These are a few of my favorite things…
Having written about my pet ping-pong peeves, I’d better balance the ledger by mentioning the main things I love about table tennis.
1. The Sport Itself
Obvious I know, but no sport I’ve played comes close to the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from a good game of table tennis. I just love to play!
2. Hitting a Perfect Shot
Every now and again everything comes together and you hit a stroke that is just how you planned it, and the ball feels so sweet off the bat when you hit it. You know, the sort of shot that keeps you hooked and coming back for more, trying to repeat the feeling.
3. The Ping-Pong Brotherhood
Ping-pong has its fair share of strange characters, but on the whole I’ve met a lot of great people through table tennis. When you meet a fellow ping-pong player, you instantly have something in common, so you always have something to talk about freely while getting to know each other.
I’ve no claim on being a world-class coach, but I do find it immensely satisfying in helping other players improve. Whether it’s a beginner trying to hit his first topspin counterhit, or an experienced player who is trying to refine his loop technique, it’s a buzz to watch them improve and know you had a hand in them getting better.
New ping-pong players are always great to have around, since they are almost always so enthusiastic about the sport and so eager to learn everything. Whenever I get a bit jaded with it all, coaching and playing with beginners reminds me what a great sport table tennis really is.
6. Watching the Pros
Whether live or on video, it’s always exciting to watch the best in action. Seeing world class players up close and personal is an inspiration for what can be achieved with hard work and training, and always makes me want to go out and train harder!
7. Trying New Equipment
Expensive as it may be, isn’t it fun trying out new rubbers, blades, glues, or shoes? Even if you love your current racket, there’s always the possibility that the next rubber you try might be the magical solution to all your ping-pong problems. Or just a little bit better than your current rubber maybe. It’s the same with flicking through the manufacturer catalogs or browsing their websites – it’s just interesting to read about the different rubbers, blades and other equipment.
I played my first real tournament at age 15, and I’ve been hooked on competitions ever since. I’ve lost my fair share of matches on the way up, but every tournament was a whole fresh start, a new chance to compete and prove that you’ve gotten better since the last time. Even now, over 30 years later, I still like nothing better than coming to the hall at the start of competition, with a whole day’s play ahead of me, full of promise.
9. The Chance Keep on Learning and Improving
After over 30 years in the sport, I find I’m still learning new things about tactics and techniques. Although my physical peak may be behind me, I find I can still raise my level by improving my technique and strategies. And with the rise of the veterans age groups, I’ll be able to compete against people my own age when I’m not taking on the young guns in the Open categories!
10. Table Tennis Opportunities
Playing table tennis has opened up a number of other doors for me. Just wanting to write about table tennis got me started on my own personal ping-pong website, and led eventually to me being the Table Tennis/Ping-Pong Guide at About.com. These days I run my own club, look after this website, play a bit and still manage to squeeze in some coaching here and there!