Training Centers and Their Impact
Yesterday, in the Washington Post article on MDTTC (see yesterday's blog), it said, "Hodges campaigned for the U.S. Table Tennis Association to copy his blueprint, which he believed was the way to expand the sport." I'm going to expand on that.
In December, 2006, I spent a huge amount of time putting together a proposal to USATT to start recruiting and training coaches to set up junior programs and training centers. At the Board meeting at the Nationals I made the proposal. The response? Two board members ridiculed the idea of "full-time training centers," saying there weren't enough players to support such a thing, and so it wouldn't really affect the development of players in this country. The others in the room were mostly quiet.
The mind-boggling ignorance of such statements from people with no experience in such full-time training centers was, well, mind-boggling. The whole point of the proposal was that you'd recruit the players (especially juniors in junior programs), and simply do what MDTTC and several other training centers had already done successfully.
After I was done with my proposal, there was polite applause from the Board, it was checked off the agenda, and they moved on to the next item. I went through a very similar experience at the 2009 Strategic Meeting. The leaders of our sport, both then and now, just don't get this aspect of our sport (or about developing leagues, anther topic I've blogged about in the past), and so the development of our sport is really left up to those of us with the entrepreneurial spirit to do it on our own. This usually means having to reinvent the wheel over and over since there is no organization to oversee the recruitment and training of such coaches and promoters.
At the time of my presentation there were about ten training centers in the country, as I noted in the proposal. Now there are over fifty. I'm looking over the listing of top junior players for the various age groups from the Nov/Dec 2006 USATT Magazine, and comparing it to the most recent ones, July/August 2012. Each listing shows the top 15. (There are some foreign players listed in both listings, but they do not greatly affect the overall picture. I did a similar comparison in my blog about a year ago, but the comparisons are so stunning they deserve repetition.) Especially look at the added depth by comparing the #15 then and now! Nearly all of the addition players in the rankings come from full-time training centers, where large groups of junior players train together with full-time professional coaches. And the result? (And note that the finalists in Men's and Women's Singles at the last Nationals - Peter Li and Han Xiao, and Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang - all came from full-time training centers.)
Under 18 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2418, which would have been #13 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2625. The #15 player in 2006 was 2159; the #15 now is 2387.
Under 16 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2418, which would have been #6 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2522. The #15 player in 2006 was 2087; the #15 now is 2310.
Under 14 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2323, which would have been #6 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2420. The #15 player in 2006 was 1870; the #15 now is 2153.
Under 12 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2044, which would have been #10 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2235. The #15 player in 2006 was 1440; the #15 now is 1916.
Under 10 Boys: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2044, which would have been #1 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2008. The #15 player in 2006 was 620; the #15 now is 1170. (Addendum: the #2 player in 2006 was only 1495, while the current #2 is 1920.)
Under 18 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2330, which would have been #4 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2548. The #15 player in 2006 was 1811; the #15 now is 2112.
Under 16 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2113, which would have been #7 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2329. The #15 player in 2006 was 1620; the #15 now is 2002.
Under 14 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2029, which would have been #7 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2261. The #15 player in 2006 was 1432; the #15 now is 1786.
Under 12 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 2029, which would have been #3 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2105. The #15 player in 2006 was 553; the #15 now is 1213.
Under 10 Girls: In 2006, the #1 player was rated 894, which would have been #12 in the current listing. The current #1 is 2105. The #15 player in 2006 was 80; the #15 now is 372.
The Difference Between Ignorance and a Moron
See this article in Time. "The table tennis players don’t have to run, jump, or be particularly strong. They don’t have to move around all that much. They just don’t pass the Olympics smell test." A person who doesn't know about something is ignorant, and there's nothing wrong with that; everyone is ignorant of most things. A person who is ignorant of something but believes he knows all about it is a moron. You, Sean Gregory, are a moron.
Futuristic Table Tennis
Yesterday I linked to the video showing players playing on a table that seemed shark infested. The sharks were actually projections from a projector. Here's another video showing this (2:09). About 48 seconds in they change to projecting the path of the ball onto the table. Somehow they have equipment that detects the path of the ball and projects it onto the table a split second after the ball has traveled that path.
China Brings Its Past to Ping-Pong’s Birthplace
Here's an article in the New York Times about Table Tennis, China, England, Ping-Pong Diplomacy, and some history.
Here's an article about Neda Shahsavari, the first Iranian woman to compete in the Olympics.
Highlights from the Worlds
Here's a highlights video (10:57) of the best points from the 2012 World Championships.
There once was a player whose smash,
Was so good that he always talked trash,
"I'm the greatest!" he cried,
And his sponsors replied,
By sending him boatloads of cash.
There once was a player who cheated,
And worse still the guy was conceited,
His bearing was regal,
But his serves were illegal,
And so he was never defeated.
There once was a player whose serve,
Had so much sidespin it would curve,
To the left and the right,
And then out of sight,
Leaving us with no balls in reserve.
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