December 17, 2012

Last Blog Until January 2

This will be my last blog (and Tip of the Week) until Jan. 2, 2013. I leave in a few hours for the USA Nationals in Las Vegas (Dec. 18-22), then Christmas with family in Santa Barbara (Dec. 22-25), then I'll be coaching non-stop at the MDTTC Christmas Camp (Dec. 26-31). Then I'm going to sleep in on Jan. 1. See you in 2013!

Tip of the Week

Distance from Table.

Ratings - Crystal and Derek

Wow. Just wow. The North American Teams were processed, and two of our MDTTC juniors have mind-boggling ratings. Let me once again start off by reminding readers (and myself) that ratings are just indicators of level, and fluctuate up and down quite a bit. But there are times when they are a lot of fun.

We'll start with Crystal Wang, 10, who saw her rating go from 2245 to 2353. (I coached three of her matches, where she went 2-1.) This makes her the following:

  • The highest rated 10-year-old in U.S. history, boys or girls, breaking the record that had been set by Kanak Jha, who was 2265 as a 10-year-old two years ago. (The 2245 had already made her the highest rated 10-year-old girl ever and second highest overall.)
  • #1 Under 11 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 12 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 13 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 14 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 15 Girl in the U.S.
  • #1 Under 16 Girl in the U.S.
  • #2 Under 17 Girl in the U.S.
  • #4 Under 18 Girl in the U.S.
  • #9 Under 22 Girl in the U.S.

Here's her record at the Teams, where she went 23-3 in leading her team (which included Derek Nie, below, Bernard Lemal, and Heather Wang) to winning Division Two:

2347: 7,13,-7,9
2291: 7,5,-4,6
2287: -10,7,10,-7,3
2256: -11,9,6,-5,7
2223: 8,-2,5,-9,6
2199: 7,3,10
2194: 8,3,7
2183: 6,-8,6,10
2183: -10,7,8,3
2160: 7,9,-3-10
2156: 8,9,7
2152: 5,6,4
2149: 5,12,-4,-8,7
2123: 8,4,6
2119: 4,5,8
2113: 9,5,4
2097: 6,6,10
2092: 4,-7,7,7
2091: -9,5,7,-10,4
2064: 5,6,4
2064: -5,9,3,1
2014: 7,4,3
1902: 8,10,5
2369: 10,3,-18,7
2319: -5,6,7,6
2280: 9,10,6

Between Crystal and New Jersey's Amy Wang (2177, just turned 10), the east coast has a dynamic duo following in the footsteps of the west coast's Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang.

Meanwhile, Crystal's teammate, Derek Nie, 11, the U.S. Open 11 & Under Boys' Singles Champion, saw his rating go from 2139 to 2221 as he went 17-9 at the Teams. (He's been as high as 2170 recently. I coached about a dozen of his matches at the Teams.) While this "only" brings him up to #3 in Under 12 Boys in the U.S., it does something else. At only 65 pounds, he is almost for certain the best player in the U.S., pound for pound, and the lightest player ever to break 2200. We're talking 34.17 rating points per pound!!! (I come in at 11.67 points per pound. How about you?) Derek might be the shortest to break 2200 as well, at 4'5". (Mitch Seidenfeld, how tall are you?)

I must also point out that it was a crime against humanity that John Olsen, after training so hard with the goal of breaking 2000, came out of the Teams in Baltimore with a rating of 1999. The table tennis gods are laughing!


I'll be coaching at the Nationals, primarily Tong Tong Gong and Derek Nie, and sometimes other MDTTC players. I usually play in the hardbat events, where I've won a bunch of titles, but this year I'm just coaching - just too busy to play. I'll also be attending some meetings, since I'm on several USATT advisory committees, plus the USATT Assembly (Tuesday 7:30 PM) and the Hall of Fame Banquet, assuming it doesn't interfere with my coaching duties (Thursday 6:30 PM).

This year's Nationals has a lot of players (781), and a lot of players in Men's Singles (160). There's no single standout player this year, with the top seed Mark Hazinski at 2621), followed by Timothy Wang (2601), Jim Butler (2583), Adam Hugh (2567), Stefan Manousoff (2560), Han Xiao (2536), Dan Seemiller (2521), Li Yu Xiang (2510), Zhang Yahao (2509), Razvan Cretu (2508), and Shao Yu (2503). In newer ratings after the Teams in Baltimore and Columbus and the ICC tournament last weekend, Hazinski is down to 2590, and Timothy Wang is down to 2585. In fact, in the newer ratings, Adam Hugh would be top seed at 2599. I'm pretty sure it's been literally decades since we had a Nationals where the top seed in Men's Singles was under 2600. (And this despite an apparent slow inflation of the rating system!) 

Who are my picks to win? In Men's Singles, I'm biased, so I'm picking the same two finalists from last year when we had the all-Maryland final with Peter Li winning over Han Xiao in the final. (But Peter, now in college, has dropped to 2475.) However, putting aside biases, I suggest viewers watch Jim Butler. The current top U.S. players simply don't know yet how to play the recently un-retired Butler, with his tricky serves and big backhand smash. Another to watch is Adam Hugh, who's been playing very well recently, now that he's out of college and (I'm told) coaching and playing full-time.

On the women's side, the top four seeds easily lap the other players: Jasna Rather (2588), Ariel Hsing (2538), Judy Hugh (2533), and Lily Zhang (2520). However, in new ratings, Judy is back out of the stratosphere with a 2394 rating, while Jasna has mostly been around 2400 for years until one tournament shot her up to 2588. Perhaps she's back to her former world-class level, but for now, I'd bet on an Ariel-Lily final for the third year in row. Who will win? One of them. I'll leave it at that.

World Junior Championships

USA's Lily Zhang made the quarterfinals of Under 18 Girls' Singles at the World Junior Championships, held in Hyderabad, India, Dec. 9-16. Here's the home page, with complete results, articles, and photos. This is probably the best showing of a U.S. junior at the World Junior Championships. (They didn't have them in the old days, when the U.S. was a power.) In reaching the quarterfinals, Lily knocked off the #5 seed (Bernadette Szocs of Romania) and #6 seed (Petrissa Solja of Germany), before losing to the #4 seed (Gu Rouchen of China).

Alas, the eight members of the U.S. Junior Team (which included Crystal Wang - see above - the youngest player at the tournament) will have to fly back and compete at the USA Nationals two days after finishing in India. They will face major problems with the time zone changes and jet lag. 

Prachi Jha

Here's an article from the ITTF that features USA's Prachi Jha and her performance in the team competition at the World Junior Championships.

The Backhand Push

Here's a 45-second video from U.S. Men's Singles Champion Peter Li explaining the basics of the backhand push.

Hitting a Forehand from Below Table Level

Here's a video from PingSkills (2:21) on returning a ball from below table level.

ITTF Development Funds

Here's an article on new funding from the ITTF for continental development. "A quite staggering sum of $1,000,000 is to be made available annually for continents affiliated to the International Table Tennis Federation for development in the next four years, the period from 2013 to 2016."

Look what Michael Found at the Supermarket!

Yes, it's a picture of Michael Landers on the Kelloggs Corn Flakes box! It breaks a 76-year cereal box drought for table tennis since George Hendry made the Wheaties box in 1936.

Santa Claus

In honor of Christmas, here are two pictures of Santa Claus playing table tennis. Here he is with rock star Alice Cooper on right, and here he is again with actress Ginger Rogers on right.

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April 24, 2012

USATT Minutes of Committee & Task Force Meetings

From the USATT Bylaws, Section 9.10, Minutes of Meetings:

"Each committee and task force shall take minutes of its meetings.  The approved minutes must be published within thirty (30) days of completion of the meeting."

I've pointed this out to the USATT board multiple times over the past few years, via email to the board, at the 2009 Strategic Meeting, at board meetings, and I blogged about this on October 11 last year. [See segment"2009 USATT Strategic Meeting (and Task Force Minutes)."]

Either none of the USATT committees or task forces have met even once over the past five years or so, or they simply aren't following the bylaws, even after the problem was pointed out. (I happen to know that a number of these committees and task forces have met.) Alas, the very board that crowed so much about creating these new bylaws (circa roughly 2007, with updates since) has not followed them. Don't believe me?

Then here's a challenge. FIND ME THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS. First person who can find them by 4:30 PM this afternoon when I leave to coach (and no cheating by someone putting them online today) gets a free copy of any one of my books (see below) and public acknowledgement here. (One exception - I'm fairly certain I remember seeing minutes online of an Officials meeting, but am not sure. But if anyone can find those minutes, no book, but I'll acknowledge your finding in my blog tomorrow.) Here are the USATT minutes for USATT board meetings, and the USATT committee listing. (The committee listing includes task forces, some of which have met over the past few years and since been dissolved, such as the "Grow Membership Through Added Value" task force.) Other than board meetings, there are minutes for a Hall of Fame Committee meeting listed on "December 20, 2011" (they mean 2010) - and they are not actually a USATT committee. 

Note that not all committees meet, especially "advisory" committees. I'm on the USATT Coaching, Club, and Editorial Advisory Committees, but none of them have had a formal meeting since I was appointed. However, others have met to formulate various policy, such as the High Performance Committee, which meets to set policy and schedule for the National Teams, and of course the various Task Forces meet to accomplish their various tasks. (At least I hope they do!)

Books by Larry Hodges

Hey, that's me! Since I mentioned my books above (and it's been a while since I listed them here), here's a listing. Note that Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook and Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis (which are really handbooks) are online (free). And this fall I hope to have my new book out, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide." (I'm doing the final rewriting right now, but other table tennis issues keep intervening.) 

2012 North American Olympic Table Tennis Trials Press Conference

Here's the video of the press conference with all the players from North America who made the Olympics (19:53). Unfortunately, I can barely hear them even at full volume. Maybe others have louder speakers.

Ariel Hsing slideshow

Here are eight photos with captions of U.S. Women's Champ and Olympian teenager Ariel Hsing at the Olympic Trials.

Michael Landers and the Kelloggs Corn Flakes Box

Here's more on Michael Landers on the Kelloggs Corn Flakes box, including a picture of both the front and back.

"As One" movie

Here's a preview of "As One" (1:48), with English subtitles, the story of the joint Korean 1991 World Women's Team Champions

Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings

Here's another article on hockey's Predators vs. Red Wings table tennis "feud."

Adam Bobrow Highlights

Here's two minutes of Adam Bobrow, mostly from movie and TV roles, including three table tennis scenes. (He's not just a comedian and actor - he's rated 2115, and was recently up to 2172.)


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April 19, 2012

Ruing the Rise of Redundant Rubber Releases

It has recently come to my attention that there are just too many types of table tennis rubber. At the U.S. Open or Nationals the racks of rubber reveal a ruinous range of revolutionary renown. (Okay, I've used up my quota for R's today.) What am I, a full-time professional coach of some renown, supposed to say as my eyes glaze over when someone looks at me with big brown eyes and asks, in all innocence, "Coach Larry, could you explain the differences between Sapphira, Selvid, Solcion, Speedy P.O., Spin Art, the ten types of Sriver, Stayer, Solo, the nine types of Sonex, the three types of Supersonic, Special Defence, Super 729FX, Samba and Samba N-tec, Shark, Snabb, Spring Thunder, the five types of Scramble, Spark, the four types of Spinspiel, Screw One and Screw Soft, Spiral, the three types of Specialist, Samurai, Serie 2000, the three types of Sinus, the eight types of Speedy, Standard, Storm, the two types of Super Defense, and Supra?"

And these are just the ones that start with an S. (See, I've moved on from the R's. Soon I'll make it to the T's, where we can discuss table tennis, topspin, and tomahawk serves.)

I remember the good old days, circa mid-to-late late 1970s (I started in 1976), when everyone used Sriver or Mark V, with the occasional weirdo who used some strange stuff from China or an old-fashioned sheet of D-13, or even some orthodox hard rubber. You could buy Sriver or Mark V (then the top-of-the-line stuff) for about $6/sheet. And then along came Tackiness, the first of the specialized rubbers ("super sticky!") and then long pips, and the floodgates opened. (Where do they get these names? I think they use the Fantasy Name Generator.)

Here's a listing of USATT approved equipment. Reading it either makes you laugh out loud or fall asleep. And just to make you suffer (or lol?) as I, here's the complete rubber listing, with the admonition that this blog does continue afterwards, so you have no choice but to read through it entirely so as to get to the really good stuff in the blog below. (Or you could just page down, but that wouldn't be nearly as fun.)

Butterfly - Addoy, Allround-C4-A002, Allround-C4-A003, Allround-D13, Bryce, Bryce FX, Bryce Speed, Bryce Speed-FX, Catapult, Catapult Hard, Cermet, Challenger-Attack, Challenger-Chop, D'or, Ekrips, Ekrips Soft, Feint FG, Feint-Long II, Feint-Long II-OX, Feint Long-III, Feint-Long III-OX, Feint-OX, Feint-Soft, Flarestorm, Flarestorm II, Flextra, Impartial, Large 44DX, Magnitude, Magnitude-Kawa, Morim, Orthodox, Pan Asia, Raystorm, Rein, Relop Attack, Relop Attack-OX, Resilon, Resilon-Flex, Resilon-Kawa, Roundell, Roundell Hard, Roundell Soft, Sapphira, Selvid, Solcion, Speedy P.O., Speedy P.O. Soft, Spin Art, Sriver, Sriver-EL, Sriver-FX, Sriver-G2, Sriver-G2-FX, Sriver G3, Sriver G3-FX, Sriver-Kawa, Sriver Killer, Stayer, Super Anti, Super Anti-Special, Super Sriver, Tackifire-Drive, Tackifire-Special, Tackifire-Special Soft, Tackiness-C, Tackiness Chop, Tackiness Chop II, Tackiness-C-Kawa, Tackiness-C Soft, Tackiness-D-Kawa, Tackiness-Drive, Tempest, Tenergy 05, Tenergy 05-FX, Tenergy 25, Tenergy 25-FX, Tenergy 64, Tenergy 64-FX, Wakaba, West Will

Donic - Acuda S1, Acuda S2, Acuda S3, Akkadi L2, Akkadi Taichi, Alligator Def, Alligator Soft No Sponge, Anti A40, Baracuda, Baxster D25 Short Pips, Baxter F1-A, Blues, Blues F5, Coppa, Coppa JO, Coppa JO Gold, Coppa JO Platin, Coppa JO Platin Soft, Coppa JO Silver, Coppa Speed, Coppa Tagora, Coppa Tenero, Coppa X1, Coppa X1 Gold, Coppa X1 Turbo Platin, Coppa X2, Coppa X3, Desto F1, Desto F1 HS, Desto F2, Desto F3, Desto F3 Big Slam, Gallardo Power Sound, Gallardo Sound, Gallardo Speed, J.O. Waldner, Liga, Pirania Formula Tec Slice 40, Quattro, Quattro A'Conda Medium, Quattro A'Conda Soft, Quattro Formula, Solo, Sonex 40, Sonex Formula, Sonex Formula X40, Sonex Formula XF45, Sonex Formula JP Soft, Sonex JP, Sonex JP Gold, Sonex X40, Sonex X45, Supersonic M40, Supersonic S40, Supersonic SG40, Twingo, Twister, Vario, Vario Big Slam, Vario Cooper S, Vario Cooper ST, Vario Gold, Vario Soft, Vario Soft ST, Vario ST, Zicco

Dr. Neubauer - A-B-S, Anti-Special, Boomerang Classic, Diamant, Domination, Domination Speed, Domination Tuned, Fighter, Goliath, Gorilla, Gorilla Special, Grizzly, Grizzly ABS Sponge, Inferno Classic, Leopard, New Gorilla, Pistol, Special Defence, Tornado Ultra, Pistol, Monster Classic

Friendship - 563, 563-1, 729 40H, 729 40S, 729 Dr. Evil, 729 Cream, 729 FX (EL), 729 Faster, 729 Faster 2, 729 Faster 3, 729 FX Lightening, 729 GeoSpin, 729 GeoSpin Tacky, 729 Higher, 729 Higher 2, 729 Higher 3, 729 SP, 729-08, 729-5, 729-AAA, 755, 755-2, 799, 802, 802-1, 802-40, 804, 837, Focus 1, Focus 2, Focus 3, RITC 2000 Tack Speed, RITC 729, RITC 729-2, RITC 729-3, RITC 729 Tackspeed, Super 729FX

Gambler - Aces, Four Kings, Outlaw Pre-Tune, Peace Keeper, Reflectoid, Shadow, Six Shooter Pre-Tune, Wraith

Hallmark - Friction Special 2, Frustration, Green Power, Half Long, Magic Pips, Mirage, Panther, Phoenix, Podium, Power Spin

JOOLA - 4 All, 4 You, Air, Amy Anti Classic Version, Amy Anti Control Version, Antitop Toni Hold, Badman Reloaded, Brave, Drum, Drum CWX, Energy, Energy X-Soft, Energy Xtra, Express One, Express Two, Express X-Soft, Mambo, Mambo C, Mambo GP, Mambo H, Octopus, Orca, Phoenix, Samba, Samba N-tec, Shark, Snabb, Spring Thunder, Tango, Tango Defensive, Tango Extrem, Tango Ultra, Topspin, Topspin C Express Ultra, X-plode, X-plode Sensitive

Juic - 889, 889 Neo, 889 Neo, 889 SV, 999 Attack, 999 Defense, 999 Elite, 999 Elite Defense, 999 Elite Hardtype, 999 Elite Nano, 999 Elite SV, 999 Elite Ultima, 999 Elite Ultima SV, 999 Hardtype, 999 Turbo, Air Condle, Air Condle Sound, Air Condle Speed, Anti Super Spin, Dany III, Dany V, Dany V Ultima, DrivaSmash, DrivaSmash Ultima, DrivaSmash Ultima SV, Hirubia, Kaiza, Leggy Defense, Masterspin 40, Montjuic Super, Montjuic Super SV, Nano Cannon, Nano Spin, Neo Anti, Offense, Offense Ultima, Patisuma, Patisuma II, Patisuma 3, PipsAce 03, Scramble, Scramble 21, Scramble 21 SV, Scramble 21 Ultima, Scramble EX Ultima, Shenron, Spark, Spin Spiel, Spinspiel Hardtype, Spinspiel SV, Spinspiel Ultima, Varites, Diva Smash SV, Couga and Masterspin Special

LKT - Black Power, Pro XP, Pro XT, Rapid Power, Rapid Soft, Rapid Sound, Rapid Speed, Recoil, Red Diamond, Torrent-Gold

Newgy - Omega

Nittaku - Best Anti, Express, Graffiti, Hammond, Hammond FA, Hammond FA Speed, Hammond Pro Alpha, Hammond Pro Beta, Hammond X, Hurricane II, Hurricane III, Magic Carbon, Magical Spin, Micro, Midship, Midship SC, Milford, Moristo, Moristo 44, Moristo 2000, Moristo 2000 NX, Moristo DF, Moristo FG, Moristo LP, Moristo LP One, Moristo RS Hard, Moristo RS Soft, Moristo SP, Narucross, Narucross Ex Hard, Narucross Ex Soft, Narucross GS Hard, Narucross GS Soft, Narucross GS Super Soft, Narucross Tension, Nodias, Pimple Mini, Pimple Mini One, Refoma, Renanos Bright Hard, Renanos Bright Soft, Renanos Hard, Renanos Hold, Renanos Soft, Screw One, Screw Soft, Spiral, Specialist One, Specialist Soft, Specialist Soft HS, Tracer

Stiga - Almana, Almana Sound, Almana Sound SynergyTech, Boost TC, Boost TP, Boost TS, Boost TX, Calibra LT, Calibra LT Sound, Carbo, Carbo MC, Carbo Sound, Cenno, China Extreme, Chop & Drive, Clippa, Cobra 2000, Destroyer, Doer, Energy Absorber, Evo, Future, Innova, Innova Premium, Innova Ultra Light, Innova Ultra Light SynergyTech, JMS EVO 1, Magic, Magna, Magna TC 2, Magna TS 2, Mendo, Mendo MP, Mendo Energy, Neos, Neos Sound, Neos Sound SynergyTech, Neos Synergy Tech, Neos Tacky, Optimum MP, Premium, Radical, Syncro 45, Royal, Stream, Taiphoon, Triumph, Tween

Tibhar - Black Techno, Cata-Inazuma-Spin, Cata-Spin, Control Spin, Dang, Defense, Ellen, Extra Long, Genius, Genius+Optimum, Genius+Optimum Sound, Genius Sound, Grass, Grass Defense, Grass D-Tec, Grass Flex, Grass Offense, Grass Spezial 2000, Grass Spezial 3000, Grass Ultra, Grip-S, Intra, Learn Cont, Learn Spin, Legend, Makss, Mythik, Nianmor, Nimbus, Nimbus Medium, Nimbus Soft, Nimbus Sound, Nimbus VIP, Norm, Primus, Rapid, Rapid D. TecS, Rapid D. TecS Soft, Rapid Soft, Red Power, Rookie D. TecS, Samurai, Serie 2000, Sinus, Sinus Alpha, Sinus Sound, Speedy S/L, Speedy Soft, Speedy Soft D. TecS, Speedy Soft D. TecS VIP, Speedy Soft Pro, Speedy Spin, Speedy Spin Premium, Spico Speedy Spin, Standard, Storm, Super Defense, Super Defense 40, Super Defense 40 Soft, Supra, Torpedo, Torpedo Soft, Vari Spin, Vari Spin D. TecS, VHP Speedy Spin, Volcano

Yasaka - A-1.2, Anti Power, Cobalt, Do Up, Fusion, Mark V, Mark V30, Mark V GPS, Mark V HPS, Mark V HPS Soft, Mark V M2, Mark V XS, New Era, Original, Original Extra High Grade, Original T-Version, Orthodox, PB-1, Phantoom 0011, Phantoom 0012, Phantoom 007, Phantoom 008, Phantom 009, Pryde, Pryde 30, Pryde 40, Rally, V-Stage, Xtend, Xtend HS, Xtend SG

The Michael Landers Kellogg's Video

Here's a video from Kellogg's (3:47) on Michael Landers. Best quote: "The secret sauce is a lot of hard work, some luck, determination, and of course a great breakfast." (Hey, it's for Kellogg's!) As noted here on Monday, he's going to be on the Wheaties box.

101-year-old Dorothy Delow

"Scientists are mapping the genomes of centenarians to help unlock the secrets of longevity and a 101-year old Australian table tennis player is helping." ABC did a story on Dorothy Delow, the world's oldest active table tennis player at 101.  Here's the article and video (6:07).

London Mayor Boris Johnson's ping-pong speech

Here's a video of his hilarious 59-second speech given after he took possession of the Olympic flag in Beijing. Here are two quotes from the video:

  • "I say this respectfully to our Chinese hosts who have excelled so magnificently at ping-pong. Ping-pong was invented on the dining tables of England."
  • "The French looked to the dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner. We looked to the dining table and saw an opportunity to play Wiff Waff. And that is why London is the sporting capital of the world."

And here are eight photos of Mayor Johnson playing table tennis, from the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page: photo1 photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5 photo6 photo7 (only the back of his head; author Howard Jacobson on far side) photo8 (on left, Sebastian Coe on right)


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