Larry Hodges' daily blog will go up Mon-Fri by noon USA Eastern time (usually by 9 or 10 AM).
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 an author of five books and over 1200 articles on table tennis. Here is his bio.
Make sure to order your copy of Larry's new book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
21 chapters, 240 pages, 102,000 words. Finally, a book on this most tactical of sports!!!
This weekend I played a practice match with a fast up-and-coming junior who had never challenged me before. In the past he'd had trouble with my serves, usually too passive, so I was able to attack at will. This time he came at me very aggressively, attacking most of my short serves with his newly developing backhand banana flip. When I served side-top, he jumped all over them aggressively. When I served backspin, he spun them off the bounce aggressively, a bit softer but spinnier. When I served short to his forehand, he reached over and flipped with his backhand. What to do?
This is actually a textbook case, and the answers were obvious. Here are three ways I dealt with this.
First, I went for more extremes. Instead of side-top serves, I went with pure topspin, and instead of side-backspin serves, I went with pure heavy backspin. Having to deal with the extremes meant that he began to put the topspins off the end and the backspins into the net.
Second, I began throwing low no-spin serves at him. He'd often read them usually as backspin and lift off the end. Or because they were dead, he sometimes put them into the net. It's amazing how players put no-spin serves both off the end and into the net, but that's what happens.
Third, I drilled him with short serves to the forehand, deep serves to the backhand. The key is to use the same motion. If he's going to reach over and use his backhand to return my short serves to his forehand, then he's going to have great difficulty covering a deep spinny breaking serve to the backhand. When he guards against that, then I go back short to the forehand. This combo was especially effective when I gave him short reverse pendulum serves to the forehand, which break away from him, making him reach even more.
The kid played a great match, and I'll have to keep my eye on him as he gets better and better. As it was, I came from behind 4-8 to win the first 11-9, and then won the next two more comfortably. As I explained to him afterwards, he's now at that stage where because he's challenging me, he'll lose worse at first because now I'm playing him a lot more seriously. We'll see where he is a year from now.
Update - Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
I only publicly announced Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers was available yesterday, and already 26 copies have sold. Of course, the real sales surge (hopefully) will come after I advertise in USATT Magazine (1-page color ad) and possibly their web page, and possibly other places. I'll look into that next week after I'm done doing the page layouts for Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 13.
I'd like to post about the book in online forums as well, but not right now. If I post on an online forum, people will have questions, and if I try to answer those questions, Tim (who's sitting right next to me impatiently waiting to get to work) will no-look forehand smack me back to work. Sometime next week I'll post on the various forums and look into other areas to advertise, such as England and Australia, and other online websites.
I'm also getting a few blurbs from prominent TT people I can use. Here are some others I've come up with that I probably won't use.
Blurbs for My Book I've Decided NOT to Use
Feel free to comment with your own!
Dealing with PTSD Through Ping-Pong
Here's an article and video (2:29) on how one Vietnam Vet dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with table tennis, specifically featuring a clinic run at the Zing Table Tennis Club in Denver by Richard McAfee, assisted by Duane Gall, Peter Christofolo, and Mike Mui. (Here's an ITTF article on the clinic.)
Zhuang Zedong Obit
The Ping-Pong Queen
Here's an article about Susan Sarandon and ping-pong.
Waldner - Persson Exhibition
Here's a video (1:29) of some points from an exhibition by Jan-Ove Waldner and Jorgen Persson.
Anime Women Playing Table Tennis
Here's his Hall of Fame bio.
Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 13
We've now finished 16 chapters, 267 pages, with 540 graphics placed. We're on pace for 29 chapters, 482 pages, and 956 graphics. This would be the most graphics by far - the last volume had the most at 837. (But he's actually been pretty consistent as the last seven volumes all ranged from 800 to 837.) We will probably finish the "first draft" on Friday. I'll be busy coaching all weekend while Tim proofs everything. On Monday (Feb. 18) we'll input changes, and by Tuesday it'll be ready to go to the printer. Copies should be available soon afterwards. We hope. (Here's where you can find more info on Tim's books - Volumes 1-12 of his History of U.S. Table Tennis. And no, I don't get any commission from his sales!)
Tim Boggan and the BBC
On Sunday and Monday Tim was interviewed live on the BBC and will be again on Wednesday, via phone, about Zhuang Zedong's death and Ping-Pong Diplomacy. Each time he most wanted to include how Zhuang had asked, when he heard that Glenn Cowan had died, if Glenn had been well remembered at his funeral. He was told, well, not as you might think a historic celebrity should be remembered. Zhuang was sorry to hear this, and said, "When I die, everyone in China will know." According to Tim, the relationship between Glenn and Zhuang was largely historic and symbolic rather than any close show of friendship itself. (Note - Ping-Pong Diplomacy was seminally started when Cowen was invited onto the private Chinese bus, and then later he and Zhuang exchanged gifts. You can read more about it in Tim's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. V.)
Tim Boggan Resigns
After many years of service, Tim Boggan has resigned from the ITTF Media Committee. Here is his resignation letter.
After much thought, and more regret, I've decided, as of now, to resign from the ITTF Media Committee.
I'm not going to the World Championships in Paris, or any other. Perhaps my age is showing (I’ll be 83 this year), but traveling abroad and playing conscientious reporter for a week is just becoming WORK—and I’ve already got enough of that.
I want to focus the more on my History of U.S. Table Tennis –intend to keep writing, as I have since 2000, a new book a year (my Vol. XIII will be in hand by April Fools' Day). I'll also keep researching and making Banquet presentations on behalf of our U.S. Hall of Fame candidates—that's generally a month’s effort. (The new inductees make it a total of 138 Profiles I've done on those enshrined.) And also I'll continue writing (though not as much as before) obits and articles for our USTTA magazine—as in my "Reisman Rembrance" for the current issue, and my coverage of Mike Babuin's Cary Open in an upcoming one.
It's been more than 40 years since I became affiliated with the ITTF (as a U.S. Delegate to the 1971 Nagoya World's). And in those four decades I must have been to, and reported on, 25 or more World or International Championships. I've had the unusual opportunity to meet many interesting people and to see many interesting sights/sites that I certainly wouldn’t have otherwise. For this I'm very grateful.
I thank all those who've helped me to have this rich experience, and will fondly remember my long involvement with the ITTF for the rest of my life.
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Tip of the Week
Now Available - Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
It is with great happiness (and irritation!) that I announce that Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is now on sale at amazon.com. So now's your chance to buy it - $17.95 for 240 pages, 21 chapters, 102,000 words, 90 photos!
Let's make that bigger:
Why the irritation? It's hard to believe, but after all the proofing I'd done, I found a minor typo on the first page near the start. I've already uploaded a new version, fixing that and one other minor change (bolding the names of the six members of the Editorial Board). Apparently I can upload new versions whenever I want, but it'll take a few days for the new version to go live. So here's your chance to get the very short-lived version v02-05-03 (that's the version listed in the title page) before version v02-10-13 goes live. Possibly a collector's item!
There's also a text-only kindle version. I expect to have a new version with photos in a few weeks, and amazon should allow a free download of the new version to anyone who bought the text-only version. (I can't guarantee this, but they said they would if there were major changes, and going from a text-only version to adding the 90 photos is a major change.) As noted in previous blogs, I ran into technical problems with the photos in the kindle version, but have figured out how to fix it, when I have time. (Don't have time right now since I'm working all day with Tim Boggan on the page layouts of his new History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 13. We expect to finish in about a week.)
Here's the Table of Contents:
Chapter 1............................................................................... Tactical Thinking
Chapter 2............................................................................... Strategic Thinking
Chapter 3............................................................................... Your Tactical Game
Chapter 4............................................................................... All About Spin
Chapter 5 .............................................................................. Beginning Tactics
Chapter 6............................................................................... Conventional Tactics
Chapter 7............................................................................... Tactical Examples
Chapter 8............................................................................... Service Tactics
Chapter 9............................................................................... Receive Tactics
Chapter 10............................................................................. Rallying Tactics
Chapter 11............................................................................. Different Grips
Chapter 12............................................................................. Pushing
Chapter 13............................................................................. Loopers
Chapter 14............................................................................. Blockers, Counter-Drivers, and Hitters
Chapter 15............................................................................. Choppers
Chapter 16............................................................................. Fishers and Lobbers
Chapter 17............................................................................. Non-Inverted Surfaces
Chapter 18............................................................................. Hardbat Tactics
Chapter 19............................................................................. Doubles Tactics
Chapter 20............................................................................. Tournament Tactics
Chapter 21............................................................................. Coaching Tournament Matches
Afterword.............................................................................. Tactical & Strategic Thinking Revisited
Glossary Table Tennis Terminology
Appendix............................................................................... Recommended Reading
About the Author
USA Team Trials Results
The Trials are DONE! Here's the home page, with complete results and other info. Who made the team? It's a bit complicated. Here are the USATT rules on this, from the Trials page:
And here is the actual order of finish:
Men's Final Placement
Women's Final Placement
Three-time World Men's Singles Champion (1961, 1963, 1965) and Legend Zhuang Zedong died of colon cancer yesterday. Here's an article in the Washington Post. Zhuang not only dominated table tennis for most of the 1960s, he was also a key figure in the lead-up to Ping-Pong Diplomacy in 1971.
New ITTF Coaching Courses in USA
There's another ITTF Level 2 Course scheduled in the U.S., in Atlanta. Below are all three now scheduled for 2013. (There might be more.) All are taught by Richard McAfee. Here is more info on the courses.
Chinese Team Celebrates Chinese New Year
Here's a dramatic table tennis music video (1:35) on Biba!
Peanut-Shaped Table Around the World
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Recent and Future Technical Changes in High-Level Table Tennis
Here are what I consider the five biggest technical changes in table tennis over the last ten years, in no particular order. The last four were all being done ten years ago, but they've gone from a few players doing it to being commonplace at the higher levels.
- The rise of super-looping sponges that practically loop by themselves.
- Backhand banana flip, even against short serves to the forehand, turning the receive against short serves into a dangerous weapon.
- Off-bounce backhand loops as regular backhands.
- Reverse penhold backhand, making the conventional penhold backhand almost obsolete.
- Shovel serve, which is a forehand pendulum serve where at the last second before contact you can serve either serve regular or reverse pendulum serve, i.e. sidespin either way, or backspin or no-spin.
Here are three possible ones to come.
- Super-fast "hyperbolic serves" as a regular serve. These are serves where you hit the ball as hard as you possibly can, with the power going into both topspin and speed, just like a loop, allowing one to serve faster than was previously believed possible.
- Strawberry flips. This is the opposite of a banana flip, where your racket goes from left to right instead of right to left as with a banana flip (for righties). Many players have learned to sidespin this way, but more as a change-of-pace sidespin. A few players, such as Stefan Feth, can do a serious drive this way, so that the ball literally jumps away from you if he backhand flips it to your forehand (assuming both are righties).
- More off-the-bounce sidespin counterloops. Sidespin loops from off the table are about as good as they'll ever get, unless we get even better sponges. Players are already looping off the bounce with heavy topspin as a matter of routine. So the logical next step is to do this with sidespin, hooking and fading the ball at extreme angles. Lots of players do this occasionally, but imagine the player who perfects this as a routine shot.
Status: Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13
This volume covers 1984, and brother (or should I say Big Brother), it covers it all! We've been working on the page layouts for three days now. Besides the covers (4 pages, including inside covers), we're through page 162 and chapter 9 out of 29. I've now fixed up and placed on the page (including captions and attributions) 343 graphics - just over two per page. I'm sort of featured in chapter 9, where he talks about the many coaching articles I wrote that year and the year before, and so I got a head shot. Then he treated me to dinner at the Outback.
USA Team Trials
Chinese Team Trials
China is also having their National Team Trials. Here's where you can see articles, results, and video.
The Serve and Backhand Attack of Seiya Kishikawa
Here's a video (4:00) where Seiya Kishikawa (world #28, recently as high as #16) demonstrates his serve and backhand attack. With English subtitles and lots of slow motion.
The Proper Way to Finish a Match
Here's video (16 seconds, including slow motion) the last point in the Chinese Team Trials between Ma Long and Fan Zhendong. Ma shows how to end a match.
You Can't Take the China Out of Coaching
Don't see it? Look at the word "coaching." After the "coa" you get "ching." Drop the tail off the "g" and what do you have left? (Of course we all know what "COA" stands for.) No, I didn't hear this somewhere - I just noticed it.
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Last Night's Coaching
After I finished working all day on Tim's book (see below), I went to the club to coach from 5-8PM. However, my 6PM student hurt his arm playing basketball and had to cancel. The 7PM came in early so I was able to do him from 6-7PM.
The 5PM student was Audrey Weisiger, the Olympic Figure Skating coach I blogged about on Jan. 17. She's coming along pretty well, can hit regular forehand to forehand and backhand to backhand pretty well. She still has a few bad habits on the forehand when she starts a session, but she gets over them quickly. She sometimes tends to rotate her body rigidly into the shot, and also often finds herself either jammed at the table or backing off, so I have to remind her to find that spot in between, about arm’s length from the table. Halfway through the session while doing multiball she suddenly caught fire and did side-to-side forehand footwork really well, hitting about 50 solid drives in a row.
I also introduced her to pushing, something she badly needed since she's been losing badly to a fellow figure skating coach who serves backspin, which she puts in the net over and over. (Now you know her incentive for taking coaching!) She's mastering backspin, both with her push (she learned quickly), and is getting some decent backspin on her serves now.
Here's the really interesting thing about this particular session. We started early, at about 10 minutes to 5PM, and went for 70 minutes. Now we weren't creaming the ball back and forth as she's still a beginner, but in the entire 70 minutes, excluding nets and edges - brace yourself - I didn't miss a shot!!! Not one. She'll verify this. (About 25 minutes of the session was multiball, the rest "live.") I also went ten minutes into my next session (where we were going at a faster pace) before finally missing.
The 6PM student was a 12-year-old who's beginning to master the loop. He still tends to use too much arm when looping (both forehand and backhand), but after a few minutes gets it right. His backhand loop in multiball is especially getting steady. One big breakthrough for him yesterday - he discovered that if he faked a smash to my forehand, then at the last second rotated his shoulders back and smashed to my middle or backhand, he could finally get the ball past me. (I'd told him about this before, but it didn't register until now.) Before all his smashes were predictable and easy to counter or fish back. This makes him a bit more dangerous!
After the two sessions, I showed another player how to use the robot, then left for home. Since I was done nearly an hour earlier than expected, I was able to put together the first draft for the upcoming ad in USATT Magazine for Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. I may also place the ad in other table tennis magazines. I also started work on the flyer for Tim Boggan's History of Table Tennis, Volume 13.
Status: Table Tennis Coaching for Thinkers
I got word from Amazon that print copies will be on sale in "5-7 business days." But I got the same note about Pings and Pongs, and they were online in two days. I'll post when they are up. Meanwhile, I ordered 110 copies for myself - ten to arrive next week, and 100 more the following week (to save on shipping).
Status: Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13
We've done the covers and the first five chapters out of 29. This puts us to page 86. Tim's been going crazy with the pictures - I've placed 218 of them so far on only 90 pages (including the outside and inside covers), or about 2.4 per page!!! The last volume had a record 837, but we're on pace for about 1100. Nearly all need fixing up in Photoshop, and many practically need surgery before they can be used. It's a long tedious process. We're working roughly from 7AM to 5PM each day, but while he's then done for the day, I'm off to coach, plus I need to do the blog each night, plus about ten other things that seem to come up each day.
New Table Tennis App
Here's a new table tennis app from Google. Here's how they describe it: "This is an info tool and mainly for trained table tennis players to check ratings, sanctioned tournaments, clubs, umpires as well as some basic info from USA and ITTF world rankings and events. It can also be used as a scoreboard and a simple coaching pad." So who wants to be our beta tester?
Timo Boll vs. Chuang Chih Yuan
Here's video (5:26) of their match in the Champions League.
Here's a picture. Is it a game or statues?
Office Table Tennis
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Feb. 4 USATT Board Minutes and Tournament Sanction Changes
Late last night the minutes of the Feb. 4, 2013 board meeting went up. Part of it was the election of Mike Babuin as the new chairman of the USATT Board of Directors, and the Advisory Committee Chair Appointments (see segment below). However, the bigger news is the new sanctioning standards for USATT tournaments, from zero to 5-star. Here are the new rules. When I get a chance I'll go over them and give my own thoughts. I'll be glad to hear your own - feel free to comment.
Mike Babuin New Chairman of the USATT Board of Directors
The USATT Board chose Mike as the new Chair. I've had many discussions with Mike, and I think they've made a good choice. Here's the article, and here's the actual board minutes, both of which also discuss advisory committee chairs. Here is the list of all newly appointed or re-appointed USATT Advisory Committees chairs.
High Performance Committee - Carl Danner
Nominating and Governance Committee - Bob Fox
Ethics and Grievance Committee - Jim Coombe
Compensation Committee - Mike Babuin
Audit Committee - Peter Scudner
Athletes Advisory Council – Han Xiao
Officials and Rules Advisory Committee - Roman Tinyszin
Seniors Advisory Committee - Gregg Robertshaw
Tournaments Advisory Committee - Larry Rose
Editorial Advisory Committee - Jim McQueen
Clubs Advisory Committee - Attila Malek
Hardbat Advisory Committee - Alberto Prieto
Juniors Advisory Committee - Dennis Davis
Coaching Advisory Committee - Federico Bassetti
Marketing and Fund Raising Advisory Committee - Jim Kahler
Ma Long vs. Zhang Jike
Here's video (4:40) of their match at the 2013 Chinese Team Trials.
This is what happens when you combine pool and ping-pong (39 sec).
Underwater Table Tennis
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Tim Boggan Arrives
This morning at 9:30 AM Tim Boggan will arrive for a 10-14 day stay. I'll be doing the page layouts (500+) and photo work (800+) for his History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13 (as I've done for the past ones). Here's Tim's page (which I created and maintain for him), where you can buy the previous volumes.
Since we'll be working all day, Mon-Fri, until it's done, and since I'll be mostly coaching nights and weekends, I won't have much free time the next two weeks. (I'll be doing most of the blog late at night instead of early in the morning, since Tim will be up and waiting to get started early each morning.) If anyone is dreaming of asking me to do a time-wasting favor for them, well, here's what I have to say about that.
Here are more examples of tactics used this past weekend in practice matches.
In one I played a player with a really nice forehand smash. Just about anything that went there he'd smash (even my pushes if I weren't careful), and if I put the ball slow to his backhand, he'd step around and smash that as well. What to do? I took most short serves right off the bounce to his wide backhand with banana flips, which kept his forehand out of play. If the serve went long, I looped, again always wide to the backhand. I varied my serve, following them up with attack - you guessed it - into his wide backhand. His backhand blocking wasn't nearly as strong, and he almost never got a chance to smash. This was a case where he was literally waiting for me to go to this forehand so he could smash, so I almost never did, not unless he wandered toward his backhand side.
In another match I played an extremely fast junior who could pound the ball from both sides to all parts of the table, and was much quicker than me. There's no way I could really cover the whole table in a rally against him. Since he was using standard placement tactics - every ball to the wide corners or at my elbow - I employed a tactic I've blogged about before. I stood in a slight forehand stance, but toward my backhand side. I covered the wide backhand and middle with my backhand, using his own pace to rebound the ball back, countering the balls back wide to his backhand to keep his forehand out of play. I could barely keep up the pace he was setting, but eventually he'd change directions and go to my forehand. The instant I saw the change, I would step to the wide forehand and counter-attack. The two keys to that forehand counter-attack were 1) I was already standing with my feet in a forehand position so I'd be ready, and 2) I didn't look to see where the ball would go on my forehand side - I anticipated it would go wide. Essentially this moves my middle toward my forehand side. If his shot went a foot inside the forehand corner, I'd have been stuck (like a player caught with a ball hit at their elbow), but that's not how players are trained - and so I won.
Other tactics used in this match - lots of receive variation to throw him off, with flips, loops, and short and long pushes. When I attacked (mostly by looping except in fast rallies), I went after his forehand, which took his angle into my backhand away so I was able to follow with another forehand.
In another match against a big-looping junior with a passive receive I served lots of varied short serves. He'd push them, even chopping down on the side-top serves so he could push them low. But the key was that he was predictable, as well as vulnerable to varied amounts of backspin, sidespin, and topspin, since he was trying to push or chop-block them all back. So I could anticipate slow backspin returns every time, and since I didn't have to guard against a flip, I could go for a forehand loop every time. (Whenever it got close, I'd throw a fast, deep serve at him for a free point - he was rarely ready for it.) On his serve (almost all short) I mostly flipped to his wide backhand or dropped it short. Sometimes he'd wind up and rip a backhand loop; when he did that, I knew he was anticipating it, and on the next receive I'd aim to his backhand, and at the last second flip to his wide forehand. It got him every time.
British Rock Band Challenges Justin Bieber
The band Lawson has challenged Justin Bieber at table tennis. Who will win?
Chico Table Tennis Club
Here's an article about the Chico TTC in Durham, CA.
Kong Linghui on the Women's Trials
Here's an article about Kong Linghui, the Chinese Women's Coach. "The Squad Trials is getting much harder!"
New World Rankings
Lunar Cup Matches and an Exhibition
The 2013 Lunar New Year Cup Challenge Match was held in China, with the top six Chinese players competing: Xu Xin, Zhang Jike, and Ma Long against Chen Qi, Wang Liqin, and Wang Hao. (Actual matches are Xu vs. Chen; Zhang vs. Wang Liqin; and Ma Long vs. Wang Hao.) Also featured is an exhibition by former superstars Guo Yuehua and Chen Xinhua. Here's where you can watch the videos.
The Best of Samsonov, Schlager, Boll, Kreanga, and Primorac
Here's a highlights video (7:53) featuring many of the best European players.
1946 U.S. National Ping-Pong Championships
Here's vintage video footage (1:06) from the 1946 U.S. Open. It features several clips of Laszlo Bellak clowning around for the camera, including blowing the ball sideways (hey, that's my trick!), rallying by kicking the ball back, and other tricks.
Air Gun Fires Ping-Pong Balls at 900 MPH
See what happens when a ping-pong ball traveling Mach 1.2 strikes a ping-pong paddle!
Table Tennis Cookies
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Tip of the Week
Here are two examples of tactics used in matches this past weekend.
Last Thursday I wrote about a chopper who had spent much of the last year learning to forehand loop, going from an almost exclusively defensive chopper to having a very aggressive forehand. This weekend it paid dividends for him - well, almost. I usually eat choppers alive, but he wasn't really a "chopper" this match, as he kept attacking. The score went to 9-all in the fifth before I won the last two points. The key to what made him so difficult to play wasn't just his attacking; it was the threat of attacking. Besides his usually defensive play, he won points with his attack three ways:
The problem I had with his forehand counterloop is that it would catch me close to the table, and so I'd almost always block it. (I tried looping into his middle and wide forehand, but he ran them all down to counterloop over and over.) Then he'd swoop in and keep looping, and I'd usually end up fishing and lobbing. At 9-all in the fifth, he suddenly counterlooped - and I counterlooped off the bounce for a winner, a shot I used to be good at, but that I don't do nearly as often anymore. I may have to go for that shot more against him. Or I might work on dead-blocking the ball. I also probably need to go after his middle more in my first loop, where he's not as ready to counterloop. As it was, I was somewhat lucky to pull off that shot at 9-all, and could easily have lost this match.
In another match I played a really good two-winged hitter who, until now, simply couldn't return my serves. However, we've played a lot recently, and for the first time ever he did a decent job of returning my serves, and once in a rally, could hit really well. At this point I'd been at the club coaching and playing for eight hours, and I found myself unable to go through him with my attack, nor could I outlast him in rallies since I was too soft against his strong hitting due to exhaustion. (I had just finished playing the extremely tiring 11-9 in the fifth match against the chopper - see above.) After losing the first game - the first game I'd ever lost to him - I went to a simple strategy of pushing or chopping his serves back as heavy as I could. He had a nice hitting game, and could loop against normal backspins, but against these ginzo backspins, he fell apart. When he did manage to lift one up, it was too soft and usually short, so even exhausted I could smash them or block them hard to his middle. I won the next three games. The key was to commit to the heavy backspins so I knew in advance I would be doing them, and so could really load them up and control them.
More tactical examples coming tomorrow.
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers - Kindle Situation
I should have the proof version of the print version tomorrow. I'm already planning a few changes, so after I check to make sure everything's coming out (I already wrote that I'm worried about the photo resolution), I'll upload the "final" version. It should be available a few days after that.
USA Team Trials
They start in three days, Thur-Sun, Feb. 7-10, at the Top Spin Club in San Jose, CA. They had a press conference on Saturday. Here are pictures and other info on the Trials. And here is the USATT's info page on the Trials.
Bojan Tokic Interview
Here's an interview with Bojan Tokic of Slovenia, world #25. Includes video.
The Awesomeness in Table Tennis
Here's a new highlights video (8:40).
Wang Liqin vs. Xu Xin
Here's video (3:59) of for world #1 Wang Liqin's incredible comeback from down 0-8 and 3-10 against world #1 Xu Xin at the 2013 Chinese team trials.
Table Tennis in Lagos
Here's two kids in Lagos playing table tennis using an old door balanced on stools as their table. Remember this next time you complain about your playing conditions!
The Table Tennis Collector
Here's issue #67 of The Table Tennis Collector. Here's what Editor and ITTF Museum Curator Chuck Hoey says about it:
I am pleased to announce the publication of issue number 67 in the Table Tennis Collector series. This is the 20th year of publication, beginning with 16 pages in black & white, and evolving to a 50-page issue in full color, free to all.
Many interesting articles in this issue, and a special report on missing World Championship scores that are needed to complete the historical record - please help!
Special thanks to our many contributors for sharing their research, including Alan Duke, Steve Grant, Fabio Marcotulli, Jorge Arango and John Ruderham, and our dedicated phiatelic collectors, Hans-Peter Trautmann, Winfried Engelbrecht, Tang Ganxian and Marc Templereau.
The pdf download is 10MB in size, so please allow extra time for the download to complete. This is a direct link: http://www.ittf.com/museum/TTC67.pdf
This issue, along with the entire series, can be accessed via my website: www.ittf.com/museum
Click the TT Collector icon and then select an issue to view.
Hope you enjoy the new issue. As always, constructive feedback is welcome.
Best wishes from Switzerland.
Curator, ITTF Museum
Xu Xin Multiball
Here's video (37 sec) of world #1 Xu Xin doing multiball. See if you can match him!
Xu Xin and Ma Long Fooling Around
Here video (41 sec) of the current #1 and #3 players in the world goofing off. See if you can match their tricks! (Xu is the penholder, who starts out on the near side.)
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Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Update - Print Version
More problems. For some reason, even though I've got the pictures at 300 dpi (dots per inch), the automated software at the print on demand publisher insists they are only 199dpi. I can't tell from the online proofs if they are correct. So I'm going to have a proof copy sent to me so I can inspect it myself and see if the pictures are coming out okay. If so, then it'll be ready for regular publication, hopefully by the end of next week. (Addendum, added ten minutes after posting blog: I just ordered the proof version, which will be expressed, to arrive by Tuesday.)
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers - Kindle Version READY!
I've given up for now on trying to include pictures in the Kindle version, since no matter what I do the captions won't stay in place, and appear randomly over the text on different pages. So I've taken most of the 90 of them out, except for a couple of illustrations that have no captions. (There's a chance I might come back to this and figure it out when I have time - so if you would like the photos, wait for that version or order the print version when it comes out in a week or so.) However, the pictures were more decorative than anything else, illustrating what the text covers but not really necessary. For example, when I talk about the tactics of looping, I show several pictures of top players looping, but that's not really needed. So here it is!
Final numbers for Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers: 21 chapters, 240 pages (plus covers), 101,779 words, 567,431 characters. The Kindle edition is set up so you can go to any chapter from the links in the table of contents. (You can then return to the front by going to Menu => beginning, and the table of contents will be the next page.)
I'm not going to go too public on this yet, not until the print version is ready. Also, I'm not going to do a huge advertising blitz on it until I have my other books online - Table Tennis Success (formerly Table Tennis: Steps to Success); Table Tennis Tales & Techniques; Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis; Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook; and (already online in both print and Kindle versions) Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges. I've already started the process of putting the Tales & Techniques book online, but it's going to be a tricky process of putting it in the proper format.
Also, I've begun looking into the possibility of putting all 12 (soon to be 13) of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis volumes in Print on Demand format. I'm guessing it'll take about two hours each, so 24 hours of work. Not sure if I have time, considering I'm also trying to get my books online. But Tim's are actually easier because they have relatively wide margins, so little few internal fixes needed. But putting the covers into the proper format will be a hassle, plus I have to make some internal changes and create new PDFs, and a bunch of other small stuff. (Putting them into ebook format would be an incredibly difficult task, and we'd run into the same problem with the photos.)
Tim will be moving in with me on Tuesday for a couple of weeks as I put together the pages and do photo work for his History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 13. I won't be able to work on anything else while he's here since we'll be working all day, and then I'll be coaching at night.
Learn the World's Fastest Serve
Here's a video (1:04) of Asuka Sakai of Japan in slow motion doing the hyperbolic serve, the fastest serve in the world. Here's your chance to get ahead of the curve and learn this serve before anyone else. Ben Larcombe of Expert Table Tennis Academy emailed about the serve, with these tips:
Pongcast Episode 23
Here's the newest Pongcast (14:23). This one features the Austrian Open, Timo Boll visits Hollywood, ping-pong dating, and Jun Mizutani's boycott.
Jorgen Persson in Slo-Mo
Here's an action video (1:30) of Jorgen Persson in slow motion.
Amazing Between the Legs Shot
Here's a video (0:25) of Jonathan Groth of Denmark making an emergency between the legs shot against Bojan Tokic. He wins the point!
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Ongoing Tactical Adjustments
I've had some interesting matches in recent times with a local elderly 2100 chopper. I haven't lost to him in many years, but he's been finding ways to make it more . . . interesting.
I'm better against choppers than any other style, and once went over 20 years without losing to a chopper rated under 2400, while beating five over 2400. And this chopper is a very defensive one, with long pips on the backhand, inverted on the forehand. He often covers much of the court with his backhand chop - he's pretty mobile. With his defensive game, I have no trouble winning; it's no contest. I generally win points five different ways against him when he's chopping: 1) Serve light topspin to his long pips and rip a winner; 2) Steady soft and not too spinny loops over and over to his long pips until he misses or pops one up slightly, which I can rip; 3) Line up to loop to his forehand, but at the last second go inside out to his wide backhand; 4) Line up to loop to his wide backhand, but at the last second whip around and loop quicker off the bounce to his wide forehand; 5) Sudden attacks his middle, which in his case is toward his forehand side; and As long as he plays defensive, I'm pretty much at home.
But he's been working on his attack. I think before he had some relatively dead sponge on his forehand, but at some points went to some sort of modern-age looping sponge. Every time I come to the club I see him practicing looping, which is eye-opening as he's never really even had much of a forehand in all the years I've known him, and he's older than I am (I'll be 53 next month). But it's starting to pay off for him as he is starting to not only loop, but even counterloop on the forehand.
I played him two weeks ago, and this was the first time his attack really worked. He kept ripping forehand loops. Often he'd serve short backspin or sidespin, I'd push, and he'd loop a winner, something I'd never seen him do before. He won the first game mostly by attacking. I won the next three games, but all were 11-9 or deuce, and I won some of them by making reflex blocks off his loop that I could have easily missed. He also won a number of points by counterlooping when I looped to his forehand; it got to the point that I kept the ball mostly to his backhand, which made him more comfortable, since that's where he's strongest chopping - and it took some of the deception out of my game as I became leery of faking to his backhand going to the forehand side. The steady soft loops to his backhand also didn't work so well - he'd chop a few and then suddenly step over and counterloop with his forehand. This was the first time in a long time I'd really felt threatened by his game - he could have won this one.
I thought about all this a bit, and was ready when I played him a few days ago. Even though he's a "chopper," I couldn't start the rallies off as if he were. So this time I backhand banana flipped all his short serves into his wide backhand. He'd chop with his long pips, and I was right back at home. I also started to set up most of my loops as if I were going to his forehand, and change and go to this backhand at the last second. This kept him protecting his forehand side, so he wasn't able to step over and counterloop with the forehand. And after I'd lulled him this way a few times, I'd line up to go to the backhand, and then I'd rip to the forehand. (I also play the middle a lot, but I tend to be better against choppers by aiming one way and then changing directions.)
I think he's realized that the next step is to develop more variety on his serves so I won't be able to flip so well. Plus he'll probably get better at not getting faked out when I fake one way and go the other.
Regarding the backhand banana flip, I've recently made it my mission to really use this shot aggressively against our local junior players, both so they can get used to it, and so I can win against them (duh!). Normally I flip with light topspin, but now I'm focusing on really turning that shot into a mini-backhand loop, with both topspin and sidespin. It's been highly effective already in practice matches.
ITTF Eligibility Reminder
If you were born in another country but now live in the U.S., and wish to perhaps someday represent the U.S. in world events (either on the U.S. Men's, Women's, Paralympic, Junior, Cadet, or Mini-Cadet Teams), here are the rules you need to know about.
While cleaning out some spam last night I inadvertently deleted your account. Sorry about that! You'll have to register again.
Table Tennis Scheduling
Normally I'm off Tuesdays, but coach from 5-8PM on Wednesday. But there was a school play ("Shrek"!) at a local middle school, and both my 6PM and 7PM students were in it - one as (I think) the Gingerbread Man, the other a techie. So one rescheduled for Tuesday night, the other cancelled for this week. Then my 5PM person emailed on Monday, worried about the upcoming snowstorm predicted for Wednesday (it didn't happen - just lots of rain and wind), and also rescheduled for Tuesday. So I ended up getting two hours on Tuesday, and had Wednesday off. Well, sort of - I spent the day on the Tactics book (see below). Maintaining a table tennis coaching schedule is always a matter of moving things around to accommodate local events. One regular student of mine has two schedules - one for basketball season, one for non-basketball season. (He's on his middle school basketball team.)
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Update
When I converted from Word 2003 to Word 2010, the page layouts were messed up. I spent much of yesterday redoing them. Unfortunately, I'm still having technical problems with the publisher's online software, which now insists certain text is outside the margins when it clearly is not. I also learned that I can convert directly from Word to PDF and upload the file as a PDF instead of Word (thereby bypassing their online conversion process that was causing so many problems), but then their software insists that the graphics aren't high enough resolution (though they are), and that the embedded fonts are not embedded. So this morning, after I finish the blog (and also the new MDTTC monthly newsletter), I'll try to figure out what's going on.
I'll be running short of time soon. Tim Boggan is moving in with me for two weeks on Tuesday to work on his newest volume of U.S. table tennis history, so I need to finalize everything before then. I won't be able to do much of anything on Sat or Sun as I'm coaching all day both days. And Monday is pretty packed as well. So I need to finish everything by tomorrow afternoon before I go to the club at 5PM.
This is getting irritating - I fully expected to have had it all competed already.
Last Orange Ball
From our opening in 1993 to May of 2012, the Maryland Table Tennis Center used orange training balls. They would be scattered about the club all day long as coaches coached and players played, often with multiball using boxes of balls at a time. And then, in April of last year, there was a shortage of orange balls from sponsor Butterfly, and we needed more balls for our Spring Break Camp - and so we ordered a few boxes of white training balls. With the red flooring we'd had installed they seemed more visible than the orange, so we decided to switch over to white balls. However, we still had boxes of orange balls, and so we've been using a mixture since then. We often have as many as seven coaches coaching at one time, and so always have at least seven boxes of balls ready to use (one gross each, 144). One by one, the orange balls broke, until we were down to only seven at our Christmas Camp. In my latest census two days ago, we were down to our final orange ball. The death watch toward the final orange ball extinction at MDTTC begins.
Attack of the Baby Monster
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Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers Update
I thought it was all done, finished, completo . . . but then I had to deal with the publisher (CreateSpace.com, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com). They have online conversion processes for converting from Microsoft Word to two formats, one for Print on Demand (POD), the other for Kindle ebooks. Unfortunately, neither worked properly.
I'd tested this previously in converting "Pings and Pongs: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of Larry Hodges" into both formats, and it had worked beautifully. However, that was mostly text, while the Tactics book has lots of pictures and (more problematically) captions and various formatting tricks. Over and over in both conversions the captions would move to some seemingly random spot on the page rather than stay under the photo where I put them. And when I did little formatting tricks, such as setting text at 99% (so as to pull up a line to line up the text on a page properly) it didn't always come out right. And let's not even talk about what it did with bulleting and tabs!!! One side result was that often text was now outside the margins due to the conversion.
Yesterday afternoon I emailed their tech support, explaining very specifically what the problems were. In response this morning I got a generic email explaining that text cannot go outside the margins, which was 100% unhelpful and didn't address the problem - that their conversion process was off, and that one of the side effects was it was putting text outside the margins. I am not happy with them.
One potential reason for the problem was that I was still using Word 2003. I've never needed to upgrade. However, I did have a lot of problems doing the layouts, in particular photo captions, which (just as with their conversion process) would often move away from where I put them over and over, causing all sorts of irritation as I kept redoing the same caption. At one point I spent three hours on one caption, not just to get it in place, but trying to figure out the pattern of what caused this to happen, but I never did figure it out. (I couldn't find anything helpful online either.)
So yesterday I bought Word 2010 ($115). I opened the file, and did some tests. Unfortunately, there was no change - captions still moved about on their own. However, I'd managed to get the captions where I wanted them, and hoping the base of the conversion process was my using Word 2003, I used the conversion process again. No change - the pages came out exactly as before. About here is when I started contemplating a universe without Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, a scary thought indeed.
Then, late last night, I had an epiphany. I was renaming a file, and realized that even though I had opened it in Word 2010, it was still saving it in Word 2003 format!!! I checked on the file for the Tactics book, and sure enough, it was still in Word 2003 format. So I converted it to Word 2010, and tested the captions - and they now seem to stay in place!!! However, I noted that in converting to Word 2010, some of the page layouts changed, so I'm going to need to go through it page by page fixing things up. I then went to bed, not wanting to stay up all night again, as I had the night before in "finalizing" the book.
So this morning, after I finish this blog, and have a stiff drink (Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice), I'm going to fix the pages, and then test the conversion process with the new Word 2010 format. I need every one of you to cross your fingers for me.
Message to Yourself as a Beginner
If you could go back in time to when you first started playing, what would you tell yourself? Comment below! Here's what I would tell myself if I could go back to when I started in 1976, when I was 16:
USATT Board of Directors Minutes
French Junior Program
Here’s a video (5:19) of a top junior program in France.
The Chinese Serve
Here's a highlights video (3:30) from 2010 that I've never posted. Even though it's titled "The Chinese Serve," and does show slow motion of Chinese team members serving, a lot of it is great rallying.
Last week, in an email discussion with USATT CEO Mike Cavanaugh, the subject of the minimum 1000 lux requirement needed for ITTF tournament play came up. Often-times potential playing sites for big tournaments do not have that minimum lighting. Then I had a brilliant idea. Here's what I wrote: "Wait a minute, 1000 lux (the ITTF standard) is about 93 foot-candles, the American equivalent of lux. Can't we just require all entrants to bring 46.5 candles to each match? And since they are playing a match, their opponent - the match - can light the candles. It's better to light 93 candles than to curse the bad luck in not having 1000 lux. (The plural of luck is lux, right?)"
Timo versus Adam Danceoff
Here is the first (60 sec) and second (37 sec) points of the confrontation last Friday at Spin LA between an unstoppable force (Timo Boll of Germany, current world #5 but #1 in the world several times – the only non-Chinese player to do so in nine years) and an undanceable object (Adam Bobrow, who does, in fact dance). Watch the first point to see Timo do his own short imitation of the Bobrow dance and Adam's own dancing response, and the second point where Adam does another over-exuberant shirt-tearing-off celebration.
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