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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!

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, September 5, 2011 - 13:16
September 5, 2011

Tip of the Week

Short serves to the middle

Keeping a notebook

Do you keep a table tennis notebook? I did for years, and I recommend you do as well. I used a steno notebook. From front to back, I would take notes on my own play - what I was working on, what drills I was doing, what worked and didn't work in matches, etc. On the other side - back to front - I kept tactical notes on opponents. When the side on me was filled up (it usually went first), I'd simply flip it over, and it would be a permanent record of my notes on opponents, and I'd get a new notebook and start fresh. At tournaments, I'd bring past notebooks (with the ever-growing notes on opponents), and would be ready against any opponent I'd ever played against.

Years later I started transcribing my tactical notes onto my computer, and then all my notes, including the ones on my game. And then, after doing this for perhaps a decade, I realized that I'd been doing it so long that all the notes were in my head, and that I no longer needed to write things down to remember...




Friday, September 2, 2011 - 12:10
September 2, 2011

Develop an Overpowering Strength and Ways to Use It

This article, now online at Butterflyonline.com, was originally a Tip of the Week from back in February, but I added some stuff from Coach Jack Huang (one of my co-coaches at MDTTC), and sent it in to Butterfly, who published it yesterday. (You even get to see a picture of me and my "devastating" forehand!) A related article is How to Move Up a Level, which explains the five things you need to do to improve a level, with #5 about finding that overpowering strength and ways to use it.

Back update - I'm back!

Yesterday I got the okay from my physical therapist to resume table tennis activities as long as I go easy on it. I can finally hit with my students! For the last couple weeks I've had others come in to do my hitting.

Originally I was going to take six weeks off, but the therapist thought three weeks would be enough, and now, after two weeks, after examining my back, said I'm ready. It's been a busy two...




Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 12:21
September 1, 2011

Sidespin loops

Do you loop with sidespin? If not, why not? There's a common misconception that a loop should be 100% topspin. It's often more natural to loop with some sidespin, as the shoulder is normally higher than ball contact, and so the arm is naturally tilted slightly down at contact, meaning contact would be a bit on the far side of the ball, thereby creating some sidespin. (Some coaches recommend loops have about 15% sidespin.) Or you can create sidespin intentionally by simply dropping the wrist to hook the ball so it breaks left, or raising the wrist so it breaks right. (Lefties should reverse.)

It's not only more natural to loop with some sidespin, it's probably more effective. The sidespin makes the ball curve in the air, jump on the table, and jump sideways off the opponent's racket, giving him great difficulty. Plus the very curving of the ball over the table means it stays over the table a split second longer, giving it more time to drop and actually hit the table, thereby increasing consistency. (At least that's the theory I've been told; more sidespin means less topspin pulling the ball down, so...




Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 11:38
August 31, 2011

Creating service spin

Someone emailed me the following question (this is just an excerpt): "I can't generate heavy spin just average spin.... Any tips that may help me." Since this is a common problem, I thought I should put my response up here.

You might need to work with a coach directly to find out why you are having trouble creating spin on your serves. However, here are some possible reasons.

  1. Do you have a relatively grippy racket surface? (I'm guessing this isn't the problem, but had to bring it up.)

  2. Grazing motion: are you really grazing the ball at contact? If so, there should be little speed on the ball as most of your serving energy should convert to spin. If your "spin" serves are going long, and with good speed, then you probably aren't grazing the ball much.

  3. Racket speed: a lot of players slow down their service motion so as to better graze the ball. This defeats purpose of grazing the ball. Serving is a violent motion - if you want the ball to spin at 100mph, you need your racket tip to move 100mph. That mean's using...




Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 12:58
August 30, 2011

What are your table tennis goals?

And before you say them, remember this. There are two voices that will constantly ridicule your goals if they are too high. One is from some other players, who may not have the same lofty goals for you that you may have for yourself. Ignore them, and go for your goals. (Though it is helpful to have reasonable goals - just don't limit yourself.) The other is that little voice inside your head that says, "You can't!" Ignore that voice. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." So drop the mediocre voice from your mind and let the great spirit soar.

Illegal hidden serves one more time (until next time)

<Begin Rant>

Dear umpires, coaches, and players, let's go over this one more time.

Rule 2.6.6: "It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws."

Read that over once or ten times, and it'll still say the...




Monday, August 29, 2011 - 13:20
August 29, 2011

Tip of the Week

Suggested equipment for beginning and intermediate players.

Sean O'Neill teaching the forehand

Here's a great video (8:21) of Olympian and five-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion Sean O'Neill teaching the forehand. Note the emphasis on being in balance - left and right sides, backswing and follow through, etc.

Timo Boll serve and grip change

Here's a slow-motion video (1:10) of world #2 Timo Boll of Germany doing a reverse pendulum serve, and following it up with two forehand loops. Two things of interest. First, note how long he spends at a complete stop before the serve - he's visualizing the serve before doing it, as you should always do. Second, about 38 seconds in, as he prepares for his first forehand loop, see how he changes his grip into a forehand grip. Most players do not change grip during a rally; Boll does. I sometimes think this might...




Friday, August 26, 2011 - 11:55
August 26, 2011

Off to New York City Open!

EDIT - BREAKING NEWS AT 10:30 AM - Due to Hurricane Irene, the New York City Open has been postponed.

I leave right after lunch, about 12:30, for the New York City Open. I'm going up with the juniors John & Nathan Hsu and their mom, and Jeffrey Zeng Xun. Jeffrey (when he's not playing - he's seeded fifth, and was the recent Cary Cup and Eastern Open Champion) and I will be coaching John & Nathan. I may coach a few other locals when I'm free - Ryan, Greg, Tim. I'm just coaching, not playing. There are 277 players entered in the tournament, and the Open includes 11 players rated over 2550 or higher, and 36 over 2300, listed below. Newly unretired Scott Boggan, rated 2447, is seeded only 21st! (See note on him below.)

  1. Ting Sun (2730)
  2. Zhen (Eugene) Wang (2729)
  3. Peter-Paul, Pradeeban (2682)
  4. Damien Provost (2636)...



Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 13:12
August 25, 2011

Why you should have a slow, spinny loop

(This was originally from a forum posting, but I thought I'd put it here as well.) It's extremely helpful to have a slow, spinny loop, for four reasons. First, many players have difficulty with slow, spinny loops, and if you don't have one, then you are handicapped in the match. Second, it gives you more variation, which makes your other loops more effective. Third, against a very low, heavy push, it's much easier to go for a slow, spinny loop then to try to power it all the time. And fourth, if you are missing your faster loops, it's good to have a slower and steadier loop to fall back on. 

There is less slow looping at the highest levels, but that's because at that point they can pretty much rip anything they see. However, even there you'll see some slow loops as variations, depending on the circumstances. But anywhere below the world-class level a slow loop is one of the more underused shots.

How do you do a slow, spinny loop? One key is to let the ball drop more than usual, especially against backspin. A common mistake when slow looping is to slow the swing...




Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:41
August 24, 2011

The Creation of a National Franchise-Based League

I put together a rough proposal for a professional league for our top players - see below! Feel free to steal this idea, though it'd be nice to credit me.

Highlights from 2009 Worlds

Table Tennis Master has put together a great video (11:21) compiling the greatest points from the 2009 Worlds. Enjoy!

The Rise of Table Tennis

Here's an interesting article on the growing popularity of table tennis.

Connor Crane, football, and table tennis

Here's an interesting article on football star Connor Crane and table tennis.

Kevin Garnett, basketball, and table tennis.

Here's a 37-second news...




Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 13:40
August 23, 2011

Hidden Serves

At the higher levels (i.e. 2600 and up), most players hide their serve because most umpires simply are not enforcing the rules. The main rule in question is, "It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he complies with the requirements of the Laws."  Many players have learned to just barely hide contact from their opponent, but they do it so quickly and subtly that umpires, sitting off to the side, aren't sure if they have hidden the serve - and instead of warning and then faulting the player for not fulfilling the rule quoted here, they let it go. And so those who cheat are rewarded.

There are always exceptions, such as world #6 Vladimir Samsonov, who never hides his serve. How good would he be if he did so? But he plays against hidden serves regularly, and developed his game before hidden serves were illegal, and so can return them effectively.

Before, illegal hidden serves was mostly a problem at the highest levels. Now it's spreading to the cadet levels. It's survival of the fittest, and the "fittest" are...