April 19, 2021

Tip of the Week
Imagine a Score or Situation.

Butterfly Invitational in Cary, NC
I had a great time this past weekend coaching at the tournament. We had ten juniors and five coaches - but with the huge RR format, there were LOTS of matches, so LOTS of coaching. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. The tournament gave out about $10,000 in prize money and prizes. AJ Carney did a great job running the event. Sharon Alguetti was the dominant player, winning all three "Opens" - Thursday Open, 1800 & Over, and Division A of the Giant RR. There were 116 players, including four over 2550, seven over 2400, 18 over 2200, and 35 over 2000. 

Our kids from MDTTC played really well - lots of great wins, very few bad losses. Some of them we knew were under-rated, since some hadn't played tournaments in a while, due to Covid. (Others had been playing tournaments somewhat regularly the last few months.) The main worry was that when you don't play tournaments for a while, you lose some of your "tournament toughness" - the ability to adapt to the different playing styles and pressures of playing in a tournament. They were able to overcome this far better than I'd expected.

One early dynamic is that they seemed to lose a lot of five-gamers early on, but then the tide changed, and they seemed to win them all the second half. I'm looking forward to seeing the ratings results - these days, tournaments are often processed on the Monday afterwards, so I'll be refreshing the USATT Tournament Ratings Page every few minutes the rest of today! (Shhh, don't tell the kids. Ratings aren't important, and we try to stress this to our students - but when they all go up, they sure are fun! Plus, they are an indicator that all that training paid off.)

I think the story of the tournament, for our players, may have been sports psychology. One or two are already very strong on this, and did well. But it's a perennial problem for most players, especially junior players. Over the last month I've been doing sports psychology sessions with four of them, and it seems to have helped. I've written about one of them in past blog, Ryan Lin, who responded by playing his best table tennis at an Ohio tournament, and achieved the #1 ranking in the country for 11 and under. (He missed this tournament - he's training in Taiwan.) This time around, it was Ryan Lee, Mu Du, and James Zhuang who had very good tournaments - and I've been doing sports psychology sessions with all three. (Ryan Lee may break the rating system - he went in rated 1986 but with a new attitude, and beat two 2250 players and a bunch of other 2000+ players. He just turned 14.) One aftermath is I'll be doing more sports psychology sessions with our other kids. I may have to double my hourly rate from volunteer to volunteer x 2. (Maybe I'll charge one Dr Pepper per session. Yeah, my one vice.)

US Nationals Update
They opened for entries a little over two weeks ago. Here is the entry list - they currently have 81 paid entries. One new feature in Omnipong - they now have columns for State and Club. I'd emailed Craig Krum at Omnipong two weeks ago about this, and he emailed me yesterday letting me know it was done. I then asked if he could make them sortable by State and Club - and he said he'd guessed I'd be asking about that next, and was already working on it! So we'll likely have that feature added soon.

As I blogged about last week, I'm pretty unhappy with it going all single elimination. I'm pretty certain they would have had a very large turnout otherwise. It'll likely be a rather low turnout instead due to this, and also because they are charging about the same for single elimination events as they did in the past for round robin events, where you play more matches. ($80/event or $250 for up to six events. At the last Nationals in 2019, it was also $80/event or $250 for up to SEVEN events.) There was a lot of discussion of the Nationals at the Cary tournament this past weekend (see segment above) - very little of it positive. A lot of players told me they were planning to go but changed their mind when they saw it was all single elimination and other problems.

Another problem is this one, from the entry form: "Players are permitted to physically enter the playing venue fifteen (15) minutes before their match scheduled time." That's obviously because of Covid, but I sure hope they negotiated like crazy to try to let players come in sooner. If you can only enter 15 minutes in advance, it's unlikely you'll get more than ten minutes to warm up for a match. Yikes! (Make it at least 30 minutes.)

World Table Tennis Championships to Be Held in Houston
Here's the ITTF news item, and here's an article from Inside the Games. They will be held Nov. 23-29, 2021. They were awarded to USATT in April, 2019 and were originally scheduled for Houston in June this year before they were postponed.

One problem - this coincides with the Thanksgiving weekend dates for the North American Teams in Washington DC, which are held Nov. 26-28. (Nov. 25 is Thanksgiving.) This means players/spectators have to choose between attending and spectating at the Worlds, or Thanksgiving and playing at the North American Teams. Since I'm committed to coaching our junior players at the Teams (about 30 of them), I will likely miss these Worlds. (I've been to two, in Japan and China.) I may fly out for the first few days of the Worlds and then fly back to Maryland. If I were there the whole time, I'd likely volunteer to do lots of online coverage for USATT as I've done so often in the past, but alas, it looks like that won't happen.

I really wish USATT would learn to communicate. Hopefully, they did everything they could to avoid coinciding with the dates of the Teams. If they had no choice and were forced to do so for some reason, then they should explain that rather than just throw it out there with no explanation. Instead, they are trying to ignore the 800-pound ping-pong ball in the room - that they are running the Worlds at the same time as the largest table tennis tournament in North America. For perspective, the 2019 Teams had 1031 players and 9620 matches; the 2019 Nationals had 721 players and 7260 matches; the 2019 US Open had 684 players and 3743 matches. (All three events were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid.) Since USATT chose not to explain - a long-running problem with issue after issue - instead, I'm hearing repeated conspiracy theories that this was done on purpose. (North American Table Tennis/JOOLA USA ran the US Nationals and US Open for many years, but when USATT CEO Virginia Sung took office in May, 2019, they had a rather inharmonious split.)

Larry Hodges Table Tennis Mask Collection
Here it is! I have nine, and alternate them when at the club. My favorites are the two dinosaur playing table tennis masks.

Help Wanted - USA Table Tennis Coaches
There are two clubs currently looking to hire new coaches.

International Olympian Table Tennis Clinic
Here's the info page (here's the non-Facebook version) for the clinic to be held May 21-23 in Norcross, Georgia, with coaches Matilda Ekholm (Swedish Olympian, world #50) and Yue Wu (2020 USA Women's Table Tennis Team Captain, world #32). You can enter via the Omnipong Tournament page - see listing under Georgia, where you can also see a list of players currently signed up.

Dan Seemiller's "Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips"
Now's the time to go to the Dan Seemiller Book page and order a signed copy of his new book, "Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips"! (Or his two previous books, also listed there.) He has a large supply of them now. They are already available on Amazon, but why not get a signed one?

USATT Coaches' Catch-up - 04/16/21
Here's the video (51:35). I had to miss this one - I was in a car going down to North Carolina. I considered joining via cell phone, but I was too busy entertaining the kids with brain teasers. Priorities! The meetings are for all coaches, every Friday at noon eastern time.

New from Samson Dubina

Side To Side Footwork Movement For The Forehand Loop
Here's the video (1:40) of Bella Xu, narration by Brian Pace.

Stroke Chemistry & Footwork
Here's the video (1:50) of Liu Juan, narration by Brian Pace.

Cross Court & Down The Line Attack
Here's the video (1:28) from Crystal Wang.

Rachel Yang – Defensive Specialist – Drill #3 video
Here's the video (67 sec).

How to Super Chop Block with Long Pimples
Here's the video from Ti Long (3:49).

Footwork Drills for Kids
Here's the video (3:22) from InMotion Table Tennis. 

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Steve Hopkins

Health Care Access Presents Karaoke - with a Table Tennis Entry
Here's the page. The last entry is "You'll Never Beat Me Again" (2:20) from Nick Flor. Here's where you vote - and vote TT! "I created a table tennis themed karaoke video for a contest held by our local community health care organization, Health Care Access of Phoenixville. It is a fundraiser event, 1 vote is $1. I intend on giving the money back to the organization if I win anything, so I am not in it for any monetary gain. My video is "You'll Never Beat Me Again" sung to the style of "Cry for You" by September. The video is based on my great desire to beat my friend and co-organizer of the Phoenixville Table Tennis Club!  I'm gonna get you Brady!"

Table Tennis Star Returns to Bay Area to Prepare for Tokyo Olympic Games
Here's the article and video (2 min) featuring Kanak Jha.

Top Things to Know about the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021
Here's the info page from Olympic Channel.

The Duel | Zhang Jike vs Hou Yingchao | 2020 Premier League Challenge
Here's the video (10:31). "Zhang Jike comes out of retirement for one match."

Anton Kallberg vs Omar Assar | FINAL | 2021 Düsseldorf Masters
Here's the video (7:59).

Picking Up the Pieces of Public Ping Pong
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "I spent the pandemic anticipating an eventual return to playing at the Atlanta Table Tennis Center. If you are interested in buying their building and starting your own table tennis center, it can be purchased for $1,399,000.00."

U.S. Players Look Back on 50 Years of Ping-Pong Diplomacy
Here's the article from Ecns.cn. (Last week's blog had ten other articles on Ping-Pong Diplomacy.)

How a Few Games of Table Tennis Raised over $60,000 for Individuals Living with a Disability
Here's the article from Her Canberra.

Table Tennis Grand Slam Winner Ding Ning to Enroll in Peking University Master's Program
Here's the article from Xinhua.net.

12-Year-Old Hana Goda: The Rising Star of African Table Tennis 
Here's the article from the Olympic Channel. "Hana Goda is one of Egypt’s youngest stars, a fast-rising talent with many tipping her as the next big thing in African table tennis. The 12-year-old has got game. She is currently ranked first in the ITTF Cadets category, a position she has held since December 2019."

Ping! Springs into Action with Easing of Lockdown
Here's the article from Table Tennis England.

New from the ITTF

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

Ping-Pong Star Shows Off Skills on Tiny Table
Here's the video (3:11) featuring Zhang Shuo. "A table tennis coach in southern China’s Guangdong province has made a mini table and uses it to show off her skills."

Ping-Pong Around-the Net Challenge
Here's the video (5 min) from Ultimate Ping Pong.

Table Tennis Canada Trick Shot Competition
Here's the info page. "Each Monday starting February 8, 2021, we will be sharing a theme for that week's Table Tennis trick shot." To see each week's theme, go to their Facebook page. This week's

Table Tennis Cartoons
There seem to be a lot of new ones out this week.

Lucky Ping Pong Shirt
Here it is!

Bumblebee Pong
Here's the video (54 sec)!

TABLE tennis
Here's the video (6 sec)!

Padel Trick Shots
Here's the video (4 min) from Pongfinity!

Send us your own coaching news!