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Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, a little later on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week).
Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of seven books and over 1400 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio

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

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

His newest book, The Spirit of Pong, is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis and ends up training with the spirits of past champions. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

April 18, 2016

Tip of the Week
Shot Awareness in Practice.

Chinese School Exhibition
On Saturday I did an exhibition/demonstration at a Chinese school at Rocky Hill Middle School. My partner for the exhibition was Lisa Lin, rated 1919, a member of the USA Hopes Team (top four under 12 at time of trials), who had just turned 12. I'd spoken to her briefly on Friday about what we'd do, since it was her first exhibition, and pointed out that between the two of us we'd done about 500 exhibitions. 

I gave my usual talk about table tennis being a game of strokes, footwork, and spin; how it was an Olympic sport; and emphasized how China dominates, since it was a Chinese school. We demonstrated forehands, backhands, footwork, and a multiball demonstration where Lisa did lots of footwork. I also explained spin, and demonstrated a backspin serve that bounced back into the net, and a sidespin serve where I served to the left, and the ball spun sideways and hit a conveniently placed paddle off to the right. 

Then I got into my "sad story" routine, where I explained how a terrible thing had happened, that after years of training, Lisa had gotten a "big head," had gotten conceited - and in fact had told me that very morning that she could beat me!!! So to settle it once and for all, we were going to have a challenge match, with the loser sweeping and mopping the gymnasium that night. 

A game to 11 is too short for a good exhibition, so we played to 15, with the school principal umpiring. We had lots of great rallies, including one standout one where we smacked backhands back and forth for about 30 shots, with me grunting loudly each time. At various times I pulled out the big racket, the mini-racket, and a clipboard; did the 50-foot serve, the blowing-the-ball-over-the-net serve, the come-back-over-the-net backspin serve, the "Look over there, Lisa!" serve (where I serve as she looks away), the fake high-toss serve (where I toss a ball way up in the air, and then quick serve with another ball), and the toss-the-ball-under-one-leg, serve-under-the other serve. Oh, and lots of lobbing, including a nice one where I was rolling about on the ground. 

Throughout I'm bantering continuously with the audience, mocking Lisa (and always paying for it), and even doing the "first table tennis wave in history" (for about the 500th time). We battled back and forth, and had five deuces, but in the end (as I'd promised Lisa), she won 21-19. 

We then invited players to come up and try to return spin serves, with others directed to catch the returns that predictably went to the side - the kids always are amazed at this. 

Afterwards, they asked if I would be available to teach a regular class on Saturdays - and though I'm rather jammed for time these days, I (tentatively) agreed. So I might be teaching there starting in a few weeks, though they have to first organize it. 

USA Nationals Event Listing
Here's the list, with times and days. The Nationals will be held July 4-9 in Las Vegas. (Yes, for those not paying attention, they've flipped the Nationals and Open – the Open will be in Las Vegas in December. This is so kids can attend the Nationals – when it was held in December it conflicted with their school finals.)

Table Tennis Coach Needed
Here's the notice from the Alameda Club in California.

New Look for Table Tennis' Hottest Social App: PongUniverse Gets a New Look!
Here's info from MH Table Tennis.

Ajmer Proves Successful Home for India's Second Ever Level Three Course
Here's the ITTF article on the coaching course run by USA's Richard McAfee.

Stay Young – with Help from Table Tennis!
Here's the BBC article.

The Amazing Story of Ibrahim Hamato - Impossible is Nothing
Here's the video (1:41). You've probably seen video of the armless Egyptian star, who plays with a racket in his mouth and is often invited to big tournaments where the top players line up to hit with him. Now you can learn more about him. (He lost both arms at age 10 in a train accident.) Here's his Wiki page.

Amazing rally at 2016 French National Championships!
Here's the video (48 sec).

Monarch Bank Battle of the Paddles School and Scholarship Ping Pong Event
Here's the video (62 sec).

The Best Spots in D.C. for Dates 1, 2 and 3
From the Washington Post on Friday, under "SECOND DATE: Have a drink, mixed with some friendly competition," it has the following: 

The Park View spot starts serving beer, wine and cocktails at 5 p.m. (except on Sundays, which are dry). Grab a drink and a light snack at the bar and, once you’re ready, venture upstairs for table tennis. You can make the game a little more interesting by turning it into a challenge: Every time someone loses a point, he or she shares a fact about themselves. For example, I learned that a recent date is one of eight kids, enjoys taking baths and, as a child, thought he would play professional basketball. Offering up random facts can be a nice change of pace from volleying questions back and forth, like on a regular first or second date. If your date is a sore loser or a total dud, you can call it a game, set, not a match and part here. 

Pong Head
Here's the picture!

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April 15, 2016

Thursday Beginning Junior Class
We started a new seven-week session of the Thursday class, which is 6-7 PM – though in reality we tend to go an extra 20 or so minutes each time, since the kids are so enthusiastic and it's my last coaching of the day, so I'm free. The new session has a small group of just seven, including two returnees from last session, but it's already looking like one of the best groups to work with. It's also a somewhat older group than in the past, ranging from 11 to 15. But all seven are gung-ho about table tennis – not a slacker in the group!

When I say "slacker," that means two types of players that can really hurt a group session. One is the type who doesn't really want to play, doesn't want to be there, treats it like work, and keeps asking, "How much longer?" The other is the goof-off, who won't take anything serious, and refuses to try or learn – they just smack balls around however they want to. Both of these types can hurt the group as their behavior can spread to others.

But there are no slackers in this group!

Six of the seven have obviously played some before, and knew how it was supposed to be played – they all could hit decent forehands and backhands. One is more of a beginner, playing "basement" style where he mostly patted the ball back with his backhand; forehands were a novelty for him. But he's picking it up.

After the session officially ended I spent about 15 minutes serving to them as they tried to return my spin and speed serves. As I tell them, either they are going to look silly or I am, since I'll serve a sidespin, and quickly put my paddle down and move to the side to catch the ball. Usually the ball is rather there, but every now and then they'll get a serve back, and then I look silly – and they live for that. But usually I'll say things like, "This ball is very thirsty," and I'll give them a tomahawk serve so their return goes to the water fountains to the right. Or I'll say, "This ball is very lonely," and serve so they put the ball to my left, where I have the big box of balls. Or I'll make them absolutely promise not to put the next ball into the net, which they inevitably do as I serve backspin. All this serving whets their appetite for more, and I promise them I'll teach them spin serves later on.

I also demonstrated the new "Trick Shot" routine I'm working on for the next ITTF Trick Shot Competition – I'd love to tell you about it, but then someone might steal my ideas! Let's just say it's a growing routine as I keep adding more elements to it.

Back Problems and The Impossible Dream
Yesterday I wrote about and posted a link to Jim Nabors on the old Gomer Pyle TV show (1964-69) singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream." Here's the link again (3:52). The song got me thinking about my past hopes and dreams.

When I was a kid I always dreamed of having back problems. Sure, I knew the odds were stacked against me. But still I dreamed, and I worked toward my goal, year after year, always seeking the advice of the best bad back coaches and putting in the extra effort. Many doubted me but I did not give up. And then, a few years ago, after decades of striving, I accomplished the goal of excruciating back problems. They were so painful that people carried my playing bag around for me, partly because I could barely lift it, but mostly in awe and perhaps a little jealousy of what I had accomplished. I spent many wonderful hours with a physical therapist as we gloried in my feat – though I soon learned she was scheming against me, determined to take away my achievement. Glory is fleeting, and the back problems soon left, thanks to treachery of this malicious therapist. However, I did not give up, and recently it flared up again, forcing me to cancel a number of coaching sessions as I once again reveled in my achievement. But like all athletes, decline inevitably comes with age, and once again the back problems are going away. Perhaps someday they'll be the just fading memory of an old man reminiscing about his glory days, but nothing will ever completely remove those vivid memories of a knife stuck in my back and jiggled about.

How to Play Table Tennis in Ten Days
Here's this excellent guide (with links to video) from Expert Table Tennis. It has ten sections:

  1. Grip
  2. Stance
  3. Footwork
  4. Forehand Drive
  5. Backhand Drive
  6. Backhand Push
  7. Forehand Push
  8. Serve
  9. Return of serve
  10. Match Play

Table Tennis Training – Tips for Parents
Here's the new article from Expert Table Tennis.

Tactical Training has a major contribution in Table Tennis
Here's the coaching article, apparently from a blogging coach in India.

Indian Coverage of Richard McAfee's ITTF Courses
Here's some Indian press about the classes, with pictures. Wrote Richard, "Our ITTF Courses in India have generated some good press around the country. Here is an article from the National Newspaper." Can anyone read . . . um . . . Indian? (I'm pretty sure that's Hindi.)

School Ping Pong Clubs Create ‘Battle of Paddles’ Event, Scholarships
Here's the article about Virginia Beach high schools: "Local High Schools will be competing in the first annual Monarch Bank Battle of the Paddles School Ping Pong and Scholarship Events this Saturday, April 16th."

Asian and European Qualifications for Rio Olympics 2016
Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong - Final (4:47). Here are links to other matches. Here are links to European Qualification matches and the European Olympic Qualification home page.

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

Octopus Pong!
Some of these I've posted before, but some are new. Enjoy!

Mostly Non-Table Tennis: Publicity for Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions
Here are various blogs and interviews with me or about my SF novel Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions. But if you'd prefer my table tennis books, here they are!

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April 14, 2016

MDTTC Media Coverage and the Washington Post
Since 2012 I've been keeping careful track of MDTTC media coverage, with 54 different items. (We've been open since 1992, and I have a huge folder of media coverage from before 2012, but not online.) I send out regular press releases; every club should have someone sending out periodic press releases to generate media coverage. 

Even though we're an hour away, we get pretty good coverage from the Baltimore Sun, with twelve items, including five in the past two months. But the thing that jumps out to me is that lack of coverage by the Washington Post. The Maryland Table Tennis Center is in Gaithersburg, which is part of the DC Metropolitan Area – we're about 15 miles north of DC. And yet since 2012 we've only had four items in the Post, two in 2012, one in 2014, and one in 2015. What's wrong with them??? Don't they realize table tennis is [we'll get to this part].

On Tuesday night I wrote two press releases, one about the Hope Trials in Canada (MDTTC girls Tiffany Ke and Lisa Lin finished third and fourth), and about the MDTTC Open this past weekend. As usual, the Baltimore Sun did a feature on them. But the Post? Not a word. This is especially aggravating as I've been reading the Post since I was a kid, and I still get daily delivery.

So I wrote a third item, a letter I emailed to Washington Post Sports. Here is the letter. I'll let you know if there's a response.

Dear Washington Post Sports,

I’d like to call your attention to the lack of coverage of the sport of Table Tennis in the Washington Post. I understand the bulk of your coverage will go to sports like football, basketball, and baseball, but consider this:

  • Table Tennis is an Olympic Sport.
  • Over 17 million Americans play table tennis (Sports and Fitness Industry Reports).
  • It’s the third largest participation sport in the world, with 300 million players. (Top End Sports Report.)
  • It is considered the best “brain” sport – both for kids and for the elderly. (Google “Table Tennis Brain Sport” and numerous articles and videos will appear.)
  • Maryland is a huge mecca for table tennis, with four members of the various National Junior Teams:
    • Derek Nie (USA National Cadet Boys’ Team – under 15)
    • Ryan Dabbs (USA National Mini-cadet Boys’ Team – under 13)
    • Tiffany Ke (USA National Hopes Girls’ Team – under 12)
    • Lisa Lin (USA National Hopes Girls’ Team – under 12)

All four of them train six days a week at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD, one of the premier centers in the United States. The full-time club has seven full-time coaches who train huge numbers of junior stars, both the four above and many more. Three of the coaches are members of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame. The club has won more gold medals for table tennis at the Junior Nationals and Junior Olympics than any other club in the country. The club even has a Talent Program for younger kids (mostly under age 10), which features some of the best kids in the 7-9 age group in the country.

The coaches and kids are now gearing up for upcoming competitions, including the USA Nationals (July 4-9 in Las Vegas) and the Junior Olympics (Aug. 1-3 in Houston).

Just for contrast, the Baltimore Sun has been giving regular coverage to these players, with eleven articles, including four in the past month:

Would you be interested in doing a story on these National Team Members and the MDTTC junior program?

-Coach Larry Hodges

The Impossible Dream
Yesterday someone (I think Brian Pace) posted a link to Jim Nabors on the old Gomer Pyle TV show (1964-69) singing "To Dream the Impossible Dream." Here's the link (3:52). I think this should be played at the start of all USATT board meetings, at the start of all tournaments, leagues, and practice sessions, and pretty much all the time. (Few people realized that this supposedly bumbling comic actor was actually a top singer.) For a similar "Dream the Impossible Dream" thing, see next segment on Navin Kumar.

Parkinson's Awareness Month - Navin Kumar, USATT Player w/Parkinson's & Mechanical Heart
Here's the video (3:29). (I'm in it several times - I'm his coach.)

Looping Footwork Drill
Here's the video (74 sec) – and the kids have pretty good technique!

The Moment Mima Ito Beat Ding Ning!
Here's the video (34 sec). 15-year-old Mima is world #10; Ding Ning is #2 (but was #1 for 35 months, Nov. 2011 to Aug. 2013 and Oct. 2014 to Oct. 2015

Xu Xin Fingernail trick - Table Tennis Tricks
Here's the video (59 sec). He said it was inspired by the 2012 video A Day with World no 1 Stiga Star Xu Xin (5:48) – he's referring to this trick.

Giant Dumpster Truck Pong?
Here's the video (1:03:18) – "Take a 165-ton dump truck, which is almost as big as a house, the national teams of Austria and Germany, and the world's largest fair for construction…" (It's in German, both spoken and written, but this is what Google translated it to. Players include Timo Boll and Werner Schlager.)

Pony Pong
Here's the picture! Here's a more realistic one.

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April 13, 2016

USATT Teleconference
Last night we had a USATT board teleconference from 7-9PM. Here's a very rough synopsis of what we went over. Other than approval of minutes of past meetings (items #3 and 4), no votes were taken.

  1. Roll Call. Attendees: Board members Peter Scudner (chair), Mike Babuin, Anne Cribbs, Larry Hodges, Kagin Lee, Han Xiao; USATT Foundation Rep John McFadden (subbing for Carl Danner); Dennis Taylor, Legal Counsel and Secretary; Lee Kondo, Assistant Secretary; and CEO Gordon Kaye.
  2. Conflict of Interest Statements. There were none. (Other than the meeting conflicting with a coaching session - I got someone to sub.)
  3. Approval of the Minutes from December 14, 2015 Board Meeting. They were unanimously approved and will go online soon.
  4. Approval of the Minutes from January 4, 2016 Board Teleconference. They were unanimously approved and will go online soon.
  5. US National Championships Update. Nothing major here, entry form will be out soon.
  6. Financial Update.
  7. Membership Update. With the change in our membership system last year, a lot of people who might have joined or rejoined this year instead did so in December, and so on paper, we have a drop in new members joining/rejoining for the first quarter of 2016 – but it's probably just a timing issue. We'll have a better idea of this at the end of the year.
  8. Fundraising and Sponsorship Update.
  9. High Performance/Olympics and Paralympics Update. Lots of stuff here. I'm involved in the High Performance aspect, primarily with the upcoming USATT two-week training camp coming up after the Nationals in July. I'm looking forward to it!
  10. USOC Update.
  11. World Veterans Championship Update.
  12. Ping Pong Diplomacy Update. Here's some info on that. I didn't take notes on this, but I think they are doing events at Westchester, Lily Yip's club, and I think others.
  13. Legal Update. Confidential stuff, can't talk about this! (I can't believe Trump is suing us…is today April 1?)
  14. Next In-Person Board Meeting – June 18, 2016 (New Jersey). Looks like I'm going to miss another day of coaching! This board member thing is expensive.
  15. Old Business.
  16. New Business.
  17. Adjourn.

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
April 9, 2016 • Gaithersburg, MD
Complete Results • Rating Results
Wow! I sent the results to USATT electronically at 9PM on Monday, and the ratings were processed by 11AM on Tuesday – a turnaround of 14 hours. Since 11AM is 9AM Colorado Springs time (where USATT headquarters is located), and assuming USATT staff starts work at 8AM, then that's a one-hour turnover. Maybe I'll test this next time by sending them in at 10AM my time. (I'm told that the 4-star Cary Open was also processed in one day.) Remember when it used to take weeks? Here are the main results from the tournament, and links to photos. The tournament was held on ten tables, with 82 players and a total of 259 matches played. And this is the tournament director (me), looking far more energized than he really was.

Open Singles – Final: Chen Bowen d. Wang Qing Liang, 10,10,-6,9,-4,8; SF: Chen d. Stefano Ratti, -12,2,7,-9,10,3; Wang d. Derek Nie, 8,6,4,-8,11; QF: Chen d. Bojun Zhangliang, 4,3,6; Ratti d. Raghu Nadmichettu, 12,8,13; Nie d. Lixin Lang, 8,9,8; Wang d. Klaus Wood, 9,6,8.
Under 2350 – Final: Stefano Ratti d. Frederick Nicolas, 2,10,6; SF: Ratti d. Darwin Ma, 6,4,7; Nicolas d. Vikash Sahu, 11,9,-11,-4,7.
Under 2000 – Final: George Nie d. William Waltrip, -2,8,-8,7,11; SF: Nie d. Spencer Ip, 9,-8,5,-4,10; Waltrip d. Mohamed Kamara, 6,9,8.
Under 1700 – Final: Vincent Adebavo d. Walid Alkadi, 9,9,9; SF: Adebavo d. Darryl Boyer, 9,-8,5,8; Alkadi d. Alvin Whitney, -8,7,7,-10,8.
Under 1350 – Final: Ranian Bhambroo d. Stanley Hsu, 9,5,9; SF: Bhambroo d. Adrian Yang, -11,12,9,-14,7; Hsu d. Wessam Alkadi, 9,-5,5,8.
Over 50 – Final RR: 1st Lixin Lang, 3-0; 2nd Frederick Nicolas, 2-1; 3rd Chris Buckley, 1-2; 4th James Wilson, 0-3.
Under 15 – Final: George Li d. Jessica Lin, 11,-5,2,6; SF: Li d. Walid Alkadi, 8,-10,11,8; Lin d. Abbas Paryavi, 6,9,9; QF: Li d. Hassam Alkadi, 8,6,8; W. Alkadi d. Ali Paryavi, 6,-11,4,7; Abbas Paryavi d. Sameer Shaikh, 5,7,-7,-9,6; Lin d. Adrian Yang, 9,12,5.

Tiffany Ke of Gaithersburg Wins Bronze at North American Table Tennis Hopes Trials
Here's the article in this morning's Baltimore Sun, which features Hopes Trials Bronze medalist Tiffany Ke, fourth-place finisher Lisa Lin, as well as results from the MDTTC Open held this past weekend, featuring the Open, Over 50, and Under 15 events. (Here are complete results.)

Luck or Skill?
Here's the new coaching article from Samson Dubina, where he relates how he panicked and lost a match, and gives three tips on how to avoid this.

Pro Tips: Serving Direction
Here's the new coaching article from Carl Danner.

Ask the Coach Show
Episode #254 (24:04) - Improving Your Serve (and other segments).

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association "Best of the Best"
Here's the article.

Club Truly an International Organization
Here's the article on the Columbus Table Tennis Club in Ohio.

Interview with Jeremy Hazin, Butterfly Cary Cup Championship Quarterfinalist
Here's the video (2:05) where the Canadian junior star is interviewed by Barbara Wei.

Table Tennis in Slow Motion 2015
Here's the video (11:55).

DHS Top 10 Shots at the 2016 Qatar Open
Here's the video (5:20). (This is a different one than the one posted two weeks ago.)

2016 ITTF-Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament - Day 1 Evening
Here's the video (live right now!).

Minnesota Open
Here's the highlights video (3:17).

Red Dwarf Table Tennis
Here's the description of the character Denton in the British comedy/science fiction series Red Dwarf: "Whilst playing ping-pong with a fellow crewmember in the Games Room, Denton was frozen in time, along with most of the rest of the crew on the ship, by Kryten using the Time Wand. Lister and Rimmer, broken free from The Hole by Bob the Skutter, passed the ping-pong playing duo and took their ball, to mess with them when they unfroze." It includes a picture of "Denton (holding the bat) frozen in time whilst playing table tennis."

Ping the Table Tennis Robot
Here's the picture!

***
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April 12, 2016

Energized vs. Non-Energized, Back Problems, and Todo List
There are really two types of energy in table tennis – physical and mental. The mental often overpowers the physical. I sometimes think I'm tired (physically) roughly 90% of the time, but you simply have to overcome that mentally. But a lot of it depends on who you are coaching or hitting with, or what you are working on.

When coaching or playing an energized player who is trying hard, you get energized. When paired with an uninterested player, you lose energy. When working with a kid who has no interest and is constantly asking "How much longer?", or who simply goofs off constantly, you have absolutely no energy, and feel like a black hole of lethargy. (All coaches have faced that.)

When working on something that I'm really interested in – in particular coaching or writing projects – I tend to be more energized. When working on projects like setting up the Maryland State Championships – well, it's exciting to have one, but the actual work in setting it up is a bit non-energizing. Sometimes when I find myself working on something that's "important," but will take up a lot of hours that few if anyone will ever know happened, it's a bit non-energizing. (That describes most USATT work!) Maybe that's why I sometimes put my todo list in my blog (see below)? There's also the problem of helping out thankless people, where you spend a lot of time helping someone out, and they just take it for granted. (I could go into a rant on that, but won't.)

Because of my recent back problems – the first time I think in a year and a half – coaching has been especially hard this past week, as was running the MDTTC tournament this past Saturday. It's hard to be energized when you feel like there's a knife in your back, slowly jiggling about. Sometimes the back problems fade away into the background as I'm absorbed with some coaching aspect or getting a draw done. Other times it sort of knocks on the door continuously, saying, "I'm still here!" But it's about 80% better now. Yesterday and today I'm feeling a bit more energized – and so I'm getting a lot done! (I saw a therapist about this several years ago. My back problems are of a different type than most, and come about because my right side is so much stronger than my left side, from 40 years of table tennis, and so my spine is literally pulled sideways by the stronger muscles on the right. The cure is regular stretching of a specific muscle in the back, which I'm doing regularly now after neglecting it in recent times.)

Assuming I can keep the energy up, here is my current todo list – with about 15 other items checked off yesterday.

  • USATT Teleconference tonight at 7PM;
  • Two upcoming exhibitions/demonstrations;
  • Helping a top U.S. superstar player and coach with his upcoming book (both coaching and autobiographical) – sorry, can't say who yet!
  • Write and send out press releases on Tiffany Ke and Lisa Lin getting bronze and fourth at the North American Hopes Trials;
  • Plan and organize Maryland Closed;
  • Arrange a new ITTF coaching course at MDTTC that I'll likely be teaching this fall;
  • Finding a way to have copies of Insider printed and mailed to elderly members of USATT Hall of Fame (and possibly others) – difficulty is we currently do not have a Senior Committee;
  • Continue USATT work on getting more state championships and leagues;
  • Work out afterschool program finances;
  • Blogging and Tips of the Week;
  • Coach 15-20 hours/week (private and group sessions);
  • Plan, practice, and produce a trick shot video for the next ITTF trick shot contest - I have some interesting ideas for this;
  • Some quiet, behind-the-scenes work and discussions on fixing up the problem with hidden serves – things are getting worse as players have discovered they can pretty much get away with anything, even hiding the ball blatantly with their free arm – more on that later this week, along with video and still images of these illegal serves that decide most major events, including the Olympic Team;
  • Go back to work on the long postponed book, "Parents Guide to Table Tennis"?
  • Non-table tennis - Read and critique 18 short stories for my annual summer "vacation" at a writing workshop in Manchester, NH (where we critique each other's work and run seminars), plus finalize one more story of my own – about a microscopic and egotistical nanobot that travels the galaxy in a huge ship, conquering and enslaving civilizations and forcing them to worship and build monuments to him – and his adventures when he invades earth. Sorry, no table tennis! (But when I Google "Nanobots table tennis pictures," I get this animated gif of two nanobots playing!)

State Championships This Weekend
There are three big state championships this weekend - if you are a resident of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, sign up below! (Or perhaps show up and spectate!)

How to Become a More Powerful Table Tennis Player
Here's the new coaching article from MH Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach Show
Episode #253 (23 min) - North American Olympic Qualification (and other segments).

11 Questions with Zhou Xin
Here's the USATT interview with the ICC coach and 2722 rated player.

Interview with Neha Aggarwal
Here's the USATT interview by Rahul Acharya. "Born and raised in New Delhi, India, 26 year old Neha Aggarwal has lived the life that most athletes can only dream of - to represent their country at the Olympics. Even though she is now retired as a professional player, table tennis remains very close to Neha's heart, and she hopes to increase its popularity worldwide. Neha's career not only took her all over India, but also to more than 40 countries. She hopes to use these experiences to make a splash in the sports business industry. To fully equip herself with the needed skills, Neha moved to the U.S. last fall to pursue a Master's degree in Sports Management at Columbia University."

Butterfly Presents: Getting To Know Jack Wang
Here's the video (3:12).

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 17, Chapter 4
Here it is! You can buy this or other volumes at TimBogganTableTennis.com.

The Chicago Table Tennis League Has Come Down to its Final Matches
Here's the article.

2016 World Table Tennis Day for All
Here's the article by Angela Guan (member of USA National Junior Girls' Team).

Amazing backhand around the net in the Russian League
Here's the video (46 sec, including slo-mo replay) of what was a great point even before this shot takes place!

Iron Pony Table Tennis Video Game
Here it is! Why do anything else when you can play Pony Pong?

Cactus Pong
Here's the picture!

Non-Table Tennis: Interview: Feodora Zubkov from Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions by Larry Hodges
Here's the "interview" at Literary Escapism with one of the characters from my novel! "Feodora, the diminutive general who led Russian troops to an upset victory over Japanese invaders in 2091, was recruited to run for vice president of Earth in the election of 2100, as chronicled in the historical novel Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions." Here's how the interview begins:

INTERVIEWER: General, why do you want to be vice president of Earth?

FEODORA: This small general not interested in vice president, I just along for ride, maybe live in vice president palace—has nice hot tub. But start wars, party with pirates, these I do to help Toby be president. He’s dahling.

INTERVIEWER: You party with pirates? And you’d start a war just to win the election?

FEODORA: Politics is war. But it’s good war for good cause, and I start it secretly, nobody knows—except you. So now small general must have you eliminated.

***
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April 11, 2016

Tip of the Week
How to Do Demonstrations.

MDTTC April Open
I ran the tournament this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here are complete results. Now, can I go back to bed?!!! (I'll put up photos later on.)

I've run about 150 USATT sanctioned tournaments, dating back to the early 1980s. However, except for two that I ran back in 2012, I hadn't run any in about a decade. But as noted in past blogs, Charlene Liu, who had been running our tournaments, is now running her own full-time club in Washington DC, and so we needed a new director. So who did they ask/recruit/enslave? (But I do get paid.)

So I had to relearn the process all over again. I used Omnipong for the tournament, just as I did in 2012, and it worked great. Wen Hsu and Lixin Lang helped out tremendously, and were the difference for me between exhaustion, and complete, utter, annihilating exhaustion.

We normally have 16 tables up at MDTTC (occasionally 18 for training), but for tournaments we normally go to eight full-sized courts, with five smaller courts for the coaches. The first event of the tournament was Under 2000 at 9AM, which had a limit of 32 players. But I wasn't checking the daily entries until too late, and on Friday I discovered we had 41 entries. I didn't want to turn players away after we'd already received their entry. Doing some intense arithmetic, I realized that would mean eight groups of five, with one player seeded out. The problem is that a group of five players means ten matches, which will normally take over three hours on one table. (Figure 20 minutes per match. For a group of four, that's six matches, and so two hours.) With Under 1700 starting at 11AM, with seven groups of four (I successfully limited that at 28, just in time), that would put us at least an hour behind.

So I worked out how we could fit in nine full-sized courts, and run it with nine groups of four, with five seeded out of the preliminaries. But while I was doing this, Wen worked out a way of fitting ten full-sized courts (still leaving four small courts for the coaches), and presto, problem solved! So I seeded only one player out, and ran ten groups of four. And guess what? It all ran right on time! (Isn't math wonderful?)

There were stretches where things at the control desk were slow. But that was rare. Much of the time I was being pulled in 17 directions as I entered players in events, did draws, printed, put on clipboards, called for players (with Lixin's help), sent them out, answered questions, and all the other stuff needed. When I discovered I'd inadvertently left a player out of Under 15 (my only mistake of the tournament – I think, though there's still a mystery of two players who said they entered but we didn't receive them, though I got them into the draws at the last minute), it happened at the worst possible time, when I was simultaneously running five events, with tables emptying out and me trying to send out playoff matches. I think my hands worked at 100,000 mph for about 15 minutes as I redid that draw and got the matches went out along with the other playoffs, all while answering non-stop questions and bantering with the large accumulation of kids from our junior program who liked to gather around the control desk. (Perhaps my bringing in a bowl of candy was a mistake?)

One interesting note – we "unleashed" a number of the 7-9 year-olds from the MDTTC Talent program. Most had played in the North American Teams in November, but they've vastly improved since then. There were some eye-popping matches where these kids battled it out with players up to nine times their age and five times their weight! When Ranjan Bhambroo won Under 1350 over 7-year-old Stanley Hsu, I told him to hold on to the picture we took of the finalists – which I'll post tomorrow – as someday he's going to want to show everyone how he once beat Stanley.

When all was done, things worked out pretty well, and all's well that ends well. We kept the tournament on time, and I think the players went home happy (other than perhaps their own personal results). Our next tournament is June 11 – see you then!

Oh, and now the down side – spending twelve hours at a desk running a tournament is not the best cure for a bad back. I did three hours of coaching yesterday, and it's not too bad, so I can do my 2.5 hours of coaching tonight. But it needs a rest, and we have a USATT teleconference tomorrow at 7PM (which overlaps my last half hour of the 2.5 hours of coaching I have scheduled Tuesday), so I'm taking tomorrow off, with Raghu subbing for me. I think I should be back to regular coaching after that, assuming my back cooperates. (I had gone about 1.5 years without back problems, so I'm hoping to repeat that.)  

North American Olympic Trials
They were held this past weekend in Toronto. Here is the USA home page for the event, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video. Congratulations to the 2016 Olympians!

  • Men's Singles: Feng Yijun, Kanak Jha
  • Men's Teams: Feng Yijun, Kanak Jha, Timothy Wang
  • Women's Singles: Yue "Jennifer" Wu, Lily Zhang
  • Women's Teams: Yue "Jennifer" Wu, Lily Zhang, Jiaqi Zheng
  • Canadians: Eugene Wang in Men's Singles, Mo Zhang in Women's Singles

Kanak Jha Becomes Youngest Ever Male Table Tennis Olympian
Here's the ITTF story on the new USA Olympian. Interesting note – in the semifinals, Kanak was down 5-0 in the seventh to Canada's Pierre-Luc Theriault, but won eleven points in a row!

North American Hopes Trials
They were also held this past weekend in Toronto, for under 12 players. Here is the home page for the event, with complete results and other info. On the girl's side, my club, MDTTC had two of the four USA entries (among the eight qualifiers, the other four from Canada), Tiffany Ke and Lisa Lin, who finished third and fourth. (In the complete RR stage, where everyone played everyone else, Tiffany finished second with a 6-1 record, defeating Joanna Sung 3-0 – but the next day, in the knockout state, she lost to Joanna in the semifinals, 0-3.) The final was between the Sung sisters, Joanna and Rachel, with Rachel winning. All four semifinalists were USA, with the four Canadians all losing in the quarterfinals. On the boys' side, it was another all-USA final, with Len Yang coming back from down 0-2 to win against Mudit Mahajan. Rachel Sung and Len Yang both qualified to go to the ITTF Hopes Week in Doha, Qatar, May 29-June 4.

Table Tennis - An Open Letter to the ITTF
Here's the new animated show (5:01) from Sports Interrogation – with some great questions that match some of the very same questions I've blogged about repeatedly about the serving rules and enforcement, and boosting. (Also about audiences and other issues.) You know, those pesky rules that aren't followed while the people in charge look the other way. I watched some of the North American Olympic Trials, and it was depressing watching all the cheating that was allowed (i.e. illegal hidden serves), right out there in public, even when players complained to the umpires. I'll be blogging about that later this week, with pictures and links to video. But who can you trust, your eyes or those who pretend it isn't happening? (Actually, the ones who can fix the problem are mostly split between those who deny it's happening,  those who believe someone else should fix it, and those who simply want the problem to go away on its own, which isn't happening. Leaders are supposed to try to fix problems, not deny, punt, or ignore. I tried to get the USATT board to take action on this in December, to no avail - minutes on that will be up soon - so now it's up to ITTF.) 

Learn to Fully Develop Your Game - Before and After
Here's the new coaching article from Samson Dubina.

Taking a Hard Look at Table Tennis
Here's the new article from Coach Jon.

Ask the Coach Show
They tricked us! Episode #250 was titled "Our Last Show." And now they're back with two more episodes, with #251 creatively named titled, "We're Back." Welcome back!

  • Episode #251 (22:29) - We're Back (and other segments)
  • Episode #252 (24:50) - Doubles Serving Tactics (and other segments)

Lindenwood University Brothers Love Table Tennis
Here's the article.

Drabble Pong
Here's the table tennis cartoon featuring your friendly neighborhood giant multi-legged bug. (Marv Anderson alerted me to this one.)

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April 8, 2016

What Programs Should a Club Have?
There's an obvious difference between what a full-time club and a part-time club may have. I'm going to write about some of the programs my club has, a full-time one (MDTTC). Most full-time clubs have similar programs; part-time programs should pick and choose which ones they may be able to sustain - or more importantly, ones that will help sustain and grow the club. These programs bring in new players, keep current ones, and bring in revenue for the club. If you are interested in learning about any of these programs, or how you can run one, email me. (With the tournament I'm running this weekend, and other commitments, I might need a few days to get back to you.)

  • Private Coaching. This is a no-brainer – even a part-time club should have at least someone who gives private coaching for those who want to learn. They greatly help the club by bringing in new players and keeping current ones interested. MDTTC has seven full-time coaches and a few part-time ones.
  • Training Camps. These are for all ages, but especially kids. Most full-time clubs run at least a few during the summer and school breaks. MDTTC runs camps all summer, Mon-Fri, plus one on Spring Break, the Christmas Camp, and numerous one-day camps when school is out.
  • Group Coaching. Many players like to train with others, plus it's cheaper. MDTTC has adult group training (Sun nights 6:30-8:00PM – I teach this one – and Tue & Fri Lunch Break 1-2PM) and group junior training (see below).
  • Junior Training. This is where you probably get the most training, and where the coaches get busy, and where you develop top players. MDTTC has a whole series of junior programs.
    • Beginning/Intermediate Junior Classes (Sun 4-5:30 PM, Tues 6-7PM, Thurs 6-7PM)
    • Intermediate and Advanced Group Training (Over 1700, Sat 4:30-6:30PM)
    • Group Training for Girls (over 1750, Fri 5-7PM)
    • Talent Development Program (application only, ages 6-12, Sun 5:30-7:00PM)
    • Afterschool program – we (usually me) pick some of the kids up, and then do training and homework at the club.
  • Leagues. Without a league, a club will likely be stuck with a "winner stay on" mentality, which isn't really that great a system. It's better to have various leagues for all levels, so when new players come in you can put them right into a league for their level. MDTTC has five leagues!
    • Tue & Fri Singles Leagues, for all levels.
    • Wed Recreational League.
    • Elite League, for players over 1900.
    • Capital Area Team League.
  • Tournaments. Most successful clubs run tournaments. MDTTC runs four per year – I'm back to being the tournament director. We have one tomorrow. I'm also planning a fifth, a Maryland State Championships probably on June 25-26.
  • Pro Shop. Players need equipment – and it brings in revenue for the club. MDTTC has a nice pro shop, one of the top-sellers for Butterfly in the country.
  • Newsletter. It lets players know what's going on! I edit the MDTTC Newsletter.
  • News Coverage. You need to get the word out. Established clubs often can prosper just on word of mouth, but you get more with news coverage, and all clubs benefit from this. It's a simple matter of having someone at the club regularly emailing news releases to the press. I do this for MDTTC; here's MDTTC's coverage, sharing the page with our newsletter. (We've had a few more recent ones that will likely be updated later today.)
  • Other Activities. Space Rental and Birthday Parties are just two activities a club can do to bring in revenue. MDTTC does both. Other clubs share their facility to split rent. For example, back in the 1980s I helped run the Northern Virginia Club, which shared its facility with a fencing club. I've seen a few clubs that had chess clubs – a lot of TT players seem to like chess – after all, table tennis is just chess at light speed!

In Remembrance of Mark Nordby
Here's the USATT article and gallery, and growing comments section. It's still hard to believe – he was only 48.

2016 ITTF North America Olympic Qualification Tournament
Here's the USATT home page for the event, held April 8-10 in Markham, Canada (near Toronto), with schedule, results, articles, and starting this morning, livestreaming. Here's the ITTF page. The North American Hopes Trials are also being held

Table Tennis Edge - Returning Serve - The App
Here's the video (1:28) on this. Looks interesting –it shows you video of a player serving different spins, and you have to try to read it instantly as part of a game. "If you struggle to read table tennis serves, this app is for you!!!"

4 Ping Pong Skills to Take You from Beginner to Winner!
Here's the new coaching article from MH Table Tennis.

Three Steps to Building a Better Table Tennis Player
Here's the new article from Coach Jon.

Lily Zhang Is Ready for Another Olympic Shot in Rio
Here's the article.

Table Tennis for NepALL a Huge Success on World Table Tennis Day
Here's the ITTF press release.

Free Table Contest
Here's the contest from JOOLA.

Ask a Pro Anything - Zhang Jike
Here's the video (4:26) from Adam Bobrow.

World Table Tennis Day 2016 at LYTTC
Here's the video (3:15).

Doubles Madness at Danish Championships 2016
Here's the video (43 sec, including slo-mo replay).

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

Not Even Forrest Gump Could Survive This Ping-Pong Ball Gatling Gun
I want one!

Galaxy Note 3 Ping Pong!
Here's the video (11 sec) – can you do an inside-out, around-the-net sidespin loop with your smart phone, as Matt Hetherington demonstrates here twice in a row?

Railroad Pong
Now that's some dangerous pong! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

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April 7, 2016

Table Tennis Players Who Are Very Good in Other Sports
There are a number of table tennis players who also excel in other sports. What follows is NOT a comprehensive list – it's a list of ones that I know of and remember this morning. To do a more comprehensive listing would take some real investigative work, and I'll leave that to the real investigators – you, the readers – so comment below your own nominations. (I know I'm leaving out some obvious ones.) Probably the three best all-around athletes in USATT's modern history were Dan Seemiller, Brian Pace, and Brian Masters.

  • Golf. There are many top golfers in table tennis – we might as well call ourselves USATT&G. International Referee Ray Cavicchio is a professional golf instructor. The Seemillers (Dan, Rick, Randy) and Sweeris's (Dell, Connie, Todd) are all top golfers. So is Scott Preiss. (Isn't he good at bowling as well?) My apologies to the myriads of others – I just don't remember or know of all of them – so nominate others below.
  • Tennis. Brian Masters (1983 Pan Am Men's Singles Gold Medalist and long-time member of USA Men's Team) was the Maryland 12 & under tennis champion. Barry Dattel, Corey Eider, and Ty Hoff are all top tennis players. Carl Danner is very good. (I played tennis on the side myself for many years, reached a 4.0 level, which some say is about 1800 in table tennis.)
  • Baseball. Dan Seemiller was offered a minor league contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but decided to give that table tennis thing one more year. James Therriault coaches both table tennis and baseball professionally. Brian Masters was a little league baseball star (league MVP). When I was a kid I could recite every baseball world series champion and runner-up, the scores of every game, the winning and losing pitchers, as well as the entire Orioles roster and all their major stats. But I couldn't hit. (But I could draw walks and hook slide!)
  • Basketball. 14-year-old Sameer Shaikh, a table tennis student of mine, is on his middle school basketball team. We've had many good basketball players in table tennis, from Jim Butler to Nathan Hsu. (I once coached a 6'10" college basketball player from beginner to 1500.) One great memory – in 1987 the members of the resident table tennis program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs – all ages 14-17 – challenged the USA Tae Kwon Do Men's Team to a basketball game. Their shortest player was taller than our tallest player! With me as honorary coach – I know little about basketball – our sharp-shooting and quick rebounding team of Todd Sweeris, Chi-Sun Chui, Dhiren Narotam, Anthony Cooper, and Chi Phong Ngo beat them!
  • Football. Dan Seemiller was also a star high school football player, and had a football scholarship offer before deciding to go with table tennis. I think he was a running back. (If Brian Pace had played football, watch out!)
  • Soccer. Brian Masters was league MVP at age 12. Former Yugoslavian and Canadian table tennis star Zoran Kosanovic was a soccer star.
  • Badminton. Until he was 12 years old, Cheng Yinghua was training full-time in both table tennis and badminton, and was a province badminton champion. When the U.S. badminton championships were held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the late 1980s, where we had a resident program for table tennis, with Cheng as a coach/practice partner, he stopped by the tournament and was recognized by a number of players. I always thought I was pretty good at badminton, but I played Cheng once, and it was a different world.
  • Cycling. Brian Pace does both table tennis and cycling professionally. Here's his home page, Pace Cycling Training. When I googled his name and cycling, I found this results page for him.
  • Lacrosse. Brian Masters was on his college lacrosse team. Brian was great at all sports – at the age of 12 he not only was the Maryland 12 & under tennis champion, he was the league MVP in little league baseball and soccer, and I think (not sure) basketball as well.
  • Shooting. Former junior champion Sunny Li was a sharpshooter in Iraq for the U.S. military. (His dad, Alex Li, who also played a little TT, was a pool champion.)
  • Sprinter. Here's Brian Pace, again. He was on his high school track and field team for the 100 and 200 meter sprints. Former senior table tennis star Bill Sharpe was a three-time Olympian in the triple jump, and won the gold medal for that at the 1963 Pan Am Games.
  • Distance Running. I was a miler on my high school track team and ran a marathon – but this was 40 years ago!
  • Arm Wrestling. Here's a picture of me winning the University of Maryland Under 170 pound weight class in 1983 over the defending champion! (Outside table tennis, I've actually coached arm wrestling, baseball, boxing, tennis, and distance running, but not professionally.)
  • Disc Golf. Pete May is a senior champion. Here's one of many articles.
  • Martial Arts. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of martial arts experts in table tennis, but offhand I can't think of many. I think Tom Nguyen is a black belt in karate or Tae Kwon Do.
  • Chess, Go, Poker. Do these count? One of my students, 9-year-old Bradley Guo, is the top-ranked under 10 player in Maryland and one of the best of his age in the country. Another player I coached, Tong Tong Gong, used to travel to chess tournaments, and played in the U.S. National Chess Championships (I think in Ohio). I believe John Tannehill was pretty good. Cheng Yinghua is apparently very good at Go. Tom McEvoy was world poker champion.

MDTTC April Open
I'm running the MDTTC April Open on Saturday. Yippee! You can enter until 5PM on Friday. There is a link that allows you to enter online. Some have reported problems with paying online; if that happens, just enter and pay on arrival.

Serve Practice
Speaking of tournaments, have you practiced your serves recently? No? Oh – you want to lose? Here's my article, Practicing Serves the Productive Way.

Back Problems
Due to back problems, I had to cancel, reschedule, or get subs for all of my private coaching on Tue, Wed, and Thur (today). I'm still doing multiball and light hitting with beginners in our afterschool program, but need to rest the back. I run the MDTTC April Open on Saturday and then return to normal coaching on Sunday.

NYTTL 2016 Open Meeting
Here's the meeting notice of the New York TT League. The meeting is on Sunday, April 17, at NYISC, at 1:30 PM. Here's the home page for the NYTTL (which is run by Mauricio Vergara) – lots of nice videos posted there.

World Table Tennis Day
Here are three WTTD videos, which was yesterday.

2016 ITTF North America Olympic Qualification Tournament Live Stream
Here's the USATT page for that, starting on Friday.

Jan-Ove Waldner Impossible
On Tuesday I blogged about this point (66 sec, including slo-mo replay), of Waldner doing your typical run-from-the-table, leap-in-air over-the-shoulder no-look lob winner. That's Jean-Michel Saive on far side. Bernard Lemal emailed me that the point was in the match for 3rd place at the 1991 World Men's Cup, with Waldner leading 18-9 in the third (best of three); he'd win a few points later. (The final was Persson over Gatien.) He also pointed out that though you can't see it clearly, Saive actually won the point by pushing the ball back, with Waldner stuck on the other side of the barriers. Here's the full match (13:11).

Spider-Man and Darth Vader as Mr. Ping and Mr. Pong
Here's the picture!

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April 6, 2016

World Table Tennis Day and Local Table Tennis People
Yep, it's today. Here's the World Table Tennis Day Facebook page, with lots of postings about various activities around the globe. (Including this rather interesting picture!)

Here's the ITTF press release on Table Tennis for NepALL - Inauguration Ceremony, which is being held today – it says, "Kathmandu has the honour to be the capital of the World Table Tennis Day," and "Kathmandu hosts the main event of World Table Tennis Day and promotes Table Tennis among people with a disability in Nepal"

Some are taking this very seriously (good!). Here's the Pongathon schedule for Mayrhofen, Austria.

Now celebrating World Table Tennis Day is a good thing. I've had people ask, even demand to know what I or others are doing this day. You know what? Some of us are doing "World Table Tennis Day" stuff every day. Perhaps as part of this World Table Tennis Day you should look around and celebrate the people who are doing these things, day in and day out, always trying to make our sport better. Some are volunteers; some are paid; but if they are making the sport better, it's the same thing. Why not make a list of those in your area who are making a difference in our sport?

The U.S. is full of such people, as is every other country in the world. If I got started naming all the people who are trying to make the sport better – the "Thousand Points of Light" – I'd be writing all day and night. So here are some of the people in my area (Maryland, DC, Northern Virginia) who are making the sport better, with apologies to those missed or other mistakes – please email me if I did. (I feel weird including myself on some of the lists below, but I can't, for example, list the Capital Area League or the MDTTC coaching staff without including myself, could I?)

  • Capital Area Table Tennis League Staff: Superhuman commissioner Stefano Ratti and the rest of the gang: Richard Heo, Larry Hodges, Wen Hsu, Charlene Liu, Darwin Ma, and John Olsen.
  • MDTTC Coaches: Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Zeng Xun ("Jeffrey"), Wang Qing Liang ("Leon"), Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"), Yuxiang Jin, Larry Hodges, John Hsu, Wen Hsu, and Raghu Nadmichettu.
  • Other Active Local Coaches: Rao Nian, Donn Olsen, Charlene Liu, Changping Duan, Mike Levene, Marvin Thomas, Frank Cristofaro, Zhongxing Lu, and Zibing Wang.
  • MDTTC League Directors: Wen Hsu and Jessie Lin (Tue & Fri), Derek Nie & Klaus Wood (Sun Elite League). (With apologies to league directors at other clubs – I don't have a comprehensive listing.)
  • Local Tournament Directors and Officials:  Fan Yang, Lixin Yang, Mike Levene, Charlene Liu, Larry Hodges, Zibing Wang, John Miller and NA Table Tennis, and Paul Kovac.
  • Local Club Presidents or Owners:  Mike Levene, Herman Yeh, Tom Norwood, Fan Yang, Wen Hsu, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Charlene Liu, Changping Duan, Fan Yang, Zhongxing Lu, Eddie Record, Irving Goldstein, Jim Mossberg, Mossa Barandao, and Enrique Matta.
  • USATT: Han Xiao (USATT Player Rep, and member of Rules, League, and Compensation Committees, co-chair of Athlete Advisory Council), Dennis Taylor (USATT pro bono lawyer), Larry Hodges (Board of Directors, chair of League committee, Regional Associations Coordinator), Mike Levene (member of League Committee), Richard Lee and John Miller (directors of USA Nationals and U.S. Open).
  • Parents: Without their time and financial sacrifices, we wouldn't have many junior programs, would we?

Hall of Famer YC Lee Passes
Here's the USATT article.

How to Get "In The Zone" and Win – Like Tin-Tin Ho
Here's the new coaching article from Expert Table Tennis.

Teamwork: Friends or Enemies?
Here's the new coaching article from Samson Dubina. (On a side note, here's 18 sec of physical training by one of Samson's classes.)

How to Do the SNAKE
Here's the article and video (65 sec) by Adam Bobrow. Is this a coaching video or just a fun thing? Honest truth – it's a coaching video, with a rare but useful technique! Shots like this sometimes come up even for regular players, in particular when you are off the table and the opponent drops the ball somewhat short, so it barely bounces off the end. With the table in the way, it's almost impossible to return this ball low, and so what's your best option? The Snake! I've done this a number of times successfully in tournaments, and will probably start throwing this at my students occasionally. Coach Jack at MDTTC (a USATT Hall of Famer) does this all the time. Even a top player often has trouble with it, either making a mistake or (more likely) easing up on his next shot for consistency, which keeps you in the point.

Deng Yaping Forehand Skill Analysis
Here's an interesting video (8:15) in Chinese that highlights Deng Yaping's forehand. She is still considered by many the greatest woman player of all time, though her style of play may be dated – long pips blocking & hitting on the backhand, mostly hitting on the forehand.

Jon Taylor Named USATT Membership and Club Development Director
Here's the USATT article. Finally, someone (or someone's parents) with the sense that the redundant "h" is not needed! (He and Jon Gustavson.)

Experience and Youth to Be Served Up On USA Squad at Rio Trials This Weekend
Here's the USATT article on this weekend's North American Olympic Trials. (The Hopes Trials for under 12 players are also being held there.)

New Table Tennis Center Open in Long Island NY
Here's the USATT article on the Long Island Sports Center. I've added it to the listing of full-time table tennis centers in the U.S. – there are now 84 on the list, ten times the number from nine years ago.

USATT Team Trials Talk
Here are three new videos where top players talk about Competition, Olympics, and Training.

Teddy Bear Pong
Here's the picture!

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April 5, 2016

Monday Coaching
It was another busy day. It started with the afterschool program – but with two kids away, I mostly worked one-on-one for an hour with 7-year-old Qiyu, who is starting to master the strokes when he's able to pay attention. (If you've worked with 7-year-olds, you know what I mean!)

Then I had a session with 11-year-old Daniel, where we did lots and lots of counterlooping. We also did a lot of forehand attack drills, such as he serves backspin, I push, he loops, and then play out the point. We also had a long drill where he just attacked into my backhand ("The Great Wall of China" I call it after a good rally) with his forehand and backhand.

Then I had an hour with Navin, "The Bionic Man." Here's a write-up and video he did of the first two minutes of forehand to forehand. As I wrote in a comment there, the best part of the session was when we did a drill where Navin served to my backhand, I'd roll it back to his forehand, and he'd smash. We didn't play out the point as we wanted to focus on that first smash. After a time we switched the drill to where I'd roll the ball back anywhere on the table, and we'd rally until I went to his forehand, and then he'd smash. I also served to him for nearly 15 minutes so he could work on low, angled returns against varied serves.

Afterwards I had a group session with about 20 new players (from a social meetup group), and Navin helped out for an hour. Navin gave an inspirational talk, then we demoed the forehand. Then I had the players spread out and shadow practice the forehand. Then I took them, two at a time, and taught the forehand with multiball (one from the forehand side, one hitting forehands from the backhand side). Then we demoed the backhand, and again had them shadow practice the shot. We didn't have time to teach it directly, so I went directly to serves, explaining the serving rules, how to do basic serves, how to create spin, and demoed the various spins. (Serving backspin so it bounced back into the net, and sidespin so it curved around the table and hit a target off to the side.) Then it was free play, with Navin and I hitting with the players.

I also spent an hour working on the upcoming MDTTC April Open – see segment below.

Now the down side: I've been coaching almost every day for a while, and during my session with Daniel – who works me hard! – my back started to hurt for the first time in probably a year. Last night while at my desk it really started to act up. So I think I'm going to get Raghu or someone to substitute for my two hours of coaching today.

RIP: Mark Nordby and YC Lee
Late last night I got the shocking news that both had passed away. Mark, who was only around 50, apparently died just yesterday. He was a long-time coach and player from Illinois, though I believe he moved to Texas a few years ago – not sure. He was a former chair of the USATT Coaching Committee and a long-time coach of many USATT junior and cadet teams, and often coached Mark Hazinski in tournaments. He was a long-time coaching associate of Dan Seemiller, assisting at his numerous training camps. (In fact, he sort of replaced me – I was Dan's assistant coach the summers of (if I remember correctly) 1990 and 1991, but then we opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992 where we ran our own camps, and Mark became Dan's new and long-time assistant.) He and Dan teamed up to win a number of senior doubles titles. (Mike Levene and I lost to them in the finals of Over 40 Doubles at the 2010 U.S. Open.) Here's a picture of Mark, on the right, playing doubles with Dan. Here's one of him playing. I've known Mark for decades, both through his USATT work, at tournaments, and as opposing coaches and players. Cause of death is unknown, but possibly a heart attack. He will be greatly missed.

USATT Hall of Famer Y.C. Lee apparently passed three days ago. I didn't know him quite as well, knowing him mostly as an umpire and through his USATT work, mostly in the 1990s. Since he was the 1996 and 1997 U.S. Open Over 70 doubles champion, he must have been at least 90 years old. Here's his Hall of Fame profile. Here's a picture of him smacking a forehand. (I couldn't find any other online pictures of him, or a larger version of this one.)

MDTTC April Open
Here's the tournament page (where you can enter online) and entry form. I'll be running the tournament this Saturday at MDTTC in Gaithersburg, MD. Hope you can join us!

Equipment Reviews
Here's a new site, EquipmentJunkies.com, that reviews equipment for you TT EJs! "Do you order four backhand rubbers at a time in your search for the perfect racket? Have you still not decided whether you prefer a flared or straight handle blade? You, my friend, are an Equipment Junkie!"

MDTTC Hopes Team Members Lisa Lin and Tiffany Ke Featured in Baltimore Sun
Here's the article (actually a condensed version of my press release) and pictures.

11 Questions with Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets
Here's the USATT interview.

Interview with Hanwei Wang
Here's the USATT interview by Rahul Acharya.

Tahl Leibovitz Featured by USOC
Here's the article, which came out a month ago but I somehow missed. "Once a homeless teenager, Paralympian Tahl Leibovitz embraces new career in social work while training for Rio."

New Facility Serves Up Table Tennis to South Bend Youth
Here's the article from the South Bend Tribune.

Tidewater Table Tennis Club Honors Dean Johnson with Lifetime Achievement Award
Here's the article.

Triangle Table Tennis Looks Forward to Future Success with Cary Cup Tournament
Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 17 (1989-1990)
Here's chapter 3! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com.

Table Tennis Team Trials Olympic Talk
Here's the video (3:06). Features (in order) Tahl Leibovitz, Wang Chen, Lily Zhang, and Timothy Wang.

Jack Wang Interview at the 2016 Butterfly Cary Cup Championship
Here's the video (2:08).

Jan-Ove Waldner Impossible
Here's video (66 sec, with slo mo replay) of Waldner doing your typical run-from-the-table, leap-in-air over-the-shoulder no-look lob winner. That's Jean-Michel Saive on far side. [Bernard Lemal emailed me that the point was in the match for 3rd place at the 1991 World Men's Cup, with Waldner leading 18-9 in the third (best of three); he'd win a few points later. (The final was Persson over Gatien.) He also pointed out that though you can't see it clearly, Saive actually won the point by pushing the ball back, with Waldner stuck on the other side of the barriers. Here's the full match (13:11).]

Patrick Baum vs Steffen Mengel (2016 German National Championships) Final
Here's the video (11:19) – nice match. I wonder how long it's been since there was a German Men's Final without Timo Boll or Dimitrij Ovtcharov?

Butterfly Cary Cup Championship Final
Here's the video (41:25) of the match this past weekend between Zhang Bohan and Zirui Zhao, with Al Herr and Jeremy Hazin commentating.

The Art of Ping-Pong in Paddles
Here are 18.

Warrior Pong
Here's the picture!

Non-Table Tennis: Sale to Galaxy's Edge Magazine
In my other life as a part-time (though it sometimes seems full-time) science fiction & fantasy writer, I just sold a story to Galaxy's Edge, one of the premier markets, my third sale to them. The story, "Manbat and Robin," is a humorous takeoff on Batman and Robin, about a bat that thinks it's a superhero and his non-talking sidekick, a robin. Sorry, no table tennis in this one. 

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