Badminton coaches are an influential group in the badminton community. They are amongst the most frequent and familiar faces on court and their work is essential to maintain and develop badminton talent. Given that coaches have to deal with a cross-section of players, students, and sports administrators and other coaches, they sometimes encounter challenges. Let’s find out from one head school coach his key insights into coaching badminton.
Q. Why did you become a coach?
I wanted to give back and show other people how to play. It’s a very satisfying feeling when students progress, especially the kids. I can see them improve and think about what they can work on.
I can still remember the days when I didn’t know how to play badminton and there weren’t many people willing to help, to coach, or tell you what to do. They just let you explore and beat you everytime you played. I thought, if someone can just show me how to play, I could fit in. It’s a very good feeling helping other people, so they can play and be accepted.
Q. What qualities make a good student?
A good student has to listen. The student has to want to go there, not the parents want them to go there. If they want to go and learn, they will excel a lot faster. If their parents make them go there, their development will be very, very slow.
The best students – the ones who go on to become strong players – use their brains to play instead of just hitting across. It’s a mind-game. Some students use their power but if you take away the smashes, what other shots can they play? If you’re standing in the right position, you can take the smashes.
Q. When should people start training?
All people should train or acquire some sort of knowledge. Training can prevent accidents and increase your speed. It’s still possible to injure yourself during training but footwork helps. Adults and older kids who approach me normally play somewhere where they realise that their skill level is not that good.
Q. Tell me about how to develop game experience.
I tell my students to play against different people because you will gain experience playing people with different styles. Your skill development will slow once you’ve reached the peak of that group that you play with.
Q. What makes a good coach?
It requires alot of patience, but at the end it’s very rewarding. I’ve had students who couldn’t even serve nine months ago, and now can do a good low serve. If you can make it interesting and fun and they realise that they’re getting better, then they’ll be motivated to learn. The main thing about a good coach is caring. Caring about the student.
Q. Who have been the most influential people in your badminton life?
Lee Chong Wei. Friends I’ve made from playing badminton. You meet friends as well as selfish people. Perhaps selfish isn’t the word for it [pauses] people who aren’t sociable.
Q. What types of people do you see on court?
There’s all types of people. When you play badminton, you begin to notice a person’s character. For example, you notice when a guy is so eager to win that he’s willing to cheat. He won’t be a good friend. Others are gentlemen and they won’t smash into a lady, or they will play with the weaker player. It’s not just being a stronger player and thinking that weaker players don’t come close.
Q. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I’ll still be coaching. At the moment I’m happy with my position, so why change anything?