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Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 2: How Could the Best European Players Beat the Best Asian Players?

07 September 2017  | Posted in: Table Tennis Tips, Fun & Inspiration

Ferenc Karsai, one of Europe's top table tennis coaches, discusses if there's any chance for European players to successfully compete with the best Asian players, and if so, how it could be done.

Who is Ferenc Karsai?

Karsai is one of Europe's most famous table tennis coaches. He was the head coach of Austrian Men’s National Team from 1995 to 2013 working with Karl Jindrak, Robert Gardos, Chen Weixing, Werner Schlager, Daniel Habesohn, and others. Coach of World Team against China in 2004, and was elected to be the best trainer of all sports in Austria in 2003.

Although officially retired after leaving the Austrian National Team, he remains active and has been seen coaching Canadian and Belgium players at World Championships and other important international competitions.

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Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 1: How Plastic Balls Have Changed Table Tennis
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 3: Is the Sport of Table Tennis Expanding or Shrinking?
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 4: Advice to Recreational Table Tennis Players for Improving Their Game
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 5: Are Boosters Good for Table Tennis?
Ferenc Karsai Video Interview Part 6: Are the Many Recent Changes in Table Tennis Rules Good?

Ferenc Karsai Full 1 Hour Interview - Plastic Balls, Boosters, How to Improve Your Game, and Much More

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Transcript of the Interview:

The Interviewer: As far I know, you worked a lot in Europe. Do you think that there is any chance or any opportunity for European countries and for European players to compete with best Chinese and best Japanese players now? 

Ferenc Karsai: When I was a national coach in Austria, I practice three times with Chinese national team, because we practice together, preparation to the world championships three times. The table tennis was not so fast like now [inaudible] from table. They are more professional than in Europe. I cannot compare all organization, practice, coach, how many players working with the coach, the analyzer, everything is more professional. I don't see that European has so professional organization, even one country. Or, European work together, I don't see that European work together, because the big countries like German and French, they work separate. After very difficult to organize in Europe, central camp or central long project, against China. This is, I don't think so, that China or Asia, we can say now Asia, we are not so good like the Asia.

The Interviewer: You think that this distance, this gap from China to Europe, it will be bigger?

Ferenc Karsai: Asia to Europe is bigger.

The Interviewer: Asia to Europe, yes. 

Ferenc Karsai: Yes.

The Interviewer: Asia to Europe will be bigger and bigger.

Ferenc Karsai: Bigger and bigger.

The Interviewer: You see no chance for Europe for to make any steps?

Ferenc Karsai: Because don't work together, Europe. 

The Interviewer: The only possibility is to join together.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes. Because, the system is different. If you see, Japan, also China and Korea, first priority, the national and international. National team, and the international world championship, Asia game, or Olympic championship. Here, first priority in Europe, to get the money from the club. The club money is most important, like high priority than international, world championship and Olympic games. And then federations doesn't work together with the club enough, they work something together. This is not enough. If you see it in China, you have the China team, professional team, in August, one and a half months, and finished. After they are free, for the national team. National practice and everything from October until world championship, everything, they do what the national federation say. After, they must make full preparation. In Europe, you start with the club, club, club, club. Club don't give permission to go to international, but the player cannot do nothing because they need their money. This is the problem. This is also one point why Asia more gap between ...

The Interviewer: More gap between other worlds. The only chance for Europe is to be unified. 

Ferenc Karsai: For Europe, I think is a chance. If the free times for the best players, 18, 20 years, the best players, together to work, I think one year - two months, different time, together, and professional preparation, technique correction, everything, what is the best in the future, to make ... But, it must organize the European Table Tennis Union for east countries, west countries, is the best. Without protection, really the best talents. After, maybe we can come step by step to ...

The Interviewer: Closer to Asian.

Ferenc Karsai: Yes.

The Interviewer: Players. 

Ferenc Karsai: This is my opinion. 

The Interviewer: What do you think, in terms of not politic, not money, but in terms of preparation, in terms of training process? Is there any opportunity to beat this Chinese system, which they have a lot of playing hours, a lot of practice, a lot of coaches. But before Sweden could compete with Chinese. Even Chinese team was very strong. They paid a lot attention to table tennis on different levels. On the club levels, on the government levels, but still Sweden was able to compete against China, because they have different style, different way of practicing. 

Ferenc Karsai: You speak ...

The Interviewer: I'm talking whether, should Europeans copy Chinese way of training, or they should create something their own?

Ferenc Karsai: If we speak about the Sweden generation, beat China about 20 years ago.

The Interviewer: Exactly.

Ferenc Karsai: Karlsson, Persson, Waldner. Before Hungary beat.

The Interviewer: Yes, before Hungary ...

Ferenc Karsai: My country beat China also. This is about '79, we beat China, Hungary. It was 40 years ago almost. What's happened in these 40 years? 40 years, why first Hungary can beat China? Because the Hungarian players made a revolution in table tennis. New style of table tennis. The rotation. The Chinese players played one of ... Half with pimples, some players played with penhold, rotation. But, the revolution made Hungary. Also, the Sweden generation made revolution in table tennis. They played both side very good, and at that time, the Chinese make focus only for the forehand topspin, serve, and after forehand topspin almost all the table. After Sweden beat them, this is 2000, I remember in Kuala Lumpur in the team, Jorgen win two matches against China. After 2003, my player, Schlager, beat the Olympic champion and world champion, and after, he was the world champion in table tennis. But, his table tennis was very much variable, mixed everything and unbelievable good feeling. I don't think so, that now with this ball, it's possible to play the table tennis what he played. This is also, it's very much changing, and more faster everything. I think we need time with these new balls, plastic balls, and to find good relation between the fast play, between the feeling, and between the plastic materials, I think.

The Interviewer: We have to adjust first to the material and then we have to decide which way to go?

Ferenc Karsai: What's happened, yeah.

The Interviewer: What's happened, yeah.