By RJ Mitchell
FOR any youngster the summer that spans the years 16 to 17 can be a memorable one but for Matthew Waring in badminton terms it has been the ultimate voyage of discovery.
Three months back the Lanarkshire lad was welcomed into the Scottish Senior squad and experienced for the first time what is required to become a Scotland international badminton player.
Matthew has enjoyed a meteoric rise to say the least with national titles already claimed at under-15, 17 and 19 level while he is the only Scottish boy to hold both the last two of these titles at the same time.
As an encore Matthew made an impressive run at Scotstoun back in February to make the final of the national men’s singles championship after knocking out then Scottish No.2 James Robertson in an epic three set encounter to become the youngest Scot to tread the boards in a senior men’s title denouement.
Yet as Matthew admitted none of that prepared him for the shock to the system he experienced when he joined up with the elite senior squad in May. It has been a learning curve which he has embraced with increasing enthusiasm as he bids to grow his game from outstanding junior to bona fide senior international.
Reflecting on all of this Matthew shared: “So I went into senior training for the first time in my life and it was challenging as the intensity was like nothing I’d ever done before.
“It has been three months following the regime of a full-time athlete and going in every single day to give my absolute best has been tough.
“Basically at the weekend I can hardly move but I love it and I can already see the differences in my physical appearance and I’ve changed so much with the strength and conditioning.
“Mentally I am also getting better and working every day with Ingo (Kindervater) and David (Gilmour), who I am with all week, has been great while I also work with Keith (Turnbull) who is my own personal coach on Wednesday for a skills session. It’s just an amazing team to have around me and it’s just great.
“But it’s also amazing to see close up what Kirsty (Gilmour) has done over the years and just how hard she has worked for all that time; she is just a great example to all of the younger players.”
So with his new found ability to provide unique insight into the average training day in the life of Scottish Senior Squad member we asked Matthew to give us the low down: “So it’s an 8.30am start and we usually do some agility stuff which preps the body for being fast and explosive on court,” explained the Scotland men’s No.2.
He continued: “Basically this is jumps, some fast feet exercises into lunging and general mobility stuff and that lasts for around 30 minutes.
“Next we go into some hitting, usually starting with two v one basics, which is focussing on getting into the net early and being in a good condition to hit attacking shots and we do that for maybe 90 minutes.
“Then we finish the morning with core, which to be honest is my least favourite part but my dad says I will soon be ready to audition for Baywatch so this must be making some kind of difference!
“Then we break at 11 until 2pm.”
When it comes to lunch nutrition is vital and Matthew served up some more fascinating insight: “You are not really given a specific food order but with sessions like we are putting in you have to eat carbs and have slow release and energy protein for muscle repair.
“Through the Scottish Institute of Sport we have nutrition workshops which we have to go to and I really enjoy them as you get so much great info through attending and we also get PowerPoint information factsheets that give you meal plans and they are a huge help.”
Then it is back to the courts at the Sir Craig Reedie Centre for an afternoon’s hard work as Matthew shared: “At 2pm we return with a warm up, maybe a run and some lunges and explosive movement to prepare the body and then it is set play stuff on things like how to play a winning shot off a mistake from your opponent.
“Then we go into conditioned games and this is a normally a match with restrictions like the front court being off limits, or you can’t hit a smash, so there are certain shots that are not allowed.
“So this is to train you for a scenario like being in an Asian hall which is roasting and the shuttle is quick – and what are you going to do to cope? So these type of exercises are invaluable.
“That would then take us up to 4.30pm and we would finish with a bike session, sometimes it’s a cool down and then sometimes high intensity and then it is a stretching session to complete.”
While the days are challenging Matthew admits that the support of the Scottish Institute of Sport is vital: “You get nutrition guidance, strength and conditioning content and I go there every Tuesday and Friday at the Emirates and also free physiotherapy, so really everything an athlete could need the Institute provide.
“In a word it’s just fantastic!”
A first round loss at the recent All England Junior may have been a disappointment for the Cardinal Newman schoolboy but Matthew showed impressive maturity as he put the defeat in perspective and looked forward to his next challenges.
He said: “Even although we had tapered off my training for half a week I still felt dead and it was a bad day at the office and the worst tournament I have played by a mile.
“But after speaking with David (Gilmour) and de-briefing he put everything in perspective. Obviously it is not overnight I start winning tournaments like that, in order to win you have to lose and it certainly has been an experience for me.
“Even although I lost first round there was still plenty of stuff to take away from it and for the first half of set one I was implementing the patterns of play I had been working on at training well so that is a positive as I was adding something to my game I didn’t have before.
“But I was on holiday in the Scottish Highlands last week and that allowed me to take stock and I’m even more motivated.
“Next up for me is the Danish Junior Cup at the end of the month and then the Irish Under-19 at the start of September and I can’t wait for these and to see how my game shapes up after another month of training.”