How many times have you heard other table tennis players saying that a fellow player has heaps of talent for the game? Or read on a forum that a professional table tennis like Jean-Michel Saive has no talent? Or thought to yourself that if you had Jan-Ove Waldner’s talent, you would have been a better player than he is?
More than once or twice? I’m sure you have. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about talent? Are we all talking about the same thing? Or does talent mean different things to different people?
In this article, I’m going to start by stating what talent means to me. I’m then going to pose and answer a few of the questions that I’ve come across about talent in my 20 odd years of playing table tennis. Finally, I’ll ask you, the reader, to feel free to put your own point of view across regarding your definition of talent and your own answers to the questions I have asked (or more questions as well, if you have thought of some more).
What is Talent? – Greg’s Definition
So without further ado, here is Greg’s Definition of Talent:
He who is on top has the most talent.
For me, that is pretty much it. At the end of the day, if you are the winner, you are the most talented overall.
Rubbish, you might be saying. I know plenty of talented players who aren’t the best. They just don’t work as hard as some of the other players I know.
And that is exactly my point – note that I did add that the winner is the most talented overall. For me, talent is more than just how easy you make the game look or much aptitude you have for hitting strokes – it is whether you can win. If you don’t have the desire or ability to do the work to be the best, then you are missing a crucial part of your overall talent – the talent to do the hard yards and make the most of what you’ve got. If you are not the best, then you have got no way of proving that you have the most talent.
I’ve got one disclaimer to make – this is mainly talking about players with similar amounts of free time for table tennis – there is not much point taking a person working 40 hours a week to support his family and comparing him with a professional table tennis player – it’s not a level comparison due to the extra training available to the professional.