2020 was a historic year for Badminton Australia, pandemic aside, great strides forward were made for the sport including the rebrand, the development of the Australian Badminton Falcons, the brand new website and the new High Performance Pathway (HPP). A key part of the new HPP system is the development camps that bring together all the best players around the country to train and bond with each other. We thought it important to introduce three of the key coaching minds driving these upcoming camps, uncover a bit about their past, and showcase the expertise that any of the athletes attending these camps will be exposed too.
Our first coach in the spotlight should be a familiar name to many, representing Australia internationally countless times both as a player and as a coach. Jeff Tho, Badminton Australia Senior National Coach, Dentist and host of the ever popular “The Badminton Podcast”. Jeff lives and breathes the sport so we sat down to ask him a few questions about himself and his aspirations when it comes to working with the best players in Australia.
BA: Jeff, please introduce yourself for those who might not be aware of your history and what you do now.
JT: “My name is Jeff Tho, I grew up in Bendigo, Victoria and started playing when I was around 9 years old. I first represented Victoria in the Under 17 age group when I was 12 years old. I have played for Australia in juniors and seniors since 2004, I played for Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games, and the 2010 & 2014 Commonwealth Games. During my playing career I was also a private coach, club coach and a coach for the National Identification Program for Badminton Australia. Although I was super busy that was heaps of fun! After my playing career, I started coaching the National Senior Team at Badminton Australia in 2019, and took on the National Senior Coach position in 2020. I am also the Senior State Coach for Badminton Victoria. Outside of playing and coaching, I am the co-founder of Volant, a badminton-specific apparel & equipment company and co-host The Badminton Podcast where we share the stories and lessons of badminton players and coaches across the world.”
BA: You’ve done plenty in the world of Badminton but while you were playing what were your aspirations?
JT: “I always had aspired to make it to the Olympic Games and take a medal for Australia after watching both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics on TV. I tried my guts out from 2006-2017 to try and achieve that success, it’s clear to me on reflection that seeing those two Olympics really had a huge impact on my 12-year career”
BA: No doubt! Throughout that 12-year period what would you say were your biggest achievements?
JT: “I think winning my first Australian title in U19’s when I was 15 was pretty huge for me. It meant that I was selected into the Youth Commonwealth Games team, that was really exciting because for me it was my first time pulling on the green and gold. I also hold two other memories fairly close; one was winning the Thomas Cup tie in 2010 over New Zealand, that meant we secured us a qualification to the Thomas Cup Finals in 2010. The second was making it to the round of 16 at the Commonwealth Games both times I went in the MS”
BA: That’s not to mention your #55 world ranking to! SO now you’re not part of the Australian national team in a playing capacity, what differences are you seeing in the sport and what does Australia need to do to achieve that goal you set out, winning an Olympic Gold Medal?
JT: “I think now you really need to be a complete player to have a lot of success, the game is super-fast and tactics play a bigger role compared to 10-15 years ago. Also, you can’t win just off strength, you really need to be disciplined and know how to use your speed and endurance to your advantage rather than just power through a match, so that combination is key. As for us taking out a gold medal, we really need to expose our players to the best players in the world, but that’s not just tournaments, we need those experiences in the Daily Training Environment as well. “
BA: Although challenging at the moment I don’t think many people would disagree there, speaking of being challenged I imagine the upcoming camps for our athletes on High Performance Pathway will be challenging, why are these camps so important?
JT: “These camps bring the players and coaches together from across the country to share and challenge each other in ways that’s hard back at their own clubs. We’ll review all the athletes’ progress, celebrate success, and set new targets. Being able to benchmark against each other and collaborate is a big part of these camps and something we’re really looking forward to doing. Being together also will allow the players to set new standards and benchmarks for one another, we’re really wanting to create a good team, with great relationships and outline what it means to play for Australia.”
BA: And this camp isn’t just about the players right, coaches are welcome to come along (provided they’re eligible) and learn with each other?
JT: “Yep, exactly, we really want to encourage as many coaches to come along who are eligible because a really critical component to the success of the HPP will be the coaches. The Badminton Australia coaching team really want to raise the bar across the whole country, but with the decentralised model, we can’t do that on our own, and nor do we want too. We want to be as inclusive and supportive as we can because at the end of the day if the standards of the general badminton population can be raised then the level of our HPP players will rise much higher than where it’s been. If we want to achieve the goals that have been set out by Badminton Australia, winning a gold medal in Badminton at the potential Brisbane Olympics in 2032 and surpassing 1 million participants, then we really need to bring everyone along for the journey.”
BA: Well awesome Jeff, thanks for taking the time to answer a few key questions, to any of those who are attending the upcoming camps good luck.
JT: “Cheers! I’m really looking forward to these camps”
Level 2 Sports House
375 Albert Rd, Albert Park VIC 3206