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

Make sure to order your copy of Larry's best-selling book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
21 chapters, 240 pages, 102,000 words. Finally, a tactics book on this most tactical of sports!!!
Also out - Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips, which cover, in logical progression, his Tips of the Week from 2011-2013 and 2014-2016, with 150 Tips in each! Or, for a combination of Tales of our sport and Technique articles, try Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
If you are in the mood for inspirational ficiton, The Spirit of Pong is also out - a fantasy story about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, trains with the spirits of past champions, and faces betrayal and great peril as he battles for glory but faces utter defeat. Read the First Two Chapters for free!

April 26, 2017

Tip of the Week
How Do You Develop Ball Control and a Feel for the Ball?

USATT Board Meeting
On Friday I flew out to the USATT board meeting in Milpitas, CA, last Friday, arriving in San Jose Airport around 5PM. I spent much of the flight going over USATT coaching committee plans – I was recently appointed the chair. (It’s my second tenure – I also chaired it for four years in the 1990s.) I flew in with fellow board member Gary Schlager (his first in-person board meeting) and USATT lawyer Dennis Taylor. Local player Michael Greene picked us up at the airport – right on time - and would later be picking up others as well.

That night we did a quick visit at the Silicon Valley TTC, which was a five-minute walk from the hotel, hitting for perhaps 15 minutes. Then we had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. (I just had a salad.)

On Saturday morning we took what I kept calling the “Great White Whale” (a large white van, almost a bus, which USATT CEO Gordon Kaye drove to charter us everywhere) to the ICC Table Tennis Center to observe elite training. They had huge numbers of players training in three large groups, based on level, including U.S. Team Members Kunal Chodri and Nikhil Kumar. We then had lunch at the home of Anil Godhwani, the primary owner of ICC Table Tennis, who has donated over a million dollars to the center. (Pause while you lift your jaws off the floor.) As he put it, the donations were to get the ball rolling, which led to others donating money as well – and so this might be the only “cash rich” table tennis club in the country! But it all goes back into table tennis, so they have an incredibly successful table tennis program.

The board then went on a tour of some of the local full-time table tennis clubs. Besides ICC Table Tennis, we also visited the Fremont TTA, Table Tennis America, World Champions TTA, and (on Sunday) the Silicon Valley TTC (my second visit there). We were supposed to visit the Alameda TTC, but ran into time problems, and since it was 45 minutes away, we had to cancel that trip.

The board met in a meeting room at Anil’s house Saturday afternoon. There were few contentious issues that afternoon, which featured many reports, including:

  • Upcoming USA Nationals in Las Vegas, July 3-8;
  • 2017 U.S. Open, to be held Dec. 17-22, Sun-Fri, in Las Vegas – we save hordes of money by using these dates;
  • 2018 World Veterans Championships;
  • Discussion about other USATT events - Team Trials and future Nationals and Opens. Some believe that by switching the dates of the Open (now in December) and Nationals (now in July), we lost world-class players who might be more likely to come to the U.S. Open in July. But the switch was done because so many kids in the U.S. had great difficulty making the Nationals in December since it coincided with finals exams. There was also discussion of the format of the Team Trials. I pointed out there were mathematical proofs that there is no such thing as a truly fair trials process, and so all you can do is pick the least unfair one – which in our case seems to be three consecutive days of single elimination. The problem with giant round robins is that in the late rounds it’s easy for players who are out of the running to either stop trying as hard or to dump to friends who have a chance of making the team, and this has unfortunately happened a number of times.
  • Coaching Committee: I’ll write about this later.
  • Discussion of Advisory Committee Roles;
  • Discussion of ITTF election;
  • High Performance and USOC Update on: High Performance Director Update; Upcoming Events; and Funding;
  • CEO’s report on membership, clubs, tournaments, sponsorship, and fundraising;

That night some of us took part in the ICC League, including me. (I didn’t do well – I’ll blog about this probably tomorrow or Friday.)

We’d fallen behind on Saturday, and had to move a few items to Sunday. To make up for this, we met in the hotel lobby at 8AM for a combined breakfast and board meeting, where we went over proposals from the Umpires and Referees Committee (URC) and Tournament Committee. A key part here was about who the URC Selection Sub-committee reports to – the URC itself, or the USATT board? But most believed it should report to the URC, which seemed logical. There was also a discussion about age requirements for coaches. The ITTF has no age restrictions for coaching certification, but USATT – apparently for legal or insurance reasons, but not sure yet – requires coaches to be 18 to be certified. This is something we may look into later. I pointed out that I can see the logic of certifying players under age 18, perhaps at age 16 or 17, but we do have to draw the line or we’ll have 7-year-old certified coaches. Maybe that’s a good thing?

Then we took the van to ICC, where we had our Sunday meeting. It wasn’t actually at the ICC Table Tennis Center, but the Indian Community Center, of which ICC Table Tennis was a part. That afternoon’s discussions:

  • Financial Update;
  • Service Judges Update. At the recent National College Championships they experimented in some matches with Service Judges, where two umpires would sit in the stands behind each player, allowing them to see more easily if the serves were hidden. The accounts were mixed. The report showed that more faults were called, and as a result players served more legally. But the problem was it meant having two more umpires for each match; not all tables had stands behind each player where an umpire could sit; and some thought it changed the playing conditions from what our top players face overseas, putting them at an unfair disadvantage if they have to learn to serve legally when there are service judges, and go back to the usual illegal hidden serves otherwise. (Amazing how that is the norm now.) USATT will experiment with this more at the upcoming Nationals, but not in championship events.
  • Board Fundraising and Philanthropy Seminar. Martha Johnson from the US Olympic Committee gave a roughly 75 minute seminar on raising money. Part of this included getting the USATT Board on board – meaning all nine of us are expected to donate money. I’m going to donate, but will have to guard my wallet so not too much disappears. Anil also spoke of his experiences in fund-raising.
  • Proposal from Resource Development Committee. This was a proposal from Cogeo Sports and Entertainment to partner with USATT “to provide consulting advice and execution services to support the growth of USTTAF’s fundraising initiatives.” (USTTAF = US Table Tennis Association Foundation.) I honestly said that I couldn’t tell if this was the key to USATT’s salvation or something from Dilbert. It’ll be looked at by business minds and perhaps discussed and voted on later.
  • Lunch – Indian food served at the board table.
  • There were several other issues, such as a rewording of Hearing Panels from the bylaws (passed), and a discussion on whether to add language to entry forms that said, “I agree to abide by all ruling of the referee and tournament director provided they are in accordance with the rules.” The latter was not passed – it would basically give players an excuse to refuse to follow the referee’s rulings on the grounds that the player didn’t believe they were in accordance with the rules. But it is the referee who has to make that judgement, not the player, and could lead to havoc, and so this was not passed. (No vote was taken.)
  • During a legal discussion, I learned that in legal terms, “or” supposedly means the same thing as “and/or,” which makes no sense to me, but I’m no lawyer. But I know English – one can serve topspin or backspin, but he can’t serve topspin and/or backspin, as that implies you can sometimes serve topspin and backspin!!! I’m sorry, but or ≠ and/or!

Then came the BIG issue of the day – SafeSport. I’ll likely blog about this more later on. This came about because of abuses in other sports, primarily gymnastics, where some coaches were harassing minors. This, of course, could happen in any sport. So the USOC set up SafeSport – and while they meant well, and I agree that something like this was needed, I think they over-reacted.

Suffice to say that this requires a background check (which I passed), and an online tutorial and quiz that took me about two hours to complete. This will soon be required of all USATT certified coaches, umpires, and referees; all owners and officers of USATT clubs; tournament and league directors and organizers; all USATT board members, committee members, staff, and other positions with USATT; and anyone else in a position of authority over athletes. This is all being required of all Olympic Sports by the USOC, so we really have no choice – if we vote this down, they’ll simply decertify us and/or appoint a new board of directors.

I pointed out numerous problems with the current tutorial and quiz:

  • User Friendliness. I found it tricky getting started. If you have specific instructions, no problem, but I tried doing it from what was on the website, and it took a few minutes to figure things out. Once I got started, it was user-friendly, though at the end it took a few minutes to figure out how to print my certificate of completion.
  • Length. They should have been able to condense this into something much shorter.
  • Bad Questions. Three of the questions or answers I believe were unimportant, confusing, or wrong.
  • Non-English Speakers. Over half of U.S. Table Tennis coaches are Chinese whose English would make it impossible for them to understand the video and/or take the online written quiz. So they’ll either have to get a translator (and probably take five or more hours as they play a snippet of the tutorial, stop, translator translates, then repeat, and then go through the quiz slowly), or simply get others to take it for them. Guess which is more likely? (Note that there are many hundreds of coaches, not to mention all the others who will be required to take the tutorial and quiz.)
  • Underage Volunteers. Many clubs, including mine, have minors under the age of 18 who help out in running coaching sessions and leagues. Do we have to do background checks of 13-year-olds, and force them to take the online tutorial and quiz?
  • Slippery Slope. If this is required – and remember, I’m not against it once they fix the problems – what about other issues? Players have died of heart attacks at clubs – should the USOC require us to have doctors on hand at all clubs at all times? Clubs have had fires – should the USOC require us to have a firefighter on hand at all times? A terrorist could attack a club – should the USOC require metal detectors at all clubs and security guards?
  • Feedback. There is such a thing as good bureaucracy, where you set up procedures to do good things – and that’s the intent of SafeSport. But part of that means that the bureaucrats who create the rules should get feedback from “those on the field” – people like me, who are out there actually coaching and organizing – so they can find and fix problems like those I’ve pointed out.
  • Social Security Numbers. Others pointed out that many would object to giving out their social security numbers for the background checks. I run tournaments at MDTTC, and have one referee and two umpires – and one has already resigned as an umpire rather than give out his SSN. I’m waiting on the other two, one of whom has also voiced objections to giving out his SSN. (I haven’t spoken to the other.) I’m worried I’ll lose all three.

We spent over two hours on this issue. Carl Danner was especially good at going over the language of the actual USATT bylaw that would require SafeSport. One problem we kept coming up with is that based on the wording of SafeSport, we could face issues where a club can’t act with common sense, but must instead rely on SafeSport to resolve problems. I pointed out past examples from my club where common sense worked well, where escalation to SafeSport wouldn’t have been needed. For example, a player once kept bringing in ultra-violent videos and playing them at MDTTC for kids in the 6-9 age group. We told him to stop. He did it again, and the MDTTC management kicked him out for I think a month. When he returned, he did it again, and was kicked out for life. End of problem, and no SafeSport was needed in this case.

Then we voted. With the USOC literally forcing this on us, it passed 8-0-1. I was the abstention – I simply couldn’t vote for it in the current state. I doubt if they will shorten it – it’s more likely to be lengthened as more possible issues come up.

That night we attended the ICC Table Tennis Fundraiser. It started with a few short speeches, and then demonstrations with the ICC coaches and top juniors, following exhibition matches between Olympians Timothy Wang and Lily Zhang, and another between ICC coaches Bob Chen and Wenzhang Tao. Then they asked for donations, starting at $10,000, then $5000, then $2500, then $1000, and kept working their way down. It was very professional. Then Olympians Timothy Wang, Lily Zhang, and Ariel Hsing were all available to hit with players, as well as ICC top juniors. I had a little fun, playing exhibition-type matches against Timothy and Ariel where I chopped with a clipboard! Later I hit for half an hour with the clipboard against ICC juniors.

That night we had dinner again at the Outback, and then we were done! Gordon picked me and two others up at the hotel at 5AM Monday (you read that right) and I caught a 6:30AM flight back to Maryland. I spent Tuesday catching up on things (plus four hours of coaching), and will spend the rest of the week on that as well.

A great thanks goes to Gordon and to ICC (especially Rajul Sheth and Anil Godhwani) for setting up, organizing, and hosting the meeting - they did a great job. Thanks to all those who attended as well!

ITTF Presidential Election, Illegal Serves Question, and ITTF Commenting
Last Thursday, in the second segment, I blogged about this. Well, it took a week and several querying emails, but my question to the candidates about illegal serves finally went up Tuesday night, over a week after I first tried posting the note. It took a day for ITTF to send me the “verification email,” and another six days to approve the note, apparently they say because it included a link. Hopefully if the candidates respond it won’t take them a week or it’ll be a very slow communication process – smoke signals are faster. Strangely, while the questions went up on the announcements for Jean-Michel Saive and Thomas Weikert, it still hasn’t gone up for Khalil Al-Mohannadi. If they respond, I’ll link to their responses here.

New Coaching Articles from Samson Dubina
While I’ve been away, the Dubina’s been writing away!

Ask the Coach
Here’s the page from PingSkills – they’ve answered 16 more questions while I was away!

How to Play Offensive – You Will Never Win If You Don’t Know These Tips
Here’s the article and video (7:07) from PingPoolShark.

New Articles from USATT
While I’ve been away, USATT’s been posting away! I won’t link to all the new articles; I’ll let you browse their news page.

Westchester TTC Presents “Chip and Gus”
Here’s info on this table tennis play to be held at the Westchester TTC in New York on Friday, April 28. “Chip and Gus, oddball acquaintances meet once a month in the back room of a rundown bar to play ping pong.  But on this funny, smart, sad, and surprising night, something will change their relationship forever.”

Dan Seemiller Leads Camp for Veterans in South Bend
Here’s the article.

Chinese National Team Closed Training for WTTC 2017
Here are articles, video, and pictures.

Man vs. Machine
Here’s the video (44 sec, in slo-mo) as “Ty Petty ‘returns’ a ping pong ball shot out of a vacuum cannon... at 300 plus miles per hour!”

Better Nuclear Power Through Ping Pong
Here’s the article and a video (63 sec) showing a ping-pong ball traveling at Mach 2 (over 1500 mph) going through a paddle.

Ping Pong Pool
Here’s the video (19 sec)!

Ping-Pong Song and Tricks
Here’s the hilarious video (1:41)!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 20, 2017

USATT Board Meeting, and No Blog Until Next Wednesday
Tomorrow morning I’m flying out to San Jose, CA, for the USATT Board meeting on Sat & Sun in nearby Milpitas. I won’t get back until Monday night. I’ll have a lot of work to catch up when I return, so I’m going to take Tuesday off as well to catch up – so no blog until next Wednesday. I’m going to the meeting as a member of the USATT Board as well as the recently appointed chair of the Coaching Committee.

We’ll be staying at the Courtyard Marriot in Milpitas – which, I discovered by chance when I looked it up on Google Maps, is practically across the street from the full-time Silicon Valley TTC. So I may walk over there after dinner on Friday night. (Gee, this could be my big chance to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing – walk into a table tennis club dressed in a gorilla suit, and challenging and beating some of the top players – all without saying a word! If I did this at my own club, MDTTC, they’d all recognize my strokes, plus they’d figure I’m the only one who would do this. Hmmm...except I don’t own a gorilla suit, drat…)

On Saturday morning we’ll be watching advanced training at the ICC club. I may come dressed to play – perhaps they can use a practice partner! (No gorilla suit here.) Then we’re scheduled to do a quick tour of some local full-time clubs – Fremont TTA, Table Tennis America, and perhaps others, time and location permitting.

Then, starting right after lunch, the board meets for the rest of the day. That night we have the option to play in the ICC Saturday Night Advanced League. I’ll likely play in it. (I better go practice my serves.) On Sunday we meet all morning and into the afternoon. Afterwards we have a visit planned to the Alameda TTC. After that we attend the ICC annual fundraiser.

Items on the agenda include:

  • USATT Events Update (USA Nationals, U.S. Open, World Veterans, other USATT Events). Regarding the World Veterans next year, I’ll be doing daily coverage of that.
  • Advisory Committee Roles and Responsibilities.
  • Resource Development Committee Proposal.
  • High Performance and USOC Update (HP Director update, upcoming events, funding)
  • CEO’s Report (membership, clubs, tournaments, sponsorship, fundraising)
  • SafeSport Update and Bylaw Amendments. This is going to be a real headache. I’ll likely blog about this next week. I took the tutorial and quizzes – took just over two hours.
  • Financial Update and Discussion
  • Service Judges Update (a proposal to have, in some matches, service umpires at the court ends, behind the players, so as to better judge serves, which was tried out at the recent College Nationals)
  • Board Fundraising and Philanthropy Seminar
  • Closed session for legal update
  • Approved Tournament Venues and Regulations
  • NewCo/Table Tennis USA (involving them running or promoting certain USATT events)

ITTF Presidential Election, Illegal Serves Question, and ITTF Commenting
As I posted back in January, the upcoming election for ITTF president is a three-way battle between incumbent Thomas Weikert of Germany, ITTF Deputy President Khalil Al-Mohannadi of Qatar, and superstar player Jean-Michel Saive (former #1 in the world and Men's Singles Finalist in 1993). "The elections will be held on Wednesday 31st May at the Annual General Meeting in Düsseldorf, Germany, to be held on the occasion of the Liebherr 2017 World Championships." Here are their campaign statements:

All 222 member associations will be able to vote in the election, including USATT. Who should we vote for? I’m not a one-issue person, but perhaps the most important issue to me regarding the ITTF is their taking action on the problem of illegal hidden serves, which I’ve blogged about many times. (More on that in my note below, especially in the commentary in my proposal.) And so on Tuesday morning I decided to ask the candidates about this. I posted the note below under Saive’s statement. A note popped up saying that I would be receiving a verification email from ITTF that I needed to respond to, to verify I was real. However, no such email came over the next 20 minutes or so. There was a link to have it resent, and I did so multiple times, but still no email. Finally I emailed the ITTF webmaster and ITTF media director about the problem. They responded by saying they were looking into it.

The following morning, Wednesday, out of the blue, I received three verification emails. I responded, and my posting appeared under Saive’s note – but with a notice that it would not appear to others until it had been approved by ITTF. I then posted similar notes to the other two candidates, with the same result. I emailed the ITTF webmaster and media director that I had received the verification emails but was waiting for ITTF approval.

Another day has gone by, it’s now Thursday morning, and my notes still haven’t gone up. I don’t know why – presumably either they object to my note and won’t approve it, or they’ve set up such a cumbersome approval process that any serious discussion isn’t possible. Whatever it is, I can’t seem to get my posting to show up. So I’ll post it below. (You can click on the links above to see the campaign statements and any comments, from me or others, and see if they’ve “approved” mine and put it up. As of this writing none have any comments.) Later on perhaps I’ll research and find direct emails for the three candidates and email them the questions, but since this is an ITTF election, it seems like the logical place for such a discussion would be on publicly the ITTF site. I was hoping to hear from the candidates before the USATT board meeting, where we’ll likely discuss the election, at least informally.

Note that the USATT CEO will make the final decision on who USATT votes for, but the board and others will likely be advising him. This is from the USATT bylaws, which states: 

Section 14.3. Secretary General. "The Chief Executive Officer shall serve as Secretary General of USATT and in that capacity shall represent or designate representatives for the USATT in relations with the international sports federation for Table Tennis recognized by the International Olympic Committee and at international Table Tennis functions and events."

Here is my [non-published as of Thursday morning] note. [NOTE - after several querying emails, the notes finally went up on Tuesday night, April 25, one week after I first attempted to post them. Strangely, while the ITTF approved and posted the notes for Saive and Weikert, the note for Al-Mohannadi still had not gone up as of Wednesday morning, April 26. I emailed ITTF about this.]

[Candidate’s name],

One big problem our sport faces is illegal hidden serves. The rules not only state that you can't hide the ball or contact during the serve, but that it's the responsibility of the player to serve so the umpire can see that the serve is legal, and if the umpire is no sure of this, the serve is not legal. Currently, these rules are rarely enforced, and so top players essentially cheat on most serves, regularly hiding contact on the serve, either for illegal advantage, or to compete on an even basis since the opponent is doing so and the umpire allows it.

Individual umpires don't want to be the only one enforcing the rule, and since others are not doing so, they feel they cannot either. To change this it would take a strong emphasis from the top leadership positions so that all umpires and referees will enforce these rules equally. The key part is that if the umpire isn't sure of the legality of the serve, the serve is not legal. So borderline serves that might actually be visible aren't legal because the umpire, from their vantage point, can't be sure.

I've made a proposal on this, the "Net Visibility Rule," where the rules require the ball be visible to the net throughout the serve, making it harder to hide the serve without it being obvious. I've sent this to the USATT Rules Committee and to Samsonov (Athletes Commission Chairman), but haven't heard anything back yet.

Whether they adopt this proposal or some other, I would like to see the problem fixed. As a full-time professional coach, I am forced to explain to my students that if they want to compete on an equal basis, they will have to serve illegally since their opponents are doing so and umpires allow it. All coaches and players face this problem. This needs to change.

Do you have any plans to fix this problem?

-Larry Hodges

Have You Entered the USA Nationals Yet?
Here’s the home page for the event to be held July 3-8 in Las Vegas. I’ll be there; will you?

Korean Open
Here’s the home page for the ITTF Pro Tour event taking place April 20-23 in Incheon, KOR.

Forehand Pendulum Serve
Here’s the video (4:10) from EmRatThich.

Back Injuries - 7 Ways to Keep Your Back in Top Shape
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina. I’ve had some back problems as well – see #2 in Samson’s list – due to my right side being so much stronger than my left side that it literally pulls the spine out of alignment. I’ll blog about this and the stretching exercise I do for this later on.

Ask the Coach
Here are three more questions answered at PingSkills:

Certified Strokes Coming to China
Here’s the ITTF article. “Graded tests that will certify the ability of table tennis amateurs and enthusiasts will soon be part of the Chinese education system.”

USATT Insider
Here’s the new edition, which came out yesterday.

2017 World Table Tennis Day For All
Here’s the article by USA Women’s and Junior Girls’ National Team Member Angela Guan.

2017 Asian Championships – Chinese Supremacy Threatened
Here’s the article from Fremont TTC.

Ma Long vs Zhang Jike, Olympics Rio 2016
Here’s the video (5:12) from EmRatThich that reflects on the match. It speculates that the match was fixed, but seems to conclude otherwise.

USATT Top 10 Points from the 2017 USA National Team Trials
Here’s the video (3:52).

Short but Funny Table Tennis Scenes
Here’s the video (91 sec)! It's in Japanese, but it's mostly physical humor so you don't need to know the language. 

Tischtennis Cartoons
That’s German for Table Tennis – and who knew that the Germans had so many table tennis cartoons! When I Googled “Tischtennis Cartoons,” here’s what I got! While they are in German, you don’t need to know German to enjoy most of them. Warning – there’s a lot, and they are addictive!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 19, 2017

The Relationship Between Stroking and Footwork
I worked with an adult beginner yesterday. She’s only had a few lessons, and her forehand and backhand shots were still more or less patting the ball back and forth. Until yesterday.

Here’s what happened. We probably spent a good 20 minutes at the start just hitting forehands, first multiball, then live, and she was unable to do more than awkwardly pat the ball back and forth, hitting the ball flat (no topspin). Then we did backhands, and it was the same, though a little better. We did some pushing and serve practice, then came back to forehands, and still mostly just patting the ball back and forth. Then I decided to introduce her to footwork, which we normally hold back on until the strokes are more solid. So I fed multiball side to side as she hit forehands from the forehand side and the middle.

And suddenly she was driving the ball! The balls even had some topspin. She hadn’t been able to do this while standing more or less stationary, but once I had her moving, the stroke fell into place. Presto, instant good forehand! (Well, it still needs a lot of practice, but a lot less pitter-patter.) What happened was that when she was forced to move, she became more aware of getting into position for each shot and rotating the body. When she didn’t have to move, she more or less reached for the ball, which also led to using less body rotation.

We finished the session with something I wouldn’t have expected we’d be doing that session: I fed high balls (multiball), and she smashed. After getting the stroke right while moving, she was now able to smash balls. Quite a transformation!

Regarding that serve practice mentioned above, it was her first time – she’d never served before. When I asked her to show me a serve, she dropped the ball on the table and hit the ball after it had bounced. So I went over the rules and showed how you do it properly, and she picked it up quickly. I also brought out the colored soccer balls for pushing practice so she could get feedback on the spin on her pushes. We’ll work next on putting spin on her serves.

Side note - this is the same woman I mentioned in a previous blog who has an uncanny resemblance to former USA Team member, 3-time Canadian Open Women's Singles Champion, and USATT Hall of Famer Barbara Kaminsky - twice I've tricked locals into thinking she was Barbara, who lives nearby in Virginia. But I think Barbara still has the better forehand! 

Kanak Jha: My Quest for Olympic Games 2020
Here’s his funding page, where he talks about his training, including a video (2:24).  

10 Benefits Of Playing Ping Pong For Your Health And Brain
Here’s the article from PingPoolShark.

Ask the Coach
Here are more questions answered from PingSkills.

Zhang Jike Pendulum Serve Slow Motion
Here’s the video (18 min).

Sportfist Launch Offline Tournament Software for Windows
Here’s the USATT article. I haven’t tried this new software as I use Omnipong for my tournaments, and am quite happy with it.

Young Talent Overcomes Obstacles on the Road to Hopes Qualification
Here’s the USATT article featuring Shishi Hu, by Matt Hetherington.

Seeking Elusive Title; Timo Boll Returns to Korea
Here’s the article.

Taiwan's Top Female Table Tennis Player Aspires After Glory at Upcoming Taipei Universiade
Here’s the article featuring Cheng I-Ching (鄭怡靜). (I thiink that's the first time I’ve put Chinese in my blog!)

Top Ten Shots from the Asian Games
Here’s the video (4:09).

Tribute to Liu Shiwen
Here’s the video (4:18).

Smacking Things with Paddle
Here’s the repeating gif image!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 18, 2017

Tip of the Week
Serving to the Backhand Flipper. (This is similar to a Tip I did a few years ago, but with a different perspective and expanded. I linked to this yesterday in my “shortened” blog.)

Down the Line
This past weekend I emphasized down-the-line shots in much of my coaching. Players habitually drill crosscourt so much that they often forget there’s that other direction. I once realized in my match coaching that about one-half of players at the intermediate to advanced levels automatically cover the crosscourt angle when an opponent is attacking – meaning they are wide open down the line. The reason players don’t take advantage of this is 1) they are so used to going crosscourt; 2) there’s more table if you go crosscourt; and 3) they are worried about leaving themselves open to a crosscourt angled return if they go down the line.

While these are legitimate reasons, all are easily overcome. If you practice attacking down the line, it becomes almost as easy as crosscourt, which takes care of the first two objections above. As to leaving themselves open to a crosscourt angle, that’s may be a problem, but if the opponent is so used to players going crosscourt that he leaves the down-the-line side open, then you don’t have much to worry about as the opponent will either miss or be lunging for the shot. Worse, if you don’t go down the line when it’s open, you let the opponent camp out on the crosscourt angle, making things much easier for him. That’s not a good idea.

I’ve seen so many players lose matches, even at the 2600 level, because they predictably went crosscourt to end points, allowing opponents to camp out there and so win points they would not otherwise have won – while leaving the down-the-line open. I’ve also seen players lose because they were helpless against a smart opponent who punished them for guarding the crosscourt and leaving the down the line open.

It does take training. A few years ago, in preparation for the Cadet Team Trials, we had Tong Tong Gong train regularly in counter-attacking down the line, to prepare him for the top seed in the Trials, who was rated over 200 points higher – but videotape showed that he always guarded the crosscourt in fast rallies. Sure enough, when they played, he struggled with Tong Tong’s down-the-line counter-attacks, and Tong Tong pulled off the upset (and made the team).

It just comes down to practicing it, and then using it in matches until you gain enough experience to reflexively go to the right spot – and jumping all over any part of the table the opponent leaves open. And there’s an added benefit to practicing down the line – if you can attack that way consistently, then going crosscourt is easy.

Here’s my Tip from last month, Everything You Wanted to Know About Down the Line.

By the way – you hyphenate it when it refers to something (“He has a good down-the-line attack”), but don’t hyphenate it when it is the subject (“You need to attack down the line!”).

Capital Area Table Tennis League
The Capital Area Table Tennis League (for players in the DC, MD, and VA area) had a meeting this past Saturday, with all 24 teams competing at various times from noon until 10PM on Sunday. Click on the division to see the results! I was coaching on the back tables much of the day, and had to stay to close, so ended up spending 12.5 hours at the club. That was a long day!

New Full-Time Club - Spin & Smash TTC
The Spin & Smash Table Tennis Club opened yesterday in Columbus, OH. Coaches listed for the club are Dave Fullen and John Tannehill. This makes 93 full-time professional clubs in the U.S., a big jump from around eight such clubs just ten years ago. There should be such clubs in and around every metropolitan area in the U.S. – I once calculated we should easily be able to accommodate 500 such clubs.

Pro Tip Blog: Pioneering the Backhand Banana Flick with Petr Korbel
Here’s the article, with link to video (6:28), from MH Table Tennis.

How to Return Spin Serves
Here’s the article, with links to video, from PingPoolShark.

Ask the Coach
Here’s the page where PingSkills has answered 24 more questions just since Friday!

Playing in High Altitudes
Here’s the article from Samson Dubina. (Note that Las Vegas is high altitude at 2000 feet above sea level.) 

Practice Table Tennis Drills Alone: Without the Table
Here’s the video (7:26) by EmRatThich.

Ma Long Serve Technique
Here’s the video (10:03).

Ma Long Reflects On Losing First Match In 5 Years!
Here’s the article with links to video. (It was his first loss to a non-Chinese player in five years.)

NYISC Hold Successful ITTF Coaching Course
Here’s the article of the course taught by Sydney Christophe.

Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships
Here’s the home page, with results, articles, photos, and video. They were held in Wuxi, China, April 9-16.

Teen Sensation Challenges China's Table Tennis Dominance
Here’s the article on Miu Hirano of Japan winning Women’s Singles at the Asian Games, ending China’s long-time dominance.

Westchester TTC Presents “Chip and Gus”
Here’s info on this table tennis play to be held at the Westchester TTC in New York on Friday, April 28. “Chip and Gus, oddball acquaintances meet once a month in the back room of a rundown bar to play ping pong.  But on this funny, smart, sad, and surprising night, something will change their relationship forever.”

ITTF Working Group discusses strategies to promote full participation of all member nations in World Championships
Here’s the ITTF article.

RIP: Jack “Buddy” Melamed, June 27, 1928 - April 13, 2017
Here’s the obit of this long-time table tennis player and promoter.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter four! Or order your own print copies at, as well as Volume 19!

Now That’s a Backhand!
Here’s the video (25 sec) – it happens so fast that you have to see it in slow motion to verify it actually hit.

World Mini Pingpong Festival
Here’s the video (1:41).

Smack Your Sidespin Serve
Here’s the video (20 sec) of Allen Wang pulling off this trick shot.

Trick Shot Rally
Here’s the video (35 sec) as the player (apparently using sandpaper) does behind-the-back shots, alternates hands, and lobs/chops while sitting on floor.

Happy Girls on Table
Here’s the picture from Samson Dubina. “Cloudy with a chance of Nittaku Premiums.” (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Arizona Closed: No Snow-Trees Allowed
Here’s the cartoon! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Send us your own coaching news!

April 17, 2017

Happy Pong Easter!!! Local schools are closed today for Easter Monday, and so I’m off too. (Not really – I still have 3.5 hours of coaching tonight, and a bunch of USATT work, alas. I do need the break – I was at the club 12.5 hours yesterday, coaching and doing other work, and about eight hours on Saturday.) But here’s the Tip of the Week, Serving to the Backhand Flipper. (This is similar to a Tip I did a few years ago, but with a different perspective and expanded.) And in case you missed it in the "Animals Pong" listing on Friday (under "Beagle"), here's Snoopy playing table tennis

April 14, 2017

Interview with Larry Hodges – and the Best Tip Ever!
USATT is featuring my interview from yesterday

MDTTC Spring Break Camp Days Four and Five
Here’s the official group picture! Today’s the final day of the camp. Much of yesterday's focus in my group was serve and receive. I confess I still get a kick out of watching a new kid's eyes go wide when I demo the various spin serves. After explaining and demoing the serves, they went out on the tables to practice their serves.

Best part? When we called break, one kid stayed and practiced serves the entire 20 minutes. The highlight? I had introduced the exercise where you try serving a high backspin that bounces back over the net. The kid was very excited when he served his first one! Then he worked on serving it lower, with the goal of getting the ball to bounce back into the net. Soon there was a small collection of balls there.

There was a bit of excitement in the air all day, and for a good reason. In the morning I'd announced that on Friday we would be playing the "Candy Game." At 12:15 PM today (Friday) I'll be putting a huge stack of Jolly Ranchers and Hershey Kisses on the end of a table, and the kids will line up, three shots each, taking turns trying to knock them off as I feed multiball. Anything they knock off, they get to keep! (Trade-ins are allowed, so they can trade what they knock off for different flavors or candy types.) We’ll do this for about 30 minutes. So there was an extra focus on accurate shots yesterday! I think this might be the key to developing a new generation of players to challenge the Chinese.

Today’s focus, in addition to winning lots of candy, will be pushing and smashing – two extremes.

USATT Coaching Committee
I was recently appointed to chair the USATT Coaching Chair, my second tenure. However, I can't really do much until my nominations for the rest of the coaching committee are approved. We have a USATT Board meeting in the Bay Area in California next weekend where they'll vote on this. I'm not going to go public yet with my nominees - I'll announce them after the vote. 

Once they are approved, some things I want to focus on are 1) Recruiting and training professional coaches to set up and run full-time centers and junior programs. 2) Coaching seminars at the Nationals and Open; 3) Updating the USATT coaching certification process; 4) Communicating with our current coaches - in particular, asking them what USATT can do for them, given USATT's limited resources. Any other suggestions? (Addendum, added Sunday morning - I blogged more at length on my plans on March 17.)

Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships
Here’s the home page, with results, articles, photos, and video. They are taking place right now in Wuxi, China, April 9-16.

Fan Zhendong Forehand Loop kill Technique
Here’s the video (4:51).

Featured Table Tennis Questions
Here’s the page from PingSkills. (I’m going to start linking to these as they come up.) Here’s a separate video from them, Physical Warm Up (7:38).

Amazing Rally Between Pistej and Storf
Here’s the video (24 sec).

Ping Pong Movie: “I’m Number One”
Here’s the video (8:50). In Vietnamese with English subtitles.

Sofia Polcanova . . . Balancing-on-a-Board Pong?
Here’s the video (11 sec)!

These Guys Are Using PORSCHE GT3 As A Ping Pong Table!
Here’s the video (17 sec)!

Grandma Trick Shots: “Ball is Life!”
Here’s the video (92 sec)!

What Type of Table and Net is This???
Here’s the picture!

Animal Pong
Let's have a little fun today. So . . . what are the best animal table tennis players? And the worst? Let's go to the videos! (Comment below if you have a link to any animals I missed below.) 

Send us your own coaching news!

April 13, 2017

MDTTC Spring Break Camp, Day Three
Yesterday the focus was on honing the forehand and backhand strokes, and footwork. I did a lot of multi-player multiball drills, where I'd work with two or more players at a time. Here are some of the drills we did. (All of the players I worked with were righties.) 

Two players: The Multi-Player Side-to-Side Drill. The A player would stand in the forehand corner, the B player in the backhand corner but a step back. The A player hit a forehand, moved to the backhand side, hit a backhand, moved back to the forehand side, hit a forehand, then step back. Then the B player would do the same, going backhand, forehand, backhand, step back. Then repeat. It's continuous, with me feeding the balls side to side. Halfway through the drill I'd have them switch sides. (If the players are complete beginners, then they just stand in separate corners and practice forehands or backhands.)

Two or more players: Circling Drill. Players lined up on the backhand side, and hit three forehands, one from the backhand side, one from the middle, one from the forehand side, and then circle back to the end of the line. Halfway through the drill they'd switch and line up on the forehand side, and hit forehands from forehand, middle, and backhand. Two other variations: Just two shots, a forehand from each corner, or a forehand and a backhand from the corner. Each drill should be done in each direction. (I did variations of these drills with five players.)

Two or more players: The 2-1 Drill. The players would line up by the backhand side. Each player would get three shots: backhand from the backhand side, forehand from the backhand side, and forehand from the forehand side, then circle around to the end of the line. Note that this drill, when done continuously, incorporates the three most common moves in table tennis – move to cover the wide forehand, move to cover the wide backhand, and step around forehand.

Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships
Here’s the home page, with results, articles, photos, and video. They are taking place right now in Wuxi, China, April 9-16.

“The Bionic Man”
Here’s the video (1:47) from WJLA ABC News 8 last night, featuring Navin Kumar. That’s me in the video hitting with him throughout (bright blue shirt), and quoted one time. (This is Navin’s recording of the video; the online version from WJLA hasn’t gone up yet.)

Forehand Flick: Three Tips
Here’s the article and video (3:22). Note that “Flick” is the same as “Flip.”

USATT Insider
Here’s the new issue, which came out yesterday.

2017 NorCal Juniors League Mid-Season Report
Here’s the article.

Eight New Blue Badge International Umpires Announced
Here’s the ITTF press release. One of the new ones is USA’s Esther Aliotta.

The Beast is Back
A little multiball, anyone (46 sec)?

Why This Self-Made Millionaire Takes Meetings While Playing Ping Pong
Here’s the video (48 sec) from CNBC.

Somewhat Amusing Ping Pong Videos
They’ve been accumulating – time for some Spring Cleaning!

  • Popeye vs. Bluto (2:29) - the table tennis is from 0:18 to 1:14, then it switches to some sort of live concert, and finishes with a non-table tennis Tom and Jerry cartoon
  • Sardine Pong (7 sec) – it’s apparently ping-pong on a large sardine, though it looks more like a flattened whale.
  • Ping Pong Movie Preview (1:26) – involves a somewhat hilariously poorly animated ping-pong ball as these two go at it.
  • 3D Animation Robotic Table Tennis (25 sec) – two robots go at it.
  • South Park Pong (1:59) – some shooting involved! No sound.
  • Chipmunk Pong (52 sec) – I’m not sure if the high-pitched “chipmunk” voices of the two girls playing table tennis are from speeding up the video or helium.

Send us your own coaching news!

April 12, 2017

Interview with Larry Hodges – “The Best Table Tennis Tip…Ever”
Here’s the article and interview from Todd Lodziak at TableTennisCoach in England. I’m a bit embarrassed by it!

MDTTC Spring Break Camp
Yesterday was Day Two of our Spring Break Camp. I’m in charge of a group of seven players who are mostly beginners. The complication is their diversity - there are four boys who are all about 10-12 and about the same level; a girl about 8 who is a beginner; and two very young kids, a boy and girl, about ages 5 and 6, who struggle to hit the ball. During the multiball sessions I tend to break them into two groups, the four older boys and the other three, and go back and forth.

We’ve done a lot of work on forehand, backhand, and footwork so far. I started the younger ones on serves on the first day to give them a “head start,” and introduced the others to serving with spin yesterday. I was going to have them practice their serves, but was running out of time, so instead we had sort of a “fun” ten-minute session where they took turns trying to return my spin serves, while I called out where their return would be – “Lonely” meant to the left, where the box of balls were; “Thirsty” meant to the right, where the water fountain was; and “Net” meant the obvious. I think my favorite time in every camp is the first time I serve heavy backspin and make the ball come back into or even over the net, and see the look on the faces of the new kids, who are oohing and aahing at this witchcraft!

So today I’ll introduce them to serving these spins, starting by having them spin and catch the soccer-colored balls (so they can see the spin), and then have them try it at the table. I may introduce pushing as well, though I suspect that after practicing serves for a while they’ll want to do something more physical, like smashing. I did promise to show them how to smash high balls today, we’ll probably do that this morning.

After the camp I had two private coaching sessions. One was with Dolores, a new player who causes double-takes from long-time players due to her incredible resemblance to USATT Hall of Fame player Barbara Kaminsky from nearby Virginia. Twice already I’ve played gags on locals who know Barbara, convincing them that she was Barbara – the resemblance really is that close! But Dolores has a ways to go before she’ll have Barbara’s forehand, but we worked on it a lot, as well as backhand and pushing. Following that was a session with 11-year-old Jackson, where we focused on his gradual transition from mostly forehand hitting to mostly forehand looping, and on staying low.

USATT Announces Updates to League Ratings Processing
Here’s the USATT article. I’m happy it’s back in top form! There have been database problems that have led to a lot of time and effort by USATT to get things fixed, but hopefully all is working smoothly now. (I instigated and co-founded the system with Robert Mayer many years ago, which helped transform USA clubs from the then prevalent “winner stay on” systems to leagues. It processes more matches than the tournament rating system.)

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
My write-up, results, and pictures from my blog yesterday are now featured as both USATT and Butterfly news items. Congrats again to all those champions!

Push or Flick
Here’s the article and video (2:02) from PingSkills. (A “flick” and a “flip” are the same thing.)

Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships
Here’s the home page, with results, articles, photos, and video. They are taking place right now in Wuxi, China, April 9-16. China just won Men’s and Women’s Teams over South Korea and Japan, respectively. Here’s the ITTF press release on that.

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - March 2017
Here’s the video (8:14).

Table Tennis Club 4 Fun - Some Olympic Rallies!
Here’s the highlights video (3:49).

Samson Dubina – Back in Training
Here’s the video (5:21) as he comes back after a hand injury.

Upping the Speed for Fitness Sake
Here’s the video (41 sec) of Matt Hetherington in Training.

Pingsider | 90 Years of ITTF
Here’s the video (7:45).

Exhibition at Chinese Lantern Festival in Boca Raton
Here’s the video (51 sec) of Andrew Williams and 5-year-old son Shia do the exhibition.

Classic Old TT Picture from the Turn of the Century
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

Boy and Monkey Pong
Here’s the animated video (21 sec) as the two go at it – with the Monkey doing a little multitasking. It’s reminiscent of this video (31 sec) where it’s a dog that’s multitasking!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 11, 2017

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
April 8-9, 2017 • Gaithersburg, MD
By Larry Hodges

Players from six states, DC, and Nigeria competed in our 3-star April Open at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with over $2700 in cash prizes. I sent the results in on Sunday night; found a mistake on Monday morning and resent the new results at 9AM, and USATT still managed to process the tournament that day! So the rating results of both the 4-star Cary Cup from the week before the MDTTC Open went up on Monday at the USATT Tournament Ratings Page. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong.

The Open final between the lefty top-seeded Alex Ruichao Chen (2689 and a full-time coach at MDTTC) and second-seeded Azeez Jamiu (2609, former Nigerian star visiting New York) was a nail-biter at the end. Alex may have the best pure serve and forehand attack game in North America, but Azeez’s tricky serves, receives, and his own relentless looping gave Alex fits, especially at the start. Azeez went up 2-0 in games, but Alex came back. In the seventh, Alex led 9-4 and 10-7, and then it was 10-9, Alex serving. His serve went slightly long, Azeez looped it really, really wide to the left Alex’s backhand – and Alex stepped way, way around, and absolutely pulverized a crosscourt forehand counterloop for the winner!

Two things jumped out at me from this match. First was Alex’s serve and forehand loop attack. He’s absolutely relentless with this. Any return that goes long, no matter how wide or even aggressive is attacked with his forehand, meaning he’s racing about at about light speed – not easy for a guy who’s well over six feet tall. The other is how well Azeez mixed up his receive, often handcuffing Alex on those third-ball attacks. (If Alex gets hold of one while balanced, you won’t even see his loop – you’ll just hear the sound of it smashing into the table as it whizzes by.) Alex may have followed his serve with a loop over and over, but he was often forced to do so in awkward or off-balanced positions, forcing misses or counter-attacks to the other corner. Azeez is a master of varying his receive with last-minute changes of direction and hiding what he’s going to do until the last second, whether it’s a short or long push or a flip, or (if the ball’s the least bit long) a loop. There was a lot of short pushes, with both returning short serves back short as each looked for a ball to attack.

The Under 2400 event was an apparent 18th birthday present for Roy Key, who celebrating his birthday by romping through the event, winning his matches 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-0, and 3-0. The scores in the semifinals and final were 4,7,5 and 7,7,8. Only Ping Li, a newly arrived senior player from China, way under-rated at 2102, got a game off him, losing in the quarterfinals at 7,2,-9,9. But don’t feel bad for Ping, as he won Under 2200, defeating local junior star William Huang in the final, 4,6,7. Ping’s big struggle was in the semifinals, where he defeated another junior star, George Li in a battle of Li’s and nines, at 9,-9,-9,9,9.

But in an historical oddity, we had an all non-junior semifinals in Under 2000, with Xinsheng Michael Huang defeating Mohamed Kamara in the finals at 9,5,-10,-3,4. Kamara had to battle with Kallista Liu in the semifinals, 6,-8,-7,6,4, while Huang had perhaps an even more difficult battle in his semifinals with Thomas Olausson, 9,-9,7,10. Most watched match of the event – Kallista’s closer-than-it looked win in the quarterfinals with 8-year-old Stanley Hsu, now rated 1674, at 9,10,8

Huang had less luck in Over 50, where he made it to the final before losing to Lixin Lang, -11,7,7,7. Huang likes sevens – in the semifinals he defeated Robert Lande at 7,7,7. In the other semifinals, in an effort to one-up him (and also a battle of pips-out penholder vs. chopper), Lang defeated Frederick Nicolas at 8,8,8.

Chase Womack, rated only 1381, matched to the Under 1800 title with ease, winning his matches 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-1, and 3-0. Think his rating will go up? In the final he triple-nined Arndt Plagge, 9,9,9. (There were a lot of triple scores like that this tournament.) In Under 1500, it was chopper/looper John Miller over Mahmoud Youssef in a titanic final against that seemed longer than a baseball game, 9,-8,7,-4,5. But Mahmoud, rated only 1108, would follow that by winning Under 1200, -10,9,6,6 over another chopper, 13-year-old Stephanie Zhang, -10,9,6,6. Perhaps Miller warmed him up?

In Under 15, it was second-seeded Spencer Chen’s relentless attacking over top-seeded George Li’s hyper-versatile game (looping, fishing, chop blocks, you name it), 6,6,9. In Under 12, Jackson Beaver was top seed with his new rating of 1752 after the Cary Cup, but showing no respect for ratings, Mu Du (age 8, 1389, but 1513 after this tournament) held on to win the title, 7,8,-5,-5,5.

I ran the tournament, but with great help from Mossa Barandao (who acted as assistant director – check out the ratings presentation he created at Pongmobile!) and Wen Hsu, as well as Referee Paul Kovac and Umpire Steven Yeh. Thanks also goes to sponsors Butterfly and the HW Global Foundation, to Omnipong tournament software, and to the real backbone of running a tournament – lots and lots of tape, paper clips, balls, pens, clipboards, and printing paper. 

Butterfly MDTTC April Open Results
Complete results at Omnipong. Click on names for pictures!
Open Singles – Final: Chen Ruichao d. Azeez Jamiu, -9,-5,8,10,-8,8,9; SF: Chen d. Jeffrey Zeng, def.; Jamiu d. Chen Bo Wen, 8,8,6,7; QF: Chen Ruichao d. Meshal Alduaig, 5,7,9; Zeng d. William Huang, 3,5,6; Chen Bo Wen d. Bojun Zhangliang, 7,9,13; Jamiu d. Roy Ke, -7,3,9,8.
Under 2400 – Final: Roy Ke d. Bojun Zhangliang, 7,7,8; SF: Ke d. George Li, 4,7,5; Zhangliang d. Meshal Alduaig, 7,4,10.
Under 2200 – Final: Ping Li d. William Huang, 4,6,7; SF: Li d. George Li, 9,-9,-9,9,9; Huang d. Tiffany Ke, -6,7,6,14.
Under 2000 – Final: Xinsheng Michael Huang d. Mohamed Kamara, 9,5,-10,-3,4; SF: Huang d. Thomas Alausson, 9,-9,7,10; Kamara d. Kallista Liu, 6,-8,-7,6,4.
Under 1800 – Final: Chase Womack d. Arnd Plagge, 9,9,9; SF: Womack d. Mu Du, 6,-6,9,4; Plagge d. Elliott Hamilton, 7,4,7.
Under 1500 – Final: John Miller d. Mahmoud Youssef, 9,-8,7,-4,5; SF: Miller d. Eugene Zhang, 3,2,1; Youssef d. Stephanie Zhang, 6,-8,5,10.
Under 1200 – Final: Mahmoud Youssef d. Stephanie Zhang, -10,9,6,6; SF: Youssef d. Matthew Dovel, 7,4,8; Zhang d. James Zhang, 3,9,-12,3.
Over 50 – Final: Lixin Lang d. Xinsheng Michael Huang, -11,7,7,7; SF: Lang d. Frederick Nicolas, 8,8,8; Huang d. Robert Lande, 7,7,7.
Under 15 – Final: Spencer Chen d. George Li, 6,6,9; SF: Chen d. Abbas Paryavi, 3,10,10; Li d. Bowen Zhang, 8,7,-10,6.
Under 12 – Final RR: 1st Mu Du, 3-0; 2nd Jackson Beaver, 2-1; 3rd Kay O’Hara, 1-2; 4th James Zhang, 0-3.

Online Registration for USA Nationals Now Open
Here’s the USA Nationals Page – enter now!!! They are in Las Vegas, July 3-8.

Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships
Here’s the home page, with results, articles, photos, and video. They are taking place right now in Wuxi, China, April 9-16. Here’s a good match: Zhang Jike (CHN) vs Kang Wi Hun (PRK) (6:43).

Three Tips on How to Fix a Dented Ping Pong Ball
Here’s the article, with links to videos.

2017 TMS College Table Tennis National Championships
Yesterday I linked to their home page, with results, articles, and video. There are also lots of feature articles at the National Collegiate TTA’s page. It was held this past weekend in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

'That' Ding Ning Serve in Slomo
Here’s the video (22 sec).

MArvelous LONG - Fan-made Trailer for Ma Long 2020
Here’s the video (1:59). “This is a fan-made trailer by @昰龙 (Sina Weibo). Ma Long is a big fan of Marvel and has a good collection of action figures of Iron Man and others. Inspired by the trailer of Iron Man 3, this clip tells about the story of Ma Long who starts his new journey to 2020 Olympic Games after achieving the full Grand Slam in 2016.”

Ping Pong The Animation - Kazama is a monster
Here’s the crazy video (2:46)!

Send us your own coaching news!

April 10, 2017

Tip of the Week
First Step to Blocking Well is Taking That First Step.

Tournament and Camp
I spent all day Saturday and Sunday running the 3-star Butterfly MDTTC April Open, assisted by Mossa Barandao. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but suffice to say I was there each morning at 8AM, finishing around 8PM on Saturday, and 5PM on Sunday – and then coaching for 1.5 hours. I was going to blog more about it this morning, but I’m running out of time – have to go coach at our MDTTC Spring Break Camp this morning, which is Mon-Fri this week, 10AM-6PM. Combined with the usual private coaching at night, it’s going to be a VERY busy week. (I ran out of time this morning, despite getting up at 6AM, because I had to fix some problems in the results for the tournament - technical problems - which I just managed to do before putting this up, and in a few minutes I'll be off to the club....)

USA Table Tennis Names Jörg Bitzigeio New High Performance Director
Here’s the USATT article and picture. “Bitzigeio was an integral part of the German Table Tennis Federation national team programs from 2005 – 2015, including serving as the Senior National Team Head Coach from 2006 – 2012. Under his guidance, German teams achieved unprecedented international success, including a bronze medal with the Women’s National Team at the 2010 ITTF World Team Championships.”

2017 TMS College Table Tennis National Championships
Here is the home page, with results, articles, and video. It was held this past weekend in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The Perfect Stroke - Read about the 4 Elements!
Here’s the article by Samson Dubina.

Separating Play and Practice
Here’s the article from Coach Jon.

Cadet Underdogs Rise to the Occasion at 2017 Australian Junior & Cadet Open
Here’s the ITTF article, which features USA’s Lavanya Maruthapandian.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter three! Or order your own print copies at, as well as Volume 19!

Five Years Ago: Table tennis Tiff Lands in Civil Court
Here’s the article, featuring table tennis coach Joel Mitchell – fighting for his club!

11th Annual Parkinson's Symposium – Navin Kumar Talks Table Tennis
Here’s his speech (4:52) Saturday in New Orleans, where he explains the benefits of table tennis for Parkinson’s. He does something I’ve always wanted to do – give a speech while bouncing a ball on a ping-pong paddle!

Ping-Pong Variations for Kids
Here’s the video (1:18).

Here’s the caricature of the 1971 Men’s World Champion and San Diego coach. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.)

The Three Stooges in Table Tennis Tussle
Here’s the video – link should take you to 2:24, where the table tennis video of the animated Three Stooges starts and runs for about three minutes.

Send us your own coaching news!

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