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 Photo by Donna Sakai

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, March 10, 2017 - 15:10
March 10, 2017

More Table Tennis Tips
The book is almost done! This is a compilation of all 150 of my Tips of the Week from 2014-2016, put in logical progression. It’s the sequel to Table Tennis Tips, which did the same for 2011-2013. Yesterday I finished inputting the edits and suggestions from the Terrific Trio of Mark Dekseyser, John Olsen, and Dennis Taylor, who read the first draft. So the text is now done. Today I’ll be formatting the pages. I also have to do the back cover. (Front cover is done.) If all goes well, it’ll be ready for final proofing in a few days. When it comes out (by the end of this month), I may put together some sort of special where you can get both volumes at a discount. Or why not buy Table Tennis Tips and read it now, so you can go straight to More Table Tennis Tips when it comes out?

Shadow Practice
I’ve been encouraging some of my students to shadow practice. This is a big part of the Talent...




Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 14:36
March 9, 2017

Backhands to Get the Timing for Forehands
I have a new student who has been struggling with her forehand. It’s sort of strange – she has a very good backhand, and we can really go at it on that side. But on the forehand, her shots go all over the place. Sometimes she’ll hit a few good ones, and then she’ll swat it straight down into the net, then loft it way off the end, as if there’s no control over the timing or the stroke. The contrast between the two sides is huge. Her background was that she had trained as a kid in Poland, then stopped for decades, and was now picking it up again.

From a coaching point of view, it was rather frustrating as each session would start with us going forehand-to-forehand, sometimes multiball, sometimes live, and no matter what we did, the balls flew everywhere. Eventually we’d wear down and switch to backhands, where she’d have no problem – though by then she’d be a bit tired, physically and mentally, and so even there it wasn’t as good as it could be.

Yesterday (our fifth session) I had a brainstorm. We so often start off sessions going forehand to...




Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 14:41
March 8, 2017

Celebrities Playing Table Tennis - Want to Host It?
Many years ago, “In a moment of sudden clarity, I realized what this world needed was a web page devoted to pictures of celebrities playing table tennis.” And so I created the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page. I maintained and continued to add to it for years, and it now has 1440 photos of 870 different celebrities playing table tennis. Why not browse over it?

How’d you like to take over the site?

A lot of blogs and web pages have links to the site. Here's a list of 68. It was even a "Yahoo Pick," and is one of their "Celebrity Picks.") At its peak, for several months the page averaged over 15,000 downloads per day! (Alas, I’m having trouble accessing the current stats, but I know it still gets a lot of daily hits.)

...




Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 14:51
March 7, 2017

Tip of the Week
Footwork and Strokes: Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em.

Maryland Regional Hopes Camp and Tournament
Maryland Table Tennis Center, March 4-5, 2017
By Larry Hodges

They were held this past weekend at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with 25 players taking part. The camp was on Saturday, with two 2.5 hour sessions, with the tournament on Sunday. A great thanks goes to ITTF and USATT (especially Andy Horn and Gordon Kaye) for arranging these events, and to HW Global Foundation, which helped sponsor it. Here is the USATT Hopes Info page.

Head coach for the camp was Wang Qing Liang (“Leon”), one of the USATT National Cadet Coaches and one of nine full-time coaches at MDTTC. Also coaching were the MDTTC coaching staff, and Jessica Lin helped out as a practice partner....




Monday, March 6, 2017 - 14:03
March 6, 2017

And On the Third Day He Rested….
After coaching nine hours on Saturday (including the Hopes Camp), and twelve hours at the club on Sunday (running the Hopes tournament, then 4.5 hours of coaching), I need a day to rest and catch up on my todo list, which is growing like bamboo. (I also have 2.5 hours of coaching tonight, and need to work on my new book, the creatively titled “More Table Tennis Tips,” which should be out by the end of the month.) But here’s a funny dog video (1:40) – skip to the last six seconds to see the dog playing “ping-pong”!




Friday, March 3, 2017 - 15:03
March 3, 2017

USATT Club Affiliation Fee
On Tuesday night and into the early Wednesday morning hours I was involved in an extensive email discussion with USATT people and others regarding the USATT affiliation fee. For many years, it was kept low because we wanted clubs on the USATT club listing, since that's a primary way USATT gets members - through potential players who find a local club. If a local club isn't listed in the USATT club listing, then they don't find the club, don't get into table tennis, and never join USATT.

But a number of years ago, when USATT had a budget crunch, it raised the rates rapidly, and in just a few years it went from $15 to $75. We lost at least 100 affiliated clubs, and "coincidentally," about 2000 members. Alas, many clubs are happy with their current membership - more players mean crowded tables - and so getting onto the USATT club listing isn't a priority for them - but it needs to be a priority for USATT. (Alas, I can't post emails received, as they are confidential, but I can post what I wrote. Will Shortz, who owns the Westchester Club in NY, is also arguing for lowering the club...




Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 13:32
March 2, 2017

MDTTC Happenings

  • The Gang's Back Together
    With Coach Zeng Xun ("Jeffrey") back from vacation in China, all our coaches are back in action - and all of them were coaching at MDTTC yesterday. The coaches are Larry Hodges (hey, that's me!), Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, Alex Ruichao Chen, Wang Qing Liang ("Leon"), Chen Bo Wen ("Bowen"), Wu Jiacheng, John Hsu, and Wen Hsu. Ten active coaches in one club, often coaching at the same time - that's a lot of coaching!!!
  • Hopes Camp and Tournament
    We're holding it this weekend at MDTTC. The camp is for players under age 13, the tournament for players born in 2005 or 2006 (though players under age 16 may play in the rating events). Here's the USATT Hopes Program Page - see the "Maryland Regional Hopes Training Camp and Trial." I'm one of the hoard of coaches at the camp on Saturday, and am running the tournament on Sunday.  
  • ...



Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 12:42
March 1, 2017

Breaking the Rules?
In 41 years in the sport, I think there has been only one time where I intentionally broke the rules (other than joking around) - and it wasn't as a player; it was as a tournament director. I've run over 170 USATT sanctioned tournaments, and rest assured I try to run them by the rules. But there was this one time, around 1983, when . . . okay, I confess, I broke the rules!!! So sue me. But there's actually a coaching lesson involved.

I was 23 and had only recently began running USATT tournaments (at the Northern Virginia Table Tennis Club) though I'd helped out at a few before. As the tournament director, I'm supposed to do legal draws, right? Well, the day before the tournament I was talking to players at the club, trying to get last-minute players. There was this one player, who shall remain nameless, who said he'd play, but he had a simple condition - he'd only enter if I guaranteed him he could play me in Open Singles.

Now I was perhaps 2200 at the time, and was seeded in the top four at the tournament, with Sean O'Neill and Dave Sakai likely the top two seeds. (Yes, I was playing in it...




Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 15:07
February 28, 2017

Navin - on the Attack!
Here's video (53 sec) from my session with Navin Kumar last night. He also did a nice write-up to go with it. Many of you already know of him, either from this blog or elsewhere, as "The Bionic Man," since he has a mostly mechanical heart, as well as Parkinson's. (He gives many talks on the latter as a motivational speaker.) Here, for example, is the video The Bionic Man - Navin Kumar (9:22), and here's the USATT article, Navin Kumar: A Passion for Table Tennis.) He's mostly a blocker, with long pips (no sponge) on the backhand, often called a "pushblocker." But we've been working on his attack, especially on the forehand. The video shows his increasingly aggressive forehand. We're working on establishing it more in games.

In last night...




Monday, February 27, 2017 - 14:53
February 27, 2017

Tip of the Week
Forehand Follow-Through Back into Position.

Weekend Coaching
Well, it's finally happened . . . after a year of zealously keeping Saturdays free from coaching, I've opened it up again, and did three hours of coaching this past Saturday. But don't feel sorry for me, before I did this I cleared up my Thursday schedule so I'm now off on Thur & Fri each week. (Used to be Fri & Sat.) I'll probably gradually pick up more hours on Saturdays, one by one, until I wake up one morning and discover I'm coaching twelve hours that day. Nightmare!!! (Note that my "off days" are really just "writing days.")

Sundays I had three consecutive 90-minute group sessions, as usual. First I ran the Beginning Junior Class, where the focus was on serving, which we did for the first 20 minutes. Then we did the usual series of footwork drills. Training is one hour, then 30 minutes of games, with the group divided in two: The older and stronger players play regular games, while the younger ones play...