November 21, 2022

Tip of the Week
Recovering from Forehand Attacks from a Corner.

Weekend Coaching and the JOOLA North American Teams
Our junior program at MDTTC is divided into four groups (66 players total), and this weekend I worked with one session for each. It was also an exhausting weekend as I acted as a practice partner for three of the sessions, for two reasons. First, we had an odd number of players, though we can work around that by doing multiball or bringing in another player. Second, and perhaps more important, we’re getting them ready for the North American Teams next weekend (Fri-Sun after Thanksgiving), and so it’s valuable they get a good practice session with a good player. (Yay, I’m the “good” player!) For drills, I mostly blocked – and boy, after a short time it really came together and I stopped missing. They rotated the players who hit with me, and each time I greeted them with the warning, “The rumors are true, I never miss.” And, of course, if I did miss, I’d explain I was only showing them what a miss would look like if I were to miss – after all, how could they identify a miss by an opponent if we don’t show them what it looks like?

We also played a lot of games to prepare them for the Teams. I managed to go undefeated (closest game was 11-7) – mostly because I didn’t play games with the first group, just drilled with them. With the other groups (strongest players under 1800), I often relied on my serves. Coach Wang Qingliang warned my opponents that I serve a lot of side-top serves that looked like backspin, but most still had great difficulty in reading them. The hardest part for me about not training or playing matches regularly is in return of serve, and ending the point with the forehand, both of which used to be big strengths. For receive, I mostly just pushed serves back – quick, fast, heavy, low and at wide angles. But as I got warmed up and played better, I got more aggressive and began forehand looping serves, especially from the backhand corner. Because most of our players are trained to be more two-winged, and I mostly attack with my forehand, two of them asked why I stood so far on my backhand side when I received, and why I stepped around to loop so many serves. So I had to explain how the game has changed, though of course most players should still sometimes step around to forehand loop in a serve.

I’m telling parents of players who have never been to the Teams to video their kids as they first walk into the playing hall. The normal reaction is eyes go wide, mouth drops, and they look side to side as they take in this incredibly large hall, with tables in full-sized courts seemingly going on forever! There will be 167 playing courts, with 1113 players on 269 teams.

This will be my 46th straight time at the Teams, starting in 1976, the year I started in table tennis. (It would be 47 except they skipped 2020 because of Covid.) As I pointed out to one of our junior players who will be playing in it for the second time, “We’re experienced pros. Together we’ve played in it 46 times.” (See segment below on The Biggest Table Tennis Tournament in the USA Reaches New Heights by Matt Hetherington.)

Dream Blue Liquor and US Open Sponsors
Should USATT be taking sponsorships for alcohol, especially hard liquor? Here’s the Prospectus (entry form) for the upcoming US Open. On page five it lists the sponsors, and the first one listed is Dream Blue, which is a distilled hard liquor from China. (Their liquor alcohol contents rate very high, at “40.8%, 45% or 52% ABV.”) This issue has come up in the past – I was in the room years ago when the USATT board debated whether they should take sponsorships from companies that sell alcoholic beverages or cigarettes. The decision at the time was overwhelmingly no. Apparently that has changed.

As a non-drinker, I’m personally opposed to such sponsors and would likely vote against it if I were on the Board. I’m pretty sure that there was something on this in the USATT bylaws many years ago, but it’s no longer there. (During my twelve years as editor of USATT Table Tennis Magazine we did not take ads for alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, and I’m pretty sure they were never a USATT sponsor.) Since the US Open is an international event, it comes under ITTF laws. The ITTF doesn’t specifically ban sponsors for liquor, but they do have these restrictions in their rules about such ads, which would apply to the US Open – I bolded the key part: Advertisements or markings in or next to the playing area, on playing clothing or numbers and on umpires’ clothing, shall not be for tobacco goods, alcoholic drinks, harmful drugs or illegal products and they shall be without negative discrimination or connotation on the grounds of race, xenophobia, gender, religion, disabilities or other forms of discrimination; however, for competitions not explicitly organised for players under 18 years of age, the ITTF may allow advertisements or markings for non-distilled alcoholic drinks on equipment and fittings in or next to the playing area, provided the local law permits.

One strange thing – while there are eight sponsors listed on the US Open sponsor on the Prospectus PDF (no links), but there is nothing about these sponsors on the US Open page. You’d think they’d be listed there, with links! If I were a sponsor I’d expect this and be pretty unhappy that there is nothing about their US Open sponsorship on the US Open page. The eight sponsors from the Prospectus are Dream Blue, Butterfly, Paddle Palace, Nittaku, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, DHS, Ping Pong Parkinson, and Blossom Houston.
=>UPDATE - they've sort of added a Sponsor section at the very bottom of the US Open page, below the "Directions and Parking" map where few will see it. But the only sponsor listed there is Dream Blue. The other seven are not listed. This implies that the only sponsor is Dream Blue, which is not correct. 

USATT Assembly
I’m told the USATT Assembly will take place at the upcoming US Open, on Sunday night, Dec. 18. This is required by the USATT bylaws as an annual event (Article 15, page 46). However, I haven’t yet seen any announcement, either on the USATT news page or US Open page. Bylaws 15.3 says, “Notice of the annual USATT Assembly stating the place, date and time of the meeting shall be posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting.” Assuming it’s held on Dec. 18, then thirty days before that was Nov. 18, this past Friday.

=>ADDENDUM (added Dec. 5, 2022): Hurray! Apparently USATT read my blog. They added a small mention of the USATT Assembly to the Prospectus, on page 9 (of 10), column 2. It wasn't there before. (I have the copy that had been posted previously.) However, this does not consitute being "...posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting." (See below.) First, adding the lines buried in a PDF file linked from the US Open page without letting people know it had been changed is right out of the novel "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." (Some of you will recognize the reference.) Second, the change was not made 30 days in advance. We'll see if there is any other notice of the Assembly. 

Below is the entire section from the bylaws on the USATT Assembly, for those interested in attending. I’m told there also might be some panels at the US Open on various topics, such as clubs or high performance, but I haven’t heard or seen anything official yet. They’ve done that twice before at Opens or Nationals – I was on several panels – but they stopped doing that. I think it’s a good idea.

Section 15.1. Purpose. There shall be an annual USATT Assembly at which all individual and organization members and other USATT constituencies in the United States Table Tennis family shall be invited to gather and provide input to the Board on important issues confronting the organization. At USATT’s Assembly, the Board shall provide a report on the “State of the USATT.” The Chief Executive Officer shall provide a managerial report addressing issues of concern and importance to USATT. Individual and organization members and other constituencies may be permitted to pose questions to the Board and Chief Executive Officer for response. The annual USATT Assembly shall be purely advisory and shall have no rulemaking, budgetary, legislative, or other authority, though it, or some of it, may be involved in some appropriate way in the nomination of individuals to serve on the Board as otherwise set forth in these Bylaws. The Board shall determine the agenda of the annual USATT Assembly. Page 47 of 56 USATT 22 02-17a
Section 15.2. Place. The annual USATT Assembly shall be held in conjunction with a Board meeting. If practicable, the annual USATT Assembly meeting shall also be held in conjunction with a major USATT competition.48
Section 15.3. Notice. Notice of the annual USATT Assembly stating the place, date and time of the meeting shall be posted on the website of USATT no fewer than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting.

The Biggest Table Tennis Tournament in the USA Reaches New Heights
Here’s the article on the North American Teams by Matt Hetherington. The tournament is Nov. 25-27 in Washington DC. I’ll be there coaching some of the twelve junior teams from the Maryland Table Tennis Center.


Multi-Player Training with Shadow Play
Here’s video (24 sec) from the Houston Intl Table Tennis Academy of a coach working with three players at once – one directly, the other two shadow-practicing. We do this type of training at my club (MDTTC) all the time, though I usually do it with multiball, where I’m feeding to one player while the others shadow practice. There would also be one player doing ball pickup, with the players rotating. Sometimes we’ll have a player practice serves on an adjacent table as part of the rotation.

New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

Physical Training For Juniors
Here’s the video (1:27) from Huijing Wang.

How to Manage Travel Fatigue (Physiologically)
Here’s the article by Lily Zhang.

Pingpong Video Analysis (Forehand Topspin in Table Tennis - Essential Characteristics)
Here’s the video (7:34) from Dr. Table Tennis. Here are more videos from the site.

New from Taco Backhand

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Ma Long Player Profile & Equipment
Here’s the article from Table Tennis Top.

The Most Creative Table Tennis Player Ever?
Here’s the video (8:49) featuring Japan’s Koki Niwa.

New from Steve Hopkins

About 16th Si & Patty Wasserman Junior & Open Championships
Here’s the article by Tawny Banh.

Some People Say
Here’s the video (70 sec) about table tennis from PingPod - it's pretty good!


Lots of videos here.

Table Tennis Postal Stamps
Here they are – on sale at Ebay!

Ping-Pong, Spin, and Third-Ball Attack (Or, Why Dialogue Gets Boring and How to Fix It)
Here’s the article by Gregory Ashe. It’s not about table tennis – it uses ping-pong as a metaphor for a dialogue writing problems for writers. He gets his table tennis terms and tactics right!

Funny Table Tennis
Here’s the video (36 sec)!

I Went to the World Championships… in CHINA
Here’s the video (14:56) from Adam Bobrow.

5 Things Ping Pong Players Hate
Here’s the video (6:28) from Table Tennis Daily – this is HILARIOUS!!!

Send us your own coaching news!