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 1PM, 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

Tip of the Week
The Grinding Mentality - How to Play It and Against It.

Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt
My book on this is out!!! Some of you may remember I did a seven-week tour of Europe and Egypt last Fall, Aug. 13 - Sept. 28. It wasn't a table tennis tour, though table tennis came up a number of times. I visited ITTF Headquarters in Switzerland (there's a picture of me there), wore my "T-Rex Playing Table Tennis" hat everywhere, found some TT places in Berlin, and was recognized by a table tennis player at Stonehenge. 

The full title is, "Larry's Adventures in Europe and Egypt: Seven Weeks Following Tour Guides with Little Flags and Funny Hats, and the Quest for the Elusive Dr Pepper." There's a lot of humor, including my often futile search for Dr Pepper in Europe. The book is 180 pages, with 253 pictures, in full color.

I saw Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, Normandy Beaches, the Louvre and the Mona Lisa, Catacombs of Paris, Palace of Versailles, Eiffel Tower, the Alps, Venice, Florence, Siena, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Ancient Rome and Greece, the Sistine Chapel, Pompeii, Checkpoint Charlie, Auschwitz, Great Pyramids, Great Sphinx, and countless other sites, including a plethora of ancient castles, cathedrals, and more museums than I knew existed.

I visited Portugal, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City (yeah, that’s a country), Germany, Poland, Hungary, Greece, and Egypt.

I toured Lisbon, Dublin, London, Paris, Lausanne, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Siena, Rome, Vatican City, Pompeii, Naples, Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Athens, and Cairo.

Tip of the Week
Analyze an Unorthodox Style from the Opponent's Point of View.

The First Pong
Here it is! It's my contribution to World Table Tennis At Home Day (see segment below), with apologies to Leonardo da Vinci, Umpire Jesus, and Biblical table tennis stars Bartholomew and Simon. (Here's the original.)

Coaches Training and Certification
The ITTF is revising its coaching accreditation system. (See segment below.) It's been rather successful in terms of numbers, with over 650 courses taught since it started in 2004, and over 6000 coaches certified, including me. (I also certified 14 coaches when I taught one of their courses.) I've blogged before about several problems with the system, from my experience in going through the first two levels and teaching the first level. I think it's a potentially great system, but there are at least three things that need to be fixed, and that should be addressed in any future system.

First, the English version of the advanced training manual is poorly written and edited. I'm not sure how much of this is from the original or the translation, but there are parts that leave you scratching your head. I think the content itself, once you figure out what is being said, is generally good.

Tip of the Week
Tactics at the End of a Close Game.

Larry Hodges TT Academy Opens on Wednesday - Only Coronavirus-Safe Center in the World
=>(EDIT - After two days of fun, I've added certain bolds below.)
And now it can be told! This Wednesday I will be opening the Larry Hodges TT Academy. Its
purpose is to allow players from around the world to train during these pandemic times. I've
reached out to countries all over the world, and starting Wednesday, the national teams from
Italy, Germany, China, Japan, Korea, Vatican City, Canada, and USA will start training at the
Larry Hodges TT Academy. It's the only truly safe place in the world for them to do so.

For health purposes, there will be a number of rules followed. Players must always maintain an
obligatory nine-foot separation, the length of a ping-pong table. There will be a cleaning service
on hand at all times, constantly cleaning the tables and balls with Mr. Clean's new coronavirus
liquid sanitizer. Players will wear gloves and masks at all times while playing. We will stress
safety at all times. Instead of handshakes or fist bumps, we will do paddle high-fives.

Tip of the Week
Ten Table Tennis Truisms: Larry's Laws.

BREAKING NEWS - Olympics Postponed (Apparently)
Literally as I was about to post this, the following came up: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Will Be Postponed Due to Coronavirus, Says IOC's Dick Pound. So apparently the Olympics will apparently be postponed until 2021. Here's the original article from USA Today, though you may have to turn off your ad blockers to see it. "The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, likely until 2021, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told Christine Brennan of USA Today." Pound says, "On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know." However, let's wait for the official announcement from the IOC. (I've already got a flight and housing in Tokyo - I was going to do coverage for USATT and USOPC.) 

Tip of the Week
Practice Attacking the Middle in Rote Drills.

<Start Coronavirus Section>
CORONAVIRUS, CORONAVIRUS, CORONAVIRUS!!!

Everywhere you turn, all we hear is "Coronavirus, Coronavirus, Coronavirus!" It's like this Brady Bunch clip. So we'll start off with an entire section just on coronavirus items. As to me, I'm so used to going out to local restaurants in the afternoon where I combine lunch and 3-4 hours of writing-related work that I'm not sure what to do. Yesterday I finally ventured out and spent two hours at a Wendy's - but is this appropriate in the Age of Coronavirus?

Why the Coronavirus Hates Table Tennis
Here's the cartoon by yours truly! (Yeah, that's me, at the 1983 Pan Am Trials, age 23, where I made the Final 16. Thirty-seven years ago. Wow. Photo by Donna Sakai.) Also, a reminder that Coronavirus is an anagram of Carnivorous! (I think I was the first person- in the world? - to notice that when I put it in my blog last week. They are coming for us!!!)

USATT Announcements on Coronavirus
They've been busy. We also had to postpone the Regional Hopes Camp and Tournament that was supposed to be held at my club, MDTTC, this past weekend.

Tip of the Week
Proper Forehand Technique - Circling and From Side.

The Height of a High-Toss Serve
The question that has plagued the world for many centuries is just how high you should toss a high-toss serve. After all, the higher you toss it, the faster it'll be traveling when you contact it, giving you more spin, right? 

Actually, not really. Due to air resistance, any falling object in an atmosphere has a terminal velocity, but it varies based on its mass, cross-sectional area, drag co-efficient, air density, and gravity. For example, a little Googling tells us that a human body reaches terminal velocity in around 12 seconds - about 200 mph if falling feet- or head-first, about 125 mph if falling stomach- or back-first, with arms and legs spread out to maximize air resistance.

But how about a ping-pong ball? I found this online Terminal Velocity Calculator. For a ping-pong ball, the mass is 2.7 grams. The cross-section area is easy to calculate - it's the area of a circle with the diameter of a ping-pong ball, 40mm. Since A=Πr^2, and with radius 20mm, the cross-section area is about 1256.6 m^2. Some Googling found that the drag co-efficient for a sphere is about 0.5. Plugging these in, and using Earth's gravity and air density at sea level, we find that the terminal velocity of a ping-pong ball is about 18.55 mph.

But this doesn't tell us how high we have to throw the ball to get this maximum velocity. So I turned to my brother, Dr. Steven Hodges, a physicist and non-TT player (but great sailor!). He created this Excel file that does it for us.

Tip of the Week
Drill the Fundamentals and the Specifics.

Santa Monica and the US Olympic Trials
I spent the last five days here in Santa Monica, California, doing coverage of the US Olympic Trials - 16 articles in all. See links below or visit the USATT News page. I flew in last Monday night (Feb. 24), and did sightseeing in LA and Hollywood for two days, did four days of coverage, and now I've got two more days of sightseeing before I fly home Tuesday night on an 11PM flight. So far I've visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica Pier, Hard Rock Café, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Guinness Book of Records, Hollywood Wax Museum, La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and did the Paramount Pictures tour. Today I'm visiting the LA Zoo and the Natural History Museum of LA County. Tuesday I'm taking the Universal Studios tour and theme park.

Had a great four days working with the USATT and US Trials Staff, the players, and with master photographer Bruce Liu! Here's a picture of us at work (here's the non-Facebook version) - but if he's in the picture, who's taking the picture? (Thank you, Kathleen!)

So just a short blog today. I'll be back next Monday. But here are direct links to all 16 of the articles I wrote on the Trials - find out who made the US Olympic Team! Plus a few items below that.

Tip of the Week
Fundamental versus Creative Tactics.

US Olympic Trials
Here's the home page for the event, which is Feb. 27 - March 1, in Santa Monica, CA (near Los Angeles and Hollywood). It includes the event Prospective (essentially the entry form, with rules and procedures), Schedule, Seedings, Playing Format, Selection Procedures and Policies, and info on buying Tickets. Here's the Omnipong listing, which includes an incredible 20 men rated over 2500 and eight women rated over 2400. I hope all these players will be there for the Tournament meeting this Wednesday at 6PM - has there ever been a stronger gathering of US players in one room than that would be?

I'll be doing online coverage for USATT. I leave this afternoon, arriving at LA airport around 8PM. There'll be no livestreaming of the event - apparently NBC Sports has the rights and won't allow it unless we pay them a lot.  I'll probably write my first article on Wednesday night, on the Tournament Meeting and the Draws. My articles should go up on the USATT News Page.

I'm spending Tuesday, much of Wednesday, and the following Monday and Tuesday, doing sightseeing (at my own expense). I've been to LA a number of times, but never did any real sightseeing. My plans includes seeing the Hollywood sign; the Hollywood Boulevard and Walk of Fame (including the Hard Rock Café); Los Angeles Zoo; Griffith Observatory and Park; La Brea Tar Pits; Natural History Museum of LA County; Santa Monica Pier & Aquarium; and Universal Studios.

Tip of the Week
Footwork: Wide Stance and Two-Step?

US Olympic Trials and Round Robin Format
I blogged about this last week. I also said I'd contact the Trials Referee (Joey Yick) and ask what the rule is if a player drops out in the middle of the competition. There have been past Trials where it was ruled that if a player dropped out at any time, none of his results counted. This meant that, for example, in a Final RR of eight players, if a player had played six of his seven matches but was out of contention (as would typically be true of at least half the players), then if he had any wins over players in contention, he might be able to dramatically affect the results by simply faking an injury and dropping out. (Imagine this in the hands of an unscrupulous player.)

However, the ruling is that all matches played count, but once a player defaults, he's out of the Trials and all subsequent matches are defaults. As I've written before, there is no truly fair Trials (or elections) - there's even a math proof of this I studied in college many decades ago - so all you can do is go for the fairest, and then try to ignore nitpickers (like me!). In this case, the potential problem is a top player goes out and beats a bunch of contenders, then drops out for whatever reason. His wins over those players stand, but players he hasn't played gets a win over him. This is a potential huge advantage to some players. However, as noted, all Trials have problems in some way. Ultimately, if you want to make the Olympics (i.e. Top Two), then you have to beat nearly all of the other players.

Tip of the Week
Stepping Around the Backhand Corner.

US Hopes Camp and Tournament in New Jersey
I spent the weekend coaching at the Regional Hopes Camp and Tournament at the Lily Yip TTC in New Jersey, about four hours north of me. The event was the first of six such regional events, help in six consecutive weekends, for players born in 2008 or later (so mostly age 11 and below). The next five will be in Ohio, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland. (I'll be coaching at that one and running the tournament.) Here is the USATT Hopes page, with full info and schedule. (There's a chance I might be going to the Ohio one next weekend in Columbus to coach.) There will then be a National Hopes Camp and Tournament (April 22-26 at the Samson Dubina TTC in Akron, OH, for players who make the Final Four at any of the Regionals - once a player does that, he cannot complete in future ones), a North American Hopes Camp and Tournament in May (time and place not yet set), and finally an International one (in August, held overseas).

The Lily Yip TTC did an excellent job with the camp and tournament, with Lily Yip (Olympian), Cory Eider, Judy Hugh, Matt Hetherington, and a number of local practice partners. Lily gave a motivational speech at the start about what it meant to be an Olympian. Everything ran smoothly and professionally and the training was excellent. Here's a photo gallery by Matt Hetherington.