Northampton Table Tennis
From time to time I like to share with you one of the many emails I received from table tennis players describing and explaining their progress in the sport. I find it really inspiring to hear about the experiences of Expert Table Tennis readers in their quest for table tennis expertise and I hope that by sharing them on the blog they will help others on their journey.
Today’s “player profile” is of Henry Arthur, who I was fortunate enough to meet at the Nottingham Grand Prix last season while I was doing the rounds with Sam. He has dedicated a lot of effort to his table tennis over the last few years and is seeing the hard work pay off in his results and ranking. Over to Henry…
I really enjoyed listening to the podcast with Rory Scott and it kind of links into my own experiences so I thought I would share them with you. My name is Henry Arthur (I’m the guy on the left in the photo), I’m 39 years old and I live in Corby, Northamptonshire.
I started playing table tennis when I was about 13 or 14 but never really had any coaching. It was just something else to do when I wasn’t playing football or cricket. After a serious accident in 2008, when I was 33, I had to take 2 years out of all sport to recover. During my recovery, I started searching the internet so I could start talking to people on sports forums since I couldn’t really get out of the house. This was when I discovered forums such as TableTennisDaily and the now-defunct Table Tennis Talk, as well as websites such as PingSkills and Larry Hodges’ TableTennisCoaching.com. I also came across your Expert Table Tennis site.
As someone who had never taken the sport seriously, and coming from a small table tennis club, I was unaware of the larger table tennis community out there. I thought table tennis pretty much started and finished at local league level! Prior to my accident, my playing ability meant that I was a yo-yo player between the top 2 divisions in my local league, normally managing about a 20% average in the Premier Division. On our local league ranking list, I would be ranked about 40 and on our County ranking list I would be ranked about 60. Obviously, I didn’t have a national ranking as I wasn’t even aware that Grand Prixs, British League, etc. were out there.
Getting the table tennis bug
As my body recovered, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself and get a taste of the British League experience. I organised a team and we entered the British League for the first time in 2012/13, being placed in Division 5 (North). I would like to say that it was a successful season but, playing in the number 2 position, I won just two matches all season! However, I had the bug and wanted to improve.
My goals at that stage were:
- Get into the top 20 in my local league rankings.
- Get into the top 40 in the County rankings.
- Achieve a 66.7% average in the local league.
- Represent my County at veteran level when I turn 40.
To do this, I realised that I needed to get some quality coaching and so I searched out a coach who lived fairly locally and played and coached at a high level. I also decided that I needed to play more players (you get too used to playing the same players year in, year out) and so signed up to play in a 2nd local league on a weekly basis and also as a reserve in a 3rd league! Due to other commitments, especially financial, I could only afford to have one hour of 1-to-1 with my coach each week but I did this just about every week for nearly 2 years. This came to an end in December 2014 when he was taken ill and it’s now 7 months since my last session with him.