Turning the table for GenNext - imd1 ping pong with Sachin Shetty
8th December , 1980
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
Table Tennis - Sports
We admire a sportsperson on field when he/she displays commendable talent, however, we at times miss to recognize the effort of a persistent coach behind the scenes. Here, team imd1 introduces you to one of India"s pride factors who has been on both ends! Apart from his own talent, Sachin Shetty has contributed immensely in sustaining Table Tennis by producing and nurturing talents in the field of Table Tennis. In conversation with the master of boosting and coaching potential champions, he speaks about his journey right from wanting to play table tennis for India to producing champions for the nation.
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
My journey as a coach took off in 2001, when my friends Raj and Kalpesh encouraged me to believe in myself as I was too unsure if I"d make a good coach. But they lay their faith in my passion for table tennis and saw my coaching skills. Then Noel Pinto, too was a key catalyst in the journey. I have been fortunate to have the backing of my friends and family who have always been my moral support. It was their firm belief that made my journey a smooth sail. And the journey of learning process continues [smiles].
What"s your success mantra?
I think the fact that table tennis has always been my priority has really worked for me. I have treated it as primary and kept all other things as secondary. As whatever I have achieved so far is because of the game. I can proudly say that table tennis has carved my success and I stand here today because of it. I respect it a lot and owe everything to it. Also my discipline, dedication, devotion and determination to put in the hard work have paid off. Setting something on priority definitely helps to be successful.
Beyond Table Tennis
Sachin Tendulkar, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal
Deepak Mani & Kamlesh Mehta
Food I Love
Maharashtrian Dishes, especially Dal rice
Food I Hate
Had I not been Table Tennis player then…
Maybe I would be a Banker
Like Vacations at
“Yeh sattar minute tumse koi nahi chheen saktha” from Chak De! India
Chak De! India, Dangal
What were the hardships / hurdles you encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
Initially when I started my career as a coach, there was lack of place for coaching. Father James D"silva of St. Blaise High School at Andheri took a keen interest in my proficiency and offered me to train his school kids along with my trainees, which included Noel Pinto, in the campus itself. I still take out time to teach the school kids though now I am a coach at the Khar Gymkhana. I am thankful to Father James for providing me the initial place for coaching.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
We all know failures are part and parcel of life. Only how one deals with them makes the difference. For me, each failing step is a step towards success. My failures give me a reality check and make me aware of my flaws that I need to work on. Also, when someone criticizes you always remember that you are doing something noticeable. Take note of your flaws and rectify them with perfection to succeed in life.
Do you think Table Tennis and its learning"s can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Yes! Most definitely it is helpful. Apart from the physical and mental fitness, Table Tennis teaches you coordination and perseverance. Playing table tennis will help one become physically fit and mentally sharp. It not only engages your entire body stimulation but also syncs it with your brain to function better. One need not worry about the weather conditions as this indoor sport is a full body workout that flexes all muscles to the core, thus leading to an overall impact on the body.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
Deepak Mani, Kamlesh Mehta and Pullela Gopichand.
Deepak Mani – for being the guiding force since my initial days as a Player and as a Coach.
Kamlesh Mehta – for supporting me and showing the right direction at every step He is also instrumental in taking the sport to a different level in India through the various activities of 11Sports. Pullela Gopichand – for revolutionizing racket sports in India and giving us the confidence that Indian Players can be successful at the highest level.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
I am yet to witness the moment (laughs). But I have been made proud by my students who have achieved a reputation in the field. For instance, in 2015 my student Diya Chitale was selected by ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) as a member of the World Hopes Team for the World Cadet Challenge Tournament. Now 2 years later, she has been selected as a member of Team Asia for the same Tournament. . These are proud moments for me as a Coach. It makes me believe that I am on the right track and am doing my job well. I want to guide and groom her for her future achievements. That alone will make me feel contented, if I can help a child make her future. (Smiles warmly)
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
I started getting trained under my father when I was 17 years old. He too was a Table Tennis player. And after a few years I began training under Mr. Deepak Mani. That experience totally changed my life; I understood the nuances of being at par with finesse and his guidance helped me better my game too. Also I realized the importance of training at a right age, I was a little too old to start training which is why I made sure my brother started training at an earlier age.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Table Tennis?
Systematic training is crucial as even a one year delay in training is going to affect the child"s performance in international tournaments. One needs to plan the training as well as have faith in the coach.
The scenario here in India is that we ride a rickshaw and not a cycle, implying that cycle holds two people i.e. the student and the coach whereas rickshaw includes parents, student and the coach. This is not the case in other countries. In our country parents don"t fully trust the coach. The whole point being - for a child to achieve in the field of sports, it is a prerequisite for the parents to trust and lay faith in the coach. Besides, it is all a team effort; it cannot be a single man show. Imbibing some qualities since childhood and to nurture it with a vision is the responsibility of both the parents and the coach. Training too is done level by level; it is like taking baby steps to attain new heights from the basic level training to the intermediate then juniors and so on. If the child has enough potential, performing at the international tournaments becomes smooth with correct guidance.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
Ideally a child should start training when he/she is about 6 years old. India is lagging behind few countries in the racket sports dynamics. The issue being we encourage our kids to take up sports only after 10 years of age. And then they give up in sometime focusing on Education. But we need to lay emphasis on polishing the child from a young age because that will help them have a grasp at it and in turn bring glory to the country. Also, it is a good coach who holds a vision can lead the child in the right directi
Technology and scientific training has been changing the way people get trained in Table Tennis. What"s your take?
Technology is changing the game and for the better. Today it is easy to record videos and spot errors in your moves and rectify them. Technology has helped us to analyze and strategize and thus improve the game. That was not the case 15-20 years ago, where we would only play our game but the boon of technology has helped all to evolve better in sports. Today, it is easy to use tactics and strategy as technology helps one to identify new methods and ‘Serve" the game better!
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru" for getting formal training for Table Tennis?
There is no tactic or strategy that one needs to work on, in search of an ideal coach. Only it is the parent"s responsibility to see that the coach"s vision for the child is planned well and it should help him/her groom for the better. Having said that, no coach is bad as all are professionals but some ardently work to empower the child"s talent in the right direction. Feelings of insecurity should not hamper the child"s training as it will reflect on the performance. For instance if Sachin Tendulkar"s Coach, Achrekar Sir, would have not been dedicated and focused onto training his student strategically, may be Sachin Tendulkar would have gone elsewhere. So you see a coach with the right vision for the child is very vital.
What according to you can be a scope for improvement in training for Table Tennis in India?
I can already see a huge improvement in training for Table Tennis. Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is working on providing enough opportunities for Players and Coaches to become better. 11Sports is doing a lot for the Promotion and Development of Table Tennis. Academies have been set up with Residential facilities which will definitely benefit the Players. Cities like Delhi and Chennai have worked towards a better infrastructure for the game and our very own Mumbai needs to do the same. Coaches too need to be trained so that the methodology taught by them does not get stagnant. With the new generation, they need to learn the tactics of training them. We need more of foreign coaches to upgrade our coaches for the betterment of the child. Along with training for the game, we need to place emphasis on the associated aspects like Nutrition, Physical Training and Mental Conditioning. Most importantly, we need to be willing to change with the changing times for a dramatic improvement in performance.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Table Tennis in remote parts of India?
Remote areas have better accessibility as there is open land for infrastructures and there is a lot of talent which is being nurtured as well but there is no exposure to the child. Like there are academies operating in Nagpur, Latur and other places but the lack of financial aid is the hurdle which is blocking the way for talent in the remote areas. With few or no sponsors, these kids play but don"t get the required platform to showcase their skills. I think that needs to be taken care of.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Parents should understand a sport is not only a physical activity but also a creative field which requires a lot of dedication and hard work. They should encourage their child to take up whatever sport they wish to play and not limit their growth as the kid might be a potential to represent the country at an international level.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
Only had I begun training at the right age, I too would have been a player representing India but no regrets, I am producing champions for the nation [smiles with pride]
How can one identify and encourage talent in the family?
Like I said parents should encourage their kids and believe in their dreams. Also they should look for the right coach and trust him/her. It is essential because if the rapport between the parents and the coach is not built on mutual understanding and trust, it will affect the training sessions of the child. Also it is the coach who can identify talent in the kid and hence train him/her for future. The coach can spot the hardworking factor in the child and help him in grasping the nuances of the game.