Nothing like a catchy title to grab some attention. This could turn out to be even more popular than my previous work, The Dirtiest Word in Table Tennis. Just like that article, the title is deliberately misleading. Not that there aren’t a few jackasses in our sport; this is just not the article that features them.
Instead, this is actually about table tennis hybrids, which would have made a far less interesting title. The mule is an excellent example of an animal hybrid and should technically not be called a jackass. A true jackass is a male donkey. Apparently females can’t be jackasses. Perhaps some equine females identify as jackasses, but I digress. Mules are less temperamental than horses and more intelligent than donkeys. Ideally, a good hybrid takes the best qualities of two or more entities. In the table tennis world, the modern defender became a new species of player by cross breeding looping and chopping.
The average table tennis club in the United States is full of unique styles. If your idea of good table tennis is a steady diet of reverse pendulum serves and third ball attacks, a night at the club might prove to be somewhat disturbing. On the other hand, as long as players’ basic fundamentals are sound, a certain amount of mixed approaches might actually be good for our sport.
I recently delved into some genealogy and discovered a few things about my roots. While I knew I had a Scandinavian heritage, I also found evidence of ancestors from perhaps another five countries other than Sweden. The fact that I’m the human equivalent of a Swedish Vallhund and a German Shepherd, with some possible Welsh Corgi thrown in, doesn’t bother me at all. But not having a defined table tennis style has always bugged me. Sometimes I chop, sometimes block, occasionally attack or counter drive, and have been known to do some controlled looping. Since I gravitate toward defense, I thought my style could be called all around defense or opportunistic flying by the seat of my pants.
My style of play is a hybrid and that is true for many other players as well. It is possible to play well and enjoy playing, even if your style of play is a bit mixed. We can’t all be thoroughbreds, which is probably a good thing. Some of us play better as a horse with no name.