December 9, 2019

Tip of the Week
Six Ways to Learn Tactics.

Last Blog and Tip Until January 6, 2020
I'm leaving for the U.S. Open next weekend, and then Christmas with family in Sonoma, California. See you in 2020!

Weekend Coaching, Party, and Longpong
It was another busy weekend in TT world at MDTTC!

We had the final Thursday Beginning Class of the year. The focus was Player's Choice (player decided what he wanted to work on) and smashing lobs. At the end, Lidney Castro, Todd Klinger, and I each had a small group that took turns smashing our lobs, with each staying until they missed three.

The focus of the Sunday Beginning Class was spin serves and the 2-1 footwork drill. (The latter is where you hit a backhand, then a forehand from the backhand side, and then a forehand from the forehand side, and repeat - the three most common movements in table tennis.)

The Saturday Junior League (which is half league, half coaching) focused on singles (we've been doing a lot of doubles this season), with lots of improvised games, with players moving up-down tables. For example, the server might have to serve short to the forehand, and the receiver had to either push short or flip to the backhand, and then play out the point. Or server had to serve long, and receiver had to attack. And so on.

The Sunday Junior Talent Program did the usual drills, with 30+ kids. I was in charge of three tables, where they started with footwork drills, and then went on to serve & receive drills and games. After an hour and 45 minutes of practice, it was time . . . to Party!!! Both pizza and Chinese food were brought in. (I went mostly for the chicken chow mein.) And then it was off to games.

I've seen various videos of player who put together tables to play improvised TT games. Perhaps someone has done this one already, but I hereby am copyrighting, trademarking, and patenting "Longpong"! I put two tables together, lengthwise, and removed the nets. Then I put a table tennis barrier between them, propped up on each side by a chair, so that it gave us a "net" about 15 inches high, to go with our 18' table. And then the kids took over! Here are pictures from Facebook by Carolyn Klinger. (Click on the pictures to see two of Longpong, and then general party pictures. Here's a non-Facebook version of Longpong.) It became so popular that I put together a second Longpong court.

The kids quickly evolved rules. They settled on playing three-on-three. One player played at the end of the table, with two others on either side to return shorter balls. They decided that volleying was legal except to return serve. They also decided that if one player missed, another player on his team could keep the ball going, volleyball style! Halfway through they also switched to using my 50mm oversized ball. They played games for over an hour, and only stopped when their parents dragged them off to go home.

USOPC, USATT, and the Resignation Request Letter
I wrote about this in the third segment of my blog last week. I'm told that there is a lot of resistance on the board to resigning, as the USOPC requested, or even having a teleconference to discuss the situation.

The letter from the USOPC had a five-page cover, and confidential attachments that I'm told add up to about 100 pages. I haven't seen the attachments, but like me, a lot of people have seen the cover. At this point I think it is fair to post what is the single most pertinent part of the letter, from paragraph 2 of page 2. (It even refers to the "confidential" attachments, implying that the cover letter is not confidential - and it isn't marked confidential.) Before reading this, keep in mind that I'm told that most board members strongly disagree with the findings. (On the other hand, at least one board member told me he/she almost completely agrees with the letter.) Here is paragraph 2 of page 2 of the USOPC letter. (Arent Fox is the firm that did the independent review. Yeah, I want to put an apostrophe in there too.)

"Arent Fox has completed its review of USATT and issued a comprehensive independent report detailing its findings (the "Confidential Independent Report"). Based on that report and the USOPC's audit findings, it is evident to the USOPC that, as discussed in further detail below, serious problems exist with USATT. These problems are numerous, but appear to result from (1) the inability of the USATT Board to consistently reach consensus on contested matters, or to effectively and efficiently deal with issues confronting USATT; (2) the failure of USATT's Board to act at all times in the best interests of USATT; (3) the lack of a trusting and collaborative relationship amongst the USATT Board and between the Board and USATT staff; (4) the failure of USATT's Board and certain Committees to recognize and avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interest, and (5) the failure of numerous USATT Board members to act in accordance with the USATT Code of Conduct. The Confidential Independent Report is enclosed for your reference."

Keep in mind that the letter also says:

"The USOPC does not base these requirements on its belief that any one Board member is particularly at fault for USATT's current predicament. Rather, our position comes from a clear sense that the challenges confronting USATT can only be solved if their leadership is acting both cooperatively and collaboratively, and that cannot happen with a Board that is so fractured and distrustful of one another."

Basically, it appears to me that there are well-meaning members of the board who have strong disagreements, both over issues, and over how to interpret various documents, such as the USATT Code of Conduct. (And some may remember my Oct. 15 blog on the USATT teleconference where the board voted 5-3 to expel board member Rajul Sheth - but it failed as it needed a 2/3 majority. You can see the official USATT note on this in the October 15, 2019 entry in the USATT minutes.) Anyway, I'm sure we'll learn more about the situation next week at the USATT Assembly, scheduled for Wednesday night, Dec. 18, at the U.S. Open - the very date the USOPC is asking all board members to resign by. There's a chance I might post an UPDATE here after that. (NOTE - I heard they might move the Assembly to Thursday night.) 

Upcoming Table Tennis Work
Rarely have I had so many upcoming projects, mostly of the literary kind. Here's a rundown.

  • Dan Seemiller's "Winning Table Tennis." This book, by Dan Seemiller (5-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion, 12-time Men's Doubles Champion, 8-time Mixed Doubles Champion, and long-time U.S. Men's Team Coach), and Mark Holowchak, 176 pages, came out in 1997. It is now out of print. Dan asked if I could recreate the book for him. He had a copy in an old version of InDesign, which I don't have on my desktop computer. However, I remembered that I did have a copy in my previous computer, which was sitting in a closet. So I brought that out, dusted it off, and started it up - and was able to open the files. Much of the text came out weird, and none of the photos would come out. So I'm going through it, copy and pasting the text into a Word document. I was able to rescue the graphic figures used, but not the photos (other than the cover photo), which I'll have to scan directly from the old printed version. And then I have to put together all of the page layouts. I hope to have it out in January.
  • Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt. I put together a book from my nearly seven weeks there, in August and September, much of it from my Facebook postings. I'm about halfway through the page layouts and hope to have it out in January or shortly thereafter.
  • Still More Table Tennis Tips. About every three years I have 150 new Tips of the Week (which go up here every Monday), which I compile into a book, in an organized and logical sequence. So far there has been Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I should have enough Tips by the end of March next year for "Still More Table Tennis Tips." I expect to write a number of new Tips over the Christmas holidays - I have a page of Tip ideas.
  • Still More Pings and Pongs. While table tennis is and has been my primary job for many decades, I also write science fiction and fantasy. I've sold 107 short stories and four novels. Periodically I put together collections of my best short stories I've sold, after the publication rights reverts back to me (usually six months after publication). The first was Pings and Pong, then came More Pings and Pongs. I now have enough stories for Still More Pings and Pongs, which I hope to have out early next year.
  • Trump Tales: A Taunting. Some of you won't like this, but others will love it. I've written a number of Trump satires and plan to put this out sometime early next year, hopefully by February. It will have eleven stories in it, seven previously published, four of them new. For example, my most recent work is "Plucky Billionaires Squad," a humorous superhero satire that features seven multi-billionaires with superpowers who are out to save the world from President Trump - Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, and Alice Walton.
  • Coach of the Year. Besides the more literary stuff above, I'm putting together USATT Coach of the Year nominations for two coaches - one for National Coach of the Year and one for Developmental Coach of the Year.
  • Short Stories. Outside table tennis, that's what I primarily do, and I'm in various stages of a number of stories. But this is a table tennis blog, so I won't get into that here. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention . . .

My Table Tennis Books
Here's where all my table tennis books are linked. Great Christmas presents - to others or to yourself!

Team JOOLA Produces Magical Finish at 2019 North American Team Championships
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Kanak Jha Repeats Top 16 Finish at World Cup
Here's the USATT article by Michael Reff

North American Open
Here's the ITTF home page for the event held this past weekend, Dec. 4-8, in Markham, Canada, with results, news items, photos, and video. See also:

ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
Here's the ITTF home page for the event, to be held Dec. 12-15 in Zhengzhou, China. See also Ending the Year in Grand Fashion: World Tour Grand Finals Preview by Steve Hopkins.

Beat the Defensive Blocker
Here's the article by Samson Dubina.

Using Mental Rehearsal to Reduce Nerves and Boost Performance in Table Tennis
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

New from Dora Kurimay

The Student of Table Tennis
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

South Bend Table Tennis Star and Two-time Olympic Coach Takes His Own Swing at the Games
Here's the article featuring Dan Seemiller in the South Bend Tribune. "Dan Seemiller of New Carlisle is trying to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in table tennis."

Zhang and Wu Sail to New World Ranking Highs
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

World Table Tennis Day 2020: Register Now!
Here's the ITTF article.

ITTF Foundation Launches First Donation Campaign at 2019 ITTF Star Awards
Here's the ITTF article.

New from Steve Hopkins

Lessons From Watching Dad Find Ping Pong In His 70s
Here's the article

Whitney Houston Played Ping-Pong
Here's the Washington Post story - page down to see photo of her (on right), with author Robyn Crawford on left.

Lubomir Pistej Makes Magical Chop Winner
Here's the video (46 sec).

Smack into the Camera
Here's the video (15 sec, in slow motion) from Scott Preiss!

Roller Pong
Here's the video (30 sec)! And now with net (28 sec).

Impossible Trick Shots?
Here's the video (2:29)!

Amazing Trick Shots #3
Here's the video (3:26)!

TikTok Take on Table Tennis Includes Chair, Cup, Cat and Sword
Here's the video (43 sec)! Here's another one (33 sec)!

Unliveably Small Ping-Pong Room
Here's the cartoon! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

New from Pongfinity

  • The Pongfinity Game (2:09). "We have just launched our own mobile game!! DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE!"
  • 1 Million Subscribers (17:56). "A few weeks ago we hit 1M subs and thought we would make a very special video about our journey to the milestone."
  • Best Ping Pong Shots 2019 (10:12). "It has been a truly incredible year and these are our favorite clips of 2019!"

Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles
This is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories that feature the Beatles, which came out Dec. 3. "This collection is a Magical Mystery Tour through alternate universes where the familiar narrative of the Beatles is turned on its head." No, I don't have a story in it - but Cat Rambo, a fellow science fiction writer, tuckerized me in it! Here is an excerpt from her story, "All You Need."

No matter what, all major deals on this side of the boardroom of the Larry B. Hodges Memorial Museum of Ping-Pong History.

The original furniture was long gone; the only remnants of the original décor were the murals on the wall depicting a series of ping-pong tournaments on one side and the history of ping-pong on the other, beginning with a scene of lawn tennis players fleeing raindrops and snowflakes by taking their game indoors, and concluding with a scene of the museum's construction, overseen by a smiling man Vito had always presumed was Larry Hodges.

And just for the record, I'm the best science fiction writer in USA Table Tennis, and the best table tennis player in Science Fiction Writers of America! Yeehaw!!!

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