Guo Yue

May 3, 2012

USATT Committee and Task Force Meetings and Minutes

As noted in my blog on April 27, one week ago I sent an email to the USATT board, staff, and committee chairs asking where I could find the minutes of USATT committee and task force meetings. The USATT bylaws require these be published within 30 days (Section 9.10). USATT has not been doing so over the last five years or so (since the new bylaws were created), and so either there have been zero meetings or they have not been following their bylaws. (And I happen to know they have had numerous committee and task force meetings.) This is not a case of them not realizing they were not following the bylaws as I have reminded them of this a number of times over the last three years, by email, at meetings, and in person.

One week later and the only response was a private email by one committee chair who said he kept minutes and sent them to USATT, but they were never published. (He attached a copy of the minutes.)

This is a clear case of USATT being wrong, they know they are wrong, and they refuse to do anything about it. I find this incredibly frustrating - the board knows fully well that the membership only selects two of their nine members, and so they are not accountable to the membership. Two are selected by the Elite Athletes. The other five are selected by the Nominating and Governance Committee. Three of the five members of that committee are non-table tennis people who were chosen by the USOC.

I wonder if there is any benefit in going directly to the USOC and ask that they require USATT to follow their own bylaws? I mean, seriously, isn't following your own rules a major no-brainer?

Learn to Pong Like a Champ

Here's Part 2 of 3 from 2011 USA National Men's Singles Champion Peter Li, covering 1) Getting Good Equipment; 2) Understanding Underspin versus Topspin; and 3) Developing the Deep Push. It's given both in text form and video (2:01). (Here's Part 1.)

Why Guo Yue?

Here's an article on why China picked Guo Yue as the third member of the Chinese Olympic Women's Team.

"As One" pictures

Here are a group of photos taken at the set of the upcoming table tennis movie "As One," care of Mike Meier, who plays an umpire in the movie (and is one in real life as well). He's the one umpiring in many of the pictures, including the first one.

Here are two articles on Senior Table Tennis

Amarillo Slim

I saw the obituary of the famous gambler in the paper (he died Sunday), and it mentioned how he had not only beaten Bobby Riggs in a money match at table tennis with an iron skillet, but claimed he had also won a money match against a "world champion," which didn't seem possible - until I discovered they'd used coke bottles for rackets. Here's the story. (Anyone know who the Taiwanese player was? There have been no "world champions" from Taiwan, at least at the World Table Tennis Championships run by the ITTF.)

Bassnectar's "Ping Pong"

Here's Bassnectar's latest music (4:32), entitled, you guessed it, "Ping Pong." It starts with the sound of a ping-pong ball bouncing, and throughout much of it the beat is to a bouncing ping-pong ball.

Non-Table Tennis - SF Sales

The last two days have been nice ones for my "other" career, science fiction & fantasy writing.

  • I sold a story to Electric Spec, "In the Belly of the Beast," which tells the story of a sorcerer who kills dragons by getting swallowed alive, and then living in the dragon's stomach, protected by a force field, and bringing anything the dragon swallows into the force field - thereby starving the dragon to death. Unfortunately, the daughter he abandoned many years ago to go to sorcery school is also swallowed by the dragon, as well as a belligerent warrior. (It features the only sorcerer versus warrior battle ever fought in the stomach of a dragon.)  I've sold 59 short stories, and this is the 130th different publication I've been published in. (Here's a complete listing of my written work - over 1300 published articles and stories.)
  • I'm on the verge of selling a story to Flagship Magazine - they asked if I could do a rewrite of the ending. This story, "The Oysters of Pinctada," is about a space pirate who kidnaps a king and his crew in an attempt to find the secret of their giant pearls - and the lengths to which the king's people (including his son and daughter) will go to get him back.
  • The acquisitions editor for a publisher liked the first three chapters of my SF novel "Campaign 2100" and asked to see the rest of it. (She was a big West Wing fan, as was I, and the novel is basically West Wing in the 22nd century.)
  • Another publisher asked to see my fantasy novel "The Giant Face in the Sky." (Note - I have just the two novels making the rounds.)

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March 28, 2012

Grip and Stance

Let's do a thought experiment. Hold a piece of paper so you hold the top with one hand, the bottom with the other. Now twist the top. Notice how the entire piece of paper twists? Now twist the bottom. Same thing. How does this relate to table tennis?

Now imagine holding a table tennis player in your hands. (You are either very strong or the player is very small.) Hold his playing hand in one hand and his feet with the other. Twist his playing hand and his entire body twists. The same if you twist his feet.

This is what happens when you have a bad grip or bad playing stance. It twists your entire body out of proper alignment, causing all sorts of technique problems. These two problems are by far the most common cause of technique problems. Most often they are not recognized as even many experienced coaches often treat the symptoms of these problems rather than recognizing the cause.

This is why I strongly recommend that players should use a neutral grip during their formative years, and usually well beyond that. (For shakehand players, this means the thinnest part of the wrist lines up with the racket. If the top is tilted away from you when you hold the racket in front of you, it's a backhand grip; if the top is tilted toward you, it's a forehand grip.) A neutral grip means your racket will aim in the same direction as your body is stroking the ball. A non-neutral grip forces you to adjust your stroke in often awkward ways since the racket is aiming one way while your wrist, arm, shoulder, etc., are aiming another direction.

At the advanced levels some players do adjust their grips, taking on usually slight forehand or backhand grips. (I generally use a slight forehand grip, but only after I'd been playing ten years.) There are some technical advantages to this, but only after you have ingrained proper stroking technique.

Similarly, make sure you are in at least a slight forehand stance when hitting forehands (i.e. right foot slightly back for righties, shoulders turned back as you backswing, etc.)

Even at the advanced levels often players have trouble with a specific stroke because of their grip or stance. Because they've played this way so long they don't even recognize the cause of their problem, and most often they are destined to an eternity of stroking like a crinkled piece of paper. In a few cases they realize what the cause is, and fix the problem, which often simply means going back to a more neutral grip or adjusting the foot positioning.

Like a piece of paper, if you get the top and bottom parts right, the rest falls into place. (An expanded version of this might end up as a Tip of the Week.)

World Team Championships
Dortmund, Germany, March 25 - April 1, 2012

Guo Yue in Slo Mo

Here's a 48-second video of China's World #7 Guo Yue in slow motion. She was #1 in the world in January of 2008, and has had probably a record 24 different rankings as #2 in the ITTF monthly rankings. 

Table Tennis - Pure Magic

Here's another table tennis video (5:59), set to music with lots of slow motion. It's from 2009, but I don't think I've ever posted it.

Cell Phone Pong

Yes, table tennis with a cell phone (0:16), with the phone's video camera running!

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