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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

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 13:55
August 25, 2017

USATT Coaching Questions
I’ve been very busy this summer - coaching, traveling, and writing. One casualty of this is that I haven’t done as much as chair of the USATT coaching committee as I’d have liked. However, sometime in the next few weeks I should be able to focus more on that. Here are upcoming coaching items. (Here’s the list of USATT committees – we’re third on the list.) I also have a coaching committee report due to the board, which I should have by Sept. 1. (We have a USATT board meeting in Washington DC, Sept. 9-10.)

What is the primary responsibility of the coaching committee? I’d say to recruit, train, and certify coaches. Recruitment basically means encouraging potential coaches into taking the plunge, either as part-time or full-time coaches. For the latter, this essentially means showing them that they can make a good living as a table tennis coach – as over 300 currently do in the United States.

Training means educating coaches so they become better coaches. I’ve had numerous...




Thursday, August 24, 2017 - 14:02
August 24, 2017

Play Hardbat or Sandpaper – Here’s Why
No, this will not be an evangelizing blog entry on why we should make sponge illegal and go back to a simpler time when everyone used hardbat, politicians were honest, and life was perfect. (No, those times never happened.) There’s a better reason why you should bring out that cheap hardbat or sandpaper paddle you have stored away at the back of your closet (or borrow one from someone), and learn to play with it.

Putting aside the fact that it is fun, as a sideline, to play with these rackets, there’s a better reason. There are table tennis tables all over the place. Unless you are some oddball who carries his $300 table tennis racket (and table tennis shoes, plastic balls, table tennis towel, net measurer, etc.) everywhere, you will someday find yourself someday at a table without your racket, watching inferior players play each other, each believing themselves to be champions, or at least competitive with the best players – of whom they have never seen. You will be forced to do one of the following:

  1. Watch and smile;
  2. Challenge one of them, but forced to use...



Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 13:53
August 23, 2017

$80,000/Year Coaching Table Tennis?
An interesting question was raised at the Mytabletennis.net forum – how much money can one make coaching table tennis? At least one person ridiculed the idea that one could make $80,000/year coaching table tennis. However, many coaches in the U.S. do just that, including ones from my club. The arithmetic is simple. If you coach 40 hours/week at $40/hour for 50 weeks per year, you’ll make $80,000/year.

The reality is that there are a number of coaches at full-time clubs who work more like 50/hours a week, which comes to $100,000/year. Add in group sessions, where you often make more than you do in private sessions, and the annual salary goes up. Add in secondary income from selling equipment, tournaments, leagues, and so on, and some coaches get still more.

The $40/hour is typical, but not standard everywhere. In expensive areas like New York City coaching is more like $80/hour. The club typically gets a percentage, but most successful clubs know that they rely on the coaches to bring in and retain players, so...




Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 14:03
August 22, 2017

A Short History of Chop Blocks
Recently, due to an article at SportsFlu, there’s been a lot of talk about chop blocking and who invented it. Here’s an entire thread devoted to it at the Mytabletennis.net forum. According to the article, it was “invented” by Koki Niwa, world #9 from Japan. Alas, it’s been around long before Koki was born in 1994.

To give you some perspective on how long players have been chop blocking, here’s a little history – and I’ll get to the point momentarily. How many of you remember the Paddle Point Rule? Until the early 1990s, if the ball went off the end of the table but hit your paddle, you lost the point, no matter how obviously the ball was off. Many thought it was a silly rule, and it was finally changed. (Here’s my blog where I explain how that happened – I made the original proposal...




Monday, August 21, 2017 - 14:11
August 21, 2017

Tip of the Week
Fourth-Ball Backhand Loop Attack. Of course, today’s the day when you should browse through all of my Tips of the Week (497 total) since “Eclipse TT” is just an anagram for “Select Tip”!

Two Common Successful Serving Patterns
In the adult training session last night I pointed out that there are really two main successful serving patterns among most players. At the higher levels, the most common one is half-long toward the middle, often mixing in backhand and no-spin serves, with sidespin and side-top mixed in. By serving half-long, you make it tricky for the receiver to rush or angle you, while also making it difficult for him to attack. (Half-long means the second bounce, given the chance, would bounce just short of the end-line. Some serve it slightly longer, just past the end-line, leading to many awkward loop attempts.)

By serving to the middle it cuts off the extreme angles, and makes it easier to follow up with an...




Friday, August 18, 2017 - 13:51
August 18, 2017

Off Today
As mentioned in my blog yesterday, I’m off today – I’ve been on the go for weeks without a break, including ten straight 14-16 hour days while working with Tim on his new book. But to help you get through the weekend, why not follow the action at the Bulgarian Open and the El Salvador Junior & Cadet Open? Oh, and here’s video (1:35) of a baby feeding multiball to a player – the best multiball practice I’ve ever seen!!! 




Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 13:33
August 17, 2017

Most Common Mistake
I’ve been thinking about what are the most common mistakes players make, and came to a surprising conclusion. There are lots of common problems that gradually decrease as players improve, but what one thing seems somewhat more prevalent than most as players move up? I think it’s contact on the serve is too high.

If you contact the ball too high, the ball bounces higher on the other side. But it’s a subtle thing, and so there’s not a lot of feedback that forces a player to lower his contact point. Instead, players just generally return the serve more consistently and more aggressively. The server often doesn’t notice this as it often just means the receiver, given a slightly higher ball (and so a larger target on the other side), may just push better than otherwise, or perhaps attack just a little better. Instead, learn to contact the ball lower on the serve, perhaps at net height. This leads to a lower serve, which forces the opponent to lift the ball upwards instead of driving it forward, which leads to weaker and more erratic receives.

When I see players at our club practicing their serves...




Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 13:29
August 16, 2017

Bob Tretheway RIP
He died yesterday, at age 69, of congestive heart failure, which he’d been suffering from for several years. Bob was the director for USA Table Tennis from the early 1980s to around 1989. (He was never officially the Executive Director of CEO – his formal title was National Program Director – but since we didn’t have an ED or CEO in those days, he essentially was it.)

In 1985, Bob was instrumental in starting up USATT’s Resident Training Program, starting in September that year. This was primarily a junior program for the best USA players, where they’d live in a dormitory (“Building 83”) at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, go to school (East Middle School and Palmer High School), and train at the table tennis hall (“Building 65”).

In December he brought me in, officially as a player (though I was too old for the program at 25), but really to help develop various coaching manuals, including Instructor’s Guide to Table Tennis. Soon I...




Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 13:21
August 15, 2017

USATT Board Teleconference
Last night we had a USATT Board teleconference. (I’m one of the Nasty/Naughty/Notorious/Nonsensical/Nauseating/Notable/Neighborly/Noble/Nifty/Nicest Nine – you choose the adjective.) It was a relatively short one, starting at 7PM and ending around 8:20PM. Attending were eight board members, plus CEO Gordon Kaye, High Performance Director Jorg Bitzigeio, High Performance Committee Chair Carl Danner, and legal Counsel Dennis Taylor. Here’s a rundown.

  • September In-Person Meeting. This will take place in Washington DC, Sept 9-10. Most of the board that’s not in driving distance already has their flight tickets and hotel reservations. It’s relatively local to me, maybe a 45-minute drive. Note that USATT members are welcome to attend all except for closed sessions, which generally don’t take up much time. (In closed sessions we cover legal and personnel matters.) I’ll publish the agenda for that meeting when it comes up, probably a few days in advance. There’s...



Monday, August 14, 2017 - 14:04
August 14, 2017

Tip of the Week
Attacking the Middle with the Forehand and Backhand.

Basics, Basics, Basics!!!
It seems like half my students were on vacation recently, and so they all seem out of practice. So what are we focusing on? Yes, BASICS!!! This doesn’t mean just forehand to forehand or other simple drills like that. But it means a lot of basic stroking and footwork drills. One of the things about taking time off is that when players come back, they often fall back into old habits we had spent so much time fixing. So I’m being very careful to watch for that.

For example, I have one student who used to habitually lift his elbow when he hit forehands, thereby closing the racket during the forward swing, leading to erratic shots. He kicked the habit, or so we thought – but he was right back to it in our last session. But we quickly fixed it, and did a lot of forehand drills to make sure.

Another student felt like he’d completely lost the feel of his forehand loop – nothing seemed right. We spent quite a bit of time in our...