Elena Timina: Coaches will have to adjust to players' needs in UTT

In a tournament as novel as the UTT, former Olympian Elena Timina feels it is the coaches who will have to get used to the players' styles and preferences.

The team will consists of Indian and foreign players and Timina's first priority is to ensure that the players are comfortable with each other.   -  Special Arrangement

She has participated in multiple Olympics for Russia, the country of her birth and Netherlands, where she is based now. She has been a veteran on the world table tennis circuit for two decades before taking up coaching five years ago. She has also coached the Netherlands' national women's team at the highest level. Still, when it comes to her role as the Challengers' coach in the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), the franchise-based league starting next week, Elena Timina is as unsure as anyone else that's going to be a part of the three-week gala.

"I don't know. I have never done something like this. I am in constant touch with my colleague, Rao (A. Muralidhara Rao, the Indian coach at Challengers), and we keep discussing how we are going to lead the team. We are going to be together for a long time, almost one month,” an excited Timina told Sportstar on Thursday.

Besides the four Indian players led by Soumyajit Ghosh, the Challengers squad features two Germans in Han Ying and Petrissa Solja, Andrej Gacina of Croatia and Li Ping of Qatar. Her first priority is to make players comfortable with each other. And when it comes to coaching, she feels that in a tournament as novel as UTT, it is the coaches who will have to get used to the players' styles and preferences.

“All the players don't really know each other. Only Han Ying and Petrissa Solja because they play together for the same team (Germany) know each other. But we have to make sure that other players feel comfortable with each other, feel like helping each other. We'll have to talk to players, listen to them: how do they see it, what do they want from us,” said the 48-year-old.

“Of course, they have their own preferences and they are used to certain way of coaching. We as coaches will have to adjust to what players want just to make sure that they can play the best they can. They have to feel comfortable, they have to feel safe. Even when it comes to strategies, for example time-outs, I am going to ask players what they want: Do they want to take time-outs themselves or do they want me to take the call? I'll have to talk to them. Otherwise, we won't feel comfortable with each other.”