Larry Hodges' Blog and Tip of the Week will go up on Mondays by noon USA Eastern time. 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. (Larry was awarded the USATT Lifetime Achievement Award in July, 2018.)
NOTE - Larry is on the USATT Board of Directors and chairs the USATT Coaching Committee, but the views he shares in his blog are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of USA Table Tennis.

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
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 fiction, 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 27, 2018

Tip of the Week
Finding Simple Tactics That Work.

MDTTC Spring Break Camp
We had a great first day of camp yesterday. As usual in recent years, I worked with the beginners - though they weren't all exactly "beginners"! I got to work with one five-year-old for the first time. I was expecting to have get him started, but lo and behold, he'd been taking lessons regularly with our coaches, and already had an excellent forehand, a decent backhand when in position (not easy when your head barely comes over the table and so the racket hides the ball when you hit backhands unless you hit from the side), and had incredible focus for his age. He was fun to work with.

There were five in my group. All had played, though two (both about 8) hadn't had formal coaching. With those two, I focused on the basics, while the others did more footwork. By the end of the morning training session, all five were doing the two-one drill.

They had great stroking practice at the end of the session when we did the cups game, where they'd stack cups into walls and fortresses, and then knock them down as I fed multiball.

During break I taught two of the older players (both about 13) the "backspin game." Each serves backspin five times, twice each. (No rallying in this game.) If the ball bounces back into the net, one point. If it bounces cleanly back over the net on one bounce, three points. If it bounces back over the net but takes more than one bonce on the far side, or nicks the net in either direction, it's two points. My record for three-points in a row (i.e. bounceback serves) is 14. I took one turn, didn't do so great, but scored 14 points in ten serves, with four three-pointers and a pair of one-pointers. The two new players played for a while and both did a few three-pointers. Soon they'll be challenging me, so I better go practice!

Seamaster German Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which was held this past weekend in Bremen, GER. Ma Long is back!!! Here are some links.

Mastering the Mental Approach to Tournament Play
Here's the article by Brian Pace.

The Perfect Stroke?
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Ma Long Seeking Number 1 Ranking
Here's the new podcast (25:47) from PingSkills. Other topics covered:

  • Joke of the Week
  • On this Week
  • Tournament Wrap
  • Tip and Drill (Trill) of the Week
  • Advanced Forehand Footwork
  • Chopping Against a Pusher
  • Playing a Backhand Dominant Player

Join my Journey to the Olympics - Estee Ackerman
Here's her Go Fund Me page.

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 21
Here’s chapter 21 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at Chapter 21 covers "Jan/Feb 1994 -Tournaments."

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2018 Qatar Open
Here's the video (5:30).

Westchester Table Tennis Center March 2018 Open Singles Final - Jian Li vs Kai Zhang
Here's the video (22:29).

Mixed-Reality Table Tennis
Here's the video (61 sec) of an "interactive digital table tennis experience."

Around the Bottle Serve Challenge
Here are two new videos.

  • Roy Ke (13 sec) - set to music, with a bottle flip AND a back flip! (This was at MDTTC, my club.)
  • Keenan Southall (65 sec) - set to music, with dancing fire! (Here's the shortened version - 36 sec.)

Play Table Tennis with a PILLOW I Challenge Pongfinity Ep. 13
Here's the video (5:03)!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 26, 2018

I'm coaching this morning at the MDTTC Spring Break Camp, and ran out of time to do my blog. I'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's a Doubles Fighting Pong Cartoon - could one of them be you?

March 23, 2018

Coaching "Future Stars" vs. Coaching "Older Players" and Fixing Bad Habits
There's a huge difference between coaching, say, a young, up-and-coming player, who started out with a good coach and has good basic technique; and coaching either an older player, or one who has technique problems.

Many top players, without extensive coaching experience, can be somewhat effective in working with young, up-and-coming players, since they are basically coaching younger versions of themselves, and are simply molding the player as they hone those good techniques as they player develops. In fact, much of the coaching may be inspirational, where you help the player strive to be the best. There's more to it than this, but there's less creative thinking involved in trying to solve problems, as opposed to continued pushing of the player to higher and higher levels, where the biggest need is often exactly what the top player brings - high-level play as a practice partner. (Alas, there are aspects where a top player with less coaching experience might miss, which may hurt the player eventually, but they are often subtle, and mostly effect the player when he's striving for the highest levels. It might eventually mean the difference between a 2600 and a 2700 player - but both levels are rather high.)

Now compare this to coaching older players and players with technique problems. Older players are not striving to play like younger top players, since they are less physical, and so the coaching is different. But inexperienced coaches often have trouble with this, since their experience is often from their own past as a younger, highly physical player. Even I have to remind myself sometimes that there's little point in having older or out-of-shape players do, say, the 2-1 drill, except as a fitness exercise.

The focus on coaching players with poor technique is either fixing the technique or compensating for it. At first glance, this can seem easy for a top player - he knows what good technique is, and simply shows the player with bad technique what he should be doing. Sounds easy, right? But it's far from that as fixing bad technique is more about identifying the root problem or problems. Changing Bad Technique is tricky, and it takes coaching experience to identify problems and how to fix them. Worse, Technical Problems Often Come in Pairs, and inexperienced coaches often see one problem and try to fix that, without noticing that second one - and so they are doomed to fail since you can't fix one without also fixing the other. Meanwhile, a coach is always walking a fine line, balancing the idea of fixing a player's technique with whether it's worth doing so. If a player has reached a high level of play with techniques that aren't considered sound, that doesn't mean they need to change. The shots might be too ingrained to significantly change for the better, and it might be better to focus on other aspects of the player's game, which might lead to better long-term improvement.

I had this experience in tennis. Because of my table tennis, I had a very strong forehand in tennis, better than some of the tennis coaches at my tennis center. But the rest of my tennis game wasn't nearly as strong. The irony is that because of my "ping-pong technique," I didn't have perfect forehand technique, but I had very good technique on other shots where I wasn't very good, such as my backhand. The good coaches understood that all my years of table tennis meant that my forehand technique was ingrained, and while I lost a small percentage of power because of this, I still hit the ball very hard, with great consistency and accuracy, and so the focus should be on the rest of my game. I had one very bad coach who almost ruined my game by doing the reverse - trying to "fix" my forehand technique, which led to a year where I could barely play as he turned my forehand into a beginner's shot while the rest of my name languished. I finally made a rule - work on every aspect of my tennis game except my forehand, and let me worry about that part. That coach didn't like that, so I finally switched coaches. Soon all aspects of my game improved, and my forehand continued to get better, without "perfect" tennis technique. (I compensated for that small loss of power by often taking shots aggressively on the rise, something that came natural with my "ping-pong technique.")

Some might argue, "But Larry, if you'd listened to the coach, you might have had an even better forehand!" Sorry, but that only would have worked if the coach had gotten me many years earlier, and if I had many hours to work on it. In theory, if I were to devote myself 100% to tennis, 40 hours/week, then perhaps I should have worked on the forehand technique, and after a long period of work, it might have gotten subtlety better. But that's not the real world, in tennis or table tennis, and so it was far more important to work on all the other aspects of my game. There was some frustration that I was winning all my matches by pounding consistent forehands, while losing on my backhand, overheads, volleys, and serves, and all that one coach wanted to work on was my forehand!

So it takes some experience to work with older players or those with technique problems. It also takes judgment, where you work with the player in choosing priorities. Trying to turn a 60-year-old, who has been blocking and hitting for forty years, into an all-out looper is silly, yet I've seen coaches try to do that. Of course, it might be the 60-year-old's choice to do so, in which case it isn't silly - and it's never too late to learn new tricks!

Seamaster German Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which starts today in Bremen, GER, March 23-25, 2018.

How to Make Coaching a True Profession
Here's the article.

Improve Your Table Tennis Fast, Beginner to Advanced
Here's the article from Eli Baraty.

Best Table Tennis Serves Tutorial. (Pt 1: backspin, hook)
Here's the video (20:54) from Pongnews/Tomorrow Table Tennis.

ITTF Foundation Manager Position Announced
Here's the ITTF article.

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

Ten Tips for Sports Parents
Here's the video (60 sec).

Sung Sisters Play in Main Draw for Junior Girls Singles
Here's the article by Bruce Liu.

Indiana University South Bend Hosts National Tournament
Here's the article and video (1:53) featuring the St. Joseph Valley Open this past weekend.

2018 Butterfly Canada Cup Finals

  • Men’s Singles Finals - Jeremy Hazin vs. Antoine Bernadet (35:31)
  • Women’s Singles Finals - Siqian Wu vs. Joyce Xu (24:30)

Book Pong
Here's the picture!

Ghostly White Creatures Play Pong
Here's the video (19 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 22, 2018

Shoulder and Snow
Just a short blog as I'm off for a morning shoulder therapy session to make up for the cancelled one yesterday, due to the snow (about eight inches). I'm still a bit worried about the shoulder as at least once a day I do something that reminds me that there is still an injury in there. Much of the therapy is not about the injury, but loosening up the muscles around it that are constantly pulling on it. (I probably have the tightest shoulder muscles in the history of the galaxy.) As noted in a previous blog, I aggravated the shoulder last Wednesday while tossing a power cord under a table. That's all it took.

Tentatively, I plan to start private coaching with beginners starting Saturday, March 31, and see how it is. I'm leery of testing it against stronger players, where I'd have to get more physical.

Return to Ready Stance Drill
Here's the video (32 sec) from EmRatThich.

To Boost Or Not To Boost …..
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

77 Events in More Than 50 Countries
Here's the article. "The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace coincides with World Table Tennis Day. The International Table Tennis Federation will celebrate with events around the world and will also make a big announcement that day."

Three-way Forehand-to-Forehand Counterlooping Practice
Here's the video (68 sec).

Jan-Ove Waldner Serving Aces
Here's the video (31 sec).

Colorado Rockies Annual Spring Training Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the video (2:50).

Big Paddle Pong
Here's the picture - but is that a badminton or tennis net? (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!

March 21, 2018

It's Snowing
Yes, it's snowing - we're supposed to get 5-8 inches here in Maryland. But that barely affects us, an indoor sport, correct? Well, obviously it does affect us as players have to get to the club before they can take part in the world's greatest indoor sport. We had to cancel our Tuesday night league last night due to weather.

Except why do we insist on believing table tennis is an indoor sport? Do you really need walls around you to play? I once did an outdoor exhibition with Scott Preiss in the rain, with the wind blowing. (Okay, we looked like amateurs.)

Table tennis can be played anywhere. Don't believe it?

10 Fundamental Skills for Modern Table Tennis
Here's the article from Ping Sunday by EmRatThich. Here's the list they cover:

  1. Forehand drive technique
  2. Backhand topspin close to the table
  3. Forehand push and backhand push
  4. Forehand flick
  5. Backhand flick
  6. Backhand loop the underspin ball
  7. Forehand attack the semi-long ball
  8. Learn Forehand fast serve
  9. Forehand pendulum serve
  10. Backhand sidespin serve

Tomorrow Table Tennis
Here are two coaching videos.

2018 German Open Highlights: Kanak Jha vs Cristian Pletea
Here's the video (2:30) of USA's Kanak in the round of 32 of Under 21.

Nicholas Tio Thrives Under Trial and Rises to Face World Stage Again
Here's the USATT article by Richard Finn.

Spin & Smash Table Tennis & Ping Pong Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Glen Head Table Tennis Center and Chess Academy
Here's their grand opening notice for April 6 in Glen Head, NY. Though it's only a part-time club, I like the combining of chess and table tennis - after all, the latter is often called "chess at light speed." Or should we call chess "table tennis at molasses speed"?

Panda Pong Products
Here's the page.

Afghanistan vs. Pakistan Pong
Here's the cartoon!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 20, 2018

Doctors Over 2000
At the 1995 U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas, a player suffered a massive heart attack while playing. I was standing nearby when it happened, and was amazed at the response. Within minutes, he was surrounded by seven doctors and two nurses, all of them players or attendees at the Nationals. The patient survived. So now you know you are safe if you have a medical emergency at a big tournament! Here is a list of the doctors and nurses who saved the player:

  • Dr. Mark Schaffner
  • Dr. Robert Ho
  • Dr. Jiing Wang
  • Dr. Donald Geeze
  • Dr. Grady Gordon
  • Dr. Richard Poole
  • Dr. Michael Scott
  • Nurse Grace Matossian
  • Nurse Mary An Geeze

So there are a lot of doctors who play table tennis. But how many have reached a high level of play, such as over 2000? I'm going to include anyone who is a medical professional referred to as "Dr." (So this includes dentists, and other titles, such as a DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.) I put together a preliminary list of all I could think of, and then asked the question on Facebook on Saturday, and here is the alphabetical list I came up with, with a few notes on some of them. I'm sure there are more, so feel free to post any I missed in comments, and I'll add them to the list. I'm guessing there are a number of former junior stars who went on to be doctors, such as the three listed below from my club (Chris Ko, Vivian Lee, Jessica Shen). I know of other former junior players who went on to become doctors, but they didn't achieve a 2000 rating.

  • Tommy An - former junior star.
  • Donald Geeze - one of the doctors in the story above.
  • Grady Gordon (RIP) - one of the doctors in the story above.
  • Steve Horowitz - famed cardiologist, here's his bio.
  • Dennis Hwang - member of the Resident Training Program for Table Tennis at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the late 1980s, graduated as class valedictorian while training three hours/day. Now a pulmonologist.
  • Chris Ko - former junior star from Maryland Table Tennis Center, author of the book The Ping Pong Diet.
  • Mike Lardon - sports psychologist and former junior star from the late 1970s, made the finals of Under 18 at the Nationals, wrote the book, Finding Your Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life.
  • Tuan Le - has been rated as high as 2434, very active in California tournaments.
  • Vivian Lee - former junior star from Maryland Table Tennis Center.
  • Rick Mueller - star dentist and chopper.
  • Gary Osmanoff - star dentist.
  • Jessica Shen - former junior star from Maryland Table Tennis Center, has her offices right down the street from my house.
  • De Tran - I believe the only doctor to also have made the U.S. National Team, he has been rated as high as 2573, making him the highest rated on this list.
  • Marius Wechsler - Pediatrics expert who has been rated as high as 2182.
  • Norman Yeh - former pips-out penhold junior star.

USATT Hall of Fame
I adapted my blog last Friday on the USATT Hall of Fame into this USATT news item, which they just published.

2018 US Youth National Ranking Tournament
Here's the article by USATT High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio, on the event to be held Sept. 27-30 in Sacramento, CA.

Defenders – Deceive or Die
Here's the article from Table Tennis Spot.

Cary Cup – Unique for Seventeen Years
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Wilmington Table Tennis’ Southeastern Sportsman of the Decade
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 20
Here’s chapter 20 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at Chapter 20 covers "Jan/Feb 1994 - Off Court Views."

Interview with Indian Star Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Here's the interview with the world #49.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - February 2018
Here's the video (23:25).

Moose Playing Table Tennis Phone Case
Here it is!

The Table Tennis of Ageha
Here's the Manga comic! (It says "To be continued" at the end, but I can't find the next segment.)

Send us your own coaching news!

March 19, 2018

Tip of the Week
Your Goal Should Normally Be to Win Playing the Style You Are Developing.

Serving Backspin, Tim's Latest History Book, the Flu, and an Irritating Writing Project
Let's go in order here!

  • Serving backspin. Too many of our local kids don't really have heavy backspin serves. So I'm starting to take it on as a project to solve this problem. Yesterday I gave a short lecture/clinic to eight of them, demonstrating this, and worked with them on it. The key thing is that some have developed the habit of contacting the ball in a certain way, rather than on trying to graze the ball more and more finely for maximum spin. Once they are getting decent backspin, I'm going to introduce them to the backspin game, and then they'll all go crazy competing at it, and soon they'll all be able to serve heavy backspin. What is the backspin game? Everyone gets five or ten serves. If you serve with enough backspin that the ball comes back into the net, you get one point. If it bounces back over the net cleanly on once bounce, you get three points! (Yes, this means serving high on purpose, but that's fine since they'll be learning to put heavy backspin on the ball, and it's easier at first doing it this way.) If you serve so the ball comes back over the net but takes more than one bounce, or nicks the net in either direction, it's two points.
  • History of U.S. Table Tennis: Volume 21. A proof copy would already be in Tim's hands if not for an irritating mistake. I did all the online setup, and the files were approved, and I was about to order a proof copy sent to Tim - but the cost was astronomical, five times the normal rate! I contacted, and they identified the problem - unlike all 20 previous volumes, while setting up the interior for this volume I had neglected to uncheck the default "full color," and check "black and white," so the software thought the entire interior of the 438 page book was full color! (It's all black and white.) It also turns out that the ISBN number is linked to the type of interior, and once set, cannot be changed. After going back and forth with them on this a few times, I finally did a run-around. I recreated the volume again as a new book. The software wouldn't let me use the same title, so I changed the title from "History of U.S. Table Tennis Volume 21" to "History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 21." Notice the difference? Yes, I inserted a comma. It won't affect anything as the title on the cover stays the same. Anyway, I resent the same files for the "new" book, and should be able to send a proof copy to Tim later today.
  • Flu. It's hard to believe, but for the third time this season I came down with the flu. I felt it coming on all day on Thursday (the day Tim left), and it came on full throttle on Friday. That night my temperature hit 102.6. If it had reached 103, I might have gone to the hospital. By Saturday, it was back to around 100, and by Sunday morning the temperature is gone - but I still feel like I just boxed Mike Tyson all weekend. (And I did all the work above on Tim's book while sick.)
  • Irritating writing project. There's a certain person, who shall remain nameless, who has wasted more time with USATT this past year than just about anyone this past decade. The USATT Board of Directors has had numerous discussions about dealing with this person, who used to have several USATT positions, but no more. Over the past year he has sent out an enormous number of long, meandering emails, many of them full of accusations. Because he was in a USATT position, I've spent an enormous amount of time researching his many claims, and invariably found them groundless, with many blatantly false claims. In October I finally told him I was done responding to his emails. He got involved in still another controversy in December, and is now making up things about me and others in his latest complaints to the USATT Ethics and Grievance Committee, the ITTF, and seemingly everybody else in USATT. (Some people should not be allowed behind a keyboard.) Sadly, I have to respond. I don't know if it's sad or great that the claims about me are so easily refuted - he claims I wrote things in emails to him that I didn't write, and I have the emails to prove it. But once again I have to waste time on this person, as do others. I've spent over 75 hours on his issues, and it will break 80 very soon, time that would have been better spent, say, cutting my nails. In fact, the USATT Board of Directors has likely been forced to spend more time this past year on this one individual than on the other 8000 or so members combined - and that has to stop. I will likely write more about this after his latest complaints are officially dealt with by the Ethics and Grievance Committee and the ITTF. It's sometimes hard to stay enthusiastic about USATT work when so much of that work is wasted time putting out fires by this person. Of all the votes I've been involved with on the USATT Board, the only ones I regret are the ones that put this person in a position to do all this time-wasting damage. I was warned about him repeatedly, but I just didn't believe it as until recent times I was seemingly friends with this person and had many intelligent conversations with him in person - but once he starts sending emails, he's a different person. Alas. 

USATT Actions
The actions of the March 12 USATT Teleconference are now online. Congrats to Dan Reynolds, the new chair of the Ethics and Grievance Committee!!!

Polish Open
Here's the home page for the Polish Open, held this past weekend in Spala, POL - check out the results, news items, pictures, and video!

How to Spin the Ball Like a Pro
Here's the article from Ping Pong Passion.

Training With Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Anton Kallberg @ Dusseldorf Table Tennis
Here's the video (18:06) from Arnaud Scheen.

You Don't Have to Be a Superstar to Make Great Shots
Here's the video (3:08) of the Top Ten Rallies by Quinn Baker (rated 1916, recently 1964).

Zheng Pu Jumping Barriers
Here's the video (10 sec) - a little physical training anyone? (He's rated 2618.)

Ping-Pong for Charity
Here are the latest pictures and videos.

A Perfect Performance and Lucky Socks
Here's the ITTF article on the Oceania Championships.

Timo Boll, Age 4 and Now
Here's the video (1:44).

Serving Down the Line

Chop-Lob Receive
Here's the video (6 sec) of the ultimate in "short receive," by Adam Bobrow (far side). I do this regularly with my students!

JENGA Ping Pong Trick Shots I Pongfinity
Here's the video (2:58)!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 16, 2018

USATT Hall of Fame
Every major sport has a Hall of Fame where fans can read about their favorite stars and learn about others. The USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame was created in 1979 - after a "false start" in 1966 (read about this in the History of the Hall of Fame). Steve Isaacson was the primary mover in its creation. The Hall honors the greatest table tennis players, officials, and contributors since USATT (then USTTA) was formed in 1933.

Now there are an even 150 members - 97 players and 53 officials/contributors. (Note that there were no inductions in 2016, the year USATT switched the Nationals from December to July.) Each year potential inductees are Nominated, and then the Hall of Fame Committee (President Sean O'Neill, Tim Boggan, Dean Johnson, Patty Martinez, Scott Gordon, Mal Anderson, Dick Hicks, Donna Sakai, and Yvonne Kronlage) adds their own choices, and then they vote. Anyone who gets a 2/3 majority is inducted.  

There is an Annual Dinner at the USA Nationals in July where that year's inductees are inducted, with a roughly 15-minute presentation on each of them, followed by an acceptance speech. There is also an annual Mark Matthews Lifetime Achievement Award. About a hundred people attend the dinner each year - if you are at the Nationals, you don't want to miss this! You'll get to hobnob with both the current and past inductees who attend. (Disclosure - I'm a 2003 inductee.) I'll be there - stop by and say hello!

Some of the regular attendees include Sean O'Neill, Dan Seemiller, Insook Bhushan & Shekar Bhushan, Dave & Donna Sakai, Dell & Connie Sweeris, Lily Yip, Patty Martinez, Tim Boggan, Jack Howard, Houshang Bozorgzadeh, Dick Hicks, Barbara Kaminsky, Yvonne Kronlage, Scott Gordon, Mal Anderson, Dean Johnson, Dick Evans, Si Wasserman, Judy Hoarfrost and Jim McQueen, with apologies to those left out.  

Want to help out? Here's the Donation page! There are also In Memoriam and Retrospectives pages.

One of my little pet projects was to get all the Hall of Fame programs online - all 34 of them, starting in 1979. I ran into difficulties as I couldn't locate the one from 1989, but Donna Sakai found one in her files and sent it to me. I scanned all of them (except for the last eight, which I had created and had the PDFs), fixed them up, and sent them to Sean O'Neill (who chairs the Hall of Fame Committee), and he put them all online. I also compiled a year-by-year listing of inductees - all we had was an alphabetical one. So here they are!

Polish Open
Here's the home page for the Polish Open, in Spala, POL, March 13-17.

Kanak Jha Lights the Path for Future US Success
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

U Serves / V Serves
Here's the video (3:02) from Samson Dubina. This is how I teach deception as well, though I've never used the "U" and "V" phrases - I may steal them.

The Most Important Shot in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Slowmotion Analysis - Xu Xin VS Harimoto Tomokazu - 2017 WTTC
Here's the video (3:21).

Defender Drill with Push and Chop
Here's the article from Table Tennis Spot.

New from Pro Table Tennis

2018 Butterfly Canada Cup Finals: Setting Up for Future Success
Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

WAB Club Feature: California Table Tennis
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Ask a Butterfly Pro Anything - Natalia Partyka
Here's the interview.  Poland’s Natalia Partyka holds an incredible record of winning 4 consecutive Paralympic Table Tennis Gold Medals at 4 separate Paralympic games.

Jump Rope Training
It's one of the best ways to train for table tennis. Here are two examples.

Fluxx Ball
Here's the video (1:38), though might skip ahead to 49 sec in when they show the actual game. It's sold at Toys R Us as "Wobb Ball" - I just ordered one. (Better hurry, Toys R Us is closing!)

Spin Serve Cup Basketball
Here's the video (30 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!

March 15, 2018

A Monstrous Week
Wow . . . the sheer amount of stuff that's gone on this week is beyond mindboggling. Here's a rundown.

  • Power Outage. Remember the planned power outage I wrote about that was supposed to happen on Wednesday, 7AM - 5PM? Rather than lose a day, I was up at 6AM, packed the computer, monitor, printer/scanner, and lots of other supplies, and Tim and I left to go to the club (MDTTC) to work in the back room there. I got everything set up there by 8AM, and we were set to go to work. Then we received an email at 8:07AM that due to freezing temperatures - 32 even - they were postponing the outage. (Don't they read weather reports?) So I packed everything up again and went back home. Roughly speaking, from 6:30-9:30AM all we did was pack up things, move them, and set them up again. One worrisome item - while setting up at the club, I plugged in a power cord, and then tossed the cord under a table so I could connect it to the computer. As I tossed it, I felt a sharp pang in my shoulder. Hopefully I didn't hurt it much. I have to be very careful with that arm.
  • History of Table Tennis: Volume 21. We really had hoped to finalize it yesterday, but there are lots and lots of complications. We finished the actual pages yesterday - 438 pages, 1677 graphics, covering 1994-1995. However, there are lots and lots of corrections - Tim goes over the pages with a magnifying glass - that's literally true, he really uses one - and on nearly every page finds something he wants changed. So I'm constantly changing and fixing up photos in Photoshop. Plus, Tim thinks of Photoshop as a word processor, so often I'm zooming in and doing graphical editing of text, where I'm literally copying and pasting letters or words to fix the text. (As I've noted before, the books are literally cut & pasted together, with Tim creating pages that Mal Anderson then scans, and then we fix them up - but each page is just one big graphic.)
         Anyway, we didn't finish yesterday, but we're hoping to finish today, hopefully by noon, though I suspect it'll take longer. (We've been working roughly 7AM-5PM since Sunday, March 4, and I've worked on it late into the night a few times.) After that's done I still have several hours of pre-press work to do to get the files ready for publication. (Copies should be available in a few weeks.) Meanwhile, why not buy a copy from Volumes 1-20?
  • Player in Hospital. One of our local players came down violently sick with internal bleeding. I was around when it happened, so guess who called 9-1-1, and spent four hours at the hospital with him? He's in stable condition now. Sorry, I'm not at liberty to divulge more. But there were a number of complications here, and we also lost a lot of work time.
  • Plumbing, Fence, Windows, and Car Door. I own a townhouse and rent out the first two floors to local players and coaches. One of the toilets stopped up, and it was a mess. I ended up paying $160 yesterday to get it fixed. Meanwhile, the front gate broke, and I also spent $166 yesterday getting it repaired. Also meanwhile, two windows in my townhouse have broken sidings (the parts that allow the window to move up and down), and the estimate I got for repairing each was . . . wait for it . . . here goes . . . $650!!! That's EACH - so $1300!!! I said no thanks, and will search around for more affordable window repair after Tim leaves. And then someone opened my car door too hard yesterday and broke the door handle. That's going to cost a bunch to repair. Maybe I should do an online "GoFundMe" campaign?
  • Shoulder. It's at least a little better, but I'm taking at least another two weeks off before starting private coaching again. I could start the week of March 26, except that's the week of our Spring Break Camp. So tentatively I'll start up after that, which means at the start of April. I will likely start only with beginners, who won't push me as hard. If that goes okay, then I'll try the more advanced ones. Meanwhile, I'm still doing regular group sessions. Hopefully that toss of a power cable didn't hurt it. (See power outage above.)
  • USATT Teleconference. The USATT Board of Directors had a teleconference on Monday. It was a rather memorable one in a bad way as the big topic was the Umpires and Referees Committee, and one member of it. By a unanimous vote - with the subject of interest on the phone with us - we were forced to remove him from the committee. More on this when the minutes of the meeting go up.

World Veterans Championships in Las Vegas
The deadline to enter the WVC is . . . TODAY!!! Yes, the Ides of March, and one day after Pi Day. As I write this on Wednesday night (and post it just before 5AM), there are 3988 listed online as entered, but I've been told there are more that haven't been listed yet, so the number is over 4000. I'll be there doing daily coverage. I'm also entered to play, but due to shoulder problems will likely drop out.

USATT, ITTF, and Butterfly News Items
I've been away for a few days, and they've been steadily putting up news items. So why not give them a browse? (Disclaimer: I'm sponsored by Butterfly.)

Does Coaching Improve a Coach’s Playing Skills?
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

2018 Qatar Open - Brazil Challenging China?!
Here's the article (with link to video) by Shashin Shodhan.

Polish Open
Here's the home page for the Polish Open, in Spala, POL, March 13-17.

Great Exhibition Rally
Here's the video (64 sec)!

Zombie Pong
Here's the picture!

Send us your own coaching news!

No Blog Tuesday and Wednesday

Power will be out in my house on Wednesday for outside electrical repairs (7AM-5PM), so Tim and I need to finish Volume 21 of his History of U.S. Table Tennis today. Translation: I worked practically all night Monday night, and we'll be working all day and late into the night on Tuesday to finalize everything. So no time for the blog. I'll be back on Thursday. Meanwhile, here are Strange Ping-Pong Tables and Other TT Stuff!

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