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 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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 15:33
May 18, 2011

I'm back!

I've been out of town since May 9, and as noted in my blog at that time, I wouldn't have time to blog while I was away. (I was visiting my dad in the hospital, who had a stroke. He's still mostly paralyzed on his left side, but with four hours of therapy each day, it's starting to pay off - he has some left-side movement now.) Hopefully the world of table tennis has survived my absence, though I'm skeptical. Did I miss anything? I heard rumors of some World Championships or something, and China sweeping everything, but I'm sure that was just a rumor. I wonder how Team USA did?

A Levels Approach to Tactics and Other Tips

Are you reading the Tips of the Week? This Monday's Tip was "A Levels Approach to Tactics" - see if that's something you've thought about! Last week's was "A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact," which is...




Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 17:20
May 10, 2011

As I noted in my blog yesterday, I'm in Eugene, OR, visiting my dad. He's in the hospital after having a stroke. It's not life-threatening, but he's paralyzed on his left side. (And he's left-handed, alas.) It's going to be a bit hectic here, and I have other things on my mind, so I'm going to take the week off. I'll go back to daily blogs after I return to Maryland, on Wednesday, May 18. 




Monday, May 9, 2011 - 12:00
May 9, 2011

Eugene, Oregon (Non-Table Tennis)

This afternoon I'm off for Eugene, Oregon for eight days, May 9-18, to visit my dad, who's 76. He recently had a stroke. It's not life threatening, but he's paralyzed on his left side. (And he's left-handed.) I still plan on doing the daily blog. Edit - Change of plans - it's going to be a bit hectic here, and I have other things on my mind, so I'm going to take the week off. I'll go back to daily blogs after I return to Maryland, on Wednesday, May 18.

Pushblocking with Long Pips (no sponge)

Because of a muscle tear, I'm trying to rest my back. And so yesterday in practice matches with our junior players I decided to play with long pips, no sponge (Tibhar GrassD.Tec5), and covered the entire table with my backhand. As expected, it caused complete havoc. I didn't play our top juniors, mostly ones under 1800, but let's just say it wasn't pretty. As a coach, I need to play more orthodox for my students, i.e. regular inverted. But if my goal was to just win, I'm pretty sure I'...




Friday, May 6, 2011 - 12:36
May 6, 2011

 

A journey of nine feet begins at contact

When you serve, do you just serve? Or do you stop and visualize the serve first? And when you visualize the serve, do you visualize all of it, or just part of it? You should visualize the entire journey the serve takes - the contact height, amount and type of spin, how fast it will go out, where it hits on your side of the table (this is most overlooked part), where and how low it crosses the net, how it curves through the air, where it bounces on far side, how it bounces each time, and where second bounce on far side should be? (A longer version of this might be next Monday's Tip of the Week.)

Brian Pace and Richard McAfee . . . reminiscing

Championship player and coach Brian Pace sits down with longtime friend, coach, and mentor Richard McAfee (USATT Coaching Chair), and they talk about their relationship that has spanned over 25 years. (24:10)

Catty Table Tennis

Here's vintage footage of a cat playing table...




Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 11:21
May 5, 2011

 

Coaching breakthroughs

Yesterday two of my students - who shall remain nameless - had nice breakthroughs. One, who we shall call "Sammy," who's about 10, has had trouble with his backhand. Yesterday he suddenly figured out how to hit it with topspin (rather than sort of a flat, almost backspin contact), and just like that had a steady backhand. Once he figured that out, his forehand also came alive, and for the first time, we had really decent backhand and forehand exchanges. He also made a breakthrough on service spin. We spent some time serving on the floor, and for the first time he was able to create enough backspin so that the ball would return back to him. You wouldn't believe how fun it is to serve on the floor with spin and make the ball do tricks - use backspin to make it come back, or sidespin to make it go around objects.

Another, who we shall call "Ryan," who's 11, went topspin crazy yesterday. His forehand loop really came alive. For the first time, he was able to really battle with me in backhand-to-backhand exchanges. (I had to really get down low and into "match mode"...




Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 13:47
May 4, 2011

 

Table Tennis Nets

Not nets for the table, or even nets for robots, but nets for picking up balls! How did the world (or at least table tennis clubs with lots of training going on) operate before we had them for picking up balls? We use Ball Amigos from Butterfly (since MDTTC is sponsored by Butterfly). Paddle Palace sells Stiga Ball Catchers. Newgy sells Pong Pals, a tube for picking up balls, though I prefer nets. (JOOLA also has nets for picking up balls, but their shopping site is temporarily down for maintenance so I can't look it up.) Feel free to comment on other ball pickup devises - there are more. (Addendum: There's also the PingPongBuddy sold at Megaspin, as noted by PipProdigy below.) 

One of the funnier moments at MDTTC came about...




Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 12:32
May 3, 2011

 

How Osama bin Laden really was killed.

He was swatted away at the end of a ten-year cat & mouse game. (The original photo is by Mal Anderson - it's real! Then I got busy in Photoshop...) Send me your own table tennis pictures showing Osama's demise and (if they are in good taste) I'll feature them here. 

Do something with the receive

I was watching one of our top cadets in practice matches this weekend. When I coach him, I'm always reminding him to "do something" when receiving. In other words, don't just push the ball back. If you do push it, do so aggressively, i.e. quick off the bounce, heavy, low, and angled. Or aim one way and go another. Or push short. Or flip. And if the serve is long, then you simply have to loop it, period. (Yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions. I'm talking higher-level here - but if you want to be good, you'll loop the long serve too. See my March 14 Tip on attacking deep...




Monday, May 2, 2011 - 12:34
May 2, 2011

 

Any big news from overseas last night? Perhaps a major killing?

Yes - the USA Junior Girls Team won the gold medal at the French Junior & Cadet Open! A lot of killing went on. More specifically:

  • Gold medal:
    • Junior Girls' Team (Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu)
  • Silver medals:
    • Junior Girls' Doubles (Ariel Hsing/Lily Zhang)
    • Cadet Girls' Singles (Lily Zhang)
  • Bronze medals:
    • Cadet Girls' Team (Prachi Jha with Michelle Liaw from Canada) 
    • Cadet Girls' Doubles (Lily Zhang with Charlotte Carey from Wales)
  • Quarterfinals:
    • Junior Girls' Singles - Ariel Hsing/Lily Zhang
    • Cadet Girls' Singles - Prachi Jha
    • Cadet Girls' Doubles - Prachi Jha/Erica Wu

Speaking of killing....

I've hurt...




Friday, April 29, 2011 - 14:18
April 29, 2011

Table Tennis Troubleshooting by Brian Pace

I spent this morning watching the five-video series by Coach Brian Pace on "Table Tennis Troubleshooting" - and so should you. This goes over how players can identify and fix problems in their games. I'm amazed at how much time he's put into these, both on preparing and organizing what is said and shown in each video, and the nice graphics. Shots are shown both regular and in slow motion. Since Brian has very nice technique (and entertaining besides), every example is great to watch and copy. (Video 4 and 5 are actually listed as episodes 5 and 6; I think there's another one coming later.)

  • Video 1: Shot selection and short serves - great graphics and examples! This is really two distinct topics in one video. (10:01)
  • Video 2: "Technical Property Line" - nice graphical presentation of the various skills that make up your game. This one is harder to describe without watching the video. (3:45)
  • ...



Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 12:21
April 28, 2011

Changing bad technique

How does one go about changing bad technique? Two recommendations.

First, exaggerate the proper technique. If you don't rotate your shoulders enough on a shot, practice over-rotating until it becomes comfortable to do it the proper way.

Second, drop out of tournaments and match play for a while and focus on fixing the technique. Perhaps hit with a coach a lot for an extended periods as you fix the technique. Playing matches will just reinforce the bad technique. If your goal is to really overcome poor technique and replace it with good technique, then you need to have an extended period where you focus on this. That means only playing with the coach, or doing drills where you can isolate the new technique so you can focus on doing it correctly.

You should be able to play without the coach as long as you keep your outside drills simple and focused in this way. You might also want to use videotape to verify you are doing it correctly when the coach is not around. Bad habits are not easy to change, but if you really want to change them, you need a very focused period of time to do so.

In...