Blueprint for Champions: Ideas from Clive Woodward (2008)

Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill. Muhammad Ali

Success: Belief, Method and Vision

Rowden July 2012

If the coach doesn’t believe in the player, then he/ she will find it difficult to win. Players sense very quickly whether the coach is fully behind them and supportive or if he/she is just going through the motions and is really quite certain they have little or no chance. It often happens in Europe for example when Europeans meet Asian opponents that the lack of belief from the coach impacts on his/her player’s performance.

The Modern Game: Recent Changes

Rowden 2012

The modern game is changing dramatically at the moment. For a number of years now, men’s table tennis has focused on the short game and the player who has had the best control in the short play situation has almost always been the winner.

Zen and the Art of Table Tennis (Peter K. Tyson)

Peter K. Tyson 2011

An interesting approach from Peter Tyson exploring the Eastern philosophy and its relevance to Western sport, particularly table tennis. It is also stressed that many of our top players already use a very similar mental approach! A number of excerpts from the book appear below.(Amazon UK Kindle version is reasonably priced)

Technique, Tactics and Style

Rowden 2012

Many coaches will tell you that ‘Technique is the basis of all Tactics’. But just how does this work and how does style fit in as all players are individual and even players who are very similar will do things in different ways?

Developing Players: Move with the Times

Rowden 2012

Do we want ‘New players, old styles’, is this the way forward? Even more so do we want ‘New Coaches, old ideas’? Surely if we do not continuously seek new things we will stagnate. Are too many players in these modern times of athletic, dynamic table tennis just too ordinary, too conservative and too predictable? Do they fail to take risks or try new techniques/tactics through fear; are they afraid of losing what they have? And are they influenced by all the players around them to become just one of the herd and to ignore their individual talents?

The Age of Experience

David Bainbridge (Middle Age: A natural History)2012

Middle and even old age is a controlled and even pre-programmed process – a process not of decline but of development. Development -- and the genetic processes which direct it – does not stop when we reach mid-twenties. It continues well into adulthood. The tightly choreographed transition into middle age is a later, but equally important, stage of human development when we are each recast into yet another novel form.

Nice to look at or efficient?

Rowden 2012

Unfortunately in UK much of our training tends to influence our players into playing and thinking in a predictable manner and does not help in the development of adaptive intelligence. Why do so many players from the UK have extremely good technique compared to the Europeans, yet in no way achieve comparable results? We have nice strokes but we can’t win games!

Is this perhaps due to our training methods and to the lack of intensity in our training? Or is it more because we don’t focus enough on the individual aspects of player development? Could it be that our coaches lack the real vision to understand that all players are individuals and will only reach their full potential if they harness their own strengths?

Development and Training

Rowden 2012

To develop full potential the prime criterion is that the player has an understanding of his/her own style of play as early as possible in his/her career. Bear in mind that tactical development is based crucially on technical abilities. If the player doesn’t have the technical weapons to play his/her own game most effectively then the performer never reaches full potential. Throughout Europe there has to be a great deal more attention payed by coaches to the individual development of the player and to maximising his/her own personal style of play.

Women -- Modern Footwork

Rowden 2012

It would appear that only few coaches throughout Europe understand how the top women in the world move and especially the patterns they most often use when close to the table. First we have to understand that women in general will play most of the time closer to the action than the men: this is mainly because they don’t have the same upper body power as men or the same dynamic movement. The bigger ball takes less spin and playing off the table becomes counter-productive for women players. At a younger age, for example the level of mini-cadet, cadet or young junior, playing off the table can be effective, but not once the girl reaches the ranks of the top women. Higher level women players are just too good at using the ‘whole’ table, playing short and long and out to the angles: the further the opponent retreats the more ground she has to cover.

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