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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

Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 14:46
July 23, 2015

Last Blog Until Tuesday, August 4, and the Capital Area Team League

I'm going on vacation! When most people go on vacation, that means the beach, camping, an amusement park, or something like that. Me? I go to an annual science fiction & fantasy writing workshop in Manchester, NH – The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO). It's for graduates of the six-week Odyssey Writing Workshop – I went in 2006. This will be my sixth TNEO. I leave very early on Friday morning. (On a side note, I hurt my shoulder in a coaching session yesterday and had to have Coach Raghu substitute the rest of that session, and I'm taking today off as well, so maybe I need the rest.)

And if you live in the Capital area (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia), don't miss the Capital Area Team League segment below – deadline to enter the Fall season is July 31.

Status Report

This seems like a good time to give a status report on all the things I promised...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 14:50
July 22, 2015

Ogi: The Life of Ichiro Ogimura by Mitsuru Jojima, translated to English by John Senior

I recently read the English translation of this book, which covers the life of perhaps the most influential person in table tennis history. Suffice to say it was a fascinating read. (It was also a great resource for my own table tennis fantasy novel, The Spirit of Pong, which features two chapters where the wannabe American trains with the spirit of Ogimura.)

Ichiro Ogimura of Japan was perhaps the most driven table tennis player in history, and then he became perhaps the most driven coach and then most driven ITTF official in history. He started late, at age 16, but was so single-minded in his training that by age 22 he won the first of his two Men's Singles titles at the Worlds (1954 and 1956). He also won Men's Doubles twice, Mixed Doubles three times, and led Japan to five straight World Men's Team titles. The book chronicles this and everything else about him in great detail,...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 14:15
July 21, 2015

USATT Board Teleconference

The USATT Board of Directors had a teleconference last night, starting at 7PM Eastern Time and lasting about 70 minutes. As one of the at-large members, I was on the call. Alas, only five of the nine board members were able to make the call – me, Peter Scudner, Anne Cribbs, Ed Hogshead, and Kagin Lee. But five of nine is a quorum, and so the meeting went as scheduled.

I spent perhaps an hour preparing for the meeting – going over the draft of the minutes of the previous meeting and suggested changes, and going over the budget figures from the Audit Committee Report. All looked fine. However, the real time-taker were a pair of two-hour phone calls, one before and one after the teleconference. One was with another USATT official where went over everything about USATT; the other was a more local call about everything about MDTTC, the club I coach at. So basically everything that could possibly be of importance to anyone was discussed on those phone calls. And I still...

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 14:11
July 20, 2015

Tip of the Week

The Tricky Side of Table Tennis.

Get to the Root of the Problem

One of the things that always exasperates me is coaches or players who try to fix problems by fixing the symptoms. In many ways, this is what separates a good, experienced coach from, say, a top player who knows proper technique but isn't that experienced in coaching it. When you've coached over 35 years (yikes, that's me!), and pay attention, you learn all sorts of things.

Here's an example. Recently I've coached several players who tend to fall back as they loop forehands. The "simple" solution, of course, is to tell them to focus on rotating around and forward into the ball, i.e. "don't fall back." And I've seen coaches try this many times, and it doesn't work – because they are treating a symptom of a problem rather than the root of the problem. The real question is why is the player falling backwards – and the answer almost every time is that he's too far from the...

Friday, July 17, 2015 - 13:55
July 17, 2015

Hidden Serves, and a Contest

As I've blogged a number of times, cheating is rampant in our sport when it comes to serving. At the higher levels, over half of matches involve a player hiding his serve, i.e. cheating. Here's what I wrote about this two days ago, after the U.S. Open:

"Once again I came away from a major tournament disgusted at all the cheating – in particular, players hiding serves. Why do they do it? Because it helps them win and they get away with it. They may fool the umpires, who aren't sure if the serve is hidden (which is synonymous with saying the serve is illegal, but that's the least enforced rule in table tennis), but they don't fool coaches and experienced players, who know who the cheaters are. It's common at the world-class level, of course, but that was also true of, say, steroids. Does that mean we should copy those who cheat? I have no objection to someone hiding their serve if their opponent does it first and the umpire doesn't call it. It's the ones who do it first, with the sole intent of winning by cheating, that disgusts me. A player I coached lost...

Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 13:53
July 16, 2015

Forehand Pendulum Serves

There are four primary reasons the forehand pendulum serve is by far the most popular serve among top players.

First, it's easy to hide contact (illegally) – I've blogged about this a number of times, and won't go into that here. (The solution? As I've proposed, require that the ball be visible throughout the serve to the opponent – as is currently required – and the entire net and its upward extension. The net posts are considered part of the net.)

Second, it's very easy to produce great spin and variation with the serve.

Third, every generation of up-and-coming players copies the previous generation of top players, and since the forehand pendulum serve was the most popular serve among the previous generation, the new generation copies it.

Fourth, it allows players the option of doing a reverse pendulum serve, which gives the opposite sidespin. You can also do this sidespin with other serving motions, such as backhand or tomahawk serves, but when you do that you are pretty much announcing to your opponent which type of sidespin you will be using. (You can...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 13:57
July 15, 2015

Tip of the Week

Change, and the Definition of Insanity. (Originally I was going to skip this week, but this Tip just jumped into my head, and so I wrote it.)

US Open

As usual, it was a busy week at the US Open, July 6-11 in Las Vegas. I spent my time coaching MDTTC players, but can't go into details on that – opponents might be reading this! Here's a rundown.

  • Let's start by thanking all the volunteers who helped run the US Open. They include both the volunteers who did the work of running it, and the officials who officiated. Here's a group picture of the US Open Officials (Referees and Umpires). Let's also thank the USATT staff for their hard work on this.
  • In nearly every way, this was one of the best-run US Opens ever. (I may blog more later...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 15:15
July 14, 2015

US Open

I just got back on Sunday from the US Open, and my todo list is now roughly one googol long. I was up nearly all night working on various table tennis projects, and this morning things keep coming up. (Plus I have to leave to coach shortly.) So this'll be a short blog, except for the links below, which are the best of the best from the last twelve days since my last blog before the US Open. (I'll start up with Tips of the Week again next Monday. I changed my mind - I'll have a new one tomorrow morning.) I'll blog about the US Open a bit tomorrow. Here are results, and here's a US Open Review, and here's USATT coverage:

Friday, July 3, 2015 - 13:59
July 3, 2015

Last Blog Until Tuesday, July 14 (after U.S. Open)

I'm off to the U.S. Open this Sunday, where I'll be coaching and maybe vacationing when I have time. As usual, I don't blog when I'm at major tournaments, so this'll be my last blog until afterwards.

I urge you to browse over the links in yesterday's blog (Thursday, July 2), if you haven't already. Why? I was sick all last week, and so didn't blog from Friday until Thursday – meaning yesterday's blog was packed with links to coaching articles and other items. But it is today's blog that'll be the front page for the next eleven days, and so it'll be seen and read by far more people. (My Friday blogs, which are read Fri-Sun, typically get twice as many reads as my other blogs.) Yesterday's blog had four coaching articles (by Han Xiao, Richard McAfee, Ben Larcombe, and Samson Dubina), plus seven coaching videos (including four "Ask the Coach" from PingSkills...

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 13:59
July 2, 2015

Our (okay, My) Long National Nightmare is Over

I jumped the gun yesterday in trying to coach all day at the MDTTC camp. When I went in I was still tired, and my voice still slightly hoarse. When I came out I was tired ^100th power, and my voice was back to a croaking whisper. Note to self: After spending four days lying in bed feverishly sick, it's not good to go straight to six hours of coaching. (As noted previously, I had a suspiciously simple-sounding sinus infection, but that came off as bad or worse than the flu.) 

I've been on the following medications. They are:

  • Antibiotics: Amoxicillan and Clavulanate Potassium Tablets
  • Guaifenesin AC Syrup (for cough)
  • Eye drops: Gentamicin Opth Solution
  • NightQuil. I was taking DayQuil as well but the doctor said it wouldn't really help, but thought the NightQuil would.
  • Lots and lots of liquids, on doctor's orders.

Today I'm only doing the afternoon session, 3-6PM. This works out well as it gave me plenty of time to do the blog and other things. (Next on list of things I...