FIJI 8-10 JANUARY 2013

Report from the training prior to the delayed
Fiji Open 2012

Dates: 8-10 January 2013
Venue: FsM Gymnasium, Suva
Head Coach: Terry Dahl

Because Fiji Table Tennis had problems finding a venue for the Fiji Open Championships 2012 the event was moved from December 2012 to the 11-13 January 2013. The 2 ½ days international training camp, a follow up from last years successful training, was moved according - to 8-10 January 2013. The problems in securing a venue also meant that information to overseas associations was sent out late, so only Nauru sent a team of two players. In addition to these and the Fiji players it was one player from Kiribati and one player from Australia (my son).

The venue, the former national gymnasium in the capital Suva, was very good. No aircon but proper wooden floor and sufficient lighting and room for enough tables. Initially it was set up 10 tables, including two show courts with Taraflex red flooring, but we after hearing that we had admission to the venue shorter time than we believed the players was put in only one group and we got in more tables.
We had a very varied group of players, from national senior representatives to very young beginners - 26 in all. Luckily I had several coaches/parents helping out with the beginners so this was not a problem. Integrated into the training were three deaf players, but this worked fine. The participants were all practising together - from 9-12 and 2-5 pm. It was originally meant to be two groups practising at separate times so I had to change the coaching plans a bit but this worked fine. We still divided the players in two groups at the tables with Group A being the better players and Group B being the beginners. It was also no problem to swap the players between the groups if the abilities and efforts was different to what we saw when we divided the group during the first session.

As the last year I was pleased to notice that the players turned up to the morning sessions and afternoon sessions in time (not much "Fiji Time"!). As last year the player also showed very good attitude, putting in proper effort at the tables, no relaxed manners or slacking down - very encouraging, with the intensive training we did! We had no injuries during the training. We had proper warming up before each session and also stretching when the practising for the day was finished. We did a bit of physical exercise at the end of the two first days but only quite easy and fun exercises.
At the end of the training camp most of the players attended a pool recovery session at the Aquatic Centre.

Anthony Ho and I had decided that we should follow the same training program that I had prepared last year, just with minor changes. The training exercises at the tables were the way that most of the best players were used to from Oceania-training. The assistant coaches were Shri Sharma, Henry Yee, Narendra Lal, Tomasi Taberanibou, Choi Freddy and Olav Dahl. Thanks to all their help!

The program had emphasis on footwork and attacking skills like last year, and this year I wanted the better player to work even harder with their topspins/lops and to get them to bend their knees and balance their bodies even better - in addition to always move (with small steps). The plan, like last year, was also to have a development day by day; stepping up from simple exercises to more difficult exercises - and then to more match-like ones. Multi-ball-practising in the afternoon (sometimes with two players on one side) and top-table match-like exercises gave good results last year, so I did not change anything here. It is always good to make it a bit more fun when the players get a bit tired in the hot afternoon! For the beginners I had to make sure that they did not start at a difficult level and that they had fun. So I introduced the fun games with hitting cups standing on the tables, - and did this in different ways to practise strokes and serves. With the help of the assistant coaches/parents this worked very well.

I must again say I am very happy with the players. They all behaved very well and they all did their best during the training. It was a big difference in the level between the weakest players and the national players but they all tried to improve - and I am quite sure they all did! Footwork and balance was still a general weakness among the majority of the Fijian players, they tend to forget to bend their knees properly. They also still lacked quite a bit when it came to both forehand and backhand loop/topspin. It was a pity that not more international players, especially from the Pacific countries, did not attend - and also that two Fiji national junior players from the Western side were missing. The two Nauruan players did very well; Oxyna Gobure showed talent and willingness to learn and I feel she can be a very good Oceania/Pacific player. The young Fijian national boys and girls also showed talent - and I hope that they will be looked properly after!

The assistant coaches were mostly helping out with the beginners and this worked fine. We also this year did a lot of multiball, and this again worked fine (for both groups). Again the exercise with two players working together on one side and a coach/player feeding was valuable; the players are forced to use their feet and work hard - and it is also fun at the same time! Also using top-of-the-table system but based on exercises was successful. They had to follow certain simple exercises while they played for points. I always had them start playing with one serve each and play until I shouted stop, but often ended the sessions letting them play up to five or seven points.
I also once more let the assistant coaches play a bit with the better players - and the last day they all joined in the lengthy free top-of-the-table we had for most of the session.
I feel that the program that we have been following two years in a row is very useful for the Pacific players. It kept them working hard and it seems that they enjoyed this kind of training - especially the competition-element to the top-table exercises kept them motivated.
The players still need to get their feet moving better and still to be more consistent in their attacks - and many of them still need to bend their knees more and get their balance forwards (some had improved). They should also be practising topspin/drive/loop more, both for forehand and backhand. They still tend to hit the ball with a hard smash when the ball is not bouncing hight enough - and thus miss the table too much. Of course the players should play more overseas, they need tough competition and they need to see the good international players to learn from them. The payers/coaches were aware of this and I advised them at least to look as much as possible at international table tennis on Youtube on the internet if they had the chance.

Thanks to Fiji Table Tennis for letting me conduct the training!

Terry Dahl

The daily program with links to the exercises
The invitation to the camp

In the newspapers from the camp and Fiji Open;
Table tennis finetunes skills
Table tennis deal for locals
New Fiji table tennis champion to be crowned
Young Dahl aims high
Upset at Fiji Open
Wing defies odds
Dahl, Gobure impress at Fiji Open table tennis
Clean sweep
Seru targets pro career

Sukamanu enjoys table tennis

Table tennis wants international coach, needs funding