Category: Table Tennis Match Play

Fan Zhendong – Can win the Olympics! #1

World no.1 and possibly the most ferocious player in history. His speed, power and aggression is computer game like! How he is able to blitz every ball machine like? Even the picture demonstrates that he’s super-human.

I don’t believe any player is capable of matching his speed and power. The only way he can be beaten is by using variation of speed, power, spin and placement. Implementing all these variations and keeping consistent is extremely difficult especially when you have a super force (FZD) coming at you…

This event is most likely going to crown him as the new Chinese king and take over the dragons title.


  • World ranking no.1
  • Silver medal World Championships
  • 4x World Cup champion

Can Fan Zhendong really win?

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t think so. Fan is the favourite to come out with a gold medal around his neck.

What may stop him:

  1. Fan Zhendong, is machine like and if things are out of place, it can have a malfunction. Meaning if someone is able to find the switch off button, he can be beaten.
  2. Are the Chinese hierarchy’s going to have influence on the match? Or say may they best man win? If they do have influence I believe they would want to see Fan win, a so called hand over! If it’s best man win scenario, Ma Long may look at finding the switch off button, so he can walk away from the sport as the only man to win two single Olympic golds.


I think Fan is like but not loved! He’s speed and power is admired but few can connect to that sort of game. He is not in the game to win fans but win titles and it’s clear to see.

Personally I have never connected to him but in awe of his ability. Therefore I will not be routing for him even though the odds of him winning are higher than any other player in the draw.

Please share your thoughts and comments. And of course share the thread if you liked it…

It’s not the best advert, if one nation continues to dominate a sport, but it’s down to other nations to find a way of winning! 🙌🏓

Ma Long – Can win the Olympics! #2

The best player ever! Aged 16 he exploded onto the scene and I immediately connected to him. I told one of my players (Filip Szymanski), that Ma Long will become world no.1. I didn’t know he would go on to become virtually unbeatable!

This event is most likely going to be his last and the aim is simple, add to his legacy.


  • Highest world ranking no.1
  • Olympic Champion
  • 3x World Champion
  • World Cup champion

Can Ma Long really win?

I think it goes without saying, the answer is a simple yes! But here are the issues;

  1. Fan Zhendong, lays in his pathway, it’s around 50/50 between them both over the past 2-3 years.
  2. Is it time for Ma to hand over the torch? If he wins, it may hinder FZD’s confidence and future as the new Chinese captain.

I do believe if Ma reaches the final and Fan, is knocked out Ma will be crowned as the only player in history to Win 2x singles Olympic titles.

Tactically Ma Long knows how to beat Fan and I genuinely believe he will find the answers in the final if they meet. But my mind tells me that China want Fan to win and need him to carry the torch for the nation for the next 5-7 years before a new super star emerges.
Tactically: Ma will need to spread his ball placement and not give FZD rhythm. If he gets bogged down (BH to BH) and then Fan switches Ma wide to his fh. Then that’s FZD trade mark and no one in the world can go head to head with Fan in this encounter.


In my opinion Ma is the most loved Chinese player internally and externally ever. Which effectively means he will be routed for. If and possibly when he meets Fan in the final.

China, is definitely still the strongest TT nation in the world and if we are being realistic, it’s a strong bet that we will see a gold medal around a Chinese players neck! 🙌🏓

Personally I would love to see Ma win and retire on-top but my brain tells me it’s not going to happen!

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.

Fear Pre-Table Tennis Match

Many if not all of us have some kind of anxiety and fear pre-table tennis matches!

Table Tennis Match Preparation

I spoke to one of my students recently about an event they have coming up and how they feel and what is their preparation looking like. It was clear from the start of the conversation that they where anxious and wanted to avoid the subject. We are all different and deal with things differently which is why some get better results than others. There is no quick fix to gameplay preparation but there is a guide and a formula I use with my players.

As mentioned we are all unique so bare your personal needs in mind.

3 Types of warm-up;

  1. Short – This is when you’re late or don’t have match time to prepare and need to quickly get your body focused and ready for the match (1-5min).
  2. Medium – When you are at an event and you have plenty of matches that day and you wish to reserve your energy (5-15min).
  3. Long – This is where you’re either a high-level player or have a few big matches in a particular event (20-45min)

Table Tennis Warm-Up

How to Warm Up

Firstly, you must understand that your mind needs to warm up before your body, this means to take a seat or lay down somewhere and focus on how you feel. Be aware of your current state and if you feel anxious, start to focus on positive things. 1. remember when you played well, reenforce that feeling 2. take big breaths, to bring your pulse rate down and increase oxygen in your blood flow. 3. remember if you feel nervous, it’s a blessing because it means you care and the event means something to you.

Second, like a car you need to warm up the engine and tires especially if it’s cold outside, this gives the car maximum performance. For you, a warm-up is to increases blood flow, synovial fluid, concentration, and muscle elasticity. Please note a warm-up should be individual, you need to know what kind of movements suits you best and what works best for your body type.

Third, knock up! often players feel very anxious if they have not had a proper knock up (or what they call a proper knock-up). What is a proper knock up? (it’s subjective) In reality, there is no proper knock up because you will not improve in the 5-10min knock up you can only make yourself feel good or bad depending on the knock you did. Therefore I suggest learning what kind of knock up suits you but being adaptable. Like the above warm-up, you need to have three kinds of knock-ups. Short, medium and long and each one you must come out feeling positive and ready. The best way of doing it is by varying your knock-up every time you train (length of time – short, medium, long). If you have one knock up routine and come event/match day and you are unable to go through your normal routine you’ll automatically use it as an excuse. But if you are able to adapt your warm-up routine, then you can come out feeling good in any circumstance.

Match Play – Prepared


If you know what, where and who you are playing before an event or match, I suggest planning ahead. What I always tell my players, the famous phrase “Fail to Plan – Prepare to Fail” I genuinely believe in that phase. It’s like wanting to go to a new town, getting in your car and hoping you’ll reach the destination. If you plan your journey, surely you’ll reach your destination, a lot quicker and with very little hassle. Same in table tennis do your homework and prepare for a forthcoming match the results will most likely be far more positive, than if you avoided preparation. Some will argue but Joe Bloggs never prepares and he wins! There’s always exceptions to the rule book and mavericks tend to break the rules, therefore, you need to think about yourself and what suits you best.

To reduce pre-match anxiety all you ever need really is one thing, take control of your mind and body by preparing. If you can’t prepare for whatever reason then take control of your mind and remember why you play (because you enjoy or love it) otherwise don’t do it.

Do what you love not what you don’t or hate and the rest will fall into place

3 Table Tennis Characters – Which one are you?

There are 3 table tennis characters and you fall into one of them!

History of human survival

Humans have evolved with a “fight or flight” response when facing danger or potential dangers. Our ability to flee or stand up and fight has helped our ancestors avoid or even defeat predators. There is another system we use to avoid harm which is the freeze effect. This is when running away may not be an option and escaping is too late but fighting may prove too hard due to strength or being outnumbered.

When under stress or when we feel our safety is compromised, that’s when we typically will experience one of these three physical reactions: Fight, Flight or Freeze.


Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier Rivalry
Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier two Warriors

Which response is the most effective? and do you see yourself in one or all? Let’s find out!


In today’s table tennis tournaments and events, we often see the flight reaction, this is where players will avoid certain tournaments. They may lose to someone on purpose to avoid another player later on in the event, fake an injury, enter low-level events to accumulate points but avoid facing higher level players.

Pro – From all angles, this seems like a very negative approach but there is one positive notion from a flight response. If you pick certain events and schedule your calendar properly, it can allow you to prepare for events, avoid injuries, and provide longevity. This is the positive aspects of “live to fight another day”

Con – Hiding, avoiding, faking an injury mid-match, selecting events that only suits you criteria will only have a negative outcome. Eventually, the lions will find you hiding place and when they do, your number will be up.


Lin Quayan Freezes from 10-4 up to lose the match at the 2017 World Cup

I believe we have all experienced this before, we have prepared and yet when it comes to the big occasion our mind and body’s don’t align. Our mind says let’s do this but our body starts shaking, we struggle to serve, we think about the consequences and nothing seems to work.

Pro – Again not many positives can be found here but there is one, this means you have not truly prepared or over-prepared. There is something missing or you’ve done so much that you expect a certain result and it put too much pressure on yourself. This is where you must learn to prepare as best as possible but at the same time when the moment comes to understand that the outcome is not always in your control. Therefore all you can do is provide your best with what you have done and can do.

Con – You think and know your ability is far greater and you’ve proved it in the club or in the past but yet occasionally or often you freeze. The freeze effect can become habitual and cause plenty of distress, sometimes have such effect players move into the flight mode. This is when they leave the sport and feel the best way for them to come out on top is by disappearing altogether.


At the 2 minute mark of the video you see Kalinkos start to make a mountainous fight back (an amazing match to watch – but notice how Kreanga starts fighting mentally, physically and vocally). Its a shame about the poor video quality video

For survival and sport, this is the role we must possess to come out on top more often than not. This character is often the toughest to possess because you must have courage, be willing to face defeat and a lot of pain.

Pro – Fighters are often seen as heartless or pure heart regardless of view its the heart that will get you to your chosen destiny. If you fight each battle and you’re willing to accept losses on the way you will win the war and the journey will have been great no doubt.

Con – You may be seen as a mean or bad person and you’ll face lots of hurdles all in an attempt to stop your inner desire of becoming a true champion. There will be times when you don’t feel the power or energy to fight but you know deep down those are the times when it truly counts.

Can we change our character?

It’s said our response cannot be controlled and we never truly know how we will respond to a crisis situation. But I have two theory’s

  1. Uncomfortable situation: I like to put myself and my players in an uncomfortable situation as often as possible. This shows me their character and which one of the above they truly are! We can then work together to develop all three and find a way of making the fight (character) their no.1 characteristic.
  2. Breathe: Lots of research has shown me that deep breathing (trigger’s your parasympathetic nervous system) which can ground into the moment. This method enables you to notice more clearly (be aware) by seeing, hearing and physical (not emotionally) feel. This method reassures your mind and body that it’s ok and this period will pass and you will soon regain control.

In the wild it’s all about survival of the fittest, do you have what it takes to become king of the jungle?

Importance of Table Tennis Short Touch (Video Blog)

How Important is a short touch in modern table tennis?

Short Touch

In today’s modern, (high-level table tennis matches) the short touch is far less seen compared to high-level matches back in the ’90s. This is mainly because of the modern backhand flick which enables a player to impart an offensive stroke on near enough any short ball. Does this mean the short touch has become obsolete in top-flight matches or in table tennis as a whole? 

No, it has not!!!

We must still look to implement a short touch when possible and it can aid us, towards winning matches. If you flick every ball the opponent will be ready for an oncoming flick. This gives them the ability to prepare and contract your positive stroke against you. Implementing a good short touch mixes the play and put your opponent into an uncertain situation, giving you the upper hand.

eBaTT – Table Tennis Tutorial – P2 March 2019 (How to execute a quality short touch), Video

To execute high-quality shots it’s important to use good equipment that allows you to develop here are some recommendations which you can purchase from Amazon

*I suggest these bats:
Beginner – New to the game BUY NOW on Amazon

Intermediate – Minimum of 6 months of play: BUY NOW on Amazon: 

Advanced – Local club level, or 1 year plus of play: BUY NOW on Amazon

The Exercise:

Short touch, is one of the hardest shots to execute under pressure and execute correctly when receiving a short backspin ball. The aim is to get the stroke technically correct and impart a little backspin which elevates the pressure on your opponent. The short touch can be executed on any short ball especially backspin. This Stroke stops your opponent from attacking you in an aggressive manner.

The Aim:

1. Produce backspin,
2. develop the correct technique
3. point of contact on the bat
4. Timing point, when to connect with the ball in flight (after the bounce)

How it’s done:

1. Grip, the grip tightens at the point of contact this increases control.
2. Contact point, aim to hit the ball near the top end of the rubber near your hand and the handle.
3. The technique, stabbing motion via an extension movement through the elbow.
4. Acceleration, making sure the bat acceleration at the point of contact with a thin contact on the ball.

And please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive our two coaching video tips every month, published on the 1st and 15th. Feel free to share and comment below.
Thank you to Bernie for creating and filming the video

Short touch is like an art form, it takes a delicate touch but at the same time, you must possess a positive action to make this shot high quality.


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 Confidence

As a teenager my table tennis confidence was huge. I believed I could beat anyone and if you beat me I would shake your hand and say “I’ll beat you next time”.

One thing can change everything:


I lost my confidence aged 18 after my coach in France told me I would never achieve my dream of becoming a world champion. My game and self-belief were zapped out of me and for a year I tried to find that spirit and inner table tennis confidence I possessed as a teenager. I had had occasional good results which would re-spark my confidence but it wouldn’t last long. At 19 I put my bat down and felt that would be it for me as a table tennis player.

Psychology book tailor-made for Table Tennis
Psychology book tailor-made for Table Tennis

I was coaching table tennis but I opted out of physical play and rarely held a bat in my hand unless absolutely necessary. Luckily for me staying inside the sport as a coach saw me come back when I was 20 years old. I thought my past coaches words would have left me and I could move on. Yet I found myself constantly up and down in terms of table tennis confidence (Match Play). I was asked to play in the German league I was honoured and thought it may help my confidence but instead, it killed it. I decided to stop playing competitively and only play in my local club and leagues. My main focus in table tennis changed from a player into a coaching career driven towards helping and aiding players who wanted to upscale their games.

Power of words:


At 27 a special man entered into my life Sule Oleleyo former no.1 Nigerian player and 5x African champion. He worked with me at Harefield Academy for 1 year and changed my belief. He literally said the opposite of what my coach said! Sule said you’re so talented you must play. You can’t be a player forever but you can be a coach for life. He went on to say “enjoy playing each time you play, not everyone is privileged to compete at high national or international level”. Those simple words I would say to myself when I came back into competition “enjoy the moment you may never have it again!”

Beginner Bat new to the Game
Beginner Bat new to the Game

Due to confidence


My level of play skyrocketed beating 6 players inside the top 15 and playing at the highest division in British League. I created a team that went on to win the Senior British League and I was apart of that team.
At 30 I was unlucky with health issues and it was effectively my last stint of Peak Performance.
7 years on I was asked to play in the Belgium League and after performing well, my table tennis confidence in match play shot right back up. I trained with a friend this week and a few weeks ago this player pushed me close in some games and even took some games and a match of me. Today I won every game giving my opponent no more than 5 points per game, I felt like I teenager again!

Intermediate - minimum of 6 months of play
Intermediate – minimum of 6 months of play

You’re in charge of Confidence


Three things are required for you to play confidently:
  1. Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in your ability.
  2. Words are powerful but you choose which ones may or may not impact your life. I chose the wrong words initially but eventually, I listened to the right ones. Listen to the ones that make you a better person.
  3. Enjoy, when you play not to lose or only to win, you implement fear and anxiety which does not allow you to perform at peak level. Enjoying the occasion, whether you perform or not every occasion is special as long as you put in 100% effort, the reward will be the experience.
Confidence is your choice don’t let others dictate your capabilities.

*Regardless of your level, you will require good equipment to execute skilled strokes and shots, eBaTT Recommends

Advanced - Local club level, 1 year plus of play
Advanced – Local club level, minimum 1 year of play

I am always interested in your thoughts and views so please leave a comment

Written by Eli Baraty 

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