Butterfly Online


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, 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!

July 8, 2016

USA Nationals
I wasn't planning to blog for a few more days, but had to put down some thoughts after watching the Men's and Women's Singles Finals. First I'll give the facts, then I'll give a little analysis. 

Table tennis can be a cruel sport. In the Men's Singles Final, we had defending champion Yijun "Tom" Feng (top seed at 2722) against junior star Kanak Jha (second seed at 2655, coached by Stefan Feth). Here's the short version: Tom went up 3-1 in games, and was up 12-11 championship point in the fifth. That was the first of three turning points. Kanak was to serve, but first he did a simple thing: he tied his shoelaces. Now you can't get away with tying your shoelaces every point, but Kanak picked the right time - it allowed him to clear his mind. And it worked. They'd been having surprisingly long rallies, but this time Kanak basically ripped three forehands to win the game. He's still down 2-3, but he'd win the next game 11-7. 

Next thing we know it's 4-4 in the seventh - and we had our second turning point. Tom scored five straight points, and leads 9-4. As Kanak later said, "I thought it was over." And as I said above, table tennis can be a cruel sport - and this was the third and final turning point. Kanak scores the next two points to 6-9. Then he gets a net ball to make it 7-9, with Tom to serve. You could see Tom taking his time, focusing, knowing these would be some of the most important points he'd ever play. And then the serve went slightly long, Kanak loops it in, and it's 8-9. And then Kanak gets another net - an unreturnable net dribbler - and it's 9-9! With Kanak to serve - and two points later, he's completed the 4-9, 11-9 comeback (-10,-6,10,-5,12,7,9), and is the new USA Men's Singles Champion. 

Think about it - Tom had a match point in game five, then led 9-4 in the seventh. Kanak pulled off the gritty comeback, but with the help of two net balls. What are the chances of one player getting both? One in four, or 25%. So Kanak got the 25% and five other points as well. (For a little more math, assume both players are even. Then the chances of scoring seven in a row is two to the seventh, or 1 in 128. But it wasn't all even at the end, with Kanak dominated at the end, especially in backhand exchanges.)

This isn't the first time Kanak's made such a comeback. As posted by Bruce Liu, "Kanak is no stranger to the 7th-game comeback. The most notable one was probably earlier this year at the North America Olympic Trials when he was down 0-5 and won 11 points in a row. Not only did he earn himself a seat in the Singles event in Rio, he also made Team USA eligible for the Team event." (That was against Canadian Pierre-Luc Theriault.)

Now a little analysis. Tom's a penholder, but with reverse penhold backhand, and so the two play surprisingly alike. Tom's more power, Kanak more control and willing to block more, but subtleties aside, they are very similar. But if you watch the match closely, it could be seen as basically a cat-and-mouse game of serve and receive. Both have extremely good receives - it drives me crazy watching up-and-coming players spend hour after hour developing strokes and footwork and not also have a coach serve to them over and over so they can develop this part of the game as well. (Every rally starts with a serve and receive, right?) These two have receives that are just ahead of most of the field. In particular, both have great short pushes and great backhand (banana) flips. 

If you look at the match from the beginning up to the point where Tom was up 3-1 in games and 12-11 match point, the primary reason Tom had the edge over Kanak was because of his reverse pendulum serve from the middle of the table. Most players are robots, serving from the backhand corner over and over. They may do this serve short to Kanak's or some other player's forehand, but only down the line, which allows players like Kanak to step over and receive backhand. By serving from the middle, Tom had an angle into Kanak's short forehand, meaning Kanak had to either receive with his good (but not great) forehand receive, or had to step over with great backhand receive - but then be way out of position for the next shot, something Tom took advantage of. 

And it worked to the point where Tom had the match point. But the problem with something that works is that you tend to use it over and over, and Kanak was getting better with his forehand receive against this serve all the time, often dropping it short to Tom's forehand, or flipping it either forehand or backhand. And so the serve became less effective - and that was a primary reason why Kanak pulled himself back into the match. Along with a well-timed shoelace tying. 

Here's a prediction: Next year's Men's Singles Final will be an all-junior final. We've never had so many up-and-coming kids, especially in the 14-15 age range, and it's going to be difficult for players like Tom (2015 champion), Timothy Wang (champion in 2010, 2012, and 2013) and Jimmy Butler (absent this year, but champion in 2014 . . . and 1990, 1992, and 1993!) to hold off this massive charge, led by Kanak. There was a time when we might have one or two juniors over 2400, and rarely any over 2500. (Why? We didn't have many full-time training centers back then; we've gone from about 8 to 86 in the last ten years.) 

Here's the current listing of players over 2400 from the Cadet Boys (under 15 as of Jan. 1): Sharon Alguetti (2558); Victor Liu (2534); Gal Alguetti (2504); Nikhil Kumar (2503); Michael Tran (2451); and Derek Nie (2427). Then we add in the other players over 2400 from the Under 18 list: Kanak Jha (2655); Kunal Chodri (2601); Krish Avvari (2597); Jack Wang (2537); Adar Alguetti (2535); Allen Wang (2526); Nicholas Tio (2481); Aarsh Shah (2455); Felix Gao (2444); Roy Ke (2437); Newman Cheng (2418); and Shivansh Kumar (2417). That's an incredible group!!!

For Tom, Timothy, and Jimmy, of course, it's a challenge - and perhaps reading this will give them added incentive. They are already great champions, but if they win next year, they'll be even greater champions. 

On the women's side, there was less drama - but drama there was. Lily Zhang led defending champion Jiaqi Zhang 3-0 in games and served up 9-7 in the fourth - just two points from being the champion. She would have to go into the sixth game before winning, 12,8,7,-9,-5,6. It was Lily's third - she also won in 2012 and 2014. 

All four of these finalists, along with Timothy Wang and Wu Yue, will be leaving soon for the Rio Olympics. 

As to me, I mostly coached at the Nationals (plus some meetings), but I was in three events - Over 50 Men's Doubles (with Ty Hoff), Hardbat Doubles (also with Ty; I've won it 13 times, nine of them with Ty), and Over 40 Hardbat (which I've won four times). Result? Three semifinals. Alas, my feet and body just don't move like they used to. Plus, I have an entire page in my notebook labeled "Problems," with nine different problems that have come up here (mostly by people coming up to me and saying, "Larry, can you look into this problem?") that need to be resolved, and all these things led to a lot of tension - making it hard to loosen up for matches. Perhaps I'll blog about some of them later. 

Here are results for the USA Nationals (with one more day of play on Saturday). I fly out late on Saturday night, arriving at BWI in Maryland at 7AM on Sunday, then I drive home, do some more updating on Tim Boggan's recent History of U.S. Table Tennis volume (yes, he's found more changes needed...), pack, and then drive up to New Jersey to manage and coach at the USATT's two-week Supercamp for 26 of our top juniors. I'll blog about that probably starting on Tuesday. (Some of those attending include the three Alguetti brothers, Allen and Amy Wang, Michael Tran, Tina Lin, and Klaus Wood. Coaches include myself (I'm also manager), Sean O'Neill, Dan Seemiller, Han Xiao, Samson Dubina, Richard McAfee, Lily Yip, Wang Qing Liang, and Cory Eider.) 

World Series of Beer Pong
Guess what they are holding right next door to the USA National Table Tennis Championships, at the Westgate Hotel? The $65,000 World Series of Beer Pong!!! 

Some Breakfast Table Tennis at the Nationals!
Here's the video (65 sec)!

July 1, 2016

Last Blog until Tuesday, July 12
I'm actually going out of town for a month, July 3 – Aug 3. I don't plan to blog during most of this time – even I need vacations! – but I do plan to blog from July 11 to July 22, during the USATT Super Camp. Here's my upcoming schedule:

  • July 3-9: USA Nationals in Las Vegas;
  • July 10-22: coaching at the  USATT Supercamp at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey;
  • July 22-30: at the TNEO Science Fiction Writing Workshop in Manchester, NH;
  • July 31-Aug. 3: coaching at the Junior Olympics in Houston.

I won't actually be gone continuously for a month. I'm flying to Las Vegas on Sunday, returning the following Sunday morning (on a Saturday night red-eye flight, landing 7AM at BWI Airport), then I quickly finalize packing, and drive to New Jersey for the Supercamp. Then I drive from there to New Hampshire for the writing workshop. Then I drive all the way back to Maryland on June 30, and fly out to Houston on July 31, flying back late on Aug. 3. (Or perhaps staying the night, and returning Aug. 4.)

Preparing for the Nationals and USATT Supercamp
As a coach, I don't train much as a player. But I'll be playing in three events next week at the USA Nationals, though as usual playing has to take second priority over coaching – but I still want to win all my events do well. I'm in three events: Over 50 Men's Doubles with Ty Hoff; Hardbat Doubles with Ty Hoff; and Over 40 Hardbat Singles.

At last year's Nationals Ty and I played the top seeds, Li Yu Xiang and Chu Bin Hai, in the quarterfinals – and were at 8-all in the fifth before losing. (Ty and I also lost in the quarterfinals of Men's Doubles at the USA Nationals in 1989 to Jim and Scott Butler – 21-18 in the third – and the Butlers went on to win it.) This year Li & Chu are top seeded again, while Ty and I are seeded third, meaning we won't have to face them until at least the semifinals – but bring 'em on! So, how am I preparing for these big doubles matches?

I spent half an hour yesterday practicing my doubles serves (from right-hand court, of course) – mostly forehand pendulum serves, regular (sidespin left) and reverse (sidespin right). Because I've been teaching these serves to students a lot recently, a strange thing seems to be happening – I seem to have more control over them then before, at least since I stopped practicing them regularly many years ago. This is especially true of my reverse pendulum serve, which I expect to mix in with my regular ones. I've got lots of variations ready for both – backspin, side-backspin, sidespin, side-topspin, and no-spin. As an added bonus to this serve practice, several of the kids in the camp saw me practicing my serves, and next thing I know, a pack of them joined me, all practicing their serves. One kept asking me how to do them, and so I finished the session working with him on his serve. (This was during break!)

In Hardbat Singles and Doubles I'll likely use the same serves – I plan to practice my hardbat serves tomorrow, along with perhaps some more inverted serving. The main difference in my hardbat singles serves is that I mix in far more deep serves – I like to mix in short serves to the middle and long ones to the wide backhand, always following them, if humanly possible, with a forehand. I've won Hardbat Doubles 13 times, nine times with Ty. I've won Over 40 Hardbat four times. I've also won Hardbat Singles twice, but am not playing that this year. (These are for both the USA Nationals and the U.S. Open.)

To prepare for coaching at the Nationals I've been spying on the players I'll be coaching. At the Nationals during our first warm-up session I'll have them throw all their serves at me so I have a good feel for what serves they can do and how they come out. (Of course, I'm pretty familiar with their serves already, but more is better.) I'll mostly be coaching Adrian at the Nationals, but when he and I aren't playing, I'll likely coach other MDTTC players.

To prepare for the USATT Supercamp – where 25 of the top USA juniors will be training in New Jersey, July 10-24 – I spent some time working on my speed multiball. Our top juniors do most of their training now with our top 2550 Chinese practice partner/coaches, and so I mostly feed multiball to players under 2000. So I have to make sure my multiball is ready for the 2500 crowd. The main difference is I almost always bounce the ball on my side when feeding multiball, which is standard when feeding backspin and for most topspin drills. But when going full-speed, it's better to feed the ball directly into the paddle, and I've gotten rusty at that. So a few people at the club saw a strange sight this afternoon during break – me feeding multiball to the table tennis robot's net. I still feel a bit slow at it, so I might have to work at it some more. (I have to leave the camp two days early to go to my writing workshop. Normal people vacation at the beach, camping, Disneyworld, etc.; I go to science fiction writing workshops.)

But it's not just multiball I need to prepare for the camp – I'm also going to be chopping practice partner for the players. Though I'm normally an attacker, I chop at about a 2150 level – almost as good as my normal game – and so tomorrow I plan to get some extra chopping practice in so I'm ready. I have my own chopping blade, a Butterfly Joo Saehyuk blade with Tackiness Chop II 1.9mm black on the forehand, Feint Long II 1.3mm red on the backhand. (I actually had Tenergy 05 2.1 on the forehand so I could both chop and attack, but switched to Tackiness Chop II for the camp so I can chop better.) I normally use a Butterfly Timo Boll ALC blade with Tenergy 05 2.1 black on forehand, Tenergy 25 2.1 red on forehand.

It's going to be a busy time, but compared to the past month, this next month will be a breeze. Those reading this blog regularly know of all the tribulations this past month as I struggled to put together History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (!) with Tim Boggan (the proof copy was just ordered for Tim) while trying to do all my other work. Last night, besides doing most of this blog, I also put together the MDTTC Newsletter and about twenty other things as I try to get ahead on as much as possible before leaving for a month.

Dan Seemiller's Autobiography
Here's the promotional flyer for this, coming Aug. 31 – you don't want to miss it! (I'm working with him on the editing, page layouts, photos, and print on demand publishing. Plus I'll likely be the first outside Dan's club to get to read it!!!)

13 Stages: Develop a systematic approach to learning a new skill
Here's the coaching article from Samson Dubina.

The Serve
Here's the coaching article by Aiman Fazeer Yap.

Interview with Alan Cooke: England’s Performance Coach
Here's the podcast (43:44) from Expert Table Tennis. In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Alan’s review of the World Team Championships [1:30]
  • An update on Rio 2016 for Team GB [3:00]
  • How Paul, Liam, and Sam prepared for Kuala Lumpur [5:00]
  • The current plans for Rio 2016 [10:00]
  • How and why to use periodization in your table tennis training [11:45]
  • How to use goal setting for your tournaments [14:15]
  • How to stay focused during a tournament [16:30]
  • Alan’s coaching style and philosophy [19:00]
  • What Alan says to the players in the corner [22:30]
  • The correct mindset when facing “unbeatable players” [25:30]
  • How to debrief, reflect, and learn after a tournament [27:30]
  • Using video analysis to learn about yourself and others [31:30]
  • What the plan is for Team GB after Rio [33:00]
  • What separates top 50 players from top 20 players in the world [35:15]
  • The future for English table tennis [38:00]

Ask the Coach Show

DHS ITTF Top 10 at the 2016 Korea Open
Here's the video (6:02).

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

U.S. Table Tennis Player Will Be the Youngest in Olympic History
Here's the article from USA Today featuring Kanak Jha.

An Introduction to Coach Pieke Franssen (Part One)
Here's the article.

USA and International Table Tennis
Here's my periodic note (usually every Friday) that you can great international coverage at the ITTF home page (which does great regional coverage). Butterfly also has a great news page. (Tabletennista, which used to do great international coverage, apparently closed down after May 31.) For USA coverage, see the USA Table Tennis News Page.

Best Animated Table Tennis Videos
Here's a selection of some of the best animated table tennis I know of – enjoy! (I've linked to all of them in the past.) Sorry, no anime – there's just too much of that to go through. I'm sure I'm missing some good ones that I just don't recall at the moment – feel free to add links to others below.

Trump Umpiring Table Tennis
Here's the new video (4:24)! (From Larry Bavly.)

Non-Table Tennis – Penguins of Noah's Ark
My new humorous story Penguins of Noah's Ark just went up at Galaxy's Edge! It answers the age-old question of just how two penguins in the Antarctic managed to make their way to the Middle East in time for Noah's Ark. It also answers a lot of questions about dinosaurs, burning bushes, and the Garden of Eden. Galaxy's Edge is one of the top "Pro" markets – I'm sharing the table of contents with George R.R. Martin, Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, and Gregory Benford, all huge names in SF.

Send us your own coaching news!

June 30, 2016

Training with the Piech's!
Yesterday I had a session with Jason & Alex Piech, the two I blogged about yesterday, along with the video of their going to Las Vegas. We decided to break the session into three parts, 1/3 with Alex, 1/3 with Jason, and 1/3 on doubles. The two have been playing about eight months, coached by Russ Hamilton in Arkansas. (The camp is 10AM-1PM, 3-6PM, so we did the sesson from 1-2PM.) 

First up was lefty Alex, who turns 7 in August, nicknamed "Storm." He has pretty good technique, but can be a bit wild with his shots as his contact can vary a lot. When he loops, sometimes he spins it, sometimes he hits it a bit too flat. We focused on consistency, where he had to make the first two shots every time. First we did it with him looping to my backhand. (We had a running gag where I kept insisting I never missed, with a ready excuse when I in fact did miss. He had his mom video some of the session just to prove to me that I did, in fact, sometimes miss. I don't, of course.) We then did a drill where he served backspin, I pushed to his forehand, he looped to my backhand, and the rally continued, with me blocking, and him looping and sometimes smashing. (No, I never missed. Sometimes I had alternate targets.) We also did some serve practice – he has surprisingly advanced serves. He has a really good tomahawk serve, very spinny, and also does a reverse tomahawk serve. These may cause some havoc to some players next week at the Nationals!

Next up was Jason, 9, nicknamed "Eyebrows" because of his ability to raise them up and down alternately, as shown in the video yesterday. He had a tendency to "muscle" the ball when looping, trying to create power mostly with his upper body. We worked on using the legs and hips to start the body rotation, with the legs getting the hips moving, the hips getting the upper body moving, and the upper body swinging the arm into the shot. I showed how this gives "easy power," leading not only to more power, but more importantly control of that power. (Many players misunderstand when top players say power comes from timing. What they mean is the timing of how they put each part of their body into the shot.) I demonstrated by tossing balls up and looping them myself, then had him do it as well. (Alex joined us for this.) Then we did a little multiball, and then we went live. He picked it up very quickly. We also worked on serves – he too had pretty good serves.

Finally we worked on doubles. Since they are lefty/righty, footwork was less of a problem, but I still went over their positioning when they served and received, showing how each should start the rally in their best ready position. We went over the types of serves they'd want to use in doubles, such as: mostly serving toward the middle so receiver doesn't have an angle; serving out to weaker players, short to stronger players (and the importance of finding out early, preferably in advance, if they had a lopsided team, and if so, who was the strong one); serving low; sidespins that break away often being more effective than those that break into a player (so a righty might use a tomahawk serve against a righty receiving forehand, but a pendulum serve if he receives backhand); and most importantly, that all of these were just guidelines – they should find out what works, and do that. I also taught them how to signal their serves to their partner.

We had a little fun after the lesson where I challenged them to return my serves for a time. Then a little more fun as I showed them various tricks – blowing the ball in the air; the 50-foot serve; and speed bouncing on the table. And then they bought four of my books – I sold them three, and threw in the fourth for free. Alex will have lots to read on the drive back to Arkansas! (They bought Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, Table Tennis Tips, The Spirit of Pong, and I threw in Table Tennis Tales & Techniques.)

This was their second consecutive week here at the MDTTC camps, which are all summer long. This weekend we all fly out to Las Vegas for the USA Nationals. (We have an even 20 players and eight coaches from MDTTC going, as well as a few other part-time MDTTCers.) Hope to see some of you there!

The Best Table Tennis DVDs & Training Videos
Here's the new article from Expert Table Tennis.

Keeping Score During a Drill
Here's the new article by Samson Dubina. I use similar coaching techniques, such as playing multiball "games" where the student scores if he makes a certain number of shots.

Swing Ping Pong
Here's the video (2:22) of this new ping-pong ball on a thread device.

Table Tennis - Incredible
Here's the new highlights video (8:42).

"Do Yourself a Favor and Take Up Ping-Pong"
Here's the cartoon – and I do believe we've been insulted!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 29, 2016

Jason & Alex Piech: 2016 USA National Championships Promo
Here's the video (33 sec)! Alex and Jason Piech are at our MDTTC last week and this week (I'm one of the coaches), and tomorrow I have a private session with each of them, including some doubles work. This weekend they, along with half our club, will fly to the Nationals in Las Vegas for the USA Nationals. Among numerous other events, the two are playing Under 2700 Junior Doubles together – and Alex is a lefty, with Jason a righty, which is an advantage in doubles – so watch out Vegas!

These two were also the stars of a previous video I linked to here and featured by USATT in April, Kansas City Club Can't Handle Me (3:52). I actually didn't realize until yesterday that they were the two from that video!

You'll note in the new video that Jason (the older one at 9, who has a striking resemblance to former child star Haley Joel Osment of "The Sixth Sense" fame) does this up-down wiggling eyebrow trick. My mom used to do that, and I used to try to copy it, but never could. (The best I can do is slightly raise my right eyebrow.) So I'm jealous. Jason's table tennis nickname, appropriately, is "Eyebrow," while Alex (who turns 7 in August) is "Storm," which is appropriate, considering his energy. (Alex resembles another former child star, Jake Lloyd, from Star Wars 1.)

Jason is pretty active with his eyes – besides the eyebrow trick he spends every minute of his free time reading, and tomorrow his parents are buying three of my table tennis books for him to read on the long drive back to Arkansas. (I think they want to move to Maryland and live at the Maryland Table Tennis Center! They've probably never met so many other table tennis kids their age.) I'll probably blog about our session tomorrow.

So later today I'll introduce them to the techniques and tactics of doubles – where they should stand, what serves to use, how to receive, ball placement, and so on. Not sure if they are ready for circling footwork and control/attack player assignments! (Circling footwork is an advanced doubles footwork where players, after hitting their shot, literally circle back and around so that they can approach the next shot favoring their forehand – but isn't really relevant here, since it's for two righties or lefties, and they are left/righty. Control/attack assignments are where one player focuses on control and setting up his partner, while the partner attacks continuously.)

Maryland and Illinois State Championships, and Westchester and Joseph Bae Opens
They were all run this past weekend, and on by Tuesday they were already processed for ratings! Here they are for the Maryland and for Illinois State Championships, and here's the 4-star Westchester Open in New York and the Joseph Bae Open in California! (Here's the USATT Ratings Page.) The Maryland State Championships were featured as news items by both USATT and Butterfly. (The articles and photos are from my press release.)

The Circular Argument about Boosting
Why is it that nearly every time I bring this up with a USATT official, the response is, "Prove it!" Ummm . . . that's the point! It's circular reasoning where you allow a rule that makes it easy to cheat undetectably, and then refuse to act because there's no "proof" it is happening. Until a year or so ago, when players began complaining about it, many top players openly boosted, and I've seen them doing it all the time. (I'm told that Timo Boll estimated that 80% of top players are boosting.) So as I blogged yesterday, let's bring some common sense to the sport and stop allowing silly, unenforceable rules while allowing all this rampant cheating in our sport, where we honor the cheaters and cheat the honorable ones who don't. (The irony is that while many demand this proof about boosting, the very same ones, when they see players cheating with hidden serves, right out in the open where all can see that it's clearly happening, they don't demand proof – they look the other way and allow it to continue.)

Tournament Officials - Learn 4 Keys to Maximizing Your Performance
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Pragmatists Guide to Table Tennis Cardio Training
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

Is It Okay to Use Illegal Serves?
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.

Zhao Wins 2016 Westchester June Open
Here's the article.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 17 (1989-1990)
Here's chapter 15! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com.

Ask a Pro Anything - Vladimir Samsonov
Here's the new ITTF video (8:45) by Adam Bobrow.

Table Tennis For NepALL
Here's the ITTF video (6:12). "ITTF and United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace launched a 3 year para table tennis project supporting disabled children in Nepal called 'Table Tennis for NepALL.'"

Jun Mizutani Practicing Insane Backspin Serves!
Here's the video (21 sec). Funny thing is that while it may look impressive, many top players can do this type of serve, and I do it all the time in demos. However, what is impressive is that he's actually putting some speed into the serves, and still managing to get the ball to bounce backwards – so he is getting some impressive backspin.

Table Tennis Athlete Working Towards Olympics
Here's the video (60 sec) from 9 News featuring Timothy Wang. (This was from a month ago, but this is the first time I'd seen it.)

Novak Djokovic Plays Table Tennis
Here's the video (5:09) of the world#1 tennis player.

Keep Your Mouth Shut!
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 28, 2016

How to Boost Your Table Tennis Rubber
Here's the article from Expert Table Tennis. This is one was a tough decision on whether to post, so I've decided to let readers to decide on their own on this one. The reality is that boosting is "illegal." However, it's also one of the most unfair rules as it's essentially undetectable, with the result that those who are willing to "cheat" have an advantage over those who will not. At this point, boosting is almost a protest against such an unfair rule – but only if others chime in publicly.

I blogged about this on Aug. 18, 2015 and a few other times. I proposed the Racket Testing Rule to address the issue, but (predictably) it was ignored as the officials in our sport continue to ignore the two big elephants in the room that lead to rampant cheating in our sport – boosting and illegal hidden serves. At this point I doubt if there's a single player in the top 20 in the world who doesn't boost (with the possible exception of outspoken boosting critic Jun Mizutani, though I'm betting he is by now), and the same is true of the top players in the U.S., with the notable exception of Sampson Dubina, who has also been an outspoken critic (along with me) of this continuing problem.

Unlike hidden serves, where you can learn both legal and illegal serves, and use the latter only when the opponent does so and the umpire allows it (and so you aren't serving illegal to gain advantage, which by definition is cheating, but only to take away the opponent's illegal advantage, which I don't consider cheating), you can't just boost when an opponent does – you either boost in advance or you don't.

Powers That Be, boosting isn't a health problem (like speed gluing), and it is essentially undetectable, making any ban silly, so just make any racket that passes the racket testing procedure at a tournament legal, and so level the playing field. Until we do that, we'll just continue to wink at each other while allowing all this rampant cheating in our sport, where we honor the cheaters and cheat the honorable ones who don't. Great message for our kids. (Note – I use the word "essentially" undetectable because I'm told that if we are willing to pay huge sums of money which neither USATT nor ITTF can afford, we can get equipment that would detect boosting.)

The irony is that I've never boosted myself, and don't even know how to – I haven't even read the entire article, though I likely will when I have time. But I've hit with others rackets that were boosted, and there is that extra 10% boost in bounciness as the ball just shoots off your racket with extra spin. I actually consider illegal hidden serves to be an even bigger problem, but it's time we shoot both elephants in the room.

Ping Pong Rabbit Trailer
Here's the video preview (65 sec) of the upcoming animated rabbit ping-pong movie – mark your calendars for July 29 - this looks great! It opens in China on that date, but hopefully in the U.S. as well, or soon afterwards. (The preview is in English, with Chinese subtitles.) The video is labeled as "PingPang Rabbit Trailer," (and I believe "Ping Pang" is a Chinese variant spelling of the sport) but I believe it's actually "Ping Pong Rabbit," as shown in the IMDB entry, which describes it as follows:

"From the animators that brought you The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Corpse Bride With dreams bigger than his small stature, a rural rabbit named Robb hurls himself in pursuit of his province's biggest prize, a storied 'Jade Table' awarded annually to the finest ping pong player in the land. Standing in his path is the fact that rabbits don't play ping pong, and the province's perennial champion is a ruthless monkey who uses the Jade Table to amass power and wealth, with no plans to relinquish either. Robb must prove that rabbits will no longer run scared, and that his improbable ping pong dreams will change not only his future, but also the fate of his entire province."

A New Drill
Here's the new coaching article by Samson Dubina, which starts with the following questions:

  • How can we get both players engaged during a drill?
  • How can we transition from offense to defense and defense to offense during drills?
  • How can we get more effective practice during a three-hour session?

Chinese Coaching Site
If you're Chinese, here's pingpangwang.com and its Shakehands Grip Coaching page. (Is there another page for penhold?)

Ding Ning vs. Liu Shiwen – Point of the Match
Here's the video (46 sec, including slo-mo replay) from the final of the Korean Open this past weekend, with Adam Bobrow doing the commentating. That's Ding Ning getting the edge ball back.

Playing Ping Pong with Rafael Nadal
Here's the video (2:01) from last year, but I don't think I saw it then. He's playing doubles with his coach/uncle Toni Nadal, against WSJ's Ralph Gardner Jr. and former Swedish women's champion Malin Pettersson

Animated Strokes
Here's the repeating gif image, from Steve Worthington, the guy who brought us the new Table Tennis Car Sticker Kickstarter!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 27, 2016

Tip of the Week
Inside-Out Forehand Floppy Wrist Flip.

Maryland State Championships
I ran them this past weekend, Sat & Sun. Here are the results. It was two very long days – I arrived at MDTTC each day at 7:45AM, and didn't get out until nearly 9PM both days. Lots of prize money and trophies were given out, there were many rating points exchanged, and many balls were broken. I was up half the night finishing the paperwork on the tournament, writing the press release, and other timely items – such as this blog. (I plan to do another version as a USATT news item.) The bad news: I didn't get to bed until after 4:15AM, and I have to coach at the MDTTC camp this morning…

Here is a version of the press release I sent out, adjusted for the table tennis audience. (In the version sent to local media, I put in everyone's home city, left out ratings, used more general terms, etc.)

$5000 Maryland State Table Tennis Championships
By Larry Hodges, tournament director

The $5000 Maryland State Championships were held this weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong.

The two biggest winners at the tournament were Zeng "Jeffrey" Xun (29, rated 2549) and Tiffany Ke (11, rated 2260). Jeffrey, a full-time coach at MDTTC with a steady two-winged looping attack and blocking, dominated in Men's Singles, defeating fellow MDTTC coaches Lyu You (17) 4-1 in the semifinals, and chopper/looper Wang Qing "Leon" Liang (20) in 4-0 in the final. Wang defeated lefty penhold looper/blocker Richard Lee (owner of North American Table Tennis and JOOLA USA, and a former national junior champion) in the other semifinals, 4-0. The three coaches are all former stars from China who emigrated to the U.S. to coach, and share a house in Germantown.

Zeng also teamed with student Derek Nie (15, rated 2427) to win Open Doubles over Wang and Lyu. Derek is the #2 player on the USA National Cadet Boys' Team (15 and under). Nie also won Under 18 Boys over Roy Ke (17, rated 2437), who had just returned from a year of training in China.

Tiffany likely became the youngest Maryland Women's Singles Champion ever at age 11. It was probably the youngest final ever, as her opponent in the final was 12-year-old Lisa Lin. It was also one of the closest matches as well, with the score reaching 8-8 in the fifth, with Tiffany scoring the last three points in a row. Both are members of the four-member USA Under 12 Girls Hopes Team. Tiffany is currently #2 in USA Under 12 Girls.

Tiffany also won Under 18 Girls' Singles over Lisa, and Under 15 Girls over Jessica Lin (no relation to Lisa), with Lisa finishing third in that event. Lisa actually defeated Tiffany in Under 15 Girls, but lost to Jessica, who lost to Tiffany – and the three-way tie was decided by games won and lost among the three, with Tiffany coming out on top. (Jessica finished third in both Women's Singles and Under 18 Girls.) The three girls train together full-time at MDTTC.

Ryan Lee, 9, the son of men's semifinalist Richard Lee, won Under 10 over Adrian Yang, 9. Yang was also in the final of Under 12 Boys, where he lost to Alexander Yang (no relation), 11. George Li, 13, won Under 15 Boys over William Huang, 13.

Lixin Lang, 56, won Over 50 Men over Thomas Sampson, 58; Michael Clarke, 69, won Over 60 over Mark Radom, 67; and Gordon Gregg, 74, won Over 70 over Su Liu, 81.

Under 2400 was won by Stefano Ratti over Raghu Nadmichettu; Under 2100 by Ernest Byles over Ronald Chen (age 12); Under 1800 and Under 1500 were swept by Ranjan Bhambroo, over Ara Sahakian and John Miller; Under 1200 by Lance Wei (9) over Giovanni Ratti (12); and Under 1000 by Andy Wu (8) over Lance Wei (9).

Under 4000 Doubles was won by the experienced senior team of Jeff Smart and Steve Hochman over juniors Darwin Ma (16) and George Li (13); Under 2400 Doubles was won by Stanley Hsu (7) and Hanfei Hu (10) over Kurtus Hsu (10) and Lance Wei (9).

Tournament sponsors include the Maryland Table Tennis CenterHW Global Foundation (sponsor of the MDTTC Junior Talent Program); and the Courtyard by Marriott Gaithersburg Washingtonian Center (official tournament hotel).

Washington Post Story on MDTTC and the Maryland Championships
Here's the story that came out on Sunday morning. The reporter and photographer spent half the day there on Saturday.

Illinois State Championships
Maryland wasn't the only state to hold a state championship this past weekend. Here are results of the Illinois State Championships. Here's a picture of the Naresh brothers, Sid (Under 18 and Under 15 champion) and Nandan (Under 10 champion, Under 18 runner-up, and 3rd in Under 15). Here's the non-Facebook version. Both will be at the USATT Supercamp coming up July 10-24 in NJ. (I'll be there as well.) (And look who won Over 55 – my fellow USATT board member Ed Hogshead, who I think ran the tournament. Here's the non-Facebook version.)

History of U.S. Table Tennis – Timmy's Corrections
Just when I thought I was done, Tim pulled me back into the world of History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18. After a thorough proofing, he sent me 48 new corrections to the volume. There goes my Monday night….

Ask the Coach Show

Table Tennis Edge App Update June 25, 2016
Here's the video (75 sec).

Massimo Costantini Leaving U.S. for India
It's gone public – it's been out there for a week now – so I guess there's no need for secrecy. The ICC and USA Olympic Coach has apparently accepted a position as head coach in India. It's unfortunate for the U.S. as we'll be losing a highly successful coach. One source cautioned me that the agreement had to be approved by the government, but there's nothing about that in the article. Here are two articles from publications in India. The Hindu in particular seems a highly reputable source.

11 Questions with Steve Hochman
Here's the USATT interview. This is the same Steve Hochman who won Under 4000 Doubles at the Maryland Championships above and who's volunteered to help out the last three years at my annual camps for disabled veterans. Scary backhand!

2016 Pan Am Junior Championships
Here's the USATT coverage, including articles, results, photos, and almost seven hours of video. USA's Kanak Jha won gold in Under 18 Boys' Singles.

2016 ITTF North America Cup Video Coverage
Here's USA coverage, including articles, results, and over seven hours of video. USA swept gold and silver in both men's and women's singles.

SC Featured: The Puzzlemaster and the Prodigy
Here's the video (6:47 sec) from ESPN, featuring Will Shortz and Kai Zhang. 

Xu Xin Shocks Ma Long to Claim Third Korea Open Title
Here's the ITTF press release.

2016 Korea Open Highlights: Ma Long vs Xu Xin (Final)
Here's the video (12:10). Here's an ITTF press release. And here's a video from ITTF commentator Adam Bobrow, Walking to work, Korea Open final day (11:46). (Here's Xu's forehand to win game one – 32 sec video, including replay.)

Kevin Zhou MVP of Capital Area TT League
Here's the Facebook article and picture, and here's the Capital Area TT League home page, with results of the past season. (This is for players in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area.) 

The Seven Most Interesting Facts About Table Tennis
Here they are, from All About Table Tennis!

Fetch Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 24, 2016

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 – DONE!!! (and Cleaning Up Eyebrows???)
Our My long national nightmare is over. For the past two years weeks, as readers of this blog know, I've been working with USATT Historian Tim Boggan on this volume, and it's done, complete, out the door! Soon it'll join the other 17 volumes at the History of U.S. Table Tennis page, now that it's finished.

Well, almost.

We got through all of Tim's edits yesterday, and finished at 444 pages and 1548 graphics. Then, last night, I spent an hour getting it ready for printing via Createpace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. (This is how I now publish my table tennis books.) But Tim is doing a final proofing, and promises to get back to me with any final edits by Monday. Then I input those, and upload the files to Createspace.com. Within two days it'll get approved for print, and then I order a proof copy sent to Tim. He gives it a final lookover, and then we can order copies.

Life does become fun around that time. I'll be at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas July 3-10; at the USATT Supercamp in New Jersey July 11-22; at a writing workshop in Manchester, New Hampshire, July 22-30; and coaching at the Junior Olympics in Houston Aug. 1-3. If there are any complication on the book that drag into this time, things get complicated.  

Now about those photos. Tim can be pretty picky about things. He notices things that take superhuman senses to notice. We'll bring up a picture on the screen of Eric Boggan playing Dan Seemiller, and I'll notice the quality of the pictures, the action, and so on. Tim? He'll point out the blemish on the floor ("Take it out!"), a window or light in the background ("Take it out!"), the bored-looking spectator ("Take him out!"). I spend a lot of time removing and fixing stuff. He also notices any imperfections that need to be perfected. Yesterday he had me zoom in on a picture of former Iranian champion and USA Team Captain Houshang Bozorgzadeh and (I kid you not) had me darken his eyebrows! (He agreed to let the world know of this. He left early this morning to return to New York.)

The last few days were a bit difficult as I was working with him, coaching at the MDTTC camp, and trying to do all my other work. It got done, and all would be well if I could now sleep for a few days . . . except tomorrow I'll be coaching at the MDTTC camp, and then this weekend running the $5000 Maryland State Championships. (I'm still accepting entries for most events until 6PM tonight.) I cannot wait for Monday . . . except, uh oh, we have another camp all next week, 10AM-6PM. (So I'm counting the minutes until I leave for the USA Nationals in nine days…13,680 to go as of 6:28AM this morning. Of course, right after posting this blog I'm also off to the club to coach at this week's camp.)

Maryland Table Tennis Center Camps
We have camps all summer long at MDTTC. Here's a group picture from Week One, which finishes today. Then we do it all over again the next week; and the next; and so on, all summer! (Only exception – no camp July 4-8, since all the coaches, including me, will be coaching our players at the USA Nationals in Las Vegas.)

Goal-Setting for Drills
Here's the coaching article by Samson Dubina.

USATT Board of Directors Meeting Actions
Here's the list of the two actual actions taken at the June 18 board meeting in New Jersey. (I'm a member of the USATT board.) We met for roughly eight hours, with most of the meeting take up with various reports, as I blogged about on Tuesday. (Here is the USATT Minutes page.)

Experienced Olympians Head List for ITTF-North America Cup
Here's the article.

Zhang Jike Knocked Out of ITTF World Tour Korea Open
Here's the ITTF press release, and here's the home page for the Korea Open. (Side note – Timo Boll just got knocked out as well. Both lost in the first round of the main draw.)

2016 Para Spanish Open Slide Show
Here are the pictures, featuring Team USA.

1947 Table Tennis
Here's the video (10:06). I didn't watch it all, but it starts off with Hungarian Ferenc Sido (big guy on left) apparently defeating Lou Pagliaro in the semifinals of the 1947 Worlds. This was five years before Satoh and sponge at the 1952 Worlds changed everything.

Zhang Jike & Ma Long Training
Here's the video (20:55).

Police Pong
Here's the picture from England. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Hermit Crab Pong?
Here's a picture and short article about an actual hermit crab using a broken ping-pong ball as his home! (Click on image to see larger and incredibly detailed image.)

Send us your own coaching news!

June 23, 2016

It's Fun Hitting with the (Future) Stars!
Yesterday in our MDTTC camp I got to work with someone who I'm guessing you'll be hearing about in a few years – but for now, I'll just call him "Smash," since that's what he likes to do, and I started calling him that during the session. As he will carefully explain, he's not five years old, he's five and a half. He was in my multiball group for three hours, so I worked with him a lot. (I'd worked with him a few times before.) He's got nice strokes, can do footwork drills at a pretty fast pace without missing much, and is already starting to loop. How did he learn all this so young? Well, it helps living near a club like MDTTC. It also helps that his older brother is another fast up-and-coming junior (who you'll be hearing about even sooner), who, as Smash explained, has been teaching him to smash. He has good form, great focus, is very physical, and with an older brother to practice with, the sky's the ceiling.

Or perhaps I've just been hit in the head with a ping-pong ball one too many times. Or perhaps to me it's happened to two too (giggle) many times – yes, that's how many times I was smacked REALLY HARD in the head yesterday. It's part of the profession, but I probably get hit like this perhaps once a month. I got smacked twice in the forehead about five minutes apart by two very hard-hitting kids in multiball, and it left me with a headache.

But then ping-pong is a dangerous sport. One girl yesterday cut her finger trying to pry a broken ping-pong ball into two equal halves, and needed a band aid. The day before one ran into another during a two-player multiball footwork drill, and a player went left when he was supposed to go right, and they collided. And of course we spend a lot of time killing.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
We're DONE – almost. All 26 chapters and the covers are complete; I've even done the advertising flyer for him. However, he has lots and Lots and LOTS of corrections, and tomorrow is correction day. We started on them this afternoon and got through 94 pages worth. We should finish today, and then he'll go home Friday morning – allowing me to focus on resting up for running the Maryland State Championships this weekend.

The final totals: 444 pages and 1548 graphics, and that's just for the years 1990-91. The last volume was an even 450 pages and 1500 graphics. (It was 1499 before I added one just to get to 1500.) Now here's an exercise: imagine taking a picture into Photoshop, and spending some time cleaning it up with various filters, adjusting the contrast and brightness, cropping, and then pulling it into the final document and placing it. Now do that 1548 times. Check back with me when you're done. That's what I've been doing for 15 days.

I did get to read some interesting stuff along the way, and there's a lot of stuff I wrote that's in this volume – probably 20 different articles. I posted one yesterday, "The Ping-Pong Apartments," and may post others later on, if they are pertinent. Most are coaching articles, player profiles, or player analysis. I had a series of articles back then where I'd analyze two top players (international or USA), going over their strengths and weaknesses, and about what each wanted to do tactically against each other.

Ask the Coach Show
Episode #262 (19:05) - Developing Unique Serves

Have You Practiced Your Serves Today?
Just do it!!!

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

Battle for Olympic Seedings at the 2016 Korea Open
Here's the ITTF press release about the battle in Korea for higher seeding at the upcoming Olympics.

Interview with Robert Eriksson
Here's the video (4:12) by Samson Dubina of the Swedish player, who's been playing in the European Super Leagues for the past twelve years.

Datto Ping
Here's the video (70 sec) from Table Tennis England of Datto Ping's launch, showing the benefits of table tennis.  

Table Tennis Strangulation
Something MUST be done about the recent surge of deaths by ping-pong net strangulation.

Send us your own coaching news!

June 22, 2016

The Ping-Pong Apartments
Below is an essay I wrote in USATT Magazine in 1991. (It was then called Table Tennis Today.) Tim is including it in his latest history volume (see segment below). The state of our sport has dramatically improved since then – we have a much better product to sell. We've gone from 100 USATT certified coaches to 692; six full-time coaches to several hundred; one or two full-time clubs to almost 90; and from nearly all clubs using the "winner-stay-on" format to many or most clubs now offering regular leagues. (Note that the "Ec" in "Mr. Ec" referred to the USATT Executive Committee, which is now called the Board of Directors.)

The Ping-Pong Apartments
By Larry Hodges
(First published in USATT Magazine in 1991)

Mr. Ec bought the Ping Pong apartments in 1933.

The first thing he did was to take a tour of the facilities. He found the rooms were unheated, the plumbing broken, and there was no air conditioning. The building was drab and unkept, and rats and cockroaches infested the building. Paint was chipping.

Mr. Ec did not have the money for renovations, and so he couldn't fix up the building. He spent 52 years lamenting what he would do if he only had more money.

In 1985, Mr. Ec. received a grant from the Olympic Committee to fix up the Ping Pong Apartments. Suddenly he had more money than he knew what to do with!

It was a great time for ping pong. According to a Gallup Poll, over 21 million Americans had expressed an interest in the Ping Pong Apartments. Ping Pong was now an Olympic Sport. Yet, for some reason, few wanted to stay at the Ping Pong Apartments, once they saw the condition of the building.

For some reason, the other Apartments always did better. The Football Apartments, the Basketball Apartments, the Baseball Apartments, the Tennis Apartments, even the Bowling Apartments - all of these buildings were full of happy tenants. And the Ping Pong Apartment complexes of Asia and Europe were full. Mr. Ec was determined to do something about this.

He bought ads in newspapers and TV, advertising the Ping Pong Apartments. He sent agents to the other Apartments to do exhibitions, trying to get them to come to the Ping Pong Apartments. He went to the schools, urging kids to come to the Ping Pong Apartments. He sent literature out to everyone, telling them all the advantages of the Ping Pong Apartments. And all of these ideas were good.

But nobody would come to the Ping Pong Apartments.

The rooms are still unheated. The plumbing is still broken. There is no air conditioning. The building is drab and unkept, and cockroaches and rats still infest the building. The paint is still chipping.

Why won't people come to the Ping Pong Apartments?

The purpose of this essay is to point out the difficulties and problems faced in fixing up our sport. Some think we need to only work on our image. Others, myself included, think it is equally important to work on the structure of our sport - what we have to offer potential members.

According to Gallup Polls, 21 million Americans played table tennis last year. Of these, one in 3000 is a USATT member. We have a club for every 80,000 of them. We have a coach for every 210,000 of them. We have a full-time, professional coach for every 3.5 million of them. 78% of our major cities (over 50,000 population) do not have a table tennis club. Most of the clubs that we have are unprofessional and poorly kept. Our tournaments are often shabby and poorly run. Our top players eke out a living for ten years and then are stuck. Our juniors see no future in table tennis and go on to other sports.

What can we do about this situation? "Mr. Ec," the Executive Committee of USATT, is split on this, as they have been since the founding of USATT (then called USTTA) in 1933. Some well-meaning members think all we need to do is work on our image. But for the first time in our history, I think we have a majority for fixing the building. I'm optimistic, but we have a long way to go.

Image is important, and we have to continue to work on it. Television is important if we want our sport to grow. But we need to have a product to sell first.

Why won't people come to the Ping Pong Apartments?

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
The big change is that I'm coaching at the MDTTC camps in the mornings. So for Tue-Thur, my schedule is roughly: get up at 5AM; work with Tim from 5:30AM-9:30AM; coach at camp from 10AM-1PM; work with Tim from 1:30PM until he starts to fall asleep, usually around 4:30PM. Then I spend that night fixing the photos for the next day, writing the next day's blog, plus all my other work….

Yesterday was a big day – we did three chapters, 54 pages, 180 graphics. Here's the current status:

  • 25 chapters completed, plus covers and four intro pages; one more to go! (Plus a day of inputting corrections.)
  • 415 pages (plus covers)
  • 1475 graphics

Ask the Coach Show
Episode #261 (17:10) - Liu Shiwen and Ai Fukuhara (and other segments).

US Rio Contingent Repel LYTTC Challenge in New Jersey
Here's the article and video (7:25). (I was there – you might see me in the background a few times.)

Thank You from the 2016 US Olympic Team
Here's the USATT note and picture.

One World Sports to Present the 2016 Super Micro USA National Championships
Here's the USATT article.

Wanted: Jewish Paralympic Table Tennis Players to Represent USA
Here's the info page.

Practice Makes Perfect: US Olympians Need Work to Prepare for Media Interaction
Here's the article.

12-year-old Japanese table tennis star eyes gold in 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Here's the article.

ITTF's YouTube Channel Reaches 100 Million Views
Here's the press release.

Interview with Willy and Shelly Leparulo
Here's the USATT interview with the President and First Lady of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, by Rahul Acharya.

11 Questions with Sam Smith
Here's the USATT interview.

Mini-Pong: Liu Guoliang vs. Ma Long
Here's the video (42 sec)!

Lobbing from Stands, Switching Sides
Here's the video (32 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

June 21, 2016

USATT Board Meeting
The last few days have been a whir of activity. The main event, however, was the USATT board meeting in New Jersey on Saturday. Alas (or fortunately?), there were no fireworks, no one jumped on the table screaming political slogans, and against all expectations, we didn't vote to build a wall to keep out Chinese table tennis players, and make China pay for it.

I drove up (222 miles) with USATT lawyer Dennis Taylor on Friday afternoon. That night we had dinner with the board and all six USA Table Tennis Olympians – Timothy Wang, Yijun "Tom" Feng, Kanak Jha, Jiaqi Zheng, Lily Zhang, and Yue Wu. I had a long discussion with Cory Eider and Kagin Lee regarding what players should do about hidden serves.

Much of the board meeting the following day was reports followed by discussion. We had a roughly 40-minute discussion with new High Performance Director Cory Eider, where we had updates on the Olympics, National Team, funding, and (most important to me at the moment), the upcoming USATT Supercamp, July 10-24 at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey.

Regarding the USATT Supercamp, 22 of the best junior players from around the country will attend it, including the three Alguetti brothers, Allen and Amy Wang, Michael Tran, Klaus Wood, Tina Lin, and more. Regarding coaches, Cory will be there the entire time, and I'll be there for all but the last two days. Coaching for the first week will be Han Xiao, Wang Qing "Leon" Liang, and Richard McAfee. Coaching the second week will be Sean O'Neill, Lily Yip, and Samson Dubina. I plan to blog daily about it, both here and at the USATT page.

Next at the board meeting was a series of reports from CEO Gordon Kaye regarding membership, clubs, sponsorship & fundraising, tournament and league ratings, the Nationals, ITTF and North American events, finances, USOC matters, and a closed session on personnel. My main interest here was the ratings, which some of you may have noticed haven't run smoothly in recent times, due to problems with the database. They are being worked on. Regarding finances, I believe the financial reports will be posted later.

One rating problem that was fixed was a problem with age group searches. Just last week, if you did a search for, say, under 10 boys, you'd get ten players with ratings from 2300 to 2550 – and when you checked their birthdate, you'd find all ten were born in 2016!!! They are working to fix these problems, with one simple temporary fix that solved most of the problems – the ratings searches no longer includes anyone under age five. (I wonder if we have any current four-year-olds with ratings? I doubt it.)

There was another closed session where we went over various legal matters. Then there was the audit report, where the only highlight was the discovery that some reimbursements to athletes were being listed as stipends, which might make them taxable income, or something like that – so that was changed.

The final discussion was about governance – in particular, the upcoming huge overturning of the USATT Board. There are currently nine members of the board. At the end of this year, four will be leaving, due to term limits – At-Large Director Mike Babuin; Independent Director and current Board Chair Peter Scudner; Player Rep Han Xiao; and National Organization Director Kagin Lee. Independent Director Carolyne Savini only joined the board a few months ago (and had to miss this meeting), and Player Rep Ed Levy lives in England, and can't attend meetings. This means there will only be three "experienced" board members at upcoming meetings – myself, Club Representative Ed Hogshead, and Independent Director Anne Cribbs.

So . . . with Mike's spot opening up, who's going to run for the Board this fall? If interested, contact the USATT Nominating and Governance Committee, which is listed near the end of the USATT Committee page. If you are a glutton for punishment, then go through the USATT bylaws on elections.

After the meeting ended, we headed over to the Lily Yip TTC, about ten minutes away, where they were having a Friends with Paddles Fundraiser, which featured a Men's and Women's team match, with the six USA Olympians taking on local stars. One interesting side note for me – a player walked up to me and asked if I knew who he was. I had no idea. He introduced himself – it was Ken Silverstein! He was one of the top players at my club when I started out in 1976 (at the "late" age of 16), about 1900, and a part-time coach. I took one lesson from him back then where we focused on forehand looping, but as I laughingly pointed out, the lesson "didn't take" – it would be several more years before I finally figured out looping.

On Sunday, the six Olympians were honored at a New York Mets baseball game (here are lots of pictures; here's a picture from Butterfly), with Kanak throwing out the first ball, but alas, I had to get back that night so I could be back at my desk at 7AM working with Tim Boggan on the History of U.S. Table Tennis – see segment below. (I had a pile of work that night, and ended up getting to bed at 2:30AM, and was up again at 6:30AM. That can't happen many more times. Last night I wrote most of this blog, and then stayed up past 1AM fixing up photos for the next day. Also did my class accounting; updated entries, sent out press releases, and sent some emails out about the Maryland State Championships; and made plans for some future classes.)

Maryland State Championships
Time is running out – not only is the deadline to enter the Maryland State Championships this Thursday at 5PM, but there is a hard limit of 32 players in each time slot – so enter now!

Capital Area League
The Capital Area Table Tennis League had their league finals this past Saturday. Here's the nice write-up by League Commissioner Stefano Ratti, with links to results – and most important, info on the Fall season! This past season had 24 teams and 126 players, all in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC area.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18
We hope to finish all 26 chapters by Wednesday, and spend Thursday inputting edits and preparing for publication. Tim would then go home on Friday morning. I'm coaching at the MDTTC camps this week, but I'm only doing the afternoon sessions for now, which start at 3PM. This allows me to work with Tim from 7AM to 2:15PM, then I coach the rest of the afternoon and night, and then I come home and do my usual work, and then get a full three or four hours sleep….

Here's the current status:

  • 22 chapters completed, plus covers and four intro pages; four more to go! The bad news – Tim has alerted me that two of them will be "monster" chapters, like chapter 21, which took us about eight hours to complete.
  • 361 pages (plus covers)
  • 1295 graphics

The Best Table Tennis Blades
Here's the new article from Expert Table Tennis. (Note that I use a Timo Boll ALC – which is listed in the article as one of the "really awesome offensive blades" from Butterfly – and I concur, it's a great blade, and easily the most popular blade at MDTTC.

How to Practice with a Player of Lower Ability
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.

Ask the Coach Show – Yes, They're Back!
Episode #260 (21:30) - Champions Shunned (and other segments).

Top 10 Servers of Table Tennis
Here's the new video (11:09).

Lily Zhang Ready for Olympic Rerun
Here's the article from Olympic.com.

Fan & Liu Bounces Back After Olympic Selection Disappointment
Here's the ITTF press release.

12-Year-Old Harimoto Creates History and Sets Sights on Olympic Gold
Here's the ITTF press release. Here's some video (35 sec).

At Jets Camp, the Fiercest Competition Is the Ping-Pong Tournament
Here's the article from the Wall Street Journal.

Proficiency at Table Tennis Helps LaMonte Wade Turn into a Midwest League All-star
Here's the article.

Witness Olympic-grade Table Tennis Action in City Calm Down’s ‘Border On Control’
Here's the article.

Puzzle Wizard Plays Island Ping Pong
Here's the article on Will Shortz in Hawaii.

Crazy Roller by Fan Zhendong
Here's the video (45 sec, including slo-mo replay and watching player reactions!).

Great Exhibition Point
Here's the video (34 sec) – at least I think it's exhibition, with the lobbing, behind back shots, and crazy finishing shot!

Doubles Behind-the-Back Shot
Here's the video (9 sec).

Angry Paddles
Here's the picture!

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content