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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,

Member, USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame & USATT Certified National Coach
Professional Coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center

Recent blog posts

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 15:03
February 10, 2017

Upcoming Events
Things are busy these days . . . but they always are, with all my writing projects in addition to coaching, and USATT and MDTTC work. I spent part of yesterday working on the cover for "More Table Tennis Tips" (which I blogged about yesterday) - I've got several options I'm working on. The one I'm leaning toward right now is either really good or really corny, I can't decide yet. I also spent much of yesterday at the car place, where they were replacing the broken windshield. What had started out as a small crack had grown until it went all the way across. The fan for the heat and AC also had broken and had to be replaced. Total cost: 11 table lessons (i.e. how much I normally make in 11 hours of coaching.)

Here are upcoming events.

  • Fridays are usually a day off, but not today. Tonight at 6:30PM for about two hours I'm running a volunteer exhibition/demonstration/training camp for up to a hundred kids at "Club Friday" at the Potomac Community Center, home of the Potomac TTC.
  • Saturday has recently been my other day off - surprisingly...

Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 13:20
February 9, 2017

More Table Tennis Tips
Yesterday afternoon I finished proofing and formatting my 12th book, "More Table Tennis Tips." It consists of the 150 Tips of the Week I put online from 2014-2016, but in logical progression. It'll likely be about 240 pages, and should be out around March 1. I blogged about this on Monday. (It's the sequel and companion to Table Tennis Tips.) Last night I sent it out to the "Fearsome Foursome," who are proofing it - Kyle Angeles, Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor. A great thanks goes to them! (Plus mention in the book, free autographed copies, and appointment to my cabinet when I become U.S. president.)

Here's a funny story. I did all my proofing the last two days at Ledo's Pizza. After I finished yesterday, I returned home with the manuscript in a carry bag, and several slices of pizza in a carry-out box. I was thinking feverishly about the cover - lots of ideas. I opened the refrigerator and began putting...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 14:33
February 8, 2017

Learning with Other Grips
Yesterday, during a session with Daniel (12, about 1700), we had a huge breakthrough - and it came in a completely unexpected way. He's always had a problem when forehand looping in that he backs up and then reaches slightly forward to contact the ball, and ends contacting the ball too far in front. This means he loses the natural power of the body rotating (torque), and so most of his power comes from the upper body. The result is a soft loop that's steady but not very powerful. It also puts a strain on his shoulder, which has led to shoulder problems in the past. We've been working on this for a long time, and sometimes he'll start doing it properly, but he generally falls back into the old habit.

Yesterday, when I was blocking to his forehand loop, on the spur of the moment, he suddenly switched to penhold and continued looping. I started to say something, then stopped. With the penhold grip, his stroke was almost textbook! He was contacting the ball to the side of the body, and rotating into it just right, without backing up. What was going on?

Then I realized what was happening. Hold a racket...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 14:58
February 7, 2017

Navin - Looping and Smashing
I had a nice session with Navin Kumar last night. He's about 1500 level now, a blocker with long pips on the backhand (no sponge). I've been working with him for about two years now. During that time he's gone from 856 to 1426, and is poised to make the jump to about 1600. Some of you might recognize him as "The Bionic Man," who's had a lot of news coverage because of his artificial heart and Parkinson's. (Google "bionic man Navin Kumar.") He often plays in paralympic events. 

Yesterday we started serious work on looping for the first time. I've been holding back on this so we could focus on his regular forehand (which he really didn't have at the start), backhand blocking, and receive. Now that that the forehand is getting better - at least in practice! - it was time. We might have done this last year but he was preparing for the Nationals in December, and we decided to hold back until afterwards. Then he came down sick for a while, so we're just getting to this now.

He picked it up pretty fast in multiball, looping against backspin. At first he had a...

Monday, February 6, 2017 - 14:59
February 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Top Ten Ways to Win and Lose a Match. (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. 31. This is the last one, so now we can finally celebrate the New Year!)

More Table Tennis Tips
I've spent much of the last few days formatting my next table tennis book, the creatively titled "More Table Tennis Tips." This has the 150 Tips of the Week I've written over the last three years, 2014-2016, but put together in logical progression. This is both a sequel and companion piece to my previous book, "Table Tennis Tips," which had the 150 Tips from 2011-2013. Both go with another of my books, "...

Friday, February 3, 2017 - 14:28
February 3, 2017

Overseas Professional Leagues and Full-time Training
When I ran for the USATT Board, two of the things I wanted to do were to set up professional leagues for our players and a professional players' association. The problem is that we only really have one "professional" player at the moment - 16-year-old Kanak Jha, who is currently playing in the professional leagues in Sweden while training full-time. Timothy Wang was a full-time player, but now he's coaching full-time in Texas. There are many full-time coaches who are top players, but there just isn't enough money in the U.S. at this time for truly professional table tennis.

I met with players and organizers a couple of times to discuss the idea of a professional players' association, but there just isn't a lot of interest right now. Even worse, there's the one stumbling block I knew we'd face, and still haven't really figured out how to overcome - where do non-USA citizens fit in? Right now, the best players in the U.S. are overwhelmingly non-citizens. When you go to the...

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 15:09
February 2, 2017

Team and Singles Leagues, and the USATT League Committee
By Larry Hodges, USATT League Chair and At-Large Member of USATT Board of Directors
[NOTE - this was a USATT news item last week - not sure how many people saw it. Note the need for a new League Committee Chairs near the end - do you have what it takes?]

It's that time of year again - time to sign up for a Regional Team League! Oh, there isn't one in your area? Then why not set one up? Here is the USATT League Page, which links to the USATT League Prototype, which you can use as a starting model. (You don't have to be a member of USATT to play in such a league.). Here is a listing of Regional Team Leagues currently in operation – email me if I'm missing any.

  • ...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 15:27
February 1, 2017

Changing Racket Angle When Looping
Here's a question I was asked recently.

QUESTION: A lot of coaches tell us to not 'turn' or close your paddle during your forehand forward swing. They say it's a bad habit of creating topspin and causes inconsistencies. However, I've seen J.O. Waldner and Xu Xin doing that a lot.

MY ANSWER: They probably do this mostly against a slow incoming ball - and they have the timing to get away with it. Against a fast incoming ball, you normally don't want to be changing the racket angle as you forward swing. Against a slower ball, you can generate a bit more whip by changing the angle as you forward swing - but the timing is more difficult. I often to this when going for an all-out rip against a backspin. (Here's an example of a player opening the racket as he snaps his forearm and wrist into the shot in this loop against backspin. Compare the very closed racket angle during the backswing to the slightly more open contact point. The link should take you 57 seconds into this...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 13:54
January 31, 2017

How to Play Practice Matches with a Weaker Player - an Example
It's always a bit disconcerting to go to the USATT News page and see a big picture of yourself! (And it'll stay there until another news item goes up.) Here's the direct link to my Tip of the Week (from yesterday) as a USATT News item.

Here's an interesting example of this. Back in the 1990s we had a junior at MDTTC, Sunny Li, who was dominating several age groups. At one point he won Under 14, 16, and 18 at the Junior Nationals. But as he moved up in level and faced even stronger players, a problem began to show up. He had among the best serves in the country, and easily the best serves among juniors, and often devastated opponents by serving long and watching them flail away at these big, breaking deceptive serves (with spinny-looking no-spin mixed in) - and if they returned them weakly, he'd pound the return, forehand or backhand. But against...

Monday, January 30, 2017 - 15:12
January 30, 2017

Tip of the Week
How to Play Practice Matches with a Weaker Player.  (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. 30. There is one more to go, and then we can finally celebrate the New Year!)

Last-Second Changes of Direction when Blocking
In the Sunday training session I had them do a basic drill, but with a twist. One player would serve and backhand loop (or forehand loop - I gave them that option) to his partner's backhand (or forehand - another option). The partner would aim the ball crosscourt - but at the last second would change and block down the line. (For advanced players, they had the option of going both ways.)

It's much easier to change directions at the last second on a block (or push) then with any other stroke - and players should take...