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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,

Member, USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame & USATT Certified National Coach
Professional Coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center

Recent blog posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 14:01
September 27, 2016

The Debate
I watched the Trump-Clinton Debate (please click on link!) last night. I think it was fairly obvious which of the two prepared, and which one just showed up. (When you go to tournaments, which are you?) I was tempted to comment on the debate, but decided not to, since this is a table tennis blog. But this is a good time to repost my 2016 Presidential Election Table Tennis Cartoon!

Sunday Coaching
Sunday is my busiest coaching day, where I normally have eight hours of almost non-stop coaching. As usual, a lot of crazy coaching stuff happened. Here’s a rundown.

  • One student seemed to be struggling with the transition from backhand to forehand in side-to-side drills. Then I had a brainstorm, and had him just loop forehands down the line – and he continued to struggle. The problem wasn’t the transition, it was his positioning for attacking down the line. With a little work there, he was fine, and we went back...

Monday, September 26, 2016 - 14:04
September 26, 2016

Tip of the Week
How to Play Against a Player with a Coach.

ITTF’s New Coaching Rule – Rejected (for now)
At 9:30AM Saturday the USATT Board of Directors had a teleconference. (I’m one of the nine members of the Board.) There were only two items on the agenda. (We meet again in two weeks on Monday, Oct. 10 in Philadelphia, just after the Women’s World Cup, where we’ll have a lengthier agenda.) The first item was “Agreement for Broadcast Services with Triode Media Group.” This was a tricky one as a member of the Board is involved with this group. Nothing was hidden, however, and there was a lot of discussion. I will blog about this when the minutes come out. (The motions and votes for the meeting should come out soon, probably this week; the minutes have to be approved by the Board, and will likely come out sometime in the next month.)

The second item was the more important issue for many of us – the ITTF’s new coaching rule, which allows coaching between points starting Oct. 1, 2016....

Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 14:32
September 22, 2016

No Blog on Friday
See “Non-Table Tennis” item at end on the Baltimore Book Festival.

New ITTF Coaching Rule
On Wednesday I blogged about this, and about the USATT Board – which I’m on – will vote on this issue this Saturday morning. If you have any comments or thoughts on this, this is your last chance – I DON’T want to hear from you after the fact if you haven’t commented before. There’s a discussion at which I’m following and participating in, so you can post there, and I’ll see it. (Alas, I will hear from people after the fact because not everyone keeps track of the major happenings in our sport until they are directly affected, and they show up at a tournament and play a match against some kid whose coach is coaching every point.)

Here are my blogs on...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 14:09
September 21, 2016

New ITTF Coaching Rule and Board Discussion on Saturday
This Saturday at 9:30AM the USATT Board will have a teleconference on whether to adopt the new ITTF Coaching Rule that allows coaching between points. I think it’s a horrible rule, and yet we’d be handicapping ourselves if we don’t adopt it, so it’s not an easy decision, and I’m still undecided – though I’m leaning slightly toward adopting it, with a note in the minutes that we should take this up again at the December Board meeting so we can evaluate it. This is your chance to chime in.

Here’s what Samson Dubina wrote me about it:

It is a terrible rule and should never have been passed by ITTF.  However, as you mentioned in the blog, we need to follow the ruling if we want to have any chance to have success at the international level.  USATT really needs to have a conference call about this asap.  Myself, as well as the other US Coaches, need to be developing a system of communication with our players and have a few months to adjust and perfect the system.

Here’s my letter...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 07:42
September 20, 2016

Tip of the Week
Five Serves That EVERYONE Should Master.

Protect Future of Table Tennis in USA
Most of you probably received the mass emails sent out last week from “Protect Future of Table Tennis in USA” about the U.S. team selections, especially in the Mini-cadet teams (12 and under). The letter is from Rajul Sheth from the ICC Table Tennis Center (where he's done some great work), who I consider a friend, and hopefully that won’t change after this. He makes some good points, though there are some inaccurate or misleading items I could nitpick about, and there is more to the issue than what is covered in the letter.

However, there was one serious problem that really angered me, and it had nothing to do with the actual issue involved. I emailed him complaining about his naming these four 10-12 year-old kids publicly in this way (rather than referring to them by rating and as “Player A,” “Player B,” etc.). These kids did nothing wrong,...

Monday, September 19, 2016 - 12:36
September 19, 2016

I’m pretty tired right now, and I need a vacation. Plus I’ve got a todo list that goes from here to Beijing – even now Ma Long and Ding Ning are examining the lower parts of it and cowering in fear. (I think the item “Make America so great at table tennis the Chinese quit and take up shuffleboard” is the part that scared them.) Plus today is Adam West’s 88th birthday – the original Batman from the 1960s TV show and mayor of Quahog in Family guy – a national holiday if there ever was one. So no blog today – back tomorrow. 

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 14:09
September 16, 2016

All About Table Tennis Books
As readers here know, Dan Seemiller’s autobiography came out this past week, Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion. It’s what all the “cool” kids table tennis players will be talking about at the club now, so go get your copy now. Don’t make us send you to the nerdy kids table. (See how that works for both schools and table tennis clubs?) Here is the text from the back cover:

Dedication, Determination, Heartbreak, and Achievement

If you are in the Olympic sport of table tennis, then you know Danny Seemiller, USA’s greatest modern champion. In “Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion,” the five-time U.S. Men’s Singles Champion takes you through his 50 years in the sport, from the early days of training, the breakthroughs, the agonizing defeats and the great triumphs. You...

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 14:05
September 15, 2016

Years of Training Have Destroyed My Reactions
Okay, this may seem misleading. During my development years I did the usual intensive drills that conditioned me to react properly to nearly any given shot. Let me emphasize one word here: nearly. Now opponents may play at speeds that I might not be able to react to, or catch me off guard with placement and spin, but even there I’d usually react properly, just not always quickly enough or with just the right racket angle.

Some of my students have picked up on a certain flaw here, which I think affects me more than most. When someone throws something at me that I’m not used to, all that conditioning falls apart. It means I basically have two choices – I can go for a “regular” shot, and likely miss, or I can change to a safe shot, usually just fishing or weakly blocking it back.

For example, one of my students (a righty) has been developing this inside-out backhand loop that goes down the line, breaking away from a righty opponent. Now against a regular down-the-line shot, whether it’s a block or a loop, I’d react almost instantly with either a...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - 14:09
September 14, 2016

Dan Seemiller’s Book and A Tale of Two Quotes
So . . . have you bought “Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion” yet? Why not? This is the story of our greatest modern champion. Warning – some people won’t like some of the things he says. But I’m more interested in what we can learn from the book.

Here’s an interesting quote from page 129 of the book, where Dan says, “I normally don’t get nervous, I’m too busy thinking about strategy instead of the score.” This is one of those things I’ve harped about here and in my books, that if you think about tactics between points, you won’t be thinking about winning or losing, the score, what’ll happen if you lose, etc., and so won’t get nervous (or as nervous). It’s one of those basic things that sometimes takes years to learn, and many never learn it. Contrast that with an actual exchange that took place during my coaching last night:

Me: “Since you can do this shot in practice, what...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 14:01
September 13, 2016

Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion by Dan Seemiller
It’s out! Revelations of a Table Tennis Champion is the autobiography of five-time U.S. Men’s Singles Champion Dan Seemiller (who along the way also won Men’s Doubles 12 times, Mixed Doubles seven times, and was the U.S. Men’s Coach at the Worlds and Olympics for many years). The book is 218 pages with 96 pictures. I did the editing, photo work, and page layouts. Dan turned out to be an excellent proof reader, finding many typos that I missed. Maybe it’s that perfectionism that made him such a strong player?

At the very end of the book is a “Who is Dan Seemiller?” section which I wrote. Here it is – and after reading this, go out and buy yourself a copy! (Right now there’s only a print version. Later this week I’ll put together an ebook version.)

I first met Dan Seemiller at one of his Pittsburgh...