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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, September 16, 2014 - 13:45
September 16, 2014

I'm still stuck in bed with a cold, though I did struggle out yesterday to do an exhausting one-hour multiball session for some students. (I kept my distance! But I felt like I was going to collapse a few times.) One way or another I expect to be back in action tomorrow, blogging and coaching. The irony is that I'm in the final rewriting stage of my science fiction novel (which was critiqued at a writers workshop this summer), and I was tentatively planning to take two days off this week to work on it. (I worked on it some on Saturday, but nothing since then.) I might do that next week - we'll see. It's getting timely as USATT Historian Tim Boggan moves in with me on Monday, Sept. 29 so I can do the page layouts and photo work on his History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. 15. (Here's the home page for the series, which I maintain for him.) Back to bed - I'm working my way through...




Monday, September 15, 2014 - 12:01
September 15, 2014

Alas, I've come down with a cold. I think I've had it for 2-3 days, but thought it was some sort of throat infection. But now I've got all the standard symptoms of a cold - feeling sick, sore throat, runny nose, aching teeth, and a slight fever. (Or could it be strep throat? Or the dreaded Ebola virus?) So back to bed - no blog today. I'm hoping NyQuil and DayQuil will handle it, with a lot of throat lozenges. I hope to start up again tomorrow, including the Tip of the Week. 




Friday, September 12, 2014 - 14:27
September 12, 2014

Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros! By Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon

As readers of this blog know, I strongly encourage players to work on sports psychology. It's amazing how many matches are won or lost on this, and yet after losing a match because of nerves or some related issue, players go and practice the shots they missed when they were nervous rather than address the reason they missed the shots with a dose of sports psychology. Here's a number of resources on sports psychology, including this excellent one.

"Have you ever stopped to consider how elite table tennis players deal with the pressure of competition and consistently perform at their best?" That's the opening line of Get Your Game Face On Like the Pros!, the new table tennis sports psychology ebook by Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon (available at amazon.com). It's 158 pages with lots of useful content. It covers sports psychology specifically for table...




Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 14:35
September 11, 2014

Yesterday's Coaching

Here's a rundown of my coaching yesterday. I left my house at 2:30 to pick up two players for our afterschool program (Willie and Jessie). From 3:30-4:00 PM I worked with Andrew, the nine-year-old I blogged about yesterday who was rapidly learning how to hit forehands. Today's goal was to hit 20 forehands in a row. Believe it or not, he got 19 in a row and then missed three times in a row! Obviously it was mental - and sure enough, as he approached 20 each time he fell back into his old habit of lunging at the ball, thereby swatting the ball off the end. I had him shadow stroke some more, and we tried again - and this time he not only got 20, he went right on up to 54. Not bad for this fourth 30-minute lesson. From 4-4:30 PM I fed multiball to him and Willie.

I was supposed to coach Daniel from 5-6 PM (nine-year-old, rated about 1600), but his dad called around 4:30 and said that his wrist was bothering him from some accident at school, and so needed to rest it. Between 4:30 and 5:00 I helped Willie and Andrew with their homework. Then I got in my car and drove to McDonalds where I had a chicken sandwich and read...




Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 13:45
September 10, 2014

From Pathetic to Perfect in Seconds!

I've been working recently with a new nine-year-old kid in our afterschool program. Right now we're only doing multiball. He has been struggling with the forehand. He starts off the stroke fine - I made sure of that, with his right foot slightly back (he's a righty), racket moves backward, and so on. But as soon as he starts his forward swing, he sort of lunges at the ball, driving his right shoulder forward, and then falls backward, with his left leg going back. Contact is basically a backspin slap. I've never seen such an awkward stroke! At first I thought he was too far from the ball, hence the lunging, with the falling back a compensation to keep his balance. We tried different distances from the table, but even if he jammed the table he'd lunge at the ball, as if he couldn't help himself. I also kept reminding him to imagine a vertical rod going through his head, and to rotate around it, but he couldn't as he was always lunging forward and then falling backward. (Falling backward after a forehand usually does mean the player was too far from the ball, with the left side falling back to...




Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 14:11
September 9, 2014

Teaching a Beginning Kid to Block

Recently I've had a lot of fun teaching two kids, ages six and seven, how to block. For some reason they find great joy in this. I'm teaching them all aspects of the game, even looping, but they keep begging to block against my loop - and so that's how we end each session.

Few kids at that age have the reflexes or coordination to really block against a ball with varying spin that moves around the table. It's worse if you serve topspin and then start looping, as they have to adjust to two different shots. So what I do to start the rally is to toss the ball up and loop the very first shot at them, right out of the air. Then I keep looping softly, trying to keep it to one spot with the same depth, while they block. (I'm focusing on backhand blocks, but also having them do forehand blocks.) To them it's like a video game, trying to keep the ball on the table against my heavy topspin. They're getting pretty good at it, and I'm getting some exercise.

2014 USATT Election Notice and Process

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Monday, September 8, 2014 - 14:45
September 8, 2014

Tip of the Week

Easy Power.

The Ball at the USA Nationals

USATT has made the smart decision to use only one type of ball at the USA Nationals. Here is USATT Board Chair Mike Babuin's blog entry on this. They will be using the Nittaku Premium 40+ ball, a non-celluloid one. This is a departure from their original plans, announced on Aug. 14, that they would be using two types of balls at the Nationals - celluloid for rating and senior events, non-celluloid for men's and women's singles & doubles, and in junior events. That would have meant players having to switch back and forth in the tournament, as well as serious problems at clubs as players have to decide which ball to use for practice and training.

This obviously doesn't solve all the problems. Many don't want to change to non-celluloid, but like it or not, the ITTF has pretty much mandated...




Friday, September 5, 2014 - 12:48
September 5, 2014

ITTF Interview

I was interviewed by Sheri Cioroslan for the ITTF, and it was featured yesterday on the ITTF web page. (It's also up on the USATT web page.) The interview "closes out" the ITTF 100-day Countdown to the end of Adham Sharara's 15 years as president.

Aches and Exhaustion and Coaching

One of the toughest parts of coaching is you always have to be "on." As a regular player, if you aren't feeling well you just take the night off. (Unless, of course, you are in serious training to be an elite player, in which case you tough it out - like many of the players at my club, MDTTC. Of course, "normal" 9-5 jobbers have to do the same, correct?) On both Monday and Tuesday nights I was up very late, one time working on the ITTF interview, the other time on one of my SF stories (my sideline...




Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 12:36
September 4, 2014

Where Do Top Players Come From?

I'm always hearing about how USATT leaders want to develop medal contenders and world-class players. When I hear this I have a simple set of questions for them, which leads to a conclusion that's sort of obvious.

  1. Where do the overwhelming majority of top players come from? (Answer: successful junior training programs.)
  2. Where do successful junior programs come from? (Answer: successful training centers.)
  3. Where do successful training centers come from? (Answer: coaches and directors who take the initiative to create them, where they have to reinvent the wheel over and over from scratch and figure out how to do this because there is no one helping them out, no manual or guidance, nothing from any organizing body for table tennis, and of course no one's recruiting them to do any of this.)
  4. What's the major stumbling block here?

That's why I strongly believe that one of USATT's top priorities should be to recruit and train coaches and directors to set up and run training centers with junior programs. This is not something that costs much....




Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 12:42
September 3, 2014

Playing Off-Table Two-Winged Topspinners

A top player messaged me asking me how to play against a player who is relatively solid on both sides and takes a step back from the table, allowing him to deal with opponent's attacks. Here's my response. It's a general response as I haven't seen the opponent in question, but is the general way to play these types of players.

  1. Bring him in with short serves and short receives, and then get him with your first attack before he can get into his comfortable off-table pocket. Since these players hang off the table, attacking their serve often plays right into their game.
  2. Because he plays off the table, you have more time to get your forehand into position, especially into his wide backhand and middle. He's unlikely to beat you in a counterlooping duel between his backhand and your forehand. [Note - or any other forehand attack against his backhand off the table.] However, don't relentlessly go after the backhand - make sure to go there and to the middle. Players like this often seem vulnerable to the corners, but in reality they usually cover that area...