April 20, 2020

Tip of the Week
Sometimes Challenge an Opponent's Strength.

Quarantine Shadow Practice
Anyone who reads my blog and tips knows that I'm a big advocate of shadow practice - where you practice your strokes and footwork without a ball or table. And here we all are, stuck inside, unable to play real table tennis with a ball or table! This is the perfect time to get your racket out and practice your game.

Before we go further, here are five Tips of the Week where shadow practice is discussed:

For me personally, I've been shadow-stroking for two reasons. First, I do it about five minutes per day for exercise. (And so should you - but more than five minutes!) Second, and this is perhaps the more interesting one, I'm developing my backhand loop . . . finally. I've always had a very forehand-oriented game. My backhand was just for rallying - I could keep the ball going forever, but I didn't attack well with it. I can backhand loop decently in a drill, but in a match, I have two problems developing it.

Because I'm forehand oriented, anytime I see a ball I can attack, my natural, long-trained instinct is to use my forehand. So if someone pushes to my backhand, before the ball's barely left their racket I'm already stepping around, even now, at age 60. (How did that happen?) It's pretty much reflex - and I'm still pretty quick for that first step to my left. (These days, alas, I get punished on the next shot, to my wide forehand, which I no longer can move to cover like I used to.)

But there's another reason. I hit my regular backhand almost directly in front of me, right in front of my eyes. This gives me great consistency, but isn't so great for looping, where it's better to take it a little from the side. (Backhand looping directly in front also puts strain on the shoulder, and whenever I try backhand looping too much, I hurt my shoulder.) So guess what I'm doing? I'm shadow practicing my backhand loop, over and over, with the contact point almost a foot to the left of my normal contact point. By the time we're allowed to go back to clubs, it might be a habit - and finally, at this late age, maybe I'll be a two-winged looper!!!

You can shadow practice with any racket. However, I like to do it with this weighted paddle I bought at the 2001 Worlds in Osaka, Japan. You should both practice your strokes and your footwork. You can play entire games this way!

Table Tennis Books
The Tips above, and related issues, are mostly from three of my books: Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers; Table Tennis Tips; and More Table Tennis Tips. (See links at Books by Larry Hodges.) The tactics book has been the #1 selling table tennis book in the world for much of the last few years (for English). But you might want to read the two Tips books now - the third in the series, Still More Table Tennis Tips, comes out in late May! Here's the draft of the cover.

USATT Interviews Me and Others
Here's the video (15:51). Alas, the audio isn't great. I think the microphone on the headphones I was using didn't work, and so the audio is from the computer's regular microphone - but I didn't realize this until later. USATT has been doing a series of these "Pong Positive" interviews - others include Frank Caliendo, Will Shortz, Liu Juan, Kanak Jha, Tom Feng, Sharon Alguetti, Lily Zhang, Han Xiao, Eve Yen, Huijing Wang, and Jennifer Wu.

Tim and Sally Update
Tim Boggan (USATT Hall of Famer and 2006 USATT Lifetime Award Recipient) has been keeping me up to date on his wife, Sally. They've been married for 60 years. She had a stroke last August, and is totally paralyzed on one side, and unable to speak, and needs a feeding tube. Tim wrote, "For 7 and 1/2 months she's shown remarkable courage, and has functioned well enough to think, write, and give a thumbs-up or down response to questions. But now...more bad news. Almost 87, she's become a victim of the coronavirus sweeping Long Island, and on Apr. 14 was transferred from her nursing home to a local hospital." Tim also adds that he and Sally very much appreciate the support the TT community has shown them for almost eight months. Here's the USATT article on their GoFundMe page.

History of US Table Tennis
Tim Boggan's long-time labor of love has been his History of US Table Tennis series, now with 23 volumes. However, at this point he plans to soon stop distributing them personally, and rely on Amazon and possibly regular table tennis distributors to sell them. However, he has a number of volumes left which he wishes to sell first. Normal price is $40/volume, but he's selling the remaining copies for $30/volume. He has the following copies left. If interested, email Tim Boggan directly.

  • One left: Volumes 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20
  • Two left: Volumes 6, 8, 13, 14, 18
  • Three left: Volumes 4, 9
  • Four left: Volume 22

USATT Weekly Town Hall Meetings - Next One This Tuesday April 21, 7PM Eastern Time

USA Table Tennis to Host Weekly Virtual Town Hall Meeting With Club Owners and Administrators this Tuesday. That's pretty self-explanatory. I attended the first one last Monday and took some notes. The meeting, UberConference lasted about 50 minutes. (They are switching to Zoom for the one linked above.) The attendee counter fluctuated as people got on and off, with about 50 attendees most of the meeting, with a maximum of 52. (Afterwards, there was an official log that said there had been 74, so presumably that meant 74 total, but not at the same time.) Attendees were listed by state, and came from exactly 20: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, MA, MD, NC, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, RI, TN, TX, WI.

  • USATT CEO Virginia Sun opened with a message about the coronavirus and USATT efforts to deal with it.
  • USATT COO Mark Thompson introduced staff and board member Tara Profitt, who was on the call.
  • USATT HPD spoke about training at home, and what USATT team members are doing to train during this time. He gave out the TTTeamUSA link, which has numerous home training exercises.
  • Questions that came up included ones on insurance financial help and whether events could be run at the end of May if local health officials agree. The consensus seemed to be that following local guidelines should be okay in running events. There was also a question on unemployment benefits, and it was explained that while this is a federal program, it is administered by the states, so you should contact your state government on this.

The Longest Table Tennis Serve
Here's the video (1:47). I do this serve all the time in exhibitions and to entertain the kids in our beginning class, where they line up and try to return it. (It's got loads of sidespin and backspin, so they mostly miss.) Here's a video of me doing it in an exhibition, but my distance is limited by the wall where I'm serving from. I think you can get more distance overhead, with a tomahawk serve, as I do in the video, though I can do it both ways. (Scott Preiss also does this regularly in his table tennis exhibitions.) It's really a matter of arm strength and technique - with some practice, any top player can do this serve. I'm pretty sure I can match the one in this video, or at least come close, but I'm betting some of the top table tennis athletes in the world can do it from even farther, especially if he's big and strong. Who do you think could do this from the farthest away?

New from USATT

New from the ITTF

New from Samson Dubina

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

New from Table Tennis Academy

Training Tips: Jorg Bitzigeio Footwork Drills Video
Here's the article and video (2:09).

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!

New from Steve Hopkins

The Sticky Stuff
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

National Collegiate Table Tennis April Newsletter
Here it is.

From Near-Extinction to the National Championships: How U.Va. Club Table Tennis Rebuilt Their Team
Here's the article.

Table Tennis World Ranking Men
Here's a video (3:43) from EmRatThich that graphically shows the top 13 men in the world as the rankings changed from January, 2018 to present.

Pongfinity Match Highlights 6
Here's the video (4:20)!

T-Rex Playing Table Tennis Filter Mask
Here it is!

Coronavirus Pong: Trump vs. Xi Jinping
Here's the cartoon. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I don't think USA is going to beat China at this game.

Epic Rap Battle Table Tennis - Ma Long vs Tomokazu Harimoto
Here's the video (5 min) from EmRatThich!

Super Skill! Double-Opposite Bounce
Here's the video (31 sec) of Eli Baraty!

Card Pong
Here's the video (4 sec)!

Quarantine Solo Pong
Here's the video (12 sec) of Khaleel Asgarali - but (sorry Khaleel) the one-piece suit might make them forget about the Obama tan suit!

Mom and Son Sink Incredible Ping Pong Ball Trick Shot
Here's the video (61 sec)!

The Great Gronk is a Beast with a Paddle...or Two!
Here's the video (11 sec)!

Kulpong Ball on the Road Around the World
Here's the video (3:20) - lots of quarantine pong!

Send us your own coaching news!