5. Coach to ‘Forget’

… by not drawing attention to technical aspects
… develope players, not technical experts who ‘know’ everything

Many years ago I watch my mentor coach at work with a very good young player.

I was surprised how little information he gave about grips, when to split, how to move, etc.

Plus he rarely spoke during the rallies, apart from grunting when he tried to move to their “good shots”.

I’m sure that sometimes this perceived effort on his part was false in order to show the player that their efforts were successful against a player of their standard.

I thought (incorrectly) that it was important to ensure that good players understood exactly what to do and when to do it

I’d previously been reinforcing ‘essential’ technical tips, often shouting out loud during the rallies.

I thought I needed my players to understand the technical elements 🙁

I was advised to “allow the players to play”,
“they don’t need to always know, but they must be able to play”
Roger did draw the players attention to other aspects;
  • the things they could see over the net
  • where space was on the court
  • what were the opponents most likely replies
  • how could they make it tough for the opponent
All the coaching (talking) was done in between rallies
He ‘coached’ in the rallies by returning the shuttle and by allowing the players to play
Nowadays I realise that
  • I very rarely mention terms such as “basic grip”, “thumb Grip”.  In fact, I deliberately try not to use these terms after the first few lessons
  • I don’t mention where the non-racket arm should be once I’ve seen that its generally in a great position
  • I never mention the words “supination or pronation” or “kinetic chain”
  • I never call out “split” or clap my hands to encourage a split
  • I don’t reinforce technical aspects once part established if the outcome is close to the ‘model’
  • I encourage players to imagine the outcome they want and how to prepare for that
  • I use the rally situation (feed) to test the robustness of the technique without telling the player
  • If they (the players) asks “how is my technique ?”, I’m careful with my reply
Why it’s important for players to forget


I cant think and act

I realised that I had made progress when one of my players was asked what grip she used to cross-court from her low backhand net  –  “one that makes it go up and over” was the reply 🙂
Jump back to the long list

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