June 12, 2014

Is Your Club Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

Suppose a beginner comes to your club, and wants to learn how to play properly. Does your club have a class for him? Or coaches to work with him? Or is he told to call winners somewhere, he gets killed, and you never see him again?

Suppose a beginner comes to your club, and wants to play others his level. Does your club have a league for all levels, so you can let him know when it's league night, where he can play others his own level? Or is he told to call winners somewhere, he gets killed, and you never see him again?

Suppose a mom comes to your club with two kids, and wants them to learn how to play and to play with others their age. Does your club have a junior program you can put them in? Or is she told her kids should call winners somewhere, they get killed, and you never see them again?

Suppose a beginner comes to your club, and wants to get killed by others. You tell him to call winners somewhere, he gets killed, and he's happy. 

The first three above are the most common new players that come into clubs. Is your club equipped to meet their needs? Does your club have coaches, classes, leagues, and junior programs? Or does it rely on the fourth type? (And we wonder why there are so many crazy people in our sport.) Unfortunately, most clubs rely on the fourth type of player when it comes to getting new players. They probably survive as a club because of a steady influx of experienced players, either from other clubs, or more likely from overseas, where clubs address the needs of the first three types above.

A sport can't take off unless it finds a way to bring in new players. Successful sports like [long list here] learned this long ago, as did table tennis in Europe and Asia - but not in the USA. Is there any doubt as to why table tennis in this country gets so few new players? Most clubs simply aren't equipped to deal with new players, instead relying on experienced players developed by others, or on those crazy types who get killed but keep coming back. 

So . . . is your club equipped to deal with new players? Or does it rely on other clubs and other countries to do this for them? If so, why not become part of the solution? 

Road to Nanjing Training Camp - Shanghai

Here's the video (6:54). This is a must watch. USA players Lily Zhang, Krish Avvari, and Kanak Jha, and Coach Lily Yip are all in it, along with top junior players from all over the world. Coaches include Jorgen Persson, and current or Chinese stars Wang Liqin, Liu Guozheng, Li Xiaodong, and Yan Sen.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Twenty down, 80 to go!

  • Day 81: Interview with Adham Sharara: Growing Pains

These articles are also linked from a special ITTF page. Strangely, each of the stories there is prominently listed at the top as "By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor." Ian puts in an intro statement for each of the stories, but Sheri writes them (I verified this yesterday), but that's buried in the text. I don't like this.

Remembering Peter Cua

Here's the article.

Spectacular Point in the Champions League

Here's the video (21 sec), between Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Wang Jian Jun.

Unbreakable 3D printed Ping Pong Ball

Here's the story!

Send us your own coaching news!

Jerry, I agree with you, and in my club at Watertown MA, we only have kids coaching classes on Saturday's and that's all my senior coach do coaches during the week but has no proper program for the beginner's and intermidiate level players. I'm keep forcing him for the little league for kids, he agreed and talked about it but never implemented.  And we also don't run the tournament very often which is not good for a club which has been in the city for almost more than 20 years.  So I don't know how to push him I've tried so many times but all in vain.  By the way I really appreciate your time and effort for the daily blog you put it in every day it's not an easy task for a busy man like you.  I'm addicted to your blog now and usually read almost every day....thanks...Aabid

Our club has a complementary problem -- new players get conflicting advice from 4 or 5 people. I think a lot of newcomers want at least one friendly, low-pressure session to size up the club and find their games before everyone tries to change it. A warm greeting, compliments on whatever quality of their game is best, and a mention of who has the most ability/willingness to give advice and practice go a long way. Then kill them.

In reply to by dhill

Ideally, get the new player into a coaching program or private coaching, where he'll get consistent advice. There are more than one way of doing things, but in general, even well-meaning club members will, as you point out, just confuse the player. If I show a new player to established coaches, they'll generally be close in their recommendations. (When they disagree, it's mostly whether to focus on basics or move to more advanced techniques, whether they should go to advanced sponges, etc., and less often on technique.) Do the same with average club members, and the advice will be all over the map. 

Small clubs often cannot accommodate leagues for all levels - simply because such a club is open only 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours at a time. Not to mention it has only 4-5 tables etc. Clubs like that are common and while they can usually find someone for you to play with even if you are a beginner or a low-level player, having a junior program or league nights is usually not an option.

In reply to by JimT

That is the usual argument. But if a club has limited playing times and tables, that's the BEST argument for a league, where you can accommodate more players on fewer tables. Players not only are actively playing, they are actively cheering for their team. Instead of two players on a table, you can have two three-person teams playing each other, and so six on a table. But I understand the difficulty of selling this idea to established clubs, which are used to doing things their way. That's why growth in our sport is more depenant on new clubs that welcome leagues, as well as coaching and junior programs (which bring in new players and help keep established ones, as do leagues).