Table tennis, one of the most popular sports, is mainly a recreational activity in India. But there are some young aspirants who have an unbound passion for this exciting sport and have an inherent ambition to become a professional level player in the future. We have witnessed the recent massive success of some great Indian table tennis players, like Sharath Kamal Achanta, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manika Batra, and Sreeja Akula in world-level tournaments.
In the 2022 Commonwealth Games, India’s legend Sharath Kamal Achanta bagged 4 medals (3 Gold and 1 Silver) which is phenomenal in the perspective of Indian table tennis.
Also, Manika Batra created history, claiming the third spot in the 2022 Asian Table Tennis Championship by beating World No. 6 Hina Hayata in the Quarterfinal.
If you have interest and talent, you can be one of the greats with a systematic approach to the game.
How to Become a Table Tennis Player in India (Step-By-Step Guide)
This is only a summarized approach to depict the picture of the sequences to grow as a National-level table tennis player in India.
Step 1 (Approx. 2 Years)
- Plan early, an ideal age to look forward is 5 – 6 years.
- Get admitted to a good table tennis academy.
- Get acquainted with table tennis rules.
- Develop the basic skills in table tennis. Work on the four fundamental table tennis shots. This is the most important phase for a beginner to be equipped with the right kind of techniques from where he/ she can step forward to the advanced skills of table tennis.
- Practice for 2 – 3 hours on a daily basis.
Step 2 (Approx. 2 Years)
- Know the magic of spin.
- Train the advanced offensive (smash, topspin, loop), and defensive (chop, block) strokes.
- Experiment with different varieties of services.
- Make a habit of doing necessary physical exercises regularly.
- Be quick on your footwork.
- Take advantage of a good quality blade and rubbers according to your playing style.
- Play frequent matches with your practice partners.
- Consult with your coach about the difficulties faced in different situations.
- Practice hard for 4 – 5 hours regularly.
- Participate in the Under-11 State Ranking Tournaments which are organized by any of the 34 recognized State Table Tennis Association in India under TTFI (Table Tennis Federation of India). The State Ranking Tournaments held every year are segmented into 4 categories, Stage-I, Stage-II, Stage-III, and Stage IV (also called the State Championship). Stage IV is the most important tournament where you have the opportunity to collect maximum points, whereas, in Stage I, the point given is the lowest among the 4 types of tournaments. At the end of any calendar year, the individual state ranking of players is determined by the total points collected in all tournaments.
- At the National level, five zonal tournaments are organized every year by East, West, North, South, and Central zones. The top 8 (it may vary with State Associations) players of State Associations get the chance to participate in the Zonal tournaments. Top-ranked (Rank 1, 2, or 3) players get the advantage to compete with lower-ranked players of other State Associations in the qualifying round. The players who qualified for the main draw are engaged in an R/32 knock-out battle to decide the tournament’s winner.
- Apart from the Zonal tournaments, one National tournament is also being organized not only to decide the individual India ranking but also the State team ranking.
- The point allotted to the National tournament is the highest, whereas all 5 Zonal tournaments carry the same weightage.
- At the end of any calendar year, the national ranking (U-11) under the observance of TTFI is decided by the total points collected in all Zonal and National tournaments.
- Top-ranked players get the chance to represent India in International events under the guidance of ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation).
The same procedure is being followed for higher-aged groups, i.e. U-11, U-13, U-15, U-17, U-19, and finally Men/ Women. It’s also to be mentioned to become a successful table tennis player in India, you have to perform exceptionally well at the senior Men/ Women level.
Like many other sports, for Indian table tennis players, there is also job opportunity in the public sector and central government organizations, like Petroleum Sectors, Railways, Postal Services, Audit and Accounts, and many others. Becoming a top table tennis player in India is a long-term activity that is hard to cover without your passion for the game, discipline, devotion, and patience. But the most important thing is “Practice, practice, and practice”. The more you practice, the more unbeatable you will be.