June 10, 2024

Tip of the Week
Hitting to the Same Spot Twice.

US Nationals Prize Money Cut
Here’s something many of us didn’t notice until Dan Seemiller pointed it out – USATT canceled prize money in Men’s and Women’s Singles at the Nationals for the quarterfinalists. They also aren’t increasing the prize money to keep up with inflation. Here’s the prospectus. For both Men’s and Women’s Singles, it’s 1st $7,000, 2nd $3,500, and 3-4 $1,750. Quarterfinals? Nothing. (They used to have prize money for the Final 16.)

Now we get to the really weird part. Here’s the 2022 prospectus showing the exact same prize money, except with $500 for the quarterfinalists. Here’s the 2023 prospectus also showing the same prize money, but without money for the quarterfinalists. The weird part? I have a copy of the 2023 prospectus that I proofed, and it has $500 prize money for the quarterfinalists. So, when did they make the change? Did they have $500 prize money for the quarterfinalists in 2023? (If you know, contact me.) Either way, USATT seems to be moving backwards on this, both in cutting out the quarterfinal prize money and in not keeping up with inflation. If we are moving forward, or even just treading water, there should at least be small annual increases.

=> UPDATE - SOMETHING HAPPENED - As of Tuesday, the very next day, the $500 quarterfinal prize money is back!!! (USATT didn't tell me, I just went to the prospectus for something else and saw the update. I have a printout of the previous version with no prize money for the quarterfinals of Men's and Women's Singles.)

Ping Pong Leadership by Justin Bookey
Yesterday I read Ping Pong Leadership: 18 Principles to Succeed at Any Table in Business, Sports, and Life. (Available in print and kindle, 266 pages.) I thought it was an excellent way to present leadership skills using table tennis and other examples. The book is perhaps 1/3 table tennis, with the rest using examples of leadership from the worlds of business, government, science, and sports. From the book’s description, “Tens of millions of people worldwide enjoy ping pong on some level. And if you’re looking to enhance your leadership skills, ping pong offers surprisingly relevant lessons for success.”

The book features both Justin’s table tennis experiences and those of a number of prominent table tennis players and coaches, and from lots of successful people from outside the table tennis world, with their stories. There are eighteen chapters featuring eighteen “Pong Principles.” Each chapter ends with “Core Questions to Ask.”

There’s a segment from me in Chapter 3, titled “Pong Principle #3: When Deception is Fair Play” on page 36, called “Flip the Script.” It starts with a quote from “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” The segment is about my once playing a player who was equally good attacking and chopping. As an attacker, it might have been a close match, but back in those days I ate up choppers – and so I spent the entire match faking difficulty with his chopping game, and so convinced him to play defense. He never knew I was carrying him the whole way and he never had a chance chopping.

Others featured include Stellan and Angie Bengtsson, Adam Bobrow, Kanak Jha, Sean O’Neill, Thilina Piyadasa, Vladimir Samsonov, Danny Seemiller, Will Shortz, Amy Wang, Jan-Ove Waldner, and Wei Wang.

Who is Justin and why did he write this book? From the book’s description: “Justin Bookey has spent decades in both worlds. As an Emmy-nominated content creator and strategist, he’s worked with leaders at global companies to accomplish their business goals. As a competitive table tennis player, he’s trained with national and world champions and won medals at the US Open. Those two worlds rarely overlapped—until Bookey realized that the core principles he learned while training to compete at the table also apply to success in business and leadership.”

Weekend Coaching and the Backhand and Windshield-Wiper Serves
It was mostly the usual fundamentals. To quote the Ping Pong Leadership book, "Don't practice until you do it right. Practice until you can't do it wrong." (I will probably turn that into a Tip of the Week.)

I spent some time helping players with their serves. One girl was working on her backhand serve but was facing the table as she did it, serving with just her arm and a short backswing. When doing a backhand serve, you have to rotate sideways to give yourself room to backswing and so you can put your body into the serve, and then rotate into it rather vigorously. I demonstrated – for a time, many decades ago, this was my primary serve until I stopped using it due to shoulder problems. Here’s a tutorial on the backhand serve (7:32) with Craig Bryant.

Then came a blast from the past. One kid was experimenting with the forehand windshield-wiper serve, a relatively rare serve these days but a bit more common way back when. He was trying to do it with a shakehands grip. I showed him how for this serve, it’s better to switch to the Seemiller grip, though you can also do it with the index finger down the middle. (You should change your grip for the large majority of serves. What’s the perfect grip for playing table tennis is rarely the perfect grip for any particular serve. You just change back to your regular grip right after the serve.) The serve was especially made famous by Ricky Seemiller, but many others used it, including me as a variation. The serves allows you to get tremendous sidespin in either direction. The downside is it’s more difficult to get great backspin, though you can learn to get pretty good backspin with practice. Here’s a tutorial on the windshield-wiper serve (2:59) from PingSkills.

Sandbagging in Utah
Apparently two high-rated players from Las Vegas pretended to be unrated, and entering under different names as unrated players, won lots of prize money in rating events at a charity tournament in Utah. Here are two links. 

This reminds me of a similar occurrence way back in the late 1980s. There were two Chinese women with the same name, a 2100 player from California, and a 1000 player from the northeast. The 2100 player flew in and pretended to be the 1000 player in a big 4-star tournament with lots of prize money in the rating events. She won something like six or seven events. But someone took pictures and she was later recognized. It went to the USATT disciplinary committee, which found they had conspired together and split the money. They were given long suspensions.

Improving Table Tennis Forehand Technique Using a Bounce Wall
Here’s the technical journal with this scientific paper – but it’s in Indonesian. You can use Google Translate to see what it says. All I can say is you haven’t made it in life until you’ve been cited five times in an Indonesian technical journal!

Butterfly Training Tips

PERFECT WAY To Improve In Table Tennis
Here’s the video (4:02) from Pingispågarna.

New from PongSpace

Improve Forehand Topspin against Backspin technique
Here’s the video (4:55) from Ti Long.

New from Ping Sunday/EmRatThich

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

2024 NCTTA Board Elections Voting
Here’s the article. Deadline to vote is this Wednesday at 11:59PM eastern time.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

Junior National Team Member: Isabella Xu (17) Founds North Carolina Youth Table Tennis Association (NCYTTA) to Share the Joy of Table Tennis
Here’s the article.

New from ITTF

Why I Lose At Table Tennis Shirt
Here’s where you can buy it at Amazon!

Adam vs. Toa 3.0
Here’s the video (11:29) from Adam Bobrow!

World's Weirdest Ping Pong Match
Here’s the video (10:42) from Pongfinity! This may be one of the funniest ones ever. I may bring some pillows to one of our junior training sessions and have them do pillow-pong!

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