Women Asian Superiority

Ian Marshall (2004)

During December 2003, at the World Junior Championships, China and Japan were in the girls’ Team Finals and China in the last 4 places in the girls’ singles.

Hui Jun, captain of the Hong Kong’s women’s team, commented as follows – ‘In Asian countries we have a better training system and a more advanced training system. We place a greater emphasis on developing good technique early in a player’s career, it’s like building a pyramid.’

‘We concentrate much more on the high level players. Also we have specific periods in the calendar that we devote specifically to training and other times where we concentrate on competition.’ In Asia the training schedule is given a high priority when determining the calendar, in other parts of the world it has to often fit around what is at best a chaotic schedule of matches and tournaments.

European players are strong when topspinning but Asian players are stronger when playing over the table – also they have better touch and feel in returning service and are aggressive on the serve and third ball. Countries like China organize their National League to have time for training and preparation for major tournaments – this is a definite advantage. They prepare better and bring a larger number of support people with them to take videos etc. of the opponents. Their approach is thorough and completely professional at all times. Often top coaches in Europe are hampered in their work by the domestic calendar.

The problem in Europe is that in many instances the emphasis is on accruing ranking points and in competing in as many events as possible to achieve this goal. The end result is that in the later teenage years too many players retire from the sport, their technique not good enough to enable them to progress further and they fall victims of a congested calendar that affords minimal time for training and development. Competing with Asia will always be tough but early emphasis on good technique, professional training methods and radical changes to the calendar would certainly be steps in narrowing the gap.

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