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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!

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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, June 25, 2012 - 12:11
June 25, 2012

Tip of the Week

The Game is All Mental.

Week One Day Five and Week Two Begins

Last week was Week One of the MDTTC camp season, with 34 players. We've got eleven weeks of camps, so one down, ten to go!

On Friday morning I gave a lecture on pushing. Topics included the basic push; pushing quick and long, pushing heavy and long, short pushing, and pushing with a purpose. The rest of the morning was multiball. As is our norm, Friday mornings is "player's choice," where the player tells the coach what he wants to work on. If he isn't sure the coach makes suggestions or chooses the drill. Other "highlights" included box battles. (Apparently one kid really, Really, REALLY wanted a particular box to catch balls in, and when another kid wouldn't let him have it, well, things got ugly for a few minutes. Yes, this is a table tennis camp.)

During break I watched the kids play a fascinating game of "24." No, it didn't involve...




Friday, June 22, 2012 - 10:52
June 22, 2012

Day Four of MDTTC Camp - the Backhand Loop and Doubles Tactics

On Thursday morning we focused on the backhand attack against backspin, mostly the backhand loop but also the backhand drive against backspin, especially against a short ball. Nathan Hsu (15, rated 2356) was my partner for the demo. I demonstrated my favorite loop versus backspin drill: I serve backspin, partner pushes to my backhand, I backhand loop, partner blocks, I backhand chop, partner pushes, and I backhand loop, and the cycle continues.

Later I gave a short lecture on doubles tactics. (Short version - Serves: serve low and short, mostly toward the middle of the table. Receive: be ready to loop any ball that goes long. Rallies: hit to the opposite side of the player hitting to you from his partner, so they get in each other's way. And lots more.)  Then we played doubles for an hour. We also divided the camp into two groups, and I took the "new" players off to the side and gave a lecture on equipment, which ended with everyone trying out playing against and with anti and long pips. (I also talked about short pips and hardbat.)

There are 34...




Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 11:58
June 21, 2012

Day Three of MDTTC Camp - the Forehand Loop

Yesterday's focus was forehand looping. In my lecture I used 11-year-old Derek Nie (rated 2146) as my demo partner, and we had some nice rallies, including looping against backspin, against block, and counterlooping. It was new to a few players, and I took these players off to the side to teach the fundamentals while the other coaches fed multiball to the others.

Halfway through the morning session I gave a 20-minute lecture on return of serve, and then we went out on the table to practice serve and receive. (I gave a 30-minute lecture on serving yesterday.) It's great watching their serves improve. Earlier that morning before the camp started I'd done an impromptu challenge where I served and campers tried to return my serve. About fifteen formed a line, and if they missed my serve, they went to the end of the line. (The stronger players in the camp watched with amusement.) I think a couple managed to get two back, but the great majority missed the first one. I think this raised the interest level in the receive lecture, and even more in learning these serves. Some are still trying to...




Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 11:10
June 20, 2012

Day Two at the MDTTC Camp - the Backhand

There are just over 30 players in the camp, ranging from beginner to 2400, from age 7 to 24. Today's focus was on the backhand, though of course that varied from player to player. I did a backhand demo with Tong Tong Gong where he and I went at it backhand to backhand. I am happy to say I smacked about three dozen consecutive backhands at full speed, an incredible display of advanced backhand prowess. I am unhappy to say that Tong Tong did three dozen plus one. Yeah, I finally missed.

So how's your backhand? Do you tend to keep the racket tip down? (This is for shakehanders.) This gives you extra power and can turn your backhand into almost a second forehand. However, it may cost you control and quickness, and make you weaker in the middle. Do you tend to keep the racket tip more up? That'll give you extra quickness and control, and make it easier to cover the middle. To use two classic examples, Jan-Ove Waldner tended to keep his tip up a bit while Jorgen Persson kept his down. (If you don't know these two Swedish world champions, google them.) Jim Butler is another player who keeps...




Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 10:59
June 19, 2012

Day One of MDTTC Summer Camps

Yesterday was the first day of eleven weeks of non-stop camps, Mon-Fri every week. Since I also coach on weekends, I expect to be coaching every day for over 80 consecutive days. (This includes a "break" where I go to the U.S. Open to coach.) I'm actually feeling rested now at the start; check back with me halfway through. I'll feel like a ping-pong ball after a Zhang Jike-Ma Long counter-looping rally.

I worked mostly with beginners yesterday. Lots of basics work, mostly forehand and backhand. Plenty of games as well, including the ever-popular cup game, where the kids build huge pyramids out of paper cups and then I feed them multiball while they knock them down. There were about 30 players in the camps, mostly juniors, including Nathan Hsu, Tong Tong Gong, Derek Nie, and Crystal Wang. Coaches were myself, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, and our new coaches/practice partners Wang Qing Liang and Chen Bo Wen.

Why you need to be aggressive against long serves.

I've been harping with our juniors over being more aggressive against serves that go...




Monday, June 18, 2012 - 11:47
June 18, 2012

Tip of the Week

Playing in Different Time Zones.

Friday Exhaustion

I've spent much of the last week learning to do page layouts for Print on Demand and for Kindle ebooks, and have been up sometimes almost around the clock doing the layouts for some of my books. I first did "Pings and Pongs," my collection of science fiction & fantasy stories as a practice run as it would be easier than the others, since there are few graphics. Since then I've been doing both my new book, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide" and "A Professional Table Tennis Coach's Handbook." Later I'll do my other three table tennis books.

Unfortunately, I'm paying the price. On Friday I showed up as a practice partner for our Elite Junior Session, and could barely stay awake. Just trying to play gave me a headache, stomachache, and I started getting dizzy. Finally, after about 45 minutes, I had to stop and go home to get some sleep.

Despite a good night's sleep, I was still exhausted on Saturday. I had a...




Friday, June 15, 2012 - 14:55
June 15, 2012

Between Games Personalities

I've been coaching for over three decades, and have coached many hundreds of players between games. It's always interesting to see the different way players act at this time. Here's a rundown of how 16 different players (half adults, half juniors, mostly top players) were like between games when I coached them. (I'm mixing in both current players and players from farther back, so don't assume these are current players. I'm using past tense for all, including current players.) I'd rather not give out their names, not even via private email, especially for the ones who were not particularly good between games.

Adult A: Very enthusiastic and determined. He always had something important to ask between games, such as whether I thought he should use this serve more, or this receive, or this type of placement. He liked to focus on finding ways to lock down the opponent by taking away his strengths with serve & receive.

Adult B: A very quiet player, he'd listen carefully to whatever I said, and then expand on it with a few brief points. If he thought there was something...




Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 12:59
June 14, 2012

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide (and other books)

Here's an update. The text is done, and I'm currently doing the page layouts. The final version will be about 240 pages, with around 70 photos or graphics. It's about 97,000 words, over twice as many words as in my "Table Tennis: Steps to Success" book, but with fewer graphics.  It'll be published both as POD (Print On Demand) and as an ebook, and sold online at amazon.com and other locations. Other than the cover, I expect to have it done within days. (I'm playing around with covers, and have three possible ones. Soon I'll decide on the basic idea, and then I'll likely hire a designer to fancify it.)

I'm about to go bigtime into selling my books online. I just bought the domain www.LarryHodgesBooks.com. Within months I hope to be selling the following as both POD and ebooks:

  • Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide
  • Table Tennis Steps to Success
  • Table Tennis Tales & Techniques
  • Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook (updated...



Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 14:23
June 13, 2012

Tactics Case Study

I recently had an interesting practice match with a top player. I'm not going to name the player, so I'll call him "Bob" (not his real name). Bob has a very good backhand, both looping against backspin and hitting against once in the rally. He also has a rather quick off-the-bounce forehand loop, so it can be dangerous going there. His serves are mostly short backspin or no-spin, with deep, spinny serves thrown in as a variation. When he flips short balls with his forehand, they almost always go crosscourt - a weakness I was about to ram an entire match through. He was playing well, and had just defeated two very strong players, while I was not playing very well. But tactics, not playing level, decided this match. Here's what happened.

Early on I could tell when his serve was going long, but I wasn't sure why - there was something different about the way he set up. So whenever he served long, I was ready to loop. (Near the end of the second game I realized it was because he set up for his long serve with his racket farther back and more closed. I pointed this out to him after...




Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 13:42
June 12, 2012

Backhand Breakthrough

Yesterday a kid I was coaching had a major breakthrough. His forehand has been coming along really well, but his backhand . . . well . . . the stroke was awkward, the contact more like a jab then a stroke, often coming out dead or even with backspin. We've spent the last few weeks focusing on this. Usually it takes him about five minutes of hitting before he can start hitting it decently at even a slow pace, quite a contrast with his nice forehand, which he impatiently steps around to smash every chance since he too was getting sick of his problematic backhand.

And then, yesterday, we hit backhand to backhand, and lo and behold, it all come together. The stroke was textbook, the contact just right. We went backhand to backhand longer than usual as I wanted to really ingrain this. He'd been thinking about backhands a lot, and the visualizing seems to have worked. Let's just way I was pleasantly surprised. So was he.

He had additional incentive. I'd promised he could start working on backhand looping only after I declared his backhand "solid," and yesterday I did just that. I cautioned...