Greg’s Pet Ping-Pong Peeves
Even though I’ve had a love affair with table tennis for over 20 years (you can see the things I love about ping-pong here), it’s like any relationship – there are still some things about the sport that drive me nuts from time to time!
So here’s a semi-serious look at the top ten things (and more!) that really irritate me about ping-pong. Rant mode on…
1. Equipment Prices
I for one just can’t believe the prices of table tennis equipment these days. For example, over here in Australia, a sheet of Bryce rubber retails for over $80 AUS! And one 3 star quality ball costs over $3! (Note: The original article was written way back in the late 2000’s. Now in 2020 a sheet of Tenergy 05 costs $105 in Australia!)
I can’t help thinking that players in China and Japan aren’t paying anywhere near that amount. No wonder online ping-pong dealers are becoming so popular.
2. Lack of Courtesy
This covers a range of sins, including the following:
- Slapping/shaking the opponent’s hand while looking away at the end of the match. The handshake was supposed to be a chance to say a sincere ‘Good match!’ and thank your opponent. Now it looks like everyone has a plane to catch, and wants to get off the court as soon as possible.I can understand that the modern thing is to slap hands, but how about actually looking at your opponent while you do it, so it seems like you actually want to thank him for the game?
- Mobile Phones – for goodness sake turn them off or put them on silent mode while you are in the playing hall.
- Nets and Edges – I was taught to acknowledge any nets and edges that I made, and at least say ‘Sorry’, (even if I didn’t mean it!). Nowadays some players are actually celebrating when they win the point on a net or edge. Come on, are you honestly saying you planned it that way? If not, be quiet and be grateful you got the point.
- Spectators – I’ve dealt with spectator etiquette elsewhere, but I’ll just mention a couple of quickies – try to clap all good points, not just the ones your favorite player wins, and don’t clap when somebody serves a fault.
3. Abuse of the Table/Barriers
This is a particularly sore spot with me. Goodness knows I’m no saint, but when I get riled I always try to remember not to take my frustrations out on the surroundings. Tables especially are expensive, and it doesn’t take too many people smashing their bats on the table before you ruin the playing surface.
4. Serving Cheats
The service rule is getting more complicated all the time, and I realize that all of us can make the odd mistake on service now and again, but there are those players who refuse to stick to the rules, claiming old habits or just ignoring the rules completely. And then they often give the umpire a hard time when they get faulted!
Suck it up people, if you want to play the sport you should know the rules and try to follow them. Deliberate hiding of the ball on service is a fault, and if you are doing it on purpose and then trying to get away with by intimidating your umpire or opponent then you are cheating. End of story.
On the flip side, I also wish the umpires would enforce the rules on hidden serves more often. Why am I spending the time to make sure my serve is fair and legal, when I am playing opponents who are hiding the ball from me?
5. Umpires Who Can’t Count
Speaking of umpires, please pay attention when you are umpiring. The players have enough to do in playing the game and trying to win. They don’t need to be double-checking your scoring as well.
6. Players Who Rely on Excuses For Losing
I must admit that I have been guilty of this in the past. No-one likes to lose, and getting beaten forces us to acknowledge that someone else was better on the day. It’s always easier to rely on a excuse for losing, than to actually sit down and face the painful fact that another player has beaten you, and then work out why. But being honest about your own weaknesses, then improving them is what will help you win the next time, not taking the easy way out and pretending you lost because of some other reason. Reality is for winners.
Personally, I think the idea of a time-out was brought in to give another chance of an advertising break when showing table tennis on television. Otherwise it’s just a disruptive break in the action, usually at a critical point. If we want to watch basketball, we can look at the NBA.
8. The 40mm Ball
What can I say? It was brought in to slow down the game and lengthen the rallies. But the ITTF forgot to stop manufacturers producing more powerful equipment. So here we are again, just as fast as ever, but now the extra spin of the 38mm ball that was helpful to defenders is gone, and so are most of the defenders. Nice one guys.
And don’t even get me started on the quality of the 40mm balls these days.
(Note: In current day 2020 we now have the 40+mm plastic ball to deal with. It took about 4-5 years of terrible quality & high prices before we are basically back to the point where we started. The ball got bigger and less spinny and the bats got faster again.)
9. Speed Glue
What can I say? I like speed glue when I’m playing as an attacker, and hate it when I’m playing as a defender. Right now I’m defending again, so you do the math.
(Note: In 2020 we now have booster instead of speed glue, but the problems remain the same.)
10. People Who Complain About Long Pips/Antispin
These are usually players who use speed glue, and who have never taken the trouble to learn how to play against long pimples or antispin. It’s not that hard guys, so deal with it. You don’t hear me complaining over and over again about your speed glue, do you? (See point 9 above)
11. Table Tennis on TV
Firstly, there’s not enough of it. Secondly, the TV networks often seem to use commentators who don’t have the first clue about ping-pong, apart from the usual factoids that get repeated over and over. After hearing that a smash can travel faster than 100mph for the tenth time, I certainly feel like smashing something!
I think this is true of sports everywhere, but sometimes I feel that there is just too much infighting and political backstabbing going on. Meanwhile there are a number of more important issues not getting dealt with. You should be in table tennis to promote the sport, not yourself or your own agendas.
13. Lack of Appreciation for Volunteers
Volunteers are the backbone of most table tennis organizations around the world, and generally don’t get enough thanks or recognition for the great work they do. Remember that those umpires, tournament directors, referees, canteen staff etc are giving up their own valuable time to allow you, the player, to enjoy yourself. So try to be a bit more appreciative of the good work they do, and more forgiving of the mistakes that they do make.
14. Players Who Un-Volunteer
Many tournaments around the world rely on players that lose in a match to be an umpire in the next round, or another event. Those players who disappear after losing make life harder for the Tournament Director who has to find a replacement umpire, and cause everybody else to have to umpire more often. Show some character and do the right thing – you lost, now pay the penalty!
15. People Who Think They Are a Champion
I think it’s great that just about everybody has played ping-pong at sometime or another, and that it’s possible for everyone to play and enjoy the game. But the flipside is that some people don’t show the elite players the respect they deserve. When’s the last time you heard weekend tennis players saying they could train a year or two and take on Roger Federer? Or thinking that they know everything there is to know about the sport? But you hear the table tennis equivalent of this all too frequently.
Let’s get it straight – table tennis is easy to learn to play, but very difficult to master. It takes years of hard training to get to that elite level, so thinking that you will do this in a year or two just shows your lack of understanding about the sport.
Phew! It feels much better to get all that off my chest. Now it’s time to get back on the table again!
(Note: Looking back at this article now that I’m in 2020, I don’t know whether to be amazed or appalled about how little has changed.)