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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, June 8, 2018 - 13:54
June 8, 2018

Ma Long Forehand Loop
Here's a new ITTF video (56 sec) showing the world's best (though technically ranked #2) in real time and slow motion! Let's take a look at it, piece by piece. I'm including four still images from the video. (Note that when I say power, that means both speed and spin.)

BACKSWING. Let's jump to eight seconds in, where they show his backswing in slow motion. Key points:

  1. Nearly all his weight is on his back (right foot).
  2. Right foot is pointed partly outwards. This allows easy power from pushing off the foot.
  3. His feet are nearly parallel to the table. This allows him to both put more rotational power into the shot and play a quicker shot, but less power from weight shifting. It also keeps him in position for a powerful backhand. Most players put their right foot at least slightly back for this shot - I do - because you can't really play forehands effectively in a fast rally with the feet parallel unless you train...



Thursday, June 7, 2018 - 13:58
June 7, 2018

Timo Boll Hand Switch at 2018 China Open - Revisited
Here's the video (45 sec), which I posted on Tuesday, of the point between Timo Boll of Germany (world #4) and Liang Jingkun of China, world #82. Let's look at it shot by shot. (Use the space bar to start/stop the action, and the left arrow to bring the video back 5 seconds - at least that's what it does on mine.) Note that Liang will end up pulling off the upset, -5,9,10,-7,-4,9,5. At the time of this point, Boll is up 3-2 in games but Liang leads 9-5, and 9-6 after this point. 

  1. Liang's serve. It's hidden, of course, since umpires these days almost never call hidden serves - or more specifically, don't call serves where they are not "satisfied" that the serve is legal. When a player contorts his body like this and then thrusts his head out just as he's about to contact the ball, there's no way an umpire can be "satisfied" that the serve was not hidden - he simply can't tell...



Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 13:49
June 6, 2018

Waldner 2018
Many, perhaps most, consider Jan-Ove Waldner the greatest player of all time. I've never played him, but I've met and talked to him many times, even had lunch with him and other top Swedes when I interviewed them for an article. What would happen if he were in his prime today?

There's no way of making a perfect comparison. For one thing, Waldner played nearly his entire career with a 38mm ball, while we now use 40mm. Equipment has also gotten better. (Hidden serves are now "illegal," but it isn't really enforced, so that part won't affect him. Games to 11 instead of 21 won't make much of a difference.) So how would he do? Keep in mind that nearly always the next generation is "better" than the previous generation, with better techniques, better training, and better equipment. Only a true phenom like Waldner could hope to compete with players a couple generations later. (Of course, if Waldner were to have developed in modern times, he'd have access to these better techniques, training, and equipment, but we're going to look at him as he actually was, not as he might have been.) ...




Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 14:26
June 5, 2018

Tip of the Week
Footwork at Different Physical Levels.

Maryland State Championships . . . and Waldner
They were held this past weekend. My write-up (along with links to photos) is up at the USATT News site and the Butterfly News site - take your pick! The Butterfly one features a picture of the Under 4000 Doubles Finalists - and those two little 9-year-olds in the middle, Mu Du and Stanley Hsu, made it to the final, losing 15-13 in the fifth. They are rated 1789 and 1976! (Read about their exploits in the tournament article.) USATT featured the Open Doubles finalists, with Lidney Castro/Martin Jezo the winners over Jeffrey Zeng/Wang Qingliang.

Here are the ratings from the tournament, which went up yesterday.  And in case you missed it from my...




Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 13:48
June 5, 2018

When I got up this morning the power was out - I have no idea why. It didn't come on until about 9AM. I'll have the blog up by 10:30AM,and if I don't, I'll just pardon myself. Meanwhile, the Tip of the Week is up - Footwork at Different Physical Levels. So why not stand up and do some table tennis footwork practice, away from the table without a ball? That'll wake you up faster than coffee!!!




Monday, June 4, 2018 - 13:29
June 04, 2018

Maryland State Championships
I'm still recovering from two consecutive 15-hour days running the tournament (98 players), and the huge hours before setting it up (with a record number of emails and phone call queries), and as I normally do after tournaments, will take today off from blogging. Alas, it won't be a day off - I have to finish the tournament write-up, photo work, press release, and accounting, plus finalize the June MDTTC Newsletter with all the tournament info. Here are the results of the tournament. And here is the Point of the Tournament (55 sec), from the Men's Singles final between Lidney Castro and Wang Qingliang, care of PongMobile (the foremost way to view ratings!). For your further TT reading and viewing, USATT put up a number of news items over the weekend. And perhaps this is a good time to rewatch...




Friday, June 1, 2018 - 14:01
June 1, 2018

Serve & Receive Tactics Seminar
The Serve & Receive Tactics Seminar was a big success. We had 23 players ranging from beginners to 2000. Here's a group picture. (Several players left before we did the picture at the end.) We raised exactly $400 to help send our coaches to the Nationals to coach the 16 MDTTC junior players going. Here's the funding page, which currently shows $14,175 of the $15,500 goal, but the $400 hasn't been added as of this writing. (It'll probably go up later today.) So we're now just $925 short of the goal. Why not pitch in? From the funding page, "We're raising $15,500 to bring the coaches that work with the kids all year to the tournament to ensure that our young athletes have the support they need to succeed in the sport they love. They will create a training camp for the kids before the tournament and coach them...




Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 13:34
May 31, 2018

Coaching and Public Speaking
As noted in segment below, I'm running a 90-minute Serve & Receive Tactics Seminar at MDTTC tonight, 8:00-9:30PM. With 19 players already signed up, we'll likely have well over 20. The flyer lists eight serve and eight receive topics I'll be covering. 

How am I preparing for it? Many years ago I would have practiced like crazy, and put together a one-page outline. And that's how I recommend most coaches do it. However, I've been coaching for four decades, and have written extensively on these topics, including Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers, and putting together an outline for this would be like creating an outline for tying your shoes. I've been over this material so many times that the only outline I might need is what NOT to cover so as to cover everything in about an hour (including interactive demos), leaving the last 30 minutes for table practice. I've always considered tactics...




Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 13:54
May 30, 2018

Changes I Wouldn't Mind Seeing Tested
We're so used to the way table tennis is played that many are resistant to any change. And there's a good argument for that - why would we want to change the sport we already love? But let's open our minds and consider testing a few - and the key word is test

  • Colored Ball. Our sport is all about spin, and we have a ball that makes it almost impossible to see it! We're used to it, but I've always thought this was almost insane. We want to be a spectator sport while hiding what is practically the central aspect of our sport? Being able to read the spin more easily would also lead to fewer mistakes against serves. It would also pretty much solve the hidden serve problem as you could more easily read spin from the ball. Plus, imagine how cool it would look if we chose a really nicely designed ball! They actually tried this at a major tournament a few years ago, using a multi-colored ball, but the ball itself was a cheap one. It needs to be tried out with a high-quality ball. 
  • Adjustable Table Height. The standard...



Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 13:35
May 29, 2018

Tip of the Week
The Balance Between Tactical and Strategic Thinking.

Balticon and Back to Pong
For once, I had pretty much of a non-table tennis weekend. (But I'll get to the table tennis in a minute.) I was a panelist at the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention. Here's my Balticon Bio - note where it says, "He's also a professional table tennis coach, and claims to be the best science fiction writer in USA Table Tennis, and the best table tennis player in SFWA"! (That's Science Fiction Writers of America, which has stringent membership requirements - you have to sell at least three short stories to one of the big "pro" magazines - I've sold 26 - or a novel to one of the big "pro" publishers.)

On Saturday I had a one-hour book signing session - here's a picture. I was on four...