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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, 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...




Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 13:52
April 26, 2017

Tip of the Week
How Do You Develop Ball Control and a Feel for the Ball?

USATT Board Meeting
On Friday I flew out to the USATT board meeting in Milpitas, CA, last Friday, arriving in San Jose Airport around 5PM. I spent much of the flight going over USATT coaching committee plans – I was recently appointed the chair. (It’s my second tenure – I also chaired it for four years in the 1990s.) I flew in with fellow board member Gary Schlager (his first in-person board meeting) and USATT lawyer Dennis Taylor. Local player Michael Greene picked us up at the airport – right on time - and would later be picking up others as well.

That night we did a quick visit at the Silicon Valley TTC, which was a five-minute walk from the hotel, hitting for perhaps 15 minutes. Then we had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. (I just had a salad.)

On Saturday morning we took what I kept calling the “Great White Whale” (a large white van, almost a bus, which USATT CEO Gordon Kaye drove to charter us everywhere) to the ICC Table Tennis...




Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 14:04
April 20, 2017

USATT Board Meeting, and No Blog Until Next Wednesday
Tomorrow morning I’m flying out to San Jose, CA, for the USATT Board meeting on Sat & Sun in nearby Milpitas. I won’t get back until Monday night. I’ll have a lot of work to catch up when I return, so I’m going to take Tuesday off as well to catch up – so no blog until next Wednesday. I’m going to the meeting as a member of the USATT Board as well as the recently appointed chair of the Coaching Committee.

We’ll be staying at the Courtyard Marriot in Milpitas – which, I discovered by chance when I looked it up on Google Maps, is practically across the street from the full-time Silicon Valley TTC. So I may walk over there after dinner on Friday night. (Gee, this could be my big...




Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 14:05
April 19, 2017

The Relationship Between Stroking and Footwork
I worked with an adult beginner yesterday. She’s only had a few lessons, and her forehand and backhand shots were still more or less patting the ball back and forth. Until yesterday.

Here’s what happened. We probably spent a good 20 minutes at the start just hitting forehands, first multiball, then live, and she was unable to do more than awkwardly pat the ball back and forth, hitting the ball flat (no topspin). Then we did backhands, and it was the same, though a little better. We did some pushing and serve practice, then came back to forehands, and still mostly just patting the ball back and forth. Then I decided to introduce her to footwork, which we normally hold back on until the strokes are more solid. So I fed multiball side to side as she hit forehands from the forehand side and the middle.

And suddenly she was driving the ball! The balls even had some topspin. She hadn’t been able to do this while standing more or less stationary, but once I had her moving, the stroke fell into place. Presto, instant good forehand! (Well, it still needs a lot of practice, but a lot...