Tip of the Week

A Tip of the Week will go up every Monday by noon.

Coaches - submit your own Tips for publication!

Have a question about a Tip of the Week? Ask on the Forum!!!

(Want more tips? Here are 171 more, done for the USATT website from 1999-2003, by Larry Hodges as "Dr. Ping Pong." Want even more? Here's the complete USATT archive, with the 171 by Larry as well as ones by Carl Danner from 2003-2007.)

October 16, 2017 - Top Twelve Tactical Rallying Mistakes

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
by: Larry Hodges
  1. Playing too much into the backhand.
  2. Not attacking the middle (roughly the playing elbow, midway between forehand and backhand), and using this to set up a follow-up attack to the corners or middle again.
  3. Not attacking all three spots – wide corners and middle.
  4. Attacking to a corner when you have an angle to attack outside the corner.
  5. Looking for a chance to counter-attack to an opponent’s forehand rather than just making the first attack there.
  6. Not changing the pace.
  7. Not sometimes aiming one way, and at the last second going another.
  8. Not keeping the ball deep (unless going for a change-of-pace or drop shot).
  9. Trying to end the point too quickly.
  10. Not ending the point when the shot is there.
  11. Not finishing a shot by following through into position for the next shot.
  12. Attacking an opponent’s weak side first rather than first attacking their stronger side so that you can follow by attacking their weaker side while also having to move. 

Comments so far:: 1

October 9, 2017 – Top Ten Tactical Receiving Mistakes

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
by: Larry Hodges
  1. Too predictable. Vary your receive! Most of the below are variations on this.
  2. Giving the server what he wants.
  3. Too aggressive. If you attack every serve it becomes predictable.
  4. Too passive. If you never attack the serve, then the server knows he can serve and attack every time. (If he’s smart, he’ll vary his attack.)
  5. Passive against deep serves. You can’t really rush or angle the server against a deep serve, so you need to be aggressive.
  6. No variation to pushes. Need to vary them to throw off the server.
  7. No short push variation. Opponent knows your return will go long and so can hang back.
  8. Long pushes aren’t quick, low, heavy, deep, and at wide angles.
  9. No last-second changes of direction. So server can see where you are returning the ball very early.
  10. Unable to backhand banana flip against short serves, the biggest development in technique in recent times – get with the program!!! (Here’s my Tip of the Week, Backhand Banana Flip, with link to a tutorial.)

October 2, 2017 - Top Ten Tactical Serving Mistakes

Monday, October 2, 2017
by: Larry Hodges
  1. Not enough variation.
  2. Serving to the backhand over and Over and OVER.
  3. Always serving from the same spot, usually from the backhand corner.
  4. Not serving with a purpose.
  5. Always serving with heavy spin, without using no-spin as a variation (where you fake heavy spin – “heavy no-spin”).
  6. Telegraphing your serves by how you set up or start your motion.
  7. Too often serving long to loopers or short to quick players.
  8. Not trying out all your main serves early on to find out what works.
  9. Saving your trickiest serves for when it’s close, instead of using them early so it doesn’t get close, and then using them again as needed.
  10. Not understanding the basic concept that you should essentially ALWAYS serve and attack UNLESS the receiver does something to stop you from doing so.  

September 25 - Assume You Have to Move

Monday, September 25, 2017
by: Larry Hodges

Many players go through this series of events as the opponent is hitting the ball toward them:

  1. Opponent begins forward swing.
  2. I wait to see where the ball is going.
  3. Opponent hits ball.
  4. The ball is coming toward me.
  5. Do I have to move?
  6. Yes, I have to move!
  7. I prepare to move.
  8. I move.

More advanced players go through this series of events:

  1. I prepare to move.
  2. Opponent begins forward swing.
  3. From forward swing I see where the ball is going.
  4. I move.

Which do you think is more efficient? The two most important things from this are that you should get into the habit of trying to react to where the opponent is hitting the ball as he begins his forward swing, and that you should assume you have to move. 

September 18, 2017 - Always Think of a Loop as a Set-up Shot

Monday, September 18, 2017
by: Larry Hodges

Many players, when they get a chance to loop hard, think of it as a put-away shot. And often it is. However, this can cause problems since sometimes they do come back, especially when you face stronger players. There’s a simple way of looking at it. If it doesn’t come back, you don’t have to worry about it, so assume it will come back, and prepare for that. So always think of a loop as a set-up shot for the next shot, which is where you might look to put the ball away – and that shot, while often a put-away, should also be thought of as a set-up shot. This doesn’t mean you don’t try to loop a weak ball with enough speed and placement (that’s key) to end the point, but after you loop it away, you should expect it to come back, and be ready to follow up.

Here’s a good exercise. When you play a practice match, when you see a ball you can loop away, take 10% off your speed, but focus 100% on placement – often to the middle (playing elbow, midway between forehand and backhand), or a wide angle if it’s open, where you try to win the point or force a weak return because of the placement. The opponent will have to move out of position to return the shot, and if he does return it – assume he will! – then you end the point to the part of the table he either left open, or leaves open in attempting to cover the part he left open. Or just go at the middle again.