Elena Timina: Not enough knowledge available to develop defenders

Elena, who was a defensive paddler herself, said there isn’t sufficient knowledge among coaches or enough published articles on how to develop defenders.

Elena Timina was a key member of the Russian team that won the European Championship and World Team Cup in 1994.

Elena Timina, Olympian and former women’s coach of The Netherlands, said in her first season as coach of Shaze Challengers in the Ultimate Table Tennis, there weren’t many defenders in the premier league.

“Indian players were not confident when they play against them. Their level was not as good against [International] defensive players. The only way to defeat them is to practice against them,” said Elena in a video conference to Sports Authority of India (SAI) coaches on Thursday.

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The 50-year-old, a key member of the Russian team that won the European Championship and World Team Cup in 1994, said France’s Simon Gauzy couldn’t make it to the 2012 London Olympics because he lost in the qualification tournament to a defender. “He wasn’t good against defensive players. I guess he’s changed now,” said Elena, who has taken part in four Olympics, of which one was for Russia (‘96), two for The Netherlands (‘08 & ‘12) and the other for European Union (‘92).

According to Elena, who was a defensive paddler herself in her heyday, there isn’t sufficient knowledge among coaches or enough published articles [on the internet] on how to develop defenders.

“In China, every Club has a minimum of one or two defensive players. There are special coaches working on defenders in China. It is more or less the same in Japan and Korea. But not much outside these countries.”

"With the intention of practicing against defenders, Hong Kong had earlier got a few Chinese defenders to train with them at its National Training Centre," she added.

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On rubbers that top defensive players employ on their paddles, Elena said three years back around 50 per cent of top women players were using long pimples. However, as of late, only a handful are using them as the rest use short pimples with the intention to attack more. The use of plasiic balls has also played its hand in the change.

Addressing the fact that not many children across the globe are keen to become a defensive paddler, Elena said they should be motivated to become one. “You’ll [the coaches] have to tell him/her how special he/she is and make him/her proud that he is one among the very few to take up defense. Motivation is the key,” she said.

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