November 13, 2023

Tip of the Week
Coaching Between Games for the Non-Coach.

2023 USA Table Tennis Election and USATT Problems
=>(Skip ahead if you have no interest in the morbid world of USATT politics.)
I blogged about the election last week. If you are a USATT member 18 and over, you should have received an email about the election at 11AM Eastern Time last Monday, Nov. 6. (I think you had to be a member for at least two months before that date.) Once again I am urging you to vote for Dennis Taylor. I know or know about the other four candidates, and I think most would be good officers, but Dennis is more proven.

One thing that often comes up when candidates are discussed are comments like, “He’s a nice guy.” That’s great if you want to have lunch with them--and Dennis is a nice guy. But what’s happened a LOT in USATT history is that the very people we think of as nice guys often just want to be nice guys, and so when elected to the board of directors, they just want to get along. Once elected, certain people treat them as gods, complimenting them every chance, and so the newly elected ones begin to feel “loyal” to the ones buttering them up. It’s intoxicating and leads to the infamous “Good Ol’ Boys” situation where everyone just falls into line. (The term often refers to Southerners, but it’s not just a southern thing.) And so they do not stand up to the abuses of power and policy problems that take place, ignoring them or accepting whatever rationalization they are given for it. They become enablers.

There’s a lot of abuse of power going on in USATT right now, as well as policy problems, with a number of enablers. I’ve blogged about some of these problems numerous times – for example, on Feb. 7, 2023, I pointed out and explained why the current chair of the board isn’t even legal, and other problems. (This is just one of many such issues. Sometime next year I’ll compile a more comprehensive list.) The facts are there, the board knows them, and yet a majority on the current board cannot stand up to those doing the abuse, even voting for a clearly illegal chair of the board. The irony is that one board member I discussed this with made the counter-argument that he thought Char was a “good chair,” and while he said he didn’t know if he was legal or not, he would support him regardless. He’d completely fallen under this “Good Ol’ Boys” spell even if it meant violating our own bylaws, and didn’t see that while most of the current board supports the current chair and administration, huge numbers of those outside the board do not. Another board member privately told me outright that he knew Char was not legal, and yet this board member voted to re-elect him for an illegal third two-year term. More on these issues next year. After three years of pointing out these problems to deaf ears, I’m not interested in these USATT people suddenly coming to me and, playing dumb, asking me what the problems are so they can now, with an election coming up, show newfound interest in belatedly fixing them. Where were they the past three years? If re-elected, would they disappear again for three years, only to re-emerge again when they once again face re-election? (Board members are generally elected to four-year terms.)

We need people who will stand up against such abuses and fix broken policies. I haven’t written much about these problems recently because, frankly, I’m sick of them since we can’t do anything about them with the current board. So, I’m instead waiting until the 2024 elections (one year from now), when most of the board will be up for election. I’ll be very vocal at that time. (There’s a chance I’ll run, but I really do not want to. I’ve had two different terms on the board, and both times I chose not to run for a second term. It simply isn’t fun.)

Weekend Coaching and Weekday Writing and Xu, Oh My!
I had three sessions this weekend. As noted previously, these days I mostly coach on weekends and at tournaments. (I was full-time for many years.) During the week I write about table tennis and write science fiction, one of my other major pastimes. Recently I’ve been writing up Tips of the Week, and have enough for every Monday now through February. But that, my science fiction writing, and several other projects meant that I’d put aside working on Table Tennis Doubles for Champions for a time. But I hope to get back to that soon. But the book won’t be out in time for the US Open, as I’d originally hoped.

In the training sessions I did a lot of emphasis on recovery. Players are often out of position for a shot and think they didn’t move fast enough when the reality is it’s a slow recovery from the previous shot that caused it. Here are two Tips of the Week on this: Recover from the Previous Shot and Follow Through Back Into Position After Forehand Looping.

We had the novice and beginning-intermediate players hit among themselves a lot this weekend. The key here is ball control. If they are hitting forehand to forehand, they need to go corner to corner. If one hits the ball toward the middle, it’ll throw off his partner, and the rally falls apart. So I kept harping on that, having them try to aim inside a one-foot area around the corner. The same for down-the-line shots, where I wanted them to keep the ball within a foot of the side of the table. (Higher-level players should keep it even closer.)

Some of you may remember Huazhang “Vincent” Xu. He was a former member of the Chinese National Team who lived, trained, and went to college in Maryland during the 1990s. His highest rating was 2777. When he went back to China, his rating had dropped to 2686 since he wasn’t training as hard at the end. He no longer plays but instead is a businessman in China. Last week he returned to the US for business, and we had a big dinner out. At the dinner was me, Xu and his wife, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Rocky Wang, his dad John Wang, and John’s wife. Todd Sweeris wanted to join us but was out of town – but we plan another one this week with Todd and Xu.

On a side note, I just did a count, and this is my 1,943rd table tennis blog (I used to do them daily, not just weekly), along with 627 Tips of the Week. Blog #2,000 will come around the end of 2024 or shortly after.

Butterfly Training Tips

Are You Making One of These Backhand Mistakes??
Here’s the video (23:21) from Seth Pech. “Fix Your Backhand from these 15 Common Mistakes.” Where was this when I started out 47 years ago??

How to Tomahawk Serve
Here’s the video (1:21) from Angela Guan/PongSpace.

Talkin' Smash by JOOLA Ep4: The Seriously Underrated Art of Service Practice
Here’s the video (46.38). “Former British International Craig Bryant joins host Matt Hetherington for this episode of Talkin' Smash on his specialist topic of the serve.”

How to Make Forehand Topspin Against Backspin Change Placement
Here’s the video (5:45) from Ti Long.

Blocking Exercises | Improve Reaction, Defense and Game Understanding
Here’s the video (2:38) from Pingispågarna.

Major League Table Tennis
Keep up to date with them from:

Lily Zhang Serves as US Flagbearer for 2023 Pan Am Games
Here’s the USATT news item by Barbara Wei.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Three Minutes of Timo Boll Destroying His Opponents
Here’s the video (3:18) from Taco Backhand.

Bowmar Sports Tournament Highlights

Liang Jingkun Wins in Taiyuan
Here’s the article by Steve Hopkins.

New from ITTF

Hamas Billionaires: Lifestyles of the Rich and Terrorists
Here’s the article from FOX News. Read it to learn about the rich Hamas leaders . . . or their table tennis. The thing of interest here is the picture of Khaled Mashaal playing table tennis. He’s the chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau and former head of the militant organization Hamas, and worth an estimated $4 billion. His racket is obscured by something hanging from the ceiling, but I bet he has an illegal racket. And note that he hit the last shot into the net!

Handicap’s Feat and “No Hands? No Problem!”
Here’s the article . . . and cartoon! “One-armed Bruna Alexandre is close to achieving her goal of competing in next year’s Paris Paralympics.” From the Daily Tribune.

Funny Table Tennis Graphics
Here’s the page from iStock/Getty Images. I like the first one, with sound effects!

Are You the Office Ping Pong Champion?
Then get the shirt to show it!

Beetle Bailey
Yesterday’s Beetle Bailey comic strip (Sunday’s) had a mention of table tennis, with Sarge holding a paddle and asking Beetle, “How about a little ping-pong?” (Beetle declines, they end up playing hopscotch.) Here’s a complete listing of all 32 Beetle Bailey Table Tennis Comics!

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