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Court Time Practice, how to keep everyone happy?
July 11, 2013
2:06 pm
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Peter Warman
United Kingdom
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This is a new topic as this subject got brought up in another thread, and now there seems to be more people in the same boat, I thought a new thread should be started as I would be interested in the set up of other people's clubs, especially those of you that live outside of the UK.

 

Matthew Seeley said:

 

The “good players practicing together” conundrum has been the death of nearly every club I have played at. These clubs all had one thing in common: a peg board. The peg board is a strange thing. The rules state you can choose from the previous X players. However, people often get offended at the choice taken from the X players. They feel they have been “left out”, or that players are just playing amongst themselves. If you don't want people to be able to choose, then change the system!

Anyway, enough ranting. The “practice amongst yourselves” vs “equality” argument is always a good one. Peter asked a good question: if people want to practice, shouldn't they do it on their own time. How many people have TIME to play more than one night a week? There are often matches in a week as well! If you want them to practice in their own time, you are effectively saying you don't want them to come to club nights at all. The deal is, they come to club nights, and support club nights, and don't have their own “club night” instead for practice (which is bad), and in exchange, they will get to play SOME “good” games or serious games amongst themselves. This is such a tricky balance to find.

In my view, the “lesser” players should absolutely be allowed to play with the “better” players. However, they should not expect an easy game. They might get wiped off the court. This is their chance to play at a higher level than they are used to, and get pushed, ask questions, receive instruction etc. I do not think they should expect to play all their games with “better” players. This is SO important: they have to realise, that in the same way THEY want to be pushed, the “better” players ALSO want to be pushed. As such, there has to be a balance between mixing the ability levels, and allowing players to play more serious games. I think match courts are a bad idea, but allowing “matches” is a good idea.

An example of how this might work, is that for the first half of club night, everyone mixes in together, and for the second hour, players play more serious “practice” games. This is still a tough mixture to achieve, and this does not work at purely social clubs. It is important people don't just turn up “late” to play these games.

Something to bear in mind with all this, and it is really tough to overcome, is that if a mixed ability game goes on the court, and the “lesser” players are looking to gain some experience with the “better” players, this game must not be treated as a joke by anyone. If the “better” players treat it as a joke, then this is unfair on the “lesser” players. If the “lesser” players do not try their hardest, then they are effectively ruining the evening for the “better” players, who will lose their focus, and not be able to get it back again for the rest of the evening, rendering the “good” games as useless.

 

Is anyone going to play the devils advocate? There are so many different opinions to consider on this!

My view remains unchanged: players should all play together some times, and players should stick to more even ability pairings at other times, AND everyone should be ok with this. People should be unhappy if they don't get a few tough or challenging game in the evening, and players should play seriously if they want to improve. Badminton can still be fun, but it is more fun, amongst those who want to improve, if everyone tries their hardest to win! Everyone plays better, tries harder, and enjoys the game more. Club culture is important here.

I accept that some of what I said may seem anti-social, unfriendly, arrogant, or any other negative words. Please challenge this post if you disagree with it!

This is such an important issue in modern club badminton

 

So, someone is on the same wavelength as me and it is true, this happens in most clubs and most clubs think it's just them that have this problem! It's a very interesting subject and hard to handle. I was disappointed that Matt did not give me the answer (Wink), but he did get me thinking! And if anyone provides the answer to this problem, I will throw a smiley your way! Smile
Matt has a point about allocating a specific court for match practice. Many players would want this, but perhaps this is the cause of the problem, it is the divide. A bit like having a rich and poor area. Excuse me a moment whilst I go to the “rich area”! Surprised How about the second half of the club night allows “match practice” and you could have a few ground rules. You could somehow mark on the peg board that the people playing are playing “match practice” and there should be no more than two courts at a time having “match practice”?
Matt is also right about normally you will have a match at least every other week so fitting another night in is very tricky! The other thing that I don't think would work, is people who have up coming matches get to practice. Because what can happen is that people who have an upcoming match, don't play on the previous club night! And that aside, it's a bit late to be making changes! If it was that easy to play and then say, “right, this doesn't work but this does. Do this and that but not that”. There is no way you are going to put all of that into practice in the match and get it right! It's too much too soon. These things are learned over time and people need time to remember them and to put them into practice. This would then be a waste of “match practice” time that they had at the club and quite possibly put the pairs under more pressure in the match trying to do the new things.
Would like to know other peoples thoughts and their club current set-up's, everyone to post please as this will give a bigger picture and get some of you quiet one's talking! Laugh We know you are there! Smile

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I'd Rather Be Playing Badminton…………..

July 11, 2013
2:36 pm
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Matthew Seeley
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Regarding practicing just before a match – remember its important just to be on court with your partner and playing games with them. The mentality and tactics is what needs to be practiced, NOT technique (as you say, this will not work). I am not even sure that having “match practice courts” is a good idea, but simply that, as of “match practice time”, you play with your partner, or a partner (unless you want to keep switching it round), and make sure that when it is time for your game, you go on against a pair from the same team as you, or from the team below, or the team above.

e.g. Mens 1 players can play vs Mens 1 or Mens 2 pairs. Mens 2 can play with Mens 1, 2 or 3, and Mens 3 players can play with mens 2, mens 3 or social players.

Obviously you do not necessarily need to classify it by which team you actually play in, but maybe by what standard you are, roughly speaking (potential problems here!).

Thus, when “practice time” starts, instead of mixing it all around, you only start picking “tough” games, or at least are not given dark looks if you start picking tough games. Let the mens 2 players play against a mens 1 pair! The mens 1 pair will be aiming to dominate and crush the opposing pair, whilst the mens 2 pair will be looking to compete and improve. This is good practice for everyone. Splitting up the players is not necessarily helpful match practice. It may help the teams become more “balanced”, but is not, in itself, good practice for playing competitively. You need to compete with your partner. It is important the mens 1 pair do not “go easy” on the others – that is not good practice!

Good topic Peter!

July 13, 2013
7:00 pm
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Roger
West Midlands UK
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Pete, Matt my brain hurts. It's a great post but to give a constructive answer requires me to retire with a bottle of something red to aid the thought process.

I may contemplate the meaning of life. It's a lot easier.

 

Cheers and bottoms up

Roger

July 13, 2013
7:35 pm
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John
Southampton
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I am due to join my new club's league team at the start of the new season – so obviously looking forward to that. However, it is not clear to me how and when they practice and this will be a topic of conversation with the club coach in due course.

But it seems clear to me that doubles partners should play together regularly – without that how can you possible develop a partnership. It is not just about technique and tactics – a good team will work seamlessly together and can overcome many things. It also, in my opinion, doesn't mean your best two players will play well as a team – sometimes less is more and two players can gel and complement each other styles and deliver more than was thought possible (synergy).

Perhaps part of the solution is run a ladder league on club nights (or on self arranged nights if people want to) – this need only be one or two matches per club night so that it doesn't alienate everyone. Used to do this at the squash club…great competition as everyone wants to knock you off the top rung!! Anyhow, just a thought. Smile

July 13, 2013
8:20 pm
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Dobbie98
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Hi John, good luck at your new club this coming season. Will you be playing in a higher Division?When do you know who you are playing with & do you get told who your partner will be? Or is it just a case that on club nights you find a partner who you mutually think will be a good partner, or is it a committee with team captains?
When I played an away league match the home side had a club night where you play with your partner after the game is over staying with your partner you move down a court up to 3 court moves. They also had a coaches watching the game & at 11 points the coach spoke to both teams. That team won the league winning every game.

July 13, 2013
10:14 pm
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Paul Stewart
Cheshire, UK
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Sadly the art of practice seems a little thin in club badminton these days. Common sense does not prevail anymore.

 

One of my coach friends is a former Lancashire County 1st Team player who went on to win virtually everything in “masters” tournaments up to age 60. Whenever I discuss badminton with him I could listen for hours. So many stories about tournaments, training and practicing. In those days, whilst a player may not have been a professional, they conducted themselves in a professional manner, whether in a match or playing at the local club.

 

That my friends is what is so lacking today. The professional understands how to give and get in any situation and conduct themselves properly at all times. The difference these days is players are mostly at a club for what they can get and I don't see very much giving anymore.

 

Paul

July 14, 2013
7:32 am
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Dobbie98
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At your clubs, Do you have an open door policy where anyone can come & play? Does your club try & gauge your suitability for the club either over the phone before arriving or by giving the individual 5 club nights to prove their worth to the club? Thereby attempting to keep a higher skill level. Should the player be new to the game, does your club suggest clubs that would suits his level of play?

July 14, 2013
7:43 am
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Dobbie98
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If your club was to have an AGM would you vote for having training scheduled into your club nights?
After all you want a successful team.
If the hierarchy at the top of the club promoted training positively & set out its stall. Would you stay? Would you leave for another club. Or do the training & if wanted go to a different club to games?

July 14, 2013
11:18 am
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Peter Warman
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Roger, I didn't know they did Cranberry juice in bottles now……. Wink As long as it helps you! Laugh

 

To quickly answer some of Dobbie's questions (loves a good question doesn't he! WinkLaugh)

At your clubs, Do you have an open door policy where anyone can come & play? Yes, hopefully they are a resonable standard Does your club try & gauge your suitability for the club either over the phone before arriving or by giving the individual 5 club nights to prove their worth to the club? They get so many nights to see if we think they are good enough for the club and also if they would like to join us. Most people know if they are out of their depth. We would encourage them to try and other club and give them details of that club. Or ask them to come back after some more practice. Thereby attempting to keep a higher skill level. Yes, this is the plan. Should the player be new to the game, does your club suggest clubs that would suits his level of play? We've had some new people to the game who took off very quickly, it depends on the person and the progress. Many people will play elsewhere or be told that coaching may help. If your club was to have an AGM would you vote for having training scheduled into your club nights? More of that below, the whole point of this thread Smile
If the hierarchy at the top of the club promoted training positively & set out its stall. Would you stay? Would you leave for another club. Or do the training & if wanted go to a different club to games? Well, being in the hierarchy makes me biased so I can't comment. Would like to know other people's thoughts on this though. We (the committee) can't read minds and people only seem to make themselves heard AFTER changes have been made!

 

Back on subject. Matt, some great points, it really has got me thinking and my current thinking on this subject is the following:

 

For the last hour of club night, there can be up to two courts at a time (we have four courts for two hours) used for match practice. Match practice courts will be highlighted somehow so that people can see this. If there are already two courts being used for this and the picker wanted to play a match practice game then they will have to wait and hold back and wait for a match practice court to be free. They will also need to inform the match practice partners of the game they would like to play so that everyone is in agreement. For match practice players, it doesn't matter where they are on the board when they get picked.

 

Men's match practice pairs, can only play the pairs in their team. If the top pair is regularly beating the other two pairs, then maybe a shake up would be needed, but for now to get the ball rolling, they have two pairs they can play against. For the mixed (we have two mixed teams), they can play amongst themselves in their match pairs (for mixed games only). The ladies from the mixed teams can organise a ladies match practice if they wish to do so.

 

Obviously there are holes for manipulation and it would still need to be run on people being fair and honest (the same problems as with general peg board).

 

Talking of peg boards, I thought I would just add this in. At my normal club, we have a peg board and every now and then we do get a few problems but generally it works quite well and the there aren't many times when a court is free for too long.

 

However, I'm currently playing at another club as where I normally play, the hall floor is being replaced. They too have a peg board and whist it's much more of a social club, the peg board doesn't work as well in my opinion. At the moment they have one person picking the games (he's injured at the moment), but I think he mainly does the picking anyway. The problem is, they try and mix it up too often, and a lot of the changing and oh and ah-ing takes far too long. You lose the flow and you are more likely to come off from a great game and go on to play a poor one. The courts can be empty for a while and whilst this is a social club and they are all chatting, the youngsters grow board and just want to get on and play!

 

What was interesting for me, was that both clubs use the same system (kind of), but both have different outcomes. One club has strict rules and followed to the letter of the law to make sure that every game was change of players. This was time consuming but allowed minimal chance for people to “doctor” the peg board. The other club was more free flowing and people pick what they pick but generally follow common sense and pick who is next in line and some times you would play with almost the same players again. This means as many games as possible are played but the peg board could be open to being “doctored”. There are times when you have a poor night picking wise as you get stuck in the cycle and it makes you wish you hadn't bothered turning up. However, this does not happen THAT often and you just take it on the chin as one of those nights. You know that most nights are very good.

 

So my point of the waffling, is that if you take risks, you can actually get better games and more fun had, but a lot will depend on the players at the club. I thought I would just share that, as the contrast was quite big.

 

My concern with allocating a set court for practice is that some people in my club will get a bit high and mighty about it (“I'm in the team so I'm going to play over there and not with you!”). Some times it's good to have boundaries but some times it kills court time and atmosphere. Obviously people can have a match practice in the first hour if the peg board rules allowed it. It just means that if it didn't happen, people know that they can “make” it happen in the last hour.

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I'd Rather Be Playing Badminton…………..

July 14, 2013
2:30 pm
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Matthew Seeley
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Peter, interesting post. Some comments:

I think having two courts as “match practice courts” is a terrible idea. This creates a physical divide between different sections of the club, and you might as well advertise it as a seperate club night or something. You should use all the courts for everyone. However, people should know who wants to play practice matches and who doesn't. Note: I am trying to be really careful with the messaging of this. “Match practice courts” or similar sounds like some exclusive “training area” for those who are “worthy”. However, “practice match courts” sounds like an area for those who want to play serious competitive games. The first is defined by skill – which is bad. The second is defined by desire/dedication/frame of mind/competitive spirit, which is very very different! By not limiting it to 2 courts, where you must go to those courts to “join in”, simply having it as something players can opt in to, and be included in “tough” games, or opt out of to keep it friendly, will create less of a divide I think. I think having a seperate physical area for this stuff is a risky plan.

So, for the last hour, how should it work? Well, whoever is at the start of the peg board chooses the game. Obviously.

If they are there for a social game, they choose from the next free X number of social players (might be “ignoring” some players who want to play a competitive game – this is ok!).

If the person choosing the game is a “practice match” player, then they put themselves and their partner on (or pick a partner), and then select from the next 3 or 4 “practice match” pairs, or at least avoiding the 2 pairs that have just come off court (if possible). I wouldn't necessarily put a boundary on who you are allowed to pick – if they are a pair and they want to play against a much stronger opponent, they can do that, but it might be a very quick game! Limiting it to just your team is not necessarily a good idea, but this is one of those things you have to wait and see how it pans out.

I don't think its fair to just open up the whole board for practice matches and not for everyone else, but it makes sense to allow people to mix things up a bit if they want to (and try to avoid a pair coming off and immediately being challenged to a game by someone at the start of the queue).

 

On peg boards…

I used to play at clubs with peg boards. They never worked well, in my opinion, unless people picked sensible games! Remember, you can always “escape” from your games by removing your peg, and putting it on again later, or moving you name to the end of the queue – this is allowed.

The club I play at now has a combination of one person picking, and everyone just choosing games. Generally what happens, is when one game finishes, the players that have been waiting for a game for a while walk onto court, but without a game having been picked, and then invite players to stay on, or invite players who have been sitting off to play. This allows them to pick a reasonable game. It is ok for 1 or 2 players to “stay on”, in order to mix things up, as long as there are not too many people waiting.

You are entitled to refuse the game, saying “i am waiting for a game with them” – people do not take offence, they just grab another player, or say “go on! have a game” and you go on and play with them. Its all very good natured. Generally, players do not ask those players for a game that they wouldn't want to play with. So for example, the worst player in the club generally doesn't ask the best players for a game, but they would ask more or less anybody except for the top 2 or 3 players.

Generally, the best players play amongst themselves, but they will also mix in with everyone else if they are not involved in the “toughest” games. What this normally equates to, is the best players playing a couple of games amongst themselves, with 1 or 2 of the best players mixing in with everyone else for a few games, until it is their turn to play “tough” games. When the organiser of the club is not playing, she organises games and makes sure people have not been sitting off for too long.

When there are lots of players, this works really well. Everyone gets some good games. Nobody is stuck playing on a game they don't want to (because you can politely refuse). This does not work if you do not have many players at club (which is very rare). We have 3 club nights a week – most of them are great, and sometimes (if the weather is hot, or people are injured etc) then it is a more difficult club night and you may not get much variety of game – but what do you expect with so few people at club?

Personally, I think the way my club “runs itself” but with “an overseer” who can step in to organise things sometimes, works really well. If you want to “escape” a game, you generally go to the lady in charge and ask her if you can have a specific type of game, with a few people, and then when the time comes, you can go on for that game. Sometimes people organise games amongst themselves, and ask the lady in charge if thats ok, and then go on when the time comes.

However, our club does not cater to absolute beginners. You generally have to be interested in playing competitively (intermediate and above) to enjoy club nights. But then again, we don't have many courts, and other pay and play sessions run during the week for “lower” standards of play…

 

Interested to hear your thoughts.

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