For some, a new badminton season brings the added complexity of changing doubles partners. Adjusting to a new style of play, adopting different tactics and building up trust all whilst finding your ‘A’ game with a new partner can be a challenging journey.
To help you through this potentially awkward period, we have caught up with England national doubles coach Julian Robertson for an expert's insight into how to best form winning partnerships.
Here are Julian's 8 expert tips for you to adopt at club level.
I always talk about getting the right mix of essential ingredients to help nurture any new pairings.
There are many elements but fundamentally it’s all about having trust, respect, motivation, resilience, similar mentality and a shared ambition to succeed.
I know it’s a cliché, but having a similar mentality about what success looks like is absolutely key.
Even if that shared goal is as simple as ‘to have fun and enjoy playing together’ then that’s as good as any but both partners must buy into it.
It’s really important to analyse your own individual style of play before trying to pair up with someone new. Be honest about your own strengths and recognise your weaknesses first before looking out for a partner to complement your game.
It’s really tempting to look around the club and spot someone who is pretty good and want to pair up with them but this rarely delivers success.
Don’t just try and mould their game into what you want.
Take some time to understand someone else’s game and get to know what makes them tick.
At club level, you should be looking at a range of different players over many club nights and work at finding out as much about them off the court as on it.
If you are friends to start with and know each other’s character and personality inside out, then that’s a real advantage. However, saying that, even some of the world’s best partnerships don’t get along with each other off court but understand one another brilliantly on it.
Both players need to be like-minded about giving and receiving open, honest feedback - that’s a good starting point.
Being honest with your partner in openly discussing weaknesses and keeping that level of honesty going in the heat of match play are all important.
If you can’t tell your partner where you think they are weak or be able to highlight areas on court where your pairing is vulnerable, the pairing can become strained and tense and you run the risk of taking that frustration into a tournament.
It’s about learning as much about each other as you can during the ‘honeymoon period’ – when a new partnership is just starting up - when other pairs don’t quite know how to play you yet or what they should expect. You don’t know your strengths and weakness as a pair so don’t expect your rivals to.
The surprise factor buys you some time to fine tune things.
You will get the opportunity to find out about how your partner reacts under pressure or what fires them up during this stage, both during training and when competing in tournaments.
The old style of playing ‘sides’ or front and back is no longer really the way to go about things in the modern doubles game.
It is essential to be proficient and confident in all areas of the court these days. There are still factors like speed, power and the psychological aspects to consider when working out how best to play on court but both partners in a pairing should have the ability to cover and adjust at any stage of the game is key to success.
Some new partnerships gel very quickly and enjoy instant success while others may take 6 months before achieving good results. There’s no hard and fast rule.
This comes down to a lot of hours practice on court to enable new pairs to develop their natural game, where they move seamlessly around the court, leaving no gaps to be exploited. Training needs to focus on more a tactical reading of the game rather and you will make mistakes.
Deciding who should go for what shots can take so much time in a new pairing but cannot be rushed.
Now over to you.
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