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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!

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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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 12:34
November 8, 2011

Day One at the Writer's Retreat

Yesterday was the first day of the writer's retreat at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, Mon-Fri, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM. I'm working on my new book, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide." Going into the retreat I'd done exactly 6222 words, and I was hoping to average 5000-6000 per day. On Day One, I did 8063, for a total of 14,285. That's actually a crazy pace, but it's only for five days. I'm guessing the book will total about 50,000 words, but we'll see - I'll probably keep writing well past that and end up with 100,000. I do have a publisher that's interested in the book, but whether I go that route or self-publish, it should be out next year, hopefully before the U.S. Open.

I spent much of today writing about conventional and non-conventional tactics (lots of examples of both), and on service tactics. For example, I gave ten ways to mess up your opponent with a short serve, and the thinking behind each. I'm also writing a lot about tactical (how to win the current match) versus strategic (how to develop...




Monday, November 7, 2011 - 12:20
November 7, 2011

Tip of the Week

How to ace an opponent. You can see all the past Tips here, or see link on menu on left.

FIT Open

There's not a whole lot I want to write about. I couldn't move on the slippery floors, or see the ball against the orange-brown tile floors (colored to look like real wood). Players would put the ball to my forehand, normally a strength, and I couldn't move to the ball and couldn't see the ball. Halfway through I withdrew from the tournament. (Several players said that it was much more slippery this year than in past years.) 

The irony is that part of the problem I faced was that I play and coach almost exclusively on the red rubberized flooring at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with great lighting and background. And so I faced the same thing players at our club have complained about in the past, that they couldn't play effectively in bad conditions. If there were national championships held on slippery floors or other bad conditions, we'd have...




Friday, November 4, 2011 - 12:02
November 4, 2011

Vary your serves

I recently played a match against a strong player about my level who basically used three serves: short backspin or no-spin to the middle or backhand, or a deep side-top serve to my backhand that was telegraphed by the delivery. The player never served to my forehand. Since I could see the deep serve coming a mile away (and could just hit it back with my backhand and force a neutral backhand exchange on his serve), all I had to do was worry about the short serves. Since they were so predictable, I hung over the table and returned them right off the bounce, with last-second changes of directions, mostly dropping them short to all parts of the table. Because of the quickness off the bounce, the tweeniness of many of the returns (i.e. second bounce would be near the end-line), and the last-second changes of direction, even when I went long the opponent had great difficulty attacking. And so I completely controlled the match off the opponent's serve. This is the type of thing that happens all the time in matches, where players get into the habit of using the same few serves over and over, thereby making things easy for the opponent....




Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 13:40
November 3, 2011

November 3, 2011

How Leagues Spur Growth

I was asked this morning who could (or would?) play in a nationwide table tennis league. I'd already talked about Germany and its 11,000 clubs and 700,000 players, England's 500,000, France's 300,000, etc., and how other sports also do this, and how these huge numbers come almost exclusively from leagues. Here's an excerpt of my response, which explains a bit more precisely and concisely how this happens.

"Anyone can join the league as part of a team representing a club, with the membership rate to be determined. This is the stage where new clubs are often certified or created, as players list the place they practice as their club (solving the U.S. problem of hordes of non-sanctioned clubs full of non-USATT players), or find and create ones for the purposes of the league (leading to hordes of new clubs, which soon fill up with new players who join the league, snowballing membership). There are always details to be worked out, which is why you go to experienced league directors (in club to club leagues) in the U.S., overseas, and in other sports to see...




Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 13:25
November 2, 2011

Frustrating emails

I spent much of yesterday, and already a chunk of this morning, responding to highly frustrating emails. There's an email discussion going on among USATT board members and some committee members about coaching that I won't elaborate on. I'd love to quote the emails, but that would be inappropriate. It's more about the type of thinking behind the emails than the specifics of the current argument that I find so mind-numbing and representative of the same type of thinking that has stagnated table tennis in this country for so long. Let's just say that times like this I am deeply pessimistic about whether USATT can ever take the lead in developing table tennis in this country. Almost for sure it's going to have to come from outside individuals and clubs by setting up leagues and coaching programs independently from the national governing body for table tennis in the USA.

Strategic Versus Tactical Thinking

Here's an excerpt from the book I'm working on, "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide."

"What's the difference between...




Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 12:32
November 1, 2011

Celebrities Playing Table Tennis

I've updated the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page, with 11 new celebrities and 14 new pictures, bringing the totals up to 1285 pictures of 1285 celebrities. (Some pictures have multiple celebrities, so numbers below may appear not to add up.) New this month (and "new" means I already had pictures of that celebrity, but have put up new ones):

  • Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's wife
  • Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback
  • Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos quarterback
  • Tiger Woods, golfer (new picture)
  • Payne Stewart, golfer
  • Sebastian Coe, English Olympic 1500 meter Olympic gold medalist
  • Andy Murray, tennis player (2 new pictures)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, tennis player (2 new pictures)
  • Boris Becker, tennis player
  • Bill Tilden, tennis player (2 new pictures)
  • Francis Hunter, tennis player (3 pictures)
  • Justin Gimelstob, tennis player
  • Wladimir Klitschko, Ukrainian heavyweight boxer (new picture)
  • ...



Monday, October 31, 2011 - 13:30
October 31, 2011

Tip of the Week

When to React.

Serve Cycling

Many or most players use just a few simple serves, on the theory that if you have too many serve motions, you'll have trouble perfecting any of them, plus you'll have trouble learning and reacting to all the possible returns. (Surprisingly, two serves done with the same spin and placement but a different motion are often returned differently by opponents.) There's nothing wrong with doing it this way. I do urge players like this to have alternate "trick" serves to throw at their opponents as a variation, which both gives them "free" points as well as making their other serves more effective as the receiver has more serves to worry about.

However, there's another way to serve, which I call "cycling." What this means is that you constantly throw different serves at your opponent, essentially cycling through your entire repertoire, often almost in sequence. The goal is never to use the same serve twice in a row, and usually not even the same service motion twice...




Friday, October 28, 2011 - 12:41
October 28, 2011

Werner Schlager on Talent

2003 World Men's Singles Champion Werner Schlager of Austria recently made a surprise appearance on the about.com table tennis forum. While explaining how Germany's Timo Boll (European #1, world #2) did something so well, he wrote, "I can assure you, there is only one 'magic' behind it: a little talent and many of years of practice." When asked to elaborate on the subject of talent, this is what he wrote:

"Imagine you are born with a double resolution of your eyes retina. You can see with more detail than others. Any exercise regarding reading, searching, etc. is somehow easy for you. But: Probably you wouldn't even realize that you have that gift. Because for you it is NORMAL.

"And this is why i see my gift (far more unspectacular than double resolution retinas, lol) also as "not so special". Probably it is very special to others, but i couldn't even describe...




Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 14:24
October 27, 2011

When to react

Have you ever studied your opponent to see exactly when in his strokes he commits to a specific placement? If not, you are handicapping yourself. Most players commit to a direction before they start their forward swing, and you should be moving to the ball as they start their forward swing. But most players don't react until the opponent has hit the ball, thereby wasting a lot of valuable time. More on this in this Monday's Tip of the Week.

Chinese footwork

These six short videos are perhaps the best videos I've ever seen on footwork, as well as a great example on proper stroking technique. Coach Wang Wen Jie of China explains Chinese footwork - which is pretty much the way all world-class players move, Chinese or otherwise. The various footwork techniques are shown both a regular speed and in slow motion, and explained by the coach.




Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 11:28
October 26, 2011

More on Kjell Johansson

Here's the ITTF obit on Kjell Johansson. (I wrote about him in yesterday's blog.)

Table Tennis Tactics and Acronyms

I'm now hard at work on my new book, with the working title "Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide." (Alternate titles: "A Thinker's Guide to Table Tennis Tactics" or "The Tao of Table Tennis Tactics." The advantage of the working title is that if the title starts out with "Table Tennis Tactics," it'll come up higher in online searches for table tennis and tactics.) I plan to have the first draft done by the Nationals in December. Here's a tidbit - recently I realized that all tactical thinking comes down to WEAR - Watch, Experiment, Analyze, and Remember. So WEAR your tactics with pride!

My other favorite table...