January 7, 2018

Jiayi Zhou refining the art of chopping in Luxembourg. (Photo: ITTF)

Organised by the China Table Tennis College Europe in conjunction with the ITTF Education and Training Programme, the second Rough Diamonds training camp was held in Luxembourg from Sunday 10th December and to Tuesday 19th December. New Zealand’s Jiayi Zhou was selected to the attend the camp. Check out her report below about her experiences in Luxembourg and what she learnt from some of the world’s top coaches. 


Rough Diamonds training camp report

by Jiayi Zhou

The Rough Diamonds Training Camp was held from 10th to 19th of December in Luxembourg city. I learned many things from the high-calibre coaching syndicate, comprised of Zhang Yining as head coach, Yu Yang as boys’ coach, Wang Xiang as girls’ coach, and Cheng Xia from Luxembourg.

Knowledge of the art of chopping is relatively minimal in my local region due to the scarcity of renowned choppers. Subsequently, useful advice regarding my technique and playing method has been hard to come by. I gained invaluable knowledge and advice from the coaches throughout the Rough Diamonds training camp, all of which has been immensely beneficial to my game. Communication with the coaches was also fluent, courtesy to my ability to speak Mandarin. The improvements made to my game included adding extra spin to my serves, applying more power in my attacking shots, chopping with more quality and spin, using correct footwork, and being in position for the next shot. The training camp also included two lectures – one on practice methods, and the other regarding playing systems, where we analysed a match between Ma Long and Timo Boll playing. The lectures gave me a broader understanding of table tennis, and extended my knowledge of the game beyond solely technique.

Everyday, we trained for six hours, usually from 9:00am – 12:00pm, and 3:00pm to 6:00pm. Before every session started, all the players would assemble, and the coaches would brief us on the content of the upcoming session. Warmups would ensue, taking approximately 20 minutes. Not only did the thorough and specific warm-up equip me with new stretches and exercises, it also educated me on the intricacies of match preparation. At the conclusion of each training session, we were required to assemble again for a debrief. On two occasions, our training sessions were replaced by breaks. This gave us ample time to explore Luxembourg City and rest our bodies.

In addition, we would have a physical training session every morning from 7:30 to 8:00. This was a new experience for me. I think that the physical sessions were crucial as physical strength is an undervalued attribute of the game that is vital to consistency and stamina. Overall, the training workload was considerably more than what I usually do in New Zealand, hence the physical training sessions certainly helped with my endurance throughout the week.

I felt privileged to have Jessica as my personal coach for the camp, who was always present to remind me of my technical shortcomings and areas to work on.

I would like to lastly thank ITTF-Oceania for granting me a scholarship which aided with the training camp costs. I have realised that there are still a plethora of skills that I need to work on, most notably the quality of my chops, and mental strategy. In the future, I will work harder in both training sessions and matches.


Players and coaches at the Rough Diamonds training camp.