This training week, we wanted to take the time to highlight how important coaches in our community from the grassroots through to the elite are to keep our sport going. Motivating and developing the players to their best level is just the beginning of the great work these coaches are doing and is appreciated at the highest levels.
Today we meet our Relationship Manager and Cambridgeshire First Team Player, Campbell Wilson and coach Sandra Dennis. Why not share your social media stories of your first coach with us?
Player: Campbell Wilson
Badminton Relations Manager for England and the County of Cambridgeshire 1Street team player
How did you get into badminton?
I started playing badminton when a local volunteer badminton coach set up an after school club in my elementary school.
Who was your first coach?
My first coach was Sandra Dennis. She still trains in the area (St. Newts Juniors, St. Ives Juniors, County Junior) and is very passionate about developing local badminton.
What made you stick to badminton more than other sports?
I enjoyed badminton more than other sports. It is technically challenging but rewarding and requires a lot of skill and tactics. I also had a very passionate and enthusiastic coach after progressing to a small county and a large circle of friends from the group.
What impact did your primary coach have on your badminton career?
Sandra taught me the basics and then referred me to the Small County courses when she saw that I had the potential to develop further. If it weren’t for her efforts (especially considering she was a volunteer!), I probably wouldn’t have played badminton at all.
What do you remember most about your first experiences with badminton?
I remember the sessions were always fun and Sandra did a great job getting up to 20 kids on the badminton court. Several children from our school went to the small district that was created and I think this reflects her efforts.
What makes a good grassroots coach?
The person who:
- Can teach the basics in a clear and concise manner
- Brings positive energy to the sessions
- Communicate clearly
- Really cares about players and focuses on player development تطوير
- Provides constructive feedback
- Realizes when a player can benefit more from another coach at a higher level
Coach: Sandra Dennis
Sandra is a volunteer coach in Cambridgeshire, she started her coaching journey working with several schools and is now doing her master training in junior clubs. A few years ago she was playing a pivotal role in the rejuvenation of badminton in Cambridgeshire, getting so many kids into the game and fencing as a coach and team manager for taking a team to ICT for the first time in 20 years!
How did you get into training?
My love of badminton started in school when I was able to book in 3-4 lunch sessions. Unfortunately, after attending these sessions, badminton was withdrawn from the curriculum, so I didn’t return to badminton until I was 28! My girlfriend invited me to her club and after I played tennis I was a bit normal and continued from there, I joined the club myself. Then when I was in my early thirties, I noticed that there was very little opportunity for the kids to learn to play, plus this local junior club was foldable. With my love for sports I decided to get involved in training and from there things really multiplied! I did everything from my back as there was no one to guide me at the time. I went to several schools to give sessions – through the school’s initiative all schools played each other in badminton competition and this added to their desire to have a coach to run sessions/after school clubs.
What motivates you as a coach?
I enjoy interacting with people from all walks of life. I love seeing kids enjoy themselves and get better. There is nothing more useful than putting together a program and seeing everyone’s accomplishments no matter how big or small.
How would you describe yourself as a coach?
I consider my skills to be more suitable for beginner/improved level and really like to create a positive environment and effort of praise as well as achievement. I think in every activity there is always something you can find that every player is doing well. I like to think I’m fair, treat all players equally and ensure every player gets a chance to work with me at some point during the session. I also like to be organized making sure activities are planned so that the session changes things up regularly to keep their interest. Many of the players I’ve coached have come back to help me which I hope is a positive reflection of my coaching style and how I manage my groups.
What makes a good grassroots coach?
I always remember my first coach saying, “The louder the children’s voice, the more fun they have and the more they learn.” I also think the following traits are essential;
- Good levels of patience – kids progress at different levels and some kids take longer to acquire new skills
- Awareness of when things need to change to keep everyone engaged – the ability to step forward or dispense with practices when needed
- Good communication skills
- Get ready to share
How do you make sure your sessions are enjoyable while still encouraging learning and development?
I like to stick to small groups so none of the guys stand for too long and keep them engaged as much as possible so if they don’t hit, they gear up or wait to continue afterwards. We also put skills into fun game-based practices such as Round the World and One knee, Two knees, Out. We also have different exercises taking place in each stadium to suit players’ ability levels.
What traits do you see in more talented players that you think can advance the most in this sport?
I think you can say from very early on which players will be able to progress further in this sport. They usually have some natural talent whether it’s in terms of how they move around the court, their coordination, or the way they can think about what they’re doing. They also often express eagerness and want improvement even if they don’t get it right away.
At what point do players attach themselves to achieving more of their potential?
The club structure allows us to meet a variety of criteria as players progress in different sessions as their level of ability improves. St. Newts caters to beginners and do just one hour, and then when they are ready, they progress to Ramsey Junior Badminton Club which caters to more experienced players in a two hour session. Starting with Ramsey, we’re looking to send players to the big clubs to help them take the next step. All players are moved across the path according to their ability level.