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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!

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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

Monday, March 18, 2019 - 16:00
March 18, 2019

Tip of the Week
Challenge an Opponent's Strength.

USATT Election
As I write this, I am a member of the USATT Board of Directors. However, very likely later today I will no longer be on it as they will be counting the ballots in the current election. (I chose not to run for re-election.) The result will be announced on the USATT news page, though I don't know for sure if it will go up today. (I'll link to it directly from here when it goes up.) BREAKING NEWS - Bruce won, 260-208. Congrats to him!

The two candidates in the final runoff are Bruce Liu and Mike Babuin. While both have been sharply critical of USATT in many ways, I'm fine with either of them; I know I can talk to either of them. But that might not be the case for some of the people with USATT - there's going to be some friction involved with either of them. But maybe that's a good thing as it makes us really look at what we're doing.

When I ran for the USATT Board, I made it...




Monday, March 11, 2019 - 15:52
March 11, 2019

Tip of the Week
How to Beat a MUCH Stronger Player.

U.S. Open and Nationals
The entry form for the US Nationals recently went up at the 2019 US Nationals Home Page. It's in Las Vegas, June 30 - July 5, and I'll be there! I'll mostly be coaching, though I'm toying with entering Over 40 Hardbat Singles - I've won it five times, and from the schedule it won't conflict with my coaching. (I'd like to play Hardbat Doubles, which I've won 14 times, but it would conflict with events I'd be coaching in, alas. Note that I normally use sponge, but like hardbat on the side.)

There's been some controversy about the cut in prize money. For example, first place in Men's and Women's Singles last year was $7000 each; this year...




Monday, March 4, 2019 - 16:55
March 4, 2019

Tip of the Week
Be an Olympian - In Your Mind.

USATT Election, Coaching Committee, and the USATT Committee Selection Task Force

  • The election ended yesterday for my position on the USATT Board of Directors. (As noted previously, I decided not to run for re-election.) Today they are counting the votes between Mike Babuin, Bruce Liu, and Lily Yip. If one of them gets a majority then he/she wins and takes my spot immediately. If none get over 50%, then there will be a run-off between the two highest finishers, which will take about two weeks. Whoever wins, can you PLEASE get 50%+ so we can get this over with???
  • As also noted previously, I decided not to continue as USATT Coaching Chair. (I was appointed to the position two years ago, my second time - I also chaired it for four years in the 1990s.) My term ended on March 1, but according to the bylaws, I would continue as chair until my successor was named. Since they likely wouldn't do this until the in-person board meeting in Milpitas, CA, March 29-31, I took matters into my own hands and...



Monday, February 25, 2019 - 17:03
February 25, 2019

Tip of the Week
Top Ten Ways to Turn a Match Around.

Weekend Coaching
This past week in my two Beginning Junior Classes (Thursday and Sunday nights) the focus was on smashing. We started the sessions (which are two different groups of players) with about 30 minutes of basic stroking and footwork drills. Then came the demo and lecture on smashing. Then the players went into their groups, and either smashes against multiball, or against coaches who fished. (My assistants on Thursday are Lidney Castro and Aron Zhang; on Sundays Lidney and John Hsu.)

At the Saturday Junior League (which is half league, half coaching), we did the usual doubles and singles matches, often with improvised rules to force players to work on specific aspects of their games. For example, one segment, for the lower-ranked players, had them serving backspin to the backhand, the receiver pushed down the line to the forehand, the serve forehand looped, and they played out the point. For the advanced players, they had similar drills, such as serve and backhand loop, or serve and...




Monday, February 18, 2019 - 15:04
February 18, 2019

Tip of the Week
Judging the Depth of a Serve.

Offensive Clothing
At some point I'm guessing we are going to be faced with the following situation. Someone shows up at a tournament wearing something that, to some, is offensive, while to others, it is not. Before I get into this, here's the pertinent rule:

3.2.2.6, Clothing shall not carry designs or lettering which might cause offence or bring the game into disrepute.

The tournament referee has to judge this, and they will have varying judgments. So where do we draw the line? I'm fairly certain every referee will rule Nazi symbols are offensive, and not allow it. But how about someone wearing a Confederate flag? Would it make a difference if they do this in, say, South Carolina as opposed to New York? Some might find Islamic or Christian symbols offensive, so how does the referee judge this? Would he allow someone wearing a shirt with a picture depicting Allah? (It is offensive in the Islamic faith to show pictures of Allah. People, especially cartoonists...




Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 16:59
February 13, 2019

Tip of the Week
Wanting to Win Versus Hating to Lose.

Pink Eye
As noted the last couple of days, I've been sick in bed with Conjunctivitis, i.e. "Pink Eye." I'm 80% over that, and no longer look like Frankenstein's monster. There's still a lot of puffiness, I'm still going through Kleenex faster than a coach can feed multiball, and I have the energy of a smooshed ping-pong ball, but I'm back in action. Alas, my stomach seems perpetuall queezy right now. 

USATT Election
A USATT election is taking place, with three candidate running for my current position - Mike Babuin, Bruce Liu, and Lily Yip. (As I've blogged about, I chose not to run for re-election. It's someone else's turn! I expect to stay neutral in the election.) Here is the USATT Election News Item. Here is the pertinent info from it:

  • Voting will start on...



Monday, February 11, 2019 - 13:44
February 11, 2019

TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE - I need at least one more day off. I'm 50-50 about doing the blog tomorrow or just waiting until the next one on Monday. My voice is mostly back and so I was able to attend the USATT board teleconference last night. Left eye got better, now both eyes look only slightly reddish and saggy. Strangely, the infection seems to have moved into my lower left lip, which is now swelling and puffing out like a cartoonish snarl. I'm still going though Kleenex like former world #1 Mikael Appelgren used to go through sponge. (He was known for changing the sponge on both sides of his racket before every match.) About every half hour I go into a hacking fit as I cough up strange looking stuff. I may do an emergency supermarket run today for Kleenex and soup. Meanwhile, here's a new video: Never Give Up! (5:41).

#

Alas, I've come down pretty sick with Conjunctivitis, i.e. pink eye. It's an almost cartoonish name and I didn't know anything about it until yesterday. I came down with what I thought was a cold early last week. On Saturday...




Monday, February 4, 2019 - 16:50
February 4, 2019

Tip of the Week
Straighten the Belt, and the Rest Falls into Place.

Weekend Coaching
In the Thursday Beginning Junior Class, we introduced the players to fast, deep serves, using the same method I'd used previously: I put a water bottle on all four corners of each table, and a piece of string across the table about ten inches from the end-line. The players then tried to serve and hit the bottles where the first bounce was past the string. We also did a recap on forehands and backhands. We then finished with the usual games - up-down tables for the older ones, build and then knock down pyramids of cups for the younger players.

In the Sunday Beginning Junior Class, we focused on footwork, and demoed most of the main types. Near the end of the training segment we had a forehand-to-forehand contest, where they tried to see how many they could get in a row. (I think the high-score was 82.) We finished with the same games as the Thursday class.

In the Talent Development Program on Sunday (advanced juniors), we did lots of multiball training,...




Monday, January 28, 2019 - 16:43
January 28, 2019

Tip of the Week
Progressive Drills to Improve Your Rallying Skills.

Invitation to Members Interested in Committee Service
Here's the USATT news item. There are 17 USATT Committees. (Some are currently vacant and so are not listed.) The USATT news item gives a description of what each committee does. Here are the Super 17:

  • Classic Table Tennis Committee
  • Clubs Committee
  • Coaching Committee
  • Ethics and Grievance Committee
  • High Performance Committee
  • Juniors Committee
  • Leagues Committee
  • Membership Development Committee
  • Nominating and Governance Committee
  • Para High Performance Committee
  • Resource Development Committee
  • Rules Committee
  • Selection Committee
  • Technology Committee
  • Tournaments...



Monday, January 21, 2019 - 16:41
January 21, 2019

Tip of the Week
The Grinding Mentality - How to Play It and Against It.

Sunday Coaching
I ran two group sessions on Sunday. The first was Week #2 of this season's Beginning Junior Class. (Lidney Castro and Aron Zhang are assistant coaches, with Todd Klinger a practice partner.) We did forehand review for 20 minutes, and then the focus was on the backhand. As usual, we finished with games, with half the class playing "King of the Table" (no girls there so we can use the "King" title), and the other half (the younger kids) building the usual pyramids and walls out of paper cups on the table and then knocking them down as I fed multiball.

The advanced junior program at MDTTC is the Talent Development Program, which is run by the HW Global Foundation, using mostly MDTTC coaches. Normally John Hsu runs groups 3-4, but he was out of town this weekend so I ran them. It was mostly a multiball session, where we went through a series of nine different drills. Most of the groups were of three, where one player did the drill while the...