Eric Boggan

July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Yes, it's Friday the 13th - and in honor of that, here's an extremely acrobatic black cat at the net (2:01). It's hilarious, and set to music. 

How Eric Messed Players Up

Yesterday I blogged about Eric Boggan's national and international record, and mentioned how some of the things he did are basically dying arts. Here is his Hall of Fame profile, written by father and fellow Hall of Famer Tim Boggan.

First, let's clear up one myth. Some believe Eric was only effective because he used inverted and anti, with the same color, so opponents couldn't see which side he used. The two-color rule came about in 1983, when Eric was 19 and not yet at his peak. He had his best results and highest world rankings after the color rule, where he reached #18 in the world. In fact, Eric went to two colors at least six months in advance, figuring he might as well get used to it, since two colors were the future. If not for the two-color rule, he likely would have reached top ten in the world. (But we'll never know.)

What exactly did he do that made his game so effective?

He had either the best, or close to the best, backhand block and overall blocking in the world. His Seemiller grip allowed him to jab block from all parts of the table at wide angles. The grip meant there was no middle weakness, which by itself put him above other blockers who had to guard the wide angles as well as the middle. Plus he regularly would flip his racket and dead block with the antispin side. His anti blocks sometimes double-bounced, and opponents who stepped off the table to loop against regular blocks were left thrashing about trying to react to blocks that died over the table or barely came off. And if they did topspin those ones, they were then stuck too close to the table to react to Eric's next shot, would either be another aggressive block or a smash. (While his loop wasn't great, he had a very nice smash from both sides.)

He also messed up opponents when receiving. Against short serves he'd usually use the antispin side and either drop it short or flip - and he'd hide which until the last second. Then he'd flip to the inverted side and start attacking or aggressive blocking. You haven't faced sheer terror until you face an Eric anti flip and try to loop it. (If you set up for it, he drops the ball short instead.)

His biggest strengths were exactly what were most players' weaknesses. Your typical world-class player liked to serve short and then attack to the middle or backhand. They also liked to return serves short. These tactics were often suicide against Eric - he was at his best against short serves and receives, and his blocking from the middle and backhand were just too good. Thinking players quickly realized they had to serve more long balls and attack his forehand, and to push long against his serves. (Few world-class players were in the habit of letting the opponent loop first, which is exactly what you often had to do against Eric.) Many players, such as Dan Seemiller, found success by chopping to get out of a losing rally since few could withstand his side-to-side jab blocks and anti dead blocks. Many found these tactics too different, and fell back on their old habits - often to their great regret.

Sandpaper News - $2000 Sandpaper Event at Nationals

You read that right - the top eight players will receive $2000 in total prize money, with $1000 going to the winner. Here's the press release, which reads:

July 12, 2012 Colorado Springs, CO and Palm Harbor, FL - Michael Cavanaugh, USATT CEO and Ty Hoff of FASTT announced the co-sanctioning of the Sandpaper event at the 2012 US Nationals in Las Vegas, NV December 18-22, 2012. The event will be the 2012 USATT/FASTT Sandpaper National Championships and will feature $2,000 in prize money for the top eight finishers with a top prize of $1,000.  

The USATT is the national governing body for the Olympic sport of Table Tennis.  FASTT is a national organization promoting the sport of Sandpaper Table Tennis.  These two organizations have come together to expand the base of players in the United States through this cooperative effort. 

Players interested in the Olympic sport of Table Tennis are encouraged to visit  Players interested in the sport of Sandpaper Table Tennis are encouraged to visit  

The Backhand Topspin

Pingskills brings you this new video on the Backhand Topspin (1:38). (Yes, this is the backhand loop, but these days the dividing line between a backhand drive and a backhand loop is less clear than before as more and more players play topspinny backhands, which is made much easier by modern sponges.) 

USA Olympians Highlighted in Bay Area

The four (Timothy Wang, Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Erica Wu) are highlighted in the San Francisco TV Station and web page KTSF. "This is a twelve-day series introducing twelve Chinese-American athletes in various sports who will represent US to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. KTSF chooses table tennis as its first four episodes. Timothy's was aired yesterday, Ariel's on July 12, Lily's on July 13, and Erica's on July 14. Once aired, the video clips will be also available from KTSF's website. Tune in at channel 26, cable 8 in the Bay Area."

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Table Tennis on TV

Their University Team, which won lots of hardware at the College Nationals, is featured in this video (1:53).

Which Olympic sport is the hardest? Fourth-Place Medal ranks all 32

They put table tennis at #27!!! They obviously don't know our sport. But then put Equestrian - riding horses - as the hardest sport. I don't think they know sports, period. (Earth Fourth-Place Medal - the horse is doing most of the work!!!)

Crazy Sidespin

Here's an extreme sidespin by Xu Xin versus Ma Long (0.36).

Ariel Hsing on Nickelodeon

They try to figure out what she does - Olympic Table Tennis Player! (4:20)


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July 12, 2012

How Good was Eric Boggan?

Eric was easily the U.S.'s best player internationally since the hardbat era in the 1950s. Ironically, while he was the best U.S. player, he sometimes lost to fellow U.S. players who were familiar with his game, with the result that while he was in the finals of Men's Singles at the USA Nationals seven times, he only won twice. (He lost in the final four straight years, 1980-83, three times to Dan Seemiller, once to brother Scott, before winning his second and last title in 1984.) Ironically, the first time he won (1978 at age 15) was the only year he wasn't seeded #1.

Eric played with the Seemiller grip. Few players these days still remember some of the things Eric could do as he confounded opponents with his inverted and anti receives, flips, and blocks, along with more conventional loops and smashes. Much of what he did is a dead or dying art.

Here is Eric's record, care of father and USATT Historian Tim Boggan. Make sure to browse over his list of international wins!

Eric Boggan (born 8/14/63) - Career Highlights:

Note: On beginning college in the fall of 1986, Eric went into retirement: he didn't try out for the '87 World Team or the '88 Olympics; didn't play in the '86 or '87 U.S. Closed; didn't play in the '87 U.S. Open. He began playing somewhat regularly again in Jan. '88. Then, in 1990, on graduating from Long Island University, and beginning his full-time job as a letter-carrier (22 years with the P.O. as of now), he soon retired from serious play.

  • 6-time U.S. World Team member ('79, '81, '83, ' 85, '89, '91).
  • 5-time North American World Cup participant ('80, '82, '83, '85, '86).
  • Reached eighths of World's in 1983.
  • Highest World Ranking-- #18 (1983)—best of any native-born U.S. player in the last 53 years, since '59.
  • Eric was the #1 rated player in the U.S. for 7 years—from Nov., '81 through Dec., '88. His highest rating was 2728 (May-June, 1984). Won many U.S. prize-money tournaments in those years.
  • Won Men's Singles at the 1983 U.S. Open, the only native-born player to do so in 47 years, since 1965.
  • He's twice won the U.S. Closed (1978, 1984).
  • Won Mixed Doubles with Kasa Gaca in 1979.
  • Won Men's Doubles with Sean O'Neill in 1988.
  • Has 5-times been the U.S. Closed runner-up ('80, '81, '82, '83, '88).
  • 1974-80: Won more than 20 U.S. Open/Closed Junior Championships.
  • At U.S. Open Team Championships was MVP in 1977. Was on the Championship Team in '78, '80, '90.
  • Played consecutively five full seasons in European Leagues (and in many International Opens all over the world)--#1 on team in Swedish League; #1 on teams in Bundesliga.
  • 1981: Won (from a strong field) the Scandinavian Junior Open.
  • 1982: Won Jamaica 'Love Bird' International.
  • 1982: Runner-up in Seoul Open to Waldner.

Historically, has one of the best International Records EVER compiled by a U.S. player. Here are the world-class players I KNOW he's beaten and their world ranking when he beat them - he might have beaten some of them when they were better ranked.

  • Jiang Jialiang, CHN (#1)
  • Mikael Appelgren, SWE (#7)
  • Zoran Kalinic, YUG (#10)
  • Seiji Ono, Japan (#10)
  • Istvan Jonyer, HUN (#10)
  • Jan-Ove Waldner, SWE (#10)
  • Milan Orlowski, CZE (#11)
  • Andrzej Grubba, POL (#12)
  • Kim Ki Taek, KOR (#12)
  • Chen Longcan, CHN (#12)
  • Desmond Douglas, ENG (#13)
  • Erik Lindh, SWE (#13)
  • Kiyoshi Saito, JPN (#14)
  • Dragutin Surbek, YUG (# 15)
  • Yashihito Miyazaki, JPN (#18)
  • Jacques Secretin, FRA (#18)
  • Stellan Bengtsson, SWE (#20)
  • Leszek Kucharski, POL (#20)
  • John Hilton, ENG (#20)
  • Tibor Klampar, HUN (#23)
  • Patrick Birocheau, FRA (#24)
  • Hiroyuki Abe, JPN (#28)
  • Jindrich Pansky, CZE (#28)
  • Zsolt Kriston, HUN (#28)
  • Peter Stellwag, GER (#30)
  • Ulf Bengtsson, SWE (#33)
  • Cho Jong Cho, PRK (#35)
  • Gabor Gergely, HUN (#36)
  • Ralf Wosik, GER (#40)
  • Patrick Renverse, FRA (#40)
  • Christian Martin, FRA (#43)
  • Georg Bohm, GER (#44)

Table Tennis Tactics Book - Update

Between our summer training camps, the U.S. Open, the Junior Olympics (I'm probably going), the ITTF Coaching Seminar I'm running in August (four days, 24 hours), this blog, and 246 other things, guess what's been put on hold? Don't worry, I'll get back to it soon. The writing is done (though I've got notes for a few additions), and the page layouts are about half done.

Difference Between a Coach and a Player

I noted this while coaching recently. When I'm playing a match and I have to move or stretch for a shot, I instinctively place the ball to make things as difficult for the opponent as possible, such as attacking at wide angles or at the opponent's middle. When I'm coaching and doing a practice drill with a student, on the same shot I instinctively place the ball where the ball is supposed to go in that drill. Somehow the brain reflexively remembers which mode I'm in (player or coach) and instinctively does the appropriate shot.

Crazy Table Tennis Shot

Here's a nine-second video that ends with one of the craziest shots I've ever seen.

Monster Table

A demonous ping-pong table?


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