Category: Adult Table Tennis Coaching

Michael Gerrard, My Inspiration

Every so often I’m asked who’s your inspiration/role-model/mentor?

I always answer, I try to learn from everyone but if I was to pick one.

It would be Michael Gerrard,

He inspired me to be the best version of me and a man that has given me pure hope and belief in myself. Most importantly, recently he has shown me that anything can be achieved.

But first a quick story…

17 years ago Michael walked into my club (back then Barnet TTC), asking for some table tennis coaching.

He wanted a private session (1-2hrs per day) 4 times a week. At first I thought great I’m cashing in (not in a selfish way but in a way of, this is helping me) and then I wondered why is a 47 year old man having so much coaching?

Michael had played a little as a kid at Barnet and decided to come back into the game after 20 odd years out. But this time he had a purpose, a special tournament! A charity event held at Lords Cricket ground (London).

Entry fee: £10,000
Rules: must never have had a ranking or played league table tennis

Michael set his mind that he would win this event and donate all the winnings to a (Cancer charity) in memory of his former business partner, who passed away from the disease.

Michael’s level back then I would say bottom division local league (depending on the league of course).

I had no idea about his potential opposition but the aim was to give him the best possible chance of winning.

The key focus was to elevate Michael’s strength (forehand), develop a block and a spinny serve. After a few months all of the above had upscaled and it was show time.


A lot of extremely influential people had entered including Michael Sherwood (CEO Goldman Sachs), Philip Green (owner of Topshop) turned up to watch, Ray Kelvin (owner of Ted Baker) and a few other hot shots…


I looked at each player knocking and made notes, I formulated a strategy against all possible opposition. Michael was focused and determined in taking this event, and put all his trust in me (his coach).

Match time

First match Michael cruised through, eyes turned on him plus Michael Sherwood for the title. In the semi’s Michael faced Mr Ted Baker and was routed on by Philip Greene who was worth £9 Billion at the time. Ray was able to hold his own in the rallies but struggled to return Michael’s spinny serves. I have another story that followed on from that match, involving Philip Greene (but I’ll leave that for another day).

In the final Michael was in the zone and overwhelmed Mr Sherwood to take the title.

My treat:

Michael paid for my Nobu meal and gave me a kind donation to my table tennis centre to say thank you. Yet that was nothing because that day created a life long bond between us.

As the years passed, Michael was always there when I needed a friend with a big wallet but bigger heart. He always picks up the phone to have a chat but never answers any text messages 😜.


I saw Michael as a father figure, a man that had build a small empire yet is the most humble guy. He treats everyone the same and cares for people’s well being.

I was down a few times over the years and Michael always provided me with his wisdom. He encouraged me to keep driving forward and to always keep the light lit no matter how dark or dim it may be…

Most importantly Michael believed in me and kept having his coaching sessions every week.

He joined the local league Barnet plus Harrow & Wembley where he began at the the bottom moved up to the top division over the years.

Success, beyond belief:

In the past few weeks just gone, Michael beat two players whom I would never have dreamt possible, considering his level when I first met him and the age he took up table tennis seriously.

The players are top local and national league players;
Darius Zurwaski and the legendary Costas Papantoniou. When I received a message showing me the score card, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

How has a man who’s level was so low and began playing seriously aged 47 moved into the top division local league and beaten some of the best players in the country, (Both players had played Premier British league).

Veteran scene here we come
Michael is 64 now and we are both aiming to hit the world veteran scene. I’ve learnt that age is just a number and that the table tennis ball doesn’t know your age. I’ve also learnt to believe in the impossible because of Michael, who is Mr Impossible…

And that’s why Michael is my inspiration!

How Long Have You Been Playing Table Tennis?

Within less than a year of playing, I was asked, “how long have you been playing table tennis?” To this day I receive the same question!

What does this question mean?

If your level is high but you have only been playing for a short period of time, people think wow you’re amazing!
If you level is high but you have been playing for a long time, people think and say, “you should be good”. Or if your level is low then the perception changes to “hmmm you’re not very good considering the amount of time you’ve been playing”!
Answering the question has a negative regardless of your answer!

Should your level of play depend on time?

As a past player, I naturally resorted to answering the question with minimal time, today as a coach it’s the opposite.

I think your answer is irrelevant and the focus should be on your personal achievements.

Is time important?

100% time is important and all table tennis players must respect their playing time.

Some players can play for 20 years and still lose to players who have only played for 2 years. It’s all about how you use your time. There are no official shortcuts to becoming a top-class player. It takes time, dedication and plenty of hard work.

Having said that, there are ways of reaching a higher level at a faster rate than most.

What can I do to improve faster, playing table tennis?

What you do with your time: I remember watching two players knock up (backhand to backhand and forehand to forehand) for a good hour every training session. Aged 15-16 I thought wow these two guys are dedicated, towards personal growth. My ignorance eluded me and today I wouldn’t dare request this kind of training from my players. First of all, no game is played with BH and FH only. Secondly, why would you hone in a stroke placed in one location when the game has no set routine? yes, development if the stroke is benefited if one places the ball in one area. Once a stroke has been developed, look into various ways of implementing it a match scenario. In order for you to develop as a player, it is vital to explore all aspects of the game.

Utilise your time: Top table tennis players focus on using their time on the table only to enhance their game. Developing your game can be done in so many forms off the table. This includes physical development, mental challenges (chess games, problem-solving, working alone or in a team). Nutritional, awareness and implementation. Visualisation, seeing yourself develop and growing into a top player.

A few videos to aid you in training off the table: Reaction and physical development   Serve

Don’t question your table time: many upcoming players think of playing table tennis with good players only, is the key to developing one’s game. You’re stopping your own development because of your constant search of good players to train and play with. Playing with good players only has many restrictions and issues.

Who should you train with?

40% of your table time  – players above your level: they will push beyond your comfort zone. They will find holes in your game and you will experience what you require to further your game
40% of your table time – players of in and around your level: this will benefit your game in a comfortable challenge allowing you to access your current level
20% of your table time – players below your level: This provides you with an opportunity to experiment with new serves, tactics and skills you’ve recently developed. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to increase your playing focus and learn to take all the players seriously.

How Long have you been playing table tennis?

Avoid this question:

Who will be there?
If you’re an aspiring player, ask the question how will I benefit from the experience? It’s a big mistake when a player asks who will be at the club or camp? The players won’t improve your level, the experience and coaches will guide your personal requirements. The players will just challenge your game depending on their level.

Zone in on making the most of what you have and you will succeed even if the current environment isn’t quite right

Written by Eli Baraty

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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Individual or Group Table Tennis Coaching?

If you had a choice of Individual or group table tennis coaching? which would you pick?

Instinctively, I believe most would pick individual coaching! I would like to point out the pros and cons of both. I hope it will help you choose the best pathway for your table tennis development.

Group Table Tennis Coaching

We often start our table tennis journey inside a group of players. The sessions are either lead by a coach or players run the session constructively or freely.


1. Verity: Often a group will provide many challenges alongside different playing styles. Verity of play can make the game more enjoyable which may entice positive self-development.
2. Challenge: A group of players working towards higher achievement by setting goals pushes will certain individuals to develop faster. This can have a domino effect making everyone thrive towards greater success.
3. Learn from each other: As the saying goes two heads are better than one. When a group of collective people are in search of development they will find answers quicker than one person. It also helps to have different opinions and thoughts but be careful as it can be overwhelming and can lead to negative effects.


1. Motivation: A group may be content just playing. If this is the case your development will be limited because there is no objective towards growth.
2. The same: We are all unique and in most cases required personal coaching to develop specific needs. More often than not groups as a whole, do the same exercises regardless of individual requirements.
3. Limited focus: If you have a coach running the group session, you have a very small amount of their time. Receiving limited personal attention can and most likely will deter your progression line.

Sam Priestley receiving private coaching
Coaching Sam Priestley from Expert in a Year

Individual Table Tennis Coaching:


1. You’re the centre of attention: A coach will give you 100% attention and hone in on your specific requirements.
2. Individual: You can work on your specific needs rather than working on something generic.
3. Monitor: A coach can develop programmes that monitor your progression line. Via: video, log book, rankings and tournament results.


1. The coach: If the coach is inexperienced or set in their ways, you may receive poor advice. This can have a negative effect on your game and overall confidence.
2. Your requirements: Every table tennis coach is different and some may not suit your personal requirements or needs. For example, if you’re a penholder player it may be slightly more beneficial getting a coach who plays that specific style. Not always but it can have the added benefits of their personal experience.
3. Money: A high-quality table tennis can be an expensive investment. A low-quality coach can be even more expensive! (Lots of cheap sessions with no results)

Rough Guide to Individual or Group Table Tennis Coaching:

Personally, if I was still a player I would want a little from both worlds.

Pro level
An individual table tennis coach for 2-6 hours per week and 15-25 hours group table tennis coaching. I would also have a few hours of personal training with a sparring partner or group of partners. Total 30 plus hours per week of table time.

National to international level
Individual coaching 1-4 hours per week and group coaching 10-20. Furthermore, I would create personal sessions with a sparring or group of players for 2-4 hours per week

Local to a county level
Attend a group table tennis coaching session 1-2 per week with 5-10 hours of group coaching. Have 1-2 hours of individual coaching and arrange some personal training 1-3 hours a week.

Local league
Attend a group coaching session once or twice a week and have individual coaching 1 hour per week or fortnightly.

Which would you choose? Individual or group coaching?

There’s no right or wrong answer, it all depends on your specific needs and personal requirements.

Examples of Individual Coaching

Examples of Group Coaching

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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​Adult Table Tennis and Coaching in England!

Unfortunately, there is a lack of adult table tennis coaching in England! Competitive table tennis players in England are aged between 10-18 years and 40-70 years of age. There is a big gap between the ages of 18-40-year-olds, arguably the most crucial time in any sport.

What has happened and what can be done?

The English table tennis system lets its players down! We have a structured table tennis coaching system for cadets and juniors. This can be seen in practically every region and at most table tennis club across the nation. Very rarely do we see or have an adult coaching session! When I played in France each evening/night had a leading coach holding a coaching session for adults. I would often go to other local clubs and they too would run group adult coaching. In the whole of England, I am yet to physically see a week by week (daily basis) adult coaching session run by a coach/coaches!

Coaching adults at table tennis clubs
Adult Table Tennis Coaching

A culture has been created,

A lot of adults don’t want to train or develop their game and feel more at home with playing games/matches. But this is because they have not been given inside a coaching cultured system. Some adults will train solely with a friend or a clique training group. This culture of only match play or selfish training does not help anyone to grow and develop. Sports like football, rugby, tennis flourish because they have set training for all age groups including adults. And most clubs have a coach if not a coaching team developing their club players regardless of age.


Most players start young and they alongside their parents invest hundreds-thousands of hours alongside financial investment. If you are: Beginner level, you often enjoy the game recreationally and it’s an inexpensive sport. A Good player level, expenses become higher due to tournaments, coaching, equipment etc. Very good players level, expenses become even greater, local national and international tournament and training come into play. Elite player level, Top in your age group and possibly an England squad/team player, after all, your investments you need to pay for the luxury of being apart of the squad! Only if you are exceptionally good, then you will receive most for free and if you are super exceptional you’ll earn money and have sponsorship from the sport. When I played full time in France and Germany, the clubs rewarded the player from a very good level. If you had played at the club and were at a good national level representing the club, you would receive free rubbers and blades (limit, was dependent on level). If are very good, coaching is given for free and if you’re exceptional you are paid to represent the club alongside other perks.

How can we make a change for the better and help cater to all age groups?

Firstly, if countries like Belgium, Germany, Poland, France etc. can do it then so can we! All we truly need is a greater support system in place via the governing body  (TTE). A system which help’s clubs whether they are personally capable or not in producing good players. We must support and nurture those who are working hard towards success and not only the club’s who are incapable. I don’t mean to be critical but I often see clubs that have been granted money and frankly, it’s a waste of money. Further-more these clubs are supported and helped by the governing body and for what?

What you put in you get out

I believe if someone is helping themselves, it’s because they want more and they want success, those are the people and clubs we should give an extra helping hand. Some may argue with me here but I often tell my players, the more you give (to yourself as a player) the more I’ll give you. Some players may feel Eli has his favourites nothing could be further from the truth. I was desperate to be coached as a youngster and often saw other players regardless of talent or commitment receive more than me. I would be the first in the hall and last to leave, unfortunately, there was favouritism. In terms of investment, it was clearly poor because today I am alongside possibly 5 others from my age group remained in the sport. If I see a player with true hunger seen through his/her eyes, I will do my utmost to give them my attention. All they must do is impart continuous positive input. I’m sure most of you have heard of the saying in business, input versus output, I genuinely believe in that philosophy.

I aim to change the structure of English Table Tennis over the next few decades for the greater good and I need each one of you to help by doing your part in your table tennis clubs.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBatt (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis) Coach Me Table Tennis by Eli Baraty      
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Why I Coach Table Tennis

Why I Coach Table Tennis, well it all started from watching a film which inspired me to play table tennis. From being a player I quickly fell in love with helping and guiding others inside the sport.

The Begining:

It all starts somewhere and the initial impact can shape the direction in which we ultimately go towards. Getting hammered by every opponent was not a pleasant experience, we all experience some sort of humiliation by certain individuals for not having good skills and that can be soul destroying. I remember progressing in the sport yet at the time my level was still low and after six months of playing I remember a common theme; I would ask good players to play with me and their response would be sorry “I’m playing x,y and z maybe later! or “you’re not good enough” “I’m tired” then go off and play with someone else! there were many more excuses and it dawned on me there and then, (if I ever become a top player, I’ll play with anyone..)

Coaching Miri, table tennis coaching 1-2-1

We all start at the bottom, of course, some progress faster than others but in reality, our starting point is virtually the same, ‘BEGINNER’ level. I began to coach table tennis when I was 18 years old and I was fortunate to inherit a coaching job from my coach (Gideon Ashison). I soon realised that coaching is much more than just correction of strokes and game development.

Coaching gave me the opportunity to help others in their game but most importantly believe in them, something I wanted as an aspiring young player.

Today I’ve coached many national and international players simply because:
I Care
I’m Passionate
I have studied and never stop studying Table Tennis

I want to see players I coach regardless of age or level; learn, improve and achieve

So, if you are really serious about your game, contact me so I can help you develop your table tennis.

Written by Eli Baraty
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