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Andrew Baggaley Interview

Andrew Baggaley is a Commonwealth Games Double Gold Medallist and England national champion. Find out more about him in this exclusive interview.

Andrew Baggaley

Andrew is a Commonwealth Games Double Gold Medallist and three times England national champion.

Currently ranked at number six in England, Andrew plays for the Spanish club DKV Borges Vall in the Spanish National League Super Division.

Born on 26 February 1983 in Northampton, England, Andrew's ambition is to win an Olympic Gold Medal for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympic Games.

 

On 4 March 2010, I caught up with Andrew Baggaley and managed to ask him a few questions.

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Hi Andrew,

Thanks for sharing your time with me here at All About Table Tennis.com

 

Q

Please tell us about your own web site.

   

A

www.AndrewBaggaley.com went live on 25 October 2009 and the website is regularly updated with news, match results and other info.

We have been overwhelmed by the enormous positive response to the site, with Table Tennis enthusiasts from all over the world getting in contact and sending me messages of support through to asking for technical advice on our sport.

 

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Q

Can you tell us about your sponsors and how they help you?

   

A

The Swedish brand STIGA are my equipment and clothing sponsor and I also have a number of generous private financial sponsors who have made it possible for me to enter ITTF Pro Tour events and regularly train at home with world class practice partners.

 

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Q

A lot of my readers are very interested in what equipment the top players use. Can you tell us what blade and rubbers you use and whether you experiment with using different blades and rubbers?

   

A

With all the recent changes in the sport, playing with the correct equipment is now crucial to performing at your optimum level.

In the "speed glue" era I played with a STIGA Carbon WRB blade combined with either STIGA Mendo rubbers or STIGA Magna rubbers.

I have subsequently experimented with many different blades and rubbers but at present I'm using a STIGA Ebenholtz blade with STIGA Boost TP rubbers.

 

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Q

Can you tell us a little bit about your training programme?

   

A

My training programme is very much determined by the events I am aiming at competing in!

Certainly, in the close season I hope to practice on the table for at least 20 hours per week with also gym work and running imperative to playing at the highest level.

During the season or a heavy match play period I will reduce the "table"  time whilst also altering the type of gym workouts/runs in order to still play at a high level and stay fit and fresh for matches.

The life of a professional table tennis player involves extensive travel so it's important to bear in mind the fatigue factor during the season and take this into account when arranging a schedule and analyzing results.

I tend to train where my club is based in order to cut down on travel, but I have long periods of practice when I stay in my home city of Milton Keynes in England and train with the benefits of having home comforts close at hand!

It is definitely the best situation to train in groups of world class players but as that's not possible in England I have a select group of practice partners who train with me in Milton Keynes.

I do feel very fortunate to have had my brother Stephen Baggaley as my Personal Coach from a total beginner aged 4, through to my current international level.

It has certainly given me a big advantage having Stephen's technical input from such an early age. It's always interesting to get other respected coaches opinions and I certainly listen to varying opinions as it's important to hear ideas from a different perspective.

 

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Q

Have you made any instructional/coaching videos/DVDs that we can buy? If not, is this something you may do in the future?

   

A

As a player it would be very satisfying to make a DVD on the technical aspects of table tennis and it would definitely be something for the future!

 

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Q

As there are table tennis events all year round, can you give us an insight into how you prepare your schedule each year?

   

A

My schedule is planned around major events such as the Commonwealth Games, World & European Championships and ITTF Pro Tour Events.

This must be organized in fine detail with your Club, as National league matches give you important match play, and of course it's the Club that pays your wages!

It's normally possible to reschedule league matches when they clash with major events and I try to plan my schedule at least 6 months in advance.

 

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Q

Many of my readers ask me whether professional table tennis players earn a reasonable income. What are your views on this, and what are your views on the level of prize money available?
Can you also give us an indication of how a top professional table tennis player earns his money?
In your experience, what level of world ranking do you need to achieve to be able to make a living from playing table tennis?

   

A

Some table tennis players make a very good living and certainly can command a fantastic salary from their Club in most major European leagues.

The ITTF Pro Tour has increased prize money and there's a lucrative market for personal appearances and exhibitions, particularly if you have a high profile within the sport.

For most players 90% of their income is from their clubs with the other 10% coming from personal sponsorship or their National Governing Body.

I personally don't think the ITTF World Ranking List has a major significance to attaining a good contract, unless the Club officials have little knowledge of the world game and haven't actually heard of a player!

If a player does have a high World Ranking it will possibly get a club a direct entry into the ETTU Cup or ETTU Champions League which may be important to some Clubs in Europe.

On a personal note it's important to understand that my ITTF World Ranking is not a reflection on my level! I haven't competed in the events necessary to have the opportunity to earn the ranking points.

I firmly believe that I can beat anybody in the World on my day and certainly can win a singles medal at the European Championships.

 

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Q

What do you think about the current state of world table tennis and what do you think should be done in order to make the game more popular?
Do you think that any rules need changing?

   

A

The sport of table tennis is THE greatest sport on Earth! (I suppose I'm biased!)

It doesn't need more rule changes as it's incredibly popular all over the World!

We just need regular big prize money events coupled with large international media exposure. I genuinely think that's possible!

With regard to English Table Tennis I have always believed that a Professional British League with practicing Clubs including some high level foreign players will entirely change the entire dynamic of the sport within this country.

I would personally love to play in a Professional British League!

I do believe there can be too many events in Europe and certainly this can hinder development for players; the Chinese tend to have their League matches/competition periods played over a much shorter duration of time and this allows for harder practice for longer spells during the year.

 

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Q

What do you think about the current state of table tennis in England? Is there a good structure in place?

   

A

Table Tennis has always been a popular sport in England and I do believe there is a wealth of young playing talent in the UK.

What's important is that a good player in the UK should be able to make a good living from playing Table Tennis and not have to go into Coaching or Administration as the only way of earning a wage.

If this is the case, we should tell all children when they start to play that Coaching or Administration is the only way to make table tennis your career!

 

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Q

As everyone who follows table tennis knows, the Chinese players currently dominate the world rankings.
What do you think about China's dominance?
What makes them so good and what does the rest of the world need to do in order to overtake them?

   

A

There is NO big secret to the Chinese dominance in the World game!

They simply train continually much harder from a much earlier age in large practice groups.

Unless the European culture changes as to how we practice it is then only possible for individuals to compete!

It is most definitely possible for me to compete with the Chinese and a small number of players throughout Europe also have the potential!

 

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Q

Finally, which of your table tennis achievements have given you the most pleasure so far and what are your goals for the next few years?

   

A

Winning 2 Gold medals and 1 Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games have been an amazing experience but I strongly believe my best is yet to come and I am certainly aiming for success at the 2012 London Olympics!

 

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Thank you Andrew Baggaley.

I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

 


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