Proposal for Merit Badges for Achieving Playing Class
By Wei Wang and Diego Schaaf
In the 25 years we have been involved with US table tennis, we have learned, while coaching or running clubs, to identify players' needs – be they technical or psychological. We have addressed, and continue to address, technical needs by coaching and writing articles. The psychological needs are more difficult to address. In person-to-person contact at our clubs, we can do so, and through that we have identified several recurring themes. Most of them are related to the relationship between playing level and resulting status perception. The lack of stability of this relationship is a source of anxiety and has often caused players to drop out from active participation in tournaments. All this combined input has pointed us toward the following solution, which might result in greater enthusiasm and participation in sanctioned events:
Players, whose rating crosses the next 100 point mark, are entitled, upon publication of their qualifying rating on USATT's rating site, to buy and carry a badge identifying that level. They can attach it to their sports bag or racket case in a way that is visible to others. The badge will be a high-quality metal pin in the rectangular shape similar to military insignia, approximately 1” wide, with different color enamel parts.
We propose to have a different badge, clearly distinguishable in design for every 100 point step in the current rating system. (Point of discussion: Start at 100 or at 500? We favor starting at 500, because that signifies the first tangible step of development)
Consolidation of status.
The goal is to reward the achievement of having ascended to the next level - independently of future developments. Once players have entered a rating class, they are entitled to carry the respective badge. Some players may opt to carry all achieved badges, like a plate of military insignia, and others may replace them as they ascend and show just one.
Mitigation of negative psychological impact of current rating system
The recognition of status with this badge will take some of the sting out of the current rating system's built-in threat of possibly losing that status in a future bad loss and thus will make such a loss feel more like a temporary set-back, the “membership” in the higher class already having been established and documented. With that, one of the most destructive elements of our rating system is mitigated.
Easy identification of player level
Players can carry their achievement with pride, identifying themselves and their level as tournament players with the badge on their bag without much discussion. No more dealing with the awkward question: “What's your rating?”
(Point of discussion: Retroactive qualification – How far back should we go to accept a qualifying rating. We suggest 5 years)
Please use the comments section below to share your views on the various Point of discussion topics presented.