Germany’s Peter Engel recalled some interesting observations about top Indian paddlers and his interactions with them during his tenure as foreign coach of the Indian national team, at a video conference with Sports Authority of India coaches on Saturday.

Engel, coach of the senior Indian national teams for the 2014 Commonwealth and Asian Games, recollected his experiences on working with Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan.

When he saw Manika playing most of her strokes on her backhand with a long pimple during a training session, he suggested she better use her forehand to finish points. “I told her that no rubber can solve your problem. You have to work on your forehand. Now if you see her, she is not playing with pimple any more and is, in fact, hitting winners [using] on the normal rubber. During that time, she worked hard on her forehand and physical part,” said Engel, who had previously coached national teams from the Netherlands and Spain.

According to Engel, Sharath became stronger on his backhand on his idea that the paddler use his left side more effectively so he can finish points on his stronger weapon - the forehand.

‘A different player’

“When I first started with Sharath, a tall player, I told him it is not enough to use his forehand only. Before, his backhand was 50-50 on the table. Now he is placing them preparing for his forehand. This has made him a different player,” said Engel.

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Sathiyan, said the coach, was not finishing points and was content playing rallies. “Earlier, when he had the chance to finish, he didn’t. I told him ‘you are playing chess on a big court. You should take your chances. Now, he is very very aggressive and a very very smart player,’” Engel said, while speaking on ‘how to measure success in practice.’

The veteran coach, who has been involved in 11 Olympics, said, “Coaches should involve the advanced players in practice, ensuring that they sync with their ideas. They should ask the players for their inputs as well.”