World Class Fun
It usually takes about 10-20 years for an athlete to reach a world class level. Most kids get burned out after 2-3 years and never reach their peak potential. If you want your child or your student to become the best, then focus on having fun. If they enjoy the sport, if they are excited to play, then they will want to focus, want to work hard, want to put in extra training hours, and want to compete in tournaments. Instead of forcing your five-year-old to be the best in the country, focus on having fun. If your child enjoys the sport, gets the right coaching, trains regularly, and works from age 5 to 25, for sure your child has a chance at becoming a world class player.
Here in the United States we often want everything IMMEDIATELY! We want extremely fast internet because we don’t have the patience to wait 10 seconds, we want to get through the Wendy’s drive through in 2 min because we don’t have 5 min to spare, we want our amazon package to arrive the same day because we can’t wait until tomorrow for our new toy. This mindset is bad as it relates to teaching your young child to play… Really really bad. Instead of yelling and screaming because he can’t perfect the forehand loop in 1 day, you should take a long-term approach.
With the right approach from both the players and coaches, serious training can be fun. Here are some serious things that can be turned into fun for young kids and older kids too!
1. Implement doubles! Table tennis is often a lonely sport with 1 player out there battling another player. Implementing a team spirit makes is fun and interactive, especially for young kids! With doubles, you can still practice footwork, serve, return, short game, counterlooping etc… Some of my Japanese friends have said that they typically practice 1-2 hours of doubles daily, it obviously improves their doubles ability but ALSO improves their singles play as well.
2. Keep the drills short. With a short attention span, kids often get bored of 1 drill. Instead of doing 15 min drills, consider 5 min drills.
3. Change training partners. Kids love making friends, and changing partners is a good way of letting them interact with the whole group, and not isolate certain groups.
4. Have a goal for each drill, this goal with vary from player to player. Verbally express the goal before the drill begins, through the drill, and work toward success.
5. Give recognition! TT kids need to be recognized even for small successes – hitting 10 forehands in a row, winning their first match, earning a 4th place trophy in the u500 division, etc… Praise and recognition goes a long way! Consider having an awards ceremony with tt players, friends, and family attending!