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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, November 8, 2016 - 13:50
November 8, 2016

Election Day
Today we decide between Trump and Clinton. But schools are closed and it's practically a national holiday, so I'm taking the day off as well. Meanwhile, here are two cartoons I did on the election that I previously posted. Now, go out and vote practice your serves!

Monday, November 7, 2016 - 15:37
November 7, 2016

Tip of the Week
Three Ways to Play the Forehand.

Reasons for More Trials Instead of Selections
As I blogged on Friday, I believe we need to go back to more Trials for our youth teams, and less selections, as we used to do it. I didn't like the idea from the start, but was willing to give it a try – but now I'm convinced it was a mistake.

The main argument for primarily choosing our youth teams rather than doing so by Trials is they feel that Trials only puts players against other USA players, and isn't a valid measure of their level against international players. I disagree, as a player who is better domestically will tend to do just as well internationally – when he has the international experience, which is the whole point of sending them overseas to tournaments like the World Junior Championships. Often the argument is made for a player with a world ranking to be chosen over a seemingly stronger player without a world ranking because that player's...

Friday, November 4, 2016 - 14:38
November 4, 2016

A Hodgepodge of Topics

  • Team Selections vs. Trials. Probably only a few people are aware of the latest controversy regarding the U.S. Junior Team, specifically about who goes to the World Junior Championships. USATT has not yet officially announced the eight players (four boys and four girls) they will select, so I won't comment on it. However, I'm tired of the constant controversies regarding these youth team selections. The key word here is Selections. We used to have Team Trials to decide the teams. Now only four of the ten members of each team make it by Trials, and for each major international tournament, rather than go by the order of finish at the Trials, the players are selected. This means, for example, you can finish #1 in the U.S. Junior Team Trials, be National Junior Champion, be #2 rated among juniors available to go, and be #2 among juniors available to go in USATT's own complicated point system – and still not get selected as one of the four players to go.
         I believe we need to go back to the Team Trials system, where perhaps 8 of the 10 players are selected...

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 14:03
November 3, 2016

High-Toss Backspin Serves Lead to Misreads
Yesterday during practice games with a student at the end of a session I pulled something on him that I used to do in tournaments – I pulled out the super-charged high-toss forehand pendulum backspin serve. By throwing the ball up higher, I'm able to get more backspin on the ball, and so opponents tend to put the ball in the net. It does take practice to graze the ball since it is moving faster at contact – you almost have to scoop it with a very open racket – but it really can make a difference by increasing the spin. However, if that's all one does, it's doesn't put much pressure on the opponent – they can adjust.

Instead, to raise the level of trickery up a notch, I also raise my elbow for the serve, even hunching my right shoulder up slightly. This gave the serve even more of a pendulum look, with the racket seemingly going more sideways, and so it looks like there's more sidespin. But the reality is that if you contact the ball on the downswing, and then vigorously go across after contact, it looks very sidespinny. The combination of this, and the...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 13:06
November 2, 2016

The Backhand Game Leads to Immediate Improvement
While coaching Daniel yesterday (he recently turned 12, is about 1700) I pointed out that when we go backhand-to-backhand, he keeps backing up, backhand looping over and over, but too soft to be really effective. He can also play it closer to the table, but is losing the knack as he simply likes backing up. How to get across to him how this was less effective? The Backhand Game!

For this I normally put a box on each side of the table, cutting off all but the backhand part of the table, so that each player covers about 40% of the table, backhand only. (The box is angled so the left side parallels the incoming ball.) We only had one box handy, and so rather than run up front to get a second one, I used my towel on my side – works just as well as a box. And then we went at it.

The rules are simple – I always serve, a straight topspin serve diagonally to his backhand. Then we go at it, backhand to backhand. No backspin or lobbing allowed. While the immediate goal is to win, the real goal is to have vicious rallies, where we bang it out ten to twenty or more times per rally. I've...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 13:56
November 1, 2016

Tip of the Week
How Do You Win and Lose Points?

World Fantasy Convention
This does have a table tennis connection – USATT had two representatives at the World Fantasy Convention, which was held this past weekend, Oct. 27-30, Thur-Sun, in Columbus, OH. Attending as unofficial USATT reps were myself and Charles Richard "Chip" Patton. He's rated 1821, from Alabama, and like myself, we are both into science fiction and fantasy – especially reading and writing it. Chip also has published stories, and at the WFC signed at least one anthology with a story of his in it. As we walked the halls, I wonder how many others realized they were in the midst of two people who could destroy them in table tennis? If they'd known of our smashing and killing capabilities, would they have trembled in trepidation?

Here's a picture Chip took...

Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 14:06
October 27, 2016

No Blog on Friday and Monday
I leave early Friday morning for the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH, where I'm a panelist, will do a reading, and will join other authors for a three-hour book signing on Friday night. See, I have a life outside table tennis! I return late on Sunday night. Here are two recent pictures of me at book signings, at the Lunacon SF Convention in NY and at the Capclave SF Convention in MD. (I'm toying with showing up at the full-time Columbus TTC on Saturday night, but am not sure yet if I'll be free.) Monday is Halloween, where kids everywhere dress up as little ping-pong players and go door to door singing, "Pong or Heat!", and if you don't play them a quick ping-pong match, they burn your house down. 

U.S. Open in Las Vegas...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 14:05
October 26, 2016

Larry's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Yesterday was a uniquely bad day. How bad was it? Let me count the ways.

  1. TableTennisCoaching.com went down. It was a server problem involving unneeded data being collected from the site that led to three gigabytes of data slewing up the system in some technical way. I spent all day just trying to get in touch with my server, Godaddy. Each time I'd call I'd be on hold for a time, then I'd get a message they were busy and if I'd leave a message with my phone number, they'd get back to me. This started around 8AM, and after three calls where I'd wait on hold and finally end up leaving a message, plus two emergency emails, they got back to me around 4PM, and the problem is fixed, at least for now.
  2. USATT League went down. I woke up also to emails that the league software wasn't working, and as the chair of the USATT League Committee I of course got much of the blame, despite not actually having anything to do with this aspect. I sent off emails to the software people to fix the problem(s). (More on the League Committee soon...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 19:32
October 25, 2016

UPDATE - the problem, for now, is fixed, and I should have a regular blog again on Wednesday morning.

I'm aware of the problems on this site - it keeps going haywire - which is a server problem involving an accumulation of useless but problem-making data. TableTennisCoaching.com will likely come and go temporarily as my server works to fix the problem. I'm typing this in a short interval while it's up.
-Larry Hodges

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 12:56
October 24, 2016

Tip of the Week
Winning Cheap Points.

Tournament and Coaching
On Saturday I ran the 2-star Butterfly MDTTC October Open. We had 68 players. Here are the results, care of Omnipong. Congrats to Champions Chen Bo Wen, Klaus Wood, Tiffany Ke, Sam Berry, Ryan Dabbs, Hanfei Hu, and Yunhua Gong! And to Finalists Yan Zhang, Tiffany Ke (yep, two finals), Jessica Lin, Ara Sahakian, Jackson Beaver, Jackson Beaver (yep, two finals), and Thomas Sampson!

We're running into problems with the scheduling as the number of players entering Under 15 and Under 1350 have dramatically increased, mostly due to recent huge increase in kids in the 7-11 age group. The U1350 coincides with the Open, so we ran into trouble finding tables for everyone. I finally had to seed the top three players in U1350 out of the preliminaries to save us one table, which also meant that all the groups were of four players, but two of those players weren't happy with that, wanting to play more. But the...