David Reveals Badminton Is In His DNA

By RJ Mitchell

IN a badminton career which saw him slated as the next big emerging talent before injury cruelly curtailed his competitive career, David Gilmour has emerged as one of the key members of the Badminton Scotland senior coaching team.

After overseeing the Scottish Women’s recent bronze medal winning campaign at the European Women’s Team Championship in Poland we caught up with David to find out just what it is like to coach at a major championship and also learn some more about his role with Badminton Scotland and enjoy a look back at his career.

The trip to Lodz was made even more challenging by the retiral of Scottish Women’s team stalwart Eleanor O’ Donnell and an injury to No.3 singles player Lauren Middleton in the opening match with the Netherlands.

Women’s European Team Championships:

But as David revealed the tight knit team spirit and camaraderie of our Women’s team helped make sure that these challenges were negotiated – with something to spare – as David explained: “Straight away when I walked into the hotel I noticed a great team spirit and cohesion and the girls were helping each other on and off the court and I just knew I didn’t need to mess with the dynamic as whatever they were doing as a group was working.

“Really it was nothing but enjoyment for me, the truth of the matter was it was a great experience and a real honour and a privilege to help the team but they just made my life so easy.

“So, I think it’s all relative, when you come from my background in business it’s just a dream to be away working with the women’s team at a major championship like the European Teams.

“The players were so positive and professional and just a great bunch of people and I was so delighted for them all to get their medals.

“Really it was just a very positive time.”

Nuts and Bolts:

With 17 year-old Brooke Stalker pressed into emergency singles action while Scottish No.1 Kirsty Gilmour was required to fill in as a doubles player it was all hands to the pumps.

Delving deeper into the minutiae of a major international tournament David reflected: “Thankfully the tournament organisers are in charge of all the transport and the players were just incredibly self-sufficient.

“They know how to manage their essentials and the younger ones like Brooke (Stalker) and Ishbel (McCallister) took their lead from the older ones like Kirsty (Gilmour), Julie (MacPherson), and Ciara (Torrance).

“There were a few practises to organise and Kirsty needed ‘x’ in terms of a pre-match talk while others needed more or less information before they played and then there were different requirements when they were on the court.

“But I thought Brooke did brilliantly and there was no hesitation, she just held her hand up straight away for her singles in a really tough situation.

“But the logistics also weren’t too bad thanks to the great job done by the tournament organisers.”

Returning to Badminton:

Looking back to his own badminton origins and how he found his way back to our sport David, who has over 50 senior caps for Scotland, recalled: “I was quite good when I was quite young, mainly at singles then in my early 20s due to injury my career finished and I spent about 25 years working in the manufacturing industry.

“In my lower back a disc slipped and back then there just wasn’t the support, really I was on the ground myself and the amount of training I did was crazy and also it was done on the back of not being very strong.

“So then I went to University, got a degree and started working and then when I was about 30 I came back into the sport. I started playing doubles and got a whole batch of international caps between 30 and around 37.

“But when I started out I was a singles player mainly and then obviously took to doubles when I came back.

“So it is maybe a strange route into coaching.”

Motivation to Coach:

David, who is the uncle of Scottish Women’s No.1 singles player Kirsty Gilmour, admitted the coaching gene has probably always been present in his badminton DNA: “I had always coached Kirsty (Gilmour) through the years I had been working in industry, so maybe around 2016 I decided I’d had enough of the business world and I just became a stand-alone professional coach.

“Then I started taking individual clients and then did a little bit of work with Badminton Scotland and that grew and grew until Ingo (Kindervater, Head of Performance) asked me to get more involved with the singles project we were developing.

“So a few years later here I am, so hopefully I am doing something right!”

Coaching Specifics:

When it comes to the minutiae of his coaching ethos David revealed: “It’s trying to slot together those different facets of physical, psychological, tactical, and technical skills. How do you blend them for each individual as each person is their own wee jigsaw puzzle?

“So each individual has their own needs, and although some of them are generic, basically if you want to be a world class singles player then you’re going to need an incredible endurance level, your technical skills must be bang on and you have to be as hard as nails psychologically.

“But you also need to play the right type of game so it’s that blend every day and putting sessions together that meet the general needs of the squad but within that making sure that each individual has their own wee personal targets that are in turn driven.

“Then there are elements of the squad that are individualised and we will have to work on certain aspects but it is all a balancing act.

“There is also the squad element of it which has to work and that environment is vital and you want to make sure that people are getting as much happiness and joy out of the process of what they are doing every day.”

Matthew Waring, David Gilmour and Keith Turnbull

Singular Talent:

With particular responsibility for the singles players, David is confident that our top talent has what it takes to reach the peak of the game and he shared: “We’ve been working on getting a kind of critical mass of people that can push each other and we are getting closer and closer to lifting the quality of the squad that wee bit higher.

“There is a great atmosphere and they work really hard but there is so much potential in there and they just need to start believing that they can do things in the sport as they have a coach who absolutely believes in them.

“That potential excites me and it comes with an awful lot of hard work. But the guys at the top are not playing ridiculous shots with fancy techniques, they are just incredibly strong, very fast and excellent at the basics.

“So I see a pathway for our guys, albeit incredibly difficult, and that excites me every day.”