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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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 11:01
January 17, 2017

Tip of the Week
Coaching and Playing Under the New ITTF Coaching Rule. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 28.)

Cleaning the Newgy Robot
Last night I spent nearly two hours testing and cleaning our two Newgy robots. We usually have one, and one as a backup. The one we were using had recently started to jam regularly. It was reaching the point where it would do so every minute or so, and then we'd have to turn the robot off, and push the balls up through the feeder tube to unjam the balls. But that wasn't even the worst of the problems - the oscillator broke a couple months ago, so you could only aim it in one direction. Still worse, the shooting head had become loose, and so no matter where you aimed it, within seconds it would drift toward the wide...




Monday, January 16, 2017 - 13:18
January 16, 2017

MLK Day
It's MLK Day, so I'm off! (Well, sort of . . . I'll be at my desk working with Tim Boggan for a gazillion hours today, then coaching tonight.) And here's the Tip of the Week (which I'll also link to tomorrow): Coaching and Playing Under the New ITTF Coaching Rule. See you tomorrow. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 28.)




Friday, January 13, 2017 - 12:01
January 13, 2017

The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Ping-Pong Hall: Muscle Memory
Think about it: everything you do when you play table tennis beyond the beginning level involves muscle memory. Muscle memory controls your strokes and serves, your reactions to the opponents' shot, even most of your tactics.

I'm sure there are many advanced studies on this, but what's important here is the practical aspect. And for that, I would say there are two types of muscle memory in table tennis: what I will call "rote muscle memory" and "reactive muscle memory." (I'm sure there are actual technical terms for this, but I'm not going for the technical side here.)

Rote muscle memory is what you use when you tie your shoelaces, play a song you know well on an instrument, do table tennis serves, or hit forehand to forehand with someone who keeps the ball in the same place. It's the first thing beginners learn as they develop into intermediate players. Without this, you simply wouldn't be able to make high-level shots with any consistency. An example of this is a demo I regularly give in my classes, where I put a water bottle...




Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 10:59
January 12, 2017

USATT Election
As noted in yesterday's blog, USATT has an election coming up. Yay!!! Here's info. It was also in yesterday's USATT Insider, and will be in a mass email by USATT to members this Friday.

The candidates are Attila Malek and Rajul Sheth, who are running for the open At-Large position (a four-year term) held by Mike Babuin the past eight years. (He's term-limited from running again.) As you'll learn from their campaign statements, both have been very active and successful in their table tennis careers. I've debated about whether to endorse one, but frankly, I don't want to do that when I'm fine with either - both will bring their expertise to develop the sport, both at the grassroots and elite levels. When the day comes that I do endorse a candidate, it'll likely mean that there's both a candidate I really want to see on the board AND a candidate that I really don't want to see on...




Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - 12:03
January 11, 2017

Timmy and Ping-Pong and Calfie, Oh My!
Tim moved in with me yesterday around 3PM, and within minutes we were hard at work, me doing pages of Volume 19 of his History of U.S Table Tennis, him saying "This goes there! Scan this! Type this! No, you fool, that's not what I meant!" We did the front and back covers and the first 15 or so pages (of a projected 500), plus I scanned and fixed up a bunch of other photos. We then left for dinner at about 5:15 PM, Carrabba's. (It's a nice Italian chain, with lots of authentic Italian dishes with Italian-sounding names. I had pepperoni pizza, Tim had Linguini with white clam sauce.) After dinner, he went to bed (around 7PM as usual for him), and I stayed up late writing. (A new SF story, plus started on the blog.)

I went to bed after midnight, was up by 5:30AM to get the blog down, and to be ready to work with Tim by 7AM. As I write this, I'm looking for more ways to postpone getting started with Tim, because once we start, we'll be at it ALL DAY!!! At least until 5PM, when I leave to coach.

The calf injury is 2/3 healed, but I'm still worried about re-injuring it. But I...




Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 14:55
January 10, 2017

History of U.S. Table Tennis: Volume 19
It's hard to believe, but we're into Volume 19 of Tim Boggan's History of U.S. Table Tennis! As I write this, he's relentlessly driving toward Maryland, with an expected arrival of 3PM. Then we go to work!

As usual, the volume is projected to have about 500 pages and 1000 photos. USATT Hall of Fame official and photographer Mal Anderson scans most of the photos in advance and sends them to me on a CD. But nearly all of them need fixing up in Photoshop as many are scans directly from magazines or are old, vintage (i.e. poor quality) photos - and that's the first part of my job. And then I do the page layouts, with Tim sitting next to me, jabbing his finger at the screen periodically and screaming, "No, it goes there, you fool!"

He used to type up nearly all the text and then we'd place the photos (including captions and photo credits). But in recent years, to save time, he's had Mal scan the articles directly, and so I often place entire pages in one shot. However, the pages need lots of time-consuming...




Monday, January 9, 2017 - 15:04
January 9, 2017

Tip of the Week
Focus on How to Beat Someone, Not On Why You Can’t. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 27.)

My Weekend….
Tennis and calf injury and new classes, oh my!

  • Friday: Here's what I wrote on Facebook on Friday night: "Well, I've gone and done it. As part of my 'secret' plan to get in great physical shape, I was in my first tennis (yes, tennis) training session tonight in over five years. I jogged and stretched in advance, but of course you know what happened - 45 minutes into the session I pulled my right calf muscle. I probably won't be doing any private coaching for a while - I can't even walk right now without a crutch. (I can do group sessions on crutches.) I used to do group...



Friday, January 6, 2017 - 15:00
January 6, 2017

How My Coaching Differs from Some
"You can't do it!" I told the 7-year-old girl.

"Yes I can!" she insisted. I'd challenged her to hit 20 forehands in a row.  

"Prove it!" I demanded. In the next rally, after she missed after about ten shots, I shook my head in disgust. "See? I told you weren't good enough. I think you should give up!"

"No way!!!" Of course, a short time later she was gloating at me while I hid my face in embarrassment. "You were lucky!" I declared. "You'll never get that many in a row again!" Of course, within minutes she hit 30. (This all happened in a session last night.)

Most coaches like to encourage their students. I like to take the opposite approach – and it works. Plus, I have the fun of insulting all my students – and they like it! Of course, you have to have the right manner when you do this. I've seen some stern-faced coaches who, if they said, "You aren't good enough to do it," the student would burst into tears and run for the door. You have to keep it both fun and challenging....




Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 14:05
January 5, 2017

TT-Flex
I tried out the TT-Flex at the club yesterday, the new invention of Samson Dubina. Here's the video (4:02, though you can get the idea about it in the first few seconds). "TT-Flex is a full body strengthening system that targets the exact table tennis movements you need to enhance your game!" It hooked up easily to a table leg, and worked as advertised. It was similar to some oversized rubber bands I'd been given years ago to use to rehab from arm injuries, except, of course, this ties in directly to a weighted metal racket, with various hole placements to work on specific shots. It seems a pretty interesting way to exercise and develop the shots.  

I showed it to one of my junior students, who wanted to try out the weighted racket in rallies. Not easy – it's got those holes for the rubber bands! But he learned to hit the ball at the bottom of the hitting surface, where there's no holes, and spent ten minutes chopping and chop-lobbing to my smashes. I'll show it...




Wednesday, January 4, 2017 - 14:54
January 4, 2017

Visual Imagery with Ma Long
Yesterday I had private sessions with two junior players. The first one, age 12, about 1700, has great ball control, but often falls back on forehand looping with mostly his arm, which leads to both a loss of power and frequent injuries. We've been working hard to fix the problem. Often he'll loop really well for a time, then he'll fall back into old habits. He'd taken some time off during Christmas (partly because I was also away), and so was a bit out of practice, and so I was worried he'd start up with his old habits. What to do?

After a short warm-up, we watched (on my smart phone) the first half of this video of Ma Long (5:06), which features his forehand loop. (For those living in a cave, he's the reigning world men's singles champion and ranked #1 in the world.) The idea was to get that visual image so that he could match it. And it worked – right from the start his loop technique was very Ma Longish.

My second student, age 10, about 1200, is working on developing his forehand loop. He tends to be...