January 29, 2024

Tip of the Week
Start With Your Trickiest Serve.

Three Big Things to Happen to USA Table Tennis Since I Started
I started playing table tennis and joined USATT in 1976. Since that time, I would say there are three BIG things that have happened in our sport, specifically in the US for two of them. (If I’d started five years earlier, then I might have put Ping-Pong Diplomacy as a fourth.) They are:

  • Table Tennis Becomes Olympic Sport, 1988. This led to increased revenues and recognition. Many of our athletes now aspire to be Olympic athletes. Our headquarters is at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. There are a number of other benefits – if I researched it, I’m sure I could come up with a lengthy list. However, it’s not all roses without thorns. It’s meant that we do not control our destiny as much as before. Much of our governance is done to uphold rules made by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), rather than our making our own rules. When you attend USATT board meetings, you start to realize that much that is done is to keep USOPC happy. It’s meant our board of directors, which used to be made up almost exclusively of elected members, is now 1/3 non-table tennis people from a pool basically set up by USOPC. And twice (in 2007 and 2019) the USOPC has stepped in and dissolved our board for reasons of their own, forcing us to create a new one under their supervision. The irony is that, unlike in the past when we’ve had really bad boards that hurt our sport directly, we were able to vote them out quickly and completely change the board for the better – it’s harder now. (For one thing, the non-table tennis people on the board, since their introduction in 2008, have been almost exclusively supportive of whatever is currently happening and whoever the current CEO is, and so making major changes in our sport is more difficult.)  There’s enough material here, good and bad, to write a book.
  • The Rise of Full-Time Training Centers. From the time I started out in 1976 until 1992, there were a few attempts at setting up training centers, but they never lasted. There were a few full-time clubs, but they were mostly league-driven. The first successful one was the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which I co-founded in 1992 with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang. From then until around 2007 a few others copied our business model – I basically explained what made it work for some of them. In 2007 there were about 5-6 such training centers in the whole country, and perhaps a couple dozen full-time coaches in the entire country. I made a proposal to USATT in 2007 to make a goal of having 100 full-time training centers in ten years, but they were not interested. However, the idea exploded anyway, and there are now over 100 full-time training centers in the country. (The list isn’t completely up to date – email me if you have updates on new ones or ones that closed.) There are now probably around 500 full-time professional coaches in the US. This has led to a large increase in the number of junior training programs and junior players, and the level and depth of play in the US has increased dramatically.
  • Major League Table Tennis. There have been a few attempts in the past to set up such professional leagues, but none really got off the drawing board or early stages. Now we have Major League Table Tennis (MLTT) right here in the US. What does this mean? Before, our up-and-coming juniors could aspire to be Olympians . . . but few could really make a living at our sport unless they became coaches. Those that wanted to make a living at it had to go overseas. How we are moving toward a truly professional league where top players may be able to make a full-time living at it. These next few years will be fascinating to watch – we live in historic times for table tennis in the US.

US Olympic Team and Junior Team Trials
Want to try out for the US Olympic Team or the National Junior Team (U19, U17, U15, U13, and U11, for boys and girls)? Both Trials are being held in West Monroe, Louisiana. (Yes, a rather interesting, out-of-the-way place to hold them.) The Olympic Trials are March 21-24, followed by the Junior Trials (Part 1), March 26-30. (I’ll be coaching at the Junior Trials.) It’s still early, but one strange this is that there are currently only ten entries for the Olympic Trials (including likely top seed Kanak Jha, who is back in action), there are 122 for the Junior Team Trials. Here are some links:

University of Maryland Table Tennis Club Needs Your Support!
Here’s their GoFundMe page – hope you can help out. As I blogged last week, I founded the club many years ago. They could use your help! They are about halfway toward their goal of $3,000.

It was held this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here are the results!

TableTennisCoaching.com Ads
Some of you may have noticed that there are four ads here at TableTennisCoaching.com. The question has come up – how much do I charge for these ads? How much money do I get for them? Are they making me rich? Alas, here’s the answer – I do not charge for any of the ads. Nothing. Nobody is paying me for them. I put them up either as favors or as a trade where they put one up for me. (I used to charge for them, but stopped years ago – I don’t need the money.)

Major League Table Tennis

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Ti Long

What Is Your Favourite Backhand Block?
Here’s the video (2:09) from Pingispågarna.

Master Attacking with Longpips
Here’s the video (3:04) from Angela Guan/PongSpace.

New from Table Tennis Daily

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

New from Steve Hopkins/Butterfly

New from USATT

New from ITTF

Action at the LATTA Butterfly Thanh Banh Memorial Tournament
Here’s the music video (2:27) of the tournament held Jan. 27.

Let’s Slap Some Balls
Here’s where you can buy the shirt – the only octopus (or kraken?) table tennis shirt I know of.

Ping Pong Jokes
Here they are!

Table Tennis Fails
Here’s the video (65 sec)!

Send us your own coaching news!