Category: Table Tennis Tournament Preparation

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. 

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.

Lin Yun-Ju – Can win the Olympics! #4

Everyone took notice of Lin, when he started to beat the Chinese a couple of years ago! He was aged 17 back then and was given the nickname Silent Assassin! As his nickname suggests he goes about his business in silence and it’s hard to truly know what is going on in his mind and professional life.
Yet his results are clear for all to see; ranked top ten in the world, beaten Ma Long, FZD and won the diamond T2 event and is still only 19 years old. He is certainly Taiwan’s great hope of a medal and this pressure can effect even those (seemingly) the unfazed!


  • Highest world ranking no.6
  • T2 & Cze Open winner
  • Best Wins – Fan Zhendong & Ma Long

Can Lin really win?

Well he comes into the games in unknown form but is definitely feared by the Chinese. I believe Lin has the capability to cause massive upsets and possibly the second most feared player outside of China! Unfortunately, he lacks real pedigree at big and long tournaments. This is due to age, exposure and physical endurance which is may be his biggest weakness?!
I have put Lin at 4th spot for my pick of potential gold medalist because he is capable of beating the biggest and best. But does he have the fire power to sustain a lit flame for the entire event? In my opinion NO, he does not!

Why is Lin unlikely to win?

He does not seem to have the physical attributes to last in a long and strenuous situation event such as the Olympics.

I became very interested in Lin after watching him live at the Olympic team qualification in Portugal. He made the game seem so easy and walked through world class players (as if they were beginners).

Silently, people are routing for him to beat the Chinese, for me I just want to see him do well 🙌🏓

Please share your thoughts and comments.

Hugo Calderano – Can win the Olympics! #5

I’ve watched Hugo, ever since I witnessed him beating Timo Boll about 6 years ago I believe, in the Bundesliga. His unique style, big backhand and a never ending multi-skills ability, is nothing but mind boggling!
His work ethic is a thing of beauty, and it’s clear to see the urgency in upscaling his game and level. If talent was in a bottle Hugo certainly drinks out of it each day. And that may be his down fall!


  • Former World no.6
  • Pan American Champion
  • Latin American champion
  • Best Win – Fan Zhendong
  • He has, beaten most players on the planet and has shown that on his day, he is capable of beating the world no.1!

Can Hugo really win?

Well he comes into the games with some form and has been laying a little under the radar (in preparation). I believe Hugo has the capability to cause massive upset and is a player no one wants to face on route. Yet, I think he’s more of a player who lights up in stints and does not have the pedigree to truly threaten for a golden position. I have put Hugo in 5th spot for my pick of gold because he is slightly unorthodox and often this causes the Chinese more worry than someone like Dima. This is one of Jan-Ove Waldners secrets (back when he took out the Chinese)!

Why is Hugo unlikely to win?

  1. In my opinion unlike Dima, Hugo is supremely gifted and that enables him to be super creative and unique. Yes it feels like his balance between solid foundations and creativity is unbalanced and he can go off on a tangent…
  2. He is yet to beat Ma Long but again different to Dima, I don’t think this plays on his mind. Because he has not faced him many times and he is still relatively young and has a free flowing fearless kind of game and mindset.
  3. I think Hugo is a medal contender but the odds are uniquely high for Gold if and that’s a big (if) he gets into the final. Because his energy and power only grows when things go well. Meaning if he finds good form and gets through to the semi finals then anything is possible for him from there!

I am a big fan of Hugo and the whole of Latin America will be backing him. The question is can he be consistent enough to reach the latter stages where he truly does have a possibility in creating history? 🙌🏓

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.

Why are they the best?!

Put aside numbers for a minute, (we all know TT is played in the masses there) but numbers does not guarantee success!

It’s a collaborative system, structure and team work…
Unity enables China to dominate TT like no other sport on the planet.
If we truly want to compete with China, we must unite nationally and internationally.
I have the master plan, now who will join me 🙌🏓💪🏼

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 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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