Former national TT coach Costantini not done with India yet

Former Indian table tennis team coach Massimo Costantini, who transformed table tennis in the country, trained young paddlers in Indore for nine days.

Massimo Costantini (centre in front row) warned that improper coaching and lack of infrastructure can stunt the growth of potential paddlers.   -  Special Arrangement

Massimo Costantini keeps coming to India. The former table tennis coach conducted a nine-day High Performance camp for coaches and players in Indore that ended on Saturday. In affiliation with the Table Tennis Federation of India and facilitated by the Madhya Pradesh Table Tennis Association, 10 coaches and 20 youth players learnt the tricks of the trade from the master.

In conversation with Sportstar,  Costantini discussed the idea behind the camp. “The aim was to give the new generation players a new attitude and a winning mentality to help them perform well worldwide. We worked with all the youth categories and through various activities, tried to a create new mentality and teach them how to face difficulties and to do better and better."

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Costantini warned that improper coaching and lack of infrastructure can stunt the growth of potential paddlers. And this is when such camps help.

"In terms of knowledge, Indian coaches are very knowledgeable. It has been, time and again, demonstrated by the level of players India is capable of producing. Where they are lacking is personality, confidence, management of groups and players. They need more international exposure, need to be sent abroad to see how things work there for themselves. The more time they spent abroad, they will be able to implement the learnings and experience better," said the 61-year-old.

Among other things, Costantini taught them communication skills to monitor the sessions and manage the players better.

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Whenever parallels are drawn between Indian and foreign players, there is a pertinent point that pops up. What are the likes of China, Korea and Japan doing that India isn't? In reply, the Italian said: "It’s very simple what they do. Leading countries start working from technique and then move on to abilities. In a lot of European countries and India, the process is the complete opposite. They start with abilities first and then work on the technique. Both are trying to reach the same result, but not everyone gets there because it comes from a certain process."

He is likely to visit more in the future. "Whenever the budget and scheduling allows, I will be happy to return for another camp. When the program was announced in India, I was the first one to offer myself because I love coming back here. For me, it was essentially continuing what was interrupted. The players and coaches were happy and I sent out a strong message. This should give them enough fuel to do better in the future," Costantini concluded.

The two-time head coach of the national team had returned to the national side in 2016 after leaving the job for the first time in 2010. He was instrumental in India's success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games but he left later that year due to personal reasons.  Soon after, he was roped in as the International Table Tennis Federation High Performance Director. The camp was part of the federation's High Performance and Development(HPD) program.