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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

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...




Monday, February 21, 2011 - 13:51
February 21, 2011

Happy President's Day!

With people off work today, I'm off to coach this morning, something I rarely do - nearly all of my coaching is afternoons and nights.

Clinic in Lancaster, PA

Barney J. Reed will run a three-hour clinic just before the Manor Open, in Lancaster, PA, on Friday, March 4, 6-9 PM. $55/player, maximum ten players. For info, contact Assistant Coach Rich Burnside, 717-968-2713.

The 2011 U.S. Open Entry Form...

...is up!

It's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 30 - July 4. Note that this year it's five days long, Thur-Mon, unlike recent years when it's been four days, Wed-Sat. There's also been some rescheduling of events, so check it over carefully. I'll be there, but other than some hardbat events (I normally use sponge), I'll just be coaching and probably attending some meetings.

...




Friday, February 18, 2011 - 13:13
February 18, 2011

Adham Sharara interview

Here's an interview with ITTF President Adham Sharara, done in Shanghai this month (6:39). It covers the various rule changes in the sport and whether they were aimed at China or for the betterment of the sport, Olympic representation, various top players, and other issues.

Why do so few players mix in fast, deep serves?

It always amazes me how so many players spend years playing and practicing their games, often developing advanced serves, and yet so many of them never learn to vary in fast, deep serves. When your opponent isn't a threat to serve fast & deep, then you know the serve is either going to be short, or slow and deep, so you have plenty of time to loop it. When you add in the threat of a fast & deep serve, then you can't assume you have all that time to loop the deep serve.

You should learn all the variations:

  • Placement: Wide backhand, wide forehand, middle (elbow).
  • Spin: Topspin, sidespin breaking right, sidespin breaking left, no-...



Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 13:16
February 17, 2011

The Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook

Interested in being a table tennis coach? Or just want to read about the subject?  Check out the Professional Table Tennis Coaches Handbook. I wrote this for USA Table Tennis a few years ago, and have periodically updated it since. It covers most aspects of coaching, including some key aspects that are rarely covered elsewhere, such as how much money you can make at coaching (quite a bit, surprisingly). I look at it as both an educational and recruitment tool.

I've made the argument for years that USATT should focus on recruiting and training coaches to be professional coaches and to set up and run junior programs. It's always boggled my mind that the most common response to this by many of those who run our sport is "There aren't enough students for all these coaches." Well, jeez! The whole point is that coaches need to learn to recruit new players, not focus on those who are already playing! It's not a zero sum game; it's a constantly expanding base of players, IF...




Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 13:20
February 16, 2011

Teaching table tennis to a tennis player

I've always found it interesting, even fascinating, to coach table tennis to a tennis player. I've had many tennis players as students over the years. I also play tennis at a 4.0 level (that's like 1800 in table tennis), but with an extremely lopsided forehand-oriented game. But that's true of most table tennis players - the first time we play tennis, we have nice forehands, but find the backhand somewhat awkward.

Yesterday I coached a 6'5" former 5.5 (that's like 2100-2200) tennis player. He'd never had lessons before, and had only been a "basement" player. He very quickly picked up the forehand, and after five minutes, was pounding forehands. He also quickly picked up on the backhand, but did so in a very backhand stance (like tennis), and basically played an aggressive blocking backhand from a bit off the table. Near the end of the session we did a drill where I looped my forehand rather aggressively to his backhand, and though it was the first time he'd ever done this, he was able to block them back very consistently, though he took the ball a couple...




Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 13:34
February 15, 2011

How many hits in a minute?

Can you do 173? If a 12-year-old from Japan can, why can't you? You really should watch this video - great counter-hitting, and a real example of concentration. (There's a short commercial at the start - sorry.)

I'm toying with trying this, but going backhand-to-backhand right off the bounce, perhaps with one of our local juniors, who have natural machinegun-like backhands. If you want to see how many you can do, here's a key hint: don't think as you hit, don't try to control the shots, just blank out the mind, just watch the ball, and let the strokes happen. After about 20 seconds, you'll start sweating--mentally, if not physically. After 40 seconds, your eyes will glaze over.

Arrested at a Table Tennis Camp?

Here's an article about a fugitive who was caught because of his table tennis addiction. They picked him up when he went to a table tennis camp in Delhi!...




Monday, February 14, 2011 - 13:06
February 14, 2011

Ma Long and MDTTC Juniors

Let's start with the big news. Many of you know of China's Ma Long, currently world #4 but #1 in the world for nine months last year? Well, Ma Long was at the Maryland Table Tennis Center last night, as a guest of Cheng Yinghua. I played a challenge match - and beat him, 3-0! We're not talking hardbat or sandpaper - we played with regular rackets.

Okay, it was Ma Long's 9-year-old namesake, a student of Cheng's. But it was fun to beat him!

I also played two matches this past week with 8-year-old Crystal Wang, another MDTTC player. She's rated 1833, and is #2 in the U.S. in Girls' Under 10. Now, for the record, I've played 35 years, and I've never, Never, NEVER lost even a game to an 8-year-old, not even when I was a beginner. Well, in the first match, she went absolutely crazy with her shots, and before I could wake up, I'd lost the first game and was down 9-10 in the second in this best of five. Anything with topspin she killed, forehand and backhand. When I looped, she smashed. When I pushed, she'd spin loop from...




Friday, February 11, 2011 - 12:31
February 11, 2011

Practice everything, but focus on strengths and weaknesses

One thing I found important when practicing or coaching became almost a mantra for me. The mantra was, "Practice everything, but focus on strengths and weaknesses." The idea was to develop overpowering strengths that you can dominate with, while getting rid of any weaknesses.

Some players tend to focus on their weaknesses, often getting so overly critical that it's all they think about. They forget that matches are usually won by a player dominating on something. You can't do that unless you develop something to dominate with, and then develop your game around it. In particular, focus on developing both that strength and the shots that set it up, especially serve & receive.

At the other extreme are players who get into the habit of doing the same drills all the time, session after session, and so they get good at the things they are used to practicing, but never get around to fixing the problems in their games. I once saw a player with a great forehand counterloop lose a match because he couldn't block on his backhand side. Later he had to play the...




Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 13:30
February 10, 2011

Some Penhold Fun Today

First we have the serve of China's Wang Hao's serve in slow motion. He was #1 in the world most of 2008-2009, and is currently #2. Notice the last-second sudden motion, where he can contact the ball with the racket going either way? This is no different than how a shakehander would do this serve. Also note a few back-of-the-racket serves.

Now we move back in time to China's Zhang Xielin aka Chang Shih-lin aka "The Magic Chopper" vs Hiroshi Takahashi of Japan in the 1965 World Men's Team Final in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia. This is not something you see every day - a world-class penhold chopper! I've been told he devastated the Europeans, but lost to the Asians, who were more used to choppers and better able to adjust to his sometimes-sidespin chops. (Takahashi won this match, but China wins the final, 5-2.)

Have You Practiced Your Serves or Shadow-Practiced Your Strokes and Footwork Today?

If not, why not?

USATT Club Committee...




Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 11:32
February 9, 2011

Table Tennis is Good for the Brain

So says Dr. Wendy Suzuki on this news segment from ABC News. Includes play at the NY Spin Club, short interviews with actress Susan Sarandon and NY cadet Alex Lipan (U.S. #6 under 12, #1 in NY), and cameos by top player Tahl Leibovitz and NY Times puzzlemaster Will Shortz. As noted in a previous blog, this keeps popping up.

Justin Bieber Playing Table Tennis

Yes . . . we have video of Justin Bieber playing table tennis, care of Table Tennis Nation!!! Now all is well and the world can continue about its business. Anyone know how to get a plain photo out of the video that I can add to the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page, other than using a camera to...