Writing a table tennis blog can sometimes be tough. Any writer can run into a bit of writer’s block. Writing about table tennis produces a different kind of challenge. Most writing on table tennis is either instructional or topical. The instructional articles tend to focus on improving serves or getting more spin on your loops. I recently read some excellent instructional information written by Werner Schlager.
As I read, I came across some advice from Werner that I also give in my coaching sessions. It probably carries a little more weight coming from a former world champion. These types of articles can be extremely helpful. No one should be held back in their table tennis journey by a lack of information. Topical information is also plentiful. Most of this tends to be about top players, their progress, and tournament results. Occasionally ITTF or USATT politics and issues are featured, but topical information may have a fairly small audience of interested readers.
I have witnessed the exact same situation in the world of distance running. It seemed to me that Runners World magazine ran out of new things to say around 1989. Most new articles were rehashes of past features and sales were boosted by ever more attractive cover models, wearing less clothing with every passing decade. This may be the fate of all niche sports and table tennis, while being a great and unique sport, sometimes struggles for relevance precisely because it is so unique.
The uniqueness of our sport is truly a double edged sword. Anyone can play, but it takes potentially thousands of hours to learn to play well. In the table tennis world, sometimes it’s easy to see the glass as half empty. I prefer to be optimistic about the future of our sport. Quite often the answer to the issues inherent in our sport and inspiration for writings are not to be found where you might expect.
The impetus for most of my writings is usually a picture, a story, or – in this case – a song. I’m sure when Sly Stone wrote and sang “different strokes for different folks” back in 1968, table tennis was not on his mind. But as I looked over potential photos of all kinds of players for this post, it seemed like Sly had written the perfect slogan for table tennis in the twenty first century. Table tennis in many ways should be the most inclusive sport of all, with players from all over the world, men and women of all ages, and many different styles of play.
Different strokes for different folks: That’s what’s best about table tennis!