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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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 13:09
July 19, 2017

Goals
Why do you play table tennis? Everyone has a reason, and whether you’ve thought it through or not, it always comes down to goals. Is your goal to have fun? Fitness? To quench your competitive spirit? Improvement? To reach a specific level or win a specific title? To make money?

  • Fun. This should be at least part of everyone’s reason. If it isn’t fun, why not find another sport or activity that is fun for you? The fun could be either from the play itself or from being around your table tennis friends.
  • Fitness. It’s a great way to get in shape, especially if you are training (i.e. doing drills, including lots of footwork drills).
  • Competitive Spirit. This is not to be confused with “fun.” Some people are just very competitive, and need to compete. Playing table tennis for them is like drinking coffee for someone else. They may take coaching to become better, or just to develop a specific technique that they want to use to compete, such as a serve or a loop. They may be driven to beat a specific player or players, with these goals...



Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 13:41
July 18, 2017

A Typical Private Coaching Session
What happens in a typical private coaching session? It depends on the coach and the player. Some coaches are more practice partners, others do more coaching. (This also depends on the player - those with good technique need less coaching, more training.) Some coaches do only “live” hitting, while others mix in multiball training. Some coaches do the same drills with everyone, others vary the drills and personalize them for each player.

The player’s level, playing style, and goals greatly affect a session. Beginners work mostly on basics, while high-level players are mostly honing skills they already do at a high level. Players with different playing styles do different drills, obviously. But the player’s goals also make a huge difference. When working with a kid, the sky’s the limit, and coaches often train them as if they someday might be fighting to be world champion. Others might not have the coordination necessary, and so coaches focus on developing basic skills – except, if the player has a lot of drive, he might progress into high-level training. Others are only there to...




Monday, July 17, 2017 - 13:59
July 17, 2017

Tip of the Week
Sports Psychology.

Post Nationals Saturation Training
Now that the Nationals is over, it’s time to address various technical issues with some students. You don’t want to mess around with their technique too much just before a major tournament, so there have been some cases where I averted my eyes to certain things, waiting until after the Nationals.

Now it’s time for a few of them to do a bit of Saturation Training. I’ve kept notes on players I’ve been coaching, and now we’re addressing these problems. I’ve noticed a similar bad habit among three of them, who seem to have adopted backhand ready stances as their neutral stance in matches, even though they don’t seem to do so when drilling. One player has been struggling with his forehand in fast rallies – he seems to go into a backhand stance sometimes, and tries to play forehands from that position. Many top players do this, but it takes a LOT of...




Friday, July 14, 2017 - 13:55
July 14, 2017

Serving Seminar at 2017 USA Nationals
At the USA Nationals I gave a one-hour serving seminar on Tuesday night. Here are the notes I used, with some explanations and links added in brackets.

  1. Can Ma Long move his racket substantially faster than you when he serves? Probably not.
    1. They smoothly accelerate into the ball, and graze with a deceptive motion.
    2. Serving is the one part of table tennis where we all start out even.
  2. How to Create Spin [Here’s a Tip on this.]
    1. Demo backspin serve back into net, curving sidespin serves.
    2. Grippy rubber and rubber cleaner
    3. Smooth acceleration with body, forearm, and wrist.
    4. Grazing
    5. High-toss [Here’s a Tip on this.]
  3. Exercises to Increase Your Spin [Here’s a Tip of this, specifically on creating heavy backspin, with info on the “Scoop” method...



Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 13:21
July 13, 2017

My first Few Hours in Las Vegas
I think I had the worst first few hours in Las Vegas in the history of table tennis in Las Vegas – and I didn’t even gamble. Most people gripe about this type of thing on Facebook or to friends; I get to blog about it! So here is how my first few hours went, starting from minutes after I landed for the USA Nationals on Sunday, July 2. Skip to the other segments if you don’t want to hear my gripes!!!

  1. Right after landing I checked my email, and discovered a “poison pen” email from someone. I won’t go into details, let’s just say it was pretty ridiculous.
  2. As I went out to catch the shuttle, I got to see the shuttle leave, and had to wait for the next one.
  3. I got to the hotel at about 10AM, but the room wasn’t ready and check-in didn’t start until 11AM. So I found a comfortable spot, opened my laptop to check email and web pages . . . and it didn’t work. It was a brand new laptop, bought a week before to replace my previous one, which was about seven years old. But the new one kept freezing up and giving me “Not Responding”...



Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 13:02
July 12, 2017

USA Nationals
I’m still rather sick, and almost took today off as well. My stomach feels like there’s a hurricane and a tornado chucking 100mm ping-pong balls at each other. But I’ll try to go over briefly some of the highlights. I also have two hours of coaching tonight!!!

  • Here are the Nationals Results.
  • For the first time since they adopted the new ITTF coaching rule last year, I coached a match where the opposing coach signaled every serve! They followed the rules; there were no serious delays. The girl he was coaching would look back as she walked to the table each time, or would very briefly look back as she was about to serve, and he’d signal. Late in the match they got “lazy” and the coach started calling them out in Chinese (as verified by some Chinese players nearby), since neither I nor my student know Chinese (although he didn’t really know that, did he?). I considered watching the coach and deciphering his signals, or having a Chinese player sit near me and translate his coaching...



Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 11:45
July 11, 2017

Sick as a Dog
I was supposed to start blogging again today, but when I woke up this morning my throat was on fire, my nose was completely stuffed up, and I felt as sick as a dog - and you know that I'm pretty sick when I use a cliché like that rather than come up with something more creative. I feel horrible about this, but I feel even more horrible on the inside. I'm going to need at least another day before I can start blogging again. However, here is the Tip of the Week, Learn Control First on Receive. (This was inspired by Stefan Feth's Return of Serve clinic at the USA Nationals.) 




Friday, June 30, 2017 - 13:59
June 30, 2017

Last Blog Until Tuesday, July 11
I leave for the USA Nationals early tomorrow morning (Sunday), returning next Sunday. As always, I don’t blog when I’m traveling – so next blog will be the Tuesday after I return, July 11. Until then, Pong On! (While I’m gone, why not browse the news pages at USATT, ITTF, and my sponsor, Butterfly?)

How You Can Support Table Tennis
There are a lot of ways you can help support our sport. Why not join in? Below are 15 ways you can do so. (Much of it is focused on USATT-related issues, but not all – and the same ideas apply locally or in other countries.)

  1. Donate to USA Table Tennis. “100% of the monies raised through the ‘Friends With Paddles’ program will be used to directly fund USATT’s National Team programming, including...



Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 13:59
June 29, 2017

Table Tennis Game Variations
At the end of our camp yesterday the top juniors all got together and played a variation of Brazilian Teams I’ve never seen before. The normal rules for Brazilian Teams are simple – see below. But as I watched, a player lost a point – but stayed at the table. I asked why, and it turned out they had invented “Deuce Brazilian Teams,” where you play from deuce, i.e. have to win by two. So everyone gets to play at least two points on their turn, and it’s easier to stay up longer. It got me thinking about other game variations. Here are a few.

  • Brazilian Teams. Three or more to a team (though you can play with two). One player from each side goes up and plays a point. The winner stays, the loser goes to the end of his team’s line and the next player goes up. New player always serves. Games are generally to 31 or even 41 or more. Sometimes, if there’s a player stronger than the rest, you limit the number of points a player can win in a row and stay at the table. If you sweep the opposing team (or score 4 in a row), you are a hero. If you sweep them twice (...



Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 13:23
June 28, 2017

Equipment Reviews and Why I Don’t Do Them
Recently USATT has started doing “USATT Equipment Reviews,” by Matt Hetherington. Here are the first two:

Here are some other good places for equipment reviews. I’m sure there are others – feel free to comment below.