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