December 5, 2022

Tip of the Week

Weekend Coaching, MDTTC Open, and Books
With the North American Teams over, the focus switches from preparing them for a major tournament to long-term development. Which means lots of foundational work! Footwork, strokes, serve, receive, and so on. I coached in the usual four group sessions this weekend. In two of them, I mostly fed multiball. In another, I did both multiball and hit with various players, working on consistency. In the other, I was a “walk around” coach, where the focus was on good technique. They played games at the end of the session, and I kept harping on some of them that this was the time to practice their shots, because this was practice. (Way too often some get “scared” and just push.) I also worked with players on serves, including working with two on how to do a really effective no-spin serve, i.e. “heavy no-spin,” where the serve looks like heavy backspin but is no-spin. As we demonstrated, receivers often push them as if they are heavy backspin, and so the ball pops up. The returns also have less backspin then returns actual heavy backspin serves. I also had a good discussion with one of our top juniors on sports psychology, and I gave him a copy of “The Inner Game of Tennis.”

We have an MDTTC Open coming up this weekend, Dec. 10-11. (See the Maryland entry in Omnipong.) I have a special this time – two, in fact. First, I’ll have a table and be selling my books at the tournament (discounted), both table tennis and science fiction. Second, I’m giving everyone in groups 1, 2, and 3 in our junior program (about 55 kids) free copies of “Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.” (The kids in group 4, the Novice group, are mostly 6-8 years old and aren’t ready for it – I’ll get them copies when they are older.) For the roughly 15 or so who already have copies, they’ll get to choose any other of my books. (Yes, I have to pay a wholesale price for the books I give away!)

USATT Board Meeting and Alcoholic Beverages Policy
Here’s the USATT Agenda and Notices page, with a link to the info page for the USATT Zoom meeting, to be held this Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7PM eastern time. I usually attend these, but since they’ve turned off the comment section, I’ve lost interest. I and others would often put in polite comments during the meeting. One or two people put in rude comments, and rather than simply kick those people off the meeting, they closed down the entire comment section in a classic case of overreaction. When the board comes to its senses it will return the comment section. Perhaps they should survey the membership, asking this simple question: “When someone posts inappropriate comments during a USATT board meeting on Zoom, should they ban that person or ban all comments?” I think the overwhelming response would be obvious.

One issue that may come up at the board meeting is whether USATT should take sponsors or advertisers for alcoholic beverages (or tobacco products), such as the Dream Blue sponsor for the upcoming US Open. (Dream Blue is a hard liquor company from China.) There really are two issues – 1) Should they take such sponsors or advertisers, and 2) Should such a policy issue be decided by the policy-making arm of USATT governance, which is the board of directors, or the CEO? In this case, the CEO made the decision, with no notice to the board. I’ve had board members (plural) tell me that the first they learned of this was from my blog, when I blogged about it two weeks ago.

I strongly believe this is a board decision, just as it was when the matter came up once before and it was overwhelmingly rejected. I also am against accepting such sponsors or advertisers (especially hard liquor and tobacco products) primarily because it’s a bad influence on our junior players. Even if it’s a large amount of money that might be good in the short run, I’m against it because, in the long run, I don’t want our sport beholden to a hard liquor company. I’ve heard the arguments for taking the sponsor, a primary one of which is that it was allowed by ITTF at some international events. But so what? I don’t believe in the theory of “monkey-see, monkey-do,” and believe we should decide our own ethical standards.

On a side note, I usually have a segment on USATT news here, but there hasn’t been any new news items there since Nov. 25, ten days ago. The USATT news page used to be much more active.

USATT Assembly
It will be held on Sunday, Dec. 18, 6:30-7:30PM, at the US Open in Ontario, California. How do I know? In my blog two weeks ago, I pointed out that USATT was required to give 30 days’ notice of their annual USATT Assembly, and had not done so. 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.” Well, they haven’t actually posted it, but they quietly, and without any public notice of the change, added two lines about it, buried on page 9, column 2, of the US Open Prospectus. It wasn’t there before – I have the previous version, both in PDF and a printout. I don’t think this qualifies as “posted on the website of USATT”! (Some of you may remember the opening scene of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which is similar.)

I probably won’t attend. If I did, I would likely feel obligated to react to some of the reports they would give, and frankly speaking, I’d rather a nice, quiet US Open where I just coach and play. I also have heard rumors that they will be running various panels at the Open – but if so, why are they keeping the assembly and panels secret? They should be advertising the heck out of them, with news items all over the place! There’s a reason movies, for example, are advertised many months in advance, to build interest. They don’t send out a Marvel movie by letting people know it’s coming out in a few days! If the plan is to have a USATT Assembly and panels that are poorly attended, they are doing exactly the right thing. But if you want good attendance, then they should be advertised well in advance, multiple times. That’s advertising 101.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Samson Dubina

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

3 Levels of Touch in Push
Here’s the video (57 sec) from Drupe Pong.

The Coin Method: Right Grip in Table Tennis
Here’s the video (1:46) from Pingispågarna.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Kou Lei TTC Dominate 2022 JOOLA North American Team Championships Final
Here’s the article on the North American Teams held last weekend, by Matt Hetherington.

Fan Zhendong vs Wang Chuqin | MT - Chinese Super League 2022
Here’s the video (7:47).

Dan Seemiller vs. Eric Boggan
Here’s the highlights video (4:48) from Jim Butler, featuring their classic 1982 US Men’s Singles Final.

Judy Hoarfrost Reflects on U.S. Table Tennis Team’s China Trip in 1971
Here’s the article from Paddle Palace.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly


Did Someone Say Ping Pong
Here’s where you can buy the shirt!

Table Tennis Shirts
Here are lots of funny and interesting table tennis shirts to choose from, from

Man vs. Dog
Here’s the video (10 sec)!

Funny Table Tennis World Compilation
Here’s the video (10:46) – a nice collection of the “classics”!

Killer Ping Pong Trick Shots – Horror Edition!
Here’s the video (4:33) from Table Tennis Daily – this is great!

Yet Still More Pings and Pongs and Flame Tree Interview
My 19th book is out! Nope, it’s not a table tennis book. It’s the fourth book in my “Pings and Pongs” series (170 pages, only $10), which are collections of my best short science fiction and fantasy stories that I’ve sold. (I’ve sold 136, plus 42 resales and four novels.) Typically, when a magazine or anthology buys one of my stories they have the rights to it for 3-6 months after publication. Then, when I have enough stories – about 25 – they are compiled into the newest collection. When I needed a name for the series, I came up with “Pings and Pongs.” I do manage to work in table tennis mentions in some of the stories, and a ping-pong ball is instrumental to the climax of one story, “Christmas Interrupted.” (Here are all 19 of my books.)

Speaking of “Christmas Interrupted,” that story was published in the Christmas Gothic anthology by Flame Tree Fiction. (They’ve bought four stories from me for their anthologies – they are a top-paying market.) They did interviews with the authors on the inspiration for their stories. Here’s my interview, the ninth one down. The story is about Santa Claus in the distant future, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and still trying to deliver toys at Christmas to non-existent children, with his long-suffering elves humoring him.

My next book will be the fourth in the “Tips” series, coming in May, 2023. Like the “Pings and Pongs” series, they have ever-lengthening titles: “Table Tennis Tips,” “More Table Tennis Tips,” “Still More Table Tennis Tips,” and the upcoming “Yet Still More Table Tennis Tips.” For both series, #5 will have “And” added to the start.

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