Coaching or Over-coaching in Squash

It is quite common for junior squash players to be coached when participating in tournaments. Whether it takes place before or during the match, coaches provide important and insightful information that can help players make strategic game changes. Sometimes, coaches use their expertise to provide calmness as players feel highly pressured to succeed. Some players also need all the help they can get to regain focus and receive reassurances.

I have witnessed coaches who are very kind and supportive to the players. These coaches show big smiles regardless of whether the player has won or lost a game. They emphasize on one or two strategic points that the player needs to pay attention to. For most part, they provide support, encouragement and belief.

I have also seen coaches who become so emotionally involved in the client’s success that they lose sight of the player’s real needs. Instead, they talk the player’s ears off or give so many strategic pointers that the young player goes back to the court feeling overwhelmed, confused and even more stressed out.

In my belief, effective coaching is measured by the player’s ability to stay focused, able to make strategic changes, and feel confident. Anytime the players go back to compete not feeling completely trusting in their abilities, there are minimum chances that they will perform to their best potential. Even too many well-intended pointers may be too much for players to absorb. Remember, the goal is to instill confidence in the player.

Keys for good coaching:

  • Emphasize the positives
  • Instill confidence in the players by reminding them what they are doing well.
  • Get feedback from the players as to what is going well as they will most likely remember it again.
  • Provide just one adjustment and be very concise
  • End the short talk with an uplifting message rather than a goal-seeking expectation.
  • Remember, less is sometimes more

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