March 11, 2024

NOTE – due to a neck injury (see “Weekend Coaching”) I can barely hold my head up straight. So, I’m doing a shortened version of my blog this week, where I’m skipping all the usual links. (I’ll catch up with them next week.) Much of the below was written in advance. The rest I painstakingly typed this morning.

Tip of the Week
The Four Types of Defense.

Table Tennis Doubles for Champions - NOW ON SALE!!!
My new book is out at Amazon!!! It’s 133 pages, with 109 pictures and illustrations. There have been many instructional books on singles, but rarely more than perhaps a few pages on doubles. So, if you like doubles, this is for you! (I’ve won a lot of doubles titles, but more importantly, I’ve coached a lot of doubles champions.) Chapters include:

  • Great Partnerships
  • The Start of a Doubles Match
  • Serving in Doubles
  • Receiving in Doubles
  • Rallying in Doubles
  • Positioning & Footwork – fully illustrated
  • Secrets from the Pros – see list of interviews below
  • Tactical Doubles Stories
  • The Wacky World of Doubles – the funny side of doubles
  • Doubles Rules
  • World and Olympic Champions – complete listing

The “Secrets from the Pros” chapter includes interviews, tips, and features on great doubles champions such as Stellan Bengtsson, Gao Jun, Nikhil Kumar, Amy Wang, Jasna Rather, Dan Seemiller, Sean O’Neill, Dell & Connie Sweeris, and Dave & Donna Sakai.

The book had an incredible Editorial Board, a virtual Who’s Who of table tennis, that edited, made suggestions, and improved and approved the book. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Angelita Bengtsson, 4-time US National Women’s Doubles Champion; member of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame and the Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
  • Stellan Bengtsson, World Singles and Doubles Champion; long-time Swedish National Coach; and member of the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame
  • Mark Dekeyser, 40 years’ experience in singles and doubles; edited previous TT books by Larry Hodges; and author of “The No. 1 Brain Sport” in Active Seniors Digest.
  • Sean O'Neill, 5-time Men’s Singles, 5-time Men’s Doubles, and 6-time Mixed Doubles US National Champion; Two-time Olympian; member and president of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • John Olsen, USATT (State) and ITTF certified coach; Virginia State Open Doubles Champion; 16 gold medals in doubles (never lost) at the Virginia Senior Games and Northern Virginia Senior Olympics; one silver and two bronze medals for doubles at the National Senior Games.
  • Dan Seemiller, 5-time Men’s Singles, 11-times Men’s Doubles, and 8-time Mixed Doubles US National Champion; former long-time US Men’s Team Coach; member of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Dell Sweeris, 4-time Mixed Doubles and 3-time Men’s Doubles US Open Champion; long-time US Team member and US National Coach; member of US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Dennis Taylor, USATT General Counsel for 18 years; past USATT Board Member; past chair of the USATT High Performance Committee; and member of the US Table Tennis Hall of Fame.

Get your copy now! And if you like it, give it a nice review at Amazon. If you run a table tennis site and would like to do an interview or other feature of the book, email me. If you are a table tennis distributor, email me for the wholesale price list. (Here’s a listing of all my books.)

Weekend Coaching and Neck Injury
I had a busy weekend, coaching in four group sessions and one private session. Saturday went well until near the end, when I did a private session with Richik Ghosh (age 9, rated 1844) to help him get ready for the US Junior Trials at the end of the month. (We’ll do two more the next two Saturdays.) My neck had been bothering me for a few days, but it wasn’t so bad. During our session I strained it – and soon afterwards I could barely hold my head up straight! It got worse and worse. On Sunday morning I debated whether I could even go in, but decided I had to. But I couldn’t do any actual hitting or even demonstrate shots, could only feed multiball and walk around coaching in the two group sessions that day. I tried to keep my head up straight, but that was painful and so often my head was tilted sideways and forward, to the amusement of the kids.

I’ve had this same neck injury twice this past year. Both times it took about a week of rest to get better. I probably won’t bother seeing a doctor, but I ordered a neck brace from Amazon that should be coming in today. I had one before but I can’t seem to find it.

Some of the focus for the day was on staying closer to the table. Some of our kids like to back up, while others naturally stay at the table. It’s best to be able to play from all distances, while favoring staying at the table. Giving up the table too easily by backing up is almost always a mistake.

We now have an ongoing tradition that I have a different name every session. It’s reached the point that I have to brainstorm for new names. On Saturday, I explained that when I was born, my parents took one look at me and said, “You’re Ugly!”, and the doctor thought that was my name, and put that down on my birth certificate, and my name is Coach You’re Ugly. (Yes, the kids called me by name, over and over.) On Sunday I explained how when I was born, parents though I had a pretty nose and so named me Nose, and that of course my last name is Table Tennis, and so my name is Coach Nose Table Tennis. (Say it out loud.)

US Nationals Entry Form
The entry form is up and you can now enter at Omnipong. It’s in Huntsville, Alabama, July 3-7. I’ll be there, both coaching and playing. As I’ve done every US Nationals and Open starting in 1999, I proofed it for them. (I’m that weird type who can read a book, and on page 350 will point out something that contradicts what was said on page 50, plus I’m a long-time editor, among other things.) I just noticed that a few of my edits didn’t get made – I just emailed them.

USATT Magazines, 1933-2014
Vince Mioduszewski has made it his latest mission to collect and put online every USATT Magazine every done. I’d helped by putting together a listing of every USATT Editor in our history, dates they were editor, and the number of issues they’d done. (There have been a total of 556.) I also put online all 71 issues that I edited. Vince you may remember was also behind putting the results of every US Open and Nationals online – the USA Table Tennis Results History.

He's started to scan some of the old issues he has, including eight from 1935-1938. He sent them to me, and I put them online and created a page with links. Here it is, the USATT Magazines Historical Listing! As of now, it only includes the 71 issues I did and the seven he’s scanned so far. Later we’ll get more, though he’s told me he’ll be really busy for a while and may not be able to get to scanning the rest for a while.

USATT Magazines, 1976-2014
I started playing and joined USATT in 1976. I received every USATT Magazine during that time, but somehow, along the way, lost a few of them. The last year or so I’ve been trying to complete my collection for that period – and I finally got the last one missing! Mike Babuin sent me a copy of the May 1989 issue, and so my collection is complete for that time period. Of course, there were lots of issues before 1976, starting in 1933, but I’ll let someone else collect those. Here’s a listing of my complete table tennis memorabilia collection, including the magazines. (They stopped doing USATT Magazine in 2014.)

NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz Says He Is Recovering From a Stroke
Here’s the article from NPR. Will is the owner of the Westchester TTC and a member of the USATT Board of Directors. Will said, "Hey guys, this is Will Shortz. Sorry I've been out the last few weeks. I had a stroke on Feb. 4 and have been in rehabilitation since then, but I am making progress. I'm looking forward to being back with new puzzles soon.”

Intense Table Tennis Training – with Wheels
Here’s the video (33 sec).

Extremely Hard Ping Pong
Here’s the video (8:08) from Pongfinity! Now they’re playing with holes drilled on the table.

Non-Table Tennis – 200th Short Story Sale
I had a major breakthrough this past week – I sold my 200th science fiction/fantasy short story. (That includes 156 original sales and 44 resales.) The story was, “Two Democratic Civilizations Passing in the Twilight of the Boondocks of the Galaxy” to Ahoy Comics. (It’s my second sale to them.) A huge ship of galaxy-wandering snake-like aliens shows up, and since they outnumber humans (it’s a big ship and they’re crammed into it) and since they worship democracy, they claim Earth as their own . . . and give us one hour to leave.

Another story of mine, “A Tale of One City,” went up at Flash Fiction Magazine this past week. It’s sort of a takeoff of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens and the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. What happens when a developing but average writer starts a mass movement that worships averageness, and condemns all that is great or poor – but runs into the problem of how to grow a mass movement that condemns your very success in growing it?

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