Ice Bucket Challenges

August 26, 2014

Disabled Veterans Camp

I'm running into a time crunch - I was up late last night working on two timely projects, and this morning I'm coaching a disabled veterans camp. (So blog is a little shorter this morning than usual.) Any locals who want to volunteer to help out as practice partners or ball pickup, email me. The camp is Tue-Fri, 10AM-1PM.

Professional Table Tennis Clubs Association

I've toyed with setting up a Professional Table Tennis Club Association (PTTCA), for full-time clubs. As I've blogged a number of times, I consider the rise of full-time table tennis centers in the U.S. to be the best thing that's happened to table tennis in this country in decades - and nothing else is even close. Here's a current listing which I maintain, with a few more to be added soon.

This is where you get both large numbers of junior players, and elite players as well. Want to develop players who can compete for medals? Well, where do they come from? From junior programs, where they train regularly from a young age with top coaches. Where do they do this? At training centers, where top coaches can make a living as professional coaches while running these junior programs. So if you want to develop medal contenders, you need to develop junior programs and training centers - they go together. It's always been somewhat of an eyebrow raiser that this isn't obvious to everyone, and yet it somehow isn't. It's only in roughly the last eight years that we've seen these training centers pop up all over the U.S., and with it, we now have the strongest players in our history at the cadet and under level (15 and under). Both the level and depth is way, way beyond what it was before.

So should there be an association for these centers? What would be its purpose? What would be the incentive for a professional club to join? Should the association focus on developing new centers or on the current ones? Your comments are welcome.

Serve and Receive Practice

Here's my periodic reminder - have you practiced your serves recently? If not, get a bucket of balls and go to it! It's the quickest way to improve. (Here's my Ten-Point Plan to Serving Success.) Just as importantly, have you practiced your receive? If not, get a bucket of balls and have someone serve to you! (Here's my article Why to Systematically Practice Receive.)

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety-five down, five to go!

  • Day 6: Zoran Primorac Credits Sport for Making Him a Better Person
  • Day 7: Ivan Santos Ortega: We Must Create a Mystique about Table Tennis

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: Way to the Top

Here's a great video (7:46) that features the world #4 player - and the first point (against Timo Boll) is incredible!

Westchester Open Final

Here's the video (15:38) of the final this past weekend between Qing Feng Guang (rated 2770) and Kai Zhang (rated 2666). Qing is the chopper.

Samsonov Extends Record for Winning World Tours

Here's the ITTF article about his winning #34 (Belarus Open), the most ever. Second is Wang Liqin with 31.

Jorgen Persson Commends Fan Zhendong's Performance

Here's the article on the Chinese's star's performance in winning gold at the Youth Olympic Games.

Chinese Team Supports & Donates to the ALS Association

Here's the article and video. (Yes, ice bucket challenges taken, including by Liu Guoliang, Zhang Jike, Ma Long, and Wang Hao.)

More Ice Bucket Challenges

Here are more from prominent players.

Choo-Choo Pong

Here's the cartoon.

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August 25, 2014

Tip of the Week

Semi-Circular Motion on Serves.

Serving Tips

My last three Tips of the Week have been on serving. On August 11 I did Ten Steps to a Great Service Game. But when I did so, I realized I didn't have article explaining #5 and #6 (which go together) and #10. And so on August 18 and August 25 (this morning) I did The Purpose of the Serve and Semi-Circular Motion on Serves. I've now updated the Ten Steps to a Great Service Game article, with links to these two Tips. I'm also going to post the Tip here.

Ten Steps to a Great Service Game

  1. Learn to serve with lots of spin by accelerating the racket through the ball and grazing it.
    (Here's the article Serving Short with Spin. Here's another, Five Steps to a Great Spin Serve.)
  2. Learn to serve various spins, including backspin, side-backspin, sidespin, side-topspin, and topspin, and be able to serve with sidespin in either direction.
    (Here's the article Importance of Serve Variety.)
  3. Learn to serve low.
    (Here's the article Serving Low.)
  4. Learn to control the depth and direction of the serve.
    (Here's the article Depth Control of Serves.)
  5. Learn to serve with spin using a semi-circular motion so you can create different spins with the same motion by varying where in the motion you contact the ball. 
    (Here's the article Semi-Circular Motion on Serves.)
  6. Learn to minimize and do quickly this semi-circular motion so receiver has trouble picking up contact.
    (See same article linked in #5.) 
  7. Learn to change the direction of your follow-through with your racket the split second after contact to mislead the receiver.
    (Here's the article Exaggerate the Opposite Motion on Serves.)
  8. Learn to fake spin and serve no-spin by contacting the ball near the handle.
    (Here's the article Those Dizzying No-Spin Serves.)
  9. Learn to serve fast & deep as a variation to your spin serves.
    (Here's the article Fifteen Important Deep Serves. Here's another, Turn Opponents into Puppets with Long Serves. Here's How to Ace an Opponent.)
  10. Learn to follow up your serves.
    (Here's the article The Purpose of the Serve.)

Upcoming Stuff

With summer over and kids back in school, you'd think I'd be less busy. I thought so too. But it seems my todo list always grows to encompass all time available. Here's a Top Twelve list from my todo list.

  1. Run Disabled Veterans Camp, Aug. 26-29, Tue-Fri.
  2. Afterschool program at MDTTC. Mon-Fri I'm back to picking up kids Mon-Fri at school for the afterschool program, and then helping run it.
  3. Group coaching. I'll be running junior programs Sat 10:30AM-Noon, Sun 4:30-6:00, and Thur 6-7PM.
  4. Private coaching. I'm putting together my fall schedule now. I'll likely be doing about 12-15 hours per week, more if I have the energy.
  5. The daily blog and Tips of the Week.
  6. I'm getting interviewed for a table tennis feature. I'll post a link to the interview when it comes out, which should be soon.
  7. General promotional and other work for MDTTC. This afternoon I need to put aside at least an hour to reglue numerous beginner paddles at MDTTC, since the sponge is coming off many of them. I'm also planning a Multiball Seminar for parents, so they can work with their kids. I also have to put together the September MDTTC Newsletter.
  8. Upcoming books. I plan on doing new photos and then a rewrite of my previous book, "Table Tennis: Steps to Success" (which is no longer in print), tentatively retitled "Table Tennis Fundamentals." I'm also planning a rewrite of "Instructors Guide to Table Tennis," which is no longer in print.  I'm also planning on writing "Parents Guide to Table Tennis."
  9. Read and review recent table tennis books: The Next Step by Alex Polyakov, and Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros by Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon. I've been putting it off all summer - was just too busy, and frankly, when I'm exhausted from coaching, I prefer to read SF at night.
  10. From Sept. 29 to roughly Oct. 10, Tim Boggan moves in with me so we can put together the pages for History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 15, which covers 1986-1988. (It really covers 1986-87, but goes into the beginning of 1988.)
  11. I'm doing the final rewrite on my SF novel "Campaign 2100: Rise of the Moderates," which covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100 - where the whole world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. I wrote this several years ago, but just had it critiqued at a writing workshop and so have lots of rewriting to do. (As I've noted in previous blogs, it stars a table tennis player and has numerous table tennis scenes.) I also have three short stories in various stages of completion.
  12. If I seem tired these days, it's because I'm eating less. I've gone from 195 to 183 lbs in six weeks, and plan to continue right on to 170. I expect to reach 175 by the time Tim Boggan moves in on Sept. 29, and then (alas), as he likes to eat and takes me with him, I'll probably gain a few over the next ten days. But I hope to get to 170 by the end of October.  

Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

Here are recent coaching articles from the Ohio coach.

Table Tennis Training with "The Wheel"

Here's the video (36 sec). Even if you don't have such a wheel, this is how you can do footwork training with a robot that hits to one spot - alternate hitting an actual ball, and move to the other side to shadow practice a shot, and then move back to hit the next shot, and so on. (I used to have a wheel like this but it broke.)

Corkscrew Return from Waldner

Here's the article and video (1:55).

Atlanta International Academy

Here's the USATT article. How many people remember before we had all these top training centers popping up all over the U.S.? It used to be a barren wasteland out there. There used to be a lot of USATT "leaders" who doubted there would ever be a demand for these things!!! (I remember arguing about this with certain short-sighted USATT board members at the December, 2006 board meeting.)

Belarus Open Men's and Women's Final

Here are the Men's and Women's Finals at the Belarus Open this past weekend, with the time between points removed. Here's a picture of the champions. Here's the ITTF home page for the event, with results, articles, pictures, and video. This was the first ITTF Pro Tour Event that used the new non-celluloid balls. They also experimented with playing without service lets! Not sure yet how that went off - I'm sure there'll be an article on this.

  • Men's Final (5:32) - Vladimir Samsonov (BEL) d. Wang Zengyi (POL), 6,4,-8,3,6.
  • Women's Final (8:18) - between Sayaka Hirano (JPN) vs. Misaki Morizono (JPN), 5,6,9,-10,-5,-6,9.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety-three down, seven to go!

  • Day 8: Chan Foong Keong Gives Advice to Associations Hoping to Host ITTF Events
  • Day 9: The ITTF’s First-Ever Competition Manager Zlatko Cordas Reminisces

MDTTC August Open

We had a 2-star tournament at my club this past weekend. Here are the main results. You can get complete results (care of Omnipong) here.

MDTTC Open
Maryland Table Tennis Center, August 23-24, 2014
Director: Charlene Liu. Referee: Paul Kovac.
Open Singles - Final: Chen Bo Wen d. Wang Qing Liang, -13,2,5,9,-9,8; SF: Chen d. Raghu Nadmichettu, 4,-9,6,7,-9,7; Wang d. Khaleel Asgarali, 6,5,9,6; QF: Chen d. John Wetzler, 9,7,5; Asgarali d. Stefano Ratti, 8,6,-11,9; Nadmichettu d. Bojun Zhangliang, -8,11,11,-10,6; Wang-bye.
Under 2400 - Final: Khaleel Asgarali d. Raghu Nadmichettu, 8,8,-9,13; SF; Asgarali d. Humayun Nasar, 5,-6,1,4; Nadmichettu d. Stefano Ratti, -11,-11,7,8,8.
Under 2250 - Final: Nasruddin Asgarali d. Lixin Lang, -9,-6,9,5,8; SF: Asgarali d. Ryan Dabbs, 1,8,8; Lang d. Humayun Nasar, 5,4,4.
Under 2050 - Final: Gong Yunhua d. Joshua Tran, -5,-7,5,9,10; SF: Gong d. Gary Schlager, 9,-6,-10,3,7; Tran d. Carlos Williams, 9,7,-7,9.
Under 1900 - Final: Justin Bertschi d. Michael Greenbaum, 8,-10,8,-6,7; SF: Bertschi d. Gordon Lee, -10,2,4,6; Greenbaum d. Ara Sahakian, 2,6,10.
Under 1650 - Final: Chanakya Anne d. Jozef Simkovic, -8,9,6,-4,10; SF: Anne d. Gordon Lee, 4,9,9; Simkovic d. Hu Yingyao, 6,8,-10,-6,9.
Under 1400 - Final RR: 1st. Huang Siliang, 4-0; 2nd Benjamin Clark, 3-1; 3rd William Huang, 1-3; 4th Pelle Deinoff, 1-3; 5th Ian Dominguez, 1-3.
Under 1150 - Final: Pelle Deinoff d. Benjamin Clark, 6,4,4; SF Deinoff d. Ian Dominquez, 8,9,-10,9; Clark d. Krishna Ganti, 11,-10,3,-9,7.
Under 13 - Final: Daniel Sofer d. Benjamin Clark, 9,4,8; SF: Sofer d. Emily Yuan, 4,5,1; Clark d. William Huang, 6,5,-6,10.

New York Jets Table Tennis Tournament

Here's the article and video (6:31).

Ice Bucket Challenges

Here are more from prominent players.

Table Tennis in Space

Here's the cartoon.

Non-Table Tennis - Orioles Top Ten List

Orioles Hangout published another of my infamous lists, "Top Ten to Stop the Orioles Historic Two-Game Utter Collapse." (They've now lost three in a row, but still lead the division by six games over the Yankees.)

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August 22, 2014

USATT National Volunteer Coordinator

One of the best things USATT has done in recent times is create the position of National Volunteer Coordinator. Here's the info page where you can apply for the position. Even if you aren't selected for the position you might get selected for another volunteer position, based on your skills and interests. So now's the time to apply - or would you rather just sit around watching TV? I hope not!

Here's a short description of the position:

"This position's primary responsibilities are to plan and organize volunteer programs associated with USA Table Tennis's board of directors, committees, and staff efforts. Individuals who are not selected for the primary position, but bring value, will be referred to the selected individual as possible assistant coordinators."

I hope USATT will feature this prominently on their front page and in the magazine. When the notice first came out I think it was on the front page for a day or so, but now it's mostly buried in the news items. If you page down a bit there's a block about this on the USATT home page, but few will see it unless they are looking for it. (Also, it just says, "Opening Position: National Volunteer Coordinator." How about something catchier, like "Would You Like to be USATT's Volunteer Coordinator? USATT Needs Your Help!") Until the deadline comes up on Oct. 15, I'd like to see this featured all over the place, so we get as many applicants as possible, both for this position and for others who are willing to volunteer on other things.

I'm a member of Science Fiction Writers of America, which is nearly all volunteer run. They run regional conventions with over 1000 participants and national ones with 6000. (For comparison, USATT's U.S. Open and Nationals generally get 700 or so players, though they break 1000 sometimes. Regional tournaments get about 200 players.) Who runs these conventions? Volunteers. Who does the membership stuff? Volunteers. Who does their web pages? Volunteers. Who does their promotional work? Volunteers. And it all gets done very smoothly. The irony is their politics is even nastier than USATT's at its worst - these are people who are good with words and not afraid to use them. But they keep the politics (in particular policy making) and the volunteer stuff completely separate. (I'm also a former member of the U.S. Tennis Association, and they also make similar use of volunteers.) 

A key thing to understand is the difference between "fairness issues" and "progressive issues." Both are important, but need to be handled differently. It is the fairness issues that tend to get political, and so we don't want the same people handling fairness issues and progressive issues. (There can be people who work on both, but they too need to keep these types of issues separate.) Progressive issues can also be political, but far less so as they are actually doing things that are presumably positive for the sport.  

Fairness issues include such things as working out policy for choosing teams; choosing the site for U.S. Opens and Nationals; disciplinary proceedings; and other issue where it's important to be fair, and so you don't want just one person making the decision. Fairness issues should usually be decided by committee. In most cases, once the committee makes a recommendation, the USATT Board of Directors should go with it, unless there's something really wrong with the recommendation. More importantly, the USATT CEO and other such leaders should stay out of these issues when possible, going with the committee decisions whenever possible so they can focus on progressive issues.

Progressive issues are those that develop and promote the sport and/or organization. You do not want a committee doing these. Committees are great for working out the fairest way of doing something, but for progressive issues you need someone to take charge. So unless you have a committee chair who is able and willing to take charge and get things done, and committee members willing to act as only advisors while the chair actually does everything (unless they are asked to do specific tasks), committees don't get much done. For progressive issues, you need to put someone in charge and assign him a specific area where he has authority - and then let him go to work. If he messes up, he can always be reined in afterwards or replaced. Sometimes the person in charge works alone, sometimes he has others working for him - but he needs to be in charge and given the freedom to work on his area of authority and expertise.

In USATT, we have lots of committees. In recent times they were renamed "Advisory Committees," to make clear they only advise. So who does the actual progressive work? Neither USATT nor SFWA have the staff to do these things. So we need to bring in volunteers.

The National Volunteer Coordinator wouldn't be doing any volunteer work except for one thing - he'd be in charge of the other volunteers. Here's an example of how I see it working, which would be similar to SFWA.

Recently Lily Zhang won the bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games. USATT doesn't really have someone to write and send out press releases, follow up with phone calls and more press releases, and in general work with the press to maximize publicity. What it could do is have several press volunteers, one perhaps for each of the following:

  • U.S. Open and Nationals
  • Elite players
  • Paralympics
  • Juniors
  • Seniors
  • Coaches
  • Leagues
  • Tournaments

Then, whenever something happens in one of these realms, that volunteer would spring into action. There'd almost be a friendly competition between the press volunteers to see who can get the most press! There would be some overlap, but the volunteers can either work out who works on which ones, or both send out press releases. The more the better!

Similarly we'd want volunteers who take care of other aspects for USATT. For another example, take coaching. As I've blogged about repeatedly in recent years, the single best thing that's happened to table tennis in the U.S. in recent times is the rise of full-time training centers, from less than ten in 2006 to about 75 now. USATT has never gotten involved in this, so every time a top coach wants to create a training center or a junior program, he has to start from scratch, perhaps questioning current ones to find out what needs to be done. There's a lot of reinventing the wheel. That's a major brake on the creation of these training centers - and anyone thinking we're anywhere close to approaching our limit with 75 isn't paying attention. With a little streamlining, we could end up with 500 to 1000 around the country.

But we need a volunteer who is in charge of the creation of a manual for creating training centers, who would recruit others to do most of the work, with payment for those workers in the form of commissions when it sells on Amazon, or perhaps a small direct payment from USATT. (I can assist with part about getting published on Amazon - I'm pretty experienced.) We'd have another in charge of recruiting coaches who wish to create training centers or junior programs, who'd put notices out everywhere - USATT magazine and web page, emails to coaches and top players, etc., promoting the idea that they can make a very nice living as a table tennis coach. We'd have another who would coordinate coaches to train these coaches, something I've toyed with doing, perhaps with a Hodges Coaching Academy. (I've already written the manual for much of this, the Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook, which I'd let USATT use at cost if they ever make these things a priority. The manual explains the professional side of table tennis coaching, i.e. how to make a living at it by getting students, keeping them, getting places to play, maximizing income, etc. )

USATT already does this sort of thing in some ways, such as the National Tournament Coordinators, where eight volunteers do the tournament sanctioning, reporting to National Coordinator Larry Thoman, but mostly working independently. This is the model we could use for other aspects of USATT volunteerism. In this case the "fairness issues" were worked out in advance by the USATT Tournament Advisory Committee, which set up the rules and guidelines for sanctioning, but then the progressive work - the sanctioning part - is done by specific volunteers.

Not Recognizing a "Prominent" Player

Yesterday I went to the club to do some private coaching. As I went to my table in the back I glanced over at one of the front tables and noticed we had some new girl dressed in a USA uniform. I didn't look closely as I was in a hurry to get to my table. (I was early, but so was my student, who was following me.) During the lesson, from across the room I saw the girl play some more, and while she looked somehow familiar, I didn't recognize her - the club is pretty big, so it was a good distance. Then Coach Jack Huang walked by, and I asked her who it was. He broke up laughing, and finally told me. It was Crystal Wang! You know, the girl from our club since age 7 (she's now a very tall 12), who'd I'd worked with countless times (though Jack is her primary coach), and coached many times in tournaments! The youngest in U.S. history to make the U.S. Team and win Under 22 at the Nationals! The highest rated of her age in history at about 2400! In fairness to me, I was watching from across the room; she'd been training in China for seven weeks and I'd been told wouldn't be back for another week; and she'd both grown another inch or two and had a new hair style.

New Poly Balls: How Do We Bounce?

Here's the article from Butterfly Mag.

Belarus Open: Non-Celluloid Balls, No Service Let Rule

Here's the article. The tournament, held Aug. 21-14, is the first international competition to use the non-celluloid ball. But they are also experimenting with not having a let on net serves. This means if the serve nicks the net, the point continues.

Lily Zhang Wins Bronze at Youth Olympic Games

Here's the USATT article on her win this past weekend. Here's USATT Board Chair Mike Babuin's congratulatory note to her.

Table Tennis Players Crib Sheet

Here's the article, which is about how fast the sport is and how you need to rely not just on your eyes but on your ears as well. One confusing statement - it says, "Sound helps the player because it reach[es] the brain 300 hundreds of a second faster than just using your eyes." This doesn't make sense, since light travels about 186,000 miles per second (i.e. sight), while sound at sea level travels about 760 miles per hour, or about 0.21 miles per second (i.e. hearing), meaning light travels almost 900,000 times faster than sound.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Ninety-one down, nine to go!

  • Day 10: Krisztina Tόth Advises Players & the ITTF to Collaborate to Create Stars

Table Tennis Brand Name Artwork

Here's the latest artwork from Mike Mezyan - or should we call this wordwork?

Ice Bucket Challenges

Here are three more prominent ones from a pair of Germans, a Swede, and a Frenchman. I was going to post more from "regular" players, but there are just too many. Note that Dmitrij challenged Jan-Ove Waldner - can't wait to see that!

Twelve Weird and Wonderful Ping Pong Videos

Here they are! I've linked to a few of these in the past. My favorites are #5 ("PongQuest") and #7 ("Ping Pong" – Armin Van Buuren).

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