Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Competition Performance Variables Differences in Elite and U-21 International Men Singles Table Tennis Players

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Competition Performance Variables Differences in Elite and U-21 International Men Singles Table Tennis Players

Article excerpt


A growing body of research has emerged from a specific area of performance analysis, which is notational analysis. It is an objective feedback or way of recording performance, so that important events during performance can be quantified and analyzed in a consistent and reliable manner (Hughes & Franks, 2008). Hughes (1998) explained five applications of notational analysis, which are tactical evaluation, technical evaluation, analysis of movement, coach and player education and performance modelling using match analysis databases. Performance wise, this study was concerned in particular with the first three purposes. As for the training outcome, notational analysis links to the physical fitness domain and opens up an option of improving the game essential physical fitness structure and physical fitness variables (Krasilshchikov, 2014).

Notational analysis gained great popularity in such ball games as football (Clemente et al., 2012), volleyball (Patsiaouras et al., 2011) and handball (Leuciuc, 2010). In racket sports however, it is often difficult to classify players' moves into simple locomotive movements such as running because of the restricted court areas used. Therefore, different methods of analyzing rallies and the activity that occurs within rallies were suggested by Hughes & Franks (2008). Rally times and the recovery times in between rallies give indication of the demands of different levels of competition within the different racket sports. Rally times have been analyzed for table tennis (Drianovski & Otcheva, 2002), badminton (Liddle & O'Donoghue, 1998), tennis (Collinson & Hughes, 2002), and squash (Docherty, 1982).

Liddle and O'Donoghue (1998) investigated rally and rest times for each discipline of badminton apart from mixed doubles and found mean rest duration to be longer than mean rally duration for all forms of the game. In men's singles, mean rally duration was found to be 9.15 ± 0.43s, whilst the mean rest time was 13.84 ± 1.16s. These figures differ greatly from those found by Docherty (1982) showing rally length to be around five seconds with five to ten seconds of recovery in between, stating however that the rally length would be expected to be longer at the elite level. The analysis was performed live using computer notation during matches (Liddle & O'Donoghue, 1998). Conclusions were drawn from the research that training should be specific to the discipline in which performers participate.

Very limited studies till date were attempted in table tennis with ones particularly related to comparisons of world's elite and junior elite players practically unavailable. Therefore, an assessment of the playing activity through notational analysis of the match structure and temporal structure variables of the world elite men's singles table tennis players may provide some baseline data for further use by coaches, sports scientists, and future investigators in order to improve the performance of elite and junior table tennis players in the international competitions.

The study objective was to quantify and compare the game structure in World Top Level Elite and U-21 International men singles table tennis players.

Material & methods


Video recordings of the matches in ITTF International events were collected throughout the years of 2013-2014from the video library of the Performance Analysis Unit, National Sports Institute of Malaysia. Only semi-finals and finals from the Super Series matches were taken into consideration for further analysis. The matches involving players with defensive playing style were excluded from analysis in this study. Hence, video recordings of 28 matches were collected with 155 games eventually analyzed.

The games included Top Level Elite category (world ranked) and U-21 category. The matches were played at the best of seven sets format, finishing 4-3 (n = 3+3), 4-2 (n = 4+5), 4-1 (n = 4+3), and 4-0 (n = 5+1) matches for TLE category and U-21 category respectively. …

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