We’ve got to get rid of these techno-trick bats and those flimflam artists using them. Anyone who plays with pips out, for example, should be expelled … and propelled out of the club. Banished for life. Post haste. The only person we should welcome with Pips is Gladys Knight.
Some people ask me why I give the serve to my opponent (I don’t in a tournament). Turns out, I’m not alone in this predilection and it’s not original, either. I got the idea from a remark by William Tecumseh Sherman, the civil war general. He was being considered as a possible Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1884. He declined, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.” So I won’t serve, either. (Besides, I got a lousy serve.)
Those spin serves (e.g., the forehand pendulum sidespin serve, the forehand Tomahawk topspin serve): It’s cheating; don’t do it. These guys and their damn technology are kidding themselves. If they’re so hard up for a point, they should just go and sharpen a pencil. With their advanced techno/ trick bats (rackets), they make it spin like a top. They make those Gewo balls spin faster than my washing machine at the end of the cycle. Pulsars (in the cosmos) also spin, but not nearly as much as what comes off their accursed rackets. Disgussssting! I mean it’s truly vile and despicable. (Is that their idea of winning fairly?) Spin? You want spin? All right, then go ahead and visit the White House Press Office.
No one should be allowed to play using a penhold grip. I say, if you wanna be a penholder than go out and buy a Bic. Besides, if ya wanna be honest about it, you and I both know that’s it’s not patriotic. It’s un-American, is what it is. C’mon, just shake hands with the racket and play like a man.
A carbon blade makes a racket stiffer – but if you’re a stiff you’re sweet spot aint gonna be any sweeter. They should outlaw this kind of stuff. Just more cheating.
And remember this. To thine own self be true … And with a sandpaper racket you can do your nails. Lao Du
Ya know what I can’t stand anymore? It’s the continuous and unrelenting apologies you get from the guy across the ping pong table from you who hits one on the net that dribbles over, or hits the ball on the edge of the table resulting in an unreturnable ball. Now these apologies have got to be some of the phoniest exclamations of sorrow and remorse that have ever been uttered in sports. It’s totally lacking in sincerity. As a matter of fact, it’s an absolute false expression describing what the guy really feels. It’s pure, one hundred percent crapola, is what it is. And it’s chock full of deceit, too – the guy is pretending. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the guy says, and nearly stops the game to go to confession (Father, forgive me, I made my opponent sad). Yeah? Well, Bunky, you’re makin’ me puke.
Listen, you and I both know that when you hit a lucky shot and win the point, you’re feeling pretty good. Maybe jubilant! Maybe ecstatic! An honest guy would be jumping up and down with unrestrained delight, not offering up some bogus forgive me. I’m sick of it. We have to do something about it.
Me? I no longer partake in this fraudulent, teary-eyed charade. It’s not like I’m giving the opposing player the finger, either, I just don’t say anything. And the heck with him if he’s so intent on hearing the automatic and ludicrous mi scusi. But if he’s waiting for that reflex apology or some defensive hand gesture on my part indicating an equally phony regretfulness and sympathy, it goads me into taking the offense. I look straight back at this bereaved, grief-stricken wussy – this apology seeker – and I spit back Oh! Too Bad! Or, if I’m really not enamored with the guy to begin with, I’ll say something like Tough Nuggies! or, Tough Titties. Or, if I harbor genuine resentment (the guy just took my parking space) and ill-will (my car was there first), I’ll go a little further and say something I cannot address on these pages (but I’ll only say it if I took recent karate lessons).
Ya know what? I go along with George Castanza (Seinfeld). He may have been an idiot, but he was honest (he was an honest idiot most of the time). He said what he felt. He would feel absolutely no remorse for making a lucky ping pong shot that his adversary could not return (after all, he felt not a twinge of sadness when his fiancée died of envelope glue poisoning). In one episode, when someone sneezed, he said “Ah, shut up!” And this is what he’d say in the situation whereby he just made a lucky shot: It’s nothing – whatta ya getting so upset about?
Right on, George. C’mon, there’s enough phoniness and banality in the world already. We don’t have to add to it. Lao Du
I play well against the moribund, the sclerotic, the prepubertal and just about all the cachexic gomers I meet. But I don’t do so hot against people who can actually hit the ball back to me with some consistency. Between you and me, I try not to play anyone in the latter group anymore because it’s … well, it’s not good for my ego. I usually tell these guys I’m tired and devoid of energy. But when an 8 year old asks me to play, I jump with a renewed snappy exuberance. Ya know why? Because I can still kill these kids. A few reverse pendulum serves, and they’re totally disoriented and ping pong dysfunctional – a notch on my paddle for the “kill.” Maybe I should feel ashamed – I mean it’s like mugging a defenseless octogenarian on a deserted lower east side street at 11 at night – but it’s a WIN, and I need that. (Ah, I’ll give the kids some candy later.)
There’s a ping pong lesson for all of us in this (believe it or not). And it’s this: If you keep the ball in play against beginning and intermediate players, you’re probably gonna win and be able to write a good story of your incredible prowess in your diary. (It’ll warm the cockles of your heart when you review it down the road during your dottage.) Just be patient and content with getting the ball over the net 4 or 5 times and let the shnook on the other side of the table be the impulsive one. Let him imprudently try to whack a short, low ball with backspin when he’ll probably only make the shot one in ten times. And he’ll try the same thing over and over and over again, because he has no self-restraint or understanding of how foolish it is to pursue that mindless strategy. (Inwardly, you can have a lot of fun feeling contempt and disdain for this unworthy opponent. Caution: Remember not to curl your lips in “total” disdain, because one of these lunkheads may be carrying.)
Finally, remember what Bruce Lee said, this will also improve your ping pong. To thine own self be true, he said. Wait, wait. Maybe that was Shakespeare. Recently I’ve been getting ‘em confused. Hold on, now I remember. Bruce Lee said Become like the water, my friend. Something like that. Wait, wait – maybe that was Shakespeare. Ah, I guess it really doesn’t matter, because I don’t have any idea what it means. Only this: Win or lose, what’s the real difference anyway (especially to a crotchety and doddering old fool). It’s only a game. (Or is it?) Lao Du
Recently, after the group met for our weekly session, it occurred to me that maybe my insistence on Pongers playing a certain way – MY WAY – was not the Right Way. Maybe My Way Or The Highway is not the most prudent or tactful approach to teaching Ping Pong to this guy named Job (I changed his name because I don’t wanna get sued.)
Suppose a novice player like Job says: I enjoy playing the way I play, even if it’s unorthodox and even if my potential for improvement is limited by my insistence on hitting the ball as I do. What should the instructor do in such a situation? (Put another way, what if the instructor has no patience for Job?)
Well, I’ve been attempting to explain that with proper strokes there will be improvement. Not only that, but there is also a commensurate joy derived from playing better. The ability to keep the ball in play and even hitting ‘winners’ is fun – much more fun than inconsistent play. To humble your opponent with an unreturnable smash – does it get any better? (says the sadist). And, yet, the ping pong novice continues to dissent. I like playing the way I play, he protests, I enjoy the game already, regardless of the fact that I’m not going to make the Ping Pong Hall of Fame.
Holy smokes! Did you hear that? Jeez, I’m really taken aback by this rebellious attitude. Stupefied (!) and shocked (!), probably because this kind of thinking is not in synch with my own. I mean I want to be in the Ping Pong Hall of Fame! (You know someone I can bribe?) And, then, when I tell my Cockapoo (a doggie) all about this, he only yawns. I think he’s telling me that Ping Pong is only a game, that there’s more important stuff in life (like Alpo prime cuts). After thoughtfully considering the point, I kinda gravitate to that same viewpoint – his. Maybe we’re not all destined for greatness. Maybe some people don’t consider a 2000 point ping pong rating to be crucial or even significant in their life. Maybe some people don’t care about such stuff. Maybe my values are not universal – maybe even wrongheaded. Maybe it is I who should envy this person who’s ping pong interests lie in another direction – toward exercise and health and socialization … and FUN! Maybe there’s another world out there waiting for me to discover.
Take home message: Maybe I shouldn’t torment Job the way Satan did back in the day. Lao Du
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is, as it’s name suggests, is a form of talk therapy which combines elements of thinking (cognitive) and behavioral disciplines. It grew out of behavioral theories as developed by John Watson and B.F. Skinner, and the cognitive theory of behavior as formulated chiefly by Aaron Beck back in the 60’s. So it’s a relatively new type of psychological, non-pharmacological treatment. Lately I’ve noticed that it’s being applied to everything – not just depression. You could probably fix your leaky pipes with it, but we’re only going to modestly attempt to use the technique in our two case studies. We’re going to make better ping pong players (and better citizens) of our maladaptive (dysfunctional?) protagonists. (And we’re going to do it in 2 or 3 paragraphs!- we don’t need no PhD’s!)
The wall puncher first. Let’s assume that he’s willing to proceed with this kind of therapy, although maybe a little reluctantly, because his instinct is to resist change and because he’s not exactly open minded. (Remember, he’s outta his mind.) But maybe he’s amenable because his wife is vowing to throw him out of the house unless he can control his reptilian brain and his violent temper. (He also happens to be a menace behind the wheel, threatening anyone on the highway who “doesn’t know how to drive” = road rage). We can also try a behavioral motivational approach with a reward – by suggesting that he will not be expelled from his home or the club if he stops putting his fists through the sheetrock. And we can also instill the idea that the players who have shunned him (i.e., won’t play with him) will be better disposed toward him and more willing to play with him if he behaves himself like a “normal” human being. (Don’t insist that you are right about these things. Ask him if he thinks these ideas make sense. The lecturing technique is usually self-defeating.)
Next, we have to rid him of the faulty cognitions – his thinking, for example, that he was born the way he is and that’s it’s an inborn biological thing that makes him hurl rackets and punch stuff. Teach the guy to challenge these erroneous ideas. He wasn’t really born that way and he doesn’t always punch the wall (e.g., when he wins). Remind him about this and ask him if that’s true. And, teach him to identify the times he’s about to go off so that he can utilize relaxing techniques (he can take deep breaths; he can count to 10 … make that 100; he can call a time-out). If he’s not intellectually impaired, appeal to whatever shred of rationality he retains by reminding the guy that ping pong is only a game. (Ask him if he agrees with that. Ask him if people at the club are evaluated on criteria other than their winning at ping pong.) Okay, enough of this guy. We’ve cured him. Let’s go to nutcase #2, our self-deprecating booby.
The overriding issue with the Numbah 2 crazy man, is his talking to himself all the time with all of those derogatory comments. He’s got to shup up. He’s got to put a lid on it. No…. make that a muzzle. He has to be muzzled. (In cognitive therapy, you’re not supposed to say that the guy is dysfunctional, only that his thoughts are.) In his case, with all of the faulty cognitions (e.g., saying that he’s a turkey or a dope), they have become self-fulfilling prophecies. So, if we can make him mute, he won’t be talking himself into a blue funk. We can even let the guy practice losing, so that he can attempt to find grace and graciousness when he experiences defeat. He might find it rewarding to be seen as a ‘nice’ considerate type of guy. It might even lower his blood pressure and heart rate. And try to get him to see the game as a game – and not as a measure of his manhood if he wins or loses. “Dispute” all of his negative thoughts (as they say).
Alright, we can discharge these two patients. Two cures. But, just in case none of this stuff works, better put these guys into a nursing home – one where they have no ping pong tables. Don’t forget to throw away the key. We’re done with them.
Okay, okay, so this isn’t exactly classical Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Real CBT costs 150 bucks an hour. Lao Du
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