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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

Friday, September 15, 2017 - 14:08
September 15, 2017

A USATT Coaches Training and Certification Program
There are currently two ways of becoming certified as a USATT coach. One is the USATT certification process itself, which explains how to become a Club, State, Regional, or National Coach. (There is also an Instructor category, which is for non-table tennis people with teaching experience, such as PE teachers. I wrote the Instructor’s Guide to Table Tennis for this, which has also been used at the Club level for many years.) The other is to take one of the ITTF coaching courses, where Levels 1, 2, and 3 equate to State, Regional, and National coaches.

However, as is often pointed out, the ITTF coaching courses weren’t really set up as a certification process, and they don’t always teach what we specifically would like taught at each level. And so we are now looking into...

Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 13:31
September 14, 2017

Teaching the Topspinny Backhand
When a player first learns to play, they learn basic forehands and backhands, which include putting at least a very light topspin on the ball. A proper stroke automatically puts some topspin on the ball as the racket is moving forward and slightly up at contact. Beginners often hit the ball almost straight on, and so generate little or no topspin. Here’s a good backhand drive video (2:55, from ITTF). This teaches the standard, light topspin backhand. Here's a good backhand topspin video (3:18, from EmRatThich) showing a more topspinny backhand. Note how the racket tip drops down, allowing more topspin from the stroke. In the ITTF video, lefty Timo Boll is shown for a few seconds hitting backhands 28 seconds in, and also topspins his backhand this way. 

One of my students, age 8, tends to hit the ball almost straight on, resulting in a rather erratic backhand that’s more a blocking motion than a stroke, with the ball coming out dead. I could...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 14:01
September 13, 2017

So Much Happening!
No matter where you are, there’s something coming up for you. While there’s not much on the coaching side in my blog this morning (after seven in yesterday’s blog), though there's some good analysis in the Table Tennis Tidbits #8 (by Robert Ho), this time it’s full of events all over the place. Here’s a rundown.

  • Philadelphia, PA. See the segment below on Spin Philly, with the grand opening party this Friday, Sept. 15, 9PM-2AM. I may go up for this.
  • Ann Arbor, MI. See segment below on the 45th Ping-Pong Diplomacy at University of Michigan on Monday, Sept. 18.
  • Franklin, WI. See segment below on the $16,000 4-star Badger Open, near Milwaukee, Sept. 15-17.
  • CA, WA, NC, NJ, NY. Play in any of the following 2-star tournaments this coming weekend: North-West LA Open (Canoga Park, CA);...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 14:03
September 12, 2017

Tip of the Week
Make Adjusting a Habit by Playing Different Players.

USATT Board Meeting
It was an extremely hectic weekend – I’m learning that coaching and attending board meetings don’t always mix well. On Saturday I coached from 10AM to 4PM, then drove over to the USATT informal meeting/get-together on Saturday night in Washington DC. On Sunday I left my house at 6:30AM, attended the meeting from 8AM to 2:30PM, drove to my club, and coached from 4PM to 8:30PM. After spending all day sitting in a chair, my back stiffened up while coaching and began to hurt. (I’m doing back stretches before it gets worse.) Here’s a rundown of the USATT meeting.

On Saturday night we all met at Gary Schlager’s large house, with its even larger basement, for informal games, meetings, and dinner. (Gary recently joined the USATT Board of Directors – his financial background is a huge plus.) There was ping-pong, pool, darts, and air...

Monday, September 11, 2017 - 12:22
September 11, 2017

Back Tomorrow
Yeah, it’s one of those days. Yesterday I was on the go for 14 hours straight. At 6:30AM I was in my car driving to the USATT board meeting in Washington DC, which I attended (as a board member and coaching committee chair) from 8AM-2:30PM. Then I drove back to MDTTC and coached from 4PM to 8:30PM. (Saturday was almost as long – coaching from 10AM to 4PM, then attending various Saturday night board festivities.) I’ll write about the board meeting tomorrow, as well as the Tip of the Week. But just to wake you up this Monday morning, here’s video (31 sec) of the greatest and most energetic table tennis player of all time. 

Friday, September 8, 2017 - 13:22
September 8, 2017

USATT Coaching Committee Report
September 1, 2017
By Larry Hodges (Chair)
[NOTE – this was submitted to the USATT Board of Directors one week ago.]

Since I was only appointed in March, and the committee approved in May (myself, Rajul Sheth, Han Xiao, Sydney Christophe, and player rep Timothy Wang, with staff liaison Jörg Bitzigeio), we’ve only had a few months. (Also, I’m busiest during the summer, as are other coaches on the committee, and so I’ve put off a lot until the fall.) Here’s what happened on the USATT coaching front so far this year.

  • USATT University. We held the first USATT University at the USA Nationals in July, with great help from Gordon and USATT headquarters. Eight courses were taught, including four that were directly coaching related. However, attendance this first time around was low, and so we need to work on that. Despite putting flyers in everyone’s playing packet, an ad in the program, and USATT news items, the large majority of players, when asked, didn’t even know about it. Courses taught...

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 14:10
September 7, 2017

New ITTF World Rankings
Here’s the new listing. On the men’s side, the top five spots remained unchanged. Mizutani (JPN) dropped two spots to #8, with Boll (GER) and Chun Ting Wong (HKG) each moving up one spot to #6 and #7. But the more interesting change came from two other Japanese players. Matsudaira moved from #16 to #12, while the whiz kid, 14-year-old Harimoto, shot from #20 to #13.

So which countries challenge China’s supremacy on the men’s side? Here are countries with at least three players in the top 50.

  • China: #1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 29, 35 spots. (They likely have a number of others who would be in the top 50, probably top 20.)
  • Germany: #4, 6, 23, 29, 43
  • Japan: #8, 9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 25, 28, 32
  • South Korea: #14, 21, 42, 49, 50
  • France: #16, 20, 44
  • Portugal: #17, 39, 48
  • Sweden: #22, 24, 39

China is obviously a huge favorite in any team match-up. But when they play Germany or Japan, it can be interesting as those countries have small, but legitimate chances. Perhaps Korea as...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 13:50
September 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Weapons to Allow Opponents to Beat Themselves.

Fall Coaching and USATT Stuff
My fall schedule keeps changing and getting busier. But the good news is I’ve managed to keep Mon, Tue, and Fri open for rest, writing, and various USATT and MDTTC activities. The bad news it means longer hours on other days. Here’s my updated coaching schedule:

  • Wed: 5:30-8:45 (one 15 min break)
  • Thur: 5:30-9:30
  • Sat: 11AM-4:00PM (will likely have a 4-5PM student, and twice a month also have 6:30-8:30PM)
  • Sun: 2:45-8:30PM (one 15-min break, and I will likely have more Sunday hours before 2:45PM)

Meanwhile, now that the summer is over, I’m about to launch into a number of coaching committee activities. (I’m chair.) I’d hoped to get into these issues this week, but they may have to wait until next week as I have a number of other issues still to deal with from my todo list, but I won’t get into that now. (They are a mixture of table tennis and my outside science fiction writing...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 12:32
September 5, 2017

After trying to take Labor Day off, I found myself wanting to catch up on work that I’d planned to do today – and ended up working half the night. When I tried going to sleep, I was too wound up. When it reached 4:30 AM and I was still up, I realized I was going to have a problem. I finally got to sleep, then woke up at 7:30 AM. My head is pounding like I’d gone twelve rounds with The Hulk, my eyelids weigh more than The Hulk, and my eyes feel like Ma Long and The Hulk plucked them out and played a best of seven with each. Sorry, no blog today, but at least I’m (mostly) caught up on various table tennis and writing matters. I’ll be back tomorrow with the blog and Tip of the Week. I need to put on my wall, “Early to bed, early to rise, is what morning bloggers must prioritize.”  Oh, and speaking of The Hulk:

Monday, September 4, 2017 - 12:25
September 4, 2017

It's Labor Day, so no laboring on my blog today. I'm spending the day in my lounge chair reading "Brave New World," which somehow I'd never gotten around to reading, and perhaps watching "Giant," which is on TCM at 4:30PM. See you all tomorrow. Oh, and here's a video of cats and table tennis (2:19).