Outdoor TT

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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April 2, 2014

Oldest and Youngest Players in USATT

Mel Ketchel, age 91, is a regular at MDTTC. He comes in almost daily to play with others and with the robot, and regularly plays in our leagues. He asked me a few days ago if he entered the U.S. Open or Nationals, would USATT add an Over 90 event. I'd like to see it

It got me thinking - who are the oldest players in USATT? Technically Mel doesn't qualify, as he last played a tournament in 2002 and his membership expired in 2003. So I went to the USATT Ratings Page, and did some checking, using the Customizable Members Lists tool. This is what I found, where I searched only for USATT members who played in a tournament since January of 2013.

It has Madhu Vinod Diwakar of North Carolina, rated 1949, as being 114 years old!!! Now that's pretty good for your average supercentenarian, and it's recent, since he played a tournament in January. I'm guessing that somehow USATT has his age wrong.  (Actually, he's rated 1950, but because of confusion by some people over whether a 1950 player is eligible for an Under 1950 event, USATT automatically takes off and stores for later one point for anyone with a rating ending in 00 or 50. Meaning that in USATT ratings, 1950 is less than 1950!)

How about youngest member? According to the listings, we have two players under age one (!): Mohammed Khan of Tennessee, rated 1745, and Marijan Tomas of Vermont, rated 1356. That's going to be one impressive Under One Final at the U.S. Open when these two babies play! Okay, USATT probably has their birthdays wrong.

Table Tennis April Fools' Jokes

As most readers (but not all!) figured out, my posting yesterday on Tongue Training was an April Fools' joke. (If the subject wasn't enough to convince you, then read the first letter of each line in the first paragraph!) The posting was picked up and linked to in a number of places.

Maybe there is something to it. While you don't need to train your tongue (!), it is important to keep the muscle relaxed, including facial ones. Some players make faces every time they hit a shot, and while they get away with it, it might be a symptom of stress. More relaxed players don't usually make such faces. If you are the type who grimaces every time you take a shot, then perhaps you need to relax a bit more when you play.

I do such April Fools' jokes in my blog every year. Here are past ones in my blog:

  • April 1, 2011 - 13-year-old makes Chinese National Team - attacking with long pips on both sides.
  • April 2, 2012 - Wang Liqin is Coming to Maryland. And he's also a science fiction writer! And his son's a star! (April 1 fell on a Sunday, so I did this on Monday)
  • April 1, 2013 - 12-Year-Old Derek Nie Defeats Three 2600+ Players to Win Coconut Cup.

I did another April Fools' joke on one of our kids yesterday. We have an afterschool program at MDTTC, and every day, Mon-Fri, I leave my house at 2:30PM to pick up kids from local schools. We have it scheduled so I never have to pick up more than two at a time so I can get them to practice quickly. Yesterday one of the two came down sick so I only had to pick up one, a 10-year-old who's one of the best in the U.S. for his age, and one of the most dedicated. (He made me promise not to use his name.) When I picked him up he was expecting I'd pick up one other kid and then go to the club. Instead, I told him how lucky we were - two more kids were joining us, so we'd be picking three others, all from different schools. Normally we'd get to the club around 3:35PM or so, but I estimated we'd get there around 4:20PM. He went into a panic about how he was missing practice time, and was so frustrated he didn't notice that when I pulled out of his school, instead of turning right to pick up the next kid, I turned left and went directly to highway 270, which takes us to the club. It wasn't until we were on 270 for five minutes that he looked around, and suddenly said, "Where are we? This isn't the way to pick up the others!" Then he figured it out. The fact that it bothered him so much that he'd be late for practice says he's going to be a very good player someday.

There were other table tennis April Fools' Jokes yesterday. I linked to one yesterday from Table Tennis Nation, Table Tennis Named the Official Sport of the United States. Others I found during the day included JOOLA's Chop Blade, and Uberpong's Ping Pong Social Club Launch. (The latter is even talked about at BigCommerce.com.)

Sports Illustrated

The April 7 issue of Sports Illustrated comes out today. It should feature Crystal Wang in the "Faces in the Crowd" section. The online version will go up next Monday.

ITTF Voice of Table Tennis Contest

You can still enter. Deadline has been extended to April 8.

Fan Zhendong Is Now the Focus of the Main Players

Here's the article.

64-year-old Paralympian Overcomes Challenge After Challenge

Here's the article on Stuart Caplin, a member of the USA Paralympic Team, who has overcome polio and paralysis on the left side of his body.

Top Ten Shots from the ITTF World Tour German Open

Here's the video (5:10).

Lupi vs. Johnny

Here's a video (2:10) from 2004 showing Ilija Lupulesku vs. Johnny Huang. Lupulesku was top twenty in the world (and may have reached top ten - not sure), while Huang was top ten. Lupulesku plays a somewhat soft off-table topspin game, while Huang was the last of the great hitters - a shakehander with short pips on both sides.

The Outdoor Table Tennis Season Has Begun (in NYC)

Here's the video.

Cartoon Cats Playing Pong

Here's the gif image!

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