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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, November 1, 2017 - 14:00
November 1, 2017

Table Tennis Writing and Book Sales
When I’m not coaching table tennis, I’m writing about it, along with a little science fiction. (Here’s my Amazon page for both.) As of today, I have 1766 published articles, plus approximately 1600 table tennis blog entries, 34 science fiction blog entries, and 13 books.

Of the articles, they include 1562 on table tennis, 142 science fiction & fantasy, 33 on the Baltimore Orioles, and 29 others. Throw in the 1600 blog entries, and it’s about 3400 articles, plus the 13 books. That’s way too much time I’m not watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead!

The 13 books include 8 on table tennis and 6 science fiction & fantasy. Yep, 8 + 6 = 13. That’s because The Spirit of Pong counts for both. (...




Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 12:30
October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! But I’m Off Today
It's Halloween, my new science fiction novel comes out today, and I've got an injured hip, shoulder, and knee. I'm taking the day off. See you tomorrow. (However, after a day of rest on Monday, the hip injury seems much better this morning. I don’t think I’ll have to miss any of my coaching on Wednesday. I have no coaching on Mondays and Tuesdays, my “weekend.”) But to tide you over, here are pictures and a video (34 sec) of Navin “Bionic Man” Kumar dressed as Randy Daytona from the movie “Balls of Fury.” (Here’s a direct link to the video. Here’s a...




Monday, October 30, 2017 - 13:57
October 30, 2017

Tip of the Week
How to Play the Bomber: The Player Who Tries to Blast Every Shot.
[Note – I wrote this as a Tip of the Week in 2010, and put it up as a coaching article once, but somehow it never made its way up as a Tip – so here is an updated version.]

Weekend Coaching, Hip Hurts, and Halloween Costumes
Another busy weekend – and this time a PAINFUL one. (More on that below.) On Sunday, as usual, I had three consecutive 90-minute group sessions.

In the Beginning Junior Class, the day's feature was smashing. They'd spent a lot of time until now on forehands, as well as backhands, footwork, pushing, serving, and so on. So now we had what is probably the most fun session of all for them. Yes, the only thing more fun than smashing is first learning to smash. I went over the basics, did a demo, and then we went into our groups. (Assisting were John Hsu, Martin Jezo, and Greg Mascialino, who was subbing for Coach Wen.) But it wasn't all smashing – we also did side-to-side footwork (as always) and pushing,...




Friday, October 27, 2017 - 13:38
October 27, 2017

Ten Miscellaneous Mostly Table Tennis Items

  • Lucy at the table with backspin. She just turned nine, and she just learned how to put enough backspin on her serve so that it comes back into the net. This is the most memorable moment in any kid's life, as we all know. Once she learned how to do it, she didn't want to stop.
  • Halloween. Lucy will be a witch for Halloween. I pointed out that in a fight between a witch and Superman, all she has to do is turn Superman into a frog and she wins. Another student, Aarya, is going to be Wonder Woman – and during our session we argued on and off about who would win in a fight, Wonder Woman or Superman. Aarya worked hard that session, so at the end I admitted that she was right, that Wonder Woman would win, and she was very happy. (But seriously, since Superman's only weaknesses are supposedly kryptonite and magic, why hasn't he ever been turned into a frog by some magical creature?) I may give a full report on costumes by our juniors next week. Meanwhile, if you stop by my house, I'm giving out your choice of Snickers, Milky Ways, or Skittles. I...



Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 13:18
October 26, 2017

A Song of Celluloid and Plastic
For many weeks now I've been coaching exclusively with Butterfly plastic training balls. Most players I work with still prefer celluloid, but accept plastic balls since they have no choice – it's what's used in nearly every tournament and league. In the MDTTC Tuesday and Friday night leagues they only made the final switch to plastic about a month or so ago. (Until then it had been optional, and most had still preferred celluloid.)

Yesterday I went in to coach. (I had four scheduled, but one called in sick, so only three.) At the same time I was coaching we were running our afterschool program with a bunch of kids, and they, and other coaches doing private coaching, were using all of the plastic training balls. There was only a basket of celluloid balls. Since my students had mostly been lamenting their not being able to use the preferred celluloid, I thought, what the heck, and grabbed that basket rather than check if we had more plastic ones in storage.

Instant problem. My first student, Todd, had recently gone over 1500 in league ratings, which closely match USATT tournament ratings. But...




Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 14:00
October 25, 2017

Sometimes English Just Doesn’t Have the Word: Ruminating on the Word "Mócā"
Recently during one of our advanced junior training sessions, I kept hearing some of the other coaches say something like “Mocha.” We were feeding backspin so the kids could work on looping, and over and over I heard this “Mocha.” I finally asked what they were saying. The word was “mócā.” In Chinese, that’s 摩擦. You can get the pronunciation here. (Click on “say it.”) The definition is roughly “to rub, to create friction.” However, I'm told there isn't really an accurate English description. 

When I want a player to create more spin, I might say, “More spin!” or “Graze the ball!” But saying “More spin!” really talks about the result, not how to do so, which is what we want. Saying “Graze the ball!” is better, and may work when coaching spinny serves, but for looping is not...




Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 13:58
October 24, 2017

Coaching, Injuries, Volume 20, and All That Pushing in Class
I spent much of last week with a cold, but was mostly over it by the weekend. Meanwhile, the right knee I injured way back in July at the Nationals, and re-injured several times since, is about 70% okay now, though I still wear a knee brace just in case. The back is fine - it's been a year or so since that's been a problem. And my arm is okay, though I also still wear an arm brace. So I'm the peak of health, right?

Except for the dumb moment last Thursday (first day back while still fighting the cold) when I found a celluloid ball mixed with the plastic training balls, and tried to backspin smack it all the way across the club to a court where they were being used. Ow!!! I tore my shoulder up doing so. It's the same shoulder injury I've had in the past, but I think it's been okay for something like two years. So it was due. 

So since Thursday I've haven't been able to really extend my arm, whether going to my wide forehand to loop or even on some forehand pendulum serves. I can’t smash high balls. When students loop to my wide...




Monday, October 23, 2017 - 13:51
October 23, 2017

Tip of the Week
Top Sixteen Reasons Players Don’t Improve.

Liebherr Men’s World Cup
It was held this past weekend in Liege, Belgium. As usual in table tennis, one country dominated, with another all- China German Final – wait a minute, what happened there!!! Yes, it was Dimitrij Ovtcharov vs. Timo Boll in the all-German final. So what happened to the Chinese? To be concise, they were Timoed. Ovtcharov won the final over Boll, but he really should share the prize as it was Timo who took out the Chinese. But only barely.

First, note that China was handicapped because at the World Cup, there’s a limit of two players per country, and so their great depth is not rewarded there. Instead of their usual lineup of world #1 Ma Long, world #2 Fan Zhendong, world #3 Xu Xin, world #6 Zhang Jike, and world #9 Lin Gaoyuan (not to mention world #12 Fang Bo and #17 Yan An), they sent only Ma and Lin. (Lin qualified by winning the Asian Cup.) These days, it’s obvious that Ma Long and Fan Zhendong are the two best in...




Friday, October 20, 2017 - 14:03
October 20, 2017

Not Worth a Nuisance Lawsuit
I wrote a long blog this morning (Friday) on the recent happenings regarding the long saga and removal of Lee Kondo as chair of the USATT Ethics and Grievance Committee. (He was removed as chair last night in a board teleconference by a vote of 7-1.) However, while I believe all of it to be accurate, after consulting with a lawyer, and considering the reactionary history of Lee (covered in the blog), I could be facing a nuisance lawsuit, which USATT would also inevitably be drawn into. (Lee's a lawyer.) We've already spent a huge amount of time on this issue, and who knows how much longer it would go on. Sufficient to say that it simply isn't worth spending any more time on this issue just so I could win a nuisance lawsuit while spending who knows how many thousands of dollars to do so, as well as wasting more USATT time. Just as Lee shared his version of events with the USATT Board of Directors and others, I will share my version with those involved as needed. 

$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC October Open, Oct. 14-15
My write-up and photos of the tournament went up yesterday....




Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 13:47
October 19, 2017

Table Tennis Cold
Yes, when you catch a cold from some evil player while running a two-day table tennis tournament, you get to call it a cold. I’ve had one since Monday, meaning I must have caught it at the latest on Saturday. However, though I skipped my blog on Mon and Tue, I’ve gotten some work done. (Though I’ve spent most of the time in my lounge chair reading, doing crossword puzzles, watching movies, making funny pictures of cold viruses, and eating chicken soup.)

I had sort of a good break on Wednesday. I normally have four hours of coaching on Wednesday nights, my busiest day other than weekends. However:

  • One student was out of town, visiting Rome on business. (I mistakenly told a few people she was in Australia, but it’s easy to get the two mixed up, right? It was a friend from science fiction, my other world, who was visiting Australia.)
  • One student came down sick and cancelled, not knowing at the time that I was also sick. Maybe we had the same donor?
  • One student cancelled because of...