Category: Table Tennis Ideas

New Year’s Resolution! Learn from Cage Fighting!

An unlikely source of wisdom and model for success.


The views expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of eBaTT and its employees.

Credit: Josh hedges/Zuffa LLC/ Zuffa LLC via Getty images
Credit: Table Tennis England
Credit: Table Tennis England
Credit: UFC
Credit: UFC
Credit: World Table Tennis
Credit: World Table Tennis
  • Our sport is not living up to its potential.
  • In several countries it is even regressing.
  • This is particularly apparent in England.

Clubs are closing down from financial pressure exacerbated by the pandemic, dwindling memberships, a lack of television coverage, a lack of strong youth talent, high teenage/20s attrition rate and rigid stereotypes surrounding the sport and it’s players. These are just a few of the many difficulties. Demonstrably, our sport is not seeing its best days.

However, there are solutions and sources of wisdom that can be harnessed to put our sport on the road to recovery and in the long run can elevate our sport to become the most vibrant, exciting, and revered sport in England and the world.

We all know that our beautiful sport deserves nothing less!

New Year’s Resolution! Learn from Cage fighting!

The fundamental message in this article is to think outside-the-box and learn from of others who have started from nothing to become astronomical successes. However absurd the comparison between Table Tennis and Cage fighting/Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) may seem, significant wisdom can be applied and our sport can learn a hell of a lot from the premier MMA promotion in the world- the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

In 1993 before the first UFC event, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was almost non-existent in the United States (US). 28/29 years later, the UFC is one of the largest and (in my view) one of the most charismatic sports organisations in the world and is worth around $10 Billion. Furthermore, the sport of MMA is still growing and moving closer to the mainstream and constantly challenging prevailing attitudes and stereotypes.


There are many factors that led to the success of the UFC. This includes luck, timing, investment etc. However, I shall discuss some key aspects of the UFC promotion that the sport of Table Tennis either lacks or can improve upon.

This article will discuss 4 lessons that can be learned by our sport for the upcoming year and beyond.

  1. Sport is a story!
  2. Take a risk!
  3. Let your stars shine!
  4. Charismatic Leadership!

Lessons from the UFC

Lesson 1:

Sport is a Story! ‘Sport’ is not simply the activity in question governed by a specific set of rules in which there is a winner and loser. Sport is so much more than that. It is a vessel for telling a story- telling the human story. The human story involves drama and narrative, good guys and bad guys, revenge and betrayal, redemption and salvation and everything in-between.

Credit: UFC
Credit: UFC
Credit: World Table Tennis
Credit: World Table Tennis

Fans of other major sports are rarely big aficionados of their sport but rather are encapsulated by the stories being told and are invested its main characters.

Table Tennis lacks this element of story. When a lay-person switches onto a match, they have no inclining of what is going on, what the stakes are, the back story and consequently, their engagement quickly fizzles out.

The UFC on the other hand has a strong understanding of the need to create drama and sell a story. It is never just about two individuals fighting in a cage. They use many tools at their disposal to achieve this.

One tool that they use to excellent effect are the inter-athlete press conferences pre and post-event. This gives the media and fans the opportunity to dig deeper and connect to the UFC fighters that are competing on each UFC Card.

Moreover, it also gives the athletes the liberty to publicly interact with and ‘trash-talk’ one another to gain an edge and/or create spectacle to sell more tickets to their fight.

Press conferences of this kind are enormously beneficial. They allow athletes to put their express themselves and build their brand. Furthermore, it helps fans feel like they are more engaged with the athletes and the sport. On to of this many iconic UFC moments have come from the press conferences themselves rather than the actual MMA fight.

Table tennis events at the moment are spectacular in the actual sport but are severely uncompelling in every other aspect. To my knowledge, the majority of table tennis events do not have (or at least

Credit: UFC Credit: World Table Tennis

do not publicise them) inter-athlete press conferences. This would be a very low cost but extremely effective way of increasing engagement with fans and can help them connect to the human side of the phenomenal athletes who rest at the pinnacle of our sport.

Lesson 2: Take a risk!

The UFC as an organisation is not afraid to take risks in order to sell the sport, expand its markets and change social perceptions.

One of the biggest and most monumental risks the UFC undertook was the introduction of the its own reality TV series called The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) which aired on Spike TV from 2005. The introduction of the series was seen as a make-or-break moment for the organisation as it was making a loss prior to taking this risk. The premise of TUF was that regional circuit fighters would be scouted by the UFC to stay in a mansion together in Las Vegas and compete against each other in a knock-out tournament over a period of six weeks and then fight in a live finale. The winner of the tournament would win a six figure UFC contract.

The show proved enormously successful partly because of the novelty of the sport but also due to the compelling characters that the show managed to find and conjure. The show opened up the human side of the sport to mainstream audiences.

The live finale of The Ultimate Fighter managed to attract viewership in the millions and gave Spike TV the confidence to offer the UFC another season of TUF. Indeed, fourteen seasons of the TUF have aired on Spike TV and the show has reached more than 20 seasons with other stations too including Fox.

Credit: Zuffa LLC/UFC
Credit: Zuffa LLC/UFC

Table Tennis can only benefit from the kind of risk taking and innovation that the UFC undertook.

An excellent example of such an endeavour is the Table Tennis Daily British League Series and the new TDDSL league. I can write pages about how wonderful it is. In short however, the series is a success because it creates rivalry between clubs and players, it has the high stakes of; money being on the line and making all the matches public on YouTube, it has high quality filming and presentation and importantly, it has a coherent narrative and story and has a diverse array of characters.

World Class Stuff!

Credit: Table Tennis Daily
Credit: Table Tennis Daily
Pocket Rocket vs Moses! Credit: Table Tennis daily
Pocket Rocket vs Moses! Credit: Table Tennis daily

Lesson 3: Let your stars shine!

All sports have stars and personalities that add an X-factor to their sport.

Indeed, some stars are shine so bright because they have that ‘thing’ that allows them to transcend their sport entirely and create shockwaves across sports and culture. Super-stars with this kind of ‘thing’ exist in the sports of Snooker, F1, Boxing, Tennis, Athletics and countless others.

Super-star power is not specific to a certain type of sport but rather is dependent on the personality of the individual and the quality of the promotion that they have at their disposal.

Indeed, a significant success of the UFC business model, is its ability to spot individuals who have that ‘thing’ or ‘X Factor’ whether it be charisma, humour, hot-headiness, beauty, intelligence and/or ability to attract a new or niche market to the sport. Prime examples of such ‘super-stars’ include Ronda Rousey being the first Women’s UFC Champion and a pioneer for Women’s MMA who had confidence, charisma and her gender at her disposal to create shockwaves across culture. Another example being Conor McGregor who was the perfect storm of brash confidence, charisma, humour and being from the proud nation of Ireland (a new market for the UFC). The UFC noticed these two goldmines and promoted them to no end. The numbers do not lie, PayPerView events featuring Rousey and McGregor have sold in their millions and introduced a new generation of MMA fans and participants.

Credit: Low Kick MMA
Credit: Low Kick MMA

Moreover, the UFC is privileged to have an eclectic mix of personality types in Stars. There are ‘respectful’, ‘honourable’, ‘traditional martial-artist’ types who captured the hearts of fans such as Anderson Silva, George Saint-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov and there are rockstars and mavericks such as Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz and Ronda Rousey.

Stardom can be achieved by a whole spectrum of personality types, so long as there is a sellable ‘thing’- an X-Factor.

All sports need an eclectic mix of stars as the contrast of personality types actually complement one another. Respect and Honour are all very nice and well but they are boring if not contrasted with rebellion, disrespect and exuberance. The wise-old sages need the mavericks and the mavericks need the wise old sages. It works in a yin-yang relationship.

The sport of Table Tennis has countless individuals with star quality that are not being used to their full potential. They need more promotion!

Moreover, I would go so far as to say, that those with X-Factor should have ‘special treatment’ of sorts. This is because the net benefits this would bring would be immense. They would bring new eyes and commercial opportunities that would benefit themselves, their colleagues and the sport as a whole. Furthermore their star power would influence the next generations of athletes coming into our sport. It would make it an attractive sport to young people.

Some stars of the past and present who had popularity and/or notoriety, include Zhang Jike (Rockstar) and Timo Boll (wise sage) to name a few. However, but one cannot help the feeling that they should be more well-known than they are and more could have been done by TT organisations to promote them.

Zhang Jike-Legenedary celebration winning WTTC 2011 Credit: Getty image-Koen Suyk
Zhang Jike-Legenedary celebration winning WTTC 2011
Credit: Getty image-Koen Suyk
Ding Ning winning WTTC 2015 after injuring her ankle in the last set Credit: World Table Tennis
Ding Ning winning WTTC 2015 after injuring her ankle in the last set
Credit: World Table Tennis

However, in the present and future, our sport is oozing with X Factor.

To name a few that any promoter would kill for:

  • Truls Moregard- Young maverick, unlimited talent and potential.
  • Simon Gauzy- Magician and French charm.
  • Tomakazu Harimoto- Young fireball.
  • Hugo Calderano- Renaissance man and true athlete.
  • Bernadette Szocz- Passion, intensity and beauty.
  • Lily Zhang- Likeable, personable and down to earth.
  • Bruna Takahashi- Talent, beauty and new market (women’s TT in Brazil).
  • Mima Ito- natural charm and humour, insane talent.
  • Countless others.
Truls Moregard Credit: World Table Tennis
Truls Moregard
Credit: World Table Tennis
Tomokazu Harimoto Credit: World Table Tennis
Tomokazu Harimoto
Credit: World Table Tennis

Moreover, there are current legends who have even more to give:

  • Quadri Aruna- Zero to hero story, humble beginnings in Nigeria, now one of best players in the world. Carries the hearts of an entire continent and inspiration to whole world.
  • Ding Ning- Inspiration, role model, beauty, natural charm and all-time great.
  • Timo Boll- Natural sportsman, role model, evergreen talent and a future ambassador for the sport
  • Zhang Jike- Rockstar, handsome, massive fan base and unlock Western Market unlike other Chinese players can.

How to promote stars?

Linking to Lesson 1, stars (and all athletes) should be given the chance to promote themselves at pre and post event press conferences.

Secondly, Table Tennis organisations should be more ambitious, forceful and even aggressive in pushing their stars into the mainstream. Push them into reality TV shows, get them interviewed on national news programmes, invest in documentary series and sell it off to one of the major television channels or Netflix.

Be ambitious, be creative, believe in your athlete’s marketability and appeal and then, be there when the entire sport reaps the rewards.

Lesson 4: Charismatic Leadership!

Lastly, the UFC’s leadership style has been absolutely crucial to their success. It is bold, explosive but crucially, it is fan-friendly and open to new ideas and criticism.

Dana White, The President, is far from conventional, and does attract criticism and controversy. However, White was instrumental in forcing the UFC into the mainstream, pushing deal after deal with television companies, acquiring smaller promotions, relentlessly promoting fighters to fans, going far and wide to recruit the best fighting talent but also recruiting excellent staff and investors.

He, his investors and team have been relentless in promoting the UFC and the sport of MMA and it has truly done wonders for their sport.

Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via
Getty Images

A unique but admirable trait to White’s style is his constant engagement with fans and media. After every event White will speak to the media and answer any and every question. Moreover, he will praise (and sometimes criticise) the performances of his fighters. Whilst it may or may not be always appropriate to do so, fans of the sport can tell that White is clearly a fan himself and can truly feel his passion for MMA and his job.

Crucially, White and the UFC leadership give the fans what they want. They often ask fans for feedback and input directly and then the UFC delivers accordingly. If fans want a rogue fight outside of the UFC rankings for gimmick championship such as the BMF Title, the UFC will deliver.

To capture White’s leadership in a nutshell; he aggressively promotes his sport and takes no prisoners, to put it bluntly, he will do what’s best for his sport and his fans and, ‘does not give a f***’ what anyone else says otherwise.

Credit: The Fight Effect Youtube Channel
Credit: The Fight Effect Youtube Channel

This engagement and passion seem to be lacking or perhaps less at the forefront when it comes to Table Tennis Leadership. One feels that they are far too removed from the fans of the sport. As a fan this can feel disillusioning. It evokes images of figures operating behind closed doors in smoke-filled

  • Who are these figures?
  • What are their goals?
  • Are they passionate about table tennis?
  • Do they have another agenda?

Given that as they hardly engage nor make themselves known, how are fans who care about the direction of the sport to do anything but ask these anxious questions? Table Tennis leadership is too detached and sterile. Do fans feel encapsulated, motivated and inspired by them?

Table Tennis Leadership, you can do more!

White, in spite of his flaws really loves sport that he promotes and is more transparent the majority of sport executives (Table Tennis included).

Whilst I am not suggesting they go to the extent as White which can sometimes be too aggressive, obnoxious and alienating, they should definitely take notes and adopt 20-30% of his style. Table Tennis Leadership should interact more with members and fans of the sport. They should be interviewed at press conferences and should praise the athletes and promote their stars.


To surmise, for our sport to expand and improve and even survive, Table Tennis organisations need to think outside the box by learning from ‘seemingly’ obscure and unrelated sports for inspiration and innovation.

Accordingly, the sport can only benefit from implementing aspects of the UFC business model into its modus operandi.

If nothing else, implementing even small changes will do wonders. Adding press conferences, hunting for and promoting star-power. Additionally, leadership being more in the public eye and coming across as slightly more human and less Corporate Strategy and Public Relations machines will create a cascade of opportunities for the future.

So, for 2022, we will all make our own resolutions, I propose we make some for our sport too. These are the ones I have made, feel free to make some more!

  1. Sport is a story!
  2. Take a risk!
  3. Let your stars shine!
  4. Charismatic Leadership!

Tomokazu Harimoto – Can win the Olympics! #3

A phenom, when he was 11 years old, exploded onto the world table tennis scene in Sweden, when he reached the final of Safir’s!

7 years ago Harimoto went on to become world junior no.1 and won the world junior championships aged 13. He also reached the quarter finals of the mens singles WC in 2014.

Harimoto, is a fierce competitor, always fighting for each point and expresses his will physically and vocally. Was produced initially by his parents with a vision of one day their child would beat the formidable Chinese. Harimoto is without any doubt China’s biggest threat! Why? Because he has beaten both Ma and FZD in big events. But that’s not the main reason, it’s because he is so young and like any young person, they are able to adapt, change and develop at a faster rate compared to older athletes.

Harimoto, has had some incredible success but also faced some poor losses and endured some low periods. Yet he has come out returned and remodelled, like new each time his form had a dip.

Fortune has provided Harimoto with another year to prepare for the Olympics. In the past few years he has shown his capabilities pulling off occasional win’s against the likes of Ma and FZD but he did not seem truly ready to win a major event, such as the worlds or Olympics.


  • Highest world ranking no.3
  • World Tour Grand finals winner
  • Best Wins – Fan Zhendong & Ma Long

Can Harimoto really win?

In truth I have not seen much of him in the past year due to Covid. But I am certain he will have been putting in over time in the gym and TT hall. I’ve seen a few videos and pictures and he looks bigger and stronger than ever. I do genuinely believe he is aiming to win a gold medal for his nation but history may have to wait! I think he is still a little too young and does not possess the experience to cope and manage under such a monumental occasion. What does work in his favour is that crowds will be minimised (most would say home crowd can uplift your game) and I do agree. But aged 18 and carrying a nations weight on your shoulders is a tall ask! Therefore on this occasion a smaller crowd favours Harimoto in my opinion and he can go about his business focusing on the task at hand.

I have put Harimoto at 3rd spot on my list of potential gold medalist because he is truly capable of beating anyone and winning the title. But does he have what it takes? For me his biggest weakness is his focus of energy. Shouting, screaming and sinking to the ground after each point won. He is expending a huge amount of energy which is misdirected. Energy is limited and if you don’t hone your energy your reducing your capability of maximum potential. This may be a confidence issue or lack of maturity but it does have an effect and it may mean settling for a possible bronze medal.


Harimoto is either loved or disliked because of his vocal cords and for me I admire him. A boy that expresses his inner joy is something we rarely see these days. Often we are told to pipe down and Harimoto uses his pipes to sing his way to victory.

If he does pull off a miracle and win the gold medal, he will become a sporting god in Japan and we may very well see many more like Harimoto in the future…

Please share your thoughts and comments.

Timo Boll – Can win the Olympics! Wildcard

Before I reveal my top 3 candidates for the Gold, silver and Bronze, here’s my WILD CARD!

Everyone knows Timo, possibly the biggest name in our sport today and is the Roger Federer of TT. Timo is a few months older than me and I was in awe of him when I saw him win the junior Europeans back in the late 90’s. I remember watching his world ranking sky rocket as soon as he left the junior category and in 2002 he was world no.1.

Was he the new Waldner, and was Timo going to be a world and Olympic champion?! Back then I told everyone around me he would never win a worlds or Olympics!

Why, because I felt he lacked power and speed. He’s mindset is possibly the best I’ve ever seen in our sport. He is able to analyse a situation and with a computer like processing system solve and make the right decision. Timo has a gift that very few have (brain power) which means he does not need to use his physicality as much compared to others to gain excellent results! In simple terms his biggest strength is also his weakness. I know he does not put in the extra hours unlike Dima and I know he is content just playing. Therefore he’s not tapping into his full physical capacity and that has stopped him from winning the two biggest titles on the planet!


  • Highest world ranking no.1
  • World Cup winner
  • 8x European Champion

Can Timo really win?

Well he comes into the games in good physical and mental shape but even though he has beaten everyone in the circuit he is not truly feared by the Chinese. This is because his physical presence on the table is a lot less compared to both Ma and FZD. Timo has less power, less speed and less endurance compared to them both.

I have put Timo as a wild card pick which puts him in between 4th and 3rd spot, for my pick of potential gold medalist. Timo, is (possibly) tactically the best player in the world but if you have a Ford and you race a Ferrari, no matter what lines you hit the Ferrari will often out muscle, out power and over speed your great skills…

Why Timo can win the Olympic Gold!

His expectations are low, he is happy just competing (aged 40). He just won the European championships and is looking as strong as he was 10 years ago. When it comes to the latter stages Timo’s expectations remain low and his joy of reaching those stages will be amplified. For the others the tension and nerves will only be heightened. When tension kicks in your weaknesses are exposed even more and Timo will capitalise on it.

I think the world would erupt in joy if Timo won, but we must factor the issues mentioned above and be realistic. Timo’s age, physicality and skill level (power and speed) is limited which may be one step too far from taking the gold medal…

Please share your thoughts and comments.

Dima Ovtcharov – Can win the Olympics! #6

I’ve watched Dima, grow over the past 15 years and become a world class athlete!
Hiss work ethic is possibly the highest in European TT, and his achievements can mostly be credited to relentlessness.


  • Former World no.1
  • European champion
  • Olympic Bronze
  • World Cup winner
  • Has beaten every player on the circuit accept for Ma Long!

Can Dima really win?                                                                                       

Well he comes into the games in very good shape and form but in my opinion he is my least favourite to come out with the gold medal out of my six picks! (Blogs coming out each day).

Why is Dima unlikely to win?

  1. In my opinion his work ethic is down to his limitations in natural ability. This means he must work very hard to develop certain elements in his game and struggles to adapt (quickly)!
  2. He is yet to beat Ma Long and that must play on your mind never beating a player in over a decade. I think Dima is a strong candidate for a medal (bronze) but that’s about as far as I see him going.
    Nonetheless, I and Europe are routine for Dima 🙌🏓

I’ll be sharing a blog or two a day on, 6 men that I think can win the Olympics table tennis singles event.

Please share your thoughts and comments.

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.
Please Share…
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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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 Evolution

Table tennis evolution could possibly be greater than any other sport?!

I don’t know for a fact if table tennis has evolved more than any other sport but it sure does feel like it.

Table Tennis History

Our game started with a wine bottle cork and some cigar boxes (primitive).

Today table tennis uses more variety of equipment than any other sport on the planet and has had countless rules and game-changing scenarios.

Many have their grips and yet most adapt to the ever-changing sport.

Modern table tennis game:

Today the game has super equipment technology, which allows players to spin the ball at Zero to 100revs per second. The ball can be hit with plenty of power and speeds.

Table tennis evolution has caused many issues for the sport.

If you don’t play you won’t understand the spin, you will see a few long-lasting rallies and dismiss those who seemingly miss the odd easy looking shot.

Stellan Bengtsson Blade
Modern technique advancements:
  1. Backhand flick: allows us to override spin and produce enough sidespin/topspin to take control of the ball
  2. Backhand: the backhand is a weapon used much more in today’s game and without it, it’s virtually impossible to be a world class player.
  3. Forehand topspin: due to speed modern top players play this stroke almost square now. They bend the playing hand knee, loading the leg with ground power. The waist can twist via this drop stance and this giving the player more time as opposed to bringing the playing hand leg slightly backwards (off square stance). This is of course mainly used close to the table to create efficiency in movement due to lack of time.
What does the future of table tennis look like?

No one truly knows but if you study the past and today’s game you will see how the game has evolved. This evolution can give you better insights into how the game will be shaped in years to come.

Develop modern strokes as a foundation for your game but be open-minded to adapt your game. This is because a change in table tennis may happen at any given moment.

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

Coach Me Table Tennis 
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Instagram: _elibaraty 
Twitter: @elibaraty
FB: Coach Me Table Tennis 
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M:  07900401144

Table Tennis – People’s Voice

I went to the Junior British League event, last weekend and listened to people’s voices.

We all have a voice:

The beauty of going to an event as a freeman it enables you to view an event from all angles. You have time to observe players, coaches and spectators. Most importantly you have time to speak to officials, coaches, players, and parents.

We all have a voice and not always but on occasion you will hear some great ideas and suggestions.


Listening over reading meetings:

I know TTE send out emails and hold little meetings for our sport but I also believe going out into the field is hugely required.

When we receive emails we express our ideas and some are read some are dismissed and few are implemented. When we have meetings, time is limited, few can truly express themselves and often there are many disagreements (unproductive).

I am not saying stop the email surveys and meetings, all I am saying is we need soldiers on the field. So people inside table tennis can be heard because we all have a voice.

One on one:

If we had a TTE desk/stand or a TTE representative in every tournament (I believe it’s not hard, a TTE person attends his local tournaments). E.g Simon attends 4 events, Alan 4 events, Sandra 4, etc.

This would allow personal conversations and I believe the benefits would be huge:
Table tennis people would feel valued and TTE representatives would see first hand what events look like and feel like. Furthermore, they would be able to interpret the events better from an inside perspective.
This would give an opportunity for all table tennis people to approach the representatives and personally express ideas and thoughts.
The list goes on…

What did I learn by going round and listening?

  1. The love table tennis people have for the sport is amazing. Every person I spoke to commit and sacrifice in so many ways to enable themselves to take part.
  2. Everyone has a gripe, unfortunately, nothing is perfect but if we try to find solutions I’m sure there we would far less negativity. Some have amazing ideas but because our system has such poor communication links these ideas cannot be implemented or even attempted.
  3. Everyone wants more and better. This was music to my ears when you want more it can only mean one thing. If you work for it you will get it.
  4. Lastly, most speak in the same fashion and views but express themselves differently. And unfortunately, in many ways, it feels like we are all individuals wanting the same thing. We have to find a bridging system to unite our visions.

JBL Table Tennis Peoples Voice
Junior British League 2018

The aim is simple:

Listen, unite, implement!
Table tennis is an amazing sport with incredible people all we must do is take the multi colours and draw the picture that everyone can and will admire.

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Written Eli Baraty 

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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Table Tennis Foundations (Featuring Timo Boll)

Building table tennis foundations are one aspect of the game, few are willing to focus on in today’s modern society. We live in an instant gratification bubble, (surrounded by layers of protection and technology creating a virtual world).

After watching the European table tennis championships this weekend. I quickly realised why Timo Boll is the most successful player in the European Championship’s history. Timo Boll is without a doubt the most stable player in Europe and this is because he has put in the graft for many many years. Commitment, persistence, repetition and hard work is something many younger players lack in Europe.

Building a foundation:

Timo started from a very young age on his home table with his dad. It was clear back then that the aim was to develop his strokes and craft his shots. Technically his forehand is not textbook but Timo has manufactured a solid forehand shot. Years of controlled footwork enables Timo to play high-quality shots from both wings, whether at a standstill or in motion.

The difference between Timo and the rest of the European players:

Timo Boll at the European Championships 2018
Timo Boll at the European Championships 2018

The difference between Timo and the rest of European players? He is the safest player on both wings, his shots may not be as powerful as Carlderano’s or as fast Harimoto’s shots but they are of extremely high quality. Every shot is positive with plenty of energy on the ball and both wings have a very low margin of error. Timo’s stability on both wings enables him to slowly break down his European opponents. No matter what the score is or how good his opponent/’s are playing, they often question themselves. In their minds, “Timo won’t miss, will I start missing? “I must play super high-quality shots to win, otherwise Timo is too consistent for me!” Those factors, put huge pressure on players to play at a high-risk game constantly and mentally they doubt their personal ability.

Why has Timo never won a Worlds or Olympic title?

Over 15 years ago I told, my students when Timo was world no.1, he will never win the Worlds or Olympic title!
Why such a bold statement? For me Timo is a complete player, unfortunately being complete is not enough! Many Asian players are complete players and this means they can able to go toe to toe with Timo. You need a weapon, Timo has no real weapon, his weapon is his solid foundations. In Europe, that’s enough to be on top of the pack. Most European players don’t have a solid base but many have a weapon and those weapons can inflict shock results.
Examples of weapons:
Liam Pitchford – Backhand Switch
Par Garrell – Service
Ma Long – Huge Power
Harimoto – Speed
Zhang Jike – Mental toughness

All these players have the X-factor and that’s why they have won majors or are capable of pulling off extraordinary performances.

What European players need to become world beaters:

They must work on:
Dedication – Developing strong foundations, lots of time spent on basic stroke development. This entails lots of repetition and many hours in the practice hall.
Footwork – Understand and develop correct footwork to enable powerful shots whether at a standstill or in motion
Middle Game – Hone in on high-quality shots constantly without breaking down, enabling continuous rallies when their weapons are not working.

An example of a hard-working European Player but started too late – Click Here

The secret:

Start young, work on consistency and repetition, developing high tension shots on a regular basis. Be patient and over time those building blocks will have formed a solid foundation. At the same time develop a weapon and then you have all the attributes to be great like Timo but also win majors like Ma Long and Zhang Jike.

There’s no tree on the planet standing without strong routes if you want to stand strong build strong foundation!

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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How Important is a Table Tennis Rally?

Have you ever asked yourself, how important is a table tennis rally?
 all love having a long table tennis rally and of course, winning the big rallies is like an injection of adrenaline.

Table Tennis Rallies

An average table tennis rally is between 4-5 strokes and each stroke is played from 0.2 to 0.5 of a second, in simple terms approximately 2 strokes per second.
If you take these stats into account you must ask yourself, how important is it train long rallies in the practice hall? 1 in ten points you will have a long-lasting rally (between 8-15 strokes). 

Ping Pong Championships at Ally Pally
Ping Pong Championships at Ally Pally

How should we train?

I think when building fundamentals the focus should be on building solid foundations which evolve around regular and consistent exercises. Once your stroke play has solid foundations then the key focus should be on the first 4-6 balls. Naturally, you should be giving extra attention to the serve and return then third fourth and fifth ball. Developing these key shots will enable you to deliver high-quality shots from the offset and sway most games in your favour.

Interesting table tennis stats

If you take an average Professional Table Tennis Match (best of seven) you will notice that the match lasts around 50min. In that time the actual rally play is on average 4min and 10sec. This means less than 10% of the match is actual gameplay. Every rally starts slow and speeds up (should we implement off the table training with slow to fast training sessions?) 

The first ball:

People say the most important shot in table tennis is your serve, I say I agree but I also disagree. The first shot is the most important whether it be your server or return. These two shots start a rally and one without the other won’t complete a winning game. Therefore I would practice both with similar importance, the only difference is the service can be developed solely and you are in full control of the spin, speed and placement. 

Can I be a world class player without big rally play?

If you want to be a world class player, I believe it can be achieved without having wonderful rally skills but there will be times when you’re required to rally beyond 6 balls. If you fail to develop a good rally base you will be exposed eventually. If you watch Ma Lin, he was a great example of serve and return, he was capable of playing long and good rallies but would much rather avoid long rallies due to a weaker backhand wing.

Key learning:

Develop the fundamentals to enable long rallies but ultimately develop your serve and return then 3rd and 5th. After that, you can focus on developing your rally play. if you don’t have those fundamentals you won’t reach the rally plays even though you may be good at them.

Written by Eli Baraty 

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Instagram: _elibaraty 
Twitter: @elibaraty
FB: Coach Me Table Tennis 
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M:  07900401144