Prime areas in the Development of Women
Rowden October 2012
Speed, which is the most important of the 5 basic elements (speed, power, spin, flight trajectory, change) covers all aspects and is the central core and the prime factor of development; it doesn’t just cover the ability to play fast and to control speed, but to think and to react swiftly, to adapt quickly, to move rapidly and with the right footwork patterns. It also covers the aspect of combining the other four elements at differing speeds.
Quickness is speed. It is always the most important factor of any style. Pure speed however and simple spin are things of the past. The combination of speed and spin is how this sport is going to develop. In the case of the women, spin is used to open up the game and to create an opportunity to win the point with drive or smash. Spin over the table is a more controversial point, some women do this well and it can be beneficial, most don’t and the drive is preferable. Also speed must again come into the equation, speed will always give the opponent less time than spin.
Long Term Athlete Development is a sports framework that is based on human growth and development. At all times it should be appreciated that LTAD is an approach to athlete development that puts the athlete, rather than the system, at its centre. The individual strengths of the athlete should be promoted and her game ‘tailored’ to these. The athlete should do what she does best and all training should be aimed at this. The athlete should NEVER be forced into a mould where she has to develop aspects of the game in which she has no natural inclination or capability. This is not only counterproductive but wastes time and energy best used elsewhere. This even applies if the athlete plays a game which will never succeed at the highest level. To move the athlete away from what she does best and into an area where she will only ever be mediocre will never ensure success.
Looking Forward with Women
If the plastic ball is introduced the importance of spin will diminish and speed will be prioritised. In any case because of the lesser spin in the women’s game speed will always be the crucial factor. Spin in the women’s game is used to create openings to win the point with drive or smash NOT to carry on spinning. The men win like this, with spin supported by power, the women don’t.
Why not? Basically because women lack the power and dynamic speed of movement and the further they move away from the table, the more noticeable this becomes. The men back off the table and use their speed of foot and upper body strength to feed power and spin into the ball. However even the men have complained, that with the bigger ball and no glue the stresses on the body are much greater. A number of the top men in Europe were injured as soon as glue was banned and they had to adapt their game. For women to play in this way requires strength and speed they don’t have.
In addition there are many more good blockers and counter-hitters in the women’s game which means that an off-the-table topspin game is tactically much less effective. Close-to-table players just play short/long or out to the angles and the topspin player cannot create either enough pace or spin to win points.
The back-from-table topspin player has never been really effective at world level in the women’s game and is less so with the bigger ball and no glue. If the European women want to play a strong topspin game from further back with the bigger 40mm ball which of course takes less spin, then it would appear logical that their chances of defeating the Asians become even more remote. They give their oriental counterparts more time to play and they give up the chance to control the over-the-table and short play and to gain advantage in this area.