Thoughts from my coaching session this evening.

I was working with a number of league badminton players this evening. The focus on our sessions over the last month or so has been using the racquet to generate a range of different shots from the backhand side of the net with very little difference in technique. A number of important points struck me tonight. Firstly, old habits die hard. It still amazes me how many good players struggle with the basic skill of changing grip, which severely restricts their ability to return the shuttle with a high degree of accuracy.

Second – preparation and recovery. Playing shots at the net requires a high level of control and speed of movement with the racquet. You have to prepare properly to execute a shot well. What I witnessed time and again tonight was the racquet starting at the bottom of the net. As you can imagine, that’s way too low to ensure an effective return can be made. The difference in quality of return was immediately apparent when the player moved their racquet to a starting point just below the top of the next. Great results achieved here.

But, low and behold, whilst the first shot was significantly improved, the second shot was poor because the final part of the shot (follow through/recovery) moved the racquet all the way to the “old ” starting position. Doh!

When we did get it right, we changed the feed into a game situation and had the player receiving a short serve to the “T”. They had to choose from the range of shots we’d worked on paying particular attention to shuttle placement. We then played the rally to conclusion. What became very evident was the requirement to adjust the pace as the shuttle had effectively travelled further by a good metre from the net comapred to the hand feeding. However, when the players made the adjustment it was remarkable to see the effectiveness of the return with many of them being outright winners! Sweet.

Final thoughts: The beauty of working with more experienced players is that small changes can generate huge results. Improving at this game is not about improving one thing by 100% but by improving a number of things by 5%. Many players, especially in league, make the mistake of thinking that you’ve almost got to blow them away with stuff they’ve never seen or done before in order to help them improve. The sad truth is, if they just learnt to focus their attention on small,yet very important changes, they would see tremendous results very quickly. On some occasions, this means learning and mastering the basics.