Tanja Kajtna has a PhD in psychology and has worked in the area of Sport Psychology since she was in her last years of undergraduate study. Her bachelor and master thesis as well as her doctorate were in the field of Sport Psychology.

Her personal experience as a former swimmer and later as a coach help her in her active involvement in the psychological preparation of several top athletes in a number of sports – swimmers, athletes, tennis players and figure skaters. She also has experience in working with sailors, golfers, cyclists, skiers, and with disabled athletes, which resulted in Dr. Kajtna being in charge of several athletes at the Olympic Games in London 2012.

She has conducted numerous seminars and courses for Table Tennis coaches across Europe, was the key-note speaker at the ETTU Coaching Conference and has lectured at Hopes activities.

Dr. Kajtna believes that the right direction towards the top level in any sport is forming teams of coaches who are technical masters, and including expertise from other areas, including sport psychology, which is essential on the road to excellence.

Currently she is a professor at the Faculty of Sport at the University of Ljubljana, and a Professor at the Pedagogical faculty at the University of Maribor.

During this lecture/workshop, which was held during the ITTF Rough Diamonds Training Camp in Otočec, Slovenia in 2017,  she talks about the importance of fun and enjoyment in an athlete’s development.


Part 1

In Part 01:

  • she introduces herself and explains the main topic of the lecture, the importance of maintaining fun as a fundamental part of training to help a young player’s development (0:00-4:32)
  • the first exercise, solving mathematical equations (4:32-8:47)
  • the second exercise, coloring an image (8:47-12:26)
  • how important it is for a player to focus 100% on the task at hand to be successful, the role of competition & how to add enjoyable parts into everyday practice (12:26-16:38)
Part 2

In Part 02:

  • she stresses the importance of open communication between the coach and his athletes & how to build compromises (0:00-3:22)
  • the difference between 12 year old & 15+ year old athletes and how age influences the type of training sessions & what are the driving forces that motivate young table tennis players (3:22-5:41)
  • the danger of burnout for a coach, how fun helps with burnout (5:41-7:33)
  • if and when fun should ever become less important than achieving results in competitions (7:33-10:48)
  • how achieving results is a key element that motivates athletes to continue playing and improve, what is fun for a high performance athlete & what is and what isn’t a sacrifice for a professional athlete (10:48-17:57)
Part 3

In Part 03:

  • the first role play example of communication between a coach and an athlete (0:00-3:22)
  • analysis of the first role play example, how good communication strengthens a relationship between a coach and their athlete   (3:22-5:09)
  • explanation of 2 different types of communication techniques, active listening & “I” sentences by Thomas Gordon (5:09-10:30)
  • the second role play example of communication between a coach and an athlete  (10:30-13:20)
  • analysis of the second role play example , the difference in communication with a 12 and a 15+ year old athlete & how to reach a compromise  (13:20-18:21)
Part 4

In Part 04:

  • defines the term “compromise” and gives a video example (0:00-3:00)
  • explains how to make a compromise, what techniques to use to avoid arguments (3:00-4:43)
  • role play exercise – communication & how to use active listening and “I” sentences (4:43-6:51)
  • analysis of the exercise & how important good communication skills for a coach are (6:51-10:24)
  • the Q&A part of the lecture (10:24-14:54)