I have attended many tournaments over the past 17 years and have heard many coaches give advice to their students. In this article, I’m going to quote some coaches and tell you what they advised their students between games. Before reading my comment below, you decide for yourself if the advice is good or bad…
The score was 9-9 in the final game, the coach called timeout and told his student, “Do the right thing.”
Bad Idea! The student looked glassy-eyed at the coach and had no idea what strategy to use. What was the right thing? The student needed some more concrete advice!
The student won the first game 11-2 and came to his coach for advice. The coach told his student, “You did a good job initiating the attack, keep your focus.”
Good Idea! The coach didn’t confuse the student with deep, technical advice. The coach stayed positive and reminded the student to continue his original strategy.
The student was playing poorly in a very important match. After losing the first two games, the coach asked the student, “Before this tournament, did you practice a lot?” The student replied with a no answer. Coach replied, “Well that explains why you are playing like this.”
Bad Idea! Regardless if the student had practiced a lot or a little, the coach should have given some gently reminders on the right things to do and the strategies needed at that moment. Dwelling on a lack of practice usually doesn’t boost one’s performance.
The student was playing in the final of a local tournament. After winning the first game 11-0, he danced over to his coach in a very very happy mood. The coach sternly stated, “Keep your focus. Your opponent played poorly the first game. You still need 2 more games to win. Be focused and determined every point.”
Good Idea! Although it is great to get a good start at the beginning of the match, it is important not to celebrate a victory before the match is over.
The student was playing aggressively throughout the first few points. At the end of the first game, the student started playing very passively and won the first game from his opponent’s unforced errors. The coach stated, “I would rather see you lose the match then to win like a sissy!”
Possibly Bad Idea! Sternly criticizing a student after winning a game isn’t usually a good ida. Yes, the player should use his attack. However, if the opponent is missing a lot, then choosing to sometimes control the rally with pushing and blocking as a variation is sometimes a good idea.
I really encourage you to coach fellow club members at tournaments. If they win a game, then give them some positive feedback and encouragement. If they lose a game, then point out 1-2 things that they can improve upon.