The Wigan Spin



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We’re well into the New Year already. All those New Year’s resolutions to attend training have been broken, and all those xmas presents of new bat cleaners, new kit (Tony), are all now in use.
You should have all seen a mail from Paul Clark about Saturday training – but in case you didn’t:
Saturday morning training sessions are changing. From 9 till 10.30 structured training and coaching, with 10.30 till 12 being general practice.
Both sessions are open to all standards of players – if you want to be coached come to the first session, if you just want to practice come along to second one. Players attending the first session are welcome to stay for all or part of the second one.
Cost is only £3.
Junior Co-ordinator
Debbie Watkinson has volunteered to become our Junior Co-ordinator, so will work with us to expand and promote the Junior section.
Initially Debbie will co-ordinate tournament entries, try and get new members and look at the social aspect of the section.
Thanks for your help and support Debbie, it is appreciated.
For any queries please contact her on 07722 049940, or
Over Christmas I managed to catch some of the darts from the Alexandra Palace, London. What an amazing job Barry Hearn and co have done in changing the fortunes of that ‘sport’. The entry of the players is like boxing, and the music, noise, and huge amount of support is impressive.
So, what would it take to improve table tennis’s standing on TV?

Well, Barry Hearn’s Matchroom team are already involved in the World Championship of Ping Pong (also at the Alexandra Palace). This is on the 28th and 29th January –
Tickets are still available, and there is coverage on Sky Sports. Look out for Andrew Rushton (local coach and player) – who is the number 4 seed.

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Another interesting development is a new table tennis league :

Paul Drinkhall will battle some of the biggest names in the world for a share of a $1.5 million prize fund in a new table tennis league launching next year.
The England No 1 is among 13 players announced to compete in the T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League in Hong Kong in 2017. A total of 24 players – 12 men and 12 women – will make up the field for the inaugural event, reputed to be the richest in table tennis history, and which promises a series of innovative features.
These include a player draft system, time limits on matches and a ‘unique’ scoring system which is said to provide a level playing field and ensure matches are more unpredictable.
The unique scoring system will probably include a joker system where a point will be worth double. But maybe some other ideas are being considered.
In the future will we see Paul Drinkhall coming out to Eye of the Tiger, and chanting throughout the points by the England barmy army. Well, maybe not yet – maybe a phone call to Barry Hearn could change all that!

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Thanks very much to Paul for agreeing to be the first to sit in the Big Interview chair. I will be contacting others for this section in the future – but if you want to be next, please send answers to these questions to me at :


Current Team : Wigan Eagles

How long have you been playing table tennis? : Since age 11
What got you into playing?: Had a family friend who played for Pilks
Have you played other sports?: Have skied since age 8, dabbled at lots of other sports.
Who has been your biggest influence?: My first coach – Arthur Heyes
Any major achievements so far?: Multiple trophies and league titles – at least 60 over the years.
If there was one tip you would give to the clubs youngsters what would it be?: Not just youngsters – concentrate on correct movement and serve and receive.
Where will your team finish this year? Hopefully win Div 1
Is there a rule change you would like to see? Get rid of the new ITTF rule regarding coaching during games.
Is there a table tennis book or dvd you would recommend? Werner Schlager – Tips from a world champion – available on Amazon/Kindle

Rather than a section on table tennis technique this edition I’d like to point you to an article I spotted. It’s an article by Eli Baraty the Head Coach at Harefield Table Tennis Academy, Hillingdon.


Don’t forget – you can influence this blog. Just write to me at with any funny stories, or interesting things you’ve seen about table tennis.

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I’m delighted to be able to start by sharing some good news. Andy Atkinson, Hannah Burrows, Paddy Holland and Tony Whitney have all passed their Level 1 coaching badges. They are a very welcome addition to the coaching team – great to see members getting involved and helping out the club.

If this is something you would like to do, why not ask Andy, Hannah, Paddy or Tony about their experience.


Kate Watkinson recently entered the Halton 1 Star Under 11’s competition. This was Kate’s first ever tournament, and she not only played very well, but she won the tournament.

Fantastic news. Well done Kate. The first of many tournament wins.

Frankie McConville (a comparative veteran) competed in the Under 13’s, and had a good tournament, finishing runner-up.  Another good performance – well done Frankie.

Frankie is also the Player of the Month for November. After further solid league performances (for the Piethons), and his runner up spot at Halton this was well-deserved. Congratulations Frankie.


Wigan Wolves won Division 3 in fine style last season. Initially they were expecting a normal progression with promotion. Bravely, they agreed to skip Division 2, and went straight to Division 1.

The addition of Bob Edwards provided some Division 1 experience.

As expected it has been a big step up for Nathan Gallagher and Reece Roocroft. But I’m hearing that their performances have been really good, and the results are starting to come. Whatever happens in terms of results, this experience can only be good for them both, and we wish them well through the rest of the season.


In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re coming to that all important time of the year. Yes you’re right – I’m thinking of the Club Christmas Handicap Competition. The important date for your diaries is the 21st December, and it’s £3 for entry. Of course, the finalist and runner-up receive cash prizes !

The fantastic hot pot, cakes etc are all free – although I find having a second portion of hot pot, and then finding you are next on the table isn’t the best strategy.

You can enter using the sheet at the club – or by contacting Paul Clark (details on the website).


So, how has the season been? Anything you want to share? Stories to tell?

As always, please contact me on with anything you would like included in the January Wigan Spin.

And, of course, feel free to give me feedback on the Wigan Spin.


So, in the popular (?) series around the different strokes in table tennis. This time it’s the backhand drive.

  • The backhand drive is an attacking stroke played with a small amount of topspin. It is a drive shot and not a topspin loop!
  • The backhand drive is played against long or medium length topspin or float balls. You can’t play a backhand drive off a short ball (that would be a flick) and you can’t play a backhand drive off a backspin ball (that would go into the net).
  • The backhand drive is primarily played from the backhand side. Players are generally not encouraged to play backhand shots from their forehand side as this can lead to poor technique and their forehand is usually stronger.

The Stance

  • Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Stance is “square to the line of play”, basically your feet should be pointing in the direction you are hitting the ball.
  • Knees should be slightly bent.
  • Body should be leaning forward.
  • Both arms should be out in front of you.
  • About a 90-110 degree bend at the elbow.
  • Stand quite close to the table, an arms length away.
  • Weight distributed on both feet and on the balls/toes, not heels.

The Backswing

  • Bring your bat backwards and down to somewhere just in front of your belly button.
  • Create a slightly closed bat angle.
  • Keep your wrist straight
  • The backhand rubber should be pointing in the direction you wish to play.

The Strike

  • The arm moves forwards, to meet the ball, and slightly up, to create a bit of topspin.
  • The movement comes predominantly from the elbow and forearm.
  • Bat angle stays closed throughout the shot.
  • Take the ball at the peak of the bounce and out in front of you.
  • Keep a small gap between the elbow and the body.

The Finish

  • Follow through, forward and upward.
  • Your bat should finish pointing where you have hit the ball, roughly at about chin level.
  • Don’t let your arms swing across your body too much to the right.
  • Always get back to the ready position.


So, that just leaves me to wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a happy and successful 2017, and don’t forget the Christmas Handicap.

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The Wigan Spin Number 2 19 October 2016

First of all, thanks to those who approached me and said they enjoyed the first edition of The Wigan Spin. A special thank you to Dave Goulden who pointed out an error. In the section about serving, I mentioned the referee. Dave explained that a referee in table tennis has a very different role to the umpire, and it was the umpire I should have referred to.

Of course, the referee is usually responsible for the entire running of a table tennis event, including supervising the umpires, whereas umpires control individual matches. Thanks again Dave.


So, the 2016/17 season is well underway, with most teams having played 5 matches now. Wigan teams are featuring at or near the top of all three divisions.

In Division 1 Wigan Royals are leading, with Wigan Eagles in second place.

In Division 2 Wigan Riverside are leading the way, while in Division 3 Wigan Piethons are in 2nd, followed by Wigan Gordon in 3rd.

However your season has started hopefully you are enjoying getting back into league table tennis.


One player who has started the season exceptionally well is Daniel Watkinson who is playing for Wigan Blades in Division 3. Daniel started playing table tennis two years ago at the age of ten. Last season he played a few matches for Wigan Ralfs playing 21 games with a 14.29% win rate. This season Daniel has played 35 games with a win rate of 65.71%.

Paul Clark has this to say : “Daniel is a great example to all the players in the club not just juniors. He never misses a training session, listens to instruction and tries to improve all of the time. He is prepared to play players at all levels and isn’t afraid to lose – this is shown in his willingness to play as a substitute for other teams and play in competitions outside the club – for example this week he is playing a league match on Friday night, National Junior League on Saturday and a 1 star tournament on Sunday. The progress he is making is great and if he keeps on with the same attitude he will become a very, very good player. We are very proud of him and all the other Juniors within the club – this is the most promising group that we have had for a number of years”.

I look forward to highlighting other juniors during the season.


On the subject of Juniors, Table Tennis England this week announced it is reinforcing its commitment to involving young people in our sport by making a #will pledge. The pledge is as follows:

* We pledge to raise awareness of volunteering and social action opportunities for young people in table tennis, working with clubs to demonstrate the contribution that young people can make and promoting the opportunities that are available to young people. Table Tennis England aims to increase the number of young people involved in social action and volunteering in clubs and their local communities by 50% over the next 18 months.

* We will start a Young Ambassadors programme to represent the thoughts and views of young people to ensure that our projects, programmes and events are relevant to young people.

* We pledge to have a better representation of young people within Table Tennis England at a national level, to represent the number of young people within our membership. We will aim to have a young person representative in each of the support networks, where appropriate, within Table Tennis England. You can see our pledge on the #iwill website by clicking here

The #iwill campaign promotes social action among 10-20-year-olds. This includes activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, all of which create a double benefit – to communities and young people themselves.


Moving away from the Junior’s (but only by a few years), congratulations to Andy Atkinson, who won the September player of the month award for an outstanding start to the season for Wigan Gordon. Andy is also taking his Level 1 coaching course. He’ll be a welcome addition to the coaching ‘team’ at Wigan Table Tennis Club. Well done Andy.


Just a reminder – on a Tuesday morning (10:00 – 12:00) Steve Rowe runs an Over 50’s group. Your chance to stay nifty over fifty !


I mentioned serving last week. This time, it’s the forehand drive.

The Stance

* Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

* If right-handed, the right foot should be slightly further back than the left.

* Knees should be slightly bent.

* Body should be leaning forward.

* Both arms should be out in front of you.

* About a 90-110 degree bend at the elbow.

* Stand quite close to the table, an arms length away.

* Weight distributed on both feet and on the balls/toes, not heels.

The Backswing

* Rotate your body to the right, from your hips.

* Elbow and bat rotate back with you.

* Bat angle closes.

* Weight shifts onto the back foot, right foot for a right-handed player.

* The body is moving the arm, not the other way round!

The Strike

* Hips and shoulders rotate forwards to meet the ball.

* The arm moves forward with the body.

* Accelerate the forearm slightly as you make contact, similar to doing a military salute.

* Weight transfers to the front foot, left foot.

* Bat angle stays closed throughout the shot.

* Take the ball at the peak of the bounce and out in front of you.

* Keep a small gap between the elbow and the body.

The Finish

* Follow through, forward and upward.

* Your bat should finish roughly pointing where you have hit the ball.

* Always get back to the ready position.


I seem to be having problems with my email account at present, so apologies if I have failed to pick up any comments etc you have made. For the time being, if you have any feedback, stories, items to include in future editions etc, please use


                                                          The Wigan Spin

                                                  September 2016. Number 1.








Welcome to the new season and to the first Wigan Table Tennis Club blog. I will undoubtedly need the help of others (particularly captains) to tell me what is happening. Any great performances by a member of your team? Involved in organising a tournament? Something funny happened on your way to a game? Just let me know –


So, how were the Olympics for you? Awake through the night to catch some fencing, or waiting for the big names on the track. Of course, in our favourite sport, the English players did themselves proud. Paul Drinkhall’s performances have taken him to a world ranking of 32, while Liam Pitchford is now ranked 45. And as I write this both Rob Davies and Will Bayley have taken Gold in the Paralympics.


Another successful event was held at Wigan’s Grand Arcade on 20th and 21st August. I walked into the club on the Wednesday after the event, and could barely move for bewildered newcomers. This is good for the club so well done to everyone who helped out – and please do your bit in helping the newcomers feel welcome. They will want to learn, so anything you can do to help is always appreciated by Steve and Paul.


Wigan Table Tennis Club start the season with five teams in Division 1, two teams in Division 2, and five teams in Division 3. Good luck to all of our teams.

Wigan Wolves have moved straight to Division 1, after winning the Division 3 title last year. They have added some experience to their squad with the addition of Bob Edwards however.

Paul Clark has joined Eagles, while Clayton Beattie has joined Tim Holland at Wanderers.


You will have noticed how many good youngsters we have at the club at the moment. I expect I will be writing about their progress as the season really kicks in.

Some great performances have already been posted though. In Blackpool on 18th September Frankie McConville won the Under 13 Plate competition in the Blackpool 2 star event, while Hannah Burrows was the runner up in the Junior Girls at the same event.

Well done to you both.




During our first match the subject of serving came to mind. So the first rule is that the ball must be behind the white end line at all times – and the line extends indefinitely. Next, the ball must be resting on the open palm, so no spin can be put on the ball on the ball toss, and it must be visible (I.e. the ball cannot go below the table surface). Next, the ball must be thrown vertically, and must be thrown more than 6 inches. The ball must then be hit on the way down (it must not be hit on the way up).

So, why did serving come to mind? Well, I saw most players serving illegally at some times (and in some cases a lot of the time). In my case I doubt I throw the ball 6 inches most of the time. It would be a brave referee who started calling that one out. Who can really be confident on that one?

In fact hardly any serves get called by referees in my experience – after all it’s a ‘friendly league’. But as players we should aim to serve legally at all times – shouldn’t we?

So while we may not call out serves when refereeing – maybe a quiet word with members of our own team when illegal serves creep in would be worthwhile. Who knows when that player might play a tournament where the referee is a bit tougher?



Hope the start of the season goes well for you all.