November 23, 2020

Tip of the Week
The Forehand Down-the Line Block and Counterloop.

USA Table Tennis Executive Directors, CEOs, Presidents, Board Chairs, and Editors
Here is the comprehensive list, which I put together for the heck of it. I've published partial lists in the past, but now they're all there!!! I'm in it for my two tenures as editor, totaling 12 years and 71 issues.

Christmas Table Tennis Book Shopping
It's that time of year again - time to do your Xmas shopping, either for some other table tennis player, or for yourself. (Interesting tidbit - I sell almost as many table tennis books in November and December as the rest of the year combined - lots of Christmas shoppers.) Here are some choices.

=>Books by Larry Hodges

=>Books by Dan Seemiller

=>Books by Samson Dubina

=>Books by Dora Kurimay

=>Books by Tim Boggan

=>Other Table Tennis Books Published in 2020

Weekend Coaching
On Sunday I mostly worked with three kids in the group session, with a huge focus on footwork and serves. For much of the session the three rotated, one with me, one practicing serves, one on ball pickup. (Halfway through I gave them the option of doing either serve practice or hitting with the robot, and they all chose more serve practice.) The down side - my neck started bothering me, and I could barely turn it by the end of the session. I'd told two high-level kids I'd play practice matches with them after the session - something I hadn't done in a while - but had to drop out because of the neck problem. It seems better this morning, but still stiff.

On Saturday I had my usually weekly session with Navin Kumar. His strength is still his backhand block (with long pips, no sponge), but his forehand is improving. During this session he started hitting harder at one point, and made some good shots, though the consistency went down - mostly because he sometimes didn't recover fast enough from the previous shot, and so was vulnerable on the next, especially if my return went deep on the table. Here's video (62 sec) of him hitting harder, and doing some footwork. (I'm retired from private coaching, other than the sessions with Navin, to get him ready for the next World Parkinson's Championships.)

Regarding weekend coaching, I was taking next weekend "off" to go coach two of our junior teams at the Westchester Teams in New York. Alas, for some strange reason (what could it be?), it got cancelled. One of the things about table tennis is that it's best if you have something to look forward to - and that usually means tournaments, whether playing or coaching at them. At this point, I'm just looking forward to the day when we all this is over.

Published Article #2000
This morning, when my Tip of the Week went up, both here and at Butterflyonline, it was an historic moment for me - it was my 2000th published article. This is in addition to 1795 blog entries (including this one) - with my 1800th blog entry scheduled to go up on Monday, Dec. 28. (If you include blog entries, that's 3795 published articles.) The articles include 1765 on table tennis; 63 non-fiction/non-table tennis (including 33 on the Baltimore Orioles, several science articles, and one in a math journal back in my math days); and 114 short story sales (plus 39 resales, 4 novels, and 15 "twitter" sales). I also have a total of 17 books, which include nine on table tennis, eight science fiction/fantasy, and one travel book. (That adds up to 18 because the novel "The Spirit of Pong" counts as both table tennis and science fiction/fantasy.) Here's a complete listing of my published work. I normally update it at the end of each month, but went ahead and updated it this morning to including all 2000 articles.

USATT High Performance Committee
The new, updated minutes are up. I blogged about this in my November 2 blog. They've taken the emails to the committee out of the minutes - but you can compare the new version with the old one, which is linked in the Nov. 2 blog. I haven't checked to see if there are other changes.

ITTF Grand Finals
Here's the info page for the event held Nov. 19-22 in Zhengzhou, China, with complete results, articles, pictures, and video. On the women's side, Chen Meng won for the fourth year in a row, after also winning the Women's World Cup two weeks before. On the men's side, Ma Long defeated Fan Zhendong in the final, reversing their result from the week before at the Men's World Cup. Here is coverage by Steve Hopkins from Butterfly:

Stupa Analytics
On Fri & Sat, Nov. 20-21, Stupa Analytics did online Zoom seminars for Clubs and Coaches, hosted by USATT and Sean O'Neill. I attended the Coaches seminar at noon on Saturday, which lasted exactly one hour, with eleven participants. Here's a screen shot. They have some really sophisticated software with a lot of features that can really analyze your table tennis game. (They currently specialize in table tennis, but plan to branch out to other sports.) The software first detects the table, ball, and players, and then analyzes the rallies - it can even distinguish between a block and a topspin stroke. For example, in one video, I wrote down its seemingly accurate analysis of a player's shot: "Not making enough space between elbow and body while playing FH topspin. Right leg weight on heel and unstable." Their front page advertises, "Get Your 1st Match Analyzed For Free!" So why not give it a try? Their services include (with the first three perhaps of greatest interest to most players):

New from Samson Dubina

New from Joey Cochran at Table Tennis Junkie

Epic Sidespin Serve Tutorial
Here's the video (19:10) by Tom Lodziak.

New from Louis Levene (Looeelooee)

How To Win A Point In Table Tennis
Here's the video (2:43) from ProSpin95 Table Tennis

Tomokazu Harimoto Practicing Serves at World Cup
Here's the video (4:07). At 17, the Japanese star is already #4 in the world. Note how much care goes into each serve - none of that rushed "serve and grab the next ball and serve again" thing that many players do, with the apparent theory that quantity is more important than quality. He also has not one, but two coaches watching over him! Interesting side note - 20 seconds in you'll see former MDTTC coach (my club) Jeffrey Zeng Xun in the foreground, briefly picking up balls and then talking on his cell phone. He shows up a few more times. (He coached Lily Zhang at the last two Women's World Cups - semifinals and quarterfinals.)

Antecedents and Consequences of Outward Emotional Reactions in Table Tennis
Here's the academic paper from Frontiers in Psychology, where "researchers analyzed footage from the finals of the youth National Championships in Greece and categorized all of the outward emotional displays as either positive, neutral, or negative. They then examined the antecedents and consequences of these displays to see if any patterns emerged." Some of it is techy; some is very readable and relatable to our own table tennis experiences. Here is the key takeaway from Kevin Finn at In the Loop ("Your concise monthly guide to the latest research pertaining to all things table tennis").

Key Takeaway:
There's a decent chance you are showing more negative emotions to your opponent than positive. When the stakes are high and the score is close, know there is a good chance you will react emotionally after the point. You should have a plan for how to handle losing a point in these situations and work on perfecting that table tennis "poker face." If you win the point, you can celebrate (you don't have to go full Harimoto), but learning to react a little more stoically when you lose the point might be a good idea. Easier said than done, I know! Note: In a recent video on mental strength, Timo Boll made this exact recommendation.

New from Steve Hopkins
(See also his coverage of the ITTF Grand Finals above.)

Making the Best of Being a Blocker
Here's the article by Coach Jon.

Table Tennis Referees
Here's the USATT article, by Wendell Dillon

The Pursuit of Belonging, Part 2
Here's the article featuring Anderson College and August College in the early 1990s, and including a link to Part 1 (which I linked to when it first came out).

TTLive Software
Here's the info page. "At, we have software with complete tooling for running leagues and tournaments with the ability to create pools, teams, and brackets for tournaments with the click of a button."

New from the ITTF
Here's their home page and news page.

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

Archival Footage

  • 1937 Newark, N.J. National competition (45 sec) - actually an exhibition, with Sol Schiff on left, Coleman Clark on right, both lefties.
  • 1946 US Table Tennis Championships (65 sec)
  • 1947 Worlds Finals - Bohumil Vana d. Ferenc Sido (48 sec). Vana would win in 1938 and 1947 (and likely more if not for the eight-year break because of World War 2), and lose in the final in 1948 and 1949. Sido would win in 1953, while losing in the final in 1947 and 1959. Sido was the last player to win men's singles at the Worlds with a hardbat, and the last to make the final with all hardbat. (Eberhard Schöler would make the final in 1969 with hardbat on the backhand only.)

The Best Ping Pong Movies of All Time
Here's the article, including preview videos. It's from 2019, but I don't think I've linked to it before. While we're at it, where's the Table Tennis Films Wikipedia page.

Great Hand-Switch Shot
Here's the video (10 sec) - that's a nice lefty off-the-bounce counterloop! And he did it at 9-6 in the fifth. Even the opponent clapped. There's another interesting thing about this - note how the opponent barely reacted to the lefty loop. He's obviously a good player, but table tennis reactions are done by the subconscious - and since it wasn't expecting or prepared for a sudden lefty loop, it barely reacted, and so the opponent barely waved his paddle at the ball going by. If it had been essentially the same shot, but done righty, he probably would have either returned it or made a good effort.

Fancy Ping-Pong Paddles
For the Table Tennis Nerd. Now if they only came in Tenergy...

Test Your Ping Pong IQ
Here's the video (8:49) from Adam Bobrow.

Table Tennis Prank
Here's the video (9 sec)!

Baby vs. Table Tennis Balls
Here's the video (2:13) from Tom Lodziak!

Well, Kid, Ya Beat Me - Best Table Tennis Cartoon Ever
Here it is! And here's a related one that might have come just before it. Both are from The Far Side.

New from Pongfinity!

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