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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 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,

Member, USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame & USATT Certified National Coach
Professional Coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center

Recent blog posts

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 13:06
November 2, 2016

The Backhand Game Leads to Immediate Improvement
While coaching Daniel yesterday (he recently turned 12, is about 1700) I pointed out that when we go backhand-to-backhand, he keeps backing up, backhand looping over and over, but too soft to be really effective. He can also play it closer to the table, but is losing the knack as he simply likes backing up. How to get across to him how this was less effective? The Backhand Game!

For this I normally put a box on each side of the table, cutting off all but the backhand part of the table, so that each player covers about 40% of the table, backhand only. (The box is angled so the left side parallels the incoming ball.) We only had one box handy, and so rather than run up front to get a second one, I used my towel on my side – works just as well as a box. And then we went at it.

The rules are simple – I always serve, a straight topspin serve diagonally to his backhand. Then we go at it, backhand to backhand. No backspin or lobbing allowed. While the immediate goal is to win, the real goal is to have vicious rallies, where we bang it out ten to twenty or more times per rally. I've...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 13:56
November 1, 2016

Tip of the Week
How Do You Win and Lose Points?

World Fantasy Convention
This does have a table tennis connection – USATT had two representatives at the World Fantasy Convention, which was held this past weekend, Oct. 27-30, Thur-Sun, in Columbus, OH. Attending as unofficial USATT reps were myself and Charles Richard "Chip" Patton. He's rated 1821, from Alabama, and like myself, we are both into science fiction and fantasy – especially reading and writing it. Chip also has published stories, and at the WFC signed at least one anthology with a story of his in it. As we walked the halls, I wonder how many others realized they were in the midst of two people who could destroy them in table tennis? If they'd known of our smashing and killing capabilities, would they have trembled in trepidation?

Here's a picture Chip took...

Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 14:06
October 27, 2016

No Blog on Friday and Monday
I leave early Friday morning for the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH, where I'm a panelist, will do a reading, and will join other authors for a three-hour book signing on Friday night. See, I have a life outside table tennis! I return late on Sunday night. Here are two recent pictures of me at book signings, at the Lunacon SF Convention in NY and at the Capclave SF Convention in MD. (I'm toying with showing up at the full-time Columbus TTC on Saturday night, but am not sure yet if I'll be free.) Monday is Halloween, where kids everywhere dress up as little ping-pong players and go door to door singing, "Pong or Heat!", and if you don't play them a quick ping-pong match, they burn your house down. 

U.S. Open in Las Vegas...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 14:05
October 26, 2016

Larry's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Yesterday was a uniquely bad day. How bad was it? Let me count the ways.

  1. went down. It was a server problem involving unneeded data being collected from the site that led to three gigabytes of data slewing up the system in some technical way. I spent all day just trying to get in touch with my server, Godaddy. Each time I'd call I'd be on hold for a time, then I'd get a message they were busy and if I'd leave a message with my phone number, they'd get back to me. This started around 8AM, and after three calls where I'd wait on hold and finally end up leaving a message, plus two emergency emails, they got back to me around 4PM, and the problem is fixed, at least for now.
  2. USATT League went down. I woke up also to emails that the league software wasn't working, and as the chair of the USATT League Committee I of course got much of the blame, despite not actually having anything to do with this aspect. I sent off emails to the software people to fix the problem(s). (More on the League Committee soon...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 19:32
October 25, 2016

UPDATE - the problem, for now, is fixed, and I should have a regular blog again on Wednesday morning.

I'm aware of the problems on this site - it keeps going haywire - which is a server problem involving an accumulation of useless but problem-making data. will likely come and go temporarily as my server works to fix the problem. I'm typing this in a short interval while it's up.
-Larry Hodges

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 12:56
October 24, 2016

Tip of the Week
Winning Cheap Points.

Tournament and Coaching
On Saturday I ran the 2-star Butterfly MDTTC October Open. We had 68 players. Here are the results, care of Omnipong. Congrats to Champions Chen Bo Wen, Klaus Wood, Tiffany Ke, Sam Berry, Ryan Dabbs, Hanfei Hu, and Yunhua Gong! And to Finalists Yan Zhang, Tiffany Ke (yep, two finals), Jessica Lin, Ara Sahakian, Jackson Beaver, Jackson Beaver (yep, two finals), and Thomas Sampson!

We're running into problems with the scheduling as the number of players entering Under 15 and Under 1350 have dramatically increased, mostly due to recent huge increase in kids in the 7-11 age group. The U1350 coincides with the Open, so we ran into trouble finding tables for everyone. I finally had to seed the top three players in U1350 out of the preliminaries to save us one table, which also meant that all the groups were of four players, but two of those players weren't happy with that, wanting to play more. But the...

Friday, October 21, 2016 - 14:01
October 21, 2016

Notes from Thailand by Richard McAfee
[Richard is a USATT National Coach and Hall of Famer, and an ITTF Coaching Course Conductor. Think of this as a "guest column." I was going to blog about "Some Funny Coaching Incidents," but decided to move that to the end of the blog and feature this instead.]

While recently in Thailand, I had the opportunity to run a training camp for the Thai National Junior/Cadet Teams and to also watch 3 days of the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships. As I knew many players and coaches, I was able to spend a lot of time in the training area. This was very interesting as this tournament highlights the best prospects from Asia and is also a look at how each country is preparing the next generation of players. I got the chance to talk to many of the coaches about how they are preparing their next generation of players and there are some definite trends

  • Emphasis is going to be on staying close to the table but with more power rather than time pressure (more balls played...

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 13:02
October 20, 2016

No Regular Blog Today
Like all red-blooded, apple pie-eating, determined-to-beat-the-Chinese-in-ping-pong-someday Americans, I was up late last night watching the debate and the commentary afterwards, and so got a late start today. And now I have a non-table tennis writing project I need to finish before the weekend, and so no blog today. I'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, we now have the answer to the age-old question that voters have been asking since the election campaign began – who would win in table tennis between Clinton and Trump? According to this Washington Post article on Monday about Clinton, "In eighth grade, she learned to square dance, became a lifeguard, played plenty of table tennis." (Here's the famous picture of her playing husband Bill.) Oh, and here's a...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 13:28
October 19, 2016

Daniel's Inside-out Looping
I had a great session with 12-year-old Daniel yesterday. He's about 1700, but he's still struggling to be aggressive in games – he much prefers fishing and lobbing, and so usually lets his opponent attack first. He simply has zero confidence in his looping game. I've been working with him on this for months. In games he often will go for all-out smashes (forehand and backhand), but looping is just an occasional variation for him. He wins mostly by pushing, blocking, sudden smashes, and fishing & lobbing.

Yesterday might have been a breakthrough. When he forehand loops, he tends to bring his arm across his body, dissipating his power and causing occasional arm problems because of the strain it puts on his arm. Periodically we've fixed the problem, but then he falls back into the old habit. But yesterday I noticed something – when he loops inside-out to my backhand, the stroke is much smoother and technically far better. So I had him practice his inside-out loop for a time. Then I had him set up to do an inside-out loop to my backhand – but had him point to where the ball was going...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 13:53
October 18, 2016

Random Drills
Yesterday I did a number "random drills" with students, though we first did drills leading up to them. With Daniel (age 12) who is often hesitant to loop against backspin in game situations, we started with regular multiball backspin where he looped forehands and then backhands. Then we did the 2-1 drill with backspin only – he'd backhand loop from backhand corner, then forehand loop from backhand corner, then forehand loop from forehand corner, and then repeat. Then I fed random backspin all over, and he had to loop forehand or backhand. Then we played points where he served backspin and I'd push to his forehand, he'd loop, then we'd POP (play out point). Then the same where I pushed to his backhand. Finally, we went full random – he'd serve backspin, I'd push anywhere randomly, he'd loop, and then POP. (Daniel does 90 minutes, so he gets a lot of drills.)

Next up was Navin Kumar – yes, the bionic man himself (google it, but suffice to know he's got Parkinson's and a mostly mechanical heart). He's having trouble making the transition from backhand to forehand....