Danny Heister – A success story
The outstanding coach Danny Heister signed with andro in July last year. The long-time Dutch national player, multiple national champion and successful coach of Borussia Düsseldorf enriches the andro ProTeam with his great competence, the lived fair-play and his always friendly mentality. We asked him a few questions about his career and what he is looking forward to in the future.
How did your table tennis career begin? At what age did you start and when did you realize that you could and wanted to do it professionally?
"I was introduced to table tennis by my father when I was 4-5 years old. For a long time, I played football parallel to table tennis until I finally decided to fully concentrate on table tennis. My path went from the table in the garage, to the gym in the village, where I also became village champion, to regional and national bases of the Dutch federation. At the age of 14, I became the youngest player in the Dutch national league and was able to gain my first international experience. Due to the high training load from sports, I changed to a sports school in Amsterdam at the age of 17, so that school and sports could be better coordinated. In my last European Youth Championships, I won second place with the team and third place in the singles and won the EURO TOP12 tournament. At the same time, I had my first appearances in the men's national team.
During this time, it was difficult for me to manage school and training at the same time. I actually wanted to get a higher degree after finishing secondary school, but I couldn't manage that at the same time as sport, so I devoted myself to sport full time. I attended courses, for example in Grenzau, and was able to become Dutch champion for the first time. After that, I played for a while in the national league in Holland as well as in France.
That was a dream for me, but you have to work hard and always find solutions and ways to train a lot: and if it turns out you have to sleep in a tent, then that's the way it is."
You have won a total of 32 titles in the Dutch national championships, what do these victories mean to you in your home country?
"At my last Dutch championship, I knew I needed 3 titles to break Bettine Vriesekoop's record and I did. Of course, I'm title-hungry and want to win everything there is to win, but it's also always about the development of the players and myself. Nowadays table tennis is unfortunately not so popular in Holland, but in former times it was a bit different, so these titles mean a lot to me."
You have been head coach at Borussia Düsseldorf for more than ten years now, what do you like so much about the club that it has been able to keep you for so long? What were your best moments at the club?
"I remember in 2009, Andreas Preuß called me when I was sitting in the stands in a hall in Luxembourg, to talk to me about Borussia. At that time I was youth and men's coach in a boarding school. After thinking for a long time about what I wanted to do, I finally decided to join Borussia, because I knew the club and its structures, having played there myself for four years. What I like most about the club are the professional structures and the complete trust from and in the team itself.
The moments that stay in my memory are mostly the ones when you see the development of the players and they succeed. We are a team and I want to preserve this feeling, but at the same time I am excited to improve the strengths of each individual player. Of course, winning titles is very nice, but what was really special was our first title when I was new to the club, because the club has a history and it's great I could continue it."
What excites you about table tennis?
"Table tennis is my life - I have done nothing else. It's the complexity that attracts me to the sport. You need a lot of experience but every now and then it is also important to find new ways. I always like to talk about 5 aspects that are important to me in players: technique, tactics, mentality, body composition and lifestyle. You always have to work on these qualities and adjust them to each other, because in the end the players have to make the decision at the table themselves, I try to lead them to independence from the coach."
What are your goals for the future?
"I always want to develop myself further, because nowadays you can't train the way you did ten years ago. Success is always part of the goal, but I also attach great importance to the process and this is not always easy in table tennis because changes take time. I want to have fun and I am also looking forward to working with andro to try to optimize products and develop new ones."