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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

Monday, May 4, 2015 - 14:01
May 4, 2015

Tip of the Week

Good Tactics Lead to Confidence. (This is an expanded version of my blog from last Thursday.)

My Arm, Weekend Coaching, and The Spirit of Pong

It was another busy weekend of coaching. My arm is about 90% healed, but I'm still having some problems, especially if I attack too much with my forehand, whether looping or hitting. Once it gets a bit aggravated, then hitting backhands or simple multiball makes it worse. So I still have to go easy.

On Sunday I gave a one-hour lesson to Navin Kumar, the bionic man with a partially mechanical heart and Parkinson's. Here's video (1:33) of part of the session where he works on his forehand while moving side to side. He's a little rushed, taking the ball a bit too quickly off the bounce, but part of that is because he plays with long pips on the backhand, which keeps him close to the table.

Following that was a 90-minute junior training session. Many forehands...




Friday, May 1, 2015 - 14:38
May 1, 2015

World Championships

They are from April 26 - May 3 in Suzhou, China. As I write this on Friday morning, they are into the final eight in Men's Singles, and the final four in Women's Singles,...




Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 14:04
April 30, 2015

Good Tactics Lead to Confidence

Thank about the last time you played a match and got nervous. Now ask yourself this: What were your tactics in that match? If you are like the overwhelming majority of players I've worked with over the years in that situation, you probably didn't have a strong game plan - you were probably just winging it. And so, unsure of what you were doing, you were (drum roll please) . . . unsure of what you were doing. And it is that lack of surety that often leads to nervousness.

So next time you are nervous, ask yourself what your game plan is, and come up with a coherent one. Not only will this give your mind something to think about other than your upcoming doom loss, but it will give yourself the confidence that you know what you are doing. You still have to execute the shots, but it's a lot easier to be confident when you know what you are doing than when you don't. Plus, this confidence allows you to think a bit more clearly and so play even better tactics. In other words:

Good Tactics => Confidence => Good Tactics => Even More Confidence...




Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 13:34
April 29, 2015

Top 20 Chuck Norris Table Tennis Facts

I thought I'd have a little fun this morning. Let's see if you can come up with your own Chuck Norris table tennis facts! Comment below - if there are a lot of good ones, I'll refer to them in tomorrow's blog. I saw a thread like this in the OOAK table tennis forum, but they were doing non-table tennis Chuck Norris sayings. (There's actually a Chuck Norris Facts page - I contributed about 50 of them.)

  1. Chuck Norris doesn't smash. He just looks at the ball and it flees in terror.
  2. Chuck Norris shaved his beard and underwent plastic surgery, and then cloned himself. Say hello to the Chinese National Team.
  3. Chuck Norris once smashed a ball so hard even he couldn't return it . . . and then he returned it.
  4. Chuck Norris doesn't play shakehands or penhold. He uses his beard.
  5. Chuck Norris never serves let balls. When he serves low, the net ducks.
  6. ...



Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 14:42
April 28, 2015

Man in the Table Tennis Arena

Historically most table tennis leaders have judged themselves not on how much they accomplished, but on how few mistakes they made. They'd go through an entire forgettable career patting themselves on the back for not making mistakes, all the while avoiding doing anything that might risk putting a stain on this great record that few will remember. This is a recipe for what I call "stagnation with a forced smile." We get it a lot.

While getting things right ranks high for me as well, I tend to judge a person's record more on what they actually accomplish. The two are not mutually exclusive; the key is not letting one affect the other, i.e. avoid trying new and possibly risky things so as to avoid mistakes. I'm pretty forgiving of those who make mistakes while trying new things in our sport. This doesn't mean recklessly doing things; part of trying something new is thinking it through and avoiding doing stupid stuff. Otherwise you aren't really trying something new so much as just being reckless. The best way to avoid doing stupid stuff while trying something new? Talk to those who have...




Monday, April 27, 2015 - 14:33
April 27, 2015

Tip of the Week

Your Ready Position - Think Basketball.

Adult Beginning/Intermediate Class

With Raghu Nadmichettu and Josh Tran out of town at the Westchester Open, Coach Jeffrey Zeng Xun assisted this time. We focused on three things this session, which ran 6:30-8:00PM on Sunday.

First up was the forehand loop against block. We demonstrated and I explained, and then they went out to the tables to try it. I had them do it for 7.5 minutes each, twice each. The hardest parts for most adults learning to loop is to use the whole body rather than mostly arm. There's also a tendency to try to stroke it too quickly instead of a smooth, accelerating swing.

Next we did serve and attack. But before we got to that I knew the players would need to get their regular shots back. After all that looping - the first time ever against block for many of them - they'd likely lift their regular forehands and go off the end. So I had them do two minutes of forehand to forehand, as well as two minutes of backhand to backhand and backhand to backhand...




Friday, April 24, 2015 - 14:18
April 24, 2015

The Coaching Zone: The USATT Coaching Page

You're practicing to reach another level, a level not of rating but of improvement. A journey to advanced performance whose boundaries are how hard you train and how good your coaching. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the USATT Coaching Page!

Have you visited it recently? Here's a quick rundown, from the top:

  • Coaching Advisory Committee. The current listing is out of date. Federico "Fede" Bassetti is still the chair, but the committee is now made up of Britt Salter, Mike Lauro, and Marguerite Cheung. A player rep will also be added soon. Massimo Constantini and Richard McAfee are also unofficial "advisors" to the committee. (I used to be on this committee, and chaired it for four years back in the 1990s.)
  • Coaching Help & Support Page...



Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 13:51
April 23, 2015

State Championships

Here's my vision: 50 state championships in 2016 . . . a USATT page devoted to listing and glorifying these champions . . . a "Parade of Champions" a the USA Nationals where these champions march through the arena . . . regional media coverage all over the U.S. of these tournaments . . . Let's make it happen!

I've had numerous discussions with USATT CEO Gordon Kaye on these State Championships, which he's been pushing for since he was hired. He asked me to take charge of it. I plan to have sample entry forms, proto-type web pages, ready-to-use software, etc. More on this late as things develop. It's all part of the three-pronged approach to developing regional and state associations, with the other two prongs (which I'll focus on later) being training centers & coaching programs, and team leagues. (I'm working on these issues as the volunteer USATT Regional Associations Coordinator.) Here's the current listing of State Championships.  If your state doesn't have one and you are interested...




Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 14:09
April 22, 2015

Five Really Bad Coaches

Here are five examples of very bad coaches. They shall all be nameless - but none of them are currently coaching table tennis in the U.S. (Alas, the tennis coach is still active.)

1) I'm going to start not with a table tennis coach (as the next four are), but a tennis coach. For many years tennis was my side sport, reaching a 4.0 level, which is pretty good. I'd often schedule my table tennis coaching so I could stop by the local tennis center for 90-minute group sessions, often 2-3 times a week. During those years I worked with many coaches, and all agreed I had the most lopsided game they'd ever seen - a very strong forehand (100% due to my table tennis, as were my other strengths), quick feet, very nice lob and very good drop shot. But the rest of my game was rather weak - weak serve (especially second serve), weak backhand (I mostly sliced), weak backhand volley, barely adequate overhead. But I loved to race around smacking in forehands, and was especially good at hitting winners off second serves, which made up for players attacking my own weak second serve.

I always told coaches I had two rules -...




Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 14:31
April 21, 2015

Ogimura Book - Some Tidbits

I'm nearly done reading "Ogi: The Life of Ichiro Ogimura." It's currently only available in Japanese; I had to have someone send me the English version, which is only available in England. Stellan Bengtsson first alerted me to the English version, which I hope to make available in the U.S. later on. (Don't know who Ichiro Ogimura is? Probably the most influential player in table tennis history!!!)

I'm taking a lot of notes about Ogimura, and plan to incorporate much of it into my fantasy table tennis novella, "The Spirit of Pong." (I blogged about this on March 16 and several times since.) Here are some interesting tidbits I've learned.

  • Looks: thick eyebrows, pencil thin (during his playing days), piercing stare, often wore a light violet shirt during his developing years (dyed that color by his great helper, Hisae Uehara).
  • Often snacked on bread & margarine, and on rice balls wrapped in seaweed...