Since the introduction of the Development Program in 1999 the ITTF invested heavily in establishing National Associations in all countries and territories worldwide in order to reach the target of 226 member National Associations, which makes it the biggest International Sport Federation membership-wise. The first milestone related to horizontal development has thus been achieved.
However, in the last decade the sport of Table Tennis has become strongly dominated by one nation and the vast majority of medals at the largest events are won by players, doubles and teams from one region, i.e. East Asia, which has had a negative impact on its appeal for the general public and is consequently resulting in a loss of the marketing potential.
Some statistical highlights:
Since the introduction of Table Tennis to the Olympic Games in 1988 88% of all Olympic Champions are from China.
Since 1995 all 12 Women’s Singles finals have featured 2 Chinese players, while the last non-(East) Asian medals were won in 2003 and the previous one 10 years earlier, in 1993.
Since the last European World title in Men’s Singles in 2003 all 7 finals were Chinese, while from the 14 bronze medals 5 were won by non-Chinese, 3 by South Koreans and 1 for Germany and Denmark respectively.
World Junior Championships:
Since the introduction of the World Junior Table Tennis Championships in 2003 the top 4 National Associations in terms of medals are: China with 191 medals (86 gold), Japan with 71 medals (10 gold), South Korea with 53 medals (5 gold) and Chinese Taipei with
12 medals (2 gold). The only 3 non-East Asian National Associations that have won a gold medal are Germany, Romania and Sweden.
These alarming statistics indicate that it is time to adopt a different concept in relation to sport development by focusing on the so called vertical development, that shall be ruled by a comprehensive and objective “needs based” model of National Associations and/or Continental Federations support, rather than on a rotation basis, and with a strong high performance orientation in relation to competitive sport.
Moreover, the quantity based performance indicators have to be replaced by quality based key performance indicators that allow the structure and the programs to be assessed and redefined at any given point of time. This is due to the fact that the monitored milestones might not be in line with the defined pathway that leads toward the ultimate objectives.
In order to achieve this, the structure and the programs have to be flexible, highly functional, inclusive and not influenced by any political factors and/or other partial interests.
Values, tools and approaches that shall serve as the guiding principles throughout the Department:
Commitment to a holistic and sustainable development of the
Commitment to excellence through innovations and education.
Commitment to inclusivity and cooperation.
Partnerships and interconnectivity with relevant stakeholders, internal and
One Goal – one Team.
To expand the list of nations that win medals at World and Continental top tier events.
To establish and run ITTF Centers of Excellence that combined with stakeholders from other ITTF areas of involvement, such as administration, marketing etc. represent the optimal environments for regional and global
To create and permanently optimize conditions and opportunities for a stable, sustainable and consistent growth and development of all the potentials of the different stakeholders, i.e. players, coaches, officials, event organizers etc., at all
Phase 4 2026®
Talent Identification, Selection and Development
- Revision & optimization of current Programs (Hopes, Rough Diamonds, WFIM scholarships)
- NAs with most talented players participate at global activities
First selection of players for Centers
Continental and targeted national talent ID programs fully developed
Further improvement of the program.
ITTF Centers of Excellence
Concept and basic documents for 3-4 initial Centers
Centers become operational, first with
activities and later with permanently based players
Centers produce annually players that are WRL top 20; first medal
contenders at World or Olympic title events
First podium appearances at the World and Olympic title events from ITTF centers.
Continental Agreements of Understanding
AoUs Revision & optimization
- Signature of new AoUs
- Equipment donations moved to ITTF Foundation
Integrate the Continental Development AoUs with other Continental Agreements (Marketing, Commercialisation, etc.)
Have Continental Offices established alongside the Centre of Excellence’s
Categorization of NAs
Understanding the level in which each National Association would fall, following a set of criteria
Re-assess the categorization on a quadrennial basis
Provide an annual fixed amount of support to all National Associations in certain levels to ensure local activities at a minimum can
Maintain and develop educational strategy and technological tools
- Identify educational needs across ITTF and develop implementation strategy
- Upgrade Knowledge Base to 1500 posts
- Online interactive lectures and
educational videos are published weekly
Completion of all educational modules
Update of educational content and delivery methods
Coach Accreditation Scheme (CAS)
Revision of the CAS
Implementation of revised CAS
Other Coach Education
- To form a panel of experts that regularly contribute to the content;
- Second series of the Spins n’ Skills coaching videos
Officials and Other Stakeholders
Online courses for Umpires & Referees,
Anti-Doping, Administration and Athletes education
Online courses for
Competition Managers, Marketing
High Performance & Development Department:
Talent Identification &
Development Education Administration
Other (URC, SSMC, A-D etc.)
Centers of Excellence
Informal Education -
Informal Education -
(CAS L. 1-2)
(CAS L. 3-4)
YOG & OG (UPs, NOC
WJC & WCC (SHC,
Manager Collaborator Supporter Implementer
Unit’s Rollout & Strategic Implementation
The ultimate objective of the High Performance Unit is to identify and develop success factors and tools along with key performance indicators that will result in the establishment of environment(s) and conditions for competitive excellence and the base for reassessment of the run programs and activities.
Talent Identification: Hopes (U12) to become the main introductory high performance oriented scouting platform, with a strong connection with the Continental Federations through the Development Unit;
Talent Selection: selected players (U15) continue following the development pathway through the Rough Diamonds initiative that proactively involves also coaches and National Associations as the main elements of the players entourage;
Talent Development: further filtered players (U18) enter in a comprehensive program that provides a tailor made and very individualized development of their sport career; beside the Olympic Solidarity funded program, With the Future in Mind, ITTF also provides funding for targeted athletes’ scholarships;
Individual Support: players with the best physio-mental and technical potential and fulfilling all the conditions related to the entourage, i.e. commitment of NAs, parents, are placed in ITTF Centers of Excellence and/or in Partnering Centers in the pursue of the World top
a) Short-term (2017-2020)
Revamp of the currently existing programs in order to cater to the above presented Athlete Career Program pathway;
In cooperation with the Education Unit, the establishment of a high performance mentality within the international community and identification of the most promising partners;
In cooperation with the Continental Development Unit, the enrichment of the follow-up for identified and selected players throughout the pathway carried out by the High Performance Expert;
Identification of potential ITTF Centers of Excellence and Continental Development Centers and creation of programs and conditions for their launch aiming at having three Centers operational by the end of
b) Long-term (2021-2026)
Talent related activities (Identification, Selection and Development) are fully developed and offer high quality programs at continental level;
ITTF Centers of Excellence are fine-tuned and able to integrate players identified through talent related activities and support them reaching World top 20 (at least one player each year);
At World Championships 2023 and 2025 and Olympic Games 2024 at least two quarter finalists are coming from ITTF Centers of Excellence;
Podium appearance at World Championships 2027 and after and Olympic Games 2028 and