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

 Photo by Donna Sakai

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 2, 2015 - 13:56
October 2, 2015

Thinking About Blocking – a No-No

On Wednesday night I was coaching a junior player with a pretty strong forehand loop. Early in our session we warmed up with his crosscourt loop to my forehand block, where I'm normally very steady. I was blocking to his wide forehand and middle, as he moved side to side. All was well at first, but then I made a few mistakes. So I focused on my forehand block, trying to get the right technique. Instead, I made more mistakes. I'm supposed to be steady in these drills, and yet I was suddenly missing way too many blocks. These were not "easy" blocks, as he does loop hard, but I've been blocking these shots for nearly 40 years, and it's normally second nature. (The key phrase here: second nature.)

I started analyzing my block, trying to find the problem. The more I examined it, the worse it got. The technique was right, so that wasn't the problem. But something was wrong.

I think some readers already know the problem, worthy of a D'oh. Because I was thinking about the shot, without knowing it I was...

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 13:40
October 1, 2015

Playing Bag Content – What's in Your Bag?

I recently wrote about how I thought I might have gotten slightly injured from carrying around my way-too-heavy playing bag. I probably carry more stuff around than most. So, let's take an inventory of what's in my bag. Everything in it, of course, is an absolute must, right? Well, let's see.

I use a Butterfly Linestream Bag, black & blue version, which (alas) seems to be discontinued. (But it's similar to the Casio II Sport Bag.) Besides the large bag area, there are large compartments on each side, another along the long side, and two small pouches on each end.

Here's a picture of the complete contents of my bag, on my sofa. (This is the historical sofa that USATT Historian Tim Boggan sleeps on during his annual two-week stays at my house to do the sixteen volumes – so far - of his...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 14:20
September 30, 2015

Proposal on Boosting: "Racket Testing Rule"
(Here's the online version.)
[NOTE – I sent this to the USATT Rules Committee on Monday, Sept. 28. I blogged about this issue on Aug. 18, 2015. Here's an article from Matt Hetherington, Should ITTF Legalize Boosting?]

Dear USATT Rules Committee,

Boosting (and tuning, which is similar) is currently illegal due to rule 2.4.7, which says, "The racket covering shall be used without physical, chemical or other treatment." However, since boosting is not picked up under current racket testing procedures (and I'm told would very expensive to create equipment sensitive enough to do so), we are stuck with an unenforceable rule where we just hope that players aren't taking advantage of this.

What exactly is boosting? Boosting is where you apply an oil such as...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 14:11
September 29, 2015

Team Leagues

As I've blogged before, team leagues is how European table tennis became big, with 600,000 players in Germany and a number of other countries with memberships over 100,000. (The same is true of most other sports with big memberships.) Once you play on a team you want to do it over and over – and that leads to lots of activity and large memberships. I'm planning this fall to develop a proto-type team league that can spread to other regions, using my experiences here in the Capital Area Team League (Maryland, Virginia, DC), what I've learned from successful leagues in other regions like LA and NY, and from overseas leagues. And so it was with great excitement that we started the second season of the CATL. Here's my write-up.

Capital Area Team League

The Capital Area Team League fall season got off to a great start on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 5-10PM, in the first of six monthly league nights. All twelve teams in the league competed that night at the Maryland Table...

Monday, September 28, 2015 - 14:14
September 28, 2015

Tip of the Week

Watch the Top Players Before a Tournament or Big Match.

The Spirit of Pong: First Two Chapters Online

Here are the first two chapters of my 100-page table tennis fantasy novel, which you can read for FREE. If you like them, then you can buy the whole novel at Amazon ($7 print or $6 kindle). Here's a description of the novel:

Andy "Shoes" Blue wants to be a table tennis champion, but he’s just another wannabe American. And so he goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. He is trained by the mysterious Coach Wang, and begins an odyssey where he learns the secrets of table tennis from the spirits of Ichiro Ogimura (who helped spawn China’s greatness), Rong Guotuan (China’s first world champion in 1959, whose tragic story Andy must relive), and others, and must face the mysterious "Dragon." Can he...

Friday, September 25, 2015 - 14:01
September 25, 2015

Net Visibility Rule

Here is the Net Visibility Rule Proposal, my proposal to solve the hidden serve problem in table tennis. I sent it to the USATT Rules Committee yesterday morning. If they approve it, then they would submit it to the ITTF by Nov. 1, for consideration at the next ITTF meeting at the World Championships in May, 2016. Here's the $100,000 question to ask yourself: Are we better off with this new rule, or with the current untenable situation? (Here's my September 18 blog on hidden serves.)

One thing that's become obvious is the different outlook from those who actually try out the proposal, and those who don't. I've had dozens of people test it, where I'd barely hide the ball from a receiver, and then have them judge it from both sides where the umpires would sit. All said that any ball I tried to hide from a receiver was clearly hidden from at least one net post. To those who have read my blogs about this proposal and reached a conclusion, I hope you will...

Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 09:42
September 24, 2015

Chess and Table Tennis - Seven Facts that "Pawn Sacrifice" Got Right

Here's the article – see #5, "Chess in the Ping Pong Room." Pawn Sacrifice goes out for wide release on Friday, with advance showings today. I'm looking forward to seeing it, about the life of chess champion Bobby Fischer (who was at least borderline insane). The movie focuses on his famous and controversial world championship match in 1972 with Boris Spassky – which I remember following very closely when I was 12 years old. I was for a time a serious chess player, but haven't played seriously since I was 20. I still remember playing Queens Gambit, French Defense, etc., even if I no longer remember the moves!

  • Here are two pictures of Bobby Fischer playing table tennis:...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 13:18
September 23, 2015

Today is Yom Kippur, a major Jewish holiday. I'm not Jewish, but the local schools celebrate it and are closed today. If the kids I coach get the day off, so do I! So no blog today. But to tide you over, here's a repeating gif image of a cat at the net as two players play. Either that or this one of minions playing table tennis should be on your club's home page. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - 14:06
September 22, 2015

USATT Rating Inflation

I blogged about this back on June 19, 2014. The subject came up last night during the USATT Teleconference, where we were discussing creating USATT leagues that would be processed with regular USATT ratings, rather than the separate USATT league ratings that are currently used in many leagues. The question was whether we needed to use adjustments. I explained why the rating system would actually deflate without adjustments, but that in the past we've had the adjustments too high, which led to inflation. I've experienced this in the leagues I've run or been involved with, where over and over we've seen the ratings deflate, leading to us putting in an adjustment factor. (At MDTTC, we give bonus points for winning your group.)

Until now, I've always assumed my analysis of this was my own from about 15 years or so ago, and didn't realize anyone else had studied this. (I have a bachelor's in math, and if not for table tennis might have become a math professor…) Here's how I explained it back then....

Monday, September 21, 2015 - 14:13
September 21, 2015

Tip of the Week

Recover from the Previous Shot.

MDTTC and USATT Activities

Lots of stuff going on right now. Here's a quick rundown.

We've finalized the teams and schedule for the new season of the Capital Area Team League. I'm on the organizing committee as webmaster, along with Commissioner Stafano Ratti, Treasurer John Olsen, and Publicist Richard Heo. Play begins this Saturday.

On Thursday and Sunday I ran the first meetings of the Fall junior programs I run at MDTTC. We have twelve new juniors, ranging in age from 5 to 13. We focused on grip, stance, ball-bouncing, and the forehand. Next up: the backhand and serving. On Sunday we also had a staff meeting to discuss upcoming plans for the programs.

On Sunday we had the first meeting of the new "Talent Development Program" at MDTTC, where ten of our best kids in the 7-9 age group met and trained, with five coaches – yes, a 2-1 ratio. We may have...