It usually takes about 10-20 years for a table tennis athlete to reach a world class level. Most kids get burned out after 2-3 years and never reach their peak potential. If you want your child or your student to become the best, then focus on having fun. If they enjoy the sport, if they are excited to play, then they will want to focus, want to work hard, want to put in extra training hours, and want to compete in table tennis tournaments. Instead of forcing your five-year-old to be the best in the country, focus on having fun. If your child enjoys the sport, gets the right coaching, trains regularly, and works from age 5 to 25, for sure your child has a chance at becoming a world class table tennis player.
Here in the United States we often want everything IMMEDIATELY. We want extremely fast internet because we don’t have the patience to wait 10 seconds, we want to get through the fast-food drive through in 2 minutes because we don’t have 5 minutes to spare, we want our packages to arrive the same day because we can’t wait until tomorrow for our new toy. This mindset is bad as it relates to teaching your young child to play. Instead of yelling and screaming because he can’t perfect the forehand loop in 1 day, you should take a long-term approach. Here is what I suggest you do:
5 Year Old
Have fun for 1 year, keep your training session very short, about 10-15 minutes, or even shorter
6-8 Year Old
Have fun 50% of the time, keep your training sessions to 30-60 minutes
Keep the sessions interactive with other kids
9-12 Year Old
Have fun 20% and be serious 80%, keep your training sessions to less than 2 hours
Structure an actual table tennis training program including drills and match play with other kids
Allow the player to enter table tennis tournaments
13-14 Year Old
Have fun 10% and be serious 90%, begin intense training sessions
Develop a great communication level with the player talking often about goal-setting for the future
Consider playing some international table tennis competitions
At 14, the player already has 9 years of experience. If you push your 5 or 6 or 7 year old too hard, they will despise it and quit. If you have a 20-year approach, then forcing them today or this week isn’t a huge problem.
- Implement doubles! Table tennis is often a lonely sport with 1 player out there battling another player. Implementing a team spirit makes it fun and interactive, especially for young kids!
- Keep the drills short. With a short attention span, kids often get bored of 1 drill. Instead of doing 15 minute drills, consider 5 minute drills.
- Have a goal for each drill, this goal with vary from player to player. Verbally express the goal before the drill begins, through the drill, and work toward success.
- Give recognition! Table tennis youth players need to be recognized even for small successes – hitting 10 forehands in a row, winning their first match, earning a 4th place trophy in the u500 division, etc. Praise and recognition goes a long way!
Check out one of my kids’ fun table tennis sessions here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TckjEz0rCmM&t