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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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 13:13
April 10, 2018

Off This Morning
I have to take this morning off from blogging. I'd like to say it's for some big table tennis reason, but actually it's because I'm in a pair of upcoming writing workshops, and have to read and do extensive critiques on seven science fiction & fantasy short stories. Don't worry, I'll be back to table tennis tomorrow! (Actually, I also have to do player evaluations for about ten junior players from our Talent program, so as soon as I finish the SF critiques I switch back to TT.) I plan to spend the day working at the eatery at Lake Forest Mall, so if you are local, stop by and say hello. (But I really, Really, REALLY need to get this work done, so no more than a few minutes and then I have to get back to work.) But to entertain you this morning, here's Plate Bouncing Pong (31 sec)!




Monday, April 9, 2018 - 14:03
April 9, 2018

Tip of the Week
How to Return Nets and Edges.

Susan Backed Pingpong Parlor Coming to D.C. - SPiN Washington!
Here's the article. I think it's great we'll have one nearby! They really are a different type of club, going for the upper-scale recreational player, with more of a party atmosphere. I've been to the SPiN NY club twice, and had fun playing there. They now have (or will soon) clubs in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, and now DC. Here is their main web page. Here's their About Us page, which explains their interesting history. (Addendum added Monday afternoon: As I drove to my shoulder therapy session after lunch they were talking about the new table tennis club on the radio! It was on WTOP - 103.5FM.)

Their location is right in the...




Friday, April 6, 2018 - 14:04
April 6, 2018

What It Takes to Be Great - and How to Beat the Chinese
Here's a nice video showing what it takes to be a top player: Coming-of-Age of the Ping Pong Kiddo (12:15). It features a kid in China - one of many thousands - who is striving to be the best, and what type of training this means. (Thanks to John Olsen who sent the link to me.)

This is the type of training that goes on all over the world, often out of sight of even local players, who often don't realize how many hours these kids with their coaches are training. I see it on a daily basis at my club, Maryland Table Tennis Center, and it's happening all over the U.S. in training centers, and all over the world. But the sport is more "serious" in China, and so there are far more kids training full time, and making it their top priority, then anywhere else in the world. Even the best U.S. players have to focus more on school (or at most, equally so), and so it's hard to compete against a system where table tennis is the central focus, with numbers far larger than anywhere else. But it can be...




Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 13:49
April 5, 2018

Lefty Multiball?
As noted in my blog yesterday (second segment), I'm having major shoulder problems. They have been ongoing since October, but became dramatically worse in December at the U.S. Open when I went for a big forehand and tore (or technically "frayed") my rotator cuff. That, along with shoulder tendonitis, bursitis, and extremely tight muscles, mean I won't be doing any private coaching for a while, as explained in the blog.

It also means I can't feed backspin repetitively. When I did this on Saturday, my arm literally went into rebellion, with every part of the shoulder screaming out in terror, "Stop It You Fool!" I stopped a little short of 90 minutes into a two-hour multiball session with a very inflamed shoulder, and it's been hurting ever since. I can feed regular topspin no problem, but when I open the racket for backspin, the arm twists about slightly, and this puts a strain on the shoulder. I experimented all sorts of ways, trying to find a way of doing this without hurting the shoulder, but couldn't find one. (It also...




Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 13:40
April 4, 2018

Head Chinese Coach??? April Fools!
Yesterday's blog was, of course, an April Fools' joke, something I do every year on April 1. This year it fell on a Sunday, and I was off on Monday, so it came out two days late - but note that I dated the blog April 1, even though it came out on April 3! Also note that I said I'd been hired as the Head Chinese Coach on Sunday, which was April 1. And most important, read the first letter of each line (which I've now bolded), which reads out (twice), "April Fool April Fool"! It should also have been suspicious that each line had a hard break ("manual line break") instead of flowing like all the other articles - otherwise I couldn't force the starting letters. (Plus do you really think I'm going to kick Ma Long and Fan Zhendong off the Chinese team if they don't learn English? Or that China would hire an American coach due to his table tennis books?) But some emailed me believing it was true.)  Here are my annual April Fools' blogs since 2011. And now to start planning next year's! (I did...




Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 13:55
April 1, 2018

Tip of the Week
Arrange Practice Partners in Advance.

I'm hired as the Head Chinese Coach!!!
An incredible announcement: I've been hired as the Head Table Tennis Coach for China!!!
Probably because of the recent very poor performance of Chinese players, the Chinese TTA
reached out and hired me on Sunday. Liu Guoliang was replaced as head coach last year, and
it hasn't gone well for China since. But that is going to change - I'm already in contact with
Liu to get his advice on bringing Chinese table tennis back to the top. I'll be working with
famous players: Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike, Xu Xin, Lin Gaoyuan, Fang Bo, and
others on the men's side, and stars Chen Meng, Zhu Yuling, Chen Xingtong, and Liu Shiwen
on the women's side. I am going to work these players to death! I have a few weeks before I
leave, but seriously, this...




Friday, March 30, 2018 - 14:01
March 30, 2018

NOTE - no blog on Monday - power will be out from 7AM-5PM for electrical repairs, plus local schools are closed for Easter holiday, and so I'm off too. 

Upcoming USATT Stuff
As usual, there's all sorts of time-consuming USATT stuff going on behind the scenes. I get a double-whammy because I'm both on the USATT Board of Directors and chair the USATT Coaching Committee, both unpaid volunteer positions. (I'm probably going to have to drop one of them next year - just too much.) A lot of it is email correspondence. Fortunately, I'm a writer, so emailing is a strength. But then you add all the local volunteers stuff (such as the monthly MDTTC newsletter I'll be working on today), and then add in all the actual paid stuff, and I'm pretty busy. 

This past year there's also been a major headache with one individual who believes there's a huge conspiracy against him, and has lodged numerous complaints - a total of 64 (!!!), to be exact - against about 20 USATT people with both the USATT and the ITTF Ethics Committees, with one big filing to each containing the complaints. (I'll give a full report on...




Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 12:25
March 29, 2018

MDTTC Spring Break Camp: Day Three
Yesterday I had six players in my group for most of the session, so I decided to put them in three groups of two. Two of them would practice on a table by on their own. Two would be on the robot, taking 15 shots each, sometimes with a target on the table to aim for. And two would be with me, with one on ball pickup. It worked pretty well. I did some changes in the pairings after each cycle so they'd get different players to hit with when they were on their own.

Much of the session was stroking and footwork drills. But for one cycle I hit with each player live (rather than multiball), and so each got to do some steady forehand-to-forehand and backhand-to-backhand, and some did live footwork drills. (This was the morning session, which emphasizes multiball. In the afternoon session it's almost all live play.)

We also had a serving session, where I worked with the various levels, from one who is still struggling to serve on the table, to several who were well into learning spin serves. One was hard at work the whole session on his tomahawk serve, and he can now do sidespin, backspin, or side-backspin...




Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 12:19
March 28, 2018

MDTTC Spring Break Camp, Day Two
I focused on basics in my group today - forehands, backhands, footwork, and serves. The strokes are coming along nicely. One girl "invented" a heavy topspin serve, with almost a looping contact - she did this on her own, I hadn't even taught her yet about the different spins or what a loop was. She was so excited about it I didn't have the heart to tell her that she hadn't invented the serve. Others in the group had difficulty returning it, and so were trying to copy the serve.

It was interesting contrasting two players and their forehands. One had a tendency to take a short, quick stroke, and hit the ball on the rise with a jerky, almost slap-like stroke. The other tended to take a long, wandering backswing, with a flapping wrist, and hit the ball late with a very flat contact. Both improved as the session went on, but the two shots were such extremes I told them that, on average, they had perfect forehands. 

We did the ten-cup challenge, where I stacked ten cups into a vertical pyramid (four on bottom, then three, two, and one on top), and with me feeding multiball, each got ten...




Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 13:00
March 27, 2018

Tip of the Week
Finding Simple Tactics That Work.

MDTTC Spring Break Camp
We had a great first day of camp yesterday. As usual in recent years, I worked with the beginners - though they weren't all exactly "beginners"! I got to work with one five-year-old for the first time. I was expecting to have get him started, but lo and behold, he'd been taking lessons regularly with our coaches, and already had an excellent forehand, a decent backhand when in position (not easy when your head barely comes over the table and so the racket hides the ball when you hit backhands unless you hit from the side), and had incredible focus for his age. He was fun to work with.

There were five in my group. All had played, though two (both about 8) hadn't had formal coaching. With those two, I focused on the basics, while the others did more footwork. By the end of the morning training session, all five were doing the two-one drill.

They had great stroking practice at the...