Indonesia, Korea, Thailand and Singapore make up Group A of the Thomas Cup, perhaps the trickiest group in the draw. Leading the charge for Singapore at the TotalEnergies BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2022 will be world champion Loh Kean Yew, whose battles with – possibly — Anthony Sinisuka Ginting/Jonatan Christie, Heo Kwanghee and Kunlavut Vitidsarn are likely to provide early sizzle to each tie, regardless of the eventual outcome.

Loh finished 2021 on a high with his astonishing run at the TotalEneriges BWF World Championships. Plotting his campaign was his coach Kelvin Ho – currently Singapore’s national singles head coach — , who has worked with him for a number of years, and has had a ringside view of his rise. In this two-part interview, Kelvin Ho charts out aspects of Kean Yew’s training, his mindset during the World Championships, and what’s likely to follow.

Kean Yew has talked about how his training stints with Viktor Axelsen in Dubai have helped him. As his coach, how do you view his Dubai training programme?

Basically, Kean Yew follows the training programme over there with Viktor and his coach and we keep contact by Whatsapp and videos of the training programme. If I see that he’s moving slow — for example — I will communicate it to him.

But is the Dubai programme in sync with your own programme?

I think it’s kind of different because over there it’s more like the European style of training so it’s like 1 minute 30 seconds and then rest for 45 seconds, while in Asia it’s of longer duration.

Given the effectiveness of that programme, do you think it’s time for Asian coaches also to adapt more of that style?

I think for us Asians, we will need to learn the European style because the European style is short (duration) but the intensity is higher. But of course we also need to keep our long duration, because in badminton we need that concentration to last longer. So as players we need European style training, but we also need our kind of long duration training to build up endurance. So it’s good to have the best of both worlds.

Is your coaching method also evolving? Are you constantly tweaking your own methods based on the inputs you get from Kean Yew?

Yeah, so for the past few years, coach Mulyo (Handoyo) and I built up a style of play (focussing on) consistency, targeting shot quality, shot pressure, shot accuracy. We were looking at building up player character — in terms of, if we play rally, or attack, what is the player’s character like? So for us to integrate it of course will be like, for example, attacking or explosive when it’s shorter; then we take a break and do it again, the kind of practice which you can replicate in a game.

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