MUMBAI: With badminton's popularity on the rise following the international success of Indian stars such as Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu and the consistent Kidambi Srikanth, it's time to bring in top coaches to train the country's own coaches, said Prakash Padukone today.
The shuttle legend also welcomed Srikanth's decision to opt out of the two back-to-back Super Series events in China and Hong Kong to get fit and go into the season-ending Dubai Super Series fully charged.
"There is a sudden spurt in the popularity of the sport but there are not enough quality coaches. The Olympic Gold Quest (of which he's a founder member) has just started a coaches education programme.
"This is one issue that needs to be addressed on a priority basis by the BAI (Badminton Association of India), the SAI (Sports Authority of India), the Sports Ministry and associations," said Padukone here.
"We have some very good coaches, but unfortunately they don't get a chance to upgrade their knowledge, to keep pace with the international level. There's a lot of emphasis on players and, if this growth has to continue, we need to focus on coaches.
"The best way to do that is to get good a foreign coach, only to train coaches, as right now all coaches are coaching only the players. If we have one dedicated coach to train 50-100 coaches who can go back and coach their wards, that will be a very good move," said the shuttle great.
"There is a lot of talent in tier 2 and 3 cities, but not enough trained quality coaches. Coach education should be the main priority for the BAI and the state associations," the 62-year-old insisted.
Lauding Srikanth's decision to skip two Super Series events to concentrate on the Dubai Super Series finals, Prakash said the Indian players need to be smart and plan their schedule in such a way that they peak during the weeks when the major tournaments take place.
"They (Indians) are definitely playing more than the required number of tournaments. It's important to strike a right balance between playing and resting. They need to be careful not to play too many.
"Fatigue and injury can result from playing too many tournaments. I always maintain that while ranking is important it's not the only thing," said the ex-All England champion.
"The focus should be on winning the important tournaments like the All England, World Championships, Olympics and Super Series finals. You should try to peak during these periods and accordingly plan your schedule. It doesn't matter if in the bargain your ranking goes down for one week.
"People later remember you by the number of important tournaments you have won. I am not saying ranking is not important, but if there is a variation in ranking that should not worry you much. These big tournaments also give a lot of points," he said.
"What Srikanth has done, to skip tournaments, is the right decision. He could have played China and Hong Kong Opens. He could have become number 1. But he has resisted the temptation and decided that he will play only in Dubai.
"There is no guarantee he will win the Dubai event, but I think it's the right way to prepare. He has a good chance of doing well there and become the no. 1, if not now but later. The main thing is you should be 100 per cent fit and capable of winning every tournament that you play. That's how I was brought up. Things are the same even now." Padukone urged the top players to take part in at least 1-2 domestic tournaments like the nationals annually.
"I feel they need to participate in 1-2 domestic tournaments. The game has given you so much. You have the rights as well as obligations, one of which is to popularise the sport.
"The presence of the top players in the nationals at Nagpur and the kind of publicity it generated and the crowd it attracted were tremendous. I will strongly recommend to my players to play 1-2 tournaments annually as they will be doing a great service to Indian badminton," he remarked.