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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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 12:14
May 10, 2017

USATT Coaching Committee and USATT Board Pages
I have a new picture of myself up at the USATT Board of Directors page and the USATT Coaching Committee page – call it “Laughing Larry.” But what do I have to laugh about? I’ll leave that to your imagination. Heh heh heh.

I blogged on March 17, 2017 on my plans as Coaching Committee chair. I’m pretty happy with our new Coaching Committee – together we will soon be orchestrating plans for world conquest. Who are they?

  • Rajul Sheth. He’s the founder and director of the highly successful ICC Table Tennis in Milpitas, CA, and a two-time USATT Developmental Coach of the Year, who you all know...



Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 14:11
May 9, 2017

USATT Teleconference
The USA Table Tennis Board of Directors had a teleconference last night from 7PM to close to about 8:45PM. All nine board members (including me) attended, as well as CEO Gordon Kaye, High Performance Committee Chair Carl Danner, and attorney Dennis Taylor. Here’s a quick rundown.

I had nominated Sydney Christophe to be the fifth and final member of the USATT Coaching Committee. The board approved him unanimously, so he joins myself (chair), Rajul Sheth, Han Xiao and Timothy Wang on the committee. Sydney is certified as a USATT National Coach, an ITTF Level 2 Coach, and is one of five USA ITTF course conductors. He’s a Lead Coach for the American Youth Table Tennis Organization, and a former Caribbean Men's Singles Champion.

The board also unanimously approved the Classic Table Tennis Committee. (They cover hardbat and sandpaper.) Scott Gordon was the previously appointed chair. The rest of the approved committee is Diann Darnall, Ty Hoff, Al Papp, Jay Turberville (Athlete).

There was a relatively short...




Monday, May 8, 2017 - 14:02
May 8, 2017

Tip of the Week
Advantage of Passive Receives.

Coaching Level vs. Playing Level
It’s difficult for a low-level player can become a National Coach. It’s a simple reality. To be a high-level coach means spending years regularly working with, or at least watching and interacting with, top players as they develop, and the coaches who work with them, and then coaching and developing (or help developing) your own players. You can’t learn this by watching videos. Since top players become top players by training with other top players and working with top coaches, they automatically get this, and so have the potential to become top coaches.

I say potential because not all top players are suited to be top coaches. Some learn and really understand the game as they develop, while others do not. Some are good teachers, others are not. Some are emotionally suited to coaching, others are not. I've met at least one 1400 player who could be a National coach, and at least one 2800 player who probably shouldn't even be...




Friday, May 5, 2017 - 14:09
May 5, 2017

USATT and MDTTC Stuff
As soon as I finish this blog I’m off to Ledo’s Pizza where I’ll spend much of the afternoon going over upcoming USATT coaching plans. (I was recently appointed chair of the USATT Coaching Committee.) There are two primary items.

First, I’m working with USATT headquarters to put together several coaching seminars at the upcoming USA Nationals, for both players and coaches. They would likely be held on Sun, Mon, Tue, and/or Wed nights, and range from 60-90 minutes long. Possible clinics we’re mulling over include:

  • Advanced Serve. We’d bring in a top coach and player for this – I already have a duo in mind. (I’d assist.)
  • How to Become a Professional Coach. I’d teach this one.
  • How to Set Up and Run a Junior Program. I’d teach this one. (I’d only teach this one or the one on becoming a professional coach, so have to decide which one.)
  • USATT Club Coach Certification Clinic. I’d run this one.
  • Basics Clinic. I might run...



Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 14:01
May 4, 2017

Star Wars Table Tennis
Today is Star Wars Day. How did that happen? It is May the Fourth, as in, “May the Fourth Be With You!” And, of course, Star Wars and Table Tennis go together like ketchup and fries, chocolate and nuts, and table tennis and nets. (Seriously – my club has 18 tables and so 18 nets, plus about 12 ball pickup nets, plus the robot net.)

What does Yoda say to Luke Skywalker? Among other things, Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” At first glance (and perhaps many glances after that), this is rather unhelpful. Do we really want to tell our table tennis students not to try, that they should either do or do not? Everyone starts out as a beginner, unable to do proper shots, so that means they all “do not.” Does that mean they should not try? Perhaps a student should stop “trying” and instead just “do or do not.” At first there’ll be a lot of “do not,” but gradually there’ll be more and...




Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 14:06
May 3, 2017

Biggest Comebacks in Table Tennis
Here are the biggest comebacks I know of. Note that games were to 21 until the early 2000s.

  • In 1976, my first year of playing, I think at the Eastern Open, 13-year-old Curt Kronlage (son of Hall of Famer Yvonne), rated 1677, won the first game and was up 20-6 match point on Sid Jacobs, a chopper rated 1858 – and lost 16 points in a row, and lost the third badly. (I saw parts of the match, but didn’t know what was happening until afterwards.)
  • I’ve been told that Istvan Jonyer/Tibor Klampar were up 20-8 match point at the World Championships against a Chinese team in Men’s Doubles, and lost. This must have been at the 1977 Worlds, where in the round of 16 they lost to Huang Liang/Lu Yuan-Sheng, -13, 16, -19, 18, 21. (Here’s where you can find results of past Worlds.)
  • At the 2003 World Championships, Werner Schlager was down  2-3 in games and 6-10 match point in the quarterfinals of Men’s Singles against reigning world champion Wang Liqin, but came back to win. (I was...



Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 13:04
May 2, 2017

Lack of Injuries and Why They Are Gone
I’ve been pretty much injury free for a while now. I don’t understand it – I’m playing an Olympic Sport 25 hours/week, and I’m not falling apart??? (That’s different from merely being exhausted all the time from all the exertion and other work.) Here’s a summary – it’s strange how injuries come and go. Let’s see:

  • Knee problems. I had lots of them for many years, and had to wear ace knee braces (sometimes on both knees) for a decade. Then the club went from cement to rubberized floors, and the knee problems went away. I still keep the ace knee braces in my bag, but I don’t know why – I haven’t used them in about a decade.
  • Arm problems. I’ve had arm problems since playing baseball when I was about 12, due to poor throwing technique. It caused havoc with my game in the 1980s, and then, after mostly going away for 20 years, started up again about ten years ago. And then I discovered the ...



Monday, May 1, 2017 - 13:55
May 1, 2017

Tip of the Week
Strive to Make Every Shot a Memorable One.

Exhausting Weekend!!!
It was a long one. On Saturday I had four hours of private coaching, from noon to 3PM, and 5-6PM. Normally I have a 3-5PM multiball session with two players, but they couldn’t come in, so I had a two-hour break. Then I had the 5-6PM session, and then I’m done, right?

Wrong. We had a group of 40+ people who come in annually for a ping-pong party. They are from a church, and this is the third straight year they’ve rented to the club on a Saturday night for a ping-pong party, 6:30-10:00PM. None of them are what we’d call “serious” players, but a number were good “basement” players. I do exhibitions and demos for many parties, but for this one my only job was to watch over the club for 3.5 hours. I did spend 15 minutes doing an impromptu trick-shot demo, where I did the 50-foot serve, the bounce-back-over-the-net serve, demoed that I could force opponents to return my spin serves where I wanted them to, did the blow the ball...




Friday, April 28, 2017 - 13:52
April 28, 2017

USATT Coaching Committee
I spent all of last night, and into the wee hours, working on USATT coaching committee issues. Some are rather mundane, such as getting the online committee listings updated. Others are more complicated, such as grandfathering several top-level coaches into our coaching certification system, and setting up two coaching seminars at the Nationals – probably one on serving, and another on becoming a professional coach. I already have a coach and top player in mind for the serving seminar (I’d assist), and would run the “professional” seminar myself. The plan is that certified coaches, and perhaps tournament volunteers, would be allowed in free, while others would pay, with the coach running the seminar getting half or more of that money. (I wouldn’t take anything – conflict of interest.)

The serving seminar would be for both players who want to learn advanced serves, and for coaches who want to teach it. One possibility is splitting it into two parts, one for players, and one for coaches. I might take the lead in the one for coaches. The Nationals starts on Monday morning. The seminars might...




Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 13:59
April 27, 2017

Playing in a League and [Not] Reading Hidden Serves
I mentioned in my blog yesterday that some of the USATT board (as well as CEO Gordon) played in the ICC League on Saturday night. I also mentioned I didn’t do very well, and said I’d probably blog about it later. I was hesitant to do so as some will argue that I’m just making excuses. But I’ll just report what happened.

On the very first serve of my very first match, my roughly 13-year-old opponent (I’m told from a local club, not ICC, about 2000 level) served a blatantly hidden serve, hiding contact with his arm and shoulder. I badly missed the first two serves, one into the net, the other off to the side, and complained, to no avail. I didn’t want to create a scene, but at the same time I was pretty disgusted that even kids are hiding their serves illegally these days – but how can I blame him? It’s no different than what the best players in the world and the U.S. are doing, and it’s what his coach taught him to do, and umpires overwhelmingly allow it. If Ma Long and most top players (and Zhang Jike – see below) can serve this way, why...