June 4, 2014

New USATT Ratings Portal

USATT has a new ratings portal. Prepare to be let down.

One of my students gets out of taking PE at school because of his age ranking in Maryland, and instead does extra hours of table tennis training. Last night I had to fill out a form for his school, and needed to look up his current Maryland ranking for his age. I went to the USATT ratings page, and there it was – the new USATT Ratings Portal, created by RailStation, who does our new membership system. For comparison, here is the old USATT Ratings Portal. I don't know if the old one will stay up or not, but there no longer is a link to it from the USATT webpage. I suggest you bookmark it. (If you haven't used it before, here's your chance to have some fun and create your own lists by clicking on the Customizable Members List link near the top on the right.)

Let's do a point-by-point comparison. I'm using Chrome for this, but I checked it out on Explorer as well and seemed to get the same results. Feel free to test it yourself.

In the old version, it showed what date the ratings were through, and listed tournaments before that date that were not yet processed, and even gave the reason why. It also listed the ratings by year so you could click on the year and choose any tournament from that year, with the tournaments listed chronologically, even listing the number of players and matches in each one. The new version has none of this. Want to find the results from a specific tournament? You can't. (My first reaction to this was You've Got to Be Kidding!!!) Want to see what tournaments were processed? You can't.

In the old version, if you wanted to look up someone's rating, you put in their last name, hit enter, and chose the person from the alphabetical list. In the new version, you also put in their last name, but if you hit enter, it doesn't work. You have to manually hit submit. The new version also has a field where you put in state, but if you do, it ignores the name you put in and gives you the entire alphabetical listing for that state rather than just those in the state with that last name. Also, the old version had the name field at the top of the screen. Now, unless you have a large screen, you have to scroll down to it.

The old version had the Customizable Membership Lists, which I use regularly. With that you could create just about any ranking list. You could chose the age (under or over); gender; choose only players who played since a certain date (or before); only those over or below a certain rating; by USATT members only or all past members; and from specific states, USA only, or all. Now you can barely do any of this. In the new version, you cannot narrow down the selection by multiple criteria, and you have to use the ages they give. For juniors, you can only choose under 18 or under 20; for seniors, only in five-year increments. Or you can choose just men or women. You cannot choose these as USA only, or by state. You can't create an age ranking list by state, for example.

If you want a simple ranking list of, say, top men, that was easy in the old version – and you could do it by USATT members or not, USA only, or by state, age, gender, etc. In the new version if you click the handy Top Men Singles Button, you get as the #1 player Thomas Keinath of Germany. The #2 is Ilija Lupulesku, who hasn't played a USATT tournament in four years. Meanwhile, USA Team Member Timothy Wang is left out, presumably because his membership is currently expired – and there's no option to list non-members. If you want a listing of only top USA men or women who are active (say, played in the last year) – good luck. You can't.

The new version has several fields. The first one is Ranking Category, but there is only once choice – USA Table Tennis. Why is there a field when there's only once choice? If there are going to be other choices later, then put the field in later. But what other choices would we want than USA Table Tennis in the USA Table Tennis ratings portal? The next field is Game, and again there is only one choice – Singles-Adult. (Apparently we don't have juniors?)

The next field is the Ranking Group, which I already covered above. But when I actually tried out each field, a number of them didn't work. The Men's, Women's, Under 18, and Under 20 fields wouldn't work, but after I'd tried them several times, the Under 18 and Under 20 suddenly worked – but not the Men's or Women's. One problem is that when you release on a ranking category, you assume the page will bring you that list, but it doesn't unless you also manually hit Submit. (Again, Enter doesn't work.) Also, the next field, Season, caused problems as nothing worked unless you chose a season – but there was only one season to choose, 1994-2014. The problem is that the one choice there kept disappearing, and to get it back I had to choose another category, and then it would reappear.

Below this is the Search for a Member field, which I discussed above. If you want a state listing, you have to use the Select State field, which doesn’t make sense – why would you go to Search for a Member fields to find a state listing? In the old version there was a listing of each state, and you just clicked on the state to get an alphabetical listing. Or you could add criteria for this in the Customizable Members List.

Anyone care to create a list of, say, Under 14 Boys in Maryland, or any other age listing by state? (Preferably only ones who have competed in the last year?) Or just about any other ranking list that involves more than one criteria (and in most cases, even one)? You can't in the new system.

I'm sure the ones who put this together will say they plan to fix these problems. But why would we switch to this when IT'S NOT READY YET??? It's not ready for prime time, and is a massive downgrade from what we had before. It's like going from Tenergy to sandpaper. Didn't anyone from USATT test it before they decided to go live with it?

I strongly urge USATT to go back to the old portal until the new one can match what we had before.

Tips for Effective Receiving

Here's the article.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency. I linked to the first nine on Monday (I'd been linking to them earlier as they went up), and here are three more. Twelve down, 88 to go!

  • Day 89: ETTU President Ronald Kramer Enjoys Taking on Challenges
  • Day 90: Interview with Incoming ITTF President Thomas Weikert
  • Day 91: Interview with ITTF President Adham Sharara: “I am motivated to do the best for our sport.”

USOC May Athlete of the Month

Here's where you can vote for Lily Zhang and Tahl Leibovitz as USOC Athlete of the Month. Lily has some tough competition – the voting shows the leaders are a triathlete and someone from track and field. Tahl's up against athletes from triathon and diving who currently lead the men's voting. 

Interviews with Table Tennis Manufacturers

These interviews are mostly with makers of non-inverted surfaces: TSP, Avalox, Dr. Neubauer, Xiom, and Re-Impact.

Around Net Shot

Here's the video – but watch the table off to the left! (The link should take you directly to 3:22 in the video.)

Top Ten Shots

Here's the video (4:50).

Ping Pong Summer Smashes Its Way to Theaters

Here's the article and video (1:34). There's a showing of the movie in my area this Friday at 7:30PM that I'm planning to see. I'll probably blog about it next week.

The Story Behind the Paddles in Ping Pong Summer

Here's the article. Apparently they are using hardbat rackets in the movie, which takes place in 1985. (Note to non-TT historians – the hardbat era mostly ended in the 1950s, and by the 1960s all the top players were pretty much using sponge.)

Susan Sarandon Plays Table Tennis on Today Show

Here's the video (2:06, starts with 30sec commercial), where she plays doubles with actor Ansel Elgort against Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb.

Kids Play Piano at ICC Fundraiser

Here's video (1:52) of kids at the recent ICC club fundraiser showing off their piano skills.  

Facebook v Spotify v Moshi Monsters

Who will win Tech City's Ping Pong Fight Club? Here's the article.

Why I'm Bad at Ping Pong – Illustrated!

Here's a drawing by Lance, a 7-year-old student of mine.

Send us your own coaching news!

October 18, 2013

Jim's Forehand

About two months ago I started coaching Jim. He's a lefty in his early 60s, perhaps 1000-1200 level, and very tall. He had a pretty good backhand but very awkward forehand. When he'd hit forehands he'd lean over and down, tilting his head sideways, and sort of lunge at the ball. During his forward swing his head would move about three feet sideways as his whole body went off to the side, throwing him off balance and killing his timing. I wasn't sure whether we should fix the stroke, rush it to the nearest hospital, or just bury it in the local cemetery.

We decided to fix the stroke. And lo and behold, it worked! We made this the focus of over half of our sessions, using Saturation Training. Now he stays balanced throughout the stroke, and his head stays straight and only moves perhaps six inches sideways. He now has precision, and we now have vicious rallies, his forehand to my backhand. He has a very nice smash now, in practice.

However, he's not out of the woods yet. For example, when he smashes to my backhand and I block it back, he still has trouble with the second shot, and usually hits it soft. He doesn't yet have the deep-down confidence to just let the shot go over and over. It also means it's not quite ready for matches yet.

I explained to him Larry's Six-Month Law and its corollary, Larry's Six-Month Law for Strokes. The latter means that when you develop a shot until it's proficient in practice, it'll take about six months of practice before you can use it consistently and effectively in matches. He's now on that path.

One thing that really helps when coaching basics is being surrounded by top players. Whenever I needed to give Jim a visual image of a good forehand, we'd just look around and there'd be about ten players over 2200 hitting on the other tables. It gives me and other coaches at our club an unfair advantage over others when we coach. (I can demo my forehand, of course, but it's better seeing two top players doing it back and forth. It's also inspirational for a student: "If all those players can do it, then gosh darn it, so can I!")

RGIII Response Video

The RGIII Response Video made the Washington Post! It was already in the Dallas Morning News, Table Tennis Nation, the USATT web page, and the USOC web page. Let me know if you see it anywhere else. Keep reposting - let's make this go viral!!!

Jim's Table Tennis Page

Here's an interesting page that's basically a primer on table tennis, including lots of coaching tips. (No relation to the "Jim" mentioned above!)

Chuang Chih-Yuan Training Center Sponsorship

Here's the article (in Chinese) on this training center in Taiwan's new sponsorship. (Chuang Chih-Yuan is a long-time Taiwan star, currently ranked #7 in the world, previously ranked as high as #3 in 2003.) Here's the short version, care of Bruce Liu/ICC: "Chuang Chih-Yuan's training center in southern Taiwan got a major boost from the wealthiest person in Taiwan. Terry Guo is a Taiwanese tycoon and the founder and chairman of Foxconn, a company that manufactures electronics on contract for other companies - such as Apple Inc. According to the report, it will be a 10-year sponsorship worth about US $2 million in total. Mr. Guo also donated US $5 billion to the Medical Center of the Taiwan National University for cancer research in 2007."

Kenta Matsudaira Documentary

Here's the video (44:05). The Japanese star is ranked #18 in the world. Together with Koki Niwa and Jun Mizutani (# 12 and #14), they make up a suddenly powerful team that could challenge the Chinese men. (Japan also has players ranked #33, 43, 47, 52, 54, 75, 79, and 100.)

The Practice of Practicing

Here's an article on this that features piano - but we could probably get a few insights from this.

Cartoon Cats

Here they are, a whole bunch of them playing or watching table tennis!

Send us your own coaching news!

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