The best table tennis books (according to me!)

I have read a lot of table tennis books. When I’m not playing, coaching or watching table tennis, I often get caught by my long suffering partner, Jodi, with my head in another table tennis book. “Great”, she says, “more table tennis”.

What can I say? I like reading about table tennis!

In this blog post I share my favourite table tennis books. I have split my list into ‘must reads’, ‘other good reads’ and ‘books for hardcore table tennis fans’.

There’s a mixture of books on my list, all focusing on different aspects of table tennis – technique, tactics, psychology, history, personal improvement and more. I have also provided a link to where you can buy each book in the UK and USA.

If you think I’ve missed any really good table tennis books, please let me know in the comments box below.

Happy reading!

Must reads

These are the very best books about table tennis. If you only ever buy one table tennis book in your lifetime, buy one of these…


table-tennis-tactics-for-thinkersTable Tennis for Thinkers

Larry Hodges

This is probably my favourite ever table tennis book. I have read it, re-read it and re-read it again. The book contains so much invaluable advice about table tennis tactics, which you can’t find in any other book.  There are 20+ chapters focusing on tactics against different styles, grips, and surfaces as well as tactical and strategic thinking. This book changed the way I thought about playing table tennis. I highly recommend.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

table-tennis-steps-to-successTable Tennis: Steps to Success

Richard McAfee

This is a very good book about table tennis technique. There are chapters on grip, stance, movement, basic strokes, advanced strokes, service, returning serves and more. Every chapter includes photo sequences so you can see strokes from start to finish. It also includes training drill ideas for the first 5 shots in the rally.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

expert-in-a-yearExpert In A Year: The Ultimate Table Tennis Challenge

Sam Priestly / Ben Larcombe

Sam Priestly was a novice table tennis player. With the help of table tennis coach and lifelong friend, Ben Larcombe, he spent a year playing table tennis every day with the aim of becoming a top 250 player in the UK. Sam found potential he never thought he had, got better at table tennis than most people thought possible, and discovered what it feels like when 1.5 million people watch you fail.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

breaking-2000Breaking 2000

Alex Polyakov

I think this is an inspiring read for any amateur table tennis player. Alex is a beginner table tennis player but has an ambition to get a USTTA ranking of 2000+ (which means you’re pretty damn good at table tennis). The book follows Alex’s journey to reach his goal.  He describes the challenges faced in the process, the details of the training, and the experience gained in tournament matches.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

ping-pong-diplomacyPing Pong Diplomacy

Nicholas Griffin

This is a fascinating story of how table tennis helped bring USA and China together in 1971 – an event of global significance during the cold war. This in itself is worth reading. But there book also explores how the sport of table tennis evolved during the 20th century and offers insight into how China has become the dominant force in world table tennis.  Table tennis, history and politics – what more could you want?

Buy in UK | Buy in USA


Matthew Syed

Excellent book by English table tennis legend Matthew Syed, exploring the secrets of sporting success. In particular Syed explores in great detail whether purposeful practice is more important than innate talent. Ok, so this book isn’t strictly about table tennis, but Matthew Syed does share plenty of table tennis examples. And after you read this book, you’ll believe you can achieve anything!

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

Other good reads

These table tennis books are also very good. Again, I have read all of these and am happy to recommend to any table tennis player…


table-tennis-tips-from-a-world-championTable Tennis: Tips from a World Champion

Bernd-Ulrich Gross / Werner Schlager

Werner Schlager is the last European player to win a world championship. In this shortish book, Schlager is interviewed about technique, tactics, training methods and more. Interesting insight into mindset of a former world champion.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

table-tennis-tipsTable Tennis Tips

Larry Hodges

This book includes over 150 in-depth tips from Larry’s personal table tennis website, Tips cover  all aspects of the game: serve, receive, various strokes, grip, stance, footwork, tactics, sports psychology, equipment, and tournaments.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA


metaphysics-of-ping-pongThe Metaphysics of Ping-Pong

Guido Mina di Sospiro

Entertaining read. When defeat to his teenage son rekindles his lifelong passion for table tennis, keen philosopher Guido Mina di Sospiro sets out to learn the game properly. This book was longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book Award 2013.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA


get-your-game-face-onGet Your Game Face On Like The Pros!

Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon

Neat little book which will help you address how to be in the zone and build your mental toughness through sport psychology techniques. It contains lots of useful techniques you can easily adopt during training and competitive matches.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA


ping-pong-for-fightersPing Pong for Fighters

Tahl A Leibovitz

The book reads more like a conversation consisting of helpful direction through experience and a philosophy of table tennis that is concerned more with experiencing what it feels like to think and play table tennis like a top table tennis player.

Buy in UK | Buy in USA

Books for hardcore table tennis fans

This list is really for the hardcore table tennis fan. I have read some of these, but not all. I’m slowly working my way through them! There’s a mixture of new books, old books, fiction, non-fiction and some not-so-serious table tennis books…

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About Tom Lodziak

I’m a table tennis coach based in Cambridge in the UK. As well as coaching I also write table tennis articles and make table tennis videos. Read more about me.

12 thoughts on “The best table tennis books (according to me!)

  1. How about The Mighty Walzer by Howard Jacobson, an autobiographical novel of growing up with Table Tennis in the Manchester & District League of the 1950’s – v funny!

  2. Hi, my wife has just offer me the first one (laary hodge one ) , very interesting. Hope my play will increase and become an awesome attack and fight style.

  3. Friend, I am a National TT coach from India.Appreciate your efforts to promote the game.Hope to meet you one day.

    • Dear Friend, I am a National Coach with Senior Indian Table Tennis Team. Although i have not seen any literature regarding table tennis promotion but i feel it will be very much helpful to the coaches all around the world. i wanted to become a regular subscriber to your newsletter.

  4. If you’re interested in who invented Ping Pong and how the USA went CRAZY over the game in 1902, read my book Ping Pong Fever: the Madness That Swept 1902 America! Includes details about the champions of those days, too, including the first-ever open tournament in the U.S. Thanks. Steve Grant.

  5. To be fair, your list includes almost all English language table tennis books on sale on Amazon, not really just the “best” 🙂

    That being said, I’ve read quite a few too, and I mostly agree with your list:
    – Bounce is a must read, well written and inspiring.
    – I would actually put “Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros!” higher, it’s short but rather useful.
    – Table Tennis for Thinkers is indeed fairly unique in his category, has some good stuff. But it has on big problem I think: Too many blocks of texts, missing summaries for each section. It’s really the kind of book you cannot digest in one go but rather have to come back regularly, but since the chapter are long, dense and Larry is a bit verbose, it’s not as easy as it should. Still a must read.

    • Hi Vincent

      Compared to other sports, there really isn’t a huge range of table tennis books and very few new ones over the past couple of years. So I guess my list contains most of the books available, but I have attempted to split them into ‘must reads’ and ‘other good reads’. I really like Larry’s writing and pretty much read Table Tennis for Thinkers in one sitting. But after the first reading I use the book like you describe – dipping in and out of different chapters, depending on what stuff I need help with.


  6. Hello Tom, it was great to read about your ping pong books. May I invite you to visit may TT-Museum? Have a look at : tischtennis-museum. com. There you can find parts of my book-collection ( more than 700 different in many different languages. If you have any questions you may get in touch with me under Sincerely Günther Angenendt ( The Mobile Table Tennis Museum )

    • Hi Günther, I looked at your website and it looks great. I never knew there were that many table tennis books available! At some point I will write a book too. When I do, I’ll send you a copy for your collection. Keep up the great work. Tom

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