PBL: For Indian coaches, it's a learning experience

Even as a galaxy of badminton stars descend on the country in the first month of every year for the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the excitement amidst the fringe players and coaches reach a crescendo as the 20-day stint with these top players translates into immense learning and experience.

For Madhumitha Bisht, who is at the helm of Ahmedabad Smash Masters, the experience of handling international players isn’t new.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Even as a galaxy of badminton stars descend on the country in the first month of every year for the Premier Badminton League (PBL), the excitement amidst the fringe players and coaches reach a crescendo as the 20-day stint with these top players translates into immense learning and experience.

Armed with their personal coaches, the top-players go about their business in style, following a routine that they have been used to. But with the league in a team-based format than an individual one, the team’s coaches have an extra homework to do to get the mix of Indians and foreign players on the same page.

But is the task really arduous?

Dronacharya Award winner and Chennai Smashers coach Ganguly Prasad said understanding the regimen of foreign players isn’t difficult, but it isn’t easy either. “As coaches, what we must understand is that we are not here to control or change their training. The players are here for a very short period of time and we have to make sure we cater to their needs also.

"We first have a chat with them to understand and we chalk out training sessions accordingly. While they are free to train with their personal coaches, we make sure we have one session a day where they follow as per the team composition and practice with other team members.

“The most important aspect is that we must take care that it doesn’t hurt their rhythm and the same time, it caters to the needs. We always tell them what we want and we understand what they are. Most of the players are understanding and that makes our job tad easier,” he said.

For Madhumitha Bisht, who is at the helm of Ahmedabad Smash Masters, the experience of handling international players isn’t new. Bisht had worked with former world no. 1 Tan Boon Heong, Tommy Sugiarto, Gabrielle Adcock etc and had coached Delhi Acers to the title in the first season. And according to Bisht, the key is to give the players some space.

“I always give them time to understand the setup here. Be it and Indian or a foreign player, the mentality will not be immensely different. Players need positivity and motivation. The most important thing is not to say negative things. Any player needs some motivation when they are looking for it. If they get that, they open up and it is smooth sailing from thereon. That’s the secret I follow and it has worked for me,” she explained.

Ganguly said with the involvement of top players, strategising becomes easy. “In a league like this, we depend on strategies and it is good to have experienced players who can help us devise strategies easily. They in turn offer to help the budding players understand and these Indian players also get a sneak-peek into their thought process. It helps a lot for all of us,” he added.

Bengaluru Blasters’ head coach Arvind Bhatt said the presence of players like Viktor Axelsen is a big boost for them in fine tuning the nuances of the game. “We get an idea into how the players handle crunch situations, take pressure of trump matches, the mindset and some finer points of the game. We can in turn educate the Indian players on what we see from close quarters and that helps in enhancement of the quality of the sport in the country,” he said.