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Steen Kyst Hansen
Steen instructs coaches on training routines

ETTA Technical Manager in the North West
As part of the continuing support given to Table Tennis coaches throughout England, the ETTA Technical Manager, Steen Kyst Hansen delivered the annual North West coaches update seminar at Halton Table Tennis Centre on Saturday 6th November. The seminar was organised by Andrea Holt (North West Regional Development Officer) with a welcome from Karen Tonge the Halton Centre's Director and Chairperson.

The seminar, entitled "Always looking to the future 2004-2005", outlined targets for the years 2004-2012. This was to build on the recent successes at the European Youth Championships, through to the Commonwealth Games in 2006, the world Championships in 2007, Beijing Olympics in 2008 going right through to hopefully the London Olympics in 2012. Questions were taken from the floor after each topic was delivered. This provided an interesting and stimulating discussion between Steen and the assembled coaches.

A short presentation of the recent European Youth Championships was given by Jill Parker using her laptop and digital projector. This showed video footage of some of the team matches for both boys and girls junior players.
A slide on the relative progression between the last European Championship and this years for both Cadets and Juniors was shown.
Steen emphasised that although we are strong at Boys Cadet level, taking a silver medal at the Europeans, we still need to produce a steady stream of youngsters coming through to challenge the current players. We need 7 or 8 players of similar ability at both Cadet and Junior levels, boys and girls to stimulate competition for places in the teams.
Costs of training these youngsters are quite considerable with some players going to Beijing two or three times a year to the Chinese National Table Tennis Centre whilst others have attended other training events in Hungary and Sweden.

How do we make all this happen?
Steen outlined his ideas and where we, as coaches, come into the picture at grass roots level. We are all a team even though we are at the grass roots level and he is at the top with the England team. It takes about five years serious coaching and training to bring a youngster through to become a reasonable player, so coaching Juniors is a long term project.

After lunch we went to the tables to practice the shot training and routines to produce quality players. Steen outlined the role of the coach before and during the season at practice and at tournaments. Emphasis was made on the importance of footwork, movement, service, physical training and shot production.

Later discussion related to a typical week at a training camp outlining good practice, warm up, technical warm up, first exercise and match play. Key points in every training session were covered, this applies to all levels of players from internationals to grass roots players.

I went away from the day with plenty of ideas and enthusiasm and I made a new pal in Ken Richardson from Lancaster, my practice partner. He was telling me at lunch how he coaches four times a week in High schools around Lancaster and Morecambe dealing with 100-110 youngsters each week. The local league has now grown from two divisions to four. That's what you call commitment! He looked so fit and well and is obviously thriving on it.

John Langton