Summer time is nearly here and Paul Drinkhall and I are teaming up again to run a training camp on 21st, 22nd and 23d August 2017 at Cippenham Table Tennis Club! As this camp is 3 days we will be including an exclusive exhibition match for the participants of the camp to watch!
We will cover a range of technical development ranging from beginner all the way up to elite. We will also include speed and agility warm-ups along with some fun match play with prizes. You will get a chance to see high level demonstrations from myself and two time Olympian Paul Drinkhall- with the chance to ask questions and find out how the best train!
Summer is a time where we all feel we deserve a well earned rest, however resting can leave your game a little rusty. If you feel you want a boost to leap back into the season better than ever, this is the place to come!
Bulletproof in sport is a feeling of inner confidence, a feeling of indestructibility and a feeling of your character being imperishable.
Are you tenacious? Will you persevere when the going gets tough? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you have some of the ingredients needed to being bulletproof!
Part of being a successful sportsman, businessman or writer is having a strong character and a desire to achieve. In my playing career what helped me gain confidence was preparation – knowing I had done more than any other person; this for me then gave me the right to win. However, we must prepare in a clever and structured way starting with the basics. There is no point of training, putting the hours in, if you are reinforcing bad habits or not clear where you are going. We must have a way to measure progression. Try to find out which system works for you.
First we have to start with the body. As coaches, we are responsible for providing the players with knowledge on how to protect their body from injury and how to strengthen the body to optimise their performances. We need to make sure we are allowing time in sessions to develop agility, balance and co-ordination. If we create the environment and continuous encouragement the player’s responsibility is to do it and work hard at it!
Having a strong character, being able to come back from defeats and keep sticking with what you believe in are all traits champions have. Without these, the obstacles in life will be too great!
How committed are you? Would you rather be out with your friends or train? Do you think about your sport before you go to bed? Do you make decisions in life based on what is going to best for your craft? Is your nutrition suitable for your sport? All these questions need to be a yes if you want to be the best.
It’s a lifestyle choice.
Visualisation is a tool I used every day when playing. I really feel if you can put yourself in situations you are going to face in competitions and have a Plan A and a Plan B to deal with them, you are more likely to be prepared for whatever happens and when the real tough times comes. Having a clear system in your head of how you are going to react in difficult situations and equally joyful situations fills you with confidence and a belief you can deal with anything. This, ultimately, will stop you being fearful and scared of the challenge, it will in fact create the complete opposite effect. You will embrace the fight and look forward to the obstacles.
Technical visualisation is also extremely important, imagining you:
Making the right shot choices
Moving and be sharp on your feet
Playing technically correct strokes
Being in the right position
This also goes hand in hand with the tactical element of the game:
Having a game plan against certain types of opponents
Which direction you are going to play your shots
How much spin or speed you are going to play with
Training the mind is a great chance to give you that edge when wanting to be the best and make yourself bulletproof. After all if you want to be extraordinary, find out what the ordinary do and do the opposite!
This can be done during the day in your travel time or before you go to bed, it is a great tool, don’t forget to use it!
Technical practice is another crucial part of development. This is usually a discussion you would have with your coach – to be done on the multi-ball table. Being sound technically and having good foundations help endure lots of pressure against you. Another good reason for having good technique and good habits is when the pressure is on and the nerves kick in, we usually resort back to what we know best. Let’s get it right from the start! Having many different shots in your repertoire gives you lots of tactical options so you can the change the game at any given time to help you. Technique practice needs to be planned carefully and at a time of the year with fewer competitions, adjustments need to be made and they can take time to ingrain into match play.
Protect the body
If any of you have followed my career you will understand why I believe a coach’s role is vitally important in supporting young players and filling them with the knowledge and actively encouraging them to protect their body.
Sport, places very high demands on the body and more often than not has a dominant muscle being used, this can cause repetitive strain injuries, can effect performance in a negative way and if very unlucky shorten the longevity of your career. Players start very young and are sometimes elite level at an early age. I feel it is a huge responsibility and almost unrealistic to ask a passionate 13 year old who only wants to play the game because they love it to research what physical preparation they should do and which conditioning training would be best. In my view this is the role of the coach – to know your sport and seek advice as to what demands and strains the sport has on the body and then come up with a programme to strengthen all necessary areas. Coaches then should use a period of time in the sessions for conditioning training.
“Don’t settle for mediocrity, place high expectations and demands on yourself”.
If you dissect all these elements of sport and preparations and try to focus on doing the right things day in day out, you are well on your way to becoming bulletproof!
“Nobody can be perfect, but you can be pretty close if you reach for the stars!”
Please see the link below for my blog about repetitive strain injuries:
OK, so why is it that some training environments seem to produce great athletes time and time again, with what looks like the same set up as many others? Many times the qualification of the coach is the same, there is often the same number of players, however almost certainly a particular place will produce better players, WHY? There are clubs around right now and definitely in my childhood where they would produce talent after talent. The easy thing for onlookers to say is, “well they are always going to produce players, look at the players they have already, imagine playing against them every day”. How did those ‘good’ players initially become good? The answer in my view is competition and environment!
Somewhere along the line an environment had been creating to allow individuals to excel. So what do I mean by competition and environment?
Competition is a healthy thing for an individual, it allows them to see where they are and self-evaluate- a very useful tool, it allows them to be able to create goals, it allows them to strive for more and most importantly, with the right set up allows a player to have fun! When I started to play, I remember I wasn’t even good enough to enter the beginners group, so my mother and I would play on the tables adjacent to the group, copying and learning quickly what the group were doing. “I want to be in that group mummy” I would say, she would reply “keep working hard and you will get there one day”. This was my first experience of goal setting. At the club I trained at there was a beginner group, intermediate group and an advanced group. We all trained at the same time in the same hall, however we all wanted to be in the best group so this was an example of healthy competition.
So what do I mean by environment? Of course you must have tables, bats, balls and barriers and so on; however environment to me is how a player feels when they step into the hall. Do they feel confident, or do they feel inferior as though they don’t belong? Environment is very much the responsibility of the coach in charge, their job is to create unity! Unity in its simplest form means ‘joined as a whole’ and is the most important thing to creating the right environment. Players must feel proud of being part of your club, they must feel equally as important as anyone in the hall, they must feel they can ask the best player in the hall for a knock and they would get respect back, they must be encouraged, they must enjoy it, but most of all there has to be discipline. Unity is something which can be created off the table. Maybe a team day out? If a player is not so good at table tennis but is exceptional at fitness, use them for demonstration; integrate fitness into sessions for them. Giving players responsibilities is a good way of helping build confidence. Monthly prizes for best attitude, this all helps the morale of every person.
So as you can see I feel strongly that with the right environment, competitiveness and unity every club has the opportunity of creating some super talents!
By implementing this mindset into your training environment, you will create a hardworking, fun and competitive atmosphere, where players have a growth mindset who are not afraid to fail!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and possibly got some ideas to help your club achieve great things!
Repetitive strain injuries are often seen and found in elite level athletes, however an injury like this can develop through playing a sport or regularly using the same muscles. A RSI (repetitive strain injury) is normally caused my using an area of the body more than what most people would consider normal. This is not always a bad thing, as to become good at anything in life you must do it a lot, usually more than others, so without the right knowledge an injury can occur!
Over the last year or so many people have been coming to me for fitness advice and table tennis advice. A regular conversation I have is around an injury one may have just developed, and they can’t understand why. Almost unequivocally it is an RSI (repetitive strain injury). Now a common injury area in table tennis is the shoulder, so in this blog I will explain how to prevent this injury and sustain a strong stable shoulder.
Pain in the front of the shoulder (Anterior Deltoid) with a sharp shooting sensation when raising the arm are all common occurrences. This is caused by a lifetime of f/h exercises which draw the shoulder forward, into a protracted position and inevitably create strong pectoral muscles and neglect the back muscles around the scapular causing them to weaken. Once the back muscles are weakened this causes a loss of shoulder control and instability which then causes pain to your rotator cuff muscles Supraspinatus and Subscapularis (front shoulder).
If you are a table tennis player or a tennis player, when you work out in the gym be sure to do a lot of strength work around your mid and lower trapezius. This is the major muscle surrounding the shoulder blade. Below I have listed a few great exercises to do to strengthen your back and mid trapezius muscles:
High Pulley Cable Row
Pull Up with hand facing you, grip slightly narrower than shoulder width
Bent Over Lateral Dumbbell Raise
Reverse Pec Dec
Standing Cable Rear Deltoid Extension
Bent Over Cable Lateral Raise
Prone Trap Raises with a dumbbell in a Hammer Grip
Latissimus Dorsi Pull Down
Bent Over Barbell Row
Reverse Latissimus Dorsi Pull Down
The Glenohumeral is a synovial ball and socket joint commonly known as the shoulder with a large range of movement and somewhat complex as there are many muscles which attach to it.
The four rotator cuff muscles are extremely important and must be worked correctly. They are the Subscapularis and the Supraspinatus located at the front of the shoulder and the Infraspinatus and Teres Minor located at the back of the shoulder. These muscles connect your shoulder blade (Scapula) to the Humerus your arm bone.
It is also extremely important to remember, the muscles which need working the most are not the ones which look good or are easily seen! It’s the ones which cannot be seen but are there to stabilise a joint and add controlled strength to prevent injuries. I have put a link below to give you some ideas of some crucial exercises to help stabilise and strengthen the shoulder!
These exercises can be performed with a Theraband or a resistant band. The exercises are to be done very regularly, performing the exercise for 20 repetitions 3 times each.
How do I know which muscles I need to work to prevent an RSI?
This question is important to understand. The main concept of this is to recognise which muscles you are using most in your everyday life then consciously train the opposing muscles group to equal out the dominance. For example if in life you use your chest muscles all the time, then train your back muscles, if in life you use your quadriceps all the time, then train your hamstrings, if in life you use your biceps all the time, then train your triceps, if in life you use your abdominal muscles all the time, then train your lower back muscles.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions about your own development please contact me without hesitation.
Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that came to the camp this weekend (2nd & 3rd April 2016). Natalie, Emily and I enjoyed it very much. Also a big thanks to Cliffedale Chandlers Table Tennis Club for the tables and a big shout out to Darran, Matt and Sue Leete.
The feedback has been overwhelming. I’m thrilled that so many of you benefited from the 2 days and equally enjoyed it. So thank you so much to everyone, you all said really lovely comments about the camp and about us as coaches. We are so grateful and really appreciate it. Here is a quote from a happy participant on the camp:
Hi Gavin, Just to thank you and Natalie for a great days coaching and especially the multi ball at the end. I am absolutely shattered. I hope tomorrow goes well. Do keep me on your mailing list for the next camp.
My only regret for the camp is that I wish that we’d taken loads more photos! Check out my album on flickr by clicking on the photo below.
Myself and the coaches are discussing dates for our Summer Table Tennis Training Camp. I will be keeping you all informed on any developments. If you have any questions about the camps or about any further training please do not hesitate to contact me.
Overall it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to see you all again soon!
So last month I said that I was going to start a more alkaline enriched diet. As I’ve been making my meals, I have experimented with different combinations of alkaline foods.
The meal that I have found to be the most difficult to make is breakfast. A lot of people struggle with finding a breakfast that is healthy, not boring and that tastes good too!
Below are two simple breakfast ideas that are not just your average porridge or weetabix.
Green Pepper and Spinach Omelette (for 2) – (V)
An omelette is a great way of getting essential protein into your body and by adding green vegetables you are also getting one or more of your 5-a-day and essential vitamins and minerals. Eat this with a toasted wholemeal pitta for your slow releasing carb fix and a dollop of houmous for some extra zing! Don’t forget to drink a large glass of water with your meal so you stay hydrated. This is a vegetarian meal that can also be eaten for lunch.
1 green pepper or 1 cup of frozen mixed peppers
1 cup of fresh spinach
3 or 4 eggs (depending on how big you want the omelette)
Semi-skimmed milk (150ml for 3 eggs or 200ml for 4 eggs)
2 wholemeal pitta bread
2 desert spoons of houmous
Dash of salt and black pepper
Dash of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium to large frying pan
1 0.5L jug
Pre heat the grill to 200ºC
Chop the pepper into medium size chunks or to a size you prefer
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat
Add the chopped up peppers to the pan and saute for 1 minute, then add the spinach and mix until the spinach has wilted
Crack the eggs into the jug and add the milk and salt and pepper – whisk together
Make sure the pepper-spinach mixture is evenly distributed in the pan and then pour the egg mixture into the pan. After 1 minute turn the heat down on the pan so that the omelette doesn’t burn
When the omelette has mostly cooked through, put the pan under the grill so that the egg cooks on the top and browns slightly
Cut the pitta bread in half and pop in the toaster
Plate up the omelette and the pitta bread, dollop 1 desert spoon of houmous to each plate and enjoy!
Super Duper Morning Yogurt Pot
A fun way to kick-start your day, it’s more than just a yogurt and it’s mightier than a smoothie! This breakfast is easy for people who are short of time in the mornings or for commuters to grab and go. If you’re a really early starter, you can prepare the smoothie the night before and keep in the fridge over night.
1/2 cup of frozen summer berries
1/2 cup of spinach
30g of rolled oats
1/4 cup of almonds
1 tbsp of chia seeds
500ml of water
Blender (Nutribullet or a similar alternative)
Sistema To Go Mug (Method 1 – for holding your Super Duper Morning Yogurt Pot. Although, I bought an unbranded one from Poundland)
Add the summer berries, mango, spinach, banana, oats, almonds, chia seeds and water to your blender and blend until smooth
Put the yogurt and the mulberries into your ‘to go’ mug and pour the smoothie that you just made over the top of the yogurt-mulberry mixture
Stick you large straw into the mug, mix everything together and drink up!
Add the summer berries, mango, spinach, banana, almonds, chia seeds, natural yogurt, mulberries and water to your blender and blend until smooth
If you have a Nutribullet blender or a similar alternative, use the drink lid to take your Super Duper Morning Yogurt Smoothie out and about. Or just drink it before you leave for work and feel re-energised until lunchtime!
If you do try out these recipes, feel free to let me know how it goes!
So, in my last blog I expressed my excitement of a surprise event which happened at the one and only exclusive Shankly Hotel Liverpool. After a long day in the training hall with some very enthusiastic and good young table tennis players, I was invited to do an exhibition at a rather magnificent hotel in Liverpool city.
As we arrived at the hotel, firstly I was amazed by the exceptional quality throughout the hotel and the vision of the designer behind it to create such a warm, sporty, yet up market atmosphere. Lawrence the owner clearly has a real eye for detail and has made the Shankly Hotel into a real trip down memory lane, with original pieces of Bill Shankly memorabilia throughout. We were escorted through the restaurant into a beautiful function room with quite pristine decoration to begin the match. After the initial welcome and drinks, two great young aspiring table tennis players – Rhys Davies and Harry Watson – kicked of the matches. After an enthralling deciding set in the first match, it was now time for Keith Williams and I to step up to the table.
The twist to the evening which fell nicely into the footballing theme of the hotel was our umpire. He was the first person to score the winning goal in two European cup finals in 1981 and 1984, with over 500 caps and a true Liverpool legend, it was the one and only… Alan Kennedy! After a true showman match it was time to take a shower and have dinner!
Dinner with Alan Kennedy
So off I walked through the hotel still in awe of the magnitude of this place to take a shower in one of many quite stunning hotel rooms. After 20 minutes or so we sat down to eat dinner accompanied my Alan Kennedy in the Bastion restaurant. We laughed and joked all evening as the drinks flowed, and we tucked into what can only be described as exquisite food. As our table got louder, people started to recognise who was in the restaurant with them and started to swamp for photos. It was a truly wonderful evening, one which I hope we can relive again one day.
Thank you to Graham and his wife Lindsey for their amazing hospitality, and a great event organised. Thank you also to Lawrence Kenwright for giving us the opportunity to entertain at your hotel and for providing such a high service. For those who are thinking about staying at the Shankly hotel, I can highly recommend it, you will not regret it!
Another quirky design by Lawrence Kenwright – Men’s Toilets in the Bastion Bar and Restaurant. Beginning, Middle and End of the Night – Take Your Pick!
” With his first-class instructional techniques, highly professional approach and supportive nature, I can wholeheartedly recommend Gavin Evans as a table tennis coach. Under his instruction, I feel I have made great improvements in a very short space of time, and consequently my enjoyment for the game has risen tenfold.”