Over the weekend, the 2019 ITTF World Cadet Challenge kicked off in Wladyslawowo, Poland. In the competition, teams representing their respective continents compete against each other and in addition to these continental teams, the host team from Poland and a representation of the Hopes Team compete in the Challenge event.
Before the teams began their campaigns on Saturday, the players practiced under the expert guidance of one of Poland’s table tennis legends, Leszek Kucharski. Continental teams rotated practice with each other in the spirit of solidarity for three days. The practical element was complemented by two educational sessions, attended by both coaches and players.
The coach development expert Jerzy Grycan spoke about “Tactical analysis of top ranked players and its implications for educating players and coaches in table tennis”. Mr. Grycan is a former national team coach of Poland and Australia, and runs a company which specializes in education of coaches with a particular strength in player and match analysis.
Mr. Grycan introduced his audience to winning tactics and tools of top ranked players that set them apart from the others. His points were underlined by outtakes from matches that showed how these players were able to win points in specific situations.
With his broad knowledge on and off the table the Polish expert captured the interest and curiosity of the entire room. One aspect crystalized as his main takeaway: different styles in the same environment can make the players better champions for the future.
The course was well received and praised by the coaches present, with its relevance and usefulness endorsed by the largest group of coaches from the ITTF Hopes Team:
“As a team we found the analytical breakdown of matches and presentation of statistical information to be very interesting. Notably this is a process which is frequently overlooked by coaches and national teams in table tennis, especially with this level of detail and focus. The combination of presented data and visual video examples was extremely useful and we all take away some insightful thoughts to use in our future coaching careers.” ITTF Hopes Team
The second educational session was conducted by ITTF High Performance Elite Coach Massimo Costantini, who spoke about “The role of education in the training process”. He first explained the definitions of education, learning and training, before continuing to assess the purpose of this particular training.
Following on from this, he drew the connection between education and training, which he saw as being closely connected. Players were encouraged to participate in the session by drawing the connections themselves and taking into their personal experiences.
“I believe the process of of being educated, learning and training has to be a mixture of enjoyment, involvement and thinking. To convey this was my goal for the lecture.” Massimo Constantini
Inspired by the words of the experts, players and coaches finally kicked off the team competitions. In the end, Team Europe emerged victorious in the Girls’ competition, while Team Asia came out on top in the Boys’ event. Sensationally for ITTF, Team Hopes claimed the silver medal in both events!
After an intense two days, the organizers invited all participants on a tour of Gdansk’s old town during Monday’s cultural day. Led by a tour guide who elaborated on the city’s rich history, participants were invited to explore the famous Long Lane and Long Market in the old part of town, before venturing towards the docks to hear about Gdansk’s maritime trading history.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to the organizers for arranging this fantastic tour. Later that day, the Mixed Doubles draw took place, where players found out who they would be partnered with during the World Cadet Challenge’s Mixed Doubles competition.
The field is set for the Singles and Doubles events!