January 23, 2023

Tip of the Week
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Size in Table Tennis.

Weekend Coaching and What's In My Bag?
I coached in four group junior sessions over the weekend. In two of them, I mostly fed multiball for most of the 90 minutes. In the other two I split my time between walk-around coach and practice partner.

A lot of the emphasis this weekend was on remembering the feel of the good shots, and then repeating them. This means that when you mishit a shot, you don't focus on the missed shot – that's a great way of ingraining a bad habit! Instead, you immediately focus on what the shot should have been – and so you think about the feel of when you do it right, and try to repeat that. When a player makes a nice shot, I often tell them to "Remember the feel of that shot!" (This will be the focus of next week's Tip.) There was the usual focus on fundamentals. One player kept shortening his backswing, leading to a jerky, uncontrolled shot, but we fixed that. Another kept lunging for shots instead of stepping, so we worked on that. Another player couldn't seem to hit forehands down the line, so we worked on that. One player was feeling sleepy, so I explained how you can fix half that problem – go in the bathroom and splash water on your face! (But to completely solve it – get more sleep.)

I had a little fun before one of the sessions, when I pulled out my old trusty clipboard and took on a bunch of kids, mostly from 1200-1500, and went undefeated (mostly chopping, sometimes pick-hitting) – but there's this nice gleam in some of their eyes that says, "I'm going to figure out how to beat you." (And they get great practice: looping, playing chop, reading spin, and an exercise in figuring things out tactically.) I'm still about 1800 with the clipboard, used to be 2100. With just a little practice, I think I can get back to 2000 with it.

Someone asked me why I have such a big playing bag. Why, because I have a lot of stuff in it, and every single item in it is absolutely necessary. And so, without further ado, here is the current content of my playing bag (a Butterfly Yasyo sport bag), minus the list of classified documents I just turned over to the FBI. Seriously, is there anything below that isn't absolutely necessary?

  • Two sponge rackets (Timo Boll ALCs, regular and spare, Tenergy 05 black 2.2mm FH, Tenergy 25 red 2.2mm BH)
  • Two hardbat rackets
  • Huge racket case with five rackets I use with students, all with inverted on one side, plus:
    1) chopping racket with 1.0 sponge long pips; 2) long pips no sponge; 3) medium long pips; 4) short pips; and 5) antispin.
  • Five mini-paddles with Tenergy on both sides
  • Clipboard
  • Towel
  • Spare shirt - Baby Yoda Playing Table Tennis
  • Playing shoes in personalized TT shoe bag
  • Two knee braces
  • One arm brace
  • Two bottles of water
  • Fake trillion dollar bills (which I give out sometimes as rewards)
  • Bag of Jolley Ranchers (which I give to the kids after sessions)
  • Box of granola bars
  • Three-pack of Nittaku 3-star balls
  • Bag of two-colored balls for demonstrating spin
  • Two oversized 48mm balls
  • Two masks
  • Notebook full of notes
  • Folder full of MDTTC junior group listings and brochures, entry forms, sport psychology training outlines, Pongasaurus stickers, USATT Rulebook
  • Small carry-case with bottle of glue, scissors, net measurer, comb, small pack of floss-picks, fingernail clippers, racket grip (probably 15 years old!), table tennis business cards, 3-prong power converter, small Phillips screwdriver (for fixing ball nets)
  • Small Kleenex pack
  • Sandpaper (to sand down the sharp edges around the handle on some new rackets)
  • Copy of "Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers"
  • Copy of "First Galactic Table Tennis Championships"
  • Kindle
  • Reading glasses
  • Extra Dominican Republic refrigerator magnet left over from coaching ITTF junior tournament in September

New from USATT and Some Commentary

  • USA Table Tennis Initiates Tournament Series to Crown USATT State Champions
    I'm glad they are bringing this program back. As a member of the USATT board, I started up a State Championships Initiative back in 2015, which helped lead to about twelve new state championships over the next two years, with 34 states holding state championships in 2016. (This includes some that used the State Games for the state championships.) Alas, the USATT page for that seems to have disappeared.
  • Robert Mayer Joins USATT as IT Specialist
    I'm sure he'll do a great job. Long ago, he and I co-founded the USATT League. I initiated the idea and did the overall design, but he did all the hard work – the actual programming.
  • 2022 USATT Club Awards Announced
    I don't like the idea that they are judging and ranking clubs strictly by the tournaments they run - how many, the star level, and the prize money (see the "2022 Top 15 Clubs listing), or on hosting ITTF Feeder events. This makes no sense to me – that's how you would rank tournament directors or hosts. (This doesn't mean the selected clubs aren't worthy, just that the criteria for picking them is wrong - and gave the inaugural Club of the Year to the Club Rep on the USATT Board of Directors.) Just as they have Coach of the Year awards, where coaches are nominated and then judged and voted on by a USATT panel, why not do the same with clubs? (They don't judge coaches based on the number, star level, and prize money of the tournaments they coach at!) Instead of arbitrarily deciding the only way to judge a club is by the tournaments it runs, put together a real list of criteria (mostly objective) that a normal person would judge a club by, such as:
    • Programs - private & group coaching, junior, senior, para, leagues, tournaments, etc. - this is probably the most important way to judge a club
    • Size and number of tables
    • Playing conditions
    • Other features - lounge, pro shop, etc. 
    • Hours open
    • Number of members
    • Quality of the coaches
    • Titles and rankings of their top players in various categories

University of Maryland Table Tennis Club Fundraiser
Here’s their GoFundMe page to help them raise funds to go to the 2023 National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships! They have raised $1385, and so are almost halfway to their goal of $3000. C'mon, chip in!

2023 World Veterans Championships
Here’s the ITTF home page for the event that finished this past weekend in Muscat, Oman, with news and results. There are 1,181 players, including 41 from USA. USA Medalists are below – note all the Sakai's and Sweeris's, the all-USA Over 75 Mixed Doubles Final, and all the medals by Cheung and Vinay!
UPDATE - I updated this with a complete list of USA medalists, using this listing.

  • Dave & Donna Sakai – Gold in Over 75 Mixed Doubles
  • Dell & Connie Sweeris – Silver in Over 75 Mixed Doubles
  • Donna Sakai & Connie Sweeris – Gold in Over 75 Women's Doubles
  • Donna Sakai – Bronze in Over 75 Women's Singles
  • Dave Sakai – Bronze in Over 75 Men's Singles
  • Cheung TingNing – Gold in Over 70 Mixed Doubles (with ZhaoZhao Jiang of China)
  • Cheung TingNing – Bronze in Over 70 Women's Singles
  • Cheung TingNing & Wendy Fang – Silver in Over 65 Women's Doubles
  • Vinay Chandra – Bronze in Over 40 Men's Doubles (with Shitiz Malhotra of India) 
  • Vinay Chandra – Bronze in Over 40 Mixed Doubles (with Anjana Rao of India)
  • Ray Mack & Simon Shtofmakher – Bronze in Over 70 Men's Doubles

Here are recent ITTF articles:

And one from Steve Hopkins:

PongSpace and NCTTA Enter New Era Together
Here's the article from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

Residual Spin
Here's the video (3:16) from Samson Dubina.

European Youth Champion Teaches How to Loop Long Fast Serves
Here's the video (26:39) from Seth Pech and Jiří Martinko.

Don't Make These 6 Training Mistakes!
Here's the video (10:41) from Iba Diaw, world #76 from Senegal. He has a lot of other videos.

Stroke Chemistry & Distance Change
Here's the video (65 sec) with Simeon Martin

How to Prepare For Your First Tournament and Your First Match to Maximize Winning
Here's the video (1:28) from PongSpace/Angela Guan. "NCTTA national champion Angela Guan shows you the three tips she use in preparing for her tournaments. Preparation is the key to maximize your chance of winning!"

New from Ti Long

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Taco Backhand

New from Drupe Pong

New from PingSkills

New from Table Tennis Central

Can Virtual Reality Improve Real Life Table Tennis?! | 30 Day Challenge
Here's the video (9:43) from Table Tennis Daily.

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

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Bowmar Sport Tournament Highlights – US Open 2022

Five Net Serves in a Row
Here's the video (39 sec)!

Playing Live Against a Robot
Here's the video (10 sec)!

Cartoon Paddles
Here's what you get when you Google "Cartoon Ping-Pong Paddles" under images!

Doubles Footwork?
Here's the video (13 sec) from the Nittaku Open in Ohio this past weekend!

What Everyone Who Loses a Final Wants To Do
Here's the photo of Laura Paglin publicly assassinating Jay Nelson after she lost to him in the final of Under 1400 at the Nittaku Open in Ohio this past weekend . . . 17-15 in the fifth! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!