April 29, 2024

Tip of the Week
Forehand or Backhand Receive in Doubles.
(Excerpt from Table Tennis Doubles for Champions by Larry Hodges. April is Doubles Month!)

Weekend Coaching
Saturday was “Forehand Down-the-Line” day, as I worked with a number of players on that. They’d hit or loop forehands from their wide forehand down the line to my backhand, working on consistency and placement. It means adjusting their foot positioning a bit (right foot more back), turning the shoulders back, and taking the ball a little later than usual so they could line up the shot. I often put a ball net on the table, restricting them to hitting on only half of my backhand court, so 1/4 of the table, or 15 inches. I told them to focus on keeping the ball toward the table-edge side of those 15 inches – if they missed, I wanted misses going too wide, not toward the middle of the table. This is how you learn to play the ball wide when going down the line.

One variation – I put a target on the wide forehand side, such as Froggy. They have to hit five down the line shots, and then they get one crosscourt shot where they try to hit poor Froggy.

There are two reasons for practicing down-the-line shots. First, because in games you want to use the whole table so the opponent has to cover the whole table, and to do that you need to be able to play wide in both directions, crosscourt and down the line. Second, to quote USTT Hall of Famer David Sakai, who I used to practice with regularly, “If you can attack down the line consistently, then crosscourt is easy.” And it’s true – crosscourt, the table is about 10 feet 3.5 inches, while down the line it’s only 9 feet, so you have a shorter target. If you can attack down the line, then that extra 15.5 inches crosscourt looks HUGE! (I just realized I’ve really written a Tip of the Week here. Yes, it’ll probably show up as one in June. I’ve written all the Tips for May. UPDATE - I spent Monday afternoon working on Tips, and wrote four more for June, including expanding on the above for one of them.)

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions – An Interview With Larry Hodges
Here’s the interview and feature on my recent book, from Racket Insight (by David Bruce), where I answer twelve questions about Table Tennis Doubles for Champions, ranging from questions about the book, doubles strategy, and modern doubles play. (It mentions my other books – here they are!)

Illegal USATT Chair
It’s now been 448 days (64 weeks) since USATT elected Richard Char to an illegal third term as chair of the USATT board on Feb. 6, 2023. I’ve twice emailed the board on this. I blogged about it on Feb. 12, 2024 and Feb. 19, 2024. History will not look fondly on this chair and a majority of the current board that has gone along with it, nor the CEO who wrote an email supporting this. Neither will voters in the USATT elections this Fall. (Plus, of course, the CEO shouldn’t be involved in decisions about who chairs the very group she reports to.) I’ve blogged about various USATT issues quite a bit, and will do so again as the elections approach.

Here’s the first issue, April 2024, from the International Classic Table Tennis Federation and Steve Claflin, chair of the ICTTF. (Classic here means hardbat, sandpaper, and wood.) I’ve got a few articles in it. Here’s the newsletter signup page so you won’t miss any issues!

Table Tennis and Sports Psychology with Dora Kurimay
Here’s her home page, where you can learn more about what she has to offer, as well as receive two free ebooks. She just sent out her April Newsletter – here’s where you can sign up to receive them. Dora is both a championship table tennis player and a sports psychologist. I’ve used her book “Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros!” as a reference book for the many sports psychology sessions I’ve run with kids in the MDTTC training program.

Signed Blade from 1981 World Table Tennis Championships in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
The blade is for sale, jammed with autographs. (For example, side one includes Istvan Jonyer of Hungary, the 1975 World Men’s Singles Champion. Look it over and see if you recognize others.) If you are interested, email Dzafer Buzoli. Here are pictures:

Andrzej Grubba | The Most Entertaining Table Tennis Player Of The 80's
Here’s the video (5:02). I watched Grubba play many times. Tragically, the great Polish star died in 2005 at the age of 47 from lung cancer, likely from the fumes from many years of speed gluing, which was legal during his era. (The speed glue increases the bounciness of the sponge, allowing much better and more powerful loops. But the fumes were toxic, and so were eventually banned. These days you get the same effect with the various “tensored” sponges.) Two interesting and related facts about Grubba – he likely had the best backhand loop in the world during his time, and he was likely the best opposite-hand player in the world – he was #3 in the world for 2.5 years as a righty, but was about 2500 as a lefty! The “tragedy” here was what’s the point of him switching hands and playing a lefty forehand when he arguably had the best backhand in the world? (One answer – you get more range by playing the lefty forehand, and it’s easier to smash high balls.)

Support Kanak Jha Make History at the Paris 2024 Olympics
Kanak is trying to raise funds on his GoFundMe page for his training for the 2024 Olympics. Can you help? Here’s a note from Kanak:

“I am Kanak Jha and I am USA’s top professional Table Tennis player. I started playing in California when I was 5 years old and my love and passion for the sport grew over the years and to pursue my dream of being a world class table tennis player I moved to Europe at a young age of 15. Through 8 years of hard work l managed to reach a world ranking of 19. Along the way, there have been setbacks, obstacles and hurdles and just recently I came back after 15 months of inability to compete. This resulted in a total loss of income for 15 months; however, with the dedicated help of my coaches, my sponsors & supporters, my friends and my family I have remained true to my cause and pursuit of my dream. With my story I hope to continue inspiring the young talent in the U.S. that with determination and hard work, dreams do come true.” [Three more paragraphs follow.]

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

USA Table Tennis Designates 888 Table Tennis Center as a National Training Center
Here’s the USATT article.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Ti Long

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Disguising the Direction of Your Serve
Here’s the video (2:35) with Damien Provost/PongSpace.

The Smartest Win of Ma Long's Career!? World Cup 2024 Final: Tactical Breakdown
Here’s the video (6:06) from Table Tennis TimeOut

World’s Best Serve?
Here’s the video (3:12) from Pingispågarna.

Take a Bow: Ved Sheth’s Intrepid Debut Performance
Here’s the NCTTA article by Jia-Yu (Trinity) Sung

Best Points With Best Angle!
Here’s the video (3:57) from the recent ITTF World Cup in Macao, from Street TT.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from ITTF

Bench Bouncing
Here’s the video (15 sec) – I counted 40 bounces. Can you do this against a similar object?

Ma Long, Lin Gaoyuan & Fan Zhendong Interact with Children
Here’s the video (2:01) as they pair up with kids and play doubles, from the MALONG Fanmade Channel.

Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla
As usual, there’s lots of new AI table tennis artwork from Tenis de Mesa from Sevilla. I’ll let you browse over them this time rather than my going through them.

Dog vs Cat
Here’s the cartoon – when dogs play cats you know the game is going to the birds.

Tears of My Ping Pong Opponents
Here’s where you can buy the mug at Amazon!

TableTennisDaily vs Pongfinity | BIGGEST MATCH EVER!
Here’s the video (27:54)!

Ping Pong Survival Game
Here’s the video (10:25) from Pongfinity! “We challenged 50 table tennis players in Bristol for a chance to win £100 if they beat all three of us!” (They only needed to score one point from each, and these were serious players.)

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