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How to Make a Come Back After Injury or Illness 

How to make a come back after injury or illness, for 30 years I never had an injury, heck I’ve never even had a headache. I did not know what a hospital looked like from the inside but at thirty… my immunity ran out!! I was playing some of my best table tennis after my come back 4 years earlier and my personal goal was to get into the top 15 ‘England Men’s ranking’. 

Life can change at a split moment

Feb 2013 I felt unwell while coaching my Junior British League Team. I was taken to Hospital after 5 hours of me feeling very poorly (in the meantime the boys managed to win the title). I was very unlucky being misdiagnosed, I was told I had “food poisoning” and then I was sent home with painkillers. When In fact it was my appendix which ultimately burst a few days later and this was followed up by Septicemia (blood poisoning). A large number of people don’t survive but I was lucky to live and tell the tale. I lost 2 stone in weight (within 3 weeks), I had two operations while going in and out of the hospital for over 3 Months.

Sports Injury come back
I’m not looking for sympathy I’m merely pointing out, that no matter how bad your injury or illness was or is a ‘come back’ is on the cards.

Within 4 months of my last operation, I held a bat in my hand again! I was so proud considering what I went through and off I went to have a knock with a good friend of mine Ivan Lewis. 
On a personal note, we were competing against each other the season before: Ivan is a top Veteran, while I was ranked as a top senior. After one year we would look at the rankings and see who is ranked higher, in our respective age group. I was 26 (senior) and Ivan ended up 25 (veteran) 2011/12 season, so yes he beat me, on that occasion! 

There’s no such thing as never

I had never lost to Ivan in practice or in an event but on this occasion, I had to hold my hands up and take a beating. My level naturally dropped and I soon fell off the ranking list. As you can imagine I was devastated, my great ‘come back’ was taken away from me in the blink of an eye. The joy I once had ‘playing’, disappeared for about 8 months. We all go through phases of not enjoying table tennis or anything we do for that matter. You must possess the right mindset in order for you to get the good times back.

I decided I would practice no more than once a week and see what happens, my ‘feeling’ (ball to bat, bat to hand) come back quickly. Unfortunately, my physical ability was very poor and I really struggled to move properly. I lacked mobility and stamina which made it very difficult for me to play at the level I once possessed. I remember playing against my TT students and other TT players, to my amazement they were proud to beat me, despite what I had just been through! This is another story of ‘how to cope with defeat regardless of your situation’.

Back Playing Table Tennis Competitively

I took it all on the chin and I am back playing competitively (division 1, British league at no.1 with around 70% winning ratio, representing Batts TTC). Admittedly I’m not the standard I was a few years back but I’m around top 50 now and very proud.

I may never reach the standard I was but there’s a good reason for it:

1. I don’t possess the time, I did
2. My club was closed, due to me being ill and I was offered a National coaching job which I did not take in the end.
3. I don’t have the aspirations I did and my views and thoughts have changed 

I want to compete but not as I did, I just want to do it for the love of the sport and the journey.

I honestly believe and know if I still had my TT club (B-batt) and the time plus the aspiration. I would certainly get back to the level I was pre-illness and possibly even higher!

I beat two players top 30 in England, this season (post-op) that was an achievement in itself considering less than a year ago, I could not stand on my own two feet. My point is if you still have the same admiration and passion you can make a full TT recovery.

3 key points in making a come back, after serious injury or illness.

1. Belief: I’ve faced and experienced some of life’s worst hits but I have always believed and still do that I will come out on top. Instil that mindset, within yourself…

2. Physicals: Take care of your body, both physically and nutritionally. All this information can be found on the internet but I follow people that are living a healthy lifestyle. A very good friend of mine Costas Papentoniou, you may know him from the TT circuit. He is a health freak! At 52 years of age, he is very healthy and as fit as 20 years old. I took note, by buying products from his health shop and still take continues advice from Costas.


I have been going to the gym for the past five years and always knew what I wanted my body to look and perform like ‘as a supreme athlete’. So in this instance, I looked around my gym saw someone with my kind of built and approached them (most people like to help, you just have to be willing to ask). This gentleman gave me his training routine and I started my physical conditioning straight away sticking to a routine, that’s the key routine and consistency. Today I’m a fully qualified personal trainer and know how to create my own routines that suit me (remember what I always say, “we are individuals” no one is exactly the same, so find out what suits you by doing your homework. 

3. Time: This is something we all forget including me, we don’t have patience!! It may seem as if someone has the amazing ability at a given skill but no one has ever earned a special skill overnight. It has been acquired through time and work, and only then can it be shown to the world with pride.
So be patient your level will come back possibly even better depending on your requirements meaning if you wish to make a full come back or not.

In Hospital

In fact, I’m in a hospital right now! writing this article after my Hernia operation hence this article. I was so focused on writing this article that I did not notice the pool of blood leaking out of my scar. Don’t worry the nurse came and cleaned me up then patched me back up (sorry if you’re squeamish). As you can see I’ve taken another hit in less than a year, 3 operations a near-death experience but you’ll see me back in action shortly, no doubt 🙂

In conclusion, you will have knocks that will halt your progression and even take you back a few steps. If you focus on the uncontrollable’s you’ll never be able to get back up and work on the controllable’s.

If you get hit, get up and keep moving forward, no matter how many times you get hit! Don’t be one of those people that, when they fall off their bike they never get back on. You’ll never know where your journey was meant to go…