Euro master shares ping pong tips

The Cayman Islands nabbed fresh insight into the sport of table tennis.

The Cayman Islands Table Tennis Association hosted a week-long, 30-hour clinic at the University College of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall last week. It featured Georg Silberschmidt from Switzerland and served as a International Table Tennis Federation Level 1 Coaching Course.

Silberschmidt brought with him over 30 years of experience and has been coaching professionally with the German and Swiss national teams. He is presently the technical director of the Swiss national teams and is an established expert in global training and development programmes.

The coaching course consisted of four different parts. The first half-day workshop concentrated more on motor skills development, basic principles of coaching and earning the “Community Leader Certificate.” The second half-day workshop includes more table tennis specific skills to teach young children and beginners to earn the “Teacher’s Certificate.”

To get the “Club Coach Certificate” required a total of 12 hours of coach training, which would allow teaching children and more advanced players the basic strokes in table tennis. After the full 30 hours, one learns special methods such as the “many balls” method, more advanced strokes, footwork and even how to organize competitions.

From there, the full course included a one-day workshop on coaching players with disabilities, such as playing in a wheelchair. In order to be fully certified by the table tennis federation, one needs to also complete 30 hours of practical coaching.

The participation has exceeded the organizers’ expectations and over 20 people have already completed at least the Club Coach level. At least another 10 participants are expected to complete the full 30-hour course.

Having 10 new coaches to complete the course work will enable the Cayman association to start new programmes later in the autumn. There will be coaching available during the practice sessions, which will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays at the John Gray Campus Hall starting at 7pm and on Saturdays at the UCCI hall at 5pm.

There are also activities planned for after-school clubs and at community centres. The details will be announced in September. Other items on the association’s agenda will include a table tennis league and national championship by the end of the year. Then a national team will target participating in regional activities, Caribbean championships, Commonwealth Games and eventually, the world championships.

The Cayman association wants to increase table tennis’ impact here, as it is the world’s biggest individual sport and one of the 35 Olympic sports. The global governing body presently has 217 member organizations, with Cayman being a member since 2008.

Success is based on training, which requires competent coaches. The Cayman association recently launched a development programme to attract more members. Table tennis can easily be adapted to suit player skill levels and physical abilities. It can also be played either individually or in teams that usually consist of three players.

The Cayman association believes it is a sport that can bring a nation together. In earlier days China and the US used “Ping Pong Diplomacy” and in more modern times even South and North Korea have played friendly matches. It is also an excellent activity for the youth to keep them away from harmful activities and streets. As the table tennis federation puts it, “Do Ping – not doping.”