Most competitive table tennis players in England are aged between 10-18 and 40-70 years of age. We have a big gap from 18-40, arguably the most crucial time in any sport, what has happened and what can be done?
The English table tennis system lets the players down! There is structured table tennis coaching for cadets and juniors in almost every region and most table tennis club across the nation. Very rarely do we see or have an adult coaching session! When I played in France every evening/night there was a coach leading a coaching session for adults. I would often go to other local clubs and they too would run group adult coaching. In the whole of England I am yet to physically see a week by week (daily basis) adult coaching session run by a coach/coaches!
How can we make a change for the better and help cater for all age groups?
Firstly, if countries like Belgium, Germany, Poland, France etc. can do it then so can we! All we truly need is to have is greater support from the governing body helping clubs especially if the clubs are producing a fleet of good players. Those players need to be supported and nurtured and not the club’s that are in the middle of nowhere and have no real infrastructure or positive future. I don’t mean to be critical but I often see clubs that have been granted thousands to hundreds of thousands and frankly, it’s a waste of money. Further-more these clubs are supported and helped by the governing body and for what?
I believe if someone is helping themselves, it’s because they want more and they want success, those are the people and clubs we should give an extra helping hand. Some may argue with me here but I often tell my players, the more you give (to yourself as a player) the more I’ll give you. Some players may feel Eli has his favourites nothing could be further from the truth. I was desperate to be coached as a youngster and often saw other players with the less, the same or more talent than me get more than me regardless of commitment. I would be the first in the hall and last to leave, there was favouritism and as a long-term investment it was clearly poor, out of the many kids alongside me I’m 1 of possibly 5 who has remained in the sport. Today regardless of age level, if I see a player with hunger in his/her eyes, I will do my utmost to give them my attention, all they must do is impart continuous input. I’m sure most of you have heard of the saying in business, input versus output, I genuinely believe in that philosophy.
I aim to change the structure of English Table Tennis over the next few decades for the greater good and I need each one of you to help by doing your part in your table tennis clubs.
Written by Eli Baraty
eBatt (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis) Coach Me Table Tennis by Eli Baraty
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