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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

Friday, June 9, 2017 - 14:11
June 9, 2017

Serve Practice and the Complacency of Non-Practice
By the time you’ve reach the intermediate or advanced level in table tennis you probably have at least decent serves. You can serve an advanced beginner off the table, and probably have “go to” serves that score you points against your peers, maybe even against stronger ones. And since you already have those serves, you don’t really need to practice them, do you? After all, you are using them in games every week, which keeps them honed and ready to use at their very best, right?

Wrong. There are three flaws with this logic.

First, no matter what level your serves are, they won’t have that little extra they’d have if you practice them regularly. Recently, in preparation for the Serving Seminar I’m running at the Nationals, I practiced my serves a few times, something I hadn’t done much recently. The result was immediate and obvious – my students, even advanced ones who were used to my serves, some of them...

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 13:43
June 8, 2017

Improvement of Players Who “Goof Off”
What comes first, chicken or the egg? It’s sort of like a question that comes up regularly in table tennis. Obviously, players who work harder and train more seriously tend to get better than those who do not. But there’s a related question. Suppose you have two developing players who roughly work and train equally as hard, with one exception – while Player A is nearly 100% serious, Player B will sometimes goof off and use weird strokes. How does this latter habit effect a developing player?

I’ve noticed over many decades of coaching and observing that players who focus nearly 100% on doing the shots right, all the time, almost always improve much faster and become much better players than those who spend even a small amount of their developing time goofing off by throwing in “weird” shots. I’ve come to believe that when a developing player, after working hard for a time, throws in a few “goof off” shots where he intentionally does the shot wrong, he might be undoing much of his earlier practice and confusing his subconscious so the technique...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 14:08
June 7, 2017

$4500 Maryland State Championships and Other Tournaments
They are this weekend! I’m running them at MDTTC, with 24 events. Deadline to enter is 7PM on Thursday - though it looks like some events may fill up before that. Mossa Barandao is assisting – he and his team from PongMobile may take over running our tournaments this fall. That way I can focus more on coaching and writing. (Note - while you must be a resident of Maryland to enter Men's and Women's Singles, Open Doubles, or any of the age events, the rating events are open to all.) 

I’ve run over 180 USATT tournaments, going back to the early 1980s. These include the 4-star 1998 Eastern Open (411 entries!), and lots of tournaments at MDTTC since 1992. I also ran dozens of tournaments at the Northern Virginia TTC in the 1980s, and a number of others. (Back in the 1980s I ran them all on paper – no computers, so you had to do each draw by hand. Scary!!!)

In the early 1990s I was assistant tournament director at two U.S. Opens...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 13:44
June 6, 2017

Tip of the Week
Rallying Tactics for Blockers.

World Championships
By now you’ve seen all the results, read all the articles, and watched all the videos (see yesterday’s blog) from the World Championships. Life can now go back to normal!!! Here’s the article on the Men’s Final, Ma Long Retains Title, Most Dramatic Final Ever?, and here’s video of the final (15:06). A few observations:

Monday, June 5, 2017 - 13:10
June 5, 2017

Due to a sudden last-minute “emergency,” I have to run an errand this morning. (I might write about it tomorrow.) So no blog, and the Tip of the Week will go up tomorrow. But there’s only one thing you should be watching and reading about right now, and that’s the Worlds!!! Here are videos of Men’s Singles from TTInfo. They haven’t yet put up the shortened videos of Women’s Singles – I’ll put them up when they go up. (Shortened means time between points taken out. If you want to watch the complete matches, here's the ITTF video Page.)

Friday, June 2, 2017 - 13:53
June 2, 2017

Service Practice
In preparation for the Serving Seminar I’ll be running at the USA Nationals, I did something a few days ago that I only do about once or twice a year these days – I practiced my serves! I’m retired from tournaments (except for occasional hardbat events at the Nationals and Open, and sometimes doubles), and so practicing my own game just isn’t high on my priorities list. But I did about 30 minutes of serve practice this past weekend, and it paid off.

At my peak I had pretty good serves. I practiced them regularly my first three years (1976-1979, ages 16-19), and from 1979-1981 (ages 19-21), I practiced them 30 minutes/day, six days/week, for two years. I continued practicing them regularly until the early 1990s. (Yes, I didn’t start playing until I was 16 – a very late starter, but I still reached 18th in the U.S. at my peak.)

I have a huge variety of serves, mostly centered around forehand pendulum serves. My best serves were a variety of short side/...

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 14:13
June 1, 2017

World Championships
The Worlds are going on right now, May 29 – June 5 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Here are some links.

USA is doing pretty well, especially Lily Zhang! For specifics of our players, see the draws in the Main Page, and do a search for “USA.” Or click on the below. (Note that where it says, for example, “1-32” in the Men’s Singles, that means the top 32 spots in the draw, i.e. the top quarter.)

  • ...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 13:49
May 31, 2017

Tip of the Week
Contact Point on Racket When Serving.

Habits and Homework
One of the kids I coach has a nasty habit of standing up straight, both when receiving and in rallies. You’d think this would be an “easy” habit to break, but no – it’s like the minute he goes out on the table, he forgets what he’s been practicing and he stands up like a giraffe stretching for leaves on a tree. We’ve videotaped him to show him the problem, and he understands it, so that’s not the problem. He also tends to reach for balls rather than move to them, another bad habit that mostly comes from standing up straight. Central to these problems is that he has good ball control and very nice rallying skills, and plays at a high level despite these problems – but he pays for them when he plays stronger players. (He’s about 1700, age 11.) So how to you get someone to break such a seemingly simple bad habit?

We’ve given him homework. Four days a week he is to spend about fifteen minutes shadow-practicing,...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 14:03
May 30, 2017

NOTE - the Tip of the Week will go up tomorrow.

Prepping for a School Club Tournament
Here’s something I’ve never done before – “dumbed down” my play so a student would be better ready to face such competition at his school! The student, who just started a club at his Middle School, was worried about their grand opening, since they were running a tournament on the first day. Everyone knew he was the big star who trained regularly, but he’d seen some of them play, and despite being about 1900 level, he was somewhere between worried and outright scared of losing to one of these basement players.

The problem was that several of them were very experienced and high-level basement players, who used cheap paddle (i.e. hardbat or slow, dead inverted), and either kept the ball in play with dead balls, or swatted in winners. They also – and most scarily – served fast serves right out of their hands, which of course is illegal, but the student didn’t want to sound like a crybaby on day one by complaining about them.

As long as he has his own racket – which he will...

Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 14:13
May 25, 2017

NOTE – I’ll be away Fri-Mon at the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention, where I’m on four panels (moderating one), plus a reading and a book signing. (While table tennis coaching and writing are my primary living, I’m also a SF writer with four novels and over 80 short stories sold.) So no blog on Friday or Monday. See you next Tuesday!

USATT University
USATT University is a reality! USATT will be running eight seminars at the upcoming USA Nationals. I’ve argued for about a zillion years that we should have increased programming like this at the Nationals and Open, and some of you may remember that when I ran for the USATT Board, one of the things I wanted to do was set up a “USATT Coaching Academy.” Well, that has morphed into USATT University! Special thanks goes to USATT CEO Gordon Kaye for making it happen, and to...