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 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 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, 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

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - 15:04
January 3, 2018

North American Youth Olympic Games Qualification – Boys’ Final
Here’s the match, Kanak Jha vs. Jeremy Hazin (17:35, missing first game). This was one of the few top matches I got to see at the US Open, since I was so busy in meetings, coaching, and playing. But it was a great tactical match – basically, Kanak, age 16 but already over 2700 and #90 in the world, gave a clinic in receive and ball placement.

The match epitomizes something I’ve been quoted saying many times: “Tactics isn’t about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. It’s about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work.” In this case, Kanak used disarming receives to take away Jeremy’s serve advantage, and then used one seemingly simple tactic that completely dominated the match – attack the middle and wide forehand.

It seems simple, but the execution is far more difficult than it appears. If you just keep going after someone’s middle or forehand, they can anticipate it, and...




Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - 14:59
January 2, 2018

Tip of the Week
Elbow Drill.

U.S. Open
It seems like ancient history now, but the US Open ended only eleven days ago. A lot happened there, and a lot’s happened since! In case you missed them, here are the complete results.

I flew to Las Vegas on Thursday, Dec. 14. We had USATT board meetings all day Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16. I blogged about the agenda on Dec. 13. The minutes for the meeting will go up later, but the list of Actions and Notices is already up. They don’t really give a proper reflection of all that went on – the minutes will do a better job of that. I’ll likely blog more about the meeting when they go up. (Note – I’m on the USATT Board of Directors, and chair the...




Friday, December 29, 2017 - 14:54
December 29, 2017

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. I battled the flu just before the U.S. Open. During the Open I battled shoulder and knee problems – and after badly injuring my shoulder, I’ve had to cancel all private coaching for the next 2-3 weeks. And now I’ve come down sick again - chills, queezy stomach, complete exhaustion, and just miserably sick. I got up this morning fully expecting to start blogging again, and then reality hit – and I’m about to go back to bed. (I’m still on west coast time, so 9:30AM feels like 6:30AM.) I’ll get back to my usual daily blogging, Mon-Fri, next Tuesday, Jan. 2. Until then, check out the news items at USATT and ITTF. Plus here’s a dog trying to play table tennis (12 sec). 

5 PM FRI UPDATE: I spent the day in the hospital. Diagnosis is Gastroenteritis, better known as...




Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 14:52
December 13, 2017

Last Blog Until Friday, Dec. 29
I leave tomorrow for two days of USATT board meetings, the US Open, and then Christmas with family, so this will be my last blog until Dec. 29. (I originally said Dec. 28, but after being out of town two weeks, my todo list has reached epic size and I need another day to catch up.) 

USA Open, Meetings, and Christmas
I’m leaving tomorrow morning for two weeks, which I’ll divide into three parts below. Here’s the US Open home page, where you can follow all the action. Here’s the player listing, the event listing (showing who is in each event), and perhaps most importantly, the results page (where the draws will go up in a few days, and then results). Here are the two USATT articles that might be of interest for your US Open viewing:

    ...



Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 15:02
December 12, 2017

Tip of the Week
Push-Button Matches - Playing the Scary All-Out Attacker.

Top Ten Ways to Describe My Weekend with the Flu

  1. I went 100 rounds with Mike Tyson. I lost the first 99 rounds.
  2. Or maybe that was the Chinese team used me for smashing practice. With golf balls.
  3. I alternated freezing and boiling over. Yeah, climate change every ten minutes.
  4. If you’d bought $100 in stock in Kleenex on Friday, by today you’d be a millionaire.
  5. I’ve proven you can live on nothing but cream of wheat, chicken soup, and Dayquil/Nightquil for three days – but it isn’t fun. Just looking at anything else made my stomach explode like a thousand celluloid ping-pong balls in a microwave.
  6. I can’t decide whether I can now check “Flu shot” off my todo list, since I’ve now had the flu. It’s been on the todo list for a month or so, and I was going to do it….
  7. My fever hit 101.5 on Saturday night. That may not seem high, except I normally am around 97...



Monday, December 11, 2017 - 13:49
December 11, 2017

No blog today - sick with flu. I went in to coach on Saturday, had to leave early when my fever hit 101.5. The fever's gone, but I feel like I just went 100 rounds with Mike Tyson. I singlehandedly have sent Kleenex's stock soaring while living on a diet of cream of wheat, chicken soup, and Dayquil/Nightquil. I also somehow lost two pounds from dehydration. And yes, I had a flu shot - last year. It's been on my todo list for a while to get a flu shot this year. Oops. 




Friday, December 8, 2017 - 13:28
December 8, 2017

Physical vs. Mental Stiffness, USATT &USOC Coaching, Sidespin/Backspin Serves, the Christmas Rush, and I Do Not Have A Cold

  • Here’s an insight that many don’t understand. Some players are physically stiff, especially as they get older – I’m one of them. It can lead to stiff shots, and make the player look, yes, stiff. But that’s completely different than mentally playing tight. You can have the stiffest muscles in the world and still be mentally loose and relaxed. I know, because I have the stiffest muscles in the world – 10,000 on the Vickers hardness scale – and yet I’ve always played relaxed and mentally loose, even if I don’t look it. I’m always warning my students not to copy the stiff, mechanical nature of my strokes (except perhaps for my forehand smash, which is pretty textbook), and to instead copy some of our 2600 coaches/practice partners, especially their looping strokes. But don’t mistake physical stiffness with the mental side, where anyone can learn to play relaxed and loose.
  • ...



Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 14:49
December 7, 2017

How’s Your Big Breaking Serve Into the Backhand?
I had an interesting “comeuppance” recently when I was explaining to several players the importance of including deep serves in your serving arsenal, and going over the more valuable types – fast down-the-line, no-spin to the middle, and big breaking serves to the backhand. One of them finally asked me, “Larry, what’s a big breaking serve?” Turned out at least two listeners had no idea what I meant.

A “big breaking serve” is one that curves a lot. Probably the most successful and most commonly used is deep into the backhand, so that it breaks away from the receiver. This is most commonly done with a forehand pendulum serve from the backhand side, crosscourt, between two righties (or two lefties). For righties against lefties, and vice versa, it's most commonly done with a forehand tomahawk serve from the forehand side. 

One of my regular demos when I talk about serves in a clinic is to show the difference between a fast topspin serve and a big breaking sidespin serve. I’ll have a volunteer – someone who’s not too...




Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 14:58
December 6, 2017

Knowing When to Change Serving Tactics
In the German Open Men’s Final (4:42) on Nov. 12, Timo Boll faced Dimitrij “Dima” Ovcharov in the final. Timo had already defeated China’s Lin Gaoyuan in the quarterfinals and Korea’s Lee Sangsu (who had defeated Xu Xin in the quarterfinals) in the semifinals. Dima had defeated China’s Fan Zhendong, world #2, in the semifinals, and so it was a rare non-Chinese final – in fact, an all-German final in the German Open. At the time Dima was world #4, Timo #5, but both moved up one spot since.

Dima went up 3-2 in games, and took a 4-0 lead in the sixth, with Timo to serve. Up until then Timo had been serving I believe all forehand serves. So what does he do? He switches to a rarely-seen backhand serve for his next eight serves. Here’s the video (17:36) starting at 0-4 – note how surprised...




Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 14:59
December 5, 2017

Injured a Lot?
Someone recently asked me why I seem to be injured a lot. And it’s true – I have a revolving door of injuries, including problems with my right knee, upper back on right side, right shoulder (two spots), and right arm. Those with right-minded thinking may have rightfully noticed an outright pattern, and they are right. (We’re not talking rightwing politics, though I am a right-winger in table tennis since I am right-handed . . . in case you hadn’t figured that out.)

Years and years of long hours training, playing, and coaching have led to these problems. Somehow I don’t think any doctor ever saw an injured patient and prescribed, “Rest and twenty hours of table tennis per week.”

The knee problem has its roots in the fact that MDTTC, which opened in 1992, had cement floors for a number of years before going to red rubberized flooring. Playing on cement regularly is like banging your knees with a hammer. My left knee used to bother me at times as well, but not in recent times.

However, the simple reality is I’m 57 (gosh that sounds old…), and the muscles aren’t...