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 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 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

Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 11:14
August 3, 2017

Moving to the Wide Forehand, He Zhiwen, and Update on History of USATT, Vol. 20
Most of my students have figured out that while I can still move quickly to my left (i.e. to step around my backhand to attack with my forehand), I don’t move very well to my right anymore. And so they take great glee in finding chances to go that way. I actually encourage it – I want them to develop good tactical habits, and so the last thing I want them to do is develop a habit of holding back when they see the right tactical move. If I leave my forehand side open during a rally, they should jump on it, making it a habit that will carry over in real matches.

This problem with moving to my right has been true for a number of years, but for the last month or so I’ve been having problems with my right knee, which made it far worse. At the USA Nationals, where I was mostly coaching and attending meetings, I did manage in my free time to win Over 40 Hardbat Singles, but most players didn’t realize just how much trouble I was having moving that way – and I used a variety of tactics to cover for it. A knee brace really helped....




Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 12:32
August 2, 2017

Timmy Boggan’s Coming to Town! [Sung to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”]
He’ll be here at 10AM, and when he says 10AM, he means exactly 10AM. Knowing Tim, at 10:01AM we’ll be working on Volume 20 (!) of his History of U.S. Table Tennis. As noted in previous blogs, I do the page layouts and photo work. Mal Anderson has already scanned the photos and sent them to me. We’ll be working from 7AM to 5PM for the next 10-12 days (working around my coaching schedule on weekends), with Tim looking over my shoulder and periodically saying things like, “That goes there, you fool!”

Tim keeps strange hours, going to bed every night around 7PM and getting up around 3AM. So he’ll be puttering around my house each morning, impatiently waiting for me so we can get started at 7AM. But he’s a USATT Hall of Famer and the USATT Historian, so who are we to judge?

This is a tricky time for me—or should I say exhausting? After I finish my work with Tim, I’ll be leaving nearly every day to the club for a few hours...




Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 13:14
August 1, 2017

He Zhiwen
One of the strange things about being at a club where we have ten full-time coaches, where I’m the only one who’s not Chinese, is often I don’t know what’s going on. Others assume I do since they are all talking about it – but in Chinese!!! So I didn’t know that He Zhiwen was even at our club until he’d been there about a week. I had just finished a long coaching session, and as I was walking to the front of the club I saw this elderly lefty pips-out penholder practicing with one of our top juniors. I stopped to watch because there was something about this player, whose strokes looked like machine guns as he almost mechanically smacked in ball after ball, both blocking and hitting, obviously a great player. So I asked Coach Jack, and he was surprised, thought I knew.

He was the famous Spanish player He Zhiwen, 55 years old, formerly a Chinese National Team member. He has now been at my club (MDTTC) for about three weeks, and I believe will be there another week or so. Last year at the World Veterans Games he won the 50-54 Men...




Monday, July 31, 2017 - 13:59
July 31, 2017

Tip of the Week
Killer Practice Sessions. I actually wrote this article back in 2010, before I started this blog, and never linked to it or used it as a Tip before.

I’m Back
What, you didn’t notice I was away? Here’s my write-up of my nine days at The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO) Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop. (Make sure to click through the 12 “Vacation” pictures! Sorry, no table tennis there. Also, if you know anything about GPS, see the next-to-last paragraph – it’s a mystery how my phone was reprogrammed to try to bring me to some local address when I was trying to drive home.)

There were two table tennis related items from the workshop. First, I brought my ...




Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 13:24
July 20, 2017

Gone Until Monday, July 31
I’m on vacation and out of town starting this afternoon until Sunday, July 30. Normal people vacation at places like Disneyworld, beaches, or some other vacationy place. Me? Every year about this time I go to a science fiction writing workshop in Manchester, NH, for nine days of intense writing, critiquing, and classes. Fun!!! See you in eleven days.

How You Can Improve at Table Tennis
This morning I was going to write about the segment title – “How You Can Improve at Table Tennis.” But that literally would take a book. I considered shorter ways of doing it, but those would just touch the surface. Then I realized that probably my best and favorite Tip of the Week, “How to Move Up a Level,” pretty much covered it – and yet, these Tips, once published, tend to be lost and forgotten. So below I am reprinting this Tip of the Week from August 4, 2014. (My books Table Tennis Tips and...




Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 13:09
July 19, 2017

Goals
Why do you play table tennis? Everyone has a reason, and whether you’ve thought it through or not, it always comes down to goals. Is your goal to have fun? Fitness? To quench your competitive spirit? Improvement? To reach a specific level or win a specific title? To make money?

  • Fun. This should be at least part of everyone’s reason. If it isn’t fun, why not find another sport or activity that is fun for you? The fun could be either from the play itself or from being around your table tennis friends.
  • Fitness. It’s a great way to get in shape, especially if you are training (i.e. doing drills, including lots of footwork drills).
  • Competitive Spirit. This is not to be confused with “fun.” Some people are just very competitive, and need to compete. Playing table tennis for them is like drinking coffee for someone else. They may take coaching to become better, or just to develop a specific technique that they want to use to compete, such as a serve or a loop. They may be driven to beat a specific player or players, with these goals...



Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 13:41
July 18, 2017

A Typical Private Coaching Session
What happens in a typical private coaching session? It depends on the coach and the player. Some coaches are more practice partners, others do more coaching. (This also depends on the player - those with good technique need less coaching, more training.) Some coaches do only “live” hitting, while others mix in multiball training. Some coaches do the same drills with everyone, others vary the drills and personalize them for each player.

The player’s level, playing style, and goals greatly affect a session. Beginners work mostly on basics, while high-level players are mostly honing skills they already do at a high level. Players with different playing styles do different drills, obviously. But the player’s goals also make a huge difference. When working with a kid, the sky’s the limit, and coaches often train them as if they someday might be fighting to be world champion. Others might not have the coordination necessary, and so coaches focus on developing basic skills – except, if the player has a lot of drive, he might progress into high-level training. Others are only there to...




Monday, July 17, 2017 - 13:59
July 17, 2017

Tip of the Week
Sports Psychology.

Post Nationals Saturation Training
Now that the Nationals is over, it’s time to address various technical issues with some students. You don’t want to mess around with their technique too much just before a major tournament, so there have been some cases where I averted my eyes to certain things, waiting until after the Nationals.

Now it’s time for a few of them to do a bit of Saturation Training. I’ve kept notes on players I’ve been coaching, and now we’re addressing these problems. I’ve noticed a similar bad habit among three of them, who seem to have adopted backhand ready stances as their neutral stance in matches, even though they don’t seem to do so when drilling. One player has been struggling with his forehand in fast rallies – he seems to go into a backhand stance sometimes, and tries to play forehands from that position. Many top players do this, but it takes a LOT of...




Friday, July 14, 2017 - 13:55
July 14, 2017

Serving Seminar at 2017 USA Nationals
At the USA Nationals I gave a one-hour serving seminar on Tuesday night. Here are the notes I used, with some explanations and links added in brackets.

  1. Can Ma Long move his racket substantially faster than you when he serves? Probably not.
    1. They smoothly accelerate into the ball, and graze with a deceptive motion.
    2. Serving is the one part of table tennis where we all start out even.
  2. How to Create Spin [Here’s a Tip on this.]
    1. Demo backspin serve back into net, curving sidespin serves.
    2. Grippy rubber and rubber cleaner
    3. Smooth acceleration with body, forearm, and wrist.
    4. Grazing
    5. High-toss [Here’s a Tip on this.]
  3. Exercises to Increase Your Spin [Here’s a Tip of this, specifically on creating heavy backspin, with info on the “Scoop” method...



Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 13:21
July 13, 2017

My first Few Hours in Las Vegas
I think I had the worst first few hours in Las Vegas in the history of table tennis in Las Vegas – and I didn’t even gamble. Most people gripe about this type of thing on Facebook or to friends; I get to blog about it! So here is how my first few hours went, starting from minutes after I landed for the USA Nationals on Sunday, July 2. Skip to the other segments if you don’t want to hear my gripes!!!

  1. Right after landing I checked my email, and discovered a “poison pen” email from someone. I won’t go into details, let’s just say it was pretty ridiculous.
  2. As I went out to catch the shuttle, I got to see the shuttle leave, and had to wait for the next one.
  3. I got to the hotel at about 10AM, but the room wasn’t ready and check-in didn’t start until 11AM. So I found a comfortable spot, opened my laptop to check email and web pages . . . and it didn’t work. It was a brand new laptop, bought a week before to replace my previous one, which was about seven years old. But the new one kept freezing up and giving me “Not Responding”...