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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

Monday, January 9, 2017 - 15:04
January 9, 2017

Tip of the Week
Focus on How to Beat Someone, Not On Why You Can’t. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 27.)

My Weekend….
Tennis and calf injury and new classes, oh my!

  • Friday: Here's what I wrote on Facebook on Friday night: "Well, I've gone and done it. As part of my 'secret' plan to get in great physical shape, I was in my first tennis (yes, tennis) training session tonight in over five years. I jogged and stretched in advance, but of course you know what happened - 45 minutes into the session I pulled my right calf muscle. I probably won't be doing any private coaching for a while - I can't even walk right now without a crutch. (I can do group sessions on crutches.) I used to do group...



Friday, January 6, 2017 - 15:00
January 6, 2017

How My Coaching Differs from Some
"You can't do it!" I told the 7-year-old girl.

"Yes I can!" she insisted. I'd challenged her to hit 20 forehands in a row.  

"Prove it!" I demanded. In the next rally, after she missed after about ten shots, I shook my head in disgust. "See? I told you weren't good enough. I think you should give up!"

"No way!!!" Of course, a short time later she was gloating at me while I hid my face in embarrassment. "You were lucky!" I declared. "You'll never get that many in a row again!" Of course, within minutes she hit 30. (This all happened in a session last night.)

Most coaches like to encourage their students. I like to take the opposite approach – and it works. Plus, I have the fun of insulting all my students – and they like it! Of course, you have to have the right manner when you do this. I've seen some stern-faced coaches who, if they said, "You aren't good enough to do it," the student would burst into tears and run for the door. You have to keep it both fun and challenging....




Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 14:05
January 5, 2017

TT-Flex
I tried out the TT-Flex at the club yesterday, the new invention of Samson Dubina. Here's the video (4:02, though you can get the idea about it in the first few seconds). "TT-Flex is a full body strengthening system that targets the exact table tennis movements you need to enhance your game!" It hooked up easily to a table leg, and worked as advertised. It was similar to some oversized rubber bands I'd been given years ago to use to rehab from arm injuries, except, of course, this ties in directly to a weighted metal racket, with various hole placements to work on specific shots. It seems a pretty interesting way to exercise and develop the shots.  

I showed it to one of my junior students, who wanted to try out the weighted racket in rallies. Not easy – it's got those holes for the rubber bands! But he learned to hit the ball at the bottom of the hitting surface, where there's no holes, and spent ten minutes chopping and chop-lobbing to my smashes. I'll show it...




Wednesday, January 4, 2017 - 14:54
January 4, 2017

Visual Imagery with Ma Long
Yesterday I had private sessions with two junior players. The first one, age 12, about 1700, has great ball control, but often falls back on forehand looping with mostly his arm, which leads to both a loss of power and frequent injuries. We've been working hard to fix the problem. Often he'll loop really well for a time, then he'll fall back into old habits. He'd taken some time off during Christmas (partly because I was also away), and so was a bit out of practice, and so I was worried he'd start up with his old habits. What to do?

After a short warm-up, we watched (on my smart phone) the first half of this video of Ma Long (5:06), which features his forehand loop. (For those living in a cave, he's the reigning world men's singles champion and ranked #1 in the world.) The idea was to get that visual image so that he could match it. And it worked – right from the start his loop technique was very Ma Longish.

My second student, age 10, about 1200, is working on developing his forehand loop. He tends to be...




Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - 14:29
January 3, 2017

My 2017 Resolutions

  1. Weight to 175. Currently at 191.
  2. Win a National Hardbat Title at U.S. Nationals or Open.
  3. Address the rest of the USATT issues I promised to work on when I ran for the USATT board.
  4. Put together new book, "More Table Tennis Tips" (the 150 Tips of the Week from 2014-2016), the follow-up to Table Tennis Tips (the 150 Tips of the Week from 2011-2013).
  5. Write "Parents' Guide to Table Tennis" (new book).
  6. Help Tim Boggan put out two more volumes of his "History of U.S. Table Tennis" series – Volumes 19 and 20. (He moves in with me on Jan. 10 for two weeks to do Volume 19.)  
  7. Write a new SF novel, my fifth. I plan to start on this on March 1, but will be doing a lot of planning and research in advance.
  8. Write 20 new short stories (science fiction & fantasy).

Time Spent Out of Town in 2016
Total days out of town: 78. These do not include four days coaching at ITTF Cadet Camp at MDTTC (local), or...




Monday, January 2, 2017 - 14:57
January 2, 2017

Tip of the Week
Last-Second Changes of Direction on Receive. (As explained in my Dec. 28 blog in the Tip of the Week, I'm putting up extra Tips of the Week and post-dating them for earlier in December so I'll end up with 150 Tips for the period 2014-2016. So today's Tip of the Week is dated Dec. 26.)

Barry Dattel: 1958-2016
Last night I got the horrible news – here's the USATT news item. Apparently Barry, an icon in our sport, had a heart attack while at his club late on Friday, Dec. 30, and passed away around 1:30 AM on Saturday morning, Dec. 31, at age 58. So it was a very bad end to the year. (Here's the Legacy obit.) 

I've known Barry since around 1980; we've competed against...




Friday, December 30, 2016 - 14:58
December 30, 2016

High Performance Director and Supercamps
As those of you at the U.S. Open's USATT Assembly learned, High Performance Director Cory Eider resigned. (I think it's effective Dec. 31.) It was depressing for me as I'd had high hopes for this. But the problems had been mounting, many of them communications problems, as well as some policy problems, such as the youth team selection process. I hope Cory won't get mad at me for this (!), but IMHO, communicating was not his strength, and so often many of us had little idea what was going on, including the athletes and coaches.

Cory and I had a number of long late-night discussions, often via Facebook Messenger. We agreed on a lot, but also disagreed on a number of issues, but I'm not going to go into that. He brought a focus on aiming high, with a 52-week a year training mentality that aimed at beating our overseas rivals rather than our domestic ones.

One cornerstone to all this were the Supercamps (though in the end we only did one, plus an ITTF Cadet Camp at...




Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 09:51
December 29, 2016

Tip of the Week: Ask the Distributor!
(Today's blog is both a regular blog entry and a Tip of the Week.)

At clubs all across the nation and the world, the same routine goes on all the time - players are constantly asking and talking about equipment. Only ratings are more discussed. (Typical greeting at a club: “What’s your rating? What equipment do you use?”) And it’s true that you can learn a lot by asking others about equipment - and better still, trying out their equipment.

But think about it - a distributor might have dozens of sponges and dozens of rackets that might suit your game. The possible combinations can run into the thousands. While you may gain valuable information asking questions, remember that they mostly know what works for them, and no two players play alike. You need to find what works for you. You may find this by experimenting, but the probability that someone else at the club just happens to have the perfect racket and sponge combination for you isn’t likely.

But there’s...




Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 14:56
December 28, 2016

Tip of the Week
Racket Rotation Serve. You'll note that it's dated December 23, 2016, which was last Friday? Here's the reason. When I compiled my book "Table Tennis Tips," it included all 150 Tips of the Week (in logical fashion) from 2011-2013. Well, it's three years later, and soon I will be compiling all the Tips from 2014-2016 into "More Tips of the Week." However, because I traveled more these past years, I made the discovery that, as of this morning (before I put up today's Tip), I had only 141 Tips. So I'm going to cheat – and will date the last nine Tips of the Week as Dec. 23 to Dec. 31, thereby ending the three years with another 150 Tips. I'm still undecided whether to post a daily "Tip of the Week" until all I've reached 150 (with the last one going up on Jan. 9), or to continue posting them every Monday, with the 150th Tip going up on Feb. 20, but dated as Dec. 31. Of the eight remaining, I've...




Friday, December 2, 2016 - 15:03
December 2, 2016

Last Blog Until Wednesday, December 28
I'm going out of town almost continuously for the next three weeks. Here's my upcoming schedule.

  • Dec. 4-9: Science Fiction Writer's Workshop Cruise in Bahamas (sort of a working vacation)
  • Dec. 10-18: U.S. Open and USATT Board Meetings in Las Vegas
  • Dec. 20-25: Christmas in Eugene, Oregon
  • Dec. 26-31: MDTTC Christmas Camp in Maryland

USA Youth Team – Selections or Trials? – and the Missing Link
One of the interesting things about being on the USATT Board of Directors is that you hear all sorts of perspectives. Often there are "huge" controversies that go on and on, that few members of USATT actual even know about. The current example is the 2017-18 Youth National Team Trials Procedures Draft for Public Comment. We've received dozens of emails from concerned parents on this, and right now it's perhaps the biggest...