Kerala paddlers put focus on skill training amid lockdown

With tournaments unlikely to happen this year in the wake of the pandemic, table tennis players of Kerala look to fix mistakes in their game.

Bobby Joseph at his training centre in Alappuzha.   -  Special Arrangement

Locked down in their homes, Kerala's table tennis players may have been out of action for more than two months but they did not appear very anxious when they returned to the sport. There was also no sense of urgency to make up for the lost time.

“We resumed training two weeks ago and most of them were sure there would be no tournaments this year, so they were relaxed,” said Bobby Joseph, who produced a steady stream of talented players from his base in Alappuzha, in a chat with Sportstar.

The SDV Table Tennis Academy in Alappuzha, where Joseph is now the head coach, resumed training two weeks ago and the number of players is just about 40 per cent of the pre-lockdown figure.

“Most of the players in our academy are in the eight to 12 years age-group but we did not invite the under-12 players when we restarted training. However, we did include three girls, above 10, who performed very well in the mini cadet section last year,” said Joseph whose best players Maria Rony and Seraha Jacob are now playing for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu respectively.

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“Actually, some parents are scared and are not sending their children. And we did not want to force parents because if one gets infected, then the responsibility will be on us.”

With no tournament goals this season, Joseph feels that players could now work on correcting their technique.

“Basically, this is a good time to correct mistakes and for skill improvement more than tactical training,” he said.

The players may have been a bit rusty when training resumed but fitness was not an issue.

“We had online fitness and action practice sessions during the lockdown. And Maria Roni and Seraha Jacob gave service training through Whatsapp to the beginners and the intermediate group,” said Joseph.

Joseph feels that tournaments would begin only when there is no quarantine for people travelling from place to place. And when competition resumes, the Alappuzha players would be keen to try out the new tricks they have picked up.

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