Written by Eli Baraty
From the “Coach Me Table Tennis” blog
Over the years, I’ve had debates with many people especially my good friend Louis, (currently coaching a national men’s football team) about which sport is harder to master – Football, or Table Tennis?
We are both very proud coaches and pride ourselves inside our beloved sports which naturally leads us into heated debates.
Which sport is harder to master? Personally, I may not enjoy every sport but I do respect them all and appreciate each have their own set of special skills.
I have provided a personal list of, Pros & Cons for both Table Tennis and Football, to try and come up with a conclusion as to which sport is harder. I play Sunday league football and have spent a lot of my time watching Watford FC train alongside joining some training sessions. But I am not an expert and can only draw upon personal perspective. Therefore, this blog may be viewed as slightly bias which is why I have opened it to discussion.
• Multiple skills required: The player needs to be able to control the ball with many parts of their body (obviously excluding hands and arms, unless you are a goalkeeper!)
• The physical aspect: Those who play need to have speed, endurance, strength and balance to play at the highest level
• Awareness: A player needs to be constantly alert and ready, with a 360-degree playing awareness.
• Size of the ball: Due to a much larger ball compared to a table tennis, this provides players with: more reaction time, ability to control the ball more, and less spin. A young child can quickly control and develop their ball skills due to a larger contact surface and reduced speed and spin.
• Team sport: There are 11 men on both sides of the pitch compared with 2 (singles) or 4 (doubles) on a TT table. A football team can win even if they have weak links, less men/women, no goal keeper, unlike table tennis where you must rely on yourself to win.
• Positioning- In football, everyone has a given position or role to play, making their task more straight forward and in away simplistic compared to table tennis (where they must cover all roles to enable a positive performance).
Table Tennis Pros
• Reaction speed: Table tennis has been scientifically proven to be the fastest reaction sport, with balls reaching over 100kph at a short distance. Furthermore you are unable to stop the ball and then make a decision. As soon as you contact the ball its gone, make the wrong decision and you will encore a fault or an opportunity for your opponent to capitalise.
• Spin: Table Tennis, produces more revolutions than any other sport (up to 120revs per second). Controlling the spin is extremely hard which is followed by understanding the spin and even then you must identify what spin and how much spin has been imparted all covered by disguise.
• Playing surface: Table Tennis is the only sport which has the ball off the ground and then comes off the playing surface. A unique element which the ground is not used as the playing surface and you legs are based on the ground, producing an element unseen in any other sport.
• You are at fault: There is nowhere to hide! you are 100% responsible for your personal game.
Table Tennis Cons:
• Not as physically demanding as football: Football includes a lot more strength and players are at constant risk of being brutally tackled which can end careers. Table Tennis does not face such risk and those allows more freedom to express oneself.
• Awareness: Table tennis does not require 360-degree awareness unlike football makes playing more simplistic in that aspect.
• Equipment: constant improvements in technology, blades and rubbers provide huge advantages over those who don’t have access to them. It also creates many variations allowing certain styles to over comes players whom are technically far better. In Football is is small marginal gains via equipment e.g. boots which does not truly reflect how good a player you are, making the game a lot more skilled based.
These are my own personal opinions and thoughts. I know there is so much more to both sport, as to why I am interested in hearing what your thoughts and opinions. I will gather this information, and from what people have said, will publish another article with a more conclusive answer to the question.