Here are some ideas to help you choose a badminton university?
I know from experience that it can be a complex and frustrating process
I believe that it’s very important to be able to study and play badminton. It can be done successfully, but you need to start things months away from going and be aware of all the choices.
This post is packed with information and may take you some time to read it.
- There is an interview below with Martyn Lewis who heads the Badminton programme at The University of Nottingham. I was very fortunate that Martyn agreed to speak to my son Adam Stewart about life at University and the things to expect.
- Have you read Adam’s blog about the The Importance of Sport at University click here to read it
- There is also a link to an interview Martyn gave to The Badminton Podcast
When you choose a badminton university you want to make a correct decision as you will be there for at least the next 3 years. The progress of your future education and badminton will depend on your choice and the factors you use in making that choice. It’s worth spending some time researching and learning from those who have done it before or are actively involved in university badminton.
Universities have different approaches to badminton. Some are dedicated to the pursuit of excellence with their badminton programmes. They have full-time coaches (see no.4), plenty of dedicated court time, lots of motivated players, etc. Others try to get close to this but have part-time coaches and less court time or offer training away from the university.
These 6 suggestions will offer you different aspects to consider when choosing a badminton university.
1 Do you know all about their Training set up / Players / League position
2 Will they want you : grades / how good are you?
3 Do they have Full time coach
4 Do they offer Scholarships and support
5 Have you visited your choices, do they offer Camps
6 Its not all about Badminton
Would you like to listen to an interview with Martyn Lewis who heads the Badminton programme at The University of Nottingham. He discusses topics such as training times and how to balance the 3 S’s – study, social and sports
Listen to the interview with Martyn Lewis from the University of Nottingham Sport. He will tell you all about the Badminton structure in Nottingham, their Worldwide links to China and Malaysia plus the fact that they have been voted the best UK Unversity for sport. Its the most comprehensive talk I’ve listened to about badminton life in a UK University.
1 Training set up / Players / League position
If you need an indication which are the best Badminton Universities ranked by team results then visit the BUCS website. Click here for a the portal to the League results for season 2017-18.
Check the league positions of the top divisions north and south plus the eventual winners . The leagues are played on Wednesday afternoons and are split into Woman’s and Men’s leagues. The format is currently 2 singles and 2 doubles with every player playing twice.
The 2018 British University Championships results can be found here. This is an amazing tournament spread over several days with over a 100 entries in some events. If you think that your standard is high, then make it your aim to get to the last 16. To reach the semi’s and finals you will have to be something special. Many of the entrants are Junior International players and the winners are often highly ranked in their own countries.
It’s very difficult for me to tell you which University has the best training set up, the best players, the best facilities or the best coaches. All 4 factors can vary from season to season. Certainly, the quality of players can change very quickly, especially if Universities go on ‘recruitment’ drives. They tend not to change their coaches or Badminton Directors. Most of the top 3 Universities have had the same Head Coach / Badminton Director for over 5 years or even longer (Bath University)
This is why you need to read the rest of this post. It will help you gather the information that you need before making that final choice.
If you aren’t sure about the coaching set up at a University, it is always worth looking to contact the team directly, either via a social media account or by asking players at tournaments. The current students are best positioned to outline the training set up they currently have and the opportunities for new players.
Badminton Universities (correct as of 2018)
Loughborough University: contact Matt Hanson, Badminton Programme Coordinator, email@example.com
2 Will they want you ? – be realistic about your grades and badminton
Is your standard high enough on and off court ?
If you are considering making Badminton one of the factors when choosing your University, I’m presuming that you think you are of a good standard on court. You also need to be realistic about your education grades, will they be good enough to find a place at University? Unless you are an exceptional player you will need to achieve the required academic grades. Ensure that you work hard at school or college and are realistic about the course you want to do.
I will assume that you are aware of all the academic choices you have and how the Universities are ranked.
Once you have established which Universities provide your chosen course and you know that your anticipated grades are likely to get you an offer then it’s time to think about Badminton.
The standard of University badminton teams in the Uk varies considerably. The top Universities have players who have represented their Country at junior and senior level. Some have overseas players of a very high quality. There are probably 3 or 4 Universities that have full-time Head Coaches. Others often have visiting coaches paid for either by the badminton society or the individual players on a session by session basis.
Your task is to decide if you wish to to find a University that combines both Study and Badminton equally. Also deciding if the Badminton factors will effect your choice of University and even maybe your course. You may find that your preferred Badminton University does not provide the course you want. Be aware that the choices can be complex.
From my experience, lots of what could be described as weaker University Teams have individuals within them who could get into the top Uni Squads. Many high-level juniors choose a course first then try to get the best badminton they can. Remember it’s not all about badminton (see no.6).
3 Fulltime coach
It’s not essential that your chosen University has a full-time coach but it will certainly make a big difference. I recommend that you contact them before you even shortlist your choices. I have listed 3 contacts above. It’s very important to establish communication as they will have plenty of advice to offer you. Remember its their job to recruit players.
Be aware that just because they are employed to look after the University Badminton they may not offer individual coaching and personal attention to help you improve. They will hopefully have support coaches who can provide individual attention may be limited. There is much going on behind the scenes, organising and managing lots of teams, training sessions as well as the University administration duties.
You may be surprised that you will not always receive the same attention as you did with your home squad. Training sessions are often structured around Team selections. So make sure that you attend the trials and impress! Often players are expected to coach and feed each other as the coach may not be able to attend all sessions.
4 Scholarship and support
If the university thinks that your current level is high enough you may qualify for support.
This can take many forms and could be different in each university. Some universities offer a range of financial support packages. Other will offer free or reduced gym membership and medical support. All these will help you, so accept whatever they offer.
If the University thinks that you will be an asset to them they may reduce the grades you need to be accepted onto your chosen course. Please don’t forget that you need to get these grades so work hard on and off court in preparation. No matter how good your badminton you will have to pass some exams to get in.
The reduction in grades will depend on at least 3 factors
.. Your chosen university course. Some courses will not reduce the entry requirements no matter who you are.
.. Your anticipated Grades, projected by your college or school
.. Your current Badminton level. Have you played for your National Junior and Senior Teams?
.. The Head Coaches assessment of you and your ability.
.. Which other players are also applying alongside you.
Some courses will be prepared to lower their requirements, others will not. Remember this may vary in different Universities. That’s why you should apply to more than one.
Your value to the University
This can be difficult to determine but will certainly include an assessment of your badminton playing level (see no.2). It may also depend on how good the current Team/squad is. Be aware that if the University doesn’t place a high emphasise of sporting achieve the then you may not be offered any reduction, no matter how good you are on court.
The information available to the university and their Badminton Director
Again this sounds simple, but if they don’t know you how can they help you. Prepare your Badminton CV in advance. Do this at the same time you prepare your Personal Statement during the application process. I would advise that you start a Badminton CV well before you are thinking about University.
Once you are proud of an achievements record it. The opportunities to use your Badminton CV are varied, look out for future articles on why it’s good to keep a record of your achievements. If you would like to write a guest post on this subject, it would be great to hear your thoughts.
Do some research before going. Contact the University Badminton or Sports Director and start an email conversation. Browse their website (read No.1 ) and search for detail about their support programmes.
Be prepared for them to contact your Governing Body and ask for a reference. I recommend that you keep in relations with your association, you may need their help
There is no certainty of support. Don’t expect and then you won’t be disappointed.
5 Visit your choices
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? There are a few things I recommend so that you get the most from your visit.
.. Make prior contact with the Badminton Director / Head Coach (if they have one)
.. Find out when the Open Days are
.. Prepare a checklist and list of questions in advance (look below for some sample questions)
.. Book onto talks and facility trips in advance if you can
.. Talk to existing Team members during the day
.. Look at the distances between the sports facilities and the different types of accommodation
.. Enjoy the day!
While you are walking around look out for Badminton Team members. Ask them if they have a Facebook or Instagram account, then go and look at it. Do they talk about training and coaching? What about trips? There is plenty to learn from how a Team advertises itself.
.. How many Teams do you have ?
.. What would I weekly programme look like for me ?
.. What times do you train each day?
.. Do I have to pay extra for the gym, physio, shuttles ?
.. Do you think I am a good fit for your squad ?
.. What do you expect from me ?
.. Do you have overseas trips ?
.. Where do people live after the 1st year ?
Some Universities may run mini camps of 2 or 3 days to enable players to try out Uni life. I know Bath University have done this previously and invited players in October. I think that it’s an excellent idea.
It’s a fantastic way to experience the training, the hall and the coach. Not every University does this, so again, establish communication with the Badminton Director well in advance. I recommend asking at least 9 months before you have to submit your final choice.
6 It’s not all about Badminton
If you are still reading this post then I hope it’s giving you ideas and creating some questions of your own.
I have experienced this when my son was choosing a shortlist of Universities and trying to balance potential courses with badminton. If you want to read about his thoughts on The Importance of Sport at University click here and read his blog.
It could be a very tough decision for you to make. My advice is …..take your time and consider all the factors. Be prepared to change your mind during the process. Selecting your preferred University and course is only the start of the journey.
I will write soon about how to enjoy your Badminton at University, especially away from the top 3 Badminton Universities. The post will give you some tips on how to survive, enjoy your training and still live the student lifestyle.
Unless you are going to earn enough money from badminton to fund yourself until you are 30 years old you need to get an education. Can you do get an education and enjoy your badminton… YES OF COURSE!
Your mission is to combine Badminton and University life/course. Its a challenge and one that you can do successfully … I wish you good luck in whatever you decide.
If you are in the middle of this process or already at University and enjoying your Badminton please let know how you went about your decision making. Did it go smoothly or were there things you wished you know from the start. Together we can help others.