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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, November 17, 2017 - 14:55
November 17, 2017

Three Examples of Why Table Tennis is Mostly Mental
I did three hours of private coaching last night, and all three featured the mental side of table tennis.

  • My first session was with a Lucy, age 9, a beginner. Last week we spent much of the session trying to get that elusive 20 forehands in a row (live, not multiball), but she wasn’t able to do it. Last night she again struggled for a time. The part that jumps out is that over and over she’d get close, and then miss. At one point she had hit 17 in a row three times, and ten or more in a row about 20 times, but each time as she approached 20, she’d get nervous and miss. This was similar to an experience I had with another student, Sameer, about age 12, that I once blogged about. In three consecutive rallies, Sameer, who was trying to hit 100 in a row for the first time, hit 99 in a row and missed (!), then 97, then 93. At this point he was almost in tears. The very next rally? Once he hit 100 he relaxed and we just went on and on until I finally caught the ball when he hit 1000 in a row! So, back to Lucy – we spent some time focusing on clearing the mind, not trying to...



Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 15:02
November 16, 2017

To Dream the Impossible Dream
I’ve always thought that this should be the national anthem of table tennis. After all, aren’t we all dreaming of beating that unbeatable foe, and achieving that impossible dream of being a champion? And of course, along the way there are those bad losses, leading to unbearable sorrow? But if you want to be a champion, you have to face that and go where the brave dare not go.

Here’s the version (8:50), perhaps the most classic (or at least the most views on Youtube at over 3.2 million), from the 1972 movie “Man of La Mancha,” sung by Peter O’Toole. (Yes, the same O’Toole who, ten years before, was Lawrence of Arabia.)

NOTE - I've been advised by John Olsen that the truly iconic version is actually by Richard Kiley in the Broadway musical. Here is Kiley singing it at the 1972 Tony Awards (2:39). Listening to it, I think he's right. 

But...




Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 14:16
November 15, 2017

Tidbits

  • Revelations of a Ping-Pong Champion. It’s now on sale at $17.95 at Amazon. (It was $24.95 before.) Here’s the back cover blurb:
    “If you are in the sport of table tennis, then you know Danny Seemiller, USA’s greatest modern champion. In ‘Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion,’ the five-time U.S. Men’s Singles Champion takes you through his 50 years in the sport, from the early days of training, the breakthroughs, the agonizing defeats and the great triumphs. You’ll learn why the three-sport star – baseball, basketball, and football – changed his focus to table tennis. You’ll experience his trips around the world, from being marched at gunpoint to achieving his boyhood dream of defeating the Chinese. But playing is only half his story. Danny, a long-time coach first in Pittsburgh and then in South Bend, Indiana, was the U.S. Olympic and World Team Coach for ten years, and was named the USOC Coach of the Year for Table Tennis three times. He...



Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 15:06
November 14, 2017

Tip of the Week
How to Play Doubles with a Much Stronger Player.

USATT Board of Directors Teleconference
The teleconference took place at 7PM last night, going until about 8:45PM. Attending were all nine members of the USATT Board of Directors, plus USATT CEO Gordon Kaye, USATT Chief Operating Officer Marc Thompson, High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio, USATT lawyer Dennis Taylor, John McFadden (representing the USATT Foundation), and USATT member Lee Kondo.

Meetings always start with a few formalities – roll call, welcome remarks from board chair Anne Cribbs, and a call for conflict of interest statements. There were none. Then we got to the approval of the minutes for the Sept. 10 in-person board meeting, and teleconferences on Oct. 9 and 19. I asked for a minor typo correction for the Oct. 9 minutes, and the addition of a clarifying sentence for the Oct. 19 minutes. There were no other calls for changes. Then we voted for each – I...




Monday, November 13, 2017 - 14:41
November 13, 2017

 

Day Off
Oh boy, do I need a day off. Friday was Veteran’s Day, a federal holiday, and my normal policy is to take those as holidays as well – but I simply forgot, and ended up doing the blog and working all day Friday. Then came the even busier weekend where I coached all day and night. And now, after staying up late to watch the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery, plus The Walking Dead, The Simpsons, and Family Guy – yeah, late Sunday night is my weekly “TV” night – I have all the energy of a broken ping-pong ball. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m normally blogging Mon-Fri, while coaching long hours on Sat & Sun (as well as during the week), so I normally don’t have any days off. So I’m taking today off. (It’s not a total day off – I have a few things on my “todo” list I need to get done today, plus we have our monthly USATT Board of Directors teleconference at 7PM – I’ll blog about that and other things tomorrow.)

Meanwhile, here’s video of “The Diving Point...




Friday, November 10, 2017 - 14:59
November 10, 2017



Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 15:09
November 9, 2017

The Non-Playing Arm
I’ve been harping on the left arm a lot with my students recently. (I really should say “non-playing arm,” but at the moment all my private students are righties.) I do almost all of my coaching on the same back table at the club, next to the table tennis robot, surrounded by posters on the wall of world-class players. Right behind me are three pictures of players (also righties) in various playing positions, but all of them with their left arm up for balance. So I’m regularly pointing to them in succession and saying, “Left arm. Left arm. Left arm.”

The problem is that you can sort of get away with not using the left arm in many drills – either static ones, where you aren’t moving (i.e. working on basics with beginners), and often in moving drills where you know where the ball is going and so don’t have to make sudden unexpected changes in direction. And so players will sometimes get lazy and let their left arm just hang there like a dead snake. (That’s what I regularly call it – “dead snake syndrome.”) Often the consequences of a limp non-playing arm...




Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 12:45
November 8, 2017

Visualizing the Serve
I think one of my most widely applicable Tips is A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact. This has come up a lot recently in my coaching, both private and group. After a serving practice session with our Talent Junior Program (our best juniors, ages 7-13, about 24 of them), I gave a short lecture on this.

Let’s face it – most players really aren’t aware of what they are doing when they serve. Sure, they know the more obvious parts, like contact, and perhaps how it bounces on the far side. But they aren’t really aware of how high or low they contact the ball, where it bounces on their side of the table, the curve of the ball, not even how high it is when it crosses the net. They tend to notice only what’s happening on the far side, while ignoring what led to what happens on the far side. Without knowing and controlling what happens throughout the serve, including on your side of the table, you can’t really control the serve.

Seriously, if you want to have good serves, you need to be aware of every part of the...




Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 14:28
November 7, 2017

Weekend Coaching and Coaching Correspondence
I was going to write about my weekend coaching yesterday, but then that thing about USA bidding for the Worlds came up, and, well, it was a tough call - what's more interesting, the World Championships or reading about Larry's coaching sessions? Of course you want to hear more about my coaching sessions, but I decided to save the best for later and write about the World’s first. 

As usual, I had three group sessions on Sunday. (I run two of them, help with the other.) In the Beginning Junior Class, Week 8, we introduced them to looping. Not world-class looping, not yet, but just easy spinning of a backspin ball on the forehand side. (We'll do backhand next Sunday.) About half the class was ready for this, while for others (mostly younger ones) we did more work on forehand, backhand, pushing, and footwork. We had 17 in the class, with four coaches.

In the Talent Junior Program, I fed a lot of multiball, much of it backspin so they too could work on looping, but now it was much more advanced players. I also spent time working with some of them on pushing. Two of the...




Monday, November 6, 2017 - 14:55
November 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Become Your Own Feedback.

Three Cities Bid for 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships - Including San Jose, USA
Here’s the ITTF article. Yes, San Jose, USA is bidding for the Worlds against Ekaterinburg (Russia), Busan (Korea Republic). USA has never run the World Championships, but from I think we have a really good chance at winning this one. (I’m refraining from making any Russia/Trump jokes, and from hinting of the dangers of running anything in the Korean peninsula at this time. Oh wait, I just did.) Here’s a quote from the article:

“The bid from San Jose means that the USA is in the running to host only the second ITTF World Championships to be held outside of Asia and Europe. The first and only time that happened was in 1939 when Cairo, Egypt were hosts.  It’s positive signs for the global rise of table tennis, especially in North America,...