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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, November 14, 2016 - 12:23
November 14, 2016

Tip of the Week
How to Develop a Quicker Forehand.

Youngest Table Tennis Players
Here's a picture of Shia Williams, age 5, playing his first tournament. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) He's playing in the Robopong October 2016 Broward TTC Open. Here's the video (2 min)!

He achieved a rating of 994 – not bad! Anyway, this raises the question of who was the youngest player ever to play a USATT tournament. I'm sure if I had access to the entire database and the proper data tools, I could figure this out. But I already know the answer – sort of.

The youngest to enter a USATT...

Friday, November 11, 2016 - 14:59
November 11, 2016

It's Veteran's Day, so I'm off today. (In reality, I've got a rather long todo list to take care of, but at least I can start fresh and early.) Here's some Championship Table Tennis (cartoon) to tide you over. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 14:59
November 10, 2016

How Fast Can You Smash?
We often talk about how a ping-pong ball often travels at speeds up to 100 mph (about 161 kph). That simply isn't true, at least at this time.

Here's the video How Fast Does a Table Tennis Ball Travel? (1:26). Until recently, the "official" record was I believe 69.9 mph (112.5 kph), as noted in Table Tennis Ball Speed page from 2003-2004, which analyzes the data at the time. But Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov (world #6) "smashed" that record with a 75.8 mph (122 kph) smash. To get that speed, he did an all-out wristy forehand smash.

But this raises the question – just how fast can one smash a ball? While world-class players like Ovtcharov are undoubtedly among the hardest hitters, that doesn't mean he's the hardest hitter. Few have been tested. World-class players are actually trained mostly to loop, so when trying to hit the ball at the maximum speed...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 12:26
November 9, 2016

Life in Idiocracy; No Blog Today
I'm stunned at the historically stupid thing America did last night, and I will hold accountable those responsible. Most have no clue what they have done, and how they have made the race for the gutter the norm in American politics – and that's the least of our problems. (We are now living the movie Idiocracy. Even Biff from Back to the Future was modeled on Trump.) However, since this isn't a political blog, I'll refrain from saying more. But I'm not really into blogging about ping-pong when our country now faces far more serious problems than how to hit a forehand, so no blog today. Good luck America – you are going to need it. (Feel free to comment, but since this is a table tennis blog, absolutely no political debates here. If you want to defend Trump, do so elsewhere. I will delete any such postings.) 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 13:50
November 8, 2016

Election Day
Today we decide between Trump and Clinton. But schools are closed and it's practically a national holiday, so I'm taking the day off as well. Meanwhile, here are two cartoons I did on the election that I previously posted. Now, go out and vote practice your serves!

Monday, November 7, 2016 - 15:37
November 7, 2016

Tip of the Week
Three Ways to Play the Forehand.

Reasons for More Trials Instead of Selections
As I blogged on Friday, I believe we need to go back to more Trials for our youth teams, and less selections, as we used to do it. I didn't like the idea from the start, but was willing to give it a try – but now I'm convinced it was a mistake.

The main argument for primarily choosing our youth teams rather than doing so by Trials is they feel that Trials only puts players against other USA players, and isn't a valid measure of their level against international players. I disagree, as a player who is better domestically will tend to do just as well internationally – when he has the international experience, which is the whole point of sending them overseas to tournaments like the World Junior Championships. Often the argument is made for a player with a world ranking to be chosen over a seemingly stronger player without a world ranking because that player's...

Friday, November 4, 2016 - 14:38
November 4, 2016

A Hodgepodge of Topics

  • Team Selections vs. Trials. Probably only a few people are aware of the latest controversy regarding the U.S. Junior Team, specifically about who goes to the World Junior Championships. USATT has not yet officially announced the eight players (four boys and four girls) they will select, so I won't comment on it. However, I'm tired of the constant controversies regarding these youth team selections. The key word here is Selections. We used to have Team Trials to decide the teams. Now only four of the ten members of each team make it by Trials, and for each major international tournament, rather than go by the order of finish at the Trials, the players are selected. This means, for example, you can finish #1 in the U.S. Junior Team Trials, be National Junior Champion, be #2 rated among juniors available to go, and be #2 among juniors available to go in USATT's own complicated point system – and still not get selected as one of the four players to go.
         I believe we need to go back to the Team Trials system, where perhaps 8 of the 10 players are selected...

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 14:03
November 3, 2016

High-Toss Backspin Serves Lead to Misreads
Yesterday during practice games with a student at the end of a session I pulled something on him that I used to do in tournaments – I pulled out the super-charged high-toss forehand pendulum backspin serve. By throwing the ball up higher, I'm able to get more backspin on the ball, and so opponents tend to put the ball in the net. It does take practice to graze the ball since it is moving faster at contact – you almost have to scoop it with a very open racket – but it really can make a difference by increasing the spin. However, if that's all one does, it's doesn't put much pressure on the opponent – they can adjust.

Instead, to raise the level of trickery up a notch, I also raise my elbow for the serve, even hunching my right shoulder up slightly. This gave the serve even more of a pendulum look, with the racket seemingly going more sideways, and so it looks like there's more sidespin. But the reality is that if you contact the ball on the downswing, and then vigorously go across after contact, it looks very sidespinny. The combination of this, and the...

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...