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!!!

January 30, 2015

Serving Combos

I was playing a match with one of my students recently and decided to test him on a bunch of serving combos. He knows my serves very well, so individually he has no problems with them. But when I throw certain combos at him, he (and most others) struggle with the second one. Below are ten of my favorite combos. All can be done as listed or by reversing the order. Some are mostly variations of others, so there's some overlap. I'm assuming both players are righties for this, but lefties can use similar variations.

Keep in mind that the more you do these serves, the better you get at them, at figuring out what combos work best against different players, and at following them up. For example, after a short serve to the forehand, I might serve long to the backhand (usually a serve that breaks to the right), anticipating a crosscourt return to my backhand. Since I've been doing this for decades, I've learned to read my opponent very quickly and see early on if I'm going to get the expected soft return to my backhand, and so I'll quickly move over and rip a forehand. But I'll also see quickly if he's going down the line to my forehand or if he's going to do an aggressive backhand attack (or forehand step around), and adjust accordingly. Similarly, if I serve short to the forehand (often after a long serve to the backhand), I can pick up early if he's going to return the expected crosscourt return to my forehand (and edge over to attack it), or if he's going to go down the line (and so I get ready to either attack with my backhand or step over to use the forehand). The more you do these combos, the better and quicker you'll get at them. (And remember, all of these combos can be done in reverse.)

  1. Short to the forehand, then long to the backhand.
  2. Deep sidespin to backhand (so it breaks right), then reverse pendulum short to forehand (so it breaks left). This is a more specific variation of the one above.
  3. Heavy backspin, then "heavy" no-spin (i.e. big backspin motion).
  4. Short sidespin-backspin, then short super-heavy backspin.
  5. Short backspin, then short side-top with big down motion.
  6. Deep, breaking spinny serve (not too fast), then fast serve.
  7. Deep to middle or backhand, then fast down the line to forehand.
  8. Deep pure sidespin to backhand, then deep corkscrew to backhand (so it breaks like crazy to the right).
  9. Deep topspin anywhere, then fast no-spin to middle.
  10. Serve from wide forehand diagonally to the short forehand, then fake the same serve but go deep down the line to the backhand.


When I ran for the USATT Board, I said there were five major items I'd focus on, plus twelve others. (See listing here.) Below is an update. The nice thing is that when I ran, I was assuming the same old USATT where nobody really did much. Our new CEO (Gordon Kaye) is taking charge of some of these issues, making things a lot easier for me and better for all of us.


  1. Create a Nationwide System of Regional Team League (I blogged about this on Monday, Nov. 24)
    =>The Goal: Dramatically increase USATT membership.
    This is part of the Regional Association Proposal I'm putting together to present to the board at the teleconference tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25. I'll be working closely with the USATT CEO on this.
  2. Create State and Regional Associations (I blogged about this on Tuesday, Nov. 25)
    =>The Goal: Dramatically increase membership by organizing on the local level.
    Also part of the Regional Association Proposal. I expect to have a prototype regional league that we can promote and develop in other regions by the end of the year.
  3. Create a USATT Coaching Academy to Recruit and Train Professional Coaches (I blogged about this on Wednesday, Nov. 26)
    =>The Goal: Large numbers of coaches, training centers, and junior & adult programs.
    Yep, also part of the Regional Association Proposal. USATT committees are about to be updated, so I'm waiting for approval of the new USATT Coaching Committee so I can go to work with them on this. I expect to implement this part of the proposal by the end of the year.
    More Training Centers => More Junior Programs => More Players and Higher Level of Play
  4. Turn U.S. Open and Nationals into Premier Events (I blogged about this on Monday, Dec. 1)
    =>The Goal: Attract players, spectators, TV, and sponsors to our sport.
    The USATT CEO is working on this. I've discussed it with him quite a bit, and am pretty confident that he's taking care of this. Let's see where we are a year from now.
  5. Create a Professional Players Association and Professionalize the Sport (I blogged about this on Tuesday, Dec. 2)
    =>The Goal: For top USA players to make a living playing professionally.
    The USATT CEO has plans on this, which he'll blog about later. With so much going on, we'll start on this next year.  

Other USATT Issues 
(I blogged about these on Wednesday, Dec. 3.)​

  1. Mailings to past members. (I blogged about this on Feb. 19.)
    This is something I'll look to do after we've had a year or so to develop programs around the country (leagues, coaching programs, etc.) so we have something new to offer past members.
  2. Hidden serve rule. (I blogged about this on Nov. 11 and numerous other times.)
    I'm waiting for the new USATT Rules Committee to be approved and then I'll approach them about this.
  3. Rules changes and the plastic ball.
    For better or worse, plastic balls are here to stay. But I'm not interested in any more rules and equipment changes, other than fixing the hidden serve rule
  4. USATT Advisory Committees.|
    This has already been a subject of discussion on the board. I believe some of the committees are having the "Advisory" dropped. I'll have more on this later.  
  5. Committee Chairs and Members.
    I'm going to make sure we take our time and research members before approving. Too often committees are chaired by the first person who volunteers. We need to do searches and recruit the right candidate for each. I've seen times where a committee chair was decided like Jeopardy - whoever hit the buzzer first (i.e. raised their hand) got the position.
  6. NCAA recognition. Here's some info on this. I blogged about this on November 18.
    Nothing new on this, but at some point I'll look into it. 
  7. Fix rating system.
    Too much to go into here. To start with we need a USATT Ratings Committee. We don't have one. I'll propose one sometime this year.
  8. Publish USA citizens ranking lists.
    This was actually required by a past USATT board vote that's long since been forgotten. Too often U.S. players are buried in the rankings behind foreign players. We need both an open listing and a citizens listing. USATT is now keeping track of citizen info, and should have such a list ready as an option later on in the new ratings platform.
  9. U.S. Open and U.S. Nationals info.
    The dates and location of these events should be available at least one year in advance, so we can promote them at the previous year's event. The USATT CEO is working on this.
  10. Bring back print magazine if financially feasible. (I blogged about this on February 11, where I predicted in advance the large advertising decrease.)
    I only recently got the magazine financial info, and will be studying it soon. Suffice to say we lost a lot the last few years - but a lot of this was because of falling advertising. It dropped by about half this year when it went online, and was still falling when they pulled the plug.
  11. Let members get on the USATT ballot by petition.
    I've written the proposal, which will go to the Board as part of their packet for the February teleconference. It's a bylaw change, so they need 30 days' notice, which means they'll vote on it in the March teleconference (tentatively scheduled for March 25). It'll need a 2/3 majority to pass. As the date approaches, I'll post the proposal and blog about it.
  12. Change USATT's Mission Statement.
    Here is our current bureaucratic shopping list mission statement, followed by the mission statement of the U.S. Tennis Association (with the word "Table" added). I like theirs, and would like to quote the table tennis version of it regularly at USATT board meetings. It needs to be the driving force behind everything we do. I'll make the proposal later this year. (It's a bylaw change, so will need 30-days' notice and a 2/3 majority to change.)
  • "The Mission of the USATT shall be to enable United States athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic/Paralympic, Pan American or Para Pan American Games, and other international competitions, and to promote and grow the sport of Table Tennis in the United States, while creating a lasting value for our members."
  • "To Promote and Develop the Growth of Table Tennis."

Small Kid on a Big Table - on a Platform

Here's the video (4:14) of a kid from Palestine who probably couldn't play effectively on a regular table - except they've put him on a platform! He looks pretty good, far better than if the table were shoulder height to him. I'm a little worried about the safety side as kids that age tend to be oblivious to things, and he might forget he's on a platform and get hurt when he steps off. But it's still a great idea - I think! Ideally, of course, we'd just get a shorter table, as I blogged about on Tuesday.

On a non-table tennis note, here's something that kind of threw me. There are 22 comments under the video as I write this, and all of them are invoking God, mostly praising him or asking him to protect the kid, when in fact the video is about a little kid who plays very good table tennis while standing on a platform. (There's a "See Translation" link next to each, at least on my Google Chrome browser.) 

How to Smash a High Backspin Ball

Here's the video (2:13) from Expert Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach

Episode #67 (20:40) - Ovtcharov's Serve

  • Yesterdays #PQOTD  - 2:30: Who is the most inspirational player you have seen?
  • #PQOTD - 3:37: How many training sessions did you do last week?
  • Question 1 - 4:02: Hey Pingskills, Your tips for the tall players didn't work on this guy, He's unbeatable :( He just blocks, I smash, loop, chop but it doesn't work. Please have you another tips? Brock
  • Question 2 - 6:17: Sir, my defense is dominant in bh. So, when the attacker attacks, I automatically switch to backhand. i'm weaker in fh. Any tips please? Earl
  • Question 3 - 8:22: I am having trouble chopping the ball (forehand) in a match, where it goes too far or too high or I just miss the ball. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can fix this? Thanks! Nikolas
  • Question 4 - 12:02: My son is just 10 and quite interested in learning TT and his dream is of becoming a world champ. He is prepared to do anything to be a master and hold the trophy. My full support is with him. Should I buy a table for him or 10 years is too young? Young
  • Question 5 - 15:15: Please explain how Ovtcharov does his serve and why. Dii
  • Question 6 - 18:15: How can I improve my forehand topspin? When I do it, it always hit the net. Am I missing something?

Ma Long Practicing His Serve

Here's the video (5:45) from a couple years ago. See if you can pick up his contact.

Chinese World Team Trials

Here's info on them. They'll be held Feb. 2-6 in Zhenjiang.

Ping Pong: "The Ultimate Social Networking Tool"

Here's the article from Pong Universe.

Soccer Skills in Table Tennis

Here's the video (25 sec) as two players show they can handle the ball with their racket and their feet.

University Ping Pong Project Transforms Public Spaces

Here's the article where they try to spread ping pong and color in London.

International Table Tennis

Here's my periodic note 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).

Waldner vs. Fetzner

Here's video (46 sec) of some humorous play between Jan-Ove Waldner and Steffen Fetzner from 2012.

Jumping Net Pong

Here's the cartoon.


Send us your own coaching news!

January 29, 2015

Short Blog Today

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a headache - a double whammy. My voice is hoarse and I think someone punched me all over my body while I was sleeping. I think I have a slight cold (yeah, lots of Kleenex), while the headache might be from late-night work and lack of sleep. I was going to write about yesterday's adventure (2.5 hours of coaching, meeting with USATT player rep Han Xiao on my Regional Associations proposal, snowball fights, and the power of chocolate brownies as incentive for juniors to work hard), but I think I'm going back to bed. But remain assured that even sleeping, I never stop thinking about USATT issues and ways to turn our sport into the greatest thing since sporks. (Someday perhaps I'll write about my ongoing contention with my students that the spork is humanity's greatest invention, better than their smart phones and even better than Tenergy, but not now.)

Peter Scudner New USATT Board Chair

USATT members should have received a press release from USATT this morning announcing Peter as the new chair. Here's the USATT press release

Entry List for 2015 Pan Am and National Team Trials

Here's the USATT News Item, which lists who has currently entered, and will be regularly updated until the deadline on Feb. 15. It also gives info on how to enter.

Serve Return Training

Here's the video (1:28) where Samson Dubina has a robot "serving" slightly long balls randomly about the table, and he topspins them all.

Ask the Coach

Episode 66 (16:16) - Waldner's Trademark Serve

  • Yesterdays  #PQOTD  - 2:01: How old were you when you started Table Tennis?
  • #PQOTD  - 3:43: Who is the most inspirational player you have seen?
  • Question 1 - 4:12: My problem is my backhand and power hits. The power hits are not going right. When I make a smaller version of it then it goes really well, but when I add more power I lose control or balance and the ball goes over the table. Aleksander
  • Question 2 - 5:39: Hi I am having an issue with my backhand these days. When i try to make a backhand topspin smash, it tends to go under the net most of the times. at the moment, I use side topspin to sort of lift the ball at the same time but it feels unstable. Denny
  • Question 3 - 9:31: Hey PingSkills! I have a trouble with tall players, the guy is like 6'5 tall and around 200 pounds of muscles and he's a very good table tennis player and he block all my best shots. Please have you some tips? Brock.
  • Question 4 - 11:23: I watched some amazing footage of Waldners career and how he developed his trademark serve along the line below his arm. It is impossible to anticipate and even less see what he is doing but isn´t there a rule you are not allowed to hide the ball? Marcus
  • Question 5 - 13:34: I am wondering what benefits I can gain from seeing a coach in person, versus doing drills I have learned with someone at or above my skill level. Would it beneficial to have a coach critique my form and help and analyze my in game strategy? Dakota

Reminder - USATT Committees

This is just a reminder that USATT committee applications are due on Monday. Here's the USATT Board Seeks Nominations for Committee Appointments news item from Jan. 15. If you have interest and expertise in any of the following, I hope you'll apply - we need people like you! (Here's my Jan. 16 blog where I give my take on each of the committees.)

Advisory Committees

  • Umpire and Referee Committee
  • Rules Committee
  • Seniors Committee
  • Tournament Committee
  • Editorial Committee
  • Clubs Committee
  • Hardbat Committee
  • Leagues Committee
  • Juniors Committee
  • Coaching Committee
  • Marketing and Fundraising Committee 

Standing Committees

  • High Performance Committee
  • Nominating and Governance Committee
  • Compensation Committee
  • Audit Committee
  • Athlete Advisory Council
  • Ethics & Grievance Committee 

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - December 2014

Here's the video (9:56). I thought I had put this up previously, but I searched and couldn't find it.

Table Tennis England Requiring Plastic 40+ Balls

Here's the article.

Virtual Table Tennis Drops the Ball on Gross Motor Skills

Here's the article from Medical Xpress. "Children playing table tennis on a game console move their arms faster and further than those playing in real life but miss out on the development of key gross motor skills, according to a WA study."

25 Olympians Staring Longingly at Ping Pong Balls

Here's the article and pictures.

Bear Pong

Here's the cartoon.


Send us your own coaching news!

January 28, 2015

Busy Day

I'm leaving to coach at 1PM, finishing at 7:15PM. It's going to be a long coaching day! (It's not all coaching; I have to pick up four kids from school for our afterschool program, and I have a meeting from 5-6PM.) Then, when I get home, I get to go to work on USATT and MDTTC stuff. Besides finalizing a Regional Association proposal for USATT (which includes state & regional associations, state championships, team leagues, and training centers & coaching programs), I have to put together the monthly MDTTC Newsletter.

Blogging Policy on USATT Issues

I'm putting together a "Blogging on USATT Issues" policy that I can use as a guideline for what and when I can blog about USATT issues, since I'm on the USATT board. (This is primarily a coaching blog, but I do of course blog about other issues, including USATT.) I'll share this with the USATT CEO for his input. (I also have to check the USATT bylaws for anything on this, as well as the Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest forms I signed to run for the board.) It's not just for me - others from USATT sometimes blog (here's the USATT blogging page) and I think there should be some policy on this, with specific guidelines. I get the final say on my own policy (as long as I'm not abusing my USATT position), though of course if there's a more general one for USATT people then USATT would have to approve that. Hopefully the two will be identical and so we can have just one set of gudelines.

For example, we had a USATT teleconference last Wednesday night. There was at least one major thing that happened (some might say more than one), but I haven't blogged about it as I'm waiting for USATT to put out a press release first. (There were some other interesting things, but for now I'm waiting for the official minutes to come out before blogging about them.) But it's not always that simple. Meetings in person are mostly open, and so anything that goes on there can be blogged about except for what happens in closed "executive" sessions, mostly on confidential, personnel, disciplinary issues. But a teleconference is only for board members and invited guests, and so might be considered "closed." So I'm more hesitant to write about what happens there. Can I blog about general things that are on the agenda? There are many questions like this that I'll discuss with the CEO before finalizing my policy.

I also don't want board members to think I'm using this blog as a weapon against them, or that they have to watch everything they say around me. At the same time if I agree or disagree with something that happens (such as official USATT business, as opposed to just discussions), I'm likely going to blog about it. They can also blog about it if they choose, and in fact I'll allow them to do a guest blog here. A key thing is that even if I disagree with something, I'll try to blog about it in a respectful manner.

I've got at least two major proposals going before the board soon, for the teleconferences in February and March. Do I blog about them in advance? Since they are coming from me, I can. More on these when they are coming up. When others have proposals, what and when can I blog about them? That's the tougher question.

Winning 161-2

[Bonus if you catch a curious thing I'm doing in this paragraph!]

A coach is facing a backlash and a ban for running up points in winning 161-2 in what was obviously a mismatch. Was it right to do this? I thought a lot about this all morning - is such a display okay? I don't want to win 11-0 and so I usually allow scoring by popping a ball up at 10-0. But should you do this? You almost always will win if up 10-0 or 10-1, so why not allow a point at 10-0? Many will say this is wrong, and say go for 11-0 - and that's okay; if you want to, go for it! I just don't want to do it on my own. Many say that losing 11-0 builds "grit." What do you think?

[Count the e's - yep, I'm having a little fun here. And see this.]

All right, enough e-foolery. In general, I actually would say play every point at your very best unless it's an obviously complete mismatch. If I'm playing a 7-year-old kid who I can beat 11-0 every game, I may still win 11-0 - but I'll put some balls up so he can take shots, and I won't use serves he can't return. But I might give him a spinny serve, the same one over and over, until he figures out how to return it - that's a challenge for him.

In a more serious match that's also a mismatch, I'll mostly try every point (though I'll likely have a few "fun" lobbing points), but I may practice certain shots, such as forcing my third-ball attack or certain types of receive, rather than play tactically. I might also hold back on my trickier serves, unless I feel like the opponent needs practice against them - it depends on their level. Letting an opponent face tricky serves is good practice for them, but if their level is too low and I throw all sorts of tricky serves at them (as opposed to perhaps one or two, so they have a serious chance of figuring them out), that won't help except as an occasional reminder of what's possible so they'll also try to develop such serves. Against some weaker players I'll just keep the ball in play and let them practice their attack while I focus on consistency - but I'm fighting hard to be as consistent as possible.

Since I've got a very strong third-ball attack, one thing I often do with students is play games where I force the third-ball attack, sometimes even playing with the rule that I have to end the point on the first shot after my serve. This forces them to really focus on good receives. Since I’m not nearly as fast as I used to be, they have a fighting chance once they realize I can't cover both corners with my forehand like I used to, and so if they can play both wide corners without telegraphing it, I'm in trouble!

In practice against an obviously much weaker player, if I'm up 10-0, I almost always put a ball up slightly to give them a decent chance of winning that point. In a tournament I might consider doing this if it's really a mismatch, especially if it's match point. But I won't give the point away for free - they have to make the shot, and get through my defense as well. Some of course disagree with this philosophy, and say go for blood every time.

Bottom line - it's a judgment call, not a one-size-fits-all thing.

Capital Area Super League

Here's the home page for this new team league in the Washington DC area. Please sign your team up early, so the organizers can have a sense of how many teams are going to be part of the league. There is no downside for signing up – rosters can be adjusted and fees are not due until March 1. The deadline will be extended until Feb 15, but, please sign up early. If you don’t have a home venue, contact the organizers. They can help you with that.

Samson Dubina Articles

The Secret to Long Pips

Here's the coaching article from Pong Universe.

Ask the Coach

Episode #65 (15:51) - Contact Points

  • Previous #PQOTD  - 3:07: How many different types of rubber have you tried?
  • #PQOTD  - 4:14: How old were you when you started Table Tennis?
  • Question 1 - 4:45: How can i play a offensive stroke on a short side spin serve? Pratap
  • Question 2 - 6:04: What is an ideal contact point for BH and FH? Because BH the bat is close to the stomach. FH the bat travels from far from the back. Ashok
  • Question 3 - 8:23: I’ve read the chinese put the forefinger not along the bat but near the middle ? I have tested and I find the control is better and the feeling is also better when the ball arrives on the bat. What do you think? Martin and
  • Question 4 - 11:16: Is there a way to make the ball spin backwards and while spinning backwards have the ball curve sideways when serving? Tyson
  • Question 5 - 13:17: In your previous video, you said not to use the backhand smash that frequently but since I'm a left handed player, I receive most of the shots on my backhand so should I use the backhand smash more often or do you have another strategy? Aiyan

Master of Table Tennis

Here's the new highlights video (7:19), featuring Wang Liqin, Ma Lin, and Ryu Seung Min.

Triangle Teams

This past weekend MDTTC players Ruichao "Alex" Chen and Nathan Hsu won the 4-star Triangle Team tournament in Cary, NC. No online results yet, but here's a picture. (Click on it to see other team pictures.)

4 Healthy Habits to Play Table Tennis Forever

Here's the article from Pong Universe.

Brother & Sister Duo Prachi and Kanak Jha Focused on Pan Am and National Team Trials

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Indian Hand Helps US Progress in Table Tennis

Here's the article in the Times of India that features ICC Coach Rajul Sheth.

7th Annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC Tournament of Champions Pong

Here's the video (60 sec). "A recap video of the JOOLA sponsored Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC 7th Annual Tournament of Champions Pong. This year's tournament helped to raise over $95,000 dollars."

Three Media Internships Available at the Qoros 2015 World Table Tennis Championships

Here's the info page.

Adham Sharara: Zhang Jike Should Be Disqualified

Here's the article. Note the dissenting comment at the end by Barry Meisel.

A "Muscular" Adam Bobrow Directs Airline Traffic with Paddles

Here's the picture! (Here's the result.)

No School Because of Snow

Here's the video (20 sec) of MDTTC junior star Klaus Wood's "reaction" to learning there was no school yesterday due to the two-inch blizzard.

Snow Pong

Here's the picture.

A "Hot" Serve

Here's the fiery video (5 sec)!


Send us your own coaching news!

January 27, 2015

Tables for Kids

One of the problems table tennis coaches face is that kids aren't really big enough to play table tennis on a regular table until they are about 6 or 7 years old. Before that the table is simply too high, often about shoulder height. Tennis had a similar problem in that their courts were too big for kids, who were expected to cover the same amount of ground as Roger Federer. They solved it with QuickStart Tennis (5:35). As a long-time tennis player on the side, I've actually helped with these tennis programs, where they often have a court full of kids in the 3-5 year old range. There's no reason why table tennis can't also start in that age range - except for the size of the table. In fact, with smaller rackets and courts, table tennis should be easier than tennis for these kids!

Sean O'Neill has been a strong advocate for shorter tables for younger kids. He argues that shorter tables is both good for very younger players (such as the 3-5 age group) as well as for slightly older ones (such as under 10), where the height of the normal table might lead to bad habits while a shorter one would lead to better technique. Here's his article (with pictures) on the subject, Helping Young Kids Learn to Play with Correct Technique, Balance, and Power.

Here are two videos he has on this, where the DHS Rising Star Table is featured. It adjusts to four inches lower than a normal table (from 30 inches down to 26).

I've got several students with younger brothers or sisters whose parents are asking when they'll be old enough to learn. With our current tables, not until they are at least five and probably six. With a shorter table, like tennis, they can start in the 3-5 age range. (I'm told that overseas many clubs do have such tables for their younger players.) I'm now debating whether to try to get one of these tables for my club, or get a cheap table somewhere and shortening it by chopping off part of the legs!

Meanwhile, schools are closed here in Maryland due to snow - three inches!!! Call out the National Guard! So no afterschool program or coaching for me today. I'll get a lot of other stuff done.

15 Ways to Identify Bad Leaders

Here's the article. I found this especially informative now that I'm on the USATT Board of Directors. I actually emailed them the link in the midst of a discussion. Hopefully we'll avoid these 15 bad habits! (I could write volumes on each one of these and how it pertains to past USATT problems.) I believe the very first item, on vision, is the most important for board members:

  1. Leaders who can’t see it, probably won’t find it: Leaders without vision will fail. Leaders who lack vision cannot inspire teams, motivate performance, or create sustainable value. Poor vision, tunnel vision, vision that is fickle, or a non-existent vision will cause leaders to fail. A leader’s job is to align the organization around a clear and achievable vision. This cannot occur when the blind lead the blind.

And so I'm especially interested in what other board members have as their vision for the future of our sport, so we can work together on programs to achieve it. Those without a vision for the future of our sport shouldn't be driving the car - you have to know where you are going to get there. As I posted yesterday, here's my vision: "I see a USATT with huge membership, where our top players and juniors are competitive with the best players and juniors in the world, and where our U.S. Open and Nationals are premier money and TV events."

Learning Good Mechanics: Weight Transfer and Using Your Legs

Here's the new coaching article from Han Xiao. Includes links to great videos of Timo Boll and Ma Long looping. I'm showing this to my students.

Serve Tutorial - Confuse Your Opponent with This Serve!

Here's the video (2:45), about getting different spins with the same motion. Here's another video (2:38) by the same coach on "How to Produce More Spin."

Top Tournament Tactics - Top Tactics Against Defensive Players

Here's the new video (2:59) by Brian Pace.

Exhibition at Smash Table Tennis

Here's the video (25:08), with a great opening, of the demo and exhibition I did January 19 with Stefano Ratti at Smash TT in Sterling, VA - with a great opening!!! Lots of trick shots and humorous exchanges. (I posted this in my blog one day late before going on my writing sabbatical, so many may have missed it.)

Westchester Table Tennis Center to Host 2014 North American Tour Grand Finals

Here's the USATT press release, and here's the info flyer. I'll be there - can't wait for the handicap contest at the Friday night party!

Butterfly North American Tour

Here's their schedule.

A Revisionist's Cultural History of Ping-Pong aka Table Tennis by William Shakehand

Here's the online booklet (in verse) by Hermann Lueuchinger - it's great!

USATT News Items

Here are eight more since yesterday!

World's Fastest Archer Shoots a Ping-Pong Ball

Here's the article and video from Table Tennis Nation. (Full video is 5:52, but they show a very short recurring image of the ping-pong ball shooting.) On a side note, the video of the archer has gone viral, but there's huge backlash from the archery community, who say much of what is said on the video isn't true. But I'm not expert on the topic, though a resident archer at the Olympic Training Center (where I lived for four years) once let me take a picture of him as he aimed an arrow at me (circa late 1980s), and got in all sorts of trouble for it. The picture, alas, has been lost to the mists of history.

Tennis Pong for Mini-Men

Here's the cartoon.

Send us your own coaching news!

January 26, 2015

Tip of the Week

Play the Ball.

Writing Sabbatical

A week ago I wrote that I was taking the week off to work on my new book, "Parents Guide to Table Tennis." But a funny thing happened along the way - I got caught up in a number of USATT issues. The net result was I got a lot of stuff done, but only a little on the book, which I'm putting on hold for now. I've come to realize that I probably won't get much writing done over the next four years (my term on the board), other than this blog and the Tips of the Week, and some fiction writing.

There's a lot of USATT stuff going on, but my focus right now is regional associations, which include setting up state championships, regional team leagues, and training centers (which include coaching and junior programs).

However, I did get some writing done - in a fit of energy and inspiration, I did a lot of work on my new table tennis fantasy novel, now tentatively titled "The Spirit of Pong." It's about a mid-level U.S. player who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. He learns the three secrets of table tennis (The Body of Pong, the Mind of Pong, and the Paddle of Pong), and has to overcome great adversity and treachery while meeting the spirits of a number of table tennis greats. I just finished a chapter where he visits the statue and gravesite and meets the spirit of Rong Guotuan, China's first world champion (Men's Singles in 1959) and coach of their first women's world team title (Women's Teams in 1965), who was then framed during the Cultural Revolution as a spy, condemned and tortured, until he finally committed suicide by hanging himself in 1968 at age 30. He has since been "rehabilitated," but I got a stomachache while writing this chapter, just thinking about this terrible wrong. My protagonist learns "The Mind of Pong" from Rong.

Here's a short rundown of my week:

  • Monday: Spent most of the day working on USATT issues and taking care of a number of other items on my todo list. Did one hour of coaching. Then did a demo and exhibition with Stefano Ratti at SmashTT (see segment below). Then met with the Capital Area Super League Organizing Committee for two hours. (Me, Michael Levene, Stefano Ratti, and John Olsen.) Couldn't sleep, so stayed up half the night on USATT issues.
  • Tuesday: I planned to start on the "Parents Guide" that morning, but after staying up until 4AM I was exhausted, and didn't get much done. I did another two hours of coaching, and then, late that night, wrote a chapter of "The Spirit of Pong."
  • Wednesday: Worked more on "The Spirit of Pong," then studied a bunch of USATT issues for the meeting that night. Had a lot of email discussions with board members on various issues. Coached two hours, then came back for the USATT Teleconference (see segment below). After the meeting I was too energized to go to bed, so worked on USATT issues half the night. I did some work on "Parents Guide," then put it aside.
  • Thursday: Did three hours of coaching, including running one of our junior group sessions for an hour. Also had to spend much of the day on non-table tennis issues - running errands, etc., plus one biggie. A while back the overhang over the front door to my house broke and fell - it was a massive thing, weighing hundreds of pounds. I had a new one installed, which cost a LOT of money, alas. They also fixed once again my perennially breaking front gate.
  • Friday: I spent most of the day on USATT issues, then did three hours of coaching. Then saw the movie "The Theory of Everything."
  • Saturday: Spent much of the day working on "The Spirit of Pong," including a lot of research and reading about Rong Guotuan. Then went to the club from 5-10PM for a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, where I did a demo and exhibition with Sameer, and then helped run a recreational tournament. They raised over $4000! (More on this later, when I get pictures and video.)
  • Sunday: Did 2.5 hours of coaching, including 1.5 hours running one of our junior group sessions. Spent much of the night (and this morning) in email discussions with board members, including a discussion I started on "Vision." While I can't share what others wrote, I can share mine: "I see a USATT with huge membership, where our top players and juniors are competitive with the best players and juniors in the world, and where our U.S. Open and Nationals are premier money and TV events." And yes, achieving this vision is what most of my USATT work over the next four years (and over the past week) has been about.

USATT Board Teleconference

I had my first USATT board meeting since getting elected to the board. It was a teleconference on Wednesday night. I'll discuss it more when the minutes for the meeting come out. A few items: we voted on the new board chair (as required by USATT bylaws), but I'll let USATT do the press release before I write about that. We redefined what an "Associate Membership" is (more on that after the minutes come out); heard reports on RailStation (who now do our ratings, membership, and other software), sponsorships, and the US Open/Nationals (more on that hopefully over the next week); discussed committees and had a vote on a new structure and committee definitions that I disagreed with (more on this after the minutes come out - yes, that's getting repetitive); and had an executive session where we discussed some confidential personnel/disciplinary issues. The meeting started at 8PM and ended at 10:07PM. As noted, once the minutes come out I can comment more on this. Hopefully they'll be out within a month or so.

Smash TT Exhibition

Here's the video (25:08) of a demo and exhibition I did at Smash Table Tennis in Sterling, VA, last Monday (Jan. 19) with Stefano Ratti. Lots of trick shots and fun! Here's Stefano and I afterwards posing with the club's balloon mascot. Then we had a meeting of the Capital Area Super League Organizing Committee for two hours. (Me, Michael Levene, Stefano Ratti, and John Olsen.)

USATT Ratings Page and Webpage

Here's the new USATT Ratings Page. There are still some bumps in the page, but they are working to fix them. There's a "New USATT Ratings Site" discussion of this at the Mytabletennis.net forum, where even USATT CEO Gordy Kaye is involved. There's also "USATT Website - Great or Sux?" discussion of the new USATT website.

USATT News Items

During my sabbatical USATT put up 17 news items - here's their News Page!

$100,000 World Championships of Ping Pong

The tournament, where players only use sandpaper rackets (you heard that right) were held this past weekend in London for the third consecutive year. Here's the home page with results, articles, pictures, etc. Here's the prize money listing. In the final Andrew Baggaley (ENG) defeated Alexander Flemming (GER), 3-2, winning $20,000. In the semifinals Baggaley upset 2-1 Maxim Shmyrev (RUS) who had won the previous two years. Three USA players took part - Jim Butler, Ilija Lupulesku, and Johnard Baldonado, with Lupulesku making the final 16 before losing 2-1 to Flemming. (He made the semifinals last year.)

New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

Here they are - and you can also buy his International Skills DVD!

  • Mood Swings - Learn about making or breaking your next tournament!!!
  • The Perfect Plan - Learn About Feeling Pressure from Outside Sources Learn about feeling pressure from outside sources.

New Videos from Dynamic Table Tennis

Here are two new ones from Coach Brian Pace at Dynamic Table Tennis (lots of videos and books for sale there!):

Ask the Coach (PingSkills Version)

Here are the latest four episodes:

Ask the Coach (Werner Schlager Academy Version)

Here's Episode #2 - Service Tactics (1:42), with English subtitles (it's in German), from WSA head coach Richard Prause. Here's Episode #1 (2:24) - What is Talent in Table Tennis (no English subtitles).

Master Table Tennis in 12 Months

Here's the page that tries to answer the question, "Is it possible to master table tennis in just 12 months?" It goes over the year-long "Expert in a Year" challenge.

This is How You Rip a Forehand

Here's video (68 sec) of Chinese phenom Fan Zhendong ripping forehand power loops against backspin in multiball.

Benefits of Practicing With Both Right-Handed & Left-Handed Players

Here's the article from the I Play Table Tennis page.

2015 To Be the Biggest Year in ITTF History

Here's the ITTF Press Release.

USATT Minutes

Here's the page where you can see the minutes of past USATT meetings. The Nov. 12 Teleconference Minutes just went up recently. (The December meeting ones were up previously.)

China is Beatable at Table Tennis

Here's a short article where Sweden's Jorgen Persson (1991 Men's Singles World Champion) talks about this and other issues.

Rainn Wilson/Dwight from "The Office" and Table Tennis

Here's video (68 sec) of Rainn Wilson playing table tennis on the show, and saying the headline above - as well as naming his heroes: "All of my heroes are table tennis players. Zoran Primorac, Jan-Ove Waldner, Wang Tao, Jorg Rosskopf, and of course Ashraf Helmy. I have a life-size poster of Hugo Hoyama on my wall. And the first time I left Pennsylvania was to go to the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony of Andzej Grubba." Here's a 60-sec video of him doing a Soul Pancake commercial while playing table tennis, "Rainn Wilson is a Master Ping Pong Jedi."

Rubber Band Pong

Here's the cartoon.

Send us your own coaching news!

January 19, 2015

Writing Sabbatical This Week

As I wrote on Friday week, I'm taking a writing sabbatical this week, so this will be my last blog until Monday, January 26. I plan to write "Parents Guide to Table Tennis," and if I have time after that, work on my table tennis fantasy novel "The Paddle of Pong." It's going to be a busy week. Besides all the writing and the usual coaching, there's a bunch of USATT stuff going on, including a USATT board teleconference on Wednesday night. Tonight (Monday night) I'm doing an exhibition at SmashTT at 8:30PM (come join us!), after which we're having a meeting of the Capital Area Super League Organizing Committee. On Saturday night I'm helping with a fund-raiser for Cystic Fibrosis at MDTTC, where I'll be doing an exhibition and clinic with Sameer Shaikh, and helping run a recreational tournament. (The tournament is NOT for USATT members or advanced players.)

Tip of the Week

The Lost Art of Messing People Up.

Breaking News Added One Day Late - Exhibition!

Here's the video (25:08), with a great opening, of the demo and exhibition I did Monday night with Stefano Ratti at Smash TT in Sterling, VA - with a great opening!!! Lots of trick shots and humorous exchanges. 

Things I Was Told Would Never Happen

  • I started playing early in 1976 when I was 16. By that Fall I had reached about 1500. A local coach began coaching one of my main practice partners for $5/hour (about $20 in 2015 dollars), who had started at the same time I did and was about the same level - but was four years younger. I asked the coach if he'd coach me as well, and he agreed, but said he'd charge me $15/hour ($60/hour in 2015 dollars), since I was older and had less potential. I couldn't afford it. A year later another higher-level coach began coaching this younger player for free. I asked him if he'd coach me as well, but he said no, said he only had time to coach one player and had to go with the younger one who had more potential. I ended up not taking coaching from either, and in fact relied on coaching camps (including a series of Seemiller camps). In the end, the younger player got good, but I got better - and only one of us made the USATT Hall of Fame!
  • Deng Yaping, who was 4'10", was kicked off the Chinese National Team three times because they thought she was too small to ever be any good. She went on to win Women's Singles at the Worlds three time and the Olympics twice. (Okay, I wasn't "told" this, but it was too good to leave out.)
  • When I started playing in 1976, the idea of table tennis - "ping-pong" - being an Olympic sport was a joke. There simply was no way. But a few people didn't believe that, and primarily through their efforts (and especially Fred Danner's), we became an Olympic Sport.
  • I started out as a forehand hitter, with a big smash, but a weak, awkward loop. I worked with a number of coaches on this, but over and over they concluded that my hitting was so much better I should just focus on that. One even said, "Forget looping, just hit." I was determined to learn to loop effectively, and kept at it, even stagnating at the 1850 level for three years while I did this. Then it all came together! It still doesn't look as sharp as my hitting, but it gets the job done.
  • In 1992 I teamed with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang to open the Maryland Table Tennis Center. (We were originally called the National Table Tennis Center.) There had been several attempts to open full-time table tennis training centers, and all had failed. (There had been some successful ones that relied primarily on leagues.) Over and over I was told that there simply weren't enough serious players in the U.S. for a full-time table tennis training center to survive. And here we are, 23 years later! (They didn't get the idea that you don't rely just on current players, you bring in and develop new ones.)
  • In December, 2006, at a USATT Board Meeting I gave a presentation where I tried to get them to get involved in recruiting and training coaches to open full-time training centers. At the time there were only about 8-10 in the entire country. The idea was met with complete skepticism. Two board members openly argued that the ones that existed were "special cases" or ones that simply hadn't closed down yet, and that there simply weren't enough serious players in the country for there to be more than a few full-time training centers. Others were silent. I resigned my positions as USATT Editor and Programs Director primarily because of this. And here we are, eight years later, and there are now almost 80 full-time centers in the country, with new ones popping up every month or so.
  • If I got started on how many people have argued that table tennis team leagues won't work in the U.S., I'd have to devote the rest of blogs this year to the topic. Suffice to say it's met with the same skepticism as much of the above, despite the great success of such team leagues overseas. Once again they argue there aren't enough players, again not getting the basic idea that you develop new players. Over and over I've asked why they believe people in the U.S. are so different than people overseas, and over and over I'm told the situation is different, usually involving more distractions, other sports, video games, etc., as if they don't have these things overseas. It's rather bizarre, and sort of reflects the mindset of the status quo. This is the great opening USATT has coming up to develop the sport in this country. I'll have a proposal to USATT on this probably by the end of this year. (I'm currently working with a local group - in particular two players who played in the European leagues - who are developing the Capital Area Super League. My experiences here will help in developing a regional prototype that can spread to other regions.)

Navin Kumar - the Bionic Parkinson's Man

For now on I'm just going to introduce myself as "Navin's coach." Here are three new segments on him, plus a recent one in the Washington Post and three from USATT:

  • Here's a new interview with Navin Kumar, "The Bionic Man, Ping Pong's Ultimate inspiration." I'm mentioned in the article as Navin is a student of mine. Here's how it starts: "I was born with a congenital heart condition that has required 5 open-heart surgeries throughout my life to correct. My heart is now mechanical and made of the same carbon fiber material that you see in some table tennis paddles and I also have a pacemaker implanted inside me which is cool because occasionally I get to have software downloaded inside me so I feel like my old childhood bionic hero, The Six Million Dollar Man. A year and half ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease which affects me 2 ways – muscle stiffness and right hand tremors."
  • Here's a new video (2:35) from yesterday where we had a breakthrough in his forehand technique. Watch the subtle turn of his foot and knee that turns his body into the shot.
  • On Saturday from 10AM to 1:30PM I helped Peter Scudner do a videotaping of Navin Kumar, "The Bionic Man." The video will be out in a week or so - I'll post it here.
  • Here he is in the Washington Post on Dec. 2, 2014, "Table Tennis: It Might Be Time to Take It Up Again."
  • Here are three USATT articles that feature him:

USATT Board Seeks Nominations for Committee Appointments

Here's the notice from USATT, which you probably also received via email last week. (I also linked to this on Friday.) See if there's anything that matches your interest an expertise. I hope we get some great volunteers!

The Importance of a Loose Elbow

Here's the new coaching article by Matt Hetherington.

Two New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

Ask the Coach

Episode #60 (12:50) - Serving Slow or Fast?

  • Previous #PQOTD  - 0:47: What is your favourite activity apart from Table Tennis?
  • #PQOTD  - 1:57: What are the most important muscles in Table Tennis?
  • Question 1 - 2:22: Hi Alois, on my attacking forehand topspin strokes, is it ok that when i get to my finish position to open the angle of my bat while getting to it or it should stay the same angle? Pasquale
  • Question 2 - 4:19: I am an attack player. What serve should I use? Nick
  • Question 3 - 7:00: I have been training for a long time on a pendulum serve. The results are converging to a 80% success rate, about 15% into the net and 5% single bounce. How to improve the numbers and restore confidence so that I can use the same serve in matches? Dieter
  • Question 4 - 10:50: I'm an attacking player and rely a lot on speedy topspin shots. I was playing with a spare old bat. I've recently got a new bat which is much lighter and while it's easier to control the spin shots when I try to generate any speed it flies off. Shinjini

New USATT Ratings Page

Here it is. I haven't had a chance to test it, and don't have time right now. So why don't you test it, and report on it? (I did notice one thing - it's confusing trying to find your rating history. Turns out that clicking on your name doesn't work. You have to click on your rating to find it. There should be a note there explaining this. I'll explore this later.)

Butterfly Aurora Open

Ruichao "Alex" Chen (a coach/practice partner from my club, rated 2667) won Open singles ($1500), 11-8 in the fifth over USA National Men's Champion Jimmy Butler ($750). I watched the match - what a battle! Both have great serves, but use them somewhat differently. The lefty Alex has perhaps the most vicious third-ball attack in the country - he relentlessly follows each serve with a forehand loop, and it's nearly unstoppable. Jim uses his serves for outright winners and to control points, though of course he'll rip a forehand or backhand smash if the return is weak. Alex serves short over and over, while Jimmy serves long much of the time - which is risky unless you have very good serves. (Here is the online video of the Saturday afternoon session, which included the Open Final near the end, just before the Open Doubles Final - but for some reason the video blanks out starting at 1:37:16. Anyone know where we can see the video?)

Top Fifteen Ways My Life Will Change Now That I'm on the USATT Board of Directors

This was in my blog on Jan. 8, but a lot of people have asked about it, so I'm posting it again.

  1. I get to move into theUSATT Mansion. (Look closely at this!)
  2. I get to cut the salary of every USATT volunteer who has ever snubbed me. Oh wait…
  3. Hobbies like eating, sleeping, and breathing will go on hold.
  4. Robert F. Kennedy's quote now scares me: "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
  5. I get a free USATT tie!
  6. All those people who call me a crazy fool now have to call me a crazy foolsir!
  7. To make time for my USATT volunteer work all that pesky paid stuff like coaching and writing will go on hold.
  8. I get to scientifically test the theory that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." I believe it does, and I'm never wrong.
  9. I can schedule the U.S. Open and Nationals at my club.
  10. If I'm thinking about USATT stuff when I order a pizza, I can send the bill to USATT, right?
  11. Next time at I jump on the table at a USATT board meeting and start ranting about coaching and leagues they'll wait a little longer before calling security.
  12. Now that 8000 USATT members have access to my email I'll get peace and quiet.
  13. Soon USATT members will know why my last name is just an anagram for "He's God." After a few months they'll realize that "USATT Board" is an anagram for "Oust bad rat." Squeak squeak!
  14. To those who voted against me - you'll get the 100 rating points back after you apologize and practice your serves 15 minutes.
  15. Strange how the day after I'm elected my new USATT rating is 2811.

International Table Tennis

Here's my periodic note 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).

Service Rules

Here's the video (5:31) from PingSkills. Just a basic intro to the serving rules.

NCTTA January Newsletter

Here's the January Newsletter of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association.

Teddy Tran - Gab Talk

Here's the video (11:46) with the USA star. "Without ping-pong, my life would be like a broken pencil - pointless." It's about following your dreams, and having perspective.

The Marty Reisman Racket

Here's the article and pictures

The Difference Between a Master and a Beginner

Here it is!

One of the Best Points Ever - Yep, by Jan-Ove Waldner

Here's the video (33 sec). Not sure who the other player is, on near side with back to us - can anyone tell?
BREAKING NEWS! Bernard Lemal and Stefan Fangmeier both emailed to inform me that the other player (near side) is German star Georg Boehm. 

Craziest Table Tennis Rally of All Time?

Here's the video (42 sec) as Ma Long and Xu Xin (the lefty penholder) put on an impromptu exhibition where they do just about everything.

SPiN New York "Schools" Students on the Joys of Table Tennis

Here's the article.

Susan Sarandon Talks SPiN at Brooklyn Tech

Here's the video (2:34).

Ping Pong the Animation Tribute

Here's the video (3:09) - this is great!!!

Armin van Buuren - Ping Pong

Here's a 41-sec table tennis video from the music producer Armin van Buuren. It's rather interesting, but only because of the music and graphics. (Watch it a second time where you ignore the music and graphics, and you'll see what I mean.)  

Jimmy Fallen Faces Off Against Beer Pong Robot

Here's the video (1:48) - "Yes! Finally! We've Done it! USA! USA!"

Unicorn Pong

Here's the cartoon.


Send us your own coaching news!

January 16, 2015

Writing Sabbatical Next Week

[NOTE - I'll have one more blog and tip on Monday (Jan. 19), and then start my writing sabbatical.]
As I wrote earlier this week, I'm taking a writing sabbatical next week, so this will likely be my last blog until Monday, January 26. (However, I'm thinking of doing one more on Monday, which I'd put together Sunday night - including the Tip of the Week - so check back Monday morning just in case.) I plan to write "Parents Guide to Table Tennis," and if I have time after that, work on my table tennis fantasy novel "The Paddle of Pong." It's going to be a busy week. Besides all the writing and the usual coaching, there's a bunch of USATT stuff going on, including a USATT board teleconference on Wednesday night. The current focus is the upcoming committee appointments - see below.

USATT Board Seeks Nominations for Committee Appointments

Here's the notice from USATT - you likely also received it via email, if USATT has an email address for you. (If not, contact them!)

One of the things I argued during the recent election campaign was that we need to take the word "Advisory" off these committee listings. Historically USATT is a group that does far too much advising and far too little implementing. That needs to change. We've already moved one step in that direction. Here's the current USATT Committees; note that all the non-standing committees (most of them) have "Advisory" in their names. After some discussion, the word was removed from the committee names in the call for applicants. However, they are still listed as "Advisory" committees, which implies that they are just there to advise, when we really need them to actually do stuff.

Besides USATT, I'm a member of several other organizations, such as Science Fiction Writers of American and (previously) the U.S. Tennis Association. Both groups are great at making use of volunteers via committees. SFWA is a master at this - I'm always amazed at how much they get done despite the constant politics. They've learned to separate the two. The committees get things done, and we can learn from them.

Here's my take on each of the 17 USATT Committees. (We also need a Ratings Committee; I'll make that motion later.) In many of these cases the current chair is eligible to return, and might do so. Some are doing excellent jobs.

Advisory Committees

=>Umpire and Referee Committee

This is an important post, with many responsibilities. However, I'm primarily looking for a chair who will push for umpires to enforce the rules, in particular the hidden serve rule. I've blogged about this repeatedly, such as here. The problem is the rules are rather clear, and yet there's little enforcement. The current rules state:

2.06.04 From the start of service until it is struck, the ball … shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry. 

This is difficult for an umpire to tell. And since players know they can get away with it, they often hide the serve (a huge advantage), and the umpire isn't sure. So what is the umpire to do? Oh, there's a rule on that - in fact, two of them!!!

2.06.06 It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws, and either may decide that a service is incorrect. If either the umpire or the assistant umpire is not sure about the legality of a service he or she may, on the first occasion in a match, interrupt play and warn the server; but any subsequent service by that player or his or her doubles partner which is not clearly legal shall be considered incorrect. 

So if an umpire isn't sure if the serve is hidden, then he has to call it, usually with a warning the first time, and a fault thereafter. How much more explicit can you get than the second one above, where it says explicitly that if the umpire is not sure about the legality of a serve (i.e. if it was visible or not), then it's not legal? But the rule is rarely enforced. I want a chair who will push for umpires to enforce the rules. I still don't understand why this is even an issue - of course they should enforce the rules! But because of the laxness in enforcing them, we've created a culture among the top players (both in the U.S. and worldwide) where they know they can get away with illegal serves, and so many do so. This has to change. (Of course, the service rule would be a lot easier to enforce if we changed the service rule - see next item.)

=>Rules Committee

I'm tired of rules changes, so unless there's a huge reason, I don't want any more - except for fixing the hidden serve rule. Since we have so much difficulty getting umpires to enforce the hidden serve rule (see above), the simple solution is to change the rule to something like the following: "Throughout the serve, the ball must be visible to the opponent and to both umpires, or where the umpires would sit." I'm going to keep pushing for this rule, probably looking for a USATT tournament to test it, and then to the ITTF. I want a Rules Chair who will support this.

=>Seniors Committee

This could be a hugely important committee. Golf, for example, got very popular primarily through seniors. However, I haven't seen any real plans on promoting table tennis to seniors. This is not really my area of expertise, but I will be looking for a chair who will actively look to promote the sport to seniors.

=>Tournament Committee

This committee is perhaps more advisory, as they help out tournament directors. They work out the standards for the various star level tournaments. This is one of those committees that, if they do their job well, you don't notice them; if they do it poorly, they are noticeable. (The same is true of some others, such as the Umpire and Referee Committee.)

One big issue that keeps coming up is the idea of sanction protection. It used to be that if someone sanctioned a tournament on a certain date, if you wanted to run one on that same weekend you pretty much had to run it on Mars (or at least in a different region or far, far away). Now they've gone the other extreme, with zero protection, where if you run a million dollar tournament, someone else can run a rival one the same weekend across the street. I'd like to see a little moderation here rather than having to choose between these two extremes, but I'm not planning to get too involved in this issue - if I do, I'll be bogged down in it for the next four years. I'll be looking for a chair who is experienced in running successful tournaments who has good common sense.

=>Editorial Committee

I'll be looking for the obvious - someone with good editorial sense who'll help make our national publications high quality. Nothing special here.

=>Clubs Committee

I'd like an activist here, someone who will focus on developing clubs in this country. However, much of the Club Committee activities would coincide with the League, Coaching, and Juniors Committees (and perhaps the Senior Committee), so these people need together. I'm worried that we'll end up with each committee coming up with their own rival plans rather than working together. Since clubs are the place where all of these intersect, I'll be looking for someone here who can work with the others.

=>Hardbat Committee

As a long-time hardbatter myself (though I usually use sponge), I want a chair who looks to (duh!) promote hardbat table tennis. Nothing special here.

=>Leagues Committee

This should be one of the most important committees we have. I've blogged about this a zillion times, such as here; USATT needs to develop a regional system of team leagues. I'm working this now, and will likely work with this committee. I'm looking for a chair who is ready to get active.

=>Juniors Committee

Another one where we need an activist chair. This person needs to work closely with the Coaching Committee. The key is to recruit and train coaches who wish to be professional coaches or run junior programs.

=>Coaching Committee

Along with the League Committee, perhaps one of the two most important committees. We currently use the ITTF coaching program for certification. We need to go to the next level. I've blogged about this a number of times, such as here. I want an activist chair who's hungry to recruit and train professional coaches and those who want to run junior programs - i.e. set up a USATT Coaching Academy or equivalent.

=>Marketing and Fundraising Committee

We've never done this well, so of course I'm looking for a chair who will actually do these things. However, the new USATT CEO is focusing on these, and we recently hired a National Media and Marketing Consultant, so much of this might be happening with those two. So I'll be looking for someone with experience who can help with this.  

Standing Committees

=>High Performance Committee

This is a hugely important one, as they govern what USATT does for our elite and up-and-coming junior players. Much of this comes down to funding, and we're currently in a funding crisis here since USOC has, for now, cut our funding. Overall I'm happy with what they've been doing. The chair needs to be an open-minded person with experience, who can work in what might be the most difficult committee chair position - lots of people with strong but conflicting opinions here.

=>Nominating and Governance Committee

As I've blogged about, I believe we need to allow people to get on the ballot by petition, as before. I'm looking for a chair who will support this, as well as the usual fair-mindedness needed here. See #11 on my Election Page.

=>Compensation Committee

This committee is primarily responsible for staff salaries and related issues. Not really my area of expertise.

=>Audit Committee

Not my area of expertise, but we need someone we can trust to regularly audit our books.

=>Athlete Advisory Council

They advise our current and former top players. Need a fair-minded chair (duh!).

=>Ethics & Grievance Committee

Here we need a very fair-minded judicial type - so that's what I'll be looking for!

Exhibition at Smash Table Tennis

I'm doing an exhibition with Stefano Ratti at Smash Table Tennis in Sterling, Virginia, Monday at 8:30PM. Come join us! (Afterwards, at 9PM, we have an organizational meeting of the Capital Area Super League - I'm on the committee.)

Capital Area Super League

Here's a USATT news item on the new league. If you're in the DC region (Maryland & Virginia area), come join the Capital Area Super League!

New York Table Tennis League

If you are in the NY area, there's the NYTTL, which is now inviting players for the new season. (I'm mentioned in regard to my focus on leagues.)

Pro Table Tennis with Rowden Fullen

Here's an interesting table tennis site that has a HUGE number of coaching articles.

Returning Heavy Backspin

Here's the coaching video (4:48) from Tao Li.

Ask the Coach

Episode #59 (18:20) - World Ranking Predictions

  • Yesterdays #PQOTD  - 1:57: Who will be number in the World in Mens and Womens at the end of 2015?
  • #PQOTD  - 3:45: What is your favourite activity apart from Table Tennis?
  • Question 1 - 4:34: Hey Pingskills,, What is the best sort of bat and rubber you can buy? Brock
  • Question 2 - 6:02: Which Training camp did you guys join first before you started make Pingskills videos? Brock
  • Question 3 - 7:08: I put a second coat of sealer on the blade and then when i used free chack the glue was drying as fast as I spread it. It clumped up. I scraped the glue and tried putting more this time. When I put the rubber on the blade, the rubber is peeling off. John
  • Question 4 - 9:28: I am a righthander, I do a backhand serve from the left side of the table with my left foot further away from the table. If I dont know the ball is coming short I stand parallel to the table and kind of fall over. I cant figure out the problem. Manuel
  • Question 5 - 12:10: After they blocked my loop it touched the top of the net. When I touched it, because it has lots of topspin it went out. What should I do when the ball has topspin or underspin or sidespin and touches the net and bounces on my table. Long
  • Question 6 - 14:48: I noticed while playing against someone, their drive would sometimes 'sink'. Is this behavior dependent on the intensity of spin or power? I usually see this done with topspin but can this be done with other spins? Waley
  • Question 7 - 17:20: If I want to block a spin, should I do it slow or fast? Brock

Lily Yip Repeats as Coach of the Year

Here's the article by Matt Hetherington. Here's the USATT notice on this from yesterday on the four big winners, which I blogged about Wednesday

Will We See a Top Defensive Play at the Top?

Here's the article by Matt Hetherington. 

Navin Kumar Plays Table Tennis for Life

Here's another article on my student at MDTTC - the "Bionic Man"!

Interview with Panagiotis Gionis

Here's the interview at the OOAK TT forum with the Greek chopping star and world #21.

One on One with NCTTA President Willy Leparulo

Here's the article and interview.

USOC Players and Teams of the Month

Here's the list for December - Jim Butler came in second in Men's, and the USA Junior Girls Team came in third for Teams. Phooey on luge, bobsled, and swimming!

Have Paddle, Will Travel

Here's the article as puzzle master Will Shortz plays table tennis in Casper as part of quest to be the first recorded person to play table tennis in all 50 states. I've been to all 50 states and have played table tennis in 47 (all but Alaska, Hawaii, and Connecticut), so he's about to one-up me. (Strangely, I can't get the text of the article to appear on my screen, just the headline, photo, and a bunch of gray lines where there should be text.)

Local Chicago Players Aim for Titles at 2015 Butterfly Aurora Cup

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Funny Point

Here's video (45 sec) of two kids going at it, with an unfortunate "What am I supposed to do about that?" ending!

Jan-Ove Waldner Drop Shot

Here's video (44 sec, including slow-motion replay) of the shot in an exhibition with Jorgen Persson. (That's Dan Seemiller doing most of the commentating, the one who says, "That's table tennis at its best.")

Rock-Paper-Scissors for Serve?

Here's video of Fukuhara Ai and Ichikawa Azusa doing rock-paper-scissors to see who serves at the start of a match - I've never seen this! (The link should take you directly to where they do this, 39 seconds in, but you could watch the whole video.)

Table for Two?

Here's the latest TT artwork from Mike Mezyan.

Business Pong

Here's the cartoon - and perhaps a reason little gets done at many USATT board meetings!


Send us your own coaching news!

January 15, 2015

Multiball Training

Have you done any multiball training recently? No? Well, why not? Don't you want to get better?

There are some myths about multiball training. Some believe it's only for beginners - and yet the Chinese team spends about 1/3 of their training time with multiball. Some think it's only for advanced players - but multiball is the best way to teach the basics. It's for all levels. Ironically, often beginners do multiball when they first learn, and advanced players do it for more intensive training, while intermediates don't do it - and it's one reason they stay intermediate players rather than advanced. It takes intensive training to become an advanced player, and multiball is one of the central ways of doing that.

Before we go further, here's my Tip of the Week on Multiball Training.

So how do you go about doing this if you don't have a coach, or can't afford one? Simple - find a practice partner - like anyone who wants to improve in table tennis - and take turns feeding multiball to each other. Yes, you'll need a box of training balls, but it's a one-time expense (other than getting new ones as they break). You'll also probably want ball nets to pick up balls, such as the Ball Amigo from Butterfly, and perhaps a head replacement. (I'd get two nets since there will be two of you.)

But first spend some time practicing. When I first began coaching I wasn't that good at feeding multiball either. So what did I do? I took a box of balls and practiced feeding multiball. (We had a robot with a net to catch the balls, so I didn't have to keep picking them up from the floor, but that's not really needed.) Learn to feed all types of balls - topspin and backspin, side to side, random, etc. It's easier to feed if you bounce the ball backwards on the table first, but for speed multiball you might want to practice feeding right out of your hand.

Here's a thread at the OOAK forum where the second message links to a number of videos of multiball being done.

One big question - and a reason some might want to hold off on buying lots of training balls for now - is because of the transition from celluloid to the plastic 40+ balls. Right now we're still using celluloid for multiball training at MDTTC because there aren't any good plastic training balls available yet - we're waiting for them from Butterfly, since they sponsor our club. As soon as they become available we'll be getting lots of them and switching over.

MDTTC Happenings

It seems we've had a lot going on recently at MDTTC.

It Counts as Three Points!

Here's the new coaching article by Samson Dubina.

Ask the Coach

Episode # 58 (18:44) - Zhang Jike's Footwork.

  • Yesterdays #PQOTD  - 1:04: Should Table Tennis copy other sports and go to a reduced format like 20/20 cricket and Fast 4 Tennis?
  • #PQOTD - 2:53: Who do you think will be Number 1 in the World at the end of 2015 in Mens and Womens?
  • Question 1 - 3:26: If you must choose an opponent that you would want to meet, who would it be? Brock
  • Question 2 - 4:26: Who is your best Table Tennis Player of all time? Brock
  • Question 3 - 4:49: How often did you guys play table tennis when you were rookies? Brock Lesnar
  • Question 4 - 6:17: About the pendulum service when i practice this service i usually hit it in the net. I want to know how exactly to not hit it in the net or the judge calls a let. Am I supposed to draw back when I'm serving or there is a better way. Caylan
  • Question 5 - 8:35: Does height affect gameplay in table tennis? Jaydon
  • Question 6 - 9:42: In an old match from 2011, between Ma Long and Zhang Jike, if we leave everything else and just focus on Zhang Jike's feet I am mesmerized as to what level he has taken his footwork to. China excel in it. Are we missing some technical information? Arnab
  • Question 7 - 11:25: Some coaches don't like their players fooling around and do a lot of experimenting while they are playing or practicing. So is it necessary to always practice hard with seriousness, determination or hard work, or, it wouldn't hurt to have some fun? Arnab
  • Question 8 - 13:20: My friend says that if you angle your bat 45 degrees when you smash, the ball will land on more often. This tactic has worked for me, is it true? Or is it false?
  • Question 9 - 14:52: I use "yasaka phantom 009" on my backhand.I learned many serves from your helpful videos, thank you. Can you show and teach me some serves with this kind of rubbers. Siddharth
  • Question 10 - 16:32: What angle is the chop to generate spin? Brock

Newly Crowned Men’s National Champion Jimmy Butler to Compete at 2015 Butterfly Aurora Cup

Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Kai Zhang

Here's an article and interview with the Westchester, NY star.

Father, Daughter Train at Greeley Senior Activity Center

Here's the article from the Greely Tribune in Colorado.

The Brothers Alamiyan Living Table Tennis

Here's the article

Boston Red Sox Ping Pong Tournament

Here's info - they are holding this near their park on Jan. 17 for fans, with winners getting Red Sox tickets. "Think you've got what it takes to run the tables in Ping Pong? Sign up now for our Red Sox Ping Pong Tournament!" … "At Winter Weekend, the best of the best will face off against 8 Red Sox personalities, vying for the Baseball Winter Weekend Cup!"

Table Tennis Twittering

Here's a table tennis twitter page. Everything you wanted to know about table tennis in nice easy 140-character chunks.

Man vs. Robot

Here's the video (2:30). (I like the start!)

Chinese Team Playing in the Dubai Desert Sands

Here's the picture! Click on picture to see two more.

How to Dive and Smack Your Head on the Floor

Here's the video (38 sec) of Adam Bobrow doing this, and why he has stiches on his head. (I searched Youtube for the infamous tape of USA team member Brian Masters smacking his head against the ground after losing a point at the World Championships but couldn't find it. Anyone have a link to it?)

Playing Kids in China . . . or at a USA Training Center!

Here's the cartoon.


Send us your own coaching news!

January 14, 2015

USATT Coaches of the Year

Here's the USATT Announcement. Congratulations to:

  • Coach of the Year: Lily Yip
  • Developmental Coach of the Year: Jack Huang
  • Paralympic Coach of the Year: Ladislav Sranko
  • Doc Counsilman Coach of the Year: Yang Yu

Jack Huang (from my club, MDTTC) won for Developmental Coach of the Year. (He won it primarily as Crystal Wang's coach, but also for others, such as Tiffany Ke and other MDTTC players.) It's his second USATT coaching award - he was Coach of the Year in 1998. (And now you know the answer to the burning question from my January 2 blog - see the Friday "Todo" list, item #15, where I wrote, "Write up Coach of the Year nomination for someone (who shall remain nameless for now)."

These awards are often the only time the top USA coaches get recognized. However, if you really want to see many of the best USA coaches, there's an easy method - just watch the top players and juniors in tournaments and see who coaches them in their matches. You can especially see a "who's who" group of coaches at the U.S. Open and Nationals if you watch the junior matches - especially at the Nationals during the Junior and Cadet Team Trials. Most spectators watch the players; I often find it more interesting to watch the coaches. There's a wide range of them - some are pretty much emotionless during matches, others you can almost tell the score by their faces. Some are calm and collected when coaching, others are animated.

Here's a listing of all the USATT Coaches of the Year since the program began in 1996. Here are multiple winners:

Four Times

  • Teodor "Doru" Gheorge (4-time Coach of the Year)
  • Daniel Rutenberg (3-time Paralympic Coach of the Year, one Volunteer Coach of the Year)
  • Lily Yip (4-time Coach of the Year)

Three Times

  • Stefan Feth (3-time Developmental Coach of the Year)
  • Sean O'Neill (Coach of the Year, Developmental Coach of the Year, and Doc Counsilman Coach of the Year)
  • Dan Seemiller (2-time Coach of the Year, Developmental Coach of the Year)

Two Times

  • Dennis Davis (2-time Developmental Coach of the Year)
  • Larry Hodges (Developmental Coach of the Year, Doc Counsilman Coach of the Year)
  • Jack Huang (Coach of the Year and Developmental Coach of the Year)
  • Christian Lillieroos (2-time Coach of the Year)
  • Richard McAfee (Developmental Coach of the Year, Doc Counsilman Coach of the Year)
  • Rajul Sheth (2-time Developmental Coach of the Year)

This Morning's Blog Was a Little Late Because…

…I was on the phone on USATT business from 10:30PM-1:15AM, and then working on USATT stuff until 4AM. By noon today all of USATT problems will be fixed, membership will hit a million, and all the major network TV stations will be pre-empted later today for a special briefing from the President on why table tennis now tops his domestic agenda. (Am I still in bed dreaming?) Actually, I did get a lot done last night, and the phone discussions were invaluable. But it did add a few things to my todo list, which along with the Great Wall of China are apparently the only manmade objects visible from space.

Team Leagues!

If you live near Washington DC (Maryland and Virginia), New York City, or Los Angeles, why not sign up now for their team leagues? I've blogged a lot recently about the Capital Area Super League, but there's also the New York League and the Los Angeles League. Are there other major team leagues in the U.S.? Let me know so I can blog about them.

Athletes of the Month - December

Here's the article and pictures from USATT. I linked to this before, but I don't think it was highlighted as well at the time. Congratulations to Lily Zhang, Jimmy Butler, Tara Profitt, Daryl Sterling, Jr., and the USA Junior Girls' Team for their outstanding play!

Butterfly Aurora Cup

Here are two articles by Barbara Wei on the 4-star tournament to be held this weekend in Aurora, Illinois. Both Barbara and top-seeded Ruichao Chen ("Alex") are from my club, MDTTC.

Japanese National Team Training

Here's the new video (2:58) of their national team in training in Tokyo.

Expert in a Year

Here's the video (5:00) from Coach Ben Larcombe, and here's the Expert in a Year web page. "The Expert in a Year Challenge follows the progress of novice table tennis player Sam Priestley, as he attempts to go from beginner to expert in just one year and break into the top 250 players in England."

Ask the Coach

Episode #56 - ITTF Star Awards (14:49)

  • Yesterdays #PQOTD  - 0:45: What did you think of the results of the ITTF Star Awards?
  • #PQOTD  - 3:46: Have you noticed any differences in play of the Worlds top with the Plastic Ball?
  • Question 1 - 4:15: Hi guys, lately I have hit a wall against a player 6'3 with long arms who I can't back off the table. I've tried long and short strategies and he just pounds me ..... any advice ? Thanks George
  • Question 2 - 6:43: I confused how to control the direction of my smash. in game I usually smash the ball just to the right of the opponent's table side. I want to ask how to control the direction of the ball while I do a smash. Fairuzi Zafrano
  • Question 3 - 9:01: I qualified for the regional games last october and I have been practicing with myself since then through matchplay only. What can I do to help myself be in my best condition in 1 month for the regionals? What are some exercises I can perform? Wayne
  • Question 4 - 11:15: When I try to do a high toss serve I get two results. The ball bounces high during the contact landing near the net on my side and the other side. Sometimes I manage to keep the serve low but it moves across the table very slowly. What can I do? Sachintha

Episode #57 - The Best Bat to Buy (17:45)

  • Yesterdays  #PQOTD  - 0:48: Have you noticed any differences in play of the Worlds top players with the Plastic Ball?
  • #PQOTD  - 2:40: Should Table Tennis copy other sports and go to a reduced format like 20/20 cricket and Fast 4 Tennis?
  • Question 1 - 3:05: Hey Pingskills, Your videos are very helpful and I have been good with blocking smashes but how do I block a smash with spin on it? - Brock
  • Question 2 - 5:31: I am 15 years old. I began playing around 10 months ago. My rating is 682. Although, I have been showing immense improvement I am still only able to compete against players who are 2-4 years younger than me. Did I begin playing too late? Abdullah
  • Question 3 - 7:03: Hi guys I'm asking you what is the difference between speed glue and water based glue and how does this effect our rubber or how does it damage the wood of the racket. Thanks Barbatel
  • Question 4 - 8:18: I'm a beginner player and enjoy table tennis. I play with friends and they play 21 pts and 4 players. We do 5 serves and serve from the right and left corners. According to the lessons, serves should be only from the right. What are your thoughts? Rita
  • Question 5 - 10:08: what is the best paddles and balls to buy?
  • Question 6 - 12:37: I've got a question about my anti spin rubber. What is the best way to block the ball? (on the backhand) Huub from Holland
  • Question 7 - 14:25: How do I improve myself more easily? Brock

Best Points of Simon Gauzy

Here's the new Highlights video (3:59) showing the best points by world #37 player from France.

Former U.S. Table Tennis Champion Paddles Numbers

Here's the article about 11-time U.S. Women's Singles Champion and 2-time Olympian Insook Bhushan, who now works as an accountant in the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Budget Office.

Ping Pong a Game for Everyone

Here's the article from the Hattiesburg American. "But in this week's column, I want to talk about a real sport — one of deft skill, requiring a sharp eye and lightning quick reflexes. It's an unforgiving sport, punishing the smallest mistake but rewarding precision and control. It's a game that's simple to learn, but truly takes a lifetime of commitment to master. I'm talking, of course, about table tennis, more commonly known as ping pong."

Female Table Tennis Player, Male Coach Suspended Over Late-Night CCTV Footage

Here's the article and video (8:15) - shocking!!!

Chinese Players in Local Attire

Here's Ma Long and Fan Zhendong (?) in local Arab attire after the recent World Team Cup in Dubai, United Arab Republic. Here are more pictures.

12 Horrible Messages in Forrest Gump

Here's the video (8:22) - or go directly to 3:07 where there's 9 seconds on table tennis!

Are You Not Table Tennis Entertained?

Here are pictures you'll wish you'd never seen.

Goldfish Pong

Here's the cartoon!


Send us your own coaching news!

January 13, 2015

Capital Area Super League

Interest in the Capital Area Super League seems pretty high, with lots of players discussing it at MDTTC and (I'm told) other clubs. Of course the main obstacle for something like this is that it's "new," i.e. something that hasn't been done much in the U.S., though it's the backbone of European table tennis, where they often count memberships in the hundreds of thousands. I envision team leagues like this all over the country. The people who don't see this are the same ones who eight years ago didn't think there were enough players in the U.S. to support full-time training centers. Just as full-time centers created their own base of players, team leagues will do the same, once organized and given the chance. It'll take time - but it has to start somewhere. As I've blogged repeatedly, we need a prototype regional team league that can be copied all over the country, and that's one of the things I hope to do here - in addition to just having a highly successful league. If you live in the Washington DC area, I hope you will sign up!

A few items regarding the league:

  • The old web address was long and cumbersome. Yesterday I bought www.CapitalTT.com, and it's now the official web address for the league. Later it'll likely become the web address for a Capital Area Table Tennis Association.
  • The league now has a "Looking for a Team" link (go to the bottom).
  • The league organizing committee is Mike Levene, Stefano Ratti (these two are the prime movers), John Olsen, and Larry Hodges (me).

Adult Beginning/Intermediate Class

I'm teaching a new Adult Beginning/Intermediate Class (beginner to roughly 1500 USATT rating), Sundays from 6:30-8:00PM, starting Feb. 15. Here's the flyer. I've taught this course about thirty times before. It's a great way to introduce new players to the sport, plus the students in the class become their own peer group, and often start coming to the club on the same nights. This is one of the best ways for clubs to pick up new members. The main alternative with new players is to tell them to call winners one some table where they'll get eaten alive by a more experienced player, and you never see them again. Maybe that's not such a good idea!

If you want to teach such a class, the first step is to put together a flyer. Then post the flyer everywhere. Also send info to local newspapers - most will publish the info in their community calendars. You probably want an assistant, both for demos, but also to help with the coaching, either walking around, hitting with someone if there's an odd number, or feeding multiball.

Segun Toriola Incredible Lobbing Point

Here's video (66 sec) of "The best point in the history of table tennis." It's not far from the truth! But you can learn from video. If you watch Segun Toriola (world #159, formerly #56, from Nigeria), you'll notice that he never really needs to move fast - he's returning rip after rip, and yet there's no lunging, no diving, just smooth stepping into position to return each shot. How does he do this? Here are things to watch for:

  1. His wide stance gives him great balance and a quick start in either direction.
  2. He watches his opponent closely, and begins to react almost the instant the ball is being struck, or even before.
  3. He keeps his lobs deep, which cuts down on the angles and gives him more time to react.
  4. His lobs have good topspin, making the ball jump, which keeps the opponent from taking the ball too quickly.

I think his opponent is Singapore's Gao Ning, but I'm not sure - couldn't get a good look from the video since his back is to us, and I can't make out the name on the back. Can anyone tell?
(NOTE: someone anonymously emailed to verify it was Gao Ning, and said he was also able to freeze the video and see the name on the back.)

Agility Training with a Robot

Here video (60 sec) of Samson Dubina doing footwork training with a robot.

2015 USATT Direct Athlete Support Program

Here's info on this new USATT program for elite athletes.

ITTF Course in Singapore

Here's video (3:48) from a course taught in Singapore in 2012 by USA Coach Richard McAfee.

2014 - The Year in Review

Here's the new video (5:52) from the ITTF.

Butterfly News

Here's the Butterfly USA news page - some interesting stuff there.

Zhang Jike Signing Autographs

Just an interesting picture.

Where's the Ball?

Guess right in this contest, and you'll have a chance to win a 190 Stiga blade signed by Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong, Yan An, and Zhu Yuling!

Mornington Table Tennis Player Jim Healy Marks 90th Birthday

Here's the article from the Melbourne Herald Sun.

Secretin-Purkart Show

Here's video (3:40) of the greatest table tennis exhibition team ever. This video was posted in 2007 (and is probably from years before that), but many of us remember this great exhibition team from France. Secretin was a top ten player in the world for many years (and 17-time French Men's Singles Champion), but it was for his exhibitions with Purkart that he is best known. Secretin, the lefty, was the "straight man," who brought sheer genius play to the team, while Purkart, a top chopper (two-time French Men's Singles Champion and seven-time finalist, probably many more if not for Secretin), would clown around.

Table Tennis Warnings

Every club needs these warnings (from Mike Mezyan) about falling tables and no walking on them!

Table Tennis Cartoon

I have no idea what's going on here, but there's some great table tennis action apparently going on in this picture! (Some explanation is given here - page toward the end.)

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