15. Coaches must watch their players in competitions

I thought that I knew how my players performed as watched them in training every week
But, I hardly ever watched them in competition

When I did I was shocked !!!

The difference between performance in Practice and Competition should not be underestimated!

This was another lesson I wished I’d learned much earlier. It would have saved me from much heartache and soul searching.

Before I go into a little more detail, I need to explain a few of my beliefs

    1. Competition is the TRUE test of a player’s current ability
    2. There IS a difference between training and competition
    3. Valuable information is EASILY seen in competitions
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Why you should go and watch your players
They are your players

It’s your duty, your responsibility to watch them in competition

If you don’t then they may start to believe that you don’t care. There is no need to attend all the tournaments of all your players, that would take up too much time.

However, you need to explain your thoughts and reasons at your player meetings

 

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Have you read: 6 Ways to Improve your Badminton match observations

What you could be missing
Emotional responses

BadmintonandyThis has always been of the biggest benefits of going to tournaments

How your players respond emotionally to all the different situations is very interesting.  Keep your eyes open for obvious situations such as reactions to winning, losing, on courts distractions (scoring mistakes, line calls, etc).

But also pay close attention to subtle situations such as distractions from off-court, parents ‘support’, even your coach ‘support’.

The way your players react in tournaments often surprises coaches (if they are actually there) as its the emotional aspect hat very few coaches address in practice on him courts.

How often do you discuss your players how they could react in a competition, or do you leave this to chance and hope that they “gain experience” without your preparations?

Some great shots

I’m always surprised at which strokes suddenly seems to appear

At home will have practised a range of strokes but in a competition one suddenly seems much better than you imagined.  It’s important that you look for these strokes to gauge how there effectiveness in competition.

Something that looks ‘ordinary’ at home may become a great weapon against opponents who are actively trying to return the shuttle whilst also playing the game.

Plus not everyone in competition practices as your players do.  Be aware that often your sessions start to even out everyone’s skills so winning strokes are harder to get.  In competition, new opponents may not be as competent at returning some of your players shots.

Good shots in practice can turn into great shots in completion, look for them

Tactics

This is obvious, but if you don’t watch competitions you won’t see how players decide their own tactics

Sometimes it will present you will some conundrums:

  • what are they playing so many clears?
  • they haven’t hit any slices aa its obvious that they keep getting crossed after their straight smash?
  • not another straight slow drop return of high serve!
  • your winning, just keep it in and wait for a mistake, why are you going for the lines ?
  • its all rush, rush, rush, remember what we discussed last week, where is your ritual !!

 

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Glimpses of excellence

You are sitting behind the court and suddenly see something that was excellent.  It doesn’t matter if the players wins or loses the rally, it was just an excellent shot, movement or decision.

It doesn’t always have to be a winning stroke.  Maybe it was a great crosscourt slice or the sound when they hit that deep fh hard into the opponents backhand.

I’d think  “wow,  I didn’t think that was as good as that!”

These glimpses of excellence often gave me the motivation to know that things in practice were working in the heat of completion even though I couldn’t see any progress in practice.

A fighting attitude

Again surprises may jump out when you watch.

Some players who you think have a soft mentality, may suddenly play ‘tough’ stand tall, look like they were in charge.  They chase every shuttle down no matter the score.  It happened so many times to me that I started to understand how different practice was from competition.

Off court activities

This was more interesting than I realised.  To see which players prepare off court was an eye-opener for me.  Who brought what food, who warmed up in plenty of time without any prompts.

Did they spend all their time with friends or do they watch matches?

Neither is good or bad, but you do need to know what your players do between matches.  Or, maybe you’ve already ‘coached’ them in tournament management activities and how to handle the breaks between matches.

Look out for a post on the reasons why practice is different from Competition & how to close that gap

 

Why don’t Coaches watch their players in Competition

WARNING these suggestions may apply to you 🙂
  • Coaches don’t get paid to attend competitions
  • Coaches prefer to be with their families at weekends
  • Coaches prefer to be running weekend sessions to create income
  • Coaches watch their players in every session, they know what they require, so why watch
As always I’d be grateful for any comments and feedback
If I missed some really good reasons to watch competitions please let me know 🙂

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