As a member of the Performance Centre, you are encouraged to enter national tournaments and gain a national ranking.
To obtain a national ranking, you need to enter tournaments sanctioned by BADMINTON England. These run throughout the season from September through to April. For each tournament you enter, you gain a number of ranking points depending on how many matches you win. You will gain points even if you do not win any matches, so entering is still important.
Your ranking is based on an average of your best six point scores over a rolling 12 month period. If you have only entered three tournaments, your total score is still divided by 6, so your ranking is only realistic if you do six tournaments in a year. You are not expected to do that many at first – it is quite a commitment of both time and organisation. Also, playing in tournaments can be quite daunting at first – it really is best easing into them gently. It takes quite a few tournaments before players get used to the competition.
Player rankings are here: http://be.tournamentsoftware.com/ranking/ranking.aspx?rid=87
From personal experience, the first season is the hardest – the ability of a player at training is rarely seen at the tournament – resulting in stress from both the player and parent. We have a saying that ‘the player needs to learn to cope with losing before they can learn to win’. The second year gets easier and the player’s confidence grows as they know what to expect.
Tournaments are a fantastic way to make new friends. The circuit is frequented by the same players all the time and friendships soon develop. Doubles partnerships with players from different counties are common.
There is a list of tournaments that you can enter on the BADMINTON England website. Each tournament has a closing date, and entry must be made before that date.
Here is where you start: http://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/text.asp?section=2544§ionTitle=Junior+Circuit
Tournaments are organised according to age groups:
Under 11 – Players born on or after 1st January 2005
Under 13 – Players born on or after 1st January 2003
Under 15 – Players born on or after 1st January 2001
Under 17 – Players born on or after 1st January 1999
Under 19 – Players born on or after 1st January 1997
For the U15, U17 and U19 age groups, the tournaments are split into three levels, depending on ability: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
For U13 tournaments, there are just Bronze and Gold tournaments, but the Gold tournaments may be further split according to ability if there is a large entry.
At under 11 level there is no grouping – so there is just a single list of tournaments:
To enter a tournament, you have to download the entry form, fill it out and send it off with payment to arrive before the closing date. Most players enter singles and doubles, so if you have a friend entering, then you can be doubles partners. If not, then put ‘Partner Wanted’ and you will be given a partner if one is available. It is good to start off if you have a friend to go with.
Some touranments can now be entered online. If this is the case there will be a link on the BADMINTON England tournament web page.
There are a lot of rules about who can enter which tournaments – these are based around something called GRADING. You will start off your tournament carreer as ‘ungraded’, but as you become more successful (first objective is to win enough games to ‘get out of your box’) you will become graded, but by then you won’t need this document as you’ll be an expert too.
Player gradings are here: http://be.tournamentsoftware.com/ranking/ranking.aspx?rid=119
The grading system is explained here http://www.badmintonengland.co.uk/text.asp?section=2956§ionTitle=National+Gradings. Don’t worry too much about grading at the beginning.
To start with, choose local tournaments.
If you do choose three or four tournaments in your first year, that would be great.
Get ready to play
About a week before the tournament, you will receive an acceptance letter (usually via email) or you will have to look on the county website confirming your entry (and your doubles partner). You will also be given a start time. Make sure you know where the tournament is (Google maps is quite good for that) and try and make sure you are a few minutes early – to register and warm up. There aren’t always enough seating at some places so keeping a fold-up chair in your car is an idea. Take enough food for player and parent. Pasta is a good food to take – bananas too – and some snacks.
Bring lots of liquid as well, it’s amazing how much a player can get through in a day. Parents should encourage players to eat and drink. Performance really does suffer if they are hungry or thirsty. The tournament will usually finish around 4:00pm, although some have been known to go on later.
Most importantly, enjoy the tournament. If you don’t win, then you have at least gained experience for next time.