TableTennisCoaching.com Home

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 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, November 8, 2017 - 12:45
November 8, 2017

Visualizing the Serve
I think one of my most widely applicable Tips is A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact. This has come up a lot recently in my coaching, both private and group. After a serving practice session with our Talent Junior Program (our best juniors, ages 7-13, about 24 of them), I gave a short lecture on this.

Let’s face it – most players really aren’t aware of what they are doing when they serve. Sure, they know the more obvious parts, like contact, and perhaps how it bounces on the far side. But they aren’t really aware of how high or low they contact the ball, where it bounces on their side of the table, the curve of the ball, not even how high it is when it crosses the net. They tend to notice only what’s happening on the far side, while ignoring what led to what happens on the far side. Without knowing and controlling what happens throughout the serve, including on your side of the table, you can’t really control the serve.

Seriously, if you want to have good serves, you need to be aware of every part of the...




Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 14:28
November 7, 2017

Weekend Coaching and Coaching Correspondence
I was going to write about my weekend coaching yesterday, but then that thing about USA bidding for the Worlds came up, and, well, it was a tough call - what's more interesting, the World Championships or reading about Larry's coaching sessions? Of course you want to hear more about my coaching sessions, but I decided to save the best for later and write about the World’s first. 

As usual, I had three group sessions on Sunday. (I run two of them, help with the other.) In the Beginning Junior Class, Week 8, we introduced them to looping. Not world-class looping, not yet, but just easy spinning of a backspin ball on the forehand side. (We'll do backhand next Sunday.) About half the class was ready for this, while for others (mostly younger ones) we did more work on forehand, backhand, pushing, and footwork. We had 17 in the class, with four coaches.

In the Talent Junior Program, I fed a lot of multiball, much of it backspin so they too could work on looping, but now it was much more advanced players. I also spent time working with some of them on pushing. Two of the...




Monday, November 6, 2017 - 14:55
November 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Become Your Own Feedback.

Three Cities Bid for 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships - Including San Jose, USA
Here’s the ITTF article. Yes, San Jose, USA is bidding for the Worlds against Ekaterinburg (Russia), Busan (Korea Republic). USA has never run the World Championships, but from I think we have a really good chance at winning this one. (I’m refraining from making any Russia/Trump jokes, and from hinting of the dangers of running anything in the Korean peninsula at this time. Oh wait, I just did.) Here’s a quote from the article:

“The bid from San Jose means that the USA is in the running to host only the second ITTF World Championships to be held outside of Asia and Europe. The first and only time that happened was in 1939 when Cairo, Egypt were hosts.  It’s positive signs for the global rise of table tennis, especially in North America,...




Friday, November 3, 2017 - 14:00
November 3, 2017

Moving and Table Tennis
Once again I’ve run into the interesting fact that some players have better shots when they move, especially when moving to the wide forehand. I blogged about this on Sept. 22, where we discovered that Todd’s shots were much better when he did footwork.

Yesterday I coached a new player, Ron, and it happened again. He was an experienced tennis player but new to table tennis. His forehand was decent, but often a bit cramped, with the racket too close to the body, and the tip often tilted slightly up. We worked on this for a while, and then I noticed something. Whenever I went a little wider to this forehand, he’s reach out and hit a perfect forehand! He’d extend the arm so it wasn’t cramped, and the tip would drop down to where it should be. Often his shot would be very wide to my forehand, which was very obvious because, due to my ongoing shoulder problems, I can’t really extend my arm and so have less reach going that way.

I pointed this out to him, and had him shadow practice that “moving”...




Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 13:13
November 2, 2017

New ITTF World Rankings
Here’s the ITTF article on the new world rankings, and here’s more from Table Tennis Daily. Here are the new rankings for Men and Women. They are using for the first time a newly updated rating system. Some big changes!

On the men’s side, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike were both removed for inactivity, with Germans Ovtcharov and Boll moving up to #3 and #4. (But their next player is Filus Ruwen, who moved from #24 to #21.) China’s Ma Long and Fan Zhendong are still #1 and #2, but the next two Chinese are Lin Gaoyuang and Fang Bo at #7 and #10. Japan’s Noki Niwa, Jun Mizutani, and Kenta Matsudaira move up to #5, 6, and 9, with their 14-...




Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 14:00
November 1, 2017

Table Tennis Writing and Book Sales
When I’m not coaching table tennis, I’m writing about it, along with a little science fiction. (Here’s my Amazon page for both.) As of today, I have 1766 published articles, plus approximately 1600 table tennis blog entries, 34 science fiction blog entries, and 13 books.

Of the articles, they include 1562 on table tennis, 142 science fiction & fantasy, 33 on the Baltimore Orioles, and 29 others. Throw in the 1600 blog entries, and it’s about 3400 articles, plus the 13 books. That’s way too much time I’m not watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead!

The 13 books include 8 on table tennis and 6 science fiction & fantasy. Yep, 8 + 6 = 13. That’s because The Spirit of Pong counts for both. (...




Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 12:30
October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! But I’m Off Today
It's Halloween, my new science fiction novel comes out today, and I've got an injured hip, shoulder, and knee. I'm taking the day off. See you tomorrow. (However, after a day of rest on Monday, the hip injury seems much better this morning. I don’t think I’ll have to miss any of my coaching on Wednesday. I have no coaching on Mondays and Tuesdays, my “weekend.”) But to tide you over, here are pictures and a video (34 sec) of Navin “Bionic Man” Kumar dressed as Randy Daytona from the movie “Balls of Fury.” (Here’s a direct link to the video. Here’s a...




Monday, October 30, 2017 - 13:57
October 30, 2017

Tip of the Week
How to Play the Bomber: The Player Who Tries to Blast Every Shot.
[Note – I wrote this as a Tip of the Week in 2010, and put it up as a coaching article once, but somehow it never made its way up as a Tip – so here is an updated version.]

Weekend Coaching, Hip Hurts, and Halloween Costumes
Another busy weekend – and this time a PAINFUL one. (More on that below.) On Sunday, as usual, I had three consecutive 90-minute group sessions.

In the Beginning Junior Class, the day's feature was smashing. They'd spent a lot of time until now on forehands, as well as backhands, footwork, pushing, serving, and so on. So now we had what is probably the most fun session of all for them. Yes, the only thing more fun than smashing is first learning to smash. I went over the basics, did a demo, and then we went into our groups. (Assisting were John Hsu, Martin Jezo, and Greg Mascialino, who was subbing for Coach Wen.) But it wasn't all smashing – we also did side-to-side footwork (as always) and pushing,...




Friday, October 27, 2017 - 13:38
October 27, 2017

Ten Miscellaneous Mostly Table Tennis Items

  • Lucy at the table with backspin. She just turned nine, and she just learned how to put enough backspin on her serve so that it comes back into the net. This is the most memorable moment in any kid's life, as we all know. Once she learned how to do it, she didn't want to stop.
  • Halloween. Lucy will be a witch for Halloween. I pointed out that in a fight between a witch and Superman, all she has to do is turn Superman into a frog and she wins. Another student, Aarya, is going to be Wonder Woman – and during our session we argued on and off about who would win in a fight, Wonder Woman or Superman. Aarya worked hard that session, so at the end I admitted that she was right, that Wonder Woman would win, and she was very happy. (But seriously, since Superman's only weaknesses are supposedly kryptonite and magic, why hasn't he ever been turned into a frog by some magical creature?) I may give a full report on costumes by our juniors next week. Meanwhile, if you stop by my house, I'm giving out your choice of Snickers, Milky Ways, or Skittles. I...



Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 13:18
October 26, 2017

A Song of Celluloid and Plastic
For many weeks now I've been coaching exclusively with Butterfly plastic training balls. Most players I work with still prefer celluloid, but accept plastic balls since they have no choice – it's what's used in nearly every tournament and league. In the MDTTC Tuesday and Friday night leagues they only made the final switch to plastic about a month or so ago. (Until then it had been optional, and most had still preferred celluloid.)

Yesterday I went in to coach. (I had four scheduled, but one called in sick, so only three.) At the same time I was coaching we were running our afterschool program with a bunch of kids, and they, and other coaches doing private coaching, were using all of the plastic training balls. There was only a basket of celluloid balls. Since my students had mostly been lamenting their not being able to use the preferred celluloid, I thought, what the heck, and grabbed that basket rather than check if we had more plastic ones in storage.

Instant problem. My first student, Todd, had recently gone over 1500 in league ratings, which closely match USATT tournament ratings. But...