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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, April 30, 2012 - 13:08
April 30, 2012

Tip of the Week

Chalk Up Wins with Chop Blocks.

Coaching breakthroughs

A number of my students had "minor" breakthroughs this weekend, especially some of the younger kids, and it all added up to a rather successful weekend of coaching. (Twelve hours total.) I titled this "coaching breakthroughs," but perhaps that should be "playing breakthroughs"? After all, it's the players who are having breakthroughs!

  • One six-year-old who literally couldn't put the ball on the table last week - he had this nasty habit of opening his paddle at the last second and smacking the ball up - mostly fixed that problem, and was able to hit about 20 in a row. In a game at the end of the session he knocked down nearly an entire pyramid of paper cups with one shot, something he hadn't come close to doing before.
  • Another solved her problem on the backhand and hit 65 in a row. She's the type that never seems to smile while playing - but she was all grins after that.
  • One kid learned...



Friday, April 27, 2012 - 12:44
April 27, 2012

U.S. Nationwide Club Team League

As I noted in my blog yesterday, you can still enter your club in the league and save $75 if you do so by Monday - so enter now! Here's the web page with full info. I attended an hour-long online video presentation of the league yesterday with live audio as Attila Malek explained the league and answered questions. I expect we'll have a bunch of teams from my club playing in this first ever nationwide league. If a success, this will be the first step toward changing table tennis in the U.S. from a secondhand sport into a powerhouse.

The league is set up regionally so that teams don't have to travel far for their matches. They have sponsors, and are giving out $100,000 in prize money in the five divisions. As of yesterday, they had 104 teams signed up, as I noted in my blog. I just checked, and they are now up to 127 teams.

It is through such leagues that memberships and revenue skyrocket. Germany has 700,000 league members...




Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 13:39
April 26, 2012

Staying low

A low stance lowers the center of gravity while bending the knees. Both of these allow for quicker movements as well as added power. This is important, especially at higher levels where quick footwork and power dominate. At the beginning stage it's not as comfortable, but once you get used to it it's hard to imagine playing without a low stance. So it's a good idea to get in the habit early in your playing career. (If someone plays most of their life but are not professionals, like 99.9999% of us, is it a "playing career"?)

Many players say they can read spin better when they stay low, especially when returning serves. Many players adopt an extra low stance for receiving serve, and then go to a less low stance the rest of the rally. I've always suspected that the low stance doesn't really help read the spin better so much as it allows them to react to the spin faster.

When players think about footwork, they mostly think about moving to the ball in a rally, where they move mostly side to side as they run down each shot. Footwork for returning serves is way underestimated, which is one reason...




Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 12:57
April 25, 2012

Set-up serves versus point-winning serves

I was teaching serves to a new student recently, and started to launch into my usual speech about the purpose of serves. Before I could finish, he interrupted and said, "I don't want to focus on serves that opponents miss. I want serves that set me up to do my best shots." He then explained how he wouldn't feel comfortable if he tried to win points on the serve outright, since if the serve did come back it likely wouldn't be setting up his strengths. Instead, he wanted serves that allowed him to use his relatively strong backhand. He also wanted to use serves to help set up his developing forehand and backhand, since the practice he'd get from using these serves and following up with a loop would make his attack stronger. 

I was stunned - this was exactly what I was about to explain, and this relative beginner already understood this. (Okay, he later admitted he'd read some articles of mine on the subject, such as this one, and in past blogs.) But that meant he'd done his research before signing up...




Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 14:31
April 24, 2012

USATT Minutes of Committee & Task Force Meetings

From the USATT Bylaws, Section 9.10, Minutes of Meetings:

"Each committee and task force shall take minutes of its meetings.  The approved minutes must be published within thirty (30) days of completion of the meeting."

I've pointed this out to the USATT board multiple times over the past few years, via email to the board, at the 2009 Strategic Meeting, at board meetings, and I blogged about this on October 11 last year. [See segment"2009 USATT Strategic Meeting (and Task Force Minutes)."]

Either none of the USATT committees or task forces have met even once over the past five years or so, or they simply aren't following the bylaws, even after the problem was pointed out. (I happen to know that a number of these committees and task forces have met.) Alas, the very board that crowed so much about creating these new bylaws (circa roughly 2007, with updates since) has not followed them. Don...




Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:59
April 23, 2012

Tip of the Week

Reverse Forehand Pendulum Serve.

Congrats to the USA Olympians!

Making the Olympic Team for the U.S. were (L-R) Erica Wu, Lily Zhang, Ariel Hsing, and Timothy Wang. And here is the ITTF coverage, which has lots of article, pictures, and complete results. Special thanks to USATT as well for providing live online coverage. (Unfortunately, I was coaching nearly all day Fri-Sun, and so only saw a few minutes of one match.)  (Side note - I'm told Gao Jun dropped out because of a knee injury.)

Grassroots table tennis

There was a discussion at a USATT board meeting about eight years ago on the subject of grassroots development. While some wanted to focus almost exclusively on elite development, most were for grassroots development. And then the discussion began.

Several board...




Friday, April 20, 2012 - 13:46
April 20, 2012

Get your feet moving by lobbing

The large majority of players rarely lob. It's not that they don't like to lob - just about everyone finds lobbing fun - but most simply do not have the mobility to effectively lob, and so they don't. (Many of these players stand like a tree when they should be moving like a squirrel.) But isn't this backwards?

If you don't have the mobility to lob, why not practice lobbing to develop that mobility? It's not a hard concept; if you practice moving, you learn to move better. And the nice thing is that if you develop mobility off the table lobbing, you will also improve your general mobility, both close to the table and away. Not only that, but if you learn to lob, you add a new tool to your table tennis toolbox. Plus lobbing is just one step away from counterlooping, a more offensive and valuable off-table weapon.

Here's an article on lobbing, an article on smashing lobs, a more general article on...




Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 12:45
April 19, 2012

Ruing the Rise of Redundant Rubber Releases

It has recently come to my attention that there are just too many types of table tennis rubber. At the U.S. Open or Nationals the racks of rubber reveal a ruinous range of revolutionary renown. (Okay, I've used up my quota for R's today.) What am I, a full-time professional coach of some renown, supposed to say as my eyes glaze over when someone looks at me with big brown eyes and asks, in all innocence, "Coach Larry, could you explain the differences between Sapphira, Selvid, Solcion, Speedy P.O., Spin Art, the ten types of Sriver, Stayer, Solo, the nine types of Sonex, the three types of Supersonic, Special Defence, Super 729FX, Samba and Samba N-tec, Shark, Snabb, Spring Thunder, the five types of Scramble, Spark, the four types of Spinspiel, Screw One and Screw Soft, Spiral, the three types of Specialist, Samurai, Serie 2000, the three types of Sinus, the eight types of Speedy, Standard, Storm, the two types of Super Defense, and Supra?"

And these are just the ones that start with an S. (See, I've moved on from the R's. Soon I'll make it to the T's, where we...




Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 12:34
April 18, 2012

Cancellations and a needed rest

Yesterday I was scheduled to coach from 5-7 and 8-9 PM. Late in the afternoon the 5-7 sessions were cancelled - it was a family of three, a father and two sons, and one of the sons was sick and they couldn't leave him at home alone. Then the 8 PM cancelled for unknown reasons. Suddenly I had the day off, my first in a while. Let's just say I needed it - my back and forearm were starting to go, and every muscle in my body was beginning to feel like five-year-old sponge that had blocked a few too many power loops. So I got to stay home and watch NCIS and the Orioles defeat the White Sox 3-2.

Today I'm tutoring Calculus from 10AM to noon for one of the local table tennis stars, who is taking the AP exam in late May. I do this every Wednesday, and with the exam coming up soon we may be doing it twice a week. I've got a 5-7PM session tonight. Rather than come home between noon and 5PM I'm going to head out to MDTTC and spend the afternoon there working on the rewrite of Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide. We've got wireless now so I'll be connected - but not sure if that's a...




Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 13:20
April 17, 2012

"Close the racket!!!"

These three words are the most common ones spoken to kids when they first learn to play. I've come to understand the millions of years ago our ancestors carried around ping-pong paddles to fend off arial attacks from large man-eating eagles. And so it is in our genes to aim the paddle upward to defend against avian attacks. Adults can overcome this ingrained instinct, but kids, being smaller, apparently are more afraid of eagles. No matter how many times I lead them through the proper stroke and have them shadow-practice the shot, as soon as I feed them a ball multiball style most invariably flip their wrist back and aim the paddle up, and hit the ball high into the air, apparently in an attempt to shoot down those ferocious eagles. (Okay, it's usually not that bad, but most kids start with this tendency, and some have great difficulty breaking it. I have one 5-year-old girl who after two lessons still can't stop herself from launching eagle-bound ping-pong balls toward the ceiling.)

Exhibition at MDTTC Open House

Here...