January 22, 2024

Tip of the Week
Court Tricks.

Weekend Coaching
Only did one group session this past weekend – other coaches needed the hours more than I did! I did multiball for about an hour and thirty minutes as a practice partner. (There were 18 in the group. We have over 70 in our junior program, so have to have different groups based on level.) The multiball focus was lots and Lots and LOTS of fundamentals, focusing on topspin drills and footwork. While one player does multiball, another shadow-strokes behind him, matching his shots and imagining hitting the ball each time. Another player does serves, while another does ball pickup. As a practice partner, we again did lots of footwork drills. We also did a rather intensive shadow-practice session at the start, going through lots of stroking and footwork drills without the ball. I spent much of the time yelling, “Turn your shoulders!” as many kids get lazy and go for rapid-fire but poor arm strokes – but not on my watch!!!

University of Maryland Table Tennis Club Needs Your Support!
Here’s their GoFundMe page – hope you can help out. I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees there – I couldn’t leave the area since I was running many of the local table tennis activities back then! There’s an interesting history of the University of Maryland Table Tennis Club. I founded it back in 1981. I began coaching another student, Larry Johnson. He went from 1500 to 1800 that first year – a shakehand inverted player, not his namesake with long pips who used to play in New Jersey. To promote the new table tennis club, we decided to do an exhibition every week at a different building on campus. And so, every week for a semester I’d arrange it with a different campus building, we’d put out flyers, and then we’d roll the table to the new location and to the exhibition! Lots of people attended them, both students and professors. Result? It became the busiest club in the US for a year or two, with 16 tables, seven days/week, and jammed every night to the point that I stopped going – there weren’t any open tables!!! The table we used was normally set up in my dormitory, and that’s where I practiced with Larry Johnson almost every day, plus the Northern Virginia TTC on Tue, Fri, and Sun nights, where I’d practice with Sean O’Neill, Dave Sakai, Ron Lilly, and others. For a time I was president of both the University of Maryland TTC and the Northern Virginia TTC, and for a short time, also the Beltsville TTC (but it lost its place to play after only a month or two).

The Ping Pong Player and the Professor by Richard Sosis
The Ping Pong Player and the Professor was one of the best table tennis books I’ve read. Others agree – it’s got a perfect rating at Amazon. It’s about the ups and downs of an anthropology professor and player, i.e., a “Ping Pong Pop” (Rich Sosis) raising and coaching an up-and-coming table tennis star, Eliel (pronounced L-E-L).

A lot of the book philosophizes on table tennis and how it relates to Judaism, anthropology, tennis, over-educated parents, and the definition of sport – and it’s all pretty fascinating. To quote Steve Brunskill in the book: “It has the smallest court, the smallest ball, the smallest bat, the quickest reaction time, the most spin . . . and you have to learn to cope with different styles of opponents.”

There were lots and lots of fascinating characters and devoted volunteers in the book. Some, like "Mozart," I'd never heard of. In some cases, when telling stories, he used real names, but sometimes he used fake names to protect the identity of the person, but table tennis aficionados will recognize most of them – in fact, identifying them was one of the fun parts of the book. You’ll learn about the battle with the hotel refrigerator; the infamous huge bag; reading shoes; and lots of other anecdotes. Oh, and can you figure out why 51505 73173 is Eliel Sosis’s favorite number? My club, MDTTC, is mentioned a lot as Rich and Eliel often came down for weeks at a time to train there. I’ve known Rich for decades – I coached him in at least one training camp back when he was an up-and-coming junior star. (Sorry, after all these years, I can’t think of him as “Richard”!)

The book comes in print, kindle, and audio versions. (It says print version is 312 pages, but it’s actually 278; if you don’t read the acknowledgements and end notes, it’s a solid 235 pages.) Here's the Amazon description:

"Most Americans view ping pong as either a basement recreation or the focus of a fraternity-party drinking game. Yet table tennis is an Olympic sport and one of the most popular athletic activities in the world. The Ping Pong Player and the Professor is a quirky memoir about the adventures of a Jewish anthropologist and his son, an elite player, in the colorful subculture of this extraordinary sport. The tale of their exploits in this hidden world is peppered with anthropological wisdom--the professor can't help himself--on a range of topics, including ethnicity, religion, sport, family, and how humans create and discover meaning in life. At its core The Ping Pong Player and the Professor is a heartwarming love story about the relationship between a father and son, two introverts who share a common bond over a nine-foot by five-foot table."

Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions
My best science fiction novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, just got republished! It has a number of table tennis scenes – here’s where I blogged about that. (One of the main characters is a professional table tennis player who – SPOILER ALERT! - walks off the court during the final of the Nationals to join the campaign and meet the visiting alien.) It’s a drama-satire that covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, where the world has adopted the American two-party electoral system, with a moderate third-party challenge to the conservative and liberal parties. (Yikes!) Also along for the ride is an alien who makes first contact near the start and joins the third party as an observer – we learn about Earth’s political system and history (our future) through her eyes. Check out the quotes and reviews of the book at Amazon. On sale at $11.95, $5.99 kindle.

Major League Table Tennis

Table Tennis History Magazine
The second (Jan 2024) issue is out! Lots of great stuff if you’re a history buff or just want to learn about our sports history.

Table Tennis Evolution 1930-2023
Here’s the video (22:51) from Table Tennis Central.

Butterfly Training Tips

World Champion Mattias Falck is Unstoppable for Two Minutes Straight
Here’s the video (2 min) from Taco Backhand. Mattias Falk (SWE) was the 2021 World Men’s Doubles Champion. Note how he controls play with his close-to-table backhand topspins, and ends it with pips-out forehand (a rarity in modern table tennis).

How to Add a New Shot to Your Game
Here’s the article by Tom Lodziak.

3 KILLER Serves for ALL Players
Here’s the video (6:04) from Nick Rudd TT.

New from Ti Long

New from Pingispågarna

Forehand Topspin Secrets Revealed | Step-by-Step Guide for Explosive Shots!
Here’s the video (9:11) from Rational Table Tennis Analysis.

New from PongSpace/Angela Guan

Ma Long Maintains Stroke Integrity Under Pressure
Here’s the video (1:16) from Drupe Pong.

New from PingSkills

New from EmRatThich/PingSunday

New from Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis

An Eventful 2023 U.S Open
Here’s the article by US Team Member Joanna Sung

Colorado Doctor Prescribes Ping Pong Treatment for Neurodegenerative Disorders
Here’s the article.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from USATT

New from ITTF

Lots of new table tennis videos here.

Mind Bending Net Recoveries in Table Tennis! Xu Xin, Fan Zhendong, Wang Hao, Timo Boll, etc.
Here’s the video (8:17) from Street TT.

Table Tennis Coloring Pages
This might be good for kids!

8 Best Ping Pong Movies You Need to Check Out
Here’s the article from Ping Pong Ruler.

Table Tennis Hearts Shirt
Here’s where you can get yours!

Bullfight Pong
Here’s the cartoon!

When Ping Pong Goes Too Far
Here’s the video (30 sec)!

Adam/Slander vs. Anastasiia/KSHMR
Here’s the video (16:11) from Adam Bobrow!

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