BADMINTON IN YEOVIL & SHERBORNE
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This website is about promoting and organising badminton for adults. Although it's devoted mainly to the Yeovil or South Somerset and North Dorset area, if you're interested in similar things in other areas then see the Guest Pages section.
Key things that are missing for badminton in our area are
BEGINNERS & IMPROVERS
Most clubs don't take beginners and are sniffy about improvers. Even those that have coaches don't set aside any time for them even though the majority of club players today started to play as adults and most local league clubs did run improver sessions in the past, or were founded on the back of evening clases or improver clubs.
Clubs have been able to get away with this in the past because there were a lot of evening classes where people could learn at a sensible pace without being pushed around by other people setting unsuitable standards and objectives - but badminton was removed from the adult education programme in the early nineties.
This is the reason why player numbers in organised badminton have declined steadily over the years even though the number of people who know the game and own badminton rackets (etc) has steadily increased.
In this area those clubs that do have coaching sessions restrict them to juniors but this does little to improve numbers. Most club players who started as juniors had parents already playing at the same club. Coaching juniors only helps your club by improving the playing standards among youngsters who'd be likely to grow up and join the club anyway.
The need is to have clubs and coaching sessions that meet the objectives of people who would like to play badminton (or play more, if they already play social or "scratch" games).
For most youngsters playing in junior clubs, unless they're very good and make it to league or county level (or they can follow a parent into a club) then badminton stops when they no longer qualify as juniors. Many youngsters coached in the county system never reach a level to play in competition (which needs experience, not just coaching and practice). There are no open connections between the junior system and the clubs - often there isn't even a connection between the junior and senior sections within a club. When connections do exist they're usually only to a handful of county clubs where the county coaches play.
The only way is to get into competitive play is to join an existing team and play in the league, which is hard to do, and means making a big commitment right from the start. We need graded open competitions where players commit to only one game at a time against suitable opponents and where they can test themselves - whether they're ready to commit to a full season or not. The same type of occasional competition is also needed to retain players with other committments (especially ones with young families, and students who go away to college).
A tournament system would probably be the best way of providing match play but probably can't be done without a larger player base. There are plenty of club tournaments, but most of these are closed events even though it wouldn't be difficult to include guests and "connections" who aren't members, exchanges and pairs from other clubs - or even leave room for outright open entries. Friendly matches and mini-tournaments are probably the easiest form of comeptitive play to organise.
Current tournaments suffer from not being properly graded - county level players are allowed to enter league competitions and league level players are allowed to enter competitions that are promoted as being for social players. This ensures any tournament is a bad experience for new starters - if they enter at the proper level they'll be faced with games in which they cannot compete because other people are "pot hunting" by entering below their level.
Badly graded tournaments are worse then no tournaments at all. They seek out the keenest players at each level and put them in unwinnable games. We couldn't invent a more effective way of discouraging new players.
The ratio of male to female players is between two and three to one. In an area like this, where the only format available is mixed doubles, a team must have as many ladies as men - so anything up to half the playing population is excluded. That reduces the number of people to spread the word of mouth (still the cheapest and most effective method of publicity) and reduces the number who might recruit their kids to the sport as well. It also generates a lot of negative publicity and friction within clubs - selection committee aren't deciding who should play with who, and in what competition - they're deciding who can play at all, and telling the rest they can't.
Badminton as a sport has a reputation for clubishness, and badminton clubs have bad reputations that they often seem to work hard to maintain. There's very little positive publicity generated. Almost all of the effort that is made originates with the county junior system (which is concerned with potential elite players and hardly connects to the majority of potential players at all). If you want to organise something, there's no established way to publicise or promote it. There's no organised method for getting information to other badminton players or potential players in the area.
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