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How can a coach improve a player's capability


(From Table Tennis ABC by Zdenko Uzorinac)


Table tennis is one of the most complicated sports. It requires countless skills, both tactical and technical, speed, stamina, dexterity, ball control, shrewdness, good reflex and quickness in decision-making, strong nerve system and tireless diligence. Mastering table tennis is similar to climbing steep steps, which are numerous and you do not see where they end. Furthermore, the ascent is not the same all the way, and although you might believe that the worst is over you still might have to climb the steepest part.

Istvan Korpa

"When you start to work with a player, first of all you have to establish his strong and his bad side. This has to be done from the point of view of general and specific physical condition on one side, and on the other his technical-tactical and psychological condition.

Once I have established a picture of his mental state, only then is it possible to go on further.

I believe that a coach must have a vision of how his player is going to perform in a certain period of time. If I work with a young player, my plans will go further in the future, for example with the intention of him being ready in the last year of his/her junior status. On the other hand, if I have an older player who has already acquired some automatic features, it will be more difficult to teach him some new things. So, the next move is to set a goal. It is very important, as a player without motivation will not make any progress. At this moment details have to be specified. I strongly believe that depending on the age and quality of a player he himself should be included in the future plans. He should not be left aside. The player must believe that the goals and plans are realistic and that they can come true.

We start from the point that the coach works with his player daily, or at least 3-4 times a week. If that coach is simultaneously a national team coach, this becomes almost impossible. In such cases, more or less defined periods for practicing are decided upon (preparations for a new season or for the important competitions), and the working period with players can last two or three weeks.

Table tennis has become an extremely fast sport due to the development of materials (and due to constant speed gluing) so players must firstly be fast in (legs, waist and arm). I would just like to point out that if I want to develop the technical abilities of a player, primarily his physical condition has to be increased. It is not possible to improve or develop the player’s ability without developing his skill to move at the table, at least not to international level. At this point the difficulties usually start. Therefore you have to stand behind the player, persuade him to practice, give him support in difficult moments, accurately estimate when to stop practicing, give a pause...but nevertheless always have in mind that pressure in practice must be gradually increased all the time in order to develop some abilities.

Best practice and best time for doing it in order to improve condition is in the preparatory period, during summer before the season starts, but one should bear in mind that at least two months are needed to develop or increase physical readiness of a player.

There are two types of players. One type has great "touch"; I would call it Waldner type. Such players play with the ball constantly, experiment all the time, and almost develop their own technique. The coach must take care that experimenting does not go on endlessly and at the same time take care that the player does not loose his conception of the game. Sometimes the coach has to influence the player to create his own profile, to find his personal game style. This type of player learns quickly, but is not steady enough so it might happen that he has for example "a hundred forehands". The second type of a player is less talented regarding his "touch", but is far more persistent in his work, and sticks to the agreements made with his coach. He works at each practice with full concentration and seeks his goals. You can make better plans with him, as he does not have so many ups and downs in his development. For example the Belgian player Saive is such a player.In any case I think that both "types", knowing of course that there are more shades between these two extremes, are capable of reaching and making excellent results. Nevertheless the coach has to know how to approach each individual and get under the skin of each player in order to lead and develop him as an individual."´

Libuse Uhrova Grafkova

"When defining the intensity of practice one should distinguish among certain players. Most of the top players are not robots who do not think, who execute demands of their coach without objections. The player himself is the only one who knows exactly how his body reacts to load. Nevertheless we do not wish to diminish the importance of a coach in the whole process.

On the contrary, the coach has to pay attention to what the player feels. Best results and good shape can be achieved if one possesses ability to sympathize with the competitor and know when to increase or diminish the intensity, to understand him and correct the load in cooperation with the player.

Pursuant to the stated, it is clear that in top quality table tennis we can not be orientated only to constant growth of volume and load intensity, as each player has his own individually set limits.

The player must be conscious that if he is taken in a certain selection but can not follow the scheduled working programme and does not show sufficient tendency of progress, he will fall out of the programme."

Radivoj Hudetz

"According to my opinion the coach who really wants to help his player to develop his game must not have ready made shapes according to which he wants to mould the player. The coach must try to discover the specific individual abilities of his player, and he should mould the player accordingly. When the coach possesses the idea of how a game should be played in order to make a successful table tennis player, and wants to put each player within this frame, only in a few cases (when the individual’s ability fits such frame) the player will be able to develop all his abilities.

However, such situations will be quite rare, and many talented young players will not be able to develop their own abilities to their maximum and achieve the results, which they objectively could if all their individual abilities were applied. The coach has to search for the best solutions for the game style and practice of each player individually – only then can the abilities of each individual be fully explored.

In all this the coach must have the instinct for appraisal of objective top abilities of a given sportsman, since if you succeed in realizing even 100% of the player’s abilities, this 100% might be enough only for creating a solid player for a league competition. On the other hand another player might become a great champion by using only 80% of his abilities.

A successful coach must be able to value the abilities of an individual and must find a way to guide the player to reach this goal."

(From Table Tennis ABC by Zdenko Uzorinac)

Copyright © Zdenko Uzorinac & Tibhar. All rights reserved.


Last Update : 13 July, 2003

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