February 19, 2024

Tip of the Week
The Laziness of Simple Serves.

USATT’s Illegal Chair, USATT Assemblies, and Those Pesky Bylaws
I sent another email to the USATT Board regarding this. (I blogged about the issue last week, including a link to my previous email.) Just to be clear, I have zero expectation that anything will come of this – too many enablers on the Board. The point is they can no longer deny knowing about it. This abuse of power, as well as policy issues, will be among the big issues in the Fall USATT elections. The facts speak for themselves. The primary “defense” against this is the assertion that Char’s term started on Jan. 1, 2021 – but it’s argument by assertion, with no facts or logic backing it up. But there’s little accountability in USATT these days, and so they can do pretty much get away with anything. Normally the lawyers report to the CEO and Board, and the CEO reports to the Board which oversees everything, but these days it’s pretty much reversed.

I don’t like harping on the bylaws, but this has huge implications. The chair of the board is a powerful position. Later in the year I’ll write about some of the ramifications of past rulings from the current chair. I’ll also write about policy issues, which is what I really want to write about, when the time comes. I don’t know if I’ll be running for the Board this Fall or backing others, but the two big issues will be the abuse of power and policy issues. Much more on this as the election approaches.

But seriously, they don’t even follow obvious bylaws. For example (and this is just one of numerous examples), many years ago USATT began running the annual USATT Assembly at the US Open or Nationals, where USATT members could discuss issues with the USATT board and staff. A key aspect was that there would be a board meeting immediately afterwards so board members could discuss the issues raised. And so Bylaw 15.2 states, “The annual USATT Assembly shall be held in conjunction with a Board meeting.”

So, what happened? In 2021, they had the USATT Assembly at the US Open in December, but no board meeting. Why? At the USATT Assembly itself, I raised the issue, pointing out how easy it would have been to simply hold a Zoom meeting at the end of the tournament or the day after, i.e. follow the bylaws. Chair Char told me that it was inconvenient for the top players to meet during a major tournament.

Two HUGE problems here. First, USATT Bylaws are not things USATT should follow only when they are convenient; they are the rules for governing our sport. Second, I checked with several of the player reps and they denied ever saying they couldn’t attend such a meeting, and thought the Zoom meeting would be the perfect solution. Char promised to follow the bylaws and hold the required board meeting the following year, 2022, and so all would be well, right?

Nope. In 2022, they again held the USATT Assembly at the Open in December, but again didn’t hold the required board meeting in conjunction. I pointed this out again, and once again Char promised they’d do it the following year, in 2023. So, in 2023 the Assembly was again held in December at the US Open, and once again they didn’t bother with the required board meeting. So, for three straight years, despite knowing the bylaws require it, they have refused to hold the board meeting in conjunction with the USATT Assembly. All three USATT Assemblies were held in mid-December, at the US Open; in all three cases, the next board meeting wasn’t until early February the following year.

What are they showing us? 1) Utter contempt for following the governing rules of our sport; 2) Utter contempt for the membership; 3) USATT Assemblies are just for show. 

Note that it’s only a few USATT people who actually abuse the rules. Most of the rest just go along with it. (Alas, my pointing it out will only make them dig in their heels deeper.)

I am sickened to have to write these posts about USATT. I plan to ignore them for a time, since there’s not much we can do about it until the elections come up, and I’d just end up repeating myself week after week. (I have a variety of other topics to blog about.) There’s no accountability in USATT right now, but guess what an election is? Accountability.

Weekend Coaching
I fed multiball for about 15 minutes at the start of one session, but then worked one-on-one with players as a practicing partner the rest of the session. Focus was on consistency in footwork drills, and control. To work on control, I put my water bottle in the table, sideways, about nine inches to the left of the middle line on my backhand side. Anything that didn’t come to the left of the bottle was a miss. Once the kids know what they need to do, they become pretty good at it.

I’m always looking for ways to make the group sessions more interesting. Last week I saw a movie at a Regal theater, and they served my medium popcorn in a plastic Taylor Swift bucket. So I cleaned it and brought it to the club. After the session we had a competition. I put the bucket on the far side of a table, and had the kids line up on the other. They took turns trying to hit or serve a ball into the bucket. After a few rounds, two of them did it, and we then had a playoff, won by 7-year-old Crystal – who, it turns out, is a Taylor Swift fan!

Alas, as the session went on, including the contest at the end, I began feeling sick. By that night I had a full-blown nasty cold, which still won’t go away. (I did a home Covid test just to be safe, but negative.) No fever, but constant chills, aching teeth, countless Kleenex, constant coughing up stuff, and general feeling of extreme sickness.

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions
The first draft is done! That includes the page layouts, all 125 pages, including 103 photos or graphics. (Putting together graphics to demonstrate four types of doubles footwork took a LONG time.) I’ve printed it out for proofing. Because of my cold, I’m not sure if I’m going to get to it today, but hopefully early this week I’ll “finalize” it. I put that in quotes because I plan to send it to an editorial board. I’ve got 17 possible names on the list (!) and so haven’t decided yet whether to ask all of them or not. They’ll all be thanked in the Intro chapter of the book, as well as a signed copy. (If you are a National Coach or equivalent, with an interest in doubles, and wish to be on the Editorial Board, email me. Not everyone on the Editorial Board will be a National Coach or elite player, but I already have several who will double-check my grammar, etc.)

10 Best Table Tennis Books of All Time
Here’s the listing from Sports Foundation – I like the rankings!

World Table Tennis Championships
They are taking place right now, Feb. 16-25 in Busan, South Korea. Because I’ve been alternating between working on my doubles book and fighting a bad cold, I haven’t been able to see much of it. But one USA highlight was the USA Men’s Team defeating England, with Nikhil Kumar upsetting Liam Pitchford (world #25) and Paul Drinkhall (#101), with Jishan Liang also defeating Drinkhall. Nikhil went in seriously under-ranked at #379, but should go up a bunch after this. While I didn't see the matches, I'm guessing he dominated with his supurb receiving skills, ball placement, and overall shot-making efficiency. Here are some links:

=>Coverage by Steve Hopkins/Butterfly:

2023 USATT Coach of the Year Awards
Here’s the USATT News Item. Congrats to Gao Jun, Thilina Piyadasa, Hong Lin, Sean O'Neill, Vlad Farcas, and Lidney Castro (who coaches at my club!).

Major League Table Tennis
Follow the action!

You're Tearing Me Apart
Here’s the blog by International Referee Kagin Lee. It covers a rather interesting rules proposal coming up at the Worlds, and a semi-parallel situation from the past (the infamous Kim Taek See-Wang Tao match at the 1995 Worlds). I haven’t really studied the issue, but here’s the gist of it: “This testing would involve disassembling the racket and examining the discrete blade and racket coverings - after the match.” I’m a bit skeptical of this! Kagin explains why he too is opposed to the proposal.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from Ti Long

How to INSTANTLY Improve as a Table Tennis Player
Here’s the video (13:05) from Pingispågarna.

Coach Jon is Back
Coach Jon Gustavson put up three new blog items. They are: “Offense and Defense at Table Tennis Gwinnett,” “Table Tennis on a Budget,” and “The Great Table Tennis Paradox.”

New from PongSpace

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions and answers from PingSkills.

The Prince Who Never Became King: The Best of Zhou Qihao
Here’s the video (1:41) of the world #24 from China, from TacoBackhand.

Nanhu Girls Table Tennis Team - Thank you Coach, Wish you a Happy Retirement
Here’s the video (7:26) from Tony’s Table Tennis.

301+ Table Tennis Team Names (Funny, Cool & Puns)
Here’s the listing!

Orban Wins
Here’s the cartoon. That’s Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary.

Ready to Play Table Tennis Anywhere with Passion
Here’s the video (52 sec)!

YouTuber vs. 4 Pros
Here’s the video (11:57) from Adam Bobrow! “What would happen if I challenge four professional players in a single game showdown?” He takes on Aditya Sareen, El Sayed Lashin, David McBeath, and Tyrese Knight.

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