OOAK Table Tennis Forum

OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!
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Author:  haggisv [ 02 Apr 2017, 11:08 ]
Post subject:  OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

In celebration of OOAK Forum's 10 year anniversary, we asked which forum member we'd like to see interviewed, and not surprisingly Debater came near the top of the list!

Debater is well know here in the forum, especially for his very analytical mind and detailed posts, his amazing Pathfinder Pro videos and analysis, and of course his intriguing posts that really make you think. Debater has also been a great help behind the scenes on this forum, particularly to me in helping organising and sorting out forum issues.

True to form, as with some of his epic work and posts, he's responded with an Epic interview, which you'll find below! :clap: :clap: :clap:

What would you class as your greatest achievement in Table Tennis, from both the playing/winning perspective and what you have contributed to the sport?
Playing achievement:
2012 / 13 season. We were playing in Division 1 and a team promoted from Division 2 recruited big. They were a relatively new club and wanted to get a team from their club in to our Premier Division. They were like the Chelsea of table tennis. They added a very experienced Premier Division player to their team who averaged around 60% in our Premier Division division and the also added Andrew Eden. His dad Bob was the captain of this team. Now Andrew Eden was an ex England international and was still only aged about 39. He'd won the Commonwealth Men's Doubles with Carl Prean in 1995. He was way to good for our league, let alone our division. All season Andrew Eden didn't lose an end, let alone a match. The closest anyone got to him would be about 8pts. You could see he was bored, both during and after the games. He was playing simply as a favour to his dad to get them promoted. The “Prem” division player I think lost only 1 match all season. It made a mockery of our Division that year, angered quite a few people, upset others and intrigued the remaining players – how often do you get chance to play against a gold medalist. We fought hard as a team that season and pushed them close to the divisional title. They rotated their original team members around Andrew and the Prem player. But in the end we were runners up by about 6pts over as season of 22 matches (10pts per match could be won). However, whilst that was close, in the league they put out full strength teams and beat us 8:2 and 9:1.

We got our chance for revenge in our Division 1 Team Cup Competition where we reached the final (straight knockout each round between teams who play in same division). The final was played at the end of the season. They were probably very confident they'd win again and with Andrew Eden guaranteed to play we knew we would be effectively 3:0 down before we'd even started. In a match to 5, that's a big handicap to overcome. In addition, unlike the league where he played number 1 they switched him to number 3. This meant he'd be guaranteed to play all his matches before a result could be reached and therefore they maximised the value they could get from him – a sure fire 3 points. However, unlike in the league, this time they were probably too confident. They decided to rest their number 2, the Ex Prem player. When we turned up for the match and found out they'd done that we were up for it and so were other players from our division who'd come down to watch the finals. They virtually all wanted our team to win. No pressure then! Unfortunately, first match up we lost and not to Andrew Eden. It meant we couldn't afford to loose another match to their other players. We got it back to 3:3 before I played Andrew Eden (which would be his last match of the night). I lost 11:4, 11:6, 11:5. That meant we had to win the last 2 matches, but at least Andrew Eden was out of the equation. Next match up, our number 2 played their “number 2”. He was soon 2:0 down in a best of 5 match. We could have folded as a team. We didn't. We dug deep. Our number 1 told our number 2, win the match and I guarantee I'll bring us home and win the last one. We told our number 2 to be more aggressive, to take it to their player, we all supported each other. It was tense. It was inverted / LP vs inverted LP. Our number 2 delivered. Sat on the side lines I lived every point. 0:2 became 2:2. Their number 2 really felt the pressure. Our number 2 felt the support from the rest of our team (even our non playing team member was down to support) and took the match 3:2. As promised our number 1 beat their number 1 – fittingly their number one on the night was Bob Eden, Andrew's Eden's dad. That was their only loss all season. Even with Andrew Eden playing they didn't win. Everyone in our team was elated, everyone supported everyone else, people from the side lines who'd been watching came up and shook our hands. To be fair our opponents took it in good grace but I've never been more proud to play in a team, a team of friends who didn't give in, who supported each other and who never ever stopped believing in each other. If you are one of those players who plays your match, then gets out your phone or IPAD and puts on your head phones until it's your next match, well you really don't know how much you're missing out on. That is my greatest achievement, overcoming the odds, battling back from the brink of defeat and winning as a team.

What I've contributed:

My league have awarded me our merit award twice and a special award once for work I've done during a season. That was nice. But ultimately it's a tie between 2 things. I'm known as “PathfinderPro” on YouTube and the table tennis videos I make. But when I had back problems, I couldn't sit long enough to edit videos and I struggled with my mobility. Whilst I've still got problems I am far better than I was. But for about 15 months I used to look at those videos, go and watch friends and other people play and wonder if all the time I'd invested in making those videos was worth it. No pay, no financial support, 100's of hours work, lots of frustration and family friction over priorities, too many times editing in to the night before getting up for work the next day and an attitude from various league members of “well we never asked you to make them in the first place”. Bitter? Too right I was, especially when my health deteriorated. But to help me get by I read the comments my videos had got on YouTube and table tennis forums like this one and I started to collect them and put them on a sheet of A4 which I've since laminated and is on my bedroom wardrobe door. Comments like “I would trust a pathfinderpro review”, “Great video – quite inspiring” and “your videos are very unique and helpful” My favourite, “I wish we could find a rich benefactor to pay you a handsome salary just to keep on researching and putting together videos like these.” I'm still waiting on that one! Knowing this and remembering the help of some close friends on this forum – haggisv in particular who I know will hate me for saying this publicly because he's such a reserved guy, and also Baal with the plastic ball series and not forgetting the input and support of a few of my league members like Tony Rigby and Jim Clegg and those brave enough to be filmed testing equipment (people who also don't get paid and so give their time for free) helped me put things back in to perspective. The fact that I've been able to help people make better decisions, promote table tennis generally and our league too, that I've been able to do this in my own bedroom and back yard starting from nothing, well that's a fantastic feeling of satisfaction and energy. I've been able to help others. Reading this back, it sounds big headed but you know what, for once I'm just going to agree and say yes, it does. But I'm bloody proud of being able to do what I've done so far and I've not finished yet. So thank you to everyone that's helped. And I must add, whilst I've quoted the “positive” comments I also listen to and learn a lot from the critical ones too, for example the suggestion of moving from using a blade to test rubber to using a sheet of glass. It's been a fantastic learning experience, so thanks to everyone who's helped, watched and commented on them.

How old do you think you will be when you stop playing the game, and do you see yourself still being on the forum at that point?
• Age won't be the reason I stop, health will and even then whilst I may stop playing I'll try and find other ways to stay involved in some capacity.
• I honestly don't know. I go through spells where I spend a lot of time on this forum and then others when I don't. It's very much a “habit” like thing. As you get older you realise how valuable time is. If the content is entertaining or informative and helpful and the members respectful of each other without being sycophantic then yes I'll stay here, if not, I'll go. And I still monitor discussions on other forums too.

How much debating have you done?
Will I ever take anything at face value on a subject that matters to me? No. You learn by asking better questions and being open to the possibility of different opinions not simply by regurgitating as gospel what you've read or heard somewhere. I'm not a lemming and when I make mistakes, I like them to be my mistakes.

I know you're very much involved in the running of the clubs and organising events. What do you think it would take to get more people involved so that the workload can be shared?
I'm not involved anymore. I came off our league's committee about 2 years ago in frustration. Simple answer, money. Pay people but pay them what they are worth. In my experience, lot's of people sit on committee's because either
a) no one else will
b) they got press ganged in to, or simply fell in to the role
c) they are kingdom builders who like the status
d) they genuinely want to help out
e) they got fed up of what others were doing and want to be proactive in developing our sport

Unfortunately 3 of those reasons above are not positive ones. Paying people might attract the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Despite my league asking for members to volunteer to fill the role I vacated 2 years ago, no one has come forward so I continue to do a lot of what I used to do but low profile. Despite asking for members to come forward to train up as TT England qualified coaches (including paying for that training on their behalf) no one has come forward to volunteer in our league with over 200 members. How many people will even volunteer to be a team captain or a club secretary or treasurer? This lack of willingness to put something back in to table tennis was the reason why I made a series of videos about Club Secretaries. They've had very low viewing figures but this one in particular might show a reason why people don't volunteer more. If you can eliminate the why not to volunteer and the pain associated with being a volunteer, then you'll get more people coming forward

So instead of asking what will it take to get more people involved I'd turn it around and ask what's stopping them. From personal experience, it's usually been “work commitments” (unless you pay people a living wage that won't change), “family commitments” (we like to think of ourselves as a community but in all seriousness what comes first, your son, daughter, or wife or a game of ping pong?), “I've other things to do” (so table tennis isn't a priority for them), “someone else will always do it” (famous last words. True no one is irreplaceable but be careful, one day someone else wont' do it) “I can go and play elsewhere” lot's of players play in more than one league, what's it matter if one shuts down, there's always another to use. Again be careful. With that attitude one day that won't be true and maybe one day soon.

Ironically on a personal level I've been asked to help out as a table tennis England volunteer at the England internationals at UCLAN in Preston on 11 April (buy your tickets now!!!!! - end of advert). Originally I wasn't going to do that. Last time, as a volunteer I had to get there for about 16:00. It was on a working day, I dropped a few hours on my flexi which meant I needed to make up the time on other days I work. I didn't get home until about 21:00 – impact straight away on family. TT England gave us vouchers for food on the night and we were told who to report to, but if you've never done this type of thing before it's intimidating. This time I only need to be there for 18:00hrs but I don't know what I'll do for tea, probably do without and go straight from work and I've had to find out myself about where I can park. It's that uncertainty, the little things, the competing demands on time, work commitments both on the day and the following day, being asked to deal with the public – not everyone is comfortable with that, not being able to watch the matches as you'd like, hell, having to be nice to people and enthusiastic for 3 hrs or more. That's hard work. And family commitments. I'd already promised to be a taxi service that night for family. Fortunately my family knows how much pleasure I get out of table tennis, so alternative arrangements for transport were found, but if that couldn't be done I'd have not helped out at the international and it meant me going back on a promise, something I don't like doing.

At a higher level of organisation, I've also seen problems volunteers organising these events have faced – transportation of the playing floor, it's condition on arrival, booking accommodation for teams and coaches and having to pay for it, transportation of teams to and from venues, hire of facilities, food for the teams, after match “entertainment – amazing what a “free bar” does to encourage VIP turnout. Health and safety, arranging volunteers on the day, ticket sales (or lack of). A lack of co-ordination between all parties. It is a lot of work trying to pull that together, very expensive and all on virtually no budget. Thankfully, I've never been involved at that level as I've usually been a “helper” and nothing more but I seen those problems happen. Where does it end?

I think this has been asked before but perhaps this question deserves it's own thread so that those who don't volunteer can actually answer this. They're better placed than me. To help them better make that decision though, perhaps everyone involved could promote and explain what is involved in running a club, a league or putting on an event, the good and the bad sides and we could also stand firm on our resolve, that if help isn't forthcoming organised table tennis will end.

If you have a full time job in table tennis, and money wasn't a driving factor, what would it be?
Helping the ITTF promote table tennis better would be a close second but I think it would have to be offering a custom table tennis fitting service to people. I have a number of ideas on how this could be done and am working on them and trying to get interest/support from third parties as I can't do this alone. Haggisv knows what I'm talking about as I've run some ideas by him.

What is currently the most rewarding aspect of table tennis for you?
The feedback I get from people I try and help at coaching and social sessions. Watching someone progress and improve either on the night or over a longer period, seeing them smile and laugh and gain confidence and independence. Realising they've reached a level you can no longer help them at or that they've achieved their goal, however small so no longer need your help. Hearing them say thank you or giving you a high 5 at the end of the night. That's the most rewarding aspect. This Christmas, out of the blue a 10 year old girl I'd been helping one to one for a few months came up to me and handed me a Christmas card which simply wished me a happy Christmas and said thank you for the help I'd given her. She'd hand written it herself. That meant a lot to me.

You did some legendary equipment testing videos a few years ago. They were really interesting and well done. Have you ever thought about doing more?
Thank you. Yes. I can choose from any of the following projects.
• What difference does the colour of rubber (maybe sponge too) really make. Ironically I purchased two sheets of Adidas P5 (max) for this test before I had health problems. These rubbers will not be authorised from June this year so, do I do the testing and fun the risk of criticism of using obsolete rubbers or do I buy some more rubbers (not the first time rubbers I've bought I've dropped off the ITTF authorised list and very frustrating and financially expensive). I could also do this test with tacky rubbers as opposed to mechanical grip rubbers.
• One about comparing playing with a “professionals” setup as against one some members of my league use – we have an obsession with what the professionals use, should we?
• What difference does sponge thickness make. I've sheets of Hallmark Magic pips in ox, 1mm, 1.5mm and 2mm to compare to cover the SP angle. I'll buy some sheets of LP's in different thicknesses – any suggestions (keep it cheap I'm on a budget!) and I've two sheets of black Andro Rasant Powersponge 1.9 and 2.1 mm sponge – hey another rubber that's now no longer going to be sold (see a pattern here, maybe next time I'll buy Tenegy to test shortly before that's dropped!!!!)
• What difference does sponge hardness make – I've two sheets of Tibhar Grip S max – one's the Europe version (medium hard) the others the hard version. I could also do that with SP's or a tacky Chinese rubber (again cost is an issue)
• Lastly my current favourite. Peter Freundlieb made me up two bats to specific specifications. Both are around 73g in weight. Both have the same handle. Both have a bamboo veneer on one side and a softer wood veneer on the other (I have the exact specifications saved somewhere). The difference is one has a balsa core approx 6mm the other doesn't, instead it has a thinner “wood” core. I've bounced a ball on these bats and they feel so different. I want to put LP, SP, inverted and different sponge thicknesses on them and test them with a variety of different playing styles / ability (human feedback) and static tests where the human element is removed. I've heard so often different comments about how rubbers perform, the same rubbers so I just want to see how much difference a blade can make. With these two bats I'll be able to test the impact of different cores in a blade, and different veneers on the same blade. I'd love to see if a cheap sheet of rubber was “faster” on the balsa blade than a sheet of Tenergy on a “wood core” blade. Just how important a blade is or isn't and possibly why might be demonstrated if I can make the tests relevant and the results easy to identify with for non professional players.

The big question for me though is whether I do them as PathfinderPro independent of my league or if I involve my league. One of the camera's I'm going to need to do the testing will cost me personally over £2000 – I get no help with that. Advertising in the videos I make is one way I can recoup some of my costs but I can't run advertising or use any of the other avenues I'm considering if there is input from my league in to the videos as they'll want a share and any revenue stream which will already be small. I'm caught in catch 22.

Say that there was a scientific way of testing and rating of rubbers. How could we get the manufacturers aboard to add these ratings to their products?
Ha ha. I've approached manufacturers a number of times asking them questions about ratings like this or quality control. I've never had the courtesy of even a “get lost” email. By manufacturers I take it you mean companies who brand rubbers and balls as their own. Frankly unless there is an incentive for them to do so, you can't. And what incentive can you offer? Think about cars. They use a consistent measure for speed. Many cars from different makes but they still use the same components simply branded and re-badged or shaped slightly differently. But there is more scope for product differentiation with cars. Trim, appearance, colour (many), number of doors, tinted windows, electric windows, leather or cloth seats, heated seats, sat nav, cameras to help parking, sensors. That scope is sufficient for them to agree on a common measure of speed and economy because they can differentiate on other things. Now look at table tennis rubber. We have speed, spin, control. There are more factors but that's what we've been sold rubbers by in the past. Control is useless – except that it panders to our ego. Let's face it, Xiom have advertised “pro” versions for years but how many amateurs buy a “pro” version. Spin and speed are more measurable but what is faster, a Jeep or a Ferrari. Gut reaction would say Ferrari because it's top speed is greater. Except, now change the parameters. Which is faster over rough country terrain, the Ferrari or the Jeep? Speed as a rating becomes useless and that's what manufactures probably know. They've created an illusionary measure of difference which far outstrips the reality. And we've all bought in to it “what's the fastest rubber, what's the fastest blade....”. And by having their own measures and not one universal one, they've created their own niche markets. They've managed to differentiate themselves from other branded products and even products in their own ranges by keeping that holly grail of speed, control and spin rating. And we lap it up because we like to be able to compartmentalise things, to be able to say this is different so I'm going to buy it. By keeping their own measures of speed, spin and “control” they reinforce that difference. They aren't going to give that up.

Only recently have we started to see a move away from speed and spin to differentiate products. Different coloured sponges and now things like Nexy's thinner top sheet and shorter pips structure (length of a pip is only one factor but there are lots of others, but don't let that get in the way of marketing). The shorter pip length is their market advantage and it's what they want to be first in the market place to establish. All credit to them, it's a different perspective on product differentiation from the normal spin, speed rating. But they still link it back to “control”. A bit like the kings clothes story, if the Nexy Rubber you use has no control then it must be you at fault not the rubber, or your blade. But if you have good technique and control then wow, this rubber is great and it's the reason for your success so go out and spread the word – be a product evangelist for Nexy and feel good knowing you have control. And then you have the biggest factor in a rubbers performance – you and me. And we are all different, so how can you truly have a consistent rating system that covers millions of variants. Over simplistic approach by me, but I hope you get the idea of why I doubt manufacturers will ever agree to uniform rubber ratings and even if they did, why the current speed, control and spin ratings are flawed to such an extent that unless you find a way to factor in the human element, they'll mean very little to you and me (see how I'm trying to sell the human element's importance in this – I personally think there is a way to do measure a rubbers performance in a way that is relevant to you and me and that's why I'm keen to set up a custom fitting business and one that doesn't necessitate face to face interaction). Hey, see how I'm practising my own market segment analysis and value proposition! Guilty as charged.

At what point should a player consider specialised equipment to enhance their game?
Not sure what you mean by specialist equipment. If you can expand on this I'll give my opinion. Ultimately though, I'm glad you said “should a player”. It must be the players decision. Hopefully an informed decision.

What caused you to identify and participate with OOAK forum?
• Identify – a google search for “juic couga” lead to a link to this forum where it was being discussed
• Participate – Good question. I've just checked what my first ever post was about. It was on the topic “ETTA position on Frictionless LP's”. I guess I thought I could add something to the discussion to help people decide for themselves. I've continued participating because I like the way the forums run, it's challenging and at times it takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me question my views, manners and attitude. I have also made some very good table tennis friends here, people who I would choose to associate with and spend time with in person if the opportunity arises (again in some instances).

Name 5-20 forum members from OOAK who are "Characters" and what they brought to OOAK.
Ha ha, this is like an invite to do the “Oscars” and being required to do a speech. If I miss someone off they'll be offended. If I include everyone others will switch off. Instead, if you don't mind, I'll customise the question and limit it to 5 members who have left or don't post anymore.
• Speedplay. Always use to take time to welcome new members. Would be proactive in driving a topic forward and encourage discussion. Wasn't short of an opinion and despite claiming to be of a moderate ability, never backed down on the certainty he was right. I exchanged many PM's with speedplay on many different topics. I was very sad to see him go and despite what I consider to be a good “online” friendship, very disappointed in how he left and what he did and the mess he left others to clean up. Still miss him on the forum though.
• antipip. Very considered approach to posting. Knowledgeable, gracious and extremely frustrated at changes being made to the rules around table tennis equipment. I've actually met antipip 3 times and played golf with him once – he is/was a very good golfer and makes a living from his expertise in that field. First time we met he came up to Preston at one of our social Friday evening sessions. I didn't know he was coming and I'd never seen him before but noticed we had a “chopper”/defender down which was unusual. He practised with anyone. Young kids, older people, skillful people, beginners. Didn't matter to antip. Towards the end of the session he came over to me and said “you're debater aren't you”. That took me by surprise. He then introduced himself as antipip. Why he waited until near the end of the session I'll never know. Maybe in his considered way he was sizing up whether he wanted to talk to me or not – very much like how he posted, was it worth posting and if it was then he would post something with merit it to it, not something glib or because he liked the sound of his own “voice”. We went for a drink afterwards (cordial) and chatted for an hour or so. With it nearing 23:30 antipip had to leave. We clicked. Never close, but always with a shared interest in table tennis we met up and played twice more down in his neck of the woods. I've tried to contact him since he left this forum but he's never replied. When antipip says he's going to do something – and he said he'd leave this all behind – he does it.
• Yuzuki – used short pips on his backhand, loved to experiment, friendly, keen to learn and share. Everything you want in a forum member.
• Roundrobin – one of the few members I felt compelled at one time to mark as a “foe”. Roundrobin seemed to work in tandem with MNNB, almost like a tag team – especially when it came to challenging Adham Shahara. Roundrobin was extremely confident in his own opinion. Low betide anyone who differed or challenged his posts. Never afraid to wade in and metaphorically kick the boot in. However, he also had a strong knowledge of equipment, of running and organising events, gave helpful feedback and shared experiences and most memorably had an uncanny knack (along with MNNB) of making life rather uncomfortable for Adham Shahara. Quite a few entertaining and err difficult exchanges took place between Adham, Roundrobin, MNNB, smartguy and a few others. Adham wouldn't be allowed to get away with glib or ill thought out answers with this posse of forum members around. Roundrobin in conjunction with MNNB, was certainly one of the main reasons Adham Shahara's blog was as interesting and informative as it was.
• Pnachtwey (and his other disguises) – woooo. Talking science and table tennis here. Search for this name, it's an experience reading his posts. I actually thought pnatchtwey had many valid points – he just had a way of rubbing peoples noses up the wrong way. It was often a case of “light the touch paper and watch the fireworks go off”. Pnachtwey had a way of asking questions he wanted to tell you the answer to and why you were wrong, and wrong, and wrong and wrong and wrong again. A moderators nightmare, things could get repetitive with Pnatchtwey but they were seldom dull.

There are others some I miss, some I'm glad have gone and others still here but who seldom post. They include Mars63, metalmonkey, wiggy/darkhorse, adham, smartguy. tatlwai. I'm sure there are others too, I just can't remember them right now.

What would you like to see from OOAK going forward?
Easy. Two things.
1. More input from members. I know lot's of people aren't comfortable posting on forums, others who like their anonymity, and others who may think they have nothing to offer. But the bottom line is simply this. A forum lives and dies by the number and quality of posts all it's members make. The one thing that puts me off coming back here is when I click on “view active topics” and there is nothing active. Unfortunately, that type of thing happens too often these days.
2. A determined drive to act as a focus point for asking challenging questions, not just to ITTF officials but also national associations, manufacturers etc and not being afraid to print the response, even if the response is “no response”.

Where do you get all your "starter" topics from?
Listening to what's being said and watching what's going on all around me, be that at home, work, table tennis, in the media or the web, or on this forum. Then thinking about how to apply this back to a table tennis situation or with a table tennis slant in away that I hope forum members will either enjoy or be able to identify with so it's relevant to them.
It has also been noted I have a dry “northern” sense of humour. Quite often I like to take the accepted norm and twist it with a bit of that dry sense of humour.

What question would you ask yourself?
You obviously have plans and ideas and a passion to set up your own custom table tennis fitting service and you believe it can be done. So why are you so scared to take the next step and make it a reality?

What would it take for a table tennis community like this forum, to have more of an influence on the decisions made by our governing bodies?
• Luck – right time, meets / knows the right people, people who have a shared interest in seeing this happen. We got lucky with Torsten agreeing to post here and answer our questions and we definitely were fortunate to get Adham. Reading haggisv's first post on Adham's thread it talks about Adham “agreeing” to answer our questions. Maybe haggisv can expand on how he got that agreement?
• Drive / desire by the members for that to happen (take a look at the smallest section on the forum and guess which one it is) People may be vocal on these issues but in truth, I honestly don't think the vast majority of forum members consider influencing the governing bodies to be of any interest or benefit to them – and why should they?
• More active / membership
• A means / tool which we could use to raise our profile (be that podcast discussions on table tennis topics, a more active YouTube OOAK channel, better use of the “chat” facility or something else)
• Professional players and coaches to actively post here, a voice for the pro player not just the amateur
• Learning to play the political / organisational game better. We all can be quite self righteous and naive at times, me especially. I think it's called “seeing the bigger picture”
• Ultimately, a key value proposition which would appeal to governing bodies, to find out what that KVP should be, try adopting the approach described in the book “Ask” and apply that technique in canvasing governing bodies about what problems them have and how we could help them. Tapping in to that self interest of governing bodies is the key.

How would Debater approach the problem of raising the profile and accessibility of the game in England? It appears that PTTA is very active, both on the net and in the local area. I wonder if there are ideas and formats that they use that might be applicable in other places, so that people could very easily find out how to get into the sport, at whatever level.
Preston Table Tennis Association has won a lot of awards, both from the ETTA, Table Tennis England and locally. Last month we jointly won Preston Sports Forum's club of the year award – top club prize in our area. We have a reputation for having a very well run league, a structured and respected coaching programme, excellent facilties and opportunities for players to play local, county, inter county, junior, cadet, seniors, veterans competitions against other leagues at regional and national level. We run competitions throughout the year, we interact with schools and clubs and form partnerships with UCLAN and Table Tennis England and Preston Sports Forum / City Council to bring top quality table tennis to our area. This has been so successful that we can now take a back seat and let other local bodies like UCLAN deliver these events. We are proactive and take part in initiatives to promote the game locally. We open our doors to the general public and league players – all ages all abilities welcome. We promote ourselves through YouTube, Facebook, the local press (LEP) and have a continually updated TableTennis365 website. We don't sit back waiting for people to come to us. We go out to them and when they come we try to be as professional and welcoming as we can be.

We're not perfect. We have big problems and we can be better but we have some really really key hard working volunteers to help us deliver on our promises. And we benefit from the luxury of having a national governing body that is trying harder now to support it's affiliated leagues better in bringing us all together. TT England has regional development officers – you can find their names on the TT England Website, contact them and ask for their help. They are there to support you. They have TT in the workplace schemes where employers receive discounted tables and equipment if they commit to offering table tennis in the work place. They have schemes to support table tennis in schools. They offer advice on how to set up your own coaching programs and run your league. There is help there. You just need to look for it and we all need to get better at advertising and sharing best practice.

If people are genuinely interested in what we do to try and promote table tennis and maybe share best practices along the way, check out these links:
PTTA wins Preston Sports Club of the Year – the reason why
The advantages of having a purpose built facility for table tennis
What we do as a league
Preston Table Tennis Facebook Page
Jim Clegg wins Lifetime Achievement Award
Tony Rigby wins Lifetime Achievement Award
And if you've time, watch this video about a behind the scenes look at life in Preston Table Tennis, the characters and their reasons

If you were given 3 wishes by the Genie of TT what would you wish for ?
Note: Genie of TT will only grant TT related wishes
So a chance to play and coach Kate Beckinsale at table tennis isn't allowed?

A) For TT as an organization
• To have a clearly defined business model which brings together the ITTF and all the governing bodies and structures all the way down to club level in to line so they have clear direction, clear responsibilities and clear means for measuring and monitoring performance and delivery of their goals – bodies which work to support each other not endure goal conflicts. As an aside, does anyone know what the ITTF's mission statement is, what their core values are or what their measurable goals are or even their national association's?
• Better marketing and promotion of the product for sure
• Better use of it's existing skills and resources available to it

B) For TT players as a bloc
• local league level, to have every player registered in a club or league to accept and take on just one thing to support the running or development of their club / league.
• Professionally. Greater responsibility to give something back to lower level players and the general public. I think there is a perception among players that they are the poor relations, hard done by. In the world of sport they are probably right. But pro players, try being a volunteer who gives up their time for free so that you, the pro player have the chance to display your talents to an audience who pays to watch you. Be willing next time there is an international on and you're not playing, to put on an exhibition of table tennis skills and techniques before the match, interact with the fans, invite them down to the table, let them try and return your serves, play at pace against them, let them feel and see close up the skills and spins of table tennis, the exercises and warm ups you have to do. Help them identify and appreciate the skills your team mates will demonstrate in the upcoming match. Don't just turn up, frown, maybe acknowledge a family member in the crowd or begrudgingly mix with the public as something to endure only if you really have to and try saying thank you once in a while. I hope no pro players are reading this or I'm in trouble on the 11th! I recognise this is a purely selfish point of view from someone looking from the bottom upwards. At the pro level I have little knowledge of their problems, aspirations or what they are doing so I'm not really qualified to see the bigger picture for the pro player, but you did ask the question!
• Let the pro's themselves have the third wish on condition that the wish they come up with must receives a minimum of 90% agreement among all pro players for it to be granted.

C) For TT in your geography
• Affordable 24/7 access to play table tennis, not just at one or two regional venues but in each town and city
• Better TT England support for all leagues not just those in the “best player” regions. Resources are spread too thin and priorities have to be made which can lead to some geographical locations being overlooked.
• A guaranteed future proof affordable venue for my league.

D) For your own TT
• Time in China, watching and learning about their approach to coaching and playing table tennis, from social table tennis through to the national team. Seeing and experiencing their support mechanisms in action, what their goals and expectations are and their mental approach to table tennis. All with access to their officials, coaches and players along with the right to film and record all of this so others can see it too.
• My own custom fitting table tennis business
• To be better at helping people play and enjoy table tennis.


Author:  Der_Echte [ 02 Apr 2017, 17:34 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

The announcement of this thread could be likened to announcing DAS BOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT !!!! real loud.

What a doosie of an interview, a TT book in action with lots of nuggets.

Good stuff. Epic.

Author:  v02man [ 02 Apr 2017, 18:56 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

Hi Debater,

Great interview, still digesting and need to read again, but will definitely look at the links you provided for improving our town TT.

For your projects could you raise some crowd/forum funding? I would be happy to contribute.


Author:  Debater [ 02 Apr 2017, 20:18 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

Der_Echte, never the shrinking violet :D I hope you never change or loose that energy :up:

v02man wrote:
Hi Debater,

Great interview, still digesting and need to read again, but will definitely look at the links you provided for improving our town TT.

For your projects could you raise some crowd/forum funding? I would be happy to contribute.


Cheers. People's questions helped me reassess and focus on what table tennis means to me. Ironically the version of the camera I'm waiting to finish its development was brought to my attention via kickstarter but I've never considered using something like that for table tennis projects.

Ultimately I have to give people either what they want or what will be relevant and helpful to them so it's essential there's 2 way feedback from start to finish and that format seems suited to this. What I do is very niche though - part of its advantage. Is demand there? On a coaching development event I attended a french guy expressed an interest in what I'd done and wanted to know more about what I intended to do next. He is a forum member of tabletennis.de so I asked what did he think forum members there would be interested in. He posted a topic there asking that question. Interest shown was very very low. Crowd funding relies on a healthy interest. I'm not sure it's there.

Seeing if universities who have access to the type of testing equipment needed and scientific support want to partner up is another option

Maybe I need to be more proactive to demonstrate what can be done and how it can help people. Towards the end of the year I'm hoping to resign from my current job to force myself to explore things like this, and things I enjoy doing.

Thanks for the suggestion and interest. Certainly food for thought.

Author:  haggisv [ 02 Apr 2017, 20:45 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

haggisv wrote:
At what point should a player consider specialised equipment to enhance their game?
Not sure what you mean by specialist equipment. If you can expand on this I'll give my opinion. Ultimately though, I'm glad you said “should a player”. It must be the players decision. Hopefully an informed decision.

What I meant by this was things like combination blades, or pimples / antispin, instead of the mainstream double inverted, which is what most players start with.

Author:  Debater [ 02 Apr 2017, 22:09 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

haggisv wrote:
haggisv wrote:
At what point should a player consider specialised equipment to enhance their game?
Not sure what you mean by specialist equipment. If you can expand on this I'll give my opinion. Ultimately though, I'm glad you said “should a player”. It must be the players decision. Hopefully an informed decision.

What I meant by this was things like combination blades, or pimples / antispin, instead of the mainstream double inverted, which is what most players start with.

Depends on the person, their age, their health, their playing ambitions. I know as a coach it's frowned upon for me to use my match bat becuase it has SP's on the backhand but when I first started playing what people call on this forum basement table tennis, I used SP's bith sides . It was in the 70's and an old bat of my dads. I used what was available, didn't know any different and didn't even think about changing setups. When I returned to table tennis in the late 90's my first setup was inverted FH and SP's backhand because the person I played against said SP's would give me more control.

Ultimately though, I think certain equipment suits certain styles of play and I wouldn't call it "specialist" because that's defined really by the number of people who play with it - or lack of people, not because it mysterist or special. It just does different things when used properly.

I'd also recomend chosing a blade first and then rubbers to match the blade but that's a personal preference partly born out of the fact that I've never had a blade "loose" it's ITTF authorisation - because they are free of that - and blades last a lot longer than rubbers so there is less chance of a person being affected by manufacturers pulling the product at a later date so they can't get a replacement.

So to answer your question, I would wait until a person knows what style they like or would like to play and based on that I'd make suggestions for them to consider. From then on, it would be up to the person concerned to decide what to do. They are the ones playing with it and there is a tendency for people to look to "blame" others if "their" equipment choice doesn't pan out. I also think it's good practice, if only for half hour or so, to give people opportunities to try different "specialist" equipment if for no other reason than for them to get a feel for what they can and can't do with them and what their weaknesses and strengths are. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power.

Author:  Danthespearton HQ [ 03 Apr 2017, 03:00 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

Wow! :whew: That, was some top-notch quality interview.

Author:  haggisv [ 04 Apr 2017, 19:43 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

Thanks for all the time you spent on this Debater, really appreciate it! :clap: :clap: :clap: Now lets hope that the people that posted questions actually see you answers.... it's so easy to miss in a forum. :(

Debater wrote:
What would you like to see from OOAK going forward?
Easy. Two things.
1. More input from members. I know lot's of people aren't comfortable posting on forums, others who like their anonymity, and others who may think they have nothing to offer. But the bottom line is simply this. A forum lives and dies by the number and quality of posts all it's members make. The one thing that puts me off coming back here is when I click on “view active topics” and there is nothing active. Unfortunately, that type of thing happens too often these days.
So true! :up:

Author:  man_iii [ 05 Apr 2017, 02:12 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

Awesome responses Debater ! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Thanks to haggisv and Debater :-) :up: :up: :up:

The importance of available facilities and player give-back I feel is such an essential thing for a club's and the coaching center's success ! You said it Debater ! :rock:

Author:  Der_Echte [ 05 Apr 2017, 16:51 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

8 replies is entirely too weak a response for the Epic-ness of this interview and effort. I hope there are a lot of lurkers or "Shrinking Violets" watching or something.

Author:  haggisv [ 05 Apr 2017, 19:04 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

It's got about 600 views, which is a little better. I'm sure plenty of people have not seen it yet, since they just don't visit every day.

Author:  Debater [ 06 Apr 2017, 00:26 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

haggisv wrote:
It's got about 600 views, which is a little better. I'm sure plenty of people have not seen it yet, since they just don't visit every day.

After you switched it from the Interview section to the Global section haggisv ;) I suspect quite of few of those views were from the naughty darkside "bots" :lol:

Seriously guys, the number of views is nice and the comments appreciated. But personally, I learnt a lot about myself answering these questions. When people ask you some pretty serious questions it makes you think about what to say and what you value and when they are fun ones, you can let your hair down and your immagination free. I got a good combination of questions. So from my perspective, even if this topic totally disappears without a trace, it's been a win win experience for me :). Write the answers for yourself (make the videos for yourself) and if others get something from it, that's a bonus. :D

That said, it would be nice if a few more shared their experiences / opinions on some of the questions I was asked especially around participation and helping out clubs and leagues.

The person I feel sorry for is haggisv. I remember a few years ago there was a perception that "this" was all a lot of hard work for not so much response. We need a more active membership but you can't make anyone do something they truely don't want to do or aren't interested in.

On an extension to a question I anaswered about how I'd like to see this forum develop, haggisv set up an geographical map / tool of where members played so people could meet up - bringing us likeminded table tennis players together. I wish that feature would take off and be used more. It would be great to know in advance where members play and then just be able to turn up and if we wanted to, try and connect with each other in a table tennis environment.


Author:  Retriever [ 06 Apr 2017, 07:33 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

What answer would you give to the question you would ask yourself?

Author:  Debater [ 06 Apr 2017, 09:39 ]
Post subject:  Re: OOAK Interview with Debater - the interview!

Retriever wrote:
What answer would you give to the question you would ask yourself?

Fear. Uncertainty vs certainty.

The price of trying and failing is greater than the feeling of regret for not trying at all. It could cost me everything that I have worked over 30 years for. My future security.

I try and temper that fear with

"It is not death that man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live" Marcus Aurelius

And various other inspirational sayings and life coaching tools/techniques. The tide is turning.

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