March 1, 2021
Tip of the Week
Learn Something New Each Time You Play.
Smash! Moments, Memories and Tips, by Dan Seemiller
I spent most of last week working on Dan Seemiller’s new book, which will be about 200 pages (8.5x11), with over 300 pictures. Each page features a vintage photo from his 50+ years in the sport, with Dan’s notes about it. Most pages also feature a Tip. Dan had put together the rough layout, with the photo and text; my job was to fix up all the photos (they were mostly old ones in need of lots of work in Photoshop); finalize the layouts; edit; write the foreword; and do the front and back covers. Dan is now proofing it - he said he has lots of changes, including some new pages - and will send me those changes probably later today. Then I put in the changes, do the final pre-press work, and send it off for publication in Amazon’s KDP Publisher. It should be ready by March 15. There are still some complications to work out (such as how much color), but we’ll have it done this week. It’s my third time collaborating with him on a book, since I also worked with him on Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion (his autobiography) and recreating his book from 1996, Winning Table Tennis (instructional). I bet you can’t order and read both before “Smash!” comes out!
I spent all day Sunday at the club (MDTTC), though I only had two actual group sessions that day - in between I went to the back room to do some of my other sideline, science fiction writing. Alas, I didn’t get much done as I kept getting contacted by coaches about the new USATT $50 licensing fee - see segment below.
In both group sessions, we did a lot of work on serving, especially deep serves. One kid had developed a very fast serve, but it wasn’t that effective - it was straight topspin. I demonstrated this to him, doing the same serve to his backhand, which he had little trouble returning. Then I put in some sidespin, so the ball broke away from him - and suddenly he struggled to return them. Then we worked on developing that serve for him. Another player had a good forehand pendulum serve, but could only do backspin and side-backspin. It’s always a tricky thing for players to learn to do side-top, and sometimes they have to keep at it, over and over, until it suddenly clicks. This time, it worked after about five minutes, and then he spent extra time working that serve. His opponents are going to have fits with it!
I also did a private session with Navin Kumar. Here’s video (49 sec) of him working on his down-the-line forehand to my backhand. To go down the line, unless you have a very supple waist, you need to bring the right leg back a bit and take the ball a bit later.
=>BEGIN USATT SECTION<=
I am 99.9% sure that this is the last time I will have to write about the USATT-NCTTA issue.
The Ongoing USATT-NCTTA “War” - RESOLVED!!!
I originally wrote at length about specific problems with the two USATT motions passed by USATT last Monday, regarding NCTTA and their running of the World University Games Trials and their position on the USATT board of directors. However, today the two sides reached an agreement. So, I've decided that enough is enough, and I've removed the text on that issue. In its place, here is the USATT news item on the resolution, which NCTTA has also agreed to:
USATT Authorizes NCTTA To Manage US Entry in the World University Games
And so, the long back-and-forth ping-pong between USATT and NCTTA is over.
ADDENDUM - Brandon Lawrence, the new "National Organization Representative - NCTTA," is now pictured on the USATT board page - see last photo.
NCTTA Town Hall on the USATT-NCTTA Conflict
The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association had a townhall meeting on Zoom last Monday night, for an open discussion of the USATT-NCTTA conflict. Two of the eight USATT board members attended (Thomas Hu and Dan Reynolds), as did USATT High Performance Director Sean O’Neill. The meeting was attended by 38 people. NCTTA President Willy Leparulu ran the meeting. He started with a presentation, which included a number of slides and a timeline of events. Here is video of the entire townhall meeting (52 min). Here are the slides presented by Willy: Slides One and Slides Two. (And all's well that ends well - USATT and NCTTA reached an agreement on this - see above.)
USATT Coaching Excellence Licensing Fee
Here’s the news item, which gives the USATT’s reasoning for this. It takes effect today (March 1). Basically, it means that USATT coaches, to remain on the certified list and the other benefits listed for certified coaches, you have to pay a new annual $50 fee to USATT. It’s really $125/year for most, since unless you have a lifetime membership (like me), you are also required to have a USATT “Pro” membership, which is $75/year, in addition to the $50 fee.
The four members of the USATT Coaching Committee (I’m a member, and formerly a two-time chair totaling six years) had a Zoom meeting on this, with the CEO and High Performance Director also attending. I objected to the new fee, thinking we need to develop the sport a bit more and have more to offer coaches before we do this, and that $50/year (in addition to the $75 member) was too much. However, I was the only one to disagree with this. (Note - I've known about the new fee for some time, but felt I should wait until USATT went public first. Technically, all USATT meetings are open sessions unless the chair closes them, and so the coaching committee meeting where this was decided was actually an open meeting. But it would appear that I was taking advantage of my position on the committee if I were to report on it first, or give details of what took place in the meeting other than the final result.)
I understand their reasons - they want to set up a professional group of coaches. I think it’s an admirable goal, and I praise them for the work they've done. The news item linked above give the benefits of the new fee. The coaching committee members are volunteers, giving up their time to help the sport. They have the sport’s best interests in mind. But we used to have over 250 USATT certified coaches (I think it broke 300), and as of Feb. 27, we were down to 138. Much of the loss was because of SafeSport. Being a USATT certified coach has become too much of a hassle for many, with SafeSport, background checks, and payments to USATT.
Plus, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, where there are far fewer students and many coaches are struggling to make ends meet, and so this might not be the best time to ask them to pay more. It might have been better to postpone this fee, and start at a lower amount. But maybe I’m wrong. You decide.
Many of the benefits don’t apply to most coaches - for example, at my club, we have insurance that covers us already, and the two types of USATT insurance listed specifically for coaches is not needed. Perhaps just bill the clubs or coaches that need that type of insurance, at the amount it costs USATT? Plus, since USATT certified coaches have never had to pay coaching fees at USATT events (that was supposed to be one of the main benefits and reasons to get USATT certified), saying they don’t have to pay them if they pay the $50 licensing fee isn’t really a benefit, since they didn’t pay them before. (Plus, as noted already, we’re in the middle of a Pandemic, and haven’t held a US Open, Nationals, or Trials in a year, and the upcoming Nationals, scheduled in July, is iffy as well.)
I don’t like the “Excellence” in the licensing fee - it’s premature. USATT (with some assistance by me) is setting up a USATT Coaching Development Program, and has already set up an Online Club Level Coach Certification, which is a fantastic first step. But it’s only the first step. For us to earn the “Excellence” part, we need to be training coaches to higher levels. Until then, the word “Excellence” is just marketing that I don’t think works with our coaches, which is the audience for this. There is some irony that what we’ve done so far is mostly a great first step for those who are not yet certified, but it’s the certified ones who have to pay more, when we’re not really offering them more than before. I look forward to the day when we begin to really train our coaches to higher levels of true Excellence!!!
My phone has been ringing off the hook this past week as coaches are asking and complaining about this. Nearly every coach at my club gave me a phone call, trying to figure out what’s going on. Of course, the coaches are against it because they are being asked to pay a new fee to USATT, when many believe they are the ones that bring in USATT members through the many students they recruit and develop. And I’m a firm advocate of that - the students coaches bring in are the key to what makes a full-time training center successful, and the same applies to USATT. So it just comes down to whether USATT is offering more than before in return for this extra $50 fee.
I debated all week on what to write about this, and actually wrote quite a bit more. But I’ve decided it’s better to just let the market decide. Presumably, later today or this week, when they start taking those that have not paid off the certified listing, that 138 will start dropping, but how much, I have no idea. (Some essentially have no choice - the 19 on the National Team Coaches page would lose their positions if they do not pay the $50 plus the $75 USATT “pro” membership. Presumably, they were chosen for their “Excellence!”, not their willingness to pay money!)
But, as I said, I do understand the reasoning behind this move, even if I think it is premature. We’ll see.
I do think they should put a new picture up over the Coaches List - they have Stellan Bengtsson there, perhaps the most illustrious and best coach in the US. But he hasn’t been a certified coach in a while, and wasn’t on the list well before the $50 licensing fee started today. (He was a member of the coaching committee the last few years, but resigned from it early last year.)
Poll and Discussion on USATT's Expanded Board
Here's the Facebook page, where USATT board member Thomas Hu set up a poll and discussion about how USATT should expand their board. (No, it's not a scientific poll.) I linked to this last week, but now there are a lot of results and discussion. USOPC now requires the USATT board to have 33% athlete representation on the board, so they will be adding positions. Here's what Thomas wrote of the poll and discussion:
"I am biased because I have been working with kids in table tennis for the last five years. I understand their voice has not been heard and there is a lack of mechanism to fully protect their vulnerability. However, I want to hear from you. In light of the necessity to change the USATT bylaw to satisfy the new regulation requiring minimum 33.33% athlete representation, what do you think is the best action USATT should take with respect to the board structure? Please vote and share with everyone your reasons. Your opinion matters."
California SQT - Table Tennis America, Hailong Shen & Miya Zhu
Here’s the USATT news item by Joshua Dyke.
USATT News Items
This past week there were only three USATT “News” items, and one of those was just the weekly link to the weekly USATT Insider. (The others are the ones of California SQT and the new Coaches Licensing fee.) As I once wrote about, this past year they changed their policy. The USATT news page used to be the “go to” place for news on table tennis in the US, but now they only put up news items specifically about USATT. So others have had to take up the slack. My blog gained a LOT of new readers because of this, and yet, I think it would be a whole lot better if USA Table Tennis were the place to go for news on USA table tennis.
=>END USATT SECTION<=
US Table Tennis Athletes Association
Mike wrote me the following: "Michael McFarland is happy to introduce the USTTAA, US Table Tennis Athletes Association, an association that truly belongs to its members, http://usttaa.org/, and click here to find why the organization was created. The USTTAA mission is to promote a healthier lifestyle through the wonderful lifetime sport of table tennis by developing grass-roots programs throughout the US to reach individuals and families from 3-100+ in age. Our sport could not be possible without all the hard work so many of you do; therefore, as a special thank you for every club that 70%+ of their business is table tennis related is published for free on the USTTAA site, and if you don't see your club, we will be happy to add your club, please email us at email@example.com."
New from Ti Long - Returning the Hook Serve
- Return Hook serve extremely easy (Part1) | Tutorial (5:18)
- Attack your opponent's Hook Service is extremely Easy (Part 2) | Tutorial (5:56)
New from Samson Dubina
Jörg Bitzigeio ETTU Presentation: Professional Coaching in Table Tennis - Find Out and Discuss How to Do It
Here's the presentation (2 hr 35 min) - Double click on "22/02/2021 - Jörg Bitzigeio". Jörg is the former USATT High Performance Director and now ETTU Development Webinar Expert.
Weekly Training Lessons - Play Well, Play Parallel | High Performance & Development
Here’s the video (5:49) from the ITTF.
Thinking About Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Coach Jon. It has some nice things to say about my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!
New from Steve Hopkins
- WTT Middle East Hub – Contender Event Qualifiers
- Welsh Junior to Talk Climate with President Biden
- PongNow: David Zhuang (21:46)
- WAB Club Feature: Princeton Pong
- WTT’s Doha Event Rosters Suffer Due to COVID-19
- German League: Regular Season Finale Preview
- WTT Middle East Hub – Where to Watch - “World Table Tennis (WTT) is kicking off its first official events at the WTT Middle East Hub between 3 – 13 March 2021 in Doha, Qatar. Featuring two tiers of the new WTT event structure, there will be a WTT Contender event followed by a WTT Star Contender event in consecutive weeks. Here is where you can watch the action unfold...”
- Team China withdraws from WTT Middle East Hub, citing pandemic concerns
- Inaugural World Table Tennis Youth Series events announced for 2021
- 2021 Update with ITTF CEO Steve Dainton
- Here's their home page and news page
New from the Malong Fanmade Channel
Lots of new videos here!
Here’s the video (8:31) from Adam Bobrow! “Germany has been a table tennis powerhouse for several decades now and Berlin is an AMAZING city. Thanks to andro, I was able to experience a lot of Berlin... but it's not over yet.”
Most Unbelievable Plays in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (8:01) from Table Tennis Central.
Junior Table Tennis Players Helps Biden on Climate Change
Here’s the article and video (3 min) from CNN. The 14-year-old Welsh junior star had become a climate change activist. (Also, this isn’t the first time she’s been featured in this blog - here’s a video (3:44) from 2016, when she was nine.)
To Tell the Truth - Table Tennis Champ
Here’s the video (TT portion is about 6 min) - Steve Thoren found this video from a segment of “To Tell the Truth.” The show had segments where three people would claim to be someone, and the panel would question them and try to figure out who was the real person. In this segment, starting at 18:10 (link should take you there), one of the three is 1958 US Open Women’s Singles Champion Shizuko Hoshi of Japan. Can you figure out which one she is? The panel is also pretty famous - Betty White, Ralph Bellamy, Kitty Carlisle, and Tom Poston!
Why Not Get Some Accessory Table Tennis Clothing?
Go to Amazon (or other major online retailers, though few will have as much as Amazon), and do searches for “Table Tennis Hats,” Table Tennis Socks,” “Table Tennis Ties,” and so on.
Table Tennis Pins at Etsy
Here’s the page!
Who’s the Luckiest One?
Here’s the video (4:01).
That Ball Has a Mind of Its Own!
Here’s the video (25 sec) from World Table Tennis.
Is Stella Hitting Simon? Ping Pong Trick Shots
Here’s the video (4:14) from XOLAY.
Funny Video Compilation
Here’s the video (16 sec)! (It starts slow, but gets interesting six seconds in.)
Getty Table Tennis Images
Here are some interesting table tennis photos.
Beetle Bailey Pong
Here’s yesterday’s (Sunday) Beetle Baily cartoon! While this one only has table tennis in one panel, as an example of what Sarge does to Beetle when he loses (see where he puts ping-pong paddle), it’s from a long history of Beetle Bailey table tennis cartoons.
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