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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
Did He Really Force You Out of Position?

USATT Introduces New Rating Access Subscription
Here's the USATT article. Here are my thoughts on this. One disclosure - I initiated and co-founded the USATT Singles League with Robert Mayer in 2003. (See the Singles segment, though I also created the Team League segment.) "Winner stay on" dominated club play back in those days, and this was a successful program to convert clubs from that into more league-based play. At the time I was told by most that changing the culture of table tennis in the US was impossible and that table tennis leagues just wasn't part of it. Well, now it is! (I will save writing about the benefits of league play for another time.)

I spoke on the phone with USATT CEO Virginia Sung on this issue for about an hour last week, as well as on future league plans. She was very interested in ideas for creating a membership-based USATT League, so I put together the draft of such a plan. The focus was learning from how it is done in European table tennis leagues and tennis in the US (where memberships are measured in the hundreds of thousands); finding USATT incentives to join (I came up with some); and making it a gradual process. More on this in a later blog. (The membership-based league would be in addition to the free one, not a replacement.) I sent the draft to her and to Robert Mayer. 

Here is the pertinent part of the announcement of the Ratings Access Subscription policy, which I've consolidated into one paragraph:

Tip of the Week
Looping Slightly Long Balls.

I'm Going to Santa Monica and Tokyo!!!
I will be doing online coverage for USATT of both the US Olympic Trials in Santa Monica, CA (Feb. 27-Mar 1) and the Olympics in Tokyo (July 25-Aug. 7). I've done the coverage at (pause while I do a quick count...) approximately 20 US Opens, 20 US Nationals, 12 US Team Trials, two World Championships, and dozens and dozens of 4-star events.

The entry deadline for the US Olympic Trials is Feb. 15, but here is the list of entries so far - they'll continue to grow until the deadline. Here's the entry form, which includes info on who makes the Olympic Team. The #1 world-ranked USA players automatically qualify, so Kanak Jha n the men's side [world #27] and either Lily Zhang [#26] or Wu Yue [#33] on the women's side will automatically qualify and so won't be at the Trials. Rankings might change after the German Open. Once we reach the deadline, perhaps we'll have a WWW USATT news item - "Who Will Win?"

The info on the entry form about making the Olympic Team might change, since there is a Wang Chen grievance against USATT about the selection process - she's posted about this numerous times on Facebook. I'll post a link to any news on that when/if it comes up. 

Tip of the Week
Whenever You Miss, Shadow Stroke.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!
Alas, I couldn't find a single picture of him playing table tennis...Photoshop, anyone, for next week?

USATT Turnover - and a Fresh Start?
I don't think USA Table Tennis has ever had so much turnover in such a short period of time - see listing below. They are almost unrecognizable from just months ago. This could be both a good and a bad thing. But it's definitely a huge opportunity!!!

It could be a good thing as it gives USATT a fresh start. And that could be a GREAT thing! (However, at least on the elite level, USATT has made great strides in recent years. The level and depth of USATT players has gone up dramatically, though this is mostly due to the rise of full-time training centers with professional coaches all over the country, a relatively new thing. The more USATT encourages this, the better things will get here.)

But fresh starts don't always work out. When the USOC essentially took over USATT in 2008 and completely changed the board of directors, I was excited for the chance of a fresh start. They held a Strategic Meeting in 2009 with 26 people to plan things out, which I attended. I spent an inordinate amount of time creating plans and practicing presentations. Alas, IMHO, much of the meeting was hijacked by a few people with bad ideas, and a huge opportunity was wasted. (Exactly zero of my plans were adopted.) Here is my Sept. 26, 2011 blog about that. Bottom line - in most organizational meetings, experience and forward thinking can't beat people who look good in a suit. :)

Tip of the Week
Don't Learn to Play Every Style - Learn to Adjust.

Tim and Sally Boggan Need Your Help!
Here's the GoFundMe page. Sally, wife of USATT Historian Tim Boggan (former president, editor, father of two U.S. Men's Singles Champions (Eric and Scott), Hall of Famer, and pretty much everything else table tennis-wise), had a stroke last year. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. Many people have known and loved Sally for decades. Let's show how much we appreciate Tim's contributions to our lives through his many table tennis ventures and joyfully support Tim and Sally during her recovery process. The medical bills are huge, and not all covered by insurance. Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Sheri Pittman, former USATT president) created the GoFundMe page for them (which includes their picture), with the goal of raising $20,000. It only opened a week ago but has already raised $2414. Can you pitch in? Here's a note from Tim:

Tip of the Week
How to Develop a Nasty Forehand Flip.

Tim and Sally Boggan Need Your Help!
Sally, wife of USATT Historian Tim Boggan (and former president, editor, father of two U.S. Men's Singles Champions (Eric and Scott), Hall of Famer, and pretty much everything else table tennis-wise), had a stroke last year. She is paralyzed on one side and unable to speak. The medical bills are huge, and not all covered by insurance. Sheri Cioroslan (formerly Sheri Pittman, former USATT president) created a GoFundMe page for them, with the goal of raising $20,000. It only opened yesterday (Sunday), but has already raised $700. Can you pitch in? (Tim will be a young 90 this September.)

USOPC Letter and USATT Board Resignations
I wrote about this in my Dec. 2 (third segment) and Dec. 9 (fourth segment) blogs. Here's a rehashing.

Tip of the Week
Six Ways to Learn Tactics.

Last Blog and Tip Until January 6, 2020
I'm leaving for the U.S. Open next weekend, and then Christmas with family in Sonoma, California. See you in 2020!

Weekend Coaching, Party, and Longpong
It was another busy weekend in TT world at MDTTC!

We had the final Thursday Beginning Class of the year. The focus was Player's Choice (player decided what he wanted to work on) and smashing lobs. At the end, Lidney Castro, Todd Klinger, and I each had a small group that took turns smashing our lobs, with each staying until they missed three.

The focus of the Sunday Beginning Class was spin serves and the 2-1 footwork drill. (The latter is where you hit a backhand, then a forehand from the backhand side, and then a forehand from the forehand side, and repeat - the three most common movements in table tennis.)

The Saturday Junior League (which is half league, half coaching) focused on singles (we've been doing a lot of doubles this season), with lots of improvised games, with players moving up-down tables. For example, the server might have to serve short to the forehand, and the receiver had to either push short or flip to the backhand, and then play out the point. Or server had to serve long, and receiver had to attack. And so on.

The Sunday Junior Talent Program did the usual drills, with 30+ kids. I was in charge of three tables, where they started with footwork drills, and then went on to serve & receive drills and games. After an hour and 45 minutes of practice, it was time . . . to Party!!! Both pizza and Chinese food were brought in. (I went mostly for the chicken chow mein.) And then it was off to games.

Tip of the Week
What to Watch During a Point.

JOOLA North American Teams
When I tell the kids I'm coaching at the Teams that this is my 44th consecutive Teams (starting in 1976), I can't tell if they are in awe of my experience or that they just think I'm really old. I probably sound and look it. My throat is still a bit sore from cheering and my hands hurt from clapping.

There were 1083 players on 272 teams (3.98 per team) on 154 tables, the biggest Teams in history. Wow!!! It's especially fun watching the reactions of new players when they first walk into the venue and see all this. Their eyes go wide, they look side to side as they pan everything, and then they get a big grin on their faces. Here's a camera pan (25 sec) of the whole arena from Pongmobile.

Here are complete results. Here are the results for the Final. Here's the Live Streaming of Quarters, Semis, and Final (10 hr 56 min). Alas, I didn't get to see the finals, or any matches in top division. During the semis and finals there I was coaching in the semis and finals of various divisions, where I was one of the coaches for the seven junior teams from the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with the junior teams and training sponsored by HW Global Foundation.

Tip of the Week
Serving from the Forehand Side.

USATT Training Camp
I'm one of the coaches at the USATT Training Camp here at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, Nov. 23-28. Actually, I'm spent over half the sessions so far as a practice partner - I may be getting older, but I can still block pretty consistently. (And when needed, I can loop!) I also made two trips to the airport (an hour away) to pick up players.

Wang Qingliang is the head coach. He's one of the USATT National Development Team Coaches. The rest of the coaching staff is myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Alex Ruichao Chen. Khoi & Khai Dinh, and Vikash Sahu, are practice partners (with Vikash leading the warmup routines in the morning - jogging and stretching). Wang's a strict disciplinarian and has the players' respect, but he still has fun with the kids - this morning, before practice, he joined the kids in a winner-stay-on battle on the mini-table with mini-paddles.

Tip of the Week
"Proper Way" is What Works for You.

Illegal Serves History
I regularly get emails from people asking about illegal hidden serves, since I've been known to campaign against the current situation where the rule is rarely enforced. In recent times I've sort of thrown up my hands in disgust and despair - nothing I do is going to convince ITTF or USATT to take action, and many still ignore the evidence of their eyes when it's pointed out that most top players hide their serves, usually by tossing the ball behind their head, or thrusting out their head or shoulder.

Remember that the problem isn't that umpires don't call serves that they see are hidden; the problem is they don't call serves where they aren't sure, which, of course, is exactly why top players have developed such serves, which are hidden but in ways where the umpire isn't quite sure, and so they are not called and the players get away with it regularly - and to compete on an equal basis, others must do so as well. The rules state that umpires should call a serve that they aren't sure about, and that it is the responsibility of the server to serve so the umpire can see that the serve is legal. Alas, this rule is rarely followed. Someone emailed me about this a few days ago. Below was my response (with a few minor edits), which briefly explains how the situation came about.

Tip of the Week
Three Spots or Two?

Happy Veterans Day!

Weekend Coaching
The focus of the Thursday Beginning Class was pushing, especially backhand pushing. (We'll work more on forehand pushing later.) Due to an apparent car accident, there was a huge traffic jam in the road leading to the club, and over half the class came in 10-15 minutes later. I had planned a forehand-to-forehand consistency contest, but we ran out of time and will have to do that later. (We'll also have a backhand-to-backhand contest.)

There was no Sunday Beginning Class due to Veterans Weekend. However, we did have the advanced Talent Development Program. I mostly ran drills on two table - the usual footwork and serve and attack drills, followed by Brazilian Teams. Later today I have to put together my player evaluations for the players I've been working with. Next Sunday we go over these with the players and their parents after the training session, followed by a party. After the session Sunday the coaches went out for Chinese food and discussed the players.

It's always interesting watching how the players develop. One kid who started out a year ago didn't seem as coordinated as some of the others, and honestly didn't show much promise. But he had two big things going for him - he was focused on practicing hard, and practiced regularly with his dad, who is a good player. One year later, he's pulled away from most of the others who started with him and who (at the time) seemed to have more promise, and now seems one of the most coordinated! During the dinner, I singled him and a couple others out as ones that I predict will "explode" in level in about a year.