UK Coaching Week: Keith Burns

This week (6-12 June) is UK Coaching Week and we are highlighting the important role grassroots coaches play in our community by welcoming our first ever Grassroots Coach of the Year, Keith Burns (Hertfordshire) and runners-up Sheila Boyes (Durham) and Phil Hall (Northumberland).

All have been #Born2Coach, making such a positive difference in their local communities, getting their first experience of our sport and driving badminton participation.

Today we introduce Keith Burns, the first Grassroots Coach of the Year, and share his coaching story.

Keith, married to Louisa with whom he has three children, is the head coach of Abbey Badminton Club and ABC Coaching in Hertfordshire.

After first experiencing badminton at his local community club, playing in a single court hall with a ceiling so low you couldn’t clear the shuttle by the time he was nine, Keith played competitively for many years and developed a love of badminton for the sport .

A dislocated knee fueled Keith’s journey to becoming a coach, along with the support of Liz Bateman guiding him through his coaching credentials.

Keith has been training since 2004, founded Abbey Badminton Club in 2008 and made the decision in 2018 to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time coach.

In nominating Keith for this award, his nominators said, “His energy and dedication are an inspiration to the young people he coaches and he is a positive role model for them.

“Keith’s key achievement is creating a culture within the club where players thrive and improve through a welcoming and consistently engaged approach.

“Through Keith’s personality and his skills as a coach, he has fostered a culture within the club where everyone is friendly, open and welcoming.

“This has undoubtedly resulted in a significant number of people entering the sport of badminton and continuing to play it.

“Keith has the ability to bring out the best in those he trains. He has an engaging manner, making people feel comfortable with their abilities while still expressing the determination in them to improve their abilities.

“This is evident as some of the juniors he coached early in his coaching career qualified as a coach and are now coaching at his club. His team looks up to him, learns from him and is inspired by him.

“Keith has been involved with Abbey Badminton Club for over 14 years. He uses his love of the sport, skill, time and dedication to coach juniors and adults.

“Keith’s technical expertise helps develop beginners into advanced players, juniors into county players and adults into outstanding club players.”

With Abbey Badminton Club now offering over 20 sessions per week to over 200 members, we sat down with Keith and those who nominated him for this award to find out more about him and Abbey Badminton Club.

How would you describe your own coaching philosophy?

My philosophy is not just to help build players’ skills on the pitch, but to help them believe in themselves, their potential and their abilities.

Setting goals and improving footwork are key, but if they’re still going on the pitch against an opponent and don’t believe in their own abilities, they’re already a step behind.

What are your goals in badminton?

My aspiration is to deliver badminton to our community and to meet the demand for a club that puts fitness, training and fun first.

I believe that sport, especially badminton, has the potential to help everyone in terms of physical fitness, positivity and team spirit. When you come to this seat, I want you to focus while enjoying the session and forgetting anything negative that might happen in your life for an hour or two.

Who have you looked up to in coaching and why?

Liz Bateman and Sue Rutson – I owe so much to these two.

The way they help their players grow while having fun is beautiful to look at and be a part of. They are coaches that help you grow and build without you even realizing it.

You never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself. I base my own club’s ethos on what these individuals have taught me. Thanks very much!

What do you enjoy most about your coaching role and why?

For me, there are many aspects of being a coach that I love. The members who win their first medal and are so proud of themselves, it’s amazing to see.

My absolute favorite feeling is when a new junior hits that shuttle, saves that rally, or wins that point for the first time.

The journey they have taken to get there and you have been a part of and helped with, their excitement when they realize how much they have progressed and improved makes this the best job in the world . If I ever win the lottery, I would do it for free.

The other thing that makes a big difference for me is that I have my amazing team of coaches supporting me.

Currently Abbey Badminton Club has 3 level 2 coaches and 11 level 1 coaches. Some of them started as juniors when I started the club. Your commitment and support for me and the association is invaluable.

What advice would you give to a coach starting their coaching journey?

Find a mentor like Liz or Sue, learn as much as you can before you spread your wings and go your own way. Never stop improving as a coach.

Remember that doing something wrong or not knowing it is not a mistake if you pick yourself up and learn from it. Listen to your players, absorb feedback and constantly adapt.

Make the sessions fun and engaging, don’t let them become static with the same routine every time. Your players and members are great, they attend your sessions because you are great too.

What did it mean to you to be nominated and winner of the Grassroots Coach of the Year award?

I am honored and honored to receive the Grassroots Coach of the Year award. I feel like there are a lot of grassroots coaches out there who deserve it too.

Sometimes as trainers, we forget or don’t realize the impact we can have on our members. This award showed me that the work I do is to help my members in ways I wasn’t aware of. The main thing is that it goes both ways!

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