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
On Short Serves to the Forehand, Challenge the Forehand, Often Go to the Backhand.

This Week's Blog Will Go Up on Wednesday
I was supposed to be return home on Friday night after twelve days in Ohio. However…

I left Akron at about 5:10 PM on Friday. At around 6:25 PM, while near Beaver Falls, PA, while in the far left lane (on I-76E, going about 75 mph, speed limit 70), I had a car accident. I was snacking on a bag of walnuts on my lap, which fell on the floor. I checked to make sure no cars were around and then reached for the walnuts. I inadvertently swerved right. I then swerved left to get back in my lane, but the car spun and hit the left wall. It bounced right, and I thought I'd regained control. But both left tires went flat when they hit the wall, and so I lost control, and my car spun across the highway. (But no cars around.) It hit the right side embankment and flipped in the air at least once and the landed upside down. The car is 100% totaled. 

Here's a picture.

Somehow, I came out with just a nasty cut above my right knee, numerous scratches, some bad bruises, and very sore all over. Otherwise I'm fine. Paramedics checked me out and I declined going to the hospital. I stayed Friday night at a Super 8 in Beaver, PA. On Saturday morning, I took an Uber to an Enterprise Car Rental and rented a car, and then drove over to the tow place to pick up most of my things, which were still in the car. They were supposed to be open on Saturday, but they were closed, and won't open until Monday. So I checked back into the Super 8, where I'm having a reading and writing "vacation" until Monday. Then I'll pick up my things, and drive home (four hours away).

I decided to spend a second week training at the Samson Dubina Mega Camp here in Akron, Ohio. And so no blog this week. But I'm getting back into playing shape!!! But the Tip if the Week is up, Should You Develop Your Forehand Push?  Plus, here's a good video to watch (5 min), highlights of four-time US Men's Singles Champion Jim Butler (1990, 1992, 1993, 2014) vs. US #1 Mini-Cadet Daniel Tran, including short interviews at the end.

Or, if you want something funny but interesting, and you missed or didn't have time to listen to my interview last week, here it is again (40:53) at Kevin Table Tennis! I explain how I signed twelve autographs as Jan-Ove Waldner at the US Open; ate nine quarter-pounders with cheese in five hours in my big breakthrough tournament (winning all four of my events, including the Open, with an agonizing stomachache, and ate only one more hamburger in the forty years since, and that on a lost bet); and how Marty Reisman ruined my life! (I sent it to USATT as a possible news item, but alas, they wouldn't run it, telling me, "We thought the article would be best for your website and social platforms to promote your personal brand." I wonder how many thousands of volunteer USATT hours I've done and how many thousands of readers I've sent to them with links to their news items, all to help them develop their "personal brand"?)

Tip of the Week
Two Tips to Increase Forehand Looping Power.

Larry Hodges Interview
Here's my interview (40:53) at Kevin Table Tennis! You may know Kevin Nguyen (from Portland, OR) for his table tennis trick shots that I often link to, and he's also among the best of his age in the country, rated 2062 at age 12. Hope you enjoy some of the funny stories I tell! (Take it in two sittings, perhaps, but once you get started, I bet you won't stop!)

Off to the Ohio Mega Camp!
I've basically been sitting at home for five months now, coaching only one hour a week. I've been getting more and more out of shape, and I'm bored to death. So a few days ago I made the decision to do something about it. The camps at my club are canceled due to the pandemic - and if they weren't, I'd probably be coaching at them rather than playing.

So I'm off to spend a week at Samson Dubina's August 10-14 Mega Camp! I'm going as half player, half practice partner - half the sessions I'll be hitting with players roughly my level, half with weaker players. I'll be doing footwork drills like everyone else. Due to my age (ten, plus or minus 50) and recent inactivity, I may have to ease myself into it. That mostly means that, for the first few days, I'll probably do regular forehands during footwork drills. When I feel ready, I'll start looping in those drills, which is more physical. (It used to be so much easier.)

Tip of the Week
How to Vary Your Receive Against Short Backspin Serves.

Coaches Who Do Online Coaching
Especially during these pandemic days, an alternative to private or group coaching is online coaching. There are several ways of doing this. Often a coach simply studies a video of a player and writes up an analysis with coaching suggestions. (I used to do this.) Sometimes it's an ongoing thing as the player perhaps sends in weekly videos for the coach. It can also be done live, with a coach watching via video as the player trains. I've compiled a list of top US coaches who do such online coaching. Take your pick! (Coaches - email me if I should put you on the list.)

Tip of the Week
When Playing an Unfamiliar Player, Focus on Serve & Receive.

I'm Back!!!
My two-week writing workshop vacation is over. I basically spent nine days in online Zoom meetings in "The Never-Ending Odyssey" writing workshop, an annual workshop for graduates of the six-week Odyssey science fiction writing workshop. The meetings started around 10AM and went to dinner time, with optional meetings at night. They included critique sessions, classes, readings, and salons where we discussed various topics. I had a great time - and even managed to sneak table tennis into one of my stories!!! (It's way, Way, WAY in the future, and someone finds a pack of ping-pong balls - "Plastic lasts forever" - and it ends up being central to the story.) Here's a group picture on Zoom of the 21 of us in the workshop! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I'm on the top right, the only one without a big smile. (That's a virtual background from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, where the workshop normally takes place - I've been there now for eleven TNEOs plus the original Odyssey workshop in 2006.)

As noted in my blog below, I'm away this week, but here is this week's Tip of the Week, The Importance of Lobbing. See you next Monday!

Tip of the Week
Fast, Quick Motions Disguise a No-Spin Serve.

Vacation - No Blog Next Week
Every year in July I drive up to Manchester, New Hampshire for my annual nine-day science fiction writing workshop "vacation." Alas, due to the pandemic, this year's it's all online, so I not only won't be leaving Maryland, I won't even be leaving my house. But I'll be in various workshop meetings every day from morning until night. It doesn't actually start until this Friday (July 17-25), but I'm spending the rest of this week preparing for it, plus getting some writing done.

There will be a Tip of the Week next Monday, July 20, so stop by for that!!! Next blog will be July 27.

The minute I put this blog online, the "vacation" begins!!! If you need a favor, or something quick, or table tennis advice - NO!!!!! I get a dozen or more such emails every day, and I dutifully get back to everyone the day they email me (and spend way, Way, WAY too much time on these things), but I'd like to have these two weeks off, as in really off.

I put "vacation" in quotes because it's a lot of work, these writing workshops. I had to critique something like 20 stories by others, and others critiqued three of mine. Then there are all sorts of classes, exercises, and readings. The nine-day workshop is called "The Never-Ending Odyssey," and is attended and run by graduates of the six-week Odyssey Science Fiction Writing Workshop, of which I'm a 2006 graduate. This will be my eleventh TNEO.

Tip of the Week
Side-to-Side Training for Improvement and Health.

Subconscious Table Tennis
I noticed an interesting during a session with Navin Kumar on Saturday. (If you Google "Bionic Table Tennis," about a zillion articles on him comes up.) We were about to do a drill where he has to smash (forehands and then backhands) and hit a bottle on the table. The key, as I always point out, is to not consciously aim for it. That's the common mistake most make. Whether it's in a game or practice, the minute the conscious mind takes control, much of your training disappears, since the whole point of training is to make it reflexive, so you are really training your subconscious.

When I demonstrated this, I put the bottle on the far side, bounced a ball on my side, and smacked the bottle with a barrage of forehands, almost never missing. (When it misses, it's by less than an inch.)  I moved the bottle around to show that you can change your target and still have great accuracy. And that's when I noticed something.

When aiming for the bottle, all my conscious mind has to do is look at the target and decide I want to hit it. The subconscious does the rest. But the part that was fascinating, and which I hadn't really focused on before, was how my subconscious would adjust my foot positioning each time. I wasn't consciously aware of it, but each time I went over and moved the bottle to another part of the table, I'd come back, and when I'd look at it, my feet reflexively moved into position to line me up for the shot.

Tip of the Week
Training Down the Line.

USATT Coaching Excellence Program
As a member of the USATT Coaching Committee, I'm helping USATT put together their upcoming Coaching Excellence Program. (Others on the committee are Pieke Franssen, Gao Jun, and Dave Fullen. USATT CEO Virginia Sung and High Performance Director Sean O'Neill are also involved.) Right now they are working on the Club Coaching Certification Program. (There are four levels - club, state, regional, national.) The biggest question is what should be taught at the Club level, which is for coaches for beginners to about 1500. It's easy to say, "They should know this, and this, and this,..." and pretty soon everything is taught at the club coach level, and there's nothing left for the State, Regional, or National level!

Here was my recommendation on what should be taught at this level. In a regular training camp, I figured you could teach all this in a barebones minimum of 12 hours, but really could be 15-20 hours. At the higher levels, you would expand on most of these segments, along with segments on physical training, multiball, and other topics.

Tip of the Week
Do You Really Have Control of Your Shots? (See also "Through the Scoreboard Practice" below.)

Winning Table Tennis by Dan Seemiller and Mark Holowchak
Winning Table Tennis is back! This is a reprinting of the best-selling table tennis book from 1997. Whether you're a competitive tournament player or a serious recreational player, Winning Table Tennis: Skills, Drills, and Strategies will help you improve your game. Dan Seemiller, 5-time U.S. singles, 12-time doubles champion, and long-time US Men's Team Coach, shows you all the shots and strategies for top-level play. This book features 19 drills for better shot-making, plus Seemiller's own grip and shot innovations that will give you an edge over the competition. Featuring the most effective table tennis techniques and strategies Winning Table Tennis: shows you how to