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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

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...




Monday, January 24, 2011 - 06:00
January 24, 2011

More Service Tribulations

At a tournament last fall, the cadet player I was coaching was using a backhand serve with a toss that was almost exactly six inches. He'd practiced it so he could minimize the toss, since on the backhand serve a shorter toss on that serve makes it both easier to control and harder for the opponent to react to.

An opponent complained that his toss was borderline high enough, and called an umpire. The umpire verified the toss was high enough, and all was well; even the opponent didn't complain again. The player in question not only has never been faulted for a serve, he's never even had a warning, and this was the first and only opponent ever to complain about it.

After the match, one of the club officials pulled me aside and vehemently argued that I should instruct the player to toss the ball higher on his serve so that it would not just be legal, but obviously so. I pointed out that this would decrease the effectiveness of the serve, and since the serve was legal, why should he change it? But the official was very insistent, claiming I wasn't doing my job as a coach if I didn't make...




Friday, January 21, 2011 - 05:12
January 21, 2011

Service Without a Smile?

I've had a problem with illegal serves while coaching at recent tournaments. Probably the worst was at the USA Nationals in December, where an opponent was serving illegally against a player I coached. You are supposed to pull the free arm back immediately after tossing the ball up, but this player kept the arm out until the last second. Then, as the ball was about to disappear behind the arm, he'd pull it back, giving the illusion that the ball wasn't hidden. But in pulling the arm back, he'd thrust his shoulder out, and contact was hidden by the shoulder, not the arm. The result is the player I was coaching never saw contact, and missed the serve over and over. From my vantage point behind my player, it was obviously illegal - I never saw contact either. Several others in the stands behind me also verified that contact was hidden. I complained to the umpire, but he didn't think the serve was illegal, and wouldn't even warn the opponent to pull the free arm out of the way more quickly. And so a match that might have been close became an easy 3-0 win for the opponent.

This is similar to what...




Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 05:28
January 20, 2011

What's Your Table Tennis Bucket List?

A "bucket list" is a list of all the things you want to do in your life before you, well, kick the bucket. I've got my own list, but this is a table tennis blog - so let's apply this to table tennis. In table tennis, coaches often tell players to set short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals. (I suggest starting with the long-term goals, and work backwards.)

So what are your short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals? (Of course, if you just play for fun, then maybe this doesn't apply to you. Or rather, it does, with all three goals to have fun at table tennis.) Below are mine (as a player). Note that my "long-term" goals are both for this year. For others, those might be intermediate goals, with long-term goals possibly years away, i.e. making a team, winning a title, or reaching a certain level or rating.

  • Short-term: Beat our top cadet players at the club this Friday night and Sat & Sun afternoon. (As a coach, of course, if I do beat them, it's a disappointment. I can't win.)
  • Intermediate: Get...



Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 06:30
January 19, 2011

Closing Out a Match

I had an interesting discussion recently (via Facebook chat) with Gabriel Skolnick, a 2200 player from Pennsylvania who had been serving up 10-8 match point on Marcus Jackson (a 2450 player) this past weekend at the 11th Annual Holiday Classic Team Tournament in Pennsylvania. (We won't talk about the edges at the end, Marcus you lucky devil!) What type of serves should a player use to close out a close match?

Before we get to the serve itself, let's look at the mental aspect. A good serve probably won't help you if you are a nervous wreck. (Not unless you can get an outright miss or a ball so easy even a nervous wreck can't miss.) So first thing to do is learn to play relaxed at the end of a close match. That's sports psychology - you might want to check out the articles in the Sports Psychology section in the Articles page. (See the link to Dora Kurimay's website, which is devoted to sports psychology for table tennis players.)

As to the serves themselves, you have two basic choices. Should you go for a serve where you're...




Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 13:48
January 18, 2011

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Table Tennis Players

I've been thinking a lot recently about the seven habits of highly effective table tennis players. Why? Because I recently browsed a book I'd read long ago, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." The book lists these as the "7 Habits": 1) Be proactive; 2) Begin with the End in Mind; 3) Put First Things First; 4) Think Win/Win; 5) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood; 6) Synergize; and 7) Sharpen the Saw. (Google the book if you want more info on any of these seven.)

There is a correlation between some of these and the habits of "highly effective table tennis players." For example, you don't get to be a top player without being proactive, i.e. striving to do what it takes to improve. However, I'm not going to try to create a one-to-one correlation between the seven habits listed and ones used by top table tennis players. Instead, I'm going to list my own list of seven habits of "highly...




Friday, January 14, 2011 - 16:01
January 17, 2011

Let the ticker-tape parades begin - TableTennisCoaching.com is here!

So here it is, TableTennisCoaching.com. What exactly is it? Someone wrote on the home page that it is "Your Worldwide Center for Table Tennis Coaching." Um, I wrote that, so I better explain.

TableTennisCoaching.com is both a table tennis coaching site and a developing table tennis community. It's a place where players and coaches get together. A place to find coaching articles, books, and videos. A place to find other coaching sites and training camps. A place to discuss all aspects of table tennis, both on the forum, and in comments to my blog and the Tip of the Week. Plus, starting soon, the weekly chats with "celebrity" coaches and players.

So here's my question to you: How can TableTennisCoaching.com best help you? The comment section is below - comment away! My ears are already burning. (And because I notice that the "preview" portion of the blog ends here, let me point out that there's more - if it seems to end here, click on the "Read more" button!)

The blog will cover all aspects of table tennis, focusing...