23 Aug 2019

Organised under the umbrella of ITTF Continental Development in association with the ETTU, the National Association's Assistance Programme is an initiative to support those national associations that are aiming to improve their position within the European continent.

Recently, as part of the concept, Hungary’s Ferenc Karsai visited three European national associations; the aim to improve playing and coaching standards through training camps and coaching seminars.

by Dora Jeler, High Performance and Development Operations Manager

The first stop was Haapsalu in Estonia for a coaching seminar held from Sunday 23rd to Tuesday 25th June; a total of 27 students from Estonia and Latvia attended of whom 10 were women.

Significantly, the itinerary included a variety of topics and exercises. Particular focus was placed on footwork, multi-ball training and general table tennis coaching; this was complemented by lessons on techniques and tactical changes in modern table tennis, in addition to the preparation of a training plan.

Exchange ideas

All attendees actively participated in the exercises and were given the opportunity to share feedback and exchange best practices by providing their own examples; this proved especially useful to students preparing to renew their coaching licences. Most certainly the initiative was appreciated by Margit Tamm, Secretary General of the Estonian Table Tennis Association.

“The coaches gave very positive feedback on the activity. Mr Ferenc Karsai is an experienced coach and as a lecturer a very interesting person. He always explained why he chose a specific example before an exercise; his seminar was easy to follow.” Margit Tamm

Professional Development

Well received in Estonia, the next stop was Jersey for a training camp and coaching seminar. Staged from Monday 22nd to Wednesday 24th July the visit provided Jersey’s coaches with an excellent opportunity for professional development.

Ready for action under the watchful eye of Ferenc Karsai (Photo: courtesy of Ferenc Karsai)


Three girls and seven boys aged 11 to 17 years old participated in the three day training camp. Three local coaches assisted Ferenc Karsai during the six training sessions. The group practised a total of 22 exercise routines, starting with regular exercises and then moving into regular and irregular exercises.

Each day the players were also given the opportunity to receive individual technical assistance from Ferenc Karsai during multi-ball training, at the same time the local coaches being delegated the task of overseeing the remaining members of the group. The final day finished with a team match involving Jersey ‘A’ versus Jersey ‘B’.

Ferenc Karsai (centre) with coaches and officials in Jersey (Photo: courtesy of Ferenc Karsai)


The evening sessions were dedicated to coach education, focusing on multi-ball, practice routines and footwork. Ferenc Karsai demonstrated approximately 20 different routines followed by 25 feeding exercises to improve players’ footwork. Notably, Paul Routier MBE, President of the Jersey Table Tennis Association, attended the evening sessions.

Notable assistant coach

Proceedings concluded in Jersey, the next stop was Iceland; a similar training camp and coaching seminar being held from Friday 2nd to Wednesday 7th August. Once again, Ferenc Karsai’s delivery was insightful and interesting, keeping all the participants actively involved.

Impressive numbers attended in Iceland (Photo: courtesy of Ferenc Karsai)


Throughout, he was assisted by Bjarni Borgeir Bjarnason, who has extensive coaching experience as the former national coach and head coach of HK table tennis club in Iceland. Overall 18 boys and 11 girls attended the training camp. Notably, the camp was well attended by Icelandic coaches who took the opportunity to observe and learn.

All participants were ready for the hard work expected during the nine training sessions and did their absolute best during the varied exercises. Multi-ball, service and return plus interval training, along with sessions focusing on technical and tactical exercises comprised the itinerary. All were tired but very satisfied.


Additionally, coaching seminars were conducted over two evenings in the training hall, three male members of the Icelandic national team attending. Proceedings commenced with a discussion on the evolution of table tennis from 1950 to the present day, special attention being paid to the changes in recent years after the introduction of the plastic ball.

Coaches and officials in Iceland with (fifth from right) Ferenc Karsai (Photo: courtesy of Ferenc Karsai)


Furthermore, Ferenc Karsai highlighted the importance of teamwork and how to approach and work with individual players. He dedicated time to discussion on the importance of multi-ball training, where participants learned how to use techniques for the advancement of players of any level.

In total, the coaching seminar was attended by eight men and four women.

For European NAs interested in applying for support under this program, please click here to apply. Applications close on 9 September 2019.

High Performance and Development Coaching Ferenc Karsai