Work on strength from a very early age
I believe that Indians lack in strength as compared to the Europeans and the Asians. Work has to be put in right from the age 10 on the strength training of a child. The main two areas in badminton are the core strength and strong legs (especially calves). As a kid I started learning about strength training only after I turned 14. Though it is scientifically right that gym training should only start after the age of 13 because it hampers the natural growth of the child. It is also true that there are a lot of exercises that can be started which don’t involve going to the gym. A child needs to undergo a strength program right from the start, the earlier the better.
Individual centric training
The big problem with academies is that because there are a lot of children, coaches tend to make one similar program for everybody because it is easier to run it that way. Though this is a good idea in the earlier or basic stages, after a certain period of time it is crucial to have a very specific training program for a specific player. As a coach from the 20 children I am in charge of I should pick up 5 to 6 kids who I think are doing better than the others and jot down a program according to their weaknesses. It just makes no sense to work on someone’s attack because others are weak on it , while actually the player needs work on the defence.
To push players to think about their game from an early stage
It is extremely important to push children to maintain a diary. Self-analysis is the best way to move forward. These diaries should include them writing down about their own weaknesses and their own solutions on it. There should be a discussion every end of the week on this with the coach. As a kid learns to think independently about his game it helps him to make his own strategies against different opponents in the future. A ten year old kid won’t have too much skill in writing about his weaknesses and there is 80% chance that he also might be wrong. The point here is not right and wrong but the ability to think independently. Badminton is a lonely sport. You have to make decisions very quickly in matches. The earlier they get into a habit of thinking for themselves the easier it will be in the advance stages.
I think it is crucial to have an expert in this field in the academy. We need to build a system where a player is not worried about getting injured. Also we have to find ways of funding them if they are financially not too strong. Injuries need to be handled in a very scientific way. If not, the players tend to find themselves in a vicious circle. It needs immense amount of mental strength to get out positively out of it, and not every player would have that strength. There needs to be a team which is working on making their physical pain as less as possible. A masseur, an orthopaedic, a physio-therapist is a necessity as the academy players enter a competitive stage. Just the feeling of having a team to fall back on, brings in a lot of confidence in their performances. It helps immensely in their preparations.
Right kind of marketing, funds and corporate sponsors at the right time
When a player is doing really well with their performances. It is extremely important to get him sponsors. We need to have a vision for a kid. Every player that is doing well should have some kind of sponsorship behind him. Having financial backing is crucial in planning international tournaments for the players. A player should not be dependant on the associations that run the sport to play the tournaments they want to play. Ofcourse only the top few players of the academy should be given this help. this not only helps the players who are getting the sponsors but it generally helps in having a healthy competitive environment within the academy. Every kid will have a motivation to do well in competitions realising that they would be rewarded for their effort. Also the ones who are at the top will have to maintain their level knowing if they don’t they could be replaced by the next lot of players waiting in the wings.