Five days at Yonex Peter Gade Academy
This trip helped me understand the actual level and quality needed in the game of badminton. Following some of the best players in Europe was a memorable experience, without forgetting all the practical stuff you need to handle to go around Copenhagen, Denmark.
🚅Best way to get to YPGA (Yonex Peter Gade Academy)
During my time at YPGA, we trained three days (Mon-Wed) in Gentofte Badminton Klub, right next to Gentofte Station (950m). Thursday and Friday, the training was held in Kobenhavns Badminton Klub, right next to Nordhavn Station (800m).
My choice of hotel was Scandic Webers, located 350m from the central station Kobenhavn H. From the central station, it roughly takes 15 min to Gentofte Station and only 10 min to Nordhavn Station. The best trains (Kobenhavn H - Gentofte) are the A train to Hillerod or E train to Holte. The trains from Kobenhavn H to Nordhavn would be A, B, Bx, C, and E trains.
The best way to buy tickets is to download the DOT Tickets app on your phone. Your ticket price will change according to the zones you travel in (2-8 zones), and you can use this app to buy tickets for trains and metros. Another cool thing is that you can easily take a cycle inside the train, using lifts at railway stations. That is a really common thing in Copenhagen and some vans are full of cycles!
Disclosure! (Before my first practice, I accidentally took the wrong train, so I had to run like 5.4km to the training when it was raining, still made it in good time. Please don't make this mistake! So I'm here to help you guys to choose the correct trains!🤣
🌆City of Copenhagen
When walking the streets of Copenhagen I felt like I was in Paris or Vienna, in terms of the style of buildings and streets. The vibes are chill and you can heavily sense that people are some of the happiest people in the world. It's also considered the most social country among Nordic countries, even though Southern Europeans might feel otherwise:) Danish clothing brands (Esprit, Sand, Jack & Jones) are well known everywhere, and it feels like people are about to attend a fashion show. It's also common for locals to swim in the city's sea, and the water is clean for that. I'd highly recommend visiting Strøget, the longest pedestrian street (1,1km) in the world! Another fancy place to visit is Nyhavn, which is a well-known place, located right next sea and offering beautiful views. Especially good for cycling!
I've heard from many badminton players that Copenhagen's airport (Kastrup Airport) is one of the best in the world. It's straightforward to get around there. There are several trains to choose from when traveling from Kastrup airport to the central station (Kobenhavn H). The airport is well-connected to several other airports, so traveling to Copenhagen shouldn't be an issue. My favorite restaurant in the airport has to be Gorm's pizzeria, which offers world-class Italian-made pizzas. Must-visit place!
When it comes to food, Copenhagen has a lot to offer! From fast food restaurants to high-end ones, you will have a lot of varieties to choose from! My favorite and most-visited restaurant was Astor Pizza, as they have an excellent buffet, which includes a salad table, sauces, seasoning, and different types of pan pizzas. The lunch price (before 4 pm) is around 12,5e, which is cheap in Copenhagen! Located just next to Central Station (Kobenhavn H), this was a safe choice!
Another great option is a Middle-Eastern restaurant called Kebabish, which offers large meals including kebabs, burgers, pizzas, etc. The atmosphere is energetic and you will not be hungry after eating there! The price for a la carte starts from 15e.
The surprising thing in Copenhagen was that most restaurants don't offer free water, as it usually costs 2-2,5e to buy some from the restaurant!
🏸Training at YPGA
"I have to admit that I was very nervous to practice there, as I know that the academy is one of the best ones in Europe. It's normal for players to come 30min before training starts, and be 100% ready to go at 9 am! The training is usually from 9 am to 11 am, but it's not uncommon for players to do some techinal training after the practice."
We started surprise surprise, with some "small games", which is a pretty common thing in Denmark. These games included some box games, 2vs2 games but hitting in turns, playing only with front- and backcourt, playing with the non-racket hand, etc. This went on for around 15min, and the losers had to do a few pushups/burpees...
Usually, we did some 2vs1 training after "small games". The normal interval time was 4-6x45s/15s, where one player stays on the court during the whole exercise. My choice, for most of this training, was defense training. The quality Peter Gade wants is high, and you have to be fully focused to work 100% during the exercise. It's also essential to provide good sparring for other players when being on the "feeders side", as they are doing same for you!
Another common exercise, mostly done at the end of the practice, was a 1vs1 "game", where, let's say player A tries to keep the rally going, and player B is trying to finish the rally by playing mostly attacking shots. The interval time was around 35s/15s. After every 15s break, player B changes, and the new player takes his place, trying to make the points for "attackers". There are 3-4 attackers, and they keep changing as long as they get 15 points together. So basically, they keep the score and add points every time the "attackers" win a point. (Btw I just came up with the term "attacker")
⬆️Twist! If player A plays last the whole 35s without losing a point, then the "attackers" have to reduce one point from themselves. Also, if the shuttle drops during the 35s period, another player throws a new shuttle for player A, so players don't have to serve every time, and the intensity stays high.
At the end of the practice, it was very common for players to grab some shuttles and do technical training.
The level of quality, compared to some other places, is very high. This goes for every aspect of training, including footwork, timing of the split step and ability to read the game while having a variety of different shots in the arsenal. Peter was actively involved during these exercises and gave specific tips for players to apply in their technique. I also discovered several new things in my technique and footwork!
As an international player going to a new country, I'd recommend trying your best to speak with the local players, as they are also very knowledgeable and can give you a lot of tips and tricks! The environment in training is professional, but still very fun and it seems like players are enjoying training even though doing their best! The Danes have excellent English speaking skills as I found out. Also, don't be sad for not understanding Danish even if you understand Swedish, as the accent is very different and takes some practice to master. It's also very common for other international players to visit Denmark for training and matches, so you won't be the first and the last to do so!
"When you come from a country where badminton is not popular, it's really easy to set yourself a certain set of believes, which then prevent you to see outside the box and realise how many common things we have with people from other cultures. The power of sport lies within it's power to unite people from different backrounds, so take that first step and go to an environment, which is not familiar to you. Because by doing that, you see the things in perspective which you didn't know existed."