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An Inside Look: Coaches’ Perspective

An Inside Look: Coaches’ Perspective

An Inside Look: Coaches’ Perspective
(By Natasha Carr-Harris)

2018 Butterfly Canadian Junior Championships

Behind every great mind is the guidance of a great teacher. The same can be said of athletics; behind each successful table tennis player is a dedicated coach.

Maxime Surprenant is one such example. A former competitor, Surprenant now alternates between coaching the national junior squad and students in Montreal. Later on, he didn’t have as much time to play table tennis for himself, so he transmitted that passion into coaching. When asked whether it was difficult to harness the discipline involved in being a coach, Surprenant concedes as much. “I had to learn how to be strict, [but] I had to learn how to use this to make training better.”

His method? “During training, I try [to simulate] a stressful environment so they’re well prepared for tournament[s].”

His students Edward Ly (QC) and Tommy Xu (QC) recently suffered a near miss during the boy’s doubles finals. Though he felt the loss as keenly as his students, Surprenant asserts he put aside his emotions in an effort to be constructive. “It’s not just about the two points—“ this, referring to the unexpected net and edge balls the opposing team scored at a critical juncture in the fifth game—“there are other things that went wrong. They need to learn that yes, it was unlucky, but some things could have been better.”

Firm and tough, Surprenant says they have a routine they stick to whereby coach and student take time to cool off, but not before coming to a solution for improvement. “Sometimes it’s hard, [the loss] is still fresh so I say ‘okay, let’s talk about it later’ but I make sure to always address the problem.”

Manitoban head coach Arvin Tronco, who moved from the Philippines two years ago, also favors an uplifting approach in the face of demoralizing losses. He advises his students, “even if you’re on the edge of losing, keep in mind that you’re not going down without a fight.”

What both coaches have in common is that their relationship with their students runs deeply—they form a bond resembling friendship. Tronco says it was difficult when he first took on the job of head coach because he wanted to become truly comfortable with the players. “I had to befriend them first, and then allow them to get to know me.”

Surprenant is of a similar mindset. “I grew with [my students] [as a coach] while they grew as players. We’ve all spent so much time together—more time than we’ve spent with our families.”


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