March 7, 2022

Tip of the Week
Be Both a Machine and an Artist.

Princeton Pong Tournament
I went up to Princeton, NJ on Friday (three-hour drive from Maryland) with five of our kids and their parents, and coached at the Princeton Pong tournament on Saturday. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. A great thanks goes out to tournament staff Ben Rosenberg (director), Claudia Dunlevy, and referee Chris Lehman, and to the other volunteers who helped out with the tournament.

This time around it was a group of our younger kids, all rated under 1300, ages 10 to 13, most of them playing in three round robin rating events. Four of the five had never played a tournament outside Maryland. They had a great time - I wonder if I was that excited to play in tournaments back when I first traveled to tournaments back in 1976? (Answer: yes.)

I coached an even 20 matches, plus part of two others. It's really half tactics, half psychology as I tried to find creative ways to get them to play as well as they do in practice. Tactically, they usually are faster than their opponents, so we did a lot of quick attacks to the "three spots" - wide corners and middle (roughly opponent's elbow). They were mostly used to playing players from the club who'd they'd played many times, so playing new players and styles is a challenge. They played a LOT of players with long pips! One kid struggled against his first long pips blocker, a style he's never played, and got killed. Then he played another one later on and played one of the best matches he's ever played. Amazing how fast kids pick things up.

More importantly, the tournament dramatically showed their strengths and weaknesses, as tournament always do. I took careful notes, and later today, after I finish the blog, I'll likely go off to Panera's for lunch or dinner and write up an analysis and recommendations for all five. It'll include bullet lists of things they do well, things that could or should become strengths, and things that need work on. A couple of them simply could not serve anything effectively but backspin serves - we'll be working on that. I worked with one of them on that on Sunday. Some of them loop against pushes fine in practice, but in tournaments against a player they've never played? That needs work - and much of that comes with experience and the decision that you have to do the shots you practice or you'll never do them effectively.

We came back Sunday morning, and I got back just in time for a noon group session with a number of kids, including two of the ones from the tournament. I had two group sessions and fed multiball for nearly three hours, with a big focus on looping against backspin, both forehand and backhand. For those sessions, most of the players were paired up, with Coaches Wang Qingliang and/or Lidney Castro running the drills and coaching, while 2-3 at a time were sent to me for 15-30 minutes of intense multiball.

USATT Coaches Certification
I haven't been on the USATT Coaches Certification listing since January, even though I'm certified at the highest level as a National Coach. I've jumped through all the hoops - I'm a full USATT member ($75/year for most, but I have a lifetime membership via Hall of Fame induction), $50/year certified coach fee, I've passed SafeSport (again), did the background check, and (new rules!) promised to turn over my firstborn table tennis racket and 100 rating points. :) But according to headquarters, there's a software problem, and they have been unable to mark me as passing SafeSport even though I passed that in January. (I keep getting these automatic emails saying I'm not SafeSport compliant.) I wonder if others are affected by this? (I emailed to find out.) Presumably, next year they will extend my certification for the amount of time I'm left off the list before I have to pay the annual $50 again. You can't charge someone for certification if you aren't putting them on the certification list!
UPDATE - I'm told they will have an update (i.e. fixed the problem) "within the next few days."

Ukraine President Zelenksy Playing Table Tennis
Here's the video (43 sec)! Here's a related cartoon I created where Zelensky smashes Putin, "Putin's Dream Becomes a Nightmare." (Here's the non-Facebook version. I used graphics I found online to create it.)

New from Samson Dubina
This first one may be the single hardest thing to get across to students. Those who overcome this improve rapidly. All of this week's Samson tips are really good.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Matt Hetherington

New from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

New from Coach Jon/Table Tennis Philosophy

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

3 Drills That Will Level Up Your Game
Here's the video (7:24) from Seth Pech.

The Myth of Sport Specific Training
Here's the video (5:45) from Kevin Finn/Peak Performance Table Tennis.

Joining the Dark Side - When Is the Right Time to Switch to Pimples?
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

How to Do Mima Ito's One-Inch Backhand Punch with Short Pips
Here's the video (10:39) from Ti Long.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Impact of Ball Material Change from Celluloid to Plastic on Game Statistics in Elite Women Table-Tennis
Here's the rather technical article from the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport. This is just the abstract - you have to pay $47 for the whole article. "This study compared the statistics of 24 matches played by elite women table-tennis players using the old celluloid versus new plastic balls to provide insight into the on-court adaptations made. Matches played by five, top-10 world ranked female players, using the celluloid (n = 12) versus plastic balls (n = 12) in international competitions from 2011 to 2017 were analysed. The results showed that the average strokes per point and point duration were approximately 15% and 13% shorter when playing with the plastic (4.79 ± 0.59; 3.91 ± 0.54s) compared with celluloid balls (5.52 ± 0.62; 4.49 ± 0.53s)."

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

Support Lily Zhang in Attending 2022 WTT Events
Here's her GoFundMe page. "Lily's home club Table Tennis America supports this initiative of sending Lily to participate at the WTT Events. All funds raised will 100% go towards covering her expenses at the WTT events. Table Tennis America Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Your generous donation is tax deductible." (So far they have raised $8163 out of the $40,000 goal.)

Navin Kumar Documentary Preview
Here's the video (61 sec).

ITTF PingPongParkinson World Championship
Here's the promo video (50 sec) for the event to be held in Pula, Croatia, Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2022. I will likely be coaching Navin Kumar there.

New Zealand Protesters Use Table Tennis Table as Shield
Here's the article and video (67 sec).

2022 NCTTA College Table Tennis Championships--COMING SOON
Here's the info page.

New from Steve Hopkins



Dinosaur Pong Prints and Shirts
Here's the page to buy them!

Dragon Ping Pong Paddles
Here's the page to buy them! (Beginner paddles but fun souvenirs.)

The Point is Never Over
Here's the video (12 sec)!

Skinny Pong
Here's the video (10 sec)! That table looks about three inches wide. I want one!

David vs. Goliath Pong?
Here's the cartoon! (Or is this Ukraine vs. Russia - and note the worried look on "Russia's" face!

Non-Table Tennis - "Small Step" Sold to Abyss & Apex
It's my 126th science fiction short story sale (along with four novels), and my fourth to Abyss & Apex. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, he said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." But he left out the "a," and so the quote didn't really make sense. It turns out he didn't leave it out, and this is the story of what really happened when mankind first landed on the moon. Two retired aliens lived there, living life at 1/10,000 our speed, but with technical capabilities far beyond ours, including time manipulation. When the landing accidentally kills one of the aliens, it's up to Buzz Aldrin to save humanity by convincing the surviving alien - using perhaps the most unique communication technique ever invented - not to burn humanity to a crisp. The story idea came about from reading "The Eagle Has Landed: The Story of Apollo 11," by Jeffrey K. Smith. The publishing industry often has a slow process, and this was no exception. I submitted the story last Aug. 1, and it took seven months before they accepted it. It's already scheduled for publication - on July 1, 2024!!! (We also went through a two-week rewrite process where they asked for certain changes.) It's a somewhat long story, 6,600 words, about 27 pages double-spaced.

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