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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, December 2, 2016 - 15:03
December 2, 2016

Last Blog Until Wednesday, December 28
I'm going out of town almost continuously for the next three weeks. Here's my upcoming schedule.

  • Dec. 4-9: Science Fiction Writer's Workshop Cruise in Bahamas (sort of a working vacation)
  • Dec. 10-18: U.S. Open and USATT Board Meetings in Las Vegas
  • Dec. 20-25: Christmas in Eugene, Oregon
  • Dec. 26-31: MDTTC Christmas Camp in Maryland

USA Youth Team – Selections or Trials? – and the Missing Link
One of the interesting things about being on the USATT Board of Directors is that you hear all sorts of perspectives. Often there are "huge" controversies that go on and on, that few members of USATT actual even know about. The current example is the 2017-18 Youth National Team Trials Procedures Draft for Public Comment. We've received dozens of emails from concerned parents on this, and right now it's perhaps the biggest...




Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 15:24
December 1, 2016

Boosting – No, Nobody's Doing It. Move Along. Nothing to See.
What brought this up now? They are openly discussing boosting at Mytabletennis.com right now – yes, right out in the open, they are talking about CHEATING!!! But no, it's not really happening. It's all imaginary. The numerous top players I've seen boosting before people began to complain didn't really boost, and when faced with opponents who strangely get more speed and spin on their shots than would seem possible from their strokes, it's all wizard stuff, not undetectable boosting. Magic.

I've blogged many times about how cheating is prevalent in our sport, both with illegal serves and boosting. Players blatantly hide their serves, but umpires and referees simply won't enforce the rules on this, and so to compete on an even basis at the higher levels you also have to serve illegally – it's sickening to me, but far too many others in authority positions prefer to look the other way. (I've blogged about illegal hidden serves many times, such...




Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 14:21
November 30, 2016

Breakability, Playability, and Financiability of Plastic Balls
There are regular complaints about how the new plastic balls (which aren't so new anymore) break more easily than celluloid ones. Someone posted a note about this last night, and I responded as follows, about my experiences at the North America Teams – with the "breaking point" observation.

Most of the new plastic balls break more often than the celluloid ones. All you can do is call a let when it happens. One thing I noticed - I coached junior teams where the players were mostly 8-10 years old, and I don't remember them breaking a single ball. But I kept hearing from others, like you, that the balls kept breaking. Adults smash harder, and there's apparently a "breaking point" speed where they break too often.

Most of them also don't play as well as celluloid, though some of them are pretty good. There's going to be a titanic struggle at some point between the forces of seamed and unseamed balls – I'm guessing that eventually it'll be one or the other.

There are always going to be suspicions that the switch...




Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 14:59
November 29, 2016

Tip of the Week
Follow the Elbow.

North American Teams
I spent the weekend coaching at the JOOLA North American Teams. (Here are complete results.) As noted in my blog last week, I always have this conflict as I'm sponsored by Butterfly, which runs the Butterfly Teams the same weekend, but the JOOLA Teams are practically next door, and my students play there. So that's where I coach. 

As usual, since I was busy coaching MDTTC junior teams on the back tables, I didn't see many of the big matches. During the Division One Finals I was watching the Division Ten Final. Note I said watching, not coaching? That's because it was between MDTTC/HWGF1 and MDTTC/HWGF2! Yes, an all MDTTC final. (HWGF stands for HW Global Foundation, which sponsors and runs the Talent Program at MDTTC, which is mostly kids from around 7 to 11. Contact them if you are interested in such a program at your...




Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 14:22
November 23, 2016

Next Blog – Tuesday, Nov. 29
I'll be eating Meleagris on Thursday, coaching at the Teams Fri-Sun, and exhausted in bed on Monday. See you Tuesday!

Coaching at the Teams
On Fri-Sun I'll be at the JOOLA North American Teams, coaching one of the junior teams from the Maryland Table Tennis Center. It's a rather big job, herding the kids to the right table, warming them up, getting the match slips filled out, scouting opponents, coaching matches, consoling tearful kids after a loss, and making sure they eat and drink properly. Fortunately, most of the kids are now "old pros," having played numerous tournaments.

It's a tough decision for many of us each year – JOOLA North American Teams in DC, or Butterfly Teams in Philadelphia? It's unfortunate they are on the same weekend, and only 2.5 hours apart, but both want the Thanksgiving weekend. For me, it's an especially uncomfortable choice, since I'm sponsored by Butterfly, but the North American Teams are practically in my back yard. Since the players I coach are playing there, I'll be coaching at the JOOLA North American...




Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 13:18
November 22, 2016

Sixteen and Training Again . . . with Christer Johansson
The year was 1976, I was 16, and I'd just finished a week of hard training at the Monty Merchant Christmas Training Camp. On the last day I got a surprise – Monty had been so impressed with my skills that he'd arranged for Christer Johansson, the great Swedish coach, to fly to the U.S. to take personal charge of my training.

The preceding never happened – or did it? Let me tell the story in order.

I'm in my room, shadow-practicing my forehand, when Monty and Christer walk in. Monty introduces us, then Christer takes charge. Tells me I need to focus on looping from both sides. On the forehand, I was both hitting and looping; he assures me that the future is looping, and to focus on that.

But then we get to my backhand. "You must loop your backhand," he says. He guides me through the stroke as he wants me to do it, and I begin to shadow practice it.

"It's easy to do in practice," I vividly remember telling him, "but hard to do it in games."

"But you must do it in games," he says. We're still in...




Monday, November 21, 2016 - 14:59
November 21, 2016

Tip of the Week
Getting "In the Zone" by Adapting to Your Opponent.

Car Pong!
Yesterday, while driving home from coaching at the club, I suddenly heard a rattling. It seemed to be coming from below, as if something were lose under the car. (And yes, this is all table tennis related – you'll see!) I finally pulled over and looked, but couldn't find anything. So I got back in, and there was more rattling. Something was wrong with my car!!! I debated whether to take it to a gas station, but it was around 8:30PM and I doubted there'd be anyone there to help. So I decided I'd have to take it somewhere in the morning. It meant skipping this morning's blog, since those who come in later in the morning have to wait for them to finish on the ones that came in earlier, and I'd need the car later this afternoon when I go to coach.

After I got home, I checked under the car one more time, but couldn't find the problem. Sighing, I went to the trunk to get my playing bag and a big metal cartoon of food I'd gotten...




Friday, November 18, 2016 - 15:00
November 18, 2016

Pro TT Leagues
One thing I've been harping on for a number of years is how we keep losing our top juniors right as they are on the verge of being world-class players – they go to college. The horror!!! But from a table tennis point of view, it'd be nice if we had a professional league of some sort in the U.S. so these players could postpone college a few years and develop their game to the fullest. It'll be on the agenda at the USATT Board meeting at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.

As I've blogged about before, never in our history have we had such a strong group of cadets and juniors – and it's not even close. Our best ones can now compete with the best in the world, something that was almost unheard of in the past, plus there's the depth is far beyond anything we've had in the past. (How is this happening? The growth of full-time training centers.)

So how do we set up such a pro league in time for this generation of up-and-coming superstars? I see three options:

  1. USATT develops such a pro league. It would most likely be a team league, where clubs buy franchises, and...



Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 14:55
November 17, 2016

Ten Things That Require Zero Talent
On Monday I linked to the list Ten Things That Require Zero Talent. The point is that even if you have little talent – whatever talent is – you can still make the most of what you have, and these ten things will, in the long run, almost always overcome talent. (Unless, of course, the "talented" one also does these ten things to a very high degree.) Here's the actual list:

  1. Being on time
  2. Work ethic
  3. Effort
  4. Body language
  5. Energy
  6. Attitude
  7. Passion
  8. Being coachable
  9. Doing extra
  10. Being prepared

I can't help but think the list is somewhat redundant. You really should do all ten, but in reality, #7 (Passion) leads to #6 (Attitude), which leads to the other eight. Now it's possible to have a good Attitude without the Passion, but that does make it more difficult. (A person working a menial job may not have passion for the job, but can still have a good attitude about it.) But a good Attitude...




Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 14:59
November 16, 2016

Miscellaneous Stuff
I think I've been fighting a minor cold the last few days. This morning I woke up with my head feeling like it was full of cotton, a minor background headache that won't go away, sniffles, and a general feeling of "I should be in bed." Today's a slow day for me - I only have one hour of coaching today - so I should be able to do that. I'm also going to try to get some writing done.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post came in yesterday for the follow-up to their previous visit. This time they had both a writer and a photographer, who took pictures for three hours. So far they have interviewed me, Cheng Yinghua (the focus of the story, along with MDTTC), Jack Huang, Ryan Dabbs, Tiffany Ke, and Lisa Lin. They took many pictures yesterday of these players and coaches, plus lots of shots of 8-year-old Stanley Hsu (about 1350) smacking balls against Cheng. The article will most likely come out next week.

I had a great 90-minute session with Daniel Sofer, recently turned 12, and told him afterwards that if he trained like that all the time, he'd soon be battling with the best players his age in the...