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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,

Member, USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame & USATT Certified National Coach
Professional Coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center

Recent blog posts

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 14:59
January 23, 2018

Weekend Coaching
It was a busy coaching weekend for me. On Saturday I coached nearly eight hours straight - from 11AM to 7:30 PM, with only a break from 5-5:30PM. To prepare, I had a big spaghetti brunch at 10:15AM. I ate a granola bar halfway through. I brought some food to eat at 5PM, but after all that exertion, I didn't feel hungry, and so didn't eat then, deciding to wait and have a real dinner later.

The coaching began with two "beginners," a mom and her 15-year-old son, 30 minutes each. I put that in quotes because while neither had ever had coaching or been to a club, they were avid tennis players and played table tennis regularly. The son had picked up playing penhold (saw it on youtube I think), and had a natural topspinning forehand, and will get into looping very easily - his forehand is already basically a loop. He had a bit more trouble on the backhand, which he took too much from the side. He could do both conventional and reverse penhold backhand, so we went with reverse. The mom was a hardbat player who hit everything - and she did it surprisingly well, obviously from her tennis. She switched to a sponge racket,...

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 14:10
January 22, 2018

Tip of the Week
Doubles Signals and Why You Should Use Them.

USA Team Selections
A few people have contacted me about the USATT National Team selection process. This is a frustrating topic for me for a very simple reason - I'm involved in so many other activities (USATT, MDTTC, and lots of coaching and writing) that I just don't have time to get too involved in still another issue. And yet, I'm on the USATT Board of Directors, so I'm one of the ones responsible for what USATT does, and so I will likely have to get involved.

However, right now I'm just too busy to look into it too much, but I plan to do so in February, probably after I run the MDTTC February Open (Feb. 10-11). I've got another conference meeting today at noon on the USATT Coaching Education and Certification process - and whenever there's a meeting, there's a lot of time spent preparing for it and even more time on it afterwards. It's hard to believe, but I also have some non-table tennis activities - readers here know that I also write science...

Friday, January 19, 2018 - 13:41
January 19, 2018

Istvan Jonyer, Others at 2018 World Veterans Championships in Las Vegas
If you started playing in the 1970s, like me, then Istvan Jonyer of Hungary was a God. There's no other way of describing the 1975 World Men's Singles Champion, the big two-winged looper from a time when two-winged looping was still relatively new. He had these long, acrobatic forehand loops, like a discus thrower, looping forehands from the shoulder, and tricky sidespin backhand loops. Everybody all over the world copied these shots. In 1979 he led the Hungarian team (along with Tibor Klampár and Gábor Gergely) when they upset the Chinese team to win the World Men's Team Championships.

Jonyer's playing in the 2018 World Veterans Championships!!! Right here in Las Vegas, USA!!! You can get in line for his autograph right behind me. (Here's a picture of Jonyer ripping a ball at his peak – yeah, he went prematurely bald. That's Gergely on the left. Here's a ...

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 15:01
January 18, 2018

USA Nationals Dates
As announced yesterday in USATT Insider, the USA Nationals this year will be July 1-7 in Las Vegas. For most of us, those are probably fine dates. However, for the large number of U.S. players attending the World Veterans Championships, June 18-24, also in Las Vegas, it poses a dilemma, since there's a week between the two. Do you attend both? If so, do you fly home and back in between, or stick around for a week?

Ideally, the two would have been back to back, with perhaps one day rest between. That's what USATT would have liked, but it was not to be, for several reasons. The main problem is that the World Veterans Championships has built into the contract that no other major tournaments can be run locally at the same time or the week before or after, since that could draw away entries from them. This makes sense, as it is a large undertaking, and the last thing they want is a competing local tournament. There was some discussion of making an exception, but apparently they didn't agree. (I wasn't in on the discussions.)

Another reason not to run them...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 14:51
January 17, 2018

Ten Tips

  1. Shirt Longevity. Have you ever bought a nice table tennis shirt, and perhaps had your name and/or club lettered on it – only to see it wear away after a year or so? There's a simple way to avoid this. Always turn your shirts inside out before putting in the laundry. A washing machine pretty much pounds with water the outside of a shirt, so put that lettering and other shirt designs on the inside.
  2. USATT Clothing. Buy some USATT clothing, brand table tennis clothing, or some sort of table tennis outfit, and look like a real pro!
  3. Shoes in a Bag. Keep your playing shoes in a plastic bag or shoe bag in your playing bag. You don't want to wear them to and from the club unless you want to get the soles dirty (thereby losing traction), track dirt into your club, wear the shoes down, and put extra pressure on your legs and knees (since table tennis shoes aren't designed for extensive walking – little support).
  4. Dedicated Shoes for Slippery Floors. Do...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 14:32
January 16, 2018

Tip of the Week
Best Way to Learn – Watch, Mimic, Practice.

Board Teleconference – Executive Session
Last night we had a USATT Teleconference from 7PM to 8:40PM. Unfortunately, most of the meeting was in executive session, where we discussed confidential matters (personnel, legal, and/or certain financial issues). So I'm limited in what I can talk about.

We did come out of executive session to approve the 2018 USATT budget. It should be published on the USATT site sometime soon. We went over this previously, and went over it again during the teleconference. We also went over the dates of the USA Nationals this summer in Las Vegas – and the official dates should come out very soon. (There were scheduling complications in regard to the World Veterans Championships, June 18-24, also in Las Vegas, which I may blog about later.)

I've been pretty busy with USATT meetings recently. In December we had two days of meetings at the U.S. Open, plus the USATT Assembly. I flew out to Colorado Springs for a meeting on USATT...

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 13:42
January 15, 2018

Today's MLK Day, so I'm off today - yes, it's Ma Long Karaoke Day! Here's the Chinese National Team members singing Karaoke (2:57) in 2010 – Ma Long, Wang Liqin, Ma Lin, and Wang Hao. The music starts about 15 seconds in. Ma Long sings 54 seconds in. (When they are standing at the stage at the start, L-R it's Wang Hao, Wang Liqin, Ma Lin, and Ma Long.) And just for fun, here's video (15 sec) of a trusting player blowing the ball up as Adam Bobrow smacks it out of the air. 

Friday, January 12, 2018 - 15:00
January 12, 2018

EmRatThich Table Tennis World Ranking System
Here’s the article and ranking list. This is not something he threw together – he goes over in detail the way his system works, which analyzes “43,735 table tennis matches played in 2017 (in official ITTF events) nearly 100 table tennis international tournaments during 2017.”

There have been many complaints about the new ITTF system, which rewards participation as well as level of play, leading to results that often don’t always correspond to actual playing levels. For example, it has Ma Long at #7 in the world, when he’s obviously #1 or #2. Here are the ITTF rankings. If you page down to “Official Documents,” there is info on how they are done. 

When doing such ranking systems, there is always the conflict between trying to set up the most accurate system, versus setting up a system that rewards and thereby increases participation. This is a classic case. USATT has the...

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 14:55
January 11, 2018

Tip of the Week
Systematically Practice Against What You Have Trouble With. (I normally do these on Mondays, but I was out of town Monday and Tuesday, and didn’t have time to do one on Wednesday.)

Spin Wheel
I had some fun in December with the new TSP Spin Wheel, which was sent to me by PingPongDepot. It’s basically a small tire attached to the table that allows you to practice looping by spinning the wheel. Included with it is a speedometer (technically, a tachometer) that tells you how fast you are spinning it! That’s half the fun – the kids at the club were battling to see who could make it spin the fastest. Here’s video (4:02) of the wheel in action. (This one is white, but the one I have is black.)

I didn’t want to hurt the sponge on my racket so I annexed an inexpensive sponge racket as the full-time racket to be used with the Spin Wheel – I recommend you...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 14:57
January 10, 2018

USOC Meeting on Coaching Education and Certification
I returned yesterday afternoon from a whirlwind trip to the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where I met with USATT and USOC people on creating a USATT Coaching Education and Certification Program. Those attending the meeting were:

  • Larry Hodges (Chair of USATT Coaching Committee and member of USATT Board)
  • Jörg Bitzigeio (USATT High Performance Director)
  • Mark Thompson (USATT Chief Operating Officer)
  • Denise Parker (USOC Vice President, National Governing Bodies Services and former CEO for USA Archery)
  • Chris Snyder (USOC Director of Coaching Education)
  • Avery Wilson (USOC Director of Strategic Planning)

The USOC people have extensive experience in developing education and certification programs for Olympic sports, and so we weren’t starting from scratch. They were very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. We spent probably the first half of the meeting going over where USATT currently stood – who the coaches were, where they coached, the current business model of USATT clubs where the coaches develop...