Chong Wei Ends Gades Run

Chong Wei Takes Out Gade

Gade Crashes Out

Gade’s last run at a Denmark Open ends at the hands of the world number 1, with the Dane being competitive throughout the match unlike his previous few matches that have resulted in crushing defeats. Gade himself said he should have taken the second game in his post-match interview, after having four attempts to win the game. Chen Long is the other finalist tomorrow after defeating Sho Sasaki in a one-sided semi final that sets up a rematch of the Japan Open, that the Chinese 3rd seed won.

Chinese Dominance In Women’s Singles

Inthanon Ratchanok was the only player capable of stopping an all-Chinese final, but her resistance lasted just 36 minutes as world number 1 Wang Yihan defeated the unseeded Thai in two games to reach the final. The other semi final seen Wang Xin defeat Wang Shixian in another surprise loss for the world number 2, whose form has been hit and miss since the Sudirman Cup and her loss to Juliane Schenk in that event earlier this year.

Danish Delight In Mixed

The neutral’s dream final in the men’s doubles will take place tomorrow, much to the disappointment of the hometown fans who seen their 3rd seeded pair of Boe and Mogensen lose out to the top seeded Chinese pair of Cai and Fu in two games. Their opponents in tomorrow’s final are the Korean pair of Lee and Jung, who defeated Kido and Setiawan in three games to set up their 17th meeting between the world’s top two pairs.

The Chinese monopoly on the women’s doubles continues as Wang And Yu face off against Tian and Zhao, with the 2nd seeded pair mercilessly thumping the Danish pair of Kruse and Roepke 21-12, 21-5 to book their place against the world number 1 pairing who surprisingly dropped a game against 6th seeded Ha and Kim of Korea before progressing into tomorrow’s final.

The success story for Denmark came in the mixed doubles as Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen fed off the partizan crowd to inflict a stunning defeat on the top seeded pair of Zhang and Zhao after saving a match point at 20-19 in the third game before winning three consecutive points to complete their remarkable comeback. Their opponents in the final are another Chinese pair, the 5th seeded Ma and Xu who ended the run of Lee and Ha of Korea in a two game victory to reach the final and experience the same partisan Danish crowd that their team mates faced in tomorrow’s mixed doubles final.…

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Ideal Body Types For Badminton

Ideal Body Types For Badminton

There isn’t one ideal body type for badminton, there are many. However, you need to adapt the way you play to the way you’re built. This is a challenge for many coaches, as they tend to teach students to play the way they know how to play badminton, and that assumes that their students have the same body they do. It is of course rarely the case that a player will have the same body type as their coach. Badminton players come in all shapes and sizes, and while there are certain body types that will excel more often in certain events, you can adapt ways to play even if you aren’t built like Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei.

Something you may notice is that very few professional mens singles players are much taller than 6 feet. This seems to be the height at which you start finding fewer and fewer players. Each inch taller seems to be something of a disadvantage on the whole. There are of course some advantages to that extra height like the extra reach it provides, but in a sport that demands so much agility, it proves to be more of a burden. Going the other direction you find very few mens singles players that are much shorter than 5 foot 6 inches, or perhaps even 5 foot 8 inches. At this point your court coverage is going to start being hindered compared to the other players. There are of course examples of players who have been outside this range, like Ong Ewe Hock who was 5 foot 3 or 4 inches tall, and Thomas Stuer Lauridsen who was 6 foot 3 (I thought he was much taller, but wikipedia argues otherwise). Thomas Stuer was a great player, but he also battled with injuries that were no doubt caused by his size.

If you go into the other events you start to see a lot more variation is the heights of players. In mens doubles you see small players like Yap Kim Hock player with a much taller partner, Cheah Soon Kit. Yap was a lefty, and Cheah was a righty. While Cheah was the big gun from the back, Yap was a force at the net.

In mixed doubles Zhang Jun won the Olympics in 2004, and if you were to see him outside of badminton with no knowledge of his sporting success, you would assume he was terribly out of shape. He is a very stocky guy, and while he will never cover the court like Lin Dan does, he is ridiculously strong. I’m sure nobody looks forward to returning a smash from Zhang Jun.

So with these professional players in mind, what should an aspiring badminton player such as yourself do? How should you adapt your style to your build?

Well if you’re like me, short stocky, you probably need to rely more on defense. You should focus on deflecting and absorbing your opponents attack in order to tire them out, and seek opportunities later in the rallies. To go too aggressively at your opponent will tire you out quicker than them most likely. Playing flat will eliminate their reach advantage over you, and since you’re shorter, you’re more likely to be able to steal the attack during flat play.

If you’re tall and lanky you want to take advantage of the extreme angles you can produce. Push the play deep to all four corners of the court, your opponent who is shorter than you won’t appreciate the extra steps they have to take. Also, from the back court your drops and slices will be a source of frustration for your opponent who’s standing too far back because they’re afraid of your smash.

These are just a couple of examples of how you can develop your game around your build, do you have any suggestions?…

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To Stick With One Coach, or To Roam Free

To Stick With One Coach, or To Roam Free

The player coach relationship is an interesting one.  In many cases it’s similar to a parent-child relationship, with many of the same ups and downs.  As a player you want to be loyal to your coach, especially if you have a good relationship with them, and if you have produced some good results under their guidance.  However, there comes a time where every player needs to make the decision whether the need to go elsewhere in order to grow further as a player.  This can be a touchy situation, and many coaches can feel slighted when their players move on.

As a junior I had a few different coaches at my club, but the one I spent the majority of my time with was Wang Wen.  Like many of my peers that played with my during my junior years Wang is like a second father to me.  We spent a lot of time traveling to tournaments across the country, talking about badminton, and about life.  It’s fair to say that he was one of the biggest influences in my life.  So much of my badminton game has come from his teachings.  When I was 14 he took me from losing first round at the nationals to being a contender for national titles the following year, and many of our club’s players have had similar experiences as countless numbers of our players have won national titles under his guidance.  However, when I was in my last years of juniors Wang told me that in order for me to take my game to the next level I would need to go elsewhere, that he had taught me all that he could.  At that point I had planned to move to the national training center, but was sidelined with a knee injury which ended those plans.

Many of the best players have had similar paths.  They reach a point towards the end of their junior careers where they have maxed out what their current coach can offer them.  The best coaches recognize this, they leave their own egos out of the equation and allow their players to go out and explore what other coaches have to offer.  Unfortunately a lot of coaches are more interested in their own results, and building their reputation, rather than allowing their players to grow.

My opinion as you can probably tell is that a player should eventually move on, but there are arguments for both sides.  If you stay with the same coach through your career you know you’re with someone who knows your game well, and perhaps they have a good idea of where they want to bring you for the long term.  They also probably know how to motivate you, what your limits are and so forth.  However, they bring only one perspective to the table.  When you bring a new coach into the mix you get a whole new perspective on your game.  They see things in a different way which is the most valuable thing you can do.  This goes hand in hand with sparring with new players as well, but I’ll get into that in another article some time later.

An ideal situation is if you are moving from your home club, to a place with a high performance coach of some kind.  Someone who deals almost exclusively with high level players.  This ties in with the environment that you’re going to be in as well.  A high performance training environment means that everyone there is serious about being a really good player.  However, if that option is not available to you, there still is some advantage of working with a new coach simply for the fact that they have knowledge and opinions that your previous coach does not, and that always has value.

What do you think?  Should you stay with one coach?  Will working with another coach mess up your game?  Or is it better to go off and bring your game in a new direction, with a new coach?…

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Taufik Stands In Lee Chong Wei’s Path

Taufik Stands In Lee Chong Wei’s Path

The Chinese dominance has been the main talking point in Malaysia this week, but the local world number 1 has been quietly conducting his business under the radar this week. There may be 7 Chinese players or pairs in the final tomorrow, but the top seed in the mens singles will be the undoubted main attraction on finals day.

Lee Chong Wei’s 21-9, 21-9 victory over the 3rd seeded Chen Long was a statement of intent for 2011 as he edges ever close to his first title of 2011. His opponent in tomorrow’s final is the 2nd seeded Taufik Hidayat who won his all-Indonesian clash with Simon Santoso in two games also. Their 17th meeting tomorrow is a real barometer for the year ahead to see if Taufik has narrowed the gap to the elite two or if Lee Chong Wei domination continues into 2011.

Wang Yihan continued her streak over the top seeded Wang Xin to 4 matches in their semi final, with the 3rd seeded winning the first of the all-Chinese semi finals. Jiang Yanjiao couldn’t make it a pair of upsets in the second semi final, losing to the 2nd seeded Wang Shixian in two tight games. The final will be the 4th meeting between the two, with Wang Yihan leading the head-to-head 2-1.

The mens doubles boasts the last of the European interest this week, with the unseeded Conrad-Petersen and Rasmussen defeating their Japanese opponents, Kawamae and Sato in two games to book their place in the final. They will take on the 5th seeded Chai and Guo in the final after their win over the 6th seeded Ahsan and Septano of Indonesia in two games.

The women’s doubles sees 4 Chinese pairs come down to 2 for the final tomorrow, such is the strength and depth in this event. Ex-partners Ma and Jin battled, with the latter taking the victory with partner Yu in two tight games. The 6th seeds will take on the 8th seeded Zhao and Tian after their win over the 5th seeded Pan and Du in another tight two game match.

Tian would also reach the mixed doubles final with partner Jiaming after their two game victory over the British pair of White and Blair in one of the more comfortable victories of the day, winning 21-11, 21-15. They will take on another Chinese pair in Ma and He who were a game and 17-14 up in the second when the 6th seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen were forced to retire.…

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Badminton Success Requires A System

Badminton Success Requires A System

In Denmark there are less than 6 million people, and yet we have produced 10 World Champions. Only China (1.3 billion people) and Indonesia (230 million people) have produced more. How can Denmark compete when we have so few people? We’re obsessed with quality over quantity.

I’m not saying that the Chinese and Indonesians don’t focus on quality, far from it. They are producing excellent players, with fantastic technique. However, because we have far fewer players to choose from in Denmark, and much less time to dedicate to training, we have to be sure that we are focusing on quality.

In order to produce high quality results we have to start by focusing on technique. Improving your technique takes time, and lots of practice, but with the right instruction I believe that you can see massive improvements in your technique.

In this video we interview Kaveh Mehrabi, Iran’s first Olympian in badminton. He chose to move to Denmark because it was the best place for him to go to bring him to the next level, and without doing so he would not be an Olympian today.

Playing badminton is a great deal of fun, but let’s be honest with ourselves, winning makes it that much more fun. But to win you need to be good, and to be good generally takes practice. However, simply working hard is not going to cut it, you have to work smart too. You have get serious about your training if you want to see drastic results. You have to be organized, and your training needs to have structure.

The difference between those who reach their potential and those who don’t is in the systems they develop to improve upon themselves and their discipline in executing those systems.

Great coaches understand this concept, and will do whatever they can to put their players into a system that will develop their skills and physical abilities even further.

If you don’t have access to a great coach who can develop a training system for you, then you’ll have to study on your own. It is doable though, so long as you understand it is all about having a system that you follow religiously. That’s not to say that your playing and training system cannot grow, and cannot be flexible to new situations. You need adaptation, and improvisation, but it is easier to do so when you have the foundation of a strong system supporting you.

It’s not about what you can do once, but what you repeatedly do that defines who you are. If being a great badminton player is who you want to be, you need to develop the habits of a great player. It’s all about routine, what you do regularly.…

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Top Seeds Dominate Play

Top Seeds Dominate Play

Saturday’s play begun with top seeds Robin Middleton and Mariana Agathangelou in quarterfinal action against Christian John Skovgard and Maria Heisbol, 21 minutes and two games later, the top seeds booked their place in the semi finals later that day, winning 21-12, 21-10. They were joined the semi finals by another English pair, Marcus Ellis and Heather Olver who beat 2nd seeds Dave Khodabux and Samantha Barning 23-21, 21-19.

Both English couples secured semi final victories to make the Mixed Doubles final an all-English affair, both coming through in three games. Middleton and Agathanegelou beating Tim Dettman of Germany and Emelie Lennartsson of Sweden, whilst Olver and Ellis defeated Indian duo K. Tarun and Shruti Kurian.

Top seed in the Women’s Singles, Juliane Schenk made light work of her two matches today to secure a place in Sunday’s final, first defeating Patty Stolzenbach 21-14, 21-4 in the quarter finals, then beat 3rd seed Anu Nieminen 21-13, 21-13. Her opponent in tomorrow’s final is another Dutch woman, 4th seeded Rachel Van Cutsen, who defeated Karina Jorgensen in the quarterfinals and 2nd seed Larisa Griga in the semi finals, both in two games.

The final of the Men’s Singles is a battle of the top two seeds; Marc Zweibler was in dominant form as he disposed of 7th seeded Henri Hurskainen in the quarterfinals, then 3rd seeded Christian Lind Thomsen in the semi finals. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, seeded 2 also had little trouble booking his place in tomorrow’s final. Defeating unseeded Magnus Sahlberg in the quarterfinals and then Estonia’s 4th seed Raul Must in the semi finals. With all four matches won by the top two seeds being won in two games.

The top seeds in the Women’s Doubles, Helle Neilsen and Marie Ropke are also through, after defeating England’s Heather Olver and Scotland’s Emma Mason in the semi final in two tight games, 23-21 and 24-22, they will play unseeded Samantha Barning and Eefje Muskens of Holland in tomorrows final.…

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Fighting For Gold

Fighting For Gold

Lee Chong Wei was the overall best player of 2011; winning almost every event he entered and claimed his first All England title against Kenichi Tago in March. The last three months have seen him lose to China’s Chen Long no less than three times which is the only real worry for the Malaysian going into 2012. He will undoubtedly play a full schedule going into the Olympics, with the chance of a second All England title looming large.

Lin Dan goes into 2012 in top form, winning his last three events including the Super Series Finals earlier in December. He won the opening Super Series Premier in Korea in January and followed it up with Asian Games gold, an event that Lee Chong Wei did not play. The top two in the world played each other 5 times in ranking events, with Lin Dan winning four of the five meetings with Lin Dan holding a 18-8 advantage in their 26 meetings to date.

Gade’s Last Chance

Peter Gade celebrated his 35th birthday this month but there was little to celebrate on the court for the Dane as he failed to claim a single title in 2011 as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei proved too strong throughout the year in a recurring theme for Europe’s number 1. In his 12 meetings with the top two players, he won just three games and failed to win a single match.

His record against the top two is 32-4, with his last victory over Lin Dan over 18 months ago and almost three years since his last win over Lee Chong Wei. His chances of a stunning upset and a Danish gold in London look grim whilst in the Super Series events he will be a perennial contender and will reach the latter stages of most of the events he participates in, but his chances of gold in London are slim.…

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The Chinese Threat

The Chinese Threat

The 2009 world champion Chen Jin as well as the new star of Chinese badminton, Chen Long are just the tip of a massive Chinese threat going into any major tournament in 2012. With 5 Chinese players inside the top 16, there is a massive internal battle within the Chinese squad to claim one of a potential three spots in the Olympics, should China manage to get three players inside the top 4 in the world.

Chen Long is clearly the new star of Chinese badminton, the 22-year old begun this year well outside of the top 10 and his stunning loss to Kevin Cordon in the opening round of the world championships could have derailed his promising career. However, he returned to form later in the year with a trio of titles including a Super Series Premier title in China before his milestone victory over Lee Chong Wei in Japan the next week. This became a recurring theme, with another victory over Lee Chong Wei in Denmark and then finally in their most recent matchup in the Super Series Finals. He is the main threat to the top two in the world going into 2012.

Chen Jin claimed just a single title this year, in the Singapore Super Series after a Lin Dan walkover in the final and without Lee Chong Wei even in the draw. 30

Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming are the two wild cards of Chinese badminton. They have all but been eliminated from being able to qualify for the 2012 games but will be vital in ensuring a massive Chinese presence at the London Olympics. Ranked #10 and #14 in the world will put them in a position of being seeds in some events but potentially facing one of the seeds in the Premier events of 2011, like Wang Zhengming taking on Taufik Hidayat in the French Super Series in October. They will also play a role in ensuring Chinese success at these events, with the Chinese squad allowing walkovers to occur in all-Chinese matchups, meaning more rest for the higher ranked Chinese players in their big events.…

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The Breakout Stars of 2011

The Breakout Stars of 2011

2011 seen the emergence of Sho Sasaki, Lee Hyun Il, Simon Santoso and Marc Zwiebler into the top 16 players in the world. 29-year old Sho Sasaki has been grinding away a career that seen him ranked as low as 40 in June of this year after a string of opening round losses to start 2011. He then reached the semi finals in the Indonesian Super Series Premier and followed that with a win in the US Open in July. An excellent run to the last 8 of the world championships boosted his ranking into the top 10 and finishes the year with his highest ever world ranking of 7. A lot is expected of Sasaki in 2012 with impressive victories over Lin Dan and Du Pengyu in 2011 but has to ensure no opening round upsets that marred his 2011 season.

Lee Hyun Il ended his career after the Beijing Olympics, only to be talked back into playing competitively just 20 months ago. Ranked 196th in May of 2010, he has returned to the world’s top 10 going into 2012, winning his last two events of 2011. A former world number 1 in 2004, his return to the top 10 is nothing short of stunning with victories over Chen Jin, Wang Zhengming , Du Pengyu and Simon Santoso confirming his top 10 status. He will benefit in 2012 with being seeded for most of the early Super Series events of the year to bolster his place in the top 10.

Simon Santoso was touted to overtake Taufik Hidayat as Indonesia’s number 1 in the summer after Hidayat’s poor run in the US and Canada Open. He entered the world championships ranked 19th but his run to the semi finals in China and Macau, that featured a victory over Peter Gade seen Santoso become the top ranked Indonesian player and ensured his place in the top 10 in December. His victory over Hidayat in the China Masters saw the passing of the guard to the 26-year old.

Marc Zwiebler has cemented his place as Europe’s number 2 behind Peter Gade, but his double victory over Taufik Hidayat has pushed him into the spotlight. Ranked as high as 11 earlier in the year, he has levelled out within the 15-17 ranking in the later half of the year following his Canada Open success. Big things are expected of Zwiebler in 2012 as he is set to take on the mantle of Europe’s #1 after the Olympics.…

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The European Hopefuls

The European Hopefuls

Pablo Abian, Rajiv Ouseph have been the powerhouses of the EBU circuit, whilst Jan O Jorgensen has been reaching the latter stages of the Super Series towards the end of 2011 after a health scare during the week of the Denmark Open.

Pablo Abian started 2011 just inside the top 50 in the world before taking four titles in the first half of the year, including a victory over Viktor Axelsen in Sweden in January to claim his first title. Opening round defeats in the Denmark and France Open will have to be improved on in 2012 to break into the world’s elite.

Rajiv Ouseph will go to the London Olympics as GB’s only chance of a medal in this event but his success in 2011 has came in Europe, with victories in Ireland and Scotland, choosing to play the European events instead of the Super Series Premier event in China. He goes into 2012 in need of a notable run in a Super Series to boost his confidence ahead of the pressure of performing on home soil after a poor attempt this year in a 21-8, 21-18 defeat to Peter Gade in the opening round of the 2011 world championships.

Jan O Jorgensen is a former top 10 player whose health scare in Denmark forced him into a layoff of 4 weeks that seen him dip to 19 in the rankings. Three quarter final appearances in Super Series events in 2011 will be the very minimum he will need to ensure his place at the Olympics ahead of Viktor Axelsen, as the two battle it out to be Denmark’s number 1 after Gade’s retirement.

However, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus is also a contender in the debate. Ranked outside the top 30 at the start of 2011, the Dane took the Dutch Open title in April to push him into the top 25 and another victory in the Bitburger Open sees him inside the top 20 and finished the year with a close match with Chen Long of China. The performance in the China Open will be one that Vittinghus hopes to emulate throughout 2011 to ensure his name is in the discussion over Denmark’s top men’s singles player.…

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