Choong Hann (right) receives instructions from Morten Frost during his heyday as a player.
MY first coach was a lady and she made a big impression in my life!
I was 12 when I came under the charge of Ong Mei Ling at SJKC Kwong Hon in Sungai Besi. She was the school’s clerk and a former state player from Perak.
My school had a strong tradition in badminton. We had three badminton courts, the flooring was made of cement and there was nothing really fancy. At that time, it all seemed so huge and breathtaking to me.
I remember her because she was caring and a disciplinarian. I can still hear all the scoldings! She was significant in the first phase of my badminton career. Since then, I have gone through many coaches – at state and national levels.
In the national team, there were Han Jian, Morten Frost, Chen Changjie, Indra Gunawan, Misbun Sidek, Li Mao and Kwan Yoke Meng.
The role of a coach is important in an athlete’s life. Having gone through all kinds of coaches – their styles and training methods – and now being a coach, I have come to one conclusion. It’s important for an athlete to think what he can gain from his coach.
Many young aspiring athletes want something out of their coaches and tend to get frustrated when they don’t get it. Different coaches have different ways of doing things. But they all have a common goal – to make their players an achiever at the highest level.
So, it is better for us to focus on the goodness that a coach can give us.
In Han Jian, I experienced the wonderful transition from a junior to senior. I was 17 when I came under his charge. Truly, he opened up my horizon in badminton. I took in as much as I could of his techniques, strategies, physical training drills for three years. It was indeed a great transformation stage for me.
In Frost, I had the privilege of seeing the mind of a master strategist. Of course, all these will not work if there are no good communication and trust between a coach and his charges. Coaches have to play their cards right. I think the most important thing that a coach should do is to show that he cares for his players.
They need to make the players realise it, understand it, and most importantly, get them to see it. They say action speaks louder than words!
Coaches should also be fair.
A coach not only teaches an athlete the skills required to be at the top of his game. They also have the power to change an athlete’s life. It is an honourable position to be in. A coach should always try to influence his players positively, giving them the due attention and bringing out the best in them.
I also think that a coach should be creative. No one programme fits all. It is important for a coach to understand each of his player’s ability and come up with a programme to suit his charge. I have seen coaches using one programme to train all his players. It is not the right thing to do.
I am a coach now and I know it is not an easy job. You have to know and deal with emotion management as well. Sometimes, I lose my cool. I’m not proud of it and it’s not the right thing to do. Our charges do not deserve emotional abuse. Now and then, I do self evaluation to see whether I have crossed the line.
Coaches can get tired too of doing the same thing over and over again. They get worn out and lose enthusiasm. They need internal and external motivation to keep their fire burning.
I, for one, encourage the management to recognise their coaches’ efforts by giving out incentives. These incentives and recognition alone, however, should not be the driving factor to excel for coaches.
A coach is proud when a good bond is established with his players.
A coach is happy when his charges play well and doing well as a person.
A coach sheds tears of joy when a player is able to rise above himself.
And that, to me, gives the greatest satisfaction.