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Free Table Tennis 14
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE ENGLISH TABLE TENNIS
The fame of Free Table Tennis is spreading and we received reviews in
America – see http://tabletennis.about.com/
The English Table Tennis Forum has highlighted the ETTA views on
Individual Registration. Read all about it and send your views on
Copies of FTT can also be found on two websites www.tabletennisuk.info and
www.ctta.co.uk so you cannot complain about not being informed; and given
your opportunity to express your views.
Commenting upon FTT, a contributor on the English Table Tennis Forum
states he: “smirked a little when it said to go into schools. I have managed it a
couple of times and it can be hard work to set up. Even having convinced
them of the benefit to their pupils (and I think it is growing as a school sport)
they still want to earn their fees out of any evening usage and that can price a
lot of start up clubs out of the premises.”
FTT has never claimed that recruitment is easy and we have to be prepared
for hard work to achieve anything. In FTT12, we stated that the era of free
and cheap venues has passed and the players have to be prepared to pay the
going rates for venue hire.
Furthermore, FTT has not claimed that the suggestions in Grass Roots will be
successful in all areas. The problems and difficulties experienced in city and
rural areas are vastly different. Grass Roots tries to stimulate you into
thinking about the problems in your area because YOU have to make the
effort in the areas that you identify as realistic.
So stop smirking, work hard, and get recruiting.
IF WINNING ISN‟T EVERYTHING,
WHY DO WE KEEP THE SCORE?
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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE JUNIORS - A WAY FORWARD?
Some background. In the 1970s I tried to coach a group of kids, I regret with only limited
success. I came up against that “wall” many coaches know only too well, when the thought of
continually picking up that little white ball became one chore too many. I had reached a burn
out situation. I decided that actually playing was all important and, for many of the
subsequent years, pottered along in various leagues and veterans tournaments.
An illness in 1999 curtailed mobility somewhat and it was not until about three years ago that I
became interested in acting as a trainer again. (I am loathe to use the word “coach” as I have
no official title/qualification). I made the decision to only instruct on a “one to one” basis, and
was very fortunate in having a very receptive pupil. She responded magnificently and has
been rewarded by achieving a Number 1 ranking within her age groups and an England
representative honour at the Cadet Six Nations in Denmark last season.
Now where has that left us this season? Well nowhere so far. She has now become a
member of the forgotten sex. It would be pretty inspiring to report that our cadet and junior
girls were receiving the same level of expertise that is available to the boys - however it is a
matter of regret that this is not the case. For the lucky few there are trips to Lilleshall, however
there are a number of parents and coaches who find the present situation pretty hard to
swallow, especially when the boys are receiving preferential treatment. The girls results in the
European Youth were poor, however boys were selected for the Slovak Open in Bratislava
and a trip to Portugal but no girls. Why not? The argument that they might not have been
good enough is fallacious. If they are not exposed to international opposition, how on earth
are they to learn?
I am not saying my pupil deserves selection, I am saying that she is one of a group that are
not having a fair crack of the whip. I acknowledge that there is a system in place that will
attempt to address the situation as the season progresses, however there should be more
information readily available to parents, coaches (and those who instruct), and most
importantly, the players, in order that they can prepare properly and remain motivated. At the
moment there is a danger of having all our eggs in one male basket.
The junior scene gives cause for concern. Junior tournaments are over subscribed with the
inevitable result that entries are sent back. It is all very well saying that the programme is the
victim of its own success, the fact is we are falling down in that we are not providing all our
youngsters with competition, at all the dates suitable to them. Alan Ransome, the National
Councillor for Cleveland, presented a paper to National Council recently in order to facilitate a
debate on the subject. The document deserves a wider readership, as there is an attempt
here to address the problems within the present system. I am sure FTT readers will be
interested in Alan‟s suggestions., and I hope FTT will reprint it in the next issue.
GRASS-ROOTS SECTION (PART FOUR)
There is a ready source of venues out there waiting to be used all around the
country in Sports Centres.
When Sports Centres really started to take off, table tennis was very slow to
partake of the facilities except for staging tournaments and larger events. We
liked playing in the quiet little rooms with one table and no distractions: they
were cheaper and we did not have to arrange bookings. Because of the
larger area involved, we needed to organise enough people to pay for the
number of tables being used so, being lazy and short-sighted, we continued to
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frequent the one-table facility with our friends (yes, table tennis players used
to have friends!)
Many players complain about the standard of lighting in Sports Centres but
the facilities are sufficient for beginners, coaching and general practice
The Sports Centres are open during the day so are ideal for daytime sessions
for schoolchildren, retired and unemployed players – over 50‟s groups are
very popular in many areas of the country. Arrange regular sessions of
coaching or general play at the Centres and advertise „Come and Play‟
sessions: you may even attract participation from people who visited the
Sports Centre for another activity.
Our match play requirements are often very variable with many matches
taking a long time. Booking an area for a time to play a match, means
booking the maximum time possible, and that can be expensive.
So shorten matches. How? A) Play two players in a team. B) I hear of one
league where the bottom division play three games up to 11 points, not best of
The management and staff can provide invaluable help in setting up and
running your sessions, so keep them informed and consult with them at all
Even if the facilities do not meet the match requirements demanded by so
many, the sessions can be an invaluable recruitment zone. The better and
more enthusiastic players can be recommended to existing clubs in the area.
The existing clubs should be kept informed of the activities at the Sports
Centre, asked for their help and assistance. Let them know that you are
producing new players that could help them in the future.
You may say that all of the above is obvious. OK so have you tried it? I once
rang up a Sports Centre, explained that I had just moved to the area and
asked if they had any table tennis. They said that they would like to start table
tennis there. We ended up with a hall and six table tennis tables on one
evening per week and coaching in the adjacent school. Just from one
Nottingham Police stopped Steen Hansen: “You’re driving in a Bus Only Lane”
Hansen replied: “But I’m a Coach”
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Comments upon previous reports
I am delighted to hear that Barry Meisel will return after so many years
to promote special table tennis events. I am impressed by what he writes.
When his last promotions took place, they were much praised, particularly by
the players and everything was reported as of very high standard. This
seems a unique chance for English Table Tennis. I urge chairman and
powers-that-be to offer every help and not put obstacles in the way via our
well-tried bureaucracy. The Sports badly needs exposure. It has fallen far
behind other minor sports. This is a step in the right direction; one hopes the
first of many.
Thank you once again for sending me the FTT. What a breath of fresh air it
My very good friend Roy Norton - a fellow defender and no mistake - makes a
number of assertions in FTT 13 that demand a response.
I am sure his tongue was firmly in his cheek when he said that you as editor,
Alan Ransome, and myself were “doing our best to destroy the ETTA”.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Roy, my love affair with this sport not only encompasses over 60 years of
playing just about everywhere, but also a half century of serving to the best of
my ability on various committees, some of which were of a very high profile.
In all that time I have done everything possible to try to ensure the forward
progression of the sport. That remains my objective to this day.
For a period of two years after Alex was elected I tried to keep a low profile to
ensure he and his fellow VETTS members had a reasonable chance to put
into effect the promises made in their manifesto. Unfortunately the early
howlers have continued, some have been blatantly obvious and some have
been hushed up. There have been a number of attempts to gag me - but I
remain committed to seeing the sport grow and flourish, and will continue to
try to root out incompetence, inertia, and stagnation.
Roy says that National Council should be scrapped. He does not say how it
should be reformed. An alternative would be a form of regional system, but
personal experience leads me to believe that the grass roots voice would be
watered down. National Councillors have a mandate to ensure their own
league representatives know what is going on at national level. I believe
National Council still has an important role to play. Also it is important to
understand that Council is a two-way operation in that Councillors have a
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chance, four times a year, to voice their opinions and to comment on all
aspects that need addressing. This is the democratic way.
I completely agree that FTT should address areas where there is conflict of
interests, but also should reach out and make positive suggestions and act on
them. I am more than happy to sit down with Roy, listen to him, and perhaps
we can discuss a way forward.
May I refer to Dave Humble‟s letter? I never served on a committee of the
ITTF. However I attended a number of AGMs as the representative for
Guernsey and was able to voice a number of concerns personally. I paid all
travelling costs myself, and these included reporting personally to the
STAN JOHNSTONE (PART ONE)
I have been waiting a long time for someone to come up with something like FREE
TABLE TENNIS and lo and behold it suddenly appears right out of the blue in front of my very eyes
A real breath of fresh air if I may say so? Anyone who can quote Voltaire gets my vote, and Howard
does, so please allow me to make another quote of perhaps less illustrious origin because I think that
this one goes to the very heart of our problems in Table Tennis.
THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.
It is a common belief these days that when something goes wrong SOMEBODY must be
blamed but it is my honest opinion that nobody in particular is to blame for the way Table Tennis has
evolved unless you blame that chap who stuck a piece of sandpaper on one side of his bat in order to
give himself an advantage.
So you will find that those officials who have wielded great authority in both the ETTA and
the ITTF really think, or THOUGHT, that everything they were doing was for the best.
What I have to say is not so much about the personalities who run the show but of the game
I have arrived on the scene at the 10th issue of FTT and while I have skimmed through the
first 8 issues before sitting down to this, NOBODY has yet come up with any solutions though it is
obvious to me that two people in issue 8, who happen to be oldies, have come near to the mark
I refer to Graham French of Kent and Tony Shapps of Middlesex.
So what does Graham say?
11 - up sets
Emphasis on the 3-ball game taught by coaches in the 80's/90's.
2 serves & change (rather than 5).
.. Continued Next Page ..
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The standardizing of Table surfaces.
The mixture of rubbers on bats.
And there are more but please be patient. …
I am reminded that some years ago while on holiday in Spain with my wife, we knew that
friends of ours were on a Cruise ship, the AURORA that was calling in at Malaga. We arranged a visit
and were subsequently shown around the ship. Shipping companies know a good thing when they see
one and sure enough I soon spotted a really nice Table Tennis table in an open space complete with
bats. The bats were Hardbat and had dual coloured faces, one red and one black. My male friend who
had never played Table Tennis asked why this was so and I had to tell him that this was a bit of
nonsense because the colours made not the slightest difference to how the game was played as both
coloured surfaces were exactly of the same pimpled rubber. I suspect that the reasons for the different
colours in the modern sponge era are commercial as it is obvious that two DIFFERENT RUBBERS can
be affixed to one bat, which will increase the cost of that bat and give it different qualities but it is
nonsense to say that a Hardbat needs two different colours.
I remember my first one - a Ken Hyde - green on both sides - cost half a crown (12 1/2 pence)
but at 12 years of age I was so proud of the shape of the handle.
A half crown was one quarter of the old age pension of those days so one quarter of today’s pension
would be about £30. Not quite as cheap as you might have imagined
Please let me now take you back to the pre-war days in the early 30's.
(2) Many Table Tennis tables were made by local craftsmen often Club members. Not a Jacques
in sight. How we used to groan: "We are playing at St.Joseph's on Thursday and their table is as dead
as a doorrnouse."
Yes it was true. The outcome of your game depended upon your ability to adapt to the bounce on
different club tables.
Talk about fun and games!
I mention this at the outset because it was necessary for changes to be made. So the ETTA introduced
the Jacques table which gave the same bounce for all.
A vast improvement.
But what do you think of a letter from last years Table Tennis News where a player (from Kent I
believe) complained that some tables were faster than others.
Whoever thought of faster tables?
I thought that tables were sorted out in the 30's, and if there are such things as faster tables (to cater for
higher speed Table Tennis???) why is this not mentioned in the rules where as Umpires we are
expected to scrutinize every bat to confirm that it has the official permitted logo on it and NOT
examine the tables?
It seems to be a common belief that speed is good. It is even boasted that Table Tennis is the
fastest game in the world.
Some years ago I wrote an article in our local Newsletter that described the changes in our
game as being equivalent to the BIG BANG, our best players being so different in their abilities that it
is as though they were situated far out in the Milky Way and expanding far into the universe while
most of us lesser mortals meander around the solar system.
The difference in our standards of play can be enormous even in the 1st division and has
created a YO YO effect in our leagues where promoted teams find it hard to stay in the premier
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I was persuaded in this belief when one of the players in a handicap event in our 1st division,
who was no pushover, received 15 start in 21 up by our best player and lost comfortably.
Surely this is a nonsense? What has happened to our game?
(The Stan Johnstone Memoirs continue in future issues of Free Table Tennis)
Grass roots write .......
Why aren't the government and local authorities constructing sports
centres as INDOOR SPORTS ARENA to cope with TT, Badminton,
Volleyball, Basketball etc? You will not get the sport live in front of
the public until they have somewhere comfortable to watch it -
other than their arm chairs.
Brian T Worts
Howard. The following tells its own story!
In the Portugese Youth Open Championships (in which our selectors
decided not to send a girls team) the Ireland Under 15 Boys excelled by
finishing 4th - beating France, Sweden, and Germany in one day. Where
did England finish? 1st? 2nd? 3rd? Well no. Actually we finished in
12th place (the team included Liam Pitchford England No 2 and Sean
Cullen England No 4). England B finished in 16th place (with the
England No 3 boy and No 6 boy in the team.)
Where are we going wrong? We have been overtaken by Wales at senior
level, our girl juniors are sunk without trace, and now our boy cadets are
It is NOT the fault of the players. It is the system and the people behind
the system. When is someone somewhere going to wake up to the fact
that we are failing our young players right across the board.
I can find no memtion of all this on the ETTA website - now I wonder
why that is?
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The latest instalment, FTT12, makes reference to Jenny Heaton!
Your comments regarding her never being in the ‟Ransome‟ ranks are way off
If you had looked far enough into the background of the ETTA, you would find
that until the mid 90‟s she was the National Junior girls team captain and used
to attend all the national training camps, and devoted a considerable time to
the ETTA, and that was at the time that Alan Ransome was the Chairman.
She then went to live in Spain for some considerable time.
Upon her return to live in this country, she became involved in Table tennis
again, and her appointment as Vice Chairman coaching was an extremely
The new UKCC Coaching system was about to come on stream and the
ETTA needed someone who could pull everything together that was needed
to make this new system happen.
With her educational background, she was ideally suited for this position.
She may well have felt that she has achieved what she set out to do, and
that‟s why she has resigned.
I don‟t know, as you don‟t know, the reason why, but I do know that it‟s a pity
that she has chosen to leave the position she held within the ETTA, because I
saw at first hand the way she went about her role and it was indeed, very
FTT comments – While thanking Jim for further information that JH was
active in the 90s as a Junior Girls Captain, may we ask the question where we
should have searched in the background of the ETTA? We did not see her
captaincy mentioned in TTNews, AGM reports nor committee minutes.
We do not see that captaining a junior girls team qualifies someone to
oversee the National Coaching Scheme and the associated administrative
We would have liked to hear the reasons for her resignation after such a short
term in Office. Surely she owed that to the members. What emerged from
the establishment i.e. that she had moved house, we found rather lame. That
is not to say that we blame her for leaving such a dismal scene as the ETTA
now represents to the world, but the sudden unexplained exit seems to treat
the members with contempt.