Table tennis is the most difficult and frustrating sport I have ever played

says Spin and more spin.
says Spin and more spin.
Well-Known Member
Super Moderator
Dec 2010
16,171
17,739
54,887
Read 11 reviews


……My normally reliable serve either went into the net or went long countless times. I felt nervous and was afraid to attack and to use the new skills I had learned.

….. I don't think I would have won the next match given how scared I was playing.

NextLevel;387261

Nah, the full problem here isn't purely about mindset. Many people have criticized OP for training to improve. This is BS, part of the reason I started going to clubs to play was because I was tired of losing to people who I felt were not that more talented than I was but who had stepped into a club and had information I didn't.

The problem is a bit about mindset but to me more about the gap between how the OP perceives his level of TT stability as a player rated under 1000 and his true stability as a TT player. You can train for a long time in TT, you can still be unaware of how unstable your technique is without having the right foundation. You can underappreciate your ability to read spins, speeds and ball timing.

I had this discussion with someone else (Richie) on the forum recently about how players rated under USATT 1000 hit a ball off the table and complain to themselves because they are completely unaware of the gap between their technique and what it takes to put a ball on the table repeatedly and act as if the ball they missed is a ball they would have put away most of the time, while a technically aware watcher can see all the things they are not doing to maximize their ability to put away the shot and finds their miss totally understandable.

Some good players complain when they miss too, but the enlightened ones often shadow what they should have done to approach the ball correctly had their read of the ball been correct. After all, an enlightened player should be able to tell from the effect of the ball off his racket what spin was actually on the ball and how to adapt to it.

You need to be roughly USATT 1600 at a minimum to be almost unbeatable at an office tournament (assuming no other tournament level players show up) - at that level, you have competed enough to know how to win in various ways and against various kinds of opposition. Anything under USATT 1000 doesn't come close to that bar, doesn't mean you can't win or be one of the best, but you have a decent chance of losing to people because your level and technique are highly unstable.

Even at the highest levels, something like this is in play. Liu Guoliang often said that he only picked the players who had a stable performance on bad days - anyone can play well on a good day, he said, I need to see what you play like on your 40% days and how it matches up against the opposition on their 90% days. And then we can talk..



I do think you are hitting on the root cause of the problem: the nerves and mental issues in match play that the OP has described is the disparity between the level he thinks he should be and the level he is and the lack of stability of his skills.

If you are just flat out missing serve after serve and in the matches you feel afraid to even try to attack, that disparity you are talking about is also screwing with your head. So I am not sure those two issues can be separated. Even though the “scared to attack” issue really could actually be that the opportunity to attack is not there and the OP is not understanding why he can’t attack balls he just isn’t capable of attacking.

BTW: one of the things we cannot know is if the OP is playing anyone where he needs to respond to any level of spin at all. The only way we could really understand what is going on is if the OP posted some footage of training (maybe 30 seconds) and some footage of match play (maybe footage of 2 or 3 matches or even just one game each with 2 or 3 different opponents).

But it seems certain that his good opinion of what his skills should be and his high hopes for what he would like his skills to be are part of why he is even missing the one shot in table tennis where the opponent’s spin or placement do not effect the outcome of your shot. A player who is repeatedly not even putting the ball in play on his serve has something going on that is causing that to happen.
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
May 2011
1,210
1,310
3,197
There are a few things I'd suggest

1) First and simplest, how's the office table? When I first set up my table in my garage, I couldn't hit a single power shot because the floor and thus the table was unbalanced. All balls bounced slightly differently, so I could only do small, last second swings. In fact, a lot of my services were off too.

2) When you're at the club, are you doing a lot of topspin against blocks/topspin drills? That's useless until you can reliably get the first topspin in. How do you correct that? Practice the opening loop. Against officemates a quality opening loop is probably enough to win the point. We've all see players who can topspin like a champ during warmups and then can't land a topspin to save their lives during the match because they don't know how to loop backspins. Don't be that guy.

3) When you practice looping, do you move your feet? Sometimes when you're training with a high level player, e.g. a coach, they block everything to the same spot and you don't need to move your feet at all. Don't get complacent. Shuffle your feet even if you don't have to move an inch. If the ball coming back is even an inch off from the previous spot, move an inch to compensate. If it bounces an inch higher or lower, then adjust your height to compensate. This way you practice optimizing your position before every shot. In a match no ball will come to exactly your comfortable position, you have to adjust your position for every shot, so start doing that for every practice shot.
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Member
Dec 2022
10
6
16

I just came fresh out of watching Lily Zhang vs Amy Wang in the women's finals of the US Open and literally at the end of it, my heart was racing and I was just incredibly crushed and sad that Lily lost again, in the decider, after being up 10-7 in the 6th game. Ping pong is literally of the most stressful sports, another close one would be fighting games like Streetfighter V. It's just terrible, and watching Lily lose again in the decider has made me want to quit ping pong (had this thought for the last few hours). So I def agree it's one of the most difficult and frustrating sports.

Anyway, I totally understand your position. You may be more skilled than your coworkers, but that doesn't mean you'll win the game. You have to be physically rested, mentally ready, AND have game IQ to win, NOT just have the skills. Your coworkers may have some of those traits that you currently lack, despite you having the clear skill advantage. Here's the thing, up until USATT 1800 rating level, there are so many different play styles. By receiving training, you have begun practicing and learning the optimal style, but the optimal style only works well at the high levels. At the mid and low levels, random styles and unfamiliarity are huge factors in the actual game. My mentors at my club tell me this: stop worrying about your rating and how you do in the tournament. Focus your energy on improving and practice. When you get better, the wins will come.

And yes, that is true. However, some amount of maturity is also required, because although the wins against the players that used to beat you will come, there will always be players better at w/e level you achieve, and there is no end to the frustration of losing a decider in ping pong. At a low level, you might lose against a 1000-player in a close match. You vow to beat him, and so with dedicated training, you smoke him at the next tournament, but you end up unhappy at the tournament anyway. Why? Because you just lost a close match to a 1500. Sh*x... ping pong is literally the most frustrating sport ever, no matter how good you get, there will always be someone higher than you to beat you when you're up at 10-6 in the 5th game...

 
  • Like
Reactions: delerious

I just came fresh out of watching Lily Zhang vs Amy Wang in the women's finals of the US Open and literally at the end of it, my heart was racing and I was just incredibly crushed and sad that Lily lost again, in the decider, after being up 10-7 in the 6th game. Ping pong is literally of the most stressful sports, another close one would be fighting games like Streetfighter V. It's just terrible, and watching Lily lose again in the decider has made me want to quit ping pong (had this thought for the last few hours). So I def agree it's one of the most difficult and frustrating sports.

Anyway, I totally understand your position. You may be more skilled than your coworkers, but that doesn't mean you'll win the game. You have to be physically rested, mentally ready, AND have game IQ to win, NOT just have the skills. Your coworkers may have some of those traits that you currently lack, despite you having the clear skill advantage. Here's the thing, up until USATT 1800 rating level, there are so many different play styles. By receiving training, you have begun practicing and learning the optimal style, but the optimal style only works well at the high levels. At the mid and low levels, random styles and unfamiliarity are huge factors in the actual game. My mentors at my club tell me this: stop worrying about your rating and how you do in the tournament. Focus your energy on improving and practice. When you get better, the wins will come.

And yes, that is true. However, some amount of maturity is also required, because although the wins against the players that used to beat you will come, there will always be players better at w/e level you achieve, and there is no end to the frustration of losing a decider in ping pong. At a low level, you might lose against a 1000-player in a close match. You vow to beat him, and so with dedicated training, you smoke him at the next tournament, but you end up unhappy at the tournament anyway. Why? Because you just lost a close match to a 1500. Sh*x... ping pong is literally the most frustrating sport ever, no matter how good you get, there will always be someone higher than you to beat you when you're up at 10-6 in the 5th game...

I think there are other factors as that are out of your control such as miss hits nets and edges,also how you play when you are 10 -7 up are you going to play safety first hoping the opponent will make the mistake.Or are you going to be aggressive and try to take the game by force!!! It's such a hard thing to get over the line !!! Several amazing golfers have never won any major's and that doesn't mean they are not brilliant at golf it means they just couldn't cope with the pressure at the most important time!!!! As I keep saying most victories are won in the mind !!!! Maybe it's a skill that can't be taught!!!! Maybe you are born with it !!!! I wish I had some of it lol 😂😂😂

 
says Buttefly Forever!!!
says Buttefly Forever!!!
Well-Known Member
Mar 2021
2,410
2,463
5,623
I wish to share a little experience I had recently.

I fellow TT club mate of mine sent his kid for one-to-one private coaching ( same coach as mine ). This kid is in the U15 category and he was a complete noob. prior. After less than six months of proper coaching ( text-book style ), I had the opportunity to play again with this kid and his progress is astronomical. Although he is not yet good, but I can see that his strokes are technically sound. Of course at this stage I can still beat him easily but as he progresses, and with his strokes becomes more accurate, it will be difficult to counter him. Young'uns are fast, aggressive and with the proper coaching, their strokes will turn in a nightmare for me in the future.

In a nutshell, if one engage proper coaching, one's progress if typically accelerated.
 
Last edited:
says beginner (rating 700)
says beginner (rating 700)
Member
May 2019
45
9
96
Even though the “scared to attack” issue really could actually be that the opportunity to attack is not there and the OP is not understanding why he can’t attack balls he just isn’t capable of attacking.

BTW: one of the things we cannot know is if the OP is playing anyone where he needs to respond to any level of spin at all.
There were definitely some opportunities to attack, especially late in the match, when both me and my opponent seemed to be scared of making a mistake, so we kept hitting pop-up pushes at each other and didn't attack. A lot of the players did bring their own paddle, and there is some backspin to deal with. I don't think any of them can hit a good loop though.
2) When you're at the club, are you doing a lot of topspin against blocks/topspin drills? That's useless until you can reliably get the first topspin in. How do you correct that? Practice the opening loop. Against officemates a quality opening loop is probably enough to win the point. We've all see players who can topspin like a champ during warmups and then can't land a topspin to save their lives during the match because they don't know how to loop backspins. Don't be that guy.
After I hit a loop, the coach doesn't return it, he just grabs another ball and hits a backspin ball at me. I'm not even sure if I'm doing the loop correctly. First of all, there are some other guys at the club who can hit a nasty loop that kicks back towards me after the bounce and catches me by surprise. The loop is supposed to kick back after the bounce, right? I can't tell if my loops are doing that. Second, one of the coaches told me that the loop should be a brush that doesn't make much sound. When I do that, I feel like my loop is a pretty weak shot that can be attacked easily. But I've seen Youtube looping tutorials that show someone doing a loop and the ball makes loud/solid contact with the bat.
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
May 2011
1,210
1,310
3,197
There were definitely some opportunities to attack, especially late in the match, when both me and my opponent seemed to be scared of making a mistake, so we kept hitting pop-up pushes at each other and didn't attack. A lot of the players did bring their own paddle, and there is some backspin to deal with. I don't think any of them can hit a good loop though.

After I hit a loop, the coach doesn't return it, he just grabs another ball and hits a backspin ball at me. I'm not even sure if I'm doing the loop correctly. First of all, there are some other guys at the club who can hit a nasty loop that kicks back towards me after the bounce and catches me by surprise. The loop is supposed to kick back after the bounce, right? I can't tell if my loops are doing that. Second, one of the coaches told me that the loop should be a brush that doesn't make much sound. When I do that, I feel like my loop is a pretty weak shot that can be attacked easily. But I've seen Youtube looping tutorials that show someone doing a loop and the ball makes loud/solid contact with the bat.
You can do a brush loop or a loop drive. In the office setting a brush loop is probably enough to win a point. Against better players you should loop drive whenever possible, and that makes a loud sound. You can learn that shot later. Make sure you employ the same practice tactic when you're practicing looping backspins, i.e. move before each shot. You'll always need to move or at least contort your body to hit a loop in a real game.

Against office type opponents, you need to practice looping dead balls as well. You're unlikely to get topspin balls because newbies 1) can't loop, and 2) can't block a loop, so you're unlikely to see significant topspin balls coming at you. Practicing against dead balls will also be very helpful when you play pips players, particularly long pip players. It takes quite a bit of spin to overcome backspin in a loop, so I'm almost 100% sure that your loop kicks, at least enough to score points against officemates. So don't worry about it.

As far as when to loop or when to loop drive, you typically loop drive a ball if you can catch it near the top of the bounce, usually just after the ball starts dropping. You use a brush loop when the ball has significantly fallen, usually when you're late to the ball. Yes, a brush loop can be counterattacked fairly easily...by players well above 2000. I'm assuming your officemates are nowhere near that level.

 
  • Like
Reactions: delerious

Brs

This user has no status.

Brs

This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
Oct 2015
1,112
1,384
2,621
It sounds like your coach may be trying to teach you how to play at clubs, and in a pretty structured way. You may appreciate that later. But if truly all you want to win your office tournament, it might be quicker to hit a lot with a 1200 - 1500 long pips guy. Not that your officemates use pips, but that will get you a lot of weird balls to practice against. And you will learn to prioritize putting the ball on the table many times over shot quality.

In a tournament of mostly basement styles playing on the table a ton of times any old way is what wins. If you can add a little extra quality when you get an easy ball you would have a big advantage. But rule number one is don't miss.
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Member
Dec 2014
473
950
2,870
Read 3 reviews
Nah, the full problem here isn't purely about mindset. Many people have criticized OP for training to improve. This is BS, part of the reason I started going to clubs to play was because I was tired of losing to people who I felt were not that more talented than I was but who had stepped into a club and had information I didn't.

The problem is a bit about mindset but to me more about the gap between how the OP perceives his level of TT stability as a player rated under 1000 and his true stability as a TT player. You can train for a long time in TT, you can still be unaware of how unstable your technique is without having the right foundation. You can underappreciate your ability to read spins, speeds and ball timing.

I had this discussion with someone else (Richie) on the forum recently about how players rated under USATT 1000 hit a ball off the table and complain to themselves because they are completely unaware of the gap between their technique and what it takes to put a ball on the table repeatedly and act as if the ball they missed is a ball they would have put away most of the time, while a technically aware watcher can see all the things they are not doing to maximize their ability to put away the shot and finds their miss totally understandable.

Some good players complain when they miss too, but the enlightened ones often shadow what they should have done to approach the ball correctly had their read of the ball been correct. After all, an enlightened player should be able to tell from the effect of the ball off his racket what spin was actually on the ball and how to adapt to it.

You need to be roughly USATT 1600 at a minimum to be almost unbeatable at an office tournament (assuming no other tournament level players show up) - at that level, you have competed enough to know how to win in various ways and against various kinds of opposition. Anything under USATT 1000 doesn't come close to that bar, doesn't mean you can't win or be one of the best, but you have a decent chance of losing to people because your level and technique are highly unstable.

Even at the highest levels, something like this is in play. Liu Guoliang often said that he only picked the players who had a stable performance on bad days - anyone can play well on a good day, he said, I need to see what you play like on your 40% days and how it matches up against the opposition on their 90% days. And then we can talk..

I can identify with the bolded part. When I really got into table tennis and wanted to improve I felt like I lacked the information to improve. It was always extremely frustrating to find that even really good players couldn’t give good information. And I do seem to be a sucker for accurate descriptions of what’s actually going on. Though I have let go of this perfectionism a little bit and become better at parsing different descriptions of the same thing.

I’ve filled some of those information gaps, but what I’ve realized is that I’ll always be seeking more. Or I’ll realize what I thought was “correct” before, wasn’t really what I thought it was. In some way, the really early days were a nice amount of blissful ignorance. I wasn’t yet that interested in improving but automatically making some improvement from just playing league matches or hitting the ball on the table for hours with friends.

Like I mentioned before, I still do feel to an extent unaware, just like those under USATT 1000, and frustrated that I miss certain shots. Though I’m sure if I really paid attention and watched more of my matches there would be nothing to be surprised about. The disappointment comes from some type of expectation. “I should be good enough at this stage to not miss this ball” or something like that. It’s quite crazy, really.

 
  • Like
Reactions: NextLevel
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Active Member
Sep 2017
784
268
1,231
Read 1 reviews
You guys may have identified one problem, at least. I have a couple paddles I got from colestt.com. One I got a few years ago when I played more defensively - it is an Air Touch01 blade with Air Scirocco 1.8 and Air DefenderS 1.5. Then I got another one a month ago after my coach said I could try 2.1 and 1.9 with my new all-around skills. So I got an Air Limba 7 blade with Air TigerS 2.1 and Air TigerS 1.9. I seemed to practice well with the new paddle, but in games I feel like a lot of my shots are going long. So maybe the new paddle is too thick? I'm going to go back to the old paddle to see if I play any better. I'm also thinking about trying long pips.


I would go with something more popular. what you using is something unknown that nobody using. Probably with this racket impossible to play at good level

 
  • Wow
Reactions: delerious
says Spin and more spin.
says Spin and more spin.
Well-Known Member
Super Moderator
Dec 2010
16,171
17,739
54,887
Read 11 reviews
There were definitely some opportunities to attack, especially late in the match, when both me and my opponent seemed to be scared of making a mistake, so we kept hitting pop-up pushes at each other and didn't attack. A lot of the players did bring their own paddle, and there is some backspin to deal with. I don't think any of them can hit a good loop though.

After I hit a loop, the coach doesn't return it, he just grabs another ball and hits a backspin ball at me. I'm not even sure if I'm doing the loop correctly. First of all, there are some other guys at the club who can hit a nasty loop that kicks back towards me after the bounce and catches me by surprise. The loop is supposed to kick back after the bounce, right? I can't tell if my loops are doing that. Second, one of the coaches told me that the loop should be a brush that doesn't make much sound. When I do that, I feel like my loop is a pretty weak shot that can be attacked easily. But I've seen Youtube looping tutorials that show someone doing a loop and the ball makes loud/solid contact with the bat.
Is there any way that you can show a little video of you training with coach and maybe one match with someone from the office whose play is fairly representative of the people you are playing at the office? Words don't really show us how you play or who you play against. Video footage would give much more information.

Without seeing the real thing, everyone here is really just guessing.

 
says Spin and more spin.
says Spin and more spin.
Well-Known Member
Super Moderator
Dec 2010
16,171
17,739
54,887
Read 11 reviews
It sounds like your coach may be trying to teach you how to play at clubs, and in a pretty structured way. You may appreciate that later. But if truly all you want to win your office tournament, it might be quicker to hit a lot with a 1200 - 1500 long pips guy. Not that your officemates use pips, but that will get you a lot of weird balls to practice against. And you will learn to prioritize putting the ball on the table many times over shot quality.

In a tournament of mostly basement styles playing on the table a ton of times any old way is what wins. If you can add a little extra quality when you get an easy ball you would have a big advantage. But rule number one is don't miss.
This is really a great post and it is probably what will help you most in your office tournament.

 
says Fzding around...
says Fzding around...
Member
Mar 2020
81
59
166
Read 1 reviews
Table tennis is difficult to learn and the process is very slow. I have played tennis for decades and in terms of competition the sport is no nonsense. Unlike tennis, table tennis has materials, long pips, short pips, antispin. The equipment gives an advantage that is rarely seen in the world of sports. How many times have I seen people who just started playing, lose matches and then put long pips and start winning.
Personally, I would ban everything except inverted tires. Just as they banned the development of fuel from F1 with the explanation that it gives an unfair advantage. Or imagine there are anti-spin strings that player would used when play against Rafael Nadal.
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
Nov 2020
1,071
788
4,032
Table tennis is difficult to learn and the process is very slow. I have played tennis for decades and in terms of competition the sport is no nonsense. Unlike tennis, table tennis has materials, long pips, short pips, antispin. The equipment gives an advantage that is rarely seen in the world of sports. How many times have I seen people who just started playing, lose matches and then put long pips and start winning.
Personally, I would ban everything except inverted tires. Just as they banned the development of fuel from F1 with the explanation that it gives an unfair advantage. Or imagine there are anti-spin strings that player would used when play against Rafael Nadal.

I understand your frustration, but I think it gets better with time. It seems to me, that while it is hard initially to play against long-pips, short-pips or anti rubbers, they actually are still in big disadvantage. So if I see it from this side, I just hope they will not ban inverted rubbers, because they are too advantagious...
 
  • Like
Reactions: BobFL
says Fzding around...
says Fzding around...
Member
Mar 2020
81
59
166
Read 1 reviews
I understand your frustration, but I think it gets better with time. It seems to me, that while it is hard initially to play against long-pips, short-pips or anti rubbers, they actually are still in big disadvantage. So if I see it from this side, I just hope they will not ban inverted rubbers, because they are too advantagious...
I am not frustrated just analytical. Those SP/LP/AS are a handicap and not an advantage when a certain level of play is reached. But until you reach that level, the sport is full of frustration because you're being beaten by someone who wouldn't have beaten you in 10 other sports.

I just think that it is unnecessary in table tennis and that it does not contribute to the development and popularization of the sport..
 
  • Like
Reactions: latej
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
Nov 2020
1,071
788
4,032
I am not frustrated just analytical. Those SP/LP/AS are a handicap and not an advantage when a certain level of play is reached. But until you reach that level, the sport is full of frustration because you're being beaten by someone who wouldn't have beaten you in 10 other sports.

I just think that it is unnecessary in table tennis and that it does not contribute to the development and popularization of the sport..

Yes, you have a point here. In my exp. it is so, that the players who use LP/SP/Anti are usually (not always) older players, who might also have other handicaps. But even if it were not so, the fight spirit, which we should embrace anyway, would not let us complain that we lost, because we couldn't handle "strange" rubbers ;-)

That said, I sometimes also complain inside. Last time I played against a player with 2 Srivers, one behaved as anti, and another one could produce such back-spin, that I couldn't get it over the net :). I lost. (He said, it's just Srivers, nothing special :))
 
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Member
Mar 2016
101
110
233
The discussion about nerves and mental/physical preparation is useful, but what you must remember is that you are adding new and unfamiliar skills to your game. The people you are playing are just doing what is comfortable and automatic to them, no matter how "wrong" it is from the standardized viewpoint. And when just getting the ball back to the table will win these kind of tournaments, that is a sizable advantage.

So, as easy as it is to do, don't get down on yourself and make the mistake of thinking that training and knowing what is "right" automatically makes you the better player. It will actually make you a worse player for some time until you incorporate your new approaches more reliably into your play.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dingyibvs
Top