Larry Hodges's blog

October 2, 2017

Tip of the Week
Top Ten Tactical Serving Mistakes.

US Open Entry Form and Hotel
They are out! Here’s the home page, entry form (pdf – online entry will be out later), and hotel info and for the U.S. Open, Las Vegas, NV, Dec. 17-22. (And yes, I’m aware of the irony of writing about going to Las Vegas right now while the news is all about the shooting in Las Vegas right now.)

This year there are 97 events to choose from. (Note to self: Let’s get them to add three events for a nice even 100!) They include:

  • Rating events from U800 to U2700 (many of them divided into adult and junior categories to solve the problem of under-rated juniors showing up and winning everything);
  • Tiered Super RR (one for U2000, one for Unrated);
  • Rating Doubles events (U4200, U3700, or U3200);
  • Senior events from Over 30 to Over 80;
  • Junior events from Under 9 to Under 21;
  • Eleven Hardbat events – but don’t even think about trying to win Hardbat Singles, Hardbat Doubles, and Over 40 Hardbat – those three events are mine, even though I normally play with sponge);
  • Four Sandpaper events (aren’t you just dying to know what “Liha” sandpaper is?);
  • Four Team events (Adult, Junior, and Under 21 Elite Boys and Girls);
  • Men’s and Women’s Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles.

With all these events, you’ll get lots of play, plus you get to spectate, shop (lots of table tennis booths), meet old and new friends, and of course whatever else Las Vegas might have to offer. (I’ve heard rumors.)

This year’s hotel is Harrah’s. After several bad experiences with overcharging at the Westgate (the old hotel from several years ago), which at first appears to be cheaper but isn’t once they start adding on resort and other fees, I’m definitely staying at Harrah’s. It’s located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, and offers “Vegas style and luxury at an affordable rate”! The rates are really cheap for most of the tournament – Sun-Thur just $35/night!!! For the weekend, Fri-Sat, it goes up to $99/night. Here’s the home page for Harrahs, with links to their Casino, Shows, Restaurants, and Things to Do pages. Those who do stay at Harrah’s via USATT receive:

  • Specially discounted room rates;
  • Complimentary monorail passes (5-min trip to playing hall);
  • One free extra event;
  • One free shirt customization (bring your table tennis shirts and for a small fee they’ll put your name, club, state, or whatever else you want on the back!);
  • 50% off week-long player’s lounge pass;
  • Get to mingle with the other players all week long!

I’ll be there along with up to one thousand players (plus coaches, families, guests, staff, officials, and sellers) and if you are not there, we will talk about you. Badly. We might even get Trump to tweet about your badliness. So be there.

Overplaying vs Taking the Risk
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

Tactics to Beat a Much Stronger Player
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak.

How to Get More Spin in Table Tennis
Here’s the article and video (15:32) from EmRatThich: “How to Spin like a Pro.” Here are four other videos from him that came out this weekend.

What to Eat to Improve Performance in Table Tennis
Here’s the article from Pong Boss.

ITTF Level 2 Coaching Course
They are holding one at the New York Indoor Sports Club, Oct. 13-15, and there are still openings. Richard McAfee is running it, assisted by local organizer Sydney Christophe.

USOC Coaching Education Newsletter
Here’s the new issue.

RIP: Kae Rader
Here’s the obituary for Kae Rader, who was USATT’s executive director in the early 1990s.

7 Things That Annoy All Table Tennis Players
Here’s the article.

Lily Zhang Embraces Strong Opposition, Prepares for World Cup Challenge
Here’s the article.

One Year In – The Epic Journey So Far
Here’s the article from Epic Table Tennis.

Capital Area Season Opener
Here’s the music video (1:24), and here’s the Capital Area League’s home page, where you can get results, schedule, teams, and so on. “Great season opener. Lots of action. Lots of socialization. Some awesome shots.”

New York City Table Tennis Academy's 1st Year Anniversary Video
Here’s the video (4:10) – “Thank You ‘Manhattan's Premiere Table Tennis Club.’”

Zhang Yining - The Greatest Female Player in History
Here’s the video (6:48). “Zhang Yining (张怡宁) is a female table tennis player from China. She held the ITTF #1 ranking from 2003 to 2009 and have 4 Olympic gold medals, 10 World Championships, and 4 World Cup wins. That why she is considered the best female player in the history of table tennis.”

Hippo Pong

Send us your own coaching news!

September 29, 2017

Table Tennis Biographies
Why not spend a weekend curled up with a good table tennis biography or autobiography? Here are a few to choose from. (I have copies of each of these books in my table tennis book collection.) Or, of course, you could always buy one of my books!

  • Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion by Dan Seemiller (2016), 218 pages. “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.”
  • Ping-Pong for Fighters by Tahl Leibovitz (2014), 108 pages. Here’s my review. Tahl went from living on the streets to getting a master’s degree, coaching table tennis professionally, and winning lots of medals in the Paralympics.
  • Adventures of the Ping-Pong Diplomats: Volume 1: The U.S.-China Friendship Matches Change World History, by Fred Danner (2012), 238 pages. Here’s my review. This was about half historical, half autobiographical.
  • Ogi: The Life of Ichiro Ogimura (2009), 370 pages. The link goes to my review of the book, with ordering info at the end. (It’s not on sale online.) This was a fascinating read.
  • J-O Waldner: When the Feeling Decides, by Jens Fellke (1997, English version 2003), 237 pages. I have the English version, but I can’t seem to find that version on sale online, just the Swedish version. (I think I picked up my copy on sale at the World Championships a while back.) Here’s a review of the book by Ken Muhr.
  • The Money Player: The confessions of America's greatest table tennis champion and hustler, by Marty Reisman (1974), 241 pages. Entertaining read.
  • Victor Barna by Philip Reid (1974), 152 pages. The link goes to Alibris, where it cost $76.69, but it’s $147.85 at Amazon! Barna was five-time World Men’s Singles Champion.
  • Alas, it costs $147.85!!!
  • The Will to Win: Dragutin Surbek, by Stjepan Kljuic-Branin, 1973. Alas, while I have the English version in my collection, I can’t find this on sale anywhere. Surbek was a great Yugoslavian star in the 1970s who reached #3 in the world.
  • The Youngest Son, Autobiography of Ivor Montagu (1970), 384 pages. From the long-time president of the ITTF.
  • Twenty-One Up, by Richard Bergmann (1950), 242 pages. Bergmann was four-time World Men’s Singles Champion.

Ping Pong Diplomats: Chinese Couple Opens First Table Tennis Center in DC
Here’s the video (2:48) from The World Today at CGTN TV (an affiliate of CCTV), featuring Charlene Liu and Changping Duan from the Washington DC Table Tennis Center. “A couple from China have opened Washington DC’s only full-time table tennis center—using ping pong to bridge the culture divide between the U.S. and China.” (Charlene and Changping were mainstays for many years at my club, MDTTC, where Charlene ran the leagues and tournaments.)

Why You Need a Weekly Routine for Your Table Tennis Training
Here’s the article from Expert Table Tennis. “I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with having a weekly routine. On the one hand, I love the freedom and flexibility of having a virtually empty calendar. On the other, I do find that I get a lot more stuff done when I create and follow a strict schedule.”

How to Avoid Injury
Here’s the ITTF Education article.

15 Reasons for Table Tennis
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

Chairman Mao Got it Right! “Why you are a couch potato!” 
Here’s the article from Donald Winze. “Mao Zedong wanted the Chinese people to live a healthier lifestyle and ordered more than a million concrete table tennis tables built and distributed throughout China. Table tennis is now the second most popular participant sport in the world and the national sport of China. This is not the ping-pong game of tapping the ball around in the basement but the intrepid Olympic sport that most Americans have never even seen, let alone taken the time to learn and play properly.”

USATT Insider
Here’s the new issue that came out Wednesday.

More Super Women's Table Tennis Points
Here’s the video (47 sec) of this great point between world #1 Ding Ning (CHN) and #17 Hina Hayata (JPN).

Training Chinese - MA Long, LIN Gaoyuan, FAN Zhendong, XU Xin, FANG Bo - Trials 2017
Here’s the video (3:19).

Best Rallies by the Best
Here’s the page from TTBrothers, where you can find videos showing “The Best of…” for huge numbers of top players.

Really Big Ping-Pong Ball Crashing Into Building?
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Pot Pong
Why hasn’t this dynamic new sport caught on?

Send us your own coaching news!

September 28, 2017

Backhand-Forehand Towel Drill
Here’s a great drill I used yesterday while coaching Navin, one which you might want to try. Like many players, his crosscourt backhand doesn’t always go wide enough to the backhand, instead wandering out to the middle backhand, making things easier for the opponent as well as giving them an angle to attack into his forehand. It’s important to be able to hit accurate shots (forehand and backhand) almost always to the three main spots – wide corners and opponent’s playing elbow.

Once you do learn to play consistently wide angles into the backhand, an opponent may look to find ways to get out of this type of rally, often by going down the line to the forehand. This often happens to Navin, who can dominate the backhand diagonal but can be vulnerable to attacks to the forehand if he gives an easy opening.

So here’s the drill. I put my towel over much of the backhand side, leaving an opening about a foot wide from the corner. Then Navin and I played backhand to backhand where he had to avoid hitting the towel. A key to this was not aiming for the area between the corner and the towel, but aiming right for the corner or even slightly outside it. That way, even if you mishit slightly, the ball still stayed near the backhand corner. Then, randomly, I’d suddenly hit my backhand down the line, and Navin had to quick hit the ball to my wide forehand. If he’s keeping the ball to my wide backhand, then my down-the-line backhand not only can’t really angle him, but leaves me open to a wide angle to my forehand, and so he should be able to hit a winner nearly every time. For this drill, I didn’t bother playing out the point, just grabbing another ball to get the next rally started, but you can do it that way or play out the point.

$100,000 World Championship of Ping Pong
Here’s the promo video (62 sec) for the sandpaper event, to be held at Alexandra Palace, London, January 27-28, 2018. Here’s the home page.

5 Steps to Do Backhand Loop Table Tennis – Ma Long’s Technique
Here’s the article and video (2:08) from EmRatThich.

Zhang Jike's Footwork
Here’s the video (3:48) from EmRatThich.

How to Practice Table Tennis Alone
Here’s the video (10:16) from Yangyang.

What I Know About Playing Penhold
Here’s the article by Coach Jon.

Is Table Tennis the Most Undervalued Sport on the Planet?
Here’s the article from Coach Me Table Tennis. “If you are a serious table tennis player, you have surely heard this comment before by someone! ‘Is table tennis a real sport?’”

Fan Zhendong the Next Grand Slam?
Here’s the video (11:18) from EmRatThich.

Timo Boll Highlights at the World Table Tennis Championships
Here’s the video (1:23).

More Super Women's Table Tennis Points
Here’s the video (39 sec) of this great point.

Hungary - Japan Table Tennis (1959)
Here’s the video (60 sec).

Big Paddle, Many Balls
Here’s the animated gif!

Send us your own coaching news!

September 27, 2017

Table Tennis People Who Owe Me Money
My trusting nature has cost me $450 plus interest. Maybe that’s not a huge amount over 41 years, but it’s an irritating $432 because of how they came about. (I’m probably owed other money over the years that I don’t recall offhand. These are the ones that stick out.)

Just last year I hired one of our local player/coaches to help run one of my beginning junior classes. He was short on money and asked if I could pay him $120 in advance. I did so. When the class started, he simply didn’t show, with no notice. The player still lives locally – about a mile from me, in fact - and coaches at a local rec center, but has never returned to MDTTC. I messaged him on Facebook (where he’s active and definitely got the message), texted him, emailed him, and called and left a message, but no response, not even an “I don’t have the money but will pay you later” note. (Not that that would have meant much after he didn’t show up to coach at the class as he’d been hired to do.) I’ve know the player since he was nine years old, practiced and coached him many hundreds of hours, used to coach him at tournaments, and gave him hundreds of rides. I later learned he did the same thing with another player, who he owes something like $300. What a disappointment.

A number of years ago a local player ran into an apparent problem. He was supposed to fly out to a major tournament in a few days, but couldn’t buy his air ticket until he received a check coming in the mail. He asked if I could lend him the money. I agreed, and paid for the $230 ticket. He later laughed at me, asking how gullible could I be to lend money to him, a con artist. So I’ll never see that money. Fortunately, that person would later run into major legal problems due to another scam attempt, and had to leave the U.S. to avoid creditors, not to mention getting banned by USATT. Karma. (Like the player above, I also had helped this player out extensively, giving him hundreds of rides.)

Seven different times since I began my Adult Training Sessions on Sundays someone has shown up but was unable to pay the $20. Seven times they absolutely and positively guaranteed they’d pay if I let them take part in the 90-minute sessions. Two of them were sincere and later paid. Five of them gave Academy Award-winning performances, and I never saw them again.

So . . . anybody out there want to borrow some money?

SafeSport Letter to USATT Community
Here’s the USATT notice.

EmRatThich: New Articles and Videos

Seemiller, McAfee, Chen, Ding Ning, Thompson, Tretheway, Quadri, Wijigunawardana, Hetherington, and Bobrow, Oh My!

Dan Seemiller: Living Legend Marks 21 Years in South Bend
Here’s the article on Dan Seemiller from the South Bend Tribune. “Danny Seemiller is a legend. Danny is a prominent name in table tennis and he is coaching right here in South Bend. He lives in the garden spot of the county, in New Carlisle. He coaches and mentors at the South Bend Table Tennis Club. The club will celebrate his 21 years of coaching with an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 1.”

Richard McAfee - The Coaches' Coach
Here’s the article by Richard Finn. “Behind every great player there is a great coach, so goes the cliché. And behind many great coaches most likely there has been Richard McAfee.”

Bowen Chen Takes Crown at Robopong September BTTC Open 2017
Here’s the article.

Ding Ning from great to legend to immortality, moment of history awaits in Markham?
Here’s the ITTF article.

Mark Thompson New USATT Chief Operating Officer
Here’s the USATT article. At our last USATT board meeting (Sept. 9-10) I gave him an impromptu TT lesson during a break. He picked it up pretty well!

Bob Tretheway Memorial
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version – L-R: Aili Elliott, Scott Preiss, Henan Li Ai, Sean O'Neill, Dhiren Narotam, Larry Rose, Debbie Shuman and Norm Silver.)

Aruna Quadri Empowers Six Table Tennis Players with Equipment
Here’s the article from The Guardian in Nigeria.

Mudit Dani of India Wins Under-23 Table Tennis Tournament in US
Here’s the article from the Hindustan Times.

Denethi Wijigunawardana Interview
Here’s the article and video (2:38) from Samson Dubina. “Denethi Wijigunawardana is the 2017 College Regional Champion and current the #1 female player in Ohio.”

Matt Hetherington Has Fun with Duct Tape
Here’s the video (53 sec).

Adam Bobrow Celebration
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) Yes, he gets a lot of coverage, but that’s because he has photos and videos like this! (Plus he is the “Voice of ITTF.”) The kid seems to be having fun too!

The Rough Diamonds Are Off. Talent Development on the Road to Buenos Aires
Here’s the ITTF article.

2017 Austrian Open: Finals Review
Here’s the video (1:38).

Ma Long & Liu Guoliang Training 2017
Here’s the video (6:17).

Russian New Generation
Here’s the video (6:24) – lots of nice action shots of up-and-coming Russians!

2x4 Board Pong?
Here’s the video (65 sec)! It kind of reminds you of Darth Maul, doesn’t it?

Send us your own coaching news!

September 26, 2017

Power Out
When I woke up this morning the power was out. I have no idea yet why, but it's been out for at least the last 2.5 hours. Alas, all my blogging files and links are on my desktop computer, so I don't have access to them. (I'm using my laptop on batteries for this.) So no blog today. Hopefully power will come back on soon. (I haven't called the power company yet, but will do so after this.) As if this weren't bad enough, I have a noon dentist appointment. To tide you over until tomorrow, check out the USATT news, ITTF news, or Butterfly news. Oh, and here's an animated gif of a man versus a cat

ADDENDUM 1 (1:00PM): Power came back on around 10:30AM. And I have the beginning of a cavity, and so have to go back to the dentist at 3PM for that. 

ADDENDUM 2 (4:00PM): Just got back from the dentist, gained a filling, spent $474 on checkup, cleaning, and new filling. There goes a lot of coaching hours....

ADDENDUM 3 (5:30PM): The pain killer that numbed my teeth and gums has worn off - and my teeth and gums HURT!!!

September 25, 2017

Tip of the Week
Assume You Have to Move.

Looping the Flip and Other Game Drills
One of the drills we did in my adult training class last night was a new one that none of them had done before. The drill itself was simple: one player served short to the other’s forehand; the receiver flipped the ball to the wide forehand (crosscourt – all the players were righties); and the server looped crosscourt, and the rally continued crosscourt, with the server looping against the receiver’s block. (If you are a hitter, you can do this hitting instead of looping.)

The drill is a subtle change on the more common version where you just serve topspin and start looping – now the server had to adjust his timing to looping against a flip, just as he’d have to do in a real match. The added bonus was the server got to work on his short serve to the forehand and his looping, while the receiver got to work on his flip and his blocking.

Once a player has the foundation of his strokes down, it’s important to do drills that bring in game-like conditions. For example, if you can forehand loop against backspin when your partner pushes to your forehand over and over, and backhand loop when your partner pushes to your backhand over and over, it’s time to make it more game-like, where your partner pushes anywhere randomly, and you have to loop, forehand or backhand.

Sundays are getting to be my favorite coaching time. I often have little private coaching, but have three consecutive 90-minute group sessions – the Beginning Junior Class at 4PM (16 players, I’m head coach); the Talent Junior program at 5:30PM (I think 24 players), and the Adult Training Session at 7PM (I’m head coach; numbers vary; last night we had eight).

Chen Bowen: Running Toward His Goals
Here’s the USATT version, and the Butterfly version. It’s an article I wrote on my fellow coach/player at MDTTC.

Lateral vs Deviation Sidespin Serves
Here’s the video (2:36) by Samson Dubina.

Is It Worth Buying Table Tennis Shoes?
Here’s the article from Tom Lodziak.

Ping Pong Training
Here’s the video (19:46) for learning about the sport, compiled by Jules Apatini. 

Table Tennis Footwork Patterns: Side to Side (Part 3)
Here’s the video (8:26) from EmRatThich.

Table Tennis Tidbits #9 - Fegerl: Odd Man “In” at the Polish Open ‘15
Here’s the article and video (13:32) by Robert Ho.

Here’s the video (2:42) featuring Coach Gregg Robertshaw and student Zelin, from the Triangle TTC. “We did a video clip over the last 2 months on "Motivation," where we started off trying to convince Zelin that he can play Table Tennis. As a coach, I tried to change his attitude where if he works hard, he will succeed. As we worked together, we took little steps at a time and conquer them. After few months, you'll be ready to win a few tournaments (actually, he has done this already). I truly gives us all kind of inspirations in watching him being motivated.”

World Table Tennis Wrap – Continental Clashes!
Here’s the article by Shashin Shodhan.

Videos from EmRatThich

Duke Basketball Legend Christian Laettner Visits Virginia Beach for Ping-Pong Charity Event
Here’s the article and video (2:07). “Laettner's visit to Virginia Beach this weekend is not about hate - it's about love. It's not about basketball, either. It's about ping pong. ‘It's a great sport. I've been playing it my whole life and will play it until the day I die.’”

Lots of Table Tennis Pictures and Products
Here’s the page from Pinterest.

Top Ten Hand Switch Shots
Here’s the video (5:36).

Ice Pong!
Here’s the picture of a table and net made of solid ice. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Pong Evolution, the Live Version
A few days ago I linked to this Pong Evolution cartoon. Here is the Live Version! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) It stars, L-R: Adam Bobrow, Robert Gardos, Can Akkuzo, Omar Assar, and Berndt Öhler.

Sore Loser Pong
Here’s the animated gif!

Send us your own coaching news!

September 22, 2017

Moving and Stroking
I had a rather interesting session with Todd (age 12) on Wednesday. He’s played for about 1.5 years and is now pushing 1500 in our league ratings (1456), looping nearly everything on the forehand, and recently almost as much on the backhand. But there’s always been this strange problem at the start of our sessions where it often takes him 3-5 minutes before he can effectively forehand loop. It sometimes seems as if he’s forgotten how to do it.

Then I noticed something – whenever we do footwork drills, his looping technique looks pretty good. It’s only at the start of the session, where I’m blocking to one spot for him to loop that he often seems to struggle, often reaching for the ball with awkward technique and not getting much spin. So I tried something – I had him do one-one footwork right from the start, where I blocked to his wide forehand and then middle, and he moved side to side and forehand looped. Immediately he was looping really well!

Then we went back to my blocking to one spot, and his looping technique again deteriorated. That’s when it dawned on me – he loops much, Much, MUCH better when moving!!!

Perhaps he’s like the Sundance Kid, who couldn’t shoot well unless he was moving – see video (64 sec) from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” (Seven Academy Award Nominations in 1970, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won for four - Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Music – Original Song, and Best Music – Original Score. Alas, no table tennis, though here’s a picture of Paul Newman/Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford/The Sundance Kid playing table tennis doubles. Here’s another.)

I think there are three reasons why Todd (and probably others) loops better when moving.

  1. When moving to the right (he’s a righty), it puts him in perfect position to use the momentum of his movement to rotate his body into the shot. 
  2. When moving to the left, he uses the momentum of his movement to rotate his body back more so he gets a better swing.
  3. When I block mostly to one spot, he doesn’t have to move much, and so loses that habit, and so ends up not making the minor adjustments needed for each shot, and so ends up with an awkward stroke. When I move him, he gets back into that habit, and so is in position for each shot.

So all you lazy ping-pong players – here’s still another reason why you should be practicing your footwork! (See my Tip, Are You a Tree or a Squirrel?)

Is Conformity of Styles Hurting the Sport of Table Tennis?
Here’s the article from Matt Hetherington.

Forehand Topspin Technique – Chinese Technique
Here’s the article and video (16:45) from EmRatThich.

How to Play a Forehand Flick
Here’s the article from Expert Table Tennis.

The Changing Climate of Table Tennis
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

Does Coaching Qualification Affect Our Sport?
Here’s the article from Coach Me Table Tennis.

Has Clothing Anything to Do with the Popularity of Table Tennis?
Here’s the article and pictures from Sports Flu.

Get to Know the Different Table Tennis Conversion Tops in the Market
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Spot.

Austrian Open
Here’s the home page for the event, in Linz, Austria, Sept. 19-24. 

USATT Insider
Here’s the new issue that came out Wednesday.

Our Champion for Peace: Tahl Leibovitz
Here’s the article. And here’s another.

Paddle Palace Club Host First USATT Class 11 Training and Classification Event
Here’s the article by Sean O’Neill.

Retirees Surprise Virginia Beach Kids with Ping Pong Table
Here’s the video (1:45).

Ma Long and Fang Bo Training
Here’s the video (7:56) of the world #1 and #11 players from China in training.

360 Degree View of Marcos Freitas & Stefan Fegerl
Here’s the video (67 sec) - left-click and grab and move around 360 degrees!

Who Will Win in a Table Tennis Match, North Korea vs. USA?
Here’s the article and somewhat funny video (1:39) from Sports Flu.

Waldner and Persson Chop Smashing and Lobbing Exhibition
Here’s the video (1:48).

A Little Ping-Pong Math?
Here’s the pong puzzle. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Ball Bath and a Drink?
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Bouncing Ping-Pong Ball
Just a mesmerizing, hypnotic bouncing ping-pong ball. Watch it all weekend.

Pachyderm Pong
Did you know that today is National Elephant Appreciation Day? And so I give you…

Send us your own coaching news!

September 21, 2017

School Closed, Larry’s Off
The local schools are closed as a “Non-Instructional Day,” presumably because of Rosh Hashanah. As is my normal policy, when the schools are closed, I’m off too. (Though I’ll spend much of the day on various writing and other projects.) We have a one-day camp today at MDTTC. I’m not needed in it – we have ten coaches at the club – but I may go in later and help out as a practice partner. Then I have three hours of private coaching from 5:30-8:30PM. Meanwhile, to tide you over until tomorrow, here’s an animated gif of Speedy Gonzales playing table tennis. So . . . who would win in a battle between Speedy Gonzales and the Energizer Battery?

September 20, 2017

Old Ping-Pong Stuff
My house is loaded with old ping-pong stuff. Here’s a rundown.

  • I have well over 100 collared table tennis shirts in my closet, mostly from Butterfly, the oldest dating back to (gulp!) the late 1970s!!! But I don’t wear the old ones anymore. I have about 40 I use regularly, all from the last five years, all with my name and MDTTC on the back.
  • I still have the Newgy robot I used to lug around for group sessions at various locations in Maryland back in the early 1990s. Alas, it’s still set for 38 mm balls, and hasn’t been used since at least 2000, when the world switched to 40mm balls. I’m not sure what to do with it.
  • I have table tennis rackets on my shelves from the 1980s, and sheets of sponge almost that old.
  • I always keep a chopping blade (with long pips on one side) in my bag so students can practice against chopping. Until a year ago I had the same racket and sponge for this for over 25 years! (It’s at the club, and I forget the type of racket it is but it was a “top” chopping blade circa 1990 or so.) I finally got a new racket and sponge for this. (The new one is a Butterfly Joo Saehyuk blade with Tackiness Chop II 1.9mm black on the forehand, Feint Long II 1.3mm red on the backhand.
  • 244 books on table tennis, going back to 1902.
  • A drawer full of table tennis stickers and pins, with some from the 1970s.
  • Boxes and shelves of old table tennis magazines going back to the 1970s.
  • I have two weighted rackets for shadow stroking. One is a nice wooden one I got in 1994 in Taiwan when I was coached the USA Junior Team at the World Youth Cup Championships. The other is a make-shift one someone made for me by gluing two rackets together – in the late 1970s!  

And now we get to my table tennis racket. I started playing in 1976. From 1976-1979 I used a LOT of rackets and sponges – I kept changing, sometimes breaking them in disgust. I’ve always said that when you start out, you should experiment a lot, trying out the rackets of others at your club until you find something that works. But once you do find something that works, unless your game changes or the technology changes (really changes, which happens perhaps once every ten years), stick to the one that works until it’s practically a part of you. Here’s my history of table tennis rackets since 1979.

  • 1979-1987: Seemiller H Blade, Sriver on both sides.
  • 1987-2008: Butterfly Oberon blade, Selvid on forehand, Sriver on backhand.
  • 2008-2010: JOOLA Fever blade (I forget what sponge).
  • 2010-present: Butterfly Timo Boll ALC, with Tenergy 05 on forehand, Tenergy 25 on backhand (though I’ve been experimenting with 05 on backhand some). Though I have several backups that I often use when coaching, my primary one is still the same one I started with in 2010. It was given to me by Tong Tong Gong as a reward for coaching him to an upset spot on the U.S. National Cadet team. (I was between sponsors at the time.) It’s the very racket he used when he made the team seven years ago, and has his name still carved on it!

Alas, it’s not just table tennis stuff I have that’s old. My car is a 1997 Toyota Corolla that I hope will last me forever (or until they have affordable self-driving cars). My dresser originally belonged to my grandparents, and is at least from the 1950s. And here’s the really scary one with a whole story itself – my wallet is 36 years old! Here’s the story on that. It’s falling apart, but I keep putting on duct tape to keep it together. I’m determined to make it last forever.

Here’s the article from Samson Dubina.

Simplify for Better and Quicker Returns
Here’s the article, with links to video, from Table Tennis Spot.

Butterfly Presents: Footwork Drills, Stefan Feth, Drill No. 9
Here’s the video (75 sec, though it really starts 35 sec in).

Third Ball Attack in Table Tennis
Here’s the article from EmRatThich.

How to Protect Your Table Tennis Racket
Here’s the article from EmRatThich.

USATT Release Tentative Event Schedule for 2017 US Open Championships
Here’s the USATT info page. Hope to see you there!

USATT Establishes Youth Ambassador Council to Promote Grassroots Programs
Here’s the USATT news item, from June 27 – but the deadline is coming up, Oct. 3.

US Team Reflect on Cartagena - 5 Medals and a Wealth of Experience
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Chinese Superstar Olympians Visit USA to Celebrate 45 Year Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. “Social media was buzzing with life as four legends of Chinese Table Tennis visited the USA as part of a 30 strong delegation to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy. Grand Slam Champion Ding Ning, three time Olympic Silver medalist Wang Hao, 2000 Olympic Doubles Champion Yang Sen and 2-time Olympic Doubles Gold Medalist Qiao Hong were part of the team to attend a trio of special events in America.”

Zhu Yuling Claims Victory in Asia, Qualifies for World Cup
Here’s the article.

Presper Financial Architects Open - Tournament Results, Photos, Videos!
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

Table Tennis Tourney Doubles As Mentorship Program
Here’s the article and video (2:11) from CBS Chicago.

World University Games Vlog Part 1
Here’s the video (13:13) from Nathan Hsu, a member of the USA World University Team. (He's been over 2500 and is currently rated 2475.) 

Time to Watch the Austrian Open!
Here’s the home page for the event, in Linz, Austria, Sept. 19-24. Here’s the ITTF promo video (67 sec).

Timo Boll vs Marcos Freitas (ETTC 2017 Final)
Here’s the video (9:28) of the Men’s Singles Final at the European Championships.

This is How Ping-Pong Balls are Made
Here’s the video (1:42).

Top 10 Best Point of China National Game 2017
Here’s the video (4:53).

Table Tennis Has its Dangers
Here’s the video (71 sec) of funny table tennis mishaps!

The Competitive Ping-Pong Player vs. The Competitive Table Tennis Player
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

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September 19, 2017

Backhand Topspins
Last Thursday I blogged about Teaching the Topspinny Backhand, and teaching it to an 8-year-old girl. I’d held back with her and others on this because I didn’t want to mess them up just before our “Talent” program trials. But now that they are over, we’re going backhand topspin crazy – and it’s great!

On Sunday I coached Todd, age 12, on topspinning his backhand. Before that he had a decent backhand loop against backspin, but mostly hit his backhand in rallies. Within minutes of trying it out he was playing backhand topspins like a pro, at least in rote drills where he knew where the ball was going. It’ll take time to incorporate this successfully more random drills and in matches – but on the other hand, I told him it would take time to incorporate the shot into drills, and that time turned out to be minutes.

Maybe I should just tell everyone to copy Ma Long, tell them it’ll take them time to incorporate his shots, and watch them all play like Ma Long in minutes.

To me, the biggest change in the game since I started out in 1976 has been backhand play. Back then most players either hit their backhand or they backed up and topspinned, and I’m comfortable playing against either style. Now they’re staying right up to the table and topspinning. It’s not fair - there should be a rule that you have to choose!  

Coaching This Particular Grip
Here’s the video (3:03) from Samson Dubina as Bowen Chen demonstrates and explains his penhold grip, which allows for a powerful forehand and a reverse penhold backhand. “One of the most difficult things for young kids to learn with modern penhold is the grip pressure. It is significantly more difficult than shakehands. My friend Chen Bowen gives a brief explanation of his grip. Even if you don't play RPB style, I think that you will find this video interesting and informative.”

The Truth about Chinese Rubbers/Ma Long Forehand Rubber
Here’s the article and video (6:45) from EmRatThich.

The Master of Ball Placement - Jan-Ove Waldner
Here’s the video (4:39)

National Collegiate Table Tennis September Newsletter
Here’s the new edition. Note the first article, “NCTTA Coaching Certification - A Success.”

Immense Battle - Silver for Wu, Top Honors for Adriana Diaz at 2017 PanAm Champs
Here’s the article by Matt Hetherington.

Lin Gaoyuan Lays Ghost to Rest, Now a Winner
Here’s the ITTF article on Lin winning Men’s Singles at the Asian Cup.

Romania Returns to the Top After 12 Year Wait, Gold Medal Finish Secured
Here’s the ITTF article on Germany winning Women’s Teams at the European Championships.

Trophy Belongs to Germany, Four Year Wait Finally Over
Here’s the ITTF article on Germany winning Men’s Teams at the European Championships.

World Table Tennis Wrap-up
Here’s the ITTF article. “It's been a huge week of table tennis, with continental kings and queens being crowned. Checkout the world table tennis wrap-up to find out what went down on the courts around the globe.”

2017 Butterfly Badger Open Final Highlights - Eugene Wang vs Jishan Liang
Here’s the video (6:58).

Lin Gaoyuan and Fan Zhendong in the Asian Cup 2017
Here’s the video (10:06, time between points removed, English commentary).

Xu Xin “The Show Man”
Here’s the video (57 sec) showing four great points.

Fegerl-Karlsson Exhibition
Here’s the video (3:37) from one year ago. Pretty funny routines!

Evolution Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

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