Toby Leung is a pupil at Devonport High School for Boys and a member of the England junior U18 badminton team.
No sport at school today but at 6pm I leave for badminton training in Torquay. There are no coaches in Plymouth training players at the elite level so it is a two-hour round-trip journey of 80 miles, I am extremely grateful to my mother who takes me here, there and everywhere. We do a warm-up, shadow footwork, two players versus one and finish with some tactical match play (sparring against your fellow teammates with a focus on specific tactics so when you play a real match you can adjust and change your tactics accordingly.) The session finishes at 10pm.
Tuesday is one of my longer days in terms of lessons and after school I head off to my coach lives for an individual session. A session on my own helps me to work on my weaknesses and also sharpen my strengths. We do multifeeds where I can hit up to thousand shuttles, consisting of offensive and defensive drills. You must be thinking why I’m hitting so many shuttles? Well, when you’re in a match you can rely on these set patterns and anticipate your opponent's shots.
A shorter day at school then off to Derriford hospital to do my volunteering work. I want to study medicine at university so shadowing the nurses and doctors is fascinating. No training on a Wednesday so I go for a swim or go to the gym..
An early start at 6.30am for my strength and conditioning session. This consists of short fast footwork on the ladder working on sharp and explosive movements. We then move onto the weights and I’ll work on my back squat, deadlifts, bench press, pulls ups and a ten-minute core circuit. After school, I head to Torquay for a group session working on match play. This is a great opportunity to put into practice what you’ve been working on and see how effective it is.
I have a tournament this weekend so I have another individual session after school. Instead of working physically hard, I ask my coach if I can refine my strong shots or what I call my weapons for the tournament tomorrow. This will give me confidence knowing I can play my winning shots without error and I can also sharpen them too. I make sure I have at least three litres of water so that I am fully hydrated for the next day, I also start carb-loading with lots and lots of pasta and rice ready to be released tomorrow. I want all guns firing.
Today we are in Iceland for the International Future Series. I’ve stocked up on electrolyte powder to stop cramps, healthy snacks like nuts, rice cakes and cereal bars. Then we head to the supermarket to get water, bananas and any other essentials to keep us going throughout the tournament. I lose my singles in the main draw to a strong Danish player who is among the strongest in Europe.
In my doubles, we discuss our plan before our match. Who will cover each shot, where we must serve and return shots. We train set patterns so that we are in an advantageous position within three shots. We then aim to finish the rally and win the point. We beat an Icelandic pair in the second round and now we are in our first quarter finals in a senior international tournament both aged sixteen. We will face the Portuguese third seeds tomorrow. For now, all we can do is rest, eat well, hydrate and recover.