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 Post subject: My table tennis story.
PostPosted: 04 Jul 2019, 20:19 
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Alright, I'm in one of those moods again. Now I have to go for it. I don't know how many of you will take me seriously, I also don't want to be an attention grabber of any sort, I don't want to be someone who only asks for favours but never gives back. I want to share my story with table tennis. I hope I can write something nice, I don't know if it's going to be messy (excuse me then, I'm writing this planlessly), but I'll try my best. I'll add some personal things too, not sure if it's the best thing to do but it's the best way for me to describe how I feel.

I'm a 19 year old boy/man from The Netherlands, named Maurice. I've been playing TT for 5 years approximately (I hate this, I'll come back to this probably several times). Before table tennis I played football/soccer for a while, since I was a kid. Obviously as a kid, I couldn't ever imagine what kind of feelings I could have for a sport. That table tennis would be the thing I'd live for.. Anyways, I used to play football for a while since I was a kid. I always played in teams with some friends, never at a high level really. Matches were fun but going to trainings was incredibly boring. I used to be a goalkeeper (roots of my defending love).

Couple of years ago, me and my neighbour friend were playing some unserious TT in his garden, and we both liked it alot (I really wanted to do something else), so we went ahead and went to a free training in the small village I live. He ended up not joining the club but I did (THANKGOD) and one friend of mine. This is where it all started. Obviously club level is nowhere near high level. When I saw the seniors play back then I couldn't ever imagine me being that good. Well things changed. In the beginning it went slowly for me. I played for like 3 year without any interest (club didn't contribute to that). Just a little bit of ping pong.

Sadly I don't have a rating reference unfortunately, but I was playing in a team of 4 playing in very low leagues. At a certain moment I was winning 100% of my matches, my team was behind with 10-20% winning rates. So we even went down a league. It was also around this time, that I started to realise what table tennis really means to me. MAYBE some of you will look at me and think: 'man he's a rookie how can he think this way about a sport he's barely been into?'. Well sometimes I do feel this way too. Seeing this forum has existed for such a long time too, and many of the same forum contributors are still around, the dedication is awesome (I love it). I hope you won't see me that way though, because I don't want to be a rookie. In that time I started watching table tennis, and suddenly I came across videos of my biggest Idol in history for always and ever: 'Joo se Hyuk'. I saw that, and it was at that moment I knew that this was IT.

Now a different part of me. I'm certainly not a guy with the ladies. You could laugh about this, but this has been the reason for the darkest period in my life. The result from this, is me realising chances of me ever getting a girlfriend are 0,1%. This is because of 2 things: who I am (obviously), and yes, that's why I'm on this forum, table tennis. Many people live their life, to finally reach their goal of finding their significant other (and get kids). For me, I started realising that it is table tennis which is my absolute final goal. It is more important than ANYTHING else to me. For this reason I obviously regret never playing this sport earlier, but you can't regret what you didn't know back then..

It was around the same time I got LP's for the first time and joined my second club. I asked around on this forum 2 years ago, caring about equipment too much probably, but I already was endlessly motivated, I knew what I would want to do for the rest of my life as an innocent 17 year old boy. Yes I understand that someone like Harimoto is only (just became) 16 years old (has been in the scene for a while already too), and that many players already knew it when they were 10 years old. But was it really them who knew, or the ones who were raising them? I played 3 years of not really interesting table tennis, and suddenly I knew it was it. A decision I made on my own, out of the blue basically. I really didn't know how to express it (honestly, I still don't know if this really expresses it), but I was sure nobody around me could take me seriously. YES, my family does know I'm serious with table tennis, and they know and support that I would want to go to a different country purely for training, but I know they don't REALISE what I would give to actually be a pro. I definitely don't blame them, I never told them about the girl problem (I can't).

For the last 2 years I’ve been mostly getting experience with LP’s, and getting to know their mechanics. In the second club I could actually play youths competition at a higher level, and we became champions three times in a row, with me only losing 2 games in the last season, still having the highest percentage of the season. In the meantime I never stopped watching table tennis, following everything that was going in the TT world. Another thing bothering me was school. I found it such a waste of time if I really wanted to become really good. I finally graduated from High School, and I immediately decided not to go to a follow up study. (For now, so that I can focus on this)

This leads me to this: I want to go somewhere else. I want to go to a place where they can teach me anything, where I can train 10 hours a day, every day. Where there are many good players. Where I can follow my dreams. Maybe just maybe you or someone you know could help me with this. I would love to send the first message, and put the most effort into it. But the hardest part is finding the people who actually know where to go, and who know where it is available for me to go. Who know everything about the sport. I’m also planning on messaging many coaches, professional players, ex-professional player, and well firstly this forum. I think I’m going to use this same story, because it’s hard actually writing something like this big about yourself, and to keep going and finish the story.
Having that said, let me go to the next phase. My playing style and my awareness. Okay so I’m playing with a Chinese rubber on the fh + LP’s on the backhand. I’ve read that Chinese philosophy covers that importance of the blade is 80% while the rubbers are only 20%. It was good getting used to everything with the Sword 309, but it lacks consistency with same shots (reviews and I experience it too), so I’m planning to switch to VKMO blade with the same fh and TSP p1r curl 1.0 on the backhand. For the last 2 years it was mostly me standing closer to the table, making it really hard for opponents to read what I was doing, and stepping around quickly after weak receives from the opponent. But it was definitely not the game I would want to play later on, as I don’t see it being effective later on and it’s ugly. I’m not someone who cares for attention, but I do want to be someone people look at and think: his playing style looks awesome! I’ve always wanted to ‘impress’ people. Maybe like a shining star in the darkness?

Anyways, I find myself a pretty smart guy, it’s just whenever I start playing my smartness vanishes. I know that I’m very good at strategical and tactical games and situations in life (I always think analytically, also when I’m walking on the street for example :P), so I know it’s there. I’m also convinced there is MUCH more in me, I just know it. I know it is possible for me, and with the ambition I have, with the dedication I have, if I can find the right place, I KNOW IT”S POSSIBLE. For the upcoming long time I’m willing to dedicate ALL my time into table tennis, because it’s my life.

Specifically with chopping, when I’m practicing I’m finding the lack of consistency of other players not helping with chopping practice. They can’t make the same shots a couple of times, then suddenly a weird ball comes and I would have to make a crazy stroke with the LP’s to get the ball back, but that’s not effective training. When I’m practicing chopping, I know what I need to do, and when I execute the chop, I still sometimes make a wrong movement even though I know what I need to do. It’s mostly because I feel like I need to ‘correct’ a little bit so that the ball would actually come back (mostly because of lacking spin, so I feel like I would need to open up more but this definitely isn’t the solution, but it still happens because of automatism). When practicing I’m really trying to purely focus on chopping in the right way and I know that there are many things that could be useful to me (definitely because the lacking advice of people around me, there is no experienced chopper here), so I have to get the knowledge from the internet (which sadly doesn’t go over chopping almost at all), and definitely from this forum. That’s also a reason why I’m writing this huge message. Another thing is, when people play, the amount of spin they give on the ball is not massive, so if I would try to chop the ball it would actually never go over the net (hypothetically). Like knowing there is not much on the ball but still having to chop vertically, that is confusing. I have many more questions but asking them all at the same time as sharing my story doesn’t seem the way.
I think this as a whole is a good combination of everything I wanted to put into a message. There could definitely still be things I’m forgetting, because it’s alot.
If you have questions that could clarify things, or you wondering about something or just ANYTHING, please feel free to ask it!
If you can help with anything, that is already greatly appreciated. Sometimes the smallest advices help the most. It feels like I’m asking for many favours or something, I hope you don’t see it that way. I mean it’s a fact I’m actually asking many things but I don’t want to come across as someone who only takes but doesn’t give (sadly there is not much else I can do)

If you read all of this, I really want to thank you alot, it means alot to me! :)

Sincerely,
Maurice


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PostPosted: 05 Jul 2019, 01:53 
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OK. So you'd like to go somewhere and play and train all day - in other words, become a table tennis playing professional. I suppose it's possible, the problem is there aren't that many of them who make comfortable livings. Prize money is paltry in most events - check out how much winners get for Pro Tour tournaments, for instance. (Compare this to what even smaller pro tennis tournaments offer.) There's more substantial prize money for big commercial TV leagues (like T2 APAC) but how many people get invited to play in those, and even then, for those who win the prizes there are many more who don't. I'd estimate (outside of China) there's about 200-300 people who actually make money from playing table tennis competitively - and most of them aren't making very much. They probably get paid to play in the top level pro leagues (these exist in Europe and in China, and Japan, but not in the US), some get some sponsorship money from companies (not necessarily table tennis companies) and may make money on the side from coaching. There are also a lot of what we might call "amateurs" - they play competitive table tennis, but have a day job. There's also a larger number of people who might be called "support professionals" - they don't play competitively to earn money, but they coach, run clubs and training camps, sell equipment, etc. (In China there are professional ball feeders, I've heard.. they feed balls 8-10 hours a day and get paid a salary...).

I guess if you want to join the ranks of those who actually make money (hopefully enough for a comfortable existence) playing competitive table tennis, you have to live where there are pro leagues with sponsorship. So far so good, I don't know about the Netherlands but there's such a thing in Germany, and I'm sure in Sweden. But you'll HAVE to be REALLY good to play in the top ranks (US rating of around, what, 2400 or so?). If you're 19 and not this good yet, there is still time, but you probably want to get there by the time you're 25 or 26. And I don't know if it's a good idea to pin all your hopes of doing this - it's probably best to have a Plan B and continue to go to school and get a higher education of some sort, even if it's, say, a technical school or a sports school. Because you REALLY don't want your day job (or worse, your career) to be one that sucks, like being a clerk at the Albert Heijn (if you are going to end up at an Albert Heijn you do at least want to be the manager.. :lol: ). I suppose a Plan B could be to go into coaching - a lot of top players (e.g. Danny Seemiller) have done this and have been involved in table tennis all their lives. I don't think you necessarily have to be THAT good, either (though being 2000 level or so would help). You COULD also, for instance, start a company selling table tennis equipment, or get hired by, say, tabletennis11, or you could start a club (Marty Reisman did that later in life - he also made money off table tennis in a way I won't mention here, but you'd probably find out about if you look around.. :lol: ), but I think to do this successfully you'd need business skills (again, go to college).

Sorry for being so negative here - if you feel you ARE good enough to "turn pro" (hey, Fukuhara Ai went pro at 10, which boggles the mind..), then by all means do it. Take a part time job, save money, live frugally, spend 3-4 hours a day practicing and getting coached(this costs money!), and then compete and win in successively higher leagues until you get to the pro level where they pay you a salary or you get substantial sponsorship. And if you can't? Well, you'll be like pretty much all of us posters here on OOAK.. :lol: How many people here actually make money off table tennis, rather than sink money into it? I can only think of two, offhand, though there are probably more. Everyone else plays with varying degrees of seriousness, but has a day job, or career, or are still in school.

Iskandar


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PostPosted: 05 Jul 2019, 02:04 
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As to chopping practice - you'd have to practice with better players - or better yet, get someone to feed you balls (what they call "multi-ball practice"). This usually isn't free, unless you take turns with another player - and feeding, like everything else, takes practice. I suppose a robot MIGHT help, but a feeder would be better and more flexible.

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PostPosted: 05 Jul 2019, 06:35 
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I believe that the hierarchy in Europe in terms of money for the top leagues is:
Germany/Russia
France
Portugal/Sweden/Poland
(maybe Czech Republic?)

I only know about Sweden but you will need to be within the top 300 in the world to play for a team in the top league. Players in the second division are typically students living on student loans or people with day jobs.


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PostPosted: 05 Jul 2019, 22:28 
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Thanks alot for the replies!

Let me phrase it this way: I want to become good, regardless of money. The thing is, indeed you will need money in order to get good coaching, and you'll need money later on to be able to live your life. First of all, my parents are really helpful, so if it would go a little less better, they are always willing to help me. Second of all, I don't mind living in the smallest house possible, if it makes me be able to live and play table tennis (and be able to pay for whatever is needed), I'll do it! I have been working now actually at the Albert Heijn :rofl: :rofl: , but it's a really good paying job. My contract almost ends, but I already have some other things I can do to make good hours and earn decent money while also still train a bit here (like usual). And I do have plans B and C, I'd love to stay in the table tennis world (I think I could be a decent coach too, but that's not my aim now), I mean regardless of what I do in live, I will always stay in the table tennis world. The other plan is, studying Chinastudies at Leiden University. I definitely am fascinated by Chinese culture (it would be a great place to train :P). I'm just trying to reach as many people as I can now, who might be able to help me or get me into contact with someone they know, or someone or institution they heard of, everything can be it! (PS: Mattias Falck also responded to a smaller message I sent to him, and he actually made a great recommendation :P)


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PostPosted: 05 Jul 2019, 23:29 
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Maurice wrote:


Now a different part of me. I'm certainly not a guy with the ladies. You could laugh about this, but this has been the reason for the darkest period in my life. The result from this, is me realising chances of me ever getting a girlfriend are 0,1%. This is because of 2 things: who I am (obviously), and yes, that's why I'm on this forum, table tennis. Many people live their life, to finally reach their goal of finding their significant other (and get kids). For me, I started realising that it is table tennis which is my absolute final goal. It is more important than ANYTHING else to me. For this reason I obviously regret never playing this sport earlier, but you can't regret what you didn't know back then..



Maurice


Based on this paragraph alone, particularly the first sentence you have picked the right sport. Welcome!! :D :headbang:


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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2019, 00:36 
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As usual, it takes you some 10 years to grow an international player.
It takes you 4 years to become a national umpire.
It takes you 3 years to obtain a coaching certificate.
Make your choice. Be conscious.


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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2019, 00:54 
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I think in europe there are clubs where you can live in very cheaply and train hours every day. I have been to two of them b75.dk, and http://www.ttpor.pt/index.php/atema/. I think there are dozens, if not hundreds, of clubs like this all over europe. It's a good place for table tennis relatively speaking. If you go to asia there will be thousands of clubs where you can play 5 - 8 hours per day. And some parts of asia are much cheaper to live in than most parts of europe. I know people who moved to Vietnam and Thailand and had very good experiences with table tennis and enjoying life in general. And while it is not formal education you will always learn many things by living in different countries.

If you have a supportive family then 19 is the age to do this sort of thing. Believe me, you won't be able to do it when you are 40. And i doubt you will ever regret the decision, even if after a year or two you give up and come home.

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Alan Watt -- The Way of Table Tennis


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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2019, 03:38 
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I suppose it depends on what you want in the end.. Do you want to get good enough to be an international pro? Or is playing table tennis at, say, the 2200-2400 level (to get an idea.. YangYang on YouTube is a 2400 level player - very, very, very good but not enough to make money competitively - perhaps second level league material in Europe) 4-8 hours a day while living in a small apartment and making enough to live on good enough for you? If so, yeah... I know of at least two or three clubs in Thailand where this might be possible (you'd need some sort of a job - maybe teaching English? or maybe coaching table tennis in schools?), or you could find a good club in Europe and do the same thing. If you DO want to get to international level, though... hmmm.... maybe set yourself a three-year goal to get into the second level league, save enough money, and then go to China to train for a year. I don't think China would be a good place to "go pro", though - there are lots of leagues, lots of teams, a fair number of players being paid to be on teams, but there will be a LOT of really, really good players competing to get in. China isn't really cheap, not any more. Beijing and Shanghai are among the most expensive cities to live in these days, unless you want to live in a worker's dormitory or in the slums, where you have to ride the buses in to town for an hour. Smaller cities would be cheaper, however, but the main centers of table tennis would likely be in the bigger cities.

Your plan B wouldn't be for now.. it's when you hit 30 and you still haven't made it as a paid pro, or even if you have and are on the decline. That's when you'd want something better than being a clerk at Albert Heijn.. and where that college degree would prove useful.

I've been told by friends (in music school) that the life of a professional musician is very, very tough.. You spend years and years training, you have to constantly practice, and only a very select few get good paying jobs in major orchestras. The rest take "gigs" and need a day job to survive. I think professional sports is very much like that. 95 out of 100 never make it into the paying ranks, and most of those who do end up playing at the lower tiers and don't make all that much money. How much does a third division soccer player make, one wonders.

Iskandar


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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2019, 03:50 
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JUST IFFY CHANCE.
You have to be a kid under 12 y.o. to get some chance (just iffy) of reaching to a pro level/ Sorry.

https://www.nttb.nl/topsport/statussporters/rtcs


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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2019, 04:38 
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This might indeed be one of those rare times when Igor actually knows what he's talking about, but I wouldn't let that discourage you... :lol:

Iskandar


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PostPosted: 06 Jul 2019, 15:58 
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vanjr wrote:
Maurice wrote:


Now a different part of me. I'm certainly not a guy with the ladies. You could laugh about this, but this has been the reason for the darkest period in my life. The result from this, is me realising chances of me ever getting a girlfriend are 0,1%. This is because of 2 things: who I am (obviously), and yes, that's why I'm on this forum, table tennis. Many people live their life, to finally reach their goal of finding their significant other (and get kids). For me, I started realising that it is table tennis which is my absolute final goal. It is more important than ANYTHING else to me. For this reason I obviously regret never playing this sport earlier, but you can't regret what you didn't know back then..



Maurice


Based on this paragraph alone, particularly the first sentence you have picked the right sport. Welcome!! :D :headbang:


Few years down the road you will read highlighted part and chuckle. It's absolutely not true and not the reason to pour all your efforts into TT as a profession either. Do focus on TT as a hobby (it is wonderful), but don't make it the sole purpose in your life, especially at this stage of your life.

Go for intensive training at one of the clubs if you can, preferably for a reasonably long time. See if you can handle it and whether you still enjoy it after several weeks of TT-only life. Might also give you a decent read on how far you can get as well.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but stakes are pretty high. You can mess up your life (or significantly complicate it) by following this "TT or bust" approach.

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PostPosted: 07 Jul 2019, 21:56 
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Thanks for the replies!

BRS wrote:
I think in europe there are clubs where you can live in very cheaply and train hours every day. I have been to two of them b75.dk, and http://www.ttpor.pt/index.php/atema/. I think there are dozens, if not hundreds, of clubs like this all over europe. It's a good place for table tennis relatively speaking. If you go to asia there will be thousands of clubs where you can play 5 - 8 hours per day. And some parts of asia are much cheaper to live in than most parts of europe. I know people who moved to Vietnam and Thailand and had very good experiences with table tennis and enjoying life in general. And while it is not formal education you will always learn many things by living in different countries.

If you have a supportive family then 19 is the age to do this sort of thing. Believe me, you won't be able to do it when you are 40. And i doubt you will ever regret the decision, even if after a year or two you give up and come home.


Thanks for the info! And yes, it's definitely the thing I want to do. I want to go away, have an amazing experience :). Messaging clubs is definitely a good way for me to find a place quickly where I could train, so I'm going to focus on that too the upcoming time.

iskandar taib wrote:
I suppose it depends on what you want in the end.. Do you want to get good enough to be an international pro? Or is playing table tennis at, say, the 2200-2400 level (to get an idea.. YangYang on YouTube is a 2400 level player - very, very, very good but not enough to make money competitively - perhaps second level league material in Europe) 4-8 hours a day while living in a small apartment and making enough to live on good enough for you? If so, yeah... I know of at least two or three clubs in Thailand where this might be possible (you'd need some sort of a job - maybe teaching English? or maybe coaching table tennis in schools?), or you could find a good club in Europe and do the same thing. If you DO want to get to international level, though... hmmm.... maybe set yourself a three-year goal to get into the second level league, save enough money, and then go to China to train for a year. I don't think China would be a good place to "go pro", though - there are lots of leagues, lots of teams, a fair number of players being paid to be on teams, but there will be a LOT of really, really good players competing to get in. China isn't really cheap, not any more. Beijing and Shanghai are among the most expensive cities to live in these days, unless you want to live in a worker's dormitory or in the slums, where you have to ride the buses in to town for an hour. Smaller cities would be cheaper, however, but the main centers of table tennis would likely be in the bigger cities.

Your plan B wouldn't be for now.. it's when you hit 30 and you still haven't made it as a paid pro, or even if you have and are on the decline. That's when you'd want something better than being a clerk at Albert Heijn.. and where that college degree would prove useful.

I've been told by friends (in music school) that the life of a professional musician is very, very tough.. You spend years and years training, you have to constantly practice, and only a very select few get good paying jobs in major orchestras. The rest take "gigs" and need a day job to survive. I think professional sports is very much like that. 95 out of 100 never make it into the paying ranks, and most of those who do end up playing at the lower tiers and don't make all that much money. How much does a third division soccer player make, one wonders.

Iskandar


I know money in this sport is a big problem, and I know that there is a very slim chance of me reaching international level (statistically), but I am going to chase my dreams, I am willing to do whatever is needed to get there, so who knows really? Basically, I'm a happy guy if I could be involved in this world, I don't care how big I live. But the higher the level I would be, the happier (more satisfied) I am with myself.

'maybe set yourself a three-year goal to get into the second level league, save enough money, and then go to China to train for a year', something like this does sound like a decent strategy in general for me to evolve. I definitely need to set goals for myself, (realistic, but strifing), so that is some good advice!

igorponger wrote:
JUST IFFY CHANCE.
You have to be a kid under 12 y.o. to get some chance (just iffy) of reaching to a pro level/ Sorry.

https://www.nttb.nl/topsport/statussporters/rtcs


And this is where skepticism comes in. I understand you wanting to give a reality check (sometimes you need it), but I've been thinking about this and the thing is: the kids at such a young age who played for a very long time, never dreamt about what level they could reach, and what things they wanted to reach, because they are already in the world. Many professional sporters (doesn't matter which sport) see it as their job (and while in table tennis it's hard to earn money, it's still this way because they've been doing it since they were very young), and maybe dream of other things. Have other different hobbies besides this. I see table tennis as both my hobby and just what I want to do. If I could live off doing things in the table tennis world? Amazing! If I could play and have enough earnings to be able to live, but just that it allows me to play? Fine by me! Many professionals often also say: If you have a dream, go for it and who knows how far you will get. If you REALLY want something, it definitely increases your chances of reaching it. And how mainstream these words may seem, they are very supporting.

pgpg wrote:
Few years down the road you will read highlighted part and chuckle. It's absolutely not true and not the reason to pour all your efforts into TT as a profession either. Do focus on TT as a hobby (it is wonderful), but don't make it the sole purpose in your life, especially at this stage of your life.

Go for intensive training at one of the clubs if you can, preferably for a reasonably long time. See if you can handle it and whether you still enjoy it after several weeks of TT-only life. Might also give you a decent read on how far you can get as well.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but stakes are pretty high. You can mess up your life (or significantly complicate it) by following this "TT or bust" approach.


This is not a message I find myself in common with, but I appreciate you leaving a reply. I'm a different person, and the way you are saying: "but don't make it the sole purpose in your life" as opposed to something like "but think about making it your sole purpose in your life" is not the reason I initially wrote this message. I don't want to be a dick, because I appreciate everyone reading and replying :), but I definitely feel older than 19. Age is just a number, and I've been thinking enough about this. I know changes happen alot in life, and I don't see this as the reason why I should pour all my efforts into TT. I see it as a benefit for me. I mean, I could send you a pm of many words of me explaining how I work and why I feel like this, but that's not why I'm here. And I know I would enjoy it after several weeks of TT-only life. I don't see how I would actually be able to mess up my life with this (I mean, not doing anything would make me a mess if I wasn't feeling like that already, you understand :P). I have talked about this (the quote above) with my best friend, and he also doesn't believe this is true, but we can laugh about it and keep having a good talk :), everybody thinks in a different way.



I want to say that if there are still people who know some literal info about a certain club, or someone they know who could help me with anything, I would appreciate it alot if you could leave a message here (or pm me). I know I'm going, I just wanted to clarify a bit with this message (and just respond to you guys because I appreciate it alot that you are replying!).

Have a great day!


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