Michael Reed – A Danish touch under the Eiffel Tower

Everybody was wondering who this blond coach was behind the French doubles in Coubertin last week. Michael Reed, 43, is the new coach for the doubles squad training at INSEP, the French National Training Centre.

Everybody was wondering who this blond was behind the French doubles in Coubertin last week. Michael Reed, 43, is the new for the doubles squad training at INSEP, the French National Training Centre.

By Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Badmintonphoto

Born in Denmark, the Dane started as a player, but broke his foot twice – twice too many to become a top player – and switched from player to coach with the same pleasure.

When I was 28, I started coaching and I felt the same pleasure to be in charge of youngsters than to play myself,” says Reed. First involved in Højbjerg, he was then the head coach in Odense, before going back to Aarhus, when he was in charge of the youngsters, amongst whom was a certain player named Viktor Axelsen.

I felt then that I needed a change, so I went to Sweden to coach and then I found myself invited to be interviewed for a position in France last August,” says the tall blond.  A few days after, Michael was called back and offered the job and he started at the end of September.

The great thing about France is that we are four different coaches from four different nationalities. This brings something extra as we all have our own ways to work and coach, and it’s a good thing for the players. I think the French were interested in how things were in Denmark, the badminton lifestyle, and why we succeeded at a high level.”

Reed is taking care of the doubles squad, together with Svetoslav Stoyanov (photo), a former Bulgarian who sparred with the French team for a while before becoming a French citizen.  That leaves Bertrand Gallet – Leverdez’s mentor – to share the singles duty with Chinese-born Zhou Junling (photo).

One other great thing the French have is the INSEP. This place is just the most incredible training place I’ve seen in my life.  The players have just everything they need – no excuses – and it does, somehow, put some pressure on us coaches, too. In such en environment, we have to deliver as well.”

“Players have to hug badminton everyday

I think the French have potential. They are not too far from the very best in some ways, but in other ways, they still need to progress, especially in the intensity they put into the training sessions. They play well in competition, they give their all, but it’s quite different in practise. They need to put this same intensity everyday when they come on court. In Denmark, top players really hate to lose, even during training. They push more, they shout.

But of course, things are different here. Most players have to go to school every day and do a double shift. I’m quite impressed that they are able to do that, but to be honest, for me, it’s impossible to live this double life on a long-term basis. The school system should be able to adapt, for instance, to let them train in the morning, right after breakfast, when they are more fresh. However, it is also important to have a life outside badminton.

But the most important, in my opinion, is for players to keep loving their sport. They have to hug it and say they love it every day. This is my motto, and this is what I do myself.”

So what is Michael’s challenge in France, for the 3-year contract he’s signed? “I’m here to develop France for them to reach the level they are targeting. I’m trying to get to know each of the  players – I do a lot of one-on-one coaching when I can. The target: I want them to be able to beat the good good players.

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.