The All England Badminton Championships always attracts the best players in the world. This gives me the ideal setting to study hitting technique, movement, body skills and mental skills from the cream of the worlds players.

First on court, Lee Chong Wei. A superb performance, always in control, never seemed hurried.

Next on, Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork from England playing a Japanese pairing. English girls won the first game after a misunderstanding between brought the scores to 20-20. I commented at the time that they looked tired and whilst they won the first game, errors soon crept into their game. The Japanese girls still looked fresh which certainly made me question the level of fitness of our players. As you know, if you’re not fit enough, when tiredness sets in, you make more mistakes. At club level, this is acceptable. After all, we go to work and play in our leisure time. But, full time professional players…there’s no excuse!

Next on, Taufik playing against Englands Smith. I haven’t seen Smith play before so I was very interested to see him in action. Sadly, his talent is wasted because he lacks the mental discipline required to beat the best. He has good technique, although a little slow in the turns. Whilst the scores were close at 21-18, 21-14 I always felt Taufik had another gear.

Smith is very expressive on court and this breaks his concentration. He seems impatient and wants to finish the rally too quickly. I wondered about his fitness too. If the match had gone to a third game, would he have the reserves to win – I doubt it. On another note, those long shorts look rediculous!

Mens Doubles – I saw three great pairs in action, Kido and Setiawan, Paaske and Rasmussen and Dae with Sung. All three showed why they are still outstanding pairs. The speed of each match was breathtaking, defences were rock solid (hint – this is where the best make a difference) and bags of power.

Despite all the big smashes, there were very few winners – take note!. Most smashes were returned and so doubles became a game of attrition. The constant pounding, with changes in pace and direction set up the short lift or easy kill at the net. There was no big ego smash here as players expected their smash to be returned – a big lesson to everyone. Always expect the shuttle to be returned and then you’re ready for the next shot.

I also witnessed the defeat of Englands best doubles pairing of Clarke and Robertson. Sorry to say, not their best performance, especially Robertson. I thought Clarke played well but in the end his covering of Robertson led to too many mistakes. Clarke really impressed me with his ability to move the shuttle around the court. He’s fast but he looks overweight. I wondered how good he could have been if he’d been slimmer/fitter?

Robertson did not impress me at all. He made amends in mixed doubles later in the day but I didn’t see that game. Personally, he had an off match, although I didn’t think his concentration was that good and overall effort was way below that of Clarke.

Lesson here is that if you’re a pair, you both need to be on your game to win. At any level, one player cannot cover the other unless done for tactical reasons.

A Quick Summary

At this level, you need to move fast and hit fast. There’s no player demonstrating better technique than any other. The winner of the match is simply the player that consistently demonstrates good technique, is mentally strong and fit enough for the game. Even at this level, more points are won on mistakes than winners.

But, if you haven’t got a good defence, any decent attack, consistently applied will beat you!