Blogs

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!

March 3, 2017

USATT Club Affiliation Fee
On Tuesday night and into the early Wednesday morning hours I was involved in an extensive email discussion with USATT people and others regarding the USATT affiliation fee. For many years, it was kept low because we wanted clubs on the USATT club listing, since that's a primary way USATT gets members - through potential players who find a local club. If a local club isn't listed in the USATT club listing, then they don't find the club, don't get into table tennis, and never join USATT.

But a number of years ago, when USATT had a budget crunch, it raised the rates rapidly, and in just a few years it went from $15 to $75. We lost at least 100 affiliated clubs, and "coincidentally," about 2000 members. Alas, many clubs are happy with their current membership - more players mean crowded tables - and so getting onto the USATT club listing isn't a priority for them - but it needs to be a priority for USATT. (Alas, I can't post emails received, as they are confidential, but I can post what I wrote. Will Shortz, who owns the Westchester Club in NY, is also arguing for lowering the club affiliation fee, for the same reasons.) Below are excerpts from my emails.

When we argue that they [clubs] are getting all these wonderful things (i.e. insurance) for the money, we have to remember that many of these clubs don't need that insurance. (This is why we've discussed the idea of perhaps having two levels, a low standard one, no more than $25/year, and $75 for those who wish insurance.) As I've said, we went from $15/year to $75/year in just a few years, and that's when we lost about 100 clubs, and untold numbers of potential members who went to our club listing, didn't see a club near them because the local club wasn't listed, and so we lost it. (And now our membership, which broke 9500 shortly before we began raising the club affiliation fee, is down something like 2000 members to about 7500.) Think about it - every time a potential player from Baltimore finds our club listing, he doesn't see the Baltimore Club, and so we lose him as a member.  If we lose 100 clubs on our listing, and lose just two members per year as a result, that's $15,000/year, far more than what we'd get from the higher affiliation fee - and those members accumulate year after year so it's really a lot more per year.

#

Actually, when you write, "I believe some of those clubs simply don't care about USATT, don't care about being listed on our website, don't care about our insurance, and don't care about using our products (tournaments, leagues)," we are almost in complete agreement. It's not that they don't care about USATT or being listed on our website, they just aren't high on their priority list. [Technically I'm quoting someone else's email, but since we both agree on it, I don't think that's a problem.]

My point is that we need most of them more than they need us. When the price was low, they joined because it's inexpensive, and we gained members from players who join their club. It's pretty much a fact that a much larger percentage of clubs in the past were USATT affiliated than now; it's 100% true in Maryland, and it's what I hear regularly all over the country, that we have more and more non-affiliated clubs. (Alas, while we want more members, many clubs aren't actively looking for more - they are happy as they are, and so affiliate only if the price is low. We offer them value, just not $75 worth.) [Note - in one of the emails I pointed out that only two of the eight clubs I know of in Maryland are USATT affiliated, when all of them were previously before we dramatically raised the rates.]

I've been "out in the trenches" running or helping to run numerous clubs since the late 1970s (New Carrollton TTC where I started, Prince Georges TTC, Butterfly Wilson TTC, Univ. of MD TTC, Northern Virginia TTC, Beltsville TTC, Club JOOLA, and MDTTC, plus working with dozens of others), and talking to other club leaders regularly, and I guarantee that the price absolutely does make a difference. If you really truly believe there's no difference between $15 and $75, then you've just rewritten the rules of economics. :) More seriously, there was a very noticeable drop in clubs affiliating as the price went up, which was predicted in advance, and now we're down at least 100 clubs and 2000 members for no seeming reason, other than paralleling our dramatically rising cost. The reasons you give about the clubs not caring about USATT, etc., are no different than before, except we now offer more - insurance, which we didn't do before - and yet many joined before, but not now. Sure, there might be other factors, but the quintupling of the affiliation fee is by far the biggest.

If you were running a business, and decided to quintuple your rates, and you were told in advance that if you did this your sales would go down a lot, and you still quintupled them, and sales went down a lot, what would you conclude was the most likely factor in sales going down? I don't think one needs an MBA to answer this. The ONLY serious question here, IMHO, is whether it's worth the loss of club affiliation revenue to regain those 100 or so clubs. I think that's rather obvious as well, though using a two-fold system (more for those who need insurance) is the best idea.

#

Most of our members come from tournament players, but nearly 100% of tournament players start out as club players. When there are fewer clubs, we have fewer club players, and then we have fewer tournament players, and so fewer USATT members. It's a simple cause and effect relationship.

We've already gone over the case of quintupling the club affiliation fee and losing 100 clubs and 2000 members. Here's another example. In the early 1990s, I chaired the club committee. I introduced the Club Catalyst and Creation Program (yes, CCCP, an inside joke), whose goal was to create clubs in every city in the country with a population over 100,000, then 50,000. We set up club directors in I believe 43 states. While there were screams and cries that USATT was trying to take over the clubs and that the program wouldn't work (sound familiar?), we went from 226 to 301 clubs in two years – and membership went up about 2000, from about 5500 to 7500.

Then a new administration came in and wanted to do their own things, and cancelled the program (which had a $500 annual budget for postage and phone calls – no Internet those days), and clubs and membership numbers went back to static for years. But gradually, with the club fee staying the same, its relative price went down, and gradually the number of clubs increased to over 350, and membership to over 9500 – we were on the verge of breaking 10,000. And then USATT had a budget crunch, and took the "easy" way out, increasing the club affiliation fees while assuming that they wouldn't lose any clubs or members, which of course were silly assumptions. (I was at the meeting arguing strongly that they'd lose clubs, members and money this way, to no avail – it's in the minutes if I search around for them.) Anyway, the result was exactly as described above, and now we're back to around 250 clubs and 7500 or so members.

The strange thing is that, despite these facts, I can't seem to get people to understand that it is the number of clubs that has driven the number of members. When we did something that increased the number of clubs, but no change for members, membership shot up 2000. When we did something that lowered the number of clubs, but no change for members, we lost 2000 members. Let's learn from our history.

#

The first thing we need to do is get info – primarily, how many clubs use or need the insurance. Once we have that, then we can work from there to see what the cost would have to be for clubs that want insurance. As to the values listed below, until we add something new that many clubs want, or lower the cost, we won't get back to 350 clubs, or the 450 that we should be at, or the corresponding members we lose by not having them on our club listing.

Why not do a survey of clubs, and explain that we have to go to a two-tier system, and need to know how many clubs need the insurance? Then we might be able to charge those clubs more than $75/year. Ideally, we would include former clubs in the survey – hopefully we still have contact info for former affiliated clubs?

Some of these increases may have been rationalized because of the insurance – not sure. But as I keep pointing out, if we raise the club rate to pay for insurance, and end up LOSING money by doing so (from lost clubs and memberships), then the proper thing to have done would have been to keep the rates lower so as NOT to lose that money.

#

Ideally, I'd still like to see the two-track method ($25 for non-insurance club affiliation), $75 (or more) for the insurance option. Or perhaps sell them separately - $25 for the affiliation [which puts them on the USATT Club listing - which will soon have an interactive map], and whatever more is needed to make the insurance cost-effective, taking into account how important it is that we get them on the club listing.

#

I was told how much money USATT made when they raised the club affiliation fee. My response was to ask how much money we made when we lost 2000 members after raising the club fee. We have to look at the big picture.

Sid and Nandan Naresh on Ellen DeGeneres Show TODAY
Here's a Facebook photo gallery (6 pictures - click on each to see the next) of the taping. It airs on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today at 3-4PM on NBC. (Check your local listing to verify the time in your region.) Someone nobody with a weak forehand named Emma Watson is also on the show. (Hermione from Harry Potter, Belle/Beauty in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast.) Sid, 13 (on Feb. 13, probably after the taping), is rated 2260, and was on last year's USA Mini-Cadet Team; Nandan, 10, is rated 2014. (Let's not forget father Arcot, who has been rated as high as 2066!)
=>BREAKING NEWS - here's the video (4:21)!

How to Recover From a Dip in Form
Here's the article from Tom Lodziak.

How to Hold Your Free Arm During Play
Here's the article and podcast (5:11) from Expert Table Tennis.

3T Table Tennis Training
Here's the video (42 sec) of physical training for TT.

Scientists Tested 3 Ways to Psych Yourself Up - One Was the Clear Winner
Here's the article. (And don't miss the hilarious 49-sec video of the little girl at the end!)

Ping Pong for Parkinson's
Here's the video (1:48). "The Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville just unveiled a new initiative to help people with Parkinson's. Every Wednesday, will be 'Parkinson's Night', when those battling the disease can play for free on their first visit."

The Marvelous 12 live on ITTF Facebook
Here's the article. "The Magnificent Seven, the Dirty Dozen, and now the Marvelous 12; the China trials for the Liebherr 2017 World Table Tennis Championships are here."

2017 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge: Jian Li Ready to Defend Title
Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

U.S. Men's Coach Stefan Feth
Here's a video (13:31) showing highlights of one of Stefan Feth's more memorable tournaments. Here's Stefan's Facebook posting on this:

15 years ago (March 2, 2002) today marks a very memorable day for me. I did not only play well in the 2002 German National Championships, but the tournament was also held in my hometown Koblenz in front of my parents, family and friends. Back then my parents didn't get to see me play much and I will never forget this special day. After years of sacrifices for me from my parents, it was their first time seeing me play in a professional tournament. With the tremendous support of my Coach Andrzej Grubba guiding me through all my matches, I had an incredible run with a third-place finish in Men's Singles, eventually losing to Timo Boll.

In the Doubles, I finished second in Mixed Doubles with Nicole Struse. In Men's Doubles, I had an early exit with my partner, former Men's Doubles World Champion Steffen Fetzner, in the round of 16. Check out some of my highlights with the players below. In this video, we were still playing with the 38mm ball, old service rules, and speed glue, representing our state federations at the German Nationals.

Singles: Round of 32: Nico Christ 4:1; Round of 16: Lars Hielscher WR#68 4:0; Quarterfinals: David Daus WR#120 4:0; Semifinal: Timo Boll WR#3 0:4.

Mixed Doubles: Final: Nicole Struse Wr#41 & Stefan Feth WR#156 vs. Elke Schall WR#55 & Torben Wosik WR#40 1:3.

Ten Hilarious Table Tennis Gif Videos
Here they are! I've linked to many of these individually, but now they are all together on one page.

Four-Way Sit-Down Pong?
Here's the picture!

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March 2, 2017

MDTTC Happenings

  • The Gang's Back Together
    With Coach Zeng Xun ("Jeffrey") back from vacation in China, all our coaches are back in action - and all of them were coaching at MDTTC yesterday. The coaches are Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!), Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, Alex Ruichao Chen, Wang Qing Liang ("Leon"), Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"), Wu Jiacheng, John Hsu, and Wen Hsu. Ten active coaches in one club, often coaching at the same time - that's a lot of coaching!!!
  • Hopes Camp and Tournament
    We're holding it this weekend at MDTTC. The camp is for players under age 13, the tournament for players born in 2005 or 2006 (though players under age 16 may play in the rating events). Here's the USATT Hopes Program Page - see the "Maryland Regional Hopes Training Camp and Trial." I'm one of the hoard of coaches at the camp on Saturday, and am running the tournament on Sunday.  
  • Wootton and Robert Frost
    Wootton High School and Robert Frost Middle School in Maryland (near MDTTC) are among the strongest schools in the country. At the club last night we compiled a list of the players at these two schools. (All of the Robert Frost players will be going to Wootton in the next few years.) Hopefully I haven't missed anybody!!! (We have plenty of other strong junior players, but they don't go to these two schools.)

Wootton High School

  1. Roy Ke, 17, 2428
  2. Derek Nie, 16, 2350
  3. George Li, 14, 2133
  4. Spencer Chen, 14, 2089
  5. Darwin Ma, 16, 1964
  6. Matt Stepanov, 15, 1641
  7. Patrick Chen, 17, 1626
  8. Edwin Yu, 17, 1602
  9. Eileen Chen, 17, 1558
  10. Callie Xu, 15, 992

Robert Frost Middle School

  1. Ryan Dabbs, 13, 2275
  2. Tiffany Ke, 12, 2247
  3. Ronald Chen, 12, 2024
  4. Daniel Sofer, 12, 1646

New Articles/Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis

Try a Little Defense
Here's the coaching tip from Carl Danner.

Butterfly 2017 Arnold Table Tennis Challenge Press Release 2
Here's the article by Barbara Wei. (Here's the first Press Release.)

College Championships

Zoran Primorac - Croatian Legend
Here's the video. He was ranked as high as #2 in the world, won the Men's Singles World Cup in 1993 and 1997 (and made the semifinals four other times), won the silver medal in Men's Doubles at the 1987 Worlds and 1988 Olympics (both times with Ilija Lupulesku), and made the final of Men's Singles at the European Championships in twice and won the bronze four times.

Illinois Table Tennis Association
Here's a nice state association page. Wouldn't it be nice if we had something like this for all 50 states?

Weird Ping-Pong Tables
Here's the picture!

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March 1, 2017

Breaking the Rules?
In 41 years in the sport, I think there has been only one time where I intentionally broke the rules (other than joking around) - and it wasn't as a player; it was as a tournament director. I've run over 170 USATT sanctioned tournaments, and rest assured I try to run them by the rules. But there was this one time, around 1983, when . . . okay, I confess, I broke the rules!!! So sue me. But there's actually a coaching lesson involved.

I was 23 and had only recently began running USATT tournaments (at the Northern Virginia Table Tennis Club) though I'd helped out at a few before. As the tournament director, I'm supposed to do legal draws, right? Well, the day before the tournament I was talking to players at the club, trying to get last-minute players. There was this one player, who shall remain nameless, who said he'd play, but he had a simple condition - he'd only enter if I guaranteed him he could play me in Open Singles.

Now I was perhaps 2200 at the time, and was seeded in the top four at the tournament, with Sean O'Neill and Dave Sakai likely the top two seeds. (Yes, I was playing in it even though I was also running it.) The player who wanted to play me was rated about 2000 - a very good player, but a level weaker than me. But why did he want to play me to the point that he wouldn't enter unless I guaranteed he could play me? As he laughingly (but correctly) explained, he'd beaten me 14 times in a row in practice matches.

Now for some of you, what jumped out in that sentence was "14 times in a row." For others, what jumped out was "practice matches." And there's a big difference between practice matches and tournament matches. It so happened that this player was a very good counterlooper. And so when I played him in practice matches, I liked to take him on in counterlooping battles. We had great rallies and my counterlooping improved - but he won every time. I was determined to improve my counterlooping to the point where I could beat him this way, and later that year I would finally do that - but not yet.

Legally, I can't "fix" the draw like this - players are flipped in at random (taking seeding into account). And why would I do this, fix a draw so I'd play someone I'd lost 14 times in a row to? But I confess. I DID IT!!! I gave him the guarantee, and when I did the draws, I quietly moved him to my part of the draw, and so we played I think in the second round.

Of course, when we played I had no intention of counterlooping with him - I stayed close to the table, opening with loops, then following up with close-to-the-table loops and smashes, and blocking when he attacked. I won rather easily. Afterwards, he was rather irritated, and demanded to know why I hadn't even tried to counterloop. I told him, "Because I wanted to win."

The lesson here for some players is that practice matches are just that - practice. While you should fight to win every time, that doesn't mean you should use the same tactics in practice that you'd use in a big match. Sometimes it's better to use those practice matches to develop a part of your game. I remember when Sunny Li was national junior champion and around 2500, and had these great deep breaking serves. He could serve me off the table with them - if I looped them aggressively, I'd miss too many, and if I looped them back softly, he'd rip winners. (I didn't really have an effective backhand loop, so I was forced to cover the entire table with my forehand if I wanted to loop the serve.) Instead, he was instructed to serve short against me in practice, because I'm very good against short serves, and so he got much better practice that way.

I've run about 170 tournament since the "fixing" episode above, and never did it again. If the powers that be want to remove my tournament director's card for that one, horrible infraction 34 years ago, I'll plead guilty, throw my fate on the mercy of the court, and then go play in the only court that matters, the TT court.

(Side note - I wasn't going to blog this morning. I have to see my tax accountant this afternoon at 2PM, and meant to prepare for that the last few nights - but TT stuff kept getting in the way. I was up past 4AM this morning on other work. So I decided to go to bed, and when I got up, I'd put up a note that there'd be no blog this morning, and then I'd go to work on the tax stuff. But I couldn't sleep, so I ended up returning to my desk after five minutes. I finished the tax work around 6:30AM, and thought what the heck, and so did the blog as well. Now I will go to bed, although I have a suspicion I won't get much sleep.)

2017 SuperMicro US National Table Tennis Championships - Event Listing
Here it is! Note the new Team events on Saturday. I'll blog more about the Nationals later on. 

New Articles by Samson Dubina

How to Practice Effectively ... for just about anything
Here's the video (4:44).

Naresh Brothers to Appear on Ellen Show
Here's the article - they'll be on the show this Friday! I got to work with Sid and Nandan at the USATT Supercamp last July - and I know they'll put on quite a show! (In the picture, that's Sid in front, with brother Nandad peaking over his shoulder.) 

Top National and International Players in Local Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article on the Triangle Club in NC.

Coffee and Drinks with Jimmy Pelletier . . . and Marty Reisman?
Here's the video (60 sec)!

Putting Green Ping-Pong Table?
Here's the picture!

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February 28, 2017

Navin - on the Attack!
Here's video (53 sec) from my session with Navin Kumar last night. He also did a nice write-up to go with it. Many of you already know of him, either from this blog or elsewhere, as "The Bionic Man," since he has a mostly mechanical heart, as well as Parkinson's. (He gives many talks on the latter as a motivational speaker.) Here, for example, is the video The Bionic Man - Navin Kumar (9:22), and here's the USATT article, Navin Kumar: A Passion for Table Tennis.) He's mostly a blocker, with long pips (no sponge) on the backhand, often called a "pushblocker." But we've been working on his attack, especially on the forehand. The video shows his increasingly aggressive forehand. We're working on establishing it more in games.

In last night's session, after hitting crosscourt for a while (as on the video), we did a lot of down-the-line hitting, his forehand from the forehand side to my backhand. The reason is that too often players see him about to hit a forehand, and so camp out for the crosscourt shot. In practice games, I do this all the time, and Navin usually couldn't get the ball past me, since I'm just standing there, waiting.

But at the end of last night's session, we played several games, but with one twist - rather than my usual attack, I played purely consistent, trying to rally him down. I'm pretty consistent, and so can rally like this forever, but I'm playing soft so he can pick shots to attack. Navin made three discoveries.

  1. When I put the ball to his forehand, if he attacked down the line, I often couldn't even touch the ball since I was anticipating the crosscourt shot. He scored a number of points this way before I adjusted. Even if I did get to the shot, as I did more often once I realized he was going to do that, the returns were generally softer, allowing him to continue hitting.
  2. When my returns got too soft or high, rather than smash at a corner he'd smash at my elbow, the hardest place to defend, and thereby stopped me from returning ball after ball.
  3. When I got into a backhand rolling contest into his backhand, I could go on forever against his long-pips dead blocks, but since the shots I'm doing are soft, they are very hittable. Navin was able to look for the right shot to suddenly step around and smash forehands (the inverted side). Sometimes he'd set this up by moving me around, going to my wide forehand and then to my wide backhand, so I'd have to hit those backhands on the move, making them softer.

We had a lot of long rallies, and many ended with Navin smashing, and one game he made it to 9-all. (If I lost, I'd have to turn in my coach/top player union card, right? Navin was also taking advantage of the fact that I'd already done 2.5 hours of coaching when we started up, and he kept moving me around!) He still plays a mostly blocking style, but as we add more forehand smashing to the mix - as well as forehand looping against backspin, which we're feverishly working on - he might start to shock a few of his rivals.

Capital Area League
This past weekend they finished the latest season in the Capital Area Table Tennis League, for players in the Washington DC region (which includes MD and Northern VA). There were four divisions; click on the division to see the results. Congrats to the four division winners: MDTTC Lions, NVTTC One, PPG Potomac, and Rebel Alliance! Sign-ups for the upcoming season has begun; deadline is March 20. 

Pips Out, Enemies Rout: Guide to Short Pips Supremacy
Here's the article by Ying Wang.

Articles/Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis

2017 Swedish Junior & Cadet Open
Here are USA Results.

Qatar Open - Finals Summary
Here's the video (1:11).

Olympians Clash in NCTTA South Regional Final
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

SVTTC Hosts First Family League Night
Here's the article by Angela Guan, featuring the Silicon Valley TTC in Milpitas, CA.

Incredible Ping Pong-playing Robot Earns Guinness World Record
Here's the article and video (3:31).

Nice Backhand by Toomas Libene from Estonian National Championships 2017
Here's the video (30 sec) - the rest of the rally is pretty good too!

Grit: A Complete Guide on Being Mentally Tough
Here's the article. So . . . do you have it? Want to have it? It's a hallmark of all champions!

Trick-Shot Video
Here's the video (3:40) - it's from last year, but I don't think I linked to this one.

Ice Skating Table Tennis Championships
Here's the video (54 sec) from Russia!

Sunny-Side Up Ping-Pong Table?
Here's the picture!

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February 27, 2017

Tip of the Week
Forehand Follow-Through Back into Position.

Weekend Coaching
Well, it's finally happened . . . after a year of zealously keeping Saturdays free from coaching, I've opened it up again, and did three hours of coaching this past Saturday. But don't feel sorry for me, before I did this I cleared up my Thursday schedule so I'm now off on Thur & Fri each week. (Used to be Fri & Sat.) I'll probably gradually pick up more hours on Saturdays, one by one, until I wake up one morning and discover I'm coaching twelve hours that day. Nightmare!!! (Note that my "off days" are really just "writing days.")

Sundays I had three consecutive 90-minute group sessions, as usual. First I ran the Beginning Junior Class, where the focus was on serving, which we did for the first 20 minutes. Then we did the usual series of footwork drills. Training is one hour, then 30 minutes of games, with the group divided in two: The older and stronger players play regular games, while the younger ones play various target practice games, by far the favorite being the "Cup Game." (They stack the cups in pyramids and walls, and then line up to knock them down as I feed multiball. They are actually getting great practice doing this - shhh!)

Next came the Talent Program, which now has 22 kids, roughly 7-12 years old, all invitation only. Many of those kids are really looking good! Each of the coaches were put in charge of 3-4 kids, and led them in shadow practice footwork drills for about 15 minutes. (That was exhausting as I was doing it with them - not easy considering I turned 57 today [Monday] - yikes!) Then we did about 45 minutes of multiball, feeding one student while the others shadow practice behind them, with parents getting the balls with ball nets. Finally they went out to the table for various drills. For one drill we put quarters on the far side of the table (first short, then long), and one player tried to serve on them, then they'd play out the point.

Finally came the Adult Training Session, which I ran. We had eleven players this time, and we did the usual stroking and footwork drills. The last half hour was all serve and attack - I gave them various options to choose from, with each choosing two variations, then they'd each do 7.5 minutes of each chosen drill. One complicating factor is that we had several cases of stronger players who don't drill well, and weaker players who drill better, plus players making changes in technique which hurts their drill performance - so matching them up is tricky.

Then I raced home, and only missed the first 30 minutes of the Academy Awards. (Of the nine nominated films, I was rooting for "Hidden Figures," "Hacksaw Ridge," "Lion," and "Arrival." Oh well.)  Then I saw a 12:45AM showing of "The Walking Dead." And then it was 1:45 AM, and guess what? Rather than try to get everything done in the morning (i.e. later that morning), when I'd be exhausted, I decided, heck, let's get everything done now. So I went through unanswered emails and my todo list like a Tasmanian Devil in a basket of ping-pong balls, crossing items off like Zorro, and guess what? I got mostly caught up on things. (If I gave a complete list of all that I got done last night it'd take up most of this blog.) Even my emails are down to zero unread or unanswered. Then I did the Tip of the Week and most of this blog - and went to bed after 4:30AM. I was up against at 8:30AM, and after finishing this morning's blog, will get to the next item on that dastardly todo list, the MDTTC March Newsletter. And then it's three hours of coaching tonight. Sometime between finishing the newsletter and the 3.5 hours of coaching I have to run some errands (bank, post office), and then I might catch up on sleep - we'll see….

Cousin of USATT CEO Wins Academy Award
One of the producers of "O.J.: Made in America," which won the Academy Award last night for Best Documentary Feature, was Caroline Waterlow, who is a cousin of USATT CEO Gordon Kaye. Congrats!!! (Is this our moment of national fame?)

New Articles and Videos from Samson Dubina

How to Keep Your Wrist Loose
Here's the new article and podcast (7:46) from Expert Table Tennis.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: We Need Less Breaks Between Points
Here's the article from Table Tennis 365, quoting the world #5 and top European.

Qatar Open
Here's the ITTF site for the event held this past weekend, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

Crazy Rally Between Marcos Freitas and Ma Long - Semifinals of Qatar Open
Here's the video (50 sec).

More News Articles
There are new articles on the USATT News Page and the ITTF page.

Pong Gear
Here's a place where you can get things like shirts and mugs with TT slogans!

Foot Countersmash
Here's the video (11 sec, with slo-mo replay)!

Table Tennis Exhibition at Tennis Tournament
Here's the video (2:35) of Don Flowers (left) and Atanda Musa (right, former Nigerian champion) on the tennis court - with a ping-ping table!

New Table Tennis Mannequin Challenge!
Here's the video (47 sec) from the Table Tennis Academy in Montreal - love the outstretched diving kid at the end! Here's an updated list of table tennis mannequin challenges that I know of, with this added at the top as the "Table Tennis Academy in Montreal."

Beachball Pong!
Here's the video (3:13) - is this our sport's future?!!!

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February 24, 2017

Busy Table Tennis Week
This was one of those incredibly busy table tennis weeks. It started with the weekend, where I ran the MDTTC February Open - "The Days the Juniors Howled." Afterwards there were some corrections and lots of accounting, and of course the results sent to USATT for ratings processing - and it was processed on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, I was busy all week coaching. Despite running the tournament on Sat and Sun, on Sunday night I still ran my 90-min beginning junior class (the day's focus: attacking backspin), and ran the 90-min adult training session. (My featured drill for the latter session was serving and following up on long, breaking serves into the backhand.) Afterwards there was the weekly class accounting (for group and private coaching). And then the week began, with the usual private coaching - eight hours the first three days, then off Thursday. (As noted in my "short" blog yesterday, I was up late working on Wednesday, went to bed with a headache, woke up with a headache, and spent much of yesterday with that headache. It's gone now, hopefully for good.)

In between all this was the usual USATT, MDTTC, and other work. Yesterday I wrote a letter of recommendation for Tong Tong Gong, who is applying for an internship with Senator Ben Cardin. A coach was planning a presentation at a school and I helped with that. We're running the Hopes Camp and Tournament at MDTTC this coming weekend, and there was all sorts of work on that. (I'm running the tournament and will be one of the coaches in the camp.) It's for kids born in 2005 and 2006.

On the USATT front the USATT Board (I'm on it) had an email vote on committees, and approved committee chairs for eleven committees, with several more to go. (I was going to blog about that this morning, but decided to wait for the official USATT announcement.) Most were straightforward, two were contested, and I believe three are upcoming, with various complications that postponed their vote.

On the private coaching front, let's see:

  • One student lost to a chopper at the tournament because he didn't take advantage of his serve and forehand follow in the match, often serving and following up with pushes or weak backhand rolls. I showed him how when you play a chopper who chops back your deep serves to the backhand, you get one "free" shot, and you should take it.
  • Another new student is struggling with forehand problems - she keeps reaching forward, almost lunging at the ball, and then either smacks it down into the net or over-reacts by trying to lift it, and goes off the end. We're doing a lot of shadow practice to fix this, but the main fix is for me to go "Duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh" to help time the shots, with her trying to contact the ball as I say "duh."
  • Another student is working on forehand looping, where he tends to reach forward for the ball. We're doing a lot of timing drills on this - I blogged about him previously as the one who actually does it pretty well penhold style - but he's a shakehander.
  • Another relatively new beginning girl has quickly developed a strong forehand, but has trouble with high balls, and needs more backhand work, where she tends to just pat the ball erratically. But she's getting the knack for both now.

New Articles/Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis

Dima Ovtcharov Table Tennis Backhand Tutorial
I may have linked to one or both of these before, but they are worth a second look.

Tactics for Beating a Good Junior Player
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

What It Takes To Be An Olympic Table Tennis Player
Here's the video (3:40) featuring Allen Wang.

Project Table Tennis
Here's the site. Tahl Leibovitz is the CEO/owner. Others listed on the team include Dawn Leibovitz, Mitch Seidenfeld, Sean O'Neill, Jackie Lee, Jimmy Butler, Cory Eider, and Judy Hugh. "Project Table Tennis is a team oriented company which operates nationally throughout the United States implementing, managing or supporting a series of ongoing projects centered around communities and families. Most of our projects utilize Table Tennis as a vehicle to create meaningful relationships between people. Project Table Tennis addresses Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Veterans with Disabilities, Drug & Alcohol Abuse as well as Obesity by serving seniors, youth and children." Their programs include:

  • Workshops & Clinics
  • Private Lessons & Camps
  • Exhibitions & Demonstrations
  • Pro Shop & Equipment
  • Tournaments & Competitions
  • Player Support & Sponsorship

Qatar Open
It's in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 21-26 (the first two days are qualifiers). 

IN or OUT??
Here's the video (29 sec) of the final (spectacular) point of the match between Kenta Matsudaira (JPN, near side)) Liang Jingkun (CHN), with this point winning it for Liang, 13-11 in the seventh, in the first round of the main draw at the Qatar Open. The ball didn't bounce up, just sideways and down, so it was clearly a side - but it's an easier call for us, after the fact and watching on video, then for the umpire in real time.

Longest Point in Modern History?
Here's the short version (40 sec) of this rally at the Qatar Open (10 min 13 sec, 766 shots). Here's a longer version (4:47), narrated by Adam Bobrow, with a short write-up.

Thanks For The Memories Vladimir Samsonov
Here's the article from Table Tennis 365 on Samsonov's exit from the Qatar Open.

Puerto Rican Princess Adriana Diaz "Growin' Up"
Here's the article.

National College Table Tennis Regional Championships

Trump Forehands
Here's the video (30 sec) - I have no idea why Trump seems to be stroking forehands the whole time. (Here's the picture of him looping a forehand I created long before he was elected. Here's a picture where some evil person has photoshopped Wang Liqin's head onto the picture.) I will refrain from making any political comments here….

The International Wrong Pong Association
Here's the page - I'm not even going to comment, just have fun browsing!

Non-Table Tennis - Zombies Anonymous
My short story "Zombies Anonymous" went up at Galaxy's Edge (one of the top science fiction & fantasy magazines) in January (for the Jan/Feb issue), and will stay up until March 1 (Wednesday), so you only have a few more days to read it. It's the lead story - listed first in the table of contents and the cover. It's the humorous story of a zombie math professor and the three steps to not being a zombie. It just got reviewed by Tangentonline, one of the top SF reviewers. "The year for Galaxy's Edge starts out with a piece of flash fiction by Larry Hodges. "Zombies Anonymous" is a cheerful zombie story, where Professor Wills, now a zombie, is happily devouring a family. The daughter Suzy starts to get him to start thinking about controlling his urges to eat every human in sight. It's fun and funny and nicely paced for the maximum comic effect."

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February 23, 2017

I went to bed way too late last night with a headache, and woke up this morning with a headache. Meanwhile, my todo list keeps banging me in the head, further aggravating said headache. I'm going back to bed for a while, and hopefully wake up refreshed and ready to attack that todo list with a tensor-sponge machete. So no blog this morning, alas - call it a sick day, my first in a while. Meanwhile, here's the best table tennis rally ever (22 sec).

February 22, 2017

West Coast Open Cancellation and Past Near Tournament Disasters
As noted in my blog yesterday, the 4-star West Coast Open was cancelled at the last minute due to the venue's mistaken double-booking. Here is the letter sent out to players by tournament director Meng-Yu Wang on this. Here is a notice on this by USATT CEO Gordon Kaye on it. (Not sure why it's not up as a regular news item.) I know that there is going to be a lawsuit against the venue, and USATT will likely get involved. It got me wondering about past such disasters - but frankly, I couldn't think of anything similar. However, it brought back memories of a number of near-disasters! Here's a listing of ones where I was involved. (I'm sure I'm missing an obvious one.)

  • 1993 Junior Nationals in Potomac, MD. I ran the tournament, the only time in our history we've run the Junior Nationals as a separate tournament. (I even got us a $7000 sponsor - that's $11,764 adjusted for inflation - and gave out prize money for the events, the first time we'd ever done that in junior events.) So what was the near disaster? On Saturday afternoon there was a huge thunderstorm, and suddenly all the power went out. We waited an hour or so, and finally had to give up for the day - with no lighting, you can't run the tournament. So I had a feverish night as I rescheduled everything for Sunday. (I think I had everyone start play at 8AM or something.) Anyway, we managed to run and finish every event. (An even bigger disaster followed - the USATT Board, without consulting with me or the sponsor, decided to recombine the Junior Nationals with the Junior Olympics, assuming the sponsor would follow. The sponsor only wanted to sponsor the Junior Nationals in Maryland, and so pulled out. No more prize money.)
  • U.S. Open or Nationals, circa early 1990s. Back when I was around 12, I became a fan of Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist. I spent some time learning many of his tricks, such as (I'm not making this up) tying and untying knots with my toes and picking locks. What does this have to do with the Open or Nationals? Play was supposed to start at 9AM, and many of us were there at 8AM, when the doors were supposed to open. But the doors were locked. More and more people arrived, and by 8:30AM or so there were probably hundreds by the door - but the janitor who was supposed to unlock the door still hadn't arrived. So I studied the lock, and lo and behold, I recognized the type! Using a paper clip and a credit card, I was able to pick the lock - to the rousing cheers of hundreds!
  • Virginia Open, 1977. I still remember all the numbers - I was rated 1496, and beat a 1790 player twice, a 1738 player twice, a 1722 player, and several others in the 1500s and 1600s. My rating was going to explode!!! Except . . . after the tournament, they lost the results! Said somebody must have taken all the draws. And so the to this day the tournament hasn't been processed. Come to think of it, this was a disaster (to me)! Of course, since my level at that time was pushing 1800, I would shoot up in the ratings in my next few tournaments, but at the time I was pretty angry!
  • 1990 U.S. Open. I was part of a crew helping to put the tables into storage afterwards. They were the type that pulled apart into two pieces. We leaned the first against the front of the truck, and stacked all the rest in their like that, perhaps 30 tables (so 60 halves). All of them were leaning slightly toward the front. To make sure they stayed that way, someone was put inside the truck. (Not me!!!) When we arrived at the storage area and opened the truck, we discovered that while going up a hill, all the tables had cascaded backwards, and the person inside was squatting down beneath the last table, which now leaned into the back of the truck. When we opened the truck, he and the last table or two came falling out. If he hadn't squatted down quickly when the tables fell backwards (like dominoes), he'd have been smashed with the weight of 30 tables. (There was, of course, a big disaster at this U.S. Open - the scheduling fell apart, and they ended up falling over a day behind. Another story for another day.)
  • Southern Open, circa 1988. I was the manager in charge of about 12 players from the Resident Training Program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as we prepared to fly to the Southern Open. I had all the tickets. Something came up, and I had to make a phone call right after we arrived at the airport, and used a payphone. (No cell phones back then.) Then we went to United to get our boarding passes. But all of our tickets were gone! I had been holding them, but somehow they had just disappeared! Then I realized what had happened. I practically sprinted back to the payphone - and sure enough, I'd left all the tickets just lying there. Someone was using the phone, but I just reached past him and grabbed the tickets. None of the players I was traveling with ever knew about this - SHHHHH!

How to Play Great Table Tennis in Your 50s
Here's the article and podcast (8:15).

How To Hold the Racket
Here's the four-part series from EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach. I believe I've previously linked to the first three parts. I have not had time to watch them all, but he seems to know what he's talking about.

In Memory of Richard Lee Butler
Here's the USATT obit of the Hall of Famer.

Table Tennis Needs to Follow Chinese Model: Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here's the interview from the India Times, following Ovtcharov winning the India Open this past weekend. He talks about using multiple balls (including one with less spin), the Chinese Super League, his training regimen (and maintaining it as you age), meditation, and fatherhood.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (1990-1991)
Here's chapter 22! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

Table Tennis Equipment Junkies, Here You Go!
Here's EquipmentJunkie.com. It's been out there a while, a site that reviews essentially every TT item. (But remember, if you are an EJ, you have a disease. It can be controlled but never cured. You are the backbone of the equipment industry, without which it would collapse!)

World's Fastest Serve
Here's the video (19 sec) as Adam Bobrow attempts to return the serve of Asuka Sakai. And unlike previous videos I've seen of this kid doing this serve, this time he tosses the ball up six inches, so it's legal! (How good is Sakai? He upset Samsonov at the India Open!)

My New Shirt!
Here's the shirt I just received in the mail. It's an early birthday present to myself - I turn 57 next Monday. I showed it off at the club last night. The kids thought it was hilarious. It became an English lesson for our newest coach, Coach Wu, who is learning English. Helped by an 8-year-old, he was able to sound out the words and figure out the meaning.

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February 21, 2017

Tip of the Week
Hitting Accurate Shots.

$2700 MDTTC Butterfly February Open - the Days the Juniors Howled!
by Larry Hodges

Kids dominated at the tournament this weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD, winning five of the six rating events (the five highest ones), not to mention Under 15 and Under 12. (Here are complete results from Omnipong.) Only in the Open, Over 50, and Under 1200 were the kids fought off. Taking part were 83 players from nine states (MD, VA, PA, WV, NC, NY, OH, MA, and MO, plus DC), as well as players from Nigeria (Azeez Jamiu), Brazil (Lidney Castro) and Ghana (Courage Nanevie), plus of course a number of Chinese stars now playing and coaching in the U.S. - Jishan Liang, Ruichao "Alex" Chen, Chen Bo Wen, and Wang Qing Liang

I ran the tournament, but with great help from Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile (who acted as assistant director) and Wen Hsu, as well as Referee Paul Kovac and Umpire Steven Yeh. Thanks also goes to sponsors Butterfly and the HW Global Foundation.

Jishan Liang, now coaching at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina, won Open Singles over Ruichao "Alex" Chen in an all-lefty final, 7,8,7,8. If you wanted to see ferocious counterlooping, this was the match to see. In the semifinals, Jishan defeated Nigerian Azeez Jamiu, 8,4,9,-7,-9,9. The match was slightly marred by a controversy at 7-8 in the sixth, with Jishan leading. He apparently ripped a winner, but Azeez and some witnesses claimed it went through the net. Sure enough, the net had become frayed and there was a part where the string had broken out of the netting, and so could be pulled apart. But it's a quick judgement call for the umpire, and he called it good (and you can't change a judgment call), and and so the point stood. (We immediately changed nets - that will never happen again I promise!) Azeez took it pretty well after the match, even staying to watch the final.

In the other semifinal, Alex defeated fellow MDTTC coach Chen Bo Wen, 6,5,10,4, in an all-out two-way power display. Few players can rip the ball as hard as these two players, and yet the more savvy viewers may have studied their serve and often controlled receive, which is what sets up those rips.

The most interesting quarterfinal match was Chen Bo Wen's monumental comeback against Lidney Castro from Brazil. Lidney won the first two games at 6 and 12, but an all-out third-balling Chen won the next two at 7 and 3. In the fifth, down 0-4, chen came back to 9-all, only to fall behind 9-10 match point. His next serve was probably meant to be "half-long," with the second bounce at the end-line, but it went a few inches too long, and Lidney absolutely ripped it - just off! And so Chen saved that match point, and won the next two points. Another great quarterfinal match was Jishan's battle with another MDTTC coach, chopper/looper Wang Qing Liang. Jishan won 3-0, 8,7,9, but all three games were battles.

Now we get to the kid-killing part of the tournament - not killing kids, but kids killing everything and winning the top five rating events, three of them by girls. In Under 2400, it was 12-year-old Tiffany Ke (rated 2238) over Courage Nanevie of Guyana, 11,5,9. In the semifinals, she had barely gotten past 14-year-old Spencer Chen (under-rated at 2057), -11,9,-9,8,8. In the other semifinal, Courage also came back, from down 0-2, to win at -5,-7,8,6,4 against 15-year-old Klaus Wood (rated 2363).

In Under 2200, it was 13-year-old Kelly Liang over Claudia Ikeizumi, 4,5,-9,6. In Under 2000, it was 12-year-old Jessica Lin over Nicholas Wetzler, 9,5,7. In Under 1800, it was 8-year-old Stanley Hsu over Justin Hensley, 7,6,8 - is it even legal to win an event that high at that age? Stanley had come in way under-rated at 1406. In the preliminaries, he'd actually lost a deuce-in-the-fourth battle with Justin (rated 1696), but apparently he (or his coach) had figured something out for the final. Justin had a battle in the semifinals, defeating 12-year-old Daniel Sofer at 12,-7,9,-9,8, in a battle between two players with great lobbing skills. Another 8-year-old took Under 1500, with Mu Du over 10-year-old Nicole Deng, 9,-7,-5,7,9. But the junior howling came to an end in Under 1200, which was a family affair as Jordan Dovel (21, coming in with a rating of 932) upset brother Matthew (17, 1121) in another monumental struggle, 9,12,-9,-10,8.

The juniors came back sweep both junior events. In Under 15, it was 13-year-old Kelly Liang (adding to her Under 2200 title) over 14-year-old Spencer Chen, where she'd won one game from down 7-9, and down 5-7 in the fifth, won five in a row. Spencer had won against his younger brother, 12-year-old Ronald, while in the other semifinals Kelly had to come back to win against William Huang, -9,-8,6,6,6. In Under 12, it was 10-year-old Ainish Dassarma over 8-year-old Stanley Hsu, 3,10,7. Both had titanic semifinal matches, with Ainish winning out against 9-year-old chopper Andy Wu, 9,10,-8,-10,6, and Stanley just edging out 9-year-old Ryan Lee, 2,-5,7,-6,9. In the quarters, Andy had to battle back to win against 10-year-old Nicole Deng, -9,-8,8,11,7. In Over 50, however, the juniors were completely shut out, with James Deng winning out over Eugene Zhang, 11,2,5.

MDTTC Butterfly February Open Results
Here are complete results from Omnipong.
(Click on names to see pictures.)
Open Singles - Final: Jishan Liang d. Ruichao "Alex" Chen, 7,8,7,8; SF: Liang d. Azeez Jamiu, 8,4,9,-7,-9,9; R. Chen d. Chen Bo Wen, 6,5,10,4; QF: R. Chen d. Nathan Hsu, 6,8,11; Chen Bo Wen d. Lidney Castro, -6,-12,7,3,10; Jamiu d. Roy Ke, 6,8,-7,9; Liang d. Wang Qing Liang, 8,7,9.
Under 2400 - Final: Tiffany Ke d. Courage Nanevie, 11,5,9; SF: Ke d. Spencer Chen, -11,9,-9,8,8; Nanevie d. Klaus Wood, -5,-7,8,6,4; QF: Wood d. William Huang, 3,9,-9,3; Nanevie d. Naveen Vaddadi, -8,7,3,4; Chen d. Kelly Liang, 2,-9,-6,7,3; Ke d. John Wetzler, 5,-9,7,-12,8.
Under 2200 - Final: Kelly Liang d. Claudia Ikeizumi, 4,5,-9,6; SF: Liang d. Courage Nanevie, 6,4,-3,4; Ikeizumi d. Costel Constantin, 7,8,5.
Under 2000 - Final: Jessica Lin, d. Nicholas Wetzler, 9,5,7; SF: Lin d. William Xu, 11,9,-9,7; Wetzler d. Frederick Nicolas, -7,9,8,6.
Under 1800 - Final: Stanley Hsu d. Justin Hensley, 7,6,8; SF: Hsu d. Nicole Deng, 8,8,7; Hensley d. Daniel Sofer, 12,-7,9,-9,8.
Under 1500 - Final: Mu Du d. Nicole Deng, 9,-7,-5,7,9; SF: Du d. Andy Wu, 9,-4,6,5; Deng d. Debabrata Ghosh, 5,-9,-7,9,7.
Under 1200 - Final: Jordan Dovel d. Matthew Dovel, 9,12,-9,-10,8; SF: J. Dovel d. Stephanie Zhang, -9,11-11,1,8; M. Dovel d. Eugene Zhang, -5,6,-7,8,9.
Over 50: 1st James Deng, 3-0; 2nd Eugene Zhang, 2-1; 3rd Alex Nguyen, 1-2; 4th
James Wilson, 0-3.
Under 15 - Final: Kelly Liang d. Spencer Chen, -8,9,-6,8,8; SF: Liang d. William Huang, -9,-8,6,6,6; Chen d. Ronald Chen, 6,6,4.
Under 12 - Final: Ainish Dassarma d. Stanley Hsu, 3,10,7; SF: Dassarma d. Andy Wu, 9,10,-8,-10,6; Hsu d. Ryan Lee, 2,-5,7,-6,9.

RIP Richard Butler
The USATT Hall of Famer and father of TT stars Jimmy and Scott Butler passed away peacefully on Friday. Here is the Richard Butler 2014 Hall of Fame Induction.

USATT SafeSport Policy Implementation
Here's the USATT article. I blogged about this on January 26. As noted in my February 14 blog, I did manage to get some of the SafeSport requirements narrowed down to mostly those directly involved with athletes. (Note for the suspicious: I already passed the SafeSport background check.)

Cancelled 4-star Butterfly West Coast Open
This weekend they were supposed to have the Butterfly West Coast Open in Livermore, California. Except - the tournament venue accidentally double-booked their gym for the weekend, for both table tennis and volleyball! When the trucks from Butterfly arrived to set up the 36 tables, the gym was already in use with the volleyball tournament, and they were refused entry. And so, very late on Friday night, the announcement went out that the tournament was cancelled! With 244 entries, and many players from around the country flying in, this was a huge "inconvenience" for many. I'm already told there'll be a lawsuit against them. From what I know, the tournament organizers were not at fault.  

Newgy Ohio Open
Here are results, pictures, and video.

Harimoto and the India Open
History was made (and almost made further) as 13-year-old Japanese whiz kid Tomokazu Harimoto made the final of Men's Singles at the India Open, losing in the final (6,8,4,12) to Dimitrij Ovtcharov (world #5 from Germany). Going into the tournament Harimoto was already world #69, easily the best of anyone his age in men's history. To reach the final he defeated in the semifinals Sharath Kamal Achanta (India, world #62) at 7,-5,7,-11,9,9; and in the quarterfinals Robert Gardos (Austria, world #46) at -4,7,8,-8,10,6.

Blocking Class and WKAR Radio
Here's the video (2:03) of Samson Dubina teaching the block. And here is Samson on WKAR Radio (8 min).

New Articles and Podcasts from Expert Table Tennis
These are articles with linked podcast.

Three-Point Forehand Training
Here's the video (51 sec) of 2015 Men's Singles Champion Yijun 'Tom' Feng doing forehands from the corners and middle.

USATT Video Page
Here's the page, jammed full of videos! Bookmark this page (or remember that it's under the "News" tab at http://www.usatt.org) and you'll never go through pong withdrawal again.

Making Table Tennis Great Again
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

How to Protect Your Table Tennis Racket
Here's the video (5:26) from the EmRatThich Table Tennis Coach.

Will Shortz, Master of Puzzles and Ping Pong
Here's the video (5:58) featuring the Ping-Ponging Puzzlemaster!

Why an Olympic Table Tennis Player Came to Memphis
Here's the article and video (22 sec) from USA Today Network, featuring Atanda Musa.

NBA's Devin Booker Exhibits Table Tennis Skills
Here's the video (3:40). Here's the promo video (30 sec) of the NBA Talent Challenge, where Booker says, "My off-the-court skill is ping-pong."

Finding Timo
Here's the picture from Mike Mezyan!

2016 Olympians?

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February 20, 2017

It's President's Day, a Federal holiday, and so I'm off today celebrating the YUUUUGE success of all 45 of our presidents. In other fake news….

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