The Inner Games of Table Tennis
When a looper plays a blocker, there's an inner game being played between the two. The looper wants to be in a stable position where he can make strong, well-placed loops that force the blocker to lunge for the ball, back up, or just miss or return the ball weakly. The blocker wants to be in position so he can make quick, well-placed blocks that force the looper to lunge for the ball or just miss or return the ball weakly. In most rallies, one style takes control while the other struggles, although the advantage can change quickly and multiple times during a rally. When you are in such a match, are you playing blindly or are you focused on winning this inner game?
There are similar inner games in most matches. For example, between two players with strong backhands, both might battle for control of the backhand diagonal. A righty and a lefty might battle for chances to hit aggressive backhands to the opponent's wide forehand, thereby drawing the opponent out of position, or they might battle for forehand control into the opponent's backhand. Or there's the battle between the serve & attacker against the receiver who wants to force a neutral rally. There are countless such examples of these inner games. Have you learned to recognize the inner games that take place in your matches?
Glasses or no glasses?
I started wearing glasses in college because I had trouble reading what was on the blackboard. I also need them to watch a movie or TV, to read road signs when driving, or to see anything clearly in the distance. At some point around 25 or so years ago, I started wearing them when I play table tennis. The problem is that I take the glasses off to read - my eyes are fine for that. When I wear the glasses, I can't read anything close up. When I wear the glasses in table tennis, I can see my opponent's racket clearly, but up close, the ball is a blur.
Yesterday I experimented playing without glasses. I can see the ball much more sharply when serving - my serves seemed better as a result - and I could almost see the ball right into my racket in rallies. My opponent's racket isn't as focused, but I think I can see the racket motion well enough to read spin. So I'm going to continue this experiment. I'll report back later.
Anyone else have experience in these matters?
If you have problems gripping your racket when you get sweaty, you might consider wearing a wristband, and drying your hands with a towel regularly. When it's humid, you should bring two towels, one for the ball and racket, one for you (in particular your hands). Other options include getting a rubber grip or perhaps power grip. (I haven't tried power grip, but I've seen others use this or something similar. When the blog first went up this morning, I incorrectly called and linked it to court grip, which is for shoe traction - another topic to cover someday.)
It's Ping-Pong Diplomacy Night in Colorado!
Yes, you read that right. Read about it here. There will be a live re-enactment of 1971's Ping-Pong Diplomacy games. Actually, it's Ping-Pong Diplomacy Month in Colorado - there are a whole series of Ping-Pong Diplomacy events taking place, such as Ping-Pong in the Park in Denver.
Ping-Pong and Music and Parties, Oh My!
The London Ping-Pong Company is a company that creates ping-pong events with music in a party atmosphere. To use their own description, "Our unique ping-pong events are based on fun, teams-based ‘tournament-style’ parties involving fantastic venues, trained hosts & umpires, MCs, DJs, super coaches, & exhibition matches." Sounds like something someone in the U.S. could emulate - a niche just waiting to be grabbed.
Polar Bear versus a Penguin
In this episode (3:36, starts with a short ad), Bernard the Hairless Polar Bear plays ping-pong with a penguin. (As someone notes in the comments, the cheating bird illegally hides his serve at 2:22.)
Send us your own coaching news!