Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, more like noon on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week and has three days to cover). 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 eight books and over 1500 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!!!
Also out - Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013 and 2014-2016, with 150 Tips in each! Or, for a combination of Tales of our sport and Technique articles, try Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
If you are in the mood for inspirational ficiton, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

January 24, 2017

How I Beat Boris Becker, by Andre Agassi
Here's the video (2:40). His secret? He could tell where Boris was serving by how his tongue stuck out of his mouth!

I had a similar coaching experience for many years. A member of the U.S. National Team for many years telegraphed when he was serving long by sticking his tongue out as he was serving! I coached against him many times, and my players did very well against him because of this. The player liked to serve long, and never figured out why some opponents always seemed ready for it.

In table tennis there are similar things you can pick up on, often subtle, if you watch for them. I would estimate that over half of players (including top players) telegraph their long serves by changing their backswing. That's a no-no - you need to use the same backswing for short or long serves. Even if opponents don't consciously pick up on it, they often do so subconsciously, and can tell when you are serving long without being sure how they know. This happens to me all the time - I can tell if someone's serving long but have to think about it to figure out what specifically gives it away.

As a test of how players react to a player's swing before contact, I once experimented on using a reverse pendulum serve motion until after I started the forward swing on the serve, and then switching to my favored pendulum serve motion. The result was astounding - people misread it over and over, and it became one of my serving mainstays.

Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
Here are two new podcasts by Matthew Pearson

USATT is Seeking Qualified Candidates for an Independent Director Position
Here's the USATT article. Do you have the right stuff?

Mizutani Wins His Ninth All Japan Championship Title
Here's the article.

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, a Special Memory
Here's the ITTF article featuring umpire Mike Meier.

29 Seconds of Multiball to Wake You Up
Here's the video.

Xu Xin When He Was 16 Years Old
Here's the video (17:50) - he's playing 3-time World Men's Singles Champion Wang Liqin!

Table Tennis Superstar Michael Maze & Wally Green 2017
Here's the video (6:59) - when it first comes on, the play seems to be off to the right, but if you put the curser on the video itself, you can drag the image about a full 360 degrees about! When I first saw it, I thought the camera person had simply put the camera off to the side accidentally, and I didn't realize you could actually move the video about with the curser. You can also use the W, A, S, and D keys on the keyboard to rotate these videos.

Andrew Rushton 2017 Ping Pong
Here's the video (70 sec) as he trains for the World Ping-Pong Championships - yes, that's with sandpaper.

Falcons' Ping Pong Battles Are More Important Than You May Think
Here's the article.

Ping-Pong Ball Juggling Robot
Here's the article with links to video and lots of pictures. Here's a less technical article on it, with a link to another video (5:09).

Chinese Man Finishes Voyage in Paper Boat Using His Ping-Pong Paddles
Here's the article and picture from 2008.

Ping-Pong Masters: Now I've Seen Everything!
Here's the video (78 sec). It starts with shovel pong, and goes on from there!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 23, 2017

Tip of the Week
What Are Your Main Weapons? (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 29. There are two more to go, and then we can finally celebrate the New Year!)

Non-Technique Problems with Juniors and Adults
Yesterday I coached in three different 90-minute group sessions - one for beginning juniors, one for advanced juniors (mostly ages 8-10), and one for adults. In the latter two I noticed some interesting parallels. Usually junior and adult players have different problems. Most well-trained juniors have pretty good technique, but don't have the hand-eye coordination or control yet to be consistent. Most adults, unless they started as well-trained juniors, have technical issues, but better hand-eye coordination and control. But sometimes the problems are the same. Here are two examples, both involving forehand looping.

In the advanced junior session, there was a player who had good forehand loop. However, while sometimes he'd let it go and it would be pretty nice, often you could see him holding back, trying to just guide the ball onto the table, with his racket slowing down at contact instead of accelerating. At the adult session that night, there was a player who had the exact same problem. In both cases, the problem is more mental than technical. You have to just let the shot go and accelerate into the shot. It doesn't mean you rip the ball, but if you try to guide the shot, you lose speed and spin, and end up with a weak shot.

In the advanced junior session, there was another player who also had a good forehand loop. The problem was that the player was way ahead of the ball, and so at the point where contact should be made, the ball was still out in front, over the table. So the player often hit the ball toward the end of the swing, as the racket decelerated out in front, in an off-balance, awkward shot. In the adult session, there was a player with the exact same problem. In both cases, the technique was good, but the timing was off.

In all four cases above, the players had good technique, and often had very nice loops - but often their technique was hindered by these other issues. All four are now (hopefully!) working on these problems, which, with some serious practice, should be relatively easy fixes.

Five Consecutive Lob Edges!
It really happened - not by me, but against me by 15-year-old Matt Stepanov during a coaching session I had with him last week. He wanted to lob some, and he won five straight points lobbing on the edge!!! We were laughing hysterically after the first three, so you can imagine our reactions when he got the fourth and fifth!

ITTF Presidential Election
It's a three-way battle between incumbent Thomas Weikert of Germany, ITTF Deputy President Khalil Al-Mohannadi of Qatar, and superstar player Jean-Michel Saive (former #1 in the world and Men's Singles Finalist in 1993). "The elections will be held on Wednesday 31st May at the Annual General Meeting in Düsseldorf, Germany, to be held on the occasion of the Liebherr 2017 World Championships."

Since I blogged last week USATT has put up over 20 news items. Some are duplicates of ones I've had, others are new, but rather than my linking to them one by one, why not browse over them?

Waldner Receives Award for Lifetime Achievement
Here's the ITTF article.

New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
Here are three new podcasts by Matthew Pearson

Lessons on Deliberate Practice from Jerry Rice
Here's the article - this applies to all sports.

Three-Point Multiball Training
Here's the video (33 sec).

Table Tennis Tutorial: Most Important Tips (part 3)
Here's the video (14:49). This is all about the grip. Links to parts 1 and 2 are below it.

Zhang Jike Working with Three Coaches?
Here's the video (11:39). They are speaking in Chinese, so I'm not sure what's going on, but it's interesting to watch a Zhang Jike training session.

Table Tennis on Fire
Here's the picture of Kim Gilbert! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) It's got fireballs, explosions, lightning, and a Kim in a hot rod!

Snowman Pong?
Here's the video (9 sec)!

Hale and Pace Table Tennis
Here's the video (73 sec) - it's from 2012, but I'd never seen it, and it's hilarious! I wonder if the famous Shaun the Sheep Table Tennis video (68 sec) was inspired by this.

Send us your own coaching news!

January 19, 2017

Tim's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19
It's finally happened - after working nine straight 18-hour days, we're almost done - but to get the thing finished today (Thursday), I was up past 1:30AM, and was up again at 6AM working on the pages. If all goes well, we'll finish today, and then Tim can go home early Friday morning. (We do about 12 hours per day on the book - just reading that makes me tired. The rest is my own coaching and other work.) I plan to sleep 12 hours straight when this thing is done.

But the bad news - no blog today or tomorrow. (Tomorrow's a "holiday," and I'll be recovering from all this.) So see you on Monday! Meanwhile, here's a repeating image of a cat bouncing a ball up and down on a paddle. Let me know on Monday how many times he bounces it. 

January 18, 2017

USA Citizens Rankings
They went up recently in the USATT ratings database. Go to the pre-set lists on the left, and click "US Citizens Only" at the top. And Behold! This is one of the things I promised to get done when I ran for the USATT Board. While I didn't do anything directly on this, I've been sending out periodic emails on this, asking them to get this done . . . and finally, it's done! (If you have any questions on this, or see any problems, contact the USATT Ratings Coordinator.)

For several years circa late 1980s/early 1990s I was in charge of creating and maintaining the citizenship list for USATT. We had no such list at the start, so I was asked to create one. So I sent out a mass postal mailing to the top 100 men and women in the country (this was before email was widespread), and had them contact me if they were USA citizens, including one-time proof (birth or naturalization certificate). For many of the "obvious" ones, I pro-actively contacted them, hounding them until I got the needed info. Once on the list, you stayed there forever. We regularly published the list of top men and women citizens in the print magazine.

Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions – “What Have We Done?” Inauguration Day Sale
My SF novel is on sale! (With a number of table tennis scenes - more on this below.) But only for a few days. From my publisher (World Weaver Press), "From January 17 to January 24, 2017, we're running a Kindle Countdown deal for the ebook version of CAMPAIGN 2100: GAME OF SCORPIONS: get it for 99¢ until January 20th, or $2.99 until January 24th." You can buy it directly from the publisher or from Amazon (same price).

They're calling it the "What Have We Done?" Inauguration Day Sale. What's the connection? The opening line to the novel is, "What have I done?", the thoughts of regretful campaign director Toby as the guy he put into office is sworn into office as president of Earth (in the year 2100). Five years later he'll be running for president against the guy he put in office, with an "impossible" third-party moderate challenge! (Did I mention that the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system? And that his daughter is running the president's re-election campaign? That there's an alien ambassador, an assassin, war, pirates, and a mysterious teenage girl from Antarctica?)

But more importantly, what's the connection between this novel and table tennis, since this is a ping-pong blog? As noted in the past (and especially in my March 8, 2016 blog, where I wrote about table tennis in the novel), one of the four main characters in the novel is Bruce Sims, a professional table tennis player who quits the pro circuit to run Toby's campaign. There are several table tennis scenes, including Bruce playing in the national college championships while having a war of words with his opponent, the umpire, the crowd, while trying to follow the breaking news of first contact; his teaching an alien ambassador to play table tennis; a search for a ping-pong paddle at the Great Mall of China; and an exhibition between him and the alien in front of the Chinese leadership that ends in disaster. One ironic item from the novel - when I needed to come up with a sponsor for Bruce, I decided it would be - and I kid you not! - Trump Sports! This was at least two years before Trump decided to run for president, which happened after the novel was already accepted for publication.

Not sure yet? Read over the 11 Amazon customer reviews! Or just buy a copy of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers - here are the 57 Amazon customer reviews!

Crystal Wang and Jason Zhang Take Butterfly Canada Cup #1
Here's the article and results. "In the Women’s Singles Crystal Wang (USA) cruised through the Canada Cup draw dropping only two games." Crystal developed at my club (MDTTC), and I've practiced with her many hundreds of hours. Alas, their family moved to Seattle for non-table tennis reasons.

How to Stay Low During Rallies
Here's the article, which is linked to a podcast (3:43), from Expert Table Tennis.

Adam Bobrow in Taiwan
Here's his Facebook account of finding four clubs in walking distance, and visiting one.

Ma Long When He Was 14 Years Old
Here's the video (4:08) of the current World Champion and #1 ranked player.

The $1Million Table Tennis Player
Here's the video (49 sec) on Club Wuhan in China paying that transfer fee for the services of Liu Shiwen, world #2 woman (but #1 much of 2014-2016, and runner-up in Women's Singles at the last two Worlds).

Can Ping Pong Make You Smarter, Happier and Relieve Your Stress?
Here's the video (8:01).

All Japan Championships Underway
Here's the article, with a link to live streaming.

Every Table is a Ping-Pong Table!
Here is the Facebook gallery - click on them to see all six.

Bird Playing Tetherball Pong
Here's the repeating gif image!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 17, 2017

Tip of the Week
Coaching and Playing Under the New ITTF Coaching Rule. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 28.)

Cleaning the Newgy Robot
Last night I spent nearly two hours testing and cleaning our two Newgy robots. We usually have one, and one as a backup. The one we were using had recently started to jam regularly. It was reaching the point where it would do so every minute or so, and then we'd have to turn the robot off, and push the balls up through the feeder tube to unjam the balls. But that wasn't even the worst of the problems - the oscillator broke a couple months ago, so you could only aim it in one direction. Still worse, the shooting head had become loose, and so no matter where you aimed it, within seconds it would drift toward the wide forehand side. (To fix this, I began taping it in different positions with duct tape. Yes, you can fix anything with duct tape.)

As if that weren't enough, someone this past week managed to break the clamp that holds the controller to the side of the table. I'd improvised, balancing it against the net so it was workable.

Of course, we had that backup robot - except it had gone into storage because it was jamming every shot, and so was unusable. So . . . what to do?

I opened up both robots, as I'd done before, and tried cleaning the insides. But when I put them back together again, they still jammed. I also tried cleaning the area inside the hole the balls shoot out of (the head), but there are a bunch of parts in there, and even with a toothbrush I couldn't get at much of it.

Then I had a brainstorm. I got a paper clip from the office, and with that, was able to reach in and pull out clumps of dust, dirt, and grime. From years of use it was compacted under a part at the bottom of the head. Compacted, it didn't take up much room, but once pulled out it was like a huge handful of gunk! (Yes, you can fix anything with a paper clip.)

Then I put the robots back together, and both worked perfectly! Well, except for the one with the broken oscillator and clamp. I packaged that one up and will be sending it to Newgy for repairs tomorrow. So ended a day that involved about ten hours with Tim on his History of U.S. Table Tennis volume, 2.5 hours of coaching, and 1.75 hours of robot repair. And then I came home and wrote this blog late at night.

However, our many robot users (both individually and in our group sessions) will be very happy to find that the oscillator is working again, the robot isn't jamming, and the controller is once again clamped to the side of the table as it should be!

Tomahawk Serve!
Recently it seems everyone I coach wants to develop their tomahawk serve. (Here's a short video from Samson Dubina on this. Samson's in my blog a lot - see more below!) In my adult training class, one student said several players used it against him effectively in a tournament, so he wanted to learn it - and a week later said it was already working. Two others are focusing on the serve right now, to go along with their forehand pendulum serves. Last night I coached a 12-year-old (about 1700), and we were working his forehand reverse pendulum serve when he asked if he could instead develop a tomahawk serve - and so that's what he did. (He's learning a different variation, where you set up as if you are doing a regular pendulum serve, then squat down a little bit as the ball is coming down, raise the racket tip, and do the tomahawk serve.)

The tomahawk serve used to be my #2 serve as well. Here's my March 3, 2016 blog on "Winning with the Tomahawk Serve," where I go over my adventures with the serve (including how it allowed me to pulled off the second 2000+ tournament win of my career, way back in 1979, from down 15-20 match point!), and the advantages and disadvantages of the serve. (The blog also links to the Samson video above.)

Daily Update: Volume 19 of History of U.S. Table Tennis
Book is projected to be 25 chapters, 500 pages, 1700 graphics. Current status, through Monday night, Jan. 16:

  • 347 pages (front and back covers, 4 front pages, 18 chapters)
  • 1359 graphics

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (1990-1991)
Here's chapter 17! Or order your own print copies at

Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion
Five-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion Dan Seemiller recently renamed his autobiography, "Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion," so that it says "Ping-Pong instead of "Table Tennis," thinking it might connect better with the masses. If you haven't bought your copy yet, what are you waiting for?

Free Open House in Akron, OH
If you are in driving distance of Akron, why not join them in their Open House Thursday night, 6-8:30PM? "We are doing our best to grow table tennis here in Ohio, now we need your help to continue the momentum.  Please invite your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to our FREE OPEN HOUSE event at the Shaw JCC on Thursday, January 19th from 6pm-8:30pm.  From 6-7:30pm there will be open club play.  At 7:30pm there will be optional competitions including a $100 smashing competition, serving competition, and 1-point tournament.  With free food, free shirts (limited sizes), and free prizes throughout the evening, there will be $1000 in free giveaways.  Come join the action and grow the sport!"

The Mental Timeout
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
Here are two new ones.

Vladimir Samsonov, World Class, the Facts Speak for Themselves
Here's the ITTF article.

China Prepares; a Challenge Awaits for Ma Long and Zhang Jike
Here's the ITTF article.

Clear Message: Prove Yourself
Here's the ITTF article. "Prove yourself; is that not the message being given to the players representing China at the forthcoming Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Hungarian Open?"

Happy New Year--Sign Up for NCTTA!
Here's the USATT article on the National Collegiate TTA.

Brown University Sweeps Lower New England Division
Here's the article.

Ping Pong Club Rounds Out Leasing at Philadelphia Center
Here's the article.

Table Tennis Wars: How William and Alex Nylander Helped Push Each Other Up the Hockey Ladder
Here's the article.

The Calling
Here's the video (4:24), a preview of the 2017 Worlds.

Jan-Ove Waldner Best Points of His Career of Table Tennis
Here's the recent video (16:09).

Lobbing Comeback Serves
Here's the video (32 sec) - how many can you do?

Ten-Cup Bowling Pong
Here's the video (45 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 16, 2017

It's MLK Day, so I'm off! (Well, sort of . . . I'll be at my desk working with Tim Boggan for a gazillion hours today, then coaching tonight.) And here's the Tip of the Week (which I'll also link to tomorrow): Coaching and Playing Under the New ITTF Coaching Rule. See you tomorrow. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 28.)

January 13, 2017

The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Ping-Pong Hall: Muscle Memory
Think about it: everything you do when you play table tennis beyond the beginning level involves muscle memory. Muscle memory controls your strokes and serves, your reactions to the opponents' shot, even most of your tactics.

I'm sure there are many advanced studies on this, but what's important here is the practical aspect. And for that, I would say there are two types of muscle memory in table tennis: what I will call "rote muscle memory" and "reactive muscle memory." (I'm sure there are actual technical terms for this, but I'm not going for the technical side here.)

Rote muscle memory is what you use when you tie your shoelaces, play a song you know well on an instrument, do table tennis serves, or hit forehand to forehand with someone who keeps the ball in the same place. It's the first thing beginners learn as they develop into intermediate players. Without this, you simply wouldn't be able to make high-level shots with any consistency. An example of this is a demo I regularly give in my classes, where I put a water bottle on the far side of the table, and then rapid-fire smack it over and over with my forehand, all the while carrying on a conversation with the players. The shot is so ingrained into my rote muscle memory that I can hit it ten times in a row pretty regularly from about eight feet away. (I have a box of balls on my side so I can rapid-fire grab them to hit.)

Reactive muscle memory is what you use when you field a baseball, play "Simon Says," or rally in table tennis. It's the next step beyond rote muscle memory in that you not only have to have the muscle memory for a specific set of movements, but have to adapt them almost instantly to the situation. When an opponent puts heavy spin on the ball or hits it very hard away from you, you use reactive muscle memory to adapt to the shot with the correct muscle memory. This takes longer to learn than simple rote muscle memory. The primary difference between a top player and a non-top player is how advanced their reactive muscle memory is. It involves reacting properly to shots, i.e. reacting quickly, moving to the ball, choosing the right shot and placement, using proper technique, the right contact, racket angle, etc.

You use this type of muscle memory more than you'd think - even for tactics. As I wrote about in my book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, most tactics are subconscious. You don't stop in the middle of a rally and say to yourself, "Hey, my opponent is a little out of position, and so if I go quick to his forehand I will score the point." Instead, your subconscious, through years of reactive muscle memory training (i.e. playing table tennis games and certain types of drills), reflexively sees the opening and you go there (and doubtless take credit for it), just as you'd reflexively close your racket against an incoming heavy topspin or reflexively loop a deep ball while not doing so against a short ball. In fact, the only tactics that aren't primarily subconscious (i.e. reactive muscle memory) are serving tactics, where you get to consciously choose your serve - though you'd be surprised at how much your subconscious is involved in that selection as well. Tactics in a rally have to be reactive, so while you may consciously tell yourself to push aggressively against a short backspin serve, you still have to react to it subconsciously when it happens - yes, reactive rote memory. (But telling yourself to do something in a given situation is how you communicate with your subconscious so that it learns what to do.)

How did this topic come up? Last night I was coaching a 7-year-old, and she popped the ball up. I smashed it, and she said she was afraid I'd hit her. So I put out the water bottle and demoed that the ball will go where I want it to go, that I wasn't going to hit her unless I wanted to hit her, and that the more she practiced, the better she would be at it as well. Next thing you know, I was in a philosophical discussion with a 7-year-old on the various types of muscle memory! She was proud of how fast she could tie her shoelaces, and so I used that as an example of rote muscle memory. She was pretty good at spinning the ball in the "spin and catch" exercise I use to teach beginners to spin the ball (see #6 in this blog), which is the "rote" part, but had trouble catching the ball since she couldn't always control where it went, i.e. the "reactive" part.

Friday the 13th
Yes, it's the day all Friggatriskaidekaphobias fear most. Here's Jason Vorhees wishing you a Very Happy Friday the 13th. ("I Jason. I no Loop. I smash. I Kill.") While we're at it, here's an extremely acrobatic black cat at the net (2:01). It's hilarious, and set to music. And here are two ghosts playing table tennis. And heck, here's a picture of Tim "Hulk" Boggan! (Hulk scary!)

Daily Update: Volume 19 of History of U.S. Table Tennis
Tim Boggan and I started work at 3PM on Tuesday, Jan. 10. I'm doing the page layouts and photo work. Most of the layouts were actually done in advance by Tim, who literally cut & pasted them from old magazines! He then sent them to Mal Anderson, who scanned all the pages. (Something like half the photos used are Mal Anderson photos. I've typed "Photo by Mal Anderson" more times than I've breathed in my life.) Tim used to type of the text, but this saves time - which is why the volumes are coming out every six months now instead of annually.

You'd think this would make my job easier - but it doesn't. I'm spending hours on page after page, fixing them up from paper cuts and other stuff that shows up in the scans, plus cleaning up each photo, and adding captions to each (which weren't in the scans).

Just for the record, all three of us (Tim, Mal, and I) are USATT Hall of Famers!

Book is projected to be 25 chapters, 500 pages, 1700 graphics. Current status, through Thursday night, Jan. 12:

  • 134 pages (front and back covers, 4 front pages, 7 chapters)
  • 524 graphics

Brief Analysis of the Application of Sun Tzu’s Art of War on Table Tennis
Here's the article.

Ask a Table Tennis Coach
There are two more segments at Expert Table Tennis.

  • #8: How to Add Wrist to Your Forehand Loop
  • #9: Ask a Table Tennis Coach - 009: How to Become a Professional Table Tennis Player

Ding Ning Tomahawk Serve Technique Slowmotion 2017
Here's the video (4:14).

Table Tennis Training with Jan-Ove Waldner?
Here's info - apparently it's Fridays 6-10PM in Ottawa, Canada - and it started in November and continues until June 2, 2017. I'm confused - is Waldner (of Sweden) in Canada on Friday nights? If this is verified, I might find an excuse to go up there one Friday.

5 Physical Activities to Try as You Get Older
Here's the article from NetDoctor - see #2. Here's USATT's link to the article - see the picture above, of me? Is that a hint?!!! (I'm "only" 56! But 57 in February.)

Destinations of the World Tour
Here's the ITTF article.

Turning Tables
Here's the article where Irish Paralympian Eimear Breathnach tells how love of sport helped her cope with horrific accident that left her wheelchair bound.

Newlywed Table Tennis Icon Fukuhara Putting Family First
Here's the article from the Japan Times (in English).

The Table Tennis Jackass
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Tress Way and Nick Sundberg Compete at Table Tennis Club
Here's the article about the two Washington Redskins players competing at the Smash TTC in Virginia!

The Mercy Rule
Here's the video (42 sec) from PingSkills.

Younger Generation Challenge Fan Zhendong
Here's the video (17 sec).

Paddle Palace Trick Shot #1
Here's the video (8 sec) of Tom Roeser

Google's Circle Shaped Ping Pong Table
Here's the article and picture. It's from the Google Asian office! I really want to see a video of them playing on this.

24 Most Funny Table Tennis Pictures
Here's the page!

Send us your own coaching news!

January 12, 2017

USATT Election
As noted in yesterday's blog, USATT has an election coming up. Yay!!! Here's info. It was also in yesterday's USATT Insider, and will be in a mass email by USATT to members this Friday.

The candidates are Attila Malek and Rajul Sheth, who are running for the open At-Large position (a four-year term) held by Mike Babuin the past eight years. (He's term-limited from running again.) As you'll learn from their campaign statements, both have been very active and successful in their table tennis careers. I've debated about whether to endorse one, but frankly, I don't want to do that when I'm fine with either - both will bring their expertise to develop the sport, both at the grassroots and elite levels. When the day comes that I do endorse a candidate, it'll likely mean that there's both a candidate I really want to see on the board AND a candidate that I really don't want to see on the board. And believe me, there are many who fit both categories!

One reason I don't want to get into this is that while I agree on most issues with both, there are also some disagreements. I've found that when I get into these things, if you agree with someone on 9 out of 10 issues, guess which one gets all the attention? I'm ready to work with either, but at the same time, at some point I'll want to sit down with whoever won and go over my thoughts on the their campaign statements - specifically, the specifics! Yes, the Devil is in the details. Trying to get things done with USATT, with its severe lack of resources despite being an Olympic sport governing body for a country of 320 million, can sometimes be maddening. I know; I have my own campaign promises that I've been working towards. (I'm halfway through my own four-year term.)

Of course, one added incentive to staying out of this is that for the next ten days or so I'll be working 18 hours/day (Tim's book - see below - plus my usual coaching, blogging and other writing, USATT, MDTTC, and other work), so I don't really have time right now to get into political discussions. Later on I'll blog about upcoming USATT activities, including my own plans for this year.

But none of this stops me from having some fun at their expense - Anagram Man strikes again!

Rajul Sheth:

  • Jar Let Hush. He's halfway to Jar Jar (Binks), he calls "Let!" when you smash a winner, and if you ask him important questions, he says, "Hush!"
  • Let Jars, Huh? Yes, as his first act on the board he'll require clubs to have these Let Jars, and you have to put a quarter in it whenever you call a let. Huh? (But the money goes to support the club.)

Attila Malek:

  • I Talk Tamale. Huh???
  • Malta Talkie. He stars in a Mediterranean country's movies, with sound, circa 1920s?
  • Llama Eat Kit. So he wants USATT to feed South American pack animals?
  • Talk Email At. Okay, this is better, he'll Talk with you, Email with you, and of course "At" is just short for the @ in his email address.  


  • He's God!

Daily Update: Volume 19 of History of U.S. Table Tennis
Tim Boggan and I started work at 3PM on Tuesday, Jan. 10. I'm doing the page layouts and photo work. Book is projected to be 25 chapters, 500 pages, 1700 graphics. Current status, through Wednesday night, Jan. 11:

  • 80 pages
  • 4 chapters, front and back covers, 4 front pages
  • 281 graphics

Calf Injury Update
It's 90% healed. I'm back to regular coaching starting today. However, I have a light schedule until this Sunday - then I get busy. No more updates unless I reinjure it.

New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

USATT Insider
Here's the issue that came out yesterday.

Three ITTF Articles

Charlotte Bardsley: The Story So Far
Here's the article on the English Under 12 Champion.

Epische Trailer Finalisten Masters 2016
Here's the video (3 min) - lots of great slow motion play.

Ping-Pong, Anyone? From the New Yorker Cartoon Lounge!
Here's the video (2:10). "In this episode, Bob Mankoff plays table tennis with a robot and looks at Ping-Pong cartoons from the magazine."

Send us your own coaching news!

January 11, 2017

Timmy and Ping-Pong and Calfie, Oh My!
Tim moved in with me yesterday around 3PM, and within minutes we were hard at work, me doing pages of Volume 19 of his History of U.S Table Tennis, him saying "This goes there! Scan this! Type this! No, you fool, that's not what I meant!" We did the front and back covers and the first 15 or so pages (of a projected 500), plus I scanned and fixed up a bunch of other photos. We then left for dinner at about 5:15 PM, Carrabba's. (It's a nice Italian chain, with lots of authentic Italian dishes with Italian-sounding names. I had pepperoni pizza, Tim had Linguini with white clam sauce.) After dinner, he went to bed (around 7PM as usual for him), and I stayed up late writing. (A new SF story, plus started on the blog.)

I went to bed after midnight, was up by 5:30AM to get the blog down, and to be ready to work with Tim by 7AM. As I write this, I'm looking for more ways to postpone getting started with Tim, because once we start, we'll be at it ALL DAY!!! At least until 5PM, when I leave to coach.

The calf injury is 2/3 healed, but I'm still worried about re-injuring it. But I'm going to go ahead and do the one hour of coaching I have scheduled tonight, with a 1700 player. I'll likely just block and feed multiball - not sure if I should play open rallies, but we'll see.

2017 USATT Election
Here's the USATT info page (including campaign statements) - it's Attila Malek vs. Rajul Sheth in this upcoming battle to the death to be on the USATT Board! Voting begins on Jan. 14 and continues for two weeks. 

3 Reasons to Feel Good After a Tough Loss
Here's the article.

Ask a Table Tennis Coach
There are more episodes available at Expert Table Tennis.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (1990-1991)
Here's chapter 16! Or order your own print copies at

President of the Puerto Rican Table Tennis Federation Proud of 2016 Campaign
Here's the article from Butterfly.

Featuring Vladimir Samsonov
Here's the new video (41 sec).

Two New Table Tennis Guinness World Records Set
Here's the video (27 sec).

Ping-Pong Trick Shots by Jeyx
Here's the video (6:35).

Curvy Table?
Here's the picture - try rallying on this! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!

January 10, 2017

History of U.S. Table Tennis: Volume 19
It's hard to believe, but we're into Volume 19 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis! As I write this, he's relentlessly driving toward Maryland, with an expected arrival of 3PM. Then we go to work!

As usual, the volume is projected to have about 500 pages and 1000 photos. USATT Hall of Fame official and photographer Mal Anderson scans most of the photos in advance and sends them to me on a CD. But nearly all of them need fixing up in Photoshop as many are scans directly from magazines or are old, vintage (i.e. poor quality) photos - and that's the first part of my job. And then I do the page layouts, with Tim sitting next to me, jabbing his finger at the screen periodically and screaming, "No, it goes there, you fool!"

He used to type up nearly all the text and then we'd place the photos (including captions and photo credits). But in recent years, to save time, he's had Mal scan the articles directly, and so I often place entire pages in one shot. However, the pages need lots of time-consuming fixing up, plus Tim always has a zillion replacement photos to take the place of those scanned.

As in the past, it'll take 10-14 days to complete the job. (I think this one covers 1991-1992.) We generally work from 7AM to whenever I leave to coach - usually around 4:00 or 5:00 PM. And then, in about six months, we start all over again! (When will I do my blog and other work? Late at night. I won't be sleeping much the next two weeks.)

Calf Injury
It's healing okay, but I'm still limping. I've already had to cancel or get replacements for all private coaching from Saturday through today, and I may have to cancel tomorrow's coaching (Wednesday). On Thursday I only have a one-hour session with a beginning junior, so I may make that one.

Consistent Bat Angle During Swing?
I was asked the following question on the forum here last night:

QUESTION: A lot of coaches tell us to not 'turn' or close your paddle during your forehand forward swing. They say it's a bad habit of creating topspin and causes inconsistencies. However, I've seen J.O. Waldner and Xu Xin doing that a lot.

MY ANSWER: They probably do this mostly against a slow incoming ball - and they have the timing to get away with it. Against a fast incoming ball, you normally don't want to be changing the racket angle as you forward swing. Against a slower ball, you can generate a bit more whip by changing the angle as you forward swing - but the timing is more difficult. I often to this when going for an all-out rip against a backspin. 

He also asked about swinging across the body. Here are the two postings. An extended version of this may turn into a Tip of the Week.

How to Practice Looping Backspin Balls
Here's the new coaching article from Expert Table Tennis.

Elizabeth Gresham 1948 - 2016
Here's the USATT obit on this long-time player and supporter.

Athlete Reminder: 2017 WADA Prohibited List Now in Effect
Here's the article. "USADA would like to remind all athletes that the 2017 WADA Prohibited List went into effect on January 1, 2017." And I was so looking forward to lunching on Clenbuterol, Salmetero, Beta-2 Agonists, and Non-erythropoietic EPO-receptor Agonists.

Starting Where Left Off, Tomakazu Harimoto and Fan Zhendong
Here's the ITTF article.

Table Tennis Stick Figure T-shirt in Many Colors
Here's the new kickstarter project from Steve Worthington.

Ma Long Heavy Spin Forehand Technique Slow Motion 2017
Here's the new video (1:19).

Table Tennis Therapy for Alzheimers
Here's the news story (2:51) from News 13.

The Craziest Ping-Pong Skills
Here's the video (2:40), a compilation of crazy table tennis trick shots. This came out a month ago, but I don't think I posted it.

"Big" and "Little" Table Play
Here's the "Big" video (47 sec), and here's the "Little" video (30 sec). Which is more exciting?

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content