USATT web page

September 24, 2013

Todd Sweeris, Terese Terranova in Hall of Fame, Yvonne Kronlage Gets Lifetime Achievement Award

Here's the article! I'm especially happy about Todd. He came to the Resident Training Program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in the fall of 1986 as a 13-year-old, the youngest player there. I was the manager of the program at the time. So I got to work with him for a few years there. Then I returned to Maryland and opened the Maryland Table Tennis Center (along with Cheng Yinghua and Jack Huang), and Todd moved to Maryland to train there. On the back of my book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is a picture of me coaching him at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996. I've already gone through my files and pulled out lots of pictures of him for use at his induction at the USA Nationals in December.

I've also known Yvonne a long time - she was president of the New Carrollton TTC where I started play at age 16 in 1976. We've differed on a few things politically, but we've both been promoting TT for roughly forever - but she's been doing it for a longer forever than I have!

Terese I mostly know from coaching our players against her players at the Junior Olympics and Junior Nationals for many years, especially in the 1990s when many of the finals were between Maryland and Florida players, and I'd be coaching the Marylanders (along with coaches Cheng and Jack), and she and Marty Prager would be coaching the Floridians.

USA Nationals

Speaking of the USA Nationals, here's the home page on the USATT web page, which includes the entry form and hotel info. I'll be there, but just coaching and attending a few meetings, including the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. (I do the HoF program booklet.)

USATT Web Page

Speaking of the USATT web page, I'm featured there twice right now. I'm pictured, along with Ernesto Ebuen and Roger Yuen, for getting certified as an ITTF Level 2 coach. I'm also pictured (coaching Seyed Hamrahian and Derek Nie in doubles at the 2012 USA Nationals) for my latest Tip of the Day, "Don't Guide Your Loop." Ironically that was half of what I told a kid I coached at the Coconut Cup this past weekend - see my write-up yesterday.

2014 Junior and Cadet National Championships

Want to host them next year, either July 31-Aug. 2 or Aug. 7-9? Here's the Bid Sheet!

However, I'm a bit peeved by this. A lot of the top juniors in the U.S. train in China during the summer, often leaving right after the U.S. Open (usually the first week in July), and returning at the end of August. They are scheduling this right in the middle of that. So many of the best juniors in the country (including several from MDTTC) will likely be in China when this takes place, meaning that if they want to play in the National Junior Championships they'll have to fly halfway around the world. (That's roughly 13-15 hours.) It will cost a fortune - I just did a quick search and the cheapest flights from my area to China round trip are about $1400. Plus they'll show up off by 12 time zones, which affects juniors even more than adults. (A 2PM match is like 2AM for them, etc.) And after flying in for a few days of jet-lagged zombie-like play (which they will then be judged on for the next year), they'll hop back on a plane for the trip back, minus about a week of training (after taking recovery time, etc. into account). What this really means is some of our top juniors won't attend the National Junior and Cadet Championships, and so won't be on the National Junior or Cadet Team because they are too focused on becoming top players by training in China. Or, if they do attend, their poor parents will be out something close to $2000, on top of all the other training expenses.

I'm hoping someone from USATT can tell me if I'm missing something here.

Waldner's Best Drop Shots

Here's a highlights video (6:39) featuring the best drop shots by the great Jan-Ove Waldner. Tired of constant serve and rip and counterlooping rallies? This is completely different!

Four on One Table Tennis

Here's the picture - I have to try this! Maybe on break in our next camp.

Sleepy Table Tennis

That's all I can call this.

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October 25, 2012

USATT Site Map

Here's the new site map for the USATT home page. It's a good way to quickly see just what's on the site without having to explore every major link on the menu. I was co-webmaster for eight years (1999-2007), and have fond memories of many of these pages. (Sean O'Neill is now the webmaster.) Personally I still liked the old stone-aged version, but perhaps that's because I was so used to it, and knew exactly where everything was without even thinking about it. Alas, out with the old, in with the new. The website contains ten major headings. Let's take a tour. (Let me know if you have any questions about any of these pages. I have to leave for a rare middle-of-the-week morning coaching session, and so didn't write as much as I might otherwise.)

  • News. You can see the news either as "Most Recent" (the new USATT site map) or "Most Viewed" (2013 Cadet and Junior Team Selection, of great interest to me since I'll be coaching two players in them). If USA players don't check this at least once a week, you are not a serious player.
  • Ratings. You can get the Traditional View or the "Comparison by TTSpin" version. From the latter, I now know I have a lifetime 3-4 record against 2011 Men's Singles Finalist Han Xiao.
  • Rules. Here you can get the ITTF or USATT Rules (almost the same thing), the page for Umpires and Referees (and verify I'm a USATT Certified Club Umpire), the page for Tournament Directors (which has everything a tournament director needs) and Officials (which takes you to the Umpires and Referees page), and the USATT Tournament Guide.
  • Coaching. This is my favorite page (of course!). It takes you to the Coach of the Year Program (guess who was Developmental Coach of the Year in 2002?), the Coaching List (that's where you'll find local coaches), the Coaching Advisory Committee (I'm on it), the Coaching Certification Program, the upcoming Coaches Courses, the Coaching Newsletter (including back issues), and Coaching Tips.
  • Clubs/Leagues. This is where you go to find a club, to see the listings for National and Regional Centers of Excellence (my club, MDTTC, is one of the seven National ones), the USA Club Championships, links to the USATT Club Application, Club Programs, and the Club Handbook; the USATT League (a way for clubs to run rated club leagues - I founded it about ten years ago), the college home page, and the kids page that features the American Youth Table Tennis Organization.
  • Events/Tournaments. This takes you to the pages for "Camps, Clinics, Meetings, & Tournaments," and to the actual USATT Tournament page.
  • Magazine. This takes you to the Print Schedule, the Submissions page, the Features page, the Advertising page, and the Subscribers Page. Somewhere in there are links for the magazine covers, from 2007-present and 1998-2007.
  • Para. This has five parts, but all seem to take you to the USA Paralympic Team page.
  • Team USA. This is where all the USA National Teams are listed. The first two links are the Recent Results (I'm getting a "page not found" there) and Critical Team News pages. Then come the listings for the Olympic, Paralympic, Junior, Cadet, and Mini-Cadet National Teams.
  • USATT. This is the biggest page, and sort of has everything involving USATT - which is just about everything, since this is the USATT website! There are 17 links here. They include the Sitemap (what we're discussing here); Membership (all you want to know about joining USATT); Contact Us; Staff (i.e. the nine paid staff members); the 17 Committees and Task Forces (I'm on three); Directors and Officials (for tournaments); Approved USATT Equipment (what you can use in USATT tournaments); the USATT Board of Directors (the nine who make policy decisions for USATT); the USATT Bylaws; Board Minutes (going back to 1999, when I began putting them online); the USATT Code of Conduct; USATT Financial Reports; History of USA Table Tennis (care of Tim Boggan); the USATT Hall of Fame (hey, I'm in it!); the Champions page (showing USA National and U.S. Open Men's and Women's Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles Champions); Partners (i.e. organizations we work with); and Sponsors. 

Pink Pong

Here's a new video (90 seconds) from Pink Pong, the table tennis cancer charity. "Pink Pong was established in September 2010 after one of our members was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The aim and objective of Pink Pong is to firstly increase awareness of Cancer for everyone, and secondly, to raise money for different Cancer Charities and Foundations, and even Communities, to help people in this terrible situation. In conjunction with this, Pink Pong also hopes to increase the participation of our Sport, Table Tennis."

Rory McIlroy Plays Table Tennis

Here's a picture of Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy playing table tennis in a promotional event before the BMW Masters 2012 golf tournament in Shanghai, China.

Tiny Tennis Titans Try Table Tennis

Hobbits and Smurfs and Danny Devitos, Oh My! Or are these just tiny versions of Federer and Djokovic?


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September 10, 2012

Tip of the Week

If You Can See It, You Can Loop It.

Department of Angry Emails

A certain prominent USATT member (former top player) wrote a long email to a huge number of people last night. Someday I'll learn to stay out of these things, but I just couldn't help but respond to some of the false information in the email. (None of it was about me.)

The writer was angry about the "cancelled" USATT election for CEO four years ago. (There never was an election for CEO; the USATT Board hires and fires the CEO.)

The writer was angry that only one member of the nine members of the USATT Board is elected from the membership, not including the two player reps. (There are actually three.)

The writer was angry about skipped issues of the magazine in recent years. (There weren't any skipped issues.)

There were also some unsubstantiated claims, such as saying the USATT web page was worth $75,000 without giving a source or rationale.

I have nothing against dissent. But it should be informed dissent. Don't send out mass emails with various accusations just to see what sticks, or spread rumors you've heard that are easily checked on. If the writer had sent a simple email to any board member or just about anyone involved in USATT, that person could have directed his attention the Bylaws that show that the CEO is hired by the USATT Board (not elected) and that three members are elected by the membership, and he could have directed him to the old USATT Magazine page and the recent one that went up this year, both of which show the actual covers of every issue going back to 2007, with a link from the old one to the archives that have every cover going back to 1999. (This is what I put in my email response.)

In other words, if you see something you don't like, make sure to get your facts straight before lashing out in public. It's not that hard. Really.

The writer responded this morning by making a big deal about how I said there was no election four years ago and demanding that I apologize for this statement, when of course I had very clearly said there was no election for CEO. He argued that he had gotten his info on board members elections by cut and pasting from the Bylaws, when he quite obviously had not. He also argued that the magazine had been delayed, which of course is quite different than saying there had been skipped issues. (He also argued that there were several late CEO Reports on the web page, which "proved" that the magazine had been delayed, when of course the web page updating had nothing to do with the magazine.) I responded one more time, but as I promised, it'll be the last one I respond to.

Now if I can only stay out of online political debates as the U.S. presidential election approaches....

Beginning Junior Class

We have dozens of junior players at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Recently we've had an influx of beginners. I had eleven beginners in my beginning junior class yesterday. Coach Wang Qing Liang assisted as we put them through various multiball and robot drills. We finished with target practice as I fed multiball as the kids took turns trying to hit a Gatorade bottle (red fruit flavor) that I assured them was actually full of nosebleed from my pet rhinoceros. If they hit it, I had to take a sip. I spent the whole time mocking them and saying they had no chance to hit it, leading to great delight (and feigned consternation on my part) when they did. 

Coaching beginning junior players, especially in the 5-9 age group, is quite different than other types of coaching. They don't yet have the hand-eye coordination to actually rally among themselves. So you start them out with ball bouncing. (I wrote about this in my blog on Aug. 15, 2011.) Then you work with them using multiball and/or a robot, directing them through the shot. If you make sure they have a proper grip and foot positioning, most of the rest falls into place. You still have to make sure they rotate the body (not just arm) and not slap at the ball with a wristy motion.

Hardbatties, Unite!!!

Are you a serious hardbat player? Well, the old Hardbat Forum has been resurrected, care of hardbat guru Scott Gordon. Come join us for hardbat discussions, as well as sandpaper and clipboard, which both fall under the "hardbat" umbrella. (I'm normally a sponge player, but I do hardbat on the side.)

Lily Zhang in the School Paper

Here's an article in The Viking: Palo Alto High School Sports News, entitled Olympian Lily Zhang named 2012 Junior and Women’s North American Champion."

Have You Practiced Your Under-the-Leg Smash Today?

Here's Kim Gilbert demonstrating proper form!


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May 24, 2012

Drop the arm and loop

Players are often too slow in responding to pushes that should be looped. (This assumes you know how to loop; if you don't, learn. Get a coach or watch top players, perhaps in the video section here.) When you see that an opponent is about to push, you should be preparing to drop down to loop, either forehand or backhand. (One-winged speedsters have a simplified world view; they are going to loop with their forehand, so they don't have to decide forehand or backhand, just which way to move. But that's a difficult way to play.) Players often miss their loops because they are slow to respond, and so end up rushed, which is the most common reason players miss loops.

This is something you can practice anywhere, without a table or racket. Go into a ready stance and imagine your opponent about to push. Visualize the push sometimes going to your forehand side, sometimes the backhand side. The instant you see where the opponent is going, lower your arm and playing shoulder (your whole body goes down some to loop backspin), and shadow practice looping it. Then repeat. Keep doing this until you feel like you are reacting almost instantly, or until the people in the office where you work have you committed.

"Is there a ping-pong coach around?"

I just watched a short CNN news video about a boy whose heart stopped after he was hit in the chest with a baseball during a game. The coaches started CPR, and then a nurse came out of the stands and took over, saving his life. This reminded me of a Nationals where a player had a heart attack in the middle of a match. Within thirty seconds he was surrounded by about ten doctors from among the 700 or so players. He survived.

I keep wondering when I'll be walking along, and suddenly there'll be cries of, "Is there a ping-pong coach around?" Then I'll leap into action. There'll be some poor fellow getting killed at table tennis, and only I can save him. I'll give him a few shrewd tips, he comes back to win, and then there'll be a CNN news video, "Table tennis coach saves life of player getting killed." (Note how my self-esteem went up at the end, as I switched from "ping-pong coach" to "table tennis coach"?)

New USATT web page

USA Table Tennis recently unveiled their new web page, created by Sean O'Neill. Here's the article, and here's the new web page. If you go to the old web page, there's a big sign saying, "We've Moved," and it shortly redirects you to the new page. Soon those going to the old site will be instantly redirected to the new one, so you don't have to unlearn and memorize the more difficult "".

Ariel Hsing in the news. . . . again

Here's another article, this time from the Associated Press, on U.S. Women's Champion and Olympian Ariel Hsing. Maybe it's time to put a moratorium on Ariel new articles? There are too many!!! (Just kidding - keep 'em coming, U.S. news media!)

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

Here's a picture of two U.S. soldiers in Iraq playing table tennis. They both seem to use the Hasegawa finger-down-the-middle grip. Obviously both have had extensive training in Japan. (1967 World Men's Singles Champion Nobuhiko Hasegawa was notorious for this unique grip, but nobody I know of has really used it successfully since.)

Werner Schlager versus dominating rival

Here's 2003 World Men's Singles Champion Werner Schlager taking on a future rival, who uses his futuristic tennis-style net play to dominate the rallies. And he's standing on the table. And about 30 inches tall. But he seems to have a proper grip.


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