Blogs

Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will normally go up on Mondays by 2:00 PM USA Eastern time. Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of  nine books and over 2000 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!
Also out - Table Tennis TipsMore Table Tennis Tips, and Still More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, 2014-2016, and 2017-2020, with 150 Tips in each!

Or, for a combination of Tales of our sport and Technique articles, try Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
If you are in the mood for inspirational fiction, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

Next Blog – July 11
I'm off for the US Team Trials and Nationals in Fort Worth, TX, June 23 – July 7, where I'll be coaching for two weeks. However, the Tip of the Week will still go up on both Mondays while I'm gone. See you soon!

Tip of the Week
1% Hesitation = 100% Miss.

MDTTC Open
I spent much of the weekend coaching at the MDTTC Open at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. One nice breakthrough – after making the final in four consecutive tournaments (and losing some close finals), Stanley Hsu (US #1 in 13 and under) broke through and won Open singles, over Khoi Dinh, 8,9,5. He also teamed with Mu Du (who made the quarters of the Open) to win Open Doubles. Here's a picture of Stanley, and of Stanley & Mu Du. (Here are the non-Facebook versions – Stanley, Stanley & Mu Du.) Stanley only lost one game in singles – to Ryan Lin (US #1 in 12 and Under) in the quarterfinals. Stanley, Mu Du, Ryan, and lots of other top juniors all train together regularly at MDTTC.

Serve practice and selection seemed to be a key aspect of many of the matches I coached. In one close match, up 2-1 in games and at 9-9, I signaled Ryan Lin to use a serve he hadn't used the entire match. It wasn't one of his front-line serves, and he only serves it with sidespin-topspin, but looks a little like backspin. Normally, when it's close, you want to use your best serves. But in this case I was pretty sure the opponent would hesitate and pop the serve up, something he hadn't done with almost any of the past serves. And he did – a serve and easy rip, leading to the win.

I had worked with Navin Kumar a lot on serves before this tournament, especially his backhand serve, where he had a good side-top serve, but needed a fast, dead one. So he worked on the fast, dead one – and it worked! Player after player put it in the net, and he ended up winning his preliminary round robin. Ironically, he now was having trouble doing his side-top serve – but he's going to practice it to make sure he can do both at the upcoming Nationals.

I coached two players against two different lobbers, and both had difficulty. One problem with modern table tennis is that it's all centered around looping, so players generally don't smash as well as they used to. But a combination of patience, placement, and mixing in blocks enabled both players to win. One thing that helped one player was to always set up as if smashing to the wide forehand, and then, a little before contact, rotate the shoulders back and smash down the line. In general, when playing a good lobber, it's best to smash to the backhand and middle, and only go to the forehand when you see an open court. Most players are more consistent, spinnier, and have more range on the forehand lob than on the backhand lob, which was the case in the two matches I coached. They are also almost always a bigger threat to counter-attack on the forehand side. But it depends on the lobber. And, of course, it's always best if you can disguise your direction until the last second.

US Nationals Entries
Here's the apparently final listing of 752 players, which is about the norm for a Nationals. Two surprises. First, last year's winner, Xin Zhou, who would have been top seed in Men's Singles at 2771, is only playing Men's Doubles (with Aditya Godhwani). Second, for the second year in a row, Kanak Jha, rated 2767 (and world #31 and presumably the favorite if he played), who won the event four times in a row (2016-2019, with 2020 skipped due to pandemic), isn't entered. Neither Xin nor Kanak are playing in the US Team Trials either. (Team Trials are June 25 – July 1; Nationals are July 2-7; both are in Fort Worth, TX. I'll be coaching at both.)

New from Samson Dubina

5 Tips To Improve Your Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (65 sec) with Vlad Farcas.

Ti Long Corrects 9 Techniques and Guides 3 Exercises
Here's the video (25:55).

New from Taco Backhand

New from TT Shorts

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association June Newsletter
Here it is!

New from Steve Hopkins

New from Butterfly/Bowmar

New from USA Table Tennis

A U.S. Table Tennis Tour Honors the Legacy of Ping Pong Diplomacy
Here's the video (2:48).

How Many Table Tennis Players in the World
Here's the article from PingSunday/EmRatThich.

New from ITTF

Comparison of dynamic elasticity between two types of new material plastic table tennis ball: taking DHS D40+ and Nittaku 40+ as an Example
Here's the paper from Research Square. Just some light summer reading.

Joo Sae Hyuk, From Defense To Offense
Here's the video (37 sec).

Extreme Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:45) – with one of the strangest and funniest commentaries on the game I've ever heard!

Ping Pong Gun Game 4
Here's the video (8:54) from Pongfinity! Where they take on challenges with sandals, skateboards, irons, a jar of peanut butter, a racket with a huge hole in it, boxing gloves, motorcycle helmets, basketballs, spoons, and giant kids' toy car!

Belly Pong?
Here's the video (13 sec)!

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Tip of the Week
"Losing Is Not My Enemy. Fear of Losing Is My Enemy."

Weekend Coaching
On Saturday morning we had our roughly quarterly junior program party, at Seneca Creek State Park. Lots of barbecue (hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken) and other food & drink! I brought three frisbees, others brought a soccer ball, football, and a volleyball net & ball, and the kids (and two dogs) spent over two hours in non-stop activity.

Then it was back to work. In the Novice Junior Class, we did an hour of multiball, and then it was time for games! As usual, the most popular is building a wall or pyramid of plastic cups and then taking turns knocking it over as I feed multiball. Here's video (2:19) of the end of the class as the kids destroy "The Pretty Good Wall of Maryland"!

In the other groups we had an end-of-season tournament. (This was the meeting before summer camps begin, other than the Novice group which has one more session next Sunday.) I mostly watched and recorded results, but I also spoke with them between matches. One thing I kept emphasizing was playing aggressive. Most of the players are playing in the MDTTC Open next weekend, and 18 are going to the US Team Trials and/or the US Nationals in late June/early July. So we're getting them ready for those. Some of the players in Group 3 are playing in their first or one of the first tournaments next weekend, so I went over things they needed to know about tournaments – such as not to walk in another player's court while the ball is in play, which happened several times in the session! Also, how to record scores, etiquette, and so on. Next on the todo list for them: Why ratings are the single most important thing in life. :)

With these tournaments coming up, I've been on the players to really practice their serves. One serve some of them are trying to perfect is the fast, down-the-line serve. See video of this below under Butterfly Training Tips, demonstrated by Yu Di. Some players have real problems returning this serve, and if they have to guard against it, they have more problems with other serves. If you don't have this serve, you are handicapped when you play these players. Even against players who don't have major problems with the serve it's still effective to use once or twice a match, both to catch them off guard and so they have to guard against it. (There are three deep serves that I consider the "holy grail" of deep serves that everyone should have – along with variations. The three are the fast down-the-line; fast no-spin at the elbow; and a big breaking serve deep to the backhand that curves away from the receiver.) I also had a private session with Navin Kumar on Sunday, where we also focused on serves, along with smashing and the usual drills. 

US Nationals
As I write this, there are exactly 700 players entered in the US Nationals, with the final deadline in two days, on Wednesday, June 15. It's in Forth Worth, July 2-7. However, before that there is also a week of US Team Trials, also in Fort Worth, June 25-July 1. I'll be coaching at both. We have 13 from our junior program in the Team Trials (which includes the various junior teams) and 18 going to the US Nationals. (At the Nationals, I'm also playing one event, Over 60 Hardbat. I'm the defending champion in both that event and Over 40 Hardbat, but due to scheduling conflicts, I can't defend my title in the latter. I normally use sponge, but play hardbat on the side.)

Last week I noticed that when you sort the players in the US Nationals by club, it actually sorts by state and then club. Since the 18 players in our junior program are from three states (14 MD, 3 VA, 1 PA), they were listed in three different segments. I emailed Craig Krum (founder and owner of Omnipong), and he not only fixed the problem almost immediately, but added a Sort by State button as well. Thanks Craig!

Butterfly Training Tips

51 Coaching Articles from Matt Hetherington
Here they are! (He also has a video page.)

New from Samson Dubina

10 Mistakes Table Tennis Players Repeatedly Make
Here's the video (10:48) from Table Tennis Daily.

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Taco Backhand

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Barbara Wei/USATT

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from the ITTF

Reflection On The Month Of May
Here's the article by Joanna Sung.

Well Placed Shots from the Best Table Tennis Matches
Here's the video (1:39).

Haruna Ojio vs Lily Zhang | WTT Feeder Westchester Women's Singles Final HIGHLIGHTS
Here's the video (6:16).

Top Plays from World Table Tennis

FINAL | German League 2022
I think these are two matches in a team final, but I'm not sure. If you know better (and have links to any other matches in it if it's a team final), email me!

Christina Kallberg vs Linda Bergstrom | Final | 2022 Swedish National Championships
Here's the video (9:53)

Highlights - Hana Goda vs. Fatimo Bello | Final | 2022 ITTF Africa Cup
Here's the video (5:44).

Meet the Table Tennis Prodigy and Climate Champion Who Has Given Joe Biden Advice
Here's the article from UK Sports.

"...Over to You" Nation Africa Ping Pong
Here's the cartoon – but I'm not sure what it means. Email me if you know!

Stable Tennis?
Here's where you can buy a "I Like to Play Stable Tennis" shirt!

New from Adam Bobrow!

Non-Table Tennis – New SF Story Published
My story, "Four Score and Seven Years of the End of America: A Bibliography," was published by Daily Science Fiction this morning. It's the story of the downfall of America from 1953 to 2040 – told in the form of a bibliography! It has a lot of inside jokes. Most of the names, especially in the second half, are real people.

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Tip of the Week
What Are Your Strongest and Weakest Links?

Weekend Coaching and Preparing for the Nationals
Things are getting serious as our players gear up for the upcoming US Nationals! (As of now, there are 660 players entered, with final deadline on June 15. There are 22 players from MDTTC entered, including 18 from our junior program.) Especially noticeable are the added serve practices, and the increased intensity both of that practice and practice in general.

When our top juniors practice their serves, they are often so focused I'm hesitant to disturb them by saying anything to them, like, you know, coaching stuff!!! So I am a bit more hands-off, though I still swoop in with magic words of wonder. For example, yesterday one of our top juniors was practicing serves for a LONG time, with great focus. I noticed he was practicing short serves for a long time, then long serves for a long time. So I made sure he ended the session by alternating them. It's easy to do a fast and aggressive deep serve (with speed, spin, and depth) when you are doing it over and over. But being able to do it after serving short is trickier. I sometimes tell players when practicing long serves to imagine it's deuce-in-the-fifth, or better still down match point, so they can learn to pull off those serves when it's close. Of course, at these higher levels they mostly serve short, but it's a lot harder pulling off an aggressive long serve under pressure than a short one. But I also challenge them to do a short serve under an imagined pressure score where the second bounce is just short of the end-line – another serve that's hard to pull off under pressure. Under pressure, many players serve a little longer than usual, and so their long serves go off, and their two-bounce short serves go long and get looped.

Another focus this weekend was recovering from forehand loops from the corner. Too often players finish these shots off-balance or out of position. When you forehand loop from the wide forehand or backhand, following through back into position is part of the stroke and technique. Too often players don't so this, and so can't cover the other wide angle – and then, instead of realizing the root of the problem, they just say, "I'm too slow!"

I had a private session with Navin Kumar. Major focuses for the day were smashing (both forehand and backhand), and serves.

New from Samson Dubina

How to Do Advanced Forehand Topspin Against Backspin
Here's the video from Ti Long (12:45).

How to Blow a 5-0 Lead – My Latest Tournament Disaster
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

3 Table Tennis Drills to Help Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
Here's the article and video (4:20) from Men's Health, with Adam Bobrow.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Taco Backhand

Truls Moregardh vs Viktor Brodd | Final 2022 Swedish National Championship
Here's the video (10:05).

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the National Collegiate TTA

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from Joanna Sung

In Memoriam: Truong Manh Tu
From Truong's Family. Truong was a long-time worker for Butterfly USA and a top player and coach at the Silicon Valley TTC. Here's a tribute (and title listing) from PingSunday.

Southeast Asian Games
Here's the interview with Suthasini Sawettabut

New from ITTF

How Will Shortz Turned Pleasantville into a Table Tennis Mecca
Here's the article from The Inside Press.

"Rafael Nadal Said He Wanted to Kill Me"
Here's the article from The Sports Rush. "Nico Rosberg plays table tennis with 21-time Grand Slam winner in the latter's luxurious yacht."

Why Table Tennis Has Unique Place in Lagos Calendar
Here's the article from The Guardian.

Ping Pong Master Shirt
Here's where you can buy one, or as a hoodie.

Etsy Table Tennis
Here's where you can buy all sorts of ping-pong knick-knacks – pins, ties, socks, statues, shirts, you name it!

Infinite Loop of Ball Hitting Stretchy Paddle
It's sort of mesmerizing!

Ping Pong Ball Trick Shots
Here's the video (20 sec) set to music.

Ping Pong Egg Race Gets Intense
Here's the video (42 sec) from Pongfinity!

Peter Breaks Table Tennis Table
Here's the video (25 sec)! I wrote about the Family Guy table tennis episode in my March 28 blog (with the episode airing the night before), but this gives a nice action compilation of the big climax! Note that Cleveland served the last ball high on purpose, so Peter could smash, as at the end Cleveland wanted Peter to win. 

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Tip of the Week
Practice Matches vs. Tournaments.

Balticon and Table Tennis
I had a Science Fictional Table Tennis Weekend! I spent Friday and Saturday as a panelist at Balticon, the annual science fiction convention in Baltimore. (Here’s my Balticon Profile and Schedule – I was on two panels and had a book signing.) Despite being a science fiction convention, there were a lot of table tennis angles.

Here’s a picture of me at my signing. Here are the table tennis connections:

  • Throughout the convention – both in panels, signings, and just talking with others at the convention, people kept saying, over and over, versions of, “Hey, you’re the table tennis guy, right?” Word has gotten out!!!
  • Note the shirt I’m wearing – yes, that’s Baby Yoda (Grogu) playing table tennis! Part of the reason I wore that shirt that day was because I was on a panel called “Your Favorite Alien,” and so Baby Yoda was mine. (We talked a lot about various aliens in movies and novels.)
  • Note the books fourth from the left – it’s The Spirit of Pong, my table tennis fantasy novel. What, you haven’t bought it? It’s only 100 pages and is on sale at Amazon for only $5.99!
  • Note the book on the far left, and on the poster – Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions. One of the four main characters is a table tennis champion, and there are several table tennis scenes. Here’s my blog about that. However, there’s only one left in stock – I’ve changed publishers. My new publisher, Arc Manor, will be coming out with their version this summer. (Text won’t change, other than a minor change I’m requesting, but it’ll have a new cover.)
  • Second from the left is another of my novels, Sorcerer’s in Space. The main character there is also a table tennis player, though that only comes up near the start.
  • The editor of one of the major SF magazines told me they really liked my story, “First Galactic Table Tennis Championships,” which I’d submitted to them a couple of months ago, so there’s a good chance they’ll buy and publish it. If so, I’ll link to it in my blog. The story takes place about a hundred years in the future, where table tennis has spread to the local galaxy, with the first Galactic TT championships taking place in Beijing – with aliens from around this arm of the galaxy attending. Lots of intrigue, controversy, and interesting human and alien table tennis players!

One sad thing. On Saturday, while I was having eating in the hotel dining hall, pandemonium broke out across the street. As dozens of us watched, 15 police cars, two ambulances, and a fire truck arrived within minutes. Several said they had heard gunshots, though I didn’t hear that. A few hours later I went for a walk and discovered the whole area was cordoned off by the police, and a dozen police officers were guarding the area. I asked them what had happened, and they said it had been a shooting. Here's the Baltimore Sun article on the shooting at the waterfront promenade – two 17-year-olds were shot, one died.

Besides the panels and signing, my highlight of the tournament was finally meeting David Gerrold, who is both a famous SF writer (“The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The Martian Child,” which won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and about 70 novels) and a very active and outspoken progressive activist on Facebook, where I follow him and sometimes comment. I spoke with him for about ten minutes, and bought a couple of his books plus one of his toy tribbles.

I was back at MDTTC coaching on Sunday, where I had two group sessions, plus a private session with Navin Kumar. (Here's video, 54 sec.) In the Intermediate group, I was a walk-around coach. Focus was footwork (as always) but also placement – I kept harping on keeping the ball to the wide corners, not a foot inside the corners as so many do. For the Advanced session, they had an odd number, so I was a practice partner for 90 minutes – and after spending two sedentary days at Balticon, I was stiff as a rock. I came out exhausted, and had cramps that night! As usual, I blocked well, but when I had to move my level goes down, alas. But I actually had some good counterlooping rallies with some of the kids!

Operation Mincemeat with Ivor Montagu and Ian Fleming
I recently saw the movie Operation Mincemeat, which dramatized a real event from World War II. It’s described on IMDB as, “During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.” But there’s a table tennis angle – one of the main characters in the movie was the real-life founder of the ITTF and long-term president, Ivor Montagu! Yes, when Montagu wasn’t playing and developing table tennis around the world, he was a communist activist, while his brother, Ewen Montagu, was a British agent and one of the primary movers of the operation. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Operation Mincemeat, and the Wikipedia entry on the movie. Here's an ITTF article on both his table tennis and his spying for the Soviets, and another on his founding of the first Worlds. (Ian Fleming, who would later write the James Bond novels the movies are based on, was also involved in the operation and as a character in the movie.) 

New from Samson Dubina

New from TacoBackhand

Ma Long Table Tennis Player: Inspiring
Here’s the video (8:51) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

NCTTA Internships – Available for Summer 2022
Here’s the info page from the National Collegiate TTA.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the ITTF

Aruna Quadri vs Omar Assar | FINAL | Africa Cup 2022
Here’s the video (15:40).

Bundesliga Final 2022 with Borussia Düsseldorf
Here’s the article from PingSunday/EmRatThich.

Top 10 Classic Shots of Timo Boll
Here’s the video (5:20).

Useful Backhands 2 | from the Best Table Tennis Matches in the World
Here’s the video (3:28).

Romain Ruiz vs Samuel Walker | Final Challenger Series
Here’s the video (6:05) of this Challenger Series event between Walker (ENG, world #89) and Ruiz (FRA, world #584 but well underrated).

Veterans Champ Rallies Support for Ping-Pong
Here’s the article. “National veterans table tennis champion, Emmanuel Daitey, has appealed to corporate bodies in the country to support the growth and development of the sport.”

Farsley 70-year-old Achieves Dreams of Becoming National Table Tennis Champion
Here’s the article from the Yorkshire Evening Post.

How Olufunke Oshonaike Turned Her Breaking Point into a Breakthrough
Here’s the article on the Nigerian star. “As Olympic history beckons, Africa's most successful female table tennis player shares with the Olympic Channel how her troubled times inspired her to sporting glory.”

My Quest for a Natura Psychedelic High
Here’s the article from Mel Magazine. “It’s possible to experience a temporarily altered state without drugs or alcohol through a neurological phenomenon known as the Ganzfeld effect. And all it takes is a ping-pong ball, headphones and a knife.”

Feel Table Tennis Challenges
Here’s the video (15 sec) from Ti Long.

New from Pongfinity

I Was Not Expecting That!
Here’s the video (13 sec) – with a dog swallowing finish!

Kids Double-Hit Pong
Here’s the video (16 sec) of the new ping-pong version that’s sweeping the nation.

Why Ping-Pong is Racist
Here’s the video (30 sec)!

I Like Ping Pong and Maybe 3 People
Here’s where you can buy this shirt at Amazon!

1943 Mutt & Jeff Table Tennis Cartoon
Here’s the cartoon – you can buy it for $9.95.

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Tip of the Week
Rushed Backhand Loop.

Weekend Coaching
It was another busy weekend. I coached in six junior group sessions. (We have about 60 kids divided into four groups.) In the Novice group, I introduced three kids to forehand looping against backspin. We also had a forehand-to-forehand competition.

In the Intermediate group, an interesting thing happened. During such sessions, when I'm a "roving" coach, I often subconsciously twiddle my paddle back and forth between shakehands, penhold, and Seemiller grips. One of the kids saw the Seemiller grip and asked about it. During break, I showed him and a couple others the grip, including its strengths (strong in middle, great for blocking and for wristy forehand loops [super spinny, especially against backspin], having an alternate surface) and weaknesses (difficult to backhand loop, forehand counterlooping not as good, not as good at covering the wide angles), and explained that two US players had reached top 20 in the world with this grip - Eric Boggan (17) and Dan Seemiller (19). Next thing I know they all are fooling around with it! I had to get on them to stick to shakehands before one of the other coaches noticed and wondered who'd brought this on! (Here's video of Dan Seemiller vs. Wei Qi from ten years ago. Besides the grip, note how much trouble 2500 player Wei has with Dan's backhand serve, especially early on.)

Ever notice how some coaches, when walking about, hold the racket with a penhold grip, even though they are normally shakehanders? There's a simple reason for this - it's the most restful grip for holding the paddle when your arm is at your side. With the shakehand or Seemiller grip, you have to contract muscles more to hold the racket. I've seen some even feed multiball this way, for the same reason.

In the advanced group, I focused a lot of positioning and ready position. Near the end, I was recruited to play up-down tables - not easy when you're out of practice, stiff from walking around coaching for hours, and getting older (62)! I started off poorly, missing easy shots, but gradually improved. Over and over my serves saved me. But I kept missing easy forehands!!! One player asked afterwards why my receive position was so off to the side. I explained that I came from an era where many players greatly favored the forehand, and so was looking to receive most serves with my forehand - ideally, by looping, otherwise forehand flips. This generation mostly favors backhand receive (due to the advent of the banana flip), and so stands more neutral. Next time I'll show him videos of players from the past, who stand even more extreme than me. Here's Ryu Seung Min (KOR) on his way to winning the gold medal in Men's Singles at the 2004 Olympics against Wang Hao (CHN) - link should take you to the first point, where you see Ryu standing way over to the left.

We've Been Insulted . . . By Dexter: New Blood!
I watched the new 10-episode series from Paramount+. In Episode 2, at 38:43, Harrison (son of Dexter) says, "Wrestling is an Olympic Sport, Audrey." His girlfriend, Audrey, responds, "So is Ping-Pong." Yikes! Someone needs to watch some table tennis highlight reels.

South African Table Tennis Coach Looking to Coach in US
Here's the table tennis resume of Omar Zain Eddin. He's the High Performance Manager and National Team Head Coach for South Africa. I met him at the recent ITTF Hopes Camp in Austria, where he asked about this since he wasn't able to coach full-time in South Africa. 

Tahl Leibovitz's Paddle at the Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs
Here's the video (18 sec) with Tahl.

New from Samson Dubina

Butterfly Training Tips

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from TacoBackhand

Ti Long Trains and Corrects 7 Exercises
Here's the video (13:58).

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from USATT
(Note - while the five WTT articles are dated May 8, 9, 10, 15, and 16, when WTT published them, they actually all went up on the USATT news page on the night of Thursday, May 19. As I noted in my blog last week, timely news articles like these should be going up immediately.)

New from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association

New from Steve Hopkins

New from ITTF

Puerto Rican Dominance in the Caribbean Table Tennis Championship
Here's the article and three videos.

Creating Unimaginable Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (2:59) from Butterfly.

Process Of Making Table Tennis Racket in South Korea
Here's the video (10:40).

Sugar Cane Secret to Taiwan Table Tennis Player's Singles Success
Here's the article.

Table Tennis Player Breaks World Record with 117 Opponents in One Rally
Here's the article and video (3:46)

Toddler Swallows Table Tennis Ball, Dies of Suffocation
Here's the article. If you have young kids at home, be careful of leaving balls lying around, and watch them if you take them to the club.

Austrian Bronze Cats Playing Table Tennis
Who wouldn't want to pay $450 for this??? Handmade in Austria!

Ping Pong Design - Today's Schedule T-Shirt
Who doesn't want this shirt? Today's Schedule: 8AM Coffee; 9AM-5PM Ping Pong; 6PM Happy Hour.

Table Tennis Backflop onto Table
Here's the video (8 sec)!

Cat Pong - Ball on a String
Here's the video (26 sec)!

Adam vs. Yasi
Here's the video (14:36) as Adam Bobrow plays Yasi Ortiz, the Champion of the Caribbean!

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Tip of the Week
Never Decide If You Have to Move.

Table Tennis Timeliness and Weekend Coaching
I was three minutes late for a group session yesterday. Yes, three minutes - and it's only the third time I've been late in the thirty years since we opened MDTTC in 1992. I estimate I've done about 25,000 sessions in that time. So, what happened?

I was sitting in my lounge chair at home reading and about to have lunch, when I suddenly realized the clock on my wall that claimed it was about noon wasn't moving. I glanced at my watch . . . and it was 12:48 PM! And I had a session at 1PM, and I was about a 12-minute drive away! I leaped to my feet, threw things together, and raced for my car. I didn't have time for lunch. At a stop light I texted that I'd be a few minutes late. I walked ran sprinted into the club at 1:03 PM. Since Coach Wang was already leading them in stretching, hardly anybody noticed I was late. But it felt funny rushing into the club and right into a session. I normally arrive 15 minutes early, both so I'm not rushed, so I'm never late, and to set up things as needed (balls, ball nets, changing shoes, etc.).

The two other times I was late? Once I simply had my times off by an hour, and arrived an hour late. The other time there was a car accident, and I was stuck in one spot, with cars ahead, behind, and on both sides, for almost an hour before I was able to get out.

Timeliness is important for coaches. I know of two table tennis coaches who lost their coaching positions because they were late so often.

As to the coaching itself, I had six group sessions this weekend, all junior players, ranging from the weekly novice group to two sessions with the advanced group. I did two sessions primarily as a practice partner/coach, one mostly multiball, and three mostly as a walk-around coach. Some of the things emphasized this weekend were serving lower; keeping the ball to corners in drills (unless the drill is to go to the middle); and focusing on consistency, not ripping the ball.

WTT Feeder Westchester 2022
Here's the World TT Page for the event held at the Westchester TTC in New York, USA, May 11-15, with complete results. I was only there the first day, but it looked like it was run well. It is hopeful that we can attract stronger players to these ITTF Feeder events in the US - the top seed in Men's Singles (and eventual winner) was Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE, world #25), and the top seed in Women's Singles was Shin Yubin (KOR, also world #25).

For something like this, you'd think there would be all sorts of news items on the USATT news page, but there aren't any, at least on the front page of the news page, going back to April 4. Shouldn't there be news articles promoting this event, as well as reporting the results? (There hasn't been a new news item there since May 6, and before that you have to go back to April. Remember when they used to have daily news there from around the US and the world?)
ADDENDUM: On Thursday night, May 19, three days after I wrote the above, five WTT news items on the WTTs finally went up on the USATT news page - all dated so they appear to have gone up on May 8, 9, 10, 15, and 16. I think they each went up on the ITTF/WTT news page on those dates. Why didn't USATT put these links up on our news page immediately, on the day of publication at WTT, before they became old news? 

Here are two articles from Steve Hopkins on the Butterfly news page:

I went up on the first day with Ryan Lin and his dad. Ryan, 12 and about 2200, was there just for experience. He lost his only match (why is it SE instead of RR?), and we spent the rest of the day watching and doing homework. (I pointed out some of Chuang's techniques in his doubles matches, and others.)

One big nit - when a rule leads to a bad result, change the rule. They have a one-size-fits-all rule where a coach has to pay $300 for coaching accreditation to coach any matches. It doesn't matter if you are there to coach one match on one day, or coach lots of matches all five days! So, if I wanted to coach the US #1 12-year-old in his one match, we'd have had to pay $300 in addition to his $300+ entry fee. It wasn't worth it - $300 will get you 6-7 hours training with a 2600 player - so he played the match without a coach. I had to sit in the stands and watch. His opponent, a Canadian, had a Canadian national coach coaching him - it's cost effective for him to pay $300 since he'll be coaching a number of matches all five days. Seriously, there should be a daily coaching fee. Otherwise, it's like going to a nice restaurant and being told if you want one meal, you have to buy five days' worth of meals. (Plus, couldn't we negotiate some sort of break so USATT certified coaches don't have to pay so much? We already have to pay $75 annual "Pro" membership, an annual $50 coaching fee, pass SafeSport, and a background check. Now I have to play $300 to coach a top junior in his one match, right here in the US?) On the trip up and back, we took a break halfway each time and tossed a frisbee around for 15 minutes. That was fun! It's also becoming a tradition during our long drives to tournaments in NY, NJ, OH, and NC.

USATT Visits the White House
Here's the photo gallery.

Butterfly Training Tips

How to Train a Good Serve
Here's the article by Jeffrey Zeng (one of my fellow coaches at MDTTC).

New from Samson Dubina

Power is the Least Useful Skill at Lower Levels
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Ti Long

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Taco Backhand

ITTF News

Quadri Aruna

German League Rematch: Dusseldorf and Saarbrucken Advance to Final
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Daniel González Ascends into the Top 100 World Ranking
Here's the article. The Puerto Rican player currently resides in NYC.

Sportageous Talks to Ecuadorian Pro Table Tennis Player Alberto Mino
Here's the article. "Ecuadorian table tennis player, Alberto Mino, talks about the Tokyo Olympics, being Ecuador #1, and the psychology of table tennis."

Ma Long Plays Insane Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:56).

The TT Point of the Century?
Here's the video (48 sec) of the point between Ma Long and Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

Best Women's Rallies of All Time
Here's the video (12:22)!

Useful Backhands from the Best Matches in the World
Here's the video (4:16).

Unstoppable Shots from the Best Matches in the World
Here's the video (3:00).

Taking Table Tennis to the Next Level
Here's the video (55 sec) from World Table Tennis.

Samuel Walker vs Tom Jarvis | FINAL | 2022 England National Championships
Here's the video (12:16). (Pitchford and Drinkhall did not play.)

Real Tennis Player VS Ping Pong Player
Here's the video (5:25). "Today I [Illya Marchenko] accepted a challenge from Slovakian table tennis player Lubomir Pistej."

Gov't to the Rescue of Table Tennis Team Stranded in Dom Rep
Here's the story from the Jamaica Observer.

Singapore Loses 0-3 to Thailand Ending Streak
Here's the story from Channel News Asia. "Singapore loses 0-3 to Thailand in 31st SEA Games table tennis women's team, ending 9 consecutive gold streak."

Saturday Evening Post Ping-Pong Cartoons
Here they are!

New from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Tips of the Week
While I was in Austria, two Tips went up, plus this week's Tip. Here they are!

<BEGIN AUSTRIA TRIP>
WTT Youth Contender and ITTF Hopes Camp in Linz, Austria
I've divided this into four parts:

=>PART 1: Travel
Wow, what a great twelve days in Austria! On Monday, April 25, I flew to Linz with Ryan Lin (USA #1 in 12 and Under). The nine-hour flight arrived in Vienna on Tuesday morning. It was delayed 90 minutes after we boarded, so we were on the plane for nearly eleven hours. We then took an hour and 45-minute train to Linz. Below are a couple of pictures. (For all Facebook pictures, I'm also linking to the non-Facebook versions, since those not on Facebook often can't see Facebook photos.)

On the flight to Vienna, a man across the aisle, one seat up, wouldn't put on his mask. Flight attendants kept asking and telling him to do so. At times he'd say none fit him or they are uncomfortable. For much of the flight, he simply put a drink on his tray table and said he was drinking. Other times he'd put it on until they left, then immediately take it off. The Stewardesses finally got tired of asking and seemed to give up on him. Ryan and I mostly slept on the flight, though he also did some of his homework.

=>PART 2: WTT Youth Contender
The first part of our trip was the WTT Youth Contender (boys' events), April 27-29. The local organizers picked us up at the train station and took us straight to the playing venue, the Tips Arena. It was divided into two areas, the Match Area and the Practice Area. (Here's the non-Facebook versions: Match Area and Practice Area.) Ryan and I were both Covid vaccinated, and as required, we'd both had a PCR Covid test just before leaving the US. They gave us another test at the venue. The Ryan and I had a 90-minute practice session to get used to the playing conditions. (After the long flight and train, I was tottering about this first session, and Ryan wasn't playing well either, but we both got better.) Then we checked into our hotel for the stay, the Hotel Park Inn. (I spent twelve days wondering if I should point out that "Inn" and "Hotel" seemed redundant.) We had another practice session the following morning, then Ryan practiced with Emmanuel Otalvaro of Columbia - who would not only be his ongoing practice partner for much of the trip, but would move in with Ryan on the second day and be roommates and video game partners. Here's Ryan and Emmanuel. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Emmanuel and Ryan came in 1-2 at the America's Hopes Tournament in Ecuador last year. Emmanuel is about 2250, Ryan about 2200.

Here's the ITTF page for the WTT Youth Contender; click on EVENT INFO to get to the WTT page with results. Ryan was in two events, Under 13 Boys and Under 15 Boys. Here are some pictures of Ryan:

In Under 13, Ryan didn't play well at the start. Part of the problem was the time difference. He'd arrived the previous morning, and so only had one day to adjust to a six-hour time difference. His first match was against a Croatian player at 10:30 AM Wednesday, which was 4:30 AM Maryland time. In a match I'm certain he could have won, he instead lost at 9,7,7. After that, he played better, defeating a player from Ukraine, 6,-8,7,2. Yes, he was able to attend despite what's going on in his country - don't get me started on that. I spoke some with his mom on the issue - and it turned out she was from the US (spoke perfect English) before emigrating to Ukraine. Her son had actually been born in the US before moving to Ukraine, and had joint citizenship. In his final match in the RR, Ryan played a player from Qatar, and started out well, and ended up having to struggle before pulling it out, 9,11,-6,-9,9, and advancing into the main draw.

In the first round (round of 32), played Wednesday night, Ryan played a player from Spain, and won, 11,8,-10,9. In the second round (round of 16), he played the top seed, Benjamin Girlinger of Austria. This would be Ryan's worst match of the tournament by several magnitudes - he'd lose at 4,5,4 - but he'd get redemption.

In Under 15 the next day, Ryan was in a group of three. As luck would have it, he had Girlinger again - and in his first match Thursday morning! The match was at 9:30 AM, which is 3:30 AM Maryland time, and since Ryan had just gotten killed by him in his last match the night before, I was worried about this match. But Ryan and I discussed tactics (shh!), and this time he played much, much better in a spectacular match by both players - but oh, how the Lords of Fate conspired against Ryan!!! In game one, at 9-10, Girlinger gets an edge to win. In game two, at 10-all, he gets another edge, and wins 12-10. At this point Ryan is beyond frustration, but he's playing well - and with nothing to lose, he lets loose in the third, winning 11-4. Game four is close all the way, but Girlinger pulls away at the end and wins, 9,10,-4,8. But now Ryan is playing well - only thing is, the tournament is almost over for him. But not only did he get some redemption from that poorly played match on Wednesday night, he also, as I pointed out to him, played dead even with Girlinger this time, as the two ended up tied in points, 38-38. Oh, those edges! (The online listing has Ryan losing the fourth 11-7, but it was 11-8.)

In his second match, he played Mihai Nagy of Romania, and player he knew well from the previous Hopes Camp and Tournament in Jordan, and who would also be in the upcoming Hopes Camp. They played a great dead-even match, but alas, the Romanian pulled it out, -9,10,-12,8,9. So Ryan was done with the tournament. 

=>PART 3: Time Off
We now had two days off before the ITTF Hopes Camp would start on Sunday. We spent Friday mostly at the venue where Ryan practiced much of the day with Emmanuel and did serve and receive practice with me. He also did a lot of homework. We also discovered the four local pizza places - we'd eat at all of them. (We ordered a pepperoni pizza at the first place - and due to some miscommunication, we got a pizza covered with hot peppers! But we picked them out and it was very good.) Throughout our stay meals were served at the playing venues for free, but sometimes we wanted something different. On our off days, we would have to take a 15-minute bus ride each way to get the meals, so we had pizzas. 

On Saturday, Ryan and I walked one mile and toured the Linz Castle and Museum. (The Wikipedia article is rather sparse, and doesn't mention that it's mostly a museum now.) Then we went to the Zoo Linz! Lots to see there. The he and Emmanuel played video games the rest of the day while I read and did some writing. 

=>PART 4: ITTF Hopes Camp
[Here is the ITTF article on the camp, which went up on Tuesday: Hopes Squad Assembles in Linz.]
What a great job by Massimo "Max" Costantini (ITTF High Performance Elite Coach, ITA) and Dominique Plattner (AUT)! This was my third ITTF Hopes Camp with them, following ones in Ecuador and Jordan last year. Everything was well organized, they kept discipline (not easy with a pack of 12-year-olds), and of course the training was once again excellent. They were not only great in the training, but very helpful outside of training - they helped arrange our Covid tests, make changes in our train schedule, and other issues.

The physical training sessions were run by Dominique and Didi, the latter a top physical trainer and former boxer who had highly entertaining exercises for the kids - including some boxing practice!!! (No real punching except at targets.) Here's video (13 sec) of the physical training in the morning (13 sec), with Dominque running it.

The camp was held at the Linz AG Froschbert Sportpark Lissfeld, which has a full-time table tennis training center. There were 14 "official" players in the camp (most with their coaches present), with others brought in on a day-to-day basis, so we usually had 16 players. The players, mostly age 12 (a few 11 or 13) were from USA, Puerto Rico, Columbia, England, Austria, Romania, Hungary, Belgium, Czech Republic, South Africa, Tunisia, Iran, and Australia. There wasn't a weak link in the group, basically the best 12-year-olds in the world from Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. They ranged from about 2100 to 2350 in level, with most of them (including Ryan) in the 2200 range.

With some daily variations, here was the basic training schedule:

  • 7:40 AM: Meet in lobby for 15 minutes of outside physical training, then breakfast.
  • 9:30 AM-12:30 PM: Training, including about 15 minutes of physical training at the start and finish.
  • 4:00-7:30 PM: Training, including about 15 minutes of physical training at the start and finish.

The drills were varied and intense, and included lots of footwork and stroking drills, lots of serve and receive drills, and an hour of multiball training each afternoon, fed by the players' coaches. (So I fed to Ryan.) There were also several practice tournaments, so the kids got lots of match play as well. Ryan didn't play particularly well in the practice tournaments at first, but on the last day he exploded and played really well.

The kids had a welcome surprise one afternoon when 2003 World Champion Werner Schlager showed up and spent the afternoon with us. He gave a talk on how to become a champion and answered lots of questions from the players and the coaches. He watched Ryan play for ten minutes and had a few suggestions for him. Here's a picture of Ryan and I with Werner, from Ryan's Facebook Table Tennis Page. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Here's a group picture of the whole camp with Werner. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I'm second from the left in the back; Werner's right in the middle in the back; Ryan's in the front in the blue and black shirt; Emmanuel is the slightly shorter kid two spots to the right of Ryan in front. (Enrique Rios from Puerto Rico is in the second row, toward the left, in the dark blue shirt with "Churry" in green on it - that's one of his sponsors. He has a sandwich named after him! He has a USATT rating of 2319, and was one of the two or three strongest in the camp. Here's his Athlete Facebook page.)

For meals, most days we had an "Americas Table," where the two from USA, two from Columbia (Emmanuel and his coach), and two from Puerto Rico (Enrico Rios and his mom) sat together. It was an interesting mix: I only speak English; Ryan speaks English and Chinese (though he's learning Spanish); Emmanuel, his coach, and Enrique's mom only speak Spanish. Enrique speaks Spanish and his rapidly improving English, so he ended up being a translator for much of the time, though Ryan and Emmanuel often used the English-Spanish translator app on their phones. Every night the three of us helped ourselves to the free hot chocolate offered in the lobby. (The machine also had various types of coffee for others.)

We had the morning of Wednesday, May 4 off - yes, Star Wars Day. So the six from the Americas went for a long walk about Linz. It's also when the kids discovered the ice cream place nearby - or rather, gelato, which is the European version of ice cream, which the kids absolutely loved. In the last three days of the camp we had three trips to the gelato place. We had another walk that night. Here are two pictures:

I kept notes on Ryan's matches and training throughout the trip, and compiled a list of things he should focus on as he continues his training at home in Maryland. Other coaches did the same, of course - I saw one coach's notebook that was absolutely jammed with about 50 pages of notes and sketches of various drills.

Before leaving, we were required to have another Covid PCR test, which we did two days before leaving. Because the medical facility at the playing venue had closed the day before, they arranged for our tests at a local facility - but it cost $69 each. (In all, we both had four tests for the trip.) the PCR test was required - but for some reason, nobody ever asked for it on our return flights, at either end!

On Friday, May 6, it was time to go home. Once again we took the hour and 45-minute train to Vienna, and the nine-hour flight back to Maryland, full of jokes, brain teasers, and homework. I even got some writing done!
<END AUSTRIA TRIP>

Countries I've Been To
With the addition of Austria, I've now been to 23 countries. (I've also been to all 50 US states.) Here they are in the order that I've visited them: USA, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan*, Japan, China, Bahamas, Portugal, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Egypt, Panama, Ecuador, Jordan, Austria. (*For this listing, I have the self-governing Taiwan as a country, for lack of better word ("self-governing entity" is too ponderous), but that's not a political statement or a claim that Taiwan is a country, so please leave the politics out of this.) Here's my book on my seven-week tour of Europe and Egypt in 2019: Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper, one of my 17 books (with two more coming out later this year - "Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips" and "Yet Still More Pings and Pongs"). In October this year I'll be in Pula, Croatia, coaching Navin Kumar at the World Parkinson's Table Tennis Championships, and I likely will do a one-week or so tour of some neighboring countries afterwards. There's also a chance I might be going to Argentina in a few weeks to coach at another ITTF Hopes Camp and two junior tournaments.

WTT Feeder Fremont
Here's the WTT page for the event, just held May 5-8 in Fremont, CA. Following that is . . .

WTT Feeder Westchester
I'll be going up on Tuesday to coach and spectate for 1-2 days at the WTT Feeder in Westchester, NY, May 11-15. I'm going up with Ryan Lin (US #1 in 12 and Under, just back from Austria) and his dad. He's playing in Men's Singles, but likely won't last long there. The primary purpose is for Ryan to watch some of the matches in person . . . and maybe get an autograph and picture with top-seeded Chuang Chih-Yuan!!! (Ryan was born in the US, but his parents are from Taiwan, as is Chuang.) Poor Ryan will be stuck in the stands as I commentate on tactics and technique in the matches!

Weekend Coaching
I returned from Austria on Friday night, exhausted and used to Austrian time, six hours ahead of us. Alas, I had six group sessions to coach at on Saturday and Sunday, each 90 minutes. Our junior program is divided into four groups - Group 1 ("Select"); Group 2 ("Progress"); Group 3 ("Intermediate"); and Group 4 ("Novice"). On Saturday, I did Group 4 (mostly feeding multiball), Group 1 (where I was a wandering coach), and a combined Group 2-3 session, where I was a practice partner. On Sunday I did Group 3 (mostly feeding multiball), Group 2 (practice partner); and Group 1 (wandering coach). I also did a one-hour session with Navin Kumar on Sunday. Here's video (27 sec).

It was one of the most tiring weekends ever, as I came in tired, and the sessions were almost all back-to-back-to-back. On Saturday I was on my feet for five hours straight, and on Sunday it was 2.5 hours, off an hour, and then three more hours on my feet.

A lot of the focus was (as usual) making sure we have active feet. I also harped a lot on keeping the ball to wide corners in drills rather than just to the middle forehand or backhand. What you do in practice you will do in a match.

News from All Over
Since I haven't blogged since April 18 (due to my 12-day trip to Austria), rather than try to list every interesting article, for this blog I'll just link to some of the main news and coaching pages, and you can pick and choose.

D Vishwa: The Future of Indian Table Tennis, Destined for Great Things, Until Tragedy Struck
Here's the article on the 18-year-old Indian star. Here's another article on it. He was entered at the WTT Youth Contender (Under 19 events) in Linz, Austria, which I just returned from. They held a moment of silence for him there.

Who Did It Best? Around The Net
Here's the video (2:36), from World Table Tennis.

'Futuristic' Ping Pong Venue Opens In Astoria, Promising 24/7 Gameplay
Here's the article on the new PongPod in Queens, NYC.

Inside the NBA got Chuck again with Ping Pong Balls
Here's the video (4:40) from House of Highlights. Table tennis section starts at 1:51. See Charles "Chuck" Barkley dowsed in ping-pong balls!

Boxing Pong Shirts
Here's where you can get them at Amazon!

Ice Table
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Anything Can Be a Table Tennis Table
Here's the video (22 sec)!

New from Pongfinity!

And The Winner is ...
Here's the video (15:38) from Adam Bobrow!

Mostly Non-Table Tennis - Eight Sales in Eight Weeks!
It's been a crazy two months in my science fiction writing world - eight sales!!! As noted below, a ping-pong ball has a major impact in "Christmas Interrupted." (Here's my science fiction bibliography, with links to many of my stories. I've sold 131 short stories and 4 novels.)  

  1. "Small Step" (6600 words) to Abyss & Apex. What really happened on the moon when Neil Armstrong left out the "a" in "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Buzz must negotiate with time-altering aliens to save mankind!
  2. "Christmas Interrupted" (3600 words) to the Flame Tree Christmas Gothic anthology. What happens thousands or millions of years from now, when humankind is extinct but Santa, suffering from Alzheimer's, still tries to deliver presents to children every year, to the extreme annoyance of his aging elves? A darkly comic story, with a surprise ending that many will find touching. A ping-pong ball has a major impact on the story!
  3. "Rationalized" (2400 words) to the Flame Tree Compelling Science Fiction anthology. A dystopian society requires everyone to have an operation when they turn 13 to remove the parts of the brain responsible for emotion. An underground that avoided the operation fights back - and their leader faces an impossible decision. Probably the best tear-jerker I've ever written.
  4. "The Vampire on the Tesseract Wall" (3900 words) to Dark Matter Magazine, my third sale to them. A 4-D being collects 3-D beings to display on its wall. It gets more than it bargained for when it collects a powerful vampire. 
  5. "Packing List for the Invasion" (1000 words) to Daily Science Fiction, my third sale to them since December. The story is told in the form of a literal packing list.
  6. "Ten Songs of Halloween" (1700 words) to the B Cubed Alternative Holidays anthology. A nasty spirit explains what happens each hour, a countdown toward its killing you, with a new song every hour. Can you escape?
  7. "A Grand Canyon of Lions" (100 words) to Martian Magazine. Yeah, that happened. Anything that's possible happens somewhere in the multiverse, right?
  8. "Death Message" (100 words) to Martian Magazine. A deadly way to send a ship-to-ship message.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

Next Blog Will Be Monday, May 9
However, the Tips of the Week will still go up each Monday. I'm going out of town for two weeks, coaching at the ITTF Youth Contender and Hopes Camp in Linz, Austria - see segment below.

Tip of the Week
Keep the Ball to the Extreme Angles in Practice.

ITTF Youth Contender and Hopes Camp in Linz, Austria
I'm off next Monday to Linz, Austria to coach at the ITTF Youth Contender (April 27-29) and Hopes Camp (May 1-5). I'll be coaching Ryan Lin (12, 2155 (was recently over 2200), #1 in US for 12 and Under), who will be playing in Under 13 and Under 15 Boys. Also attending and competing will be three US girls: Mandy Yu (coached by Wei Qi), Tashiya Piyadasa (coached by her dad, Thilina), and Genelia William (traveling with family, might have a local coach her). Also attending will be the top two boys from Puerto Rico, Enrique Rios and Steven Moreno. It'll be a lot of work, but it'll also be a fun reunion of the players (Ryan, Mandy, Tashiya) and their coaches (Me, Wei Qi, Thilina) - we were together at previous Hopes events last year in Cuenca, Ecuador and Amman, Jordon.

HOWEVER . . . there is one serious problem we will face, one that dwarfs all others, an absolute calamity in the making that could lead to international instability, pestilence, famine, and war . . . there is no Dr Pepper in Austria. How Will I Survive???

Weekend Coaching
I coached in four group junior sessions over the weekend. In the Novice group, we focused on fundamentals, as usual, but for the last 15 minutes, I introduced them to a new game we haven't done recently. I put a bottle of water on the table. I told them I have a pet Saint Bernard that slobbers all the time, and that I'd put a pan under his mouth the night before and caught all the slobber, and put it in the bottle. And so the bottle was dog saliva! I explained that they'd rotate in a line, rapid-fire, each getting three shots (wide backhand, middle, wide forehand), and if anyone hit the bottle, I had to drink the dog saliva. I assured them that none of them were good enough to do it, and so I was completely safe. I wasn't; they had delirious fun, I drank lots of it. Yuck!!! (When I have green Gatorade, we play the same game, except it's "squeezed worm juice.")

I was a practice partner for the second strongest group, which ranged from 1200 to 1800. One of the drills started with them serving backspin, I push to their forehand, they loop to my backhand, I block to their backhand, and the rally continues with the usual 2-1 Falkenberg drill: backhand from backhand side; forehand from backhand side; forehand from forehand side; and repeat. But a strange thing happened - over and over, even though they knew I was going to push to the forehand, they started to move to cover their backhand. Why? Because, from years of practice, if I'm going to push to the forehand, I aim my paddle at the backhand side, and only change directions at the last second. It's one of those simple things that maybe 1% of players under 2200 regularly do. At least our kids will grow up getting used to it!

In the other two groups, I mostly fed multiball, though I also did some walking around coaching. (On a side note, I usually coach Navin Kumar on Sundays, but he had to take the day off. See his segment below - he's featured on Parkinson's TV.) 

Larry Hodges Books
It's time for one of my shameless sales plugs for my table tennis books! They are all on both my Larry Hodges Books page here and on my Amazon page. (You might also try out one of my science fiction books, or even my travel book to Europe and Egypt!)

2022 US Nationals Update
Here's the report from Nationals Director Mike Babuin on the 2022 US Nationals, July 2-7 in Fort Worth, TX. Here's the ongoing list of entries, which you can sort by rating, alphabetically, or by event. There are 124 so far as I write this. At the moment, we have 17 of our junior players from MDTTC planning to go, with ten of them also playing in the Junior Team Trials held there the week before. So I'll be coaching there for two weeks.

Navin P. Kumar - ParkinsonTV
Here's the video (8:17) on Facebook, here's the Youtube version. I'm Navin's coach, but during the filming of this I was out of town coaching at the World Hopes in Jordan, so didn't get to make an appearance.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

New from Table Tennis Philosophy/Coach Jon

New from Taco Backhand
(Just discovered this site - lots more videos.)

New from Drupe Pong
(Just discovered this site.)

Developing Kids in Table Tennis
Here's the video (12:08) from PingSkills.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins

ITTF News

War in Ukraine – Stranded in Russia, Table Tennis Player Polina Mikhailova Was Able to Find Her Saint-Quentin Club: "what is happening affects her a lot"
Here's the article from 5aial.com. And speaking of Ukraine, did you know that German superstar table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov (world #7, I think #2 at one time) was actually born in Ukraine? His family moved to Germany shortly after he was born.

Global Table Tennis Balls Market SWOT Analysis, Key Indicators, Forecast 2029 : STIGA, Butterfly, Franklin Sports, KEVENZ, EastPoint Sports
Here's the report from Blooming Prairie Online.

PingPod Coach Tahl Leibovitz
Here's the interview (1:23).

Xianyao He – Tournament Highlights
Here's the video (2:31) of the USA Cadet Team Member.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

Happy Birthday to the Legendary Vladimir Samsonov!
Here's the video (5:10) of former world #1 Samsonov, who turned 46 yesterday (Apr. 17), who retired just last year.

Monday Motivation with Jean-Philippe Gatien!
Here's the video (33 sec)! Lefty Gatien was the 1993 World Men's Singles Champion.

Dreamer21 Table Tennis Museum
Here's the page with six videos (most 10-15 min) showing his extensive TT collection.

Bryson DeChambeau Returns to PGA Tour, Said He Hurt His Wrist Playing Table Tennis
Here's the article from Yahoo Sports. There were a number of reports on this, but this seemed the best one.

Table Tennis Clocks
Here are some at Amazon.

The Legend of Ping Pong
Here's the throw pillow from Amazon!

Happy Thai New Year with a SPLASH!
Here's the video (29 sec) from Punny Boy. How come my students never do this to me???

Sharath Kamal Achanta Rates YOUR Crazy Table Tennis Shots!
Here's the video (3:22) from the Indian star. And the winner? Kevin Table Tennis (22 sec)!

Ping Pong Game Show, Winner Gets The Sponsorship
Here's the video (13:44) from Adam Bobrow!

Coaching Stereotypes
Here's the video (8:37) from Pongfinity! This is great - I recognize a lot of coaches here!

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Tip of the Week
Do You Receive to Set Up Your Game?

Table Tennis . . . Blackspins?
There have been various attempts to create the equivalent of "belts" in table tennis. A decade or more ago Diego Schaaf created table tennis pins, with different types signifying various levels reached in rating. It was a great idea, but it never took off. Perhaps it was too complicated - at a glance, it was tricky to really know what each one signified. (I just spent fifteen minutes trying to find mine - I thought it was in my playing bag, but I can't find it there.)

Here's a thought. The belts in martial arts are very simple - just a belt, with the color signifying level. What if we created simple ball-shaped pins, where the colors signify highest level reached, using the same colors from martial arts? For example:

  • White: Beginner
  • Yellow: 1000
  • Orange: 1200
  • Green: 1400
  • Blue: 1600
  • Purple: 1800
  • Brown: 2000
  • Black: 2200

My first thought was that you had to be 2400 or 2500 for black. But in martial arts, a person can start as an adult, and if he sticks with it, can eventually reach black belt. I Googled it, and found this: "An adult student who train Karate and who attends class at minimum two times per week on a regular basis can expect to earn a black belt in about five years. Some very dedicated karate students who train more intensely have been known to earn a black belt in as little as two or three years."

My guess is that an adult who does this in table tennis might reach 1800, 2000 at most. And it's almost impossible for an adult beginner to reach 2400. So I decided to make it 2200, a more reachable goal for a hard-working adult, and a pretty high level - a 2200 player can make a living as a coach. (Perhaps even lower it to 2000.) There would also be different degrees of black belt, as in martial arts, where are nine degrees of black belt. So a 2200 player would be first degree; 2300 would be second degree; and so on, every 100 points. The best players in the world would probably be rated about 3000 in USATT ratings - they'd be ninth degree.

But what do we call these levels? A beginner starts out as a "whitespin." When he reaches 1000, he's a "yellowspin." And so on up to "blackspin." (I don't like the more obvious "whiteball," "blackball," etc. - it has rather humorous connotations.) So a 2200 player would be first degree blackspin; a 3000 player would be ninth degree blackspin. We could also adjust the ratings for women or disabled, and for players from the past both from before ratings came out in 1974 and because they've since inflated, but we can do that if this idea takes off. (We might also want to bring in a martial arts expert to see how they would set this up for table tennis.)

US National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships
Here is the home page for the event held this past weekend in Rock Round, TX, with complete results, news, and video. There's lots of news coverage of this on the NCTTA site. Here's an article featuring Sharon and Gal Alguetti from Indiana University, Twin brothers lead IU table tennis to 1st national championship appearance.

Butterfly Puerto Rico Open Teams
Here's the results page for the event held this past weekend, April 8-10.

World Table Tennis Day
It was on April 6, this past Wednesday. Here are some related links!

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

Can't Smash, Won't Smash
Here's the article and video (5:40) by Tom Lodziak.

3 Effects of the Free Hand
Here's the video (8:32) from Ti Long.

New from Table Tennis Philosophy/Coach Jon

19 Advantages and Disadvantages of Table Tennis
Here's the article from Racket Rampage.

Playing Table Tennis to Lose Weight

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Danny Seemiller - "World's Greatest Table Tennis Coach"
Here's the picture of Dan with this new award, "A Dominique Clark creation for a well-deserved man!" Dan wrote, "One of my talented and gifted students made this for me. Thanks Dominique and Crystal." (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

'The Sport of Love': Ping-Pong, the Great Equalizer
Here's the article in the New York Times. "Wally Green has played everywhere from Brooklyn to Pyongyang, becoming a beloved American ambassador for table tennis — and international understanding — in the process."

USATT News
There was only one news item from USATT this past week, 2022 Washington State Qualifier Shaping Into a Massive Northwest Table Tennis Event. It was held this past weekend, and I'm sure it was successful. However, I wish USATT would drop the hyperbole - 122 players is not "massive." (Also, only 25 played in the Qualifier events that are referred to in the heading.) But 122 is a good turnout!

Quadri Aruna
The Nigerian star is all over the news this week.

Table Tennis Lover Vera Celebrates 100th Birthday
Here's the article from the Express & Star in Wolverhampton in Britain.

Would You Rather Play Table Tennis with Obama or Donald Trump?
Here's the discussion thread on Reddit. I usually keep politics out of this blog, but this was too funny.

Emotional Ping-Pong Paddle Images
Here they are!

Custom Caricature Portrait From Your Photo / Table Tennis Player
Here's where you can have them made for $32.

Funny Table Tennis
Here's the video (14 sec) from Spartans TTC.

Longest Rallies

Non-Table Tennis - Science Fiction Stories
I had a good month selling short stories, selling six this past month, including that great three-day span from March 6-8! I can't announce two of the sales yet - they want to make a public announcement of their next table of contents, and so we're asked to keep quiet until then. Here's a listing of my sales, many with links to the stories. Here are the six sales this past month:

  • March 6: "Small Step" to Abyss & Apex. What really happened when we first landed on the moon, from Buzz Aldrin's point of view - and why Neil Armstrong seemingly left out the "a" in "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind. Hint - there are time-freezing aliens, and Buzz must negotiate to save Earth!
  • March 7: "Death Message" to Martian Magazine. A deadly way to communicate an important message.
  • March 8: "Packing List for the Invasion" to Daily Science Fiction. The story is literally told by what the aliens pack before invading Earth.
  • March 28: "Christmas Interrupted" to . . . can't announce it until after April 22! It's way, way in the future, possibly a million years or more, and Santa is very, very old and is fighting Alzheimer's, humanity is extinct . . . and yet he still tries to deliver his toys to children each Christmas, to the ongoing irritation of his also-aging elves and reindeer. It's a darkly comic story, with a surprise ending that many will find touching. (The ending features a ping-pong ball!)
  • March 31: "Rationalized" to . . . can't announce it until after April 29! In a dystopian future, everyone has an operation at age 13 to remove all emotions - but there's an underground that fights this, who have avoided the operation but must pretend to be unemotional, no matter what happens.
  • April 4: "A Grand Canyon of Lions" to Martian Magazine. If anything possible must be happening somewhere in the multiverse, then, well . . . see the title.

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Tip of the Week
If You Get Caught Out of Position, Either You Made a Mistake or Your Opponent Did Something Great.

World Table Tennis Day
It's this Wednesday, April 6! Here's the ITTF Info Page and the ITTF video (64 sec)

MDTTC Open and Weekend Coaching
I spent Saturday coaching at the MDTTC Open. Here are complete results care of Omnipong. As usual, it was a wild ride - sometimes the kids play great, sometimes they don't. Lots of tactical decisions.

On interesting one - several of our juniors had to play this 2100 player with a very strong forehand loop. He varied his tricky serves, sometimes long, sometime short, and look to follow with a forehand. If you pushed the serve, he was all over it; if you topspinned it back and it was anywhere over 80-90% of the table he was all over it with his forehand. So the answer? Decide in advance to topspin every serve back to the wide, wide backhand. Since there was no decision to make, it's a lot easier. If the serve was long, soft-loop to wide backhand; if the serve is short, soft-flip to wide backhand. If the player tried to step way around to play forehand from way over on the backhand, then sometimes topspin the serve to the wide forehand. (The player is from our club, and asked me about this. He is going to work hard on developing his backhand attack off those soft topspins.)

There seemed to be a number of opponents with strong forehands, weaker backhands, so a lot of the coaching was about pinning opponents down on the backhand and going after their backhands and middle. A few opponents had seemingly good receives against most serves - until we threw every serve at them, and then they crumbled. (That was me long ago - good against any serve, but weak against lots of variation.)

Most of our group sessions were cancelled due to the tournament, but we had the Novice group (mostly ages 7-8 or so) on Sunday afternoon. Lots of shadow practice and multiball! As usual, halfway through I brought out the two "froggies" as targets. At the end, in what's become a new thing, we did five minutes of "Simon Says"! (The kids keep asking every session, "Can we play Simon Says at the end?")

USATT Coaches List
As of tomorrow (April 5), it'll be two months since I've been off the USATT Certified Coaches Listing. Why? My SafeSport certification ran out on Feb. 5. I retook it in January, and did all the other things required to stay certified - background check, USATT "Pro" membership (I'm a life member), and the $50 annual fee. The problem, I'm told, is because of the USATT software. When I received an email from SafeSport saying it was time to renew, it gave a link to where I could do so at SafeSport.com. I aced the test - but I kept getting emails afterwards saying my SafeSport certification had expired. I emailed with USATT on this, but they said they are unable to make the change in my file, and can't do so until their software is updated. And so, for two months now, I've been off their list.

I know a number of others are in the same situation - as of now, there are only 63 coaches on the USATT certification list. There were 318 when I stepped down from my second tenure as coaching chair a few years ago. I know the numbers have dropped dramatically since then, due to the SafeSport requirement and the hated $50 annual fee, and when I last checked before the software problem, there were about 90 USATT certified coaches. I've been told for weeks that the problem would be fixed in days, but other things apparently keep putting it off. Once they get around to fixing this issue, I hope they'll have the sense to postpone the annual $50 fee by however long they took to get coaches back on the list.

New School Club in Virginia with Improvised Tables, Looking to Fund New Ones
Rachel Ku, who trained as part of the MDTTC junior program for the last three years (I'm one of the coaches), discovered that her high school in Virginia (Langley High School) didn't have a table tennis club. So she and her non-identical twin sister, Katherine, decided to start one. (They are both Freshmen.) They prepared all the necessary forms, begged a school teacher to be the sponsor, and recruited several of their classmates as officers. But they didn't have table tennis tables - so they improvised! Here's a picture of how they put together classroom tables to create one. They are now raising money to buy tables. The HW Global Foundation will match any donations raised by the students for their club. (If you'd like to donate, email HW Global, Attn. Rachel Ku.) The club has now met several times, and membership has grown to 20. (Rachel Ku just won Under 15 and Under 17 girls, and made the finals of Women's Singles at the Nationals Qualification Tournament for Virginia. Her brother, Jeremy Ku, who also trains at MDTTC, won Under 13 and Under 15 Boys and got third for Under 17. Here's all three - Rachel, Katherine, and Jeremy Ku.)

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

Review: FastPong Training System
Here's the review by Tom Lodziak.

New from Table Tennis Philosophy/Coach Jon

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

How to Serve Half-Long and Its Tactics
Here's the video (10:29) from Ti Long.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins

New from USA Table Tennis

New from the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association

ITTF News

Olympian Table Tennis Player Lily Zhang Is Hopeful About WTT World Tour 2022 Thanks to Coach Zheng Pu’s Support and Training
Here's the article from Business Wire.

When Nixon Met Mao: Ping-Pong Tables Charted a Path to the Negotiating Tables
Here's the new article from the South China Morning Post.

Free Us From Sport England's Dead Hand
Here's the article by former English star Matthew Syed. You have to subscribe to read it there, but here's a scan of the article on Facebook, and the non-Facebook version.

Olufunke Oshonaike: Why Women Need Each Other
Here's the article from Olympics.com. "Olufunke Oshonaike, Nigeria's and Africa's table tennis pioneer, waved goodbye to the Olympic Games last summer in Tokyo after seven appearances." (Here's an interview with her from February, My parents supported my table tennis career.)

2022 ITTF Para Spanish Open: Van Emburgh Wins Gold, Sarand Upsets the Odds to Win Silver
Here's the article by Vlad Farcas

Northshore Spring Open - Jimmy Butler vs. Ojo Onaolapo
Here's the video (5:13 - first 1:25 is bio info on Jimmy Butler, main video starts around 1:40) from Jimmy Butler.

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here.

Insane Rally
Here's the video (25 sec)!

Table Tennis Posters
Here's the page at art.com.

Saatchia Table Tennis Art
Here's the page.

Cloud Services: Take the World by Cloud
Here's the commercial (30 sec) about Accenture's cloud services, which features table tennis from 0:05 to 0:10.

My Lucky Ping Pong Shirt
Here's where you can buy yours at Amazon!

New Service Rules Explained
Here's the video (4:44) from Tom Lodziak that came out on April 1, 2022. Yes, we need to prepare for all these crazy changes to the serve rules! I still can't believe the ITTF now requires the serve to start with the ball resting freely on the flat, dry tongue. But at least they allow the server to towel off his tongue before each serve.

World's Spinniest Table
Here's the video (8:04) from Pongfinity! They covered the table with grippy table tennis sponge, plus other escapades.

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