19. Which technique to coach

Someone once told me that badminton was a simple game
But they didn’t tell me how many choices I’d have to make as a coach
There are so many variations in techniques when you look at great players
  •  Which is best?
  •  What are the essential key features?
  •  How much variation in technique can you accept?
It wasn’t until I’d been coaching a few years that this fact started to cause me a problem
In the early years

I thought I knew what good technique looked like, I thought I knew what to coach.

I encouraged players to take up certain positions/ shapes in preparation for shots.  I encourage or even insisted on certain racket movements during and after striking.

When I reflect on the things I said and wanted in terms of technique, there wasn’t much allowance for variation. I think that I believed I knew what good technique looked like and I’m sure I over insisted on it 🙁

 

To be honest, I probably did have a too tight a view on what things should look like
My problems
  • I became aware that not all great players looked the same, I mean World-class players
  • When I coached new players who I didn’t know previously, sometimes their techniques looked different but yet seemed to work
  • I couldn’t define why these variations in techniques all seemed to work, even though I could see they were different
  • However, I could define inappropriate technique, well I thought I could
I certainly found it easier to see these ‘inappropriate’ techniques,
I called them ‘technique faults’ or ‘technical errors’

 

The more I looked at what I thought was a good technique,
the more subtle differences I could see.  Why was that?
My experience and other coaches influences

In my early years, I compared everything I observed with the manual or my own hitting and movements techniques.  I thought, well assumed that the manual must have been written by educated people so that must be the information to follow.

My confusion increased when I met other coaches whose idea of the ‘must have’ or  ‘ideal’ technical aspects was different from mine.

Sometimes their advice was either very different, they pointed out exactly what I should be doing.  Or, strangely, some other coaches didn’t seem to care that much what technique their player used as long as the shuttle went over.

 

There seemed to be so many views, but no consistency of what players could or should be doing, especially young players.
Everyone seemed to have a different theory
I searched for answers but found confusion

I’m guessing that some of you may be a little confused at this point.  I was certainly confused by my observations and thoughts.

Here are three examples that regularly came up in discussion, or that I overheard other coaches talking about

I could see both of the techniques detailed below for each stroke.  Strangely,  players seemed to deliver the strokes using both.

But which technique should I encourage and which is was more robust in the long-term development?

Badminton Coaching

Overhead preparation techniques

Where should the racket be positioned in the preparation phase of the stroke?  What do you think?

  • Some people suggested that the racket should be pointing towards the shuttle so that the player could either see the strings or maybe even touch the strings with their other hand. The racket hand and elbow could be around shoulder or face height.
  • Others suggested that the racket could be behind the player, elbow much lower, racket pointing directly up

Backhand clear preparation and hitting action

Where does the elbow pointing at the start, what does the last part of the hitting action look like

  • Some suggest that the elbow should be away from the body, almost out to the side.  The hitting action is a forearm rotation with a follow-through and a ‘pull of the shoulder’
  • Others suggest that the elbow should be pointing downwards, almost close to the body. The hitting action is one movement as the racket head dips down then quickly up movement with a small rebound like hit action, followed by a gentle follow-through

High serve

Where the racket starts and finishes

  • Some people believe that the racket should start in a position similar to the overhead preparation, with the racket pointing up and the racket hand around head level. The action should be fast, almost aggressive and the follow-through large and up going over the shoulder and even around the neck.
  • Others suggest that the action can be much smaller with the racket pointing backwards almost towards the floor. The action was less aggressive (to ensure consistency) and the follow-through finished somewhere in front but not going over the shoulder
All these techniques worked (in practice), the differences weren’t considered to be errors, just variations in technique
What is an appropriate technique?

Do you know how to answer this question, especially when coaching novice players

Are there a range of body positions and sequences of movements that you could define as allowable, even necessary?  Likewise, can you produce a list of body actions and positions that you believe limit development, reduce power, even cause injury.

Badminton Basics
The underpinning playing techniques

Which of these 2 challenges would you find easier?

I find it easier to define what an inappropriate badminton technique may look like.

But I certainly do have a general set of guidelines to describe what is ‘acceptable’.  Within the guidelines, there are certain key elements and underlying principles to help me.

I find them essential when helping young players aged 7 – 11 yrs old.

Have you read these 4 posts, they are at the core of the techniques I believe will help players.  In my opinion, they certainly will not hinder future development or cause injury.

Hopefully, you will agree that they all seemed reasonable, almost obvious, and maybe not as exciting as you thought

 

 

Do you have a set of guidelines to help you to define what is an appropriate technique?
What do I believe now?
  • There is a range of ‘acceptable’ techniques that are different but only in subtle ways
  • The early introduction and reinforcement of the Playing Basics is essential.  How aware of these are the coaches of junior players, I’m not sure.
  • There are certainly inappropriate techniques (ways of hitting and moving) that need to be avoided, prevented.
  • Changes in techniques in later development are much tougher than most people (coaches & players) realise, plus there are many pitfalls awaiting the people who try to make these changes
  • Too often coaches & players fixate on the minor points of technique when its the tactical application that could make the biggest differences
  • I’m very wary of ‘New’ techniques, especially those that only exist on the practice courts and not in competitions
  • Coaches must take a view on this topic and be prepared to hear arguments, review their thoughts and do what is best for their players
Summary

 

If you ask me what the ‘perfect’ technique is for something, I would find it difficult to answer

 

I’d rather discuss with you how to introduce the playing basics and how to ‘error proof’ players

 

 

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