Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I was personally competing in table tennis tournaments in England. It felt as if there were not enough events for me to enter. Today it feels like the complete opposite, table tennis tournaments in the UK have quadrupled in the past 10 or so years.
Table Tennis Populations:
Don’t quote me but from past conversations, I remember the number being around 30k registered TT players. Nationally competing players, common sense tells me the numbers in the junior and Vett’s section is where we would find the most competitors. Due to the ratio of players actively competing, it would make sense to look at implementing systems that cater for a wider scaled audience. For example, female-only events, senior (18-40) only events. many players feel overwhelmed when having to mix with such an ore of mixed ability, age and sex.
There are hundreds of tournaments locally and nationally every year. This has dampened the numbers for many events and reduced the quality and level of players entering. Tournaments are very important, no one can deny that! But they can have a negative effect in many ways:
– Reduced personal training
– High cost
– Chasing ranking points
– Personal value diminished,
– Prestige and wow factor (Gone),
The build-up and importance of an event has seemingly diminished if not gone from most national TT events
Tournaments are a great way for the association and clubs to raise funds. But I believe we need to grow the sport further by utilising smarter formats. The Current system mainly takes, we must find ways of giving back to the players.
What can be done?
Consistency: Have a national scene event such as GP’s and 4* scattered evenly across the nation (As seen on the pictured map). For example, six GP’s tournaments and they must be set in stone. If funds or a location is lost for one of those then replace it with a location as close as possible and near to identical set up.
Clubs Unite: Instead of clubs hosting small 1 or 2* events why don’t they combine forces and host big 1 and 2* event together. Costs and profits can be shared between clubs and an increased level of participation surely would be inevitable due to combined forces. This would also reduce clashes in events and make the events a lot more respected by the players.
Carrot: Tournaments are loved by players but there are two things missing in most events these days, reward and match play. Tournaments must find sponsors and other sources of funds to give players a financial reward for competing. Its done in other countries, so for it to be done in England shouldn’t be too hard. Lastly finding better systems where players get plenty of matches. This gives value for money, time and effort spent in attending events.
TTE (Table Tennis England):
Develop a system that provides more; more money, more participants, more value for money. By reducing the quantity the quality will rise and the system can grow once again.
Once a solid tournament structure has been developed, there will be many positive growth factors for the sport. We must build up our grassroots and look at ways of keeping young adults inside the sport. Then we can grow our tournament base but for now, I believe cutting back to go forward in the long run.
Table Tennis Tournaments in England has begun running before its fully grasped the art of walking.
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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