Monthly Tip - September 2014

Nature and Nurture

Very few sportspeople are “gifted” i.e. that they can just “do the sport” without sizeable input from coaches. This applies all over the world to Chinese, Indonesians etc. I have been lucky enough to share the practice court with many players from many countries and we have had lots visit us in Wales. Very often when hitting with a non “gifted” young Asian player I have invariably found that they have much the same technical shortcomings that our players do. This suggests that talented (but not gifted) players the world over will develop much the same habits if not guided by good technical coaching. This can come as a surprise because the assumption might reasonably be that if an Asian player comes through any sort of system then they must be technically excellent.

I haven’t found that to be always the case!

Very few are gifted. 

I remember Lyndon Williams telling me that he could just play and did not have to think very much about it whereas I am told that Phil Sutton dedicated a summer to developing a strong backhand. Looking at a video of Robert Blair when he was 8 years old with me and Annette’s Friday night North Berwick group, it would be easy not to notice him (one World Championship silver medal later!!!) 

All were/are brilliant players but very different in many ways in developing!

The implication for coaches is that when looking at young Welsh players, avoid the mistake of thinking that they are vastly different to young players elsewhere, in my experience they are not.

The challenge then is to help them improve.   

If coaches accept the challenge to improve themselves to a high level of knowledge, then the possibilities for young Welsh players is endless - as always it’s the teacher who has the means to enrich the pupil!!