Larry Hodges's blog

November 18, 2019

Tip of the Week
"Proper Way" is What Works for You.

Illegal Serves History
I regularly get emails from people asking about illegal hidden serves, since I've been known to campaign against the current situation where the rule is rarely enforced. In recent times I've sort of thrown up my hands in disgust and despair - nothing I do is going to convince ITTF or USATT to take action, and many still ignore the evidence of their eyes when it's pointed out that most top players hide their serves, usually by tossing the ball behind their head, or thrusting out their head or shoulder.

Remember that the problem isn't that umpires don't call serves that they see are hidden; the problem is they don't call serves where they aren't sure, which, of course, is exactly why top players have developed such serves, which are hidden but in ways where the umpire isn't quite sure, and so they are not called and the players get away with it regularly - and to compete on an equal basis, others must do so as well. The rules state that umpires should call a serve that they aren't sure about, and that it is the responsibility of the server to serve so the umpire can see that the serve is legal. Alas, this rule is rarely followed. Someone emailed me about this a few days ago. Below was my response (with a few minor edits), which briefly explains how the situation came about.

When the hidden serve rule first came out, it was enforced and players learned to serve legally. Then top players discovered that if they hid their serves in ways that the umpire (sitting to the side) couldn't tell for sure if the serve was hidden, the umpires rarely called it, despite the fact that the rules say they should fault (or warn the first time) serves where they weren't sure about the legality, and that the rules say it is the responsibility of the player to serve so the umpire can see that the serve is legal. Once this became widespread, it became so standard that umpires didn't call hidden serves that any who did would stand out, and so they don't.

Many argue that umpires shouldn't call hidden serves because it's unfair to have different standards in different matches, and since most umpires allow illegal hidden serves, they should too. When I tried to get USATT to clamp down on this, the High Performance Committee was against it, since they argued that if we enforced the hidden serve rule in the U.S., our top players wouldn't be prepared when they played internationally, where the rule isn't enforced - and the same argument is made in every country, so every country allows hidden serves.

Basically, top players have no choices but to "cheat to compete." High-level clubs can't even ban hidden serves among their players - if they did, then their up-and-coming players wouldn't be able to practice against players using those serves (or do them themselves), and they'd get killed when they face them in tournaments and are handicapped by their own less effective serves. It needs to come from the ITTF, a worldwide directive to enforce the rules, but they won't do anything because, I'm told, it would be "insulting" to umpires to insinuate they aren't enforcing the rules. (I tried to get USATT to petition ITTF to do this, to no avail.) 

Weekend Coaching
The focus of the Thursday Beginning Class was spin serves. I had them do the spin and catch exercise where they spin the ball off their racket (with a forehand pendulum grip) and catch. Then, after a demo, they went out and practiced the serve. I also challenged them to see if any could serve with enough backspin to make the ball come to a stop or even bounce back, and demonstrated the "come-back" serve that bounces on the far side and then directly bounces back over the net. (Top players see it coming and smash it as it goes back over the net - but it's great fun to do with beginners.) I showed them how to "scoop" the ball with backspin (hit the ball with an extremely open racket) so that the ball gets great backspin though often too high. To my utter astonishment, one kid, who had never served with spin before, managed to pull off the come-back serve! He was pretty excited. Then we had a forehand-to-forehand contest - one kid got I think 143 in a row hitting with Coach Spencer. (I gave him the more advanced players while I worked with the younger beginners.)

In the Sunday Beginning Class the focus was on backhand pushing. I also gave them a demo on all the different types of spins and how they affect the ball. Then we finished with a forehand-to-forehand and then a backhand-to-backhand contest to see how many they could get in a row. The record this time was 106 with Coach Lidney. (I gave him the more advanced players while I worked with the younger beginners.)

In the Sunday Talent Development Program, we had a practice tournament, where all the kids were put into three-person teams and played team matches, as most of them will be doing in ten days at the North American Teams. My main task was to watch and take notes of the kids who will be playing at the Teams, who I might coach. I also coached between games in some of the matches, often coaching both players at once. For example, one kid kept pushing back topspin serves deep to the forehand, so I point out this was PRACTICE, and she'd never get better if she didn't attack them now. She got more aggressive, even looped in a few. Another kid kept missing against forehand pendulum side-top serves, so I suggested he have his regular coach do this serve against him for practice. Another kept playing into his opponent's extremely good backhand and forehand, so I suggested (out loud, so both could hear) that he play into her middle instead, and made sure the opponent understood that this is what she needed practice against here in PRACTICE.

Periodic Reminder to Help a Poor, Starving Table Tennis Writer and Coach
Here are my books, both table tennis and science fiction! Great Christmas gifts, both for others and yourself! I will have three more coming out early next year - "Still More Table Tennis Tips," "Still More Pings and Pongs," and "Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt." (I'm currently doing the page layouts for the last one - it might be out by the end of the year.)

Maryland Junior Boys Among Top Ranked in the U.S.
Here's the USATT news item on some of the kids from my club - hey, it's by me!

USATT CEO Virginia Sung Reflects on First 6 Months in Office
Here's the USATT article. "Now that I have reached the six months mark of my tenure at USA Table Tennis, I would like to take a moment to share with you the progress our team has made." … "Vincent Van Gogh once said, 'The greatest work of art is to love someone.' In our case, the greatest work of art is to love the sport."

Austrian Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Linz, Austria, Nov. 12-17, with complete results, news, pictures, and video. Here are some links.

Indonesian Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held in Batam, Indonesia, Nov. 13-17, with complete results, news, pictures, and video.

US Open
They finished with 732 entries - you can browse the list by name, rating, or event. (Final deadline to enter was Friday.) Top seed is Aleksandar Karakasevic (2835). Event will be in Fort Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Here are some USATT articles.

Overplaying vs Taking the Risk: Learn to Find the Balance
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

How to Beat a Blocker
Here's the video (8:19) by Tom Lodziak.

One Change to Enhance Your Forehand Against Backspin Opener
Here's the video (1:53) from GnoP GniP.

Learning KILLER Reverse Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (8:29) from MLFM Table Tennis Tutorial.

Anxiety in Sports and Everyday Life
Here's the video (12:21) from sports psychologists (and table tennis players!) Dora Kurimay (Mental Performance Coach and championships table tennis player and coach) and Paul Matkovic (PSY.D and a licensed Clinical Psychologist who many years ago played at my club).

New from EmRatThich

Ping-Pong Literacy
Here's the promotional video (1:57) for the upcoming ITTF kids coaching video.

New from Steve Hopkins (in addition to his article above on Austrian Open)

US Team World Cup Athletes Granted Operation Gold Awards by USOPC
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. "Kanak Jha, Yijun Feng, Kai Zhang and Lily Zhang, Wu Yue and Amy Wang all received an award payment of $3750USD each."

Unraveling a Five-Way Tie
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Swan Warriors Table Tennis Club Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary
Here's the USATT article by Michael Reff.

Table Tennis Tidbits #48: '19 German Open: Teen Terrors and Rubbery Issues
Here's the USATT article by Robert Ho.

Table Tennis Match Edge - Table tennis Videos, Equipment and Clubs
Here's the table tennis app! Has anyone tried this?

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 16
Here is Chapter 16 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, "International happenings." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Ma Long (The Movie): 2009-2019 10 Years on Top
Here's the video (7:53).

USA Players Featured in Videos

New Videos from MALONG Fanmade Channel

Ping Attitude
Here's a site with lots of table tennis videos. They have a "Best of" video for each month, such as "Best of October" (13:37).

For the First Time an Event Of Its Kind in Manhattan - The Big Apple
Here's the video (4:46) by Jules Apatini, featuring Michael Landers (near side) and Nishaad Shah of India.

Female Table Tennis Star | 2019 Star Awards
Here's the ITTF video (1:36).

Waking up in Tokyo | Zen-noh 2019 ITTF Team World Cup
Here's the ITTF video (67 sec).

The First to 21 Points Gets into the Country
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Satan's Sponge Sandwich?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) 

It's Table Tennis! It's Ping Pong!!!
Here's the meme! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) 

Boomerang Flick
Here's the video (21 sec) of this contender for Shot of the Year!

Table Tennis & Juggling
Here's the video (2:25) featuring Hugo Calderano (world #6 from Brazil) and a professional juggler.

Ram Pong
Here's the video (46 sec) where we learn that sheep aren't good at table tennis. 

Table Tennis Incredible Film
Here's the video (4:39)!

Incredible Ping-Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (3:01)! "This kid makes incredible ping-pong shots look easy."

Ping Pong Stereotypes 3
Here's the video (4:07) from Pongfinity!

***
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November 11, 2019

Tip of the Week
Three Spots or Two?

Happy Veterans Day!

Weekend Coaching
The focus of the Thursday Beginning Class was pushing, especially backhand pushing. (We'll work more on forehand pushing later.) Due to an apparent car accident, there was a huge traffic jam in the road leading to the club, and over half the class came in 10-15 minutes later. I had planned a forehand-to-forehand consistency contest, but we ran out of time and will have to do that later. (We'll also have a backhand-to-backhand contest.)

There was no Sunday Beginning Class due to Veterans Weekend. However, we did have the advanced Talent Development Program. I mostly ran drills on two table - the usual footwork and serve and attack drills, followed by Brazilian Teams. Later today I have to put together my player evaluations for the players I've been working with. Next Sunday we go over these with the players and their parents after the training session, followed by a party. After the session Sunday the coaches went out for Chinese food and discussed the players.

It's always interesting watching how the players develop. One kid who started out a year ago didn't seem as coordinated as some of the others, and honestly didn't show much promise. But he had two big things going for him - he was focused on practicing hard, and practiced regularly with his dad, who is a good player. One year later, he's pulled away from most of the others who started with him and who (at the time) seemed to have more promise, and now seems one of the most coordinated! During the dinner, I singled him and a couple others out as ones that I predict will "explode" in level in about a year.

There's another girl, about eight, who is beginning to devastate her peers with pure shotmaking - big backhand and forehand hitting, and strong forehand loop (when not rushed). The problem is she jams the table so much she often gets caught on deep balls, plus she has a tendency against short balls to the forehand to smack them all over the place, plus her receive is so aggressive that against good serves she is erratic. With a few minor fixes, she is another that'll soon "explode."

Malls for Table Tennis Clubs
I spend many afternoons at the Lakeforest Mall Eatery, usually eating pizza, drinking Dr Pepper, and writing. There was a time when the mall was always jammed, just like malls all over Europe are still jammed (as I learned in my recent seven weeks in Europe and Egypt). But in the U.S., malls are dying. Except for clothing and shoe stores (where people want to try on things), most people prefer to use Amazon, and so when I walk around Lakeforest Mall, it's like a ghost town compared to its heyday. Store are closing left and right, and I'm sure the monthly rent must have dropped dramatically, since few stores could afford to pay what they paid back when the malls were full.

As I peered into one of the vacant stores, I had a brainstorm - wouldn't this be a perfect opportunity for table tennis? I wonder if we could start opening full-time clubs in malls. You could pretty much choose your size. Plus, though the crowds are smaller, you still get a steady stream of people who might see the club and try it out. I'm guessing that there are already such "mall" clubs - I remember a few from the past, but they were mostly in rural areas.

ITTF Team World Cup
Here are links for the event that took place Nov. 6-10 in Tokyo. USA Men and Women BOTH reached the quarterfinals!!! Some of us remember a time when results like this were only a dream, except when we relied on immigrants. I think twice in the recent past Team USA contended at the world-class level - about ten or more years ago when we had former Chinese stars Gao Jun and Wang Chen on the team (at their peaks ranked #3 and #4 in the world), and again at the 1995 Men's Team World Cup, where the USA Team made the semifinals, with two of the players from China (Cheng Yinghua and David Zhuang), along with Jim Butler.

The current USA Teams were mostly developed in the U.S., at the many full-time training centers that now develop top players on a regular basis, in contrast to the past when we didn't have them, and top players were developed only sporadically. The USA Women's Team that made the quarterfinals was Lily Zhang, Wu Yue, and Amy Wang, and the USA Men's Team was Kanak Jha, Kai Zhang, and Feng Yijun. Of these, only Wu Yue and Kai Zhang developed primarily in China, and Kai came to the U.S. as a junior star and continued to develop here. All of them train at full-time training centers in the U.S.

One of the problems USATT has always faced is having two "masters" - the USOC, which wants them to focus on developing elite players, and the membership, which primarily wants them to focus on developing the sport by focusing on clubs, coaching, junior programs, leagues, and so on. I've always argued that there is one big overlap between the two that USATT should focus on - full-time training centers, which are also full-time clubs. You can't really develop many top players without a lot of full-time training centers to develop them, and until we had that base, there was little chance of, say, making the quarterfinals at the World Team Cup with players developed in the U.S. Our situation is now a lot different than before, and now we are challenging most of the top countries in the world. (My club, MDTTC, which I co-founded in 1992, was the first successful full-time training center in the U.S., and as recently as 2007 there were only eight such centers in the U.S. Now there are over 100.)

Hungarian Junior & Cadet Open

Serving Seminar
Here's the flyer for the Serving Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center by Alex Chen Ruichao, this Wednesday, Nov. 13, 7-8:30PM. I'll be assisting.

US Open - Deadline Nov. 15
Here's the home page for the U.S. Open to be held in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Final deadline to enter is Nov. 15, which is this Friday. There are currently 678 entries - here's the listing, which you can sort by Name, Rating, or Event. (Note - it has since dropped to 611 - did a large foreign continent drop out? Or it might be people who inadvertently "entered" the tournament, but didn't enter any events - this happens a lot in the tournaments I've run on Omnipong.) (I've emailed them requesting that they add listing by Club and State.) This will be my 36th consecutive U.S. Open - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 (and a few before that). I'm not playing, just coaching.

USATT/ITTF Club Coaching Course to Precede 2019 Seamaster US Open
Here's the info page.

2020 USA Hopes Tour Request for Proposals
Here's the USATT info page.

Ma Long Forehand Loop in Slow Motion
Here's the video (56 sec) - you should be studying this! It's a model of simplicity.

Why is Backhand Topspin vs Backspin so Difficult?
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

Devastate the Short Pips Attacker
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

New from MLFM Table Tennis

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Malong Fanmade Channel
Their Youtube page has a number of new videos of the top Chinese players training.

How to Act Like a Champion No Matter What
Here's the article

Finding Your Points in the Table Tennis Lost and Found
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

October Kicked off NCTTA Divisionals, With Them Exciting Matches
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

WAB Club Feature: Allen & Sons Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 15
Here is Chapter 15 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis. (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Amazing Point! - Emil Johnsson - David Björkryd Ängbys 2019
Here's the video (1:28) of this really incredible point between these two kids. (It's shown twice, from different angles.)

DHS Top 10 Points | Uncle Pop 2019 ITTF Women's World Cup
Here's the video (4:29).

TT4NepALL
Here's the ITTF video (6:13). "Table Tennis for NepALL is our project nominated to SPIA Asia - Sports Industry Awards & Conference. It was a 3 year initiative aimed to develop Table Tennis for people with a disability as vehicle for a positive social change. The project provided opportunities for empowering, strengthening, and integrating them in the community."  

Ten Steps on How to Build a Table Tennis Table
Here's the video (1:47). 

Potomac Team Championships
Here's the video (3:23) from the tournament held Nov. 3 at the Potomac TTC.

Background Pony Pong
Here's the cartoon!

You Don't Apologize for Nets and Edges?
Here's the cartoon!

Unlocking Zazz in Table Tennis - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Here's the video (3:42)!

Ever-Changing Ping-Pong Balls
Here's the video (21 sec)! Some would say this is what the ITTF plans.

***
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November 4, 2019

Tip of the Week
How to Push Extremely Heavy.

Weekend Coaching
In both the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Classes the focus was on footwork - forehand-forehand backhand-backhand, and forehand-backhand side-to-side. We also had a forehand-to-forehand competition - the Sunday winner got 153 in a row.

In the Saturday Junior League (which is half coaching, half matches), we did a lot of doubles practice, and then singles. One of our players spent much of the night working on attacking the opponents' middle, and had great success with it. On Sunday we had a camp tournament. I ran group three, with eight players - and the kids learned the importance of every game and match! There was a three-way tie for first, all 6-1, so it went to games, and each position was then decided by one game. There were also ties for 5-6 and 7-8, broken up by head-to-head.

After several were frustrated with their early matches, I told them the story of Tong Tong Gong. At age 11 or so, he was one of the youngest to make the Final 12 for the National Mini-Cadet Team Trials about ten years ago. (I was coaching his matches.) He was in a group of six, with the top two making the National Team. He was seeded last in the group and played the top seed in the first match. He led 10-8 all three games - and lost all three in deuce! He was inconsolable afterwards, and I pretty much thought it was over - not because of the loss, but because he seemed mentally gone. But then he listened to some music, calmed down - and went out and pulled off four upsets in a row to make the National Team!!!

2018 and 2019 USATT Strategic Meetings
Today is the one-year anniversary of the 2018 USATT Strategic meeting, held Nov. 3-4. I didn't go to it, but I did write a letter to the participants. They came up with the 2019-2024 Strategic Priorities. It was originally called the Strategic Plan, but I was on the board of directions at the time and strongly objected, since there was no actual plan, just a listing of priorities - and so they changed the name.

Anyway, nothing has come of it as of yet, but we'll see. As I argued at the board meeting afterwards, coming up with a bunch of "Priorities" is easy; creating and executing plans to reach them is the hard part. Just as in past such meetings, I thought they should have focused on creating such plans, not just come up with priorities and goals without any plans to reach them. (The counter-argument is that the plans will come later - but why bring all these "experts" together and not take advantage of their expertise in creating the needed plans?) They had a smaller Strategic Meeting a month or so ago, but I haven't yet seen the plan from that one, or know if they are creating plans to reach the Priorities from the year before or starting from scratch - we'll know soon! Here is my blog about the infamous 2009 Strategic meeting and why it, and previous ones, didn't accomplish anything because they always make the same mistakes. Normally they have these meetings about every five years or so.

US Open - Deadline Nov. 15
Here's the home page for the U.S. Open to be held in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Final deadline to enter is Nov. 15. There are currently 630 entries - here's the listing, which you can sort by Name, Rating, or Event. (I've emailed them requesting that they add listing by Club and State.) This will be my 36th consecutive U.S. Open - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 (and a few before that). I'm not playing, just coaching.

New Articles/Stories by Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!)
I had four very different articles come out this past week.  

Christmas Table Tennis Shopping
Here are some choices for table tennis books for table tennis players, and that most especially includes you!!! (C'mon, help out us starving table tennis writers.) I'll start with some of my own books. (Here is a listing of all 261 books I own on table tennis.)

Want Novels?

Want Biographical?

Want History?

Want to Play Better?

Serving Seminar
Here's the flyer for the Serving Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center by Alex Chen Ruichao, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 7-8:30PM. (I'll be assisting.)

ITTF Team World Cup
Here are links for the event taking place Nov. 6-10 in Tokyo.

ITTF World Rankings

Funding for USA Players Training for Olympics
Want to fund an Olympian Hopeful? Here are two funding pages that I know of. Let me know if there are others.

New from EmRatThich

The Business of Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

World Veterans Tour Event Shines in Sunny Florida
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

Ekholm to Bring International Prestige to Fort Worth
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

WAB Club Feature: Greater Vancouver Table Tennis Association
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

ITTF Feature Articles

India Close Second Behind China: McAfee
Here's the article featuring Richard McAfee in the Deccan Herald in India. "Hall of Fame table tennis coach Richard McAfee opined that India now has the infrastructure and the talent pool to become one of the top five teams in the world."

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 14
Here is Chapter 14 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "Members Speak Up." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Chinese National Women's Team vs The USA Men's Team - TOP 10
Here's the video (2:52).

DHS Top 10 Points | 2019 ITTF German Open
Here's the ITTF video (5:54).

85-Year-Old Table Tennis Player vs. World Number 1
Here's the video (39 sec) as USATT Hall of Famer and 1971 Ping-Pong Diplomacy Team Member George Brathwaite takes on world #1 Xu Xin of China.

Roma Ping Pong Fest: TTX comes to Rome!
Here's the ITTF video (1:21).

Adam in China
Here's the video (10:09), featuring Adam Bobrow.

Crazy Backhand Around Net Sidespins
Here's the video (12 sec) - with multiball!

Amazing Hand Switch Shot
Here's the video (37 sec)!

Eight Racket Smackdown
Here's the video (25 sec)! (Technically there are nine rackets.)

Lola Marsh - Only for a Moment
Here's the table tennis music video (60 sec)! It starts slow but gets better and better with the table tennis antics. 

Xing Xong
Here's the video (6:07) from Pongfinity! (This went up a few hours late, so I might relink it next week.)

Table Tennis Halloween Pong

***
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October 28, 2019

Tip of the Week
A Lightbulb in Your Head: Mindless Swinging or Tactical Shot-making?

Weekend Coaching - Doubles and Footwork and Halloween Hitches, Oh My!
In the Saturday Junior League (which is really half league, half training/coaching), I worked with some of our top kids on their doubles. Some of them are getting very good now at positioning themselves. In singles, when a player is caught out of position, he usually thinks to himself, "I got out of position." In doubles, when a player is caught out of position, he usually thinks to himself, "They got me out of position." WRONG! (Well, usually.) Just as in singles, when you get caught out of position in doubles, it's usually because you went out of position after your previous shot. But unlike singles, where you get immediate "punishment," in doubles many players don't connect their own poor positioning with getting caught out of position, and so don't fix the problem. I worked with several of our kids who, to get out of their partner's way, either went off to the side too much or too far back, and others who waited too long to return to the table after their partner made their shot. Some of the more advanced kids are now working on circling footwork, where two righties (or two lefties) try to circle around so each can approach the table in their regular ready stance.

In the Sunday "Talent" Program (advanced kids, over 30 of them), I ran the drills for six players on three tables - lots of footwork at the start, then lots of serve and receive practice. Two of them still don't rotate much on many forehands and so get caught on that side, and are often caught on that side. I did a lot of emphasis on attacking any deep ball, especially serves that went long, as well as attacking the middle.

In the Thursday Beginning Class, the focus was on footwork. However, the biggest concern was that the schedule, created by the local schools (which organizes the Thursday class, though we run it at MDTTC), had scheduled the following class for Thursday, Oct. 31 - Halloween! It's not a school holiday, so of course kids would have no problem showing up from 6:30-7:30PM rather than go trick-or-treating! However, by a unanimous vote of the class, I was asked to skip this Thursday, and with permission of Montgomery County Schools, we will do so, and will instead go an extra week into December. I tried, and failed, to convince any of the kids to dress up as a ping-pong ball for Halloween.

In the Sunday Beginning Class, the focus was on serving, followed by stroking drills. The age and level of play in that class this season is a bit lower than the Thursday class, so the focus was mostly on just serving on the table, keeping it low, and hitting targets. (Poor Froggy took a beating! We actually have two of them now - I bought a second one.) We used the Adjustable Serving Bar both here and in the Thursday class.

China Daily
China Daily (which is in English) has featured USA players in four recent articles and videos by Zhao Xu. (I'm featured or mentioned in all of them, especially in Oct. 2.) I did a search and found a total of 147 articles by them that had the word "table tennis" in them - feel free to browse them.

US Open and North American Teams
Here's the home page for the U.S. Open to be held in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21. Final deadline to enter is Nov. 15. There are currently 598 entries - here's the listing, which you can sort by Name, Rating, or Event. (I've emailed them requesting that they add listing by Club and State.) This will be my 36th consecutive U.S. Open - I've been to every Open and Nationals since 1984 (and a few before that). I'm not playing, just coaching.

From Nov. 29-Dec. 1 I'll be attending the JOOLA North American Teams in Washington DC, for the 44th consecutive year, since 1976, the year I started playing. (I'll be coaching one of the seven junior teams from my club.) They currently have 1026 players on 275 teams - here's the listing. (They used to be called the U.S. Open Teams, and were in Detroit for many years, and then Baltimore, before moving to DC a few years ago.) It's past the deadline to enter, though they take players on a space available basis, with a late fee.

World Veterans Tour – Fort Lauderdale
The event was held last weekend, Oct. 17-20.

2019 World Cadet Challenge
Here's the home page for the event currently being run in Władysławowo, Poland, Oct. 23-31. USA players are Ted Li, Sid Naresh, Joanna Sung, Angie Tan, and Emily Tan.

Winning the Warm-up
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "It’s pretty remarkable that there are players who have been playing for decades that don’t make the best use of their preparation time before a match. Consider a few guidelines that will be beneficial for you, and show consideration for your opponent."

Copying the Pros Can Make You Worse
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

How to Return Long Serves in Table Tennis (Part 1)
Here's the video (14 min) from Louis Levine.

Zhang Jike Learns New Table Tennis Techniques
Here's the video (5:26) where he works on his "Strawberry" flip.

Learning CRAZY Sidespin Serve
Here's the video (7:10) from MLFM Table Tennis.

Ping Pong Literacy
Here's the video (2:30) from Steve Rowe, featuring his table tennis program for kids, ages 4-8 years old.

MALONG Fanmade Channel
Here's the Youtube page with lots of new videos this past week, including a number of Fan Zhendong.

Sid Naresh Serve and Loop Winner
Here's the video (19 sec) in slow motion. Sid's on the US Cadet Team (under 15) with a 2489 rating.

Women's World Cup
Here are new ITTF videos.

DHS Top 10 Points | 2019 ITTF Swedish Open
Here's the video (5:31).

The King Never Gives Up - Part 1
Here's the documentary (25:06) from EmRatThich.

USATT Community Voice Positive Vibes for 2021 WTTC in Houston
Here's the article by Michael Reff. "The 2021 World Table Tennis Championships will be held in Houston, Texas, and positive vibes are already abound in regards to the chosen venue and what it has to offer for the players as well as the public."

WAB Featured Club: Han-In Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Ace Ping Pong: Grand Slam – Official Launch
Here's the article and video  (20 sec) on this new table tennis video game!

Table Tennis at 22 Months
Here's the video (1:27).

Robot Table Tennis Ball Retriever
Here's the video (9:42)! I wonder if this will ever get made.

Pooh Pong vs. Pooh Table Tennis
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Color Pong?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Halloween Pong
Here's what you get when you Google "Halloween Table Tennis"! But if you are a real table tennis person, you should find a way to play this ghostly repeating gif image in your front yard!

Adam vs. THE CLAW
Here's the video (8:26) from Adam Bobrow featuring a unique Japanese girl!

Lake Trick Shots
Here's the video (10:08) from Pongfinity! Some really hilarious play here.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

October 21, 2019

Tip of the Week
How to Stop the Short Receive.

Weekend Coaching and Attacking the Middle
While I was away Friday and Saturday (see Capclave SF Convention at end of blog), I had three group sessions.

We had the third meeting of the Thursday Beginning Class, where the focus was serving and review of forehand and backhand. At the end, as happens in about half our beginning classes, they stacked cups into pyramids and walls (or as I called them, the Pretty Good Wall of Maryland), and then, as I fed multiball, took turns destroying the fruits of their work.

We also had the second meeting of the Sunday Beginning Class, where the focus was on the backhand and forehand review. As with the Thursday class, we finished with cup-killing. (Kids just love smacking cups - and while they do this, they are developing their strokes and accuracy!)

In the more advanced Talent Development Program, I ran the drills for six players on three tables. It was sort of divided into two parts. The first part was lots of footwork drills. The second part was serve and receive drills, where we had the players play out the points. If the server won two points in a row, he became the receiver. Every three minutes the players moved up or down the tables, with the receivers moving up, serves down.

The focus of two of the drills was receiving to the middle, i.e. the server's elbow. In the first drill, the server would serve short anywhere, with the receiver attacking the server's elbow. If the server "cheated" and tried to favor one side, the receiver had to move adjust to still go at the elbow - so if the server tried to favor his forehand, the receiver would go more to his backhand and still catch him. (We also allowed them to go to the wide forehand if the serve "cheated" too much.) In the second drill, the server had to serve long anywhere, and the receiver looped it at the server's elbow again adjusting if the server moved.

Attacking the middle is one of those things best taught early and young. Chinese coach and all-time great Liu Guoliang once said of a top USA player (and I'm paraphrasing here), "The main thing that keeps him from beating the best players in the world is he didn't develop an instinct for attacking middle early on, and now it's too late."

Smashing Seminar
Last Wednesday night I ran a 90-minute Forehand Smashing Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Fourteen players attended - two came in after photo was taken. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) It went pretty well - and I had fun smacking water bottles with my forehand smash while lecturing, as a demonstration that you have to let the subconscious take over for these shots. Here's what was covered:

  • Should You Smash or Loop?
  • Technique
  • Balance and Recovery
  • Muscle Memory and the Subconscious
  • Drills to Develop a Great Smash
  • Smashing Backspin
  • Smashing Loops
  • Smashing Lobs
  • We finished with a smashing competition. I created a pyramid of ten plastic cups, and each player had ten shots to see how many they could knock down. One player astounded us all by knocking them all down in four shots - he obviously paid attention during the seminar!

You Never Know!
A 59-year-old was too old to win Over 40 Hardbat at the U.S. Nationals in July, but he did. (Hey, that's me! Well, I thought I was too old.) Navin Kumar wasn't supposed to win Bronze in Singles and Silver in Doubles at the World Parkinson's Championships, but he did. And USA's Lily Zhang, world #49, wasn't supposed to make the semifinals of the Women's World Cup this past weekend, but she did. Remember this the next time you enter a tournament! (And, of course, Dan Seemiller at 65 can't possibly make the US Olympic Team, right? See "Two Opportunities to Support the Sport You Love!" below, and the segment on this in my blog last week.)

US Open Early Entry Discount Ends Oct. 25
Here's the home page for the US Open. Price goes up after Oct. 25 - this Friday. Final deadline is Nov. 15. Tournament is in Ft. Worth, TX, Dec. 17-21 - I'll be there. Enter now! 

Women's World Cup
History was made as Lily Zhang made the semifinals, the first time ever by a USA player, and China's Liu Shiwen won for a record fifth time. (Coach Zeng "Jeffrey" Xun coached her matches - he's one of my fellow coaches at MDTTC.) Here are some links.

Polish Open
Here's the ITTF page for the event held in Wladyslawowo, Poland this past weekend.

World Veterans Tour - Fort Lauderdale
Here's the ITTF page for the event this past weekend, with compete results, articles, pictures, and video. Wish I could have been there!

Parkinson's World Table Tennis Championships
I wrote about this in my blog last week. Here are more articles and photo galleries.

Winning Table Tennis
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Are You Standing Too Close to the Table Tennis Table?
Here's the article by Ben Larcombe.

New from EmRatThich

Training at the German Open and Women's World Cup
Here are four videos from Malong Fanmade Channel.

National Collegiate Table Tennis October Newsletter
Here it is!

Two Opportunities to Support the Sport You Love!
Here's the Butterfly article on the Butterfly South Shore Highland Table Tennis Tournament and Coach Seemiller’s Journey Back to the Olympics

Table Tennis Coach May Have Lied About Links to Ukraine
Here's the article by Coach Jon!

WAB Club Feature: Canadian Elite Table Tennis Training Centre
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

St. Lucia Olympic Solidarity Course
Here's the article by Richard McAfee about the course he ran in the West Indies.

History of USATT - Volume 23 - Chapter 13
Here is Chapter 13 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, subtitled "1998 Gilbert Cup." (Page includes links to previous chapters.) Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Volume 23 is 491 pages with 1841 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1997-1999 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

TT Dream Building Fund 2020
Here's the ITTF video (60 sec).

Never Give Up
Here's the video (25 sec)!

Lionel Messi Also Plays Table Tennis!!!
Here's the video (10 sec) as Argentina soccer superstar Lionel Messi knocks a ball off a bottle with his serve!

Earn £100 Teaching Monkeys Table Tennis!
Here's the help wanted cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Ping Pong Trickshots
Here's the video (3:06) from GT Table Tennis!

Ping Pong with Musical Instruments
Here's the video (10:03) from Pongfinity!

Non-Table Tennis - Capclave Science Fiction Convention
I was a panelist at the Capclave Science Fiction Convention on Friday and Saturday. I was on four panels, including one I moderated, plus an author signing. Here are some links.

***
Send us your own coaching news!

October 14, 2019

Tip of the Week
React to Opponent's Forward Swing.

Forehand Smashing Seminar
I will be running a Forehand Smashing Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, on Wednesday, Oct. 16 (tomorrow!), 7:30-9:00 PM. 100% of fees goes to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. (I'm not taking any payment for this.) If interested, email me to reserve your spot! Seminar will alternate between lecture/demos and table practice. Topics covered will include:

  • Should You Smash or Loop?
  • Technique
  • Balance and Recovery
  • Muscle Memory and the Subconscious
  • Drills to Develop a Great Smash
  • Smashing Backspin
  • Smashing Loops
  • Smashing Lobs
  • BONUS - at 9PM we'll have a smashing competition!

USATT Teleconference on Rajul Sheth
This morning (Tues, Oct. 15), USATT had a teleconference at 11AM for about one hour, with only one item on the agenda - whether to remove Rajul Seth from the USATT Board of Directors. Here's the USATT notice. I listened in on the teleconference, as it was an open meeting. Rajul is not only a member of the USATT board of directors, but he's the founder and director of the highly successfull ICC Table Tennis program in the Bay area. 

From the USATT bylaws (Section 7.13), there are two ways the board can vote to remove a member - either "without cause," with a 3/4 majority of the board, or "with cause," with a 2/3 majority of the board. In both cases, the member being voted on can't vote, so they need either 2/3 or 3/4 of the rest of the board - including any who do not attend or vote. Initially they were going to do it "without cause," which makes things easier later on if the expelled member files a grievance. The board last year removed an appointed committee chair "without cause," but that was a case of the board removing someone they themselves had appointed. In this case, they would be removing someone who had been elected by the USATT membership. I was one of those who wrote to USATT and pointed out that in this case, they really needed to do it "with cause." They agreed, and so put together an extensive case. To remove him, they would need six votes.

Here is the USATT Board Book for the USATT board meeting held in Rockford, IL, Oct. 5-6. Originally, they were going to vote on Rajul in a teleconference before that meeting, then they decided to do it at that meeting. But because some of the info for the case was distributed to the board just before the meeting, they decided more time was needed to go over it, so they scheduled the vote for the Oct. 15 teleconference. The "for cause" case is in the Board Book, Under Exhibit J. It is divided into four parts. The first three basically cover USATT rules and codes of conduct. J-4, which is divided into five parts, has the specific charges. It's all very long, and I'm not going to get into it here. Suffice to say that if I were still on the board - I decided last year not to run for re-election - I would have had to make a very difficult decision. Especially troubling was the apparent pledge to donate money to a lawsuit against USATT. However, I hate judging other people - at times like this, I'm glad I'm not on the board anymore.

Surprisingly, Rajul decided not to attend the teleconference. The other eight members of the USATT Board of Directors attended. Rajul sent a note to the Chair, Anne Cribbs, to read. Then they had discussion. From previous discussions, going in it was fairly obvious that the vote was 5-2 to remove Rajul, with one unknown - Deepak Somarapu. Two board members defended Rajul (Bruce and Tara), while the others explained why they believed he should be voted off, based on the charges given above. When Deepak spoke, I had trouble understanding all that he said, but the gist of it made me believe he was going to vote against Rajul.

Then they voted - and when they got to Deepak, he voted "no." I think there were some internal gasps as I think others also thought he was going to vote "yes." But as soon as he voted, the result was clear - and so the vote was 5-3 to remove Rajul, which fell short of the 2/3 needed. And so Rajul stays on the board.

World Parkinson's Table Tennis Championships
When I heard that the Westchester Table Tennis Club in New York would be hosting the first World Parkinson's Table Tennis Championships, and that Navin Kumar from my club - who I coached for years - was going, I told him I'd drive up (4.5 hours) and coach him for free, if he'd pay my expenses. It was a great trip for me, and an even greater one for Navin. I confess - I didn't expect him to medal. But he got Bronze in Men's Singles and Silver in Men's Doubles!!!  His partner in the Doubles was Ilya Rozenblat from Kansas. It was an interesting team - Navin is a blocker, with long pips (no sponge) on the backhand, while Ilya uses a sort of lively anti on the backhand, but mostly hits with it - and when I say hit, I mean he murders any slightly weak ball! He also has a nice forehand loop.

For singles, they divided the players into three divisions, based on disability scores for Parkinson's, and surprisingly, Navin was in Division 3, for those with the least disability, while Ilya was in Division 2, in the middle. Ilya easily won his division without losing a game, while Navin got bronze in his.

One interesting thing - because Parkinson's players can't play for as long as others, all matches were best of three to 11. This led to a tactical decision for most matches. Normally Navin is likes to lock up opponents by keeping most (not all) shots to their wide backhands, and challenging them to hit through him, backhand to backhand. But with best of three to 11, I told Navin that it would be better to go side to side, so that opponents never get comfortable against the pips from either side, and the matches would be over before they adjusted. It worked – all his wins were 2-0, often by surprisingly lopsided scores as his opponents simply didn’t have time to figure him out. He won three matches before losing in the semifinals (bronze), where he made it to 7-9 in the third before losing against a US player who was rated about 1800, and also had long pips (with sponge) on the backhand. (I warmed Navin up for the match with long pips - I'd brought a selection of rackets, including ones with both long pips with and without sponge.)

They actually played doubles first, with Navin and Ilya getting silver. Here's a picture of me coaching them between games. (Here's the non-Facebook picture.)

A great thanks goes to everyone who helped put the tournament together! This included Westchester TTC owner Will Shortz, and all the staff and officials - even the one I argued with about scheduling! Attendees included ITTF President Thomas Weikert, and former world #3 and two-time Men's World Cup Champion Zoran Primorac, who chairs the ITTF Athlete's Commission and is on the ITTF Executive Committee. (I interviewed him after he won Men's Singles at the 1991 U.S. Open in Midland, Michigan - his English has improved!)

Here's a nice video, TT4Health: The story of Jens Greve (6:10). "Jens Greve, diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, is the founder of Yuvedo, an app to help people also diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and their relatives. Because of his incredible work, he has become ambassador of our #TT4Health program and will also PLAY FOR HISTORY at the first ever ITTF Parkinson's World Table Tennis Championships."

In the World Parkinson's Table Tennis Championships, make sure to see the links under News and Media!

Five-Time US Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller is Trying Out for the Olympics
Want to help fund his training? Sure, he's gotten older. But with his unique style, who knows - he might be able to pull off some upsets! At worse, it'll be fascinating to see just how good he can if he trains seriously for the first time in years. He's rated 2356 at age 65 (easily #1 of his age in the U.S, probably in U.S. history), and was rated over 2400 last year, and over 2500 just four years ago - so he can probably reach at least that level again. (Ten years ago, at age 55, he was US Men's Doubles Champion, for the twelfth time, with Mark Hazinski.) Here is his GoFundMe page, which includes a five-minute video from Dan. Serious training cost money, as Dan explains in the video. (He also gives a few table tennis tips!) So far he's had 53 donations, raising $5615 of his goal of $12,000. Want to help him out? (And don't forget to get a copy of his autobiography, Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion!)

German Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event that ended Sunday in Bremen, Germany, with results, articles, photos, and video. Here's the article German Open Review: Fan Tops Field by Steve Hopkins.

Uncle Pop Women's World Cup
Here's the ITTF home page for the event to be held in Chengdu, China, Oct. 18-20. (Don't you love the "Uncle Pop"?) Representing USA is Wu Yue and Lily Zhang.

2nd US Youth National Ranking Final Standings
Here's the USATT news item. I've worked with a number of these players! Stanley Hsu, who came in first Hopes Boys, started out with me.

MDTTC Open
Here are complete results of the MDTTC Open held this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. (Yep, that's my club!)

USATT Invitation for Interest in Committee Membership
Here's the USATT news item.

USATT Adds National Team Tracksuits to Prize List for Senior Events at 2019 Seamaster US Open
Here's the USATT news item by Matt Hetherington.

Coaching Position at Zing! Table Tennis Center
Here's the news item by Noel Abbott.

Winning Table Tennis
Here's the article by Samson Dubina. "A missing key in table tennis is a proper understanding of between-game analysis and between-point analysis.  In this article, I’m going to mention the three keys – understanding the problem, finding a solution, and encouraging yourself with the benefit of implementing the solution."

Champions Keep Playing Until They Get It Right
Here's the article from Pong Universe.

New from Tom Lodziak

New from Louis Levene

How to Flip Short Balls
Here's the video (7:29) by Yu Di.

Increasing Consistency Through Changes in Pace - Build From Your Block...
Here's the video (2:12) from Ed Lynn Table Tennis Coaching.

4 Basic Backhand Exercise For Beginners
Here's the video (7:05) from MLFM Table Tennis.

Gray Offers Insights into Table Tennis Physical Training
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington. "As National Team players were put through their paces in a number of training camps over the past year or so, there was one man standing among them directing the all-important physical training sessions which were apparently lacking among the nation's best athletes. Eric Gray was that man, and having been involved in a number of physical training sessions and athletic camps with the youth and senior national teams since becoming involved with USATT, he has some valuable insights into physical training needs for table tennis players."

Taming the Tennis Player
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

ITTF High Performance & Development – Continental Reports
Here's the ITTF Reports, including the half-year report for North America.

High Level Coaching Course in Halmstad – the next level of learning
Here's the ITTF article.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast | September 2019
Here's the ITTF video (16:26).

Five Things the Month of September Taught!
Here's the ITTF article. Item #2 is about USA's Lily Zhang!

How to Play Table Tennis Alone
Here's the article from Table Tennis Spot.

Teaching with Table Tennis
Here's the article from the Northern Ontario News.

WAB Featured Club: Denver Table Tennis Alliance
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

College Table Tennis Season Commences as School Teams Prep for Divisionals
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

Tallahassee Table Tennis Club Hosts First USATT Sanctioned Tournament
Here's the article by Michael Reff.

The Art of Ping-Pong – in Pictures
Here's the page (from 2014).

Pizza Hut Football Table Tennis
Here's the repeating gif image (7 sec)!

Table Tennis Funny Moments
Here's the video (8:02)!

King Ping Pong Comedy
Here's the video (4:14)!

Ping Pong Password
Here's the video (5:28)!

Top 10 Table Tennis Spin Shots
Here's the video (2:24) from Pongfinity!

***
Send us your own coaching news!

October 8, 2019

Tip of the Week
Top Ten Reasons You Might Not Be as Good at Table Tennis as You Could Be.

Europe and Egypt Tour
I'm back!!! From Aug. 12 to Sept. 28 I did a once-in-a-lifetime tour. I wrote about it extensively on Facebook, and now plan to put it all together in a book, which (hopefully) will be out this fall. I visited Portugal, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, and Egypt. I saw all the famous sites, from Stonehenge to the Great Pyramids and Great Sphinx, from the beaches of Normandy to the Eiffel Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the ancient sites of Athens, Rome, and Pompeii, the sobering tour of Auschwitz and other Holocaust museums and monuments, and the many other sites of Dublin, London, Paris, Lausanne, Venice, Florence, Siena, Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, and Cairo, with short stopovers in Lisbon and Budapest as well. I saw a zillion museums (from the British Museum to the Louvre to the Cairo Museum) and more ancient cathedrals than there are bits of sand on a beach. I even did a camel ride around the Great Pyramid!

Because I was traveling "light," I didn't bring my table tennis stuff, and didn't play any table tennis. However, there were two table tennis episodes in my travels. Amazingly, someone recognized me while we were walking on the path toward Stonehenge. He said, in I think an eastern European accent, "Excuse me, are you Larry Hodges?" It turned out he was a table tennis player who reads my blog - I get 14,000 reads per blog, so I guess there are a lot of people out there. I wasn't wearing any table tennis stuff except for my T-Rex Playing Ping-Pong Cap. That drew his attention, and suspecting it was me, he googled my picture to verify. (It's a great hat - combines my two worlds of table tennis and science fiction, though a T-Rex is real so not actually SF.)

In Lausanne, Switzerland, I visited the ITTF headquarters. This used to be the only ITTF headquarters, but now they have a second one in Singapore. Alas, the one in Lausanne is gradually phasing out, and now is down to three employees. There I meet Jordi Serra, the ITTF Head of Operations and former Executive Director. He's very friendly and helpful, showed me around, and gave tips on what to see in Lausanne. He introduced me to the two others there, Silvia Bernhard (Office Manager) and Emese Barsai (Program Manager). He also took a picture of me - don't I look like an American tourist? Though most American tourists don't wear a 2019 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships shirts or a hat with a T-Rex playing table tennis! (During my tour I've been wearing both TT and SF shirts.)

When I visit each famous site, I always buy a souvenir magnet. It actually saves money - others spend $20 on a t-shirt while I spend about $4! I now have my magnet collection organized into two groups - International (on a large magnet board) and USA (on my refrigerator).

USA Sweeps Olympic Qualifier with Canada
Here are two articles by Matt Hetherington.

The women's match was pretty one-sided and was never in doubt. However, on the men's side, USA looked to be only slightly favored, with Canada's Eugene Wang their key to potential success. Here's video of the two team matches:

The format was three-person teams, with one player on each side playing two singles, and the other two players playing one singles and one doubles. USA was obviously going to put their #1 player, Kanak Jha, in the singles spot, with Zhou Xin and lefty Nikhil Kumar in the doubles spot, with one singles each. And Canada, of course, would put Eugene Wang in the singles spot, with Hongtao Chen and lefty Jeremy Hazin in the doubles spot, playing one singles each, right?

But no, Canada instead put lefty Hazin to play two singles matches, with righties Wang and Chen playing doubles and only one singles each. This seemed to make zero sense. Were they hoping to avoid Wang against Jha, thereby getting two wins from Wang (doubles and singles)? But that wasn't it - they must have known that Jha would be playing two singles for USA, and they put Wang against him in the fourth match. And they sent up a pair of righties for doubles, putting their lefty to play two singles. (Lefty-right in doubles is an advantage.) If Wang was injured, but still able to play two matches, then shouldn't he play two singles, with the lefty/righty playing doubles?  I have no idea why they did this. Is there some info we are missing here?

It did start off sort of well for Canada in the opening doubles, match, with Canada winning the first game and getting to deuce in the second. Kumar didn't play well early on, but then he got back to his normal self and USA not only won the doubles rather easily in the end, with a stronger short game and better angle play. Hazin gave Jha a good match, but lost 3-2, and Zhou won 3-0 over Chen, giving USA a 3-0 sweep in both men's and women's. So the strange Canadian tactic did not work. And we also missed the fireworks of the Kanak Jha-Eugene Wang match that never happened.

Many of you know how often I've complained about illegal hidden serves. If you watch the matches, you'll see that in nearly every serve the player throws the ball backwards and juts his head forward as the ball is dropping, obscuring the ball and contact from the opponent, which is of course illegal. However, some of the serving was ridiculously illegal. I don't want to pick on him, but look at all of Hazin's serves - he blatantly hides the ball with his free arm every time, and is never called. Here is Rule 2.6.5: "As soon as the ball has been projected, the server’s free arm and hand shall be removed from the space between the ball and the net." Here is Hazin's very first serve of the match against Jha - they are all like this. (Note that in YouTube, you can freeze the image and then move up or back one frame at a time by hitting period or comma. Check out other serves and see how often the ball is obscured by the head, and sometimes the nose - I guess having a big nose is an advantage in table tennis!) However, the rules are very clear that if an umpire isn't sure if a serve is legal, then it is illegal, and the player should be faulted (or warned the first time). This is rarely done, especially when the ball goes behind the head and the umpire has no idea if the ball remained visible to the receiver, as it legally must be.

Forehand Smashing Seminar
I will be running a Forehand Smashing Seminar on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 7:30-9:00PM, at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. 100% of fees goes to the HW Global Junior Program at MDTTC. (I am taking no money for this.) If interested, email me to reserve your spot! Seminar will alternate between lecture/demos and table practice. Topics covered will include:

  • Should You Smash or Loop?
  • Technique
  • Balance and Recovery
  • Muscle Memory and the Subconscious
  • Drills to Develop a Great Smash
  • Smashing Backspin
  • Smashing Loops
  • Smashing Lobs
  • BONUS - at 9PM we'll have a smashing competition!

Weekend Coaching
After being gone seven weeks, two big questions loomed: Would I still remember how to play table tennis? Would anyone at the club still recognize me? The answer to both was, well, mostly yes!

This past week we had week one of both the Thursday and Sunday Beginning Classes. They are for kids, roughly ages 6-14. We primarily covered the grip, stance, and the forehand, and then games - King/Queen of the Table for the older kids, smacking pyramids of cups for the younger ones.

The last two Sundays I also coached in the more advanced HW Global Junior Program. (I returned from my European trip on Saturday, Sept. 28, and began coaching the next day.) On the first Sunday I worked with the older, more advanced kids; this past Sunday I worked with the younger ones.

Although I'm retired from private coaching, I came out of retirement to give a session last week to Navin Kumar to help prepare him for the upcoming World Parkinson's Table Tennis Championships coming up this weekend at the Westchester TTC. (I'm coaching him there.) We have another session today at 4PM at MDTTC.

Bouncing Around the Globe to Ping-Pong Pinnacle
Here's the article from the China Daily News, featuring Kai Zhang, Cheng Yinghua, Will Shortz . . . and me! Well, I'm quoted many times.

2nd US Youth National Ranking Tournament Homepage
Here are the results and, Final Standings, and Photo Gallery of the tournament, held this past Thur-Sun at the Westchester TTC in New York.

German Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event starting today in Bremen, Germany, with results, articles, photos, and video.

Table Tennis News
It's been about two months since I last blogged, so lots of news and coaching articles have piled up. Rather than link to them all, why not browse over these news pages?

How to Do Backhand Pendulum Serve
Here's the video (16:08) from Louis Levene. He has a series of other coaching videos on the Looeelooee TT Youtube Channel. (He started this series while I was gone.)

Table Tennis at the Olympic Games
Here's the video (46:53) from PingSkills. It covers Tip of the Week (How to get off to a good start in matches); Drill of the Week (Forehand anywhere); and nine other segments.

Running Around Table Stroking and Footwork Drills
Here's the video (54 sec) from Samson Dubina!

How To Win Gold and Have Fun Doing It
Here's the article by Tahl Leibovitz

Maintaining China's Grip at the Top of the Table Tennis Rankings - requires solidarity and innovation, says former national team coach
Here's the article.

Pong Universe Blog
They now have a weekly blog. Topics covered so far:

National Collegiate Table Tennis Newsletter

The Fountain of Youth Has a Net
Here's the article from Southwest Magazine.

10 Reasons Why Ping Pong is Good for Your Brain
Here's the article.

Ping-Pong and the Riddle of Victory
Here's the video (12:44). "Growing up in England, Pico Iyer was taught that the point of a game was to win. Now, some 50 years later, he's realized that competition can be "more like an act of love." In this charming, subtly profound talk, he explores what regular games of ping-pong in his neighborhood in Japan have revealed about the riddle of winning -- and shows why not knowing who's won can feel like the ultimate victory."

Playing Table Tennis With The World's Oldest Bats
Here's the video (4 min) from Table Tennis Daily.

Miss the Backhand, Stroke the Forehand!
Here's the video (24 sec).

Side Pong
Here's the video (16 sec)!

When Superheroes Play Table Tennis
Here's the video (32 sec)!

T-Rex Pong!
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) And here's Tyrannosaurus Rexes Playing Table Tennis from 2016 (see last segment).

Spider-Man vs. Venom
Here's the video (4 min)!

Pongfinity
They put up hilarious table tennis videos every week. Here are ones that went up recently.

Non-Table Tennis - "Death for the Cure: A Comedy about Cancer"
My story Death for the Cure: A Comedy about Cancer was published at Galaxy's Edge. (It's short, about 1000 words.) It's already been reviewed twice:

  • Tangent Online: "The narrator of 'Death for the Cure: A Comedy about Cancer' by Larry Hodges is a woman who dies of breast cancer. At the time of her demise, the incarnation of Death shows up. For unclear reasons, the Grim Reaper disappears, and she takes over his role. In addition to her duty of sending souls on to their final destinations, she also raises money for cancer research by delivering pizza. This doesn't quite work out, so she comes up with a much better plan.
  • SF Revu: "A crusader against cancer dies from it and becomes Death. She finds a way to use this to continue the fight against cancer. Nice twist."

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October 7, 2019

I've had a growing stomachache the last couple of days, and this morning I woke up feeling like I swallowed a jackhammer, plus a sore throat. I hope it's not the beginning of the flu. (I was completely healthy my entire 6.5 weeks in Europe and Egypt, so I guess I'm due.) I'm taking today off, and hopefully by tomorrow I'll feel like I only swallowed a few ping-pong balls, and so will be back to blogging. Meanwhile, the Tip of the Week is up: Top Ten Reasons You Might Not Be as Good at Table Tennis as You Could Be.

September 30, 2019

Tip of the Week
Confidence, then Consistency.

September 23, 2019

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