“What shot should I get ready for!”
That was the question I was asked by the player in front of me
I had to think for a moment, what had I been taught in my coaching course, what did I do on court in games
Was there an answer that worked in nearly all scenarios / situations …
( if you want to know now, jump to the bottom of this post 🙂 )
My favoured reply to a novice (beginner) player certainly isn’t “return to the centre base and prepare for everything!”
It’s very important that Coaches and Players think about this question
The advice you give will shape how players think in games
I needed a phrase that would require little thought and apply in nearly all situations
I’ve heard these 3 possible scenarios … which reply would you choose?
- Prepare for every possibility and wait until they play their stroke
- Prepare for the most likely reply
- Prepare for the shuttle that will hit your court first
Come with me and examine each one
1 Prepare for every possibility?
To prepare to move anywhere in court for every stoke the opponent could possibly play is a NOT EFFICIENT, and will NOT IMPROVE your play.
If you wait until they play their stroke, you will in many cases either be later getting there or be beaten by that stroke.
Will you get to the shuttle, yes you will sometimes, BUT waiting will make you slower and give you less time when you realise which stroke they are playing.
Please DO NOT ENCOURAGE your players to be “Ready For Everything” 🙁
2 Prepare for the most likely reply
This IS a better thought and your ultimate aim
However, there are problems with giving this is advice, especially to novice players (beginner players)
It requires players to have an understanding of what replies the opponents may be considering
Your players have to be accomplished at looking at the opponents and determining what shots they could be playing (great at anticipation)
Do young players have the skills to anticipate and prepare a “list” of possible strokes? This list isn’t really a list, it’s more a “feeling” of what is likely to happen next.
Please don’t ask players to write a list, just ask them what shot is “most likely”
That question needs to be answered x10 faster than the time it’s taken for you to read this sentence
The elite performers will consider the “most likely reply” without consciously doing it. They have developed a skill that allows them to “have the best prediction” and then take action on it.
The action isn’t just waiting, in fact they will and often do make a preparatory movement and adopt a stance that will maximise their choice.
In order to prepare players to “think like an elite player”, you need to start the process with something that is a conscious thought but allows them to act in a partially automatic way and doesn’t confuse them in that fleeting, almost instant moment.
Consider this Question:
How can you develop anticipatory skills that are automatic, generally correct, and that link to body movements (stances) taken up prior to the opponent striking the shuttle?
3 Prepare for the shuttle that will hit your court first
I recommend that this is one of the first tactical thoughts you give to your players
It works in many situations and is a positive actionable thought phrase
I like the fact that thinking about which of the opponent’s shots will strike your court first encourages an early stance, either forward/backward attacking or a square defensive stance.
The use of these stances and the introduction by coaches (using subtle well designed practices) is one of the most misunderstood and underrated aspects of movement coaching, I believe.
Being ready for the shot that will hit your court first means that it’s often the one that travels fastest, not always though. Consider these two situations, which of the opponent’s shots do you think would hit your court first?
- you high serve – what shot will hit your court first and what stance will you adopt?
- you block to their forecourt – what shot will hit your court first and what stance will you adopt?
- you play a net shot – what shot will hit your court first and what stance will you adopt?
Coaches: how will you create practices that develop this skill of feeling (reading/anticipating) the opponents most likely reply?
Prepare for the shuttle that will hit your court first
Using this phrase in training, over weeks and months will create a mindset that encourages players to think (in an autonomous way) about the situation of the rally
So, the next time you wonder what shot to cover or you are asked
“What shall I cover”, what will you say
Have you read these posts? …