Ulf Carlsson is a world renowned table tennis coach. As Sweden’s National Coach, his most recent success is leading the Sweden’s Men’s Team to the Bronze Medal at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Halmstad.

His presence in table tennis has been felt for 40 years. He started as a player and from 1979 to 1989 competed at all six World Championships, and between 1980 to 1988 at all European Championships. His best results are winning gold in 1985 at the World Championships and silver in 1986 at the European Championships in doubles together with Mikael Appelgren.

As part of the Swedish National Team, all throughout the ’80s he won numerous awards: most notable winning the European League in 1986 and the silver medal at the 1987 World Table Tennis Championships. He was 4th in 1986 and 6th in 1987 at the Europe Top-12.

From 1992 he coached the Swedish Women’s National Team and in 1996 he succeeded Sören Ahlén as the Head Coach of the Swedish Men’s National Team with which he won the 2000 World Team Table Tennis Championships, the last time a country other than China has won the Men’s title.

During this fascinating interview he gave for ITTF Education, he talks in depth about what is the best way to manage a table tennis group… about his methods, ideas and approach; how he adapts them to each and every player; what makes a cohesive team and much more.



Part 3

In Part 3:

– He explains how he adjusts his emotional reactions depending on what type of player he is coaching, how he likes a “loud bench” & why it is important to have the entire team highly motivated (0:003:57)

– If there is a difference between coaching doubles and singles, what makes a good doubles pair & whether a coach is less important when coaching doubles (3:576:11)

– Which team he enjoyed coaching the most & how much a coach needs to be aware of their own personality influencing the group (6:118:11)

– What was the hardest aspect of transitioning from a player to a coach & how he is a “natural leader” (8:1110:28)

– How to get the table tennis group relaxed & how he is not afraid of doing “the dirty work” to help players focus on their job (10:2811:35)

– The different positive aspects of working individually or with a group, as a single coach or with a group of coaches focused on the same group (11:3513:41)

– How it is important to look at the best and try to adapt and emulate their methods to bring your group to a higher level & how the game has developed over the last 30 years – difference between then and now (13:4115:38)

Part 2

In Part 2:

– Differences between working with boys or girls teams for a coach. (0:003:09)

– How important it is for coaches to be able to motivate and inspire their team, and the importance of locker-room inspirational speeches (3:094:56)

– How a coach has to be a good role model for the group and the importance of mutual respect between the players and the coach (4:568:10)

– What he means when he talks about “progressive thinking”, the idea of continuous development for a player throughout their career (8:1011:33)

– The importance of joy for a long and successful career & how to combine joy with hard work (11:3314:26)

– Describes himself in 3 words (14:2615:39)

Part 1

In Part 1:

– The importance of learning how to be part of a team from a young age, and how the team needs to be focused on the same goals, to have the same goals & about the 2000 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (0:003:30)

– The beginnings of his work with the senior men’s team, the problem for a coach of being too close to their players. About team cohesion, how to achieve team unity, to act as one & how to avoid common mistakes when trying to fix problems that unavoidably crop up in the group (3:307:27)

– The importance of different players’ personalities, temperaments in the group and how to find the best mix & if he allows a player to develop into a leader of the group, similar to a team captain in other sports (7:279:50)

– How he manages and ensures that the loud, demanding, strong or leader type personalities do not overwhelm the other players, and create a misbalance in the group. How to keep the group in balance (9:5012:20)

– Bringing the group together, managing the group, How to get the players to focus on the same goals & communication, positive reinforcement, motivation… (12:2014:13)

– How he has always been a “team player” all throughout his career from when he was a player up untill now as a coach, how he has always enjoyed being part of a team, winning with a team almost a better experience then winning alone & about the influence of Stellan Bengtsson on him (14:1316:00)