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AskUs Coaching Q&A with Anthony Clark

We are delighted to launch a new regular #AskUs event as part of our Let’s Talk Badminton series.


Get your questions in, and have them answered by someone in the Badminton England world. Coaches, players, staff – we want to bring everyone closer to you, and give you a chance to talk to us.


First up, National coach Anthony Clark sat down to face your queries, and talk about the future, his coaching tips, and the success of those at the top. Read more below, and click the link above or at the bottom of the story to watch the full video.


Stay tuned for next week's Q&A...


As a national coach, how much emphasis do you put on studying other nations?
Xue YK

I’ve actually spent a lot of time analysing the top players in the world. This year has been really helpful for me because I was assigned a project of doing exactly that – analysing the top 16 players across all the doubles events, and basically trying to work out exactly what each player did, what their strengths and weaknesses were, what each pair did, and then a gameplan of how we would approach each match. I think I’ve done in excess of 120 hours analysing all those pairs. Every cloud has a silver lining, and Covid has given me the time to do that!


I’m an intermediate youth player. What parts of the game should I be focusing on?

With any junior, the more you can play when we’re let out from the current situation, then the more you’re going to improve. Most people start at a club, and that’s great, but then it’s trying to progress to moving into the county system, and doing one to one sessions with a coach because that is where you will improve the most. The biggest thing is working on technique with those coaches you do work with, in terms of having the right grips, having the right techniques for overheads, net shots and so on. A lot of younger players tend to hold the racket really tight, and if there’s no movement within the hand that makes everything really tough, and the timing’s tough.


How does a country build an ecosystem to develop the coaches needed to nurture the future of the game?

I mean there’s a big tradition now within the game that I would say in nearly every country that we play against that every single coach are the players I used to play against. That wealth of experience that you gain from playing helps you coach – you know what players are going through, and you’re technically prepared. That’s what I’m seeing across the world. Having said that, the very best don’t have to be a top player to go on and be a great coach. I’ve worked with lots of coaches on what they’re doing with their mind. As you become a really top player, it’s less about learning techniques and training lots of different things, it’s about your mindset.


Our men’s doubles look to have the potential to enter a new era of success – what plans are in place to develop other young English pairs to reach the same heights?
Will Mellersh @WillMellersh 

We musn’t forget that England as a whole in the world of badminton is only a small nation. The fact we have two men’s pairs in the top 20 in the world is absolutely remarkable. They are doing incredibly well – Ben and Sean out in Thailand produced some absolute magic. The training that has gone into that is enormous, and we’ve got another squad that is coming up just behind these top two pairs that we hope one day will knock those pairs out of the way. It’s a bit of a conveyor belt system that we’re trying to create. The Covid rules have created a challenge because we can only work with the elites and we can’t nurture all levels, but it’s a nationwide system that we are trying to put in place where we share the knowledge of how to train and how to actually make a young player improve quickly and get their foot in the door at Milton Keynes to become a national player.


In practice, what should doubles players do more and less of to maximise their development?

Lots of areas! The big one for me is defence. If a player has a really good defence, it’s the building block of a good game because nobody can hit through you. You’re very solid and you can stay calm because you can get everything back. The other big thing is having the speed and agility to move around the doubles court – doubles players need to be more explosive and quick on their feet than singles, and that comes alongside the speed of racket. The big one that we work on a lot is serve return, so having a really good serve and also being able to return really well – that’s where a lot of points are won and lost at the top end of the game.


Watch the full #AskUs Q&A here