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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

Friday, February 2, 2018 - 14:57
February 2, 2018

Recent Coaching . . . and Frankenpaddle!
We had week three of the Thursday Beginning Junior Class, with the focus on footwork. There are 14 in the class, ranging in age from about 7 to 12, which I run, assisted by John Hsu and Martin Jezo. We demoed various footwork drills, including forehand-forehand side to side, backhand-backhand side to side, forehand-backhand side to side, and the 2-1 drill. (Backhand from backhand side, forehand from backhand side, forehand from forehand side, repeat.) Then we went into three groups with the players alternating hitting with the coach (live or multiball), and the others hitting among themselves or doing ball pickup.

The last ten minutes were the most disgusting in table tennis history. As I explained to them, I have a pet Saint Bernard (I don't), who slobbers everywhere, so I had gathered all his slobber into a bottle . . . and if they hit the bottle, I had to drink it! Suffice to say, my appeals to common decency ("Friends don't make friends drink dog saliva!") didn't work, and I was forced to take many drinks. Usually I do this with "worm juice," but I'd left my Gatorade...




Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 14:57
February 1, 2018

Focus on Consistency in Drills
Normally I have four hours of coaching on Wednesday nights, from 5:30-9:30PM. But my 6:30PM student's dad came down sick and couldn't bring her over, and my 7:30 student is out for a month, so I only had two hours. (I brought a book.) The first one was with Todd, age 12.

Todd's improved rapidly this past year, and now has a league rating of just under 1600, though his USATT rating hasn't yet caught up. He loops from both wings, but can be erratic in rallies, especially on the forehand, which sometimes is on, others time not. We did the 2-1 drill, a three-shot sequence where he hits a backhand from the backhand corner; a forehand from the backhand corner; a forehand from the forehand corner; and then repeat. All his shots were supposed to go to my backhand. But he wasn't consistent, and the rallies were sloppy. I was struggling too, as his balls were spraying all over the table. The problem was he was looping his shots too aggressively, faster than he could control. I finally got him to slow it down, focusing on spin, consistency, and above all good technique, and a miracle occurred - suddenly he...




Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 15:18
January 31, 2018

SafeSport and USATT Club Compliance
As of this morning, there were 262 clubs on the USATT Club listing. I'm going to check the number again tomorrow morning. There will likely be a sizeable drop. Why? Because, as noted in this morning's USATT Insider, "January 31st SafeSport Club Compliance Declaration Deadline."

SafeSport's slogan is "Make the Commitment. Stop Abuse in Sports." The intent is good, and the program is needed. However, I've blogged some of my misgivings about the program in the past, in particular that the video and quiz are too long and a few other problems, and my suspicion that much of the program is designed more to protect the USOC (and by extension, USATT) legally than the athletes themselves. But regardless, it is now required of all "USATT certified coaches, umpires, and referees; all owners and officers of USATT clubs; tournament and league directors and organizers; all USATT board members, committee members,...




Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 15:02
January 30, 2018

Movies as Incentive
Hi, my name is Larry Hodges, and I'm addicted to going to the theater. Yep, I'm a movie buff. (Today's blog is only partially table tennis.) Along with reading and writing science fiction (oh, and table tennis!), seeing movies are my favorite "escape." I often go to the local theater directly after I finish coaching at the club, or sometimes late at night. (Now you know why I sometimes need extra time to finish my blog in the morning.) It's great - popcorn, a Mr. Pibb (because they don't have Mountain Dew), and two hours where there's no email, phone calls, or work to do. (Side note - as of Jan. 1, I stopped drinking soft drinks at home - only at theaters and occasionally at restaurants. From that and dieting I've lost 13 pounds since Christmas, from 200 (my highest ever) to 187. Should hit goal of 180 by end of February.)

On the other hand, my brain often won't turn off, so I'm often jotting notes during movies on possible Tips of the Week or blogs, on USATT or MDTTC issues, or (in my other sideline) a possible science fiction story. But I do it while munching popcorn. (Easy on the...




Monday, January 29, 2018 - 15:04
January 29, 2018

Tip of the Week
Playing the Crafty Veteran.

End-of-Season Talent Development Program Tournament and Party
We had these last night at MDTTC. The program is made up of our strongest players up to about age 13, though most are 8-11. Because several of the preliminary groups had five players, there would be one player sitting out, and so they were assigned to practice serves, and I was in charge of coaching that section. I worked with one girl on developing her forehand pendulum side-top serve (she only could serve side-backspin and sidespin); with another on his backhand serve; with a lefty who was working on breaking his serves outside the forehand corner (against a righty), with two of them on reverse pendulum serves; and so on. I also worked with some of the younger players on more basic serves.

At the end of the session, visiting coach Chen Longcan gave a speech outlining his thoughts on what he'd observed in the tournament, with John Hsu translating. (Who is Chen? Chen won the gold medal in Men’s Doubles at the 1988 Olympics; Men’s...




Friday, January 26, 2018 - 13:09
January 26, 2018

Professional Day for Teachers
That's today, and so local schools are closed, and we're running a one-day mini-camp at MDTTC. As is my normal policy, if the kids are off, so am I - so I'm off today, except for this shorter than usual blog. After all, I'm a professional coach, so doesn't that make me a teacher? (It's also Australia Day, and we wouldn't want to insult Hugh Jackman, Crocodile Dundee, and 25 million kangaroos. Or PingSkills.) But here are a few quick items.

National Team News
If you happen to be a USA National Team Contender or like to follow the news about them, here are three USATT news items that went up:




Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 13:39
January 25, 2018

Coaching on Wednesday and Other Musings

  • Celluloid Balls. When I went in to coach yesterday I found all the baskets of plastic balls were being used by other coaches – we had eight of them coaching already. There was one filled with the old celluloid balls – we still have them – but I didn't think my first student (Todd) would want to use them, and was about to go to the back room to get some new ones, along with a box to hold them in. But Todd said he didn't mind, he'd been using them in some of his matches anyway. So we started the session with the old Butterfly celluloid training balls, which were pretty much identical to what I'd been using since I started back in 1976 until they went to plastic a few years ago (other than the change from 38 to 40 mm in the early 2000's). Wow, were they strange!!! The lack of sound, compared to the "ping" of the plastic balls, was weird. I remember hating that sound when we first went to plastic, but after coaching almost exclusively with plastic balls for about a year, I'd grown used to that plastic sound. However, about ten minutes into the...



Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 14:41
January 24, 2018

Not a Game for Boys
I just finished reading "Not a Game for Boys," a table tennis play by Simon Block that came out in 1995, and published as a play last year (86 pages, though Amazon incorrectly has it at 104). Here's the book description from Amazon and the back cover:

"Once a week, three cabbies seek respite from their lives in a local table tennis league, and tonight they must win, or face the unthinkable oblivion of relegation. Deeper rivalries and competitive obsessions emerge as the team try to survive the pressure, but the real game takes place anywhere but at the table."

The play has only three characters:

  • Eric, the blocker, who desperately wants to win so they can avoid being relegated to the second division.
  • Oscar, the pusher, who thinks they are getting too old to compete in the first division and thinks going into the second division would be good for them.
  • Tony, the hitter, easily the best of the three, who can...



Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 14:59
January 23, 2018

Weekend Coaching
It was a busy coaching weekend for me. On Saturday I coached nearly eight hours straight - from 11AM to 7:30 PM, with only a break from 5-5:30PM. To prepare, I had a big spaghetti brunch at 10:15AM. I ate a granola bar halfway through. I brought some food to eat at 5PM, but after all that exertion, I didn't feel hungry, and so didn't eat then, deciding to wait and have a real dinner later.

The coaching began with two "beginners," a mom and her 15-year-old son, 30 minutes each. I put that in quotes because while neither had ever had coaching or been to a club, they were avid tennis players and played table tennis regularly. The son had picked up playing penhold (saw it on youtube I think), and had a natural topspinning forehand, and will get into looping very easily - his forehand is already basically a loop. He had a bit more trouble on the backhand, which he took too much from the side. He could do both conventional and reverse penhold backhand, so we went with reverse. The mom was a hardbat player who hit everything - and she did it surprisingly well, obviously from her tennis. She switched to a sponge racket,...




Monday, January 22, 2018 - 14:10
January 22, 2018

Tip of the Week
Doubles Signals and Why You Should Use Them.

USA Team Selections
A few people have contacted me about the USATT National Team selection process. This is a frustrating topic for me for a very simple reason - I'm involved in so many other activities (USATT, MDTTC, and lots of coaching and writing) that I just don't have time to get too involved in still another issue. And yet, I'm on the USATT Board of Directors, so I'm one of the ones responsible for what USATT does, and so I will likely have to get involved.

However, right now I'm just too busy to look into it too much, but I plan to do so in February, probably after I run the MDTTC February Open (Feb. 10-11). I've got another conference meeting today at noon on the USATT Coaching Education and Certification process - and whenever there's a meeting, there's a lot of time spent preparing for it and even more time on it afterwards. It's hard to believe, but I also have some non-table tennis activities - readers here know that I also write science...