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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

Friday, April 7, 2017 - 14:01
April 7, 2017

China and USA National Team Coaches
China just announced their new National Team Coaches Lineup:

  • Head Coach: Liu Guoliang
  • Men’s Team Head Coach: Qin Zhijian
  • Men’s Team Coaches: Liu Guozheng, Wang Hao, Ma Lin, Liu Heng, Ma Junfeng
  • Women’s Team Head Coach: Kong Linghui
  • Women’s Team Coaches: Xiao Zhan, Li Sun, Chen Bin, Zhang Qin, Huang Haicheng

As explained in the article, “Ma Long’s coach Qin Zhijian has been promoted to fill the role of Men’s Team Head Coach, with Liu Guoliang now overseeing the entire team. Meanwhile Xiao Zhan, Zhang Jike’s coach, has moved to the Women’s Team. The staff also sees the return of some familiar faces but in new roles. Ma Lin and Wang Hao are back in the national team, but now in the guise of coaches. Both will be looking to make their mark in this new chapter of their table tennis career.”

Much of this is a near who’s who of past championship players, as the previous generations works with the...




Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 14:30
April 6, 2017

Kids and Blocking
It always surprises me at how quickly kids pick up on blocking against loops, at least in a drill. But there’s a simple method I’ve found that leads to this. As soon as I explain that blocking is just like playing a video game, they go into “game mode,” and suddenly they are blocking champions! I can loop over and over and they’ll get nearly all of them back, even if their level is in the 500-1000 range. I can even get a little practice out of this.

But there are obvious weaknesses. They can’t really adjust to changing spins – if I suddenly throw a super-slow spinny one at them, they usually block off. If I loop very deep on the table, they get jammed and miss. And they aren’t yet in the habit of stepping to the ball, and so have trouble if my loop goes outside a roughly 18-inch wide zone.

A key here is to teach them, right from the start, that they should step to each ball, even if it’s a one-inch step. If you allow them to develop the habit of reaching for the ball, it becomes a habit that’s harder to break. Even if my loop goes to exactly the same spot...




Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 09:57
April 5, 2017

The Three Types of People and Long Pips
This past weekend at the Cary Cup Open in North Carolina, one of my students, just-turned-11 Jackson (that’s his first name) went in rated 1416, but pulled off a series of upsets, including a win over a 1939 player with long pips on one side. There’s an interesting story behind this.

About a month ago I’d watched him lose a practice match to a 1500 chopper with long pips. In our next session, I pointed out that throughout the match, he’d served and just stood in the middle of the table, waiting to see what return he’d get. Since most of the returns came to his backhand, he mostly followed up with soft backhands, and so both lost his serve advantage and took his strong forehand out of play. I explained that when you play a chopper (or most players with long pips on the backhand who receive defensively), you essentially get one “free shot” off your serve. (This assumes the chopper is willing to chop your serve back.) So I pulled out my chopping racket (with long pips) and had him practice against it, where he’d serve and follow almost exclusively with his...




Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 14:07
April 4, 2017

April Fools’ Blogs
I hope you enjoyed the groundbreaking exposé in my blog yesterday of the new techniques by the Swedes to beat the Chinese – edge serves, net receives, knuckle shots. Some of you may have noticed that although the blog was on April 3, it referred to events that took place on Saturday. April 1. The more attentive of you may have read the first letter of each line. If not, now’s your chance!!! And for the record, Jan-Ove Waldner does have an older brother sort of named Ake Waldner – his real name is Kjell-Åke Waldner, and he too was a top table tennis player.

Here are my past April Fools’ Day blogs, where the first letter of each line spells out this secret message.




Monday, April 3, 2017 - 13:23
April 3, 2017

Tip of the Week
Coaching Tournament Matches.

How The Swedes Will Beat the Chinese Again
Ake Waldner visited MDTTC this past Saturday, spending the day watching our
players train. He is the brother of former Swedish superstar Jan-Ove Waldner, and was
recently named Head Coach of the Swedish National Men’s Team. Our players had some
interesting questions, of course. Sweden had battled with China for decades, with such
legendary players as Bengtsson, Persson, Appelgren, and of course Waldner.

First question, of course, was rather straightforward – how could Sweden, USA,
or any other team possibly beat China? I’ve always argued that if we use the same
orthodox techniques that make the Chinese so good, we’ll always be just a pale
likeness, with no chance of matching them.

Ake agreed with me! And it turns out the Swedes are working on new techniques,
practicing things that might allow them to beat the Chinese. Serve, receive, and
rallies – you have to win at all...




Friday, March 31, 2017 - 14:07
March 31, 2017

$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC April Open and Coaching at Tournaments
I'm running the tournament next weekend (April 8-9) at the Maryland Table Tennis Center in Gaithersburg, MD. I hope to see many of you there! We've expanded our tournaments from last year, going to two days and three-star events, doubling the prize money, and going from seven to ten events. Here is our tournament page and here is the entry form. You can also enter online at Omnipong. The ten events are (on Saturday, with prize money in all events): Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, Over 50, and Under 15, and (on Sunday): U1800, U1500, U1200, and Under 12.

Some of you are playing a tournament this weekend. According to the USATT Tournament Page, there are four this weekend in the U.S.:

  • 4-star Butterfly...



Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 10:53
March 30, 2017

USA Nationals Entry Form
While browsing around this morning I discovered that the entry form for the 2017 Supermicro USA Nationals was up. (Here’s a direct link to the print entry form.) This is the first I’d seen it – I printed it out and will go over it more closely later today. The tournament will be in Las Vegas, July 3-8 (Mon-Sat). (The hotel link still links to the U.S. Open hotel from December.)

There are a mind-boggling 97 events. Most are similar to last year’s Nationals. I did find some interesting items – for example, what appears to be Men’s and Women’s Singles are currently named simply “Hsing Family Foundation.” Presumably that’s a sponsor, but it probably should be “Hsing Family Foundation Men’s/Women’s Singles.” Beyond that are the usual events – Men’s & Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles; Junior, Cadet, and Mini-Cadet Team Trials (...




Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 13:39
March 29, 2017

Tip of the Week
Serve and Forehand Loop.

Pre-Tournament Preparation
One of the kids I coached last night is preparing to play in the 4-star Cary Cup Open this weekend. I had gone into the session preparing to really work on his looping game, both forehand and backhand. However, he was noticeably glum about this, and admitted he didn’t think he’d be looping much in rallies at the Cary Cup, that he’d mostly be looping against backspin and then hitting.

Now I could have said, “No, you have to think long-term and focus on looping more,” or the opposite, “Sure, we’ll forget about looping and worry about developing that later on.” Instead, I did something in between. I pulled out an invisible piece of paper, and wrote with invisible ink with an invisible pen the invisible words, “After the Cary Cup, I will focus on looping in rallies.” I then pricked his finger with an invisible pin, and he signed the agreement with invisible blood. And so we spent the session preparing him for the Cary Cup...




Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 13:10
March 28, 2017

Stomach Queasiness and the Tip of the Week
For the second day in a row I woke up to what feels like the World Table Tennis Championships going on in my stomach. I’m guessing it’s some sort of stomach virus, or some sort of cold or flu, or perhaps I swallowed a gross of ping-pong balls or something. Symptoms are extreme stomach queasiness and discomfort; runny nose; extreme exhaustion; and an extreme compulsion to lie down for a few years. I started writing the Tip of the Week (Serve and Forehand Loop), but I think I’ll finish that tomorrow. I did manage to get through 3.5 hours of coaching yesterday, despite exhaustion, helped out by one player having to cancel (I had 4.5 hours scheduled). Tonight I only have two. (My current schedule: Sun 8.5 hours; Mon 4.5 hours; Tue 2 hours; Wed 2 hours; Thu & Fri off - writing days; Sat 5-7 hours.) 

Some of this might have been brought on by recent very bad sleep habits. I generally go to bed sometime between midnight and 1AM, and up at 7AM, but recently I’ve been up until 3AM, and still getting up at 7AM as that’s when I keep waking up – probably because the...




Monday, March 27, 2017 - 13:38
March 27, 2017

Alas, I woke up this morning feeling sick to my stomach. So I think I need to take a sick day - or at least a sick morning. I have 4.5 hours of coaching scheduled today (3:30-8:00), and I'm determined to make that somehow. (The nice thing about coaching is that you can stay ten feet away from your student.) But I'm probably going to spend most of the day in bed, and see how things are this afternoon. (I don't think I have a fever, but I'll take my temperature later today.) I'll be back tomorrow. While I'm gone, you can browse over the results, articles, and videos at the USA Team Trials page - they were held this past weekend.