Blogs

Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 10 AM, more like noon on Mondays when he does a Tip of the Week and has three days to cover). Larry is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame, a USATT Certified National Coach, a professional coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center (USA), and author of eight books and over 1500 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio.
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!

May 25, 2011

Eastern Open

If you are playing in the Eastern Open this weekend in New Jersey, hopefully you are in final preparations for creating utter devastation for your opponents. (I'll be coaching some of the MDTTC juniors there.) If you are not, then you should be planning out your final preparations for creating utter devastation for your opponents in future tournaments, leagues, club matches, or (sigh) beer pong. This should include:

  • Lots of rest. Sleep is actually more important the last few days before the tournament than during the tournament, not that you should skimp on sleep during the tournament.
  • Lots of carbohydrates. They'll load your muscles with glycogen, and give you energy in those long deuce-in-the-fifth matches.
  • Practicing serves. It's how you start half the points, and yet it's the most under-practiced aspect of table tennis. It's also the part you can get the most out of practicing just before a tournament. In my serious playing days I always did lots of serve practice the day before and the morning of a tournament.
  • Match practice. At this point, it's too late to fix up your basic techniques. It's time to get match ready. That means playing practice matches as if they were tournament matches.
  • Mental training. Yes, now's the time to visualize yourself playing tournament matches. Then, when you actually play them, there won't be many jitters since you'll have already played them over and over in your mind. I could go on and on about this, but it's best you just get a book on sports psychology (such as "The Inner Game of Tennis," the classic sports psychology book which uses tennis as an example), or these online articles and resources.
  • Morning warm-up. Have you arranged who you are going to warm up with before your first event? Or do you want to get stuck with your worst nightmare of a practice partner, the guy with bad breath and five surfaces who swats the ball randomly all over the place with 77 different strokes?
  • Look professional. Hey, it's a fashion show out there! Wear your best [your favorite table tennis brand name], and your opponents will quake at the sight of your professional-lookingness.

Presidential Ping-Pong Pictures Proliferate!

The Washington Post this morning ran a large picture at the top of the front page of President Obama and British Prime David Cameron playing table tennis. Really! The headline over it (at the top of the page) reads, "A new take on 'ping-pong diplomacy'?" The caption under it reads, "U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron play table tennis at Globe Academy, in south London May 24, 2011. Obama on Tuesday begins a visit to Britain where he and Prime Minister David Cameron will review NATO action to help end conflict in Libya and Western policy towards uprisings in the Arab world. REUTERS/Paul Hackett."

In case you have been living under a large ping-pong ball the last 24 hours, numerous pictures of the two playing have been released, as well as this 3:46 video of them playing, with Obama giving nonstop commentary. Here are nine photos, which on June 1 will make their way into my Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page. I won't comment on the illegal white shirts with the white ball.

Barack Obama/David Cameron Table Tennis Photos (click to see larger versions)

Republicans released a press release, saying, "It's just another pair of lefties who, just like the economy, foreign affairs, and every other topic we can pin on Obama, can't keep their eye on the ball." (Okay, I made this up. Heck, Cameron is a conservative.)

This is just the latest in a long line of presidents playing table tennis. In the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page, we already had two photos of Obama playing table tennis - specifically, a photo of a large framed photo on the wall at the White House of him playing, this and this, as well as this one of him sitting down with paddles and ball. (And Obama also bought a ping-pong table for the White House.) Here are other presidents playing ping-pong:

If you explore the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page, you'll find, well, everyone! There are 1178 pictures of 699 celebrities. (Send me your own!)

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May 24, 2011

 

Use it and abuse it?

Do a quick count of all the shots you use in a match that you don't have very good technique with. Unless you are an elite top player, it should be a lot, right? Okay, now ask yourself: Do you have a better chance of fixing these shots by A) playing matches, where you'll continue to use these shots and re-enforce poor technique; or by B) working with a coach and only using the shots there and in practice sessions, where you can focus on doing the shot properly, and playing matches only after you've fixed up the technique? If you answer A, then good luck fixing the problems. If you answer B, then you are on the first step toward fixing your shots and dramatically improving your game.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't play any matches until you have perfect technique. You need to find a balance. But every player without perfect technique (i.e. everyone) who wants to improve should sometimes take time off from match play and for a time - weeks or months - just practice proper techniques.

So make a list of shots you use where your techniques is not good. Find a block of time - at least a month, maybe more - where your focus will be to fix these problems. Avoid matches during that time and just practice to fix the problems. Do a lot of shadow practice during this time to re-enforce the proper technique. When you feel you are ready, start playing matches again. You'll come out way ahead in the long run.

I blew it!

Really, I did! Of course, I'm talking about ball blowing. Not just blowing the ball so it stays in the air, but doing it sideways. It's a demonstration of the Magnus Effect. I'm actually blowing the top of the ball, so it rotates away from me, like topspin. This causes high air density on the bottom, low density on the top, and so the ball tends move from high to low density, i.e. up. By balancing this against gravity, the ball hangs in mid-air, sideways from the blower. (If the ball were moving forward, like a ball hit with topspin, then the high density would be on top, low density on the bottom, and so the ball would curve downward, as it does with topspin. With backspin, it would be the reverse.) Later I need to get a tape of blowing the ball back over the net in a rally - my record is 33 in a row.

Pachyderm table tennis

Yes, that's a real elephant holding a ping-pong paddle and apparently playing doubles. There's lots of hilarious stuff like that in the TableTennisCoaching Fun and Games section.

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May 23, 2011

The table tennis is great up here in heaven.

What, the rapture came and went on Saturday, and you weren't selected? Oh, right, 97% of you are still on earth, along with all those look-alike demons us chosen ones left behind. We don't even need umpires up here - nobody cheats! (Oh, and did I mention it's all hardbat?) Anyway, according to the clock on the big wall up here, the world really ends on Feb. 27, 2049, which just happens to be my 89th birthday. What are the chances I'll still be around to be held accountable? Anyway, gotta go; Coach God's running a huge practice session up here. I'm hitting with Dick Miles; he and God have really fixed up my backhand.

Speaking of coaching...

Sean O'Neill has created a new USATT Coaching Page for USATT. As you can see, it's very ITTFish. (I suggest looking over the links under "Additional Coaching Resources.") Also, you may note that I'm on the USATT Coaching Committee (as noted in a past blog). I was appointed recently, and haven't really gotten active. I believe the coaching committee is meeting at the U.S. Open in July, and I'll see where things stand at that time. Perhaps if we appoint Coach God to the committee we'd be able to turn USATT into Chinese Table Tennis, along with water into wine, etc.

Speaking of Chinese table tennis...

Donn Olsen (former USA coach, now a coach at the Werner Schlager Academy in Austria) wrote a great article recently on the Chinese training at the Schlager Academy before the Worlds.

There is some irony in the Chinese training at Schlager's club, considering he's the last player to win singles at the Worlds who wasn't Chinese (2003), and the only one (men's or women's) since Waldner in 1997. In fact, China has swept every event - men's and women's singles, doubles, and teams - at every Worlds since 1993 except for those two, the Singapore women's team in 2010, and Sweden men's team in 2000. They haven't lost in mixed doubles since 1989 and women's doubles since 1987! If we want to catch up to them, we're going to need some serious coaching here in the USA. Or a lot of praying to Coach You-Know-Who.

Speaking of coaching in the USA...

It's a good thing we have four ITTF coaching seminars coming up. We need all the coaches we can get to develop top players here in the USA. Info is on the new USATT Coaching Page, but here are the seminars. This was in my blog last week - yes, I'm reminding you, the one reading this page right now, yes, you, to sign up right now. Coach God is watching. So am I.

Speaking of top players here in the USA...

Variety is good. Ever notice how when you play a much stronger player, they can get away with all sorts of weak shots that nobody your level could? You fool them with a side-top serve, they pop it up, but you've already taken a step back to react to their expected flip and so miss the easy smash. They block your loop back weakly, but you're so set for an aggressive block or counterloop you just stand there like an idiot until it's too late, and so you pat the ball back and then they rip it. Or they lob the ball in the air, and you miss because you were already getting ready to block their counter-hit. This is all so unfair. There should be a rule against top players making weak shots.

Kidding aside, this is a reason to diversify your game. You don't need to be a top player to have variety in your game, and variety is what causes opponents to freeze up with indecision, just as many players freeze up against stronger players because stronger players usually have more variety, or at least the potential for stronger shots that freeze you even when they don't use those stronger shots - meaning they have variety, not just strong shots. Many of them seem as if they were coached by Coach God himself, right?

Speaking of variety...

A good deep push adds variety if you most play topspin. But you must do it properly - and few players realize just how effective a deep push can be if done properly. But to do so, you must understand the six attributes of a good push - as explained in this week's Tip of the Week. Do all six, and your opponents fall like the walls of Jericho.

I sure hope I'm not offending anyone with my joking references to Coach God. He is the best coach, right???

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May 20, 2011

China's TV ratings

So what's the most watched sporting event in China, the most populated country in the world? The all-Chinese Men's Singles final at the recent 2011 World Table Tennis Championships. Nearly 100 million tuned in to watch Zhang Jike defeat defending champion Wang Hao. This topped the previous record, when China's Li Na lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the Australian Open way back in January.

Let's remember that table tennis is practically the national sport of China. They didn't put table tennis on TV and the country went table tennis crazy; the country was already table tennis crazy, and now they are discovering it on TV. Table tennis isn't a particularly good TV sport - it's more of a participation sport - though it's often good as a "novelty" event on TV. But whenever it's been on TV, the initial good viewership seems to die down quickly. There just isn't a large enough base of table tennis people in the U.S. or other non-table tennis countries - right now - to create a base of table tennis viewers.

On the other hand, there are something like 15-20 million recreational players out there in the U.S. just waiting to become serious players (and future table tennis on TV viewers?) if we just find a way to convert them to serious players. Perhaps national leagues (like in Europe) and training coaches to set up junior programs are the way to go?

Kid in China feeding multiball

In China, juniors learn to feed multiball to each other, as this kid demonstrates in this video (7:08). This allows them to give each great training. He starts by feeding fast topspin side to side. At 0:48, he switches to backspin - notice how he now lets the ball bounce on the table to give a more realistic shot. (I recommend this for topspin as well, unless you are feeding a very advanced and fast player and need to push him. Note that when the coach feeds multiball to the junior, he always lets the ball bounce first.) Note the various combinations in placements and spin used to simulate real points, and see if you can get someone to do multiball training with.

Nebula Awards

In only semi-table tennis news, I'll be attending the Nebula Awards this weekend in Washington DC, where they give awards for the best science fiction & fantasy writing. (Most of the top SF & fantasy writers in the U.S. will be there - do you have a favorite?) I'll be jumping back and forth between that and nine hours of private coaching or group sessions at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, so it's going to be a hectic weekend. The table tennis angle? Edmund Schubert, editor of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show (that's its name, really!), one of the premier online SF magazines, is a pretty good player, about 1300, and probably better at one point. I hit with him at a convention a couple years ago, and I expect he'll be here - I may take him to the club. On Friday morning and afternoon, I'm on tours (with a number of other SF and fantasy writers) of the NationalMuseum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. I practically grew up in the latter - both of my parents had offices there for many years, and I sometimes did homework while sitting against the wall under the giant blue whale.

And now for some crasscommercialism - why not buy a copy of "Pings and Pongs: the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges," an anthology of my 30 best published stories? (Yes, when I'm not coaching or writing about table tennis, I'm writing science fiction & fantasy.) There's actually a ping-pong fantasy story ("Ping-Pong Ambition"), and several stories mention table tennis in passing. Of course, if you only want table tennis stuff, then get a copy of Table Tennis: Tales & Techniques.

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May 19, 2011

 

Talent Revisited

Yao Siu-Long ("Siu") emailed me the following question, after reading in my April 27 blog entry about Crystal Wang, who recently became the youngest player ever to break 2000, at age 9 years 1 month. (She's rated 2031, but at the recent unprocessed Potomac Open, should go up even more.)  Siu asked the following:

"I read your blog about Crystal Wang.  It sounds like she was progressing but suddenly took off.  Why?  What approach to learning and practicing do you think is key to such spectacular success?  Is it the number of hours practiced?  The coach? Going to China?

"Before you answer "talent", I've read quite a bit of research (and maybe this could be something for you to blog about as well).  There is a large body of research that suggests that talent is overrated (take a look at the book "Bounce" by Matthew Syed, a table tennis player).  You need a certain level of talent, but after that it's hard work and, perhaps, the training methods.  For example, "deliberate practice" is key.  That is, practicing with intent and goals.

"What do you see as making the difference for the successful players that you've coached?

This is an excellent question. I actually wrote my thoughts on talent in my March 11, 2011 blog entry. And I definitely agree that talent is way over-rated. On the other hand, there is no question that talent exists - we are not all born with identical brains. However, as argued in "Bounce," it's not that there's no such thing as talent, it's that, at the world-class level, it's only a small aspect. I believe that at the beginning stages, talent does dominate, but if you start early enough with good coaching, and work hard, then deliberate practice dominates. I'm still on the fence as to whether an "untalented" player who starts very early - say, age 4 or 5 - and undergoes such deliberate practice can become one of the best in the world, but they can definitely become very good.

For Crystal specifically, she's been taking regular lessons from Coach Jack Huang since she started playing in the summer of 2008 at age six. Is she talented? For a six-year-old, she definitely had nice hand-eye coordination from the start, and yet in April of 2010 (when she turned 8) she was still rated "only" 1013. I put "only" in quotes because a 1000+ rating for a 7-year-old is still pretty good. However, it takes time for all the basics to really get ingrained.

Here's where the mental game counts. For her age, she's very focused and hard-working. Few players under age 10 (or older) have the focus and work ethic she had from the beginning. And so much of her first two years were spent building a formidable foundation. When you see her strokes and other techniques, they aren't something she just "picked up" because of talent. They were meticulously developed, one training session at a time, until they became the fearsome combos that now strike fear into anyone rated under 2300. Forehands and backhands? Forehand and backhand loops off underspin? Pushing and blocking? Serve and receive? Footwork? None of it came about without incredibly hard work and excellent coaching.

Was she more talented than most? She seemed that way. But two points on this.

First, a "less talented" player might do the same thing if they started even younger, i.e. age four or so. This is problematic in the U.S., since the tables are too high. In China and other countries, kids often start out on shortened tables. If we did the same, then by the time they are age six they could already have a few years of playing. I used to take tennis lessons, and was amazed to discover they have tennis sessions for three-year-olds. You don't need to be older than that to hit a ball - you just need a table that fits your size.

Second, there's little doubt that since Crystal seemed to pick things up early, it inspired her and her parents to really focus on table tennis. And now that she's really taking off, it's not only paying off, but now they are probably inspired to go all the way, and see just how good Crystal can be.

Here's a picture of an unsmiling Crystal after losing the final of Under 1600 in the May, 2010 MDTTC Open. Coming into the tournament, she was rated 1013, but she beat players rated 1381 and 1424 to reach the final before losing to Mort Greenberg in the final. I don't think Mort wants a rematch!!!

Chinese Immigrants

Here's a front page (sports section) story that ran in the New York Times on May 14, about Chinese players coming to the U.S. and other countries and dominating. (I'm quoted and mentioned in the article.) 

Space and Time Magazine

In non-table tennis news, my science fiction story "The Awakening" is in the upcoming issue of Space and Time Magazine, with my name on the cover. The story was the Grand Prize winner at the 16th Annual 2010 Garden State Horror Writers Short Story Contest in November. It was a unanimous choice of the judges!!! Here's the trophy. Here's a description: "A 4-D being plays around with the 3-D universe (ours), and just for fun, makes a fly super intelligent. The fly goes to war first with a woman who tries to swat it, then with the 4-D being, and eventually with the entire 4-D and 3-D universes. You don't want to know where it lays its eggs!!!" (Here's my science fiction and fantasy page.)

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May 18, 2011

I'm back!

I've been out of town since May 9, and as noted in my blog at that time, I wouldn't have time to blog while I was away. (I was visiting my dad in the hospital, who had a stroke. He's still mostly paralyzed on his left side, but with four hours of therapy each day, it's starting to pay off - he has some left-side movement now.) Hopefully the world of table tennis has survived my absence, though I'm skeptical. Did I miss anything? I heard rumors of some World Championships or something, and China sweeping everything, but I'm sure that was just a rumor. I wonder how Team USA did?

A Levels Approach to Tactics and Other Tips

Are you reading the Tips of the Week? This Monday's Tip was "A Levels Approach to Tactics" - see if that's something you've thought about! Last week's was "A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact," which is all about the journey the ball takes when it serves and what you should be watching for and visualizing.

ITTF Level 1 Coaching Seminars

As I wrote previously in my Blog, I recently ran the first ITTF Seminar in the U.S. run by a USA coach. (The only previous ITTF Seminar in the U.S. was run by ITTF's and Australia's Glenn Tepper, where I was one of the first two USA coaches, along with Donn Olsen, to be certified as an ITTF coach, and where I did the follow-up Course Conductor seminar so I could teach the course.) Now these seminars are popping up like pushed topspin serves! There are now five planned - I'll post info on these seminars as it becomes available.They are:

  • Colorado Springs, Aug. 1-4, taught by USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee. Here's the USATT News Item.
  • BrownsvilleRecreation Center in Brooklyn, NY, by Sydney Christophe, in June and July.
  • ICC club in Milpitas, CA, by CoachMassimo Costantini, dates to be announced;
  • Lily Yip TTC in Dunellen, NJ, by Richard McAfee, dates to be announced;
  • NewgyTraining Center in Gallatin, TN, by Roger Dickson, dates to be announced;

Slow motion Homage to the Sport

Table tennis star and model Sooyeon Lee does this 90-second Slow-Mo Fashion Show and Musical Homage to the Sport, high heels and all. Think you can beat her? She has a USATT rating of 2468, #10 Woman in the U.S.

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May 10, 2011

As I noted in my blog yesterday, I'm in Eugene, OR, visiting my dad. He's in the hospital after having a stroke. It's not life-threatening, but he's paralyzed on his left side. (And he's left-handed, alas.) It's going to be a bit hectic here, and I have other things on my mind, so I'm going to take the week off. I'll go back to daily blogs after I return to Maryland, on Wednesday, May 18. 

May 9, 2011

Eugene, Oregon (Non-Table Tennis)

This afternoon I'm off for Eugene, Oregon for eight days, May 9-18, to visit my dad, who's 76. He recently had a stroke. It's not life threatening, but he's paralyzed on his left side. (And he's left-handed.) I still plan on doing the daily blog. Edit - Change of plans - it's going to be a bit hectic here, and I have other things on my mind, so I'm going to take the week off. I'll go back to daily blogs after I return to Maryland, on Wednesday, May 18.

Pushblocking with Long Pips (no sponge)

Because of a muscle tear, I'm trying to rest my back. And so yesterday in practice matches with our junior players I decided to play with long pips, no sponge (Tibhar GrassD.Tec5), and covered the entire table with my backhand. As expected, it caused complete havoc. I didn't play our top juniors, mostly ones under 1800, but let's just say it wasn't pretty. As a coach, I need to play more orthodox for my students, i.e. regular inverted. But if my goal was to just win, I'm pretty sure I'd shoot up a bunch with this stuff. My level these days is at most 2200, but who knows what it'll be when my back gets better so I can use my normal forehand (along with my serve & follow), etc.

World Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands, May 8-15

Dying to follow the World Championships? Then visit the ITTF World Championships page. Dying to follow every move made by Team USA? Then visit the USA Team Page. Still not enough for you? Then train for 10,000 hours over the next ten years with the best coaches and trainers, make the USA Team, and go to the Worlds in person.

Here's some more coverage of Team USA - eight "Behind the Scenes" videos! If you are a USA Table Tennis fan, how can you not watch these? Brought to you by BayAreaTT, USA Table Tennis, and USA Men's Team Coach Stefan Feth.

  • Video1 Welcome from Men's Coach Stefan Feth (0:51)
  • Video2 Behind the scenes training (4:15)
  • Video3 Training Germany before Worlds, meet Timothy Wang & Michael Landers, others (14:56)
  • Video4 More behind the scenes training in Germany, and meet some of the players (7:30)
  • Video5 Behind the scenes when not training, with Mark Hazinski, Timothy Wang, and Michael Landers (4:39)
  • Video6 History of Grenzau Table Tennis (where Team USA is training), with long-time German team member Lucjan Blascyck (3:01)
  • Video7 Arriving in Rotterdam (5:30)
  • Video8 Final training before Worlds, both USA and top World Players, plus the Butterfly party, interviews with Ariel Hsing and Prachi Jha (6:58)

Zhang Yining learning English in Wisconsin

Yes, Chinese table tennis legend Zhang Yining (2004 & 2008 Olympic Women's Singles Gold Medalist, 2005 & 2009 World Women's Singles Champion) is learning English at the University of Wisconsin. Here's a good article on her new life in America.

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May 6, 2011

 

A journey of nine feet begins at contact

When you serve, do you just serve? Or do you stop and visualize the serve first? And when you visualize the serve, do you visualize all of it, or just part of it? You should visualize the entire journey the serve takes - the contact height, amount and type of spin, how fast it will go out, where it hits on your side of the table (this is most overlooked part), where and how low it crosses the net, how it curves through the air, where it bounces on far side, how it bounces each time, and where second bounce on far side should be? (A longer version of this might be next Monday's Tip of the Week.)

Brian Pace and Richard McAfee . . . reminiscing

Championship player and coach Brian Pace sits down with longtime friend, coach, and mentor Richard McAfee (USATT Coaching Chair), and they talk about their relationship that has spanned over 25 years. (24:10)

Catty Table Tennis

Here's vintage footage of a cat playing table tennis (0.29) - really! - just for fun. There are actually dozens of videos of cats and table tennis in the video section of the Fun and Games section here at TableTennisCoaching.com - why not have some quality time and take a tour? Who knows what you'll find. Maybe W.C. Fields playing hilarious table tennis from the 1939 movie "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man" (2:33) or a picture of the horse Mr. Ed playing table tennis (for real, not photoshopped, from TV show "Mister Ed").

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May 5, 2011

 

Coaching breakthroughs

Yesterday two of my students - who shall remain nameless - had nice breakthroughs. One, who we shall call "Sammy," who's about 10, has had trouble with his backhand. Yesterday he suddenly figured out how to hit it with topspin (rather than sort of a flat, almost backspin contact), and just like that had a steady backhand. Once he figured that out, his forehand also came alive, and for the first time, we had really decent backhand and forehand exchanges. He also made a breakthrough on service spin. We spent some time serving on the floor, and for the first time he was able to create enough backspin so that the ball would return back to him. You wouldn't believe how fun it is to serve on the floor with spin and make the ball do tricks - use backspin to make it come back, or sidespin to make it go around objects.

Another, who we shall call "Ryan," who's 11, went topspin crazy yesterday. His forehand loop really came alive. For the first time, he was able to really battle with me in backhand-to-backhand exchanges. (I had to really get down low and into "match mode" here.) Even more impressive, right after I explained that it takes a rather high level to backhand loop against a block over and over, he immediately backhand looped against my block over and over! Okay, okay, I'll stop trying to limit my students to low-level stuff. His serves also took a big jump, especially his sidespin. He was able to do what I call "The Journey," which I wrote about recently. You stand on your forehand side, and put a box on the far side of the table, down the line. Then you serve sidespin so the ball bounces on your backhand court, curves around, bounces over the net, and continues to curve until it bounces into the box.

Table tennis going corporate?

Here's a table tennis article that bounces around between Warren Buffett, Susan Sarandon, and Nicolas Sarkozy (with playing pictures of all three!); former U.S. and China table tennis stars Kim Gilbert, Glenn Cowan, and Zhuang Zedong; the "Clash of the Hedge Fund Titans" tournament at Spin Table Tennis; the 19.5 million recreational players in the U.S., a 53 percent increase over the past decade; and has quotes from promoter Alan Williams like, "Everyone should play table tennis. They’ll live longer, they’ll be smarter, they’ll be more attractive," and "I'm talking about Olympians. How often do you get to meet Andre Agassi? You can’t do it. Pete Sampras? Not going to happen. But I can have you in front of a national ping-pong team in, like, five minutes." How can any table tennis player not read this, and still look themselves in the mirror later in the day? It's what everyone will be talking about at work around the water cooler. Well, my water cooler; I don't know about yours.

USATT Coaching Certification

Dear USATT Certified Coaches: Good for you!

Dear Non-USATT Certified Coaches: What are you waiting for?

Of course, you can also become ITTF certified, but for that you'll have to wait until the next ITTF Coaching Seminar in the U.S. (I'll announce them here when they come up.)

Tom the Universe

In non-table tennis news, my science fiction story "Tom the Universe" went online recently at Escape Pod, the largest circulation audio science fiction market. You can either read it or have it read aloud - take your pick! I'm told that about 30,000 will read or listen to the story. Here's a short description: "A romp through singularities, universes, and just about everything else as our hero goes from common man to vengeful supreme being. He has a valuable lesson to learn about forgiveness; will he learn it in time?" (I've sold 48 science fiction and fantasy short stories and recently completed two novels which are making the rounds of publishers. Here is my science fiction & fantasy page, which includes links to many of my published stories.)

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