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 1PM, 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

Tip of the Week
When Playing an Unfamiliar Player, Focus on Serve & Receive.

I'm Back!!!
My two-week writing workshop vacation is over. I basically spent nine days in online Zoom meetings in "The Never-Ending Odyssey" writing workshop, an annual workshop for graduates of the six-week Odyssey science fiction writing workshop. The meetings started around 10AM and went to dinner time, with optional meetings at night. They included critique sessions, classes, readings, and salons where we discussed various topics. I had a great time - and even managed to sneak table tennis into one of my stories!!! (It's way, Way, WAY in the future, and someone finds a pack of ping-pong balls - "Plastic lasts forever" - and it ends up being central to the story.) Here's a group picture on Zoom of the 21 of us in the workshop! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) I'm on the top right, the only one without a big smile. (That's a virtual background from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, where the workshop normally takes place - I've been there now for eleven TNEOs plus the original Odyssey workshop in 2006.)

As noted in my blog below, I'm away this week, but here is this week's Tip of the Week, The Importance of Lobbing. See you next Monday!

Tip of the Week
Fast, Quick Motions Disguise a No-Spin Serve.

Vacation - No Blog Next Week
Every year in July I drive up to Manchester, New Hampshire for my annual nine-day science fiction writing workshop "vacation." Alas, due to the pandemic, this year's it's all online, so I not only won't be leaving Maryland, I won't even be leaving my house. But I'll be in various workshop meetings every day from morning until night. It doesn't actually start until this Friday (July 17-25), but I'm spending the rest of this week preparing for it, plus getting some writing done.

There will be a Tip of the Week next Monday, July 20, so stop by for that!!! Next blog will be July 27.

The minute I put this blog online, the "vacation" begins!!! If you need a favor, or something quick, or table tennis advice - NO!!!!! I get a dozen or more such emails every day, and I dutifully get back to everyone the day they email me (and spend way, Way, WAY too much time on these things), but I'd like to have these two weeks off, as in really off.

I put "vacation" in quotes because it's a lot of work, these writing workshops. I had to critique something like 20 stories by others, and others critiqued three of mine. Then there are all sorts of classes, exercises, and readings. The nine-day workshop is called "The Never-Ending Odyssey," and is attended and run by graduates of the six-week Odyssey Science Fiction Writing Workshop, of which I'm a 2006 graduate. This will be my eleventh TNEO.

Tip of the Week
Side-to-Side Training for Improvement and Health.

Subconscious Table Tennis
I noticed an interesting during a session with Navin Kumar on Saturday. (If you Google "Bionic Table Tennis," about a zillion articles on him comes up.) We were about to do a drill where he has to smash (forehands and then backhands) and hit a bottle on the table. The key, as I always point out, is to not consciously aim for it. That's the common mistake most make. Whether it's in a game or practice, the minute the conscious mind takes control, much of your training disappears, since the whole point of training is to make it reflexive, so you are really training your subconscious.

When I demonstrated this, I put the bottle on the far side, bounced a ball on my side, and smacked the bottle with a barrage of forehands, almost never missing. (When it misses, it's by less than an inch.)  I moved the bottle around to show that you can change your target and still have great accuracy. And that's when I noticed something.

When aiming for the bottle, all my conscious mind has to do is look at the target and decide I want to hit it. The subconscious does the rest. But the part that was fascinating, and which I hadn't really focused on before, was how my subconscious would adjust my foot positioning each time. I wasn't consciously aware of it, but each time I went over and moved the bottle to another part of the table, I'd come back, and when I'd look at it, my feet reflexively moved into position to line me up for the shot.

Tip of the Week
Training Down the Line.

USATT Coaching Excellence Program
As a member of the USATT Coaching Committee, I'm helping USATT put together their upcoming Coaching Excellence Program. (Others on the committee are Pieke Franssen, Gao Jun, and Dave Fullen. USATT CEO Virginia Sung and High Performance Director Sean O'Neill are also involved.) Right now they are working on the Club Coaching Certification Program. (There are four levels - club, state, regional, national.) The biggest question is what should be taught at the Club level, which is for coaches for beginners to about 1500. It's easy to say, "They should know this, and this, and this,..." and pretty soon everything is taught at the club coach level, and there's nothing left for the State, Regional, or National level!

Here was my recommendation on what should be taught at this level. In a regular training camp, I figured you could teach all this in a barebones minimum of 12 hours, but really could be 15-20 hours. At the higher levels, you would expand on most of these segments, along with segments on physical training, multiball, and other topics.

Tip of the Week
Do You Really Have Control of Your Shots? (See also "Through the Scoreboard Practice" below.)

Winning Table Tennis by Dan Seemiller and Mark Holowchak
Winning Table Tennis is back! This is a reprinting of the best-selling table tennis book from 1997. Whether you're a competitive tournament player or a serious recreational player, Winning Table Tennis: Skills, Drills, and Strategies will help you improve your game. Dan Seemiller, 5-time U.S. singles, 12-time doubles champion, and long-time US Men's Team Coach, shows you all the shots and strategies for top-level play. This book features 19 drills for better shot-making, plus Seemiller's own grip and shot innovations that will give you an edge over the competition. Featuring the most effective table tennis techniques and strategies Winning Table Tennis: shows you how to

Tip of the Week
Practice Partner Collaboration - the PPC of TT.

The Play That Changed . . . Everything
Some of you may have heard of the "Butterfly Effect," whereby something seemingly small and insignificant can have major ramifications. It happens in table tennis as well, and I'm not talking about Butterfly table tennis. In fact, if not for at least two seemingly minor things, I wouldn't be in table tennis, and much of the table tennis world would be different. Here's how I switched from baseball to track & field to table tennis.

When I was 13, my sport was baseball. I was obsessed with it - I memorized the results of EVERY World Series (1903-1973), including the winning team, scores, and winning pitcher of every single game, and the MVPs and their stats. I also memorized every stat about the Baltimore Orioles. As a player, I was only so-so - didn't hit or field that well, and due to arm problems, I had a weak throwing arm. (From the start I threw with my feet parallel, which puts tremendous strain on the shoulder, and no coach corrected it until I'd hurt my arm repeatedly. They used to call this "Throwing like a girl," but most girls probably throw better than me.)

Tip of the Week
How to Never Miss an Easy Smash.

LATE ADDITION (Tues) - USATT Did a News Item on My Book, "Still More Table Tennis Tips"!
Here's the news item! C'mon, you know you want to buy my books!!! :) (It includes links to some of my other ones.) 

They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again!
Remember my When Will They Let Us Play Table Tennis Again cartoon? The answer, for me, was this past Saturday! It had been 83 days - one day short of twelve weeks - since the last time I'd played. Navin Kumar contacted me about taking private coaching again - MDTTC reopened last week for limited private coaching, with various limits on how many can be there at a time, taking everyone's temperature as they enter club, rules on masks (not required at the table, but required off the table), social distancing (the tables are well spaced out, making this easier), sanitizing (I had to sanitize the table afterwards), and so on. I retired from private coaching two years ago - I only do group sessions now - but he talked me into doing some private coaching. After twelve weeks of lying around my house, I needed the exercise, so I agreed. And so we did the one-hour session at 5:30PM on Saturday. There was no one else in the club at the time, though I'd been told there had been others earlier.

Navin put up three videos of the session:

Tip of the Week
Do You Have a Quadruple Threat Receive?

Franchise-Based Professional US Table Tennis League
If you want to be a world-class player in the US, then the first thing you have to do after high school (after years of training!) is to get out of the US. It's almost impossible to reach a world-class level unless, at that stage, you spend a few years training and competing against the best in the world, and that means going overseas to play on a team. Most top US players who do this do so in the German leagues, where they both compete regularly against other top players (and gain experience against different styles), and train daily, usually two sessions per day, with the members of their team, along with extensive physical training and serve practice. Most top US players, from past champions Dan Seemiller, Eric Boggan, Sean O'Neill, and Jim Butler, to current US #1 Kanak Jha and other current US players (including Lily Zhang, Nicholas Tio, Wue Yue, and Kai Zarehbin, who were all overseas in leagues when the pandemic began), all developed extensively in European leagues. (The complication, of course, is that this is also the time that many stop training seriously and go to college. But some continue their training and go to college later, after their professional career is over.)

But wouldn't it be great if, someday, top players didn't have to do this because of a Professional US League? Yeah, easier said than done. Where do you get the money? Without money, there's no "professional," and you end up with just top recreational players while the pros go overseas.

Years ago I put together a draft of how to do this. This past weekend I updated it a little, though I still list it as "VERY ROUGH DRAFT." Here's it is:

Tip of the Week
Three Types of Anticipation.

Cartoon of the Week:
Help Wanted: Table Tennis Coronavirus Smacker. I had some free time.

Still More Table Tennis Tips
As noted in my blog last week, my book "Still More Table Tennis Tips" came out last Monday! It's in both print and kindle. It's 150 Tips from 2017 to the present, organized in logical order and progression, with much of the wording updated and cleaned up. It's the third in the series, after Table Tennis Tips and More Table Tennis Tips. I've dropped the price on all three - they cost $12 each, or $7 for kindle. It's 187 pages with seven chapters:

  1. Serve and Receive (15 tips)
  2. Strokes (23 tips)
  3. Footwork (10 tips)
  4. Tactics (45 tips)
  5. Improving (37 tips)
  6. Sports Psychology (17 tips)
  7. Doubles (3 tips)

Why not buy the complete set of three? You've got lots of free time to read now, right? A special thanks to Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who (as they did for the first two books), gave the book a thorough proofing. (Here are all 17 of my books. If you buy one, I'll be able to afford dinner tonight!)