Namita Bal aims to train champions

The 26-year-old daughter of Nandan Bal, easily one of the best coaches in the country, Namita has been coaching junior players and has recently been travelling for events in the men’s circuit as well.

With her playing career cut short by a spine injury, Namita Bal is now focussed on creating champions as a coach.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

A spine injury curtailed her tennis career as a player in 2015, but Namita Bal found a way to channelise her energy and stoke her dreams of guiding young players to be champions of the country.

The 26-year-old daughter of Nandan Bal, easily one of the best coaches in the country, Namita has been coaching junior players and had recently been travelling for events in the men’s circuit as well.

“Once you let go of the idea that you know what is best for you, it widens your vision towards interesting possibilities,” said Namita in a free wheeling chat at the DLTA Complex, before the final session of the Global Professional Tennis Coach Association (GPTCA).

There is a holistic approach to her coaching. Namita, quite versatile, has learnt a lot about strength and conditioning. Thanks to Alberto Castellani and his coaching course, she has also picked up the nuances of mental side of coaching. She deals with nutrition with ease, as she evokes so much credibility with her wiry frame.

“My dad has always told me that observation is the key to good coaching. Anyone can find a mistake, but how to make the change. That is the challenge. It all starts with understanding your player. I always ask the players how they feel and what they could have done better,” said Namita, as she provided an insight into her coaching methods.

She does adore her father as the “perfect role model”, but has her own methods to deal with the players. She does not tell them to stay away from the mobile phone.

“They are at an age when they want to rebel. I give them the option, explaining the points. The key is to have a vision, and have clear priorities to reach one’s goals,” she said.

When necessary she can step in and be strict with players for their good, but Namita believes in letting the players understand and evolve.

“Discipline is the foundation if you aspire to achieve something in any sphere. I have been lucky to work with a good bunch of players” said Namita, who was particularly happy with the way Rudraksh Mitra shaped up in the Asian men’s circuit.

“He is extremely intelligent, and has tremendous grasp. He has very good potential,” said Namita.

She believes that there is a lot of scope for young girls to reach the standard of the likes of Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi, and go beyond. However, she feels that the girls need to be groomed early in their career about the right way forward.

“Many times they are forced to unlearn a lot of wrong methods. I do believe we can create champions for the country. We need to work on the mental aspect as much as we work on building the physical strength of the players. If you want to be a champion, you have to train like one,” she observed.

In trying to set high standards, many believe in criticism, but Namita says that there is an urgent need for more encouragement for players.

“After a match, I ask them to write five things they did right. And then ask them to write three things that they need to work on. If you are not positive, under pressure situation, you don’t believe in yourself,” she said, stressing the need to build the confidence of the players.

Education is another key element in building quality players.

“Knowledge always gives you the confidence to deal with social situations, especially when you travel abroad’’, she remarked.

Namita traveled as the captain of the Junior Fed Cup under-16 girls team this season, and also took the team to Serbia to train at the Novak Djokovic Academy, where the team trained with Renzo Furlan.

She is equipped with a Master of Commerce degree in Business Entrepreneurship and AITA level-4 certification. She has also acquired tons of practical coaching experience, despite her young age.

Namita brings a positive and fresh look to the art of coaching, and has the burning desire to mould world class players, with suitable guidance from her father.

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