Snakeman, the Voice of Table Tennis, is not at the top of his sport. He says he is three or four levels below the U.S. team.
Adam Bobrow is still very strong and can hang for rallies at the least with the best. More importantly, perhaps, he possesses an arsenal of tricky spin shots — including the Snake, which explains his nickname. All have been captured on YouTube and watched by millions, leaving opponents gaping and then, as the wildness sinks in, delighted.
What he really likes, though, besides his main job as lead commentator for the International Table Tennis Federation, is to travel the world as an ambassador for the sport — part earnest evangelist, part clown prince entertainer, wholly invested in showing the world the delights of what he considers the best game there is.
There are infinite possibilities at any given moment. The spin of the ball can cause the ball to curve, jump, kick or bend. It’s just like wizardry,” Bobrow said, speaking with The Associated Press during the Olympics in between his commentary for an exciting table tennis tournament that saw powerhouse China reign supreme yet again. It’s like solving a puzzle in real-time that requires speed and strategy.
Bobrow’s infectious passion for the game is accompanied by a lot of self-promotion. He’s actually the reason this story exists. He came to the AP office at the Olympics’ Main Press Center and stated, in effect, “Write About Me!”
Bobrow, an American living in Taiwan, prefers multicolored fluorescent shirts, and pants that look like paint splatters. He does this to help his sport and his own success.
“The more table tennis develops, the more I will grow with it.” Bobrow stated that he doesn’t see this as a problem when asked about his push to media coverage. “If my YouTube channel has a million subscribers by the year’s end, that’s great for table tennis because it means that more people are watching table-tennis.”
Bobrow’s featured video, “A Year of Ping Pong”, has been viewed more than 17,000,000 times and shows Bobrow playing against people all over the globe.
These games are fun and Bobrow’s spin shots have a lot of fun with their victims. Bobrow is known for his charming habit of saying “good” whenever he tries to return an opponent’s winning shot. He is “No. 1” in table tennis, playing one point mostly on the ground. He claims to be the “No.1 in the world for table tennis bloodshed,” pointing out headgashes caused by points that went wrong.
He views his job as helping to discover the personalities of star players. He believes that athletes need an ambassador because they are so busy with their games that they don’t have the time to build their brands.
After losing to Lin Yun-ju in one video, the No. Lin Yun-ju of Taiwan is the 7th player in the world. Bobrow spends time with Lin and his family. They go to waterfalls, play tennis, and eat dinner. Bobrow is delighted to be recognized by someone in Taiwan.
In another video, he challenges two very skilled Japanese sisters, 6-year-old Miku Matsushima and 3-year-old Aira. He’s particularly thrilled when Miku employs a deadly “reverse tomahawk” serve. The girls then give him a “massage”, putting clothes on his head, jumping on his back and giggling.
Bobrow has been the ITTF’s main commentator since 2014. He won an online contest looking for the “voice in table tennis.”
“I don’t have a lot of vocabulary because I don’t like reading much. He says that he can communicate in simple terms and can explain the game in a simple manner. Even if you aren’t a competitor, I hope that I can make it interesting and engage viewers.
Bobrow’s online success may be due to the fact that people just enjoy playing with him. This was apparent during a recent visit to a Tokyo table tennis group.
He seemed to bring out the best of each opponent, first with a reporter who couldn’t recall the last time they played, then with the club manager and finally with a young lady who had just started playing. His play encouraged long, hypnotic and satisfying rallies, often ending with one of his incredible trick shots. This was followed by laughter or a stunned look from the victim.
I can hit a ball in a way that hits the ground in one direction and then bounces back the other direction. Bobrow says that physics can help explain this phenomenon, but that most people don’t believe it when they see it. “The pros can hit a ball so it will curve, kick, dip, and dive at any moment,” Bobrow says.
Bobrow, who describes his self as “extremely friendly”, plans to continue traveling the globe for ITTF commentary, and also to meet people. Bobrow wants to expand on the 45 countries he has visited and the thousands of games that he’s played. As Snakeman says in his videos, he will keep on pongin’ until then.