Coaching Approach

Rowden June 2021

The question of style identification and how to develop differing players is the 64 thousand dollar one.

Let me give you a little mantra: 'TELL ME AND I FORGET,TEACH ME AND I REMEMBER, INVOLVE ME AND I LEARN AND GROW'.
Far too many coaches even at National levels look at the relationship between Coach and Player as a one of master and servant. With this attitude you will never produce top players and there is always the tendency to impose your ideas on the player and direct them down a path YOU deem to be suitable.
Each player is different and individual and must be developed in a way which harnesses and makes the best use of their personal strengths and skills. This means a relationship of working together as partners where you are prepared to listen too. Even after around 70 years of coaching I still learn things from my players!
Look at and talk to your player. What are their assets, reactions, speed, mobility, feeling, strength, power and what do they feel about how they should play? Are they more comfortable being positive or keeping the ball in play and containing. Are they mentally strong and will they fight for every ball? You will never be able to force a player into a mode of play which is against their basic instincts!
Over the years I have found 3 aspects useful in assessing and developing the player.
1) Where are they most comfortable, the distance from the table and do they play more than 60% from this area?
2) Try to identify at as young an age as possible what their end style will be. This will avoid going down many irrelevant pathways during training.
3) Train the whole game from the start. Don't take the attitude that more advanced aspects can be left till later. Teach the whole from the very beginning.
Finally bear in mind that the female is a completely different animal with many more styles of play and coaching must be approached with this aspect always in view.