Encouraging and coaching fellow club members at tournaments is one of the best aspects of a competition. In this article, I’m going to outline how to coach another player between games. If I were coaching a friend or student, here is what I might say:
- Good game – you ended strong with a nice comeback.
- He is having difficulty when you attack first into his wide forehand; try to open most of your loops to his wide forehand side. Once the rally begins, your opponent nearly always backs off the table. Once he is far from the table, his backhand with pips gets pretty weak.
- Remember to keep using your strong loops. Stay close. Be aggressive, and try to play long rallies. You are much more consistent than he is in long rallies.
The above coaching had three parts:
#1 Positive Comment
In part (1), I gave a positive comment of encouragement. Your friend needs to see that you are on his side and that you believe he or she can win. Don’t start arguing; stay positive!
#2 Two Observations
In part (2), I made two helpful observations. You need to pay close attention to the match to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent in order to give sound advice. Remind your player what worked and what didn’t.
#3 Reminder About Playing to Your Strengths
In part (3), I gave a positive reminder of what to focus on next. Keep it brief with no more than three tips, otherwise he’ll remember none of them. Giving your friend positive reminders is one of the best ways to build his confidence.
If you come prepared to be a solid coach, you can be a key part in earning the victories. Many matches have been swayed by an attentive and helpful coach! And if you’re the player being coached, remember to listen to your coach’s advice; they can often see things that you can’t!
Samson Dubina is an accomplished player and coach. He was the US Nationals Men’s Singles Finalist in 2010. Learn more about Samson.