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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 2, 2011 - 12:34
May 2, 2011

 

Any big news from overseas last night? Perhaps a major killing?

Yes - the USA Junior Girls Team won the gold medal at the French Junior & Cadet Open! A lot of killing went on. More specifically:

  • Gold medal:
    • Junior Girls' Team (Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu)
  • Silver medals:
    • Junior Girls' Doubles (Ariel Hsing/Lily Zhang)
    • Cadet Girls' Singles (Lily Zhang)
  • Bronze medals:
    • Cadet Girls' Team (Prachi Jha with Michelle Liaw from Canada) 
    • Cadet Girls' Doubles (Lily Zhang with Charlotte Carey from Wales)
  • Quarterfinals:
    • Junior Girls' Singles - Ariel Hsing/Lily Zhang
    • Cadet Girls' Singles - Prachi Jha
    • Cadet Girls' Doubles - Prachi Jha/Erica Wu

Speaking of killing....

I've hurt...




Friday, April 29, 2011 - 14:18
April 29, 2011

Table Tennis Troubleshooting by Brian Pace

I spent this morning watching the five-video series by Coach Brian Pace on "Table Tennis Troubleshooting" - and so should you. This goes over how players can identify and fix problems in their games. I'm amazed at how much time he's put into these, both on preparing and organizing what is said and shown in each video, and the nice graphics. Shots are shown both regular and in slow motion. Since Brian has very nice technique (and entertaining besides), every example is great to watch and copy. (Video 4 and 5 are actually listed as episodes 5 and 6; I think there's another one coming later.)

  • Video 1: Shot selection and short serves - great graphics and examples! This is really two distinct topics in one video. (10:01)
  • Video 2: "Technical Property Line" - nice graphical presentation of the various skills that make up your game. This one is harder to describe without watching the video. (3:45)
  • ...



Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 12:21
April 28, 2011

Changing bad technique

How does one go about changing bad technique? Two recommendations.

First, exaggerate the proper technique. If you don't rotate your shoulders enough on a shot, practice over-rotating until it becomes comfortable to do it the proper way.

Second, drop out of tournaments and match play for a while and focus on fixing the technique. Perhaps hit with a coach a lot for an extended periods as you fix the technique. Playing matches will just reinforce the bad technique. If your goal is to really overcome poor technique and replace it with good technique, then you need to have an extended period where you focus on this. That means only playing with the coach, or doing drills where you can isolate the new technique so you can focus on doing it correctly.

You should be able to play without the coach as long as you keep your outside drills simple and focused in this way. You might also want to use videotape to verify you are doing it correctly when the coach is not around. Bad habits are not easy to change, but if you really want to change them, you need a very focused period of time to do so.

In...




Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 12:32
April 27, 2011

Crystal Wang: 2031 at age 9!

Recently Lily Zhang became the youngest player to break 2500 at 14 years 9 months. Now I think another record has been broken. Crystal Wang (from Maryland Table Tennis Center), recently achieved a rating of 2031 at age 9 years 1 month. While a few players have broken 2000 at age 10, and possibly even age 9, I don't think any have done so this young.

She could have been rated even higher. In her last three tournaments, she's gone five games with players rated 2329 (up 2-1!), 2260 (up 2-1!), 2210, and 2176 (up 2-0!), and gotten games off players rated 2361, 2280, 2266, 2260, 2176, 2148, and a 2105 player twice. Her best win was a 2144 player in her last tournament. (Hopefully she won't get infatuated by ratings - but we can!)

She started in the summer of 2008. Her first rating was 602 in Sept. 2008. She didn't break 1000 until November 2009. Exactly one year ago, she was rated 1013, and that was her highest rating. Starting in May, 2010, she's been shooting up. At the Nationals in December, Crystal was 8 and rated "only" 1839.

Coached by Jack Huang, she plays a pretty...




Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 12:12
April 26, 2011

National Larry's Not Doing Anything Day

After coaching nearly all day (and often night) for ten days in a row (Spring Break Camp, ITTF Seminar, private coaching), I'm declaring today "National Larry's Not Doing Anything Day." I'm spending the day in bed reading. It's a national holiday so schools will be closed, the government will shut down, no postal service, and fire and police departments are all closed - so don't let your house burn down or get robbed today. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Multiball Training

During the recent ITTF seminar I was thinking about the lack of multiball training in the U.S. In China, players often take turns feeding multiball to each other. In junior programs, the kids all learn to do this, and every Chinese player feeds multiball like a pro, as do most Europeans. In the ITTF seminar, where we had numerous top coaches, few were proficient at this. It doesn't take long to learn, and it's valuable practice. What's faster, learning to loop against backspin one loop per rally, or someone feeding backspin after backspin to varying parts of the...




Monday, April 25, 2011 - 12:32
April 25, 2011

ITTF Seminar

Yesterday we finished the four-day ITTF Level 1 Coaching Seminar (April 16-17, 23-24). I want to thank the 14 coaches who participated: Carmencita "Camy" Alexandrescu (NV), Benjamin D. Arnold (PA), Changping Duan (MD), Jeff Fuchs (PA), John Hsu (MD), Charlene Liu (MD), Juan Ly (FL), Vahid Mosafari (MD), Dan Notestein (VA), John Olsen (VA), Jef Savage (PA), Jeff Smart (MD), David Varkey (PA), and Shaobo "Bob" Zhu (PA). All passed, and pending their completion of 30 hours of coaching (including 5 hours of "supervised" coaching with an ITTF certified or other high-level coach), will become ITTF certified coaches. As I told them, they will be ITTF coaches, and Cheng Yinghua, Stellan Bengtsson, and Dan Seemiller are not!!! :)

Article and photos should be out in a few days.

We covered a lot of material in the 24 hours of the course. I spent a lot of time mimicking bad technique as the coaches figured out what was wrong. Sometimes I felt like I was lecturing too much; other times the coaches joined in and we had great back-and-forth discussions of technique, tactics, and other table tennis topics...




Friday, April 22, 2011 - 11:34
April 22, 2011

How to practice the loop against backspin

Unless you have a chopper or a coach feeding multiball handy, it's not easy getting practice looping against backspin. You could use a robot, but then you aren't reading the spin off a paddle. You could just do it in games or drills, but then you only get one loop, and then the rally is into topspin.

A good way to practice looping against backspin over and over is to do the loop-chop drill. It's simple: You serve backspin; your partner pushes it back; you loop (forehand or backhand); your partner blocks (not too hard); you chop it back; your partner pushes it back; and you loop, and the cycle repeats. It's best to do it all crosscourt or all down-the line. I demonstrated this drill this morning at our Spring Break Camp (using the backhand loop and backhand chop), and several were trying it out later.

USATT Coaching, Club, and Editorial Committees

It's official! I've been on the USATT Editorial Board for a while; now I'm back on the USATT Coaching and Club Committees. I actually chaired both back in the 1990s. Coaching Chair Richard McAfee...




Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 11:43
April 21, 2011

Why forehands are better than backhands

A nine-year-old student of mine named Sam said one of the funniest - and most profound? - things I've heard in a while. He's only had a few lessons, and is just starting to really hit forehands. But he has trouble with the backhand. After hitting forehands, I said let's do backhands, and he looked a bit glum. I asked why. He said, "Forehands are like an adventure. Backhands are like I'm at home watching TV."

Receive practice

I was watching one of our top cadet players practice with one of our top coaches. Near the end of the session the coach began giving his best serves, challenging the cadet to return them effectively, with the coach looking to follow up each serve with an attack. The coach mostly dominated for the simple fact that the cadet rarely got to face such serves and follow-ups. I went out on the court and suggested they do this from now on for at least half their sessions, and the coach agreed. This cadet is going to be very good! Serve & receive are the most under-practiced aspects of the game.

Robots catching and...




Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 12:25
April 20, 2011

Counterlooping

This afternoon during our Spring Break Camp here at MDTTC, I spent some time counterlooping with Nathan Hsu, one of our top cadet players. (Age 14, rated 2239.) During the ITTF Coaching seminar I taught this past weekend I talked about counterlooping, and yesterday I wrote about how my counterlooping had improved as a result. But at age 51, I'm still much slower and stiffer than I used to be, and I was a bit reticent about wasting Nathan's time counterlooping, since it's a strength of his, and I wasn't sure if I could keep up. Lo and behold, I was able to stay with him - barely! But I also realized everything had to be just right for me to do so. As we started, I had to really focus on my hand and racket position, start my stroke earlier than I normally would, take a slightly longer swing than normal, and take the ball at just the right spot (just after top of bounce so the ball couldn't jump away from me). Once the counterloops starting hitting, I basically blanked my mind out and just let the shots happen. Mentally, I was just an observer. When I tried to intervene and get involved, I'd miss; when I sat back...




Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 12:08
April 19, 2011

Knocking off cups and other table tennis games

We're about to start day two of our five-day Spring Break Camp at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Guess what's one of the most popular games at our training camps? Knocking off cups. We do this with the younger kids near the end of a session. I put ten plastic cups on the table like bowling pins. I feed ten balls to each kid (multi-ball style), and see how many they can knock off. Then we get creative with the placement of the cups. An alternate version is the kids line up and each gets two shots and then rotate, and we see how long it takes for them, as a team, to knock off all the cups. We also do this with my bottled drink - whenever someone hits the bottle, I have to take a sip. (I do my best to convince them it's squeezed worm juice.)

We also play Brazilian Teams. We put them into teams of 3-5. One player from each team goes to the table and plays a point. The winner stays, while the loser goes to the end of the line for his team, and the next player goes to the table. The new player always serves. Games are usually to 41. If there are players who are much stronger than the...