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Welcome to TableTennisCoaching.com, your Worldwide Center for Table Tennis Coaching!

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This is an evolving website and Table Tennis Community. Your suggestions are welcome.

Want a daily injection of Table Tennis? Come read the Larry Hodges Blog! (Entries go up by noon, Mon-Fri; see link on left.) Feel free to comment!

Want to talk Table Tennis? Come join us on the forum. While the focus here is on coaching, the forum is open to any table tennis talk.

Want to Learn? Read the Tip of the Week, study videos, read articles, or find just about any other table tennis coaching site from the menu links. If you know of one, please let us know so we can add it.

Want to Learn more directly? There are two options. See the Video Coaching link for info on having your game analyzed via video. See the Clinics link for info on arranging a clinic in your area, or finding ones that are already scheduled.

If you have any questions, feel free to email, post a note on the forum, or comment on my blog entries.

-Larry Hodges, Director, TableTennisCoaching.com

Member, USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame & USATT Certified National Coach
Professional Coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center

Recent TableTennisCoaching.com blog posts

Friday, October 21, 2016 - 14:01
October 21, 2016

Notes from Thailand by Richard McAfee
[Richard is a USATT National Coach and Hall of Famer, and an ITTF Coaching Course Conductor. Think of this as a "guest column." I was going to blog about "Some Funny Coaching Incidents," but decided to move that to the end of the blog and feature this instead.]

While recently in Thailand, I had the opportunity to run a training camp for the Thai National Junior/Cadet Teams and to also watch 3 days of the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships. As I knew many players and coaches, I was able to spend a lot of time in the training area. This was very interesting as this tournament highlights the best prospects from Asia and is also a look at how each country is preparing the next generation of players. I got the chance to talk to many of the coaches about how they are preparing their next generation of players and there are some definite trends

  • Emphasis is going to be on staying close to the table but with more power rather than time pressure (more balls played...

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 13:02
October 20, 2016

No Regular Blog Today
Like all red-blooded, apple pie-eating, determined-to-beat-the-Chinese-in-ping-pong-someday Americans, I was up late last night watching the debate and the commentary afterwards, and so got a late start today. And now I have a non-table tennis writing project I need to finish before the weekend, and so no blog today. I'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, we now have the answer to the age-old question that voters have been asking since the election campaign began – who would win in table tennis between Clinton and Trump? According to this Washington Post article on Monday about Clinton, "In eighth grade, she learned to square dance, became a lifeguard, played plenty of table tennis." (Here's the famous picture of her playing husband Bill.) Oh, and here's a...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 13:28
October 19, 2016

Daniel's Inside-out Looping
I had a great session with 12-year-old Daniel yesterday. He's about 1700, but he's still struggling to be aggressive in games – he much prefers fishing and lobbing, and so usually lets his opponent attack first. He simply has zero confidence in his looping game. I've been working with him on this for months. In games he often will go for all-out smashes (forehand and backhand), but looping is just an occasional variation for him. He wins mostly by pushing, blocking, sudden smashes, and fishing & lobbing.

Yesterday might have been a breakthrough. When he forehand loops, he tends to bring his arm across his body, dissipating his power and causing occasional arm problems because of the strain it puts on his arm. Periodically we've fixed the problem, but then he falls back into the old habit. But yesterday I noticed something – when he loops inside-out to my backhand, the stroke is much smoother and technically far better. So I had him practice his inside-out loop for a time. Then I had him set up to do an inside-out loop to my backhand – but had him point to where the ball was going...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 13:53
October 18, 2016

Random Drills
Yesterday I did a number "random drills" with students, though we first did drills leading up to them. With Daniel (age 12) who is often hesitant to loop against backspin in game situations, we started with regular multiball backspin where he looped forehands and then backhands. Then we did the 2-1 drill with backspin only – he'd backhand loop from backhand corner, then forehand loop from backhand corner, then forehand loop from forehand corner, and then repeat. Then I fed random backspin all over, and he had to loop forehand or backhand. Then we played points where he served backspin and I'd push to his forehand, he'd loop, then we'd POP (play out point). Then the same where I pushed to his backhand. Finally, we went full random – he'd serve backspin, I'd push anywhere randomly, he'd loop, and then POP. (Daniel does 90 minutes, so he gets a lot of drills.)

Next up was Navin Kumar – yes, the bionic man himself (google it, but suffice to know he's got Parkinson's and a mostly mechanical heart). He's having trouble making the transition from backhand to forehand....

Monday, October 17, 2016 - 10:41
October 17, 2016

Tip of the Week
Play Both Weaker and Stronger Players.

Sunday Coaching
Sundays are my busiest coaching day, and yesterday was no exception. Of course, compared to some of the Chinese coaches at MDTTC (and other clubs), it was just another average day. It started with two one-hour private sessions and then a 45-min one. Then I fed multiball for 30 minutes for our "Talent Group" (MDTTC's top kids, mostly in the under 10 age group). Next came the 90-minute Beginning Class I teach every Sunday. (I also have one on Thursday nights.) And finally came the 90-minute adult training session. Technically, that was only six hours and 15 minutes, but it always seems like 16 hours.

How do I prepare for a long coaching day like this? My Sunday "ritual" is a big plate of spaghetti, extra sauce, for lunch before I start, and a granny smith apple halfway through. And lots of water.

One of the private students had been up late the night before due to homecoming, and showed up half asleep. That's always a challenge, getting them...

Friday, October 14, 2016 - 13:49
October 14, 2016

90 Full-Time Table Tennis Clubs in the U.S.
In my October 5 blog, I wrote how we now had 88 full-time clubs in this country, about ten times the number had just ten years ago with a corresponding increase in the number of full-time coaches (from around 10-20 to over 300). I ended the blog by writing, "Let’s get to 90 this year, and break 100 next year." Well, lo and behold, we're already at 90! I was alerted to the existence of two more full-time clubs in Florida, the Palm Beach Table Tennis Club in Boynton Beach and the PowerStroke Table Tennis Club in Saint Augustine, FL. So now that we have 90 in 25 states and DC, let's go for 100 in 30 states! (Update - alas, a club just closed in California, so as of Sunday we're back to 89. But I'm told someone is interested in re-opening the club at the same location, so it might...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 14:00
October 11, 2016

No Blog on Wednesday and Thursday
(I'll get to the table tennis part shortly.) Last week I received an unexpected email from a legendary science fiction writer. He's familiar with my own science fiction writing, and made an offer: Would I like to collaborate on a SF novel with him and one other person? The answer, of course, was yes. But I need a few days to really focus on getting started with this. I can't give out his name yet, but should be able to do so in a month or so. Meanwhile, the plan is this. He's already written the final third of the novel; he had another writer do the middle third; and I'm supposed to do the first third. Yes, it's a strange way of working! I've read the other two parts, and know the main character and where my first third will end, and have spent the last week planning out my part . . . and now I have to get to work!

Don't worry, I'm not leaving table tennis. I do both TT and SF. TT actually pays the bills – both coaching and writing - but I've sold 80 short stories and have three novels, so that's a big sideline for me, both as a hobby and a growing side-profession....

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 13:06
October 6, 2016

No Blog Friday or Monday – Capclave, World Women’s Cup, USATT Board Meeting
Here’s my schedule over the next few days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 14:04
October 5, 2016

88 Full-time Table Tennis Centers in the U.S.
One of my most vividly bad memories in table tennis was the USATT Board Meeting in December, 2006, almost ten years ago. It was at that meeting that I made a proposal for USATT to actively recruit and train coaches and club directors to set up and run full-time table tennis centers and junior programs, with the goal of 100 such centers in ten years.

At the time there were only 8-10 such full-time centers in the country. I’d co-founded the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992, the first successful full-time center devoted to training, and we’d set the model that others were beginning to follow.

The response? It was basically laughed off. Two board members openly said that full-time table tennis centers wouldn’t work in the U.S. except in a few specific areas, and that these areas already had a full-time club, so there was no potential for more. The rest remained silent. I remembered arguing with these two with the growing realization that they had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, and yet they were running our sport and firmly believed what they were saying. [I...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 14:04
October 4, 2016

Service Week – Teaching a Beginner to Serve
This past week the focus in both of my beginning table tennis classes was serving. For me, it’s the most fun part to teach, and the part that the kids are most fascinated by. If you show a new kid a backspin serve that bounces back into the net, they won’t stop trying until they can do it. If put a target on the table and smack it with a serve, the kids will spend the next half hour trying to hit it, and keep track of every hit. (I use the latter for the younger kids, who struggle at first with just serving, and aren’t ready to really spin their serves.)

Here’s how I teach serves to beginning kids.

  1. At the very start of the session I challenge the kids to return my serve. They line up, and stay until they’ve missed three serves. Then I serve various spins. When serving sidespin, I always put the racket down right after serving and step to where the ball will go, catching it. For backspin, as I serve I beg them not to go into the net. They have fun with this, and quickly realize how important spin is to the game. After a few rounds I explain what they need to...