Wednesday 13 March 2024

Talkin' Smash powered by JOOLA Ep10: Bridging the Gap Between Social and Pro Table Tennis with PingPod CEO Max Kogler

Episode 10 of Talkin' Smash is here! It's a little bit of a longer episode, because well...we can't help ourselves when it comes to talking about table tennis! 

Max Kogler, CEO of PingPod, joined me to talk about bridging the gap between social and pro table tennis. We talked about the conception to construction phases of PingPod, and how their digital, coaching and technology strategies are helping make table tennis more accessible.

In Episode 10 I was joined by PingPod CEO Max Kogler to
talk about bridging the gap between social and pro table tennis!

Learning more about PingPod was very interesting for me. Obviously it has become a prominent fixture on the east coast of the USA, now having grown to 17-18 locations (including one in the Philippines and one in Bristol at TTDaily).

Max went through all of the incredible technology behind PingPod and how it is designed to make table tennis more accessible. PingPod are putting locations in more city locations and taking table tennis to the people. They are working to remove some of the exclusivity from elite training academies that can sometimes intimidate or deter social players from joining the sport. This is what has contributed to creating a big gap between an enormous social/recreational ping pong audience, and the professional table tennis scene. 

I had a great time talking to Max, including putting him under the gun with my classic break segment, which produced some phenomenal results ;) 

Thursday 22 February 2024

Talkin' Smash powered by JOOLA Ep9: The Career Journey from Brazil to the World with Thiago Monteiro

I had the pleasure of sitting down with long-time JOOLA Athlete and Brazilian Olympic Table Tennis player, Thiago Monteiro. He was coaching at the Pan Am Cup in Texas, so it was a great opportunity to fly him out and have him with us here at JOOLA HQ in Rockville, MD!

Thiago Monteiro joined me to talk about his career and 
legacy in table tennis - Talkin' Smash Episode 9!

Thiago spoke about his career from the early beginnings, and I was particularly interested to hear about how he made the decision to move to Europe. At the time there weren't really any role models to follow. Hugo Hoyama was travelling to Europe but still living in Brazil. Monteiro made a bold move, one which would result in him spending his 20+ year career living in France and competing in leagues across Europe. 

I also asked Thiago about how he thought about his influence on the generations of players which came after him, and the legacy he has left in the sport for both Brazilian and Latin American players as a whole. 

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Talkin' Smash Podcast powered by JOOLA Ep8: The Evolution of TableTennisDaily with Dan Ives

To kick off Talkin' Smash in 2024, there's no better guest than Dan Ives. Dan is a great friend of mine and we have been moving independently in the same circles for many, many years as content creators and people who are extremely passionate about table tennis. I joined TableTennisDaily quite early on and was also the Facebook Page Admin for a small stint in the very beginning. Time has flown for both of us. 

Talkin' Smash Episode 8 
with Dan Ives from TableTennisDaily

From those early days the brand now boasts it's own team series in the British League, an organized 8-team Super League competition, a refurbished HQ building which is now Europe's first PingPod - as well as multiple masterclasses in it's academy with top professional players.

Ives created TableTennisDaily over 12 years ago, starting out as a YouTube channel and a small forum for the most die hard table tennis fans. Over the past decade TableTennisDaily has grown into a powerhouse in the sport.

It was fun to catch up and hear about how the TableTennisDaily brand has evolved over that time, the inspirations, the challenges, and a look into the mind of the man behind it all - Dan Ives.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep7: The Physical and Mental Comeback from Injury with Sophia Klee

Episode 7 of the Talkin' Smash Table Tennis Podcast powered by JOOLA, was another specialized topic - one I hope may help those out there suffering from table tennis or sports-related injuries and trying to find ways to improve their situation. I sat down and spoke with Sophia Klee, a rising star in German and European women's table tennis. 

A pleasure to be joined by Sophia Klee to talk
about coming back from an injury in professional sport

Sophia had a great start to her playing career, with incredible success in the European Cadet age group. She was, in 2017, champion of the Cadet Girls Singles at the European Youth Top 10 Championships, and in the same year won the Cadet Girls Doubles at the European Youth Championships. 

Her career sat on a knife-edge however at the beginning of 2022 when she suffered an unusual injury - breaking her knee cap during a table tennis match. 

While she managed to avoid having surgery, the road back was still one which presented challenges both physical and mental. It was great to chat with Sophia about her road back, and how she pushed herself back to the game she loves and continued on her journey to the top!

Thursday 7 December 2023

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep6: The Atmosphere of Live Table Tennis Events with Ryan Willard

 I was at the JOOLA North American Team Championships a couple of weeks ago, a perfect opportunity to get my friend Ryan Willard to sit down face to face with me this time. We sat together on the main tournament court with hundreds of players around us, competing on 167 tables. It was the perfect environment to talk about the atmosphere of live table tennis events. 

Ryan Willard joined me to talk about the haves and have nots
of live table tennis events!

This is a topic I have gripes with. I think digitally table tennis presentation has improved a lot, the investment into cameras and production, particularly at the international level, has made a big difference. That being said, the majority of events still fail to fill seats. This is a huge challenge for event organizers who are trying their best to promote the sport and do new things, but also for the professional sport as a whole. 

Why do hundreds of people show up to watch sports like pickleball, cornhole, darts, snooker etc? Are those sports on a totally higher level than table tennis? I don't think so. 

Table Tennis is complex, it's hard for the average viewer to understand and comprehend. When a player does a filthy reverse pendulum serve and it gets dumped in the net - for a table tennis player this is a moment of appreciation for a great serve. For a mainstream spectator however it's lame, all they see is a serve receive error. 

There are certainly many angles to cover on this topic, I was glad to chat to Ryan about a few of those in this podcast. Be sure to check it out below on YouTube. Follow on Spotify or Apple too for your gym sessions or commute to or from work!