„But what I enjoy most is the feeling of helping players to develop their skills.“
MIKAEL SIMON, Head of Fitness / Video analysis
Mikael, why table tennis?
I tested lots of different sports when I was younger (basketball, football, tennis, judo, handball, table tennis….). Until I was 14 years old, I did 2 or 3 sports in a club during the year. But after the age of 14, my mother told me to choose only one sport, so that I would have more time to focus on my studies which were getting more difficult at the time.
It was a very hard choice. My grandfather (he was a swimming coach) told me something which helped me to take a decision: he told me that he felt that I enjoyed playing table tennis more than any other sport and he thought that I had potential in this sport. 20 years on, I’m still playing table tennis and I’ve even turned it into my job.
What does a typical day as a LMC coach look like?
Although on the face of it, my schedule is quite similar every day, every day is different.
09:00 – I start with the warm up of the group for 20min, then I either turn around the table to check how the players are moving and playing, or I train with an individual player.
11:20 – At the end of the practice, I have a small group for 45min for a training session; we finish the morning around 12:30.
After having lunch altogether I have some meetings, or do a program or I have time for myself to go to the gym to stay fit.
16:00 – The afternoons are like the mornings, they start with a 2ndwarm up (more for fun, this time). Then I turn around the tables during the practice or I concentrate on training with just one player.
At the end of the 2ndpractice I have a group of players for a training session.
19:30 – I finish my working day.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As a fitness trainer, I am in charge of the players’ physical condition, so I do the exercise sessions. Sometimes I accompany them to the doctor – that way I can liaise doctors, our physio and the trainers. I assist coaches when necessary or I do some of the bandages when players have an injury. I go to the Jordan Bad – a thermal bath – for recovery sessions.
So, by the end of the week, I’ve done so many things that no day feels like the other – which I like a lot.
But what I enjoy most is the feeling of helping players to develop their skills. Often the physical process is very long, but after a hard period of training, when the coaches see a real improvement in a player, I feel proud to be part of this development process.
You are Head of Fitness: How fit do you have to be to work with the players?
I don’t think it’s really needed. The most important thing is to know how to guide players to become stronger, or faster or lighter in front of the table…. But if I want to try out things on myself first, I have to stay fit.
What can a talented player at the LMC expect from you?
I think they expect several things:
First of all, they expect me to give advice and show them exercises to stay fit (I know the most common injuries in table tennis and my players’ weak points of my players) so I need to show them exercises and advise them so that they are able to play during a long season without injury.
They also expect me to be able to develop their fitness level to have a more physical impact on their game.
Even if it’s not quite in my line of duty, they also expect me to have time for them to discuss ideas, nutrition or how to keep going during a competition.