Butterfly Online


Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, a little later on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week).
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 six books and over 1300 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's  book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
21 chapters, 240 pages, 102,000 words. Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!

His new book, Table Tennis Tips, is also out - All 150 Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, in one volume, in logical progression!!!

April 24, 2015

The Coaching Zone: The USATT Coaching Page

You're practicing to reach another level, a level not of rating but of improvement. A journey to advanced performance whose boundaries are how hard you train and how good your coaching. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the USATT Coaching Page!

Have you visited it recently? Here's a quick rundown, from the top:

  • Coaching Advisory Committee. The current listing is out of date. Federico "Fede" Bassetti is still the chair, but the committee is now made up of Britt Salter, Mike Lauro, and Marguerite Cheung. A player rep will also be added soon. Massimo Constantini and Richard McAfee are also unofficial "advisors" to the committee. (I used to be on this committee, and chaired it for four years back in the 1990s.)
  • Coaching Help & Support Page. Here's where you can Search USATT's Coaching Knowledge Base, Submit an email directly, (with a question), or go to the USATT Forum's Coaching Section.
  • Coaching Certification Program. This is where you can learn about the ITTF and USATT Coaching Certification programs. USATT is gradually adopting the ITTF program.
  • USATT Coaches List. Here's where you can find a coach.
  • Coaching Calendar. This looks empty right now, but I think there are some things coming up - stay tuned!
  • Coaching Opportunities. There are currently two items here, one a coaching conference, and one a "help wanted" for the Austin Table Tennis Club.
  • Coaching Courses. Here's a listing of upcoming ITTF courses, and links to past ones (including one I taught). Upcoming courses:
  • Coach of the Year Program. Here's all the info on the program, and a list of past winners. (I've won twice!!! I was also runner-up three times, grumble grumble….)
  • Olympic Coach Magazine. Here's where you can browse over the current past issues.
  • Coaching Newsletter. Alas, it was discontinued after 2012, but perhaps they'll start it up again sometime.
  • SafeSport. This is a USOC-mandated program where all USATT certified coaches get background checks.

Miscellaneous Stuff

  • The Washington Post: They are coming in today at 4:30PM to do a feature story on Crystal Wang and Derek Nie for KidsPost. I'm meeting them there to introduce them to the players, get them started, and (most important) to try to get in the background of the pictures.
  • Capital Area Super League: Tonight at 9PM we have another meeting of the Organizing Committee for the Capital Area Super League. We're meeting at Smash Table Tennis in Virginia, so it's nearly a one-hour drive for me.
  • "The Spirit of Pong": I now have critiques from all eight critiquers of my novella "The Spirit of Pong." I've already gone through most of them, highlighting the key issues. I plan to spend some of today and hopefully all of tomorrow trying to finalize it. (Due to my arm problems, I have no coaching tomorrow.) If all goes well, this will come out in early May.
  • It's a Dangerous Sport: One of my junior students, on the way to the table yesterday, walked into a chair and literally fell over it, hurting his leg. He had to take ten minutes before he was ready to play, but he's okay now. As I told him, "Table tennis is a dangerous sport. You never know when a chair is going to throw itself in front of you."
  • Table Court Table Tennis: Later, that same student said maybe tennis would be better, since it's a bigger, open area, with few chairs to walk into. I pointed out that he had the terminology wrong. We're table tennis; that version of our sport played on a court is court table tennis. And then I explained to him that if that were true, then that version of court table tennis played on a table must be table court table tennis.
  • Ineptitude the Universe: Since it was a group session, I had the same kid hitting with another, forehand to forehand. They were both relative beginners. I tried to convince them that the all-time world record for most forehands hit in a row was four, and the American record just two, which they thought was pretty funny, and they quickly broke both records and celebrated. I then explained to them about the alternate universe called Ineptitude, where everyone is ping-pong crazy, but so completely uncoordinated that in hundreds of years, nobody has yet made a single shot, and that there are games from a hundred years going on, one deuce after another, because neither player can make their own serve. I gave some play-by-play: "And Ding misses his serve, and so Dong is now up match point, ten trillion and six to ten trillion and five. Dong now serves - and he misses again, and it's all tied up at ten trillion and six to ten trillion and six!"
  • Arm Update: It's still injured, but yesterday I fed about ten minutes of multiball. I'm trying to gradually build it up. I've started using this long green elastic band to stengthen it with light resistance training. Hopefully it'll be okay by next week and I can return to normal coaching. 

Ma Long Practices Counterlooping vs. Liu Guoliang's Backhand Loop

Here's the video (27 sec). A coach feeds backspin to China's Men's Coach Liu, who reverse penhold backhand loops so Ma Long can practice counterlooping it. I've long been a proponent of this type of drill, though you don't normally need two coaches for one player. For example, I'll serve backspin to a student, he'll push it back, I'll loop, and he counterloops. As he does so, I'm already reaching for another ball so we can do it again. In this way the student or practice partner gets lots of rapid-fire practice against opening loops against backspin. (And the other player also gets lots of rapid-fire practice looping against backspin, so it's win-win.) It's also a good way to practice blocking. In both of these cases, think about it - if you are at the intermediate or advanced level, you probably spend most of your counterlooping and blocking practice against blocks and topspin. In a match, most often the first loop you see is against backspin, which is different. Result? You probably aren't as comfortable against it because you haven't practiced against it.

World Table Tennis Championships

They start on Sunday, and are from April 26 - May 3 in Suzhou, China. Here's the ITTF World Championships Page.

Dynamic Table Tennis Tip of the Week: Around the Net Serve

Here's the video (2:57) from Brian Pace. This is a big-breaking sidespin serve down the line that, while it doesn't (usually!) really go around the net, it often goes outside the table and curves back in, giving opponents great trouble. I use this serve quite a bit as a trick serve.

Decisions! Your major improvement starts with accurate shot selection

Here's the new coaching article from Samson Dubina.

The Tao of Ping Pong

Here's a really nice table tennis movie (20:11, need to put in password TTOPP) that just came out. It's a bit overdramatic at times, but pretty well done. It sort of covers two ping-pong players at three times in their lives, as kids, at their peak in their 20s, and as older men, with sort of a time twist at the end. "Fei Mo is an ambitious Chinese Ping Pong genius. In the midst of the U.S. Open Tournament, he unintentionally meets the superhuman American Ping Pong player Ethan White. When their contrasting personalities collide on and off the court, what appears to be only a game becomes a matter of life and death..."

There's also a Behind the Scenes with James and Henry (3:44), the two kid stars. They are James Stout, 14, rated 1595, and Henry Luo, 12, rated 2030. Both are from Carmel, Indiana.

The Final Countdown to Allen Wang's $1600 for His School Club

They are up to $1180 raised, so it's $420 to go. Donate now, or you will regret it the rest of your life as you face the wrath of Allen (who will beat you), his little sister Amy (who will humiliate you), and me (who will put you on the list of all the people in the world who didn't contribute). You are running out of time!!!

26 Seconds of Samsonov and Ovtcharov

Here's the video (much of it slow motion) as the two stars counterloop in preparation for the World Championships.

Masters China 2015

Here are two recent matches:

Table Tennis Legend Crushing Competition at 78

Here's the story of John Shultz from Bay News 9.

Table Tennis in Metlife Stadium

Yesterday I linked to the video (41 sec) of Michael Landers and Mieczyslaw Suchy playing table tennis at Metlife Stadium. (Because of the sunglasses I didn't even recognize Landers!) Here are pictures.

Hardcore Mode in Real Life - NoobtownMonkeys

Here's the video (4:25) of this epic table tennis match. I previously linked to a shorter, 69-sec version.

TT Birthday Cake

Here's Hanna Ricci's 16th birthday cake!

The Lighter Side of Table Tennis

Here's the new video (5:37) from International Table Tennis Thailand.

Floating Ball Archer

Here's an archer who apparently shoots a floating ping-pong ball out of the air. (The archer in question is actually rather controversial. He has longer videos out showing him doing all sorts of apparently spectacular shots, but most from the archery community seem to believe he's mostly a fraud. Or so I've read. I think the shots are real, but how many tries did it take to get the shot?)

Mike Mezyan Humorous Pictures

Once again he has searched the Internet high and low, bringing you the greatest shots ever seen, soon to be a new wing at the Louvre. (Several people have said they cannot see the Facebook pictures - apparently you need an account - so I've put an "alternate version" for each that takes you directly to a version of the picture but without the Facebook comments - which sometimes are half the fun!)
=>ADDENDUM: Mike wrote me saying, "Just To Clarify Perhaps Some Can't See The Photos Because the Need To Be Member Of The Group? Anyone Can Easily Just Send us A Request To Join and We Will Gladly Accept!" So why not join the Table Tennis Group?

Non-Table Tennis - Story in Space and Time Magazine

Here's the cover of the upcoming issue of Space and Time Magazine, one of the nicer science fiction & fantasy magazines. I'm one of the cover stories! (They typically have about 15 stories and articles in each issue.) My story is "Leashing the Muse," my third sale to them. The story is about the conflict between an English professor with a supercomputer and high standards, and an ancient Greek Muse who has even higher standards. (Here's my science fiction & fantasy page. I've sold 71 short stories, and have a humorous fantasy novel "Sorcerers in Space," and an anthology of my best stories, "Pings and Pongs.")

Send us your own coaching news!

April 23, 2015

State Championships

Here's my vision: 50 state championships in 2016 . . . a USATT page devoted to listing and glorifying these champions . . . a "Parade of Champions" a the USA Nationals where these champions march through the arena . . . regional media coverage all over the U.S. of these tournaments . . . Let's make it happen!

I've had numerous discussions with USATT CEO Gordon Kaye on these State Championships, which he's been pushing for since he was hired. He asked me to take charge of it. I plan to have sample entry forms, proto-type web pages, ready-to-use software, etc. More on this late as things develop. It's all part of the three-pronged approach to developing regional and state associations, with the other two prongs (which I'll focus on later) being training centers & coaching programs, and team leagues. (I'm working on these issues as the volunteer USATT Regional Associations Coordinator.) Here's the current listing of State Championships.  If your state doesn't have one and you are interested in running one, email me.

Miscellaneous Stuff

  • Ogimura Book: I finished the book last night. I blogged about much of it on Tuesday. Since then there were segments about his training of Stellan Bengtsson; his liking of Louis Armstrong music, Maotai (Chinese liquor), Old Parr Scotch Whiskey, and sushi; sleeping with his socks on (there's a story behind that!); and how both Chinese and Swedish (and of course Japanese) table tennis "owe him everything." There's a lot about his involvement in getting North and South Korea together as a joint team in 1991 and lots of other issues during his years as ITTF president. It also goes over his ideas of a larger ball, games to 11, and making speed glue illegal - all issues that would later be taken up and passed years after his death in 1994 at the age of 62 from lung cancer. (I really want to see if I can make this book available in the U.S. - we'll see.)
  • "The Spirit of Pong": Most of the eight critiquers have gotten back to me on this fantasy table tennis novella of an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. Over the next two days I plan to input all the "easy" stuff (typos, etc.) and to compile a list of bigger changes that might be needed, based on the critiques. I plan to devote Saturday to working on finalizing the story, using the critiques as well as notes from the Ogimura book (since "The Spirit of Ogimura" is a major character). If all goes well, it'll be on sale in May.
  • Arm Status: It's still injured. I haven't done any private coaching now since April 12, and have cancelled or gotten substitutes until at least this Sunday (April 26). I've hired Josh Tran to come in and feed multiball for me in my group sessions, including today and tomorrow. I do need to start building the arm up again, but need to do so without re-injuring it, so yesterday I tested it by feeding multiball. I hoped to do five minutes, but after two I stopped as it was already starting to hurt.
  • MDTTC Press Coverage. The Washington Post is sending a reporter and photographer to the club to do a special on Crystal Wang and Derek Nie. It should come out sometime in May. There's also an upcoming story in the Montgomery Journal - they let me proof the article yesterday.
  • Mini-Van and Near Crash! Yesterday while driving home from the club there was a minivan driving ahead of me on the lane to the left. It was slowing down, and so I caught up and began to pass it. Suddenly it lurched partly into my lane, and I had to swerve to avoid it. I honked as I did so, and managed to just miss it, probably by no more than a foot. I then pulled ahead. And then the minivan suddenly speeded up, driving half in his lane, half in my lane! It literally came roaring up behind me. I speeded up to avoid getting hit from behind. This went on for about ten seconds. Then the minivan suddenly lurched back to its lane, which was the far left lane, and stopped. It basically parked right there, in the lane in the middle of traffic (with cars behind it). I drove off and have no idea what happened after that.

Ask the Coach

Episode #112 (20:20) - Can You Say Sore Shoulder Ten Times Fast?

Don't Regret in Hindsight: Why Short-Term Goals are Important

Here's the new coaching article from Matt Hetherington.

Talent Transfer from Tennis to Table Tennis

Here's the article from Expert Table Tennis.

USATT Insider

Here's the new issue out yesterday.

The Journey Through Chinese Table Tennis

Ma Long and Timo Boll Interview on their 2015 Worlds Doubles Partnership

Here's the video (3:47).

Balls of Fury

Here's the article on the Santa Rosa Table Tennis Club. Includes a link to a video (3:29).

21 Seconds of Multiball to Wake You Up

Here's the video - backspin, topspin, topspin

Table Tennis in Metlife Stadium

Here's the video (41 sec) as they play on the same field as the NFL's New York Giants and Jets shared stadium.

Glass Pong

Here's a picture of a glass ping-pong table.

Forehand, Behind Back, Forehand, Behind Back…

Here's the video (13 sec) - can you do this?

Secret Tactics for Aussies to Beat China in Table Tennis

Here's the video (2:51) - "Speak softly but carry a big stick"?

Nestle Quik Rabbit Pong

Here's the video (30 sec) of this commercial from 1982.

Send us your own coaching news!

April 22, 2015

Five Really Bad Coaches

Here are five examples of very bad coaches. They shall all be nameless - but none of them are currently coaching table tennis in the U.S. (Alas, the tennis coach is still active.)

1) I'm going to start not with a table tennis coach (as the next four are), but a tennis coach. For many years tennis was my side sport, reaching a 4.0 level, which is pretty good. I'd often schedule my table tennis coaching so I could stop by the local tennis center for 90-minute group sessions, often 2-3 times a week. During those years I worked with many coaches, and all agreed I had the most lopsided game they'd ever seen - a very strong forehand (100% due to my table tennis, as were my other strengths), quick feet, very nice lob and very good drop shot. But the rest of my game was rather weak - weak serve (especially second serve), weak backhand (I mostly sliced), weak backhand volley, barely adequate overhead. But I loved to race around smacking in forehands, and was especially good at hitting winners off second serves, which made up for players attacking my own weak second serve.

I always told coaches I had two rules - "Larry's Rules" (tennis version):

Rule One: Don't worry about my forehand, coach me on everything else. My forehand was so much better than the rest of my game it was pointless focusing on that. Because I hit it with a hybrid stroke between table tennis and tennis, I lost some power, but made up for it by taking the ball very early, often on the rise, with precise accuracy and placement, and by throwing my whole body into each shot.

Rule Two: My game centers around forehand hitting from the baseline. This didn't mean I wouldn't play backhands or come to the net, just that my style of play would be a forehand-oriented baseline game. Why? Because I loved running around and hitting forehands, plus it's a pretty effective game - just watch Federer. (But I'm more forehand oriented than he is!) My basic rule is that if I can physically get to the ball to hit a forehand, I hit the forehand.

Then one day the tennis center brought in a new coach. I explained my two "rules" to him, and he seemed to have no problem with them. But as soon as the sessions began, he insisted on completely changing my forehand. I tried to convince him to work on all the weak parts of my games, but he insisted. This went on for a couple of months, where I went from a dominating forehand (which was better than the coach's, even though I was older than him) to basically a newbie forehand, where all my table tennis training was gone. Before I'd race around smacking forehands for winners at will; now I was flailing away like a beginner. The rest of my game stagnated while he focused on fixing/destroying my forehand.

He also tried fixing my forehand volley, which was pretty strong, while ignoring my backhand volley, which was very weak. Why? Because of my table tennis, I had a very nice forehand swinging volley. Most coaches don't like swinging volleys because in theory they are harder to control, but because of my table tennis I did this really well, but my conventional forehand volley was weak - so of course I used the swinging volley. But on the backhand I apparently had "good technique," just no control or power, mostly just padding the ball back. And yet all the coach wanted to do was "fix" my forehand volley, even when I kept asking him to focus on my weak backhand volley. (I considered adding a third "Rule," i.e. don't worry about my forehand volley.) But most of our problems were about his attempts to change my regular forehand.

Finally, while playing a doubles match at the end of a session where I kept missing, I went back to my old stroke and smacked in a clean winner off a second serve. The coach rushed out on the court immediately to "correct" my stroke. We had a big argument, and it ended with me walking off the court. I never went back.

The problem this coach had was that he couldn't think outside the box and understand that I had a rather unique background, i.e. a very good table tennis forehand, and that he needed to take that into account when coaching me. If I were a kid, then he might consider "fixing" the stroke, but I was already around fifty at the time, with all sorts of technical problems with every other aspect of my game, and so the last thing he should be doing was trying to "fix" the best part of my game while ignoring the real problems.

Plus, the customer is always right!

2) Many years ago I assisted at a coaching camp that was led by a coach who was about five feet tall. There was a player in the camp who was 6'10". The coach insisted that this player hit his forehand so that he'd follow through with the ball going to his forehead, because that's how the five-foot coach did it. It was ridiculous, and led to the tall player trying to do this incredibly awkward stroke where his racket would move forward to hit the ball, and then arbitrarily have to shoot way up in the air to the forehead, for no other reason than that was what the coach thought players were supposed to do. This is what I call "parrot coaching," where the thinking is basically, "This is how I did it, this is how my coach did it, this is how my coach's coach did it, and this is how you will do it." I finally took the tall player aside and told him to follow through lower, pointing out that the best tall players in the world also had lower follow-throughs relative to their bodies. I later gave the guy private coaching, and despite starting out in his 20s, he reached 1800 a couple years later.

3) A player made the U.S. National Men's Team using the Seemiller grip. A coach/top player (more player than coach) was brought in to train the U.S. Team for two weeks (I think just before the World Championships), and what does he do? He forced the player to change to a shakehands grip! The player resisted, but the coach insisted. So for two weeks he did as he was told. As soon as the camp ended the player went back to his normal grip. About a month or so after the camp he played the "coach" in a tournament and upset him. About a year later won the gold medal for Men's Singles at the Pan Am Games.

4) A player who had been ranked top ten in the world was hired to coach by a club (not MDTTC, not opened yet). He spent some time working with their best junior, a 13-year-old private student of mine who was already #1 in the country in Under 16 despite his age. (I'd spent the previous summer living at his house as a live-in coach.) The kid was an extremely hard worker. So what did the coach say? In front of his parents and other players, he told the 13-year-old he didn't have any talent for the game and could never be a top player. The kid didn't stop crying for hours, and never seemed to have the same drive. He quit about a year later. That coach should have been shot. I wasn't there when he said this, just saw the aftermath - the parents screaming at the coach - and found out later what had happened. They were all speaking Chinese, so I didn't know what was being said at the time.

5) I was at a tournament coaching two juniors. They had to play at the same time. I coached one in his match, but told the other how to play his opponent in the other (a slightly lower rated player), since I knew his opponent well. While I was coaching the other player, another coach came by, saw the junior had no coach, and volunteered himself to coach. Using the tactics I'd given him, the junior won the first game. The new coach, after watching the first game, told him he had to completely change his tactics, despite winning the first game. He lost three straight. Afterwards the coach for the other player approached me and told me how shocked he was that the junior had played so smart the first game, pinpointing all the weaknesses of his opponent, and then changed to a losing game and stuck with it to the end, losing badly. First rule of coaching a match - Do No Harm!!!

Champion Table Tennis DNA

Here's the article from Brian Pace.

Ask the Coach

Episode #111 (28:20) - Where Have We Been?

29 Crazy Health Benefits of Table Tennis

Here's the new article.

Ping Magazine

Here's the April issue.

11 Questions with Hau Lam

Here's the USATT Interview.

Patty's Miracle

Here's the poem by Si Wasserman, republished by USATT, on Patty Martinez's miracle comeback (down 15-20 match point) to win Women's Singles at the 1965 U.S. Open at age 13, the youngest ever to win that title.

NCTTA Superlatives for 2015

Here's the article on nominating players for "the best of the best."

Amazing Backhand Around-the-Net Shot

Here's the video (67 sec, including slo-mo replay).

Cross-Legged Table Pong

Here's the video (39 sec) as Samson Dubina trains his daughter!

Trick Shots

Here's 33 seconds of trick shots - smacking balls off basketballs and sidespin around-the-net shots.

More Humorous TT Pictures from Mike Mezyan

Someone told me yesterday the links for these pictures (posted in Facebook) didn't work for him. Just as a test, are there others where the links don't work? I could link directly to the pictures, but I'd rather link to the Facebook location, since there are often comments there about the pictures. For example, for the first one, Table Tennis Spelled Out!, I could also link to this image.

Send us your own coaching news!

April 21, 2015

Ogimura Book - Some Tidbits

I'm nearly done reading "Ogi: The Life of Ichiro Ogimura." It's currently only available in Japanese; I had to have someone send me the English version, which is only available in England. Stellan Bengtsson first alerted me to the English version, which I hope to make available in the U.S. later on. (Don't know who Ichiro Ogimura is? Probably the most influential player in table tennis history!!!)

I'm taking a lot of notes about Ogimura, and plan to incorporate much of it into my fantasy table tennis novella, "The Spirit of Pong." (I blogged about this on March 16 and several times since.) Here are some interesting tidbits I've learned.

  • Looks: thick eyebrows, pencil thin (during his playing days), piercing stare, often wore a light violet shirt during his developing years (dyed that color by his great helper, Hisae Uehara).
  • Often snacked on bread & margarine, and on rice balls wrapped in seaweed.
  • Can't fully straighten his left (non-playing) arm due to a childhood injury when he fell out of a tree.
  • Unbelievably single-minded about table tennis.
  • Practiced serves by putting the lid to a pen on a table and hitting it 100 times in a row. If he missed, he'd start over. When he reached the point where he could hit it at will, he practiced doing it blindfolded.
  • Would frog jump four kilometers with 40 kilogram weight on his shoulders. (This might not be good for the knees.)
  • He liked Van Gogh paintings and other artwork.
  • He liked to sing "Danny Boy."
  • He had some nice quotes about table tennis, but I'll save them for the novella!
  • When he won his first world championships, the coaches were angry at him because he wouldn't follow their advice. He believed in the "51% rule," where if he thought he had a 51% chance of hitting a winner, he should go for a winner. The coaches wanted him to play steadier. When they realize he was right, they were still angry, believing it was more important to do what the coach says than to win.
  • As of 1956, there were over three million players in Japan, and 100 playing halls in Tokyo alone.
  • At least early in his career, he used sponge that was "almost a centimeter thick." (That's almost ten millimeters, or 2/5".)
  • His film "Japanese Table Tennis" was the key to China's rise, according to Chinese players themselves, including Zhuang Zedong. He said, "Japanese Table Tennis was the perfect textbook for us. Watching you and Tanaka practice made us realize that you do not swing a table tennis racket with your arm; you hit the ball with your feet. Once I saw that film [at age 16], you became my mentor, Mr. Ogimura."
  • Players were using sponge in Japan at least two years before Satoh used it to win the Worlds in 1952, including inverted sponge as early as July, 1951. There was a lot of experimenting going on in Japan; the rest of the world didn't know about this until after Satoh won.  

Arm Problems and Getting Substitutes

The arm problems continue. I've received an avalanche of suggestions, but the bottom line is I have to rest it. So I've cancelled or gotten substitutes once again for all my private coaching this week, and hired people to do multiball for me in group sessions. The complicating factor is that two of our full-time coaches are currently out of town. 

Solving Problems and Dealing with Disingenuous Obstructionists

As I've blogged, I've been working on a number of USATT issues. I'm making good progress on some (more on that later, with much of it this fall), while others are not so easy. One thing I'm learning is who the real problem solvers are, and who are the disingenuous obstructionists. I'm doing my best to work with the problem solvers and avoid the DOs, but it's not easy. I have no choice in some cases.

Dealing with DOs (both in running clubs, coaching, and doing USATT work) is the hardest part of my work. (I'm guessing we've all had that experience.) Alas, I'm not very good at it. When faced with someone who's opinionated and not open to reason, I still try to reason with them, which rarely works. I need to take my reasoning one step further and realize that reasoning with the unreasonable is unreasonable! (Specifically, some people mistake rationalizing for reasoning.)

A few times I've been up half the night, too irritated with DOs to sleep. I'm done with that. If I do have to deal with such people, I'll try to do it earlier in the day so I can do my best to forget about them when I go to bed. Because otherwise I'll have a long night, tossing and turning as I try to figure what could possibly be going through the disingenuous obstructionist's mind while holding endless arguments in my mind that always end with the disingenuous obstructionist making disingenuous obstructionist responses.

To paraphrase a famous line from a movie, "As Waldner is my witness, I'll never lose sleep from dealing with disingenuous obstructionists again!" (But I won't do the lying, stealing, cheating, killing part - no matter how tempting the last part might be in some cases!)

Excessive Celebrations: How Loud Should You Be?

Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Interview with Crystal Wang

Here's the USATT interview, by Rahul Acharya.

These 7 Lessons from Ping-Pong Helped a CEO Grow a Successful Business

Here's the article from Business Insider.

US World Team Member Angela Guan Hopes to Inspire Future Generations of Players

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Highlights of Hall of Famer David Sakai

Here's the new video (3 min) from Jim Butler.

2015 US Pan Am Women's Team

Here's the video (8:27) from Jim Butler.

World Championships Promo

Here's the video (1:25).

Epic Rally Between Wang Liqin and Samsonov

Here's the video (76 sec) of this exhibition point.

Slo-Mo Action from Broward TTC

Here's the video (28 sec).

Timo Boll vs. Bojan Tokic

Here's video (4:22, time between points removed) of a nice recent match between these two in the German League.

Angelica Rozeanu

Here's some info on the women who seven straight world women's singles titles, still a record.

Team China's World Championship Song

Here's the video (2:24) of the Chinese team members singing for us!

Mike Mezyan is At It Again!

He's found more hilarious table tennis pictures. Here are my favorites:

Jackalope vs. Platypus Pong

Here's the video (30 sec) as these two creatures go at it in this Smoothie Kabobbles commercial!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 20, 2015

Tip of the Week

Visualize Serves for Feedback.

Sunday Classes and Continuing Arm Problems

Due to my arm problems I had to cancel or get substitutes for all of my private coaching over the weekend. On Sunday I had two classes, a junior class from 4:30-6:00 PM and an adult beginning/intermediate class from 6:30-8:00PM.

In the junior class we had a couple of new players, so I spent a lot of time working with them to get them started. One of them (age 9) seemed a nervous wreck at the start, but by the end of the session he was hitting pretty good forehands and was smiling - and his mom immediately signed him up for the next ten weeks. Working with juniors can take a lot of energy because you have to constantly supervise them or you'll find them changing their grips and strokes, but if you set the right atmosphere and policies, things usually go pretty well. The standard in this class is we train hard for an hour, and then we do 30 minutes of games.

For games we did two things this session. First, we pulled out Froggy, and divided the players into two groups. They took turns, two shots each, trying to hit the poor amphibian as I fed multiball. The two teams were fair, and split the two games played to ten hits. Then we brought out the paper cups, and they build huge structures (this time creating a wall around Froggy, which I called the "Pretty Good Wall of China), and then took turns knocking them down.

In the adult class (19 players), the focus was on return of serve. After a good warm-up, I called them in and did a brief recap first on spin serves. Then I went over how to return the various spins and how to read them in a (perhaps too long?) 30-minute lecture. Then they went out on the table and took turns serving to each other as the other received. We finished the session with a smashing drill, where they hit simple forehand to forehand, and one player, after hitting two regular drives, smashed the third, and continued to smash while the other player tried to block or fish the balls back.

One thing I stressed, and which I always stress about receive, is the value of a good push off a short backspin serve. The problem most players have with pushing is they don't understand that it's more important to do all aspects of the push pretty well than any one aspect very well. Here's my article on that, Pushing: Five Out of Six Doesn't Cut It. I also stressed the importance of variation, such as the many ways to receive a short backspin serve. (Here's my article, The Many Ways to Receive a Short Backspin Serve.) I also explained why you need to be aggressive against deep serves. (Here's my article, Why You MUST Attack the Deep Serve - which also explains when you don't have to attack the deep serve!)

After the session I stayed late and served to the players so they could try to return high-level serves. However, I couldn't use many of my best pendulum serves as my arm was hurting again, aggravated by all the multiball. I had hoped that after a week of rest - not even doing multiball since last Monday - that I'd at least be able to feed multiball without problem, but that was not to be. I probably aggravated the arm again. So it looks like another week where I'll have to cancel or get substitutes for my private coaching, and bring in someone else to feed multiball for my group sessions. I've already hired someone to substitute for me in the afterschool program - I'll still pick up the kids, but someone else will feed the multiball we do in the sessions. After the session was done I went home and iced my arm off while watching Game of Thrones.

After the adult class, Josh Tran and Raghu Nadmichettu (who assisted me in the class) brought out the ladder to get balls from on top of the bathroom area. There was a two-year accumulation up there, and with Raghu holding the ladder and Josh using a ball net to grab them, they brought down about a gross of balls.

ITTF News Item on Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

Here's the ITTF News Item on the book being translated in French. Here's the French version ("Tactiques de Tennis de Table pour Pongistes Penseurs"), and here's the English version. Both come in both print and kindle formats. Or any of my other books - here's my Amazon page.

The following statement may be a lie: "Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is the best book ever written on table tennis and will dramatically improve your table tennis game."

The following statement is now true: "It's been written that Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is the best book ever written on table tennis and will dramatically improve your table tennis game."

Playing Against Pips/Anti

Here's the new coaching article by Han Xiao. 

New Coaching Articles from Matt Hetherington

Forehand Counterhit Lesson - Part 13 - Like a Boss!

Here's the new video (4:59) from Brett Clarke.

Backhand Topspin against Backspin

Here's the new coaching video (6:31) from PingSkills.

Top Myths about Table Tennis

Here's the article.

Table Tennis Camp for Veterans and Members of Armed Forces with Disabilities

Here's the article.

Video Interview with Zhang Yining

Here's the video (18:05) of the interview with Zhang Yining, with Jiaq Zheng translating. Zhang, a 2-time World (2005 & 2009) and Olympic (2004 & 2008) Women's Singles Champion, recently ran a clinic at the ICC club.

Footwork by Ryu Seung Min

Here's the video (18 sec) as he does one of those crazy step around rips.

Brian Pace - Back in Action

Here's a highlights reel (2:16) of his first tournament in three years.

Jonyer, Klampar, and Gergely

Here are current pictures of the swashbuckling Hungarian trio who won Men's Teams at the 1979 Worlds over China - L-R, Gabor Gergely, Tibor Klampar, Istvan Jonyer.

Match Point Between Xu Xin and Ma Long

Here's the exhibition point (37 sec)!

The Two-Color Rule Illustrated?

Here it is!

The Year Is…


Weird White Creatures Pong

Here's the video (19 sec) of whatever they are!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 17, 2015

USA State Championships and Other Listings

As the USATT Regional Associations Coordinator, I'm preparing to start working with members around the country to set up regional and state associations. However, as I've blogged before, creating these associations is NOT the goal - they are a MEANS to a goal, which is a huge increase in table tennis activity and USATT membership. I'm using a three-pronged approach toward this. I've blogged repeatedly about two of these - creating training centers and coaching programs, and regional team leagues. The third prong is state championships.

The goal is 50 state championships in 2016. (DC as well!) For you non-Americans, there are 50 states, so yeah, we want one in every state.

Of course, the word "goal" isn't the right one either, since once again it is not really the goal, but another means to the goal of huge table tennis activity and USATT membership. But you need sub-goals to reach final goals, so we'll call 50 state championships a goal.

Once we have regional and state associations, they will be responsible for organizing their own state championships. (Since regional associations and state associations don't always coincide, there'll be some negotiating between associations to make sure each state gets a championship.) I will work with them to make sure each association has contact info for all the major media in their region - newspapers, TV, and radio. And so before and after each state championship there should be a flood of press releases, leading to lots of press coverage.

I envision every year at the USA Nationals in December a "Parade of Champions," held between major matches in the arena, where every state champion present marches by, with each one identified by the announcer by name, title, and state.

I've compiled a listing of USA State Championships. (The listing comes from the USATT tournament schedule, rating histories, online searches, and a state-by-state search of each State Games.) As near as I can tell, 12 13 states (just added West Virginia!) have State Championships, and another 15 have State Games. (A few have both, but in those cases the State Championships takes precedence.) This is by no means a final listing; I'm guessing I've missed some. There is also a dispute in one state over who is running the state championships this year, but for now I've put down the one listed by USATT.

If you have info on any USA State Championships I've missed, mistakes to my listing, or are interested in running a State Championship in a state that doesn't have one (including ones that currently only have State Games), please email me.

Soon I'll be writing an article for USATT Insider where I try to get final info on the four different listings below. Please email me if you have additional info on any of these, or if you are interested in organizing one of them.

Disabled Veterans Camp

Here's info on the upcoming Disabled Veterans Camp I'm running at MDTTC, May 18-21. (I ran one last year as well.) The camp is free to veterans with disabilities and members of the armed forces with disabilities (that seems redundant, but that's how it's listed), whether standing or in a wheelchair. Special thanks to Jasna Rather, USATT Director of Para Programs, for helping set this up.

Arm Problems

They are still ongoing. I cancelled all my private coaching this week and weekend, and expect to do so for next week as well. I'm still running group sessions but I'm bringing in an extra coach each time to feed multiball, since I can't. I hope to be able to at least feed multiball by next week. I've had this type of arm problem before, in my forearm just below the elbow, and all I can do is rest it.

Devising Tactics for Playing Left Handers

Here's the new coaching article by Matt Hetherington.

Allen Wang's School Table Tennis Club

They have reached $1020 of the $1600 needed. $1020 is only 63.75% of $1600. So my faith in human nature is only at 63.75%. Help restore my faith in human nature to 100% by donating NOW.  Otherwise you will be on my list of every human being who didn't donate.

Navin's USA Paralympic Table Tennis Journey

Navin Kumar, a student of mine, needs to raise $3000 to go to his first international tournament this June in Spain. If he does well, he'll "…have a shot at making the team that will represent the USA at the next Summer Paralympic Games in Brazil in the summer of 2016." He's the "…first Parkinson's athlete in history to represent the USA in international table tennis competitions as part of the Paralympic Program." Here's the donor page, and the ten donors so far that have gotten him to $673.

Pär Gerell Doing Multiball with Coach Ulf "Tickan" Carlsson

Here's the video (30 sec). Gerell is #63 in the world (was #35 just one year ago), and fellow Swede Carlsson was the 1985 World Men's Doubles Champion with Mikael Appelgren.

Pips & Bounce Takes Ping-Pong to New Levels of Fun

"This Portland ping-pong bar has everything, including food and drinks."

Worlds to be Most Followed Table Tennis Event EVER

Here's the ITTF Press release.

International Table Tennis

Here's my periodic note (usually every Friday) that you can great international coverage at TableTennista (which especially covers the elite players well) and at the ITTF home page (which does great regional coverage). Butterfly also has a great news page.

Jorgen Persson Playing in Outdoor Park in Moscow

Here's the video (6:33) of the 1991 World Men's Champion.

Table Tennis Clocks

Here are my two table tennis clocks. Why don't you have one? (Here's where you can buy your own TT clocks!)

Ten Hilarious TT Links from Mike Mezyan

Recently Michael Mezyan (yes, the famed table tennis artwork creator, with such creations as his latest, Table Tennis Dreamscape) has been finding numerous of these hilarious table tennis links. I've used a number of his finds in past blogs. Here's a few he found recently. (I could use these one at a time and stretch them out, but why wait?)

Send us your own coaching news!

April 16, 2015

U.S. Training Center Economy

At the recent USATT Board meeting I was asked by Carl Danner, chair of the USATT High Performance Committee, if I'd ever considered just how large the table tennis training center economy is in the U.S. It's a good question.

We're talking about full-time training centers. As recently as 2006 there were only 8-10 in the whole country. Now there are almost 80. A full-time club is very different from a typical club, especially in terms of budget. Your average part-time club gets most of its revenue from membership and perhaps a few tournaments. These numbers are probably dwarfed by the revenue (and expenses) of a full-time club.

I started the Maryland Table Tennis Center (along with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang) in 1992. For the first ten years or so I knew everything about the budget. In fact, for most of those years I was the sole owner. But for the last dozen or more years I've stayed out of the finances, and really haven't seen a budget. (I only coach, including a number of group sessions, and do the newsletter, promotional work, and other miscellaneous stuff.) But anyone who observes the activities can make an estimate of the budget of MDTTC or any other training center. So let's do that, and see just how big the table tennis training center economy is in the U.S. I'm only going to look at revenue here and not worry about expenses.

Let's say the average, generic training center has ten tables and four full-time coaches. (MDTTC normally has 16 tables - can go to 18 - with eight full-time coaches plus several part-time ones, but it's one of the larger ones, though by no means the largest.) Below are some rough estimates for a typical full-time training center. We could spend all day trying to get the numbers just right, but I'm at least in the ballpark with these numbers. (I'm probably a little on the rosy side, since I'm thinking about a typical successful full-time training center.) For perspective, USATT has annual income of about $1,700,000 - roughly the budget of one of the larger training centers.

Typical Full-time Training Center Revenue

150 adult members at $300 each = $45,000
50 junior members at $200 each = $10,000
12 family memberships at $500 each = $6,000
TOTAL Membership: $61,000

Daily Fees (for non-members)
2 per night, $10 each, 350 nights/year = $7000

Private Coaching Fees
4 coaches, 40 hours/week at $40/hour, 50 weeks = $320,000

Group Coaching
4 classes/week, 50 weeks, 15 people, at $20 each = $60,000

Training Camps
6 one-week camps per year, 20 players at $200 each = $24,000

4 tournaments/year, 70 entries, $60/entry = $17,000

Leagues (free to members - a membership incentive)
2 leagues/week, 10 non-members at $10 each, 50 weeks = $10,000

10 per year, $200 each = $2000

$100/night, 350 nights per year = $35,000

Refreshments (snacks and drinks)
$40/day, 350 days = $14,000
TOTAL: $550,000/year
80 Training Centers x $550,000 = $44,000,000 in Revenue


Lots of FREE coaching videos here!

Why Is Sitting All Day Bad for You? (And why table tennis helps)

Here's the article.

Table Tennis School - Defender Training

Here's video (30:37) of a chopper's training session. Here are more training videos from Table Tennis School.

North American Cup

Here's info. Event is May 15-17 in Toronto.

Zhang Yining Camp in Bay Area

Here's the ITTF article.

Table Tennis Super Shadow Play

Here's the music video (7:23) from China - it's pretty nice! It's performed by the Sanwei Table Tennis Club in Beijing. (And that's one nice club!)

Rolling/Bouncing Pong

Here's 20 sec of Swedish star Kristian Karlsson showing off his ball control - sort of.

Wolverine Pong

Here's 7 seconds of Hugh Jackman playing table tennis.

Palace Pong

Here's 59 seconds of Prince William and the Duchess Catherine (his wife) playing table tennis.

Viking Pong

Here's the video (11 sec) as they avast ye landlubbering mateys, or at least play ping-pong.

Improvised Office Pong

Here's the picture.

Outdoor Jumpy Crowd and Some Sort of Pong

Here's the picture of this titanic match.

Mad Hatter Pong

Here's the picture!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 15, 2015

Hodgepodge of Miscellaneous Things

  • Arm Problems - They have gotten worse. I tried feeding multiball yesterday, had to stop after a few minutes. Once again I tried doing it left-handed, but it was like trying to catch smoke with a ball pickup net - not too successful. So for the afterschool program this week there will be no multiball - they'll hit among themselves and with the robot. Meanwhile, I've cancelled all my private coaching this week, and I'm pretty sure I'll have to do so next week as well.
  • USATT Lists - I spent more time yesterday working on the following four lists for USATT. The plan is to dramatically expand on these, but first we need to know where we stand. I think my lists are almost complete - I'll likely post them sometime soon, probably on the USATT web page or in USATT Insider, and request info on ones that are missing. I still have to visit all the sites on this list of State Games to see which have table tennis.
    • Regional and State Associations
    • State Championships and State Games
    • Team Leagues - currently I know of ones in LA, NY, DC, Austin TX, and Rochester NY.
    • Training Centers
  • MDTTC Media - Yesterday Montgomery Magazine came in to do a story on us. They interviewed me, Crystal Wang, Derek Nie, Ryan Dabbs, and Coach Jack Huang, and took lots of pictures. They took a lot of semi-staged pictures of Ryan, where I'd put a ball up in the air and he'd smash right into the camera lens - they came off great! We've had a lot of media coverage over the years; it's on my todo list to compile them all for a new MDTTC Media page.
  • French Translation of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Book - I finalized a news release that hopefully will be published by ITTF and perhaps other places. You can get it in English or French, in paperback or kindle - buy it now!!!
  • Update on Allen Wang's Fund-raising for his School Club - they just reached $1000! Special thanks to Tigran Tsitoghdzyan ($50), Joanne Logar ($40), Tom McCann ($40), Anonymous ($40), Amy Wang ($20), and Anonymous ($10) for raising an even $200 since my blog post on this yesterday. The goal is $1600, so keep those donations coming!
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop - This summer I'm taking my annual vacation at "The Never-Ending Odyssey" writing workshop, July 24 - Aug 1 in Manchester, NH. This will be my eighth time at this workshop. As part of this I have to critique stories by other attendees. I've got a stack of eight stories, averaging about 20 pages each, which I have to read and critique. This is only round one - there'll be two more rounds of stories. I'll have three stories critiqued as well. We spend nine days doing critiques and attending workshops. This is my idea of fun.
  • USATT Bylaws - Yesterday I finalized five bylaw proposals, which will soon go to the Board for a likely vote in June. (I don't plan on spending huge amounts of time on bylaws, but I wanted to get these five done.) I'll post the actual proposals later. Briefly, they involved:
  1. Removing the word "advisory" from the descriptions of our committees, since I believe they should also be allowed to implement - the board can create rules and guidelines for them without being so restrictive.  
  2. Allowing committees to have some administrative function, which are currently not allowed in the bylaws, though in reality some already do.
  3. Allow some committees and task forces, in special circumstances, to have more than five members. The current bylaws limit them to five.
  4. Removing term limits for committee members and extending the tenures for chairs. We keep losing some of our most valuable and experienced people because of these limits.
  5. Changing our Mission Statement - more on that later.

National College Championships

Here are a series of articles on the U.S. College Championships held this past weekend. (The first article is from the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi; the other four are by Andy Kanengiser.)

How to Play Against Pips-Out Rubbers

Here's the coaching article by Ioanna Papadimitriou.

USA Finalist to Host 2018 World Veterans Championships

Here's the USATT article.

2015 National Junior and Cadet Team Trials Prospectus and Entry Form

Here's the info. It will take place at the U.S. Open.

Big Island Table Tennis Association Receives Major Awards

Here's the USATT article.

World Championships Media Guide

Here it is! The Worlds will be held April 26 - May 3 in Suzhou, China.

Custom PingPong Company Uberpong Grows from Austin, Texas

Here's the article from Startup Magazine. "David Lowe moved to Austin, Texas and created Uberpong – a company that would bring style and customization to table tennis with a mission to change the face of the game."

Ask a Pro Anything - Ai Fukuhara

Here's the video (1:26) as we test to see if she can look at Adam for ten seconds without laughing.

Zhang Jike "Punished" By Having to Crawl Under the Table

Here's the picture - and it looks like he's all tangled up with the net. In China at the elite levels (including the National Team) it's a common practice where the loser of a match has to crawl under the table - incentive to win!

Crazy Sidespin Counter-Smash

Here's the video (24 sec, including slo-mo replay)!

Hopes Kids Try to Return Fingerspin Serves

Here's the video (2:04) as the kids line up and attempt (mostly unsuccessfully) to return the infamous fingerspin serves of Coach Jonathan. Sol Schiff of the U.S. used such serves to dominate table tennis for a time back in the 1930s before they were made illegal. And now I'm going to have to learn these serves so I can challenge our kids like this to receive them!

How to Draw a Cartoon Table Tennis Player

Here's the video (72 sec, though he finishes the drawing 36 sec).

Got Milk?

Here's the picture, with Jorgen Persson the face for Swedish milk.

Ping-Pong Cookies?

Here's the picture.

Cooking and Pong

Here's the video (36 sec) as a chef attempts to cook while bouncing a ball on his paddle in this ad for Karbonn Mobile phones. (What's connection? To illustrate that the phone can multitask!)

Teddy Bear Pong

Here's the video (3:20): It's man vs. Teddy Bear. May the better mammal win.

A Horrible Progression

  1. Donkey Pong
  2. More Donkey Pong
  3. Donkey Kong Pong
  4. Underwater Pong
  5. Underwater Donkey Pong (yeah, I did this!)

Send us your own coaching news!

April 14, 2015

Table Tennis and Schools

I was browsing table tennis forums late last night and found a statement where someone wrote, "I find it funny that some people like Larry Hodges think it's not important to get table tennis in schools in the U.S." (He then went on to briefly argue why we need to get into the schools without explaining how, but I won't get into that here.)

This is NOT what I've argued. I actually blogged about this on January 8, 2013. However, this seems a good topic to blog about again, and timely as well since I'm actually working to develop the sport to the point where we can get into schools.

I'll start by simply reposting my response in the forum to the above statement:

This is NOT what I argue. What I've argued is that schools aren't the first step. The first step is to popularize the sport on our own by developing regional leagues and junior programs (like other sports do and how they do it for table tennis overseas) rather than hoping schools in the U.S. will suddenly get interested in a small sport like us out of the blue. They are only interested in us if we send volunteers for free, and we have no way of doing that except in a few isolated cases. When we grow the sport, that's when the people who run schools will notice us and be interested, and that's when we take that step and spread through schools. I'm not going to get into a debate here [on this forum] about how to popularize the sport U.S. other than to say it's been done all over the world and in other sports in the U.S., and we're not magically different here in the U.S.; we just haven't been going about it the right way. I've blogged about this many times. This might even be a blog topic for tomorrow (or rather, this morning). 

USATT has tried going to schools repeatedly over the years, and it never works since we haven't done the groundwork first, i.e. developing the sport to the point that the schools see us as having potential instead of being a charity case. I wish there were an easier way, where we could just snap our fingers and schools would spread table tennis everywhere and we'd have millions of active, serious players, but it doesn't work that way. We have to create a foundation first, and then schools can take us to the next level. 

So our job is to show that we are a growing sport that schools should be interested in. How do we do this? By being a growing sport that schools should be interested in!

And THEN schools can take us to the next level.

There will always be great volunteers who start up school programs, such as AYTTO. But they face a very difficult uphill battle, since they are mostly on their own. USATT barely has the resources to help them, and most (not all) school leaders see table tennis as just a game and a charity case that they have little interest to help. By building the foundation, i.e. becoming a growing sport, we can grease the wheels toward our being accepted as a school sport, and then schools can truly take us to the next level.

I could write many blogs about USATT's past history in trying to get into the schools. There have been many valiant efforts, and we all know how that's turned out. Few schools or (more importantly) school systems are interested in taking on small sports like us. We need to stop being essentially a charity case hoping someone will come and save us, and instead develop our sport on our own, and show that we are a sport worth partnering with, not as a charity, but as equal partners.

Some could argue we already are in the schools. I did my own survey on this about 20 years ago and found that about 1/3 of schools in the U.S. have ping-pong tables - and I'm guessing the numbers are in the same range these days. But having ping-pong tables in schools, and kids playing ping-pong on them, doesn't really develop the sport if it's just another game, like Parcheesi. Otherwise, we can just cite the 15 million people who play table tennis every year in the U.S., declare victory, and we're done. But just as those 15 million people aren't serious players, few kids who play in schools these days are serious.

When will we be ready to go to schools? If we get started now, perhaps not long. Meanwhile, some like AYTTO are perhaps laying the groundwork for a future major initiative to get into schools on a more nationwide basis.

Some bring up the example of how successful badminton is in the U.S. - and yet a browsing of USA badminton's website shows they have a membership of about 2500 (less than 1/3 the membership of USATT), fewer clubs, and also aren't a school sport except possibly in a few regions (like table tennis). They likely face the same problems we face.

Others cite how table tennis, badminton, or other sports are big in schools overseas. However, they are looking at where things are now, rather than how they got there. I've discussed this with European coaches many times, and the one thing they all recommend is that you start with club-based programs, and go to the schools only when the sport is gaining popularity - for the very reasons given above. That's what they did, and that's what we should do. (Asia is a different story. For example, it got big in China because Chairman Mao declared it the "People's Sport," and so the government took the lead in making it a national sport by financially supporting it and putting it in all the schools. We don't have that option here in the U.S.)

I was recently appointed USATT's Regional Association Coordinator as well as chair of the USATT League Committee. (These are unpaid, volunteer positions.) I plan to very actively use these roles to develop regional and state associations. I'm putting together a listing of what associations we already have, with the plan to create others, initially by calling for, recruiting, and appointing volunteers to run state and regional associations. Their primary purpose would be to help set up state championships, regional team leagues, and coaching programs and training centers, using prototypes and plans that we'll supply them with, with USATT support, especially in communicating with current and past members via our database. (Keep in mind these are not the end goal - they are the means to an end, which is basically large memberships.)

I've blogged a lot about my plans already, and will continue to do so, but I won't be going public with a lot of lot of these plans until this fall. I not only need time to develop these plans, but I also have to accept that during the summer I'll be extremely busy coaching, and won't get as much USATT work done during that period as I'd like. If that's not acceptable, then they can cut my salary in half. J

Arm Problems

As noted in my blog yesterday, I hurt my arm over the weekend. It started on Friday, got worse on Saturday (though I didn't realize until the very end of the day how bad it was getting), and on Sunday I had to bring in someone to do my hitting. Yesterday I only had an hour of multiball for our afterschool program, but half an hour into it I had to stop as my arm was inflamed. At Coach Jack's suggestion, I tried doing it left-handed, but that didn't turn out very well. So I'm off this week from all private coaching and most multiball sessions. For the afterschool program today I'm going to use the robot and perhaps feed a little multiball, but only slowly to beginners. (I may try lefty again.) It especially hurts when I feed backspin, so perhaps if I avoid that I'll be able to feed easy multiball without injury. We'll see.

Junior Star Allen Wang is Starting a School Club (Part 3)

After a flurry of donations, Allen was stuck for several days at $775, and is currently at an even $800 (exactly halfway to the $1600 needed). C'mon, people, do we want to live in a world where little kids like Allen Wang grow up disillusioned at their fellow man? Donate now!!! $10, $20, whatever you can afford. Remember, I plan on posting a public list of every human on earth who does not donate. You don't want to be on that list of bad, evil people. Meanwhile, here's the current list of good people who will not be on that list:

  • Fadi Kaddoura ($500!!!)
  • Impossi Chu ($50)
  • Josh Salmon ($40)
  • Xiaota Wang ($30)
  • Alice Yang ($30)
  • Gregory Dell ($25)
  • Anonymous ($25)
  • Sophia Lee ($20)
  • Eric Finkelstein ($20)
  • Larry Hodges ($20)
  • Osvaldo Gold ($10)
  • Emilito Goldrico ($10)
  • Anonymous ($10)
  • Anonymous ($10)

Don't Make Changes For the Sake of Change

Here's the new coaching article from Han Xiao.

Listen and Communicate: More advice for coaches

Here's the new coaching article by Samson Dubina.

11 Questions with David Sakai

Here's the USATT interview. David's a USATT Hall of Famer and Multiple x 2013 US National 65+ Singles and Doubles Champion.

Brian Pace Doing Multiball with Coach Nelson Navarro

Here's the video (1:36).

Table Tennis Training Circuit

Here's the video (15:50) as a coach combines multiball with a sort of obstacle course.

The Ball

Here's the latest artwork from Mike Mezyan. It's rather simple and yet compelling. It reminds me of the stories about former Yugoslavian great Dragutin Surbek, who would work on his concentration by sitting in a darkened room and just stare at a ping-pong ball.

Jordan Spieth Plays Table Tennis

Here's the article from Table Tennis Nation. He plays golf too. "During the [Master's] broadcast on Sunday, the announcers mentioned Spieth’s ping pong a few times, noting that the whole family got involved and that even with all the possible ways to keep his mind off golf, it was the ping pong table that got the most attention."

Rick Carlisle Plays Table Tennis

Here's the USATT page, which links to two articles and a video.

Ping Pong vs. Table Tennis

Here's the difference!

Bus Pong

Here's 28 seconds of Bus Pong! (Is the bus moving?)

Today's Traffic News

Here's the traffic sign table!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 13, 2015

Tip of the Week

How Many Serving Motions Should You Have?

Weekend's Coaching and Arm & Cramp Problems

Well, I did it again - I hurt my arm. I think I did too much looping during a coaching session on Friday so a student could work on blocking. Then on Saturday I did a lot of multiball, and feeding backspin put some strain on the arm. At the end of the session I served to a student for about ten minutes straight, and that's what finally killed the arm. (Advanced serves can put a lot of strain on the arm!) I thought I'd be okay the next day, but on Sunday I quickly discovered it wasn't. I had 3.5 hours of private coaching and 3.0 hours of group sessions scheduled. The group sessions were no problem, but I finally had to hire Derek Nie to do some of my hitting in one session. Even blocking was a problem as it put a strain on the arm reaching for shots. I ended up teaching a lot of serves, pushing, lobbing, and lots of multiball - mostly topspin since feeding backspin hurt the arm.

Since I was on my feet coaching almost continuously all day Sunday, I paid the price - at about midnight, a few minutes after I put aside the book I was reading to go to bed ("Ogi: The Life of Ichiro Ogimura"), my right leg cramped up. It got so bad I had to get up and walk around for ten minutes until it stopped.  

Meanwhile, between cries of pain, I did some coaching over the weekend.

In the Adult Beginning/Intermediate Class on Sunday I taught them how to feed multiball to each other. This allows them to do a huge number of drills - but in particular, it allows them to rapid-fire practice their loops against backspin. As I demonstrated, you get about ten times as many loops against backspin as you get if you do it one ball at a time by serving and looping and then either playing the point out or chasing after the ball. It wasn't easy for a lot of them, but most got the hang of it. The biggest problems were a tendency to pick the ball up out of the box of balls, bring it back to the racket, and drop the ball straight down. It's much easier and realistic to throw the ball backwards with a low bounce, and then hit it with essentially a regular forehand drive or push shot. Also, many would bounce the ball high instead of low.

I put them in groups of mostly three so one could feed multiball, one did the shots, and one picked up balls, rotating every three minutes. First they did simple topspin, side to side, doing forehand footwork practice. Then we did a recap of forehand looping against backspin, which we had covered last session, and we did the rotation again, three minutes each. Then I gave a demo and lecture on backhand looping, and then one more rotation, three minutes each. (As usual, Raghu Nadmichettu and Josh Tran assisted.)

I did a lot of multiball over the weekend, both scheduled a non-scheduled due to my arm. I do a two-hour session on Saturdays with John & Kevin that's essentially all multiball, with receive practice at the end that's essentially me serving multiball fashion as they practice receive. Alas, the net I'd bought about four years ago to catch the balls for these sessions broke, and so I used a robot and its net to catch the balls. But the robot had a plastic basin for catching the balls, plus the robot itself, so balls were ricocheting all over the place as I fed the balls, which was both distracting and irritating. After mishitting still another ball due to a ricochet, I finally said, "These working conditions are intolerable!" Yes, I'm at war with the robot. Or at least its "bouncy" net construction.

I'd be amiss if I didn't also mention another great quote, when John mentioned a local player and said, "He has a penholder strawberry." For those not in the know, a "strawberry" is a backhand flip where you sidespin the ball the opposite way as the more standard backhand banana flip.


Meanwhile, my USATT todo list is growing. I'm working on three new bylaws proposals, which I'll blog about later; a serving rule proposal (to eliminate hidden serves by making it illegal to hide the ball from any part of the net - more on this later); sample Regional Association Bylaws; and compiling lists of current State or Regional Associations, State Championships, Team Leagues, and full-time Training Centers, with the plan to dramatically increase the number of all of these. I've blogged a lot about setting up regional and state association, team leagues, and training centers. One more goal I've added - I'd like to see state championships in all 50 states and DC in 2016. (I'll blog about this latter item, and my current listing, probably later this week.)

U.S. Open Entry Form

Here it is! And here's the U.S. Open page. A lot of changes this year. We're back to Caesar's Palace! (Along with the Linq, which is across the street.) Lots of new events, 94 in all - browse the list!

U.S. College Championships

They were held this weekend. There was a surprise in Men's Teams and Doubles! Who won? Here are complete results, here's the official page, and here's the USATT page with lots of video.

Learn the Backspin Serve - Like a Boss!

Here's the coaching video (3:15) by Brett Clarke - covers both backspin and no-spin serves. 

New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

  • Kids - Read 5 points about junior table tennis
  • Beginner Coaches - How can the new-coach-on-the-block establish credibility?

Table Tennis School

Here are some new training videos from Table Tennis School.

I Love What I Do Because I Do What I Love

Here's the table tennis coach's poster.

Jim Butler vs. Larry Kesler Intersection

Here's video (1:30, but you only need to watch the start) of Jim Butler forehand looping in a serve from his wide backhand, and following through into the umpire, Larry Kesler.

Massive Table Tennis

Here's a new highlights video (5:41).

Capital Area Super League

Another week of action in the Capital Area Super League! Here are two Division One results this past weekend - the other divisions were off this week. (Complete results are here.)

New ICC Center

Here's the video (2:11).

Off-Table Behind-the-Back Counter-smash

Here's the video (19 sec) of Lea Rakovac!

Werner Schlager Running Backhand Rip

Here's the video (38 sec) - watch how he ends the point!

Mini-Pong Exhibition

Here's the picture.

I Have No Idea What He's Doing

Here's the picture! If I were coaching him, I think I'd just give up.


Here's the video (4:29) of this five on five game!

Gorilla Pong?

Here's the picture!

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