The role of a coach and the impact on the athlete
By Francisco Mendez
On this day I want to speak about how important a player’s emotional area is as a fundamental part in the player’s development and how to develop the player’s motivation. Every great Coach must be a great motivator. One of the greatest blessings that I can have as a trainer is the opportunity to create a permanent impact in the life of the student, the persons with whom I have been able to share all sorts of experiences in this precious sport. This article focuses more on my role as a Coach in the life of the athlete, specifically in that of children students, young in age.
My most outstanding student has been Yahao Zhang, with whom I developed an extremely close and intimate relationship, I began training him since he was 11 years old, I was his coach and mentor for nine years, we traveled together to all possible tournaments here in the USA, Yahao got to be ranked # 77 of the world (ITTF ranking in 2012) for minors under 18 years, besides been a North American Champion and to have been a part of the USA team in two World Championships. Currently, once again I have the opportunity to have a positive impact in the life of another child, an extraordinary kid who inspires me much appreciation, and that I am using as an example for the teaching of this article. His name is Mason Helms, I see great qualities and potential in him. His rating is barely 1023, since he has only played Table Tennis for a year, but I find it important to mention and speak about players in their beginnings, when their ratings are still low. Mason has great qualities and potential (even though Mason might never get to be an Elite player, to be able to leave an imprint in his soul and heart is more than sufficient to me).
What do I want to tell you? We focus so much in achieving that our students reach a high level, I believe that every trainer must pursue these goals and objectives that are good!, it’s good to desire triumph, it’s good to want to get to be a great player of world class, it’s a dream worth reaching, but without forgetting that the most important is that such alumni must grow in self- trust, that the alumni gets to know itself through the sport, learns to give 100%, to give a maximum effort and that as trainers we are finally able to leave an imprint in the alumni. Personally, I feel happy of been his trainer and to walk together in this journey where I am a witness of his growth as an athlete and as a person. To see the enthusiasm with which he trains exceeds the natural limits! Mason runs to pick up the balls! All the time, he never gets tired, and after training Table Tennis he goes out to play a soccer or basketball game! Also, he is very obedient in the instructions that I give him and his creativity is sensational, he dreams with fantastic servings, he is starting to dream that he can get to be a different player, with his own mark.
I took Mason to his first tournament three months ago, The Colorado State Games, where he won four medals, and he gave me a gift which I consider priceless and which I want to share with all of you, a letter written by him giving me thanks for being important in his life! I would like to take this space to invite and encourage all trainers and assistants to invest in their students, especially in the children, to become their mentors, to give everything that they have because the reward is great, the reward is to leave an imprint in the life of those children, an indelible imprint!