The best table tennis tip ever (interview with Larry Hodges)

This week’s blog post is dedicated to the great Larry Hodges. If you don’t know who Larry Hodges is, where the heck have you been? This man is MR TABLE TENNIS. He’s an inspiration to me, both as a coach and a writer. In this blog post, I’m going to briefly explain my love of Larry, shamelessly plug his new book (and a previous book which is the best table tennis book I’ve ever read) and share a recent interview, where he reveals his most important table tennis tip he’s ever written.

Lessons learnt from 1000 hours of coaching

Over the past two years, I’ve given over 1,000 hours of 1-to-1 table tennis coaching lessons. That’s a lot of coaching. Even though every session is focused entirely on the needs of the player I’m coaching, I’m also constantly learning. Learning how to be a better coach. Learning how to improve my instruction and drills. Learning more about table tennis. Since I’ve reached a 1,000 hour coaching milestone, I thought it would be useful to share some of the lessons I have learnt over the past couple of years.

We lost! Our three year unbeaten run has come to a crushing end

Last night, we finally lost a league match. It’s our first loss since January 2014. During this time, we have won 51 matches and drawn 3, across 4 different divisions. It’s been a fantastic run, but the frustrating thing is that we had our chances last night. We could have kept the unbeaten run going for longer. Read on to find out what happened…

Men vs women – what we can learn from each other

One of the many things I love about table tennis is that men and women can compete together. Although we play the same sport, there does seem to be some differences between how men and women play. You could say there is a typical ‘female’ playing style and a typical ‘male’ playing style. Both have strengths and weaknesses. In this blog post I pick out one big thing men do well, but women don’t. And one big thing women do well, but men don’t. If we can learn from each other then we will all improve.

My biggest table tennis failures (so far)

It is very easy to get despondent when we fail at table tennis. I always try to encourage the players I coach to have a healthy relationship with failure. You can learn so much from your losses – which parts of your game are weak, which tactics don’t work, which styles you find difficult to play against. Without the losses and failures, you’d never know what you need to do to improve. Sometimes I’ll get a sceptical look from a player. The look says “You don’t understand. You’re already a decent table tennis player. You don’t have to worry about failing all the time”. It’s at this stage that I will start to reveal some of my biggest table tennis failures. Here’s three good examples…

Magnificent Ma Long – the greatest table tennis player of all time?

Ma Long wins again! At the Rio Olympics Ma Long once again showed why he is the top ranked player in the world. In the men’s singles final, he crushed his Chinese rival and reigning Olympic champion, Zhang Jike, 4-0. Gold medal to Ma Long. What a performance! Is Ma Long the greatest table tennis player of all time? Here’s my thoughts…

Ignore the haters, TTX sounds great fun!

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has launched a new version of table tennis, called ‘TTX’. The new game has a bigger ball, simplified rackets with less spin, time limited matches and extra points for clean winners. Not everyone is happy about the new game, but I think TTX sounds great fun. In this blog post I explain why you should play a game of TTX too.

How to deal with too much conflicting table tennis advice

Last week I received a panicked email from a player I coach. In her own words, she was “completely muddled with all the different pieces of advice from different people”. She was beginning to doubt if her fast, attacking topspin game was the right way to play. An experienced player had told her she should play slow and spinny. A coach said she should flat hit rather than spin the ball. Another coach gave her some tactical advice which was the opposite to the advice she had received from a completely different coach. How was she supposed to make sense of all this? Read on to find out my advice…

“Is it ok to use illegal serves?”

During a recent coaching session, a player asked me whether it’s ok to use illegal serves. He said very few players have a legal serve in his local league. And umpires, who are usually other players, rarely enforce the service rules. He said his opponents have an advantage because they can serve however they want. What should he do? Continue to serve legally or use illegal serves too? Read on to find out my answer…

What went wrong with my season?

It has been a league season of mixed fortunes. Our team remained unbeaten all season in the league, yet we only finished in second place. I achieved a respectable win percentage (84%), but this was lower than the previous two seasons. We won the handicap competition, but crashed out of another cup competition in the quarter final due to a shocking performance by myself. So, what went wrong? In this blog post I reflect on my playing performance over the past few months and examine my big tactical mistake.