How to Become a Ping Pong Champion and New PolicyMic Writer At the Same Time


Earlier this week, PolicyMic embarked on its April quest to find 50 of the sharpest millennial thinkers under the age of 30. Emails poured in and we're excited to introduce you to Jessie Bullock, who had a stand-out application. We couldn't be more excited to have Jessie join the community!

In our application to write for PolicyMic, we asked you to teach us how to do something you love, and Jessie taught us how to play ping-pong. Even though I was temped to keep her lessons on how to become a ping pong master a secret (so I'll always be able to beat you), I wanted to share Jessie's 5 ways to make your way to ping pong fame.

First, meet Jessie: She is a Kansas City native and lover of all things Latin America. As for her interest in ping pong, she says, "When I was a kid, my all-American athlete father was determined that I would be good at sports. Any sport. To his chagrin, I was a little too uncoordinated, slow, and knock-kneed for all of the team sports at my school. However, a true athlete like my dad never gives up – since I couldn’t be a basketball or track star, he decided that table tennis would be my sport."

About the April 50 Under 30 Challenge: If you’re brand-new to PolicyMic, and want to teach us something you love, apply to become a one of April's 50 new writers. Deadline: Monday, April 29. Email Caira Conner ( (Subj: April 50 Under 30 Challenge) with the following:

- Resume + Section you want to write for (Politics, Culture, Feminism)

1. Your paddle matters

When I started getting better, my dad let me pick out a paddle. While the selection at a bar, billiards hall, or gym might be limited, choose yours wisely. Make sure that the plastic foam is not peeling off of the paddle on either side, and I’d recommend one with the thickest foam possible and a smooth rather than knobby surface.

2. Drill #1: Landmine

My dad invented this game for me to improve my accuracy. He would set his paddle on the other side of the table, and I’d have to “hit” the landmine after he served it with the ball. It’s more difficult than it appears; try to get 10 in a row!

3. Drill #2: Backspin

I’m pretty sure that knowing how to hit with backspin was the only reason why I won my 5th grade table tennis tournament (yes, it’s true). To win big and throw your opponents off, hold the paddle horizontally when you hit the ball, and hit it so that the handle moves from a horizontal position to vertical, with the handle facing the ceiling. On a clock, this would be from 3:00 to 12:00 if you’re a righty and 9:00 to 12:00 if you’re a lefty.

4. Perfect your serve

As long as you have the most badass serve at the table, you’ll always win your games. Your goal is to hit the ball so it barely goes over the net. The lower it is, the less time it gives your opponent. Practice serving across the diagonal of the table, from corner to corner, and across one side, shooting straight down the table.

5. Watch your eyes

If you’re having troubles with your serve, you can bluff. To get creative and a little sneaky, use your eyes to help you – look at one side of the table, signal to your opponent that you’re going to serve in that direction, and shoot in the other. This works exceptionally well with the equivalent of “bunting” for ping-pong: when you quickly lean as close to the net as possible, and barely hit it over the net.

For more news on Jessie, follow her on Twitter: @jessiebullock.