View Full Version : Dan's experience with Ma Lin - Interview

02-25-2011, 02:25 PM
Hey Everyone,

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So ive known Dan for many years now having trained with him at the Bristol Academy, of Sport. My names Myles Collins but you may know me as RIPPER (http://www.tabletennisdaily.co.uk/forum/member.php?205-RIPPER) on here. I am quite known for my influx of questions that I ask people and thought id share with you some questions I asked Dan on his recent hit with Ma Lin at the English Open 2011. I bought in some of the questions from the comments of the video on youtube which you can see here.


1) So, Dan my first question is how was you able to hit with Ma Lin. You were obviously in the right place at the right time, but were you just watchin Ma Practicing and it went from there.

Thanks for this RIPPER! Well, it was Me, Tom, Lloyd and Andy in the training hall just watching all the players really, and all of a sudden they all left because they had to go and play there premelinary round matches. Although, Ma Lin and Chen Qi stayed as they only play in the main draw. After 10 or so minutes Chen Qi left and it was only Ma LIn in the hall! We were all started joking around, and I said, should i ask him for a knock boys? So i pretty much, grapped Tom Maynard's bat and off i went and asked him for a hit. He was a bit edgy at the start but then as you see he starting playing.

2) What do you think made him give you a knock. Ive seen Ma Lin many times even refuse to give out signitures to players let alone give them a five minute knock. I mean, you was not even kitted out, in a rain jacket and shoes, it looked like you was going on a night out!

Yeah, funny you say that, I saw Ma Lin on several occassions rush of to avoid signitures. i think it was the fact, he was just relaxing around in the training hall and there was us 3 sitting there, he probably thought why not. Perhaps there was a bit of pressure on him to not say no. Otherwise, it was just one of those things i guess.

3) You've had a serious ongoing back injury for some time (2 years?) which has stopped u playing seriously (and you've only played a few times over this period), do you think that it was just meant to be as a way of cheering you up from your lows from not being able to play?

Hmmm, im not really a big believer to much in that side of things but perhaps. It was really hard for me to actually play against him, it was my first knock in many months.

4) Would you rather have the back injury and of had this great opportunity to play with the Olympic Champion or would you rather that you didn't play with Mas Lin and of had a perfectly fine back? i.e. what's it like to not be able to play with this severe injury?

Haha nice one! To be honest myles, i would give up a lot to get back to table tennis again. Never know if i was'nt injured I may of still been in that same hall at the same time and still got a knock with him, then he would of been running around a bit more! :P

5) You went up against some of the best serves in the game (some consider the best server in ever), you have some videos that you've created replicating Ma Lin's serves, did this real up close experience offer you more insight into how good his serves are and what might be needed to serve as well as him?


Good question, the thing is, his servie action and throw up is so fast, you don't have much time. Any normal player would throw the ball up and either go into it with backspin/sidespin or topspin. With Ma Lin he was disguissing it to the point where you would have to guess to return the ball.

6) Obviously Ma has taken a considerable amount of time of his life to be able to serve like that, maybe you could give some less experienced players an indication of how long it would take to be able to get the general technique to start as a base of a world class server, and then how much time is taken before it actually can become a world class server?

Ma Lin is putting so much wrist action and movement into the ball so fast that its hard to focus in and see if hes doing the chop, topspin or float. The first serve he does to me... it pops up doesn't it? well he put loads of backspin and sidespin, and it looked very heavy so i had to dig it hard to get it over the net. Each backspin serve from him i had to dig... but sometimes he came across the side of the ball so i was able to flick.
The pro's such as Ma Lin, will disguise the ball, by using the same start action and finish action.. but there contact point varies, to produce, backspin, sidespin or topspin.

To answer your question, to serve like him. You would have to practice this 5 times a week and to have a professional coach focus on your serves every so often. But even this, you would need a lot of self talent and co-ordination. Players tend to often wonder how players get fantastic serves.... but the crocks of the matter is, they don't practice them enough. Serve training, mental training are often elements missed out on training across the globe. The chinese or the top players will train all aspects to a high level.

Matthew Syed says its the 10,000 hour rule with professioanl constructive practice with a professional coach. This equilmates to 10 years. However, i would'nt just look at this and be scared, if you did just two years of this theory, 2000 hours you would improve dramatically!

7) When Ma agreed to have a hit with you when you asked him, I bet you couldn't believe your luck, what were you feeling at this stage?

It was weird at first, but i actually started getting use to it.

8) So was you nervous, did this affect your play?

At first I had the shakes but it soon went. I think because I was having a laugh and not taking it serious i was able to relax. What effected my play tho was my slipperey shoes!

9) Was his playing style different to what you are normally used to, did the effect on the ball seem different compared to the movement you are usually accustomed to, I.e the spin?

Yeah, for sure. Even on his forehand drive, it seeme to come through at such a pin point accuracy with a lot of spin. You can notice in the video, when he pushed the ball, i put a couple in the net. His movement is relaxed and when you see this movement usually there isnt to much spin, but with Ma there was a huge amount of spin.

The rally where he is lobbing the ball against me, i could see the ball kicking up with a lot of spin. I think these super elite pro's are constantly playing with heavy spin, its just hard to see it from our view point and TV. Until your up against it, its hard to understand there spin. Espiecially on there serves as mentioned.


10) As you were hitting, the famous Chinese women players of Ding Ning and Liu Shi Wen asked Ma something, what was said, and why did they laugh to your comment?


To be honest, no one really knows what was said, but its believed that the girls asked Ma Lin if they know me. He says something but its hard to understand, and they look at me and I said 'we are friends' :)

P.S. This is an awesom site great to see what you are achieving (bringing the tt community together) miss our hard training sessions back in England, and hope you recover soon and hope to see you in the near future.

By Myles Collins

Comment below, if you would like to know any more answers and what you thought about this interview :)

02-26-2011, 07:57 AM
yeah dan i wish you all the best and i hope you`ll recover soon!

02-27-2011, 09:04 AM
Nice interviewing you Dan, keep up your motivation for this AWESOME site and I'm sure it will achieve something big in the future, hope you recover from your back injury so that you can bring your unique perception and talent to the game.

02-27-2011, 09:20 AM
great interview thanks really interesting!