PATT Reflections

Adrift in the mid Pacific, on the Big Island of Hawaii, our table tennis club has grown over the last two decades, from a core of largely self-taught players, into a robust club with enthusiastic children and adults of ages eight through eighty. Recently, Len Winkler, a regionally certified USATT coach moved to the far side of our island, and introduced us to the book PATT: A Principles Approach to Table Tennis, the brainchild of Donn Olsen. With his collaborator Kyongsook Kim, Donn has created a language and mode of thinking about table tennis, which offers structure to the complexity of the sport. In our efforts to guide up-and-coming youth and to improve our players, we have attempted to implement the guiding principles of PATT. The following are essays that have sprung from our efforts.

Stephen Freedman offers table tennis coaching both privately at his Kurtistown residence, or at the Boys and Girls Club of Hilo. Trained and mentored very extensively by the author and originator of PATT -- A Principles Approach to Table Tennis he offers an individualized coaching plan to support development and performance for adults and children, individually or in groups.

Contact or call (808)966-8943.

Articulating the Hand

Submitted by stephen on Thu, 12/11/2014 - 15:04

An ex-professional table tennis player who used to practice at our club told a story of his meeting with J.O. Waldner many years ago out on the world tour. He had asked the master what the secret to table tennis was and Waldner had answered, “The wrist!”

At the time the conjecture seemed as enlightening as Michael Jordan confiding that the secret to basketball was “the feet”. There was no context.

Towards a Taxonomy of Table Tennis Shots

Submitted by stephen on Wed, 03/08/2017 - 01:40

Beginning table tennis after a tennis career, I sought those identifying names for the basic set of shots that make up the game. In tennis we have serves, volleys, ground strokes, plus a few specialty shot types like overheads, half-volleys, and drop shots. With a few modifiers that’s about it. You can understand and play all phases of the game with just those few sensible, commonly used terms.

Thinking About Moving

Submitted by stephen on Sat, 01/07/2017 - 11:25

As we watched the amazing Chinese National Team players demonstrating drills at our club, we noted a very clear distinction between the movement of these visiting athletes and our club players. Despite adequate strength and fitness, our own tottering mortals lurched and lunged for shots that those lighter-than-air ethereal players seemed consistently poised to consummate.

Players as Coaches

Submitted by stephen on Sat, 01/07/2017 - 11:22

When we search for a table tennis coach, there’s a tendency to look for the very best player we can find. It’s true that the best players are examples of optimum execution in the sport. Great coaching certainly is critical to great play. But does great play necessarily predict great coaching?

In Defense of Language

Submitted by stephen on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 09:56

A player asked recently why I used the PATT term “racket placement” to describe the process of preparing the table tennis racket for a shot instead of “backswing”. Why use an unfamiliar two-word expression in place of the existing commonly understood term? Isn’t this just a part of an over-intellectualization of ping pong that creates over-thinking in a relatively straight forward sport?

The End of the Beginning

Submitted by stephen on Sat, 12/10/2011 - 11:35

       “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”


Seeking Excalibur

Submitted by stephen on Wed, 12/07/2011 - 08:48

Recently I decided to try a new rubber sheet on my racket. To be honest I wasn’t really dissatisfied with the old one, I just wanted to find something a little less expensive. The new rubber turned out to be a little softer and the extended dwell time afforded me a little more spin, but the feel was different, and a few shot types seemed trickier.

The Robot Hangover

Submitted by stephen on Wed, 11/16/2011 - 09:54

When I first witnessed a table tennis robot in action I was excited. Who could ask for a better practice partner? The robot would send just the type of shots I needed to develop my game for match play. It was consistent and never got bored with repeating shots.