Initiating children into the sport of table tennis
requires a coach with a high level of concentration, observation, seriousness as
well as technical skills. It is a generally belief that the age of 7 is
considered as the most appropriate for a child to start table tennis training.
This initiation should consist of 8-10 repeated sessions, each with its own
specific structure and objectives. Each session should last approximately
60-75min. The coach should not progress to the next session unless the
objectives of the previous are achieved.
1. First session (familiarization)
In the first session, the children familiarize
themselves with the coach and the training environment. In this session, the
objective is to develop a bond between the coach and the children. At this point
the subject of table tennis is not talked about at all. In addition to
developing a bond with children, the coach must evaluate each child's readiness,
discipline, and accuracy of play. During the session the coach must watch every
child's movements. This is very important for the following sessions. The coach
should not forget that the aim is to increase the attention and concentration of
the children and to hone their senses.
2. Second session (the ball game)
Every child needs a ball. It should be the size of a
tennis ball or slightly bigger. The coach will need five hoops and a big wooden
or carton box. Some common drills are:
Running around the room with a
Running around the room
throwing the ball in the air and catching it carefully without falling down.
Running around the room while
bouncing the ball on the ground continuously.
Alternating between the above
exercises whenever the coach blows his whistle.
The above exercises starting
from the squatting position.
The children try to throw the
ball in a hoop hanging from a wall at a height of 2-3m (the children are to
aim for the center of the hoop).
children try to throw the ball in a big box at a 10-15cm distance.
All the above exercises must be done in a simple
way. Many children do not know to use a ball. The purpose of this session is to
see to what extent the child can master the ball. In this session, the
concentration level of each child should be carefully monitored.
3. Third session-The table
In this session, the coach will need two sets of
tennis balls. One set will have as many tennis balls as there are children, and
the other will have 50-80 tennis balls. This session is divided into three
parts. In the first part, the running exercises in the first session are
repeated. In the second part, the exercises with the tennis balls are repeated
in addition to some other exercises left to the coaches' inventive digression.
In the third part, the coach introduces table tennis balls for the first time.
The coach will show the children the size, color and weight of a table tennis
ball as well as the potential speeds and spins the ball can develop. All the
exercises with the tennis balls are then repeated. It is important to find as
many exercises as possible that will help develop an understanding of the
capabilities of the table tennis ball.
4. Fourth session-The racket and
table tennis ball (I)
The equipment needed in this session is tennis
balls, table tennis balls and table tennis rackets. The session is divided into
three parts. The first part starts with running exercises as in previous
sessions. In the second part, the tennis ball exercises are continued but at the
same time great attention is paid to the bouncing of the ball. The children must
discover by themselves, the required tossing height of the ball. The coach must
emphasize the initial movement of the arm when tossing the ball as well as the
follow through movements of the body.
The children bounce the ball
with one hand from a standing, a sitting, a walking, a running, and a jumping
They run while bouncing the
ball without chasing after it.
They run and bounce the ball
with right and then their left hand to various heights.
The children do all the above
exercises zigzagging through obstacles.
The aim in all the above exercises is to give
symmetry and rhythm to the children's' movements. At this point, the children
must learn to master their body. In the third part of the session, the children
are presented with a table tennis racket for the first time. The coach will say
a few words about the racket its history and how it developed into what it is
now (material, shape, weight.). The children are shown both grips
(European-Asian), some simple movements are shown and then the coach moves on to
the first drill.
5. The racket and table tennis ball (II)
The equipment needed for this session is hoops and
table tennis balls. In the first part the hoops are used.
The children wheel the hoops by
their side while running from one side of the room to the other.
The children hold the hoops
parallel to the floor at a height of 30-40cm jumping in and out of them with
their feet joined and the knees high.
They throw the hoops high above
them and as they fall they try to get into them.
In the second part, the coach uses the table tennis
rackets and balls. The coach can have the children to balance drills with the
ball on the racket. The children see how long they can keep the ball still on
the racket. The coach can then proceed with the wall exercise from the previous
session. If we want to make this drill more difficult we draw a line with chalk
on the wall and at a height of 100-150cm, so that the ball will strike the wall
over the marked height. The children must use both sides of the racket. The
following step is to draw circles on the wall with a diameter of 40cm and at a
height of 150cm. The children do the wall drill, but this time aiming at the
center of the circle. During the session the coach checks that they are using
the correct grip and little by little he starts correcting their arm movements.
In the first stage, the ball strikes the floor before it is hit with the racket.
In the second stage, the ball is hit before it bounces. The coach must pay great
attention to the children's body movements. The mistakes must be corrected
immediately. All the drills from the second part of the session can be done in
pairs, to add a sense of competition.
6. Perfecting the drills
The equipment needed in this session is tennis
balls, hoops, rackets and table tennis balls. This session is divided into three
parts. In the first part, the drills with the tennis balls from the previous
sessions are repeated. In the second part, we do the drills with the hoops. In
the third part the children bounce the ball on the floor using their racket,
first without moving, then walking slowly and finally walking quickly. Then they
have to repeat the exercise while passing through various obstacles. If the
coach wants to complicate the drill, alternate between bouncing of the ball on
the ground and bouncing the ball on the racket. Both sides of the racket can be
used. Great attention must be paid to the arm movements. If the children have
mastered this drill we can put an obstacle in their way such as a line on the
floor, a rope at a height of 75cm, or a bench. This drills in the session aim to
leg coordination while the child develops a feel for hitting the ball. It is of
great importance to define the order of the drills from easy to difficult, and
from simple to complex.
7. The table tennis table
The equipment needed here is classic jump ropes,
table tennis rackets, table tennis balls and finally a table tennis table. This
session is also divided into three parts. In the first part, each child is given
a jump rope. The children follow a program for improving their jump roping
skills while paying careful attention to the work-rest ratio. In the second
part, all the necessary exercises from the previous session using the racket and
the ball are repeated. In the third part, the children are introduced to the
table tennis table (minus the net) for the first time. The first basic drill is
to pair the children at every table and then have one of them bounce the ball on
the table diagonally while the other child lets it bounce on the floor before he
hits the ball onto the table. First the children use one side of the racket, and
then they use the other. Through this exercise, the children should learn to
place themselves in relation to the table. They must hit the ball at its highest
bouncing point. Their elbows do not leave their sides, and the shoulders remain
parallel with the imaginary line drawn by the trajectory of the ball. The net is
not needed at this point. It is enough for the ball to bounce on the table. When
this exercise is mastered, the net is put on the table and the same drill is
repeated. This exercise can be used to have small competitions to motivate the
children. The movements must be checked scholastically, but it is equally
important to allow the children to find the moves that will bring the best
result with the least consumption of energy. With this session the circle of
drills ends and the stage of introducing the table and the net is reached.
8. Table tennis training
In this session we use all the equipment used in
previous sessions. The schedule is as following:
Running, ball drills, jump-rope
A break followed by instruction
on the racket, the grips, the table and the net as well as some of the table
Simple table tennis movements
without the ball are introduced along with the appropriate leg movements.
Forehand and backhand movements are taught separately and then together.
Gymnastics exercises for the
Gymnastics exercises for
Learning of the forehand and
backhand movements separately and then both together this time at the table.
The ball is placed on the racket held by the forefinger of the free hand and
the movement is executed. Every child does the movement 20-30 times.
Rhythmical drills of bouncing
the ball on the racket while increasing and decreasing the height of the
bounce. This drill is done first from one side then from the other and finally
one side after the other.
Forehand and backhand execution
of movements at the table.
exercises, jumps, horizontal bar exercises, and abdominal exercises.
Diagonal forehand drive with
the coach (with the ball bouncing on the table). The same with the backhand
Loosening exercises such as
walking and stretching for recuperation.
Copyright Â© 1998,1999, by
Dimosthenis E. Messinis