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
Practice Partner Collaboration - the PPC of TT.

The Play That Changed . . . Everything
Some of you may have heard of the "Butterfly Effect," whereby something seemingly small and insignificant can have major ramifications. It happens in table tennis as well, and I'm not talking about Butterfly table tennis. In fact, if not for at least two seemingly minor things, I wouldn't be in table tennis, and much of the table tennis world would be different. Here's how I switched from baseball to track & field to table tennis.

When I was 13, my sport was baseball. I was obsessed with it - I memorized the results of EVERY World Series (1903-1973), including the winning team, scores, and winning pitcher of every single game, and the MVPs and their stats. I also memorized every stat about the Baltimore Orioles. As a player, I was only so-so - didn't hit or field that well, and due to arm problems, I had a weak throwing arm. (From the start I threw with my feet parallel, which puts tremendous strain on the shoulder, and no coach corrected it until I'd hurt my arm repeatedly. They used to call this "Throwing like a girl," but most girls probably throw better than me.)

Tip of the Week
How to Never Miss an Easy Smash.

LATE ADDITION (Tues) - USATT Did a News Item on My Book, "Still More Table Tennis Tips"!
Here's the news item! C'mon, you know you want to buy my books!!! :) (It includes links to some of my other ones.) 

They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again!
Remember my When Will They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again cartoon? The answer, for me, was this past Saturday! It had been 83 days - one day short of twelve weeks - since the last time I'd played. Navin Kumar contacted me about taking private coaching again - MDTTC reopened last week for limited private coaching, with various limits on how many can be there at a time, taking everyone's temperature as they enter club, rules on masks (not required at the table, but required off the table), social distancing (the tables are well spaced out, making this easier), sanitizing (I had to sanitize the table afterwards), and so on. I retired from private coaching two years ago - I only do group sessions now - but he talked me into doing some private coaching. After twelve weeks of lying around my house, I needed the exercise, so I agreed. And so we did the one-hour session at 5:30PM on Saturday. There was no one else in the club at the time, though I'd been told there had been others earlier.

Navin put up three videos of the session:

Tip of the Week
Do You Have a Quadruple Threat Receive?

Franchise-Based Professional US Table Tennis League
If you want to be a world-class player in the US, then the first thing you have to do after high school (after years of training!) is to get out of the US. It's almost impossible to reach a world-class level unless, at that stage, you spend a few years training and competing against the best in the world, and that means going overseas to play on a team. Most top US players who do this do so in the German leagues, where they both compete regularly against other top players (and gain experience against different styles), and train daily, usually two sessions per day, with the members of their team, along with extensive physical training and serve practice. Most top US players, from past champions Dan Seemiller, Eric Boggan, Sean O'Neill, and Jim Butler, to current US #1 Kanak Jha and other current US players (including Lily Zhang, Nicholas Tio, Wue Yue, and Kai Zarehbin, who were all overseas in leagues when the pandemic began), all developed extensively in European leagues. (The complication, of course, is that this is also the time that many stop training seriously and go to college. But some continue their training and go to college later, after their professional career is over.)

But wouldn't it be great if, someday, top players didn't have to do this because of a Professional US League? Yeah, easier said than done. Where do you get the money? Without money, there's no "professional," and you end up with just top recreational players while the pros go overseas.

Years ago I put together a draft of how to do this. This past weekend I updated it a little, though I still list it as "VERY ROUGH DRAFT." Here's it is:

Tip of the Week
Three Types of Anticipation.

Cartoon of the Week:
Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. I had some free time.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
As noted in my blog last week, my book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" came out last Monday! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right? A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)

Happy Memorial Day! Like many others, I'm taking today off, and so this week's blog will go up tomorrow (Tuesday). However, the Tip of the Week is up: Three Types of Anticipation. To help tide you over, here's Weird Ping Pong (3:35) from Pongfinity! Plus, since I had some free time, here's a cartoon I created: Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Enjoy, and see you tomorrow!

How am I spending my day, you ask? I've spent part of this past weekend as a panelist at the online Balticon Science Fiction Convention, but my panels are done, so I may attend a few panels as a spectator. But I plan to spend most of today moving toward a new goal of mine - to see all 92 movies that have won best Best Picture at the Academy Awards, from "Wings" in 1928 to the present. I've seen 79 of them, including every one from 1947 to the present, so 13 to go! From the link above, from 1928 to 1946 the ones I have seen are Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, It Happened One Night, and All Quiet on the Western Front. (Note that the year listed is the year they won, but it's actually for movies that came out the year before.) I'm going in reverse order, so next up is The Lost Weekend.

Tip of the Week
Mind Games: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
My book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" is now on sale at Amazon! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right?

A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. The book was originally going to come out on June 1, but they got back to me quickly, and these days it doesn't take long to publish.  (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)

When Will They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again?
Here's the cartoon! (I had some free time.)

Numerical Musings on Table Tennis and the Coronavirus and Other Issues
I finally found a use for my math degree! (Skip ahead if your eyes start to glaze over.)

Tip of the Week
Five Ways to Take Away an Opponent's Big Shot.

This is the 450th Tip of the Week I've posted since I started putting them up every Monday starting Jan. 11, 2011, except for a few times when I was out of town. (This is in addition to 177 I did for USA Table Tennis before that, which were published as part of Table Tennis Tales & Techniques.) The first 150 went into my book Table Tennis Tips; the next 150 went into More Table Tennis Tips; these last 150 (ending with today's) make up Still More Table Tennis Tips, which comes out on June 1. The advantage of getting them in book form? I put them in logical progression, by topic, rather than in a random fashion as a weekly tip, plus you get them all right in front of you, making it easy to browse, refer to, and even make notes in the margins. Or you can download them onto a kindle, and also have instant access in logical progression . . . though no margins to scribble in!

Ping Pong Playa
On Saturday night I finally watched Ping Pong Playa (96 min), the table tennis movie that came out in 2008 - somehow I missed it that year. Here's info on it from imdb.

NOTE - For technical reasons, the second half of the blog was cut off for most of Monday, May 4. The problem is now fixed. But if you were here earlier, you only saw about half of today's links. 

Tip of the Week
Don't Practice Hesitation.

USATT Coaches Excellence Program and Zoom
On Sunday, we had a USATT Coaches Meeting on Zoom from 4:00-5:15PM. Attending were Virginia Sung (USATT CEO), Sean O'Neill (USATT High Performance Director), Christian Lillieroos (USATT Coach Education Director), and the USATT Coaching Committee: Pieke Franssen (chair), Gao Jun, Dave Fullen, and myself (Larry Hodges). Stellan Bengtsson is also on the committee but was unable to attend.

The purpose was to go over the new USATT Coaches Excellence Program, which is being created by Christian, Sean, and Dave. There will be three tracks:

  • Club Levels 1 and 2
  • High Performance Levels 1 and 2
  • Para Levels 1 and 2

A key part will be continuing education. I'll be going over the program over the next few days to give my input. USATT will be going public with this soon. Much of the program will center on online training. It looks pretty promising!

I know that some of my key input will be:

Tip of the Week
Don’t Warm Up Your Opponent During a Match.

Developing Your Game at Different Ages
Suppose an 8-year-old, a 30-year-old, and a 60-year-old walk into your club, all beginners, and sign up for lessons. You'd likely start them off similarly, teaching the fundamentals. But something happens after a time - how you teach them begins to change quite a bit.

For the 8-year-old, you'd be teaching him "modern" table tennis - like, say, Ma Long. Once he has the fundamentals down pretty well, he'll likely be taught to stay pretty close to the table, loop from both sides, with feet mostly parallel to the table, even for forehands (except when forced off the table). He'll become a great counter-looper. He'll mostly serve seemingly simple short backspin/no-spin serves - third-ball attack serves - and follow them with loops. (He'll learn other variations, but they will be "surprise" serves, not his core serves that set up his third-ball attack.) He'll learn to attack short serves with backhand banana flips. And he'll be well on his way toward being an elite player, maybe a contender for the National Team or more!!!

Tip of the Week
Sometimes Challenge an Opponent's Strength.

Quarantine Shadow Practice
Anyone who reads my blog and tips knows that I'm a big advocate of shadow practice - where you practice your strokes and footwork without a ball or table. And here we all are, stuck inside, unable to play real table tennis with a ball or table! This is the perfect time to get your racket out and practice your game.

Before we go further, here are five Tips of the Week where shadow practice is discussed:

For me personally, I've been shadow-stroking for two reasons. First, I do it about five minutes per day for exercise. (And so should you - but more than five minutes!) Second, and this is perhaps the more interesting one, I'm developing my backhand loop . . . finally. I've always had a very forehand-oriented game. My backhand was just for rallying - I could keep the ball going forever, but I didn't attack well with it. I can backhand loop decently in a drill, but in a match, I have two problems developing it.