Table Tennis is a Sport, It’s Not Business

Table Tennis is a Sport, It’s Not Business

Have you had that feeling; when you play out of your skin and you seem to do no wrong? Or you beat someone you’ve never beaten before or you have just won a tournament? That feeling of joy which is why we play sports. And that joy is why table tennis is a sport, not business.

Unfortunately, like most things, there are a few negative elements! I don’t enjoy delving into the negative. But I feel we must be aware to enable us and provide whats required, for table tennis to flourish, now and in the future.

Corporate Table Tennis
Table Tennis in the Office

3 Things Required:

– An open-minded governing body; willing to help, looking to grow and develop. A fair system that understands the player’s needs and caters for it in the best possible way, for all those inside our sport. In my opinion, it’s key to cater to those inside the system first! our players and coaches require more opportunities. If we employ external coaches and send our best players abroad, how can we develop? what inspiration do our players and coaches have from within? We must find a way to make our best players stay and provide the right stepping stones for our coaches, just like the best nations do. France, Germany, Poland, Belgium and other great nations all have top quality home bred coaches.

– Club structure, I’ve said this many times we must create a system which caters for all levels and ages, big centres and surrounding feeder hubs.

– Learn from the best; look at systems that work and implement it our way. We are stuck in an old system (local league diminishing, poor venues for national league, etc and a lack of togetherness in many instances, GP’s disorganised, expensive and very little reward).


We must remember that table tennis is a sport and not a business but big changes are required. If we don’t make them we won’t ever have an efficient system to compete with the very best, continuously. A system that caters for all playing stages is essential alongside continuous support.

This must all come from the top and flow down to the bottom. Having a system that feels like a business is disheartening, especially for people like me and others alike, who truly love our sport.

Written by Eli Baraty

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Graham Frankel

    You have raised a lot of important topics there Eli. For me, the fundamental issue is the point you made about English players going overseas to play. This has always been the case. The first English player to play professionally overseas was Trevor Taylor in the mid 1970s.
    To analyse the issue it is necessary to look for root causes. You have picked out some key items. We have no professional table tennis in England because the competitive structure is outdated. Local leagues should have become redundant in 1980, when the British League (then called the National League) was established. That, of course, didn’t happen ie the local leagues just continued on their merry way, with a few grumbles. They continued, but then started to shrink. They have been shrinking slowly for nearly 40 years. Those who play in them are getting older, and they continue trying to survive by grabbing players whenever they can. Don’t ask me for an answer to the problem. Who knows where it will end? But it would be a good start if more people realised what the problem really is.

    1. Nigel Savage

      I played a local league match last night and didn’t enjoy the experience. It had everything that is causing the system to fail.
      3 players per team, so ten matches including one doubles. It took 3 hours on one table in a church chapel. The floor was carpeted so the table bounce was awful and it was difficult to move.
      It was a small room, so even though I spent the evening with 5 others we weren’t allowed to talk to each other because it would distract the play.
      I enjoyed the actual play but didn’t enjoy the two hours spent sitting down in a freezing cold room watching.
      Not sure how we can improve local league matches but there is no wonder that the local leagues are dwindling to nothing. I love playing TT but even I’m not prepared to do this every week!!

      1. Graham Frankel

        In our club we have developed a much better format for league matches. It has got absolutely everything that Nigel is missing – and more. See the BATTS website ( for more information and go to the “BATTS Open Singles League” page.

      2. Eli Baraty

        Many years ago I suggested two things for local league.
        1. Davis cup format 2 aside – two singles one doubles. Start later finish earlier, and very small waiting time
        2. Impliment a national ranking inside the local league or on the national ranking list. Some would argue that the system can be manipulated by playing local league and getting ranking points. I suggest the points are so minimal that it would hardly effect your ranking but would give you certain reward for competeing.
        I’ve heard of the singles league but not seen it in action I’ll have a look at Batts website.

  2. Graham Frankel

    Eli’s suggestions of many years ago – very good, but the problem is that local leagues are not, and have never been part of any national scheme, other than the almost meaningless affiliation to the NGB via the county structure. Each league makes its own rules, and there is no restriction on the number of leagues that a player can participate in. So to implement any kind of helpful suggestions such as Eli’s it would be necessary to persuade each individual league committee to make the changes. Good luck with that one!
    The new system we are trying at BATTS is still experimental, but having had four match evenings it is looking great. We have 65 players registered and can take a maximum of 48 players on each match evening. We are using an excellent rating system devised for us by Chris Pickering. It is NOT linked with national ranking but of course I would hope someday that will be possible. Match evenings start at 7pm and we aim to finish by 10pm.
    One of the exciting features of our system is that about half the players in it are under 18, with some as young as 9. The juniors compete against the seniors successfully and on an equal basis. The match evenings are highly competitive but at the same time very sociable. When we complete our first “season” (we are half way through) I shall give it a lot more publicity. Details are at

  3. Gordon Muir

    With regards to a ranking system that suits local, national and international play, a Bayesian system like is really the only sort of thing that is going to work. Traditional inflationary systems like the English ranking scheme treats players that compete infrequently the same as weaker players. This means that rankings do not equal standard, and this creates negative spin offs such as having to have separate rating numbers for different ages and gender.
    In Ratings Central, everyone gets one rating, and the number corresponds directly to your playing strength, and every match counts towards your rating. The more you play, the less points you can pick up, which makes the system fair for all.
    Banded events work very well – such as the ones we run at 🙂
    British players here (British League, ITTF, Pro Leagues, Scottish events) –
    Eli’s Rating 😉 –

  4. Graham Frankel

    Interesting comments from Gordon. I am no expert on ranking systems but I think the points he made were very similar to what Chris Pickard said to me when I consulted him about the points system we would use for our Open League. Chris had mentioned “Ratings Central” as an option but in the end he kindly put together a scheme that works very well. I was told, some months ago, that the English ranking system is being overhauled. I’d love to know when that may be happening and if there is a chance it could allow our league to be included.

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