Many people ask me how it feels to be a full-time coach, and many more question whether this is something that will continually fuel my passion.
It certainly feels different as I transit from a competitive player to a coach. The joy of training and the relief that comes from competing is the same. But as a coach, I do not have the opportunity to replace my players and do the serve, perform a smash or do anything on the badminton court. But the responsibility that I feel on the court is tremendous.
You want your players to do well, and you want them to succeed. And when it happens, you get to see all their joyous faces and you share the same pride as any parent will have. It’s an over-the-top feeling and it brings you incredible satisfaction, knowing that you have at least played a small part of it.
You do not get a chance to compete in your players' place on the court, but you have to do so much work off the court. Your mind is constantly churning and brainstorming about the next effective drill, getting the right practice atmosphere and motivating the players to greater heights. And when everything clicks, I’m just happy for everyone involved.
It's been such a blessing for me to play for some of the greatest coaches (Coach Hamid Khan, Coach Lau Wing Cheok, Coach Dicky, Coach Simon Koh, and Coach Izwan) in Singapore badminton history. I’ve learnt almost everything from them and they all played a part in shaping me into the coach I am today. Even more so, I have been blessed with such great coaching opportunity and support from school, and the unbelievable trust from all teaching staff.
"...but what makes it so gratifying at the end is all the work that goes into it and the relief that comes with winning when all is set and done."
Because I felt it as a player, I knew about the highs and lows of the competition schedule as well. But what I forgot about is the long process of toughening out during practice and competition phase, anytime from two to twelve months of this constant grind.
You never ever feel liberated and free during this whole period, and when you lose, you feel like you're at the bottom of the pit and you’re up all night just thinking about everything. You think about all the possible adjustments you can make, talking to your fellow coaching staff, and getting your players going again after a tough loss.
After a while it just wears you out completely. My team and I are completely exhausted, but what makes it so gratifying at the end is all the work that goes into it and the relief that comes with winning when all is set and done.
The players may not realise this, but I still get really nervous even just watching them from the stands. And this is a feeling that I've been chasing to experience once again. I want to feel nervous, and I want to feel the fierce competitiveness of the game. Everything that comes with those stakes when you’re in it is the fear of failure and the ultimate fear of losing.
But the flipside is the feeling I have as I recall the past year - U12 Div I Girls Bronze, U14 Div I Boys Gold, U19 Div I Boys Gold, U19 Div II Boys Gold, U19 Div I Girls Bronze, U19 Div II Girls Gold, U19 SEASAC Boys Bronze, and U19 SEASAC Girls Silver. Every title and achievement still brings incredible satisfaction to my whole team.
"Because every coach just wants you guys to succeed."
As Father's Day approaches, let's not forget the incredible sacrifice that they have made to mould you into the person you are today. While my father is no expert in badminton, he is the one who taught me basic hand-eye coordination skills. He is the one who fetched me from places to places so that I could have training from the best coaches out there. He is the one who watched my performance in every match from a distance and gave his best support in any way possible. He remains strong when I am weak, and he is proud in both my wins and losses.
And there're my other "Fathers", also known as my coaches, who taught me the true skills in badminton. They taught me beyond the technicalities of the sport, and passed me true wisdom about life. More often than not, I have spent much more time with them than my biological father. And this is what I want to do for my players as well; to be there for them on court and also in life.
The reason is simple. Because every coach just wants you guys to succeed.