Coaching Blog : John Bowe

Coaching Blog – John Bowe

In 2009 when I decided to wind down from competitive play I wanted to become a coach and take on a new challenge and start to teach beginners the skills involved in our wonderful sport. Before I start to take you through what goes on the life of a coach I would like to say that I have been asked on numerous occasions as to why I won’t play in competitions around the country and quite simply the answer is I do not have the time at the weekends to play tournaments or to practice during the week due to other work commitments, otherwise I would be involved. If this situation changes I shall make my return to competitive play.

I do however have time to coach beginners and dedicate time to teaching them all the basics right through to intermediate and advanced play. I actually coach table tennis at least once every day in various locations around Dublin. One of the biggest challenges in Irish sport is having a location to base your club at and then to be able to have the club open every day for our beginners to grow. Unfortunately this situation is something you need to address going forward otherwise as a coach you cannot teach your beginners enough skills to get them to the level required to achieve success. Time is of the essence and either you find a club that is open regularly or you prepare for a mediocre outcome.

The current WIS programme has been of great assistance to myself and to other WIS coaches around the country. I would like to explain how I use this money to fund the coaching sessions in a new school. Firstly before you start coaching in a new school you must make it clear to the principal or the head of sport that the 8 weeks funding is there to get the club up and running and after I introduce table tennis into a school and I sell our great game then it’s up to the Principal to fund it after the 8 weeks are up on a long term basis. Otherwise you’re taking good money and throwing it down the drain. If the Principal or Head of Sport decides not to agree to these terms then you know that the interest is not there and you must decide to move on to a school or club who are willing to support your long term plan. Rhona in ITTA HQ has been instrumental in the success of the WIS programme and without her input I don’t believe it would have been quite the success it has been.

I am the head coach in High School Rathgar and Dundrum Table Tennis Club. Marcus McDonnell is the other junior coach in Dundrum and we both coach beginners on a Sunday morning at 10:30am for one hour. Of course the ideal situation would be to coach beginners everyday but like I said earlier trying to find a venue available everyday is the ‘’Challenge’’. Marcus has been fantastic since he joined up before Christmas and has added new ideas and formats to the already glowing junior section. When I began to coach our beginners, these children could not bounce a ball on the bat and after months and months of continued practice they have gone that extra mile and are really starting to progress on the table now. Myself and Marcus both completed our introductory ITTF LEVEL ONE course recently and are using the format in the ITTF programme to teach our beginners and already you can see the development going in the right direction.

Once a coach has completed the introductory skills i.e. bouncing the ball on the bat and other control skills it is then important to introduce Multi-ball to the coaching sessions and to teach the beginners how to do it themselves. It is so satisfying to see the progress on a weekly basis.

I recently brought my High School U13 team to Blackrock College to play a league match. We played Blackrock last year and got demolished and it was pleasing to see my guys had progressed in that short space of time to at least compete this time. The score lines in some of the matches were closer than the overall score suggests so I could see improvement (we lost 5-1). On the journey home I could see my team had hope for the future. They were in upbeat form and I explained that Richard Butler’s team were the benchmark for success and that we needed to reach that level and that I would ask High School for another evening to practice which was agreed. The players are delighted and all turned up for practice with a spring in their step yesterday.

Being a coach is a challenge but achieving success with your beginners is crucial if you want them to stay interested and to turn up when practice is on. If you need guidance or help just ask for it.

Yours in Sport

John Bowe