Table Tennis Ratings vs. Skills

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Often times, table tennis players will mistakenly associate ratings with skills.  Just because your table tennis opponent has a certain rating doesn’t necessarily mean that your opponent possesses a certain level of particular skills. 

For example…

I asked my 1800-rated table tennis student why he wasn’t attacking his (2100-rated) opponent’s half-long serve.  My student responded by saying that because his opponent was rated 2100, he assumed that all his serves were short.

I asked my 1200-rated student why he kept hitting to his (600-rated) opponent’s backhand.  My student responded by saying that his assumed that all low-rated table tennis players have weak backhands. 

I asked my 1700-rated student why he kept trying to smash every ball against his (2300-rated) opponent.  My student responded by saying that he assumed that he probably couldn’t return any balls anyway and decided just to go for high-risk shots in the table tennis match.

These hypothetical situations demonstrate that you can’t assume a certain set of skills is used by certain player levels in table tennis.  You must approach each opponent individually instead of categorizing players by rating. 

Samson Dubina

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Concentration in Table Tennis

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I have a little homework assignment for you.  Stand two feet away from a 5-gallon bucket and toss a penny into the bucket.  Easy, right?  Now stand two feet away from a gallon of milk (with the lid off) and toss a penny into the milk container.  This requires more aiming and more focus, right?

The same is true in regards to your table tennis game.  The amount of concentration that most table tennis players use is directly related to the task at hand.  A very spinny push to your middle might require some fancy footwork and some good concentration to successfully loop.  A sidespin counter loop wide to your forehand might require perfect timing and good concentration to counter loop back around the net.  Everyone puts good concentration on these difficult shots.  HOWEVER, many players lose focus on “easy balls” like a short high-ball that could easily be smashed for a winner.  As soon as they lose 5% of their focus then these players usually don’t move well, become sloppy, lose their spin, miss the “easy ball”, and then become frustrated.  Approach these “easy balls” as being difficult balls.  Approach these balls with 100% concentration.

The same mental flaw is true in regards to playing lower level table tennis opponents.  The amount of concentration that most players use is directly related to the task at hand.  Even when playing lower-rated opponents, bring out your best game with 100% focus and you will have no regrets in your table tennis matches.

Samson Dubina

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America’s Team Table Tennis Championship Results

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Newgy proudly sponsored the 2014 America’s Team Table Tennis Championships for the sixth year, this past weekend, May 24-25, in Rockford, Illinois. The tournament attracted 42 teams consisting of 170 table tennis players.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Division 1

1st Place: Team XNT5

Nie, WenJie (2265)
Lee, David (2230)
Tran, Michael (2176)
Qi, Wei (2448)

2nd Place: Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies

Pech, Keith (2280)
Oulkin, Danny (2278)
Pech, Seth (2229)

3rd Place: Team Collegiate

Skolnick, Mlcaiah (2334)
Skolnick, Gabriel (2333)
Pereyra, Patricio (2290)
Castillo, Maria (2156)

Division 2

1st Place: Midland TNMD

At(man, Mark (2153)
Snider, Nicholas (2177)
Yost, Thomas (2132)
Hamilton, Don (2126

2nd Place:  TGL Logistics

Wolski, Wojciech (2347)
Zyworonek, Arkadlusz (2052)
Wolski, Michael (2044)
Jablonskl, Zbigniew (1941)
Horodenski, Karol

3rd Place: University of Minnesota ’A’ Team

Kubesh, Benjamin (2007)
Peng, Peng (2002)
Huynh, Benjamin (2153)
Ye, Cheng (1938)

Division 3

1st Place: NCTTA

Teotia, Seemant (1954)
Del Vecchio, Martin (2156)
Chimule, Shardul’(1977)
Frayne, Elliot (1909)

2nd Place: Royal Challengers

Buente, Kevin (1917)
Kini, Vivek (2144)
Pan, Zack (2095)
Dousmanis, Christos (1909)

3rd Place: It’s Short but it’s Thin

Moyant, Kyle (1508)
Neimark, Dashiel (2029)
Scarp, AJ. (2110)

Division 4

1st Place: Rock River Rowdies

Evans, Bryant (1743)
OIIngou, Serge (1689)
Belts, Steve (1669)
Zmijewski, Ariel (1656)

2nd Place: BCMVP

Mak, Henry (1904)
Chau, Tim (1724)
Veksler, Dan (1712)
Currey, Robert (1705)
Putta, Ramnath (1673)

3rd Place: University of Minnesota ’B’ Team

Tranter, John (1788)
Nguyen, Brenda (1651)
Srivastava, Rishabh (1611)
Vu, Dat Tien (1557)

Division 5

1st Place: Duluth Young Guns

Simone Jr., Angelo (1505)
Scott, Sam (1663)
Green, Eric (1680)
Perez, Jose (UR)

2nd Place: Kung Fu Pandas

Lorenc, Slawomir (1722)
Parvathaneni, Subba (1595)
Morris, Mathew (1552)
Mu, Edward (1479)

3rd Place: U.S. Para Nationals

Van Emburgh, Jenson (1366)
Seidenfetd, lan (1468)
Scrivano, Danny (1366)

Most Valuable Player

1st Place: Qi Wei

2nd Place: Sid Naresh

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The Tournament Mindset

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During practice, most table tennis players focus 100% on themselves.  They think in detail about their own footwork, their own strokes, and their own serves.  They rarely consider their opponent.  In table tennis tournaments, they are mistakenly focused on themselves, wondering why they can’t win.

By performing beautiful forehand loops, your opponent will not drop dead.  You can’t win a match based on your awesome footwork.  The only way to win a table tennis match is to beat your opponent!  In matches, you should be 95% focused on your opponent and only 5% focused on yourself.  At the elite level, there are many detailed strategies.  I’ll deal with them in a future article.  For now, here are 10 basic questions that you should be asking yourself between games and between points!

Does my opponent prefer backhand or forehand when attacking?

Does my opponent prefer backhand or forehand when defending?

Where is my opponent’s middle (the transition point between backhand and forehand)?

Does my opponent win the majority of the points from strong attacks or does my opponent win the majority of the point from my mistakes?

Does my opponent feel more comfortable close to the table or far away from the table?

What are the most common serves that my opponent is using?

If my opponent has a particularly tricky serve that I continue to miss, what other options do I have to return it?

Does my opponent attack my short serve?  Does my opponent attack my long serves?

Does my opponent have any particular trouble with a specific serve?

Does my opponent have any particular trouble with a specific shot that I’m using or does he have trouble with a particular spin or particular location?

If you go through this list between every game, you will be able to better form strategies throughout the entire table tennis match!  Remember, winning is not just about great playing, winning is about making your opponent play poorly!

Samson Dubina

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Newgy Cincinnati Open 4-Star Table Tennis Tournament – Results

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Congrats to all the winners of the Newgy Cincinnati Open 4-Star Table Tennis Tournament this past weekend!

Open Giant RR
1st Samson Dubina
2nd Tapabrada Dey
3rd Hesam Hamrahian
4th Danny Dulkin
5th-8th Ali Khatami, Alex Averin, Seth Pech, and John Allen

U2400 Giant RR
1st Danny Dulkin
2nd Seth Pech
3rd-4th Nick Snider and Tapabrada Dey

u2000 Giant RR
1st Harsh Khandelwal
2nd Kosal Tith
3rd-4th Willians Calipo and Greg Smith

U1600 Giant RR
1st Chad Ryan
2nd Kevin Swan
3rd-4th Joe Ciarrochi and Yi Yan Xue

U1200 Giant RR
1st Yueling Zhang
2nd Newell Millard
3rd-4th Matt Seeds and Lin Wang

U1000 Giant RR
1st Laura Paglin
2nd Aubrey Morris

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The Right Balance in Table Tennis

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Most club table tennis players can’t train 40 hours per week due to work, school, family commitments and just life in general.  However, most players can dedicate around 10 hours per week to improve their table tennis skills.  For my training students, I ask them to work hard to produce the best possible 10 hours that they can do.  I ask them to do 4 hours of table tennis matches, 1 hour of serving practice, 1 hour of physical training, 1 hour of video analysis, and 3 hours of training with the Newgy Robo-Pong 2050 table tennis robot.

Playing matches against various playing styles is an important part of a weekly training program because it “tests” your table tennis skills.  You should be able to properly regulate WHAT to practice based on how you perform in practice matches.

Serving practice is one of the fastest ways to improve.  If you can score 2-3 more points each game, that is a major improvement.  Even if you can’t win the point outright, a good serve should set you up for the next ball.  When serving, focus on keeping the ball low, with good spin variation, and good placement variation.  Try to develop a very similar motion while giving slight changes in the spin – heavy sidespin, sidespin backspin, no spin, and sidespin topspin.

Physical training is a vital aspect that every table tennis player needs to work on to move to the elite level.  At your current level, physical training might not seem very important.  However, at the elite level, it is critical.  I would recommend focusing mainly on speed and flexibility exercises for the legs and core.  Top table tennis players say that 70-80% of their looping power comes from the legs and core (not the arm).

Video analysis is the most neglected aspect of table tennis training in the US.  Without visualization of your strengths and weaknesses on a weekly basis, you are probably training incorrectly.  Record at least one session per week and take some time to watch it slowly while taking notes.  Ask a friend or coach to watch it with your and take a somewhat critical approach to analyzing your game.

Table tennis robot training has helped me tremendously and I’m sure that it will help you too.  Instead of thinking about the score, you can focus on the areas of your game that really need to improve.  You can focus on making changes to your footwork, short game, blocking, looping, smashing, chopping, and serve return.  Start the drill very slowly with +50% wait adjust so that you can perform them correctly.  As you become more consistent at that speed, slowly decrease the time between balls by 10%.

Here is a sample weekly table tennis training program from one of my students:

Monday:        Robot (1 hour) and Physical Training (30 min)

Tuesday:        Club (2 hours)

Wednesday:  Rest

Thursday:       Club (2 hours) and video analysis (1 hour)

Friday:             Robot (1 hour) and serving (1 hour)

Saturday:        Robot (1 hour) and Physical Training (30 min)

Sunday:           Rest

Samson Dubina

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Newgy Cincinnati Open 4-Star Table Tennis Tournament

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The Newgy Cincinnati Open 4-Star USATT table tennis tournament is this weekend, May 9-10, 2014 at the College Hill Recreation Center – 5545 Belmont Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45224.

The format will be giant round robin groups of around eight players with the top four players from each group advancing to the single elimination stage. This tournament will feature awesome playing conditions with 16 professional ping-pong tables in a 17,000 square foot gym.

Admission is free for spectators!

Tournament sponsors: Newgy Robo-Pong, Martin & Associates, Wil-Cut and Wide-band

Tournament staff:  Barry Carlin, Tom Leslie, Greg Thompson, Perry Wilson, Pierce Scott, Randy Burnett, Joyce Burnett, Sam Dubina, Nancy Dubina, Roger Liu, Karen Pon, Raymond Johnston, Orlando McEwan, and Seth Pech.

Click here to see the draw for this tournament.

Below is a list of helpful mental strategies to keep in mind while competing in a table tennis tournament, provided by Pro Table Tennis Player and Coach, Samson Dubina.

1. Watch your opponent in a prior match and study his or her style, serve, and serve return. Before beginning a match, also make sure to check his or her racket.

2. Be ready to work hard for your win. Earned – never given. Don’t expect your opponent to miss your trick-serve at 10-9. Be ready to work hard to earn each and every point!

3. Before beginning a match, don’t look at your opponent’s rating – it probably isn’t accurate anyway. Focus your attention on your strategy, not his or her rating.

4. Focus on having fun and applying your strategy. If you think too much about the benefits of winning or the consequences of losing, you will have unnecessary pressure.

5. Reflect between points and ask yourself questions. One mistake won’t hurt you, but if you continue to make the same mistake again and again, you will lose.

6. If you lose a match, admit that you lost. Making excuses will not help you to think clearly for your next match.

7. Be absolutely sure to go through your pre-point and post-point routine, every time.

8. Enjoy close games. Be excited when the game is close and be excited that you have the chance to perform.

Good luck to everyone playing this weekend!

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Table Tennis Rally Statistics

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Statistics were taken for the length of the rallies at a professional table tennis tournament.  These statistics are fairly common across the board for all levels but differ based on game-style.

On average:

12% of serves are not returned

18% of points are won on the 2nd ball

26% of points are won on the 3rd ball

13% of points are won on the 4th ball

11% of points are won on the 5th ball

6% of points are won on the 6th ball

4% of points are won on the 7th ball

10% of points are won after the 7th ball

So as you can see, the serve, serve return, and 3rd ball attack are critically important during a table tennis match.  56% of the points do not last more than the 3rd hit.  For this reason, I would recommend practicing at least 56% of the time on the serve, serve return, and 3rd hit. 


One of the best ways to improve your serve is to do it during a drill.  Instead of starting the drill with a warm-up serve, start each drill with a tournament serve such short backspin.  Ask your table tennis training partner to push long, next you loop the push, then you begin the footwork drill. 

Serve Return

You probably have some serves that give you problems.  Ask your training partner to serve those problem serves again and again while thinking of new ways to return them.  Experiment by attacking slightly stronger or slightly slower, by pushing instead of looping, by adding to or stopping the sidespin, or countless types of returns.  In order to properly read the spin on a serve, you should watch the racket motion, listen to the contact, watch the bounce, and look for the logo on the ping-pong ball.

The 3rd Ball

Even if your opponent doesn’t miss your serve, he might give you an easy return in which you can attack.  If your 3rd ball attack is strong, it will put more pressure on your opponent to return more precisely.  When he tries to return shorter or lower or faster, he will begin making more mistakes.  Remember, it isn’t just about your serve in a table tennis rally. It’s also about what comes after your serve. 

Samson Dubina

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Looping Serves in Table Tennis

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Looping serves in table tennis is a bit more challenging than many players imagine.  However, if you follow the right thought process and use the right technique, then you will be on your way to major improvement.

Ways to improve your looping serve in table tennis:

  1. Watch your opponent’s positioning at the table and body language to possibly see if they will serve short or long.
  2. Next, watch their backswing, contact point, and where the ball contacts their side of the table.  At this point, you need to start adjusting your feet while keeping your hand in front.
  3. Next, watch as the ball contacts your side of the table.  If it hits in the first half (near the net), then it will likely be short and you need to adjust in with your legs, upper body, and racket.  If it hits in the back half of the table, then it will likely be long enough to loop.  These balls will vary based on spin as well.
  4. Next, if the serve is half-long, then prepare to loop by keeping your knees bent, adjusting near the table with your body, and shortening your backswing while starting at the appropriate height and angle.  If it is heavy backspin, then start lower and open your angle.  If it is no-spin, then start higher and close your angle slightly.  If the serve is fast and long, then give yourself plenty of space from the table, start at the appropriate height, let the ball come back, then spin the ball.
  5. Next, focus on spinning the ball with good placement.  The more spin that you are able to create when looping this serve, the easier it will be to control the ball.  Without applying enough spin, your opponent’s spin with bite into your rubber and cause more errors.  Generally, you should loop the half-long balls with about 30-60% power and you should loop the deep serves with about 50-80% power.

Avoid the following mistakes with your looping serve in table tennis:

  1. Neglecting to watch your opponent’s racket
  2. Neglecting to move your feet based on the opponent’s racket angle and incoming ball
  3. Neglecting to adjust your racket starting position based on the opponent’s spin
  4. Neglecting to make a secondary adjustment with your feet
  5. Neglecting to apply enough spin to the ball

Samson Dubina

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2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships

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The ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships are taking place in Tokyo, Japan this week, April 28-May 5, 2014.

209 table tennis teams from around the world are competing this year, including 114 men’s teams and 95 women’s teams.

A total of 138 International Table Tennis Umpires will officiate in Tokyo (68 from abroad, 70 from Tokyo).

The World Team Table Tennis Championships have been held since 1926.

China has dominated the World Team Championships, winning the Men’s Team title and the Women’s Team title 18 times.

The late Victor Barna is the most successful table tennis player in the history of the World Championships, playing 19 times between 1929 and 1954 winning a total of 22 titles.

Only three left-hander have won the Men’s Singles title at a World Championships: Stellan Bengtsson (1971), Seiji Ono (1979), Jean-Philippe Gatien (1993).

The 2015 World Team Table Tennis Championships will be held in Suzhou, China.

Good luck Team USA!

2014 U.S. World Team – Women

Lily Zhang
Prachi Jha
Crystal Wang
Erica Wu
Angela Guan

Coach Doru Gheorghe

2014 U.S. World Team – Men

Timothy Wang
Adam Hugh
Yahao Zhang
Jim Butler
Kanak Jha

Coach Stefan Feth

Watch live streaming of the matches at

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