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!

April 13, 2018

Summer Table Tennis Training Camps
Summer is coming, and it's time to plan for your summer training needs!!! Email me if you'd like me to add you to the listing below - I will likely link back to it numerous times. (With apologies to those missed - I put out a note last week asking for those running camps to contact me, plus I listed the ones I already knew about. I visited many of the major full-time clubs to find info on their camps, and listed those I could find.)

Why would you go to a table tennis camp? The simple answer is . . . to get better. But many would say, "I can train at my home club, why go to a camp?" At a camp, besides getting expert coaching, you get intensive training typically for five days, which is enough time to dramatically improve your game. This type of saturation training will lead to far more improvement than just practicing on and off for longer periods of time. Plus, it's a memorable event - you love table tennis, and this is a table tennis vacation! Some of my best table tennis memories are from the late 1970s when I was a regular at the Seemiller Camps. (I've emailed to see whether Dan is running camps this summer.) But I do suggest researching the camps and finding the perfect one for you. Some are primarily for kids; others are for all ages. 

Alameda TTC (Alameda, CA) has 8 weeks of camps with a kids-only and kids/adult program: http://alamedattc.org/2018SummerCamps.htm

WAB Club Feature: Maryland Table Tennis Center
Here's the profile I wrote of MDTTC! It actually started as an interview by Steve Hopkins of me for an article he was going to do, but he decided to mostly just reorganize my answers and publish it as an article by me, which was fine. 

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which finishes tomorrow in Zagreb, CRO, April 10-14.

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which finishes this Sunday in Oxenford, Australia.

The Importance of an Assertive Mindset in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

High Quality Shots in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Eli Baraty.

Long Island's New Table Tennis Center and Chess Academy
Here's the interview (written) with Tahl Leibovitz by Ryan Green.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association
Here are recent articles from them.

World Class Training with Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Here are the two videos (18:06 and 24:59). "World Cup Champion Dima demonstrates his unyielding concentration, tremendous forehand and backhand topspins while never giving up the table. Watch the extreme wrist angle change on Dima’s forehand to backhand combo to understand why his backhand attack is so spinny! Table Tennis BelgiumTV provides a real treat to watch Anton and Dimitrij show how the Pros do it in the training hall."

Timo Boll Training at T@ APAC Arena
Here's the video (4 min). Timo's the lefty, not sure who the other player is.

Loop Around the Net Practice
Here's the video (22 sec). Why haven't you done this?

Interview with Jishan Liang
Here's the video (5 min) as Jishan is interviewed by Al Herr at the Butterfly Cary Cup. Jishan will be playing in the MDTTC Open this weekend, which I'm running, and is in fact staying at my house for the weekend.

2018 Asian Cup Recap: An Early Knockdown Doesn’t Deter the Champ
Here's the article on Chinese difficulties in winning the Asian Cup, by Steve Hopkins.

Butterfly America Open Hosted by ICC Features Top Talent
Here's the article by Barbara Wei.

Third Place At Start Of Day, First Place At End
Here's the ITTF article that features USA's Amy Wang winning her group at the Croatia Open.

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

Table Tennis in T.V. Ads and Media
Here are numerous links to them from the Mytabletennis.net forum.

Spin and Catch Challenge
Here's the video (52 sec) from Keenan Southall. 

Friday the 13th
Jason says hello!

33 Table Tennis Cartoons from The Cartoonist Group
Here's the page! (Marv Anderson found this one.)

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April 12, 2018

Michael Maze Short Push
Denmark star Michael Maze retired in 2016 after a series of injuries, but recently has been training for a comeback at age 36. He's a former top ten player, who won the bronze medal in Men's Doubles at the 2004 Olympics, made the semifinals of Men's Singles at the 2005 Worlds, won the Europeans Men's Singles Championships in 2009, and made the quarterfinals of Men's Singles at the 2012 Olympics. At the 2005 Worlds he beat two Chinese players, Wang Hao (Men's Singles Silver Medalist at the 2004 Olympics and world #1 or #2 at the time) and Hao Shuai, often lobbing them down. Against Hao in the quarterfinals he was down 0-3 and saved three match points before winning in one of the great comebacks in history. He's a lefty looper, and probably the best lobber in the world. But he's also known for his soft touch, such as in receive. 

Here's a video (1:35, some of it in slow motion) of him practicing his short push against a side-backspin serve. Most players, when pushing, whether short or long, just aim in the opposite direction of the sidespin to compensate. But at the advanced levels they do more than that. Notice how he not only angles his paddle sideways to offset the incoming sidespin, but sidespin-grazes the ball back, meeting the sidespin straight on and putting his own sidespin on the ball? (Watch how the ball curves away after he hits it.)

By finely grazing the ball, most of his energy goes into spin, and so there's little forward energy, making it easy for him to push short. That's probably the most common reason players do not push short well - they try to just tap the ball back softly rather than graze it back.

Potomac Pizza and Table Tennis
Come join me for Pizza! Today, from 4-9PM, Potomac Pizza at the Traville Gateway Center in Rockville (9709 Traville Gateway Drive, Rockville, MD 20850) will donate 20% of all proceeds. Here's the promotional flyer! You may either bring this flyer with you or tell your server that you’re here to support HW GLOBAL FOUNDATION and they will add you to the totals. I teach a class from 6:30-7:30PM, and plan to drive over afterwards, probably arriving around 8PM. Hope to see some of you there!

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
I'm be running the MDTTC April Open this weekend, April 14-15, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday. It includes a link that allows you to enter online through Omnipong, as well as a link to the PDF entry form you can print out. Events are Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 12. Don't miss the great Promotional video (2:32) put together by Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile! Also, the HW Global Foundation Talent Program Kids will hold a bake sale at the tournament - come support them!

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which started yesterday, which started yesterday in Zagreb, CRO, April 10-14.

Importance of Spin!
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Semi Brilliant Thoughts From a Table Tennis Think Tank
Here's the article from Coach Jon. "As far as I know, there are no table tennis think tanks. There are no brain trusts that we can put our faith in to solve our table tennis issues.  I get to share my thoughts on a daily basis through coaching. Once a week I gather up the best insights and blog about them."

Grand Opening of the Glen Head Table Tennis Center and Chess Academy
Here's the video (3 min), with talks from Tahl Leibovitz and others.

What a Way to Save Match Point from Singapore
Here's the video (31 sec) of this incredible doubles point from the BBC as England wins the point.

Creative "Big Backhand"
Here's the video (1:22, but the actual shot is in the first 8 sec, the rest is various slow-mo replays).

2018 TATA Trickshot Competition
Here's the video (38 sec) as Liu Guoliang challenges you to rally with as many balls as he can!

Super-High Ball Mishit, Set to Music
Here's the video (27 sec)!

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April 11, 2018

Table Tennis Happenings

  • U.S. Nationals Entry Form. Here it is!  (I'd use the pop-out version - easier to read and print.) Hope to see you there - I'll be there.
  • USATT Board Meeting. We had a teleconference at 7PM Monday, which lasted over two hours. Main topics included approval of the minutes of the March 12 and 26 teleconference meetings (they should go online soon on the USATT Minutes and Actions page); notice and discussion of a potential new bylaws involving USADA for compliance with the Ted Stevens Act; Discussion about Para Data Protection Guidelines; Discussion about USTTA Foundation and USATT Financial Statements; and Events Update (World Veterans, 2018 U.S. Nationals, 2018 U.S. Open, and 2020 World Championships). We also had a close session that took up almost half the meeting.
  • Beginning Junior Class. We started a new ten-week beginning junior class this past Sunday at MDTTC, with 13 kids. Surprisingly, most of them were returnees from the previous session. As I always do in the first session, I gave a short demo and lecture on grip, stance, and the forehand, but since so many were returnees I went shorter than usual so I could get them out on the table sooner. I may shorten this even more next week.
  • Talent Program. We started the Sunday session with serve practice, and I was flabbergasted at one 7-year-old - in a good way. Three weeks ago he literally couldn't get backspin on his serve; now he was able to serve with enough backspin to make the ball bounce back into the net. Guess who's been practicing his serves a LOT? He was very happy that we noticed, and I made sure the other coaches also saw it. The rest of the session I fed multiball (topspin only due to my shoulder) - lots and Lots and LOTS of footwork drills.
  • Potomac Pizza on Thursday. On Thursday, April 12 (tomorrow), from 4-9PM, Potomac Pizza at the Traville Gateway Center in Rockville will donate 20% of all proceeds. Here's the promotional flyer! You may either bring this flyer with you or tell your server that you’re here to support HW GLOBAL FOUNDATION and they will add you to the totals. I teach a class from 6:30-7:30PM, and plan to drive over right afterwards, probably arriving around 8PM. Hope to see some of you there!
  • Butterfly MDTTC April Open. I'll be running the MDTTC April Open this weekend, April 14-15, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday. It includes a link that allows you to enter online through Omnipong, as well as a link to the PDF entry form you can print out. Events are Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Over 50, Under 15, and Under 12. Don't miss the great Promotional video (2:32) put together by Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile! Also, the HW Global Foundation Talent Program Kids will hold a bake sale at the tournament - come support them!
  • Shoulder Update. I went to the club twice recently to experiment feeding multiball left-handed, since (as I blogged last week) it puts great pressure on the shoulder when I feed backspin repetitively. The first time was on Saturday, but I'd forgotten about the Capital Area League, and they were using every table. I went over early on Sunday (before my two 90-minutes classes), but the robot table (with the net I was going to practice into) was being used. Since nearly all the other tables were also being used, if I used another table I'd have been scattering balls in their courts. So I still haven't tested this. I will likely do so tomorrow - hopefully.
  • Yesterday's Critiquing. As noted in my mini-blog yesterday, I took yesterday off so I could read and critique seven science fiction & fantasy stories for upcoming workshops. (Okay, this isn't a "Table Tennis Happening," but I'm a Table Tennis Person doing it, so close enough.) I started at my desk at 8:30AM and worked until 10AM. Then I drove to Lake Forest Mall (about ten minutes away), and found a table by a window in the eatery, and worked there from 10:30AM to 6:30PM!!! (Pizza for lunch, Bourbon chicken for dinner, while sipping on a huge Dr. Pepper that lasted me all day.) Then I stopped by the club (one mile away) to pick up entry forms for the upcoming April Open and the Hopes Trials and chatted with players for a time. Then I went home and worked there from 8:30PM to 2:00AM - which is when I finished! I do rather extensive critiques. Alas, I'll have another set of stories to critique in May, and one more in June. 

Croatia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, which started yesterday, which started yesterday in Zagreb, CRO, April 10-14.

Is Truls Möregårdh Sweden's Phoenix Flame?
Here's the USATT article by Ray Huang. "Just four months ago, Truls Möregårdh of Sweden burst out of the blue to take the silver medal at the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championship, defeating Chinese players Niu Guankai and Xu Haidong in the quarterfinal and semifinal stages. At only 15 years of age, he is also the youngest player to ever compete in the Champions League. Many have eagerly predicted that Truls Möregårdh can become the next Waldner. But where exactly did this youngster come from?"

Daily Aerobic Sessions Add to Halmstad Experience
Here's the ITTF article.

Mentorship Programme, Selection Announced
Here's the ITTF article. "The Mentorship Programme matches coaches from around the world with top-level mentors; they work with their mentees through numerous skype and face-to-face sessions."

10 Interesting Facts About Ping-Pong You Don’t Know
Here's the article.

North High Hosts Annual Table Tennis Tournament
Here's the article on the tournament in Great Neck, NY. "Table Tennis stormed its way into Great Neck on Sunday, March 11, as more than 100 students representing 22 different schools participated in the Third Annual Great Neck North High School (GNNHS) Table Tennis Tournament."

NJTTC Hopes Qualification Camp and Tournament Ends with High Hopes on a Rubber Tree
Here's the USATT article by Dev Dassarma.

Table Tennis Tidbits #23
Here's the USATT article by Robert Ho, on the 2016 Pyongyang Open, "North of Korea’s Mason and Dixon Line."

USA Olympians Attempt Ping-Pong Ball Challenge
Here's the video (2:32) as they attempt to break the record for most ping-pong balls bounced into a pint glass in a minute. (These are non-table tennis Olympians.)

Ping-Pong, Anyone?
Here's the video (2:11) as Bob Mankoff from The New Yorker introduces you to his table tennis robot, then shows us five table tennis cartoons that have been published in The New Yorker.

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April 10, 2018

Off This Morning
I have to take this morning off from blogging. I'd like to say it's for some big table tennis reason, but actually it's because I'm in a pair of upcoming writing workshops, and have to read and do extensive critiques on seven science fiction & fantasy short stories. Don't worry, I'll be back to table tennis tomorrow! (Actually, I also have to do player evaluations for about ten junior players from our Talent program, so as soon as I finish the SF critiques I switch back to TT.) I plan to spend the day working at the eatery at Lake Forest Mall, so if you are local, stop by and say hello. (But I really, Really, REALLY need to get this work done, so no more than a few minutes and then I have to get back to work.) But to entertain you this morning, here's Plate Bouncing Pong (31 sec)!

April 9, 2018

Tip of the Week
How to Return Nets and Edges.

Susan Backed Pingpong Parlor Coming to D.C. - SPiN Washington!
Here's the article. I think it's great we'll have one nearby! They really are a different type of club, going for the upper-scale recreational player, with more of a party atmosphere. I've been to the SPiN NY club twice, and had fun playing there. They now have (or will soon) clubs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, and now DC. Here is their main web page. Here's their About Us page, which explains their interesting history. (Addendum added Monday afternoon: As I drove to my shoulder therapy session after lunch they were talking about the new table tennis club on the radio! It was on WTOP - 103.5FM.)

Their location is right in the middle of DC, which according to Google Directions is just over 30 miles driving distance south of my club, MDTTC. So there's no serious conflict between the clubs - and as I've blogged before, having multiple full-time clubs in one region, but not too close, actually helps all of them as each club brings in new players who might also join or attend tournaments and leagues at the other clubs. While MDTTC focuses on serious training, SPiN has great food - here's the rather extensive NY menu. They have pizza!!! They also serve alcoholic beverages. MDTTC has water and gatorade.

Here's the SPiN Washington home page. It includes segment on "Join the Team" and a link to "Work for Us."  While I'm not looking for a new job, I went there, curious if they were looking for coaches, league directors, tournament directors, and so on. Instead, here are the job openings they have:

Assistant General Manager, Banquet Captain, Bar Manager, Barback, Bartender, Busser, Chief Brand Officer, Cook, Corporate Chef, Creative Project & Design Manager, Design Assistant, Digital Marketing Director, Director of Sales, Dishwasher, Event and Program Coordinator, Event Sales Coordinator, Event Sales Manager, Executive Chef, Facility Technician, Floor Manager, General Manager, Guest Experience Leader, Host/Hostess, Lead Bartender, Lead Host/Hostess, Lead Line Cook, Marketing Coordinator, Passer, Payroll/Benefits Specialist, Server, Sous Chef, Trainer.

Notice how different this is from a typical club? Only the very last item, "Trainer," resembles what a normal club might have as a job opening. There are a few other possible ones a normal club might have, such as "Assistant General Manager" and "General Manager," and perhaps "Director of Sales." But it has always been my burning desire to be a full-time Dishwasher for a full-time table tennis club! (Note that I spent some time working as a dishwasher at a Bonanza restaurant in 1979 in Wilson, NC!)

Washington DC already has Comet Ping-Pong (a pizza place with ping-pong tables) as well as the Washington DC Table Tennis Center, so it's a growing area for table tennis. Maybe we can attract more and more players from there for our MDTTC tournaments - and speaking of that. . . .

Butterfly MDTTC April Open and Promo Video
I'll be running the MDTTC April Open this weekend, April 14-15, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Friday. It includes a link that allows you to enter online through Omnipong, as well as a link to the PDF entry form you can print out. (Note - this is the 199th USATT sanctioned tournament I've run. That's nearly 400 days of running tournaments!) Don't miss the great promotional video below, put together by Mossa Barandao of Pongmobile!

  • Saturday events: Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, Under 15
  • Sunday events: U1900, U1600, U1300, U1000, Under 12
  • Promotional video (2:32)

Asian Cup and Slovenia Open
They both finished over the weekend. See the results, read the articles, and watch the videos and pictures!

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the ongoing event taking place in Oxenford, Australia, April 5-15. I probably won't keep linking to this every day, so save the link! I'll link to it again when it's finished so we can browse the results, articles, pictures, and videos.

Making Peace with the Edge
Here's the article from Samson Dubina, which covers how to deal with balls that barely come off the edge of the table.

Table Tennis Discipline
Here's the article by Eli Baraty on the discipline it takes to improve, including commitment, hard work, and drive.

New from EmRatThich - All About Harimoto and Fan

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 23
Here’s chapter 23 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Chapter 23 covers "Mar/Apr 1994 - Off Table News." Note that Volume 21 is now out. This volume is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Capital Plastics Tournament is Big Hit for the Juniors
Here's the article by Richard Finn. "Recently more than 50 California junior players had the special privilege of meeting and playing with a dozen top Chinese junior players at the 2nd Annual Capital Plastics Tournament hosted at the California Table Tennis Club in Rosemead on March 17-18."

Incredible India, Inspired, Indomitable, Invincible
Here's the ITTF article on India winning Women's Teams at the Commonwealth Games, upsetting Singapore in the final.

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup Final - Jishan Liang vs Jun Han Wu (Highlights)
Here's the video (4:04).

Training Camp in France
Here's the video (2:31) of their physical and table practice.

World Table Tennis Day
Here are a few of the better World Table Tennis Day (April 6) links I came across.

Foot Pong
Here's the video (18 sec)!

Sharon Alguetti Trick Shots
Here's the video (60 sec)! That's Cory Eider he's rallying with at the end with "one-paddle pong."

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April 6, 2018

What It Takes to Be Great - and How to Beat the Chinese
Here's a nice video showing what it takes to be a top player: Coming-of-Age of the Ping Pong Kiddo (12:15). It features a kid in China - one of many thousands - who is striving to be the best, and what type of training this means. (Thanks to John Olsen who sent the link to me.)

This is the type of training that goes on all over the world, often out of sight of even local players, who often don't realize how many hours these kids with their coaches are training. I see it on a daily basis at my club, Maryland Table Tennis Center, and it's happening all over the U.S. in training centers, and all over the world. But the sport is more "serious" in China, and so there are far more kids training full time, and making it their top priority, then anywhere else in the world. Even the best U.S. players have to focus more on school (or at most, equally so), and so it's hard to compete against a system where table tennis is the central focus, with numbers far larger than anywhere else. But it can be done! (See below where the Japanese 14-year-old whiz kid, Tomokazu Harimoto, just beat the world #1, China's Fan Zhendong. But Japan might have the second most kids training in the world after China.)

Here's an example of how players are often developed in China. Cheng Yinghua, one of the head MDTTC coaches, from age 5 to 12 trained eight hours a day at table tennis (also training in badminton before that was dropped), with only one hour of school. After that, starting at age 12, he was full-time table tennis, no more school. He became one of the best players in the world, and was on the Chinese National Team from 1977-1987.

These days school is considered more important in China, and fewer players go the extreme route of someone like Cheng. But long hours with top coaches - this is how top players develop and how they are made.

How can USA develop its own players and turn into a powerhouse - maybe even competing with China? Here are five keys.  

  1. Keep opening up training centers. That is a BIG key. MDTTC was the first successful full-time table tennis training center in the U.S. when it opened in 1992, and as of 2007, there were only eight. Now there are 93. This is why our top cadets and juniors are now competitive with the rest of the world, where before they were rarely so. This is what leads to the level and depth of players needed to reach the highest levels.
  2. Develop and bring in more and more and better and better coaches. Neither quantity nor quality will do it; you need quality AND quantity in coaches. Here's the algorithm:
    Many Great Coaches + Many Kids Training = Great Players
  3. Focus first on reaching #2 in the world. Then we can turn it into a USA vs. China battle, and go for #1. Yep, that means we have to catch up to the rest of the world, other than China. But that's at least foreseeable, while beating China isn't at this time. But once you reach #2 and have just one more barrier to break through, it becomes foreseeable.
  4. Don't be pale copies of the best Chinese. We need to take what they and the other best players in the world do and expand on it. That's what every new generation of players has done since the 1920s. We tend to coach players to match the current best players, which is mostly successful, but it's the ones who expand on what the current best players are doing that will become the next generation of best players. Serve and receive are especially areas open for innovation.
  5. Sometimes learn from the past. For example, Waldner could tie up opponents in every rally - no one was comfortable against his variety of deceptive and change-of-pace shots. Take that, add the best of modern top players, and you have someone who will beat the best Chinese. But because such "unorthodox" play develops outside of "orthodox" training, that type of variation game is often forgotten, despite its obvious success.  

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 21 - 1994-95
You can order your copy now! This volume is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! (Plus a good portion of the volume is from articles I wrote back then - I was editor of USA Table Tennis Magazine.) Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed!

Maryland Table Tennis Center April Newsletter
Here it is - I'm the editor for the 71st issue in a row.

World Table Tennis Day
Celebrate 2018 World Table Tennis Day on 6 April! (44 sec)

Asian Cup
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking pace April 6-8 in Yokoyama, Japan. There's already one shocker - Bigger they are, harder they fall; Tomokazu Harimoto beats Fan Zhendong. Here are highlights of the match (1:29).

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Otocec, Slovenia, April 2-6. The dates caught me off guard this morning - I assumed it was this weekend, but they are already past the preliminaries (Mon and Tues) and into the main draws starting yesterday.

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Oxenford, Australia, April 5-15.

Ping Sunday
Here's their home page. While I've been linking to their articles as they come up, they have a lot of material there, from EmRatThich. Here are the sections on the web page. (There's another menu lower down that breaks it down into eight categories.)

Ma Long Backhand Loop
Here's the video (67 sec) as he rips ball after ball with Liu Guoliang feeding multiball. This is one of the best videos I've seen of it

Ma Long in Kiehl's, China Unicom, Audi and MONTBLANC Commercials
Here's the video (4:26). "Which commercial do you like the best?"

USATT Training Camp in Davie, Florida
Here's the USATT Facebook page, which links to video and pictures from the national training camp going on there this week, Mon-Fri, ending today. Most of the top junior players in the country from ages 9 to 14 or so are there. Here's a link to video of practice matches yesterday (53:51).

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup

Table Tennis Therapy for Alzheimer's
Here's the video (2:51). "Very few sports work the game, researchers will tell you, as much as the game of ping-pong."

Table Tennis Pins
Is this the world's biggest collection?

Baby Pong
Here's the video (9 sec), with Dimtrij Ovtcharov and Super Baby!

Attacking a Beehive with Ping-Pong Paddles
Here's the video (3:20, with "table tennis" only in the first six seconds) - this is NOT a smart thing to do!

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April 5, 2018

Lefty Multiball?
As noted in my blog yesterday (second segment), I'm having major shoulder problems. They have been ongoing since October, but became dramatically worse in December at the U.S. Open when I went for a big forehand and tore (or technically "frayed") my rotator cuff. That, along with shoulder tendonitis, bursitis, and extremely tight muscles, mean I won't be doing any private coaching for a while, as explained in the blog.

It also means I can't feed backspin repetitively. When I did this on Saturday, my arm literally went into rebellion, with every part of the shoulder screaming out in terror, "Stop It You Fool!" I stopped a little short of 90 minutes into a two-hour multiball session with a very inflamed shoulder, and it's been hurting ever since. I can feed regular topspin no problem, but when I open the racket for backspin, the arm twists about slightly, and this puts a strain on the shoulder. I experimented all sorts of ways, trying to find a way of doing this without hurting the shoulder, but couldn't find one. (It also puts a strain on the shoulder if I repetitively do my favored forehand pendulum serve, though I've found a way to adjust so it isn't as bad, but the serve isn't quite as good. Tomahawk serve is fine. Backhand serves are out of the question.)

So guess what's on my todo list sometime over the next day or so? I plan to stop by the club and practice feeding multiball left-handed. I've never even tried doing this. I'm not particularly good playing left-handed - I occasionally switch hands when I'm way out of position and either lob or soft-spin a lefty shot, but I'm probably about 1100 overall that way. I've been shadow-practicing feeding multiball left-handed the last few days, and while I'm not too confident I'll be able to feed multiball very well that way, it's worth a try. One option is to do most multiball right-handed, but switch hands (and sides of the table) when I need to feed backspin. But can I learn to do this (with practice) at a high enough level to be effective?

Have any of you ever tried switching hands to feed multiball? Or, due to injury to your playing arm, learned to play with your other arm? I absolutely am NOT going to do the latter, but lefty multiball might be a temporary solution.

Butterfly Cary Cup
Here are articles on the 4-star tournament held this past weekend. The first four are by Steve Hopkins. (I added the last two items one day later.) 

Slovenia Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Otocec, Slovenia, April 2-6 (Mon-Fri). The dates caught me off guard this morning - I assumed it was this weekend (perhaps starting today), but they are already past the preliminaries (Mon and Tues) and into the main draws starting yesterday.

Commonwealth Games
Here's the ITTF home page for the event taking place in Oxenford, Australia, April 5-15 - it starts today.

Register for Spring Group Classes & MDTTC Butterfly Spring Open
Here's info! This is for players in my region, at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD.

Reflections on Reflectoid
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

How Do I Choose The Right Ping Pong Paddle For My Playing Style?
Here's the article.

New Articles from Samson Dubina

Will Ma Long Win Tokyo 2020?
Here's a great Facebook posting by EmRatThich. Alas, you might not be able to read it if you are not on Facebook - not sure. If you can't read it and DESPERATELY want to, email me and I'll email you the text.

Power of World #1 Fan Zhendong!
Here's the video (4:12) from EmRatThich.

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

Featured WAB Club: Li Loeber
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Improvised Pong
You can play it anywhere! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Butterfly and Amatur Romania
Here's the video (8:10) - but the part I like is the great ping-pong ball animation in the first 25 seconds!

Badminton Pong?
Here's the video (34 sec) - and watch the kids' heads go side to side!

Batman Pong
I just like this Batman photo! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Here's my April 1, 2016 blog, with Batman and Superman table tennis pictures at the end. (No, not an April Fools' joke, though the first segment there is!)

Skull Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I just added this to my Skeleton Pong listing in my March 30 blog.

Ping-Pong Paddle Boulevard?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

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April 4, 2018

Head Chinese Coach??? April Fools!
Yesterday's blog was, of course, an April Fools' joke, something I do every year on April 1. This year it fell on a Sunday, and I was off on Monday, so it came out two days late - but note that I dated the blog April 1, even though it came out on April 3! Also note that I said I'd been hired as the Head Chinese Coach on Sunday, which was April 1. And most important, read the first letter of each line (which I've now bolded), which reads out (twice), "April Fool April Fool"! It should also have been suspicious that each line had a hard break ("manual line break") instead of flowing like all the other articles - otherwise I couldn't force the starting letters. (Plus do you really think I'm going to kick Ma Long and Fan Zhendong off the Chinese team if they don't learn English? Or that China would hire an American coach due to his table tennis books?) But some emailed me believing it was true.)  Here are my annual April Fools' blogs since 2011. And now to start planning next year's! (I did "Ping-Pong for Quitters" twice - once "announcing" it as my next book, then "announcing" its completion.)

Shoulder Problems and Private Coaching
Yesterday I sent the following email to all my students. Alas, I won't be doing any private coaching for a while, just group sessions. I'll also have to withdraw as a player from the World Veterans Championships (though I'll still be there doing coverage), and I won't be playing at the Nationals (though I'll be there coaching and attending meetings). 

Dear Players and Students,

Alas, it looks like I won't be doing any private coaching for quite some time, at least until the fall. I've been undergoing physical therapy on the shoulder for six weeks now, but it's going to be a lot longer. For now, assume I'm retired from private coaching, though I'll continue to run group sessions.

On Saturday I tried doing a two-hour multiball session. Feeding topspin isn't a problem, but feeding backspin repetitively puts a strain on the shoulder, and after 90 minutes I had to cut the session short as the shoulder was badly aggravated. Even before that the shoulder had been hurting. I also tried regular hitting, and while I can do it at a slow pace, as the pace goes up and as balls spray around, it puts a strain on the shoulder, which aggravates the injury.

I saw the doctor again yesterday. I was convinced I needed surgery, but he explained why I can't yet. I have a frayed rotator cuff, plus tendonitis and bursitis, plus abnormally tight shoulder muscles. My range of motion in the various shoulder muscles are all under 50% normal. The problem is that the tight muscles are pulling at the rotator cuff (impinging it), and that's why it hurts, and why playing will further injure it. So I have to continue the therapy which is primarily aimed at loosening the muscles. Once that's done, then either I'll be able to play again somewhat normally, or that's when we may consider surgery. But surgery now, he said, would not help since the tight muscles would continue impinging on the rotator cuff.

If you are interested in working with other coaches, here is the MDTTC Private Coaching Page. (Martin Jezo hasn't been added yet.)

-Coach Larry Hodges

Youth Talents Muster Energy and Tackle USATT Training Camp Head On
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. Most of the top kids in the U.S. are in Davie, Florida this week for the big USATT training Camp, Mon-Fri. They are streaming some of it live. I watched some of it on Monday, and much of the afternoon session yesterday (78 min). They have two three-hour training sessions each day, plus physical training in the morning. (The morning sessions appear to be live practice, while the afternoon sessions are mostly multiball training.) The sessions are linked from the USATT Facebook page - I think you can go there and get the links even if you are not on Facebook. I was impressed with the coaching - they have a great team: head coach Pieke Franssen, and Dan Liu, Maggie Tian, Wei Qi, and Wang Qingliang. I was also impressed with the players - the depth and level at every level is very strong, much stronger than most past years, far stronger than it was ten years or more ago. I had a good time spying on my fellow MDTTC players (Tiffany Ke, Nicole Deng, Stanley Hsu, and Mu Du) and coach (Wang Qing Liang)! I'm jealous that I'm not down there. Here's the link to this morning's session, 9AM-Noon. (That's Matt Hetherington operating the roving camera.)

Grand Opening of Glen Head Table Tennis Center & Chess Academy
Here's their announcement - they open in Glen Head, NY, this Friday, April 6.

Ready for Action to Begin, Quadri Aruna Optimistic
Here's the ITTF article on Quadri and the Commonwealth Games.

Table Tennis Tidbits #22
The 2016 Korean Open - Championship goes (due to a) South(paw), by Robert Ho.

History of USATT – Volume XX – Chapter 22
Here’s chapter 22 of Tim Boggan’s latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous volumes at www.timboggantabletennis.com. Chapter 22 covers "Mar/Apr 1994 - International Tournaments."

Young Michael Maze - Damien Delobbe 1998 YOUTH TOP 12 Table Tennis
Here's the video (8:01).

Big Paddle Pong
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Yes, the paddles are bigger than the kids!

Chen Weixing's Secret Training
Here's the video (60 sec)!

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April 1, 2018

Tip of the Week
Arrange Practice Partners in Advance.

I'm hired as the Head Chinese Coach!!!
An incredible announcement: I've been hired as the Head Table Tennis Coach for China!!!
Probably because of the recent very poor performance of Chinese players, the Chinese TTA
reached out and hired me on Sunday. Liu Guoliang was replaced as head coach last year, and
it hasn't gone well for China since. But that is going to change - I'm already in contact with
Liu to get his advice on bringing Chinese table tennis back to the top. I'll be working with
famous players: Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike, Xu Xin, Lin Gaoyuan, Fang Bo, and
others on the men's side, and stars Chen Meng, Zhu Yuling, Chen Xingtong, and Liu Shiwen
on the women's side. I am going to work these players to death! I have a few weeks before I
leave, but seriously, this is a dream come true. Beijing, here I come!

As if that weren't enough, I'll get paid a LOT more than I ever got paid here in the U.S. - they
pay top dollar. But I'll have to earn it. The sport is a whole lot more serious over there, and I'll 
really need to work like 16 hours/day. I can say just a few table tennis phrases in Chinese, so
I've decided I'm NOT going to learn Chinese - I'll coach in English, and the Chinese players will
learn English or they will be off the team. I think this will force them to respect and obey a coach
from a foreign country that they probably don't consider a top table tennis power. However, based
on my table tennis books, and Germany's sudden dominance, the Chinese TTA decided to bring me
on, and I don't plan on letting them down. I'm already studying video of their top players. This is
literally historic, China naming a USA coach as their head coach. I'm going to Make China Great Again!

Summer Training Camps
I'm putting together a listing of summer table tennis camps in the U.S. - if you are running one, let me know! Ones I already know about include MDTTC, ICC, Powerpong, Lily Yip, and Ohio Megacamps.

2018 US Youth National Ranking Tournament
Here's the home page for the event that was held this past weekend in Davie, FL. Here are two USATT articles by Matt Hetherington, and a great lobbing point.

Butterfly Cary Cup
Here's the home page for the event held this past weekend in North Carolina. Here are complete results on Omnipong. The tournament has already been processed for ratings.

New World Rankings
The new ones are out, with changes at the top.

9 Aspects of Blocking
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

New from Ping Sunday and EmRatThich
Here are four new articles

National Collegiate Table Tennis
They have a number of new articles on their home page, featuring regional championships, sponsors . . . and new balls!

ITTF Museum Officially Launched in Shanghai China
Here's the ITTF article.

Melton Table Tennis Newsletter
Here's the April issue from Australia, "Across the Net."

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2018 German Open
Here's the video (5:54).

Table Tennis Training on a Treadmill
Here's the video (66 sec) of world #8 Cheng I-Ching of Taipei. .

Backspin Serve, Spinning, Ball Smacking Shot
Here's the video (10 sec) of Matthew Gandy.

Best of Pongfinity Part 4 I Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here's the video (3:09)!

Easter Bunny Pong!

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March 30, 2018

NOTE - no blog on Monday - power will be out from 7AM-5PM for electrical repairs, plus local schools are closed for Easter holiday, and so I'm off too. 

Upcoming USATT Stuff
As usual, there's all sorts of time-consuming USATT stuff going on behind the scenes. I get a double-whammy because I'm both on the USATT Board of Directors and chair the USATT Coaching Committee, both unpaid volunteer positions. (I'm probably going to have to drop one of them next year - just too much.) A lot of it is email correspondence. Fortunately, I'm a writer, so emailing is a strength. But then you add all the local volunteers stuff (such as the monthly MDTTC newsletter I'll be working on today), and then add in all the actual paid stuff, and I'm pretty busy. 

This past year there's also been a major headache with one individual who believes there's a huge conspiracy against him, and has lodged numerous complaints - a total of 64 (!!!), to be exact - against about 20 USATT people with both the USATT and the ITTF Ethics Committees, with one big filing to each containing the complaints. (I'll give a full report on this later on, when all the complaints have been dealt with by the two committees, hopefully within a month or two.) I've already spent about 90 hours now on this person's "issues," over and over finding his charges to be false and often made up. (Most are easily proved false, but it takes time to do so each time.) And now I've had to spend more time on him again, since I'm named in both of these "Complaints." I ended up writing a response to each, one 10 pages, the other 13. I really, Really, REALLY am looking forward to going public with all this, and then never having to deal with this time-wasting person again. The USATT Board has spent more time this past year on this one person than the rest of the membership combined. If you ever wonder why USATT doesn't get more done, this will be Exhibit A. (We do need to find a better balance where we never let one person waste so much of our time like this again while not taking away USATT members' rights to file grievances. We don't want to take the latter away, but we also don't want one person to be able to highjack USATT's time like this ever again.)

The Event Listing for the upcoming USA Nationals in Las Vegas (July 2-7) came out this morning. The entry form for the Nationals should be out soon, hopefully next week. I haven't asked why it's been held up, but my best guess is, well, see what I wrote above. I'll post here as soon as it's up. 

There most likely will be a USATT board meeting during the World Veterans Championships in Las Vegas, which is June 18-24. The meeting will most likely take place on Wednesday, June 20, which is sort of an "off" day. The membership is welcome to attend, except when we go into "executive session" to discuss legal and personnel issues. (We also have USATT teleconferences on March 12 and April 9.) 

I will be attending both the World Veterans (where I'll primarily be doing daily coverage) and the USA Nationals (where I'll primarily be coaching). I'm entered in singles in the Veterans, but because of my shoulder problems I'll likely drop out. For that reason I'm also not playing doubles - three people have asked me, but I've had to say no. I haven't done any private coaching in a month, though I've done a number of group sessions and fed a lot of multiball. Tentatively I might try some private coaching next weekend - we'll see. But I can feel that the shoulder still hasn't healed. Dang. 

The Veterans are June 18-24, the Nationals July 2-7, so I'll have about a week in between where I plan on taking a reading and writing vacation right there in Las Vegas. I'll likely run a USATT coaching seminar on July 1, which is a Sunday. I might also help out with some training sessions at the playing site just before the Nationals. 

Have You Practiced Your Serves Recently?
Well why the heck not? Get to it!!! Here's Practicing Serves the Productive Way.

Tentative Event Schedule Released for 2018 US National Championships
Here's the USATT listing.

Spanish Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, March 28-April 1, in Guadalajara, Spain. The first two days were preliminaries; the main draws start today. Articles, results, pictures, and video.

2018 Butterfly Cary Cup Championship: Photo, Results & Live Stream
Here's the home page for all this. You can also see the results when they go up on Omnipong. (Thursday results are already up.)

Chinese Table Tennis College in Shanghai, Home for Youth Olympic Games Training Camp
Here's the ITTF article.

Insane Rally
Here's the video (26 sec)!

Just Your Basic Inside-Out Falling-Back Forehand Sidespin Countersmash
Here's the video (19 sec, including slo-mo) by Adam Bobrow. Why does Adam get so many videos like this? Because 1) he goes for lots of "crazy" shots, and 2) he videotapes them, and 3) he puts them online. Why don't you?

Ping-Pong Ball Math
Here's the video (52 sec).

Multiplication Math Ping Pong - Commutative Property Math Videos
Here's the video (3:17).

Skeleton Pong

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