When I first started coaching 19 years ago, I was obsessed with having a good table tennis technique.
I am not 100% as to why but I remember coaching my players and making sure they possessed solid technique on all strokes.
I got plenty of good results producing many England players and thought I was doing it correctly. As a young man you get ahead of yourself and believe you know it all but then you learn that time and experience is the real superpower.
The more time you spend inside an industry (with an open mind and willingness to learn and expand) the more you realise there’s so much more. Results in sport is a mixture of many factors; location, environment, age, external factors etc. All of this play’s a huge role in players success and I was fortunate witnessed these on many occasions. Both at Barnet TTC and Harefield Academy and now as a freelance coach..
What can be done with experience:
Today I believe if I had the same environments (mentioned above) I would have produced twice as many top players.
I believe in holistic coaching, back then I thought if I develop your strokes technically you will have the weapons to win. Some did but many failed because I was unable to provide: the physical, nutritional, mental and tactical repertoire. When I realised that many of my players had the weapons but lost I began to realise having weapons is one thing if you don’t know how to use them, they are effectively redundant. So began to study every element required in making players the best they can be. I am still constantly learning and that will never stop for both myself and my players.
Why technique is not enough:
I had one player technically the best in the club but he lacked mental toughness and reached no.2 in England. I believe if I was able to tap into other aspects mentioned above he would have been no.1 no doubt. Every time he failed to perform we blamed it on his shots rather than his mental or physical condition.
Like a car:
The technique is like the shell of a car, you can have the most beautiful Ferrari body but the most important tool is the engine. Other elements are important and all make the car a finely tuned machine. When building your game don’t just build the shots, you must focus on building your mindset, your physical conditioning, your tactical awareness and many other elements.
The best in the world have:
Average rating out of 10 (my personal opinion and view)
Mental – 8 plus out of 10
Physical – 8 plus out of 10
Nutritional – 5 plus out of 10 (personally I believe it’s higher but players can get away with poor nutrition)
Technique – 7 plus out of 10
Tactical – 8 plus out of 10
Notice how nutritional and technical score less than the others. This is because your body is special and can forgive you for not putting the best nutrition (up to a certain point). You will reduce efficiency by 10-20%. But due to constant physical activity, you will be able to perform at near peak level when aged between 18 to 20 years of age.
Technique again slightly lower because you can find world-class players with not the best of technical (textbook) shots. Timo Boll is an example of a world class player that players a technically poorer forehand shot.
Due to other elements mentioned above, you can perform at the top with a lower level of technical ability.
The technique enables you to perform but everything else is essential towards making your technical skills perform.
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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