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!

September 11, 2017

Back Tomorrow
Yeah, it’s one of those days. Yesterday I was on the go for 14 hours straight. At 6:30AM I was in my car driving to the USATT board meeting in Washington DC, which I attended (as a board member and coaching committee chair) from 8AM-2:30PM. Then I drove back to MDTTC and coached from 4PM to 8:30PM. (Saturday was almost as long – coaching from 10AM to 4PM, then attending various Saturday night board festivities.) I’ll write about the board meeting tomorrow, as well as the Tip of the Week. But just to wake you up this Monday morning, here’s video (31 sec) of the greatest and most energetic table tennis player of all time. 

September 8, 2017

USATT Coaching Committee Report
September 1, 2017
By Larry Hodges (Chair)
[NOTE – this was submitted to the USATT Board of Directors one week ago.]

Accomplishments
Since I was only appointed in March, and the committee approved in May (myself, Rajul Sheth, Han Xiao, Sydney Christophe, and player rep Timothy Wang, with staff liaison Jörg Bitzigeio), we’ve only had a few months. (Also, I’m busiest during the summer, as are other coaches on the committee, and so I’ve put off a lot until the fall.) Here’s what happened on the USATT coaching front so far this year.

  • USATT University. We held the first USATT University at the USA Nationals in July, with great help from Gordon and USATT headquarters. Eight courses were taught, including four that were directly coaching related. However, attendance this first time around was low, and so we need to work on that. Despite putting flyers in everyone’s playing packet, an ad in the program, and USATT news items, the large majority of players, when asked, didn’t even know about it. Courses taught included:
    • How to Set Up a Successful Junior Program (taught by Larry Hodges)
    • Intermediate and Advanced Serving (taught by Larry Hodges)
    • Advanced Return of Serve (taught by Stefan Feth)
    • One-On-One with High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio
  • Grandfathering. The new coaching committee grandfathered eight coaches to the National level: Jörg Bitzigeio, Samson Dubina, Min Kyun Kim, Davorin Kvesic, Wang Qing Liang, Wei Qi, Han Xiao, and Zhou Xin. There are two more to be considered soon.
  • ITTF Coaching Courses. Three were recently held:
  • NCTTA Coaching Certification. Richard McAfee and the National College Table Tennis Association spearheaded this three-day (24 hours) college coaching certification process, which is mostly based on the ITTF coaching courses. I was consulted on it, but other than approving it, they get all the credit.

Current Issues and Challenges

  • Six-hour Club Coach Certification Course. Currently, all one has to do to get certified at the club level is pass a test, be a USATT member for two years, and achieve a 1400 rating. Putting aside for now that we shouldn’t generally use playing level as a requirement for coaching certification level (that’s going to change), I’m currently putting together a six-hour club coach certification course that can be taught by any high-level coach. Once it’s ready, I’ll send to the coaching committee for comments and approval, and possible adoption as the process to get certified as a club coach. (Beyond the club level there is state, regional, and national.)
  • Updating of Coaching Certification Process. This needs updating. I’ve already marked up the ten-page document, and will send to the coaching committee for comments sometime this fall. However, there are some conceptual things that need to be worked out, and so there’ll likely be much discussion among the committee along with High Performance Director Jörg Bitzigeio. This includes questions on the process itself for each level, and for grandfathering coaches.
  • Coaching Recertification. Jörg and I have had discussions about adding a recertification process. Currently, once you are certified at a certain level, you stay there always, even if you aren’t active or up to date on current coaching techniques. Overseas and in other sports, most associations require some sort of recertification process to remain on the “active” list.
  • Coaches Education. Jörg and I have also had discussions about better educating our coaches. Options include seminars, webpage, a newsletter, invitations to coach or assist at National Team Training Camps, and the recertification seminars noted above. These options will go to the coaching committee for discussion later this fall.
  • National Coach Title. For decades the highest certification level has been USATT certified National Coach, of which there were 77 before a number were weeded out by not going through SafeSport. This is separate from the National Team Coaches, who are the roughly ten or so selected by the High Performance Committee and/or High Performance Director to coach our national teams. Jörg has raised the issue that this can cause some confusion. We don’t currently have an alternate option, but it is an issue we will be looking into.
  • ITTF Level 3 Course. We are looking to set up one in fall of 2018, which is when a number of USA coaches who passed the Level 2 course will be eligible. Jörg, Richard McAfee (who would teach the course), and I are actively discussing this. We are hoping we can have it coincide with a National Team training session so as to better educate the coaches. This would be the second Level 3 course ever run in the U.S., the highest ITTF level.

[END REPORT]

New ITTF Level 2 Course Scheduled
Here’s the announcement on Facebook. (It should go up in the USATT listing soon, with flyer.) It’s Oct. 13-15, 27-29, at the New York Indoor Sports Club, taught by Richard McAfee.

Class of 2017 - NCTTA Qualifies Coaches Under New Program
Here’s the article by Matt Hetherington.

Attacking Placement
Here’s the article and video (7:56) from Tom Lodziak.

Shot Placement for the Win
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Spot.

Ten Serves
Here’s the video (1:58). Can you do them all?

Kanak’s Fundraising for Olympic Games 2020 Updates
Here’s the update.

Taking the Paddle to Parkinson's
Here’s the article from Metro Sports News in New York. “Since its founding in 2011, the Westchester Table Tennis Center (WTTC) has been a venue for internationally competitive table tennis contested by some of the best athletes in the world, including many Olympians. It has also become a valued and treasured community resource hosting youth programs, charitable fundraisers and, most recently, a new therapeutic program for individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.”

2017 China National Games
Here’s the ITTF coverage.

Who is the Father of Table Tennis?
Here’s the article from Sports Flu.

Invitation to Umpire at the 2017 United States Open
Here’s the ITTF article. The U.S. Open will be held Dec. 17-22 in Las Vegas.

Looking to Watch TT Videos This Weekend?
Here’s the USATT Video Page and the ITTF Video page.

Light Warmup
Here's the video (69 sec) of Seth Pech preparing for the Presper Financial Architects Open, with Sampson Dubina feeding multiball. 

Table Tennis Awesome Shots
Here’s the video (1:46) – a compilation of great trick shots.

PBS Kids Ping-Pong Table Effects!!!
Here’s the video (61 sec)! I’m not quite sure what’s going on here, but it’s weird, and it’s from PBS, so it must be good!

Marco Reus vs Timo Boll - So Funny!
Here’s the video (3:09) as the soccer champ takes on the ping-pong champ – in headis (“soccer pong”).

Funny but Deadly Ping-Pong Game!
Here’s the video (35 sec) – stay to the end!

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September 7, 2017

New ITTF World Rankings
Here’s the new listing. On the men’s side, the top five spots remained unchanged. Mizutani (JPN) dropped two spots to #8, with Boll (GER) and Chun Ting Wong (HKG) each moving up one spot to #6 and #7. But the more interesting change came from two other Japanese players. Matsudaira moved from #16 to #12, while the whiz kid, 14-year-old Harimoto, shot from #20 to #13.

So which countries challenge China’s supremacy on the men’s side? Here are countries with at least three players in the top 50.

  • China: #1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 29, 35 spots. (They likely have a number of others who would be in the top 50, probably top 20.)
  • Germany: #4, 6, 23, 29, 43
  • Japan: #8, 9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 25, 28, 32
  • South Korea: #14, 21, 42, 49, 50
  • France: #16, 20, 44
  • Portugal: #17, 39, 48
  • Sweden: #22, 24, 39

China is obviously a huge favorite in any team match-up. But when they play Germany or Japan, it can be interesting as those countries have small, but legitimate chances. Perhaps Korea as well, but probably not. Things can get even more interesting if Japan’s Hashimoto begins to beat the best Chinese regularly, but he might need a few more years for that.

On the women’s side, the top four spots remained unchanged – Ding Ning, Chen Meng, Zhu Yuling, and Liu Shiwen, all from China. But just like on the men’s side, the Japanese seem to be making a move. Ishikawa, Hirano, and Ito, formerly #7, 5, and 11, are now #5, 6, and 7. (So Hirano dropped a spot while the other two went up.) Biggest jumps were Jeon Jihee (KOR) from #20 to #15, and Hina Hayata (JPN) from #17 to #24.

So which countries challenge China’s supremacy on the women’s side? Here are countries with at least three players in the top 50.

  • China: #1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 14, 18, 37, 41. (They likely have a number of others who would be in the top 50, probably top 20.)
  • Japan: #5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, 27, 33, 34
  • Singapore: #8, 19, 35, 48
  • Germany: #9, 16, 28, 50
  • South Korea: #15, 22, 30, 46, 49
  • Hong Kong: #32, 35, 40, 42

Again, China’s a strong favorite, but Japan is now pushing them rather hard, and any match-up there could be close – grab some popcorn and enjoy. China’s “big four” are all ages 22 to 27, while Japan has 17-year-olds at world #6, 7, 17, and 33; an 18-year-old at #20; and a 19-year-olds at #13 and 27. China vs. Japan is going to get interesting over the next few years. I guarantee you China sees the coming challenge and are already preparing, including developing practice partners that mimic the up-and-coming Japanese. They take their table tennis supremacy very seriously, and this could be the first legitimate challenge to them in many years. Singapore, Germany, and South Korea could make a match with China look interesting, but their chances of winning are very low.

Where does Team USA fit into all this? (To get these, go to the listing on the far left of the world ranking page, and put “USA” under “Association.”) Not very well on the men’s side, where our ranked players are at #212 (Kanak Jha), 446, 488, 534, 537, 558, 586, and 714. When you switch to under 18 boys, we have Kanak Jha at #13 (down from #10 last month, and #5 in June), but no one else in the top 75. In under 15 boys we have players at #27 (Nikhil Kumar) and #32 (Michael Tran). We actually were very strong in the under 15 category until recently, but there’s a timing issue – many of our best ones just left that category, and are now competing in under 18, where they’ll be eligible for nearly three years – but they are being ranked against players who are two to nearly three years older.

Things look a bit better on the women’s side, with USA holding world #79 (Lily Zhang), 135, 201, 202, 280, 310, 432, 453, 462, 482, 498, 525, 567, and 730. But when you switch over to under 15 girls, we get a different picture, with USA holding #4 and 5 (Amy Wang and Crystal Wang), as well as #28, 31, 34, and 37. (Crystal and Amy both have been ranked #3, with Crystal holding that ranking for much of the past year and a half.

Constructing a Table Tennis Training Schedule
Here’s the new article by Coach Jon.

The Best of Expert Table Tennis
Here’s his new listing.

USOC Coaching Newsletter
Here’s the new issue.

Ma Long Makes Historic Repeat
Here’s the ITTF article about his winning at the China National Games, which are held every four years. “The win makes Ma the first male player to successfully defend the singles title at the Games.”

2017 Hopes
Here are ITTF articles on them.

Sportsmanship is the Key
Here’s the video (59 sec) from a while back, between Waldner and Primorac.

Adam Bobrow: “Long time. Let's chat. (Life, philosophy, experiences, table tennis... I'm open)”
Here’s the video (1:23:45 – yeah, a long chat! But he’s always entertaining, and he’s the voice of table tennis.)

B75 Denmark Table Tennis Summer Camp 2017
Here’s the video (16:35). This year they had 116 players per week, from 36 countries, with 22 coaches. They included 5-6 players from USA.

Top Olympic Table Tennis Rallies
Here’s the ITTF video (3:49).

Table Tennis Stuff at Pinterest
Here’s a listing, via search.

Stage Pong
Here’s the video (11 sec) where Adam Bobrow (with cooperation from David Zeng) stage this stage shot.

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September 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Weapons to Allow Opponents to Beat Themselves.

Fall Coaching and USATT Stuff
My fall schedule keeps changing and getting busier. But the good news is I’ve managed to keep Mon, Tue, and Fri open for rest, writing, and various USATT and MDTTC activities. The bad news it means longer hours on other days. Here’s my updated coaching schedule:

  • Wed: 5:30-8:45 (one 15 min break)
  • Thur: 5:30-9:30
  • Sat: 11AM-4:00PM (will likely have a 4-5PM student, and twice a month also have 6:30-8:30PM)
  • Sun: 2:45-8:30PM (one 15-min break, and I will likely have more Sunday hours before 2:45PM)

Meanwhile, now that the summer is over, I’m about to launch into a number of coaching committee activities. (I’m chair.) I’d hoped to get into these issues this week, but they may have to wait until next week as I have a number of other issues still to deal with from my todo list, but I won’t get into that now. (They are a mixture of table tennis and my outside science fiction writing side career. See segment below at the end for upcoming publications.)

This Friday I’ll post my USATT Coaching Committee Report where I go over the things the coaching committee will be working on this fall. They include creating a six-hour club coach certification class; updating the coaching certification process; coaching recertification seminars; coaches education (seminars, webpage, possible newsletter, invitations to coach at national team training camps, the recertification seminars mentioned above); confusion between “USATT Certified National Coach” and “USATT National Team Coach”; and scheduling an ITTF Level 3 Course.

This weekend will be extra busy as we have a USATT board meeting nearby in Washington DC, about 45 minutes from me. It starts on Saturday night and continues much of Sunday. I’ve already reworked my coaching schedule to accommodate. On Saturday, I’ll be coaching 11AM-4PM, then at the meeting from 5:30PM on (not sure when it ends). On Sunday it’ll be crazy – the board meeting is 8AM to 3:30 PM, but I’ll be leaving at 2:30PM so I can coach three consecutive 90-min group sessions: 4:00-5:30 PM (first meeting of our new fall Beginning Junior Class); 5:30-7:00 PM (Advanced Junior Class – “Talent Development Program”); and 7:00-8:30 PM (Adult Training Session).

USATT News
There are lots of new items since I last blogged on the USATT News page. Why not browse them over?

Westchester Over 40 Tournament
Here’s the entry form. The 4-star tournament is only for players over age 40. On Saturday they have the Open, and U2200, U1800, U1400, and U1000. On Sunday they have age events for over 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, and 80. (I don’t usually have segments on upcoming tournaments, but this one is unique.)

Maryland Table Tennis Center Newsletter
Here's the MDTTC September Newsletter. I'm the editor. 

Time to Relax – Table Tennis for When You Are Not Playing Table Tennis
Here’s the article from Epic Table Tennis.

Snappy Backhand: Check Out the New Tool!
Here’s the video (1:58) from Samson Dubina.

Sidespin Forehand Topspin
Here’s the video (5:10) from PingSkills.

Butterfly Presents: Footwork Drills by Stefan Feth, Drill No. 7
Here’s the video (1:18).

Sports Psychology
Here’s the podcast (26:44) from PingSkills.

New Videos from EmRatThich

Austin to Abu Dhabi, Destination Fort Worth
Here’s the ITTF article on the ITTF Level 2 course in Austin, Texas, run by Christian Lillieroos.

The Evolution of the Table Tennis Racket
Here’s the article by Radivoj Hudetz at Table Tennis 11.

Another Guinness World Record for Mima Ito
Here’s the ITTF article.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter twenty-four - December 1992 - World Doubles Cup. Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, Volumes 1 to 19! (Volume 20 is about ready – copies were sent to Tim for distribution, and the online tracker says he’ll get them by the end of Thursday.)

New from Sports Flu

ITTF’s New “Multi-Balls” System
Here’s the video (2:01), where they test out having the umpires toss a ball to the player to start each point, instead of the players picking up the ball. Ballboys/ballgirls pick up the balls and deliver them back to the umpire.

Prodigy vs. Legend
Here’s the video (66 sec) of this great point between 14-year-old whiz kid Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan (world #20) and 36-year-old former world #1 (currently #7) Timo Boll of Germany.

Xu Xin’s Great Forehand
Here’s the video (25 sec) where he unleashes one on the falling-backwards run.

Audrey After the Talent Program Trials
Here’s the picture! (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) Note who’s on her forehead! All the players, parents, and coaches wore nametags at the trials this past weekend at MDTTC.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ping-Pong Music Video
Here’s the hilarious video (58 sec)!

Non-Table Tennis - Galaxy’s Edge, Gothic Time Travel Stories, and When Parallel Lines Meet
I have two short stories and a novel coming out! (Outside table tennis, which is my main “paying” job, I write science fiction & fantasy as a second profession. Here’s my science fiction page.)

  • My fantasy horror story “The Theater of Death” just came out in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine. Alas, you have to buy a subscription to read it. (You can also get it on Amazon – kindle now, print coming.) This is the humorous story of Death through about 20 billion years, where he meets “the creepy guy” at the theater, visits the “Big Crunch” and subsequent “Big Bang,” and eventually learns who dropped that refrigerator on him that started his life (or death) journey.  
  • My science fiction fantasy story (yes, it’s both), “Eternity and the Devil,” is coming out Sept. 29 in the anthology Gothic Time Travel Stories. The story is a twist on the "Deal with the Devil" story. A physicist sells his soul so he can make discoveries that will benefit mankind. When the Devil shows up and takes him to Hell, the scientist escapes into the future in a time machine - and with numerous stops, goes a trillion years into the future, pursued by the Devil. At each stop, he is surrounded by billions of systematically tortured souls in Hell - including his long-suffering girlfriend, who he is determined to save.
  • Best of all, I co-wrote a novel with Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn, “When Parallel Lines Meet,” which comes out Oct. 31, but you can pre-order now. Mike is the most decorated science fiction writer on the planet. (Description is on the Amazon page, linked above.)

***
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September 5, 2017

After trying to take Labor Day off, I found myself wanting to catch up on work that I’d planned to do today – and ended up working half the night. When I tried going to sleep, I was too wound up. When it reached 4:30 AM and I was still up, I realized I was going to have a problem. I finally got to sleep, then woke up at 7:30 AM. My head is pounding like I’d gone twelve rounds with The Hulk, my eyelids weigh more than The Hulk, and my eyes feel like Ma Long and The Hulk plucked them out and played a best of seven with each. Sorry, no blog today, but at least I’m (mostly) caught up on various table tennis and writing matters. I’ll be back tomorrow with the blog and Tip of the Week. I need to put on my wall, “Early to bed, early to rise, is what morning bloggers must prioritize.”  Oh, and speaking of The Hulk:

(Good night, everyone; I’m back to bed.)

September 4, 2017

It's Labor Day, so no laboring on my blog today. I'm spending the day in my lounge chair reading "Brave New World," which somehow I'd never gotten around to reading, and perhaps watching "Giant," which is on TCM at 4:30PM. See you all tomorrow. Oh, and here's a video of cats and table tennis (2:19). 

September 1, 2017

USATT Club Coach Certification Course
Much of the current USATT coaching certification process was set up when we had few coaches in this country, and were desperately trying to get coaches certified. (I was coaching chair for four years in the 1990s, and remember those problems.) Currently you can become a club coach just by passing a test, having two years USATT membership, and a 1400 rating, current or past.

I don’t think you should have specific rating requirements for specific coaching levels – they are separate things, though closely related. A better rule would be to require (along with other criteria) a specific minimum rating achieved, or similar relevant experience. So that’s going to change.

We’re looking to change the certification process, now that we have so many more coaches than before. Below is a very rough outline of a six-hour coaching seminar for becoming club coach. Later I will expand on it, giving more details on what should be taught in each segment and how. It should be somewhat easy for any high-level coach to run such a seminar at any club in the country, where they’d just roughly follow the seminar schedule, and we’d assume that the high-level coaches would know how to teach each aspect listed. Those who take the seminar would, with the approval of the coach teaching the course, become USATT certified Club Coaches.  (There are four levels - Club, State, Regional, and National. There's also Instructor, but that's designed for non-table tennis people, such as a PE instructor. Here are the current USATT coaching certification guidelines.) 

I toyed with calling it the Club Coach Certification Program, or CCCP – but some might remember that has a rather onerous vibe to it! (It’s the Russian abbreviation for the Soviet Union.) Some of you might also remember that I already did this – when I was Club Chair in the 1990s, I set up the Club Catalyst and Creation Program (CCCP)! (It led to an increase from 226 to 301 clubs in two years.)

USATT Club Coach Certification Course
By Larry Hodges (USATT coaching chair)

Qualifications:

  • USATT membership
  • Minimum 1400 rating, or 3 years USATT membership or equivalent and 100 tournament or league matches. This is to show minimal experience in table tennis.
  • Certification fee (would be part of the course fee)
  • Pass SafeSport

For each topic, the coach should start with a demo, then have the students do a short session where they practice and demonstrate the technique. The following assumes a 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM schedule. Coaches can vary as needed. (Note – I’m 90% certain I’m going to take out the section on Tactics near the end – save that for State level – and find room for sections on chopping, fishing & lobbing, and smashing lobs.)

  1. Introductions (9:00-9:05)
  2. Multiball (9:05-9:30)
    1. Topspin
    2. Backspin
    3. Short
    4. Various drills
  3. Grip & Stance (9:30-9:40)
    1. Shakehand
    2. Penhold
    3. Ball bouncing
    4. Stance
  4. Forehand drive and smash (9:40-10:05)
  5. Backhand drive and smash (10:05-10:30)
  6. Footwork (10:30-10:50) Students can practice at the table or just shadow practice
    1. Side to side
    2. In and out
  7. Break (10:50-11:00)
  8. Pushing (11:00-11:25)
    1. Backhand
    2. Forehand
    3. Short
  9. Blocking (11:25-11:45)
    1. Backhand
    2. Forehand
  10. 11:45-Noon Q&A
  11. Lunch (Noon-1:00
  12. Forehand loop (1:00-1:30)
    1. Purpose, contact, acceleration
    2. vs. backspin (students feed multiball to each other)
    3. vs. block
    4. counterlooping
  13. Backhand loop (1:30-1:50)
    1. vs. backspin (students feed multiball to each other)
    2. vs. block
  14. Forehand flip (1:50-2:00) (students feed multiball to each other)
  15. Backhand flip (2:00-2:15) (students feed multiball to each other)
    1. Regular
    2. Banana
  16. Break 2:15-2:25
  17. Serve (2:25-3:15)
    1. Creating spin
    2. Serving low
    3. Depth
    4. Fast & deep
  18. Receive (3:15-3:30) (Mostly lecture and demonstration)
    1. Reading spin
    2. Against long serve (aggressive)
    3. Against short serve (push long or short, flip)
  19. General tactics (3:30-3:40, Q&A)
  20. Coaching kids (3:40-3:50)
    1. Ball bouncing
    2. Lots of multiball for beginners
    3. 2/3 practice, 1/3 games?
  21. Q&A (3:50-4:00)

Update – History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 20
On Tuesday Tim Boggan received the proof copy. He found three more typos to fix. I fixed them, and yesterday I sent in an order for 50 copies to be sent to him. He’ll have them by Sept. 8, and then he’ll be able to start sending them out! Here’s the Tim Boggan Table Tennis Page, where you can order copies. (Volume 20 covers the years 1993-94, with 460 pages, 1714 graphics.)

ITTF Education Page
Here’s the page – have fun browsing!

Boll – Harimoto: The Kid’s Revenge
Here’s the analysis article and video of Tomokazu Harimoto’s win over Timo Boll in the Men’s Singles final of the Czech Open this past weekend. (Harimoto’s the 14-year-old whiz kid from Japan, now #20 in the world.) Here’s the ITTF page for the event, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

New from Samson Dubina

Table Tennis for One, With Help From a Robot
Here’s the article from the Wall Street Journal. I linked to this on Monday, but that version seemed to require a subscription. This one does not. (I changed the previous link to this one as well.)

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2017 Bulgaria Open
Here’s the ITTF video (6:01).

Aggressive Backhand - Fan Zhendong
Here’s the video (30 sec).

Ma Long Hand Switch Shot 2017
Here’s the video (50 sec, including slo-mo replay).

Ma Long Lost Again (due to injury) Chinese National Games 2017
Here’s the video (8:48) with commentary in Chinese with English subtitles.

Xu Xin vs Fan Zhendong (2017 Chinese National Games)
Here’s the video (10:03, time between points removed). Here are articles and more video from the ITTF.

Umpire Surrounded by Crazy People
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) “We had a lot of fun at the 2017 Aurora Ford Sales South Slave Open in Fort Smith.”

Larry vs. Derek, Crystal Umpiring
Here’s a video (8:43) of an exhibition I did with Derek Nie five years ago, with Crystal Wang umpiring.

Suh Hyo Won Dropping Some Goal Tricks!
Here’s the video (3:27)!

Wild and Crazy Table Tennis Serve
Here’s the video (3 sec).

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August 31, 2017

$2700 Butterfly MDTTC August Open
Aug. 26-27, 2017 • Gaithersburg, Maryland
By Larry Hodges (tournament director)
[NOTE – not interested in reading about a local tournament, with a final between two of the best players in the country? Then jump ahead to the other segments below!]

The MDTTC August Open was the day the choppers, juniors, and women & girls roared. There were choppers in the final and quarterfinals of the Open, and they won Under 2200 and Under 1500. There were juniors in the final of five of the six rating events (and – surprise! – both junior events). And women & girls won three of the six rating events. The ultimate winner was Stephanie Zhang, a chopping junior girl who won Under 1500!

Top-seeded Jishan Liang (2671) of New York, a powerful lefty two-winged looper, won the Open over second-seeded chopper/looper Jian Li (2660) of New Jersey, 2-1 win in this best of seven. Well, it was scheduled to be best of seven, but both players asked if they could play best of five, and we agreed. Then, after Liang went up 2-1 (with all three games being 11-5), Li was forced to retire due to an arm injury. The other chopper/looper in the mix was Wang Qingliang, who lost to Liang in the quarterfinals, 8,6,11. So $1000 to Jishan, $500 to Li, and $250 to the two semifinalists, Jeffrey Zeng and Chen Bo Wen, both MDTTC coaches, as is Wang.

Making his U.S. tournament debut was Czech Under 21 Men’s Team Member Jakub Nemecek, who by most estimates was about 2650. In the preliminaries he clearly showed that level – he might have the most powerful backhand loop in the country right now. But he might have suffered “first American tournament” jitters as he lost the first two games to Chen Bowen (2598) in the quarterfinals. He fought back valiantly before losing a close five-gamer, 5,8,-4,-9,8. Also making his American tournament debut was Martin Jezo of Slovakia, now a full-time coach at MDTTC. He was estimated at 2500, but alas, lost a close five-gamer to Khaleel Asgarali, who has been practicing with Nemecek and may be playing close to 2500 level himself.

Khaleel won Under 2400, defeating 14-year-old George Li (2240) in the final, -8,4,10,7. (Neither are choppers, but George does like to lob and sometimes chop!) Chopper Ed Watts, age 71, with long pips on the backhand, won Under 2200 over 15-year-old Abbas Paryavi at 4,2,-9,7, who probably had never played such a pure retriever who got everything back, and perhaps attacked once per game at most – but as the scores show, after a slow start, Abbas began to figure things out, but it was too late. Thirteen-year-old Kallista Liu won Under 2000 over senior Xisheng Michael Huang, -8,11,9,-8,8 – and she also made the semifinals of Under 2400 – and her rating skyrocketed from 1764 to 1993 as a result. Haoran Aries Guan was down 0-2 in the Under 1800 final against sometimes-chopping Steven Thoren before she mounted a comeback to win, -9,-9,9,7,3. Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Zhang, as noted above, was the chopping junior girl who won Under 1500 over Allan Anzaqira, 7,2,5. And 12-year-old Todd Klinger won Under 1200 over Aaron Thaul at 7,-9,8,9, as well as making the semifinals of Under 1500.

Xisheng Michael Huang, the Under 2000 finalist above, won Over 50 in an upset over Thomas Sampson (2067), 5,-6,6,8, and saw his rating jump from 1832 to 1933. In Under 15, it was George Li (the Under 2400 finalist above) over 8-year-old Stanley Hsu, who gave him a scare before George pulled it out, -12,9,9,8. Stanley went on to win Under 12, going 5-0 in the final round robin, and (with a win over a 2059 player) saw his rating jump from 1761 to 1812 – not bad for age eight! Mu Du came in second in Under 12 at 4-1, with Ryan Lee, Kay O’Hara, James Zhang, and Jacob Lee coming in third through sixth.

A great thanks goes to sponsors Butterfly and HW Global Foundation, which sponsors the MDTTC Talent Development program. A great thanks also goes to Mossa Barandao of PongMobile. What is PongMobile? Mossa sets up a station at our tournaments and leagues so players can easily look up their ratings and ratings histories, both in numbers and graphic form. (The station is always surrounded by players looking up all their friends, coaches, and rivals.) It allows you to follow your favorite players, find clubs nearby or when traveling, and easily find tournament results. Thanks also goes to referee Paul Kovac and umpire Stephen Yeh. Also a thanks to John Hsu (one of our coaches), who not only took care of credit card payments (saving us time at the control desk), but also took charge of running the Under 12 RR. And above all, a great thanks to all 71 players who competed in the tournament!

Complete results are available at Omnipong. Here is a summary – click on event links to see pictures of the finalists! Here are the post tournament ratings.

Open Singles – Final: Jishan Liang d. Jian Li, -5,5,5, ret. (arm injury); SF: Liang d. Jeffrey Zeng, 12,5,-6,5; Li d. Chen Bo Wen, -10,6,8,8; QF: Liang d. Wang Qingliang, 8,6,11; Zeng d. Roy Ke, 9,9,2; Chen d. Jakub Nemecek, 5,8,-4,-9,8; Li d. Khaleel Asgarali, 8,4,10.
Under 2400 – Final: Khaleel Asgarali d. George Li, -8,4,10,7; SF: Asgarali d. Kallista Liu, 2,7,4; Li d. Richard Bowling, 8,5,-8,-9,7.
Under 2200 – Final: Ed Watts d. Abbas Paryavi, 4,2,-9,7; SF: Watts d. Gary Schlager, 4,7,14; Paryavi d. Burak Cevik, -8,6,7,8.
Under 2000 – Final: Kallista Liu d. Xinsheng Michael Huang, -8,11,9,-8,8; SF: Liu d. Michael Cai, 4,-9,3,-3,8; Huang d. Bob Slapnik, -8,11,9,-8,8.
Under 1800 – Final: Haoran Guan d. Stephen Thoren, -9,-9,9,7,3; SF: Guan d. Jozef Simkovic, 8,9,-9,8; SF: Thoren d. James Zhang, -5,10,-5,5,8.
Under 1500 – Final: Stephanie Zhang d. Allan Anzaqira, 7,2,5; SF: Zhang d. Todd Klinger, 9,7,8; Anzaqira d. Jeff Pepper, 5,-6,7,7.
Under 1200 – Final: Todd Klinger d. Aaron Thaul, 7,-9,8,9; SF: Klinger d. Eugene Zhang, 4,9,6; Thaul d. Steve Brown, 4,9,-9,6.
Over 50 – Final: Xinsheng Michael Huang d. Thomas Sampson, 5,-6,6,8; SF: Huang d. Jozef Simkovic, -8,7,8,7; Sampson d. Patrick Lui, 8,6,6.
Under 15 – Final: George Li d. Stanley Hsu, -12,9,9,8; SF: Li d. Hanfei Hu, 7,8,9; Hsu d. Mu Du, 6,2,9.
Under 12 – Final RR: 1st Stanley Hsu, 5-0; 2nd Mu Du, 4-1; 3rd Ryan Lee, 3-2; 4th Kay O’Hara, 2-3; 5th James Zhang, 1-4; 6th Jacob Lee, 0-5. 

Fall Coaching Scheduling and Injury Update
As I noted in a previous blog, working out a coaching schedule is like trying to do a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle where the pieces keep moving around, changing shape, and sometimes disappearing, with new ones showing up randomly. Well, it’s finally done. Things kept changing up until it was finalized, and it’ll always be changing week to week. But below is the basic schedule. And the really nice thing? After doing some maneuvering, I was able to get it all on four days!!!

This does several things. First, it gives me more time to rest – physically, mentally, and to let various nagging injuries heal. Second, it gives me more time for USATT, MDTTC, and writing. (Technically, it doesn’t do this since it would be the same amount of hours if spread over five days, but I find I get more focused on other work when I have no coaching scheduled that day.) And third, it means I’m going to get really, really tired on Sundays – which makes it great that I’m off on Mon and Tue!!! Here’s the basic schedule, about 20 hours/week:

  • Mon: OFF! (Well, I may give one lesson or so a month to one player.)
  • Tue: OFF!
  • Wed: 5:30-8:45PM
  • Thur: 5:15-8:45PM
  • Fri: OFF!
  • Sat: 12-5PM, plus 6:30-8:30PM twice a month
  • Sun: 1:00-8:30PM (with two 15-minutes breaks)

As to the Injury Update, I have nothing but good news. (I blogged about these injuries on Aug. 17.) Here’s a rundown.

  • Neck injury: For two weeks I struggled with this, barely being able to look to my left, but it’s over now. Most students didn’t even notice.
  • Right knee injury from Nationals: 80% healed. I’m still a bit skittish walking up and down stairs, but I use the railing to help support my weight. At the table I’m also a bit leery of moving too quickly to my right, but nothing like before. I still wear a knee brace, and probably will for some time.
  • Shoulder problems: I hurt my shoulder a bit a couple weeks ago demonstrating my 50-foot serve, but it seems fine now. I refuse to give up doing that serve, but I’ll have to make sure to really stretch out the shoulder first.
  • Arm problems: Nothing to report, the arm has been fine for some time. This is probably because I still wear an arm brace when I play, mostly to prevent injury.
  • Back problems: While I still periodically have them, nothing right now.
  • General exhaustion: That’s an ongoing thing, but knowing that I’ll now have THREE days off each week will solve that problem, especially having two consecutive days!!!

Don’t Be Scared! How to Return a Smash
Here’s the video (2:55) by Samson Dubina. “Just as a disclaimer... I highly recommend for other coaches to NOT use this exercise. This is some risk involved. If you hit their eyes, you could be in huge trouble.” (Note – you’ll understand when you see the video. It depends on the level of play of the coach – I know I can safely do this smashing drill without hitting the student. Regarding the drill where the student only has to touch the ball, I might try that one out – perhaps one point for touching the ball, two for returning it?)

Table Tennis Power and Control
Here’s the new article by Coach Jon.

New Table Tennis Articles from Sports Flu

China National Games
Here are ITTF articles on it.

Bids Open for 2018 ITTF World Hopes and Challenge
Here’s the ITTF info page.

Third Edition of the Young Umpires’ Project Announced
Here’s the ITTF article.

2017 Butterfly Canadian Championships – Women’s Final: Alicia Cote vs Leisy Medina
Here’s the video (38:07).

Show #290 - Tibor Klampar's Birthday
Here’s the podcast (34:06) from PingSkills.

Pong Bowling!
Here’s the picture. (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) We do this regularly in my beginning junior classes!

Table Tennis: Moments of Love ❤
Here’s the new ITTF video (1:39)!

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August 30, 2017

Capital Area Team League and Other Leagues
The Capital Area Team League is for players in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area. The “early bird” special deadline is tomorrow, August 31. Final deadline to enter is Sept. 12. If you don’t have a team, the league committee can help you find one. First league matches are on Oct. 1. Here are the basic rules:

  • Teams have a roster of at least 3 players.
  • Team contests will have 6 individual matches and one doubles.
  • Each team will be placed in a division according to their ratings, with similarly-rated teams – priority consideration will be given to teams who have participated in the last season.
  • No USATT membership required to play.
  • Detail league rules here.

So . . . you want to play in such a league, but don’t live in the Capital area? Here’s the USATT League page, where you can find info on other such team leagues currently operating, how to start one, as well as info on singles leagues.

This is also a good time to mention that USATT is currently without a League Committee Chair, or a League Committee. If you are interested in chairing it, let me know, and I’ll forward you to the appropriate person. (Here’s the USATT Committee listing.)

USATT Remembers Robert Tretheway
Here’s the article. (I blogged about him on Aug. 16.)

Table Tennis Tidbits #7
Here’s the article, with link to video, by Robert Ho.

Miu Hirano Hook Serve
Here’s video (58 sec) of the world #5 woman from Japan demonstrating her hook serve variations (also called a tomahawk serve). Alas, as you can see, she illegally hides contact each time with her head – but these days nearly all the top players illegally hide their serves, and umpires and referees allow it, even though the serving rules not only make such hidden serves illegal, but state that the serve is illegal if the umpire is “not sure” about its legality. So, by not calling the serve, they are claiming the serve is clearly visible, when of course it is not.

High Marks, Outstanding Response in Iran
Here’s the ITTF article on USA’s Christian Lillieroos recent camp in Tehran.

Chinese National Games Videos
Below are three from EmRatThich. (Here’s an ITTF article on them, but I don’t see the results online anywhere in English.)

Pong Universe Point of the Week: Ning vs. Mattenet
Here’s the video (29 sec).

Andrew (from Pong Universe) and Shaia Williams Play Outdoor Pong in the Alps!
Here’s the video (22 sec).

Chen Weixing vs Jörgen Persson - Exhibition Match
Here’s the hilarious video (5:43) from EmRatThich!

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August 29, 2017

Fall Scheduling
With local schools starting next week, I’m working out my new Fall coaching schedule. This is one of those surprisingly tricky things, sort of like trying to do a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle, which sounds easy except the pieces keep moving around, changing shape, and sometimes disappearing, with new ones showing up randomly.

During the summer we have little private coaching before 6PM (Mon-Fri) due to our summer camps. (Only available times are before 10AM and during the 1-3PM lunch break, but I rarely schedule during those times.) So while we often have sessions after school at 4 or 5PM, during the summer everyone has to move to after 6PM. But now, with school nights, the kids generally do their sessions earlier. But strangely, most of them have other afterschool activities (!), so we have to schedule around them. Worse, their schedules aren’t set in stone – they keep changing as they get new info, and sometimes it changes, week to week. Plus I have to work the schedules around my group sessions, which are mostly on Thursdays and weekends.

My weekend schedule won’t change much, just my Mon-Fri schedule. If I were one of the 50-hour/week coaches (we have several at my club), I’d be spreading them out all week. But since I generally can’t do more than about 20 hours per week, I’m trying to corral all the sessions into three weekdays, plus Sat & Sun. But last night I saw a glimmer of a chance, just a chance, that I might be able to schedule all my weekday sessions into two longer days and nights – something that would make me very happy. That would give me three days off three days to do more writing and other USATT & MDTTC stuff!!!

Drop Ceiling
Here’s the video (28 sec) from Samson Dubina – “Many of my students don't bend their knees. Many of them bend their knees at the start of the point, then begin to stand up or bounce too much during the long rallies. I have been threatening them for years that I would add an adjustable drop-ceiling to my tt room. Ok, I finally did it. Now, if they stand up, they are reminded by the drop ceiling.”

Table Tennis – Old vs New Ball
Here’s the article, with a link to a PingSkills video, on celluloid vs. the new plastic balls, from Sports Flu.

Titans Clash in Final, Wu Takes 7th Title at Westchester
Here’s the article by Matt Hetherington.

Exceptional Prize Money for 10-Year Anniversary Butterfly Badger Open
Here’s the article by Barbara Wei.

Eligibility Testing for Class 11 Participation and Table Tennis Training Camp
Here’s the USATT info page.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter twenty-three - 1992 – Non-Tournament Articles. Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, Volumes 1 to 19! (Volume 20 is almost ready – a final proof copy was sent to Tim for final inspection.)

Ping-Pong Diplomacy Comes to Britain
Here’s vintage video (65 sec) of the Chinese team visiting England, circa 1972.

Thailand TV Game Show?
Here’s video (10:29) of what appears to be some Thailand game show, where two kids (twins) put on a table tennis show.

Amazing Ping Pong Battle: Knife vs Brick
Here’s the video (13:08) of this amazing play – both serious and exhibition – between these two Vietnamese players, one using a knife, the other a brick!

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