Bob was playing the finals of the under 2200 event at a local tournament. Bob’s coach Suzy sat nervously in the corner watching the first game. To Suzy’s dismay, Bob blew a 9-5 lead and lost the first game. Bob came over to Suzy for advice, and she told him… “Bob, Don’t mess up on easy balls, don’t serve long topspin to his forehand, don’t go for wild shots, and don’t lob whatsoever. Ok, you got it? Now you know what to do. Don’t lose this match!!!” Suzy said a lot of what NOT to do, but Suzy didn’t give Bob information of what he SHOULD do. Here is what Suzy should have said…
She said, “Bob, Don’t mess up on easy balls.”
She should have said, “Bob, your consistency is the key.”
She said, “Don’t serve long topspin to his forehand.”
She should have said, “Serving short, low backspin this game is the key to being able to use your strong forehand loop.”
She said, “Don’t go for wild shots.”
She should have said, “Focus on spin with your opening loop and be ready to adjust and work the point.
She said, “Don’t lob whatsoever.”
She should have said, “When your opponent is attacking, focus on staying closer and blocking with placement until you have the right opportunity to counterloop.”
She said, “Don’t lose this match!!!”
She should have said, “Take your time between points and focus on your initial strategy.”
As you can see in the above illustration, it is vitally important to give concrete advice on what to do. Merely saying what not-to-do doesn’t give the player much information. With only 60 seconds of advice to give, it is critical that the instructions be clear and concise. The words that the coach chooses to use during those 60 seconds can have a huge bearing on the outcome of the match.
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