Real Men Play Ping Pong

Ping Pong Training

Some come to China to study Kung Fu with the masters. Not me. I came for the ping pong.

I went to Chongqing Universtiy to find a translator, which I did. I also found two PE teachers who specialize in ping pong.

As it turns out, I’ve spent the first 28 years of my life holding the paddle completely wrong.

Before I can even think about my last shot, Chen Li launches another ball at me. He is armed with a plastic basket full of balls.

Old habits die hard and Chen Li is a ruthless killer.

Ping. Ping. Ping. Pong. Pong. Pong. There are at least a dozen balls bouncing and rolling around the room. I’m working on my forehand. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

Swing at the elbow. Wrist locked. Eye on the ball. Turn at the hips from a horse stance to a bow stance. Follow through forward and up to my left eye. Aim for the newspaper that Chen Li placed on the opposite side of the table.

When my form breaks down, Zheng Chen stops collecting balls and demonstrates. He even stands behind me and we sort of recreate one of those romance movie moments where he guides my limbs and hips. Of course this isn’t romantic at all. It’s ping pong and it doesn’t get much more manly than that.

Before we begin again, Chen Li offers me some zen, “You must keep your heart on the ball.”

I have no idea what he means by this, but it must work. Everything comes together – my elbow, my hips, the follow through, the newspaper, and, I suppose, my heart. I’m cranking balls back at Chen Li who nods and says “Beautiful” with each perfect shot.

Sweat drips from my brow. I play through pain in my knees and elbows. My hands and eyes are one. I’m in the zone.

Somewhere someone is playing Rocky music. Somewhere a Russian ping pong champ is quaking in his stinky little table tennis shoes.

“Beautiful. Now we work on your backhand.”

Add a comment
Melissa says:

I think it’s the shoes…he’s barefoot and you’re not.

Ken says:

I left work early today to find a ping pong instructor, I can’t have Kels laying a whoopin’ on me when he gets back to the States.

Kyle says:

Did you snatch the ping-pong ball from his hand.

Lynne says:

I think what was missing from your game was your USA shorts! Also, does Chen Li use a sandpaper paddle? Just thought “the Big Bopper” might want to know that one.

Huang says:

Even I’m a student in Chongqing University,I have no idea where you played ping pong…

Kelsey says:

Melissa, I really think my shoes were slowing me down. Plus, I can’t bend my old man knees. The horse stance killed me!

Ken, Good luck with your Ohioan Ping Pong instructor. I’ve trained with the real deal and you are going down sandpaper paddle boy!

Kyle, I tried, but then I convinced myself that “there is no ping pong ball.”

Lynne, Chen Li uses a padded paddle like all the pro’s do. Ken will never be able to beat me with his sandpaper paddle.

Huang, 4 years at Chongqing Universtiy and not one game of ping pong at the rec center?


realy u look like pig pong best player .

Seth Kirby says:

Was searching for Ping Pong Muncie on google, and this popped up. Apparently, there is not much competition. Not that I thought there would be, just hoped, a little. Trying to get a Ping Pong gathering together soon, figured I would invite you since I was here, and it appears you are the type of person who thinks another restaurant is not exactly what Muncie needs. Anyway, shoot an email back if you are interested, I’ll add you to the mailing list. email is s at sjk7 dawt com (Take that spambots!)

Kelsey says:

Seth, I emailed you. Are you getting a Muncie ping pong Hall going or something? Is that what they’re called — ping pong halls? Or maybe ping pong gyms?

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