Table tennis holds a special place in Singapore sports. It is the sport which plays the biggest role in putting Singapore onto the world sporting stage, with three of the five Olympic medals won by Singaporeans being won in table tennis. What best practices of the Singapore table tennis team have been run and maintained, to allow its players to reach such stellar state of international excellence? Read on to find out about them!
1) The maintenance of an excellent sports science support system
Every successful team needs a support/backstage crew. The Singaporean national table tennis team is no different in this regard! The national team has a core group of sports trainers who take turns in providing support for the players to help prevent and/or manage injuries, which travels together with the team. In Singapore itself, the national team has access to a sports medicine physician and physiotherapist, and even the assistance of bio-mechanists to analyse their own performances and the performance of their opponents.
2) Excellent coaches and demanding training regimes
The Singaporean women's table tennis team has been and is being coached by coaches of the topmost excellence - Zhou Shusen and Jin Junhong - both being formerly successful international players with vast playing and coaching experience. Coach Zhou was the head coach of the Singapore women’s national team for four years from 2009, before stepping down in 2012 after the London Olympic Games, handing over coaching control to his younger deputy, Coach Jin. Zhou Shusen, who was in his late 60s when he took over coaching the Singapore team, had previously coached the China national women’s team as well as the Zhejiang and Beijing women’s teams. On the other hand, Jin Junhong (who was perhaps the first prominent Singaporean table tennis player) was Singapore’s first Olympian in table tennis. She competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and finished a painfully unfortunate fourth at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Training in as a national table tennis player is tough, yet deeply fulfilling in terms of experience and exposure gained. For six days a week, the team devotes almost the entire day to improving their table tennis game, through the honing their technical abilities, and the building of their mental strength. Also, sparring partners are brought in from around the world for the team!
3) Having strong social support networks
In spite of the 'vague' nature of this point, it is perhaps the most crucial. The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), on top of its official functions, has also functioned like a traditional Asian extended family. The STTA staff and players are known to look after and care for each other just like a family would, providing a strong social support network inclusive of everyone of concern, particularly the players. This is particularly important because many of the players left their friends and families in China at a young age to train in Singapore! Family comes first after all.
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