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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, May 23, 2011 - 12:24
May 23, 2011

The table tennis is great up here in heaven.

What, the rapture came and went on Saturday, and you weren't selected? Oh, right, 97% of you are still on earth, along with all those look-alike demons us chosen ones left behind. We don't even need umpires up here - nobody cheats! (Oh, and did I mention it's all hardbat?) Anyway, according to the clock on the big wall up here, the world really ends on Feb. 27, 2049, which just happens to be my 89th birthday. What are the chances I'll still be around to be held accountable? Anyway, gotta go; Coach God's running a huge practice session up here. I'm hitting with Dick Miles; he and God have really fixed up my backhand.

Speaking of coaching...

Sean O'Neill has created a new USATT Coaching Page for USATT. As you can see, it's very ITTFish. (I suggest looking over the links under "Additional Coaching Resources.") Also, you may note that I'm on the USATT Coaching Committee (as noted in a past blog). I was appointed recently, and haven't really gotten active. I believe the...




Friday, May 20, 2011 - 10:57
May 20, 2011

China's TV ratings

So what's the most watched sporting event in China, the most populated country in the world? The all-Chinese Men's Singles final at the recent 2011 World Table Tennis Championships. Nearly 100 million tuned in to watch Zhang Jike defeat defending champion Wang Hao. This topped the previous record, when China's Li Na lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the Australian Open way back in January.

Let's remember that table tennis is practically the national sport of China. They didn't put table tennis on TV and the country went table tennis crazy; the country was already table tennis crazy, and now they are discovering it on TV. Table tennis isn't a particularly good TV sport - it's more of a participation sport - though it's often good as a "novelty" event on TV. But whenever it's been on TV, the initial good viewership seems to die down quickly. There just isn't a large enough base of table tennis people in the U.S. or other non-table tennis countries - right now - to create a base of...




Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 14:43
May 19, 2011

 

Talent Revisited

Yao Siu-Long ("Siu") emailed me the following question, after reading in my April 27 blog entry about Crystal Wang, who recently became the youngest player ever to break 2000, at age 9 years 1 month. (She's rated 2031, but at the recent unprocessed Potomac Open, should go up even more.)  Siu asked the following:

"I read your blog about Crystal Wang.  It sounds like she was progressing but suddenly took off.  Why?  What approach to learning and practicing do you think is key to such spectacular success?  Is it the number of hours practiced?  The coach? Going to China?

"Before you answer "talent", I've read quite a bit of research (and maybe this could be something for you to blog about as well).  There is a large body of research that suggests that talent is overrated (take a look at the book "Bounce" by Matthew Syed, a table tennis player).  You need a certain level of talent, but after that it's hard work and, perhaps, the training methods.  For...




Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 15:33
May 18, 2011

I'm back!

I've been out of town since May 9, and as noted in my blog at that time, I wouldn't have time to blog while I was away. (I was visiting my dad in the hospital, who had a stroke. He's still mostly paralyzed on his left side, but with four hours of therapy each day, it's starting to pay off - he has some left-side movement now.) Hopefully the world of table tennis has survived my absence, though I'm skeptical. Did I miss anything? I heard rumors of some World Championships or something, and China sweeping everything, but I'm sure that was just a rumor. I wonder how Team USA did?

A Levels Approach to Tactics and Other Tips

Are you reading the Tips of the Week? This Monday's Tip was "A Levels Approach to Tactics" - see if that's something you've thought about! Last week's was "A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact," which is...




Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 17:20
May 10, 2011

As I noted in my blog yesterday, I'm in Eugene, OR, visiting my dad. He's in the hospital after having a stroke. It's not life-threatening, but he's paralyzed on his left side. (And he's left-handed, alas.) It's going to be a bit hectic here, and I have other things on my mind, so I'm going to take the week off. I'll go back to daily blogs after I return to Maryland, on Wednesday, May 18. 




Monday, May 9, 2011 - 12:00
May 9, 2011

Eugene, Oregon (Non-Table Tennis)

This afternoon I'm off for Eugene, Oregon for eight days, May 9-18, to visit my dad, who's 76. He recently had a stroke. It's not life threatening, but he's paralyzed on his left side. (And he's left-handed.) I still plan on doing the daily blog. Edit - Change of plans - it's going to be a bit hectic here, and I have other things on my mind, so I'm going to take the week off. I'll go back to daily blogs after I return to Maryland, on Wednesday, May 18.

Pushblocking with Long Pips (no sponge)

Because of a muscle tear, I'm trying to rest my back. And so yesterday in practice matches with our junior players I decided to play with long pips, no sponge (Tibhar GrassD.Tec5), and covered the entire table with my backhand. As expected, it caused complete havoc. I didn't play our top juniors, mostly ones under 1800, but let's just say it wasn't pretty. As a coach, I need to play more orthodox for my students, i.e. regular inverted. But if my goal was to just win, I'm pretty sure I'...




Friday, May 6, 2011 - 12:36
May 6, 2011

 

A journey of nine feet begins at contact

When you serve, do you just serve? Or do you stop and visualize the serve first? And when you visualize the serve, do you visualize all of it, or just part of it? You should visualize the entire journey the serve takes - the contact height, amount and type of spin, how fast it will go out, where it hits on your side of the table (this is most overlooked part), where and how low it crosses the net, how it curves through the air, where it bounces on far side, how it bounces each time, and where second bounce on far side should be? (A longer version of this might be next Monday's Tip of the Week.)

Brian Pace and Richard McAfee . . . reminiscing

Championship player and coach Brian Pace sits down with longtime friend, coach, and mentor Richard McAfee (USATT Coaching Chair), and they talk about their relationship that has spanned over 25 years. (24:10)

Catty Table Tennis

Here's vintage footage of a cat playing table...




Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 11:21
May 5, 2011

 

Coaching breakthroughs

Yesterday two of my students - who shall remain nameless - had nice breakthroughs. One, who we shall call "Sammy," who's about 10, has had trouble with his backhand. Yesterday he suddenly figured out how to hit it with topspin (rather than sort of a flat, almost backspin contact), and just like that had a steady backhand. Once he figured that out, his forehand also came alive, and for the first time, we had really decent backhand and forehand exchanges. He also made a breakthrough on service spin. We spent some time serving on the floor, and for the first time he was able to create enough backspin so that the ball would return back to him. You wouldn't believe how fun it is to serve on the floor with spin and make the ball do tricks - use backspin to make it come back, or sidespin to make it go around objects.

Another, who we shall call "Ryan," who's 11, went topspin crazy yesterday. His forehand loop really came alive. For the first time, he was able to really battle with me in backhand-to-backhand exchanges. (I had to really get down low and into "match mode"...




Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 13:47
May 4, 2011

 

Table Tennis Nets

Not nets for the table, or even nets for robots, but nets for picking up balls! How did the world (or at least table tennis clubs with lots of training going on) operate before we had them for picking up balls? We use Ball Amigos from Butterfly (since MDTTC is sponsored by Butterfly). Paddle Palace sells Stiga Ball Catchers. Newgy sells Pong Pals, a tube for picking up balls, though I prefer nets. (JOOLA also has nets for picking up balls, but their shopping site is temporarily down for maintenance so I can't look it up.) Feel free to comment on other ball pickup devises - there are more. (Addendum: There's also the PingPongBuddy sold at Megaspin, as noted by PipProdigy below.) 

One of the funnier moments at MDTTC came about...




Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 12:32
May 3, 2011

 

How Osama bin Laden really was killed.

He was swatted away at the end of a ten-year cat & mouse game. (The original photo is by Mal Anderson - it's real! Then I got busy in Photoshop...) Send me your own table tennis pictures showing Osama's demise and (if they are in good taste) I'll feature them here. 

Do something with the receive

I was watching one of our top cadets in practice matches this weekend. When I coach him, I'm always reminding him to "do something" when receiving. In other words, don't just push the ball back. If you do push it, do so aggressively, i.e. quick off the bounce, heavy, low, and angled. Or aim one way and go another. Or push short. Or flip. And if the serve is long, then you simply have to loop it, period. (Yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions. I'm talking higher-level here - but if you want to be good, you'll loop the long serve too. See my March 14 Tip on attacking deep...