Produce the Champion

November 2019 Rowden

Many coaches and other experts involved in sport think that you must keep moving with the times and that only current science and technology have anything to offer.

Wrong, we have a number of lessons to learn from the past and from the great players of yesteryear! Do you think that Richard Bergman, who won so many matches from a losing position, would lose his incredible stubborness and fighting spirit were he playing today? Would the great J. O. Waldner become a total failure in the modern era? Even the top Chinese constantly made the comment that you could never plan against him, as you never knew what he would do. In other words he had the innovative game, in advance of his times, which would in fact have suited the table tennis of today!
Another aspect which many coaches overlook is that modern sport is not just a matter of focussing primarily on the technical and physical areas. Producing a champion is a matter of developing the whole person in the right way for him/her and in this area modern research can be very useful. We now have many more experts in all areas of human development, the mental side, nutrition and the finer aspects of the physical scene.
So just what aspects does the coach need to look at and to research when developing his/her player or indeed taking on a new player? We don't even start with anything to do with table tennis:
1) Eye dominance: look at the latest research on left eye dominant left-handers and players who are 'cross'. Such players have a mental and reaction advantage.
2) Nasal breathing: look at the values of nitric oxide intake with this. Research the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. who run at times hundreds of kilometres in a day, without ever opening their mouths. Their heart-rate holds at a steady 130 beats a minute.
3) Gut bacteria: the gut strongly influences the brain and its bacteria affect mood and brain state. Research the use of oregano oil to destroy all bacteria good and bad and the way to restock using pre-and probiotics.
4) Obtain balance in the autonomic nervous system: stress can be beneficial or negative if we cannot control and adapt. We must attain the ‘flow’ state between the challenge level and the skill/ability level. Research this.
Only then do we need to examine what we should look at regarding the modern game of table tennis with the plastic ball:
• Speed: this is the single most important aspect with the plastic. Not only your own quickness in all aspects, including thought and reactions, but the ability to cope with the opponent's speed and to vary your own, using slower and faster balls. Agility is a crucial component of speed.
• Movement patterns: most important that you have the right and most economical patterns for your particular style of play,
• Change: the most vital tactical component in the modern game, whether change of placement, length, pace, spin, direction, aiming wide, or at the crossover. using angles or straight balls.
• Adaptability: this is crucial and is more mental than anything else, the awareness that being totally unpredictable is the way forward in modern table tennis. Have alternatives in all you do.
• Your game: know how you play best and how you will develop, play the right game for you.
• Belief: stay calm and keep your heart rate normal. Get in the flow, involved with the activity for its own sake. Every action, stroke and thought, follows on from the previous one.
• Physical state: be well trained enough to perform your game, as you want to play and develop.
• Forward progress: never stagnate, keep looking for new things in your game, to do the usual things differently and to always try to develop and improve. No limits!