Thursday 12 May 2016

Table Tennis Could Face An Increased Net Height!

At the recent World Championships there were a number of meetings between the ITTF Board, delegates and other entities like the ETTU. One agenda which ITTF has had over many years now is to make the sport more 'spectator friendly' by constantly trying to slow the game down and make it easier to follow. The latest in the line of discussion is increasing the height of the net which would mean players have to play with more safety and higher trajectory, marginally slowing the shots and rallies down.

Table Tennis Could Face Increase in Net Height
The reform suggestion was made by the Swiss Table Tennis Association with the aims of slowing down the game for more attractive television prospects.

Again the sport's development is edging away from the players again and towards the spectators. I wrote an article some time ago on Why Catering for Spectators Has Backfired. Where is the line drawn?

What are the most attractive things about table tennis to competitors and spectators? Why is Table Tennis such an amazing sport?

It's complex, it's fast and involves amazing reflexes. It is potentially the most spin oriented sport in the world.

These are things we should be using to promote the sport. Instead we have rule changes which look to diminish the very things that make table tennis such an incredible sport.

Are we destroying the professionalism of our sport? We are making the sport more athletic (plastic ball requires more physical prowess), slower and less spinny. We have had the plastic ball already and now more plans are in the pipeline. The question is how slow and spinless does table tennis have to become before we get the spectators which are so greatly expected?

Table Tennis Online Is Growing

Spectator numbers online are growing with new media initiatives from ITTF. We are getting to know the players better and their personalities. The camera angles in major events and replay/highlight videos are better (with slow-motions etc).

I believe slowing down the game is not the answer. I think the presentation of the sport is where the solution lies. If so many people can follow table tennis on a computer screen then why are they not interested in going to watch it live? That is the real question which needs answering.

Very interested to hear what peoples' different opinions are on the proposed trial of a net height increase.


  1. Rather than slowing down the game make it visible from best angles on large screens . involve spectater visuals on the screen. Give immediate analysis between games to keep spectators hooked to the game. It is the concentration deficiency ( which is why they are spectators and not players !!) That sometimes makes it boring . make it more exciting to watch on big screen. Any real time ball game gets boring be it tennis or cricket etc if there is no involvement of the spectators. Since multiple tables are going on simultaneously the spectator interest is divided. Try to work on that aspect. Newspaper marketing glorifying excellent players will create sense of watching an immensely difficult sport. Slowing down the game is foolish. The ratio of present speed and targeted slow speed will be to too less to show any increase in spectator interest. It is simple physics ! And if you slow it further it will lose it excitement enough to attract more spectators and reduce it to club level proficiency

  2. I have to admit that while I'd rather they just left things as they are and stopped "fiddling" with everything, I actually think increasing the height of the net is probably the best way to actually slow the sport down. If every shot has to go more "up and down" it should actually keep the spin aspect while forcing players to require better feeling/control. The "smash everything" approach certainly wouldn't work. How much higher are they talking though?

    1. You are right here Ben. Matt and Barry are wrong if we do this well. We will get more chance for defenders too, which people can understand, follow and love. Needs careful design first. Net can also be variable! lowered during the game in case of a pushing match or no winners. Colin

    2. that WON'T decrease the speed of the game but rather shorten th game itself , just imagine a game with too many service errors.

    3. You are right here Ben. Matt and Barry are wrong if we do this well. We will get more chance for defenders too, which people can understand, follow and love. Needs careful design first. Net can also be variable! lowered during the game in case of a pushing match or no winners. Colin

    4. Boris, The service errors will only last a short while, people WILL adapt to changes. The interesting/questionable part is how the game will turn out WHEN they have adapted to it.
      Just like players have to a good degree adapted to the plastic ball now.

      I personally, believe topspin/loops (or rather HEAVY loops) will be even more favored under such circumstances and smashes, will be less favored, blocks I am not so sure about... this might also give a raise in favor of defenders. But they would have to work out the fact that chopping low over a high net will also be harder so there are both pro's and cons to most styles. I also believe this will be in slight favor of penholders vs shakehanders. Since the ball will have a slight delay, will the net be tall enough for penholders to be able to step over wherever? We'd have to see... I generally like the idea. I also wonder how this will affect fast equipment users vs slightly slower more spinny equipment users.
      And tacky vs Grippy. One can only speculate.

      I do however think HD Videoes, that are actually HD (give me some 1080P60 HD plz),
      would contribute more to the sport. :v

  3. it is really bullshit to do such things. it will make the serves powerless with the ball going little high and things such as shot and topspin will become things of less use

  4. If they really want to slow the game down and decrease spin then bring back the hardbats. If they really want to make table tennis more popular then they should pour more effort into promoting the sport in the USA. Awake the sleeping giant and let them fight.

  5. This really should be trialed in some special tournaments and or events for a couple years before being allowed to pass. And that should be no problem given how easy it is to reconfigure net height. There seems to be this idea that raising the net will be good for defense. I think it might very well have the opposite effect. Long pips blockers will have a harder time keeping balls on the table given that blocked loops have underspin. Choppers will have a similar problem clearing the higher net with heavily underspun balls. Be wary of unintended consequences. Test heavily before going down this road.

    The hardbat comment is actually more on point. Maybe you don't have to go all the way back to hardbat, but it seems clear that if you limit topspin you limit the ability to aggressively attack while not hampering choppers or long pips blockers. Maybe you limit sponge thickness to less than 4mm. The problem with this, of course, is that manufacturers will hate the idea of making equipment less of a factor.

  6. Fuck off changing our Sport! Nobody outside Tabletennisplayers are interested in our sport! It is Not Football, Basketball or ICE Hockey! So The ittf can change everything but it dosen't matter! Do Not destroy our Sport! Stop Changing the rules!!

  7. Table Tennis is one kind of indoor game. Its arrange very easy. Thanks for a nice post.

  8. I guess someone has some higher nets he wants to sell.

  9. A higher net is going to make the game less enjoyable to play,especially for beginners

  10. Anyone with a table at home can experiment with a higher net height.

  11. Ridicules idea! They talked about raising the basket a foot too but woke up in time. Market the sport to grow it don't destroy it.educate sports mined people to what's happening on the table foolish to dumb down the game. Snap out of it!

  12. Encouraging point building is attractive to me as a player. A 5 stroke average is much more appealing than 3. The table tennis chess analogy is a poor best, a table tennis point resembles a chess opening attack. Of the racquet sports, squash with an average of 13 points per pro rally offers a much, much better chess analogy. A second argument for longer rallies is the benefit to your heart. In the end, point building requires better trained athletes and more thinking. Nothing not to like.

    I have no idea if a higher net produces that outcome, but if it does, I am interested...

  13. Great to hear this! Table tennis is my favorite sport. Hope this can help the table tennis game more exciting. Thank you!


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