May 15, 2023

Tip of the Week
Are You Trying Too Hard?

US Table Tennis Hall of Fame
All mention and links to the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame are gone from the USATT web pages. If you want to visit it, you have to know to go to their new website since it no longer exists, as far as USATT is concerned. It’s just indescribable how the current USATT does these silly things that hurt our sport. I could do a VERY long blog on how many table tennis groups the current USATT has gone to war with, all to the detriment of the sport. 

The US Table Tennis Hall of Fame is an independent group, just as the Hall of Fames of most sports in the US, including baseball, basketball, football, tennis, and most others – that’s the best way to keep it from becoming overly politicized. Here's the current Hall of Fame Board of Directors, a "Who's Who" of US Table Tennis, and far less politicized than USATT. There’s a battle going on right now as many of the current leaders of USATT want to take over the Hall of Fame, which would be a terrible move. The main consequence of USATT running a Hall of Fame would be the politicization that comes from wanting to “reward” political friends and punish “opponents.” 

I wouldn’t be surprised if USATT tries to set up their own separate Hall of Fame, arguing that the Hall of Fame should only recognize those who contribute directly to USA Table Tennis, i.e. not those who mostly worked on related organizations, like National Collegiate Table Tennis Association. And yet, when you go to their own USATT mission statement, it says:


So, the USATT mission is to “Support, Develop, Grow, and Inspire the Table Tennis Community.” Note it says Table Tennis Community, not USA Table Tennis. USATT (and that includes me, a life member, and many readers here who are USATT members) are supposed to be developing this sport IN THIS COUNTRY, period. I was on the board of directors when we created this mission statement – the “Support, Develop, Grow, and Inspire the Table Tennis Community” part were my words, and we really meant it – but not so much the current group. We’re supposed to work together, not turn everything into a political fight and, say, remove links to the Hall of Fame if you don’t get your way. Heck, I work with USATT, despite our disagreements – in recent years I’ve coached our junior teams overseas in Austria, Jordan, Ecuador, and Santo Domingo, chaired and/or was a member of the coaching committee, and edited the complicated entry forms for the US Open and Nationals, including the upcoming one.

Disclaimer - I do the program booklet for the annual US Table Tennis Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony, which are linked from the Dinner page, if you page down. I’m also in the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame and was awarded the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. But I’m only 63!!! Here’s a short History of the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.

New USATT Webpage?
On Friday, a whole new USATT website went up. There was no advance notice or news item that I saw – it came out of the blue. It was a mess. I wrote an extensive blog this morning (Monday) about it for this week’s blog – but while I was doing so, after being public for three days, they reverted back to the old version. While that’s a good move, I have no idea why they are creating a new version, or why they put up one that’s not ready to go public for these three days. I’m sure some of them are happy about wasting my time – but they don’t look very good when they do such things – like taking out the Hall of Fame links (see above), it’s just silly. On a related note, there hasn’t been a single USATT news item in 17 days, not since Apr. 28. (They used to be much more common.) Ironically, the “new” version that’s disappeared had one from a few days ago about para table tennis, but it’s gone as well – and even then, just one in 17 days?
(Edit - the mysterious news item reappeared later on Monday, US Paralympic Medalists Looking to Have a Dominant Performance in Homecoming Appearance at the 2023 ITTF Para US Open.) 

Weekend Coaching
I did four group sessions over the weekend. I mostly did multiball or was a roving coach, so didn’t hit directly too much except for one session where I hit with alternating players for an hour. After two months, my shoulder is still injured and I probably need to rest it – I’m debating whether to see a doctor so he can say, “Yep, you have an injured shoulder and need to rest it.” But when I hit with beginning/intermediate kids, there’s usually not too much strain on the shoulder. (Once it’s a bit better, then I might start doing some easy exercises on it to build it back up, but it’s not ready for that yet.)

While coaching, I focused a lot on ball control this weekend. If you are hitting forehand to forehand or backhand to backhand, the ball should be going where you are aiming – and that’s the corners. As I explained at one point, “Top players don’t hit middle forehand to middle forehand.”

I also emphasized doing something with your push. You don’t just get it back – every push should be an adventure, where you put extra backspin on the ball, hit it quick or fast, place it, change directions, or something. Otherwise you make things easy for the opponent, like hitting with a predictable robot.

One thing that we’ve done a lot of recently toward the end of a session is have the kids line up, I put an empty basket on the table upside down, and I feed multiball as they try to knock it off. Typically I might feed three shots each, to wide backhand, middle, and wide forehand, and they play forehands. It takes a number of shots to knock the basket off – most hits nudge it maybe a quarter inch, though a hard, direct hit might send it two inches. We time and see how long it takes them to knock it off.

Here’s something to think about. In one session, the players were playing up-down tables, games to 11. For the very last game, for fun, I had everyone play one game to four points – opposite handed! So righties played lefty, lefties played righty. There were sixteen players, and fifteen players had fun. But one kid, surprisingly, took things so seriously that he was crying afterwards, almost inconsolable. Why? “I’m so bad left-handed!” he wailed. Yes, some kids take these things very seriously.

Forehand Topspin, Modern Versions
Here’s an example (33 sec) of a nice modern forehand – I think the player’s name is Azhara from the HATTA. Besides being a good example to copy, there’s something of historic interest here involving terminology. If you went back to the years I was developing (I started in 1976), and up until perhaps twenty or so years ago, this would have been called a close-to-table loop (or topspin in Europe). But now it’s just a standard forehand drive, which these days are taught to have this type of topspin. (It’s much easier and more natural with modern sponges.) It’s really a terminology thing – I watch it and see a close-to-table loop and remind myself that this is just a regular forehand, while a modern player just sees a regular forehand.

This isn’t the only change in modern forehands. Here’s video (8 sec) of Stanley Hsu (far side, about 2400) with Cheng Yinghua. Stanley blocks two, and then counterloops close to the table for a winning shot - and does so with his feet parallel to the incoming ball. In the past, players were taught to move the right foot back (for righties) for forehands, even in fast rallies, often taking a step back to do so. But now we teach up-and-coming juniors to keep the feet mostly parallel in faster rallies like this so they can play the ball more quickly and stay closer to the table. If he'd brought his right foot back, it would have slowed him down, making the shot more difficult and probably rushed, or he'd have had to step back some. One key issue - it takes a lot of physical training to do this type of body rotation at high speeds, so for most of us, old-style is probably better. I also wrote about this in my blog on May 1 – see third bullet point in Weekend Coaching. (There’ll be an upcoming Tip of the Week on this, currently scheduled for July 10 – I’ve written all the Tips of the Week through July.)

Improve Backhand Speed, Short Backhand Flips & More
Here’s the video (13:06) from Seth Pech – highly recommend this if you want to see these and other techniques from an elite point of view.

How to Topspin Any Serve Long to Your Backhand – Step-by-Step Guide
Here’s the video (5:08) from Rational Table Tennis.

How Using Your Body/Wrist Can Help to Increase Your Racket Speed
Here’s the video (4:59) from Drupe Pong.

Strategically Use of Half-Long Serves to Gain Advantage
Here’s the video (2:10) from Angela Guan/PongSpace.

Can Adult Players Change Technique
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

Multiball Training is Fundamental to Early Success in Table Tennis
Here’s the article by Subham Kundu, a professional player and coach from India.

The Importance of a Coach in a Table Tennis Match
Here’s the article by Kasmono Monex.

Talking about Lower Back Pain (and Table Tennis)
Here’s the article by Dr. Alomar-Jimenez.

New from Ti Long

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Daniel Gonzalez Joined Major League Table Tennis (MLTT)
Here’s the article by Stephanie Sun.

Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy For Sale
The deadline for putting in bids is Wednesday, May 17, in two days. Here’s their Business Plan and new video Successful Academy (2:07).

Alexis Lebrun and Power of Serve
Here’s the video (35 sec).

Waldner’s Successor
Here’s the video (2:20) from Taco Backhand, featuring Truls Moregard of Sweden.

Truls Moregardh vs Koji Uezu | FINAL | Swedish League 2023
Here’s the video (5:51).

Timo Boll Withdraws from 2023 World Championships
Here’s the video (2:20) from TT11TV. He is still recovering from a shoulder injury.

TT Insider 'The reunion: Liam & Zak' mental health discussion
Here’s the video (4:31) with Liam Pitchford and Zak Abel.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from ITTF

2Pong, SmashNet, Teqball and Headis - Has the World Gone Mad?
C’mon, table tennis is the REAL racket sport, and nobody’s going to play these newfangled things like these or pickleball!

King Pong Shirts
Here’s what you get when you go to Amazon and put in “King Pong Shirts” – there are so many to choose from! You can also do this with socks, hats, and with other animals – there’s a jungle of such ping-pong stuff out there just waiting to get bought.

I Don’t Remember What We Do Here
Here’s the cartoon!

Pongfinity Shorts
Here’s 43 hilarious short videos from Pongfinity! I link to their usually weekly longer videos, but these are shorter classics.

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