Robert Zorec is a Professor of Pathophysiology at the University of Ljubljana, Medical Faculty, a Full Member of Academia Europaea (London) and the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, as well as a past member of the Committee for Advanced Medical Products at the European Medicine’s Agency (London). He received his PhD from the University of Ljubljana in 1986.

His Postdoctoral experience was at Cambridge in Dr W T Mason’s laboratory. His work was and is supported by different grants from the European Union and individual countries (the British Council and The Wellcome Trust Fellowships, Fulbright Scholarship, Research Council of Slovenia, Nuffield Foundation, EduGLIA, NIH).

During this interview he explains how the brain works, the difference between white and grey matter, how motivation accelerates the learning of new motoric and cognitive tasks and how it all relates to table tennis.


Part 1

  • About Learning in general, how repetition plays a big part, the difference between white and grey matter in the brain (0:003:49)
  • How much repetition is needed to maintain an already learned motoric or cognitive skill, why motivation is so important for effective training (3:496:30)
  • How the player has to reset, has to “be clean” to be able to focus on the upcoming task & the coach as the guide during the learning process (6:307:53)
  • What is a more successful way of learning ? Ground up or top down (7:539:15)
  • What book he would suggest for table tennis coaches to read (9:1510:21)
Part 2

In Part 2:

  • Formal and Informal education, how important it is for children’s development & what is the ideal age for a child to start playing table tennis (0:00-2:30)
  • How a coach needs to treat extraordinarily talented players, adapt the training regime to stimulate their experimentation needs & how formal education can help or constrain talented athletes (2:30-5:20)
  • Are talented players more process oriented or results oriented (5:20-7:10)
  • Misconceptions about the athletes attention spans and what is the ideal duration for a single exercise during a training session (7:10-8:43)
  • How can a coach correct a pattern of behavior, the repeated mistakes that the player is making & difficulties with trying to affect the subconscious mind (8:43-10:40)
Part 3

In Part 3:

  • Different approaches to training table tennis; repetition, perfecting each skill/stroke, learning “the game itself”, the best time to introduce the player to competition, the ultimate goal of playing table tennis (0:003:11)
  • Dealing with failure, how it can help during the training process, different ways a coach can help their player, approaching each athlete individually & the noble task of being a coach (3:116:32)
  • Being a coach is a mission, similar to a teacher, doctor, priest… (6:328:48)