Why Americans Aren’t That Good at Ping Pong

In this Wall Street Journal article on how Chinese immigrants dominate the U.S. national ping-pong team (and not just the U.S.), there’s this interesting graf:

Homes in Canada and the U.S. are often large enough for a ping-pong table in the basement or garage, which means children here are exposed to table tennis informally. In Europe and Asia, home to the best players competing in lucrative professional leagues, generally smaller living spaces mean children must play at a sports club, where there are organized teams and training.

Makes sense — all my American friends and I grew up playing ping-pong in the backyard or in the attic or at summer camp. This type of casual play probably screws up your form at an early age.

For those new to this blog, I love ping pong. Related links:

12 Responses to Why Americans Aren’t That Good at Ping Pong

  1. John says:

    If early casual exposure to a sport breeds bad habits, why are Americans good at basketball?

  2. JGC says:

    unclear why you continue to talk about ur ping pong abilities given that ur the 4th best player in our family and i routinely dole out almost abusive punishments on the table.

    your game is simply an abominatio and an absolute embarassment to our good name. my god

    “i want what every man wants. i just want it more”
    —achilles

  3. Ben Casnocha says:

    John: It’s a good question. My sense is that for basketball Americans are exposed both to casual and competitive exposure – you might play on your family’s lower-than-regulation hoop in the backyard, but there are more than enough opportunities to play in a local league or whatever. Ping pong just doesn’t have that same competitive infrastructure.

  4. Meem says:

    Don’t you guys think Ping Pong sounds funny? It’s kinda like naming the door bell Ding Dong.

    “Hey, can you fix that Ding Dong for me?”

    That is partly why I never take Ping Pong seriously. It just cracks me up. It is so much fun to play though.

  5. David Cohen says:

    Can’t wait for the 2nd annual TechStars/Casnocha invitational. This time I’ll make sure I don’t have to catch a flight after just one loss (in double elimination).

  6. Ben Casnocha says:

    David: And we know that you just finished a weekend of intense tennis training, so we expect big things from you on the table.

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