Is It Too Late?

By Jeff Plumb on the 16-Jan-2017 (16 comments)

In the PingSkills Show today, we interview the great Brian Berry, a legend of Australian Table Tennis. Brian started at the age of 17 and ended up winning the over 40 and over 50 Australian singles titles. He also represented Australia at many World Veterans Championships reaching the last 16 in 3 separate age categories.

Tip of the Week - 0:51

Drill of the Week - 3:00

Tournament Wrap - 6:42

Is It Too Late? - Interview with Brian Berry - 13:52


As always, we'd love to hear any comments you have about the show.

Show #288 - Mind Games

By Jeff Plumb on the 12-Jan-2017 (2 comments)

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On This Day - 2:35

Lots of interesting birthdays.

Tip of the Week - 4:42

Plan for the year ahead!

Drill of the Week - 9:17

Introducing placing the ball to more than one position when you are doing a drill.

Tournament Wrap - 13:03

ITTF Star Awards

Playing Unfit - 19:36

Ernst: Yesterday, I played table tennis in not a perfect shape. I got a fever but I was still insist to play. Usually, I can land the ball perfectly on the table, but yesterday almost all of my ball went straight to the net or went out of the table. Does it mean I'm still lacking consistency in playing table tennis?

Mind Games - 22:08

Nigel: Do you have advice about mind games. I recently played in a match in my local league. I was just about to start serving in the 3rd game of a match. The score was 1 - 1in games. An opponent who i had just lost to in a close match was sat watching but called me over and said i needed to throw the ball higher on my serve. This has never been said to me before and as far as i can tell i am usually very close to the required 6 inches height if not higher. It being a local league most people don't complain as long as you are obviously not gaining an advantage. The umpire who was also one of the visiting team said nothing. Nor had my opponent who i was actually playing said anything. My own team afterwards have told me that my serves are on par with most players who play in our league .i.e not always perfect but not played in a way that gains an advantage...e.g serving out of a hand or spinning the ball or throw the ball away from vertical. I asked the opponent who was sat down to leave the decisions to the umpire. But i was put off by his comments and lost that game 2 - 11 and ended up losing that match. The opponent who had made the comment went on to play another match and served using a throw of about 2 inches. In fact the rest of my team said that is how he had served in every match that evening. In hindsight i think the comments were mind games to put me off. I do tend to be a bit of obviously nervous player. So how to keep concentration and how to deal with mind games from the opposition.

Timeouts - 29:06

Temitope: When are the very best moments, period and time to call for time out in a Tournaments?

Re-Tossing - 35:08

Bryan: My question for you is am I allowed to catch the ball and toss it again during service? I've played tennis for 6 years and I know I'm allowed to do it. I was wondering if that was the same for table tennis.

Warming Up - 36:13

Mehmet: I wanna ask How many minutes we have to work on the table?

Links in this Episode

The Goonies

PingSkills YouTube Channel

The Relative Age Effect

ITTF Star Awards

The Star Table Tennis Points of 2016

PingSkills Show on the Paralympic Games


Investigating the Relative Age Effect

By Jeff Plumb on the 13-Dec-2016 (0 comments)

Recently Carl watched our PingSkills Show on the relative age effect and decided to investigate further. He used a spreadsheet of 17585 ITTF players. Here's an email he sent us with some interesting findings. Thanks Carl!

Hi Alois,

I was able to get some results after quite some hours from analyzing the numbers. I decided to use the "ITTF Birthdays" spreadsheet, since I assumed that the 17585 players who's names are on that sheet are probably among the best in the world. This was a big array of data which was able to do the job. I will briefly explain to you what I chose to do to get to a valid conclusion. 

The advantage for using that spreadsheet was that there is virtually no chance that the values we get from analyzing that data could be due to randomness, which allows to be much more certain of any potential values we get.

My purpose was to compare the average we get from the players' to the average that we would normally get in a normal population. 

After some searching, I found that the average for the USA population, which, being big enough and well diverse, can be considered a good representation of the world's population. The average turned out to be 6.6127 Months. 

I then proceeded to calculate the average for the 17585 players, and got an average of 6.10132. 

At first, this might not seem a big difference, but in fact, after applying some formulas, it shows that 6.10132 is very different than 6.6127.

What helps us further appreciate the difference, is the ranking of the months according to births in each of them. With our reference population of the US, which is considered to be the "random" one, the order months sorted from most to least births is: 

8 > 9 > 7 > 10 > 6 > 3 >  12 > 5 > 11 > 1 > 4 > 2 

However, according to the birthdays on the ITTF list, we get:

1 > 8 > 7 > 3 > 5 > 2 > 9 > 10 > 4 > 6 > 11 > 12

So as you can see, the 1 moved all the way to first spot from 10th spot, which is huge!

Looking at the different proportions for each month also lets us notice that when comparing the "random" values to the ITTF ones, the first 4 months have seen a rise in their proportions, while the months 5 to 12 (except 7) have seen dips in their percentage. So for example, even though for the players, 9 still has more players than 4, the percentage for 9 has dipped, and that of 4 increased, but not enough to let 4 surpass 9.

So despite the fact that there are many more babies born in August than in January, the number of players born in January is still the biggest of them all!

This, of course, indicates that there is an outside factor that very much influences which players get into professional playing, which we can safely assume is the Relative Age Effect, since the early months, between 1 and 4, saw an important rise in their percentages compared to the actual population's birth percentage in that month. 

When I first saw this result, I must say I was really surprised. I thought that the younger the player is, the quicker he can learn from those older players while having more time in the future to train, but it seems like it wasn't the case, and with a difference between 6.1 and 6.6, this shows that there is clearly an advantage for people simply born in earlier months.

What I plan on doing next is finding out how big or small that advantage actually is, and whether or not it could potentially be a factor to be taken into consideration when judging a player's performance.

Also, I am now very interested in doing the same analysis for multiple sports and even for school studies if I can find similar lists, and compare them with Table Tennis. Who knows, maybe this might lead to some interesting results about sports and performance overall.

Again, thank you so much for the video that you made, and for sparkling that small curiosity in me. Even if those results turn out to mean nothing, it's been an absolute pleasure being able to analyze them and share the results with you. I plan on continuing the analysis on Thursday after I get my exams out of the way, and will certainly keep you updated if you are interested!

With sincere appreciation,

-Carl H.

The Relative Age Effect

By Jeff Plumb on the 09-Dec-2016 (6 comments)

Our theme for episode 4 of The PingSkills Show is "the relative age effect". This was popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Our tip of the week is about the use of your wrist for forehand strokes. The drill of the week introduces you to the pushing game. And in the tournament wrap we look at the World Junior Championships.

If you have any feedback about the show, please leave it below.

Enjoy Your Table Tennis

By Jeff Plumb on the 04-Dec-2016 (4 comments)

We had a lot of fun making this video. I hope we've been able to help you enjoy your table tennis too!

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Is It Too Late?

Show #288 - Mind Games

Investigating the Relative Age Effect

The Relative Age Effect

Enjoy Your Table Tennis

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