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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!

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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, December 19, 2011 - 16:54
December 19, 2011

Tip of the Week

Time-out Tactics.

Christmas Sabbatical

As noted last week, I'll be away for Christmas, so my next blog entry will be right after Christmas. Then I'll return to blogging every morning, Mon-Fri.

USA Nationals

I had a great time last week at the USA Nationals in Virginia Beach. Here are the results. (Make sure to set the tournament field to "2011 US Nationals.") Ty Hoff and I won Hardbat Doubles (my 12th time at the Nationals or Open, eight of them with Ty, the other four with Steve Berger). However, I was mostly there to coach. Below are a number of segments about the Nationals.

USA Cadet Trials

Tong Tong started out poorly, losing numerous close games and matches the first three days, Tues-Thur, Dec. 13-15. However, the BIG event for him was the Cadet Trials, which were on days four and five. Last year he had gone in seeded #9 in the ratings, but made the...




Monday, December 12, 2011 - 12:14
December 12, 2011

Tip of the Week

Depth control of serves.

The USA Nationals, Christmas Vacation, and a Sabbatical

After today, I'm taking a short sabbatical from blogging. My next blog will be next Monday, Dec. 19 (right after I return from the USA Nationals), and my next one after that will be when I resume blogging regularly (Mon-Fri) on Dec. 27. 

I'm leaving for the USA Nationals this morning, returning next Saturday. Then on Monday I leave for Santa Barbara, CA, for Christmas with family, returning on a red-eye flight on Christmas night that lands back in Maryland about 8AM on Dec. 26, in time for the MDTTC Christmas camp I coach at that starts that afternoon.

Yes, I know, the Nationals is exactly the time I should have lots to blog about, but I'm going to be extremely busy there, coaching, playing, and attending meetings, and expect to be leaving for the playing site early each morning and returning late.

I'm primarily going to the Nationals to coach, but I'm also entered...




Friday, December 9, 2011 - 12:43
December 9, 2011

Hidden Service Rules

From the just-received Nov/Dec 2011 issue of USATT Magazine, page 62, from the An Official's View article by International Umpire Joseph C. H. Lee:

[He quotes a service rule.] "From the start of service until it is struck, the ball ... shall not be hidden from the receiver by the server or his or her doubles partner or by anything they wear or carry."

[He quotes another service rule.] "It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire or the assistant umpire can be satisfied that he or she complies with the requirements of the Laws, and either may decide that a service is incorrect."

"From the umpire’s angle, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether or not the serve is hidden from the receiver. It is the server’s responsibility, however, to demonstrate to the umpire or the assistant umpire that the serve conforms to all aspects of the service rules."

He concludes with this:

"...the server must make sure the umpire can observe the entire motion of the serve, including the moment when the racket...




Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 11:52
December 8, 2011

Backup plans

On Monday I blogged about always having a backup attack plan if your main tactic doesn't work. In my case, I wrote about switching from forehand looping to forehand hitting because my opponent was blocking too quick and fast for me to keep looping aggressively. Someone asked me what I would have done if my forehand smash was missing - good question! But there are always options, though not all options work. (In fact, most do not, and the goal is to find the ones that do.) Here were my main rallying options against this quick-hitting penholder, roughly in order of preference.

  1. Aggressive forehand looping, steady backhand countering
  2. Aggressive forehand hitting, steady backhand countering
  3. Steady forehand looping and backhand countering
  4. Steady forehand and backhand counter-hitting
  5. Steady forehand counter-hitting and an aggressive backhand
  6. Quick-blocking and hitting from both sides with varied pace
  7. Chopping, fishing, lobbing, and pick-hitting

Spinny serves

So you want spinny serves? Then focus on two things: an...




Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 12:03
December 7, 2011

USATT Coaching Newsletter

The fourth USATT Coaching Newsletter just came out, produced by coaching chair Richard McAfee. And here are the first three.

Short side-top serves to the forehand

I'll never figure out why so few players develop this serve. Sure, it gives the opponent an angle into your forehand. (Is your forehand that weak?) Sure, it's easier to flip short sidespin and topspin serves than backspin ones. (But it almost goes to your forehand - isn't that what most players want?) Sure, it takes some practice to learn to serve sidespin-topspin serves and keep them short, especially down the line to the opponent's forehand side, where you have less table. (Okay, this is probably what stops most players from developing these serves - they'd have to practice.) But it's such an effective serve in setting up a third-ball attack, and a great variation from the constant serves most...




Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 13:19
December 6, 2011

Sun Ting joins MDTTC Coaching Staff

Sun Ting, a recently retired lefty player from China with a 2716 rating - soon to be higher, after going undefeated at the North American Teams Championships last weekend - has joined the coaching staff at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. He'd coached there much of the past summer, but now is back permanently. He is famous for his serves, and had a win over Ma Lin in the Chinese Super League. He was probably much better than 2716 at his best, considering he got his first USATT rating of 2675 from the Teams in 1998 at age 14! The following year, at age 15, he increased it to 2730. Now 27, he's semi-retired, but he's maintained his 2700+ rating in four tournaments this year, his first U.S. tournaments since 1999. He joins the MDTTC coaching staff of Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, and Larry Hodges (me). As posted previously, Donn Olsen is also joining the staff soon. (In January, MDTTC doubles in size from its current 5500 square feet and 12 tables to 11,000 and 20 or so tables with larger courts and all-red rubber flooring.)

Back-up attack

...



Monday, December 5, 2011 - 12:48
December 5, 2011

Tip of the Week

Going to the Well Too Often. This was a tricky one to write because I didn't want to encourage players to avoid a winning tactic when leading and thereby blowing a game, yet I wanted to get the point across that to win on one winning tactic you need to both use it sparingly and find other winning variations or tactics.

Nationals in one week

I leave for the USA Nationals in one week. All potential opponents of my students, wouldn't this be a nice time to take a week off, eat lots of ice cream, and watch TV? Here is my article Ten-point Plan to Tournament Success. Please do not read this. Please do not follow this. Please pretend I never posted a link to this recipe for tournament success. In fact, there's some really nice shows on TV right now, and Rocky Road ice cream is soooooo good. . . .

Why is Your Grip Pressure So Important?

...




Friday, December 2, 2011 - 13:29
December 2, 2011

Great "multiball" serve, receive, attack drill.

Here's a great "multiball" drill, where neither player actually feeds multiball. Start with a box of balls near the server's side of the table. The server (using his best serves) only serves and attacks one ball, then lets the next ball go by as he grabs the next ball. Receiver returns serve and plays one shot only. Then they repeat, in rapid-fire fashion. The goal of the server is to set up a strong third-ball attack. The goal of receiver is to stop server's attack. Take turns on the drill, with each doing perhaps 5-10 minutes.

You can do variations of this, where the server uses a specific serve over and over, the receiver a specific receive, etc. I posted variations of this drill in the past. The drill is especially valuable for learning to receive effectively. Most rallies at the intermediate and advanced levels don't go much beyond these four shots, so this drill lets you rapidly practice the most important shots of the game - the first two shots by each player.

Celebrities Playing Table Tennis

I updated the...




Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 14:50
December 1, 2011

Reasons to attack the middle

I did some video coaching for someone recently. One of my primary comments was that over and over his first loop went to the corners, where the opponent was ready. Instead, I recommended his first attack primarily should go to the middle (i.e. roughly at the elbow, the transition point between forehand and backhand). Why? It's much harder to block or counter-attack from there, as 1) the player has to decide whether to play forehand or backhand; 2) he then has to move into position, which is usually harder than moving to cover the corners; and 3) it draws the player out of position, allowing you to attack to the open corner, or (if the player rushes to cover it), to the other corner, or right back at the middle again.

Far too often players attack the corners with the idea they are looking for a ball to attack to the middle, with the common result of a strong return that they can't attack effectively. This is backwards - instead, attack the middle first, and then look for a chance to attack the next ball to the corners or the middle again.

Personally, I love opponents who mostly attack first to the...




Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:07
November 30, 2011

Angelica Rozeanu

Angelica Rozeanu of Romania was World Women's Singles Champion six straight years, 1950-56 - and believe it or not, she was the last European to win that title! (The Worlds were held annually through 1957, every two years since then.) From 1957 to present, women from China won it 19 times, Japan seven times (all the titles from 1956-69 except the 1961 win by Giu Zhonghui of China), and three times by Korea (Pak Yung Sun of North Korea in 1975 and 1977, and Hyun Jung Hwa of South Korea in 1993). China has won six in a row, 12 of the last 13, and 14 of the last 16.

So how good was Rozeanu, a hardbat chopper, who also won Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles at the Worlds three times each? Judge for yourself in this video (4:51) from the late 1950s when she was at her peak.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Table Tennis Players

I wrote this a while back, but I was thinking about it recently during the Teams, since it seems to fit the profiles of so many top players. Does it...