A Good Player is:
Can make adjustments
Tests the other guy
Knows his own strengths and weaknesses of his opponent – knows how to capitalize on the former, exploits the latter
Doesn’t take impulsive shots
Has good judgement
Has a good temperament – an even disposition
Never gives up (“uncle” is not in his vocabulary)
Knows how to gracefully lose – learns to live with disappointment.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Well … You’ve heard all of this before. That’s the formulaic stuff you get when you ask some ping pong coach about what makes for a good/great player. But do I really have to tell ya, it’s just malarkey. Bunkum. I mean you have to be a little more creative than that. You need to use your noodle. What we need is some hardnosed, hardheaded info and advice that will propel us into the victory lane. Something tangible. Something real! Even if it’s only one little morsel, one little crumb. That may be enough to turn the tide, to reverse your fortunes and put you securely in the winner’s circle. (You could be wearing a wreath like Man o War or Citation.) Yes, indeed, this time (today), in direct contrast with the aforementioned pablum, you’ll be privy to some of the most astute and keenest ping pong secrets, because I’m about to share with you the kind of cosmic ping pong knowledge which will indeed have real power – transformational power. You could possibly become a phenomenal ping pong player (what the non-voting millennials would call ‘awesome’). We’re talking a 2000 + rating, ladies and gentlemen. And it’s all yours for just two easy payments of …. Nah, I’m kidding. It’s for free, but you gots to swear that you aint gonna tell a soul about this. It’s just between us, okay? I don’t want it to get around, because someone may use these groundbreaking tips against me! And that would, of course, be a tragedy. My rating would go down. No, we can’t have that.
Now, look, I have a lot of these secrets, but I’m not about to divulge them all at once. Only one or two here and, possibly, more to follow in future blogs (if I don’t get run out of town on a rail).
Astute Secret Number One: Check to see if the guy’s got scars on his knees. (You may have to remove an Ace bandage or two to do a thorough exam.) These scars will usually indicate knee surgery. Ask the guy if it hurts when he moves. Ask the direction in which it hurts. Try to act sympathetic, then proceed to hit the ball wherever it was he said hurts the most. Don’t you dare feel sorry for these guys. The orthopedists will see to their medical care. Remember, you’re there for a victory.
Astute Secret Number Two: When playing an older person, the first thing you should do is to definitely check and see if grandpa wears a knee brace. (See what I mean? Nobody, except Lao Du, is gonna offer up these most valuable tidbits.) Now, let’s suppose your opposition has one on his left knee. It means he’ll have trouble going to his right so, by all means, hit the freaking ball over there. Again, don’t feel sorry for these guys. If you feel compelled to somehow express your sympathy, just tell them to see their orthopedists, for God sakes.
Note: If the guy is wearing pants, you’ll have to come up with some excuse to feel his knees. (Caution: You better have a good excuse.)
Astute Secret Number Three: Now for sizing up your opponent. Not the usual sizing up. I’m not talking about whether your opponent favors his forehand or his backhand – that’s just more of the mundane claptrap. No, no. I mean size him up by finding out how tall he is. Ask him. It will confuse him because it’s such a dumb question.
Astute Secret Number Four: I’m often asked, how do you play against a guy who absolutely stinks. I say, stand back from the table a bit (a huge bit), and tell the guy to switch to another deodorant.
Remember, you heard it here first. Lao Du