Posted by Angela Stevens at 10:07 on 29 July 2014
In July 2014 I travelled to Vejen, Denmark to participate in the Badminton Europe Summer school. This summer school was by far the best experience I have had. Not only was the coaching high quality, it was also very fun and I made a lot of friends.
I arrived on the Saturday in Billund where I was greeted and transported by a member of staff who was friendly and sociable. I reached the sports hotel which is in the middle of a beautiful Danish town called Vejen. The hotel was about a ten minute walk to the sports centre which is the most incredible facility I have come across. The English boys who I had previously known, met me at the entrance to show me to our room. We had to spend the first night in a room of 24 strangers who also were playing during the week. The room was extremely hot and well, as we are boys, messy, which made it tough to sleep and rest.
In the hotel there were plenty of places to sit, chill and relax before a hard week of training.
The week of training started with a warm up, aimed to take us out of our comfort zone and make everyone look stupid in front of each other (basically walk around like a chicken!) and by this we play rock paper scissors, with only one rule, you cannot play anyone you know. We then went into half court singles, for every point you win, you ask your opponent a question (I ended up being asked MILLIONS of questions). Technique training was first to be ticked off the list from the programme. Continuous drop lift drop routines which progressed into tumbling net shots during the practice was the main idea, again practicing with people you do not know. This was a good way to see the standard of players I was up against and also to make friends.
To finish the first day we went into the 3rd of the 4 halls there were there, to challenge ourselves with numerous stability and core work. This was tough after a hard days training.
The traditional coach v players football match was a success, yet a disaster (mainly because we lost). Undeserved loss I must say, it was a late lucky shot which rolled in. If me and Elias Bracke (Belgium) weren't marked by 3 coaches each (because we play football at home) we definitely would secured a rare players victory!!!
On Monday and Tuesday, we participated in a number of 2 v 1, 3 v 1 and technical work, after being put in to groups so you train with people of your standard. Thankfully I was put in the top group with the English boys and a Belgian. As the hall was very hot it was very tiring on the legs which did catch up with me later on in the week. Training was every morning from 8:30-12:30, 2:30- 6:30 then a coach education session where the learning coaches had the chance to put their skills into practice and coach us for an hour and a half. These sessions were fun, yet serious, but also held key information to help enhance our standard of performance and training back at home. A lot of consistency practices such as times smashing, drops and net shots were performed with fun added in. Like for the person who makes the most mistakes has to do a punishment of the winners choice, (mainly whacks), which I only lost once which was pretty good. During these sessions we participated in gym work, fitness sessions (Eddie never give me intervals to do!!!!), and strength and conditioning. All of which I will benefit from and will help me get stronger and fitter for the forthcoming season. In between these sessions we had the opportunity to get involved in fun activities such as Volleyball, swimming, speedminton and mini football. Swimming was the best activity in my opinion, there was literally everything you could ask for, From ice baths to diving boards to outdoor Jacuzzi's. I could only just jump off the diving board and that was only a 5 metre one, plus it was a pencil dive!! personally I loved the ice baths, relaxed my muscles and was a perfect way to just take a break and chill out.
Wednesday afternoon we went to a nearby lake, which was epic! It had a wooden, circular walk path so you can jump in either the deep end or the shallow part, or even throw each other in. It was the only time I could get the people that had taxied me back (especially the girls). We spent all afternoon there before arriving back to play speedminton.
Unfortunately due to an ankle problem, I could not take part in the sessions that day so I spent the day in the ice bath and Jacuzzi resting the ankle, whilst watching and learning off other players.
Friday morning was the day of the moaning, grunting and “come on’ing”. Early morning practice was to help the coaches in their final practical assessment which I hope they all had passed! all 3 coaches were great to work with and shared very specific and ideal information with me. it was also great to communicate with them as they were all from different countries (Iceland, Czech Republic and Ireland). The second half of that session was the early rounds of the annual end of week singles tournament. My first round was against Owen Grech of Malta. It was comfortable but frustrating as I found it difficult to move with my ankle. My next round was also against a Maltese guy, Kyle Sciberras, again comfortable but less frustrating. My quarter final was against the seeded Luxembourg, Matthias Sonderskov who was a physical opponent who beat me 24-22 in the 3rd set. The sweat from my t-shirt explained how hard I had tried in that lengthy three setter which finished me off for the week. Steven Stallwood from England won it overall (obviously being Welsh I would of destroyed him if I got through), but overall it was a great way to top off an extraordinary week.
There was nothing that I could complain about, not even the weather! The coaching was to a very high quality and the coaches were very easy to understand and co-operate with, always finding time if you have any problems. The facilities were top notch, Everything was clean and well looked after. Never been to anything as great as this in my life!! Surprisingly I liked the food, I am normally fussy with foreign food. Chicken wings were by far the tastiest food there. The players were so kind it’s unreal, easy to talk to and very funny. By the end I made a whole load of friends who I wish I could see more often, they were just genuinely down to earth guys with amazing personalities.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the summer school, mainly because of the friendliness of the other participants and coaches. the coaching was very specific and I learnt a lot from each practice. If I was invited to go next year, I most certainly would go. It is not an experience to miss out on. I would like to thank Eddie O’Neill and Badminton Wales for sending me to the Badminton Europe summer school.