Let’s discuss badminton!

Let’s discuss badminton!

Tournament, competitions and Prozap (sports competitions within the AEFE network in the Asia Pacific zone) which will take place at the end of November in Jakarta, put badminton under the spotlight this month! We sat down with Jérôme Richard, PE teacher and badminton coach, to know more about this practice and the necessary preparation to excel in competition.

Hi Jérôme, you practiced badminton for a long time, what is your story with this sport?

Badminton is a big part of my life. I started practicing in high school when it was not that popular. At that time, we were about 50 000 licensed badminton players in France. Today, we count about 200 000 licensed players. I started playing in UNSS (National Union of School Sports), which is the equivalent of our extracurricular activities (ASC), during lunch breaks. I’ve always loved racket sports. With my school, Lumière high school in Lyon, we managed to get to the qualifications for the France championships, it was really something! I also started playing in a badminton club in parallel.

I first competed at a departmental level, and slowly climbed the mountain to become a regional and then national competitor. I also became President of the badminton club in Vénissieux for three years, I was 23 years old at the time, which is very young to be President. I used to coach in three different clubs. I studied STAPS to become a PE teacher and chose to do a Master specialised in adapted physical education towards disability and social work.

As a coach, I was able to train younger players who later joined the French national team. On of our girls even participated in the Olympic Games 2016. When I arrived at LFS, I took on the ASC as soon as possible, on all levels, from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

You prepare a lot of students for competitions, what is your training philosophy?

I welcome everyone in badminton, but I try to remind students that there are two aspects in sports we cannot forget: leisure and competition. Some students don’t want to confront other players in a competitive context. I often tell them competitions are a good mean to progress quicker. Some players try competitions with the objective to improve, not to win. Our groups have a good mindset, they truly represent sports values.

We have all the categories represented in competition: U11, U13, U15 and U19. 1/3 of our players join competitions, and about 20% of them also practice in a club outside of LFS. All the great players in Shanghai play in a club in parallel of training at school.

Badminton is one of the most popular sports in China and is also the first school sport in France.

How do you prepare a badminton competition?

Communication is key. We mainly use emails and WeChat groups to organise things and keep up to date with each other.

I oversee students’ selection, trying to bring as many LFS students from both campuses as possible, and inviting DSS students to join and keep our Eurocampus spirit. 

Before the sanitary crisis, LFS was organising the biggest number of tournaments for Shanghai sports leagues. Our level slightly decreased but we still have a few good players. I count on the new generation of great players, starting from primary school, to take over.

I try to communicate a lot with students because I think it is important that each of them finds what they seek.

What pieces of advice do you give students to mentally prepare for a competition?

Even though badminton is an individual sport, we go through the preparation together and we talk a lot. On the D-day, we always make a little speech to remind why sport is great, and why we are here. Motivation and stress are handled differently, stress can be controlled by breathing, a good warmup and having a routine. Wanting to win, handling defeat, and dealing with referring are discussed openly to be fair play and have a healthy mindset.

What is your opinion on the importance of sports at LFS?

I have been at LFS for 17 years and thus been able to witness different leadership teams. Impulsion always starts at the top. If we are supported by our leadership, we can do great things. Our head of school is a sports enthusiast and is a great source of support. 

It is also the year of the 2024 Olympic Games, and APQ (Daily Physical Activity) in Grade 11, which pushes students to do more sports every week.

On national and European levels, recommendations are to practice 1 hour of daily physical activity. Practicing sports at school is essential. Because we don’t know what students do outside of school, we need to make sure that sports at school are of high quality.

With our ASC and the sports dynamic supported by the school leadership and the entire PE team, we can make great things happen. It’s really positive!