Try to be the most professional person in the room
I remember thinking that people give up less easily. When you get a lead in juniors you quite often keep it and win easily. But in seniors, people have more resolve to come back. Even a 5 or 6 point lead isn't necessarily safe.
Also, I would say never be afraid to be the most professional person in the room. When you start traveling around Europe and maybe the world there are so many temptations to skip sessions, eat different things, stay up later etc. Even if you have to go against the grain of your group, stay professional and disciplined. It may not pay off immediately but it will make a huge difference further down the line.
Be prepared as it can feel like starting all over again
There is such a huge push on performance and results at a junior level and I do understand why because everyone wants to be the best junior but when you reach senior badminton no one really cares about any of your junior achievements.
You are a tiny fish in an ocean and you have to pretty much start all over again when you arrive. This can make/break some players and you see them fall away from the sport because you realise how hard being a professional badminton player actually is.
I would say don’t wait until you 20/21 before starting your international senior experience. Even if it's playing English Senior Bronze/Silver/Gold tournaments or playing the home nation Senior events it’s really important that you don’t feel overwhelmed when you make the transition.
4 main factors to consider
Get really fit - fitter than when you were a junior, much fitter!
Really consistent - good senior players will not give you as many easy points, if they aren't under pressure they make far fewer mistakes
Toughen up mentally - believe in yourself, believe in the process, accept all that comes your way and deal with it
No easy games now - play every game as it is either a final or a stepping stone, but don't expect people to gift you points
Be prepared to review everything and be open minded
I probably thought it wouldn’t have taken so long to become established.
But looking back you think you are training hard and well, but fast forward the clock 10 years and you see how wrong you were to think you were training hard.
Don’t expect to win as often as in Junior level, nevertheless always believe you CAN!
The level is just different and you will learn so much more in a short amount of time.
I think it’s best to start the transition as early as possible because then you get a first impression of the high tempo and what speed is actually possible. Rather than missing out on that and therefore the opportunity to get motivated to train even harder in the youth.
Take your opportunities and work, work, work!
It was a pretty big gap for me as I was selected into the national team when I was 17.
It was a huge transition for me as the training intensity and competitive pressure was tougher. I had to be mentally tougher and also stronger to sustain the training and to perform in tournaments.
The pace of the game is very different!
Firstly the pace of matches. Players take much longer in between points to break momentum - this is something very few junior players do, and it’s why most matches are about 20 minutes! It was definitely challenging to get used to this being done to you, but also trying to do it yourself.
Also, the pace within the rallies was much different. Experienced senior players are able to inject huge amounts of pace into the rally when they felt appropriate. Again, this is something few junior players do. This is both physical and mental; the speed and length of the rallies can be longer and players are stronger, but they also have more experience to deal with the ebbs and flows of a match.
It's just so much tougher - as you should expect
The fitness levels required were significantly higher – games were harder, even the easier ones!
Don't be surprised that there are so many good players
When I was a junior I was playing senior tournaments at the same time to gain experience and an insight into what I could be doing a few years ahead. I think the surprise was the sheer amount of good opponents you would come up against even in the qualifying period.
Qualifying in itself was a tournament normally playing 3 tough opponents. So it made me realise that you had to be a lot fitter and stronger but also to be technically good to be able to create winners. I just used the first year or 2 in seniors as experience and did not put too much pressure on myself. My main aim was to be able to be in the main draws so was building on performances in tournaments getting out of qualification.
So my goal was to overall become fitter, stronger, and technically better to be able to withstand the efforts needed to play in senior tournaments. Training became more intense to try and mimic the higher intensity in tournaments.
Thanks to everyone for their time and considered thoughts
If you like to know more about how champions think, take a look at this post below
I wonder how many of the suggestions you will agree with?