Does Qualification Affect Our Sport? (Table Tennis)

A debate I feel strongly about and some will agree and others may not! 

18 years ago, I passed my level 2 ETTA coaching licence (update recently to UKCC). Back then I believed I was a top coach, little did I know how poorly educated I was inside the field of TT coaching. I was a confident young man due to a good personal playing level. Unfortunately, my ignorance gave me a false impression of my true coaching capability. Nevertheless, I pursued a career as a table tennis coach and decided to self-educate by…Reading books, watching other coaches, speaking to coaches and players from around the world. I continued to develop my knowledge by looking at all the possible elements that could enhance and increase the rate of improvement for aspiring players. All these things have made me question, does qualification affect our sport?

Qualified for the world table tennis school championships
World Table Tennis School Championships


Always developing and growing

18 years later my mindset has changed and I feel like a ‘developing coach’ rather than a top coach. I aspire to continuously grow as a coach and help my beloved sport (table tennis) continuously grow.

I may have accomplished a lot over the past 18 years since passing my level 2. But the question remains, Is it because of my qualification? Or my desire to be an accomplished table tennis coach?

To date, no one has ever asked me what level I am as a coach! I pride myself on giving my best to all my students rather than let a certificate qualify me.

Where I believe, we are going wrong;

We judge per qualification instead of achievements. This can be extremely problematic, as some coaches may not feel the need to self-develop and rely upon their higher tier certificate to quantify their coaching skills.

Would you ever ask Alex Ferguson what level coaching badge he has?

We all know he’s the most successful football manager the premiership has ever seen, so let’s focus on those who continuously achieve and grow rather than what course they have been on.

I have a very good friend who possesses the highest level of football qualification, yet he was coaching at junior level football for many years while possessing that qualification. He was always told you must prove your worth before you can move up to the big league. Recently he was asked to coach a senior national team, not because of his qualification but because of his coaching success.

Why do former top players walk into high national/international coaching jobs without any previous coaching experience?

Achievement as a player should not qualify you as a top coach, with some coaching experience; possibly yes, but with very little experience how are you able to draw your player’s needs?

Studying other sports I quickly noticed, many coaches are often not top players themselves or the highest qualified. On the contrary, they are successful as a coach continuously producing positive results. This is due to self-development and they produce the goods without the need to have the higher tier qualifications.

Qualification affects our sport in England

To make matters worse becoming qualified in England as a coach is virtually guaranteed unless you fail to complete the course. If I taught my wife how to do the basics strokes and put her on a TTE coaching course, she could potentially be a fully qualified level 1,2 and 3 coaches. In theory, my wife can qualify herself as a level 3 coach, giving her more kudos than me on paper.

Let’s focus on developing our sport by supporting coaches that thrive to achieve and succeed. Coaches who self-develop and don’t necessarily want or need a higher qualification to showcase themselves as good or great coaches.

The governing body should enforce a tighter ruling on who can pass the higher levels of qualification giving them true meaning.

I decided to write this on behalf of fellow coaches that I believe have amazing coaching skills and abilities but are considered less than due to lower tier qualification (by choice). In some cases, some people are unable to afford the courses, especially when there’s no direct reward.

If you’re looking for a top coach look at their track record, not their qualification. More about coaching click here

Written by Eli Baraty