I love table tennis and I love books. On this page, I will be linking to all of my favourite table tennis books. If there are any you think I’ve missed, please drop me a message and let me know.
Expert Table Tennis Books
It is my hope to produce lots of Expert Table Tennis books aimed at helping you to improve your table tennis performance. Some of these I will create on my own. For others, I intend to team up with coaches and experts to give you access to the knowledge and wisdom of those guys too. Here’s what I’ve got so far…
The Table Tennis Playbook (2013)
by Ben Larcombe
I have created a free eBook for my readers, called The Table Tennis Playbook, all about the best service and receive drills. It’s completely free and packed full of exercises to help you improve your table tennis match play and develop your tactics/strategy.
If you would like to download the eBook, for free, then simply click here and you’ll be taken to my email sign-up page. Join the Expert Table Tennis Academy (a community of over 2,000 table tennis players, from all over the world, who share the same goal; to improve their table tennis) and you’ll receive the eBook in your welcome email.
Expert in a Year: The Ultimate Table Tennis Challenge (2015)
by Sam Priestley & Ben Larcombe
Following the success of The Expert in a Year Challenge in 2014, I co-authored a book with Sam Priestley (the guinea-pig of the challenge) sharing our experiences and the lessons we learned from a year of table tennis. Sam and I spent about six months writing Expert in a Year: The Ultimate Table Tennis Challenge. It was a lot of fun reminiscing over our favourite moments from the year and thinking long and hard about the lessons to be taken from it. The book is very cheap on Kindle and has received very positive reviews on Amazon.
Listen to my interview with Sam on the podcast here.
- Amazon.co.uk = £3.99 (Kindle)
- Amazon.co.uk = £10.00 (Paperback)
- Amazon.com = $5.99 (Kindle)
- Amazon.com = $14.99 (Paperback)
- Audible.co.uk = £11.79 (or free with 30-day trial)
- Audible.com = $14.95 (or free with 30-day trial)
5 Must Read Table Tennis Books
Here are five of my ‘must reads’ for table tennis players. I’ve been fortunate enough to have all of the authors (excluding Matthew Syed) as guests on the podcast. So, if you would like to find out more about those books make sure you check out those interviews. I’m still hopeful at getting Matthew Syed on the show at some point too!
Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice
This is definitely the most popular table tennis book of all time. Former professional table tennis player Syed investigates the myth of talent and the power of practice using plenty of examples from his experiences in table tennis. Bounce by Matthew Syed is a brilliant book and has inspired me greatly both in my playing career and as a coach. It’s incredibly rare to see so many table tennis references and examples in such a mainstream best-selling book.
Read my full review here.
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers
This is one of the only table tennis books around that focuses on the tactical side of the game. Larry has a wealth of experience coaching tactics to players of all levels. If you have ever felt like you possess the technique and strokes to be a top player but for whatever reason you aren’t seeing the results you want in the tournaments, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers could be exactly what you need! It certainly caused me to think differently about how I structure my coaching sessions.
This book follows Alex’s quest to achieve a USATT rating of 2000 points. It details the training required, the struggles of competition, and provides invaluable insights into what’s needed to succeed at table tennis. In many ways it is very similar to The Expert in a Year Challenge. If you like the idea of setting a goal for your table tennis and then pursuing it with everything you’ve got then I’m sure you will enjoy reading Alex’s story.
Listen to my interview with Alex Polyakov here!
Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros!
This is a really great book looking at the mindset and mental abilities you’ll need to develop in order to perform like a professional table tennis player. All too often we can end up neglecting the mental side of the sport while we focus on our technique, our speed, our spin etc. They say that elite sport is 90% mental and Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros is currently the only book to deal exclusively with this aspect of the game. Definitely a must read for all table tennis players.
Listen to my interview with Dora here.
Ping Pong for Fighters
This book is about fighting all the different elements that are attached to table tennis. I think what’s interesting about this book is that the reader takes the journey with Tahl. All that he learned in over 20 years of competing in table tennis is in this book. It reads more like a conversation consisting of helpful direction through experience and a philosophy of table tennis that is concerned more with experiencing what it feels like to think and play table tennis like a top player.
Listen to my interview with Tahl on the podcast here.
Other Great Table Tennis Books
Being a relatively niche sport, at least in the English-speaking world, there aren’t loads of table tennis books available. Here’s a list of all the recent table tennis books I’m aware of…
100 Days of Table Tennis
by Samson Dubina
Travel with Coach Samson Dubina on a 100-day table tennis journey. Each day, you will learn new skills about strokes, spins, drills, game tactics, training routines, and tournament performance. This book will give you the necessary tools to move past your competition both mentally and physically. Read my full review here.
Everything You Know is Pong
by Roger Bennett
With an all-star team of contributing writers—including Nick Hornby, Will Shortz, Davy Rothbart, Harold Evans, and Jonathan Safran Foer—and quirky, fascinating images of table tennis from around the world, editors Eli Horowitz and Roger Bennet deliver a humorous but heartfelt paean to ping pong, the world’s most popular, yet least appreciated sport. Everything You Know Is Pong is a beautifully designed literary tribute to every aspect of table tennis, the true global pastime.
Expert Table Tennis Serves
All points in a table tennis game begin with either serving or returning the serve. When serving, you have a huge advantage in putting the receiver on the defensive or perhaps winning a point outright without any further strokes. To perfect your service game, USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Richard McAfee offers Expert Table Tennis Serves, a mini e-book providing expert advice.
Ogi: The Life of Ichiro Ogimura
Ichiro Ogimura, former ITTF President, won both the men’s singles and team titles at the world championships in London in 1954, while a student at Nihon University. He led Japan to five straight championships in the men’s team competition beginning in 1954. During his career, he captured 12 world titles in singles, mixed doubles and team competitions.
Ping Pong Diplomacy
Nicholas Griffin weaves a compelling story to reveal the background to the famous occasion in 1971, when the USA’s Glenn Cowan, a 19-year-old hippie, befriended China’s world champion Zhuang Zedong, who was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution. Within days, the Americans would be playing the Chinese in front of 18,000 fans in Beijing, with the whole world watching. It was the beginning of a thaw in Sino-US relations that forced the Soviets into a crippling arms race that acted as a catalyst to pressuring them into errors that would draw the Cold War to an end. Sometimes sport truly can have the biggest consequences.
Sizzling Chops and Devilish Spins
Jerome Charyn introduces us in this magical and quirky memoir to the fine art of Ping Pong, a sport and a state of mind. Henry Miller immortalized the game and transformed it into a spiritual exercise: “No other sport can engage in the same way, it allows you to dream, it is like being in a trance state”. Jerome Charyn gives gives it the touch of the human and turns it into the metaphor of life. Ping Pong has never been the sport of the rich and famous, but its fascination and glory reaches every corner of the world, played by over 250 million people; here is the sound of the ball, the echo of the racquet, the players and the clubs, and smoky basement holes frequented by anybody and everybody.
by Jenny Heaton
Non Table Tennis Books
The following books aren’t specifically about table tennis but contain information that I’m sure any table tennis player or coach will find very useful. Some are tennis books or autobiographies of great athletes/coaches. I’ve also included a handful of my favourite books.
- Confusing the Enemy (The Cus D’Amato Story) by Scott Weiss
- Mastery by Robert Greene
- Mindset by Carol Dweck
- Open by Andre Agassi
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- Rafa by Rafael Nadal
- Running by Ronnie O’Sullivan
- The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss
- The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters
- The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
- The Sports Gene by David Epstein
- The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
- Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson
- Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert
What’s your favourite table tennis book?
Leave a comment below and let me know.
I’m currently reading Black and White: The Way I See It by Richard Williams (tennis coach and father of Venus and Serena Williams). I have a feel that will be added to the non table tennis books list very soon!