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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

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...




Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 13:57
February 2, 2011

The Minutes for the USA Table Tennis Jan. 10, 2011 Teleconference

Here they are. As usual, they got a lot done. As usual, I don't see anything that'll lead to the large membership increase so needed by our sport. At the USATT Strategic Meeting 17 months ago, our 8000 membership was deemed a "round-off error," and there was a consensus that drastically increasing it was our top priority. That won't happen without a nationwide system of leagues and the systematic development of junior programs (i.e. recruit and train coaches to set up and run them). Or we can sit around and wish for it to happen really hard.

I did notice that at a recent meeting they finally did what I pushed so strongly for at that Strategic Meeting: set up a League Task Force, as opposed to the "Grow Membership Through Added Value" (I'm not making that up) Task Force which implemented nothing and is no longer active. The very people who pushed for the "GMTAV" Task Force instead of a League Task Force back then now seem...




Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 05:08
February 1, 2011

Table Tennis or Ping Pong? (Or is that Ping-Pong?)

We now know with absolute certainty that the term Table Tennis overtook Ping-Pong as the primary name for our sport in 1940. How do we know this with such unflagging absoluteness? Why, from the Google Books Ingram Viewer, of course! Put in your own words, and see what comes up.

And now, a short history lesson time. The sport was originally ping-pong. However, the name was trademarked by Parker Brothers, and so in 1926 the International Table Tennis Federation was born with the new name, followed by U.S. Table Tennis Association in 1933. Almost everyone played with a hardbat. Then came sponge in the '50s, looping and lobbing in the '60s, speed glue in the '70s, powerful backhand loops in the '80s, reverse penhold backhands in the '90s, 11-point games, 40mm ball, and no more hidden serves in the '00s, and, well, here we are. That is all. (I did say a short history lesson. Did I miss anything?)

Celebrities...




Monday, January 31, 2011 - 04:50
January 31, 2011

Grip Experimentation

I spent much of my playing time this weekend experimenting with my grip. The problem I run into is that my forehand loop is at its best when I use a forehand grip, i.e. rotate the top of the racket a little bit left. This messes up my backhand. My backhand is at its best when I either use a slight backhand grip and put my thumb more on the racket (better for blocking and punching), or grip it mostly by the handle (allowing more power). But what helps the backhand hurts the forehand.

Over the years I've generally favored a slight forehand grip, but gripping it more by the handle to help the backhand. But when I play someone who loops a lot, forcing me to block more, I sometimes use a slight backhand grip, which doesn't affect my forehand blocking or smashing, but does hamper the forehand loop.

For beginners, it's almost always best to start out with a neutral grip, with the thinnest part of the wrist lined up with the racket. This greatly helps the development of the strokes. Using a forehand or backhand grip can really mess up the strokes if used too early, before the strokes are mostly ingrained....




Friday, January 28, 2011 - 13:40
January 28, 2011

Backhand Looping Extraordinaires

Most players in the U.S. don't seem to know or appreciate that the U.S. has three of the best backhand loopers from the past. Cheng Yinghua (52, rated 2634, #5 in U.S., coaching in Maryland), Ilija Lupulesku (43, rated 2751, #1 in U.S., coaching in Chicago), and Fan Yiyong (42, rated 2722, #2 in U.S., coaching in Seattle) all had, during their peak years, among the best backhand loops in the world. Cheng, during his eleven years on the Chinese National Team (1977-87), was the first of the great Chinese backhand loopers, and many considered him the steadiest backhand looper in the world. Lupulesku, the 1988 Olympic Silver Medalist in Men's Doubles, was more off the table and softer, but could spin back anything. And Fan, who was the Chinese Junior Champion, may have had the most powerful backhand loop in Chinese history. Many of you have seen them in recent years; how many of you saw them at their peak, when they could challenge the best players in the world? I did, and believe me, it was a sight to see.

While none of these three still have the world-...




Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 05:01
January 27, 2011

Visit to Spin TTC

On Saturday I visited the full-time Spin Table Tennis Club in New York City. (I was there for a writer's conference, but managed to get away for a few hours.) You may have heard of it - Susan Sarandon is one of the owners! When I got there a little before 6PM, Coaches Paul David, Ben Nisbet, and Tahl Leibovitz were all there. Paul had just finished coaching, while Tahl was with a student. When Tahl finished, we played some games - with sandpaper! Tahl's getting ready for the $100,000 "World Championships of Ping-Pong" (Feb. 7-8), where everyone will use sandpaper, and Tahl will represent Israel. Tahl's been practicing, and I hadn't, and so you can guess who won. (I think most others at the club were using regular sponge rackets.)

There were 17 tables, but it wasn't your normal table tennis club, even ignoring that Sarandon comes by to play several times a week. The lighting was poor, there was little room behind the tables (except for one "feature...




Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 05:14
January 26, 2011

What, no mention of table tennis in the State of the Union Address??? Looks like we'll have to develop our sport on our own.

ITTF Coaching Development

USA Table Tennis is gradually incorporating the ITTF Coaching Certification Process. In September, they held the first ITTF Certification Seminar in the U.S., run by Glenn Tepper. Great thanks goes to Glenn and to USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee for putting that together, and for advancing coaching worldwide and in the U.S. Here are three articles about it - and I'm sort of featured in the last one!




Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 14:43
January 25, 2011

Tonight, President Obama gives his State of the Union Address. So here's an actual photo of Obama playing table tennis! The large photo hangs on the wall at the White House. (Here are more pictures of celebrities playing table tennis.)

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Four Major Serves

This was a long one. Later I'll turn this into a regular article for the Articles section.

This weekend on the forum Mark asked, "Could anyone put together a list of the various techniques and a brief comment on what they do well, what they do poorly, which tactics they work well with or against, and any quirks that might make it easier to deal with a server using that motion." This seemed like an excellent idea for a blog entry!

First, it's important to understand the concept that it's generally easier for a receiver to handle a sidespin serve that breaks into him then one that breaks away. There are two main reasons for this. Let's imagine a sidespin serve to the forehand...