Kotaro Kishi, Japan head coach: “We value the challenge more than the rankings”

The Japanese team has been one of the best for many years, as illustrated by their two bronze medals at the Tokyo Games and last year’s World Championships. Their ambition is clear: to reach the top without denying themselves. Japanese coach, Kotaro Kishi answered our questions.

First of all, how is the team feeling with 15 days left before the tournament?

Kotaro Kishi. The team is more and more motivated for the tournament and there’s a very positive atmosphere in the group. All the players are in good health and there are no injury worries. The team is in good shape and feeling good, so I’m really looking forward to the tournament.

The competition will be held on a very tight schedule. How are you preparing for the competition?

KK. We’ve taken part in competitions with such a tough schedule in the past. So we just have to do what we know how to do, which is to be flexible to adapt so that we can give our best, even in a tight schedule.

We provide mental training and psychological support to help our athletes overcome pressure and tension

In the last two international competitions, you finished 3rd on both occasions. What do you need to do to improve and grab top spot?

KK. Based on our recent results, I understand that we have several important points to consider in order to improve further and aim for victory. First of all, we need to improve the skill level and physical strength of the players. It is essential for each athlete to broaden the precision and range of their skills and aim for higher levels.

Secondly, coordination between the whole team and perfecting tactics are important. Tactics work best when players make instant decisions and play together in sync. To achieve this, we need to keep training and build up match experience. We also focus on the mental aspect. We provide mental training and psychological support to help our athletes overcome pressure and tension so that they can play in a calm and focused state. By combining these elements and maximising our players’ abilities, we intend to improve our team’s ranking.

What are your team’s most important areas for improvement?

KK. This competition is important before the Paralympics, but we still have several international competitions to go. We’re concentrating on this competition, but we’re also aware of the areas we need to improve in preparation for the Paralympics. However, my absolute priority now is to give our best in this tournament.

Finally, what is your team’s number one objective for the Cup?

KK. The team’s number one objective is to always maintain the spirit of being a challenger. We value surpassing ourselves and the challenge more than the rankings. The world of sporting competition is constantly evolving, and even the strongest teams are changing day by day. As a result, we believe it’s important to always have an aspiration and to aim for new heights. Our most important objective is to become a team that continues to grow by always accepting challenges, learning from our mistakes and approaching the next match with a positive frame of mind.