This is Episode 037 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Brittany and is about how to get sponsorship as a table tennis player.
“What’s the process of getting sponsorship from a company if you’re a top table tennis player in your country?”
This is a great question Brittany and one that I get asked a lot by players. It’s something I decided to write a blog post about back in 2012, which you should take a look at. You can have a look at that here.
Today I’m going to talk about the 2 basic options you have when you’re trying to get sponsorship as a table tennis player. You can try one or both of them, I’d recommend trying both though.
The first choice is to go for a table tennis equipment sponsorship. This is the most common sponsorship around. What it’s going to involve is getting free equipment or getting a discount by becoming a sponsored player of one of the big table tennis brands.
This is something that all players would want to do as table tennis equipment is quite expensive, especially if you’re playing at a high level as you’re getting through a lot of it. It can really help you out.
The way you would do this is to go via one of the retailers in your country. For example, in the UK where I’m based, the butterfly retailer is called T-Sport, the Donic retailer is called Top Spin Sport, the Stiga retailer is called Thorntons and Joola or Tibar are retailed by Brybar table tennis.
So in every country there should be a load of retailers who import the different brands. Normally they’ll specialize in on brand in particular. So if you want to get sponsored by Butterfly in the Uk you need to go via T-Sport, contact them and try and get it through them.
How would you actually go about doing that? You need to be one of the top players in your age category in order to have any chance of getting sponsorship. Lets say you’re 17 years old and you’re ranked 150 in England. If you randomly contact one of these retailers asking for sponsorship I think the chance of you getting anything is slim to none.
You need to be up there in the top or on the England team in order for you to have any chance for you to get a sponsorship that way.
It’s probably worth trying all of the different brands just to see who can give you the best deal, if you don’t prefer one specific brand. In the UK Butterfly appear to be the toughest to get a deal with and they often only work with the top national players. Some of the other brands go for slightly lower ranked players and give them deals as well.
So definitely shop around and see what you can get. Very few players are going to actually get money from these brands. Obviously the top players in the world are going to be getting paid to be the face and advertise for them.
But if you’re just a young player on your national team you’ll probably get all your equipment for free, but not get any money from them. They’re going to base their decision on whether to give you sponsorship or not on your national or world ranking or tournament results.
So if you’ve got a good ranking then you have a good chance. If you’ve managed to win a big tournament, like a national championship in your age category, that’s going to help you out a lot as well.
The second way you can get sponsorship is a little bit more creative and it’s something that very few table tennis players try. But there’s actually a lot scope in here to actually get a sponsorship and funds. This is by going via a local business sponsor.
This is probably a lot easier to get sponsorship by. You maybe don’t have to be a national team player in order to get a sponsorship this way, but you are going to have to be a little more creative. What this is going to entail is finding a local business to your area who are happy to give you some money in exchange for you helping them to promote their business in any creative way you can come up with.
Maybe they would agree to pay all your tournament entry’s for a season, which could be quite a lot of money. Or they could agree to pay all your petrol costs, hotel expenses or a training camp abroad somewhere. It would be up to you to negotiate that, and you’re going to have to be pro-active and source these out on your own.
People aren’t really going to go to you, but if you go to them and ask enough people you should be able to make something happen. I guess that’s why very few people do it as it’s a lot of work and it’s a bit nerve-wracking speaking to people in the local area. But I think there’s a huge scope here to get sponsorship and build links with people.
Let’s say at the moment I’m living in Tunbridge Wells, just south of London, and I was a top player looking for sponsorship. What would I do?
There are loads of local businesses in Tunbridge Wells so what I would do is go knocking on doors or asking shops to speak to the manager. Maybe I could also send out e-mails to small businesses. I think if you’re a kid, and under 18 player, and you’re the one going out and asking instead of sending your parents I think that’s going to make the businesses be quite impressed and realize that you are taking this seriously.
Just bear in mind that if I go up and down Tunbridge high street asking businesses chances are most of them would say no. But you only need 1 business or 1 person to say yes. If one does you’ve got some money and a sponsorship and you can go from there.
It’s definitely worth trying and I know very few people are doing this but if you want sponsorship and you’re looking for some money it is something to try. Try and find a way where you can work together with a local business.
Those are your 2 options. If you’ve got the ranking or the tournament results you should be able to get an equipment sponsor fairly simply. Just look at the different options that are offered to you and pick the best one.
If you’ve the courage to knock on doors and ask local businesses and you can come up with a way to provide value to them in exchange for their cash, then you should definitely be able to secure that too.
Go and give those two options a try and if you’re reading this and you want my advice feel free to drop me an email and I’ll do my best to help you out.
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