Table Tennis England The Winning Edge Issue 6 - Page 11

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At grassroots level , classification specifics should be the last thing on a coach ’ s mind . Instead , consider different ways of working with a given disability . Shaun Alvey recalls three very different sessions working with three very different disabilities


‘ I did one session and there was a boy there who was blind and was asked to sit it out . But I said , “ no , we can still get him involved ”. So we got a robot , asked him to listen to the clicking sound it makes when the ball is released , and through that he could develop a timing point , with the help of someone sitting to the side of the table . He was able , by the end of the session , to do 60 seconds without missing a ball . So that ’ s someone playing a sport where there isn ’ t even a classification allowing him to compete !’


The serve takes on added importance when your mobility is limited , as it ultimately will be with a wheelchair athlete . With this in mind , Alvey suggests working on the speed and variety of the serve .
‘ To practise those vital , long , fast topspin serves – and focus on attacking the third ball – ask the player to aim for the crossover point of their playing partner , concentrating on good speed off the paddle . Then , when the ball is returned , I get the server to attempt a topspin return with an intention to win the point . On the next serve , repeat these steps with the third ball attack being to the side that wasn ’ t attacked the previous point .’


‘ When you ’ re working with someone with a learning difficulty they also often have poor hand – to – eye coordination skills , but air hockey is fine for them . So you turn the table tennis table into an air hockey table , which allows them to develop their coordination from a lower starting point . From there you leave the net off and give them bounce feeds , asking them to keep the bat between chin and belly button , with you putting the ball to where that bat is . All of a sudden their confidence is going sky-high , you put the net back on and they can hit it back to you . You ’ ve broken down the problem of the net and a fear from the player that it is too great a barrier for them .’