When I first went into business, and began Jon’s Table Tennis Training, there was the dilemma about what to call this new company. Now, I can barely remember what some of the other possibilities were. I am glad that I didn’t go with Jon’s Coaching, or some other name that emphasized coaching instead of training. I certainly do a lot of coaching, but I would like players to feel like their success has more to do with consistent training, than the abilities of their coach.
A table tennis training business does need, and include coaching. It does no good to train, if the training isn’t based on sound principles of table tennis. Some training may include lots of obvious coaching instruction, and some sessions have very little. Ideally, players are able to train with different partners, but practically, I end up being the designated training partner most often.
Recently, I’ve been changing things up with some of my more advanced players. There are certain drills where they take on the coaching role, and I have to do the drill in their place. There are multiple benefits to this occasional role reversal. The basic Falkenberg drill is so routine to me that I can nearly do it in my sleep. As long as I can stand in one place and block to three spots, I can coach all day. Some of my students have become so efficient with their movement, that they are nearly as consistent as I am, although they will wear down much quicker, since they do have to move. Reversing the roles allows me to gain insights into what these players are dealing with physically, and also gives me insights into fine tuning this drill. The first time someone has to play the role of the coach, and block to a particular spot, they usually discover that it is not as easy as it looks. Most players do figure it out, but discover that they need to adjust their timing, and be more exact with their placement.
Having an overaggressive player block to a particular spot is a great way for them to work on skills that they might not otherwise attempt. It’s not a bad thing to get a coach to work on footwork occasionally either. Even having beginners feeding multi-ball can really help with their hand-eye coordination. Training can be a cooperative effort where players push each other to improve. Sometimes the best way to do that, is to trade places.