Table Tennis Nation President Marty “The Needle” Reisman is a 23 time National and International Champion. Nobody has watched as much ping pong as him, and in “The Eye of The Needle” Reisman lends his years of table tennis know-how to breaking down and analyzing famous ping pong clips featuring world leaders, athletes, and celebrities. Marty is the author of “The Money Player” and the soon to be published “Ping Pong Hustler”.
By: Marty Reisman
Because of my ability to teach the fundamentals of the sport better than anyone else in the world, I watched the film more than a dozen times of President Obama playing table tennis in England in order to do a critical analysis of his table tennis technique and then offer the best possible advice to our President on how to quickly and dramatically improve his game.
Should such a newsworthy table tennis playing occasion again arise, wherein President Obama may be called upon to exhibit his table tennis game on the world stage, it would be in the best interest of America’s image for our President to consider elevating his skills in such a globally important people’s sport which had, in its most important role, been chosen by Mao, leader of a billion people as the most ideal instrument to politically align the two most powerful nations on the planet, China and the United States,
Not being certain that either president Obama or I may be able to take the necessary time away from our other respective responsibilities for a lesson in the flesh, as an alternative, here is my Presidential Ping Pong 11 Point Internet Lesson Special that should ensure our national image will never be tarnished in the event our president should ever be challenged to play a competitive match against a leader of any nation having opposing political views. From a ping pong players perspective this may be a possible calamity our nation may be facing based upon the President’s recent ping pong performance.
For the sake of this column, I will only discuss President Obama’s play, as providing a full breakdown of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts would require nothing short of a new book and series of instructional videos. Needless to say, the American was clearly top dog in their pairing.
1. With President Obama’s first shot, we see he is instinctively doing things correctly (with proper footwork he is able to transport the stroke where it is needed and approaches the table properly), hopefully a harbinger of his skill level. By his second shot, however, we see that his focus is not entirely on the match, a mistake that I have seen hurt many great players.
2. As the play continues, Obama shows he does have an understanding for the game as he discusses technique with David Cameron and his opponents.
3. At the 1:30 mark, Obama demonstrates great potential with his simple return with a reasonable amount of spin.
4. Obama is a fantastic physical specimen, an athlete in the truest sense. He is springy on his feet between shots.
5. At 1:37 Obama takes a page out of my book: changing the pace of play, distracting your opponent by talking to the crowd, and most importantly, questioning the score.
6. At the 2 minute point, Obama hits a beautiful shot after gracefully chasing down the ball. The President makes this difficult shot look incredibly easy by making the most of his athleticism and long legs.
7. 2:10 into the clip Obama hits a seemingly nice forehand slam, but this could be vastly improved. In a millisecond, I could correct his paddle angle so he scrapes the ball and adds considerably more topspin, creating a truly deadly shot.
8. The President shows a nice backhand push at 2:17 and again at 2:26. With a little help, this shot could improve to vastly ratchet up his game.
9. At 2:32, Obama demonstrates a decent forehand chop (but misses his next one). The key to a forehand chop is good timing and perfect position.
10. Throughout play, Obama communicates well with Cameron and shows that he is a good leader, communicator and teammate. In my opinion, table tennis play is the best way to see someone’s true personality–perhaps more so than handwriting analysis–and we see throughout Obama’s play a number of characteristics that are, if nothing else, Presidential.
11. In the end, President Obama shows he is a good sport. Had it been me playing with Cameron, I would have cut off relations with Britain, denounced my 1949 British Open title, and considered invading them.
Mr. President, I hope you have the opportunity to read this and improve your game. You clearly have the potential to be a great table tennis player, but so have many others. It is my wish that you follow through and become a world class player who is capable of beating everyone but myself and can use these new found skills to bring on a new day of American table tennis dominance and utilize your own Ping Pong Diplomacy. If you really feel you’d like a hands-on lesson, give me a holler. I’ll see if I can squeeze you in.
UPDATE: Marty Reisman does a full personality analysis of Obama based on the clip here