Thinking About Table Tennis

Well, it was a full week that I had to refrain from table tennis. I don’t get sick often; but when I do the world stops spinning, the sun refuses to shine, there’s weeping in the streets, the stock market crashes, and world leaders call for a day of prayer and fasting. I release daily updates on the progression of phlegm throughout my respiratory system that make headlines and flood social media. I didn’t have COVID; but I was sick enough that it was the main thing on my mind, even if I really didn’t make headlines. 

Since I really couldn’t play and I eventually got tired of obsessing on my flu-like symptoms, I did do some serious thinking about table tennis. I purchased Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers by Larry Hodges. I highly recommend it. It’s somewhat like getting fifty table tennis lessons for less than $10, especially if you haven’t had much coaching or haven’t been reading Larry’s articles for years. I got it through Amazon on Kindle. Getting a paper copy might be a few dollars more. You can’t read it without contemplating your own approach to playing. I started to rethink my approach to serving. I would imagine, the next time I pick it up I’ll get completely different insights. 

This would also be a good time to congratulate Sean O’Connell on his good showing at a recent tournament in Cumming Georgia. Sean is one of the best tactical players I know and has just about memorized Larry’s book. Sean is on a short list of players that I have coached who have surpassed me as a player. He is the only player that has gone on to coaching, umpiring, directing tournaments, and promoting table tennis. I’m scheduled to coach him this weekend. If I lived closer to his home club in Athens I would be getting coaching from him. 

What sets players like Sean apart is their commitment to thinking about their tactics and strategies, not just during matches or at tournaments – every day. Sean is knocking on the door of achieving a USATT 2000 rating. Without his superior tactical approach he probably would never get beyond 1800. Another local player who thinks a lot about table tennis is George Cooper. George has given me more interesting insights than I can recall. One of his best was his comment on visualization, which is not the word that he used. Instead, he gave a more thoughtful and accurate description of how he prepares.

“I play in my mind”

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