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… Keep reading

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… Keep reading

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. Keep reading

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… Keep reading

“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… Keep reading

The perils of coaching, losing a league title and Chinese obsessions – reflections on table tennis in 2015

Without doubt, this has been my busiest table tennis year. I’ve coached more hours than ever before, played in two different leagues and written 40 articles for my website. I even found time for a trip to Vienna to learn from one of the world’s top coaches. With so much going on, I thought I’d share some of things I’ve been up to, including a farcical coaching accident, losing a league title and becoming slightly obsessed with Chinese table tennis players. Keep reading

Table tennis needs Grand Slams

One of the things I find frustrating about table tennis is its lack of media exposure. In the UK, the only time that table tennis gets any decent national media exposure is during the Olympics. But once the Olympics are over, table tennis disappears and is forgotten about for another four years. What we need is for table tennis to be in the media spotlight more often. One way to do this would be to introduce Grand Slam tournaments, similar to tennis. Keep reading

What should beginner table tennis players learn first?

I recently started coaching two complete beginners, both adults. One had never played table tennis before, the other played a little bit for fun when a kid, but nothing for the next 30 years. Both have a similar goal – to be good enough at table tennis to join a club and possibly play competitively in a local league. This is a great goal to have, but it’s not easy. There is a lot to learn. And when there is so much to learn, what should you focus on first? Keep reading

Benefits of an unconventional playing style

Table tennis coaches (myself included) often favour teaching a modern topspin game – service from the backhand corner, playing forehands on ¾ of the table, playing topspin strokes as often as possible, attack, attack attack! But this isn’t the only way of playing table tennis. In this blog post I explore the benefits of unconventional playing styles. Keep reading