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This Coaching Week, we wanted to take the time to highlight just how important the coaches in our community from grassroots all the way up to elite are to keeping our sport going. This weekend also coincides with This Girl Can, so our case studies will be focused on the women who make our sport what it is.

Today’s case study focuses on Norfolk Country 1st Team Player, Jess Bateman, and her first coach, Janis Baker.


Player: Jess Bateman

Norfolk 1st Team County Player

How did you get into badminton?

I was on holiday with my grandparents and played badminton for the first time, when I came home I asked my mum if I could play more badminton and we looked into our local club, which is run by Janis Baker. My mum rang her and said, ‘is this the same Janis that used to coach me?’ My mum could not believe that she was still coaching 20 years later. Janis was running a girl’s only club at the time, which is where I first met her.

Who was your first coach?

Janis Baker, who after 11 years of playing badminton, is still heavily involved in my training and playing, Janis also has me assist her when she runs badminton camps for junior players and got me involved with coaching and achieving my level 1 coach certificate.

What made you continue with badminton over other sports?

The community that badminton holds is such a positive community compared to other sports. You can distinctively see the improvements that you have made. Badminton teaches you a lot of life skills such as social skills, listening skills and discipline, whereas some sports do not teach you these skills. Badminton holds such a positive picture so everyone who plays is positive towards one another.

What impact did Janis have on your badminton career?

Janis provided me with the foundation that has ultimately enabled me to play on a national level in gold ranked tournaments. She introduced me to other coaches who have helped me to develop my game further resulting in me playing for West Norfolk and Norfolk for the last 10 years.

What do you remember most about your first experiences of badminton?

I remember meeting new people and how everybody enjoyed playing badminton, and everyone helping everyone, creating that positive and welcoming community that badminton puts out to people.

What made Janis a good grassroots coach?

  • Her ability to put a fun element in badminton
  • Her ways of developing good basic technique in her players
  • Her dedication to each individual player
  • Her ways of promoting good sportsmanship and not tolerating bad behaviour
  • How easy it is to talk to Janis.

Coach: Janis Baker

  • Janis has over 30 years’ experience coaching badminton in West Norfolk and has herself played in the Ouse Valley and Peterborough & Hunts leagues for many years. She has started off numerous players that have progressed through the ranks of Norfolk Badminton

How did you get into coaching?

My parents played badminton and I started playing as a junior going on to represent the county at both junior and senior level. Having played for a while and coming out of my junior badminton days, some of my parents friends children wanted to start a club and be coached, so at 17 years old I took my first badminton qualification and then progressed on from there. I have coached in the West Norfolk area for over 30 years working with juniors at both my club and in local schools, and with adults through specific coaching sessions as well as social badminton groups.

What motivates you as a coach?

I love seeing a child who does not really enjoy sport too much have ago at badminton and realising they not only enjoy playing the sport but are quite good as well. I also enjoy seeing players forming friendships at my sessions and valuing the social side of sport as much as the opportunity to learn, get fit and have fun. My club has been running for over 20 years and within that time I have taught players and years later those players have got back in contact to see if the club is still going as they have sons/daughters who they want to introduce to the game!

How would you describe yourself as a coach?

I would say I am an enthusiastic, fun loving coach who enjoys grassroots coaching. I am patient and encouraging and love working with beginners to get them hitting the shuttle and help them to develop the foundations of their game.

What makes a good grassroots coach?

Having time for all abilities and encouraging everyone to reach their potential. Also an understanding that each player is different and will want to get different things from the game – some players want to progress and this is fine and other players just want to attend the club to meet with friends, have fun, play games and learn a new skill. Both are of equal importance and I’m happy to accommodate the needs of everyone. Many of the players who have come through my club have come back to help me when they are older and I try to be a mentor to help to encourage the next generation of coaches and to continue their development within other areas.

How do you ensure your sessions are fun, whilst still encouraging learning and development?

We start with a fun warm up, we encourage learning through different equipment like The Racketpack Get Nets, Giant shuttle and success balls. And I always finish with a fun game like round robin, pirates or throwington where there is a small prize to be won!

What attributes do you see in more talented players that you believe can progress further within the sport?

Sound footwork, mobility, hand eye coordination and the enthusiasm to work hard.

At what point do you signpost players on to further fulfil their potential with another coach?

We have a good set up in West Norfolk with a West Norfolk Development Group for those that are showing the attributes to progress further within the game. I do a lot of the grassroots coaching going into local schools and signposting them to my club (YMCA Juniors) and then when I feel they are ready to make the next step and need more skills and drills training I suggest they go for a trail with the Development Group. As players progress within the development group, coaches from the squad recommend them to the Norfolk Junior County Association trials to be considered for county squads.

At what point do you signpost players on to further fulfil their potential with another coach?

The local clubs work very well collectively with the local academy. We do not drip through players to the academy as this makes it much harder for the coach but instead set up 3-4 trial days a year so that we can put forward players. It also means all successful players can then go to the academy as a group which makes it less daunting for them. I put forward all my players that show the attributes highlighted above. Unless a player is outstanding, I always feel they should come through the club system first as this provides them with the opportunity to develop and learn all the key fundamentals and basic technique. We are very flexible with trials so if I had 3-4 players showing potential, I could arrange a trial date. I also always communicate with my players and if they show the right skills will talk to them and tell them to keep doing the right things and they will be put forward for the next trial.