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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

Monday, October 17, 2016 - 10:41
October 17, 2016

Tip of the Week
Play Both Weaker and Stronger Players.

Sunday Coaching
Sundays are my busiest coaching day, and yesterday was no exception. Of course, compared to some of the Chinese coaches at MDTTC (and other clubs), it was just another average day. It started with two one-hour private sessions and then a 45-min one. Then I fed multiball for 30 minutes for our "Talent Group" (MDTTC's top kids, mostly in the under 10 age group). Next came the 90-minute Beginning Class I teach every Sunday. (I also have one on Thursday nights.) And finally came the 90-minute adult training session. Technically, that was only six hours and 15 minutes, but it always seems like 16 hours.

How do I prepare for a long coaching day like this? My Sunday "ritual" is a big plate of spaghetti, extra sauce, for lunch before I start, and a granny smith apple halfway through. And lots of water.

One of the private students had been up late the night before due to homecoming, and showed up half asleep. That's always a challenge, getting them...

Friday, October 14, 2016 - 13:49
October 14, 2016

90 Full-Time Table Tennis Clubs in the U.S.
In my October 5 blog, I wrote how we now had 88 full-time clubs in this country, about ten times the number had just ten years ago with a corresponding increase in the number of full-time coaches (from around 10-20 to over 300). I ended the blog by writing, "Let’s get to 90 this year, and break 100 next year." Well, lo and behold, we're already at 90! I was alerted to the existence of two more full-time clubs in Florida, the Palm Beach Table Tennis Club in Boynton Beach and the PowerStroke Table Tennis Club in Saint Augustine, FL. So now that we have 90 in 25 states and DC, let's go for 100 in 30 states! (Update - alas, a club just closed in California, so as of Sunday we're back to 89. But I'm told someone is interested in re-opening the club at the same location, so it might...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 14:00
October 11, 2016

No Blog on Wednesday and Thursday
(I'll get to the table tennis part shortly.) Last week I received an unexpected email from a legendary science fiction writer. He's familiar with my own science fiction writing, and made an offer: Would I like to collaborate on a SF novel with him and one other person? The answer, of course, was yes. But I need a few days to really focus on getting started with this. I can't give out his name yet, but should be able to do so in a month or so. Meanwhile, the plan is this. He's already written the final third of the novel; he had another writer do the middle third; and I'm supposed to do the first third. Yes, it's a strange way of working! I've read the other two parts, and know the main character and where my first third will end, and have spent the last week planning out my part . . . and now I have to get to work!

Don't worry, I'm not leaving table tennis. I do both TT and SF. TT actually pays the bills – both coaching and writing - but I've sold 80 short stories and have three novels, so that's a big sideline for me, both as a hobby and a growing side-profession....

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 13:06
October 6, 2016

No Blog Friday or Monday – Capclave, World Women’s Cup, USATT Board Meeting
Here’s my schedule over the next few days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 14:04
October 5, 2016

88 Full-time Table Tennis Centers in the U.S.
One of my most vividly bad memories in table tennis was the USATT Board Meeting in December, 2006, almost ten years ago. It was at that meeting that I made a proposal for USATT to actively recruit and train coaches and club directors to set up and run full-time table tennis centers and junior programs, with the goal of 100 such centers in ten years.

At the time there were only 8-10 such full-time centers in the country. I’d co-founded the Maryland Table Tennis Center in 1992, the first successful full-time center devoted to training, and we’d set the model that others were beginning to follow.

The response? It was basically laughed off. Two board members openly said that full-time table tennis centers wouldn’t work in the U.S. except in a few specific areas, and that these areas already had a full-time club, so there was no potential for more. The rest remained silent. I remembered arguing with these two with the growing realization that they had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, and yet they were running our sport and firmly believed what they were saying. [I...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 14:04
October 4, 2016

Service Week – Teaching a Beginner to Serve
This past week the focus in both of my beginning table tennis classes was serving. For me, it’s the most fun part to teach, and the part that the kids are most fascinated by. If you show a new kid a backspin serve that bounces back into the net, they won’t stop trying until they can do it. If put a target on the table and smack it with a serve, the kids will spend the next half hour trying to hit it, and keep track of every hit. (I use the latter for the younger kids, who struggle at first with just serving, and aren’t ready to really spin their serves.)

Here’s how I teach serves to beginning kids.

  1. At the very start of the session I challenge the kids to return my serve. They line up, and stay until they’ve missed three serves. Then I serve various spins. When serving sidespin, I always put the racket down right after serving and step to where the ball will go, catching it. For backspin, as I serve I beg them not to go into the net. They have fun with this, and quickly realize how important spin is to the game. After a few rounds I explain what they need to...

Monday, October 3, 2016 - 13:12
October 3, 2016

Tip of the Week
Returning Smashes: Reacting and Racket Angles.

Clinton Smashes Trump in Debate
Here’s the cartoon! As you can see, I had a little fun last night – and there’s no question now that she got quite a bump in the polls after the debate. (Here’s my 2016 Election Pong Style cartoon, posted previously.)

Eighteen Private Coaching Sessions in a Day
On Friday, I gave 18 private coaching sessions. You heard that right! Okay, that’s a bit misleading as it was 18 ten-minute sessions, plus two 30-minute group sessions. I was hired by a local business that has gone table tennis crazy to spend four hours at their headquarters. It was a wild afternoon!

They have two tables, both pretty nice ones, though one net is a bit ragged. They were mostly using hardbat and sandpaper rackets, stacked in a box by the table, with...

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 14:02
September 30, 2016

Coaching Happenings
Here’s a rundown of some coaching issues that came up this week.

During a junior class yesterday, one 6-year-old beginner was struggling to get his serve on the table. He kept smacking it out toward the net, and it would either go into the net, or way off the end or side. I kept explaining that his target was on his side of the table, just a few feet from him. Finally I put a quarter on the table near his end-line and told him that that was his target. Two amazing things happened. First, he became focused on hitting the quarter, and his serve began to hit both sides! Second, about five minutes later, he became so good at serving that I had him try the same thing with a downward stroke – and within a minute he was serving with backspin! Not heavy backspin, of course, but enough that he was pretty excited.

Another beginning kid was struggling with his forehand pendulum serve. I suggested he try a backhand serve – and within minutes he was serving a pretty nice sidespin.

One kid kept swatting balls all over the place. Later, at the very end of the class we had one of those “Hit the...

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 13:33
September 29, 2016

No Regular Blog Today - Thank the Problems with USATT's Team Selection Process
There have been serious problems in the USATT’s team selection process, and I’ve been drawn into it – and for the third night in a row I was up all night dealing with this and other issues. At some point I’ll blog about it. For now, I woke up with a massive headache, and I’m a little too tired and disgusted to want to do anything right now. It’s hard to stay idealistic when dealing with this stuff. Anybody want my spot on the USATT Board? Oh, please, please, please! (The stuff below I put together at around 4AM when I couldn’t sleep. I went to bed after 5AM.)

Physical Tips for Table Tennis Players – by Werner Schlager
This is “Werner Schlager Week” at Expert Table Tennis, with daily articles from the 2003 World Men’s Singles Champion!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 13:46
September 28, 2016

Watch and Learn
I had a student yesterday who couldn’t seem to find his forehand loop. He kept changing it, and roving about, sometimes too close to the table, others times falling back – he was like a leaf blowing in the wind. Finally I had him put his racket down and had him watch two of our top juniors on other tables who were looping against block with other coaches. After about two minutes of this, we started up again, and suddenly it all came back - and he was on fire!

There’s a related Tip of the Week on this: Watch the Top Players Before a Tournament or Big Match. One of the best ways to learn and to get your game together is to watch the top players.

Technical & Tactical Tips for Table Tennis Players – by Werner Schlager
This is “Werner Schlager Week” at Expert Table Tennis, with daily articles from the 2003 World Men’s Singles Champion!