Category: Table Tennis Debates

English National Championships Under 10-13’s

It’s always a joy to be present at the English National Championships Under 10’s 11’s 12’s and 13’s because you see tomorrow’s future champions.

The Tournament

This event was held at Wolverhampton at a lovely venue which has been used for Grand Prix’s and Junior British League. I feel the event was run a lot more smoothly than the (Junior National Table Tennis Championships) with a lot more entries and the tournament was punctual. I must admit though, the event for me runs way too long, commencing at 8am and finishing near 8pm. I don’t think it’s fair having players, coaches, and parents in a hall 12 hours. The results sometimes can be misleading because the young players are tired and more often than not you will not see their peak performance after a long day.

The Atmosphere

I must admit the atmosphere in the hall felt pleasant and positive; players coaches and parents seemed to be getting along. I believe due to many being new to the sport they are competing via the will to win. The young players don’t know what kind of politics is going on and the parents are new to the sport. Also, the prestige of this event compared to junior or senior level national’s is less and the coaches relax and watch their players compete on friendly but competitive terms.

National Table Tennis Championships 10-13 Wolverhampton 2019

Enjoy and Play Table Tennis

I often ask myself why is there so much politics inside a minor sport? I guess the answer is simple the more you get involved and become accustomed to something the more you want it to be your way. Therefore this lead’s to inner ego’s and even though many think they are doing the right thing they often forget the most important thing. The love and joy of the sport, yes its nice to win and implement certain methods of your own but in truth, we all just want to play.

Table Tennis England

I was happy to see Matt (England Coach), Marcus (England Coach) and Sandra Deaton (TTE Chairman), at the event.  From what I saw they seemed to be mingling with players, coaches, and parents. This is what our sport needs, the heads of table tennis working with the community towards future growth. I won’t lie I was disappointed not to see Alan and more importantly, Sarah (TTE CEO) or Simon (TTE Performance Director), from my perspective it feels like they don’t truly care about our sport (domestically). The European youth championships will commence next month, let’s see how our players do. Personally, I want each player to shine but realistically I don’t believe this will happen due to poor TTE youth development.

Future of Table Tennis in England

My biggest gripe as a coach and a table tennis advocate for our sport in England is the lack of support for the youth via TTE. Let’s be clear and honest England have lots of money and TTE have million are going through their accounts. Why is it so difficult to have a pot of money or a sponsor for players inside the England youth team/squad? These players invest thousands of hours, thousands of pounds, put their hearts into the sport and…  When or if they reach their goal of representing England, TTE asks for more money, which then includes them in the squad. Personally, I feel it’s a broken system. A system that can cost over £10k and you may not get picked, furthermore, a program that judges you on your fitness rather than your ability. Table tennis is a skill-based sport and to develop your skill takes years. Anyone at any time can uplift their fitness in a matter of weeks to months, so why penalise players if they can’t reach a certain level in a bleep test?

To become great we must start and to be great we must be supported

Table Tennis Break

How Important is it to take a table tennis break?

I read an article about Michael Phelps and to my amazement, he spoke about how he became the greatest swimmer of all time but overworking. He decided to do what others wouldn’t do and that meant training 7 days a week for 5 years without a break. No rest days meant he would gain 52 extra training days per year as an advantage over his competitions. Michael explained that most of us have the same tools but what sets us apart is two things

1) How we train

2) Time – The hours we spent working towards our development

Michael Phelps Swimming Legend
Best Swimmer of all Time

Should We Work Harder or Smarter?

The honest answer in my humble opinion, you must have both attributes to become special in any field. I know we find some people become very good at something with seemingly little work, it comes naturally to them. Look carefully and you’ll notice these people are often good or very good but rarely great! The so-called gifted people often miss one of the key ingredients required for greatness Work alongside Time. Yes, they have a gift but and can become great but due to lack of commitment, their true capability is not fulfilled due to poor effort. We are all unique and some of us possess, Hard Work Ethic but the direction is poor, hence the energy exerted is misdirected. Then you have people who are very Smart and they effortlessly grow and develop but they lack Work Ethic. This means they lack the energy required to push boundaries and grow beyond their current capabilities.

In conclusion, greatness cannot be achieved just by working smart, neither can it be done with sheer hard work. Greatness is achieved once only by combining both smart and hard work together. 

Time Spent Training

This is dependent upon your age, ability and sporting desires which is something you must know and figure out. I believe Michael Phelps did what was right for him, he had a gift and he wanted to become a supernova. For someone else spending 5 years without a break in their chosen field would most likely have a negative effect. This is because few have the grit required to push their mind and body with such force. So how did Michael make the most of his (seemingly) extreme training?

Firstly he didn’t just wake up one day and say ok I’m going to train for every day for 5 years. He had trained his body for over 10 years already in the field. His body and mind evolved and the demands put on his body had become accustomed to relentless work. Therefore he was able to increase his workload a little more from 6 days a week to 7. It’s like anything in life, if we choose with our minds our bodies will follow. In order for you to fully prosper, you must commit with a positive mindset. This means, stay focused, be specific, ignore the naysayers, have a good team around you and lastly know what your body and mind are capable of doing. There is no wrong or right when it comes to time spent on training there’s only what works best for you.

Table Tennis Clock
Table Tennis Time

Training does not guarantee results

Many of my players who train with me prosper both on and off the table. There is a big misconception, “I have trained super hard, therefore I deserve positive results”. Working hard towards the desired outcome will often find a way of delivering positive results but there’s no guarantee. Why you may ask? Simply because you are not in control of everything! Anthony Joshua lost his heavyweight title fight last Saturday (some will say he underestimated his opponent others will say something wasn’t right, the Ruiz style didn’t suit and so on. If you watched the fight you’ll notice one thing, Andy Ruiz, wanted to win. That desire enabled him to step outside of his normal capability and produce what many would call the impossible. The point is, you may be stronger, fitter, worked harder but sometimes life gives to someone else who may or may not deserve it. The only thing you can do is do your best and that will give you the satisfaction that you did everything in your power to succeed. If things don’t go the way you planned it, then it’s down to you to find out why and how it can be better next time.

Should we take a break?

A common theme I have noticed with many of my players, they take a break or stop training (just play occasional match play) and they go up a level. How is it possible? Well if you train your body physically you’ll see benefits and over years your body will adapt and evolve. If you stop a physical regime your brain and body will naturally reflect and look at other means towards gaining positive results. Pay attention though, if you take a break for too long your muscles will slow down and your response rate will deteriorate. This will gradually be lower your playing level and training must be resumed otherwise your level will never upscale again.

Table tennis break
Holiday from or with table tennis?

Taking a break from table tennis

There are arguments for and against having a break but for me personally, I believe a break from your normal regiment is a necessity. Taking a break from anything gives your mind and body the healing power required to rejuvenate and effectively re-fuel. You can allow, all your learnings to sink in and your mind to put the puzzle together. The best thing about taking a break from table tennis. You can enjoy other pleasures in life and then come back with a clear joyful mindset.

Remember a break is solely up to you, ask yourself; Do I require a break? How long should it be? When should I take a break and why? 

The key is to take time out of your normal routine which would allow you to see and understand what is required for your future developments.




Table Tennis Atmosphere

Did the English Senior Nationals have table tennis atmosphere?

In short no!

I must admit, there were huge developments from last year’s nationals. Credit is due when something has been upscaled because it’s easy to criticise from the sideline and as a business owner my self, it can be hurtful when others disrespect or criticise your work from an outside perspective. Personally, I pride myself in giving 100% to every task so when I’m critiqued or receive negative feedback I’m able to hold my head up high and say it’s OK, let’s try and learn from this. This is only if what I did was wrong (make a note) my effort is never penalised I’m only being critiqued on my work.

Paul Drinkhall vs Liam Pitchford 2019 Nationals
English National Table Tennis Championship Final


From what I saw, a great deal of effort was implemented via TTE into making the nationals a prestigious event and I am not pointing my fingers in that direction. But here’s where I would like to see further developments.

Table Tennis Atmosphere:

I watched a few matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the atmosphere was dead on Friday. It slightly upscaled both on Saturday and Sunday but was not at a level where I believe it should be at.

French Senior Table Tennis National Championships:

I also watched the French National Championships and that was a different world altogether. There is a huge qualification system with 4 tournament rounds that enables up to (I believe) 100 players to qualify. In the main event there are 128 players and that’s where the fun begins with lots of exciting matches and of course upsets. In this year’s semifinals, none of the top 4 seeds reached that stage and one player was seeded 21. As soon as you tuned into the live video feed, you could feel and hear the buzz in the hall, it’s truly what sport requires to flourish as a whole.

Table Tennis French Firework Intro
Firework intro for Players

Here’s a list of what I saw in comparison;

English table tennis:

  • No crowd day one
  • Small crowd days 2 & 3
  • No light effects
  • No real support from the crowd
  • Little engagement with the crowd
  • Commentary (not my words although I agree was poor)
  • No special intro
  • No mascot
  • No clappers or bangers
  • Little to no music
  • Split into two halls

French table tennis Championships:

  • Big crowd
  • Spotlights on players as they enter the court
  • Crowd; chanting, supporting, truly vocal throughout each match
  • Clappers, bangers and drums
  • Music constantly implemented sparking the players and crowd
  • Special player intro’s with music and fireworks
  • Commentators really engaging and fun to listen to with comments such as; Oh La La la la
  • Table tennis mascot
  • One hall

You buy this table just click on the picture
You buy this table just click on the picture

Timo Boll Winning his 13th & last National Championships
German Table Tennis Nationals

Table Tennis Nationals is held once a year:

I appreciate it’s all easily said compared to being done. But let’s be honest we have one major event per year in England and it’s clear that a lot has been put into it. Therefore if a lot of investment (time, money, effort, energy) then let’s invest wisely.
Making an event special is done by one key ingredient, atmosphere. If you get the buzz feeling inside the hall it will be felt by those watching from the outside.

I am always interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions so please comment below

Written by Eli Baraty 
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 

English Table Tennis National Championships

Table Tennis National Championships

Another year since the last English Table Tennis Championships.

Table Tennis Progress:

It’s nice to see TTE taking people’s views and advice. They have introduced an open qualifiers event which enables anyone to qualify. I’m glad and happy this has been implemented but…
I would like to see the national event on a greater scale. We have 40 thousand registered Table Tennis Players and only 32 participate in the main event. I honestly believe we could upscale this event with events of 128 to 64 and 32 depending on categories.

Why bigger scale?

  1. More opportunity for players to be involved and apart of this special event
  2. More spectators and support
  3. Increased odds of upsets and surprises

Who will win this match? Alex or Florian?

French Table Tennis National Championships
Exciting French National’s

Player Organisation

I don’t want to dwell into the current state of TTE and our National Championships. Therefore I’ll talk about the player’s organisation.
3 key elements required to perform:
  1. Least decision making as possible: this means to prepare you bag, bat any every physical thing required for the event the night before. This enables your brain to focus on fewer things and zone into the task at hand.
  2. The draw: There are different views when approaching a draw. Some want to play and avoid the draw. They get nervous or overthink and sometimes predict their future. Others like to plan their match play and how to face each opponent. I won’t say there’s a right or wrong but I will say the best always prepare.
  3. Get used to the environment: Go and train at the location pre-tournament. If you know which table you will begin your matches, train in there. Find the weakest spot in the hall and train there also. Use the match ball, play a match (if you wish) and develop inner confidence with the location. All of these implementations can and more often than not will give you marginal gains.

Nationals in England

Currently, we don’t have it right but the beautiful thing is many other countries do. Therefore in my opinion modelling is required, this will kick start our development of the nationals. Once we have the system in place, incremental changes can be developed to suit our nation.
For more info and to view the current English Table Tennis Nationals 

Buy the tables used at the Nationals Click on Image
Buy the tables used in the Nationals Click on Image

English Table Tennis Nationals 2019
Table under courage falls midpoint

The Nationals are the nations most prestigious event let’s find ways of making it a success for everyone.
I am always interested in your view and thoughts so please leave a comment
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 

Table Tennis Rules

Most people who play or have played know the basic rules in table tennis. If you don’t here’s a link for table tennis rules.

Table tennis has and most likely will continue to evolve.

Table tennis has evolved so much that many recreational table tennis or (ping pong) players abide by the older rules. Such as celluloid balls, up to 21 points, 5 serves each, no ball toss etc. This means if you are unwilling to adapt and change, table tennis as a sport will gust rate the hell out of you.

Rules are important:

Rules are extremely important, it’s like building a cupboard from Ikea without instructions. You would put many holes in the wrong place, you may break a few pieces, some things would be the wrong way round etc.

Rules allow people to express themselves but with limitations and a clear outcome. How you reach the outcome is down to you. It also may pave the way in which we perform and carry out the task at hand.

Should rules be broken?

Depends on who you ask, Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “break some rules but don’t break the law”. Personally, I love this quote and in many ways, I follow his philosophy. My wife, on the other hand, will not and does not break the rules. This may be because of upbringing, past experiences or developed via culture.

Arnold Schwarzenegger playing table tennis
Arnold Schwarzenegger playing table tennis
For me personally, there were little rules growing up. My mum was hardly home and if she was she wasn’t exactly a stickler for rules. On the other hand, my wife was brought up in a lovely family home with 4 siblings. This meant order was required in making sure everyone and everything was in check, keeping piece inside the home.

Pros and cons of rules:

If you are like me and break the rules you can find yourself in many sticky situations. Lots of mistakes, lots of disagreements, lots of seemingly (failures). But on the positive side, you may find lots of success, new ideas, exponential growth, unique methods, super learning, wonderful experience, development of strong mindset, grit, survival, and finding ways thought of as impossible etc.

On the other hand:

If you’re like my wife, you will not; try out new things, ponder over small mistakes, have fewer experiences, predictable often using systematic methods, let fear control you, follow others, be indecisive etc. But you will be trustworthy, organised, committed, play fair, rarely get in trouble, rarely make mistakes, consistent etc.

Are rules important?

Yes, 100% they are but if I had a choice (which we all do) I would choose to take positive qualities from both. This includes; Pushing the boundaries, look for loopholes and explore beyond to gain those special experiences via personal goals and vision. Yet I would also benefit from being committed, focused, have clear outlines and be organised.
I think if you are able to combine both elements you will witness great success.
Many of the best players explore the limits of scientific rules, both in physical and mental capabilities.

Breaking table tennis rules:

If the game is up to 11 why not play;
1. some games up to 100 points?
  1. Why not play half table only?
  2. Why not play two red rubbers one anti-spin?
  3. Why not serve behind the arm/body creating illegal serves?
All these things wild explorations will elevate your game because you will have to adapt. As human beings, we are the best creatures on the planet at adapting because not only does our body adapt but our brain also looks for solutions.
Of course, once the official game begins re-group, focus and use your new skills to find ways of winning inside the rule book.
The choice is yours, become one way or another or be everything.
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Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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Develop Your Table Tennis Belief

I know it’s easy to say, table tennis belief can be developed.

Before We Believe:


I think the biggest issue we all have is hearing, listening and doing what others do. I don’t like this saying but it’s so true “most are sheep” which often kills potential. We are the most privileged species on the planet, yet most follow and few create. We have a gift which enables us in more ways than any other thing on the planet.
So why do we let our surroundings dictate us?

One Simple Reason:


Fear of what others think, do and say! Most would live a fake life, their whole lives because they fear what others may think or say.
What a shame, to live under a shadow when you only have one life (that we know of).
The older you get the shorter your time becomes but while you’re still breathing you still have time to make your life yours.

table tennis belief
Develop table tennis belief

Table Tennis Belief:


The game has evolved so much over the past 30 years and we are seeing less and less versatility. I think it’s a shame for players and for the sport. I appreciate that it’s highly unluckily to become a world champion if you only chop, or chop block on your backhand or lob & fish. But only one person becomes a world champion every two years, so why not play the way you want?!
In order to love what you do and enable your skill to truly flourish, you must develop your own style. This means finding what works for you and believe in that pathway.

An insight into achievement via work and belief
An insight into achievement via work and belief

Table Tennis Styles:

If players were given more freedom to explore, experiment and have a personal style I believe we would retain more players. I think many players are boxed via associations, clubs and coaches. The sport requires expression and it’s moving more and more towards a single formula of play.
There is no human on the planet that has the same DNA so why are we teaching all our players a systematic style of play?!
Believe in yourself, express yourself and find what suits you. If you do this, you may not be a winner or seen as “normal” but you are true to yourself. And being true to yourself means you are truly living.
I am very interested in your thoughts and opinions so please leave a comment below


Written Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 

Table Tennis Culture in Belgium

Wow, the table tennis culture in Belgium is so different.
Playing table tennis in the Belgium League
Nearly 20 years ago I played in Belgium at a club called Soka. The club had plenty of teams ranging from lower divisions through to the top division ‘Super Liga’. The Belgique super league has been famous for many years attracting lots of superstar table tennis players. Players include Samsanov, Primorac, JM Saive and many others. Moving forward in time I was back playing in Belgium, for a different club and here are some lessons and experiences which may interest you.
My experience
I have competed seldom over the past 7 years and most of the time it has been local competition. The play included once or twice a year to help friends and students at SBL but most know my focus is on coaching these days. Yet this felt like a mini-renaissance, I was asked to compete on behalf of another club as a player. This was no favour nor was it to help my teams out, it was me providing my skills as a player to a club.
It was a weird and honourable feeling to for me. My head was giving excuses as to why I may lose and why I should not compete! I entered the hall and began watching my opposition knock up, again I questioned my ability to be there and could I beat these guys?
Our brains implode with information through a new experience and this was exactly how I felt especially when I was told before the match “this is an important match”. Luckily for me, my first match was against a defensive player. This gave me immediate confidence, I’ve always believed to be good against defensive players and I used the confidence to win that match 3-1. Two matches are played simultaneously and I glimpsed across on occasion eyeing up my next opponent blasting balls. Again my mind started began procrastinating saying all sorts of things like it’s OK you’ve won be happy.
As you can see our minds like to make us feel secure by giving excuses or looking for ways to protect us. I managed to win all 4 of my matches. My confidence by the 3rd and 4th match was at a massive high and I was able to execute my match play as if I was in the practice hall.
How and why was I able to turn my initial doubts into confidence and winning convincingly?
I purposely put pressure on myself, by posting on social media that I’m competing. I knew this would provide me a sense of external pressure and build my internal pressure. I wanted to put myself in a position where I felt uncomfortable and see if I could find a way to overcome it.
Admittedly I was very nervous the first match. All eyes on me from 90% of the club members and players, the club has paid for me to come and perform and I was told by the president that this match is important prior to the event.
So… how did I manage to control the pressure, something many fail (including myself) to handle or control?
The first game
My opponent struggled with my serve and I ran away winning 11-3, this is one of the reasons I always bang on about the importance of having good serves. Second game it all changed he was able to return my serves and began to put all the balls back on the table, furthermore I lost focus looking at my next opponent and I lost 11-9.
My mind began to get scrambled again “what if you lose this game? You’ll be 2-1 down and it will be hard to come back, then you may lose the other games!”. And you said, “you’re good against chop!!!” It was time to put my teachings into practice and often a good start can lead to a good ending.
Finding a way
My mantra is finding a way, I quickly changed those thoughts to
1. Focus on the moment
2. How can you win tactically
3. Lowering my pulse rate by focusing on my breath.
This allowed me to ignore all the variables and hone in on my skill and what I can do to win. I found some new tactics and slowly drew away point by point. The possible outcomes and negative thoughts disappeared and I was in the zone. I believe I won the next two games under 5.
Table Tennis Characters
I wrote a blog 2 weeks ago about how a character is required in our sport. Well, character in Belgium is in huge abundance which explains why they get people to come and watch plus support the sport. My second match was against the player I was viewing while I played my first match. You had to be there to believe it!
FIRST POINT – I won, (via my serve) this young man was effing and blinding for about 30 seconds.
SECOND POINT – I won, (third ball attack) my opponent goes mental at himself with verbal abuse and physically he goes to kick the table skimming it (luckily for him). Lots of verbal diarrhoea both out loud and under his breath, nothing aimed at me in fact as he prepares to play the next point, he says well played (LOL). The other amazing thing I noticed was how the umpire says nothing at all of this physical and metal outcry.
The THIRD POINT – he misses a shot and that was it he literally gave up. I tried to stay focused because sometimes this kind of giving up attitude allows a player to play freely and occasionally even better than their normal play. Furthermore by staying focused it employs that you are not taking them lightly regardless of their state and reinforces their (giving up attitude) making it virtually impossible for them to win. Even though I tried to maintain focus in game 2 he regrouped swinging left right and centre taking that game off me 11-7. My corner told me to go to his forehand when attacking. I knew it was important to get a good start and hopefully get him to lose his cool again. I did just that and he began playing as if he had lost the match and I just focused on winning one point at a time. Tactically I decided to go to his cross over which seemed to work better than going to his forehand side. (Lesson for youngsters) listen to advice but if it doesn’t seem to work or you’re uncomfortable, change tactics accordingly.

EBS Hayon Table Tennis Club Belgium

The madness continues:
Players often swore between points, lots of outspoken verbal diarrhoea some players drunk beer in between points and I saw one guy snap his bat in half after losing. Yet, with all this drama every player is courteous and polite in so many respects regardless of their outcry. For example, players wished you “Bonne Match” (have a good match) before play commenced, an immediate apology was given if a net or edge occurred. Gestures of well played, sorry and honesty was truly amazing to see. The respect for the player, game and club was beautiful to see such as; If a ball interrupted play players would always ask did the ball disturb you? And if the umpire thought it did not the opponent would correct them and say no by flipping the scoreboard and giving you back the point. Even though there was lots of verbal and physical outcry it was clear to see that was the personal character being expressed and they never I portrayed any animosity towards the other player.
Table tennis culture in Belgium
This was fascinating to me, they have 30 thousand registered players in a very small country. Yet they have produced a world no.1 and many world-class players over the past 30 years. They have a top division professional league where some top players get up to €50k per season.
A very large proportion of the clubs are based in a full-time table tennis hall which has a bar, lounge seating area and its open 7 days a week. They provide for the local community and the community supports them by offering sponsorship. This particular club I was playing for had over 50 different sponsors scattered all around the hall.
Pub – Drink – Play
Effectively the system works like this, there’s a bar open to the public. Players enjoy a drink and socialise with their friends and compete for both, on a social, local, national and even professional level. The local community support the club via multiple local businesses. Often the sponsors are players inside the club and they get multiple benefits via sponsoring the club. Tax benefits, supporting the local community, their company is viewed by internal and external people and they get to have a beer on the house. The beautiful thing was seeing families attend the club to watch dad, mother, brother or sister compete. After the match, both teams sit down for a drink and a meal were discussions about table tennis flows.
Table tennis pub clubs:
Maybe it’s time for us to incorporate a similar structure in England? Lots of pubs are closing down, this gives scope and possibly reviving pubs across England. All that’s needed is pubs that have some land where a hall can be built to accommodate a playing area/facility.
The benefits:
  • People attend the pub to play
  • Join their friends who play
  • Watch TT (entertainment while they have a drink)
  • Burn off the beer calories
  • Social evening
  • Compete
  • Provide for the community and unite the community via a social gathering

For more info about Hayon EBS click here

To see little clips and pictures of the club in action please visit my social media networks (Insta or FB)
Table tennis never ceases to amaze me, the sport can give so much to a person’s livelihood. All we have to do is invest in building a culture that understands and wants to take part.

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Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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Table Tennis Bad Boys & Girls

Are you a table tennis bad boy or girl?
We all get angry or upset sometimes

I don’t care who you are, you will have times when things don’t go your way and that inner demon pops out. You may scream or shout, you may throw your bat or kick the table or use verbal abuse towards your opponent or yourself.

Should bad behaviour be nullified?

Sport has multiple benefits; fitness, benefits our brains, competition, drama and entertainment, social, unification etc.
Today sportsmen and women are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner otherwise they are heavily penalised.
The professional conduct often makes the sport a little duller and athletes seem robotic like. We see little emotion, we hear little passion and we feel little tension. Back in the ’90s when I was in my teens watching sport on TV, sporting athletes seemed to possess plenty of charisma and characters.

Sport in the ’90s

Athletes of the 90’s that have stuck in my head not just because of their sporting ability but also because of their personalities: Andre Agassi, Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, Michael Johnson, Jean Michel Saive, Michael Jordan, Eric Cantona, Hulk Hogan, Mia Hamm, William Sisters, Monica Seles, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Schumacher and many many others.

What set these athletes apart?

They were seemingly given more freedom to express themselves as opposed to today’s sporting world. Now I’m not saying go and Karate kick a fan, or say, “ I want to eat your children” is good conduct. Everything has a balance and of course, these athletes pushed those boundaries on occasion. What I am saying,  I want to see the athlete’s character.

What is a character?

A few years back we saw Zhang Jike kicking and breaking a barrier after winning the world cup against Ma Long. He was slandered by ITTF and heavily fined. Zhang, is still regarded as one of China’s biggest sporting heroes. Naturally, that’s mainly due to his amazing achievements but he stood out and developed the biggest fan base in table tennis (China) due to his personal expression.


Zhang Jike kicking barriers
Table Tennis Bad Boy Zhang Jike


To Grow a Sport you must have Characters 

Table tennis is not football or basketball where you make millions upon millions yet table tennis players seem to be caged as personalities. John McEnroe lit up Tennis back in the ’80s with his verbal and physical outbursts. No one from that era or even today say, what a bad role model or nasty person he was. Of course, he would have been a Marmite (some would have loved and others would have hated his character) yet he was an amazing athlete a huge tennis attraction. Even today he is talked about and remembered due to his antics. Sport is an array of skill between people but it becomes a lot more fascinating when there’s drama involved.

Fang Bo

I recently saw footage of Fang playing in China, there was a dispute between the umpire and Fang. After a minute play commenced and Fang lost the next point, he stepped over to the towel box and kicked it in rage. The box had moved naturally but did not break, no one was hurt and yet Fang was fined £5k and banned for two league matches.

Are we stopping our sport from being a spectator sport?

As spectators, we want to see athletes with character,
I’m not saying; swear, kick things, abuse people and your surroundings. But be giving a little more freedom to express yourself. Kicking a box that has little value and you have caused no harm to your opponent or surrounding nor yourself should be given a warning sanction. Not bans and big fines!

I know lots will disagree with me and feel that professional conduct is important especially for the younger generation. And you are correct how we conduct ourselves is very important, I pride myself and my students in professional behaviour. but at the same time, I encourage the expression of personality.

I further Argue

We are all humans (the ones who are reading this lol) and as long as we are not being malicious harming or damaging others or our surroundings then we should be given a little more leeway in the expression of feelings and external outbursts.
We let our kids play games like fortnight (where characters have guns and other weapons) used to kill. You will never see a sports person pulling out a weapon mid-event and go out to kill, at worst-case scenario a fight will break loose.


Without characters, we are unable to connect to these athletes and won’t want to watch or follow them. Some may resonate with happy characters like Usain Bolt and some see themselves in him. Others may be cocky like Mohammed Ali, and want to shout out “I’m the greatest” and some may like the iceman Jan-Ove Waldner’s approach (silent assassin) little facial expression but magical ability expressing artistic gestures via ability. Some might like to let their tension out like John McEnroe “are you kidding me” and have a few words with the ref. All these characters create and make sports special. No disrespect but few Russian Athletes are remembered (even though some have the extraordinary ability) they often are expressionless therefore forgotten quickly.

Sporting conduct

I believe we should not encourage bad behaviour but allow personalities to be expressed. This means go easy a little less harsh on disciplinary especially if the behaviour is not malicious or pointed directly at others. More often than not anger is aimed at oneself and should be granted a little more. If conduct is directed at others, then yes, of course, a stern/harsh penalty is entitled.

Chester Barnes:

Many remember Chester as a table tennis English table tennis character, often unmentioned, he was also England no.1. I’ve heard many stories about this legend and some amazed me of which I wish I had been privileged to have witnessed. Apparently, he was so charismatic, controversial and entertaining that crowds of up to 2000 people would come to watch his local league matches! Let’s be honest today’s England no.1 does not get that kind of crowd’s for the national championships. People want to see the skills and ability of course but they also want to feel as if they know or understand your personality. Chester was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and to date, we do not have table tennis player with such a following.



Expression leads to success

Every successful man or women in the world has expressed themselves one way or another. And because of that expression, it allowed others to connect with that person by seeing themselves in that light.

It’s nice to have different colours or do you want to watch a black and white TV?

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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How Important Is Table Tennis Technique

When I first started coaching 19 years ago, I was obsessed with having a good table tennis technique.

I am not 100% as to why but I remember coaching my players and making sure they possessed solid technique on all strokes.

Table Tennis Forehand
Table tennis tactics alongside technique


I got plenty of good results producing many England players and thought I was doing it correctly. As a young man you get ahead of yourself and believe you know it all but then you learn that time and experience is the real superpower.
The more time you spend inside an industry (with an open mind and willingness to learn and expand) the more you realise there’s so much more. Results in sport is a mixture of many factors; location, environment, age, external factors etc. All of this play’s a huge role in players success and I was fortunate witnessed these on many occasions. Both at Barnet TTC and Harefield Academy and now as a freelance coach..

What can be done with experience:

Today I believe if I had the same environments (mentioned above) I would have produced twice as many top players.
I believe in holistic coaching, back then I thought if I develop your strokes technically you will have the weapons to win. Some did but many failed because I was unable to provide: the physical, nutritional, mental and tactical repertoire. When I realised that many of my players had the weapons but lost I began to realise having weapons is one thing if you don’t know how to use them, they are effectively redundant. So began to study every element required in making players the best they can be. I am still constantly learning and that will never stop for both myself and my players.

Why technique is not enough:

I had one player technically the best in the club but he lacked mental toughness and reached no.2 in England. I believe if I was able to tap into other aspects mentioned above he would have been no.1 no doubt. Every time he failed to perform we blamed it on his shots rather than his mental or physical condition.

Like a car:

The technique is like the shell of a car, you can have the most beautiful Ferrari body but the most important tool is the engine. Other elements are important and all make the car a finely tuned machine. When building your game don’t just build the shots, you must focus on building your mindset, your physical conditioning, your tactical awareness and many other elements.

The best in the world have:

Average rating out of 10 (my personal opinion and view)
Mental – 8 plus out of 10
Physical – 8 plus out of 10
Nutritional – 5 plus out of 10 (personally I believe it’s higher but players can get away with poor nutrition)
Technique – 7 plus out of 10
Tactical – 8 plus out of 10


Notice how nutritional and technical score less than the others. This is because your body is special and can forgive you for not putting the best nutrition (up to a certain point). You will reduce efficiency by 10-20%. But due to constant physical activity, you will be able to perform at near peak level when aged between 18 to 20 years of age.

Technique again slightly lower because you can find world-class players with not the best of technical (textbook) shots. Timo Boll is an example of a world class player that players a technically poorer forehand shot.

Due to other elements mentioned above, you can perform at the top with a lower level of technical ability.

The technique enables you to perform but everything else is essential towards making your technical skills perform.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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