The Annual Border Sports Academy began away back in the 1980's when the participants used to stay in the Berwickshire High School in Duns. They would sleep in camp beds in the classrooms and then get up for their daily run at 7am before a hearty breakfast from the school canteen and then off to the various venues for the specialist sport specific coaching. The main squad coaches from around the borders would give up their free time to coach the children for the full 5 day week and aspiring PE teachers and coaches (like myself) would give up part of their summer holidays to valuable experience assisting with the coaching.
Well times have changed since those days and now the participants stay in student accommodation at the Borders Napier College Halls in Galashiels (although this year they could not as the halls were being refurnished). The coaches are more high profile and the overall organisation is not done by the teachers themselves but by the Border Sport and Leisure Trust. In fact, I am one of the only people left from those 'early days' who is still involved.
As the Badminton in the Borders has developed so has our relationship with BADMINTONscotland and we have borrowed several of their top coaches to help us to develop not only our elite players but also our coaches (who also learn from watching the BADMINTONscotland coaches).
This year we were fortunate to have Andy Bowman, who had just returned from the Olympics where he had been involved as a sparring partner with some of the teams as well as supervising some of the top young Scottish players who got the chance to visit the games (lucky things).
Andy took our kids through their paces and soon sorted out a few key areas for them: Looser grips, Rackets up, developing leg strength, balance, movement round the court – a brilliant start to the pre-season training for these young players. He brought in his video equipment to analyse and show the players where they needed to improve. It is often good to see things for yourselves as proof; you can maybe question your coach but you can't argue with a picture or video – that is the real thing.
We were so grateful to Andy for coaching and to BADMINTONscotland for letting him come. It lets the Scottish coaches see what we are up to and also lets us (as coaches) see if we are matching what is expected of us. The players too like to have someone different coaching them and not the same old faces all the time.
We are fortunate enough to have John Shearer (BADMINTONscotland School Sport Development Officer) taking our 3 follow up sessions to the academy which take place throughout the year. Hopefully this will help us get closer to beating some of these better teams this season. The wide geographical area which we pull our players from is one of the reasons that we have this academy also as it lets us have all our players in one place for a prolonged period of time, to build up performance levels and also team spirit. The varied and fun evening activities make sure of that!
The photo shows John Shearer working with our academy players.
Report and photograph courtesy of Lynn Young, Borders Group Convener