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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

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 14:00
February 17, 2017

St. Andrews Invades MDTTC!!!
Yesterday afternoon, for 75 minutes, MDTTC was invaded by hordes of small creatures, students ages 8-10 from the nearby St. Andrews School - 75 of them to be exact. I ran a demonstration and exhibition, assisted by fellow MDTTC coaches Wang Qing Liang ("Leon") and John Hsu. After giving a short introduction to the sport, Coach Wang and I demonstrated the various techniques - forehands, backhands, looping, footwork, and serves. The serving demo always is a big hit as I use backspin to make the ball bounce back into the net, then directly bounce back over the net (made it on the first try), and then sidespin to make the ball curve and hit a target off to the side.

Then I went into my, "A very bad thing happened today" routine, and explained how Coach Wang told me that he believes he can beat me (!) in table tennis. And so we had it out, one game to 11, with the loser to sweep and mop the entire club. We did lots of fast counter-hitting, lobbing, smashing lobs while on my knees, blowing the ball, big racket vs. small racket, 50-foot serve from the side, the world's "first...




Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 15:06
February 16, 2017

Training to Loop Against Backspin
I had a nice session with a ten-year-old on Tuesday, Jackson Beaver, who's about 1300 but will soon be shooting up. He'd been having some trouble looping against backspin - but the reason was somewhat obvious, he stood up too straight when he played. (He's tall for his age.) So we focused on staying down for much of the session. With him, it was somewhat easy - he played basketball a lot, and so I had him "cover me." He'd immediately go to a wider stance, bend his knees, and put his weight forward, which is exactly what you want to do whether you are covering someone in basketball or playing table tennis, as explained in this tip, Your Ready Position - Think Basketball.

Then we did a three-part process to work on his loop against backspin. Throughout it I urged him to make sure at least half his power went into topspin, not just speed. First, we did multiball, where I fed backspin. Once he was in a proper ready position, he was able to generate great force and made many formidable loops. When I thought he was ready...




Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 15:03
February 15, 2017

NCAA and NCTTA
When I talk to members about how to develop the sport in this country, one seemingly simple idea inevitably comes up - they want to know why we haven't become an NCAA varsity sport. It would seemingly solve many of our problems, adding exposure to the sport, giving players incentive to develop their games in high school so as to make a college team (and perhaps get a scholarship), and of course lead to huge numbers of college players, and perhaps college table tennis on TV. It'd be the answer to our prayers! It's also something I looked into shortly after I became a USATT board member.  

Alas, the devil really is in the details, and it turns out that becoming an NCAA varsity sport isn't something that's going to happen in the foreseeable future, though perhaps someday. When the topic was raised recently via email from a player, I CCed Willy Leparulo, president of the National College Table Tennis Association (NCTTA), with my response, and asked for his input. Here is his response. (My response was somewhat similar, but without the detail Willy provides.)

...



Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 14:58
February 14, 2017

$2700 3-star Butterfly MDTTC February Open
I'm running the tournament this weekend (Feb. 18-19) at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, in Gaithersburg, MD. I hope to see many of you there! We've expanded our tournaments from last year, going to two days and three star events, doubling the prize money, and going from seven to ten events. Here is our tournament page (with a link to Omnipong where you can enter online), and here is the entry form. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12. The top seeds most likely are:

  • Ruichau Alex Chen 2716
  • Azeez Jamiu 2639 - from Nigeria, world #370, now playing at the Westchester Club in NY
  • Bowen Chen 2598
  • Wu Jiacheng - unrated but probably around 2550 or so. For seeding purposes, I'll have to assign him a rating.
  • ...



Monday, February 13, 2017 - 14:31
February 13, 2017

Tip of the Week
When Caught Off Guard, Roll or Chop, and Keep the Ball Deep.

Club Friday at Potomac Community Center
On Friday night, 7-8:30PM, I helped run an exhibition/demonstration/clinic at the Potomac Community Center, which is also home to the Potomac Country TTC. Several dozen kids took part, roughly ages 8-10, as part of the weekly Club Friday, where hundreds of kids meet at the Center for various activities and games. We shared the gym with basketball.

A big thanks goes to PCTTC president Herman Yeh, who helped set things up, and to the PCTTC volunteers - Zhuqing Li, Kangmin Zheng, Fei Yin, Xin Huang, Matt Wu and Michael Clarke, who all helped out by hitting and coaching the kids. Zhuqing Li took photos - here's a gallery. (In photo 7 I'm teaching some of the kids how to balance the ball in the air by blowing it!)

I gave a short talk at the start, where I talked about table...




Friday, February 10, 2017 - 15:03
February 10, 2017

Upcoming Events
Things are busy these days . . . but they always are, with all my writing projects in addition to coaching, and USATT and MDTTC work. I spent part of yesterday working on the cover for "More Table Tennis Tips" (which I blogged about yesterday) - I've got several options I'm working on. The one I'm leaning toward right now is either really good or really corny, I can't decide yet. I also spent much of yesterday at the car place, where they were replacing the broken windshield. What had started out as a small crack had grown until it went all the way across. The fan for the heat and AC also had broken and had to be replaced. Total cost: 11 table lessons (i.e. how much I normally make in 11 hours of coaching.)

Here are upcoming events.

  • Fridays are usually a day off, but not today. Tonight at 6:30PM for about two hours I'm running a volunteer exhibition/demonstration/training camp for up to a hundred kids at "Club Friday" at the Potomac Community Center, home of the Potomac TTC.
  • Saturday has recently been my other day off - surprisingly...



Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 13:20
February 9, 2017

More Table Tennis Tips
Yesterday afternoon I finished proofing and formatting my 12th book, "More Table Tennis Tips." It consists of the 150 Tips of the Week I put online from 2014-2016, but in logical progression. It'll likely be about 240 pages, and should be out around March 1. I blogged about this on Monday. (It's the sequel and companion to Table Tennis Tips.) Last night I sent it out to the "Fearsome Foursome," who are proofing it - Kyle Angeles, Mark Dekeyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor. A great thanks goes to them! (Plus mention in the book, free autographed copies, and appointment to my cabinet when I become U.S. president.)

Here's a funny story. I did all my proofing the last two days at Ledo's Pizza. After I finished yesterday, I returned home with the manuscript in a carry bag, and several slices of pizza in a carry-out box. I was thinking feverishly about the cover - lots of ideas. I opened the refrigerator and began putting...




Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 14:33
February 8, 2017

Learning with Other Grips
Yesterday, during a session with Daniel (12, about 1700), we had a huge breakthrough - and it came in a completely unexpected way. He's always had a problem when forehand looping in that he backs up and then reaches slightly forward to contact the ball, and ends contacting the ball too far in front. This means he loses the natural power of the body rotating (torque), and so most of his power comes from the upper body. The result is a soft loop that's steady but not very powerful. It also puts a strain on his shoulder, which has led to shoulder problems in the past. We've been working on this for a long time, and sometimes he'll start doing it properly, but he generally falls back into the old habit.

Yesterday, when I was blocking to his forehand loop, on the spur of the moment, he suddenly switched to penhold and continued looping. I started to say something, then stopped. With the penhold grip, his stroke was almost textbook! He was contacting the ball to the side of the body, and rotating into it just right, without backing up. What was going on?

Then I realized what was happening. Hold a racket...




Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 14:58
February 7, 2017

Navin - Looping and Smashing
I had a nice session with Navin Kumar last night. He's about 1500 level now, a blocker with long pips on the backhand (no sponge). I've been working with him for about two years now. During that time he's gone from 856 to 1426, and is poised to make the jump to about 1600. Some of you might recognize him as "The Bionic Man," who's had a lot of news coverage because of his artificial heart and Parkinson's. (Google "bionic man Navin Kumar.") He often plays in paralympic events. 

Yesterday we started serious work on looping for the first time. I've been holding back on this so we could focus on his regular forehand (which he really didn't have at the start), backhand blocking, and receive. Now that that the forehand is getting better - at least in practice! - it was time. We might have done this last year but he was preparing for the Nationals in December, and we decided to hold back until afterwards. Then he came down sick for a while, so we're just getting to this now.

He picked it up pretty fast in multiball, looping against backspin. At first he had a...




Monday, February 6, 2017 - 14:59
February 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Top Ten Ways to Win and Lose a Match. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 31. This is the last one, so now we can finally celebrate the New Year!)

More Table Tennis Tips
I've spent much of the last few days formatting my next table tennis book, the creatively titled "More Table Tennis Tips." This has the 150 Tips of the Week I've written over the last three years, 2014-2016, but put together in logical progression. This is both a sequel and companion piece to my previous book, "Table Tennis Tips," which had the 150 Tips from 2011-2013. Both go with another of my books, "...