The definition for retirement according to that fount of all knowledge – Google – is ‘the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work’. Knowing that this must be the truth – because I trust the internet completely – I can reassure everyone who knows me, anyone who has heard of me, all of those wonderful people who turned up for the ‘celebration of my career’ on 23rd June last year and anyone else for that matter that I am most certainly not retired.
In fact I just stopped earning money for doing the thing I love most in life – coaching badminton.
The truth is there are certain things that have made it a bit more difficult for me to do the things I want to do – arthritis doesn’t help much – and I reluctantly concede to the fact that, being 79 years old, I am probably not quite as capable as I was.
But I will never think that I can’t offer this game and its players the critical support of a practical and dedicated coach.
Coaches can perform in one of three important roles for their payers, a lot depending on their own level of skills and fitness. I have carried out all three of these roles throughout my career and am better equipped than most to describe them.
The player/coach is probably where most coaches start out. The player/coach is able to play against their pupils but, if they are any good, they will soon have to sit the games out and introduce someone of more ability. As odd as it sounds it’s a wonderful moment when, as a coach, you start getting beaten by your pupil.
The next type is the routine/coach. This is when the coach cannot cope with the returns of their player but can test them by pre-planning the location on court for the shuttle to be played to. You will learn more about this in the blog as I describe these in more detail.
Finally there is the feeder/coach. In this situation, the coach cannot participate in a routine that stretches the player (and certainly can’t play them) so they feed shuttles from a single point and the return comes back to the coach. Again I will show some of these sessions in the blog.
Now good coaches can be all three at the same time – be able to play, set up routines and feed players in the same or different sessions. I have certainly been capable of all three at one point in my career. But the most important thing is recognising the need for different types of coaching (having players of different levels) and finding ways to deliver. In a class I can no longer give my players any opposition myself but I match players against each other and watch from the side to ensure they get the right level of play. I teach routines for players to do themselves (or with the support of others) and, for the time being at least, I can still feed shuttles reasonably well.
I believe every session must include stamina, speed and play to be of benefit. For that I provide the kind of training that touches each style of coaching. And I have trained the best in the game.
Now while I was never one for reading books or writing things down, I have come to understand and think of the internet as a very powerful way to touch a large number of people. So the possibilities offered, the chance to share some of my ideas, my training tips and my most intensive routines is too good to ignore. In this blog I intend to build up a record of all my routines and feeder sessions (helped by my son who will film the sessions), and I will try to convey to you the same messages that I used to inspire Scottish Champions, British, Commonwealth, European and World Medallists.
Please let me know in the comments if you are interested in reading more and post any questions or requests on the ‘Ask Andy’ page. I will try to answer all questions as best I can.
For the time being, when you are next on the court, try to remember – if you are playing badly – play badly as well as you can.