The first action packed day of the 2013 ITTF Hopes week and challenge is over, with several interesting speakers lined up for the educational sessions and of course plenty of nervous energy in the WSA Hall generated by the sixty-one Hopes players from thirty-five countries attending with their supporters.
For the coaches, the well-oiled duo of Dejan PAPIC and the ITTF Education Director Polona Cehovin SUSIN served up an interesting package of quality speakers. First off the block was the CTTA teacher / coach / expert Li XIADONG who in his presentation pointed out the importance of a systematic and scientific approach to the sport of table tennis. No short cuts to success offered, instead Mr. Li said that desire and heart are important factors for the players in order to reach world class., as he put it “the player must love the game “He continued to entertain the audience with formulas related to the anticipation, speed, rotation and power elements and assessed the present top players in the world. “ It is clear he said that Zhang Jike has improved his power quite radically the last three years. This was one of the reason that he now dominated (another important top player attribute according to Mr. Li) Wang HAO in the world championships final in Paris.
Second in line was Dirk WAGNER – one of the head coaches working at the WSA? He talked in detail about the many demands and professional tasks that a European top coach is asked to complete in his daily work. Discussion broke out among the listeners who quickly concluded that the European system is a bit different – especially if you compare to the situation in Asia or specifically in China.
“There are so many things that are dumped on the coach today. We must master the fitness aspect, work on planning, and be the sport-psychologist if needed and many more things. Coaches of today – at least in Europe must multitask all the time and this is draining energy from the important work in the hall, with the players Dirk Wagner said.
The final speaker of the day was no other than the WSA Sport Director Werner SCHLAGER who offered some interesting insights from his long and successful career in international table tennis. Listening to the story of Werner you cannot let go of the thought of a rare bird learning to fly on his own – with the help of his father and elder brother. Amazing really that Werner up to the age of sixteen and seventeen hardly had played one single exercise. “ It all kicked off for real when I joined the army here in Austria, During a period of four years ; 1996 to 2000 I really practiced hard and learned to work and correct my deficiencies – one of them safety. I quickly realized that I had to improve that part in order to become a professional in this sport.
The world champion triumph in 2003– the last time we had a European winning a world title couldn’t be avoided on a day like this. “I was simply playing without fear and in a state of love as I had met up with my now lovely wife Bettina and arranged for her to be with me during the championships. That for sure helped me to relax and simply just enjoy the event. It was fantastic of course.”
Opposite of relaxed would be more like tensed and pressure. Things that any competitive table tennis player would do battle with on a regular basis. Also here Werner offered todays audience some tips; we always had a trick going my older brother and me; “ It was important to really take your time between the rallies at all times and too really cool down we used the cold towel trick. Before the match I had half of my towel dipped in cold water.” That was a great thing to use when the temperature reached the higher levels… It helped me to cool off and gather myself for sure Werner Schlager said