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Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 1: How Plastic Balls Have Changed Table Tennis

06 September 2017  | Posted in: Fun & Inspiration

Ferenc Karsai, one of Europe's top table tennis coaches, discusses how the introduction of plastic balls has changed table tennis, and other possible changes that may happen in the future.


Who is Ferenc Karsai?

Karsai is one of Europe's most famous table tennis coaches. He was the head coach of Austrian Men’s National Team from 1995 to 2013 working with Karl Jindrak, Robert Gardos, Chen Weixing, Werner Schlager, Daniel Habesohn, and others. Coach of World Team against China in 2004, and was elected to be the best trainer of all sports in Austria in 2003.

Although officially retired after leaving the Austrian National Team, he remains active and has been seen coaching Canadian and Belgium players at World Championships and other important international competitions.

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Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 2: How Could the Best European Players Beat the Best Asian Players?
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 3: Is the Sport of Table Tennis Expanding or Shrinking?
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 4: Advice to Recreational Table Tennis Players for Improving Their Game
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 5: Are Boosters Good for Table Tennis?
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 6: Are the Many Recent Changes in Table Tennis Rules Good?

Ferenc Karsai Full 1 Hour Interview - Plastic Balls, Boosters, How to Improve Your Game, and Much More

Save 20-25% on Table Tennis Equipment >>


Transcript of the Interview:

The Interviewer: Everybody now is talking about plastic ball. Plastic ball changed our life, our table tennis life recently. What is your opinion about plastic ball, how it happened that the plastic ball came, and what do you think about future of table tennis in connection with this new ball?

Ferenc Karsai: Some reasons why it came, we talk before about it that in the business, faster working the business, also transport is better with the plastic balls. They had some really reasons why they change it. But, in the table tennis, it's for my side like coach, also is a little bit changing, not a little bit, very much changing. If you think about it, maybe you must thinking about the table tennis style, to change a little bit, to play faster, not so much rotation, to play faster table tennis, maybe closer from the table, or if you are in the background, you can also play with this, but little changing the movement. It's still now is not really 100% what you must change and how, but in the future, maybe we can say exact answer for this question. 

The Interviewer: You're saying that the game will change a lot.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes. Because for example, the chopper, you've heard ... Obliged the chopper to play very good topspin. If you see nowadays, some chopper player who play very hard for a topspin, like Gionis, is still okay. It didn't go down so much. But, another chopper, if only chop, only defense, I think very difficult for them, very difficult for them, because they cannot make so much chop, so much rotation, backspin not so much. After the speed spin, you can kill the ball.

The Interviewer: Nowadays, it's even more important for choppers, their attacking abilities.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes.

The Interviewer: Than before.

Ferenc Karsai: Possible, yes. I think also.

The Interviewer: What do you think in terms of material, which players are using? Rubbers and blades, were they continue to use the same equipment, or they also have to change a little bit?

Ferenc Karsai: I think they have to change also, maybe not big change, but some change. I don't know exact now, but I think the rubbers now is really more better quality, like before. Before, some years ago, the Tenergy was high, the best quality. Now, all rubbers from all companies, more more better and not so big difference between the quality. Now, whole change the quality, whole change the rubbers, now, with the plastic balls, I didn't think about it so much still. Now maybe in the future, must thinking about it. Because, the biggest problem, the plastic balls, was so much different, still now is so much different, if you play world championship and you play Europe championship with Nittaku balls, totally, and other balls like DHS or Stiga balls, or ... It's different, different and very special preparation needed to go to the world championship or to Europe championship.

The Interviewer: Before, there was also difference between quality of different brands of the balls.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes.

The Interviewer: Now, the difference is much bigger.

Ferenc Karsai: Much bigger. Exact, this Nittaku is ... This is almost the first time we play with these balls without preparation. Maybe you cannot make a point... The ball doesn't jump, and you don't catch the ball. It's unbelievable.

The Interviewer: The bounce was not exactly the same as before. 

Ferenc Karsai: No. 

The Interviewer: Okay.

Ferenc Karsai: Total difference.

The Interviewer: Now we have the situations, the same as in lawn tennis. You have to play different style and you need to have special preparation for clay, for hard. Now, you have ... In table tennis, now you to prepare for the ball.

Ferenc Karsai: With the balls, just not with the tables.

The Interviewer: Yeah, not with the tables, but ...

Ferenc Karsai: We don't have clay tables still now, but in the balls, I think in the future, I think they make nearly same quality. They must do it.

The Interviewer: They must do it.

Ferenc Karsai: Because it's just not possible that all big events, special preparation. 

The Interviewer: What about the quality of the ball?

Ferenc Karsai: In the beginning, was unbelievable. Sometimes in the practice, a two and half hour practice, 28, 30 balls broken. I don't want to say which company, but 30 balls was broken.

The Interviewer: But why you don't want to say which company?

Ferenc Karsai: Because I don't want to say nothing. But it was true. Now, is a little bit, or not little bit, more better quality, if the time goes, after the ball quality always better and better. But, different.

The Interviewer: Different, yes. Different.

Ferenc Karsai: This new world tour balls from DHS, is I think start to be good.

The Interviewer: Start to be good. You mean the second generation of the balls?

Ferenc Karsai: Yes.

The Interviewer: Okay. It's your opinion or also players accept this quality of the balls?

Ferenc Karsai: Both. I think that my players now and I have same opinion.

The Interviewer: No complaints about the quality?

Ferenc Karsai: Complain? 

The Interviewer: Still ...

Ferenc Karsai: Still complain, but we have same opinion about the balls, the players and I.

The Interviewer: What do you think, is it possible that there will be a players of a new generation that play different style, meant for this plastic ball?

Ferenc Karsai: Now if you see, the little bit the table tennis now, you can see one way from Japan. If you compare with China, if the best three, four Chinese players, they are completely full ... 

The Interviewer: Without competition...

Ferenc Karsai: Completely full professional players. The new generation, from Japan now, very dangerous. You don't know how fast they, they are unbelievably fast, unbelievable special table tennis, a table with backhand. This is, I think, maybe the new generation style of the table tennis, closer from table and to play very fast table, very fast table tennis, with backhand more, and also forehand, like Harimoto play. This is maybe a new style of table tennis, very good flick from table, and also very good short.  If you can do this, after maybe a new style of table tennis or a new generation coming, but not from China now, from Japan.

The Interviewer: From Japan.

Ferenc Karsai: What looks like.

The Interviewer: You see in the future, there could be a competition between Chinese players and Japanese players?

Ferenc Karsai: I can say now, I think that most dangerous for China, Japan, little bit Korea also because they are also very fast players.

The Interviewer: Also very ...

Ferenc Karsai: The fast players is more important now, like the slower with big rotation and so. This is most ...

The Interviewer: This is because of the balls?

Ferenc Karsai: Also because of the balls. Style change and the balls change. I think we need time with these new balls, plastic balls, and to find good relation between the fast play, between the feeling, and between the plastic materials, I think.

The Interviewer: We have to adjust first to the material and then we have to decide which way to go?

Ferenc Karsai: What's happened, yeah.

The Interviewer: What's happened, yeah.

Ferenc Karsai: I think this is not, these balls is not for China is the best, for Japanese better, looks like now. 

The Interviewer: Yeah. When I talk to coaches from China, they told that this ball is not good for Chinese.

Ferenc Karsai: I think also. They didn't talk about it, but I feel this also. 

The Interviewer: Yeah. They said that this ball has less rotation and last year, they play a lot for mastering this topspin game. Now, they have less spin, more speed. It's not really benefit for Chinese.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes. Also, they lost in Asia games already. They lost now in the world championship, also Zhang Jike lost. It's not, looks like that not easy for them. 

The Interviewer: If we come back to plastic ball, is it opportunity for you to try something new? Do you like, or you stay with the old ball better?

Ferenc Karsai: That is very difficult, if you learn the table tennis like, “wow” very good rotation and like this, and after coming the plastic, after you must find a solution, small changing for this plastic ball. I think is not finish, this plastic ball. Maybe in the future, they find better quality, not too hard, because I think that countries like China, also they say their opinion. They product almost the plastic balls 90%. After they can find a good balls for universal table tennis, not only the fast table tennis. I think it's not finished, this project, the balls. 

The Interviewer: So you hope that the plastic ball will ...

Ferenc Karsai: That is not finished. It will really improve.

The Interviewer: They will improve.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes, I think.