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! 

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep5: Overcoming Challenges in Serve Receive with Lily Zhang

It was great to have Lily Zhang back on the podcast. She is a fun guest, but also a 3-time US Olympian and a 6-time US National Champion! Lily and I spoke about Overcoming Challenging in Serve Receive. It was a fitting follow-up to the previous episode where Craig Bryant and I spoke about Serve Practice Habits!

Talkin' Serve Receive with Lily Zhang

This year Lily had written some more blog posts about her experiences in specific WTT events or matches. One of the ones which stood out was her blog about competing in a match against Japan's Mima Ito and Taking on the World's Best at WTT Singapore Smash!

Serve Receive was such a prominent factor in this match, it made sense to delve into this topic with Lily and get her thoughts on the subject more. 

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep4: The Seriously Underrated Art of Service Practice with Craig Bryant

Already bouncing around some different topics and I have been doing my best to get the best possible guests to match with specialist topics. That being said, this Episode 4 Podcast was also a perfect match. Talkin' Service! with Craig Bryant. No better man for the job than @thettserviceguy (on Instagram).

My guest for Episode 4 is Craig Bryant, a service master instructor!

Craig is a former England international and a reputable coach. His 4 Killer Serves to Destroy Your Opponents YouTube video with Tom Lodziak was a hit for the online table tennis crowd. The video garnered an impressive 8.7 million views.

Now Craig is focused on building his platform and new Coaching Website as well as his social media platforms where he shares plenty of tips, tricks and fun content about the incredible art of table tennis serve. 

In this episode we talk about the importance of the serve and how much simple improvements can impact a match overall. We also talk about things that frustrate us both when we see people practicing their serves, and also people teaching serves and guiding people in serve practice. 

Overall a great podcast, we got down and nerdy on a bunch of different things and it was really fun!

Monday 23 October 2023

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep3: Setting the Record Straight on Physical Training in Table Tennis with Kevin Finn

We are getting some air under our wings with the new Talkin' Smash Podcast powered by JOOLA. In Episode 3, my guest is Kevin Finn - the founder and trainer behind Peak Performance Table Tennis. Kevin is a certified Strength and Conditioning coach and a published Author. We chat about physical training in table tennis, some of the misconceptions and what good habits to build and consider. 

Kevin Finn is my guest on Episode 3 of Talkin' Smash!

Kevin's book Peak Performance Table Tennis - Unlock Your Potential and Play Like the Pros was released in November 2021, and his popularity in the field has continued to grow. Through his online platforms and social media he works with table tennis players to test his physical training programs and exercises through focus groups. This allows him to continuously fine-tune his training plans. 

From conversations on the falsely taboo muscle building in table tennis, to making the most of your physical training time by choosing the right workouts - Kevin offers a very specific knowledge in this field, especially with his own table tennis background to add into the mix. 

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep2: The Overseas Experience vs. Coming Home to the USA with Lily Zhang

 In episode 2 of the Talkin' Smash Podcast powered by JOOLA, I was joined by three-time US Olympian and six-time US National Table Tennis Champion Lily Zhang. We had a great discussion about different periods of Lily's playing career, living in different places and the pros and cons of living abroad vs. living at home in America. 

Lily Zhang joins Matt Hetherington on Episode 2 of the
Talkin' Smash Podcast powered by JOOLA

Zhang's career, post-university graduation, saw her experience an array of different training experiences. For the first year away from home she bounced around different countries in Europe, training and competing without a base. In year two she settled and trained full time in Dusseldorf at the German National Training Center. Her next experience saw her live in China for almost a year, during the height of the pandemic - training among the world's best with the Chinese National Team and playing in the Chinese Super League. 

After these long winded and varying pathways, her journey has now brought her home to the United States - where she is based and travels regularly for overseas leagues and international tournaments. 

It was great to get Lily's insights into these totally different worlds, but more so to delve into the mental challenges of each. My goal was to speak more about the challenges which players don't think about when they endeavour to move overseas and away from home full time. Lily's knowledge and learnings in these areas, especially with her graduate background in psychology - make for a unique and interesting podcast discussion. 

Thursday 21 September 2023

Talkin' Smash Podcast by JOOLA Ep1: A Newcomer's Introduction to Pro Table Tennis Ryan Willard

In the first ever episode of the Talkin' Smash Podcast powered by JOOLA, I'm joined by one of my friends and a recognizable face in US Table Tennis - Ryan Willard.

Commonly seen as an MC/Host and one of my favourite co-commentators, Ryan's journey in the sport spans from being first exposed to the sport at SPiN New York, all the way to hosting the World Table Tennis Championships. Honestly being a part of this journey with Ryan has been pretty amazing. He was literally hosting a social/pro competitive table tennis night at SPiN in New York City, and gradually over the years brought something special to the game. It has been my pleasure to work with him over many years now, and to see him go from the shadows of SPiN to the lights of the biggest table tennis events in the US and the World! Ryan was without a doubt the perfect person to start off my new podcast with, as a seasoned podcaster himself, and also as someone who brings an entire spectrum of experience in our sport - all the way from being fresh to the game, to having seen it at its very best.

You can also check out the audio podcast on Spotify!