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 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, November 22, 2016 - 13:18
November 22, 2016

Sixteen and Training Again . . . with Christer Johansson
The year was 1976, I was 16, and I'd just finished a week of hard training at the Monty Merchant Christmas Training Camp. On the last day I got a surprise – Monty had been so impressed with my skills that he'd arranged for Christer Johansson, the great Swedish coach, to fly to the U.S. to take personal charge of my training.

The preceding never happened – or did it? Let me tell the story in order.

I'm in my room, shadow-practicing my forehand, when Monty and Christer walk in. Monty introduces us, then Christer takes charge. Tells me I need to focus on looping from both sides. On the forehand, I was both hitting and looping; he assures me that the future is looping, and to focus on that.

But then we get to my backhand. "You must loop your backhand," he says. He guides me through the stroke as he wants me to do it, and I begin to shadow practice it.

"It's easy to do in practice," I vividly remember telling him, "but hard to do it in games."

"But you must do it in games," he says. We're still in...




Monday, November 21, 2016 - 14:59
November 21, 2016

Tip of the Week
Getting "In the Zone" by Adapting to Your Opponent.

Car Pong!
Yesterday, while driving home from coaching at the club, I suddenly heard a rattling. It seemed to be coming from below, as if something were lose under the car. (And yes, this is all table tennis related – you'll see!) I finally pulled over and looked, but couldn't find anything. So I got back in, and there was more rattling. Something was wrong with my car!!! I debated whether to take it to a gas station, but it was around 8:30PM and I doubted there'd be anyone there to help. So I decided I'd have to take it somewhere in the morning. It meant skipping this morning's blog, since those who come in later in the morning have to wait for them to finish on the ones that came in earlier, and I'd need the car later this afternoon when I go to coach.

After I got home, I checked under the car one more time, but couldn't find the problem. Sighing, I went to the trunk to get my playing bag and a big metal cartoon of food I'd gotten...




Friday, November 18, 2016 - 15:00
November 18, 2016

Pro TT Leagues
One thing I've been harping on for a number of years is how we keep losing our top juniors right as they are on the verge of being world-class players – they go to college. The horror!!! But from a table tennis point of view, it'd be nice if we had a professional league of some sort in the U.S. so these players could postpone college a few years and develop their game to the fullest. It'll be on the agenda at the USATT Board meeting at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.

As I've blogged about before, never in our history have we had such a strong group of cadets and juniors – and it's not even close. Our best ones can now compete with the best in the world, something that was almost unheard of in the past, plus there's the depth is far beyond anything we've had in the past. (How is this happening? The growth of full-time training centers.)

So how do we set up such a pro league in time for this generation of up-and-coming superstars? I see three options:

  1. USATT develops such a pro league. It would most likely be a team league, where clubs buy franchises, and...



Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 14:55
November 17, 2016

Ten Things That Require Zero Talent
On Monday I linked to the list Ten Things That Require Zero Talent. The point is that even if you have little talent – whatever talent is – you can still make the most of what you have, and these ten things will, in the long run, almost always overcome talent. (Unless, of course, the "talented" one also does these ten things to a very high degree.) Here's the actual list:

  1. Being on time
  2. Work ethic
  3. Effort
  4. Body language
  5. Energy
  6. Attitude
  7. Passion
  8. Being coachable
  9. Doing extra
  10. Being prepared

I can't help but think the list is somewhat redundant. You really should do all ten, but in reality, #7 (Passion) leads to #6 (Attitude), which leads to the other eight. Now it's possible to have a good Attitude without the Passion, but that does make it more difficult. (A person working a menial job may not have passion for the job, but can still have a good attitude about it.) But a good Attitude...




Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 14:59
November 16, 2016

Miscellaneous Stuff
I think I've been fighting a minor cold the last few days. This morning I woke up with my head feeling like it was full of cotton, a minor background headache that won't go away, sniffles, and a general feeling of "I should be in bed." Today's a slow day for me - I only have one hour of coaching today - so I should be able to do that. I'm also going to try to get some writing done.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post came in yesterday for the follow-up to their previous visit. This time they had both a writer and a photographer, who took pictures for three hours. So far they have interviewed me, Cheng Yinghua (the focus of the story, along with MDTTC), Jack Huang, Ryan Dabbs, Tiffany Ke, and Lisa Lin. They took many pictures yesterday of these players and coaches, plus lots of shots of 8-year-old Stanley Hsu (about 1350) smacking balls against Cheng. The article will most likely come out next week.

I had a great 90-minute session with Daniel Sofer, recently turned 12, and told him afterwards that if he trained like that all the time, he'd soon be battling with the best players his age in the...




Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 14:25
November 15, 2016

Playing Lefty – and Reading vs. Reacting
Yesterday, at the end of a 90-minute session, my 12-year-old 1700 opponent challenged me to a game where he lobbed, while I played lefty. He was overconfident, and he was serving down 6-8. (I had perfected sort of a lefty "jab-smash.") But then he "cheated," and started throwing spinny sidespin serves at me – and I was suddenly helpless, unable to read spins that I normally would read with ease. It went to deuce, but my inability to return his sidespin serves led to his fist-pumping victory. (He even did the "infamous and controversial fist-pumping walk around the table" of Jiang that I'd described to him earlier – see below.)

But it got me thinking – why was I unable to read the spin on serves that I could easily read when playing right-handed? And the answer was obvious. You don't read spin. You react to it – subconsciously.

Think about it. When an opponent puts spin on the ball, do you consciously think to yourself, "The ball's spinning at 2133 RPM, so I need to put my racket angle at 62.5 degrees"?...




Monday, November 14, 2016 - 12:23
November 14, 2016

Tip of the Week
How to Develop a Quicker Forehand.

Youngest Table Tennis Players
Here's a picture of Shia Williams, age 5, playing his first tournament. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) He's playing in the Robopong October 2016 Broward TTC Open. Here's the video (2 min)!

He achieved a rating of 994 – not bad! Anyway, this raises the question of who was the youngest player ever to play a USATT tournament. I'm sure if I had access to the entire database and the proper data tools, I could figure this out. But I already know the answer – sort of.

The youngest to enter a USATT...




Friday, November 11, 2016 - 14:59
November 11, 2016

It's Veteran's Day, so I'm off today. (In reality, I've got a rather long todo list to take care of, but at least I can start fresh and early.) Here's some Championship Table Tennis (cartoon) to tide you over. 




Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 14:59
November 10, 2016

How Fast Can You Smash?
We often talk about how a ping-pong ball often travels at speeds up to 100 mph (about 161 kph). That simply isn't true, at least at this time.

Here's the video How Fast Does a Table Tennis Ball Travel? (1:26). Until recently, the "official" record was I believe 69.9 mph (112.5 kph), as noted in Table Tennis Ball Speed page from 2003-2004, which analyzes the data at the time. But Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov (world #6) "smashed" that record with a 75.8 mph (122 kph) smash. To get that speed, he did an all-out wristy forehand smash.

But this raises the question – just how fast can one smash a ball? While world-class players like Ovtcharov are undoubtedly among the hardest hitters, that doesn't mean he's the hardest hitter. Few have been tested. World-class players are actually trained mostly to loop, so when trying to hit the ball at the maximum speed...




Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 12:26
November 9, 2016

Life in Idiocracy; No Blog Today
I'm stunned at the historically stupid thing America did last night, and I will hold accountable those responsible. Most have no clue what they have done, and how they have made the race for the gutter the norm in American politics – and that's the least of our problems. (We are now living the movie Idiocracy. Even Biff from Back to the Future was modeled on Trump.) However, since this isn't a political blog, I'll refrain from saying more. But I'm not really into blogging about ping-pong when our country now faces far more serious problems than how to hit a forehand, so no blog today. Good luck America – you are going to need it. (Feel free to comment, but since this is a table tennis blog, absolutely no political debates here. If you want to defend Trump, do so elsewhere. I will delete any such postings.)