May 4, 2020

NOTE - For technical reasons, the second half of the blog was cut off for most of Monday, May 4. The problem is now fixed. But if you were here earlier, you only saw about half of today's links. 

Tip of the Week
Don't Practice Hesitation.

USATT Coaches Excellence Program and Zoom
On Sunday, we had a USATT Coaches Meeting on Zoom from 4:00-5:15PM. Attending were Virginia Sung (USATT CEO), Sean O'Neill (USATT High Performance Director), Christian Lillieroos (USATT Coach Education Director), and the USATT Coaching Committee: Pieke Franssen (chair), Gao Jun, Dave Fullen, and myself (Larry Hodges). Stellan Bengtsson is also on the committee but was unable to attend.

The purpose was to go over the new USATT Coaches Excellence Program, which is being created by Christian, Sean, and Dave. There will be three tracks:

  • Club Levels 1 and 2
  • High Performance Levels 1 and 2
  • Para Levels 1 and 2

A key part will be continuing education. I'll be going over the program over the next few days to give my input. USATT will be going public with this soon. Much of the program will center on online training. It looks pretty promising!

I know that some of my key input will be:

  • Importance for those in the "High Performance" track to observe high-level training sessions, with top coaches, where they see all levels of development. You don't need to be a great player to be a great coach, but a primary advantage a great player has is that he's spent years in high-level training sessions, while a non-great player rarely has that opportunity. (So this is less of an issue with former top players who are becoming High Performance Coaches.) If you want to be a high-level coach, you have to find opportunities to do so, even if it means traveling somewhere to spend a week or so watching such sessions at a high-level center. If you want to learn how to develop an elite player, you can't just watch an elite player on video; you need to see how that player developed at each step, from beginning, intermediate, and advanced junior, and then elite player. (In theory, someone could video hundreds and hundreds of hours of such training and require coaches to watch it all, but I don't think that's really feasible or as effective - seeing it in person is a bit different, plus you can ask questions.)
  • Importance of training coaches how to recruit and retain players, and setting up a training program. There's no point in having great coaching knowledge if you don't have anyone to work with. This could be an optional thing, but it needs to be available. (I used to point out that it's better to have ten 1100 players coaching than one glorified National coach who is not.)

MDTTC Juniors and Zoom
So, what do table tennis kids do when they're stuck at home due to the pandemic? If you're MDTTC junior star and team captain Stephanie Zhang, you instigate Zoom training at home with the other MDTTC juniors and coaches! The players and coaches jumped on the idea, and they now do it twice a week. Most of the kids have tables at their houses, and can train with siblings or parents. (Stephanie, for example, practice with brother James, while brothers Stanley and Kurtus Hsu were together, and so on.) Others shadow-practice. I observed their session this past Saturday. There were 35-40 players on 29 screens, with each player having a video camera on them (presumably smart phones) so the coaches could watch and comment. Coaches Wang Qingliang and John Hsu oversaw it. John called out the drills - ones for those with tables and practice partners, and ones for those shadow-practicing. Wang and John would regularly call out instructions, encouragement, and admonishments, which they could all hear. It was kind of interesting having all those screens open on my monitor! At any time you can zoom in on one to see more closely what they are doing. (I may join in more actively later on.) 

Three Table Tennis Books Coming Out

  • Circa May 15: "Why Table Tennis? 10 Aspects of the Sport that Will Change Your Life. This book, by Samson Dubina and two of his Ohio junior stars, Jacob Boyd and Sarah Jalli, will come out in about a month or so. I'm the editor for it.
  • June 1: Still More Table Tennis Tips, by Larry Hodges. (Hey, that's me!) This is the third book in the series, following Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. It's 189 pages with 150 Tips from the last three years, organized in logical fashion, with seven chapters - Serve and Receive, Strokes, Footwork, Tactics, Improving, Sports Psychology, and Doubles. It'll be published on Monday, June 1. It'll be my 17th book, and my 9th on table tennis.
  • Circa July: Winning Table Tennis, by Dan Seemiller. This is a reprinting of Dan's instructional book from 1997. I've been working with another member of the writing community (the science fiction one, not the table tennis one!) to recreate the pages, since the original files were lost, other than the text.
  • Or read about Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper!

RIP Donglong "Derek" Hao
Just heard the bad news - Coach Hao died a few days ago. He was a coach and top player (rated 2531) from the Swan Warriors TTC in the Bay Area in California. He was only 28. No reason has been given for his death yet. A chopper/attacker, he played recently at the US Olympic Trials, where he was in the Final 16, and almost advanced to the Final Eight - he was to play Sharon Alguetti, with the winner advancing, but had to default due to a leg injury. Here's a Facebook note on it with three pictures. (Here are the non-Facebook versions - picture1, picture2, picture3.)

Open Against Half Long With FH
Here's the USATT article by Wang Qingliang.

Do You Want to Serve Like a Pro?
Here's the video (4:35) with Thomas Keinath.

How to Do Reverse Pendulum Serve Table Tennis
Here's the video (13:38) by Louis Levene.

BTY Training Tips featuring Shigang Yang: Forehand Flip With Multi-ball Training
Here's the video (1:20).

The Chop Block (The Most Neglected Shot in Table Tennis)
Here's the article and video (6:41) from Tom Lodziak, with Craig Bryant.

New from Emratthich/PingSunday

New from eBaTT (Eli Baraty)

New from Samson Dubina

New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here! (Note - for some technical reason, whenever I link directly to these videos, when I post my blog, everything from that entry on disappears! I have no idea. I've looked to see if there are any underlying characters that might cause this but can't find anything.)

Questions Answered at PingSkills
Here's their Q&A page. Post your own questions!

Professor Helps Olympic Table Tennis Team During COVID-19
Here's the article.

Player Watch: Jha on the move, an engagement and Pitchford's connection with the force?
Here's the ITTF article featuring USA's Kanak Jha.

New from Steve Hopkins

Heart to Heart with Anna: The Bionic Man of Table Tennis
Here's the podcast (34:17) featuring Navin Kumar.

Club Feature of the Week (9)- Sky High Table Tennis Club
Here's the USATT article.

Fifth Time's a Charm as Jorge Vanegas Successfully Becomes International Umpire
Here's the USATT article.

It Was Purely Physical?
Here's the article from Coach Jon.

China's Help in the Growth of Table Tennis
Here's the article and video (7:42).

New from the ITTF

King of Attack vs. King of Defense
Here's the video (15:39) - Ma Long vs. Joo Se Hyuk!

Story About Swedish Table Tennis from mid-1980's
Here's the video (12:50).

6 Weird Facts About Ping Pong
Here's the video (4:14) from Pongfinity.

Can You Make a Ping-Pong Table Disappear?
Here's the video (55 sec) from table tennis magician Leon Thomson!

Balloon Pong with Grandma
Here's the video (20 sec)!

Double-Hand Pong
Here's the video (21 sec)!

Top 10 Ping Pong Commercials
Here's the video (6:16)! I consider the Energizer one the best ever!

Legos Pong!
Here are two hilarious videos as the "Legos" version of the stars battle it out, with play-by-play by ITTF commentator Adam Bobrow!!!

May the 4th Be With You
Here is some Star Wars Pong!

Non-Table Tennis - Tooth Theology
My science fiction story, "Tooth Theology," just came out in the new issue of Galaxy's Edge. What if, in the distant future, most religions have died out, while worship of the Tooth Fairy - through her priestly Dentists - dominate the world?

Send us your own coaching news!