Table Tennis Tips

October 23, 2014

Next Blog on Tuesday, and the South Shore Open

This will be my last blog until next Tuesday. I'm leaving very early (6AM) Friday to coach at the 4-star South Shore Open and Nate Wasserman Junior Championships in Indiana, and returning Monday afternoon. Here's the Omnipong listing, where you can see the listing of players by event, rating, or alphabetically, and where results will be posted.

I'm Running for the USATT Board

Or at least I'm applying to be on the ballot. Here is the USATT Notice on the election, which gives the rules and deadlines. (I'd be running for the At-Large position.) In a nutshell, by Nov. 14 I have to send to the USATT Nominating and Governance Committee (NGC) the following:  

  1. at least twenty-five (25) Signature of Support from adult USATT general members (membership must be current and in good-standing);
  2. a signed copy of the USATT_Code_of_EthicsEthical Behavior and Conflict of Interest; and
  3. a written statement of not more than one page, single-spaced, 12-point font, that explains why the nominee wants the position and what knowledge and skills the nominee would bring to the Board of Directors (which will be published on the USATT Web Page and sent in the November monthly E-Newsletter prior to the opening of the election voting period);

This past weekend, at the MDTTC Open, I got 38 signatures of support from USATT members (13 extras, just in case some are ruled invalid). I printed out and signed the USATT Code of Ethics and Ethical Behavior and Conflict of Interest statements. (I have two potential conflicts of interest - I'm sponsored by Butterfly, and I coach at MDTTC, a USATT National Center of Excellence. I would abstain in votes directly involving Butterfly or MDTTC.) I've written the one-page statement, though I'll probably do some rewriting of it.

The NGC will announce on Nov. 21 who is on the ballot. Voting begins on Nov. 27 and ends on Dec. 27. The results will be announced on Jan. 6, 2015.

Why am I running? Either because I really want to see table tennis succeed in this country and am tired of waiting for others to do it, or because I'm insane. (It's an unpaid volunteer position.) Below are the five main items I'd focus on. I'll write more about each of these if and when I'm on the ballot. (I blogged about roughly these five items on Sept. 23, but I've made a few changes since then.)

  1. Create a USATT Coaching Academy to Recruit and Train Professional Coaches to Set Up Training Centers and Junior Programs
  2. Create a Nationwide System of Regional Leagues
  3. Instigate Regional Associations
  4. Instigate a Professional Players Association, and Professionalize the Sport
  5. Turn U.S. Open and Nationals into Premier Events

Will these things be hard to do? Of course. Is that a reason to avoid them? No, but it's been a reason for 80 years now, since USATT's founding in 1933. I do have plans on how to instigate each of these. I can't promise that everything I try will succeed, but I can promise I'll work hard on each one, and believe I will succeed on most, and hopefully all - if I get on the ballot and am elected. I'm not one to avoid trying something for fear of failure, but I'll be faced with some board members who do have this mindset (I'd be one of nine), and will have to find ways to overcome it. If I'm on the ballot, I'll devote an entire blog to each of the items above, as well as another on a series of other issues, many of which I've blogged about already.

A key thing is that while money is needed to instigate programs, we have to face the fact that USATT has limited funding. And so each of my plans focuses on ways to develop these items without huge funding. Doing things right and thinking long-term is usually more successful than just throwing money at a problem.

A few things that I'd do that are different than how we've done things. I would focus on progressive issues. Here's my blog entry from March 19, 2013 where I blogged about the difference between progressive and fairness issues. I also want to focus on things that really make a difference. Too often we do "nice things that don't accomplish much." I want to focus on dramatically increasing USATT membership (less than 9000), developing our junior and elite athletes, and turning table tennis into a major sport in this country. I believe the five items above are big steps in this process.

I wish I were the back-slapping, compliment-throwing, buddy-buddy type who looks great in a suit. It would make things a lot easier when it comes to campaigning and getting elected. Instead, I'll have to focus on accomplishing stuff - and hope a few people notice!

I did run for the USATT Board once before, back in 1991 when I was 31. There were seven of us running for two spots on the board, including the two incumbents. I received over 70% of the vote and came in first, and so became a USATT Vice President. However, at my first meeting it was announced that USATT had (if I remember correctly) a $70,000 budget deficit (that's $122,000 in 2014 dollars), and so we spent pretty much all of the meeting going over budget items one by one and cutting everything. It was an incredibly frustrating time - I had things I wanted to do, but no money for anything serious. Sometime I'll blog about my time on the board. One thing I've learned since then is how to get things done with limited resources.

Coaching Position Open

The Austin TTC is looking for a full-time coach, and you could be that coach. Here's the help wanted notice.

Modern Table Tennis

Here's video (29 sec) showing a player doing side-to-side footwork in multiball, looping everything from close to the table. This really shows the difference between table tennis now and how it was before, where most players backed up to do these shots, and with the backhands usually softer.

Ask the Coach

Episode #14 (15:44):

  • Question 1: Do you know the specific hand signals for doubles? It might not be the same for everyone. But what have you used? Andrew Yuen
  • Question 2: In the office we usually play doubles, and many rallies end soon due to low-quality stroke or just missing the ball. That often happens because a player does not get into a good position in time. Any ideas? Roman Sukhanov
  • Question 3: What is the right finish position for the backhand sidespin serve? Kaustubh
  • Question 4: Hi, can you please explain what they mean when they say he is a 1500 or a 2000 player. Ron Thomson

Table Tennis Tips and Other Books

Mark Dekeyser did some editing of Table Tennis Tips, and so I've updated the book. Nothing hugely substantive, but there were a few doozies in there! Here's where you can find all of my books. I also have an Amazon Page.)

Interview with Georgina (Gina) Pota

Here's the interview by Dora Kurimay. 

So You're a Fan of Jan-Ove Waldner?

Here's his website! And - breaking news - now he has a fashion website!

Incredible Exhibition Rally by Timo Boll and Jean-Michel Saive

Here's the video (70 sec).

Great Shot from 2013 European Championships

Here's the video (44 sec, including several replays) of the rally by Gionis Panagiotis.

Chinese Team at Triangle TTC Revisited

Here's a video (1:37) of the recent visit, and here's a news video from China (in Chinese).

Zhang Jike/Li Xiaoxia vs. Ma Long/Ding Ning - Playing Doubles?

Here's video (4:11) of the Chinese stars playing doubles in front of a huge crowd . . . on a mini-table!

German Table Tennis TV Comedy

Here's video (33 sec) of a ping-pong game and an over-celebratory player. Alas, it's in German (anyone want to translate?), but you can get the gist of it by watching.
UPDATE: The clip is actually from the TV show "The Kings of Queens," which ran on CBS from 1998-2007. The original was in English, which was dubbed in German in the version linked above. Here's the original in English - the table tennis starts at 1:11. Special thanks to Grant Vogl for pointing this out!

Why Pong-Ping Never Caught On

Here's the cartoon!

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May 23, 2014

Table Tennis Tips

My newest table tennis book is now published! Retail price is $14.99, but you can buy it at Amazon for $13.21, or $6.99 for Kindle. (Here's my personal Amazon page, and the Larry Hodges Books page.) Special thanks goes to the four who edited and critiqued the book, leading to many revisions. They are Kyle Angeles, Stephanie Hughes, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor. (And they get thanked again below!)

Here's the Intro page from the book:

Welcome, fellow table tennis fanatics, to three years of worth of Tips of the Week, compiled in one volume in logical progression.

These Tips are online, available for free to anyone. I put them up every Monday on my website, TableTennisCoaching.com, and this volume contains all of them from January 2011 through December 2013. Feel free to browse them—but do you really want to have to call them up, one by one, in random order as far as content goes? I’ve updated quite a few of them, not to mention a lot of editing. Some had links to specific online videos, so I had to adjust the wording, inviting readers to go to YouTube.com and do basic searches for the appropriate technique.

They range over ten basic topics: Serving, Receiving, Strokes, Grip and Stance, Footwork, Tactics, How to Improve, Sports Psychology, Equipment, and Playing in Tournaments.

There are unavoidable redundancies in this book. They come in two types. First, the content of the Tips often overlap with other Tips. This is unavoidable as many of the Tips cover parallel material. For example, there are two Tips on developing the forehand smash, and while there is overlap between the articles, they cover it in different ways.

And second, I incorporated a number of these Tips in my previous book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. This is especially true of the Tips here in the chapters on Tactics and on Sports Psychology. But perhaps a second reading will be the key to really learning and understanding the material?

Finally, I’d like to thank those who proofed the book for me, pointing out numerous problems they found, from typos and grammar mistakes to better wording suggestions. They did an incredible job of making me look good! They are:

  • Kyle Angeles
  • Stephanie Hughes
  • John Olsen
  • Dennis Taylor

USATT Mailing

Over the past week there's been an ongoing discussion among a few USATT board members, tournament directors, coaches, and a few others on creating an Allstar Circuit or Finals for American players. The topic has drifted. When the discussion of how to raise $10,000 for a Finals event came up, I chimed in with the below.

Here’s an easy way for USATT to raise the $10,000 or more for such an Allstar Tour Finals, and increase membership as well. It’s the same recommendation I’ve made multiple times in the past at board meetings and strategic meetings. (Sorry if this takes us slightly off track.) Almost any successful organization knows that one of the most promising ways to get members is to go after past members, which is why we all get so many things in the mail from organizations we were once members of and magazines we once subscribed to. USATT has something like 50,000 past members on its database (not sure of current figure). I believe we do mailings (and now emails) to recently expired ones, but how often do we do mass mailings to ones from farther back?

Have it come as a personal letter from a prominent USATT person, where it explains the benefits of USATT membership. (Alas, having a print magazine was a primary benefit we can no longer use.) If it comes from Dan Seemiller, Jim Butler, or Sean O’Neill, or all three, it’ll get a much better response than if it’s some form letter coming from a USATT official. I’m sure they would put their name on something like this if they knew that the first $10,000 or more in profits would go to an Allstar Series or Final of some sort.

Let’s say there are 50,000 names and addresses on the USATT database, and that the cost of mass printing and bulk mailing is 30 cents each. (Letters sent bulk mail, if bar coded, will cost about 18 cents each, and when you print 50,000 copies, printing per piece is very cheap.) Then the cost of this mailing is about $15,000. Let’s suppose we get a 1% return, at $49 each. That’s 500 members, and nearly $25,000 in income. (Plus more in following years, depending on how many renew.) That’s a $15,000 profit the first year. (Break even is about .6%, or 1 in 160.) If we get a 2% return, that’s 1000 members, income is $49,000, and a $34,000 profit the first year. There are also hidden income in this. New members mean more players playing in tournaments (rating fees), entering the U.S. Open or Nationals, etc.

Yes, there’s increased staff time, but it’s not a huge amount of time to process 500 to 1000 new members. That’s an average of 2-4 per work day. There’s also staff time in putting together the mailing, or we can hire a service for a few hundred dollars.

Sure, there’s risk as we don’t know what the return will be. If we’re too scared to try new things, then we might as well accept that we’re never going anywhere. Except there’s nothing new about this – other organizations do this type of thing all the time, and they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t pay for itself. I still get all sorts of things in the mail from about five past magazines and several organizations, including regular things from USTA. They have 700,000 members, and know how these things pay off.

Also note that when we get these new members, we’ll also get their emails, and so will be able to communicate with them for free in the future.

Wang Liqin Trains Their Younger Players

Here's the story of the all-time great and 3-time Men's Singles World Champion working with the younger Shanghai team members.

Sports Illustrated Paddle Pushers: A 30-Year Climb to Semi-Visibility

Here's the article/graphic from page 22 of the current (May 26) issue of Sports Illustrated. (I had a short article published in Sports Illustrated on June 14, 1999 - "The Chinese Table Tennis Dynasty." I'm also a Sports Illustrated Photographer - I took the picture of Crystal Wang in the April 7, 2014 issue. (See photo credits underneath - I'm famous!)

Jungle Pong

Here's a video (17 sec) of the gang from JOOLA playing "Floor Pong." I don't think they realize that what they are playing is Jungle Pong, a game played by the kids at my club for many years (I'm guessing since the 1990s), passed on from generation to generation. They play it during breaks, especially during camps. The rules are pretty specific. I blogged about this (including the rules) on June 20, 2013 (see third segment).

Flipagram

Here's the music video "Wally Green - a Game Nobody Knows" (15 sec). It links to a program that apparently allows you to create your own table tennis music videos from still pictures.

Followers of the Bouncing Ball - San Antonio

Here's an article in the San Antonio News-Express on the San Antonia TTC in Texas.

Outdoor Table Tennis Near Me

Here are pictures of the outdoor ping-pong table and putting green at Freedom Park near Rosslyn Metro Station in Washington D.C., about 15 miles south of me.

Mini-Mini Table Tennis

Here's the picture. "I really don't think it can get smaller than that."

The Most Colorful Ping-Pong Table in the History of the Universe

Here it is!

Armin van Buuren - Ping Pong

Here's the music video (4:14) - it's hilarious! And it gets better and better as it goes along.

Non-Table Tennis - Baltimore Science Fiction Convention

This weekend I'll be a panelist at Balticon, the annual SF convention in Baltimore. It's actually four days long, Fri-Mon, but I'll only be there all day on Saturday, and possibly part of Sunday. You can find my bio there in the Bio Section. (Here's my science fiction & fantasy page.) There'll be about 600 participants, so while it's a small regional convention for the science fiction world, it's about the size of our U.S. Open (which this year has 596 entries).

I was put on five panels, two on Friday and three on Saturday (I'm moderating one), plus a reading and autograph session on Sunday. However, I had to drop the Friday and Sunday sessions due to coaching conflicts. The three I'm on for Saturday are:

  • Favorite Science Fiction Authors (Sat 10AM-10:50PM) - Moderator
  • Five Books for the Last Town on Earth (Sat 1:00-1:50 PM)
  • Titles Looking for Stories (Sat 4:00-4:50 PM)

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May 22, 2014

Playing Modes

You can divide players into two types. There are those who are ready for anything, and can do any appropriate shot in their repertoire at any time. This pretty much describes all world-class players, but also many who are nowhere near that level. They are often just considered athletic or coordinated, since they can do just about anything anytime. And there are those who switch from one "mode" to another. I'm one of the latter. What does this mean?

When I play, I'm often in one of the following modes: forehand looping mode, forehand hitting mode, two-winged hitting mode, steady backhand/looping forehand mode, steady blocking mode, or defensive off-table defensive mode (fishing, lobbing, chopping). What this means is that I'm much better at any of these if I focus on that shot, but weaker at other shots. The problem is if I don't go into one of these modes, I'm often weaker at everything, and have no strengths to challenge my opponent.

This doesn't mean a "mode" player can't switch modes in a rally. I can - but it's not so easy, and often the switch is from an offensive mode to off-table defense. But once in a mode in a rally, it's often hard to switch. For example, once they start blocking in a rally many players have difficulty doing anything but block the rest of the rally.

Ideally, you don't want to be a "mode" player. It's much better to be able to effortlessly switch from one shot to another, doing the appropriate shot rather than the one you are looking for (i.e. in the "mode" for).

I've often wondered why I have to resort to these various modes to play my best, knowing it's also a big handicap. I think it was because in my early years I did lots and lots of rote drills, where I'd do some footwork drill where I'd move from A to B to A to B to A to B to A, and so on. If I could go back, I'd tell myself to do more random drills as well, where you don't know where the ball is going each time, and have to just react to the incoming ball with the appropriate shot. This develops the reactions to any shot so you don't have to sort of anticipate what you'll do by going into a "mode." (Random drills will likely be the topic of the next Tip of the Week on Monday.)

A simple version of a random drill is your partner backhand blocks or counters the ball to your backhand or forehand, but randomly, and you keep driving the ball back to his backhand. (You can also do this to his forehand, of course.) When you become comfortable with this, then have him go to all parts of the table, including your middle. There are many variations.

Teaching the Banana Flip

I had an interesting session Wednesday with a student who was learning how to backhand banana flip against a short serve. There's nothing greater in coaching than seeing that look of shock and awe when they realize how easy it is to banana flip even a very low, heavy, short backspin serve! In practice, he picked it up pretty quickly, but he'll need to do it regularly in matches for a while before it becomes consistent - and then he'll be a terror against short serves.

Junior Class at MDTTC

Here's a short video (14 sec) taken at the start of last Sunday's junior class by my assistant coach for the class, Jeffrey Zeng Xun. (Jeffrey added the music.) I especially like the shot of the little kid on the left shadow practicing his forehand near the end! I think I can name all the players, but it's never easy as there are so many of them, and there are more kids off to the left you can't see. According to Google Translate, the caption in Chinese says, "Each week the most troublesome Training has begun. Filling it! Jeffrey! Too cute little mixed race." I think something got lost in the translation. Can anyone give a better translation?

Table Tennis Tips

My newest book is officially published. However, just to be safe, I ordered a copy to check out. (It's print on demand, so I can still make corrections.) According to the post office tracking system, it'll be delivered today. Assuming all is well, I'll "officially" announce it tomorrow, and you can all buy a copy!

ITTF's Developmental Program

Here's an article on the ITTF's Developmental Program.

Ping Pong Summer

The movie was officially released on January 18, but there's been no wide release. But there's a showing in my area on Thursday, June 5, at 7:30 PM, at the Carroll County Arts Council in Mount Airy, Maryland. Any locals want to join me? (I teach a junior class on Thursday nights from 6-7PM, but by great luck the current ten-week session ends the week before, and there's no session scheduled on this date. So I'm off that night after a coaching session that ends at 5PM.) Here's a picture of the theater where it'll be play - it's already advertised in big letters! The movie stars Susan Sarandon, Judah Friedlander, and others. Here's the Ping Pong Summer Facebook page. The IMDB page. The Rotten Tomatoes page. (It's at 83% fresh!) And here's the trailer (2:10).

Yasiel Puig Plays Table Tennis

Here's an article and video (1:42, plus some short gif videos) of LA Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig playing table tennis.

Mattress Table Tennis Commercial

What's the connection between table tennis and selling mattresses? Here's the 30-sec commercial! "Honey, I quit my job to become a professional ping-pong player."

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March 31, 2014

Tip of the Week

Get the Right Feel.

Friday Camp

It was a busy weekend of coaching, though strangely not as busy as usual as I had Sunday morning off for a change, due to a pair of out-of-town students. However, that was offset by our one-day camp on Friday, where I coached from 10AM to 6PM. Schools were closed that day for "Professional Day."

We had another snowstorm on Sunday afternoon, with about 2-3 inches here in Germantown - enough is enough!!! It's been "Spring" for eleven days now. (Hmmm . . . "days now" is one space away from "day snow," which is what happened yesterday.) I'm personally contacting the beings responsible and putting a stop to this. There will be no more snow here in Maryland until December.  

Here's a funny incident that took place during the Friday camp. I called a bunch of the beginning kids together to teach them how to serve. My first question to the seven in the group (ages 6-9) was, "How many of you know how to serve?" Nearly all of them raised their hands. So I asked for volunteers to show how to serve. I wish I had a video of what followed as we got sort of a who's who for every stereotypical illegal basement serve possible!!! One kid did the typical basement serve where he bounced the ball on the table and then hit it directly over the net. One kid reached way over the table to get as close to the net as he could to serve. One simply tossed the ball up and hit it directly to the other side of the table. All but one of them grabbed the ball with their fingertips.

Only one of the kids knew how to actually serve somewhat legal - he'd come to a few of my group sessions - but even he didn't come to a complete stop, cupped his hand severely, and hit the ball in front of the end-line. I'm not picky about the serving rules with beginning kids, so the main focus after this was to get them to serve just roughly legal. I didn't enforce the ball in the palm of the hand, as younger kids have trouble with that, and if contact was sometimes made an inch over the table, so be it. They'll learn better as they play more. For now, I just wanted them to be able to get the ball in play, which is surprisingly difficult for younger kids when they first start out.

However, even if they were struggling just to get the serve in play, one of the things I always like to do is show beginners advanced serves, so they realize there's a lot more to learn than just getting the ball in play. I show them a few spin serves, and they are hooked - they want to learn to do that. So after they had practiced basic serves for a while I called them together and gave them a demo of spin serves - backspin serves that came back into the net (to a chorus of "Woh!"), sidespin serves that broke sharply, and topspin serves that jumped. Then I let them take turns trying to return the serves, giving them mostly spin serves, an occasional speed serve, and (when I was feeling diabolical) a high backspin serve that bounced directly back to my side of the table. (I then showed them how to hit this serve for a winner by standing to the side of the table.)

I brought out the colored soccer balls so they could see the spin I was putting on the balls, and had them try to spin the balls off their rackets for practice. At this point they all wanted to learn to put spin on their serves, and even the ones who had never served before were soon trying to serve with backspin - and all of them got at least a semblance of spin on their serves. A few also spent time trying to serve fast serves.

Table Tennis Tips

My new book, "Table Tennis Tips," will be out by the end of April. It's a compilation of all 150 Tips of the Week I wrote every Monday from January 2011 to December 2013, organized in logical progression. It's basically done, both the text and covers, but it's being proofed by a few people before I finalize it.

Tournament Table Tennis

Here's a new video (2:04) that previews Brian Pace's new upcoming video, Tournament Table Tennis. The preview, which has some nice comparisons to martial arts, starts off with a compilation of some scary forehand loops by Brian, and then highlights the techniques used with spoken quotes from Bruce Lee.

Highlights of the U.S. Team Qualifiers

Jim Butler, who has gone from table tennis star to muscle expert to video expert (and still a table tennis star - he made the U.S. team again!) put together highlight videos for all eight players who qualified for the USA Team at the USA Team Trials. They are all linked (along with lots of other videos) at the USA Table Tennis Video page. Included are videos featuring Lily Zhang, Prachi Jha, Crystal Wang, Erica Wu, Timothy Wang, Adam Hugh, Yahao Zhang, and Jim Butler. There's also a 2014 US World's Men's Team Highlights video (14:25).

Amazing Point at Para South American Games

Here's the video (1:07) of this great point.

Spring Break Training

Here's video (1:41) of Sean O'Neill's daughter Kaitlyn in training, set to the Oscar-winning song "Let it Go." Most impressive thing to me as a coach: she keeps her free hand up, allowing balance, which leads to easier moving as well as shoulder turn on the forehand. This is one of those little things that younger kids have trouble doing unless you keep reminding them. Oh, and the thumbs up at the end of each segment was nice!

Youngest ITTF World Tour Winners

Here's the article on a pair of 13-year-olds from Japan that won Women's Doubles at the German Open (Mima Ito and Miu Hirano). The picture of their faces was taken when they were told they had won $5000.

New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff and Table Tennis

Here's an article in the Washington Post on Mankoff that features his love for table tennis. Here's the opening paragraph: "Bob Mankoff does more than like ping-pong. He is a man in efficient and focused motion as his paddle smacks each reply with the precision of a punch line. Bap. A forehand sharp as a verbal half-volley. Boop. A backhanded ball cut as thin as a slice-of-life joke. Bam. The clean put-away that requires an almost silly degree of exertion on what he says is a laughably small field of play. But then, this is what Mankoff has been doing most of his comedic career, too: Creating inventive angles and sly spins and rhythmic tricks with relentless attention to detail, as if necessity were the Jewish mother of invention."

Concrete Outdoor Ping Pong Tables Soon to Adorn NYC Parks

Here's the article.

Double-Bladed Paddle

Remember the double-bladed light saber used by Darth Maul in Star Wars 1? (Hey, forget about Jar Binks already!) Well, here's a double-bladed ping-pong paddle! I want one….

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December 10, 2013

Physical Therapy

I'm supposed to start physical therapy on my arm at 11:30 this morning. However, it's snowing outside (again), and schools and most businesses closed for the second day in a row. I'm guessing it'll be postponed. Since I'm off for the USA Nationals this Sunday, and then will be coaching at our Christmas Camp, I might not be able to schedule anything else until January. We'll see. Meanwhile, the cortisone shot finally stopped hurting. Can't tell how my arm is without playing, and don't want to risk that. So I'll just keep resting it with the idea that I'll be healthy and ready to go by January. (I also have a dental appointment at 2PM, but I'm guessing that'll be cancelled too.)

Table Tennis Tips

Since I'll be stuck at home most of this week without any coaching (thanks to arm problems), I may start work getting my next table tennis book ready for print, tentatively titled "Table Tennis Tips." It'll be a compilation of all my Tips of the Week that have been going up each week the past three years. Sure, you can read them all online, but this puts them all together in one nice convenient package, organized by subject (strokes, footwork, tactics, sports psychology, etc.). It turns out that when I finish the year, I'll have exactly 150 Tips published since I started in January 2011. There are 148 already online, with two more to go, for Dec. 23 and 30. (No Tip on Dec. 16 while I'm at the Nationals.)

First task is the cover. Tentatively I'll go over all my coaching pictures and pick out something. Then I'll do fancy it up with the title and who knows what else.

Second is organizing them by subject, which shouldn't be a huge job. I've already got all of them in one long file. Each week, after putting the new Tip up, I've been cut and pasting it into the file, which (in 12-point Time Roman font) is about 85,000 words and 154 pages with 8.5x11 pages. It'll take a few hours to arrange them into the right order. With formatting, and perhaps adding a few pictures, the final book will be about 270 pages on 6x9 pages. (That's the dimensions of my previous TT book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.)

Third is the title. Should I go with the simple and to-the-point "Table Tennis Tips"? I've toyed with calling it "Table Tennis Tipalooza." Any suggestions?

Scorekeepers

At the North American Teams last weekend I saw that they were playing the final of Division 12 (average rating 1300) on one table without a scorekeeper, between two all-junior teams (ages 11-13), with dozens of parents and kids watching. I went to the officials table and they lent me a scoreboard. One of the kids, about 10, became the scorekeeper for all nine matches. (Disclosure: I had been coaching a team called "Jawbreakers," and had a bag of jawbreakers I'd been giving out. I paid the kid one jawbreaker per match, so nine in all. He was quite happy with the arrangement.)

One of the best things tournament directors can do to make their tournaments presentable to the public is to have plenty of scoreboards available, and try to have scorekeepers for the "big" matches. It's not hard to get people to scorekeep; just ask and you'll get volunteers. Kids love to do it. The key is that they are scorekeepers, not umpires. Their purpose is to keep score so that spectators can see the score. An exciting point at deuce isn't nearly so exciting if the players don't know it's deuce. In fact, an exciting point at 1-1 isn't so exciting when the spectators have no idea what's going on. They want to see what the situation is; otherwise, it's just two players playing points.

Every major distributor sells scoreboards. Why not buy a few for your next tournament? I own one which I used to bring to tournaments just for my matches, in case I could find a scorekeeper. It's a lot more fun playing with a scorekeeper! It's also easier to focus on your own game when you don't have to worry about keeping score.

Hao Shuai at the North American Teams

Here's the article.

Where There is A Will, There is a Way, Bangladesh Overcomes Political Obstacles

Here's the article from the ITTF on USATT Coach Richard McAfee's latest coaching seminar, this time in Bangladesh.

World Class American Table Tennis Players - New Books!

Volumes 2 and 3 are now out of these table tennis history books by Dean Johnson and Tim Boggan. They are on sale at amazon.com. Here are the three volumes to date:

My Note at the 2001 World Table Tennis Championships

I did coverage for USA Table Tennis of the 2001 Worlds in Osaka, Japan. This often meant long days taking notes and long nights of writing. I just got an email from Diego Schaaf (who was there as a USATT photographers), where he wrote:

I just ran across some notes from the World Championships in Osaka you might remember with amusement. One of them was the sign on your door: "If anyone disturbs me while this sign is up, I will hunt you down and pour speed glue down your throat." (Signed "Larry Hodges, Sleepless in Osaka.") And the other was you, responding to the question, how many hours you had worked between the beginning of the tournament and the final: "All of them. Except 6am to 8am on a couple of days."

Cat Sushi Ping Pong?

Here's the picture!

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