Butterfly Skills programme

Butterfly Skills, a new and inclusive initiative for teaching table tennis, was launched by James Purnell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, on November 28 at the Youth Sports Trust School and Sports Partnerships’ Conference in Telford.

The Butterfly Skills table tennis programme provides an exciting and progressive framework to deliver table tennis in schools, clubs and sport centres nationwide. With four skill levels to work towards, this truly is the must-have tool kit for all table tennis teachers and coaches.

Developed in a partnership between the English Table Tennis Association, English Schools’ Table Tennis Association and equipment manufacturer Butterfly, the resources have been finely tuned to specifically meet the needs of the ever-increasing demand for table tennis within schools and the community. The programme includes a 180-page manual full of diagrams, illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions on how to play, plus a set of tailored rewards for each level, reinforcing every participant’s sense of personal achievement. This combination provides a clear pathway for a player’s progression from beginner to advanced level. It also includes lesson plans, competition templates, players’ progress charts and teachers’ schemes of work, providing a one-stop table tennis delivery solution for all teachers and coaches.

Whilst the emphasis has been on a programme for teaching youngsters at school level, Butterfly Skills is suitable for teaching the sport to players of all ages and ability levels.

Says Richard Yule, chief executive of the ETTA: “This is a fantastic programme that will enable table tennis to increase its presence within schools and the community. It will provide teachers and coaches with the support they have been craving, and enable them to deliver the sport in a fun and effective manner. Ultimately, this is a key programme for table tennis and one which will inevitably increase participation in the sport.”

Another important part of the Butterfly Skills programme is a set of equipment endorsed by the English Table Tennis Association and the English Schools’ Table Tennis Association consisting of bats from Butterfly specially designed to facilitate quick and easy learning at three levels – starter, junior and senior – plus a pack of six quality practice balls and two v-shaped nets that allow any flat surface to be used for playing table tennis at the basic level.

The programme is also supported by Sportsmatch, a government-funded scheme set up to help fund grass-roots and community sports in England that matches new sponsorship money with Sportsmatch funding on a pound for pound basis.

Says Alan Ransome, managing director of Ransome Sporting Goods, the Butterfly distributor for the UK and Ireland: “The youngsters gain more enjoyment from playing the sport if they achieve early success, and with this in mind we have, with cooperation from the governing bodies, developed a range of equipment that will maximise the prospects of this happening. Incorporated into this programme are bats with smaller size handles and rubber sheets that easily produce the spin and speed required for learning the game quickly.”

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