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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, 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...




Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 12:44
February 8, 2011

What Is Your Game?

I've always said that coaching is a partnership, and that the top expert on a player's game shouldn't be the coach; it should be the player himself. One of the jobs of a coach is to encourage the player to become such an expert. If a player can't write a book about his game, it means either he doesn't know his game, or he doesn't have a game. A beginner doesn't yet have a game, but once you've reached the intermediate stage, you do. So . . . what's your game? (Just a summary of the "book.")

Me? I'm an all-around player with a strong and varied serve & attack with forehand loops and smashes, but little backhand attack. Once past the serve & attack stage, I'm primarily a steady player who mostly blocks and counters on the backhand, and blocks, counters, loops, or smashes on the forehand. When in trouble, I chop or lob.  On the receive, I tend to topspin most serves back with flips off short balls, and forehand loops and backhand drives off deep serves. My strongest shots are my serve, forehand smash, steady forehand loop off backspin, steady backhand counter...




Monday, February 7, 2011 - 14:07
February 7, 2011

Have Things Speeded Up?

We switched the site to a new plan, and the site should be faster now. Is it?

Table Tennis in the Superbowl!

Yes, it was - did you see the 30-second Xfinity ipad ad? It ran twice, with the short table tennis sequence at the start as an example of things you could watch on the ipad. Was this the single largest "showing" of table tennis in history?

World Championships of Ping Pong, I mean International Classic Ping Pong Championship

The "World Championships of Ping Pong," which are today and tomorrow (Feb. 7-8) in Las Vegas, was the original name. However, the ITTF objected to their using the term "World Championships," since they run the World Table Tennis Championships. President Adham Sharara wrote a letter threatening action if they didn't change it, and saying that players who competed in it "will not be allowed to take part in any ITTF...




Friday, February 4, 2011 - 13:59
February 4, 2011

The Myth of Nets & Edges Evening Out

I was thinking about this myth recently after losing *another* match on a series of nets and edges. To be specific, in the fifth game of a practice match, I was up 3-1, and my opponent got two edges in a row, and shortly after followed with another edge and two nets. I got zero nets or edges that game.

Many coaches and players say "it all events out," but it really doesn't. Certain styles get more nets and edges than others. Hitters and blockers (especially those with dead surfaces) tend to hit with a lower trajectory, and so they get more nets. They also tend to hit deeper on the table, since they don't have topspin pulling the ball down, and so get more back edges. Blockers who block at wide angles get more side edges. On the other hand, loopers hit with a higher trajectory, and their topspin tends to pull the ball down shorter, and so they get fewer nets and back edges. Steady, precise players also tend to get fewer nets and edges. So yeah, style matters. It doesn't even out.

Some would argue that the styles that get more nets & edges do so because they are...




Thursday, February 3, 2011 - 14:41
February 3, 2011

Site Fast Enough?

Sometimes the site seems slow to me. Let me know if you are having trouble with this. The last thing I want are a world full of table tennis players and coaches staring at a screen in impatient disgust. Impatient disgust should only be employed when you miss an easy shot to lose a match at the Nationals, and realize it'll be another year before you are national champion.

The American Youth Table Tennis Organization (New York)

Here's their Winter Report. They have a feature on Middle School Table Tennis at North Star Academy. They're also looking for volunteers and donations. Lots of great stuff is going on there! If only more regions had groups like this. Some of the stuff they are doing:

  • Organized League Matches
  • Saturday Academy Expert Instruction
  • Tournaments
  • Scrimmage Matches
  • Instructional Clinics

2011 Pan Am/National Team Trials & Qualifying Tournament

Deadline...