NC Badminton Camp

Sept. 04, 2012, 2:09 p.m. (ET)


By Mary Ann Bowles

“Grip,” “finger power,” “flat shot,” “stick smash,” “cross-stop,” “block,”--these vocabulary words were part of the language for the 2012 Dennis Christensen International Junior & Adult Training Camps held in Morrisville, North Carolina (in the Raleigh/Durham area), August 4-10. Thirty-three adults and thirteen juniors were treated to the latest badminton information on grip, footwork, strokes, and tactics for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

A 2-day adult weekend camp opened the camping sessions with Brent Cutcliffe, of Denver, CO, as the coach. This session was followed by an international junior and adult 4-day camp led by Coach Dennis Christensen and Assistant Coach Petter Yngvesson. Dennis is a Swedish National Coach (although he is a jolly Dane with a twinkle in his eye), and had just returned from the London Olympics where a Men’s Singles player had competed for Sweden.

The 4-day camp consisted of morning and afternoon sessions with a 1-hour lunch break, and open coached play for two hours following the afternoon session. Coaches were always reminding campers to warm up, and included warm-up time in sessions. Campers were presented with basic information on grip, specific strokes, and tactics for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, etc., then games were introduced which used the information, strokes, and tactics. Coach Christensen would call campers back together for feedback, questions, and more info or games with a big “O-K-A-A-A-A-A-Y!!!”

New strokes to most of the campers included the “stick smash” and the “cross-stop” forehand and backhand. Campers also were treated with some of the Olympic experiences Coach Christensen had enjoyed in London, as well as some of his previous coaching experiences in other countries. Both coaches switched off on sessions with the junior and adult groups, and floated from court to court while campers were trying techniques and playing games designed to focus on the specific skills being taught during the camp. Questions and answers were invited and answered enthusiastically.

The 4-day camp closed on Friday afternoon with a session on Morten Frost (famous Danish World Champion and All-England Champion) endurance exercises performed in timed sequences, and viewing an on-court session with Coach Christensen actually training his assistant coach who is a Swedish senior player (“senior” in Europe is 20+).

We asked Dennis about the development of badminton over the last twenty years, and here’s his analysis:

“There has been a lot of progress in badminton during the last 20 years, but for me there are 2 things that particularly stand out.

1. The physical part

Badminton has evolved so much in the physical part. Look at the matches from the Olympic Games in 1992, and try to compare with the Olympic final in London 2012. Here you can see a fantastic difference in pace and explosiveness. There are several reasons for this development: the largest is the players’ physical fitness. Today’s badminton player is incredibly explosive and can hold an incredible pace for an entire game.

The “new” rule of playing a set to 21 with a break at 11 has also helped to develop the fast games. As the pace of the game has become so high, the breaks between the rallies have become longer than the rallies themselves.

2. The complete badminton player (pair)

A great change has taken place in mixed doubles, where the lady has become a much greater part of the game. The ladies have developed their game physically and technically, and therefore take more responsibility and cover a bigger part of the court.

Twenty years ago, you could manage to be in the top of the world if you had one of these:

A great physique (Morten Frost)
A dangerous attack (Hariyanto Arbi)
A super defense (Pullela Gopichand)

In the last years, badminton has developed in such a way that you need to be great in all facets in order to be among the best players in the world. In my opinion, the most complete singles player of all time is Lin Dan.”

Many thanks to Lisa Ward-Knechtel and Paul Knechtel; the great coaches Dennis Christensen, Petter Yngvesson, Brent Cutcliffe, and Joel Goldstein; Konark Patel, Josie Spontak, and the NCBC Board of Directors for making the camp possible. A special thanks to the USBEF (United States Badminton Education Foundation) for providing junior scholarships to assist young players' participation in the camp and again to Joel Goldstein for hosting two of the junior players from Florida. Kudos to Chris McClellan, the general manager of Netsports, along with his staff, for facility support, and Fonnie Duron for great lunches throughout the week.
If you’re looking for a great camp, this is the one for you. You’ll get plenty of basic information, lots of court time to practice strokes, and play games using the information and demonstrations provided. Next year’s camp may become a coaching clinic for coaches, but it will be an informative one for either coaches or players. For this year’s camp sessions, as Coach Christensen exclaimed at the end of each session, they were “GOOT!”