Effective Training for Recreational Players

June 5, 2013


On June 4 I blogged about seeing an optometrist last week. Until recently I could read easily without glasses, but as I wrote on June 4, it's getting harder to focus on near items, and my right eye especially is getting worse. Yesterday I got the new reading glasses, and they work great. I don't need them at my computer, but now I can read books comfortably again. And there is nothing more important than that, right? Other than table tennis, of course.

I'm a bit nearsighted, so without glasses things in the distance get blurry. I discovered this on my first day in college back in 1980. I'd taken two years off after high school before starting college, and apparently my eyes had changed during that time. I sat in the front row, and could barely see what was on the blackboard - I spent the whole class squinting. Immediately afterwards I saw an optometrist, and within a couple of days I had glasses. Normally I only need them for classes, when driving, when watching TV or a movie. I take them off at home, and at most times when not doing something that requires seeing in the distance. They often are perpetually perched on top of my head, where they seem to balance well, ready to be brought down when needed.

I do wear them for table tennis. I simply can't see my opponent's contact with the ball otherwise, or see the ball clearly as it approaches. It means I don't see things as well close on my side - such as my own contact - but that's not quite as important as it would seem, as by the time you are contacting the ball you can't really react anyway. It doesn't seem to affect my serves, where the ball is traveling slower. I've tried progressive/graduated lenses, but the changeover in the lenses as the ball approaches was too much for me - it hurt my eyes and I'd lose track of the ball.

I tried contacts in the late 1980s, but they weren't for me. I never could get used to having something in my eyes, which kept drying up. Plus it's a hassle putting them in and taking them out. They'd put me in a permanent state of seeing things in the distance, but everything near would be blurry, which I don't like.

I wear croakies eyeglass holders (plain brown or black) to keep the glasses in place. Some or most people don't seem to need this, but if I don't, the glasses jump about for me. I have two pairs of distance glasses - my normal ones, and my playing ones with the croakies, which I keep in my playing bag.

I'm so used to wearing glasses when I play that when I feed multiball (which I do a lot), I'd feel uncomfortable without them. Why? Because I'm barely five feet from the player I'm coaching, with little time to react if he accidentally smacks me in the eye. So the glasses are now my eyeguards. I know Coach Jack Huang had serious eye problems for a time when someone hit him in the eye.

What are your eyewear experiences in table tennis?


On May 21, I blogged about seeing a dentist. I'd been averaging one cavity every three years (one every six trips to the dentist), and hadn't changed my brushing or eating habits. I'd been seeing the same dentist for a decade, but she'd left, and I had a new one. Out of the blue the new one said I had 11 cavities, with seven of them needing immediate attention! Total bill would have been $2300.

Yesterday I saw a different dentist to get a second opinion. His verdict? I had zero cavities, though he said there was "one very slight gray area on the x-ray that we'd have to watch, and might be the beginning of a cavity."

Effective Training for Recreational Players

Here's the article from Table Tennis Master.

History of U.S. Table Tennis - 1984

USATT is once again serializing Tim Boggan's most recent book, "History of U.S. Table Tennis, Vol. XIII," which covers 1984. Here's Chapter One, with a new chapter going up each week. This is just the text version. If you want the full version (918 photos, 448 pages), go to Tim Boggan's history page, where you can buy any of the 13 volumes.

International News

As usual, check out the news headlines at the ITTF and at Table Tennista. Lots of stuff!

World Championships of Ping Pong (Sandpaper) and Hardbat

Here's the info page. This is the Sandpaper World Championships, which had $100,000 in prize money last year, and (I've heard) will have the same next year - Jan. 4-5, 2014, in London again. In addition to sandpaper, hardbat is pretty active in the UK - here's the European Hardbat Tour 2013 page, presented by the English Association of Table Tennis.

Inclusion: The Future of Table Tennis?

Here's the article and video (1:03), at Kickstarter (they are looking for funding). "INCLUSION combines Table Tennis and Racquetball to create a newly dynamic, fast-paced playing experience. The revolutionary side walls extend the playing surface and function as "bumpers" for novice players to help them enhance their skills.  Expert players similarly benefit from the added dimension which allows for a greater variety of angled shots and a more challenging, intensified gaming experience."

Table Tennis Rally Sculpture

Here's a sculpture that really shows a table tennis rally! (If you can't see it in Facebook, try this.)

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