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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

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 11:40
August 18, 2011

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Eight

  • Quote of the Day: "I don't know if you are ready to play 1400 players. Some 1400 players have trained in China or at least seen a Chinese person." (This is what I told one of our players who thought he was better than 1400.)
  • Today we focused on backhand attack. In the demo, I did the "hard-soft" drill with Raghu Nadmichettu, 2400 player & coach. We had the rally of the week, where I alternated regular backhand drives and all-out backhand smashes, and he blocked back at least 15 smashes before I finally won the point with a net-ticking smash.
  • We were going to play games the last 30 minutes of the session, but five junior players surprised me by asking if they could do more multiball training. So while the others played Brazilian Teams or King of the Hill, we did more multiball coaching.

Five steps to a great spin serve

Several players in the camp are using break to work on their serves. Here's what I several of them yesterday on the steps to developing good spin serves. (This might be expanded into a Tip of the Week...




Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 12:03
August 17, 2011

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Seven

  • Yesterday's session went really well, one of the smoothest. The focus was on forehand looping, though the new players worked on basic forehands and backhands.
  • There were a lot of breakthroughs as new players figured out forehand and backhand drives, more advanced new players figured out looping and spin serves, and advanced players learned world-class shots. Light bulbs enlightened were going off over players' heads like fireflies.
  • Especially rewarding were two players who spent much of their break practicing serves, and three others who asked if they could do extra multiball after the session ended. I put in extra time to work with these five juniors. They were the more "serious" players, and out of that group will come the breakout stars.
  • Quote of the day: "I played really well because of the coffee." -David Bachman, age 13, after drinking coffee from Dunkin' Donuts that morning....



Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 11:53
August 16, 2011

Forum and Blog Comments

I'm supposed to get an automatic email letting me know whenever someone comments on this blog or the forum. This morning I received about 50 emails about such comments going back over a week ago - for some reason they were delayed. So I spent this morning deleting spam comments and reading over other comments I'd missed. I left the latter emails as unread and will respond to them probably tonight. Sorry about the delay and the numerous spam that polluted the site this past week.

Feel free to comment on these blog entries. There's a surprisingly high ratio of readers (300+ per day) to comments. 

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Six

  • The day went pretty smoothly with few casualties...other than my ongoing back problems.
  • Three beginners this week, all about age 8 or 9 - and all three picked up the basic forehand and backhand very quickly.
  • I've spending much of our breaks working with players on serves. It's painful to my back when I do forehand pendulum serves - the most popular serve and my primary serve - but I have to do them over and...



Monday, August 15, 2011 - 12:35
August 15, 2011

Tip of the Week

Can you write The Book on Your Game?

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Five

  • Day Five was actually last Friday. Day Six of the two-week MDTTC Camp is today. A number of new players are joining us - this'll probably be our biggest summer camp, with over 30 players, quite a jam on 12 tables. (We do lots of multiball so we can have more than two players on a table.)
  • As noted in previous blogs, one of the favorite games we do in the camp is to put ten paper cups on the table in various configurations, and see how many a player can knock down with ten shots. Unfortunately, on Friday this degenerated into "cup wars." During break, several of the kids took the whole stack of cups (about 50) and created a huge pyramid on the table they planned to knock down by hitting it with ping-pong balls. Another kid walked by and knocked it over with his hand. The others were angry, but couldn't really do much about it. They created another pyramid, and again the same kid came...



Friday, August 12, 2011 - 13:00
August 12, 2011

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Four

  • Yesterday we focused on footwork. Actually, we do that every day, since - as I regularly remind everyone - all table tennis drills are footwork drills. I gave a short talk on footwork, and on the progression from rote drills to random drills. I also gave them my standard "Are you a tree or a squirrel?" talk.
  • Quote of the day: one kid (about 9) was doing a drill that involved stepping around his backhand corner to hit forehands. He looked awkward and kept losing his balance. I came over, but before I could say anything he looked at me and said, "I can't do the drill. I'll step on my drink." I looked down, and realized the reason he was so awkward and was losing his balance was because he was trying not to step on his drink, which sat on the floor on his backhand side. I moved the drink off to the side, and his improvement was immense.
  • Sometimes I'm more babysitter than coach. There are two kids in the camp who interact like fire and gasoline. I think I spend half my time telling them to stay away from...



Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 11:52
August 11, 2011

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Three

  • Yesterday's focus was on the backhand attack - smashing, drives against backspin, and backhand loop.
    • To develop the backhand smash (where you lengthen the backswing and/or use more wrist), a good drill we taught is the "hard-soft" drill, which really should be called the "hard-medium" drill. The players hit backhand to backhand, with one player alternating hitting one medium-hard, the other hard. The other player plays steady.
    • To develop the backhand attack against backspin, we introduced a drill for intermediate to advanced players. The entire drill is done backhand to backhand. Player A serves backspin. Player B pushes it back. A backhand loops or drives. B blocks. A chops. (This is the part where beginners have trouble.) B pushes. A backhand loops or drives, and the drill continues.
  • We also focused a bit on doubles play, primarily the basics: serving low and short, hitting toward the person who hits at you (or even to his side so he gets in the way of his partner), and moving...



Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 13:01
August 10, 2011

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day Two

Yesterday's highlights:

  • We focused on the forehand loop. Some common problems I saw were not dropping back shoulder against backspin; muscles too tight (need to think of them as rubber); moving forward while stroking, with the head moving toward the table, instead of rotating body in a circle (as if there were a pole going through your head); not pulling with the non-playing side (to increase body rotation and torque); and going for too much speed instead of spin, i.e. not grazing the ball enough.
  • One 7-year-old girl who didn't seem happy to be there the first day made friends with another girl her age, began to learn the strokes, and suddenly is all-enthused. Her parents came by to thank us, telling us that table tennis was all she talked about now.
  • The "cup game," where we place cups on the far side of the table and the players get ten shots to see how many they can knock down, continues to be highly popular. (We end each session with games.) Usually we put them in a bowling pin formation. Yesterday we stacked them in pyramids, so that one shot to the base could...



Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 11:42
August 9, 2011

MDTTC Coaching Camp - Day One - and the Forehand

Day one of our two-week camp at MDTTC went pretty well, just like the other 150 or so I've run. Yes, that's not a typo - I've run approximately 150 five-day training camps now, the equivalent of over two years, seven days a week! Yikes.

Originally I was only going to do the morning sessions (10AM-1PM), both because I'm not usually needed in the afternoon sessions (3-6PM) and because of my ongoing back problems. But there's a large turnout, and more beginners than normal, so I'm doing the afternoon sessions as well. I agreed to take charge of the beginners all week. (After the two weeks end on Aug. 19, I plan to take about six weeks off where I have one of our top local juniors do my hitting for me when I coach, to allow my back to finally heal up.) This week I'll be living on Ibuprofen.

Most interesting experience on day one was with a new eight-year-old kid who had never played before. He stood up straight, jammed up to the table, didn't rotate his shoulders, and was trying to hit forehands while facing the table, i.e. without turning sideways. His...




Monday, August 8, 2011 - 11:53
August 8, 2011

Tip of the Week: Playing Lefties

What are three keys to playing lefties?

MDTTC Training Camp

Today we're starting the last of our MDTTC summer camps, a two-week session, Aug. 8-12, 15-19 (Mon-Fri both weeks). By the end of these two weeks there will be many enlightened, improving players, and my back will feel like what happens when a supernova wrestles a quasar. (After the camp I plan on taking 4-6 weeks off, where I have local top players or juniors do my hitting while I coach so my back can get better.)

Have you ever been to a table tennis camp? Well, what are you waiting for - sign up for one! They are great fun and you'll learn a lot.  You'll have sore muscles, but it's a "good pain." (Note - MDTTC camps are primarily for juniors, though a few adults sometimes participate. But there are plenty of camps for all ages.) Here's a listing of some training camps. It might be too late for most summer camps...




Friday, August 5, 2011 - 14:13
August 5, 2011

Special Section on Ping-Pong Balls

Three-stars and two-stars and one-stars, oh my!

A couple of decades ago you could pretty much tell the star level of a ball with a couple of shots, or by simply examining it. Manufacturing simply wasn't that precise. Your typical one-star or training ball was shaped like an egg with seams the size of a Godzilla wedding ring. But times have changed. These days even training balls are pretty round and consistent, and usable for training even at the higher levels. The main advantage of a three-star ball is that they have been carefully checked, and so you know (well, usually) they are good. Training balls are usually good - but that's not a whole lot different than three-star balls. As to two-star balls, I don't think I've seen one in years - does anyone use them? Also, since training balls and one-star balls are often the same thing, the huge majority of balls used are either one-star/training balls or three-stars.

Here's a challenge. Randomly select five or so three-star balls. Then get the same...