How are China always able to pull off matches when the chips are down? We saw that at the Sudirman Cup… how much of this is down to physical ability?
I think they play not just for themselves but for all the people who support them. And this is their gift to them, it gives them extra motivation.
So it’s not that you are doing something completely different from what the other teams are doing.
I don’t know what the what the other teams do. What I try to do is very individual. Probably if I’m another team or working with other athletes, I will do many things that are the same but also many things differently, because the characteristics of the players will be different.
For example, in mixed doubles, the difference will be the speed of the game, you need to generate strength in very short time. And you need to be very good anticipating and reading the game. Because if you are late anticipating the movement, even if you are very fast, you will not arrive to the shuttle in the proper situation. They need to be not only good with physical abilities, but also in the cognitive abilities, the capacity to read the game. They (Zheng/Huang) are really good on that in terms of thinking and making decisions. Since you don’t have a lot of time to make decisions, you need to be very good at making the right decisions in very short time.
And all of that is related to the physical condition as well?
For me, the technical, tactical, physical, are not separate. When they are training on court, they are working the mental capacity, the physical capacity, the technical, tactical, they are working on all aspects at the same time.
The physical element is important to give the chance to them to be the best version of themselves when they are the court. It doesn’t make sense if you are really strong in the gym, or you move a lot of weight if after you cannot use qualities in the court.
What are the biggest learnings for you?
For the Chinese, physical power is a very important component of training. This is different in other countries, where they focus more on technical and technical aspects, but not so much the physical part.
Since the players need a lot of time for physical preparation, I try to adjust the training and ensure the players are not fatigued when they are on court for the technical or tactical part of training.
I need to understand the way they train, I need to understand what the intensity is, whether it has more physical demands, and then I need to prepare them. It’s very important for a strength and conditioning coach understand how their athletes train.
How do you communicate with the players?
Now the athletes have started speaking English. When there are important meetings, I have someone to translate.
Since the time you started, how have things been changing in strength and conditioning?
Since I started to work with China and I have been traveling to tournaments, I have seen a big development in the way the athletes prepare and train. I remember at the beginning there were not many strength and conditioning coaches traveling with the teams and now there are a lot of people and that’s very good for the sport.
Have the methods been changing? Is badminton picking up new training techniques from other sports?
In terms of sports science if we compare badminton with other sports like football or basketball, there is not a lot of research. It’s always important to read about science of other sports or about another general topics, like what’s the best way to develop strength in the lower limbs, for example, and try to learn new methodologies and try to apply for your athletes. That’s very important and since science is changing very fast, you need to be always aware of new information.
Are teams generally able to manage injuries better now?
Now there are more athletes starting to use GPS to monitor the training; we can have more information about what they do when they train or compete. Having more data will give you more information, and help to prepare the athlete for the demands of the sport and to reduce the risk of injury.
If (Carolina) Marin was playing 20 years ago it would have been very difficult for her to come back after two ACL injuries. I think the use of the sport science in badminton is very important for the development of the sport.