By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A new concept and it would appear from the immediate reaction that the initiative has broken new ground.
Earlier this year, the ITTF Education and Training organised a pilot programme entitled “Mentorship”; the opportunity was afforded for two coaches to work for five days with a specially selected expert, in addition to maintain contact on-line.
The mentors were experts in the guise of Dirk Wagner, who is based at Austria’s Werner Schlager Academy and Peter Karlsson who is located at Falkenberg in Sweden.
Kazakhstan’s Yevgeniy Timchenko and Thailand’s Parinya “Pin” Nonsagate were the respective coaches; Yevgeniy Timchenko attended the Werner Schlager Academy from Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd November; Parinya Nonsagate was present in Falkenberg from Wednesday 25th to Monday 30th November.
Peter Karlsson and Parinya Nonsagate focused on topics relating to a player’s road to excellence from cadet to youth stages; whilst Dirk Wagner and Yevgeniy Timchenko selected three specific topics.
Service receive both active and passive was one of the elements, the focus very much being on how to prevent the opponent responding with a strong first attack. Next on the list was how to gain a stable forehand top spin with preparation for major tournaments being the third element.
No doubt preparation with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games looming is very much uppermost in the mind.
“The aim is to offer an avenue for personal development for those already committed to coaching on full time basis and to enable access to the most prominent experts to facilitate transfer of knowledge”, explained Dejan Papic, Education and Training Co-ordinator, who is responsible for the initiative.
Flexibility is a key factor; the concept offers education that cannot be gained through the more tradition coach education programmes.
Now, the next step is to develop the initiative further by following the example of Yevgeniy Timchenko and Parinya Nonsagate, where coaches work on an individual basis; the second is the eight coaches involved with the Hopes Team which competes in the ITTF Cadet Challenge follow the procedure.
It is envisaged that regards to the Hopes coaches; they would attend a recognised ITTF Training Centre and work alongside a high level coach, having the previous month maintained contact on-line with the mentor.
On Sunday 14th August, the mentor accepts participation in programme and suggests the possible time for five days shadowing
One week later on Sunday 21st August, the dates and schedule are agreed by all parties, the mentor and coach make contact, the mentor designs a list of tasks.
“In short coaches receive a chance for new learning opportunities” explained Dejan Papic. “It is “learning by doing” and “learning by seeing”; it adds a new dimension.”
It is very early days to measure the success of the initiative; the ultimate test will be seen in the levels reached by players who have been assisted by coached involved in the programme.
However, to date there has been a positive response; it will no doubt continue in 2016.