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      Richard Prause Interview - WSA Head Coach

      TableTennisDaily exclusive interview with Table Tennis professional coach Richard Prause!

      Thanks for taking part in our TableTennisDaily interview Richard.

      Enjoy the questions!

      Full Name: Richard Prause
      Age: 45
      Date Of Birth: 09.03.1968
      Height: 178cm
      Current club: TG Nieder Roden, but only if I find the time, it is the club where I started To play
      Before: Grenzau, Ochsenhausen, Gönnern
      Highest World Ranking: 58



      Equipment –
      Blade: Butterfly Maze Off
      FH Rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 05 red
      BH Rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 05 black


      Your coaching career

      What gave you the inspiration to be a coach?

      After a long career as a professional table tennis player I gained a lot of experience and was really interested in giving back what I learnt to the younger players. I love table tennis that much, that it was really crucial for me to stay in the sport, so after I stopped playing as a professional I begun coaching.


      BladeDeferi asks, what do you think makes you a good coach?

      I think I have the ability to treat all types of players in a different and individual way. And I see myself as a coach who’s able to approach different players in a different way that is specific towards them.



      Coach Prause won the German team silver at the Olympics in Beijing


      Der_Echte asks, Can you tell everyone here exactly which hard work you did to earn such a dream job in many of the places you have been? What qualifications and experience do you have in table tennis?

      First of all I started to play kind of professional table tennis at the age of 17. I started to be more and more inside table tennis. All together I played as a professional table tennis player for more than 15 years before I started to get into the coaching aspects of the game. I made of course also the A-license of the German Table Tennis Association. I started some years to work as an assistant coach. So this was really a step by step job and took quite some time before I took over my first job as the head coach for the German National Women’s Team. I think the main thing throughout my coaching career is, that you keep the experience you gained in your mind and try to give all this experience back to the players you are working with.


      YosuaYosan asks, German's table tennis is considered one of the most highly regarded, professional table tennis, producing some of the strongest players in the world. As one of the best and most experienced coach in the field of table tennis, what in your opinion is the vital key points for table tennis to be able to grow prosperously in a country?

      Good question. I think you need some young talents to win titles at a very young age. This needs to be some kind of tradition. I think for Germany a key moment was in 1969 when Eberhard Schöler became vice World Champion in Germany. Then, 20 years later, in 1989 Jörg Rosskopf and Steffen Fetzner won the world championships in doubles in Dortmund. Maybe another little key moment for Germany was at the 2006 World Championship in Bremen, where we played a semi-final against China in front of more than 12.000 spectators. I think all these big moments especially when you have the chance to have the big events inside your country and the host nation is doing quite a good job then the sport can take off. Compare it with the German soccer team, which won the World Championships in 1974 in Germany or also in 2006 where the German team became third. That caused the crowd inside the country some passion for the sport.


      Dan asks, as an aspiring coach myself Richard, what do you think is the best way to become a professional coach? Your very well known for your spinny forehand open up that Timo Boll has developed. Do you have any tips on this effective shot?

      Well, the main thing is not only to think of table tennis as a sport where you want to win the point directly. Very often it is, that you have to prepare the point whereby your using your wrist on a very good and effective way and that’s part of the philosophy of Timo Bolls game.



      Training with the pros

      PhillipRJ asks, How does a typical week of practice look for a player like Timo Boll?

      This is difficult question as Timo has so many tournaments so that each week is different for practice. For the Top Players like Timo you try To focus a Lot on small Things, perhaps a new Service or a new placement of Service. It is also important that you include enough physical practice e.g., power training and endurance as for many of the top players it's crucial to be really fit.



      Richard Prause coaching Timo Boll - Photo by: tischtennis.de


      How will a player (without a coach) increase his/her on game analysis?

      I think a good way is to watch your own games on videos for sure and try to compare it with different videos, with different levels of players. Try to find the difference there. Try to see what your placement of your own topspin is. Will you play only in one position of the ball, will you change the placement of the ball etc. That’s something I think a player should start with as a first step.


      How important is the short game in table tennis (serve & receive) Any exercises you could give us to develop this?

      For sure short-short game is really crucial in modern table tennis, especially to have the ability to play two times short in a row. And this kind of thing you should work with different sparring partners in order to have different service you can react on to get use to. It's good to play this short play also against a lot with many/multi balls in order that you not only playing short, but you’re playing short and coming back fast for the next stroke then coming again in front, this moving not only right and left and forwards/backwards is important to develop and improve.



      Richard Prause demonstrating the short touch on TableTennisDaily's visit to the Werner Schlager Academy


      jedimasterplk asks, At what age does a table tennis player stop being competitive? I don't mean at international level, but simply at pro level...Waldner played and won his last major title in his forties, do you think that would have been possible today, or is that physically impossible?

      I think the players start to learn to know their own body better and better. For example He Zhiwen is older than 50 years and still competitive. Jean Michael-Saive, Zoran Primorac and others are still playing at a high level of table tennis. You have many of the former top players who keep on competing on the tour. The main thing is you have to learn that you cannot play 'maybe' your best table tennis but you’re still enjoying to fight against different players and enjoy the game. Then it’s no problem to play up to the forties or even older.


      Werner Schalger Academy (WSA)

      SpinQuark asks, TableTennisDaily has thousands of eager players of all ages and levels keen to develop and improve their skills and enjoyment. Please can you tell us more about the content of the training programmes offered by the WSA for different levels of player. Is the WSA focussed only on top international players and why might players at different levels want to consider visiting the academy or joining one of your WSA training camps?

      The Werner Schlager Academy considers itself as a table tennis center on the highest level. We are ready to host different players of different nations, from different ages and from different levels. Our idea is to give the best possible environment, doesn’t matter your world ranking is No. # 10 or No. #1000. As we can see right now, we have 54 living full time in the WSA. The best ranked is Marcos Freitas, who is currently No. #22 on the ITTF rankings. And the number 54 player of the group is one player from Slovakia who’s ranked lower than no. #1500 in the world. And for all these players we find more or less very good possibilities. As we have high experienced staff of coaches for different ages and different levels. I think this kind of possibility, not only for the top players, but also for the little bit lower or medium class in the world ranking (no. 300, 400, 500 or 800). We are hosting at the same time the Austrian National Team with all the different levels and ages. And especially we started also our women’s program led by Tamara Boros and Aya Umemura. We are an ITTF hot spot center which is ready to welcome, as we said, different ages, different levels, different nationalities and for sure, all these different groups we will find the best solution for them.


      Slevin asks, What steps are taken (if any) at the WSA to ensure that the training for international-level European players before major competitions is just as intensive as that offered by China to the Chinese National Team?


      I think the difference is that, many players from especially the top level in China is that you don’t have the chance to compete with them. You cannot just go to China and ask to practice with Wang Hao. The motivation at the WSA from all the players who are practicing in the WSA is that they all have the same goals and that they all want to push themselves to a higher level. It’s always good to have a bigger group. And these kinds of players who are deciding to play in the WSA have all the same goals and the same dream, namely to climb up in the world ranking to reach a higher level to win titles on the highest possible stage. And the coaches, they are not only concentrating one nationality. They are ready here to help the players. Everybody benefits from this system. So therefore I would recommend for sure no problem, go to China get your experience there and then try also the WSA, compare it. And I think many will for sure say that the WSA is something extraordinary.




      The main thing is that of course if you want to go to China in order to practice there you don’t have as European player easily the chance to practice with a player like Wang Hao. So the main thing is, you have to try to go to a place where you create a group of players with the same goals, same dreams and same high levels of motivation. And for sure WSA is one of these places where you can see that you’ve got a lot of players around with the same dreams and the coaches really will try their very best to help these players with a very high and individual, intense practice. And therefore I think we can guarantee that not only just before the big tournaments we have intensive practice but throughout the whole year.


      Sali asks, Do you think the WSA it is much better from other academies? If so what are the biggest advantages of the WSA?

      One of the biggest advantages of the Werner Schlager Academy for sure is that we have a 365 day program. We have highly experienced staff here and we are really creating different groups and putting the different coaches to the different groups. For example especially for the women group we put Tamara Boros in our staff in order to concentrate on the women’s group. But also with the experience of a coach like Dmitrij Levenko or Dirk Wagner who was for a long time coaching Timo Boll in Germany for Borussia Düsseldorf. I think our coaching staff, only to name some of them is really advanced and really experienced.


      YosuaYosan asks, In your opinion, what difference will WSA make to the world of table tennis, both short-term and long-term?

      I think for short term effect we have already seen that WSA has some players who have the hope to develop their game from a high level to an even higher level. But the long term goal of course has to be that the WSA will become a brand that is ready to produce top players from different nations, thus players start to come to the WSA when they are really young and benefit throughout their whole career and hopefully win medals in worlds- or Olympic title events. That’s of course one of the long term shots of the WSA and that’s what we are trying very hard to work for.

      More information about the Werner Schlager Academy here.


      Mental aspects

      Poltery asks, How will you strengthen a player's mental state in a deuce situation?

      I think table tennis is of course a very mental game. No doubt about that. The main thing which I think about the mental side of table tennis is that a player is not concentrating about the score but also concentrating very much on the next point. I think it's also very crucial that the player has prepared well up to match, therefore gaining lots of confidence in practice and feels that his opponent really has to play very well in order to play close against you. This kind of feeling you have to educate, you have to show to the player. Always strengthen the self-confidence and one more time make sure they’re not relying or not keeping the concentration too much on the score but more on the next ball, on the next rally.


      Equipment

      Poltery asks, In your own opinion, what is the best brand of table tennis equipments for pros? for beginners?

      Meanwhile many brands are trying to produce top material. I personally rely on the material of Butterfly as it is by far the most experienced material. And many of the top players (for example Timo Boll) are relying on Butterfly. So therefore I personally also rely on Butterfly very much.


      infarctus asks, Young kids who decide to play defence with long pimples. Do you promote this? Are there many young players who choose this way? If yes what's the chronology of their training? Do they start long pimples training at the moment they decide to? Do you respect their initial choice with playing long pimples or do you always promote the off play with your pupils?

      Usually most of the defence players, meanwhile all the players who are using long pimples started to learn with two normal rubbers. And I think that’s also something the coach should push in one direction and for example Ding Song started to play with two normal rubbers before he changed to pimples at the age of 16. I think first you need to be able to control and try to learn everything with two normal rubbers and then when you’re a little bit older you should maybe consider the possibility of changing but not too early.


      China Table Tennis

      TTFrenzy asks, Many people involved in Table Tennis believe that the chinese are now unbeatable. The same belief was proven utterly false by the swedish team back in the 85-95 decade. I believe that Japan, Germany, France and Korea have good possibilities on beating them but they are afraid of them too much. What do you think?

      I don’t think so. It’s not a question of being afraid. It’s a question of many things which are coming together. I think the Chinese are really advanced in their style of play and they produce not only one or two number one players as Germany maybe has right now with Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. But China have many players nearly on the same level as right now the generation is really strong with Xu Xin, Wang Hao, Ma Long, Zhang Jike. So therefore I believe that the problem might be that many of the stronger nations like Japan or also Germany they need to play really their best table tennis at the same time. And they need to improve for sure also the general level not only of the number one or number two. But the general level in order to raise the total level that’s the Chinese have quite some advantage right now. Even the number 9 or number 10, I think could be in the world ranking at about maybe 30 or 40 or even higher. That means also for the practice quality every day, they have very intense practice quality there. And that’s at this moment for sure something if you compare the other nations, they are not that advanced in.


      PingPongPom asks, What is it about Timo Boll that lifts him that little bit higher than the other European players to challenge the Chinese and claim the Euro Champs title 6 times?

      I think Timo has for sure a better touch for producing extra spin in the ball. And for sure he understands table tennis on a very high level. Knowing very early in which way the opponent is moving, and therefore having an advantage for time in order to move into the right way. And I think these are the two main things, like Timo has better feeling for spin and has a very good eye in order to read the game.


      Cedric3006 asks, German players are probably the best player in Europe. However it´s still difficult to defeat Chinese players. What do you think is missing in European table tennis so we can be as good as them?

      I think some of the top European players have the chance to beat the Chinese. But one thing all this top European players have in common, like Samsonov, Maze, Boll, Ovtcharov is, that they started very early and they started to practice with a very high concentration and a high level of motivation and they never lost their focus. And many of the other players are not reaching the top, they maybe started too late to practice and to move in this intense concentrated direction.


      Choolee asks, what are the biggest differences between the European and Chinese playing style ( advantages / disadvantages ) ?

      I think in general the European system is based a little bit more on spin as the Chinese style is a little bit more based on speed. The combination of both of course would be perfect. But also, this is maybe one of the points where the Chinese are in this way giving themselves easier the chance to go for the first fast top spin that they are better above the table. They are coming with this fast backhand flick, and they are very good at the second time short ball. This is giving them the chance to go on the first half long ball with a very fast top spin. The European style needs longer rallies in order to win the point.



      Ma Long & Timo Boll doubles pairings with two complete different styles - Photo by: ITTF


      Technology Coaching

      Chopong has some questions on the future of technology and coaching in table tennis...

      Statistics:
      - Do professional players/coaches use a lot of statistical analysis and track matches ?


      We used that in Germany before, and I think that the Chinese are using it to. There are different ways of software but they use it as for example in Tennis or different ball sports. Many coaches are using different kind of systems. For example Butterfly has a new app where you can also track matches. And this is for sure is worth a try.

      - What do you think about the new butterfly app you contributed to develop?

      I think the Butterfly App. is a big step forward for many players as you can use it in different directions.
      First To get an idea about different exercises and body work out which is shown by Top Players. And Second the Tagging which you usually only can do with really expansive Software.

      We Hope To get a dialoge with the Community in order oo keep on developing the App. I really believe this is a New Approach that it has not done before.


      More information about the Butterfly App here

      Robots
      - Do professional player normally uses robots ?


      I think a Robot might be an Interesting tool for a coach, to reach the basic strokes. It's also very helpful for a coach organizing bigger groups it.


      Off the topic questions

      Who’s the most famous person you know through table tennis?

      Susan Sarandon

      Who’s your favorite sportsman of all time?

      Mohammed Ali

      Favorite film?

      The Godfather

      What’s your favorite music?

      German Hip-Hop

      What do you do in your spare time other then table tennis?

      Running, reading

      Do you eat well or eat junk good?

      Has to be balanced

      PS3 or XBOX 360?

      PS3

      Have you browsed the website TableTennisDaily.co.uk before?

      Yes I browsed TableTennisDaily.co.uk, and I think it’s a rather interesting and a professional website.

      And Lastly

      And lastly, thanks very much Richard for your kindness in taking part in this interview for all the members of the TableTennisDaily site to learn and know more about the life of a professional player.

      Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message to us passionate members of TableTennisDaily?

      Keep working, as you will miss all the shots you didn’t try.

      Good luck with the WSA and the team.

      Thanks for your time.

      The TableTennisDaily Team

    2. The Following 20 Users Like TableTennisDaily's Post:

      aspitalak (08-07-2013),Broannaoweday (10-03-2013),depay (07-28-2013),Der_Echte (06-22-2013),DutToitymnTon (09-24-2013),fnord (06-22-2013),lalaBlaliNinc (11-15-2013),peebrargopani (11-30-2013),PhilipRJ (06-21-2013),speandescalay (10-17-2013),Steven (06-23-2013),strideforward (06-22-2013),Suga D (09-21-2016),tanuarmandemi (11-05-2013),venpeerie (11-09-2013),WiWa (07-29-2013),YosuaYosan (06-22-2013),yurybarquero (06-22-2013)

    3. Top | #2
      Matt Hetherington is offline
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      Very comprehensive
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      Indeed - thanks to Rich for doing this - awesome interview actually - loved it. Richard is a top bloke.

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      Der_Echte is offline
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      Great interview TTD and thanks Richard P.
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      Love it, great insight!
      Check out my table tennis TV show & podcast at the ThePongcast.com

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      Now that's cool.
      Woooo

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      Filip is offline
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      Best interview so far. I really learn from him, also when he's commentating a match. I learned that you can flick in many ways, not just like zhang jike with topspin, but if you see Marcos freitas, he's always doing a backspin flick. That flick killed him against Xu Xin however

    9. Top | #8
      Dan is offline
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      Glad you all liked the interview guys

      Quote Originally Posted by Filip View Post
      Best interview so far. I really learn from him, also when he's commentating a match. I learned that you can flick in many ways, not just like zhang jike with topspin, but if you see Marcos freitas, he's always doing a backspin flick. That flick killed him against Xu Xin however
      Your sure right there Filip. He knows so much! I learnt a lot from him in the space of 30 minutes at the WSA it was incredible!

      Hopefully we can get more interviews like this!

      Sent from my S2 using Tapatalk 2

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      True legend! His commentary during games is remarkable. Low-key, but immense knowledge.

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      Thanks TTD for showing me the link.

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      Very good interview.

      Thanks for the video pointer reg short pushes. However, I didn't understand him fully there. Can someone please explain what he is saying there? Was the player going into the ball hitting it little too hard? Is that what he is saying?

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