4 traits to becoming a successful player

Professional coaches can guide players through the tough road to success.

While playing badminton competitively, Dick Ng started to coach young juniors. After 40 years of being a coach now, he has distinguished four important elements that players must have in order to make it big in the badminton world. In this month’s installment of “Evenings with Coach Dick Ng,” let’s learn about what young players need at the start of their careers in order to eventually become successful.

  1. Talent & physical ability

You simply must have talent and physical ability. While talent is something that is inherent, “god-given,” physical ability is a trait that can be acquired. You must work hard to be at a healthy weight so that you can have the physical ability to be fast.

  1. Family support

Badminton is not a cheap sport. Each birdie costs around $2 now. Racquets range from $150 to $250 and shoes, club memberships and lessons all cost money. Without the ability to pay for all those fees, it is almost impossible to win a national title. So family support, particularly financial,  is very important.

It is nice to have a stable family with a good family values. When you see a successful athlete, usually at least one of the family members is there as support.

The road to becoming a successful player gets smaller and smaller like a bull’s eye. From junior, college, adult, and international competitions, to the time you win the Olympics or World Championships, it becomes a tiny dot. Only few people in the world win it. That is the reality of life. Without the family support, it is extremely difficult to achieve the ultimate goal.

  1. Professional coach

You need professional coaches who have experience in coaching and the ability to lead players to the next level. Generally, 95% of the parents out there don’t have the experience to coach. Unless you’re a professional, try not to coach your children. It is a recipe for failure. Children respond much better with parents off the court than on it. Just let professionals handle the coaching in every aspects of the sport, including footwork, skills, and strategies.

  1. Passion, desire and drive to win

This is the hardest thing to teach a child the willingness to work, the desire to win, the hunger to become a champion. Some people call it the “fighting spirit”. I call it the “intensity to want to win”. This is one skill that can be very difficult to learn. There can’t be any excuses. The next day after training or games, even if you wake up and feel tired, you have to overcome your fatigue, pain, and any other excuses to continue working.  This “intensity” is something you either have or don’t have. Any successful athlete must possess this passion to win, including Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Could the passion to win overcome insufficient physical talent?

If you have talent and good work ethic, it makes the process to becoming one of great badminton players easier, but with passion alone, it definitely could happen. Generally, people with tremendous natural talent can become lazy because everything comes easy to them. On the other hand, people who don’t have that talent need to work hard to be successful. Those players can be mentally stronger too. The will to win can often overcome any circumstance. There were two Malaysian players in the 1960s, one with tremendous talent and skill and a graceful playing style and the other who never gave up chasing a shuttle. The talented player got frustrated with each shot that was returned. Some players might not have the best footwork and skill but they chase every single shot. That is called “winning ugly”, which can frustrate more talented players. I have seen it many times those guys are very dangerous.

Years back at the Bay Badminton Center when I talked to Ardy Wiranata, an Indonesian Men’s Singles player who won the Silver Medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics and is known as a defensive player who hustles after every shot, he told me that he worked four or five times harder than Taufik Hidayat but Taufik was always better. Taufik was naturally so talented, but can you imagine how much more dangerous he would have been if he was little bit more disciplined?

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