Another fine article from the Sussex County Table Tennis Association Official Handbook 1950 – 1951, this time on the subject of Advice to Young Players, by Rose Bromfield. There is a lovely picture of her earlier in the handbook with her playing partner Charlie Seaman. I remember my parents speaking very fondly of Charlie. He was someone they used to play table tennis with and respected him a lot. They lost touch after stopping playing table tennis and were so pleased to suddenly meet up with him again in Portslade after they moved there in the 1990s. Rose Bromfield gives some very sound advice in this article, it could apply to anything in life really – even blogging and family history research!
Advice to Young Players.
I can quite well sum this up in a few words: Keenness, Hard Work, and Be a Good Listener. I think they should go in that order. I give first place to Keenness, as, without this, no player, however gifted with brilliance, can possibly survive the arduous road that lies ahead of the player who wishes to raise his game beyond that of the rank and file in his county or, for that matter, any other county.
Hard Work takes second place because, although the apex of the game revolves around this, being keen makes a pleasure of what would otherwise be sheer drudgery. “Practice makes perfect” is an adage well applied to all ball games, and quite obviously table tennis is no exception. I can assure all young players that there is no short cut to the “top” – good players are not born, they are made. Obviously some will progress at a far greater speed than others because of a natural aptitude, but all will progress only if they practice hard. By this, I do not mean a weekly or even a bi-weekly visit to your club for a three or four hour session. Far better to make it one hour or even half an hour every night – few people’s concentration can last unbroken longer than an hour, and once the mental state is relaxed the practice is of no further use.
So I say, play only whilst the keenness and concentration are there, for after that you are merely wasting physical energy. I am fully aware that most club premises in Sussex are not available every night, but the young player must overcome this difficulty and if he or she is keen enough, they will. This may mean joining more than one club, which costs money, but as I said before, there is no easy way and sacrifices have to be made. If the opportunity is available to you, join another league so that you benefit from two matches a week instead of one. I know of a few young Sussex players who have already done this, and I am sure they will not regret it.
Every match played is a little more experience for you, and if you are learning from it you should be fully aware why you won or lost, and you should store the knowledge for use on future occasions when you are playing players of a similar type. Only in this way will you learn to vary your game, so essential when you find yourself facing an opponent who is stronger willed than you are. Here again, I am compelled to say that I know that for the majority of players in Sussex, with the few exceptions I have already mentioned, only one match per week is available to them. This is quite inadequate, and I fear that whilst the young players are content to accept this, their chances of being good match players are extremely limited. If plenty of “friendlies” cannot be arranged either at clubs or premises where tables are for hire, then teh effort must be made to get to Open Tournaments. I can literally hear the groan that this last remark will send up, but if the keenness is there, ways and means can and will be found.
And so I come to my last phrase. Be a Good Listener – never reach the stage of “Knowing it all.” Nothing so surely sets the seal on a player, young or old, as this attitude of mind. An angle on an individuals play that has just never occurred to you, passed on in casual conversation by a fellow player perhaps not even as good as yourself, may well be the missing link required by you to beat an opponent to whom you have always previously lost. The best players around you will, I am sure, be ready to give you the benefit of their experience if you will accept it in the spirit in which it is given – not as criticism to be resented, but as advice. You cannot possibly know too much. So to you young players I say – Be Keen, Work Hard, and be a Good Listener, and may you all become champions – Sussex needs you.