Larry Hodges's blog

November 15, 2017


  • Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. It’s now on sale at $17.95 at Amazon. (It was $24.95 before.) Here’s the back cover blurb:
    “If you are in the sport of table tennis, then you know Danny Seemiller, USA’s greatest modern champion. In ‘Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion,’ the five-time U.S. Men’s Singles Champion takes you through his 50 years in the sport, from the early days of training, the breakthroughs, the agonizing defeats and the great triumphs. You’ll learn why the three-sport star – baseball, basketball, and football – changed his focus to table tennis. You’ll experience his trips around the world, from being marched at gunpoint to achieving his boyhood dream of defeating the Chinese. But playing is only half his story. Danny, a long-time coach first in Pittsburgh and then in South Bend, Indiana, was the U.S. Olympic and World Team Coach for ten years, and was named the USOC Coach of the Year for Table Tennis three times. He served five years as president of USA Table Tennis, ran dozens of major tournaments through the years, and was instrumental in bringing the 2018 World Veterans Games to the United States. He is a member of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame, and in 2012 became the youngest recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. This is his story.”
  • Weekend Coaching. I never got around to blogging about it, but it was a busy coaching weekend. In the beginning junior class the focus was backhand attack, especially against backhand. In the advanced junior session (“Talent Program”), we had stations with the players rotating through each, and I had the station in charge of pushing. In the adult training session we did a lot of down-the-line practice, backhand attack, and serve and attack drills. In private coaching, I seem to be working on everyone’s forehand loop these days, plus a lot of service practice.  
  • Injury Update. I had a breakthrough last week. For the first time since July, when I injured my right knee at the USA Nationals, I walked up stairs normally. Since July I’ve been taking them only with my left leg, i.e. step up with left leg, follow with right leg, one step at a time. But I can now put normal weight on the right knee. I still wear a knee brace, but it’s more preventive now. In other good news, my right shoulder is about 80% healed, but it’s still a problem. Currently no arm or back problems, though I still wear an arm brace to protect against re-injury.
  • 2018 MDTTC Tournaments. We’ll have 3-star $2700 tournaments on Feb. 10-11, Apr. 14-15, Aug. 18-19, and Oct. 13-14, plus the 3-star Maryland State Championships on June 2-3. All five were sanctioned long ago. The complication is I keep playing around with the event schedule, since we ran into some scheduling problems in our last tournament with a high turnout in some events. I’ve been puttering around with it for the last month, and think I finally have it figured out.
  • USATT Coaching Committee Report. One of the new USATT policies is all committee chairs are supposed to submit a short report for each in-person USATT board meetings. (I chair the coaching committee.) We had a meeting in September, but with another one at the U.S. Open in December, I have to put together another one. (I may bring up with the board that this is too much, three times a year, and suggest we go back to annual reports.) Since September our main activity was setting up the annual USATT Coach of the Year process. There’s also a lot of discussion on the USATT coaching certification process, and I’ll be meeting with USATT High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio at the U.S. Open to go over this, and eventually submitting a plan for discussion to the USATT coaching committee. I've already got a printout of the current process marked up with lots and lots of notes and proposed changes. 

800 Players, $50,000 in Prize Money and 97 Events Highlights 2017 US Open
Here’s the USATT article by Richard Finn. I’ll be there; will you? Entry deadline is this Friday.

Seamaster Swedish Open
Here’s the home page for the ITTF event in Stockholm, Sweden, Nov. 13-19. In Men’s Singles, China has Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, Lin Gaoyuan, Fang Bo, and Yang An. Japan has Noki Niwa, Kenta Matsudaira, and 14-year-old whiz kid, Tomokazu Harimoto (world #16), heading for a showdown with Xu Xin (world #3 last month, now off the list for non-activity) in the round of 16. Alas, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll are not entered, nor is Simon Gauzy or Vladimir Samsonov – the top European is world #17 Marcos Freitas of Portugal. In Women’s Singles, China has the top three seeds in Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling, and Chen Meng, and Japan the next three, with Kasumi Ishikawa, Miu Hirano, and Mima Ito. (Since I mentioned Ishikawa, here’s a funny picture of her with ITTF Commentator/Voice of Table Tennis Adam Bobrow. Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

America's Ping Pong Prodigy: The 16 Project
Here’s the video (6:55) from Vice Sports, featuring Kanak Jha. “When Kanak Jha was 16, he became the youngest American Olympian participate in the Rio Games. Only a year later, he now is considered the top-ranked US Men’s Ping Pong Player. Looking to take that next step in his development and training, the California native recently moved to Grenzau, Germany. Far away from home and with few distractions from table tennis, Kanak looks to perfect his craft and join the company of the game's elite with his sites set on Tokyo 2020.”

TeamUSA's Final Preparations Begin for World Junior Championships
Here’s the USATT article.

2017 German Open: All Chinese Out with an All-German Final!
Here’s the article and video (5:30, highlights of Fan vs. Ovtcharov) from Shashin Shodhan. “The End of Chinese Dominance?”

Tahl Leibovitz Honored with Queens Ambassador Award
Here’s the article from the Queens Times Ledger.

Coaches Respond, Intense Schedule in Pristina
Here’s the ITTF article by USA Coach Christian Lillieroos.

This Ping Pong Tournament Aims to Raise $175k for Chicago Tech Academy
Here’s the article from Chicago Inno.

Kenta Matsudaira - Mr. Tomahawk (Blocking Magic)
Here’s the video (5:26).

Old-Style Ping-Pong Circa 1900
Here’s the video (40 sec) as two players go at it with old vellum rackets, as used around 1900 but in a modern recreation.

Chat with Adam Bobrow
Here’s the video (9:49) - The Timo point, German Open, Swedish Open... life... whatever.

2017 Kansas City Table Tennis Open Final Highlights
Here’s the video (14:19).

Cartoon Network Ping-Pong
Here’s the picture! I’m not sure who the characters are or where this comes from.

Send us your own coaching news!

November 14, 2017

Tip of the Week
How to Play Doubles with a Much Stronger Player.

USATT Board of Directors Teleconference
The teleconference took place at 7PM last night, going until about 8:45PM. Attending were all nine members of the USATT Board of Directors, plus USATT CEO Gordon Kaye, USATT Chief Operating Officer Marc Thompson, High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio, USATT lawyer Dennis Taylor, John McFadden (representing the USATT Foundation), and USATT member Lee Kondo.

Meetings always start with a few formalities – roll call, welcome remarks from board chair Anne Cribbs, and a call for conflict of interest statements. There were none. Then we got to the approval of the minutes for the Sept. 10 in-person board meeting, and teleconferences on Oct. 9 and 19. I asked for a minor typo correction for the Oct. 9 minutes, and the addition of a clarifying sentence for the Oct. 19 minutes. There were no other calls for changes. Then we voted for each – I was rather active this call, and made all three motions for approval. They were each approved unanimously, and should go online soon.

Next came a long session on SafeSport. The USOC did an audit of our SafeSport policies and procedures, and asked that we add a part about requiring USATT staff to pass SafeSport. (Apparently this was included in one part, but not another.) Once again I made the motion to add the needed language to our policies. We’re in overall compliance, with Jan. 1, 2018 the target date for “full compliance.” Of course, there’s no such thing as true full compliance as any club or tournament could sneak in a coach, umpire, or other person who is not SafeSport compliant and we might not know about it. But there will be penalties for this.

Next came updates on the USOC General Assembly (from Anne Cribbs and Tara Profitt), and an update on the USATT Board Manual. (I found two little mistakes – it made my day! But nothing important.)

Then came the CEO reports on the U.S. Open, the upcoming USATT Super Camp (Dec. 26 – Jan. 2 at the Triangle TTC in NC), and USOC funding. No surprises on any of this. (Did you know you can see the list of entries online? Here’s the listing by players, and by event.) We also discussed the upcoming in-person meeting at the U.S. Open. The meeting will take place on Fri, Dec. 15, from 1PM to roughly 6PM, and on Sat, Dec. 16, from 8AM to roughly 6PM. The meeting is open to all USATT members who wish to attend, except for occasional closed sessions for legal and personnel matters. There will also be the annual USATT Assembly, tentatively at 8PM on Tues, Dec. 19, at the convention center.

There was also a closed session where for about ten minutes we discussed super-secret stuff (legal and personnel), and here I’d like to joke about Russian connections except someone out there would probably take it seriously. Then we adjourned.

Seamaster German Open
Here’s the home page for the event, held in Magdeburg, GER, Nov. 7-12. The page includes complete results, and lots of great articles and video. The mind-boggling part was that Men’s Singles was another all-German final, Timo Boll vs. Dimitrij Ovtcharov, just like at the recent Men’s World Cup. Chinese stars Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike, Xu Xin, Lin Gaoyuan, and Yan An all lost. (Ma Long and Fang Bo were not there.) Is China starting to miss Liu Guoliang? Here are a few other links.

New from Samson Dubina

New from EmRatThich

Training With Wang Hao and Lin Gaoyuan at 2017 World Cup
Here’s the video (9:10) from Arnaud Scheen. 

Tomorrow Table Tennis - How to Forehand Loop around the Net
Here’s the video (2:51) by Andy Zou.

San Jose Finalist for World Championships in a Growing Sport
Here’s the article from The Mercury News.

A Massive New Ping-Pong Bar is Coming to Downtown Seattle
Here’s the article from Seattle Magazine.

Has China Dropped the Ball?
Here’s the ITTF article. I think it way under-emphasizes the impact the “promotion” of Liu Guoliang from men’s coach into a pointless bureaucratic position.

ITTF Leadership Update
Here’s the ITTF article.

History of USATT - Volume XX - Chapter 2
Here’s chapter two of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1991-1992. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at

Robopong 2017 November BTTC Open Tournament
Here’s the article on the Florida tournament.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - October 2017
Here’s the video (13:02).

Timo Boll: Table Tennis Legend
Here’s the video (7:46).

Table Tennis, 1930s to Present
Here’s the video (2:47).

Table Tennis Stamps from Sierra Leone
Here’s the picture. Clockwise from top left: Kasumi Ishikawa, Ma Long, Koki Niwa, Zhang Jike.

Giant Ping-Pong
Here’s the video (13:13) with oversized paddles and what appears to be a beachball.

Bear vs. Monkey Pong
Here’s the video (7:30, but link should take you directly to 3:50, where they have a crazy game for about a minute, with a spider onlooker.

Send us your own coaching news!

November 13, 2017


Day Off
Oh boy, do I need a day off. Friday was Veteran’s Day, a federal holiday, and my normal policy is to take those as holidays as well – but I simply forgot, and ended up doing the blog and working all day Friday. Then came the even busier weekend where I coached all day and night. And now, after staying up late to watch the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery, plus The Walking Dead, The Simpsons, and Family Guy – yeah, late Sunday night is my weekly “TV” night – I have all the energy of a broken ping-pong ball. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m normally blogging Mon-Fri, while coaching long hours on Sat & Sun (as well as during the week), so I normally don’t have any days off. So I’m taking today off. (It’s not a total day off – I have a few things on my “todo” list I need to get done today, plus we have our monthly USATT Board of Directors teleconference at 7PM – I’ll blog about that and other things tomorrow.)

Meanwhile, here’s video of “The Diving Point” at the German Open, Timo Boll vs. Lin Gaoyuan at 7-6 in the first game. Who do you think wins the point? Here’s commentator Adam Bobrow’s explanation (60 sec) afterwards on why the umpires got it right and gave the point to Lin, despite Timo’s heroics. Here’s the home page for the event that finished this weekend in Magdeburg, GER, Nov. 7-12, with complete results, articles, and lots of video – and surprise, just like the Men’s World Cup, and with all of the top Chinese competing except for #1 Ma Long, the men's final was another all-German final!

November 10, 2017

Call for Nominations - Annual USATT Coach of the Year Awards
Here’s the info page. There are five categories:

Coaches can’t nominate themselves – so why not nominate some deserving coach from your club? See info on each category, linked above. Deadline is Jan. 1, 2018.

Here’s the listing of past winners. Last year’s winners in the five categories were Stefan Feth (pictured on the news item), Tao Wenzhang, Samson Dubina, Joe Ciarrochi, and Gary Fraiman. The Coach of the Year program started in 1996 with just two categories. We’re considering adding more next year – for example, we might separate those who train athletes directly (i.e. act as practice partners as well as coaches) from those who run the training sessions or coach matches in big tournaments. It’s a tricky distinction.

I’m on the Selection Committee as the USATT Coaching Chair. That’s bad – really bad – it means I can’t win this year! (Just kidding.) I’ve won twice before, and had a stretch in the 1990s where I was runner-up for Coach of the Year three years in a row. Others on the Selection Committee are Joerg Bitzigeio, USATT High Performance Director; Carl Danner, Chair, USATT High Performance Committee; and Tara Profitt, Chair, Athletes Advisory Council.

My Secret Life as a Ping-Pong Wizard
Here’s the book, with perhaps the best cover of any table tennis book. It’s book #9 in the “Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever” series, published in 2005, and written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. (Yes, the Henry Winkler who starred as Fonzie in “Happy Days and other movies and TV shows.”) It’s a kid’s book for roughly ages 8-12, but I think I’m going to read it. I thought I had a copy but can’t find it, so I just ordered a copy. Here’s the book description:

Hank thought that getting through summer school to get to the fifth grade would be hard enough, but little did he know that it would get worse! Everyone in the fifth grade is starting to focus on a sport—and they’re really good. Everyone, that is, except Hank. When Papa Pete suggests that Hank take up Ping-Pong, he decides to give it a try but keeps it top secret, as he thinks the other kids will tease him about it not being a "real" sport. Hank is so good that he manages to Ping-Pong his way to the championship! But when he finds out the contest is being held at "Nick the Tick" McKelty’s family bowling alley, will he risk being the laughingstock of the fifth grade?

Seamaster German Open
Here’s the home page for the event. It’s in Magdeburg, GER, Nov. 7-12. Here’s a feature article: Once again lightning strikes, once again Japanese teenagers beat World champions.

New Articles from Samson Dubina

One Year In – Lessons for the Beginning Table Tennis Player
Here’s the article from Epic Table Tennis.

The Birth of Modern Table Tennis?
Here’s the posting and discussion of this at the forum. The argument is made, with video, that Stellan Bengtsson was the player “who did the most to revolutionize table tennis and create the modern game.”

Ionescu Excited for Bundesliga's American Debut
Here’s the USATT article on the German professional league match to take place at the North American Teams. 

Five New ITTF Posts Offered for Forward Thinking Initiatives
Here’s the ITTF news item. Deadline to apply is Nov. 30. The positions are:

  • ITTF Development Manager
  • ITTF High Performance and Development Administrative Specialist
  • ITTF Africa Development Manager
  • ITTF Para Table Tennis Manager
  • ITTF Equipment Manager

The New ITTF Ranking System Explained
Here’s the podcast (30:42) from PingSkills.

Successful Start for Second Part of Sri Lanka Initiative
Here’s the ITTF article featuring Richard McAfee.

Guangdong Steps Up on Home Ground in Shenzhen
Here’s the article from MH Table Tennis (Matt Hetherington). “The Guangdong Team prepared for an epic showdown on November the 4th as they stood before their home crowd against a difficult opposition. Led by Coach and Chinese legend Guo Yuehua along with Chinese National Team member Hao Shuai, the Guangdong team would face off with Shandong Luneng, a team of formidable opposition.”

Reviewing My First USATT Tournament
Here’s the article with link to video (3:16) by José Miguel Montoro.

Chinese Superstar Zhang Jike is Back!
Here’s the video (35 sec) from the German Open.

Two-Table Multiball Training
Here’s the video (28 sec).

Simon GAUZY vs Masataka MORIZONO (Bundesliga 2017/2018)
Here’s the video (4:41).

Krish Avvari in Training
Here’s the video (21 sec) of USA Junior Team Member Krish Avvari training with Coach Dan Liu at ICC. They are working on opening attacks against half-long backspin (i.e. barely off the end). Krish has just returned from an ankle injury that kept him out for nearly a month.

Classic Table Tennis, 1930s-1950s
Here’s the video (6:30), featuring classic hardbat play, set to old-time music.

Alien Table Tennis

Send us your own coaching news!

November 9, 2017

The Non-Playing Arm
I’ve been harping on the left arm a lot with my students recently. (I really should say “non-playing arm,” but at the moment all my private students are righties.) I do almost all of my coaching on the same back table at the club, next to the table tennis robot, surrounded by posters on the wall of world-class players. Right behind me are three pictures of players (also righties) in various playing positions, but all of them with their left arm up for balance. So I’m regularly pointing to them in succession and saying, “Left arm. Left arm. Left arm.”

The problem is that you can sort of get away with not using the left arm in many drills – either static ones, where you aren’t moving (i.e. working on basics with beginners), and often in moving drills where you know where the ball is going and so don’t have to make sudden unexpected changes in direction. And so players will sometimes get lazy and let their left arm just hang there like a dead snake. (That’s what I regularly call it – “dead snake syndrome.”) Often the consequences of a limp non-playing arm aren’t apparent as they affect your ability to recover from a shot – meaning it doesn’t so much affect the shot you are doing as much as it does the next shot. And then, rather than blaming the slow recovery on the lack of balance and fixing the problem, they call out, “I’m too slow!”

There are really three things about the non-playing arm you should focus on. First, keep the arm and hand up in your ready position for balance, making it easier to make quick starts, using the arm as a counter-balance. Second, it should be used as a counter-balance to your playing arm while rallying. This is especially true when making big forehand shots, but also true on big backhand shots if you turn sideways. And third, when making big forehand shots, where the body is rotating in roughly a circle, not only is your playing arm side moving forward, but the non-playing arm side should be moving backwards – so you should essentially be pulling back with that arm, adding to your power. (A version of this will likely become a Tip of the Week later on.)

Amazon Email Received Yesterday
The email said, “Larry Hodges, Based on your recent views, we thought you might be interested in these items.” The email had four suggested books for me: Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, Table Tennis Tips, More Table Tennis Tips, and The Spirit of Pong. These are all books I wrote!

A Rising USA Bids for the Worlds
Here’s the USATT news item, which was adapted from my blog on Monday.

Seamaster German Open
Here’s the home page for the event. It’s in Magdeburg, GER, Nov. 7-12. 

Pushing Tactics to Mess Up Your Opponent
Here’s the video (7:19) from Tom Lodziak.

Trading Places With Your Coach
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

Driven by Same Values, Toyota and Adriana Diaz Now Steer the Same Route
Here’s the ITTF article on the Puerto Rican star.

Sid and Nandan Naresh Display Table Tennis Skills
Here’s the article and video (2:59) from WGN9 News.

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2017 Women's World Cup
Here’s the video (5:42) of the top ten shots from the Women’s World Cup.

U.S. Hopes Team Member Ved Sheth Plays “grudge match” with ICC Coach Zheng Pu
Here’s the video (66 sec).

Fegerl-Karlsson Exhibition Point
Here’s the video (56 sec) – what a point! That’s Stefan Fegerl of Austria on the far side (world #36, #31 last month) vs. Kristian Karlsson of Sweden (world #27). Here’s the entire exhibition (10:03).

Send us your own coaching news!

November 8, 2017

Visualizing the Serve
I think one of my most widely applicable Tips is A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact. This has come up a lot recently in my coaching, both private and group. After a serving practice session with our Talent Junior Program (our best juniors, ages 7-13, about 24 of them), I gave a short lecture on this.

Let’s face it – most players really aren’t aware of what they are doing when they serve. Sure, they know the more obvious parts, like contact, and perhaps how it bounces on the far side. But they aren’t really aware of how high or low they contact the ball, where it bounces on their side of the table, the curve of the ball, not even how high it is when it crosses the net. They tend to notice only what’s happening on the far side, while ignoring what led to what happens on the far side. Without knowing and controlling what happens throughout the serve, including on your side of the table, you can’t really control the serve.

Seriously, if you want to have good serves, you need to be aware of every part of the ball’s journey, as noted in the Tip above. You should see it all in your head before you serve. If the serve doesn’t match what you saw in your head, then practice until it does. When you do this enough, it becomes second nature. Only when you can do that can you truly control your serves and make them do what you want them to do.

ITTF to Implement New World Ranking System in 2018
Here’s the ITTF news item.

Seamaster German Open
Here’s the home page for the event. It’s in Magdeburg, GER, Nov. 7-12. Here’s the promotional video (63 sec).

Zhang Jike Returns, Alongside Colleagues, Ready to Prove Himself
Here’s the ITTF article on the German Open.

Table Tennis Serve and Forehand Flick
Here’s the video (11:36). It’s in Chinese, but you can learn by watching the demos.

History of USATT - Volume XX - Chapter 1
Here’s the first chapter of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1991-1992. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at

Hollywood Actor, Ping-Pong Champion Maropis Serves Notice
Here’s the article on Adoni Maropis.

The 25th Cape Fear Open
Here’s the article by Earl Moniz.

Sportfist Table Tennis Tournament Software User Guide
Here’s the USATT news item, with a link to the user guide. I use Omnipong to run my tournaments, but I guess competition is good.

USATT Tournaments 2017 – USATT Youtube Playlist
Here’s the page – lots of championships videos from major USA tournaments.  

Tributo a Martin Pinto – Chile
Here’s the video (1:55).

Zombie Table Tennis Tournament
Here’s the video (36 sec) – things get interesting about halfway in!

Send us your own coaching news!

November 7, 2017

Weekend Coaching and Coaching Correspondence
I was going to write about my weekend coaching yesterday, but then that thing about USA bidding for the Worlds came up, and, well, it was a tough call - what's more interesting, the World Championships or reading about Larry's coaching sessions? Of course you want to hear more about my coaching sessions, but I decided to save the best for later and write about the World’s first. 

As usual, I had three group sessions on Sunday. (I run two of them, help with the other.) In the Beginning Junior Class, Week 8, we introduced them to looping. Not world-class looping, not yet, but just easy spinning of a backspin ball on the forehand side. (We'll do backhand next Sunday.) About half the class was ready for this, while for others (mostly younger ones) we did more work on forehand, backhand, pushing, and footwork. We had 17 in the class, with four coaches.

In the Talent Junior Program, I fed a lot of multiball, much of it backspin so they too could work on looping, but now it was much more advanced players. I also spent time working with some of them on pushing. Two of the youngest were quite proud when they pushed 66 times in a row! (But I reminded them that at the 1936 Worlds, in the first point of their match two players pushed for two hours 18 minutes.) We had I think 24 in the class, with eight coaches and several practice partners/multiball feeders.

In the Adult Training Session, for the more advanced players we did the usual stroking and footwork drills, then some random drills, and finally serve and attack. For two who were more beginners, we did almost all stroking drills, including pushing. For the last 15 minutes I fed multiball to them so they could work on looping. (I did a lot of that on Sunday.) 

I did a lot of private coaching on Saturday, but I won't go into all of those. We had a junior group session, where we played some doubles, so I got to coach that. I also took a lot of notes on some of the players for future reference. 

The really good news? I gave out most of my Halloween candy in the junior sessions. I still have one bag of chocolates – Snickers, Twix, and M&Ms (plain and peanut). During one session I put the candy on the table and the kids had to knock it off to get it. They knocked off a few, and I gave them two pieces each afterwards.

I spent a lot of time the last two days on coaching correspondence. Some of it was coaching committee related (I chair the USATT coaching committee, and there are a bunch of things going on), but a lot were general queries on wide-ranging topics. They ranged from what a coach should say between games when he doesn't know what to say, questions on the backhand loop and two others on serving, one on games beginning juniors can play, on whether players should be allowed to split prize money in tournament finals, and others. 

International Pro Bundesliga Table Tennis Match
Here’s the promotional video (33 sec) of this upcoming match, to take place at 1PM at the JOOLA North American Teams in Washington DC on Nov. 24. Here’s the press release, which I linked to last week.

How the New ITTF World Ranking Works
Here’s the video (1:43).

Seamaster German Open
Here’s the home page for the event. It begins today in Magdeburg, GER, Nov. 7-12.

More from EmRatThich

How to Read Service Spin
Here’s the video (7:43) by Tom Lodziak.

Successful Athlete vs. Unsuccessful Athlete
Here’s the chart. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Training With Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll at the 2017 World Cup
Here’s the video (22:22).

Skeleton Attack T-Shirt
Here’s the Kickstarter page for this new shirt design from Steve Worthington, including a link to video (1:25). He needs $200 in pledges; he’s already up to $80. Pretty nice design!

Crazy Hand Swap Rally
Here’s the video (31 sec), which is a nice rally to start with, ending with the great hand switch shot by Jay Hagberg.

Ping Pong Zombie Trick by G Sparks
Here’s the video (21 sec). How do you do this trick? Here’s the how to video (3:19).

The First to 21 Points Gets Into the Country
Here’s the cartoon! (Did Mexico pay for the net? Though the cartoon is actually listed as “UK border, so perhaps they’ll try to make the Irish pay?)

Send us your own coaching news!

November 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Become Your Own Feedback.

Three Cities Bid for 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships - Including San Jose, USA
Here’s the ITTF article. Yes, San Jose, USA is bidding for the Worlds against Ekaterinburg (Russia), Busan (Korea Republic). USA has never run the World Championships, but from I think we have a really good chance at winning this one. (I’m refraining from making any Russia/Trump jokes, and from hinting of the dangers of running anything in the Korean peninsula at this time. Oh wait, I just did.) Here’s a quote from the article:

“The bid from San Jose means that the USA is in the running to host only the second ITTF World Championships to be held outside of Asia and Europe. The first and only time that happened was in 1939 when Cairo, Egypt were hosts.  It’s positive signs for the global rise of table tennis, especially in North America, having successfully hosted the last two editions of the ITTF Women’s World Cup.”

And note the ITTF article from last week, ITTF Eyes North American Market. So you don’t really need any inside info to see that the ITTF would like to expand more into North America – and now we’ve run the last two Women’s World Cups, showing that yes, we can run these things. (Plus the World Veterans in Las Vegas next year.) The final decision on where the 2020 Worlds will be held will be made at the ITTF meetings at the 2018 World Championships in Halmstad, SWE, Apr. 29 – May 6.

These are changing times for table tennis in the U.S., where historically we’ve always been on the outside looking in. Even during our “heyday” of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, when our top players competed for world titles, we never ran a Worlds or anything remotely close. Here is a listing of all the major ITTF events held in North American. (Let me know if I missed any. I’m only including the Summer Olympics since table tennis made its debut in 1988.)

  • 1990 World Veterans Championships, Baltimore, USA (which turned into a scheduling disaster that set us back many years in bidding for major events)
  • 1992 World Doubles Cup, Las Vegas, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1995 World Team Cup, Atlanta, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, USA
  • 2000 World Veterans Championships, Vancouver, CAN
  • 2007 World Junior Championships, Palo Alto, USA
  • 2016 Women’s World Cup, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2017 Women’s World Cup, Markham, CAN
  • 2018 World Veterans Championships, Las Vegas, USA
  • 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, USA

It seems to me that there have been two major things that have led me to be optimistic about the future of table tennis in the United States. First, as I’ve blogged before, was the rise of the full-time training center. Other than a few short-time attempts, there weren’t any in the U.S. until the Maryland Table Tennis Center opened in 1992. As of 2007, there were only about eight. Now there are 93, with a couple more I know of opening up soon. This has led to a huge increase in level and depth of our cadet and junior players – and where before our cadets, juniors, and men and women (other than immigrants) were generally on the sidelines early in major international events, now our cadets and juniors are competitive all over the world.

The second thing? Running two successful World Women’s Cups in North American (2016 and 2017), the World Veterans in 2018, and now possibly the World Championships in 2020, mean that we are no longer on the outside looking in. We’re on the inside, and the ITTF and North American are now partnering to break into this huge market. And guess what? I live in this market. Yahoo!!!

Belgium Open
Here’s the home page for the event held this past weekend in De Haan, BEL, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video.

EmRatThich at PingSunday
Here’s been busy!!! Here are five new articles and videos.

New Coaching Videos from Samson Dubina

Loop Like Zhang Jike - EXPLOSIVE Backhand
Here’s the video (3:55).

How to Feed Multiball
Here’s the video (7:02) from PingSkills.

Tom Lodziak Newsletter
Here’s the new issue, which includes links to numerous coaching tips.

USOC Coaching Education Newsletter
Here’s the new issue.

Ping Pong Diplomacy: The Cold War of the Game
Here’s the article from the World News Network.

Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan Training 2017
Here’s the video (3:55).

Behind the Scenes at the 2017 Men's World Cup
Here’s the video (2:51).

Zen Pong
Here’s the video (1:29) as Moos Barad bounces a ball on his paddle while balanced on one foot, including slow motion. “Focus and channeling one’s center of gravity is fundamental to great mastery of Table Tennis. The grind continues…”

Matt Kuchar Plays Table Tennis
Here’s the video (1:55). “7-time PGA TOUR winner Matt Kuchar is looking to table tennis to develop his golf game.”

Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones Playing Table Tennis
Here’s the trailer (3:23) for their upcoming movie, “Just Getting Started,” which comes out Dec. 8. At 1:04 in they are playing table tennis for a couple of seconds. At the very start, and again at 1:42 and 1:49 you can see a table tennis scoreboard.

That Feeling When You Finish Work on a Friday . . . or Win a Match
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Forehand Falling-Backward Inside-Out Sidespin Countersmash
Here’s the video (13 sec) as Adam Bobrow demonstrates this fundamental shot, as well as your basic chop lob.

Monster Clown Plays Table Tennis
Here’s the video (11 sec)!

This Is Your Brain on Ping Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

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November 3, 2017

Moving and Table Tennis
Once again I’ve run into the interesting fact that some players have better shots when they move, especially when moving to the wide forehand. I blogged about this on Sept. 22, where we discovered that Todd’s shots were much better when he did footwork.

Yesterday I coached a new player, Ron, and it happened again. He was an experienced tennis player but new to table tennis. His forehand was decent, but often a bit cramped, with the racket too close to the body, and the tip often tilted slightly up. We worked on this for a while, and then I noticed something. Whenever I went a little wider to this forehand, he’s reach out and hit a perfect forehand! He’d extend the arm so it wasn’t cramped, and the tip would drop down to where it should be. Often his shot would be very wide to my forehand, which was very obvious because, due to my ongoing shoulder problems, I can’t really extend my arm and so have less reach going that way.

I pointed this out to him, and had him shadow practice that “moving” forehand until he could do it (without the ball) from other parts of the table. Then we went back to hitting, and the stroke was much better.

When my shoulder is healthy, I’ve had the same experience. During my peak years it was very difficult for players to win the point going to my wide forehand as I covered that very well. (I was a bit weaker when they went very wide to my backhand, but that’s another story.) Part of the reason I covered it well was because I’d go into the shot (when hitting or looping) with my shoulders rotated back and arm extended, and so could rotate into the shot, giving the shot power.

Another reason players often have better strokes when moving is that the very act of moving helps them focus on moving into position for the shot. When they don’t have to move much, they tend to just stand there, and reach for the ball on shots where a short step would put them in perfect position.

Belgium Open
Here’s the home page for the event in De Haan, Bel, Oct. 31 – Nov. 4. As of Friday morning, they are into the final 16 in Men’s and Women’s Singles.

U.S. Open Deadline
The final deadline for entering the U.S. Open is Nov. 10, which is next Friday. What are you waiting for??? (Here’s the current list of players and by event. They should easily top 700.)

New York Takes Next Step in Coach Education
Here’s the ITTF article on the ITTF Level 2 course run in New York by Richard McAfee.

ITTF Eyes North American Market
Here’s the ITTF article. “Table tennis could soon be making waves in the biggest sporting market in the world.”

Forehand Loop Advanced Skill Development
Here’s the article, with links to numerous videos, by Brian Pace from Triangle Table Tennis. 

New from EmRatThich
Here are two new articles/videos.

400 Coaching Articles
Here’s the listing of these articles by Samson Dubina.

8 Common Table Tennis Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Here’s the article from Ping Pong Passion.

ITTF Shakes up the Rankings
Here’s the article by Steve Hopkins. (I blogged yesterday about the new world rankings.)

Football vs. Table Tennis – Which Sport is Harder?
Here’s the article from Eli Baraty from Coach Me Table Tennis. Note – what he calls football we in the U.S. for some weird reason call soccer.

Jump Rope & Multi Ball
Here’s the video (1:38) where Larry Bavly test which can be done longer. It’s not really a fair test, however, as his table tennis muscles are far more developed than his jump rope ones, and so of course multiball training is “easier” for him. Plus you can always increase the pace of the multiball and exhaust him far more quickly. (Here’s his description and discussion at

2017 Butterfly Badger Open – Video Interview with Bowen Chen
Here’s the video (2 min) by Barbara Wei. (This was from September, but just went online.)

Arsenal Keeper Petr Cech's Unique Table Tennis Robot Training Workout
Here’s the video (48 sec), and here’s the article on it from ESPNFC. He’s a goalkeeper for the football team Arsenal – yeah, once again that’s soccer to Americans.

Slow Motion Table Tennis! Did You Know How Much Spin There Is?
Here’s the video (1:36) from Scott “ThePingPongMan” Preiss and Keenan Southall.

Ma Long Training at World Cup 2017
Here’s the video (9:08).

Xu Xin - The Cloud Walker Signature Shots
Here’s the video (8:39).

Back from the World Cups. Let's Chat.
Here’s the video (64 min) from Adam Bobrow, the Voice of Table Tennis. (Lots of comments underneath.)

Balding Ping-Pong Boy
Here are the cartoon images. Here’s where you can get the original from Shutterstock.

Zombie Pong

Send us your own coaching news!

November 2, 2017

New ITTF World Rankings
Here’s the ITTF article on the new world rankings, and here’s more from Table Tennis Daily. Here are the new rankings for Men and Women. They are using for the first time a newly updated rating system. Some big changes!

On the men’s side, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike were both removed for inactivity, with Germans Ovtcharov and Boll moving up to #3 and #4. (But their next player is Filus Ruwen, who moved from #24 to #21.) China’s Ma Long and Fan Zhendong are still #1 and #2, but the next two Chinese are Lin Gaoyuang and Fang Bo at #7 and #10. Japan’s Noki Niwa, Jun Mizutani, and Kenta Matsudaira move up to #5, 6, and 9, with their 14-year-old whiz kid Tomokazu Harimoto moving from #18 to #16. (He was #14 two months ago.) France’s Simon Gauzy went from #14 to #8. China is still dominant, but China vs. Germany or Japan could be interesting.

On the women’s side, reigning #1 Ding Ning was removed for lack of activity. The women ranked #2 to #7 last month all moved up one notch, with Zhu Yuling taking over the #1 spot for the first time. Only “big” jump among the top women was Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei, who moved from #10 to #7. China had the top four women last month, but now have only the top three (Zhu Yuling, Chen Meng, and Liu Shiwen), with Japan taking the next three spots (Kasumi Ishikawa, Miu Hirano, Mima Ito). China is still dominant, but China vs. Japan could be interesting.

Lily Zhang, the only USA player in the top 100 (men or women) moved from #80 to #76. Excluding two players who left the rankings for lack of inactivity, all 28 ranked USA players went up in ranking! Here’s a listing.

Kanak Jha: 228 => 204
Timothy Wang: 360 => 325
Feng Yijun: 371 => 332
Sharon Alguetti: 547 => 445
Adar Alguetti: 555 => 489
Victor Liu: 560 => 496
Kunal Chodri: 581 => 508
Nicholas Tio: 604 => 524
Nikhil Kumar: 674 => 572
Michael Tran: 731 => 590
Gal Alguetti: 866 => 711
Billy Xu Ding: 841 => 728
Nathan Hsu: 918 => 799
Jason Plog: 1046 => 913
Aditya Godhwani: 1093 => 960
Jack Wang: 611 => off list for lack of activity
USA Women
Lily Zhang: 80 => 76
Wu Yue: 128 => 119
Crystal Wang: 192 => 181
Amy Wang: 252 => 234
Angela Guan: 291 => 260
Erica Wu: 322 => 284
Rachel Sung: 479 => 322
Lavanya Maruthapandian: 396 => 452
Grace Yang: 485 => 421
Rachel Yang: 478 => 424
Ishana Deb: 562 => 485
Isabel Chu: 605 => 527
Joanna Sung: => 798 => 694
Tia Lynn Hsieh: 520 => off list for lack of activity

Belgium Open
Here’s the home page for the event in De Haan, Bel, Oct. 31 – Nov. 4.

Liu Guoliang: Genius of Table Tennis Tactics
Here’s the article and video (19:52) from EmRatThich.

ITTF Decides on Sanctions for Chinese Trio for China Open Forfeits
Here’s the video (3:39). Here’s the ITTF article on this that I linked to yesterday, and EmRatThich’s take on it, also linked to yesterday: Ridiculous Sanctions of ITTF to China Open Forfeits Scandal.

All Tied Up and Nowhere To Go
Here’s the article by Coach Jon.

First Indian, Manav Thakkar to Top ITTF Junior Circuit Ranking
Here’s the article.

Ma Long Will Be Back on Nov. 21
Here’s the music video (48 sec) from EmRatThich.

2017 Butterfly Southeastern Open Final - Yichi Zhang vs Jishan Liang – Highlights
Here’s the video (10:24).

Alex and Jason Piech at Southeastern Open
Here’s the music video (2:32). Don’t they ever miss? Watch the reaction of their opponents as they smash winners. Don’t miss Alex’s “eyebrow” follow-through after his shot 16 seconds in.

Halloween Table Tennis Pictures
Here are four more from Table Tennis North, who had some sort of Halloween kids table tennis party. (Click on each picture to see the next one. Here are the non-Facebook versions: One, Two, Three, Four.) There were more in my blog yesterday.

Drawing of Cartoon Cats Playing Table Tennis
Here’s the image!

Non-Table Tennis – Science Fiction Sales and Publications
The last few days have been crazy in Larry’s science fiction world. Here’s a rundown of the past two months. (Galaxy’s Edge and Compelling Science Fiction are two of the major “pro” science fiction magazines.)

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