Butterfly Online

TableTennisCoaching.com Home

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, January 30, 2015 - 15:02
January 30, 2015

Serving Combos

I was playing a match with one of my students recently and decided to test him on a bunch of serving combos. He knows my serves very well, so individually he has no problems with them. But when I throw certain combos at him, he (and most others) struggle with the second one. Below are ten of my favorite combos. All can be done as listed or by reversing the order. Some are mostly variations of others, so there's some overlap. I'm assuming both players are righties for this, but lefties can use similar variations.

Keep in mind that the more you do these serves, the better you get at them, at figuring out what combos work best against different players, and at following them up. For example, after a short serve to the forehand, I might serve long to the backhand (usually a serve that breaks to the right), anticipating a crosscourt return to my backhand. Since I've been doing this for decades, I've learned to read my opponent very quickly and see early on if I'm going to get the expected soft return to my backhand, and so I'll quickly move over and rip a forehand. But I'll also see quickly if he'...

Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 15:31
January 29, 2015

Short Blog Today

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a headache - a double whammy. My voice is hoarse and I think someone punched me all over my body while I was sleeping. I think I have a slight cold (yeah, lots of Kleenex), while the headache might be from late-night work and lack of sleep. I was going to write about yesterday's adventure (2.5 hours of coaching, meeting with USATT player rep Han Xiao on my Regional Associations proposal, snowball fights, and the power of chocolate brownies as incentive for juniors to work hard), but I think I'm going back to bed. But remain assured that even sleeping, I never stop thinking about USATT issues and ways to turn our sport into the greatest thing since sporks. (Someday perhaps I'll write about my ongoing contention with my students that the spork is humanity's greatest invention, better than their smart phones and even better than Tenergy, but not now.)

Peter Scudner New USATT Board Chair

USATT members should have received a press release from USATT this morning announcing Peter as the new chair. Here's the...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 15:09
January 28, 2015

Busy Day

I'm leaving to coach at 1PM, finishing at 7:15PM. It's going to be a long coaching day! (It's not all coaching; I have to pick up four kids from school for our afterschool program, and I have a meeting from 5-6PM.) Then, when I get home, I get to go to work on USATT and MDTTC stuff. Besides finalizing a Regional Association proposal for USATT (which includes state & regional associations, state championships, team leagues, and training centers & coaching programs), I have to put together the monthly MDTTC Newsletter.

Blogging Policy on USATT Issues

I'm putting together a "Blogging on USATT Issues" policy that I can use as a guideline for what and when I can blog about USATT issues, since I'm on the USATT board. (This is primarily a coaching blog, but I do of course blog about other issues, including USATT.) I'll share this with the USATT CEO for his input. (I also have to check the USATT bylaws for anything on this, as well as the Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest forms I signed to run for the board.) It's not just for me - others from USATT sometimes...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 13:54
January 27, 2015

Tables for Kids

One of the problems table tennis coaches face is that kids aren't really big enough to play table tennis on a regular table until they are about 6 or 7 years old. Before that the table is simply too high, often about shoulder height. Tennis had a similar problem in that their courts were too big for kids, who were expected to cover the same amount of ground as Roger Federer. They solved it with QuickStart Tennis (5:35). As a long-time tennis player on the side, I've actually helped with these tennis programs, where they often have a court full of kids in the 3-5 year old range. There's no reason why table tennis can't also start in that age range - except for the size of the table. In fact, with smaller rackets and courts, table tennis should be easier than tennis for these kids!

Sean O'Neill has been a strong advocate for shorter tables for younger kids. He argues that shorter tables is both good for very younger players (such as the 3-5 age group) as well as for slightly older ones (such as under 10), where the height of the normal table...

Monday, January 26, 2015 - 15:12
January 26, 2015

Tip of the Week

Play the Ball.

Writing Sabbatical

A week ago I wrote that I was taking the week off to work on my new book, "Parents Guide to Table Tennis." But a funny thing happened along the way - I got caught up in a number of USATT issues. The net result was I got a lot of stuff done, but only a little on the book, which I'm putting on hold for now. I've come to realize that I probably won't get much writing done over the next four years (my term on the board), other than this blog and the Tips of the Week, and some fiction writing.

There's a lot of USATT stuff going on, but my focus right now is regional associations, which include setting up state championships, regional team leagues, and training centers (which include coaching and junior programs).

However, I did get some writing done - in a fit of energy and inspiration, I did a lot of work on my new table tennis fantasy novel, now tentatively titled "The Spirit of Pong." It's about a mid-level U.S. player who goes to China to learn the...

Monday, January 19, 2015 - 14:42
January 19, 2015

Writing Sabbatical This Week

As I wrote on Friday week, I'm taking a writing sabbatical this week, so this will be my last blog until Monday, January 26. I plan to write "Parents Guide to Table Tennis," and if I have time after that, work on my table tennis fantasy novel "The Paddle of Pong." It's going to be a busy week. Besides all the writing and the usual coaching, there's a bunch of USATT stuff going on, including a USATT board teleconference on Wednesday night. Tonight (Monday night) I'm doing an exhibition at SmashTT at 8:30PM (come join us!), after which we're having a meeting of the Capital Area Super League Organizing Committee. On Saturday night I'm helping with a fund-raiser for Cystic Fibrosis at MDTTC, where I'll be doing an exhibition and clinic with Sameer Shaikh, and helping run a recreational tournament. (The tournament is NOT...

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 15:03
January 16, 2015

Writing Sabbatical Next Week

[NOTE - I'll have one more blog and tip on Monday (Jan. 19), and then start my writing sabbatical.]
As I wrote earlier this week, I'm taking a writing sabbatical next week, so this will likely be my last blog until Monday, January 26. (However, I'm thinking of doing one more on Monday, which I'd put together Sunday night - including the Tip of the Week - so check back Monday morning just in case.) I plan to write "Parents Guide to Table Tennis," and if I have time after that, work on my table tennis fantasy novel "The Paddle of Pong." It's going to be a busy week. Besides all the writing and the usual coaching, there's a bunch of USATT stuff going on, including a USATT board teleconference on Wednesday night. The current focus is the upcoming committee appointments - see below.

USATT Board Seeks Nominations for Committee Appointments

Here's the notice from USATT - you likely...

Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 15:17
January 15, 2015

Multiball Training

Have you done any multiball training recently? No? Well, why not? Don't you want to get better?

There are some myths about multiball training. Some believe it's only for beginners - and yet the Chinese team spends about 1/3 of their training time with multiball. Some think it's only for advanced players - but multiball is the best way to teach the basics. It's for all levels. Ironically, often beginners do multiball when they first learn, and advanced players do it for more intensive training, while intermediates don't do it - and it's one reason they stay intermediate players rather than advanced. It takes intensive training to become an advanced player, and multiball is one of the central ways of doing that.

Before we go further, here's my Tip of the Week on Multiball Training.

So how do you go about doing this if you don't have a coach, or can't afford one? Simple - find a practice partner - like anyone who wants to improve in table tennis - and take turns feeding multiball to each other. Yes, you'...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - 15:09
January 14, 2015

USATT Coaches of the Year

Here's the USATT Announcement. Congratulations to:

  • Coach of the Year: Lily Yip
  • Developmental Coach of the Year: Jack Huang
  • Paralympic Coach of the Year: Ladislav Sranko
  • Doc Counsilman Coach of the Year: Yang Yu

Jack Huang (from my club, MDTTC) won for Developmental Coach of the Year. (He won it primarily as Crystal Wang's coach, but also for others, such as Tiffany Ke and other MDTTC players.) It's his second USATT coaching award - he was Coach of the Year in 1998. (And now you know the answer to the burning question from my January 2 blog - see the Friday "Todo" list, item #15, where I wrote, "Write up Coach of the Year nomination for someone (who shall remain nameless for now)."

These awards are often the only time the top USA coaches get...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - 14:43
January 13, 2015

Capital Area Super League

Interest in the Capital Area Super League seems pretty high, with lots of players discussing it at MDTTC and (I'm told) other clubs. Of course the main obstacle for something like this is that it's "new," i.e. something that hasn't been done much in the U.S., though it's the backbone of European table tennis, where they often count memberships in the hundreds of thousands. I envision team leagues like this all over the country. The people who don't see this are the same ones who eight years ago didn't think there were enough players in the U.S. to support full-time training centers. Just as full-time centers created their own base of players, team leagues will do the same, once organized and given the chance. It'll take time - but it has to start somewhere. As I've blogged repeatedly, we need a prototype regional team league that can be copied all over the country, and that's one of the things I hope to do here - in addition to just having a highly successful league. If you live in the Washington DC area, I hope you will sign up...