Terry DahlReport from the training prior to Fiji Open 2011

Invitations to the 2 1/2 days of training prior to the Fiji Open Table Tennis Championships were unfortunately sent out to overseas associations and players at a date a bit too close to the start because the training venue at NASA in Nadi was secured very late.

I had prepared a program for one group of players practising two times a day but when I learned when I arrived in Nadi that it would be 24 players taking part (included four national junior players from New Caledonia and one from Solomon Islands).
The venue had only six tables and it was quickly decided on the morning the training started that we had to divide them in two groups after playing quality. Group 1 should practise from 9-11am and Group 2 from 11am to 1 pm, and after lunch Group 1 should play from 2.30 to 4.30pm with Group 2 from 4.30 to 6.30pm. The problem with the 24 players turning up at the same time for the first session was solved by letting Group 2 do a self-evaluation form that I had made while Group 1 was practising - playing top of the table so that I (and the other coaches) could see the standard of the players. After a while the two groups swapped.
In my original plan I had a three hour session in the morning (9.30 to 12.30) and a two and a half hour session in the afternoon (3.00 to 5.30), feeling that the players would be more fit in the morning at that the heat would take it's toll in the afternoon. The change meant only two hour sessions but by holding the intensity up and having two even groups of players it might be suitable for players not used to long sessions.

I tried to follow the original program as close as I could by shortening in general information a bit and get the players to get into their exercises quick. All the players turned up to all the morning sessions and afternoon sessions in time (no "Fiji Time"!), which was very good and encouraging! Luckily we had no injuries during the training. Just two players were a bit sore the last day but with the intensive training we did this was to be expected, and even they completed their training in good mood. We did stretching when the practising days for the day was finished and we also had proper warming up before the sessions started. I had been afraid that the concrete floor should give their feet trouble, but no complaints (even if I guess a few had sore feet).

I had prepared all the exercises on and off the table and organised the training in a way most of the players were used to from Oceania-training like in Auckland last year. The assistant coaches were Wang Qi of Fiji (based in New Zealand), Yoshua Shing of Vanuatu (based in Fiji), Heimo Guttersberger of Fiji and Cathy Gauthier of France (based in New Caledonia). Plus Steve Reilly of Fiji the last day.
Thanks to all their help!

I had prepared a program with emphasis on footwork and attacking skills, knowing many of the Pacific players and what they needed most from the Global Junior Circuit and the Oceania/Hopes training in New Zealand last year (plus watching a bit of video on Youtube). The plan was to have a development day by day; Kind of stepping up from simple exercises they should know to more difficult exercises - and then to match-like ones. I also planned to have more multi-ball-practising in the afternoon, often with two players on one side - and also top-of-the table match-like exercises (especially to make it a bit fun when the players got a bit tired in the afternoon). Anthony Ho had agreed to my plan and even after dividing into two groups I decided to try to follow the plan, might be with a few modifications for the weaker group.

I must 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!
It became fast quite clear that footwork and balance was a general weakness among the majority of the Fijian players, and they also lacked a bit when it came to both forehand and backhand loop/topspin. Some of the weaker players also needed to learn a quite bit of the basics. Integrated into the training were two deaf players, but this worked fine since they brought a coach and their sign language teacher. The assistant coaches went from table to table to correct errors and helping out. They also did multi-ball feeding, and luckily some of the Fijian players were also used to feed so the multi-ball practising worked fine. I introduced two-player multi-ball, with two players working together on one side and a coach/player feeding - something it seemed that none of them had tried before. I have called this "China-multiball" just to separate it from regular multi-ball. It did not take too long time before the players understood the process and it was as valuable for them as I have experienced other places I have used it. 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 were 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 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 followed was very useful for the Pacific players. It kept them working hard and it seems that they enjoyed this kind of hard training (- especially the competition element to the top-of-table exercises), it kept them motivated.
The players needed to get their feet moving better and also to be more consistent in their attacks. Many of them need to bend their knees more and get their balance forwards. They should also be practising topspin/drive/loop more, both for forehand and backhand. They tend to hit the ball with a hard smash when the ball is not bouncing hight enough - and miss the table too much. Of course the players should also have the chance to play more overseas, they need tough competition and they need to see the good international players to learn from them.

All the players completed all the sessions, and it seemed that they were happy with the 2 ½ days of training - to learn and to prepare for Fiji Open. Myself I am happy with the way everything progressed and I hope that the assistant coaches feel the same.

Thank you to Anthony Ho and Fiji Table Tennis for letting me conduct the training!

Terry Dahl


Objectives; Prepare for Fiji Open, improve footwork and attack.

Day 1 Tuesday 6 December

09.30-09.40: Information: Program, goals, presentation players & coaches etc.
Objective first session: "Get into it", find rhythm.
09.40-10.00: Warm up, warm up at table.
10.00-10.30: Top of table matches, one serve each to "Stop!" Last man is your practising partner.
10.30-10.45: Fh, fh in middle to fh block. Two players 1. Regular.
10.45-11.00: Falconburg. Two players 3. Regular.
11.00-11.10: Short break.
11.10-11.25: Bh, fh in bh-corner to bh.
11.30-11.45: Envelope (Butterfly) Two players 4. Regular.
11.50-12.15: Top of table counter-hitting. Top-of-table 1.
12.15-12.30: Physical exercise: "Copy-cat". Two and two.

In the break: Please fill in your evaluation form.

3.00-3.10: Short warm up (shadow table tennis).
Info/objective: Footwork, do multi-ball.
3.15-3.30: Short explanations on footwork and loop/drive.
3.30-3.45: Fh-loop control on block, multi-ball.
3.45-4.00: Bh-loop control on push, multi-ball.
4.00-4.15: "China fh-loop and bh-loop" - on push. Multi-ball 17. Regular.
4.15-4.25: Short break
4.25-4.40: "China Falconburg" - on push. Multi-ball 19. Regular
4.40-5.00: Serves, explain and try.
5.00-5.15: Top of table; backspin serve to backhand, long push to bh, long bh-push to fh, fh-loop, free game. Top-of-table 4 Variation.
5.15-5.30: Stretching.

Day 2 Wednesday 7 December

09.30-09.40: Information: Objective session: Improve fh loop/drive.
09.40-10.00: Warm up, warm up at table.
10.00-10.15: Fh-loop/drive control on block.
10.15-10.30: Envelope/Butterfly (repetition). Two player 4. Regular.
10.45-11.00: "Fh and bh attack"- Two players 7. Irregular (to fh side).
11.00-11.10: Short break.
11.10-11.25: "All over the table" - Two players 8. Irregular.
11.30-11.45: "Smash on lob" - Two players 9. Irregular.
11.50-12.15: Top of table, backspin serve, long push all table, open, free game. T-o-t 9.
12.14-12.30: Physical exercises: Shadow footwork on signs.
3.00-3.10: Short warm up (shadow table tennis).
Info/objective: Footwork, China-multi-ball, serves.
3.15-3.30: Short explanations on balance and recovery.
3.30-3.45: "Max two" Multi-ball 10, one player. Irregular.
3.45-4.00: "China Falconburg" Multi-ball 19. (Two players, push) Regular.
4.00-4.15: "China short and long" Multi-ball 19. (Two players) Regular.
4.15-4.25: Short break
4.25-4.40: Serves.
4.40-5.00: Serves and returns.
5.00-5.15: Top of table; Short serve free, short return free, flick, free game. T-o-t 7
5.15-5.30: Stretching.

Day 3 Thursday 8 December

09.30-09.40: Information: Objective session - matchlike, plus over-the-table backhand loop (rollover).
09.40-10.00: Warm up, warm up at table.
10.00-10.15: Fh-loop against fh-loop. Explain and try.
10.15-10.30: "Match loop on loop" - Two players 12. Regular.
10.45-11.00: "Match loop on loop" one more time but as top of table
11.00-11.10: Short break.
11.10-11.25: Over the table backhand loop. Explain and try.
11.30-11.45: Top of the table, on sets to 7 points.
11.50-12.15: Top of table, on sets to 11 points.
12.14-12.30: Stretching. (Plus awards?)

(The above was the original plan/schedule - it was adjusted according to what is written in the report.)

Click on the links to see/download:
- The invitation to the training
- The self-evaluation form
- Two players - page 1
- Two players - page 2
- Two players - page 3
- Multi-ball - page 1
- Multi-ball - page 2
- Multi-ball - page 3
- Multi-ball - page 4
- Multi-ball - page 5
- Top-of-the-table - page 1
- Top-of-the-table - page 2
- Stretching

A video example (Youtube) on two-player multi-ball:
- Norwegian players in China

Videos shown during the training:
- Chinese Footwork Part 1
- Chinese Footwork Part 2