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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, March 7, 2011 - 12:50
March 7, 2011

Table Tennis Chats

Sometime after the Cary Cup Championships (March 18-20), I'm going to ask in my blog and on the forum who would attend. Assuming there is enough interest, we'll have a test chat, and then I'll start scheduling guests - coaches and top players.

Ping-Pong and third baseman J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles

Yep, he's a table tennis player! Here's an excerpt from an online interview:

Q: What are some things you like to do when you're not playing ball?
J.J. I've got a lot of little hobbies. Fishing – now that we're out here in Florida for Spring Training, I fish pretty much every single day when we're done here.  In the off-season I spend a lot of time playing Ping Pong, try to keep my game up there.  Not as much golf anymore, I used to golf quite a bit.  Kind of shot that down, now more Ping Pong and fishing.

Q: How did you get to become a Ping Pong player?
J.J. My dad was a professional tennis player, and he still teaches for a living...




Friday, March 4, 2011 - 09:24
March 4, 2011

Blog hits

You know what's irritating? Due to the way the blog is set up, it only registers a "hit" if a person goes to the blog and clicks on a specific blog on a specific date. The problem is that since the blog (as currently set up) shows the entire blog for every day since I started it on Feb. 18, so there's no need for a person to actually click on one of them. So it doesn't register as a "hit." I'm working with a programmer to fix this problem, but while the daily blog only lists at most dozens of hits, it's actually in the hundreds each day, with a cumulative total in the thousands. I'll have more specific numbers later.

When should you learn to backhand loop?

There was a time when this was considered "advanced," and players didn't bother with it until they were 2000 level. Now just about any club player can backhand loop. It's a complete paradigm shift. These days when I work with a new player, we get to backhand looping roughly as soon as they can hit 100 forehands and 100 backhands - which is usually in the first five lessons. I focus on backhand...




Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 13:08
March 3, 2011

The long wait is over . . . Tim arrived this morning

Yes, that's Tim Boggan, USATT Hall of Famer and author of History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Yes, there are ten of them, and that only got us up to 1981! I've been doing the page layouts and photo work for these volumes - we do this once every year - with hall of fame photographer Mal Anderson helping scan the photos the last few issues.

And now Tim has gone and done the unthinkable . . . Volume 11 is ready! It covers 1981-1982. Yep, another 550 pages on just two years! Tim's rather comprehensive in his histories.

So he's moving in with me this morning for two weeks so we can put together the 550 or so pages. Basically, he'll be sitting next to me saying things like, "No, you fool, the Dan Seemiller looping photo goes there!" and stuff like that. Then, on March 17, we'll drive down to the 4-star...




Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 13:40
March 2, 2011

ITTF Coaching Seminar in Maryland

I'm running an ITTF Coaching Seminar in Maryland on weekends, April 16-17, 23-24, and (for Paralympics) April 30. USA Table Tennis has a news item on their home page on it. Here's the info flyer. And below is the news item. Hope you can join us!

There will be an ITTF Level 1 Coaching Seminar at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD, run by Larry Hodges. The seminar will be run on weekends: April 16-17, 23-24, and 30, with two sessions each day from 9-12, 1-4. There will be a minimum of 10 students, and a maximum of 16.

The ITTF Coaching Section is 24 hours (four sessions), and will be on the first two weekends. On April 30 there will be two Paralympics sessions. You may miss the Apr. 30 Paralympics sessions and still receive ITTF Level 1 certification but without IPTTC certification.

Those who attend can both improve their coaching skills and, upon completion of...




Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 06:01
March 1, 2011

Yes, they all play table tennis!

Yesterday I updated the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page. (Special thanks to Steve Grant, world's greatest celebrity playing table tennis photo-finding sleuth!) It now has 1171 photos of 695 celebrities, all playing table tennis. Yesterday's updates were:

  • Singers: Justin Bieber, Lil Jon, Elton John
  • Actors: Kevin Spacey, Joe E. Brown, Michael Ansara
  • Actresses: Barbara Eden, Susan Sarandon (new picture), Ginger Rogers, Jessica Alba, Madeleine Sologne, Phyllis Brooks
  • Leaders: Walter Mondale, Benjamin Netanyahu (prime minister of Israel), Juan Carlos (future king of Spain)
  • Athletes: Rafael Nadal, tennis player (new photo), Nicolas Kiefer (tennis player), Trevor Berbick (boxer), Sam Bradford (football quarterback)
  • Writers: A.J. Jacobs, Howard Jacobson, Jerome Charyn, Steven Berkoff, Sloane Crosley, Davy Rothbart, Jonathan Safran Foer

Want to see a...




Monday, February 28, 2011 - 14:18
February 28, 2011

Congrats to the 2011 USA World and Pan Am Teams!

Here are results and other items on the Trials that were held this past weekend. I heard that on the first day, after Barney Reed upset top seed Fan Yiyong (-10,12,5,4,-10,7), Reed collapsed in his next match, against Mark Hazinski, and went to the hospital in an ambulance. According to the results, he completed the match against Hazinksi, but lost badly (7,2,5,5), finishing third in the group, and then defaulted the match for 5/6 against Michael Landers. I post more on this if I find out more.

World Team Men

Mark Hazinski, Yiyong Fan, Timothy Wang, Adam Hugh

World Team Women

Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Erica Wu, Prachi Jha

Pan Am Team Men

Mark Hazinski, Yiyong Fan, Timothy Wang

Pan Am Team Women

...




Friday, February 25, 2011 - 12:32
February 25, 2011

The U.S. National and Pan Am Team Trials

They start today, with the qualifier today, and the main trials on Sat & Sun. Here's the USATT coverage page, with draws, results, live streaming, media coverage links, etc. Here's a three-minute video about the Trials. Good luck to everyone, and may both players in every match win!

Playing the wide angles

Why don't players focus on this more? For the great majority of shots, everything should go to one of three spots: wide backhand, wide forehand, or at the opponent's middle, i.e. playing elbow. And yet most intermediate players tend to play most shots to the middle backhand or middle forehand.

Giving examples of specific matches where this made a difference makes it sound like unique examples, when in fact this is a regular tactic that will win for you. But I'll give two good examples. At the Junior Olympics a while back, I was coaching a player who had made the final of Under 14 by upset. In the...




Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 12:50
February 24, 2011

Serve and Attack

A discussion I had with Dan Seemiller (5-time U.S. Men's Champion) has always stuck out with me. It was back in 1990-1991, when I spent two summers staying at his house all summer as his assistant coach for all his summer camps. He said that the thing that confused him the most about players was why so many didn't understand what he considered the simple concept that the purpose of the serve was to set up your attack, and that if you aren't attacking off your serve, then something's wrong.

There are two ways of going about this. One way is to develop an attack based on your best serves and the type of returns you get off those serves. For example, early on I developed tricky side-top serves, and so I developed a nice serve & smash. It wasn't until years later that I really learned a good backspin serve & loop game.

The other is to develop serves based on your attack. If you have a good loop, serve short and loop. If you have a good smash or counter-hitting skills, serve more side-top and fast, deep serves.

I finally figured out that the best way to develop serve and attack was to...




Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 14:00
February 23, 2011

Looking for coaching in the Gaithersburg, Maryland area?

I have openings--contact me if interested. Coaching rates and other info are at the Maryland Table Tennis Center webpage - click on "Private Coaching."

The last few years I've been doing a lot of outside writing (science fiction!), and wrote a lot of short stories (47 published lifetime) and two novels (both now making the rounds at publishers & agents), but with the second novel now done, I'm about to increase my coaching hours. (Here is my science fiction & fantasy page.)

What should you do when you have extra time for a shot?

Someone asked me this recently, and I told him my response would probably become a blog posting. Here it is!

When you have extra time, there are four things you can do.

  1. Use the extra time to make sure you are positioned properly, and to really time the shot. Ultimately, this is most important - if you don't do this, then you...



Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 13:45
February 22, 2011

Why Players Use Too Much Shoulder on Forehands

I was watching players at the club this weekend, and noticed a number of them use too much shoulder on their forehand strokes, both drives and loops. The problem with this is when you use a lot of shoulder, you aren't using your full body rotation. The key is to rotate the shoulders, not stroke with them. Otherwise, you lose power (which also leads to a loss of control), plus you'll probably eventually hurt your shoulder.

Older players often do this because of muscle stiffness, and so don't rotate the shoulders back. If you don't rotate the shoulders back, you can't rotate them forward. And so their stroke becomes mostly arm.

Beginning juniors, especially when very young, are natural mimics and so often copy what they see others do, whether it's good or bad. But even if they copy good strokes, and learn to backswing properly, sometimes they stop their shoulder rotation early on the forward swing, and so end up using too much arm at the end, and losing the power from the body rotation. It's important to rotate forward through the stroke, and not stop early and...