What can table tennis players learn from Roger Federer?

One of my many sporting obsessions is watching Roger Federer play tennis. This has been going on over a decade. Whenever Federer plays, I’ll be following the score, willing him to win. As I watched Federer’s masterclass at this year’s Wimbledon, I started thinking about what we table tennis players can learn from the great man. Is there anything he does on the tennis court, which we can transfer to the table tennis table? Actually I think there is plenty. In this blog post, I examine a few things Federer does particularly well which we can all learn from.

How long does it take to get really good at table tennis?

Table tennis is a very complex sport, with lots of different shots, spins and playing styles, played at a frighteningly fast pace. There is a lot to learn and master. It does takes time to get really good at table tennis. But how long? Can you become a really good table tennis player very quickly or will it take years and years? And what’s the best way to improve quickly? Let’s explore these questions…

When should you move up a division in local league?

I often have conversations with players I coach about when they should move up a division. Some players want to move up local league divisions quickly. They are eager to play in a higher division, even if their win percentage in their current division isn’t very high. My advice? I tell them not to move up a division too soon. I tell them to get a 70% win percentage in their current division first. When they get this 70% win percentage, then they can think about playing in a higher division. What’s the reason behind this? Why 70%? Let me explain…

My experience of playing in the top division

This was my first year playing in the top division in Cambridge. The standard in Division 1 is much higher than Division 2. Looking at the statistics of other players who moved up through the divisions, most got between 10-30% in their first season in Division 1. So I knew it was going to be tough. In this blog post, I share my experience of playing in the top division and reveal whether I managed to win a match. I also give some advice on how you need to develop your game if you want to play in the top division of your local league.

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…