Guwahati, June 12: "Assam paddlers are physically strong and have talent. But there is room for improvement in terms of technique and speed," said North Korean coach Li Jung Sik, who is conducting a monthlong training camp at Tarun Ram Phookan indoor stadium here.
Over 100 players in two batches are being trained at the camp. "I think the players have talent, from what I have observed in the past week. They are young and will take time to become good players. For that matter, a paddler has to train hard and get exposure over a number of years to be able to compete at the international level," Jung Sik told The Telegraph. About his drill, the Korean coach, who has just completed an assignment in China, said, "I am trying to make them adapt to the latest techniques. The key is to have sharp reflexes and save time on shots. Stamina is also important."
Asked if he had noticed any grey areas so far, Jung Sik said, "It is too early to say. But shot selection, backhand and service are areas they need to improve. They also require speed. Nowadays, paddlers who lack speed cannot excel at the highest level."
On the humid conditions here, the coach said, "In Korea, the mercury level stays below 20 degrees Celsius. Here, it's never below 20 degrees and the humidity is something I am finding hard to cope with. But Guwahati is still better than Delhi in terms of weather."
"The infrastructure here is good," Jung Sik said. The Korean will head for Pune for another camp from July 9. He is being assisted by four other coaches ' Govinda Upadhyay, Biman Bhagawati, Manas Das and Kaushik Phukan.
The Assam Table Tennis Association has roped in a foreign coach after 27 years, in a bid to revive the game. Two other Korean coaches, Pak U Gil and Kim Li Mu, had come here in 1978 and 1985.