Thursday, July 10, 2008

*from Steph* baseball and table tennis- who woulda thought...

So, like I mentioned earlier, baseball and table tennis have, surprisingly, A LOT in common. Table tennis involves much of the same mentality and strategy used in baseball, but it's all compounded into the mind of one player instead of 9. In other words, table tennis players are the batters and fielders and the pitcher all at the same time. There are MANY parallels I could draw between the two sports, but for right now, I'll just focus on the most obvious one: pitching/batting and serving/receiving.

Ok, so a pitcher has a bunch of pitches he can choose, each with its own characteristics, including spin, grip, and velocity. Some common examples are the fastball, the change-up, the slider, the curveball, and the knuckleball (which is thrown literally with your knuckles and "dances" and floats in the air). There are endless variations to pitches in terms of grip, timing, wind-up, velocity, and degrees of spin. In table tennis, the serves share exactly the same concept, with an infinite number of possibilities in spin, speed, point of contact between ball and racket, toss, motion, and timing. In general, serves can be categorized as topspin, backspin, side-spin, or no-spin.

The most important thing pitches and serves have in common is their extreme importance in their respective sports. Anyone in baseball will tell you that to win games, it all starts with pitching. Good pitching will trump good hitting any day, because if you can hold the opposing team to even 3 runs a game on a consistent basis, not only does your team always have a chance to win, but your opponents' batters feel the pressure before the game even begins. Well, serves in table tennis are exactly the same: if you have great serves, you are always in control of the game, put enormous amounts of pressure on your opponent, and you'll be able to wiggle your way out of very close games. It's real simple. It goes like this: if your batters are constantly striking out and never even making it to first base, how many runs do you need to score to win? Just one. If you are constantly getting aces, winning points straight off your serve, or your serves are so good that they set you up for a winner (and keep in mind you serve every two points in an 11 point game), how many [essentially] freebie points do you get? Over half the game.