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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

Monday, December 4, 2017 - 15:01
December 4, 2017

Tip of the Week
How to Mess Up Your Opponent When Forced to Make a Weak Shot.

Weekend Coaching
Here are some highlights.

  • In the junior group session on Saturday we let them play Brazilian Teams for nearly an hour – but with one catch: whoever served had to serve and attack. If the server pushed the return, he lost the point. (Here’s where I blogged about the rules for Brazilian Teams and other table tennis games.) Too many of our kids at the North American Teams had played too passive on their serve, and so this was both the “penalty” and reward (since they love playing Brazilian Teams).
  • On Sunday, to teach some of the younger players to arc the ball with topspin when they loop, I spent about half an hour feeding multiball to eight different kids using the adjustable serving bar. (John Olsen made this for us.) I had to feed backspin under the bar –...



Friday, December 1, 2017 - 14:37
December 1, 2017

Ball Madness
There used to be a debate about whether there really was a difference between Nittaku and a Butterfly 3-star balls. But there really wasn’t a serious debate – every top player and coach knew that the Butterfly ball was slightly lighter than the Nittaku. The real debate was whether the difference was enough that you’d want to train with the ball to be used in your next tournament. I was firmly on the side of using that ball, since even a very slight difference made a difference to your timing – but the difference was so small that it was more psychological, where you wanted to use the same ball so that you’d know that it would play the same.

That were the good old days of celluloid, when the difference in balls was so small as to be almost a non-issue. These days, with the ITTF’s rush to adopt plastic balls, and with every tournament I know of now using them, you have to adjust to many different types of balls, and unlike before, the differences are much larger.

I’ve taken to buying a dozen or more of each major type that’s used in tournaments, plus of course we...




Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 14:46
November 30, 2017

Big Tournaments are Like a Month of Training
I’ve pointed this out in past blogs (not recently), and it really is true – if you play in a big tournament, where you are playing intense matches all day long for two or more days, when it’s done it’s like you’ve been training for a month.

The huge tragedy here is that the best time to play a tournament is when you are at your best – which is usually right at the end of the big tournament you just played in. Which is why it’s sometimes best to schedule several tournaments in a row, or at least in close proximity. (This can be taken to an extreme. I once played tournaments nine consecutive weekends. At the end I had my highest rating of my life.)  

Think about it. Imagine yourself the last time you played a tournament (assuming you have), where you played lots of matches. Didn’t you most often play your best near the end, at least until and if you got too tired to play well? Isn’t that the way you want to play at your next tournament?

That type of play doesn’t go instantly go away. When you hit that high level after lots of...




Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 14:46
November 29, 2017

Rules Questions at the Teams
A number of rules questions and issues came up at the North American Teams this past weekend. Here’s a rundown. (I coached two junior teams during the tournament, one with four players, and one with three.)

  • Late on the first day an umpire came by and watched the team I was coaching for a bit. Then he came over and said, “Yours is the first team I’ve seen where everyone is serving legally.” I’m not sure if this is a good thing – does this mean opponents are getting an advantage since we’re the only ones serving legally?!!!
  • In one of our team matches (not the one mentioned above), an opponent began to catch the serve of one of our junior players, saying his hand was cupped. The kid did have a tendency to cup his hand a bit on some serves, but it wasn’t anything worse than about half the players out there (see umpire comment above), and he didn’t get any advantage out of it. The problem was that rather than ask for an umpire, the opponent just kept catching the ball, over ten times in the first four games as they went into the fifth. Strangely, I was the...



Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 14:51
November 28, 2017

Tip of the Week
The Non-Playing Arm.

JOOLA North American Teams
I spent all day Fri, Sat, and Sun at the Teams in Washington DC, coaching two junior teams from MDTTC. It was my 42nd consecutive year at the Teams, starting in 1976 when I was 16. That year I played with Mike Shapiro and Jackie Heyman. The next year I played with Jim Mossberg and Mort Greenberg (and I think someone else – can’t remember) – and both of them were in action at the teams this year! Most of those years I played, but in recent years I’ve just coached.

Here are complete results. There were 963 players on 238 teams on roughly a zillion tables. Because I was busy coaching the whole time, I didn’t get to see any of the big matches, but here’s the excellent article on the tournament by Matt Hetherington,...




Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 14:25
November 22, 2017

Off Until Tuesday, Nov. 28
I’m off tomorrow (Thanksgiving), and then I’ll be coaching at the JOOLA North American Teams (Fri-Sun, 960 players on 238 teams), and taking a rest day on Monday, though I'll likely put the Tip of the Week up that day, since it's already written. (Here’s the USATT page where you can livestream the Friday Bundesliga match on Friday, starting 1PM – see segment below – and here’s the USATT article.) Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and see you next Tuesday!

New ITTF World Tour Standings
Here are the new World Tour Standings, using the new ITTF ranking list. This is the new ITTF ranking system that will...




Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 14:23
November 21, 2017

Off Day
Alas, I was up late last night on a project, and woke up exhausted and with a headache that feels like a 40+ steel ping-pong ball bouncing around inside my head. So I’m taking the day off from blogging. (No coaching scheduled today.) I’ll be back tomorrow with a double-sized blog. Meanwhile, here’s the best picture I’ve ever seen of a buck playing table tennis with a ram. (At least I think that’s a ram on the near side based on its rounded horns. But does a ram have a tail like that?) 




Monday, November 20, 2017 - 14:59
November 20, 2017

Tip of the Week
Three Simple Side-to-Side Drills. You might also want to revisit the article I linked to recently from Expert Table Tennis, 3 Basic Footwork Drills for Intermediate Table Tennis Players, which includes video.

Another Busy Weekend
Here’s a rundown.

  • In the Beginning Junior Class, we had our final session for the year. (We start up again in January.) The 90-minute session was divided into three segments. Segment 1: Player’s choice, where the player chose what he wanted to work with, with the 17 players rotating with the four coaches (plus robot). Segment 2: Smashing against lob. After we gave a demo and explanation of smashing lobs, they went out to the table, and took turns smashing lobs against the coaches, where they stay until they lose five points. Segment 3: The Candy Game! I put a HUGE pile of Jolly Rancher candies at the end of the table, and the kids lined up as I fed multiball, three shots...



Friday, November 17, 2017 - 14:55
November 17, 2017

Three Examples of Why Table Tennis is So Mental
I did three hours of private coaching last night, and all three featured the mental side of table tennis.

  • My first session was with a Lucy, age 9, a beginner. Last week we spent much of the session trying to get that elusive 20 forehands in a row (live, not multiball), but she wasn’t able to do it. Last night she again struggled for a time. The part that jumps out is that over and over she’d get close, and then miss. At one point she had hit 17 in a row three times, and ten or more in a row about 20 times, but each time as she approached 20, she’d get nervous and miss. This was similar to an experience I had with another student, Sameer, about age 12, that I once blogged about. In three consecutive rallies, Sameer, who was trying to hit 100 in a row for the first time, hit 99 in a row and missed (!), then 97, then 93. At this point he was almost in tears. The very next rally? Once he hit 100 he relaxed and we just went on and on until I finally caught the ball when he hit 1000 in a row! So, back to Lucy – we spent some time focusing on clearing the mind, not trying to...



Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 15:02
November 16, 2017

To Dream the Impossible Dream
I’ve always thought that this should be the national anthem of table tennis. After all, aren’t we all dreaming of beating that unbeatable foe, and achieving that impossible dream of being a champion? And of course, along the way there are those bad losses, leading to unbearable sorrow? But if you want to be a champion, you have to face that and go where the brave dare not go.

Here’s the version (8:50), perhaps the most classic (or at least the most views on Youtube at over 3.2 million), from the 1972 movie “Man of La Mancha,” sung by Peter O’Toole. (Yes, the same O’Toole who, ten years before, was Lawrence of Arabia.)

NOTE - I've been advised by John Olsen that the truly iconic version is actually by Richard Kiley in the Broadway musical. Here is Kiley singing it at the 1972 Tony Awards (2:39). Listening to it, I think he's right. 

But...