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PostPosted: 07 Aug 2018, 02:21 
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A camp in Denmark may be a step too far for an Aussie-based forum, but I'm sure some of you are world travelers so thought a review on OOAK wouldn't hurt anything.

2018 was my second year at B75. It is always held over three five-day training 'weeks' with a day break in between, 15 - 31 July every year. The location is a boarding school in the back of beyond Denmark. Combining the trip with any sight-seeing is not really on as Copenhagen is five or more hours away. There is a small town, Hjoerring, within easy walking distance, and a medium sized city, Alborg, is 35 minutes by car.

The basic structure is the typical five hours training daily, 2.5 hours drills and 2.5 split multiball/drills. Players are divided into groups of eight, and you spend the training week working in your eight. There is a very broad range of ages, levels, and nationalities at B75. English is the main language of the camp, although Danish and Swedish are spoken, as are French, Chinese and German to a lesser extent. If you have only English you will absolutely be fine, but be prepared to listen to some player-coach conversations in other languages. The age range this year was something like 7 to 79, or thereabouts. Player population is roughly 25% - 33% adults. I was in groups with kids as young as 11 (she was really good), and one week I was the only player over 25. I'm 49. If being grouped with kids based on ability will bother you, go somewhere else. The nationalities thing is irrelevant to table tennis, but it's one of the huge pluses of B75 to me. Since you are living together 24x7, eating, rooming, training, goofing off together, there are endless opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures. For the mainly european players that isn't such a big deal, but coming from the US, much less Australia, it's a rare opportunity. As you might expect in the TT community, almost everyone is extremely friendly and open. This is one of the big differentiators between B75 and other camps I have been on, and will keep me coming back as long as I can play.

On the table tennis side, B75 really encourages players to coach each other, help each other outside of the structured training, and interact openly with the coaches. It isn't just your typical coach says-player does situation. Training is also very individually directed, with each player creating a roadmap for their own TT development, in consultation with the coaches. There is also a check-in and check-out process for about 10 minutes before and after each training. Some players saw this as a waste of time that could be spent training. It really is the key to getting the most out of B75. One thing I have learned in going there twice is how much valuable coaching the other players can give me, even players who I am much better than in a match. A lot of people have serious coaches at home, and they are telling me what their very skilled and expensive coaches told them. Ignoring that would be stupid. Or they are just smart, that happens too.

It also builds a lot of team feeling when you can help each other within your eight. There are exceptions of course, but in general people are happy to teach you stuff, even if that will allow you to beat them. I tried always to do the same, if I had a serve or receive or tactic that was consistently messing up a player, I would take the time to show them what it was and how they were missing it. You just don't get a lot of that going to clubs, or certainly not playing in tournaments. In normal life people just aren't going to help you beat them. But it is really part of the fabric of B75, everyone can learn from everyone. Maybe I have beat this to death, but it's so different and contributes so much to the joy of being there, I wanted to emphasize it.

The coaching is really good at all playing levels. I have always been in the lower groups, and I don't feel I missed out on anything as far as coach quality. By luck this year I had switched to SP, and my main multiball coach was a woman who played penhold SP on the CNT. She knew a lot about pips. She was also a really great, observant and skilled coach, and funny as hell. I miss her already. That was just luck for me, but you can check out some of the coaches in the flyer on their website. (and lots of other info also)http://www.b75.dk/images/PDF/Sommerlejr_2018/camp_2018_GB%202.pdf

About play levels, some people get really wound up about what group they are in, and they should be higher, etc. If that will bother you a lot, then maybe B75 is not your camp. They took the step this year of replacing group numbers with names, but that only made people work harder assigning numbers to the names. For me it doesn't matter that much. As long as the players in my group can handle drills with me, block, serve/receive appropriately, I'm fine. I can beat a lot of players two or three groups higher, but that doesn't mean I would learn more or be happier in that group. The one player-level-dependent thing I would like to see increased next year is more serve/receive training in the lower groups. I made a suggestion and I think that will happen next year. Of course it is also dependent on what the other players want. And extra training is out there to be had during all the theoretically off time between training sessions. So group number is not a problem for me, but something to consider for yours own enjoyment if you are an idiot in that way.

It's also important to know that if you have any request or complaint, the coaches will handle it for you. If you aren't satisfied with your training partners, or the drills, or whatever, they will do their very best to make it right for you. Several people made minor complaints to me, and when I asked them if they had told the coaches what they wanted, they said No. That's just stupid. They are literally asking you minimum four times a day for input. If you don't give them any, don't complain.

There is one situation that can be insoluble for the coaches, and that's the level variation in the bottom group. There isn't really an issue in the top group. The strongest player at B75 2017 & 18 was https://www.ittf.com/2018/07/09/mohamed-el-beiali-man-mission/. He's quite good. But the weakest group has both the biggest age range and ability range. And for some reason those players were some of the shyest about getting coaching after hours. One thing about B75 being residential is there are always people doing a third training session in the evening/night. I played about 150 sets at night over the three weeks, mostly but certainly not always with stronger players. I also watched the coaches play and train a lot, which is cool to do from ten feet away. And I coached other players and got some extra coaching from both players and coaches, all after the training was supposedly done. There are lots of other things you can do after hours, shoot pool, play football, lie out in the sun (til 10:30 in Denmark in late July), talk, go into town, play cards, drink beer, whatever. I just happen to like to do table tennis all the time. The beginners would have benefited the most from personal coaching after hours, but most of them either didn't know it was a thing, were too tired, or were embarrassed about their level. If you think those things apply to you, then maybe wait to go to B75 until you are more of an intermediate player, or have more confidence. [to all the players in this category I recommend a trip to TTPOR in Setubal outside Lisbon. http://www.ttpor.pt/atema/ It's a year-round family-run club, not a camp. And given the small size you get a lot more one-to-one attention than even at B75. Plus the Diniz are the best people in the world and I love them like my own family, if not better. That said, small cuts both ways. You get more attention, but you aren't meeting 200 players from 40 countries. Both are great, better depends on your situation.]

This is getting a bit long, so I'll close it out. The table tennis at B75 is top-quality, excellent players and coaches, and the whole participatory educational system is unique. But you can get high-quality TT training lots of places. What made B75 the best vacations of my life is the people I met and the friends I made. If it existed outside of 15 - 31 July I would live there all the time.

If somehow anyone has any questions I didn't answer, you are welcome to PM me or post here and I'll be happy to give my opinion. Thanks for reading.


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