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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!

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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
What Comes First, Speed or Consistency?

JOOLA North American Teams
I spent Thanksgiving weekend coaching at the Teams at the National Harbor in Maryland. It was my 46th consecutive Teams – every year starting my first year in table tennis, 1976, back when it was in Detroit from the early 1970s to 1997. (It would be 47 years in a row, but they didn’t hold it in 2020 due to Covid.) I was a player or player/coach for most years, but in modern times I’ve only coached. (I’ve also been to every US Open and Nationals since 1984, plus a few before that.) Here are complete results. (Make sure to set the dropdown menu to 2022 JOOLA NA Teams.) Here is the list of entries.

Tip of the Week
Recovering from Forehand Attacks from a Corner.

Weekend Coaching and the JOOLA North American Teams
Our junior program at MDTTC is divided into four groups (66 players total), and this weekend I worked with one session for each. It was also an exhausting weekend as I acted as a practice partner for three of the sessions, for two reasons. First, we had an odd number of players, though we can work around that by doing multiball or bringing in another player. Second, and perhaps more important, we’re getting them ready for the North American Teams next weekend (Fri-Sun after Thanksgiving), and so it’s valuable they get a good practice session with a good player. (Yay, I’m the “good” player!) For drills, I mostly blocked – and boy, after a short time it really came together and I stopped missing. They rotated the players who hit with me, and each time I greeted them with the warning, “The rumors are true, I never miss.” And, of course, if I did miss, I’d explain I was only showing them what a miss would look like if I were to miss – after all, how could they identify a miss by an opponent if we don’t show them what it looks like?

Tip of the Week
Backhand Counter Domination.

Weekend Coaching
I coached in four group sessions over the weekend, as is my norm. As usual the focus was on fundamentals, technique, footwork, placement . . . yada yada yada. I did do extra down-the-line drills - too often players focus on crosscourt. I also worked with two players on their grip. One of them has begun changing his grip drastically between forehand and backhand, with a wristy finger-down-the-middle forehand - NO!!! (1967 Men's World Champion Hasegawa might disagree - he used that grip.) It's important to catch things like this early, and the player in question only started this past year. 

I had a realization during one session, which I explained to some of the players. If the players can't beat me after I've coached them for a full 90 minutes, I must be a bad coach. But if they can beat me after 90 minutes of training, I must be a bad player. Hmmm... Of course, I also explain to them that if they are tired during a drill, they must be out of shape and so we must work them harder. If they are not tired then we must not be working them hard enough and so we must work them harder. And if they won't answer us when we ask if they are tired, then we must punish them by making them work harder. Hmmm...

Tip of the Week
Coming Back or Beating Stronger Players.

Weekend Coaching
The hardest part of the weekend for me was in the last of four group sessions – three on Sunday – where they needed one more player for up-down tables. I’m out of practice, haven’t warmed up, and have been feeding multiball for hours, and suddenly I’m up against kids who make the Flash seem like a sloth. Fortunately, this wasn’t our top group, and fortunately, they couldn’t return my serves, and so I was able to win all my matches easily. Biggest scare - one kid made it to 4-all on four nets and edges! (He popped one serve back on the edge, and net-dribbled another.) One girl hits the ball so fast that any rally I didn’t win on the first two shots ended up with me lobbing, and she wasn’t bad against lobs. She also gave me a scare when she suddenly backhand flipped in two of my short side-top serves! (Apparently she didn’t get the memo that she’s supposed to misread them and push them straight up.) She was jamming the table, so I switched to deep breaking serves and fast, dead ones, and that ended that threat. (I also chickened out and chopped back some of her topspin serves, which worked.)

Tip of the Week
Increase Forearm Snap to Increase Smashing Speed.

US Open Hotel – How to Save Lots of Money
I just saved a thousand dollars. How? I will be going to the US Open, Dec. 16-21 in Ontario, CA. The official tournament hotel is the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel ‐ Ontario Airport, which is 0.3 miles from the playing hall. It looks like a nice hotel, and if you can afford it, go for it!

I will be at the Open for seven nights, Dec. 15-21. At the Doubletree, after taxes, that came to $1576, or $225/night!!! Sorry, that’s way, Way, WAY too much. But I’ve been to every US Open and US Nationals since 1984 (with my first in 1976), so . . . is my streak coming to an end?

Tip of the Week
Treat Opponents Who Are Not Threats as Threats so They Do Not Become Threats.

Weekend Coaching and Coaching Between Points
I helped run four group junior sessions over the weekend. In three of them I mostly fed multiball – lots of fundamentals. However, once you get beyond the beginning stage, often the most important thing in multiball is feeding backspin so the player can practice looping. Why? It's easy to get lots of practice in topspin rallies with a practice partner, but in a regular drill, once a player loops against backspin, the rest of the rally is mostly all topspin. If you want repetitive practice against backspin, multiball is the way to go. In most of the sessions, players in the group did various drills while I took them three at a time, feeding backspin. (One player does the drill, usually combined with footwork; one shadow-practices behind that player; and the third picks up the balls.)

Tip of the Week
The Yin and Yang of Serving.

Cary Cup Open
I spent the weekend coaching at the Cary Cup at the Triangle Badminton and Table Tennis Club in Cary, NC. Here are complete results of the tournament, care of Omnipong. I was coaching two players, Todd Klinger and Christian Funderberg. I can't really go into details of most of the coaching – call it coach-player privilege – but here are some highlights. Ojo dominates the big events!

Tip of the Week
Ten Mini-Fixes.

Annexing Moscow
It has come to my attention that the Table Tennis Federation of Russia is in Moscow. While I am sure their players are very good at killing, I'm guessing they are more into killing ping-pong balls than Ukrainians. Therefore, by the power invested in me by USA Table Tennis, I am hereby annexing the city of Moscow. Henceforth, they will be the 51st US state and all residents of the city will be required to join USATT. We will also be granting immediate US citizenship to the 11 Russian men (including world #61 Kirill Skachkov) and 18 women (including #45 Elizabet Abraamian and #49 Polina Mikhailova) who have current ITTF world rankings. And here's Zelensky smashing Putin!

Tip of the Week
The Larry Line.

Weekend Coaching
I coached in four group sessions over the weekend, each 90 minutes long. The kids kept asking me, "Where have you been?" since I'd missed the last two weekends since I was down in Santo Domingo (see segment below on Pam Ams). I quizzed them – none knew where Santo Domingo was, and only about one-third knew where the Dominican Republic was. (This was mostly ages 8-12.) Now they all know.

Tips of the Week

Pan Am Under 11 & Under 13 Championships and a Short Blog
I just returned from ten days in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where I was one of the USA Team coaches for the Pan Am Under 11 & Under 13 Championships, along with Qi Wei, Wu "Jennifer" Yue, Xinhue "Taylor" Wang, Cheng Yinghua, and Thilina Piyadasa. We won 9 of the 16 golds, plus 7 silvers and 4 bronze! (Here's a team picture.) I coached both Under 11 (Hopes) and Under 13 boys (Mini-Cadets), with four players in each, but was in charge of Under 11 boys. The Under 11 Boys' Squad (Kyler Chen, Jason Liu, Caillou Chen, and Arjun Kumar) won gold and bronze in Boys' Teams (the two teams had to play each other in the semis or it might have been an all-USA final), gold in Boys' Doubles, Gold in Mixed Doubles, and silver and bronze in Boys' Singles. See below for my more extensive writeups.