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My rant about table tennis

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mts388 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02/04/2024 at 5:27pm
This is just my rant about table tennis.  I welcome suggestions, disagreements, etc.

This is a great sport, but it doesn't feel like most clubs and the USATT have a clue about marketing.
I'll start with my pet peeve regarding TT shirts.  The purpose of a giveaway shirts is to promote the product (table tennis), the event (tournament) and the sponsor/host (club name or organization)
When we wear our shirts around town people would see that we are table tennis players and where we play.  When they ask about the shirt, we can recruit new players.  I once got a shirt that only said
"Pong City TTC", nothing about the sport (TTC isn't a sport) or where the sport is played.  The shirt should say Fargo Table Tennis Club.  People will know the city and the sport.  If we want to promote our sport we need to drop TTC and go with Table Tennis Club.  The shirt I was given at the Open this year is a good example of poor marketing.  The front had Butterfly in big letters across the front (no mention of table tennis).  On the back in big colorful letters was Ontario, below that was U.S. Open.  Next was 2023.  Under that in very small letters were the words table tennis.  When you give the design job to a graphic designer Their goal is to dazzle you with artwork and color, the message is unimportant.  I tell the USATT this every year and their answer is always "we'll let the designer know".  The next year the shirt is the same.

Many clubs are very bad at welcoming visitors.  I've visited clubs where no one has greeted me or introduced me to players or told me how the club works. If you visit my club, within a minute someone will greet you and find someone to hit with you.  I also tell visitors that if they see someone sitting to ask them to hit with you.  Almost all of our members will say yes.
Clubs also need to work with (not against) other clubs to promote the sport.  I've seen where a small club will announce a tournament date and the following week a big club in the same town will announce a tournament on the same date.  The small club moved the date back a week and the big club then moved their date back a week again.  

Club/tournament players are valuable assets.  Treat them like they are.  Last year I was thinking about traveling to a big club for their tournament.  I called the manager and asked him how many players in the RR's.  He told me 4 or 5.  When I got there all the RR's were 3 person.  

We need to dress like we're professionals.  When I go to major tournaments and I see players old worn out clothes I feel bad.  
At a Open in Las Vegas a few years ago I noticed signs all over the hotel that said "Welcome U.S. Open"  I told the USATT CEO that they need to better job with the signage.  I was taken outside and on the front of the building there was a huge banner saying "Welcome U.S. Open"  I asked why they didn't say table tennis on the sign or the signs in the hotel.  They didn't even think about it.

There's more, but I'll quit for now.

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stiltt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/04/2024 at 8:30pm
One big hurdle is the steep learning curve. Many people show up once, get a beating and never come back. Look at pickeball exponential progression: they can have fun and enter long rallies very quick thanks to no spin and slow ball and so they stick to it, hence the immense success of the sport. The many thousands existing free tennis courts also play a big role though. Former tennis players like Agassi and Sock joined it, that helps too. In table tennis, a beginner will struggle to get past the 3rd ball for a long time and that is frustrating to many newcomers. More hard bat is key to get people in, then they will switch to more spin if they want. A hardbat division in every club would mean additional regular income to feed the other stagnating half but nothing is done about that.

In France , there are 200,000 FFT licensees for 70M people, 1 out of 350 poeple; In the USA, there are 9000 USATT members for 330M people, 1 in 36000!!! That's roughly a 1 to 100 ratio. In France, a typical club will have open play only on certain time windows. Most of the time, people do what the club leadership tell them to do: training sessions by levels for example. In the USA, it's either the open play mayhem with all kind of abuse going on (buddies play each other and keep other people at large), private lessons or leagues/tournaments for additional fees. There is no structured group training included in a membership and that's lame, plain laziness IMO. 

The main issue is a table tennis club in the USA is before all a business that does not care about the sport, it's only about milking parents for their kids to either go to daycare or train expensively via private lessons only to quit to go to college. The rest are free electrons memberships about whom nobody really cares but that's really where the money is though! all those people will pay for structured group training and stick to it for decades but nothing happens.

As long as the same lazy business model remains unchanged, there is no reason for the state of the sport to evolve up in the USA.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Twiddler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/05/2024 at 5:53am
Why do so many people play Pickleball?

 1. Because it is FUN- that's 1 and 1A.

2. Because it is simple.

3. It provides a nice physical workout.

Table tennis is not that much fun. The learning curve, the spin and countless different materials make it very difficult to play.

Hardbat TT is the equivalent of Pickleball. It provides all 3 of the above. Fun, simple and good exercise.

Table Tennis growth will stay stagnant forever without this part of the sport flourishing. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/05/2024 at 11:01am
I assume that means something like actively promoting hardbat in existing clubs parallel to the spin game, for example reserving tables for hardbat, adding more hardbat events in tournaments, organizing hardbat leagues, special hardbat nights that takes half the tables, Saturday and/or Sunday mornings hardbat galore with a brunch buffet in partnership with a restaurant, anything to bring casual players with more chances to see them stick around.


Edited by stiltt - 02/05/2024 at 9:21pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Lightspin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/05/2024 at 5:18pm
Have to agree with Twiddler.  Table tennis is just too complicated, especially for the average person who is looking for something fun to do in their free time.  I know a lot of people who picked up playing pickleball as adults and are loving it.  Table tennis? Not so much. 

I am not so sure if hardbat is the answer but something should be done so people can actually rally in the game and not just serve their opponent into oblivion.  Table tennis is one of the few sports where practice looks better on video and is more fun than playing the game itself. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote heavyspin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/12/2024 at 4:06pm
You make good points, mts. When I wear my Donic shirt (without reference to table tennis), most sports fans probably think it's a misspelling of NBA star Luka Doncic.
An EJ to a table tennis player is an equipment junkie. An ej to a mathematician is a standard basis vector.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/12/2024 at 4:36pm
It reminds me when I wore a "Butterfly Adolescen" t-shirt with the big grey flap-flap logo above and I entered a gay bar by mistake, they looked at me in a weird way that told me they missed the point.

Edited by stiltt - 02/12/2024 at 4:38pm
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MRen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MRen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/13/2024 at 1:07pm
Originally posted by stiltt stiltt wrote:

I entered a gay bar by mistake,

I believe you but how is that possible ?  There were no signs up front ?
Did you try to enter (the club I mean) via back door or something ?



Edited by MRen - 02/13/2024 at 1:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/13/2024 at 2:45pm
I have never -ever - seen a gay bar advertising themselves as a gay bar. I even did not know until my friend said to me "come on man! You took us in a gay bar."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote waingro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/23/2024 at 12:55pm
Originally posted by Lightspin Lightspin wrote:

I am not so sure if hardbat is the answer but something should be done so people can actually rally in the game and not just serve their opponent into oblivion.  Table tennis is one of the few sports where practice looks better on video and is more fun than playing the game itself. 

I've played at rec centers in China (mostly retirees), and the players don't play games or do any serves. They just start with a topspin to get a rally going. They do this over and over, rallying for hours. I asked them why they don't play games, and their answer is they just play for fun and exercise. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/23/2024 at 11:00pm
Originally posted by waingro waingro wrote:

Originally posted by Lightspin Lightspin wrote:

I am not so sure if hardbat is the answer but something should be done so people can actually rally in the game and not just serve their opponent into oblivion.  Table tennis is one of the few sports where practice looks better on video and is more fun than playing the game itself. 

I've played at rec centers in China (mostly retirees), and the players don't play games or do any serves. They just start with a topspin to get a rally going. They do this over and over, rallying for hours. I asked them why they don't play games, and their answer is they just play for fun and exercise. 
Same here, I spent a couple weeks in Nanchang in September 2007 and I visited a club hosted by a school gym where a lot of middle age bare-chested people were just practicing in long rallies even thogh some were playing games. The longer the point lasted in practice, the more important it was to not screw up and those points were always ending in laughters, talk about  some universal language! it was very convivial unlike that other fancy club where the level was going from mine all the way to semi pro.
Besides  inflating the ball diameter, raising the net, slowing tables and limiting the bounce of a ball on the bare paddle from a given height, I am not sure how we can force longer rallies. Tennis resolved with heavier balls and slower courts to kill Mac's service volley dominant game that Edberg, Becker etc... perfected and we got today all round lumberjacks hitting hard from the baseline but the development and mastery of the dropshot along with finding crazy angles with less contact and lots of spin compensated the boredom, they got a great, exciting game today with the new generation taking over. Let's hope we can find a way to do the same without pickleballing ourselves.
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