They are relentless, motivators and at times come across as slave drivers with only one aim in sight; to cheer and steer their mentees towards reaching for the skies by leveraging on their potential and highest level of abilities.
However, they are also strong pillars of support who provide a shoulder to cry on when their mentees are down and help them to rise to the occasion.
In conjunction with the SEA Games which kicked off in Singapore in 2015, I asked some of our country’s foremost national athletes on the roles that their coaches have played in their success today. (A special thank you to Kubrina Dass who went all out to help me connect with our stars).
Azizulhasni shared the valuable lessons imparted by his coach.
Knowledge: “My coach, John Beasley is a professional certified coach level three in Australian cycling and currently, he is completing his Bachelor of Science in Coaching.“With his vast knowledge, he has helped me build my successful journey. He educates me on all the mechanics of track cycling as well as empowers me to become fitter, stronger and a more efficient pro-athlete.”
Communications: “My coach basically gives me special training programmes depending on tournaments. This gives me a clear understanding on the goal of each match.“Clear, positive communication between a coach and athlete is really essential in establishing good teamwork between the duo. His clear communication style helps me easily understand my goals and the amount of work needed towards achieving my objectives.”
Motivation: “He inspires and motivates me to fully utilise my potential to bring honour to my country. He helps me set up my long term goals that comprise my personal, academic and career spheres. Regardless of whether I win or lose, he keeps motivating me by measuring my progress, be it small or big.”
Discipline: “For a cyclist, discipline is the glue that holds everything together and rules are part of it. My coach basically drills me with consistent, realistic and enforceable training programmes to keep me on track.
“My success today is definitely attributed to him. Thank you very much John Beasley!”
Darren Liew (Badminton)
“I can say that my coach plays a very big role in shaping me to become who I am today in badminton. Hendrawan saw the potential in me and nurtured it. He encouraged me to go further and to always reach for the stars. He is always pushing me to do my best and has never stopped believing in me.
“My coach sees things that I miss and he doesn’t give up on me even when I am at my lowest point. He constantly motivates me and keeps me going.
“Hendrawan has inspired me not only on the courts but in life as well. He has disciplined me and made me a better person on and off the courts. I want to take this opportunity to thank my coach for being an awesome person, for having faith in me and for constantly believing in me.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for him!”
Low Wee Wern (Squash)
Aaron Soyza (left) and Wee Wern
“Many in the squash world know that I am the first and only Malaysian who is based locally to break the Top eight of the World Rankings but only a handful know of my coach, a man who has spent countless hours with me ever since I was 12, ensuring I achieve my goals.
“Since my junior days, Aaron Soyza has stood by me every step of the way, from losing in the second round of the British Juniors Under 11 to eventually winning the prestigious British Juniors Under 19. Just as committed as I am, Aaron would ride his bike to my apartment early in the morning to have morning sessions before I go to school.
“With the amount of time the both of us spent training, I had an outstanding junior career, having won the British, Scottish, Dutch and Malaysian Junior Champion tournaments. I also emerged the Asian Junior Champion three times.
“Turning professional and making squash my career was not an easy decision, having received scholarships from renowned universities in the United States. I could not do this on my own but Aaron assured me that he would always be there.
“Both our commitments doubled with training twice a day and sometimes even on Sundays to prepare for my tournaments. He willingly made the extra time and effort, even when most of his dedication went unnoticed.
“We’ve faced many obstacles together to the extent of people not believing in his ability as a local coach to guide me into the Top 10 rankings. But that never stopped us. Where I am today speaks a lot about his capabilities as a world class coach. I owe it to him to be the best player in the world.”
“My goal-keeping coach, Ismail Chawalit plays a very big part in all of my successes and in who I have become today.
“Without his dedication and hard work I would not be a national goalkeeper for the Malaysian football team. He saw the potential in me and trained me really hard because he knew I had it in me. Coach Ismail has always urged me to go further in my career.
“He instilled in me a deeper passion for football and goal-keeping and is constantly pushing me to give my best performance when I am out there in the field.
“From giving advice to providing me with physical and mental training, Coach Ismail is with me each and every step of my career journey. And I know that if I slip, his hands are always there to pull me up.”
Datuk Nicol David (Squash)
Photo credit: SquashSite
“My coach Liz Irving has played a significant role in my success today. She has a lot of experience being a former World No. 2 squash player and a World Champion for Australia for more than 10 years.
“She has taken me through the transition of being a junior player to a professional one, with a lot of patience and effort. She creates the best training environment for all her trainees.
“I had to start from scratch with her to develop the correct basic elements of proper technique, movement and applied tactic awareness by strengthening my volleys and setting up a solid base game.
“Apart from the game, she understands what a female athlete goes through and can relate to it very well from her own experiences.
“She is a true mentor and a great friend who has always been by my side and I’m grateful for all her efforts to make me the best player I can be.
“She inspires me to always improve myself. Not every top player can be a good coach but Liz certainly worked hard to add to her coaching abilities and allow the right support team to be involved with my progress.
“She knows there are other experts in their field such as physical trainers, sports psychologists and physiotherapists who can provide me with specific tools to make me successful and she brings them in to work with me.
“Every area is taken into consideration and I have full faith in her abilities to help me reach my full potential.
“She is also very humble and has a big heart for her passion in squash and I’m fortunate to be her student to share this with her.”
“What I have achieved today is due to the fact that I had a very strict coach. Datuk Misbun Sidek is a tough person and he trained me hard. I trained with him for about six years and have received reprimands, been banned from taking part in tournaments and made to practise for long hours.
“I remember this one time when I lost my temper during practice and threw my racquet to the ground. I was banned by Misbun from returning to the court for two weeks. I then apologised for throwing a tantrum. Training went on as usual after two weeks. I guess my coach’s principles and strict training made me the champion that I am today.
“I remember him asking me what I wanted, on the first day of training. I replied that I wanted to make money and become Malaysia’s No.1. He smiled and told me that for that, I had to give him my time and dedication. I agreed and started training hard. When I won the first Malaysian Open, I really basked in the success and craved to win more tournaments.”
Prema Jayabalan believes that coaching starts at a tender age and applies this by allowing her toddler to explore her surrounding whilst teaching her values through creative methods. If you have an interesting story to share with her, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Consulting Corner articles, click here.
Prema was a team lead at Leaderonomics Digital. As a travel enthusiast who loves connecting with people from all walks of life, Prema believes that everything thrown to us by life enhances our development.