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

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

His book, Table Tennis Tips, is also out - All 150 Tips of the Week from 2011-2013, in one volume, in logical progression!!! His newest book, The Spirit of Pong, is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, 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!

June 10, 2016

Day One: Tim Builds a Wall Around Me and Makes Me Pay For It
Tim arrived precisely at 9AM yesterday morning. I'd just put up my blog, and had about one minute of relaxation . . . and then it begins. Within one minute of arriving he's already handed me a stack of pictures that need scanning. 

Then we do the covers. The front are nice shots of the 1990 USA Nationals Men's and Women's Champions, Jim Butler and Wei Wang. The back cover is ten different pictures – Joe Ng, Eric Boggan, Bill Meiklejohn, David Zhuang, Lily Yip, Johnny Huang, Insook Bhushan and Pete May, Sean O'Neill, Diana Gee (with a Parisian backdrop), and Huazhang Xu.

Then we began the interior: Copyright, About the Author, Dedication (to Jim McQueen), and Acknowledgement pages. And then we did Chapter One, which ran from page 5 to 29, and was subtitled, "1990: USTTA Non-Tournament Potpourri." It started off with the political battle and exchanges between President Mel Eisner and (soon-to-be president) Dan Seemiller. There were a number of letters to the editor (published in the USATT magazine, then called Table Tennis Topics). Then came articles such as "Chinese Team Inspires Call for Renewed Ping Pong Diplomacy (by Sheri Soderberg Pittman); "Making Money at the Top" (by me!) and one on Confidence (also by me!); "What is Wrong with the USTTA and What Should We Do About It"; a column by Tom Wintrich where he criticized USTTA's lack of marketing; "Taking the High View"; "White Shirts, Anyone?"; Coaching Corner (by Richard McAfee); "Judge and Decide" (by Dr. Michael Scott); "Rub of the Green" (by Tim Boggan); "Celebrity Golf"; a few obituaries; and a lot more! My quick counts says we've placed 59 graphics so far – but believe me, Tim's barely gotten started!

So it's 29 pages down, about 420 to go….

Alas, I had to leave at 2:30 PM to pick up kids, and then the usual coaching and tutoring (mostly English tutoring this time). Then I went to the back room to work on setting up the MDTTC June Open I'm running this Saturday. (Deadline to enter is 5PM Friday; you can enter online.) Then I headed off to Roy Rogers for 90 minutes . . . to read and critique a short story for a writing workshop I'm attending this summer! (It was the last of the 25 critiques I'd be doing for the workshop.) The story was about seven brides marrying the various parts of a dismembered corpse – I'm not kidding!!!

Today I only have one hour of coaching tonight, so I'll be enslaved by working with Tim from 7AM to about 5PM. (I'm writing this blog on Thursday night – it's past midnight, and I have to be up at 6AM, and I've still got a few things on my todo list that must be checked off or the universe and all of table tennis will blink out.) Then I'm off to the club Friday night to finalize the tournament. Tim gets an off day on Saturday while I'm running the tournament, so perhaps he'll finally get to read one of my books?

My Table Tennis Books
Got some free time learn about table tennis? Here's my Books by Larry Hodges page! It's where you can learn about all eleven books – seven on table tennis, five science fiction and fantasy. And you can also find out there how seven TT and five SF books can add up to eleven! You can also visit my Amazon page and browse the books there.

MH Table Tennis Coaching Blog
Here's Coaching Blog page, with links to 29 coaching articles.

USA Nationals Deadline Approaching
The deadline to enter the USA Nationals is this Sunday, June 12. This is your LAST CHANCE!!! See you there.

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

Australian Open
Follow the action – it's in Melbourne, June 8-12.

ITTF Working Group Concludes Meeting on Format & Structure of Future Major Events with Deloitte
Here's the ITTF Press Release.

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

Killer Push
Here's the video (3 sec) – players these days just don't push like Waldner.

Opponent Surrenders to Around-the-Net Rolling Return of Net-Edge
Here's the video (23 sec including slo-mo replay).

Side of the Table with Two Paddles
Here's the video (18 sec) – can you do what A.J. Carney can do?

Commercial Starring Vladimir Samsonov
Here's the video ad (30 sec) for Oliva Si (an olive oil).

Mini-Pong?
Here's the mini-table, apparently made from scrap parts – and note the two paddles! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall!
Here's the picture – that's one big opponent! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Epic Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (3:10)!

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June 9, 2016

Tim Boggan Arrives
It seems like only January that USATT Historian and Hall of Famer Tim Boggan arrived at my house for his annual two-week stay, where I do the page layouts and photo work for his History of U.S. Table Tennis volumes. And lo and behold, it was just in January that we did Volume 17! (Yes, you heard that – he's done 17 volumes, and it's only gotten us to 1990.) So what happened? Tim's picked up the pace, partly by scanning entire pages from past USATT Magazines rather than typing them up, and then relying on me to fix up the pages so they're readable.

And so here we are, just five months later, about to do Volume 18! This one covers 1990-1991, and like past ones will likely be in the range of 450 pages with over 1000 graphics. Volume 17 was exactly 450 pages, and had exactly 1500 graphics. (I cheated – I think it had 1499, so I added one.)

In recent years, he's been covering roughly two years with each volume, and doing one volume every year. The problem is that every time he covers two years, another year goes by! At that rate it would have taken us 28 years to catch up – in the year 2044, he'd be doing Volume 44, covering 2043-2044!!! (Let's see, I'd be 84, and Tim, who is 84 now, would be 112 and in the prime of his life. Addendum: Tim informs me that he's actually 85, but likes the idea of being only 84.)

If he now does two volumes every year, then he'd be covering four years each year. At that rate, it would take him only eight years to catch up – in the year 2024 we'd be doing Volumes 33 and 34, covering 2021-2022 and 2023-2024. I'd be 64, and Tim 92.

We've been doing this for something like 17 years. We are greatly helped by fellow Hall of Famer and master photographer Mal Anderson, who not only supplies about half the photos, but does most of the photo scanning. When Tim arrives, however, he always has a few folders of photos still needing to be scanned, so I scan those. He also has a printout of the volume, with notes in the margins on where each photo goes. And so I lay out the pages, fix up the photos in Photoshop (most need a LOT of work), put the photos on the page, and type the captions and photo attributions as Tim reads them to me. It's a looooong process. I also do a one-page flyer for him, and maintain the History of U.S. Table Tennis page.

Tim keeps strange hours, typically going to bed by 8PM and getting up around 3AM. For the duration, my typical day will be: Up at 6AM; work with Tim from 7AM-2:30PM; and then do afterschool pickups & coaching, followed by various group and private coaching, typically ending around 8PM. Then I get home around 8:30PM – and go right back to work, on the next day's blog, and on the zillion other USATT and MDTTC items coming up. (Tim spends the 3-7AM period proofing the text and page layouts.)

Weekends will be problematic – I'll be away the next three Saturdays. This Saturday, June 11, I'm running the MDTTC June Open, so no work on that day. (I'll be setting up the tournament on Friday night.) I'm also running the Maryland State Championships on June 25-26. In between I'll be attending the USATT Board Meeting in New Jersey on Saturday, June 18 (driving up on Friday night). Starting June 20, schools will be out, so no afterschool program – but our MDTTC summer camps begin that day, and I'll likely be coaching at least the morning session, and working with Tim in the afternoons. Hopefully we can get it all done before the Maryland Championships, but it'll be close.

Once it's all done, circa late June, Tim will go home, and I'll set the volume up for printing via createspace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. And then – things get busy again!

  • July 3-10: Coaching and playing at USA Nationals in Las Vegas. 
  • July 11-22: Coaching and managing at the USATT Supercamp at the Lily Yip TTC in Dunellen, NJ.
  • July 22-30: Attending "The Never-Ending Odyssey" writing workshop in Manchester, NH.
  • July 30-Aug. 3: Coaching at the Southern Teams and Junior Olympics in Houston.
  • Aug. 8-12: Coaching at MDTTC Summer Camps
  • Aug. 17-21: Attending World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City.
  • Aug. 22-26: Coaching at MDTTC Summer Camps

Coaching & Tutoring
Meanwhile, yesterday I had two one-hour coaching sessions, plus a 90-minute session tutoring a kid on writing. In the first coaching session, with Matt, we spent a lot of time on receive, since he'd been having trouble with certain serves in recent league matches. With Marvin, we spent nearly the entire session working on his forehand loop, with the focus on smooth acceleration and timing. And then 8-year-old Willie spent 90 minutes writing about "Larry Discovers America and Fights Indians" (he's been reading about Columbus and the discovery of the Americas) and "Larry Nukes the World" (self-explanatory, but we both now have this great idea of a machine gun that rapid fires nuclear bombs). I won't bore you with the rest of my day – let's just say many items on my todo list were checked off as I strove to get as much out of the way as possible before Tim arrives and takes up all my time (see segment above).

The Best Table Tennis Bat Cases
Here's the article from Expert Table Tennis.

First Person with Down's Syndrome to Officially Qualify as a Table Tennis Coach
Here's the article from England.

USA Nationals Deadline Approaching
The deadline to enter the USA Nationals (Las Vegas, July 4-9) is this Sunday, June 12. I'm going to make a comprehensive list of everyone who's not there, and we're going to gossip about them. Don't be on my list!!!

Jan-Ove Waldner Top Ten Exhibition Points
Here's the video (3:19) – I don't think I posted this before, but it's great!

Dominic Moore Announces Date for SmashfestV Charity Event in Toronto
Here's the article and video (57 sec). (What follows are excerpts.) Get your paddles ready, the fifth annual Smashfest charity ping-pong tournament will take place July 21 in Toronto. New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore will host the tournament once again, joined by fellow NHLPA members Jeff SkinnerAaron EkbladDarnell Nurse, and Cam Talbot, to name a few, as well as two-time tournament champion Alexandre Burrows. Said Moore, "The idea for the event came from the fact that every NHL locker room has a ping-pong table in it and guys love to play, and so we thought, why not create an event." The tournament aims to raise money and awareness for two causes: concussion research and rare cancer research and advocacy, while providing guests with a fun night filled with celebrity guests, a silent auction, and a chance to challenge their favorite NHL stars to a game of ping-pong.

NBA star Blake Griffin challenges Soo Yeon Lee to a Ping Pong Match
Here's the video (60 sec).

Changes Hands, Dives, Never Gives Up
Here's the video (38 sec) of this nice point.

Have a [Blue Paddle] Drink in Belgium?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

The Best Ever Book of Table Tennis Jokes
Here's where you can get it on Amazon. I just ordered a copy! It came out in 2012 by Mark Geoffrey Young. There's also a kindle version. The book description gives several table tennis jokes – enjoy!

Girl's Ping-Pong Ball Pillow Fight?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

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Send us your own coaching news!

June 8, 2016

Can You Beat the Guinness World Record for Fastest Table Tennis Ball Hit?
Here's the video (1:08). The record was set on Monday, in Poland, at 116 kilometers per hour – which, to us non-metric Americans (that includes me), is 71.92 mph, or about 72. But as you can see from the comments, the form used isn't exactly ideal for table tennis. As one person wrote, "Possibly the worse advert for table tennis. Check out his posture. Surely he ain't the fastest or is it a case that no one else can be bothered."

It's commonly said that table tennis balls are hit up to 100mph. This has been pretty much disproven over and over. Jay Turberville wrote extensively on this back in 2003. In the "Fastest Smash Competition" cited there, the record was 69.9mph. Of course it makes a huge difference where you measure the ball's speed, as it slows down quickly due to air resistance. Speeds are normally measured either by radar guns (which should give the speed pretty close to right off the paddle) or by doing frame-by-frame analysis, where you see how far the ball travels between frames. (You can also measure it by measuring the time between the sound of the ball hitting the racket and the sound of it hitting the paddle, as Jay explains.) 

Hitting the ball the fastest possible would seem, in theory, to mean explosively using every muscle in rapid sequence. In reality, it means putting your weight into the ball with a big body rotation, and then explosively smacking the forearm into the ball – which is what appears to happen in the record-setting shot. Note how the player starts sideways, and ends up with about a quarter body rotation. (This also indicates something coaches have argued about for years – does doing even more body rotation add to speed? There's a limit there, and you really don't need that big a backswing to reach maximum power.)

So what is the fastest a ball can be hit? It's unlikely that the fastest hitter in the world just happens to have been at the Polish event. But it does look like he is approaching the limits of human performance – and I would guess that would likely be in the 75-80mph range, at most. But remember, we've only got a nine-foot table between us!

But it's still fun to say the ball travels up to 100mph in what we like to call the "World's Fastest Sport." (Jai-alai at 188mph says hello. Some quick Googling also has golf at 224.9 mph and tennis serves at 163.7mph. Soft, plastic balls just don't jump off a spongey surface as fast as these other sports!) And of course, a table tennis ball can travel up to 900 mph!

MDTTC Disabled Veterans Camp
I wrote about this in my blog yesterday, and now it's a featured USATT news item! The only down side is that despite sending out emails all day yesterday, I haven't been able to identify each of the players. (I'm terrible with names, but know all of them except the two on far left – and I know the two they are, just not which is which.) MDTTC gave each of them free six-month memberships, and USATT is giving any of them who play in tournaments free USATT memberships.

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

Community Sport Initiation to Table Tennis Learning Facilitator Workshop
Here's the info page on this workshop, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on June 11, 9AM-4PM, for "Persons aged 16 and up who want to start coaching kids aged 6 and up!"

The Secrets of Success - Reversed Version
Here's the article by Aiman Fazeer Yap. "Ping Pong, or table tennis as it is known worldwide, has 5 crucial aspects. These are Spiritual, Technical, Tactical, Mental and Physical."

ITTF Releases Complete List of Teams and Athletes Competing at Rio 2016 Olympic Games!
Here's the ITTF Press Release.

Nguyen Takes out Big Titles at Meiklejohn Senior Open
Here's the USATT article and results by Matt Hetherington.

11 Questions with Mike Mezyan
Here's the USATT interview.

Adam Bobrow: Planet Pong Sizzle
Here's the video (9:46).

Stefan Feth vs. Michael Maze – 1997!
Here's the video (1:54) of these two playing each other as juniors. (Feth is the righty, is a former member of the German National Team, the USA Men's Coach since 2009, and the primary coach of Kanak Jha and many others. Michael Maze, from Denmark, former world #8, is the 2009 European Men's Singles Champion, 2004 Olympic Men's Doubles Bronze medalist, and 2005 World Men's Singles Semifinalist.)

Do You Remember?
Here's a video (46 sec) that takes us down memory lane for those of us who played in the 1970s and 80s.

Matt Besler Translates His Skills from the Ping Pong Table to the Soccer Pitch
Here's the article and video (1:16).

When a Pongfinity Trick Shot Does Not Go to Plan!
Here's the video (14 sec).

Honda Dream Garage Sales Event
Here's the commercial (30 sec) that features table tennis!

Kids Play Ping Pong on Hoverboards
Here's the video (4:35)!

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Send us your own coaching news!

June 7, 2016

Disabled Veterans Camp
Yesterday we had our third annual Disabled Veterans Camp. (Technically, it's a camp for Veterans with Disabilities and members of the Armed Forces with Disabilities.) The camp was 10AM to 1PM, with six players (all marines), five of them more or less advanced beginners who played at a military base. I was the coach, with local Steve Hochman assisting for the third year in a row. Here's a group picture. I'll try to put in names later – being bad with names, I discovered afterwards I wasn't sure about all of them, and so will have to double check. That's Steve on far right, me third from the right. Standing between us is Sergeant Marvin Bogie, who came to the camp two years ago, and is now about 1600 – and is a USATT certified coach!

Trying to do a three-hour clinic is like trying to recite all the digits of pi, the entire history of mankind, and jogging around the world, all in 180 minutes. So I did the best I could. I divided the camp into seven segments. Since there were six, I split them into two groups of three, and Steve and I took turns with each group. In my group, I'd work with one (mostly multiball), one would be on the robot, and the third was on ball pickup. Steve did both live and multiball, with the other two hitting with each other live.

  1. Grip and Stance. Five were shakehanders, one penholder. Most had reasonable grips, but two had their fingers nearly down the middle. Most held the racket too tightly. I went over the importance of a more neutral grip. Then we went over the ready stance, where I showed how a table tennis ready position is like covering someone in basketball, except with hands down.
  2. Forehand. Two of the players tended to hit the ball way off to the side, with no shoulder rotation, so we worked on that. In general, the players had decent basics.
  3. Backhand. Most had surprisingly good backhands.
  4. Footwork. This is where they learned that table tennis is a game of speed, spin, and MOVEMENT! We demonstrated various footwork drills, then went out and practiced them.
  5. Pushing. We taught both forehand and backhand. I went over the importance of doing everything pretty well – low, deep, heavy, quick, angled, and able to go to both corners. I also went over pushing short.
  6. Looping and Blocking. We didn't have as much time on this as I'd like, so we only covered forehand loop (feeding backspin with multiball), and demoed the backhand loop. We also taught blocking the loop.
  7. Serving. The focus was on spin and deception. I went over how to create great spin (grippy and bouncy racket; racket acceleration with arm and especially wrist; and grazing contact), and deception (sheer quantity of spin; semi-circular motion with varying contact; and spin/no-spin combos). I also demoed the various serving motions – pendulum, reverse pendulum, backhand, tomahawk, reverse tomahawk, and windshield-wiper. I did a demo on how backspin pulls the ball backwards, and the big curves you get with sidespin. I also went over fast serves. Then they went out and practiced.

And then we were done! Or were we? We had a little fun for 15 minutes as the players attempted to return my serves. Then I couldn't resist showing off demoing some trick shots – the bounce-back-over-the-net backspin serve; the fifty-foot serve; blowing the ball in the air; etc. Several stayed around for a bit to talk table tennis. Marvin gave a talk to the others about how they could use the GI Bill to go to college.

USATT bought and sent us rackets and balls from Zeropong. The rackets came in during the session, but nobody up front thought to mention it to me, and when I discovered them there after the session, all but one player had left. So I gave that player his racket, and am mailing off the others to the players this afternoon.

Thanks for setting this up goes to USATT Director of Para Programs Jasna Rather; USATT; MDTTC and Wen Hsu; Rachel Jordan (Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program Manager at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center); and super-coach Steve Hochman!

Oh, but we're not done – that night I gave a private lesson to Marvin Bogie, the 1600 player mentioned above. He has a strong backhand – until recently he had short pips, and now with his inverted he can both hit and loop the ball from that side. His forehand needs a little more work as he's trying to transition into mostly looping on that side. He tended to take the ball too much in front, which leads to looping mostly with the upper body and arm, which costs you power and control. (The two often go together.) We spent much of the session focusing on various forehand drills. We also did some work on looping and then hitting with the backhand, and on serve and forehand attack.

How to Make Your Long Push Effective in Matches
Here's the new coaching article from MH Table Tennis.

MDTTC June Open
It's this Saturday at the Maryland Table Tennis Center – and I'm running it! Here's where you can enter online, and here's the entry form. Deadline to enter is 5PM Friday.

Virginia State Championships
Here's the write-up and results

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - May 2016
Here's the video (9:52).

Packers vs Brewers at the Ping Pong Table
Here's the article.

A Little Two-Handed Play?
Here's the video (14 sec).

They're Pinging in the Rain!
Here's the video (11 sec).

Donald Trump Applies for NJTTC Membership
Here's the interview by Daniel Guttman!

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Send us your own coaching news!

June 6, 2016

Tip of the Week
What to Focus on to Improve.

Things Are About to Get Busy
Life is about to get really, really hectic for the next two months. Yikes! (But don't worry, I plan to continue blogging through most of it.)

Starting this morning I'm running a three-day camp, Mon-Wed, at MDTTC for disabled veterans. This is the third year in a row I've run this. This'll also be the third year in a row that Steve Hochman comes in to help out! (We only have one person signed up for days two and three, so unless get some last-minute signups, we may cancel those days. Meaning I'll only have about three hours of coaching those days.) I'll likely blog about the camp tomorrow.

On Thursday morning USATT Historian Tim Boggan moves in with me so we can do Volume 18 of his History of U.S. Table Tennis. As usual, it'll likely be around 500 pages and 1000 graphics - and I have to lay out all those pages and fix up all the photos. Yikes! (Mal Anderson helps tremendously by scanning all the photos in advance.) We'll be on this for about two weeks, normally starting about 7AM (yikes!) with the slave labor continuing until about 2:30PM, when I leave to do afterschool pickups each day (followed by group and private coaching). 

Right in the middle of this I'll be running the MDTTC June Open on June 11 - yes, this Saturday. (You can enter online!) That's followed by my running the Maryland State Championships on June 25-26. Yikes! What complicates this further is that I'll be coaching at MDTTC camps starting Monday, June 20 - and will likely be coaching at them all summer long, Mon-Fri, when I'm in town. (If all goes well, I'll finish with Tim's book before the Maryland State Championships, but we'll see.) 

And then begins the real Odyssey - I'll be out of town pretty much continuously July 3 to August 3. (Yikes!) Here's my schedule:

  • July 3-10: Coaching and playing at USA Nationals
  • July 11-22: Coaching and managing at the USATT Supercamp in New Jersey. (I'll blog daily about the camp while I'm there.)
  • July 22-30: Attending "The Never-Ending Odyssey" writing workshop in Manchester, NH. Complicating factor - I have to read and write up critiques of about 25 stories by other students in advance. The good news - I've already done all but three of them. (Normal people vacation at the beach, Disneyworld, camping, etc. Me? I go to writing workshops...) 
  • July 30-Aug. 3: Coaching at the Southern Teams and Junior Olympics in Houston.
  • Aug. 4: Jump into bed.
  • Aug. 5: Back to work!

After I return from this month-long absence I'll be coaching at MDTTC camps most of the rest of August, along with other regular coaching. However, I will have one more excursion, Aug. 17-21 in Kansas City for the World Science Fiction Convention, where I'll have a reading and other activities to promote my SF novels.

One thing I'm not looking forward to is the driving. After the Nationals I'll be flying home, arriving at 7AM on Sunday, July 11. I'll be home for perhaps a few hours, then I drive up to NJ for the Supercamp, about four hours away. At the end of that I'll be driving up to Manchester, NH, another five hours. After that I'll be driving the 500 miles back home to Maryland. I do not like long distance driving, alas.

Oh, and if you have a request of me between now and mid-August, ask yourself this: "Will the planet blow up if I don’t do it? If yes, by all means ask. If not, then don't ask!!!

How to Play Great Forehand Attacks from the Backhand Corner
Here's the coaching article from Tom Lodziak.

Multiball Champions
Here's the article (with links to video) from Samson Dubina.

Improving Balance
Here's the article by Aiman Fazeer Yap.

7 Reasons Why Table Tennis is Good for The Body and Mind!
Here's the article from MH Table Tennis.

USATT Insider
Here's the issue that came out last week. 

USA Nationals
Here's the online listing of entries for the USA Nationals - you can see them alphabetically, by rating, state, club, or by event. As of this morning, there are 578 entries, but the number keeps ticking up every few minutes. There are few more delights in life than refreshing every few minutes and watching the entries come in! Final deadline to enter is next Sunday. I'm guessing we're going to have a lot more than the usual 750 this year. (Number of entries, 2009-2015, in order: 651, 743, 553, 781, 716, 762, and 771 last year.)

Meiklejohn National Senior Championships
Here are the results. Jimmy Butler had defeated Khoa Nguyen in the Over 40 Final four years in a row, but this year it was Khoa's turn, winning in seven games.

Virginia State Championships
Here are the results (care of Omnipong) - they were held this weekend. Interesting note - in Men's Singles (won by Allen Lin over Vivek Kandasamy), in the 30 round robin matches, the higher-rated player won every match. In the single elimination stage, there were two in the five matches, with a 2150 beating a 2216, and an 1872 player over an 1878 one. There were also zero upsets in Over 60, won by John Olsen (barely!), 11-9 in the fifth over Mike Inger. Mike Levene swept Over 40 and Over 50, made the final of Open Doubles (losing in the final to John Olsen/William Waltrip), made the semis of Men's Singles, and ran the tournament as well. Sunila Dutt won Women's Singles over Ayshwarya Saktheeswaran. Louis Leven won Under 18 over Tyler Hess. 

Trainerbot: Smart Ping Pong Robot
Here's their Kickstarter – "Anytime, anywhere table tennis partner."

Table Tennis Camp for Veterans with Disabilities and Members of the Armed Forces with Disabilities in the Bronx, NY
Here's the USATT info page for the June 15 camp.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 17 (1989-1990)
Here's chapter 12! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com.

Olympic Legends to Play Brazil Stars in Rio Exhibition Match
Here's the ITTF press release. The match, to take place July 10 in Rei de Janeiro, will feature "Legends" Wang Liqin, Jean-Michel Saive, and Jorgen Persson vs. Hugo Calderano (current Pan Am Men's Singles Gold Medalist), Gustavo Tsuboi, and Cazuo Matsumoto.

Funny Color Art of Kids Bouncing Balls on Rackets
Here's the picture. (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Blazing Paddles: A Pong Place
Here's the picture of the Boston restaurant, with Adam Bobrow. (Here's the non-Facebook version, but without Adam's explanation.)

Tray Table Tennis
Here's the picture (click on it for three more). Here's the non-Facebook version of the first picture.

Big Kid, Little Kid (on table) Multiball Doubles?
Here's the video (42 sec)!

Guy Plays Table Tennis On 3 Tables Like A Boss!
Here's the video (30 sec).

Funny Dinner Table Tennis (and a little Car Pong too!)
Here's the video (2:46).

***
Send us your own coaching news!

June 3, 2016

USATT Date of Birth and Citizenship, Ratings Searches, and Nationals
If you are a USATT member, you should go to USA Table Tennis; click on the Update Profile link (on right, under the "Get Your USATT Merchandise Here" ad); log in; click on "Edit my Info"; and check your Date of Birth and Citizenship. If either needs to be added or corrected, email USATT Membership Director Jon Tayler. And then explore the pages, adding additional info as you choose. If you find any problems – and some of this is still being tested – email Jon. (Note that if you are thinking about giving a false DOB or citizenship – DON'T. You will likely be asked to provide proof at tournaments!)

On a side note, there is a chance that when you click on Update Profile, it'll take you to a page that says, "Sorry, you're not authorized to view this page." If so, click on the Dashboard on top right. They are fixing this problem, but as of this writing I'm still getting that. [UPDATE: As of now, shortly after noon, the link now takes me directly to the Dashboard, so I think this problem is fixed.]

On another side note, there have been numerous database problems with age searches in USATT ratings searches. USATT knows about the problem – I've brought it to their attention approximately ten million times – and they are working on this as well. (There seems to have been a problem I think with the Date of Birth field being filled in with Date Last Played, leading to numerous older players being listed as being under one year of age, and so showing up in all the junior age searches. This is being worked on.)

Also note that the first deadline for entering the USA Nationals is this Sunday, June 5. After that, the prices for all events go up $10. Final deadline is June 12. Hope to see you there!

Introspection
Introspection: "The examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes; self-analysis, self-examination." This is an important quality for coaches, athletes, and everyone else, but we'll focus here on coaches and athletes. I'm going to do a little introspection on my own coaching habits, and compare it to a player returning serve, moving the feet, and to running a mile.

A coach should know not only his strengths and weaknesses, but also his tendencies. For example, I've always known that I have a tendency to be too soft on players, i.e. not work them hard enough. At first thought, a reader might think that means I am too soft on players – and while that could be true, it's not necessarily true. The very fact that I examine myself (introspection) and realize this tendency means that I can overcome it.

Let's use the example of a receiver in table tennis. Suppose a player has a tendency to be too passive with his receive. Surprisingly, this doesn't mean he's too passive with his receive – it means that, unless he takes notice, he's too passive with his receive, perhaps pushing too much. But the very fact that he knows this is his tendency means he can tell himself to be more aggressive, thereby overcoming this tendency. Tendency is not what you do, it's what you tend to do if you don't take action.

Regarding that receiver, there really are two reasons why he tends to be too passive. He might not realize he's too passive, and so just does it out of habit; or he might not have developed the techniques for attacking serves, and so tends to receive passively. In both cases, once the player does some introspection and realizes what is happening, he can fix the problem. 

A similar example might be a player who tends to be stationary rather than moving his feet. The very fact that he knows this (introspection!) means that he should take action to overcome it. When I'm tired from a day of coaching, and am playing points with a student, my tendency is to just stand there and keep the ball in play. Since I know this, I consciously get my feet moving between points (perhaps shadow stroking a bit), and focus on moving my feet during points – and so overcome the tendency.

Long ago – over 40 years ago – I ran the mile on my high school track team, which was four laps around the track. My tendency was to start out fast, take the lead, and try to keep it. But by the end of the second lap I'd be slowing, and by the fourth lap everyone would pass me. So I had to overcome this tendency, and hold back some the first two laps. Then, halfway through, I could let myself go – and the result was I ran 4:50 miles and won a number of medals. (By contrast, when I started out fast, I'd be 20 seconds slower as I could barely jog that last lap.)

Going back to coaching, as noted, my tendency is to go soft on players, not working them as hard as they could be worked. (I'm too nice!) But I know this, and so can overcome it. I don't always – some players are in it more for fun or simply won't try hard, and so you have to find the right balance. But when working with a motivated player – or a player who can be motivated (most fall in this category) – a coach who tends to be soft needs to overcome that tendency and push the player to the limit.

Now examine your own playing or coaching. What are your tendencies? Which ones have you already overcome? Which ones do you need to overcome? Once you recognize your own tendencies, you can turn an apparent weakness into a strength!

Interview with Alan Cooke: England’s Performance Coach
Here's the podcast (43:44) from Expert Table Tennis. Items covered include:

  • 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]

Dynamic Table Tennis Warmup
Here's the video (3:28) from Samson Dubina.

Two Table Tennis Paralympians to Compete in the Olympic Games
Here's the ITTF Press Release.

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

25 Little Known Facts About Forrest Gump
Here's the article. Items #9, 13, 18, and 22 are specifically about table tennis.

Not Even Forrest Gump Could Survive This Ping-Pong Ball Gatling Gun
Here's the article and video (3:34). I want one!

Umpire Head Shot
Here's the video (15 sec). I don't remember ever hitting an umpire with the ball, but I once ran all-out into one while going for a shot.

Lola Pong
Here's the new cartoon (from this past Sunday).

***
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June 2, 2016

How Table Tennis Has Changed Since I Started
I started playing 40 years ago in 1976 – and wow has the game changed in the U.S. since then! Here are 21 major changes (actually more, since I've grouped some together).

  1. THEN: Games to 21, serve five times each, 38mm celluloid balls, green tables, white balls
    NOW: Games to 11, serve two times each, 40mm plastic balls, blue or green tables, white or orange balls (but now we're back to only white with the plastic balls).
  2. THEN: We were the United States Table Tennis Association, USTTA.
    NOW: We are USA Table Tennis, USATT. (The change came in the early 1990s, and has led to massive growth, professional leagues, and the huge popularity of the sport.)
  3. THEN: No training centers and perhaps 2-3 full-time coaches in the country. A few tried setting up training centers, but they inevitably failed.
    NOW: 85 full-time training centers and hundreds of full-time coaches, with nearly all of this growth in the last ten years.
  4. THEN: Nearly all clubs used the "winner stay on" method.
    NOW: With the advent of the USATT league rating system, most clubs now have singles leagues.
  5. THEN: The best sponges on the market, Sriver and Mark V, cost $5/sheet
    NOW: The best sponges on the market cost up to $75/sheet, and few of the top-line ones are less than $60. According to the inflation calculator, $5 then should be $21.02 now.
  6. THEN: Dan Seemiller is the best in the country.
    NOW: Dan Seemiller is the best in the country in Over 60.
  7. THEN: Tim Boggan is editor of the USTTA magazine, Table Tennis Topics, and soon would begin his second tenure as USTTA president.
    NOW: Tim Boggan is into Volume 18 of History of U.S. Table Tennis.
  8. THEN: USTTA membership was around 5000.
    NOW: USATT membership is around 10,000. Since 1976 the U.S. population has gone from 218 to 319 million, a 146% increase. Based on that, USATT membership should now be 1.46 x 5000 = 7300. So we're getting better! (Alas, a 10,000 membership is what I call a "round-off error." Let's see where we are a few years from now…)
  9. THEN: First place at the 1976 U.S. Open in Men's Singles was $200. (There were massive protests at the time about this.)
    NOW: First place at the 2015 U.S. Open in Men's and Women's Singles were both $7000 , while at the 2015 Nationals it was $3800 for both Men's and Women's Singles.
  10. THEN: There were very few top Chinese players in the U.S.
    NOW: The floodgates opened, and now former Chinese players dominate in the U.S.
  11. THEN: Convention penhold backhands and lots of forehand flipping.
    NOW: Reverse penhold backhands and backhand banana flipping.
  12. THEN: Huge variety of styles – conventional penholders, pips-out penholders, pips-out backhand shakehanders, defensive choppers, Seemiller grip, hitters, etc.
    NOW: Everyone's a two-winged looper unless you're old and reminiscing about 1976.  
  13. THEN: Short pips used by many.
    NOW: What are short pips?
  14. THEN: Table tennis was an unknown sport.
    NOW: Table tennis is an Olympic Sport. (For humor purposes, I was tempted to say, "Unknown Olympic Sport," but we're actually pretty well known now.)
  15. THEN: When I won the University of Maryland Doubles Championship (circa early 1980s), I found out my partner was going around telling people the medal he'd won was for wrestling.
    NOW: We're an OLYMPIC SPORT!!!
  16. THEN: Ping-Pong Diplomacy of 1971-1972 was a fading memory.
    NOW: We have the 2018 World Veterans in the U.S.!!! (If that runs well, then we'll be bidding for something bigger . . . like the Worlds!)
  17. THEN: Sandpaper's a joke.
    NOW: $100,000 Sandpaper Championships?!!!
  18. THEN: The age of speed glue was approaching.
    NOW: The age of speed glue came and went, but now we have the same effect – perhaps better – with tensored sponges without the hassle of daily gluing and toxic vapors.
  19. THEN: Celluloid balls were erratic, and you had to spin them to find a good one. And training balls were a joke.
    NOW: Celluloid balls are uniform, almost all good, and even training balls are great. But most of the new plastic balls….
  20. THEN: Rackets were made of wood.
    NOW: The more advanced rackets are made of wood and various space-age materials.
  21. THEN: Gerald Ford was President. No presidential table tennis.
    NOW: Obama is president. Presidential Table Tennis!

Amazing Table Tennis Shot
Here's the video (9 sec).

Chinese Olympic Team
Here's the video (45 sec).

Incredible Point From 2015 French National Championships
Here's the video (42 sec) of the point between Adrien Mattenet and Antoine Hachard.

Jun Mizutani and Maharu Yoshimura Exhibition Point
Here's the video (37 sec) as the Japanese stars (world #6 and #19) put on an exhibition for the last point of their match.

Table Tennis "I Love This Game!"
Here's the new highlights video (6:26) set to music.

"How the Masters Play the Game"
Here's the video (15 sec) of vintage table tennis (1950s?), "despite the smoke from nearly 10,000 cigars and cigarettes," and showing "how they make the ball twist and spin and swerve in the air."

Smacking Your Own Backspin Serve
Here's the video (3 sec, repeating) where the player serves backspin, ball bounces backwards, and the player then smacks his own serve with another ball.

Spin Around Cups Serve
Here's the video (15 sec).

USA Junior Star Jack Wang and Hillary Clinton
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Where's the Secret Service – don't they know this guy kills a thousand times a day? And just for the record, Hillary does play table tennis – in this picture she demonstrates proper technique in stepping in for a short ball to the forehand, while husband Bill stands ready to unleash his backhand.

Beach Pong?
Here's the picture!

***
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June 1, 2016

Yin and Yang – Forehand and Backhand?
I was contemplating how many players favor the backhand on short balls, but the forehand on long ones, and realized it was just Yin and Yang. In Chinese philosophy, "this describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another."

Now look at the symbol for Yin and Yang, which is from the page linked above. (Ignore the two dots – perhaps they represent holes in your game?) Imagine the white is your backhand, the black the forehand. Then when the ball lands short (the top of the picture), you only cover a little of the table with the forehand, while covering most with the backhand – all that white up there. But as you move away, the black area increases while the white decreases, as the forehand coverage goes up while the backhand coverage decreases. Yin and Yang!

I'm sure some of you could write more on the various Yin and Yangs in table tennis. And of course it's not all Yin and Yang – some, like myself, sometimes favor the forehand even on short balls. (I can go both ways – sometimes receiving nearly every short ball with my backhand, other times nearly all with my forehand.)

Strange World Veterans Dream
Here's a strange one. The World Veterans Games has been lots of publicity recently, and now it's entered my dreams! Last night I dreamed I was trying to enter the 2018 World Veterans in Las Vegas. Co-chairs Dan Seemiller and Dave Sakai were sitting on big white horses as I approached, also on a big horse. (Not sure the color.) I tried entering one of the doubles events, and indicated as my partner the person suddenly appearing next to me, also on a big horse, but with face obscured. Dan and Dave pointed at him, and he exploded! Then I tried entering another doubles event with another partner, but again they pointed at him and he exploded. This happened over and over as I tried entering doubles events ranging from over 40 to over 80. At the end I was yelling, "Why won't you let me play???" as I woke up.

Here's the picture of Dave and Dan I linked to yesterday, receiving the World Veterans flag, but they must have left their big white horses behind. Here they are again, this time on horseback!!!

MDTTC Open House Video
The video (4:18, by Ming Li) and article were featured as a USATT news item yesterday!

Our Biggest Mistake: Talent Selection Instead of Talent Identification
Here's the article, which is about all sports, but probably applies to table tennis as well.

What Makes a Great Table Tennis Club?
Here's the new article from Coach Jon.

An Interview with USA Table Tennis CEO Gordon Kaye
Here's the interview from NBC Olympics.

US Olympic Team Set to Face Challenge at Special LYTTC Exhibition Event
Here's the article.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 17 (1989-1990)
Here's chapter 11! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com.

Table Tennis in Schools in Czech Republic
Here's the video (2:15) as they do a demo and clinic at a school, part of a nationwide project called, if my online translator is accurate, "one for all and all for table."

Aerobic Table Tennis being in the Northwest Territories
Here's the video (1:47) from Canada.  

Vintage English Tape – 1950s? – Training, Six on a Table, etc.
Here's the video (1:49). Note how the kids were chopping back then!

Pong Cupcakes
Here's the picture.

Darth Maul Changes Weapons
Which is more deadly?

***
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May 31, 2016

Tip of the Week
How to Cover a Short Ball to the Forehand.

MDTTC Open House
Here's a great video (4:18) of the Open House at the Maryland Table Tennis Center this past Sunday, created by Ming Li. The event started at noon and ran for three hours, all free. (Here's the Facebook version.) Here are five photos, also by Ming Li. Throughout the event were periodic raffles - and lots and lots of food and refreshments! Here's a rundown:

  • Things started off at noon with a 30-minute junior training session, mostly for new players, which I ran, assisted by Raghu Nadmichettu and Klaus Wood.
  • Next came the exhibition, where I took on 11-year-old Lisa Lin (member of USA National Hopes Team – top four under 12 girls), and despite the use of an over-sized racket, a mini-racket, an over-sized ball, an under-sized ball, a 50-foot serve, blowing the ball over the net, lying down while lobbing, and some basic cheating (and a well-timed bribe to umpires Lance Wei and Mu Du), I still lost. (I always lose in exhibitions – I play the "bad guy"!)
  • Next was a multiball demonstration by Coach Jack Huang, with many of MDTTC's top juniors taking part, including Mu Du, Ryan Lee, Lisa Lin, and Klaus Wood. (With apologies to any missed.)
  • Next came the Parade of Champions – single elimination with all matches just one game to three points! Coming out on top was Lisa Lin over George Li in the Final. Lisa received $70 in free equipment, while George got a nice new collared Butterfly shirt.
  • Next came the Trick Shot seminar, which I ran, where I demonstrated and taught various trick shots, including the infamous 50-foot serve; the "ghost" serve that bounces back into (and often over) the net; balancing the ball in the air by blowing on it; rallying by blowing the ball over the net. The toss-under-one-leg, serve-under-the-other serve; and finally speed bouncing on the table. (The video above includes shots of the kids trying out these shots.)
  • The afternoon events finished with the Service Seminar I ran, where I went over the various ways to create spin and deception, as well fast & deep serves, and then the players got to practice. 

Navin Kumar's Improved Forehand
Here's the video (2:16), and here's the photo (where I'm "Mr. Miyagi"!). You may know him as "The Bionic Man," from numerous articles such as this USATT article and video (9:22). I had a session with him on Sunday, right after the Open House (see segment above). We're focusing a lot on forehand hitting; on reacting to different shots (topspin and backspin) to his long-pips backhand; random drills (both regular multiball and looping to random spots, where he has to block or smash), and playing regular points (especially receive) to get him ready for the upcoming Romanian Paralympic tournament he'll be playing in a few weeks from now.

World Veterans
They finished on Sunday in Alicante/Elche, Spain, May 23-29, with 4600 players and 150 tables. Here's where you can find results. USA will be running them in Las Vegas in 2018, the first time we've had them since 1990. (They are run every two years.) I've already been asked to do the coverage for 2018, so I'm gearing up for that – and maybe I'll even play! Here are the USA Medalists – here's a picture of them – and other notes.

  • Charlene Liu/Patty Martinez won the silver medal in Women's 60-64 Doubles.
  • Ting Ning Cheung/Chiyako Suzuki won the silver medal in Women's 65-69 Doubles.
  • David Sakai/Dan Seemiller won the bronze medal in Men's 60-64 Doubles; here's a video of them (1:24) playing the last few points of their quarterfinal match. 
  • Donna Sakai/Connie Sweeris finished third in their preliminary group in Women's 65-69 Doubles, alas, but then they went on to win the Consolation bronze medal.
  • Cheng Yinghua defeated six-time German Men's Singles Champion Georg Böhm in the round of 32 (11-9 in the fifth!) in Men's 50-59, before losing in the next round to top-seeded He Cheng Zhiwen of China. In 2018 he'll be eligible for 60-64 singles – he'll be a very strong contender!
  • Here's the ITTF article, Getting to Grips with Organisation, Danny Seemiller Looking Ahead, where they talk about the World Veterans and its coming to the U.S. in 2018.
  • Here's a picture of the "Passing of the Flag," with the World Veterans flag handed off to the 2018 World Veterans Co-Chairs, Dave Sakai and Dan Seemiller. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Better still, here's the video (1:27)!!!

USATT News Items
They have a lot of new stuff on the USATT News Page as well as on the Butterfly News Page, so rather than link to them individually (though I do with some), why not go meander over to these pages yourself and take a looksee? (Disclosure: I'm on the USATT Board of Directors – an unpaid volunteer position – and am sponsored by Butterfly.)

How to Beat Everyone in Your Office at Table Tennis
Here's the new article from Ben Larcombe at Expert Table Tennis.

The Best Table Tennis Books
Here's the new article by Ben Larcombe at Expert Table Tennis. One of my books made the "5 Must Read Table Tennis Books"! (And here it is – buy it and read it, in print or ebook!)

Remembering & Forgetting: Learn to win at 9-9
Here's the coaching article from Samson Dubina. The ability to both remember and forget are paramount in all sports.

How the First 2016 U.S. Olympians Maintained Their Focus
Here's the ESPN article, which not only applies to table tennis, but has a segment on USA Olympic Table Tennis Player Wu Yue.

Doru Gheorghe to Lead Lady Rams Table Tennis
Here's the article on the former USATT High Performance Director and long-time USA Women's Coach, and his new coaching job.

Capital Area Team League
The third and fourth meetings of this season's Capital Area League (DC area) took place on May 14 and 28, both at MDTTC – here are the results. This season there are 24 teams and 127 players.

11 Questions with Tom Roeser
Here's the USATT interview.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov - Irregular Table Tennis Training
Here's the video (3 min).

That's Some Multiball!
Here's the video (45 sec).

That's Some Rally!
Here's the video (35 sec).

2016 Croatia Open Highlights

Ping-Pong Door
Here's the video (39 sec)!

One-Person Table and Racket
Here's the picture – I have one of these! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Memorial Day Paddle
Here it is.

Hilarious Trick Shots and Acting
Here's the video (2:02)!

Non-Table Tennis (mostly) - Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions Review and the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention
[NOTE – the first half of this went up late in my last blog, so I'm running it again.]
My recent science fiction novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, just got its first review in a major site - and it's a great one! Here's the review from the SF Crow's Nest. Some quotes: “There are so many good things in this novel that I’m bursting to share them but that would spoil it for the first time reader.” "Anyway, it’s a marvellous book. Easy reading, fast-paced, lots of surprise plot twists, likeable heroes, a loveable alien and a gripping climax that takes the election right to the wire. Highly recommended.” Here's my March 8, 2016 blog about the table tennis in the novel, and here's the link to the book preview video (80 sec). 

Speaking of my novel, I spent Saturday at the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention, where I was on panels, did a reading, and in general promoted my novel. Yep, I got to hobnob with George R.R. Martin, read a story to a room full of people who had nowhere to go (we lock the doors!), and got to talk to another room full of people about what are the greatest animated films ever - one of the more interesting panels I was on. After much fighting debating, the panel concluded that the top ten of all time, in no particular order, were: The Incredibles; Toy Story 1; The Lion King; WALL-E; Who Framed Roger Rabbit; Spirited Away; Iron Giant; Snow White; Beauty and the Beast; and How to Train Your Dragon. For the record, I fought like crazy for Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo (those two and Pinocchio just missed the final list), and also argued for Up, Rango, and The Lego Movie. (I didn't include the second five on the list above on my top ten list.) We had a final audience vote on the #1, and it ended in a tie between The Incredibles (my #1) and Spirited Away.

***
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May 26, 2016

MDTTC Open House, Balticon, and a Four-Day Weekend!
I'll be mostly away the next four days, mostly at the Balticon Science Fiction Convention, which is Friday through Monday (Memorial Day). However, I'll be back at MDTTC on Sunday (12-3PM) for our Open House, where I'll be doing a demonstration and exhibition; running a Parade of Champions (single elimination, one game to 3 points – you heard that right! – with everyone welcome to participate); doing a trick shot demo (where I teach the 50-foot serve, blowing the ball in the air and over net, backspin serves that bounce back over the net, speed bouncing, playing alone with two paddles, etc.), and a service seminar. I'll be doing some private coaching afterwards.

At Balticon I'm a panelist, and will be doing a reading Saturday night at 8PM (either from my new novel, or one of my short stories). I'll also get to hobnob with fellow SF and fantasy writers, including Guest of Honor George R.R. Martin – who I've met before! Yes, I Know Him!!! (Okay, maybe he'd vaguely recognize me from conventions as that stalker fellow writer he once met.) For you ignorant people scratching your heads and wondering what Martin's rating is and what sponge he uses on his forehand, he's the author of Game of Thrones, now the hit HBO series. He does more kills in a typical chapter than most of you do in your table tennis careers. (I've read all five of the Game of Thrones novels – but they average over 1000 pages, so it's like reading 15 books.) Hopefully they'll sell a bunch of my novel in the dealer's room. 

Of course, the big question in everyone's mind is whether there's a Game of Thrones – Table Tennis connection. And yes there is – here are two! First, there's this "Table Tennis is Coming" meme that someone (not me) created. But far more interesting is this Sesame Street video (5:47) that satires Game of Thrones – except they have three thrones, a wiffleball chair, a golf chair – and a ping-pong chair that's made up of dozens of copper-colored paddles and balls! Here's a picture of the three chairs, which show up at 1:13.  I want the ping-pong chair! (Here's a picture of King Joffrey – RIP – on the actual Iron Throne they are mocking.)

I'm pretty much limping into the weekend – it's been a very physical week, with my students conspiring to move me around the court like sadists. I'm limping from a slightly pulled leg muscle; my arm is sore; and I pulled something in my neck yesterday. Just another Thursday in Larryland. (I've only got two hours of coaching today, plus a one-hour class, so we'll see where things stand tonight.)

But I'll get to mostly rest (other than Sunday…), so hopefully when I start coaching again next Tuesday I'll be fine. But no blog Fri-Mon; see you on Tuesday!

2016 World Veterans Championships
Here's the home page. They are going on right now in Alicante/Elche, Spain, May 23-29. Here's where you can find results. And here's a panoramic video (18 sec) of the playing site – this you want to see! Tables as far as the eye can see - 150 tables, 4600 players. Now I rather wish I were there . . . but it'll be here in Las Vegas, USA, in 2018. 

Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina

Training Video
Here's the new coaching video (32:24) – alas, I think it's in German.

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

Allen Wang Awesome Backhand Receive
Here's the video (9 sec). Kanak Jha didn't know what hit him!

Computerized Table for Table Tennis Training
Here are two videos (2:16 and 60 sec).  

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

7 Ways to Use HP Touchpads After They Stop Working
Here's #2!

Fiery Pong!
Here's the picture.

The Greatest Rally of All Time
Here's the hilarious video (60 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis (mostly) - Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions Review
My recent science fiction novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, just got its first review in a major site - and it's a great one! Here's the review from the SF Crow's Nest. Some quotes: “There are so many good things in this novel that I’m bursting to share them but that would spoil it for the first time reader.” "Anyway, it’s a marvellous book. Easy reading, fast-paced, lots of surprise plot twists, likeable heroes, a loveable alien and a gripping climax that takes the election right to the wire. Highly recommended.” Side note - the ebook version of the novel is on sale for $1.99 - but the sale ends tomorrow (Friday, May 27). Here's my March 8, 2016 blog about the table tennis in the novel, and here's the link to the book preview video (80 sec). 
***
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