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Welcome to TableTennisCoaching.com, your Worldwide Center for Table Tennis Coaching!

 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

Monday, August 29, 2016 - 12:32
August 29, 2016

Tip of the Week
Keep a Notebook.

How to Stay in Practice Without Practicing
A student told me over the weekend how he’d taken two weeks off for vacation, and when he came back, he couldn’t play at all. He said it took about five sessions before he could play comfortably again. He also said the same thing happens when he takes time off from his other sport, basketball. Yet, he said he knew others who seem to be able to take time off from these sports and come back very quickly. “Why?” he wondered.

Now I’ve never done a study of this, which is why this not yet ready to be a Tip of the Week, but I’ve noticed something very obvious about this. When I asked the player if he’d spent much time thinking or visualizing table tennis during his two weeks away, he said no. I think that players who take time off but spend some of that time visualizing playing (in their head), and maybe even shadow practicing it some, come back more quickly. Your game is controlled by your subconscious, and so any thinking about your...

Friday, August 26, 2016 - 13:42
August 26, 2016

Coaching During a Game, Part 2
I blogged about this last Friday, where I explained why I'm opposed to the rule - and gave 14 different reasons. Bottom line - I think the ITTF has made a dumb mistake here, and I expect the rule will eventually be rescinded. When? I don't know; maybe in a year, maybe ten, maybe never. The rule takes effect on Oct. 1. 

But now we have to make a separate decision, one that requires nuanced thinking. Given that the rule is not a good one, should USATT adopt it? At first, the obvious thought is "Heck no!" (Ah, a G-rated column blog....) Why in the world should USATT adopt a rule we consider bad? Even the USATT Umpires and Officials Committee has come out and voted unanimously that we should not adopt this rule. 

But here's the problem. Even if we don't adopt it, it will still be the rule at ITTF tournaments. That means the U.S. Open; continental Olympic and Pan Am Trials; overseas tournaments that our players go to; and I believe the North American Teams. If USATT does not adopt the...

Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 14:14
August 25, 2016

How Many Ping-Pong Balls Can Fit in a Table Tennis Club?
Today's topic is scary. We're talking something that will leave many readers shaking with fear, sweating like David Sakai, and plucking their eyeballs out as they scream, "No! For God's sake, Stop!" Yes, today we're going to use math. (You have my permission to skip the math part and just read the paragraphs that give conclusions.)

How many ping-pong balls can you fit in your table tennis club? It's a simple matter of working out volume with the sphere packing formula. As we all know (after reading the Wikipedia entry I just linked to), as volume goes up and the size of the balls (sphere) goes down, the packing efficiency approaches the following density, which I'll call the Packing constant (P). (Hopefully, in my formulas below, the subscripts and superscripts will come through properly on your browser.) 

P = π/[3x(2)^½] = ~0.74048

So how can we use this?

  • Let Nd = number of balls of width d that will fit in your...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 - 12:56
August 24, 2016

Washington Post Reporter and Choppers
The reporter came in yesterday morning. It was a cause of great excitement for the kids. One of them tried to convince the reporter about how he'd floated across the Pacific in a raft with his parents as refugees from China, and that he'd learned to play table tennis with a makeshift table his parents made from a shark, with the net made from shark fins and the ball sculpted from a shark's tooth. (Full disclosure: I came up with the raft story and put the kid up to it. He drew the line at telling the reporter that he was the secret child of Trump and Clinton.) 

The reporter interviewed me for 40 minutes, with a tape recorder and taking notes as well. He followed that with similar interviews with coaches Cheng and Jack. He'll be coming back later in the week with a photographer and to interview our top juniors. Main topics we discussed were: 

  1. How MDTTC came about in 1992. 
  2. How other full-time clubs copied MDTTC, leading to full-time clubs all over the country. 
  3. Cheng and Jack, and their history as former members of the Chinese...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - 12:21
August 23, 2016

No Blog Today
I was busy on USATT work last night from 9PM to 2AM (including a long online discussion on national team issues), and so wasn’t able to do my blog in advance. This morning I’m meeting a Washington Post reporter at the club. So nothing today – but see you tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s a humorous 3-minute video of Bob Costa defeating Kanak Jha on NBC. And here’s what I’ll call “Cow-Light Pong,” though I really have no idea what’s going on. 

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 14:31
August 22, 2016

Tip of the Week
Shorten Stroke When Receiving.

It’s been busy recently. There have been a LOT of questions (and complaints) about the new USATT team selection process for the junior, cadet, and mini-cadet teams, but fortunately that’s mostly going to get taken care of by our CEO, working with our High Performance Director. I’m not going to go into the specific issues here, but I will probably blog about it later on. I’m trying not to get sucked into this one – our CEO and HPD should handle this one.

As I said when I ran for the USATT board, there are two equally important issues that come to the board of directors – fairness issues (such as this one) and progressive issues (which involve developing the sport). Historically, many board members want to work on progressive issues, but get sucked into the fairness issues, and they ended up taking up all of their time. I’m trying not to fall into that trap. I will, of course, get involved in such issues if and when it reaches the board level, but I...

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 14:14
August 19, 2016

New ITTF Coaching Rule – Coaching During a Game
The ITTF has passed a new rule, effective Oct. 1, which allows coaching at any time during a match, except during rallies. This is a huge change from the current rules, where coaches can only coach between games and during a timeout (one per match per player). Here is the actual wording of the rule, from the ITTF Handbook section on Advice: Players may receive advice at any time except during rallies and and between the end of practice and the start of a match; if any authorised person gives advice illegally the umpire shall hold up a yellow card to warn him or her that any further such offence will result in his or her dismissal from the playing area (in effect as of 1st October 2016). 

I’m not going to hold typos against them too much, but this is an international Olympic sport, making a major rule change, and they have that “and and” near the start in the official rules. Didn’t anyone proof the new rule before it...

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 14:08
August 18, 2016

Olympic Coverage
Guess who swept the Olympics once again? But Japan did give the Chinese men a scare. Here’s what happened.

Match #1: Ma Long (CHN) d. Niwa Koki (JPN), 6,9,6. Okay, Niwa made game two interesting, but this match between the world #1 and #22 was never in doubt.

Match #2: Jun Mizutani (JPN) d. Xu Xin (CHN), 10,9,-3,-7,10. Holy moly! Jun went up 2-0. He’s world #6 to Xu’s #3, and Japan’s hopes really rest in him winning both singles matches and somehow scrounging up one other match. But Xu comes back, easily wins games three and four. What the scores don’t show here is that Xu was up 10-7 match point! It was all but over – and then Jun scored five in a row. Poor Xu is going to have lots of explainin’ to do the next time they choose their team. Hello Fan Zhendong (who’s already world #2 after Ma Long).

Match #3: Zhang Jike/Xu Xin (CHN) d. Yoshimura Maharu/Niwa Koki (JPN), -4,6,9,5. When Japan won the first 11-4, things looked REALLY interesting. Xu had just lost in singles, and now, despite being China’s lefty doubles specialist, he was losing in...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 13:44
August 17, 2016

The Ten “Etiquettes” for the High Level Athlete
These are from page 15 of the ITTF Advanced Coaching Manual, which make them at least semi-official. Like the “Ten Commandments” I blogged about yesterday, these have also always irritated me. Also, some of them just don’t make sense due to the poor translations. (As I wrote yesterday, the manual was originally in French and somewhat poorly translated into English.) Here they are, with my comments afterwards.

The Ten “Etiquettes” for the High Level Athlete
(From page 15 of the ITTF Advanced Coaching Manual.)
A self respecting sports teacher has the duty to transmit to the athlete that guiding principles without which the sport would not be what it is today are part of his teaching. The Champion is a sports phenomenon and must therefore set an example for ALL athletes!

  1. The first step towards success: good judgment.
  2. ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 14:34
August 16, 2016

The Ten Commandments of High Level Sport
I’ve always been slightly irritated at some of these “Commandments.” They are from page 14 of the ITTF Advanced Coaching Manual, which make them at least semi-official. The manual was originally in French and somewhat poorly translated into English, so there might be some problem there. But these are what we publish and teach, with little further explanation. Here they are, with my comments afterwards. (Tomorrow I plan to write about what’s on the next page of the Advanced Coaching Manual - The Ten “Etiquettes” for the High Level Athlete.)

The Ten Commandments of High Level Sport
(from ITTF Advanced Coaching Manual)
Silent laws and rules that everybody follows exist in every social situations High level sport is no exception; it is a special environment which has its own rules of the game. We either accept these rules or they do not accept us. These rules are not written down anywhere, but those who succeed have accepted...