USATT Minutes

July 15, 2014

USATT Minutes

Here are the minutes to the USATT May 19, 2014 Teleconference, which just went up. Below are some items I found interesting, in order, on usage of USATT's logo by distributors of USATT approved equipment; on the digital magazine's ad revenue; and on usage of the poly ball or celluloid ball in future Nationals and Opens. There's also an interesting item in the minutes you might want to read about, "The Chinese Table Tennis Association wants to have a North American Friendship Tour." (I started to write about RailStation, which is talked about in the minutes, and in particular the line, "To ensure smooth transition, RailStation and NATT software will be run concurrently for a specified period of time." As I blogged previously, USATT jumped the gun on that, but has since remedied the problem for now by going back to the old software until the new software is ready.)

As usual, my main frustration with USATT is not what's in the minutes, but what's not in them. There's nothing in there about increasing the USATT membership base of 8-9,000 (basically a round-off error for most sports memberships, and for table tennis in most other countries), which is the source of most of our problems, i.e. lack of revenue. Besides the increase in revenue, large membership should be a goal itself, but few from USATT seem interested in this, for reasons I still don't understand.  Membership growth comes primarily from leagues, and from junior training programs and coaching development. I'm sure the other issues are important, but they are dwarfed by the need to focus on growth, but it's not even on USATT's radar, alas. Anyway, here are some items I found and my commentary.

"While USATT places equipment and product suppliers on USATT’s approved list, use of USATT’s logo on this equipment has not been approved. Suppliers should be contacted informing them that USATT approval is restricted to usage of their equipment and/or products in USATT events."

This seemed strange and unfair. Companies pay a lot of money to have their products USATT approved. Note that USATT doesn't even test them - ITTF does that at no cost to USATT. So these companies are paying money directly to USATT just to have them approve their equipment for USATT tournaments. And now they are going to be told that, even after getting USATT approval, they can't advertise these USATT-approved products with the USATT logo? I don't think that's fair. A USATT-approved product should be allowed to advertise this status with the USATT logo.

"The digital magazine generated $9000 in ad revenue for the Spring 2014 issue, constituting a $6,000 shortfall to budgeted revenue."

In my blog on February 11, 2014 on the cancellation of the print magazine and going digital, "But they'll lose money on advertising and membership." I also wrote, "I'm told they are budgeting advertising to stay the same, which of course won't happen." As verified here, they really did budget $15,000 in advertising for the issue (which is what was budgeted for print), expecting to get the same ad revenue with an online magazine as a print magazine. There was no chance of that happening, and yet they convinced themselves of this. And so they lost $6000 ad revenue in the issue, and presumably $36,000 over the course of a year. I'm guessing that some advertisers stuck with it for now, but will cancel or decrease their advertising later - we'll see. Eventually we'll reach a new rough status quo on advertising at a level considerably lower than before. As noted in my blog, they do save money now on printing and postage. The amount they save in that way would be roughly offset if they simply had kept the print magazine while also going digital, thereby increasing the value of their advertising, and thereby increasing it.

As I also wrote in that blog: "This reminds me of the group-think that took place a number of years ago when USATT increased the membership fee from $25 to $40 in one year. I was in the room as the 13 board members voted unanimously to do this, and unanimously budgeted membership to stay the same. That was crazy, and I told them so. Membership had just reached 9000, the most ever. I predicted they'd lose 2000 members; I was told by all 13 that I was wrong. One year later they were down to 7200 members. I was in the room one year later, alternating between anger and laughter, as the USATT board had to painstakingly cut about $60,000 from the budget."

Just for the record, they lost me as an advertiser as well. I was planning to advertise my in USATT Magazine my new book, Table Tennis Tips, as well as my other table tennis books, just as I had advertised in the magazine my previous book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. But I changed my mind on that when they cancelled the print version. (Note how I instead cleverly inserted ads for the books here?)

However, it was recommended that the celluloid ball continue to be used at the upcoming U.S. Open and Nationals.

This might be a good thing as I don't think many people have the new balls yet. It's even more problematic for the many full-time clubs and junior programs that use large quantities of training balls (for private and group coaching, and lots of multiball), since they are all currently celluloid. Do we have to toss them out and buy new poly training balls? Will they be available anytime soon at the same inexpensive price of training balls? I only know of 3-star balls so far. I hope we aren't ever going to be stuck with using 3-star poly balls in major tournaments but only celluloid training balls. You don't want to train with one if the other is what is used in tournaments - they play somewhat differently.

Please, USATT, do not make the change until poly balls are widely available and affordable both in 3-star and training-ball formats.  

Serving Deep

Here's the new coaching article from Brian Pace, with lots of pictures and links to videos.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov's Serve

Here's video (3:12) of the world #4 German star serves in slow motion.

Talent or Practice?

Here's an article in yesterday's New York Times on the topic. Here's the study in Psychological Science that much of the article is based on.

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, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Fifty-three down, 47 to go!

  • Day 48: Polona Cehovin Susin’s Approach to the ITTF’s Education and Training
  • Day 49: Polona Cehovin Susin Combines Hard Work with Passion

This Was Tokyo

Here's a new highlights video (1:39) on the recent World Team Championships in Tokyo, set to music.

Chinese Article on Lily Zhang

Here's the article and video (2:28) for our Chinese readers. It's apparently about her hopes for a medal at the upcoming Youth Olympics.

Four-Handled Paddle

Here it is.

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February 25, 2014

Want to Improve? Compete with a Junior!

Here's a little tip for those who want to improve. Every club has some up-and-coming junior who practices regularly and keeps getting better. Well, why not grab his coattails (even if you are currently better), and try to stay with him? It gives incentive and can lead to great improvement. Make a friendly rivalry out of it, perhaps practice with and play the kid regularly. As he improves, he'll push you to improve.

It may be counter-intuitive, but even if you are better, and practicing with the kid seems to help him more than you (and thereby make it "harder" to stay with him), it works both ways. His improvement will push you to higher levels, either to stay ahead or to stay with him. He probably plays faster than you; his speed will push you to rally and react at a faster pace. As he gets better, he'll push you to find new ways to win points, and suddenly you'll be thinking more about the aspects where you should have an advantage due to experience: serve, receive, heavy spins (topspin and backspin), placement, or just plain consistency. You'll have incentive to develop these aspects in ways you might not do against other players who are not improving so much. The more he adjusts to you and improves, the more you'll adjust to him and improve. And you can ride his improvement as long as you can, right up to a pretty high level. And if he does finally pull away, with you metaphorically kicking and screaming all the way as you try to stay with him, you'll both have improved dramatically, and will be able to point at this star in the future and say, "I was his practice partner." He may even remember you someday during his USATT Hall of Fame induction speech!

Beginning/Intermediate Class

We had the second meeting of the new class yesterday. (Ten Mondays, 6:30-8:00 PM.) There are eleven in the class, ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties. We started with a forehand review and warm-up. I had most hit among themselves. Two players were complete beginners, so I put them with my assistant coach, John Hsu, who did mostly multiball with them.

Then I called everyone together and John and I did a backhand demo, and I lectured on the intricacies of the shot - foot stance, racket tip (sideways or 45 degrees), contact (flat or topspin), etc. Then they paired off for practice again (with the new players with John again). Later I called everyone together again to demo and explain down-the-line shots (on forehand, line up shoulders properly and take the ball later), and then they practiced down the line. Then I called them together again and did a review of serving with spin, which I taught last week. Then we went over service deception. (One key concept I explained is that even if you can't come close to doing it now, it's important to know what's possible so you can work toward it.) I went over the three main types of service deception - sheer spin, semi-circular motion, and spin/no-spin combos.

After serve practice we played a little game the last 5-7 minutes where we stacked ten paper cups in a pyramid, and everyone had ten shots (fed multiball) to see how many they could knock over. (We used two tables, so John and I both fed shots.)

Two players had missed last week session so I stayed 30 minutes afterwards to recap for them what had been covered the previous week - grip, ready stance, forehand, and serving with spin.

USATT Minutes and Reports

Lots of breaking news from USATT. Below are the minutes from the USATT's two-day board meeting at the USA Nationals and from their January teleconference, the news item on the new tournament sanctioning procedures (no more tournament protection, i.e. pure free market), and the 2014 budget. My last two blogs were mostly about an interview with the ITTF president and about the chair of the USATT board's report, so today I'm going to go back to blogging about the emphasis for this blog - coaching - and save my thoughts on the below for later.

Top Ten Shots at the 2014 Qatar Open

Here's the video (4:40).

Mini-Table Tennis

Here it is! Anyone know who Kosto and Zik are?

Exhibition Tricks from Scott Preiss

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November 25, 2013

Tip of the Week

Mentality in a Match and in Practice.

USATT Elections and Ten Things USATT Should Do

There's a great discussion of USATT issues going on right now at the table tennis forum, with 83 postings as of this writing. It started with a posting about the two candidates put on the ballot by the USATT Nominating and Governing Committee (Ross Brown and Jim McQueen), and the ones they left off (Jim Butler, Rajul Sheth, Mauricio Vergara, and Ray Cavicchio. Many people, including myself, thought it tragic that some of these were left off when they are some of the ones actively doing things or pushing for new things. For example, Jim Butler's been pushing strongly for nationwide leagues or similar competitions, and is of course three-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion and an Olympian; Rajul runs the highly successful ICC club in Milpitas, California; and Mauricio runs the New York Table Tennis League.

Unfortunately, USATT no longer allows the option for candidates to get on the ballot by petition - it used to be you could do so if you got 150 signatures from USATT members. It so happens I strongly disagree on nearly all the major issues with Ross Brown, and I'm not sure if Jim McQueen is pushing for new initiatives to develop our sport, so I'd like to see some of these new people and doers on the board with fresh ideas.

In the online discussion I had a couple short postings at #3 and #7, but then chimed in with a long posting at #68 and others at #70, 82 and 83. Others in the discussion include such table tennis luminaries as Jim Butler (the most active poster), Dan Seemiller (some very pointed postings), Sean O'Neill, Rajul Sheth, Carl Danner, Donn Olsen, and Larry Thoman. (If you don't know who these people are, then make Google your friend, or ask in the comments below.)

The thread got me thinking once again about all the "easy" things USATT could do that could pay off big if they'd just take initiative. Here are ten:

  1. Advertise to hire someone to set up Professional Leagues. Offer him 33% of revenues brought in, and the USATT's support with its web page, emails, magazine, and any other way feasible. It would be an historic position, similar to the first commissioner of sports such as baseball, basketball, and football.
  2. Redirect the purpose of the current "League" committee so that its primary purpose would be to actively increase the number and quality of leagues in the U.S.  First job would be to bring in people to put together a manual for setting up such leagues. The authors would then publish on Amazon and get profits from sales. It's not large money, but they might get a few hundred dollars and the prestige of being a published author.
  3. Bring together the directors of the largest and most successful leagues in the U.S., figuratively lock them in a room, and don't let them out until they've put together a model for such leagues that can be done regionally all over the U.S.
  4. Create a "Training Center" committee whose primary purpose would be increase the number and quality of full-time clubs in the U.S.  First job would be to bring in people to put together a manual for setting up and running such centers. The authors would then publish on Amazon and get profits from sales. It's not large money, but they might get a few hundred dollars and the prestige of being a published author. I already did a version of this with my Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook, and have sold over one hundred copies and made over $100. This manual covers half the stuff a manual on setting up and running a full-time center would cover.
  5. Change the focus of USATT coaching seminars from just teaching technique to the recruitment and training of professional coaches and directors of junior programs. I've argued this one for years.
  6. Advertise for someone to bring in sponsorships for U.S. Open and Nationals, where the person gets 33% or more in commission.
  7. Recruit State and Regional Directors all over the U.S. to set up regional associations, which would include election of officers, and appointment of Coaching, League, Tournament, and Club Directors for each state or region. (Some regions or states already have such associations.) USATT would supply the basic bylaws for these associations, using bylaws that have been created for this very purpose multiple times in the past, or modeled on current successful ones.
  8. Direct that the USATT Board of Directors main focus will be the development of the sport, and that "fairness" issues will go to the appropriate committee, freeing up board time for actually developing the sport.
  9. Require that all prospective USATT board members must give at least one major area where they will take initiative in developing the sport, and give their plan for doing so. Along with this they should allow people on the ballot if they get 150 signatures from USATT members, with a deadline set after the North American Teams, which is where they could get the signatures. (This is how it was done in the past.)
  10. Do a mass mailing to the 50,000 or so past USATT members on the USATT database, and invite them to rejoin. The letter should come from a top, well-known U.S. table tennis star. There's one catch - there has to be something new to invite these players back. See previous items on this list. Any such mailing, done properly, would pay for itself. There's a reason why I and others get inundated with mailings from organizations I once belonged to. I still get regular mail from the U.S. Tennis Association since I played in their leagues about ten years ago. (Eventually we can move to emailing past members, but we don't have the email address of most of these past members.)

Here's a more general thing USATT should do: Set up specific goals for USATT, and make their fulfillment the primary goal of the USATT Board. For example, in 2006 there were only 10 full-time centers in the U.S., and it was proposed (yeah, by me in a presentation that was, alas, ignored) that we make a goal to create 100. Board members rejected this, arguing there weren't enough players for these training centers. There are now over 60 of them, with little USATT support. So what type of goals could we set up now? How about making it a goal to have, within five years, 200 full-time training centers with junior programs; 20,000 USATT members; and a U.S. Open or Nationals with prize money over $500,000. Then set up programs (see above) to achieve these goals. The nice thing about setting such goals is even if you miss the specific number and end up with, say, 190 full-time training centers with junior programs, 18,000 USATT members, and U.S. Open or Nationals with prize money of $400,000, guess what? We have dramatically improved the sport.


So many players rush when they play when they have lots of time to make their shots if they'd focus on proper movement. To quote 2001 U.S. Men's Singles Champion Eric Owens, "You have more time than you think." Or my updated version of this, "The only reason to rush is if you want a rushed shot." 

I Made Sports Illustrated!

Here's the article, about my coaching Orioles players. This is actually my second article in Sports Illustrated; I had one in 1999 about the Chinese table tennis dynasty. 

Waldner: "Today's Table Tennis Lacks Shrewdness"

Here's the article! "Today many players, mainly Chinese ones, have incredible athletic bodies but play like robots. I think that table tennis lacks shrewdness, the little technical details, surprises, tricks." I wholeheartedly agree. Is this the future, or are they missing something that could raise their level perhaps another notch?)

Three Reasons Timo Boll Will Soon Be Outside the Top 10

Here's the article! I'm not so sure of this; I think he's still recovering from the long break he took, plus losing to a teammate who is used to playing him is not the same as losing to ones who are not used to playing Timo, who often have trouble with his lefty inside-out loops.

Sport of the Century

Here's a new highlights video (14:03) that came out yesterday in high definition. It starts as if it were doing coverage of the World Men's Cup semifinals between Xu Xin and Samsonov (showing a great point with commentary), then moves on to lots of great highlights stuff.

USATT Minutes

Here are the minutes of the Oct. 12, 2013 USATT minutes. Lots of interesting stuff, especially about the new poly (plastic) ball and about USATT Magazine possibly moving in-house. (Some of us remember that last time USATT did that - it didn't work out so well, did it?) Here are all USATT minutes. (Note that the Oct. 23 email vote, while coming after the Oct. 12 meeting above, had its minutes published a while ago, and I already linked to them previously.)

This Guy Just Read the USATT Minutes

Here he is. (Just kidding, USATT!)

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August 27, 2013

Tip of the Week

A Step-by-Step Sequence to Learning Pendulum Serves.


"It's Monday . . . and there's no camp??? No lectures on grip, stance, forehand, and serves?" (Okay, it's really Tuesday, but this is what I was thinking yesterday.) Our ten weeks of camps at MDTTC ended Friday. I've now run about 180 five-day camps, six hours per day, or 900 days and 5400 hours of camp. That's nearly 2.5 years of camps. I've given each of my standard lectures 180 times, or about 1800 lectures in all. I've led in stretching (twice a day) 1800 times. (Well, actually less since I've sometimes missed the afternoon sessions.) And we're not done for the year - we have another camp, our Christmas Camp, Dec. 26-31. (Our camps are primarily for kids, but adults are welcome - we usually get 2-3 each week, sometimes none, sometimes more.)

MDTTC August Open

Here are the results (which I also gave out yesterday) of the August Open this past weekend, run by Charlene Liu. Congrats to Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"), who finally broke through and won against Wang Qing Liang ("Leon") after a series of second-place finishes to Wang. It was a dominant performance - he didn't lose a game. Anther having a nice tournament was Nathan Hsu, who's been in a slump recently - but this time he won Under 2400.

I mostly coached Derek Nie and Sameer Shaikh in the tournament. (I also coached Tony Li one match, against a Seemiller-style player with antispin, something he'd never seen before. A new experience, and next time he'll be ready.) Derek (12, rated 2291) started well, with wins over a pair of 2150 players - including a mind-numbing win over Lixin Lang (2187) at 16-14, 19-17, 11-8! - but his elbow began to hurt during his match with Lixin. He kept clutching at it, and I almost had him default there. He finished the match, but decided he had to drop out to rest it. Hopefully he'll be okay in a few days.

Derek's other decent win was against Nam Nguyen (2137). They had one of the most incredible three-shot sequences I've ever seen. Nam lobbed a ball short. Derek absolutely crushed it. Nam absolutely crushed a counter-kill from no more than eight feet back, and Derek absolutely crushed a counter-counter-kill off the bounce. It was the fastest three-shot sequence I've ever seen - three forehand smashes/counter-smashes in the blink of an eye. I wish it was on video - it could have gone down as the fastest three-shot sequence ever!!! 

Sameer had a strange tournament - he literally could have won or lost all eight or so of his matches. As it was, he made the final of Under 1150. Down 0-2 in games in the final, he led 5-3 in the fifth before losing 11-8.

During the tournament a player said, "I have to play [higher-rated player]." I pointed out that he had it all wrong - that this [higher-rated player] had to play him! I often quote to my players Rorschach from the movie Watchmen, where he's allowed himself to be taken prisoner and he's surrounded by other prisoners out to get him. After dispatching one in very violent fashion, he says to the group of prisoners gathered around in his gravelly voice, "You don't understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me!" Here's the video of the scene (47 sec) - warning, it's pretty violent!!!

North American Championships

The North American Championships end today, Aug. 25-27 in Vancouver Canada. Here's their home page, which includes results, write-ups, photos, video, video interviews, live streaming

USATT Minutes

Here are the minutes of a USATT teleconference meeting on July 22 and the email approval vote of those minutes. Here are USATT minutes going back to 1999.

Footwork for a Short Ball

Here's a video from PingSkills (1:46) showing how to step in for a short ball and recover for the next shot.

Zhang Jike Doing Multiball

Here's a video (36 sec) of World Champion Zhang Jike doing multiball. Want to have footwork like Zhang's? Then watch his stance - wide, with left foot off to the side for stability as he rips shots from the backhand side. There needs to be a balance here. If the left foot is too far off to the side, then the follow-through goes too much sideways, and you're not in position for the next shot. If it's more parallel to the table, you lose body torque. (I had a disagreement with a coach recently - not from my club - who insists that when you step around the backhand corner to play a forehand the feet should be parallel to the side of the table. However, not many top players do that, if any.)

Top Ten Shots at the Harmony Open

Here they are (4:38)!

Table Tennis Through Google Glass

Here's an article and video (17 sec) showing table tennis through Google Glass. (Why isn't it called Google Glasses?)

Kim Gilbert After a Two-Hour Session

Here's the picture! So restful....

Mouthful of Pong

Here's another video (14 sec) from the (Tumba Ping Pong Show"! I linked to two other of their videos on my blog on Aug. 16 (at the very end).

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April 30, 2013

U.S. Open

The U.S. Open this year is in Las Vegas, NV, July 2-6. The entry deadline is in eleven days - May 11. (There's a late deadline of May 18, which requires a $75 late fee.) Have you entered yet? Here's the U.S. Open webpage. I'll be there as a coach. I'm toying with entering some of the hardbat events as well, but not sure if I have time. (I normally play sponge, but have won a bunch of hardbat titles on the side.)

One of my annual pet peeves is that there is rarely any advertising or advance notice about the top players coming. This year the U.S. Open is part of the ITTF World Tour, and we know a bunch of top players are coming - but there's no publicity about who is coming. Year after year the entry deadline comes, and it is only after the deadline that prospective players (i.e. potential cash-paying entries) find out who the top players are. For all we know the Chinese National Team is coming, or the top European players - but we just don't know. Rather than wait and see who enters, and announcing it after the deadline, it would be a lot better if USATT pro-actively found out at least some of the top players who are coming before the deadline, and the publicized it. They did this in the early 1990s, and it seemed to lead to increased entries, as well as happy participants who came both to play and watch (as well as to buy stuff, with all the table tennis venders at the Open).

I hope to see many of you at the Open. There are so many reasons to attend - you get to play, see the top players, see friends, see a huge convention center filled up with a hundred tables and 800 players (and hundreds of family members, coaches, officials, staff, volunteers, etc.), explore the many equipment booths, and oh yeah, it's in Las Vegas!

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

For two months in a row I've made more writing about table tennis than actually coaching. So please jump on the bandwagon and buy your copy of Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers! Or any of the other fine books sold on my Amazon page. I also made a sizeable chunk last year writing science fiction & fantasy - about $2000 total. I'm not sure if it's a profitable hobby or a low-paying job. Here's my Science Fiction & Fantasy page.

Me and Marty

Here's a picture posted on Facebook by Bruce Liu of me with the late great Marty Reisman, taken at my U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame induction in 2003. Marty was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the banquet, while Eric Boggan and David Zhuang were my fellow inductees. (If you can't see it on Facebook, try this.)

Ping Pong Candy

Alabama's Michael Wetzel (that's International Umpire and Certified Referee to you) sent me a pair of Ping Pong Candies, made in Venezuela. Here's the picture! They seem to be chocolate covered nuts or something like that. I haven't decided whether to eat them or keep them as a souvenir.

Table Tennista

Here are the international headline stories right now at Table Tennista

The Inspiring Chinese National Team

Here's a video (2:39) from a year ago on the Chinese National Team in training that I don't think I've ever linked to. It has inspirational narration (rapping?) by "Hiphoppreacher." I think I may have linked to something by him once before, but I'm not sure.

Table Tennis Can Be Really Awesome

Here's a new video (1:20) of shot-making and trick shots, from the "Piing of Power." (Not sure why there are two i's.)

A Boy and his Cat

Here's a continuous gif image of a boy playing table tennis with his cat (really!), with a seven-shot sequence repeated over and over.

USATT Minutes

[NOTE - I usually save the fun stuff for the end - like the boy and cat video above - but I decided to stick the USATT stuff here at the end so as not to scare people away.]

Here are the motions from the USATT Board of Director's April 20, 2013 meeting at Westchester, NY (during the North American Cup). You can see the minutes and motions from meetings going back to 1999 at the USATT Minutes page.

  • MOVED to appoint Rajul Sheth as Chair of the Juniors Advisory Committee.
  • MOVED to appoint David DelVecchio as Chair, and to appoint Adam Bobrow, Alex Figueroa, Willy Leparulo, and Han Xiao (athlete) as members, of the Leagues Advisory Committee.
  • MOVED for USATT to review Diego Schaaf’s Merit Pin Proposal, to incorporate Board comments into a revised draft, and to submit the revised draft to Diego Schaaf.
  • MOVED to deny North American Table Tennis’s request to vacate the Board’s December 19, 2012 Motion regarding the sanctioning of a Butterfly Teams Championship in 2013.
  • MOVED to direct the Clubs Advisory Committee to design a strategy for implementation of the club equipment package proposed by Attila Malek.
  • MOVED to affirm the February 17, 2013 Final Decision of the Board’s Special Committee in the disciplinary matter In re Chui, Case No. 2012-003.
  • MOVED that any service of Roman Tinyszin on the Officials and Rules Advisory Committee prior to December 31st, 2008, was ultra vires; therefore, the waiver approved on March 25, 2013, is inapplicable.
  • Respectfully submitted, Dennis Taylor, Secretary

USATT High Performance Committee

Here are the Actions of the USATT High Performance Committee (HPC) for March by Chair Carl Danner.

During March, the HPC did not hold any formal meetings or conference calls. However, the following summary of its actions and discussions is offered to inform USATT members about the HPC’s activities conducted by email, and through participation in the USATT Board’s March conference call meeting.  

  1. The selection process for the Youth Olympic Games was approved by the Athlete Advisory Council (AAC) and forwarded to the USOC for its approval – which was still pending as of the date this summary was prepared. The HPC reviewed the YOG code of conduct, and approved it subject to one wording change regarding possible serious criminal acts by athletes.  
  2. The HPC continued its discussion about the selection and review of National Team Coaches (NT Coaches). During the Board meeting, Board members advised that the responsibility for selecting, retaining, and opening positions for NT Coaches is the responsibility of the CEO. The HPC and other relevant committees would provide support for that process. The Board also asked the HPC to prepare a memo with its recommendations for the hiring process for able-bodied NT Coaches. As of this writing, it has not yet been determined by the CEO which able-bodied NT Coach positions will be open for applications, or on what schedule. A number of HPC members did emphasize the importance of having defined criteria for the evaluation of the performance of NT Coaches.  
  3. The HPC had some initial discussion of the concept of using multiple trials or tournaments to select national team members, starting first perhaps with the junior and cadet teams. This item will require further research and development prior to being implemented, including identifying specific events that will be counted. No decisions were made in this regard during March.  
  4. Another point of discussion was the potential of requiring some tournament participation during the year in order to validate a player’s rating as current for purposes of seedings in the Nationals Men’s and Women’s Singles events. Lacking that, the tournament committee might be authorized to seed a player based on estimated playing strength instead. Mr. Danner will identify the appropriate USATT committee to forward this proposal.  
  5. HPC members consulted with the CEO and the head of the Coaching Advisory Committee, Federico Bassetti, to help draft position announcements for Para Head NT Coach, NT Coach, and Junior NT Coach positions. USATT Para Program Manager Jasna Rather prepared the announcements, which were posted on the website with an application deadline of May 1.  
  6. The selection discussion for the April ITTF North America Cup in Westchester, NY raised some questions for future consideration about how to select teams for such events. These included understanding the relationship between the members of a U.S. adult team who represented us at a given event (such as the World Championships), the National Team Trial finishing order, and also how the coach’s pick for the World Championship team might fit in. Future selection policies will be more explicit about how priorities will be established among these criteria. 

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April 16, 2013

Tomahawk Serve

Recently someone asked me about why fewer players use the forehand tomahawk serve than before. (If you aren't sure what a forehand tomahawk serve, see video below of Matsudaira.) It was a much more popular serve back in the 1960s and 1970s. These days, however, the forehand pendulum serve (with racket tip down) has taken over in both its forms - regular and reverse. With a regular pendulum serve, the racket moves from right to left (for a righty). A reverse pendulum serves goes the opposite way. Regular pendulum serves dominate table tennis below the world-class level. However, at the world-class level, regular and reverse pendulum serves are about equally common. The latter is harder to learn, but is often more effective since players aren't as used to them - and even more effective if you can do both.

So why is the pendulum serve so popular, as compared to the tomahawk serve? 1) It allows them to serve both types of sidespin with roughly the same motion; 2) it's easier to serve very heavy backspin; 3) and they are just copying other top players. However, pendulum serves are way overused. Anyone developing a good tomahawk or other serve will give players problems as they aren't as used to it. If you are able to get heavy underspin (along with sidespin, side-top, and no-spin), and it's not obvious, then that's key to making the tomahawk serve effective at all levels. The same is true of the reverse pendulum serve - most players can't do it with heavy underspin, and when they do, it's too obvious. If you don't use it already, you should experiment with reverse pendulum serves so you can serve sidespin both ways.

For many below the higher levels, the tomahawk serve is a classic "trick" serve, where players serve it deep to the opponent's forehand so it breaks away from them, forcing numerous mistakes, i.e. free points. Advanced players have no problem looping these serves, but intermediate players struggle as the ball bounces away from them. As they reach for the ball, they tend to lower their racket, and so they end up lifting too much, and so the ball goes off they end. They also have trouble reacting to the sidespin, which pulls the ball to their left (if both players are righties), and so they have to aim to the right. (I seem to be plugging my Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers book these days, but it does have an entire section on returning these types of serves, in the chapter on Receive Tactics.)

Tomahawk serves are still used; I use it as a variation. Here's a segment from my blog on March 5, 2013:

The Amazing Tomahawk Serve of Kenta Matsudaira
Here's the video (1:09). Note how he can break it both ways - and see the side-by-side slow motion of the two versions. The real question for all you serious table tennis players: Why haven't you developed equally good serves? It's just a matter of technique and practice! If you don't have the technique, see a coach or watch videos and learn. (You don't need to match Kenta's serves - there are many other good serving techniques.) If you don't practice . . . well, then you'll never have the serve of Kenta Matsudaira, and you'll never be as good as you could have been. (This type of serve has been around for a long time. Dean Doyle specialized in this serve when he made the U.S. Pan Am Team over 30 years ago.)

Contest at Expert Table Tennis

Last week they ran a contest for a free autographed copy of my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. The winner would be whoever could best explain why they deserved a free copy. And the winner is . . . Tom Lodziak from England!!! (His autographed copy goes out tomorrow.) To read his winning answer, see Expert Table Tennis. (While there, you can browse all their excellent coaching articles.) Yep, this is plug #2 for my book.

Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers

What, you haven't bought your copy yet??? Here's the page to order it! Time for some friendly persuasion - not from me, from others. Here are some quotes and all 14 reviews so far at Thirteen of the 14 reviews are 5-star; the other is 4-star. (Yep, this is plug #3 for my book! But there's a bunch of stuff after it, so feel free to browse past these quotes & comments. Or read them all.)

"Larry has done an excellent job in breaking down the skills needed by all players to improve in these areas. This book should be on every table tennis player’s mandatory reading list."
-Richard McAfee, USATT National Coach, ITTF Trainer, and USATT Coaching Chair, 2009-2013 

"Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is a must read for any player serious about winning. This tactical Bible is right on the mark, and is exactly how I was taught to put together game-winning tactics and strategies."
-Sean O'Neill, 5-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion, 2-time Olympian 

"Larry Hodges' book on table tennis tactics is the best I have ever seen on this subject. This is the first book that explains how to play against the many styles of the game."
-Dan Seemiller, 5-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion and long-time U.S. Men's Team Coach Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
Maybe the Best Table Tennis Book Ever Written, April 15, 2013
By Eric M Hine
I have read almost every table tennis book that is available in the English language. Many have great suggestions about stroke techniques. Some have good suggestions as to basic tactics and strategy. This book, however, answered all the questions I had wondered about for years regarding strategy and tactics. It's obvious that Larry Hodges knows and loves the sport of table tennis, but even more importantly to a reader it is clear that he wants to pass this knowledge and love for this sport onto others. It's a great book that I will recommend to anyone interested in the great sport of table tennis.

4.0 out of 5 stars 
A MUST for table tennis players who play club and tournaments. April 14, 2013
Very good reference book. A must for table tennis players who play at club or tournaments. Don't forget to get the update since that is a complete kindle version.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Great Book from a Great Guy, April 5, 2013
By Kimberley Huff
Helped from the first page to the last, Great job Larry another sterling piece of work, Looking forward to your next book

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Playing smart, April 4, 2013
By Paul Wiltse (St. Paul, MN USA)
Mr. Hodges shares a lifetime of professional table tennis knowledge with you from start to finish. This book is well worth reading if you are really serious about becoming a top player. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this fascinating game.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
For all skill levels, March 30, 2013
By debbieb
I am a low rated player and read this book easily, as it is written very clearly and easy for anyone to understand. I have put some of the information into action already and it has helped. My husband is a much better player than me as well as a USATT & ITTF Coach and he also read this book. He has suggested his students read this book and even carry it with them to a tournament for a quick refresher before their matches. Much of the information is known by the better players already, but Larry puts it all together so it is easy to find and all in one book. It is really a super reference tool. Including a chapter on hard bat and "funny" rubber surfaces adds to the value as most current players really need to better understand the way these surfaces play. I suggest every table tennis player have this book in their library. Bravo Larry. Aloha!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Finally I can think! March 24, 2013
By Nicholas T Flor
I've been seeking this kind of insight for a long time. When it comes to analyzing my own match play, this is my handbook. I am very pleased with this book and am already changing the ways I approach playing the game.
Thanks Larry!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
mts288, March 22, 2013
By mts288
Best TT book I've ever read. It has all the stuff you don't get from your coach. If you have a problem with a certain style or equipment, Larry gives you the solution. A must read for any player at any level. Thanks Larry

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Very good book on under-covered subject. March 19, 2013
By Britt Salter
Larry covers a whole bunch of things that are barely - if at all - touched on. His writing is clear and concise. There is a good mix of humor, seriousness, technicality, and common sense.
One of the best TT books I've read!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Great for the developing (or established) player! March 19, 2013
By Scott
Larry does a great job putting his many years of experience as both a high-level coach and player into this insightful and clearly written book. I've made this required reading for players I coach. Even after the first reading, this should be great as a reference to brush up on tactics and keep yourself on the right path to intelligent play.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
A tremendous amount of info! March 18, 2013
By Cubinican
Best money u can spend on information like this! Very clear and easy to read! Now when you train, you will know exactly what to work on!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Highly recommended! March 15, 2013
By Feangfa Thaicharoen (Nonthaburi, Nonthaburi Thailand)
This book is the missing link between technical expertise and match outcome.

Usually, you perfect all the strokes without knowing why. This book puts those strokes into cohesive pattern. You will learn the distinction between strategic (for long-termed result) and tactical (for immediate result) thinking along the way.

After reading this book, you'll see tabletennis matches in different light. You'll appreciate the nuances of shot selection and the most important thing is you know "why" they use them.

A lot of examples in this book. Larry puts questions in between the narrative to make you "think".

Thanks, Larry, for writing this book. I'm an intermediate player without proper coach. Previously, I blindly practice strokes and drills without clear goal. In matches, I played blindly, instinctively. Most of the time, I didn't know why I won. And more importantly, I didn't know why I lost. So I had no way to improve my game. Your book gives meaning to my training. I'll train with strategic mind and compete with tactical thinking.

Finally, to answer your question, YES, Larry, you made me THINK. Thank you.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Hard to find sources on tactics other than Mr. Hodges, March 14, 2013
By Seth Redford
I've been playing seriously for about two years so I am still learning the many important aspects of competitive Table Tennis. While searching the internet and other places I found a lot of information on technique but not much on tactics. This book is a fantastic resource that covers a wide variety of topics. I feel like it focused my thinking onto a number of important aspects that apply to each of the different shots and situations that you can face against each opponent. My only small issue is I have been following Mr. Hodges' blog and I have read a number of his articles and tips of the day. Since much of the information in those online sources was also included in the book, I had seen a lot of it before. But having it all in one place was well worth the price of the book.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Great Resource For Improving Your Table Tennis Results, March 8, 2013
This book may be the best table tennis book currently available for improving your table tennis results. Larry has packed it full information to get you thinking about what is going on in a game or match. Many players lose to players below their own level of play physically by being outplayed mentally. This collection of information is a great resource to short-cut the years of experience usually required to gain this level of strategy and tactics and be the player with the mental edge. Good Stuff!

5.0 out of 5 stars 
It Made Me Think! March 1, 2013
By Kyle Angeles
Very enjoyable read. The whole time I was reading this book, my mind would kind of drift off as I was picturing the aspects of my game in whatever part of the book I was reading.
The topics are laid out in a very logical order and explained in great detail.
The verbiage makes the book very conversational, so it doesn't drag on or feel like a sermon.
Many examples are used making it easy to visualize each subject.
Styles are broken down into various subsets - each containing their own goals and strategies
Excellent tactics are provided against a wide variety of styles - I highly recommend the section on non-inverted surfaces!
A little repetitive at times, but this kind of comes with the territory

World Cadet Challenge Selection Criteria

Here's the selection process for the 2013 Cadet Challenge, with dates and mandatory events.

Bacteria in Beer Pong

Here's a story about Clemson students finding lots of bacteria on ping-pong balls used in beer pong. You'll never play beer pong again.

Berlin Style Ping-Pong

Here's a video of Berlin Style Ping Pong (3:19), brought to you by Table Tennis Nation. (I often had some trouble understanding what the narrator was saying - it seemed a bit muffled.)

Table Tennis Glamour

Here are pictures of some glamorous table tennis outfits. (If Facebook won't let you see it, try this.)

USATT Minutes

(I usually end the blog with something short and fun, but this is rather long, and I'm afraid I'd lose people before they get to the short, fun stuff. So I'll end with this.)

The USATT motions from the March 25 teleconference are now online. (Plus you can browse past meetings and motions.) These were all committee appointments. Since there are so many names mentioned, I'm guessing most readers will know some of the people. Since so much work is done by committees, I'm putting in all the motions for readers to browse over

Approved at the March 25, 2013 telephonic meeting of the USATT Board of Directors

MOVED to continue Roman Tinyszin as Chair of the Officials and Rules Advisory Committee, waiving any implications of his two weeks committee service in 2007.

MOVED that the National Sanctioning Coordinator shall be appointed by the Board and shall not be subject to the term lengths and restrictions for standing committee members.

MOVED to approve Thomas Wintrich, Wendell Dillon, Lee Kondo, and Barney Reed (athlete) as members of the Tournaments Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Andrew Horn as the committee’s Liaison. (Larry Rose was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Ray Cavicchio, Elena Karshtedt, Lee Kondo, and Pam Fontaine (athlete) as members of the Officials and Rules Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Teodor Gheorghe as the committee’s Liaison. (Roman Tinyszin was approved as the Chair earlier in the March 25, 2013 meeting.)

MOVED to approve Rich Perez, Suzanne Butler, Gloria Brooks, and Khoa Nguyen (athlete) as members of the Seniors Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Gregg Robertshaw was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Lee Kondo, Amir Sadeghy, Larry Kesler, and Tahl Leibovitz (athlete) as members of the Ethics and Grievance Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Jim Coombe was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Peter Scudner, and Han Xiao (athlete) as members of the Compensation Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Mike Babuin was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Tom Poston, Ross Brown, Steve Hopkins, and Ty Hoff (athlete) as members of the Editorial Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Andrew Horn as the committee’s Liaison.6 6 Jim McQueen was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.

MOVED to approve Anne Cribbs, Mike Babuin, and Ed Levy (athlete) as members of the Audit Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Deborah Gray as the committee’s Liaison. (Peter Scudner was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Dean Johnson, Jay Tuberville, Jeffery D. Morrison, and Carlos Ko (athlete) as members of the Hardbat Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Teodor Gheorghe as the committee’s Liaison. (Alberto Prieto was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Peter Scudner, Anne Cribbs, Mike McAllister, and Tahl Leibovitz (athlete) as members of the Marketing and Fund Raising Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Michael Cavanaugh as the committee’s Liaison. (Jim Kahler was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED to approve Lisa Hagel, Ben Bednarz, Bruce Liu, and Barney Reed (athlete) as members of the Clubs Advisory Committee for the January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 term, and to designate Joyce Grooms as the committee’s Liaison. (Attila Malek was approved as the Chair on February 4, 2013.)

MOVED that the Chairs of the Junior Advisory Committee and League Advisory Committee will be decided via email prior to the Board’s April 20, 2013 meeting.

MOVED to appoint Mike Babuin (Chair), Peter Scudner, Dennis Taylor, and Han Xiao (athlete) as members of a Bylaw Review Task Force. Recommendations of the Task Force are due by July 31, 2013.

Respectfully submitted,
Dennis M. Taylor

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November 13, 2012

Tip of the Week

Complex or Simple Tactics?

Crystal Wang

This past weekend 10-year-old Crystal Wang (from MDTTC) had a great tournament at the Potomac Open. You don't know who she is? Last year Crystal achieved a rating of 2150, the highest rating ever for a 9-year-old, boys or girls. She also made both the USA Mini-Cadet Girls' National Team (Under 12) and the USA Cadet Girls' Team (Under 15) at age 9, competing against girls much older. Unfortunately, this year she played three tournaments in a row where she struggled (including the U.S. Open), complaining her wrist hurt. They finally had it x-rayed, and discovered she had been playing with a fractured wrist from a fall! Her rating had dropped from 2166 to 2099, and she couldn't play for a couple months.

But now she's BACK! At the Potomac Open, at age 10, she beat players rated 2334, 2240, 2205, and 2149, while making the final of Under 2300. She didn't lose to anyone lower than 2200. I'm pretty sure she'll be adjusted well over 2200, which could definitely be the highest rating ever for a 10-year-old girl, and possibly for boys as well. (I'm pretty sure Kanak Jha is the only 10-year-old boy to break 2200.)

It's no fluke. In the MDTTC Elite League last week she knocked off two players over 2300 without losing to anyone below 2300. Even at 2099, she was the top rated girl in the U.S. in Under 11, Under 12, and Under 13.

Crystal plays a very modern two-winged looping game, hitting and looping on both sides. I've watched as she's gradually gone from basically hitting to looping from both wings, and her off-the-bounce backhand loop can now be a terror. She and Amy Wang (a year younger, rated 2069, from NJ) are essentially Ariel & Lily, Part II, east coast version - the new Dynamic Duo.

Potomac Open

Here are results, photos, and videos from the Potomac Open in Maryland this past weekend. Wang Qing Liang came back from down 0-3 to win against Sean Lonergan in the final. Sean upset Chen Bo Wen in the semifinals, also in seven games. Sean's been in China the last few years - not playing table tennis much - but started training recently to get ready for the North American Teams and the USA Nationals. You can see all of the final in the video page above, and many other big matches.

"He's the One" - Starring Derek Nie

Here's a funny music video (4:02) by the band E.D. Sedgwick that features U.S. Open 11 & Under Boys' Singles Champion Derek Nie. (Derek is from my club, MDTTC - I coached him in all his U.S. Open matches.) They had been planning this video for some time, and were originally going to use a regular actor to play the kid, and put the ball in via computer afterwards, but then they saw this Washington Post video (3:26) in August on the Maryland Table Tennis Center, which featured our juniors, including Derek - and thought he'd be perfect for the role. All the action scenes where you see one player playing I'm feeding multiball to the player, both to Derek and to the members of the band. It was great fun helping them put this together. It also taught us what I already knew but hadn't really experienced - that much of film-making is waiting around. Derek and I filled the time with lots of smashing and lobbing and various trick shots.

World Cadet Challenge

Here's an article on the USATT web page on the recent World Cadet Challenge, which included several USA cadets.

USATT Minutes

Last week the minutes to the April 19, 2012 USATT Board meeting finally went up. Now there's been a flurry of activity, and the minutes to the July 16 and Sept. 22 meetings have also gone up. Here are the USATT minutes dating back to 1999, including the new entries.

2012 World Fair Play Awards

Here's info on the awards. "If you had a fair play act within your association’s activity in 2012 or you consider a person or organization worth to be nominated for the Trophies, please submit your your application on the attached form before 1st December 2012."

Dancing Table Tennis

Here's a dance video tribute to table tennis (2:10).

OK Go Ping Pong Tips

Here's a humorous "how to" video on table tennis (4:34). It's from 2006, but I don't think I'd seen it before.

Non-Table Tennis - Update on U.S. Presidential Election

As I noted last week, I called all 50 states and the exact electoral count (332-206) in my blog last Tuesday morning. Now we have the essentially final popular vote. I predicted Obama over Romney, 50.5% to 48.5%. Final count was 50.6% to 47.9%. Not bad, considering everyone over at Fox News thought Romney was going to win, many predicting a landslide. (It's tricky predicting the vote turnout for third-party candidates, since many who say they will vote for one change their mind at the last minute rather than "waste" their vote. In this case I thought they'd get about 1% of the vote, but they got 1.5%, which is why I over-estimated Romney's final numbers.)

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November 8, 2012

End-game Surprise Tactics

Last week, due to Hurricane Sandy and Halloween, I didn't coach or play table tennis for four days, and spent the entire time at my computer or reading while eating more junk food than I had in the previous two months combined. It was a great time.

Afterwards, however, I paid the price. When I showed up at the club as a practice partner for our elite junior session, I was stiff, tight, slow, and could barely play. After getting shellacked in a couple matches that I'd normally win, and losing the first game against one of our top juniors (who'd I'd been beating over and over), I switched to chopping. I'm almost as good chopping (inverted both sides) as attacking, but it's usually as a last resort.

I won the second game. Coach Cheng Yinghua was watching and said something to the junior in Chinese. I said, "Cheng, coach him." So the rest of the match Cheng coached the kid between games. In the third, playing much smarter, the kid took the lead, but I tied it up at 9-all, with my serve coming up. I'd been serving all backspin until now, but now I went back to my attack game, served a pair of short side-top serves, ripped two winners against a surprised opponent, and won the game. In the fifth game, again at 9-all, I did it again to win the match.

A chopper attacking at the very end of a close game is a classic example of an end-game surprise tactic. It's hard to guard against it since, in this example, you never know for sure when it's coming, and so can neither prepare for it nor can you get used to it. The difficulty, of course, is that the chopper hasn't been attacking and so has to do something he might not have grooved. But it's a common way for choppers, blockers, and other players who play defensive (or any style centered around steadiness) to win at the end of a close game.

But this type of tactic isn't just for choppers. Some players have a knack for playing multiple styles, and can switch styles under pressure to mess an opponent up. Cheng Yinghua, before he became just a coach, was the best player in the U.S. for ten years. He could play three styles of play equally well - two-winged looping, all-out forehand looping, and a blocking game. Against U.S. players, rather than let them get used to his two-winged looping game, he'd often just push and block, mixing in forehand loops for winners, unless (rarely) it got close. And then he'd bring out the backhand loop, one of the steadiest and spinniest in the world (circa 1980s and 1990s), and dominate the end of any close game.

Another similar case would be someone like Jim McQueen of North Carolina, whose rating seems to bounce back and forth between 2000 and 2150, mostly because he dominates against players who aren't used to him while losing to those who play him more often. He plays a somewhat simple-seeming push and block game. His serves are somewhat simple, usually backspin so he can get into his push and block game. But when it's close, watch out! That's when he pulls out this devastatingly effective backhand sidespin serve that looks like backspin. Few can handle the serve the first few times they see it, and so Jim wins lots of close games by pulling this serve out as an end-game tactic. Others have similar go-to serves at the end of a match - I have a number of them - but the difference is most players use these serves throughout the match, not mostly just at the end of a close game.

It's important to figure out during a match what your "go-to" tactics will be when you badly need a point. Usually you'll use these tactics on and off throughout the match, and go to them when it's close. What are yours?

USATT Minutes

The minutes for the April 19, 2012 USATT board meeting finally went up. (USATT bylaws require they go up within 30 days, but alas.) Here are the USATT minutes, dating back to 1999 when a certain USATT webmaster started putting them online. (Hey, that was me! 1997-2007.)

The New Plastic Ball

Here's a web page and online petition about the proposed introduction of plastic balls in place of celluloid.

Gideon's Ping-Pong Battle in Brooklyn

Here's a video (14:19) featuring Gideon Teitel taking on table tennis challengers. (Warning - starts with some bad language.) Gideon came to one of our training camps at MDTTC this past summer. Here's an early quote: "There are many unsolved crimes in this world. Bird flu, O.J. Simpson. One of them happens to be my backhand."

Robo-Boy Versus Robo-Friend in Robo-Pong

Here's an animated video (2:39) where a trash-talking Robo-Boy challenges his Robo-Friend to a Ping-Pong Showdown. Here's another video (2:53) starring Robo-Boy where he talks more about his Robo-Pong. (There's no actual table tennis in either video, but the dialogue is funny, especially in the first one.)


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October 17, 2012

Creating Spin

Yesterday I was coaching a junior (who is mostly a hitter) on his forehand loop against backspin, and later on his serve. In both cases he had difficulty in creating spin because he tended to start with his racket mostly behind the ball, both when looping and serving, rather than from below (when looping against backspin) and from above or from the side when serving backspin or sidespin. He also didn't backswing enough to give himself time to accelerate into the ball, which allows you to snap the forearm and then the wrist into the ball like the tip of a whip.. These are common problems, especially for hitters.

Hitters, by definition, don't loop as well as loopers. I've noticed that, in general, hitters have more difficulty learning to serve with spin, and I think the two are related. Loopers are more used to creating spin, and instinctively understand the need to backswing so as to allow themselves to spin the ball - getting below the ball when looping backspin, above it to serve backspin, and to the side to serve sidespin. They also instinctively understand the need for the longer backswing to accelerate the racket to create spin, whether looping or serving.

If you guide a player through the serve by holding his hand and literally serving the ball for him, with a better backswing, they tend to get the idea, though it takes practice for them to do this on their own. (Learning to graze the ball when serving isn't easy at first.) I've noticed that those who learn to serve with spin also pick up looping more quickly, for the reasons give above.

I mentioned above how hitters tend to have more difficulty putting spin on their serves. However, there is a corollary to this - hitters tend to have better placement on their serves, and usually better fast serves. This is probably out of necessity, since they don't have spin to make their serves effective.

Editorial Board Report

As a member of the USATT Editorial Board, yesterday I sent my comments to the chair, Tim Boggan, for the annual report. I had a few comments about the covers (not enough table tennis action), hard-to-find or missing captions, and the timing of the issues (which I thought could be adjusted so we get features on the Open and Nationals in a more timely fashion). I was happy with the increasing number of coaching articles.  I was probably most irritated by a statement in one issue in an unattributed article that "The minutes of each Board meeting and the annual budgets are now available online." They have been online since 1999, when I started the policy of putting them online as co-webmaster.

USA Juniors & Cadets Shine Internationally

Here's a USATT results listings and photos for the Canadian and Serbian Junior and Cadet Opens.

Betty White Does Humorous Ping-Pong Routine

Here's an episode entitled "Ping Pong" from 1952 of the TV show "Life with Elizabeth," a show that ran from 1952-55. About 30 seconds into the show the table tennis starts, and it continues for four minutes as actress Betty White and actor Del Moore put on a hilarious table tennis skit. As Del says, "All is fair in love and ping-pong." (I don't think there is any more table tennis in the rest of the episode, which is 25:54 long.) So which is better, this or the WC Fields routine from the 1939 movie "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man" (2:33)? There's also, of course, the table tennis routine from a 2003 episode of "Friends" entitled "The One in the Barbados: Part 2" (6:48).


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April 24, 2012

USATT Minutes of Committee & Task Force Meetings

From the USATT Bylaws, Section 9.10, Minutes of Meetings:

"Each committee and task force shall take minutes of its meetings.  The approved minutes must be published within thirty (30) days of completion of the meeting."

I've pointed this out to the USATT board multiple times over the past few years, via email to the board, at the 2009 Strategic Meeting, at board meetings, and I blogged about this on October 11 last year. [See segment"2009 USATT Strategic Meeting (and Task Force Minutes)."]

Either none of the USATT committees or task forces have met even once over the past five years or so, or they simply aren't following the bylaws, even after the problem was pointed out. (I happen to know that a number of these committees and task forces have met.) Alas, the very board that crowed so much about creating these new bylaws (circa roughly 2007, with updates since) has not followed them. Don't believe me?

Then here's a challenge. FIND ME THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS. First person who can find them by 4:30 PM this afternoon when I leave to coach (and no cheating by someone putting them online today) gets a free copy of any one of my books (see below) and public acknowledgement here. (One exception - I'm fairly certain I remember seeing minutes online of an Officials meeting, but am not sure. But if anyone can find those minutes, no book, but I'll acknowledge your finding in my blog tomorrow.) Here are the USATT minutes for USATT board meetings, and the USATT committee listing. (The committee listing includes task forces, some of which have met over the past few years and since been dissolved, such as the "Grow Membership Through Added Value" task force.) Other than board meetings, there are minutes for a Hall of Fame Committee meeting listed on "December 20, 2011" (they mean 2010) - and they are not actually a USATT committee. 

Note that not all committees meet, especially "advisory" committees. I'm on the USATT Coaching, Club, and Editorial Advisory Committees, but none of them have had a formal meeting since I was appointed. However, others have met to formulate various policy, such as the High Performance Committee, which meets to set policy and schedule for the National Teams, and of course the various Task Forces meet to accomplish their various tasks. (At least I hope they do!)

Books by Larry Hodges

Hey, that's me! Since I mentioned my books above (and it's been a while since I listed them here), here's a listing. Note that Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook and Instructor's Guide to Table Tennis (which are really handbooks) are online (free). And this fall I hope to have my new book out, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide." (I'm doing the final rewriting right now, but other table tennis issues keep intervening.) 

2012 North American Olympic Table Tennis Trials Press Conference

Here's the video of the press conference with all the players from North America who made the Olympics (19:53). Unfortunately, I can barely hear them even at full volume. Maybe others have louder speakers.

Ariel Hsing slideshow

Here are eight photos with captions of U.S. Women's Champ and Olympian teenager Ariel Hsing at the Olympic Trials.

Michael Landers and the Kelloggs Corn Flakes Box

Here's more on Michael Landers on the Kelloggs Corn Flakes box, including a picture of both the front and back.

"As One" movie

Here's a preview of "As One" (1:48), with English subtitles, the story of the joint Korean 1991 World Women's Team Champions

Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings

Here's another article on hockey's Predators vs. Red Wings table tennis "feud."

Adam Bobrow Highlights

Here's two minutes of Adam Bobrow, mostly from movie and TV roles, including three table tennis scenes. (He's not just a comedian and actor - he's rated 2115, and was recently up to 2172.)


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