|Role:||U15 Badminton England Age Group Coach, Director of Badminton|
|Organisation:||Badminton England & University of Exeter|
Helen is a badminton coach from the UK and has a successful playing career behind her. Her highest ranking was number 7 in the UK and has represented her home country on a number occasions including at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Australia, travelled to Holland for the Youth Championships and won a number of championships along the way.
Now Helen is the Head Coach at her local club, Director of Badminton at the University of Exeter and the Head Coach for the England Badminton U15 age group…
I used to be a junior badminton player, represented England Juniors through to U19, attended the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2004 winning a team Bronze medal and was runner up in the U19 National Championships in Singles and Doubles. After my U19 year I sustained an elbow injury where I wasn’t able to play for 18 months, during this time I took my coaching qualifications and started coaching at the University of Bath where I was also studying a Coach Education and Sports Development degree. From here I gradually took on more and more coaching and really began to have a passion for it. Once I was unable to play competitively myself anymore due to injury I went into coaching full-time with my role at the University of Exeter.
I’m the U15 Age Group Coach for England – this involves me coaching at national training camps and travelling abroad with the team to international competitions to coach. I also have to observe the players within this age-group on the domestic circuit, making selections and profiling the players.
My role at Exeter University involves me delivering coaching to the student performance squad, selecting teams to represent the University and managing the junior performance centre at the University which caters for athletes from the age of 8 upwards.
Designing the programme meant putting the athletes at the centre and looking at what would work best for them and their development. From there I worked backwards to schedule sessions around their timetables to ensure they were getting the most contact time they could. I really enjoyed having the responsibility to design the programme, it gives an opportunity to put a stamp on something and a sense of accomplishment when its successful.
Continuing learning as a coach is vital in developing and staying at the top of the sport, whilst also giving your athletes the best chance of becoming the best they can be. The more knowledge you have as a coach which you can apply successfully to coaching domain the better.
I think its important to have a good balance between formal and informal learning as a coach. Quite often some of the informal learning such as conversations with other coaches and reading journals can be just as valuable as sitting a course. I regularly engage with other coaches who mentor me and help me problem solve and challenge me which all helps to develop me further.
I am always very adaptable and approachable as a coach. I always put the player first and from there feel that I can develop the player not just in their athletic ability but also as a person and have the skill at looking at the bigger picture rather than just what is there in that moment.
Women coaches I think are good communicators and empathetic which helps them to be approachable and reasoned in their approach to coaching.
Traditionally there has always been more male coaches than female coached in badminton and I’m not sure why this is. A lot of coaching hours are anti-social which can sometimes make it difficult I think for women after they’ve had a family.
As a coach I aim to continue developing my coaching skills and help the athletes I work with to become the best possible athlete and person they can with my guidance.