By Lanarkshire Badminton
From humble beginnings as a young boy from Bellshill to representing Scotland as a player at various badminton events to coaching within a high performance environment, Andy has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience in the sport and shared his journey with us.
Q&A with Andy
When and how did you first get involved in badminton?
I started playing at the primary school club at Belvidere Primary School in Bellshill ran by one of my friend’s dads who suggested come along give badminton a try. Shortly after then I started going to Bellshill YMCA on a Saturday 1-5pm and only cost 50p! I must have been 7/8 years old at the time which certainly wasn’t yesterday!
Tell us about when your coaching career began?
In 2010/11, as a player I was identified by the coaching team in having appropriate skills, characteristics, knowledge and understanding of the game. Badminton Scotland were looking to implement a new coach programme and therefore I was asked to be a guinea pig as part of this. This initially involved gaining the appropriate qualifications which was UKCC Level 2, working within junior national programme under the tutelage of Yvette Luo (the then Senior National Squad Head Coach) and her team. This eventually led to further opportunities as a contracted member of staff (full-time employee) which was partly funded by Badminton Scotland and Cashback for Communities.
What do you enjoy about coaching?
Helping players and athletes achieve their goals and giving them opportunities to develop life skills through sport. This ranges from learning a particular a stroke, supporting people in improving their lifestyle to athletes looking to qualify and/or medal at major events. I enjoy building relationships with players and athletes and working with people who are committed and driven to achieve a goal Further to this it is particularly satisfying to see players exceed their own expectations and the positive impact this can have on person’s confidence and self-belief.
What do skills do you think are required for coaching?
Communication, organisation and passion are really important as a lot stems from passion itself. Developing an understanding of people you are working with is key to help keep them motivated and engaged in the sport as well as being able to support them progressing their own performance. Also it is important to use reflection to review your own coaching practice with the aim of increasing engagement and the overall learning experience for an individual.
Are there any particular highlights within coaching career?
The one the standouts is being part of a successful Commonwealth Games in 2014 Glasgow with Kirsty Gilmour getting Silver in the Women’s Singles and Robert Blair & Imogen Bankier gaining Bronze in the Mixed Doubles event. Being part of people’s lives and observing their journey from junior into senior performance level. Also, coaching has provided me with numerous opportunities to travel the world, meeting new people and making friends for life including Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia.
What do you admire most or like about badminton?
It is incredibly complex sport and you challenges you both physically and mentally. Almost everyone can play it and enjoy the sport and it is very affordable. If you go to countries where badminton is very popular, it is given a lot of respect and held in high regard in both participation and performance levels. It is a very skill-based game which is almost like a game of chess and is a very physically demanding from quick movement required, speed of the rallies and you need to be aerobically fit to continually maintain a level of speed and agility over a prolonged period.
Any hobbies outside of coaching and badminton?
Food – eating out, coffee & cake with good company and spending time with friends and families. Of course an occasional cinema trip I enjoy too.
You had brief period coaching with the German Senior National Team. How was this experience for you?
I wanted the challenge of coaching abroad and pushing myself for success/development. I enjoyed my time there which was in the city of Saarbrucken. I was based at the training centre in Saarbrucken University where I stayed at the onsite accommodation. I was about a 15 minute scooter journey into the city centre which was very handy. The weather was warmer than expected with the city bordering France and Luxembourg. I was primarily the lead coach for the Women’s Doubles group and shared responsibility for the Mixed Doubles group. A typical day included two on court sessions which were around 4 hours a day, with additional time scheduled for planning and administration. With a lot of the players living away from home, the environment was very structured and focused which was interesting insight as a coach. I had the opportunity work with quality players who were great people and built relationships and made lifelong friends, whilst achieving objectives and success with groups I worked with.
What coaching activity are currently involved in?
I am currently involved in coaching with BS RPS & SDS programmes on weekly basis. This is 10 hours a week across the SCRBC and SNBA from the G&NS/West areas
Lead coach for Shetland Team for the Island Games 2025. This usually involves a handful of long weekends scattered throughout the year at present to prepare team towards the Games. It is a lovely part of Scotland and it is great to have the opportunity to visit.
Occasionally as part of the BASE Coaching Team I try to fill in and support BASE club sessions when required
Also provide some 1-2-1 coaching for some players and athletes around the above. You can check out my page here
Do you have any advice to anyone looking to get into coaching?
You need have a passion and be committed to the craft. Always want to try and keep learning and improving as a coach. I would recommend contacting Badminton Scotland to find out about coaching qualifications and immerse yourself in a good club environment where you can mentor/shadow more experienced coaches.