In social games I’ve received a lot of comments about how I play. In the process of learning a new sport I’ve had to distinguish between knowledgeable sources and dubious sources. I trust the opinions of my coach and strong players because they clearly know their stuff. But sometimes I receive unsolicited advice by older players. And this is where it gets tricky.
Comments from social players can be valid (e.g. I have weak clears), but sometimes their comments are based on their own views. And they can be hurtful. The most insulting was a fat grumpy woman who partnered with me during a social game and when we lost, she walked up to me and said “you should do training!” I was talking to my co-coach at the time, and I said, “I do” and she snapped “do more!” My coach pointed out that she wasn’t even that good but I still got upset. I’ve learned to tolerate those kinds of comments with a smile and nod. And as a private rule, I don’t partner those people again.
Yesterday I asked my coach about how to deal with this kind of advice from social players. He calmly advised don’t worry about them, it’s important to ask the right person the relevant questions. He admitted he doesn’t know about the latest strings, racquets, shoes or clothes because he’s used the same racquet strung by the same stringer for years. He wouldn’t be the best person to ask about the latest Yonex range, but he understands the game well.
Some players simply say what they think. Recently I partnered an old man and he said, “you’re moving too fast, be stable.” As my coach pointed out, the old man was slow and couldn’t keep up, which opened up gaps in the court, so I should slow my pace. It was a funny realisation. Some partners will blame you for their inability to play a shot. And you must understand it’s based on their perception of how the game should be played.
The top 7 comments I’ve had so far:
- “You play like a man” – what does one say to this??
- “Don’t be afraid of the shuttle” – when defending a smash
- “Don’t move back, stay at the front and put your racket up” – when being attacked during mixed doubles
- “Just get the cheap racket that is flex. If you can’t do stiff, why look at high end?” – my search for a lighter racquet
- “No more chicken wings” – my arm position when moving back to hit a clear
- “If your opponent’s there, you don’t hit there” – understanding key tactics
- “Relax” – no it doesn’t make me relax
I don’t give advice unless I’m asked for it. What advice givers need to know is that unsolicited advice often lands on deaf ears and can annoy people. If my training partner reads this, he’ll kick me because he reckons I’m stubborn and picky. But on the positive side, it’s triggered my critical thinking and added fuel to my determination to succeed.