Jiaqi Lin (Texas Wesleyan University), 2489 rated
  2. Angela Guan (UC Berkeley) USA World Team member, 2433 rated
  3. Yixiao Wang (San Jose State University), 2401 rated
  4. Qiao Jiao (Ohlone College) 2369 rated

These are basically the best college players in the country. (Some of the other champions who have won singles in recent years include Lily Zhang, Ariel Hsing, Wu Yue, Jishan Liang, and Kai Zhang.) So yeah, NCTTA obviously qualifies on "level of proficiency." (Note that some players who compete in the US Collegiate Championships may not be eligible for the World University Games, so you simply remove those players in the selection process. If USATT doesn't like this procedure, then they can simply request that NCTTA run them in a different fashion - but that doesn't change the "level of proficiency.")

And yet, USATT, or rather the chair of the board, Richard Char (or whoever is advising him), continues to insist they do not qualify. There was no board vote on this; a year ago, Char apparently ruled, as the chair, that they were not eligible. Despite constant requests, no real reason has ever been given. When asked, invariably, there one of three responses:

  • "They do not qualify." They simply assert it over and over without giving a reason.
  • "Our lawyer has ruled they are not eligible." Yes, when you bring in a lawyer to argue your case, he is going to argue your case. The key thing is they also have not given a reason.
  • "NCTTA does not conduct a selection process for selecting athletes to the World University Games." This is probably the worst one of all, as it is blatantly misleading. The bylaws and the Ted Stevens Act do not require this. What is required is running such an event "...on a level of proficiency appropriate for the selection of amateur athletes to represent the United States in international amateur athlete competition." At this point, there's nobody from USATT who doesn't know these words, since it has been repeated to them over and Over and OVER. (The people who wrote the Ted Stevens Act weren't stupid; they had good reasons to word it in this way, but that would require an entire new blog, so I won't get into that.)

So once again, NCTTA obviously qualifies. This is a completely unnecessary and dumb war, brought on by USATT's internal politics, to the detriment of our sport. NCTTA literally did nothing to deserve this.

And so what is USATT doing? They are "negotiating" NCTTA's spot on the board. They are trying to get certain agreements in return. They are holding a hammer over NCTTA's head, and essentially are saying, "Do this, or else." It's coercion and bullying. (Some from NCTTA think they should just walk away from USATT at this point. Yep, USATT is splitting our sport.)

Since NCTTA clearly qualifies, the appropriate, legal, and smart thing for USATT is to immediately place them on the board. Char could simply rule from the chair that they are eligible (just as he previously ruled they were not), but that's not likely to happen. So why don't they just have a vote? The chair (Char) sets the agenda, and so far, he won't put it on the agenda. When someone made a motion to put NCTTA back on the board, Char ruled (correctly) that it was invalid since he hadn't put it on the agenda - and then refused to allow such a vote. The only other way to get it on the agenda is if a majority of the board (five of the current eight) request it. If Char keeps blocking this, eventually that will happen. I think it'll pass somewhat easily.

I said it's the smart thing, because right now USATT is actively alienating its membership with their internal politicking on this issue. They already alienated many of the National Team with their doings regarding the US National Team Selection process, which I blogged about previously. Now they are actively fighting NCTTA and their many thousands of current and past members. These members play at clubs all over the country, and are outspoken. USATT already had a bad reputation, and they are making it worse. For what??? There is no upside.

From the USATT side, some think they are simply negotiating, requiring NCTTA to run a World University Games Trials (which NCTTA was already planning to do), but with an overseeing panel, half of them from USATT - giving USATT possible veto power on anything the panel wants to do. If USATT wants to do this, then fine - but negotiate after they have put NCTTA back on the board, and stop using that to coerce and bully NCTTA. And stop claiming it is required by the bylaws or Ted Stevens Act, because it is not.

The NCTTA position had already started a four-year term early in 2017, through the end of 2020, so they lost their last year on the board. This implies NCTTA qualified as a National Organization and for that four-year term. USATT had no right to undeclare this in mid-term, thereby taking away the final year of NCTTA's position on the board. Even if they believed that NCTTA no longer qualified, that would require a board vote. If the board chair can arbitrarily make such rulings, then he could also kick off any other member of the board without a vote, simply claiming without reason that they are not eligible.

NCTTA has filed a grievance against USATT, but that's a long, slow process that could go on for a long time. I'm a little leery of that, actually - a USATT Board-appointed Grievance Committee is judging a grievance against the USATT Board that appointed them. A simpler solution that would end all this would be to have the USATT board vote on this, which would likely end this silly "war" and the grievance process. What are they waiting for???

The irony is that USATT can't win on this issue. If they "win" and manage to keep NCTTA off the board, then they have lost much credibility while tearing our sport apart. If they "lose," they lose. Their best option is to simply do the right thing, put NCTTA back on the board, and maybe after a year tempers will have cooled. I hope they don't dream that it's going to be business as always with NCTTA (and others) after this mess they've created. They are going to have to let things cool down for quite some time, and they will have to work to get credibility again. 

And once again, I have no connection to NCTTA.  I am simply infuriated at USATT's actions on this issue.

History is watching, and it will name names. 

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association 2020 Annual Report
Here it is!

Poll and Discussion on USATT's Expanded Board
Here's the Facebook page, where USATT board member Thomas Hu has set up a poll and discussion about how USATT should expand their board. USOPC now requires the USATT board to have 33% athlete representation on the board, so they will be adding positions. Here's what Thomas wrote of the poll and discussion:

"I am biased because I have been working with kids in table tennis for the last five years. I understand their voice has not been heard and there is a lack of mechanism to fully protect their vulnerability. However, I want to hear from you. In light of the necessity to change the USATT bylaw to satisfy the new regulation requiring minimum 33.33% athlete representation, what do you think is the best action USATT should take with respect to the board structure? Please vote and share with everyone your reasons. Your opinion matters."

USATT Coaches Meeting
We had another USATT Coaches Zoom meeting this past Friday, at noon (eastern time) for about 45 minutes. They are now every Friday, with information and the link normally going up the day before on the USA Table Tennis Coaches Facebook group. Eight coaches attended - USATT High Performance Director Sean O'Neill (who runs the meetings), myself, Britt Salter, Jay Crystal, Mike Lauro, Sameh Awadalla, Jasna Rather, and Gao Jun. Here's a group picture. The focus of the discussion was coaching beginners.

Weekend Coaching
We're into week two of our return to junior group training. I was at the club all day on Sunday, arriving around 11AM and not leaving until 7:30PM. I ran one of the group sessions, and assisted in two others. Between sessions I went to the back room and did some writing - nope, not table tennis, worked on a science fiction story, my "other" career.

During one of the sessions we focused on half-table games. Everyone put a towel or jacket on the table to block off half the table. Then they'd play games, using just half the table. Some would be crosscourt backhand side to backhand side, or forehand side to forehand side, others would down the line, forehand to backhand side and vice versa. We also played some games where one side only played half the table, while the other side had to play the whole table. It was a nice change for the kids, who could focus on developing one side of their game.

On Sunday night at 8PM, after all the sessions were done, MDTTC had an online Zoom meeting about the junior program. Attending were 26 coaches, parents, and players. They went over the future of the program, Covid restrictions, and other topics.

Meanwhile, here's my new T-Rex Playing Table Tennis outfit - hat, mask, and shirt!!!

New from Ti Long

New from Samson Dubina

Learning Incredible Ghost Serve - Super Backspin
Here's the video (5 min) from the Sri-Lankan TTA.

10x Home Table Tennis Challenges
Here's the video (4:08) from Eli Baraty.

Weekly Training Lessons - Last Moment Action
Here's the ITTF video (5:14), part of their High Performance & Development series.

Zhang Jike - Career Highlights
Here's the video (3:08) of the two-time World Men's Singles Champion, two-time World Cup Men's Singles Champion, and 2012 Men's Singles Olympic Gold Medalist. He is the only player in history to win five major titles in a row (singles at the Worlds, World Cup, and Olympics).

Dimitrij Ovtcharov at Age 9
Here's the video (53 sec), just posted by Dimitrij himself.

New from Steve Hopkins

Table Tennis Restart
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "Even with my own private training studio, I’m starting to miss table tennis. I’ve probably been able to play more this year than most people; but I think it’s about time to bust loose on the greater world of our sport. Coaching has been going well; and I get to play competitive matches on a regular basis. Still, I was never meant to be a hermit, even a table tennis hermit."


Can Aruna Quadri Become the First African Table Tennis Player to Win an Olympics Medal?
Here's the article.

Texas SQT - San Antonio TTC, Vlad Farcas
Here's the USATT article by Joshua Dyke.

Crazy Rallies and Shots from Table Tennis Central

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

Meet Stephen Curry's Unlikeliest Coach
Here's the article from the New York Post, featuring Soo Yeon Lee

Jimmy Butler's 50th Birthday Video Celebration
Here's the video (20:14) of the four-time US Men's Singles Champion and two-time Olympian.

Ma Long and Dimitrij Ovtcharov Playing Left-Handed
Here's the video (11 sec)!

What Did They Do With That Ping-Pong Ball!!!
Here's the video (6 sec)!

Frozen Ice Racket Challenge
Here's the video (6:17) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!