Exclusive: An Insightful Interview with Coach Kai Siang

Observing Coach Kai Siang in action is like watching an eagle glide through the sky, each manoeuvre executed with precision. His lessons are crafted with strategy, blending grace and structure in harmony. Much like his coaching style, his personality is analytical and forward-thinking, greatly aiding his students to excel in their tennis skills.

In this Q&A session, we give you a peek into the man Coach Kai Siang is beyond the confines of the tennis court. Openly discussing his tennis coaching journey, Coach Kai Siang reflects on the challenges he has faced, the fulfilling moments he has encountered, his teaching methodology, and his coaching aspirations.

Join us on this journey as we delve deeper into his life. Let us begin the conversation!

1. At what age did you first start playing tennis?    

I joined it as a CCA that my parents signed me up for when I was 13.

2. How did you decide that you wanted to pursue coaching?

It all started with looking to do something more than just playing tennis – I was wondering how I could play my favourite sport and earn some pocket money at the same time. That’s when I decided to pursue coaching.

3. What’s a day in your life like as a tennis coach?

In the morning, I have coffee and breakfast, followed by a morning coaching session. I then have noon practice with other players to keep up my fitness and improve my skills. To give myself more fuel for the day, I have a hearty lunch. After lunch, I schedule time to do some admin and study. When evening falls, I usually have tournament & ladder matches or additional coaching in the evenings. Before falling asleep, I take the time before the end of the day to rest and review my coaching curriculum.

4. How would you describe your own personality?

l am Inquisitive, analytical and love to solve problems.

5. Outside of tennis, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m into making coffee. Like tennis, there is a method and craft to it. A small change in the preparation can lead to an entirely different taste at the end of the process.

6. I heard that you are studying part-time and working as well. How do you manage to juggle studying and working at the same time?

I believe in scheduling every event in the day as it helps to allocate my time and remind me of any upcoming events that I have.

7. What are some of your core values that you live by when teaching tennis?

Two of the values I resonate with the most are passion and continuous improvement. I believe that surrounding myself with people who are equally as passionate about the sport helps me to feel the same way too and become motivated. Having a growth mindset is also important, as it helps me to feel constantly challenged and embrace effort and hardship. These can be applied outside of the court too.

8. How would you describe your own teaching methodology?

Tailored and specific to address any areas of improvement that my students have.

9. Do you have any specific goals or objectives that you have in mind when you conduct lessons, or anything unique that you do each session?

I believe in getting the basics right so technique and footwork adjustment is definitely something I focus on. I also try to switch up my activities or games once in a while.

10. How do you tailor your coaching methods to different skill levels and age groups?

I only teach adult students, so I can’t cover the age group portion. For students of different skill levels, I have a slightly different set of curriculum per class to address the needs that the students have in the class.

11. Can you walk us through a typical training session with your students? How do you usually prepare for lessons?

A lesson will usually be dedicated to working on foundation and stroke correction. Then when the student(s) are ready, I may include a segment when I introduce a new technique. The lesson will end with some activities, games or drills.

12. When faced with challenges or setbacks, how do you support your students?

When my students encounter some challenges when learning, I would often revisit the basics to give them more confidence before moving back to the issue.

13. Beyond tennis skills, what life lessons or values do you aim to instil in your students through coaching?

One of the values that I hope my students take away is to embrace change when faced with challenges. For instance, if practising a new technique repeatedly does not yield improvement, we pause and explore alternative approaches – either in terms of technique or mindset. We make small adjustments to our current methods to assess their effectiveness. Persisting without progress can be counterproductive.

14. Besides the challenges, what aspects of coaching bring you the most joy or fulfilment on a daily basis?

The time when my students manages to master a difficult technique or move through my guidance.

15. How do you keep the atmosphere fun and motivating for your students during training sessions?

I always have an activity for them to participate in during a session. If it is a group activity, I will facilitate one that involves teamwork.

16. Can you share a funny or memorable moment from your time as a tennis coach?

There was a time when a student gave me tips on how to reduce the difficulty of a specific exercise! I found it quite novel!

17. Can you share an example of a creative or unconventional coaching method that resonated with your students?

Some students have difficulty positioning far enough from the ball when striking it. To help them solve this problem, I guide them into increasing their backswing horizontally.

18. How do you take care of yourself mentally and physically as a tennis player?

I make sure to have sufficient sleep and occasional breaks from tennis.

19. How has tennis impacted your life outside of the sport itself?

In tennis, often we have to go through the same motions or process to be able to learn a new skill. By trusting the process, results will come eventually. This may be time-consuming, but it feels very rewarding when I master the skill. Similarly, it can also be applied to my part-time studies. For example, if I am faced with a difficult problem, it may be easier and more efficient for me to simply google the solution. However, I would only learn a little from it. In contrast, it may take a much longer time for me to solve the problem myself, but by going through the entire thought process, I learn much more from it. The end goal is also more rewarding and meaningful.

20. What are your goals and aspirations as a tennis coach moving forward?

I will take coaching as a hobby and share this sport with more people so that they benefit from it!

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