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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

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 12:57
May 24, 2012

Drop the arm and loop

Players are often too slow in responding to pushes that should be looped. (This assumes you know how to loop; if you don't, learn. Get a coach or watch top players, perhaps in the video section here.) When you see that an opponent is about to push, you should be preparing to drop down to loop, either forehand or backhand. (One-winged speedsters have a simplified world view; they are going to loop with their forehand, so they don't have to decide forehand or backhand, just which way to move. But that's a difficult way to play.) Players often miss their loops because they are slow to respond, and so end up rushed, which is the most common reason players miss loops.

This is something you can practice anywhere, without a table or racket. Go into a ready stance and imagine your opponent about to push. Visualize the push sometimes going to your forehand side, sometimes the backhand side. The instant you see where the opponent is going, lower your arm and playing shoulder (your whole body goes down some to loop backspin), and shadow practice looping it...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 13:44
May 23, 2012

U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame

Have you ever visited the online U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame? There are 134 members - 87 players and 47 officials/contributors. It's a fascinating look back at the players and other people that dominated and influenced table tennis in the U.S. since the formation of USA Table Tennis (then U.S. Table Tennis Association) in 1933. Tim Boggan has written profiles of each of them, which are linked here - spend a day reading over them. Someday they should be made into a book.

I've met 79 of them. (I'm not sure how you could "meet" six of the "contributors" inducted - Detroiter, General Sportcraft, Harvard Table Tennis, Nippon Takkyu, P. Becker and Co., and Tamasu Co. Since I've used or played against equipment made by each of these companies, does that mean I've "met" 85?) Go over the list; how many have you met or seen? (And if you studiously read my blog, you can count me as "met"!)

There's also this U.S....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 12:55
May 22, 2012

Want a consistent forehand and backhand?

Then start off every session by hitting 50 (or even 100) in a row at a steady pace with good technique. Don't start counting until the shot feels comfortable. Don't go out there hitting at different speeds - to develop a repeatable shot you need to repeat it the same way over and Over and OVER, until it is so ingrained you find yourself absentmindedly practicing your forehand as you take your wedding vows, and after your prospective wife kills you, you'll reflexively smack the coroner with another forehand howitzer.

Once the shots are so ingrained, then you should focus on random drills that involve using these repeatable strokes when you don't know whether the next shot will be a forehand or backhand. For example, your partner hits the ball randomly to your forehand or backhand, and you respond by returning each shot with your forehand or backhand to the same spot he's hitting from. (Partner should be hitting all forehands or all backhands.) Take it slow - it's better to do this at a pace where you respond correctly each time then at a pace where your strokes begin to...

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 13:52
May 21, 2012

Tip of the Week:

Forehand Deception with Shoulder Rotation.

Potomac Open and Chinese Juniors

I had to miss the tournament as I was busy coaching at MDTTC. However, the results were profoundly interesting as they were the first tournaments for the three new MDTTC kids from China. The three, all from the Shandong Luneng Table Tennis School in Shandong, moved here a few weeks ago and plan to learn English and stay through college. They will be training at the Maryland Table Tennis Center as well as acting as practice partners. Here are their rough results.

Wang Qing Liang, 17, is the oldest and strongest. He plays a modern chopper/looper style, very similar to 2003 World Men's Singles Finalist Joo Se Hyuk of South Korea. This means that he mostly chops on the backhand with long pips, and both chops and attacks all-out on the forehand side, where he's ready to counterloop anything. In the semifinals he defeated current U.S. Men's Singles Champion Peter Li 4-2. In the final he faced MDTTC coach Jeffrey...

Friday, May 18, 2012 - 09:57
May 18, 2012

Two times to shorten your stroke

Many players develop strokes that are too short, which costs them both power and control. (They lose control because to generate power they have to jerk into the shot instead of a smoother progression.) But there are two times when players should often shorten their strokes.

The first is when returning serves. The key here is control, so you don't need a lot of power. A shorter stroke also allows you to wait a little longer before swinging, giving you more time to read the spin. It also is easier to use a short stroke over the table against short serves. You can shorten your stroke a bit when looping a deep serve as well, as long as you don't get too soft. The basic rule is loop only as fast as needed to keep the opponent from making a strong counter-attack. (Of course, if you read the serve well - and know you have read the serve well - then you can put a little more on the loop. At higher levels many players often overpower the service spin with their own huge topspin, and so they do not shorten their stroke.)

The second time is against a loop. If you are blocking, you don't need...

Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 14:09
May 17, 2012

My writing

This blog has a lot about my own writing. It wasn't planned - it just happened. So be it!

How table tennis will change, according to "Campaign 2100"

I've long wondered how table tennis will change in the future. Here are some possibilities that are straight from my book "Campaign 2100: Rise of the Moderates," a 117,000-word SF novel I wrote that is currently making the rounds of agents and publishers. (It covers the 2100 election for president of Earth, where the whole world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. I describe it as "West Wing in the 22nd century," with the underlying theme moderation in politics; some will read it as a Moderate Manifesto.)

One of the main characters, Bruce, is a professional college table tennis player, and one of the dramas is when, at 19-all in the fifth in the semifinals of the college championships against his nemesis, he loses interest and defaults the match to join the presidential election campaign. (Yes, the game has gone back to 21-point games in my future. Hey, it's my future!) Throughout...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 10:46
May 16, 2012

MDTTC Featured

The Maryland Table Tennis Center was featured in a story in the Montgomery Gazette this morning. I'm quoted several times. Make sure to click on the pictures! We've been featured in various media hundreds of times over the years.

How does one go about getting press coverage of your table tennis events? It's not difficult, but it does take some time. First, have something to feature. It can be an actual event (tournament, clinic, big league match, etc.), a person (player or coach), or just table tennis in general. (All reporters need an "angle.") Get a listing of all the local media by Googling your city and state along with "newspapers," "TV stations," and "radio stations." Go to their web pages and compile a list of contact emails. Then write a press release about your event, person, or table tennis in general, and send it off.

If you have a really big event, contact the national press - CNN, MSNBC, FOX, USA Today,...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 12:57
May 15, 2012

$100,000 U.S. Nationwide Table Tennis League

Yesterday I was in on a phone conference with the organizers, advisers, and sponsors of the upcoming USNTTL. (I'm not sure I'm at liberty to say who was on the call. Attila Malek, 1979 U.S. Men's Champion and long-time coach, is the driving force behind it.) I'm now on their advisory committee.

I had some suggestions for promoting the league, which I've used regularly in the past -,, mailings to clubs (including a request that clubs call a meeting to discuss the league with members), and an online printable roster sheet that league directors can use to sign up players. Mailings to coaches was also discussed, as coaches are often the ones running local leagues. I also suggested they contact some "big names" to help them promote the league. (For example, see the segment below on Susan Sarandon. A few words from her to the proper news medium would be hugely helpful.)

I only agreed to be on their advisory committee because they really seem to be dead serious about setting up this nationwide league,...

Monday, May 14, 2012 - 13:36
May 14, 2012

Tip of the Week

Returning the Tomahawk Serve. (This is an expanded version of my blog about this on May 10.)

Different Generations

At the club last night one of our up-and-coming kids, about ten years old, came up to me and said, "Larry, can I borrow your cell phone? I want to check my rating." For about five seconds I was stumped, wondering who he was going to call to get his rating before I realized that to this generation, "cell phone" is just shorthand for "small hand-held computer connected to the Internet." When I explained my cell phone only made phone calls (and, it is rumored, takes pictures), he was flabbergasted, and left shaking his head, probably muttering about old fuddy-duddies.

This got me to thinking about how the world has changed, in particularly the world of table tennis. Here's a brief rundown of changes since I started in 1976.

1976: Sriver or Mark V?
2012: About ten thousand choices of sponge

1976: Top-of-the-line sponge: $7
2012: Top-of-the-line sponge: $80


Friday, May 11, 2012 - 12:00
May 11, 2012

New Chinese kids in Maryland

Now it can be told! After months of negotiation and visa dealings with the State Department (both U.S. and Chinese versions), we have three new Chinese junior players at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Yes, junior players - they are all from the Shandong Lueng Table Tennis School in Shandong, China. They are here indefinitely, where they will both train and be practice partners while they learn English and later go to school here - they hope to attend college here as well.

They arrived on Tuesday, and played at the club on Wednesday. This afternoon they'll be in the Elite Junior Session from 5-7, and that's when we'll really learn their levels. They are obviously very strong, probably as good as anyone their age in the U.S.  The chopper is the oldest and the strongest - probably in the 2500-2600 range, and will likely be the best chopper in the U.S.  The others are likely in the 2300-2500 range. (All three will compete at the U.S. Open, and perhaps the Easterns.) They are:

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