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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

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 13:14
April 13, 2017

MDTTC Spring Break Camp, Day Three
Yesterday the focus was on honing the forehand and backhand strokes, and footwork. I did a lot of multi-player multiball drills, where I'd work with two or more players at a time. Here are some of the drills we did. (All of the players I worked with were righties.) 

Two players: The Multi-Player Side-to-Side Drill. The A player would stand in the forehand corner, the B player in the backhand corner but a step back. The A player hit a forehand, moved to the backhand side, hit a backhand, moved back to the forehand side, hit a forehand, then step back. Then the B player would do the same, going backhand, forehand, backhand, step back. Then repeat. It's continuous, with me feeding the balls side to side. Halfway through the drill I'd have them switch sides. (If the players are complete beginners, then they just stand in separate corners and practice forehands or backhands.)

Two or more players: Circling Drill. Players lined up on the backhand side, and hit three forehands, one from the backhand side, one from the middle, one from the forehand side, and then circle back to the end of the line....




Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 13:13
April 12, 2017

Interview with Larry Hodges – “The Best Table Tennis Tip…Ever”
Here’s the article and interview from Todd Lodziak at TableTennisCoach in England. I’m a bit embarrassed by it!

MDTTC Spring Break Camp
Yesterday was Day Two of our Spring Break Camp. I’m in charge of a group of seven players who are mostly beginners. The complication is their diversity - there are four boys who are all about 10-12 and about the same level; a girl about 8 who is a beginner; and two very young kids, a boy and girl, about ages 5 and 6, who struggle to hit the ball. During the multiball sessions I tend to break them into two groups, the four older boys and the other three, and go back and forth.

We’ve done a lot of work on forehand, backhand, and footwork so far. I started the younger ones on serves on the first day to give them a “head start,” and introduced the others to serving with spin yesterday. I was going to have them practice their serves, but was running out of time, so instead we...




Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 13:05
April 11, 2017

Butterfly MDTTC April Open
April 8-9, 2017 • Gaithersburg, MD
By Larry Hodges

Players from six states, DC, and Nigeria competed in our 3-star April Open at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with over $2700 in cash prizes. I sent the results in on Sunday night; found a mistake on Monday morning and resent the new results at 9AM, and USATT still managed to process the tournament that day! So the rating results of both the 4-star Cary Cup from the week before the MDTTC Open went up on Monday at the USATT Tournament Ratings Page. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong.

The Open final between the lefty top-seeded Alex Ruichao Chen (2689 and a full-time coach at MDTTC) and second-seeded Azeez Jamiu (2609, former Nigerian star visiting New York) was a nail-biter at the end. Alex may have the best pure serve and forehand attack game in...




Monday, April 10, 2017 - 13:16
April 10, 2017

Tip of the Week
First Step to Blocking Well is Taking That First Step.

Tournament and Camp
I spent all day Saturday and Sunday running the 3-star Butterfly MDTTC April Open, assisted by Mossa Barandao. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong. I’ll write more about this tomorrow, but suffice to say I was there each morning at 8AM, finishing around 8PM on Saturday, and 5PM on Sunday – and then coaching for 1.5 hours. I was going to blog more about it this morning, but I’m running out of time – have to go coach at our MDTTC Spring Break Camp this morning, which is Mon-Fri this week, 10AM-6PM. Combined with the usual private coaching at night, it’s going to be a VERY busy week. (I ran out of time this morning, despite getting up at 6AM, because I had to fix some problems in the results for the tournament - technical problems - which I just managed to do before putting this up, and in a few minutes I'll be off to the club....)

...




Friday, April 7, 2017 - 14:01
April 7, 2017

China and USA National Team Coaches
China just announced their new National Team Coaches Lineup:

  • Head Coach: Liu Guoliang
  • Men’s Team Head Coach: Qin Zhijian
  • Men’s Team Coaches: Liu Guozheng, Wang Hao, Ma Lin, Liu Heng, Ma Junfeng
  • Women’s Team Head Coach: Kong Linghui
  • Women’s Team Coaches: Xiao Zhan, Li Sun, Chen Bin, Zhang Qin, Huang Haicheng

As explained in the article, “Ma Long’s coach Qin Zhijian has been promoted to fill the role of Men’s Team Head Coach, with Liu Guoliang now overseeing the entire team. Meanwhile Xiao Zhan, Zhang Jike’s coach, has moved to the Women’s Team. The staff also sees the return of some familiar faces but in new roles. Ma Lin and Wang Hao are back in the national team, but now in the guise of coaches. Both will be looking to make their mark in this new chapter of their table tennis career.”

Much of this is a near who’s who of past championship players, as the previous generations works with the...




Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 14:30
April 6, 2017

Kids and Blocking
It always surprises me at how quickly kids pick up on blocking against loops, at least in a drill. But there’s a simple method I’ve found that leads to this. As soon as I explain that blocking is just like playing a video game, they go into “game mode,” and suddenly they are blocking champions! I can loop over and over and they’ll get nearly all of them back, even if their level is in the 500-1000 range. I can even get a little practice out of this.

But there are obvious weaknesses. They can’t really adjust to changing spins – if I suddenly throw a super-slow spinny one at them, they usually block off. If I loop very deep on the table, they get jammed and miss. And they aren’t yet in the habit of stepping to the ball, and so have trouble if my loop goes outside a roughly 18-inch wide zone.

A key here is to teach them, right from the start, that they should step to each ball, even if it’s a one-inch step. If you allow them to develop the habit of reaching for the ball, it becomes a habit that’s harder to break. Even if my loop goes to exactly the same spot...




Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 09:57
April 5, 2017

The Three Types of People and Long Pips
This past weekend at the Cary Cup Open in North Carolina, one of my students, just-turned-11 Jackson (that’s his first name) went in rated 1416, but pulled off a series of upsets, including a win over a 1939 player with long pips on one side. There’s an interesting story behind this.

About a month ago I’d watched him lose a practice match to a 1500 chopper with long pips. In our next session, I pointed out that throughout the match, he’d served and just stood in the middle of the table, waiting to see what return he’d get. Since most of the returns came to his backhand, he mostly followed up with soft backhands, and so both lost his serve advantage and took his strong forehand out of play. I explained that when you play a chopper (or most players with long pips on the backhand who receive defensively), you essentially get one “free shot” off your serve. (This assumes the chopper is willing to chop your serve back.) So I pulled out my chopping racket (with long pips) and had him practice against it, where he’d serve and follow almost exclusively with his...




Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 14:07
April 4, 2017

April Fools’ Blogs
I hope you enjoyed the groundbreaking exposé in my blog yesterday of the new techniques by the Swedes to beat the Chinese – edge serves, net receives, knuckle shots. Some of you may have noticed that although the blog was on April 3, it referred to events that took place on Saturday. April 1. The more attentive of you may have read the first letter of each line. If not, now’s your chance!!! And for the record, Jan-Ove Waldner does have an older brother sort of named Ake Waldner – his real name is Kjell-Åke Waldner, and he too was a top table tennis player.

Here are my past April Fools’ Day blogs, where the first letter of each line spells out this secret message.




Monday, April 3, 2017 - 13:23
April 3, 2017

Tip of the Week
Coaching Tournament Matches.

How The Swedes Will Beat the Chinese Again
Ake Waldner visited MDTTC this past Saturday, spending the day watching our
players train. He is the brother of former Swedish superstar Jan-Ove Waldner, and was
recently named Head Coach of the Swedish National Men’s Team. Our players had some
interesting questions, of course. Sweden had battled with China for decades, with such
legendary players as Bengtsson, Persson, Appelgren, and of course Waldner.

First question, of course, was rather straightforward – how could Sweden, USA,
or any other team possibly beat China? I’ve always argued that if we use the same
orthodox techniques that make the Chinese so good, we’ll always be just a pale
likeness, with no chance of matching them.

Ake agreed with me! And it turns out the Swedes are working on new techniques,
practicing things that might allow them to beat the Chinese. Serve, receive, and
rallies – you have to win at all...




Friday, March 31, 2017 - 14:07
March 31, 2017

$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC April Open and Coaching at Tournaments
I'm running the tournament next weekend (April 8-9) at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD. I hope to see many of you there! We've expanded our tournaments from last year, going to two days and three-star events, doubling the prize money, and going from seven to ten events. Here is our tournament page and here is the entry form. You can also enter online at Omnipong. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12.

Some of you are playing a tournament this weekend. According to the USATT Tournament Page, there are four this weekend in the U.S.:

  • 4-star Butterfly...