Previously many coaches were insisting on practice matches much more than today. I (Nick) would say it was normal to practice in the morning and play a practice match in the afternoon. These days, I see especially with the junior players, less and less practice matches, or they just play a quick set or something like this where there is not the same simulation of real pressure. I (Nick) think practice matches should be something normal and the players can learn from them to deal with the pressure in competitive matches better. It’s the closest simulation that we have got.
Q: Why do you think that is?
I think before there was not so many people involved in the younger age in the players careers. Players and parents did what the club coach said and there was no big deal about it. Now the parents are much more involved. More often players are avoiding the tough situations because practice match, especially in the club, against your friends is difficult to handle.
Sometimes it’s okay, to not expose yourself to pressure, but all of a sudden maybe a couple of weeks or even months has past by, and you don’t even realize that you only trained but didn’t really compete. It’s tough for the player. It’s easier to practice. You’re sweating, but mentally it’s tough to go out there in the afternoon and play against your best friend for match. It’s a challenge also for the coaches. Our challenge, because coaches don’t want to say to a parent that the player lost today against a player that he or she is “supposed” to be better than. So it’s sometimes a combination of different reasons.