During the first National Lockdown earlier this year the NPA offered a series of webinars for it’s members around the area of transition. Transition is central to an athlete’s experience in their sport, whether it’s moving through pathways, playing for different clubs, working with different coaches, being selected or de-selected and or planning for retirement. Athletes need to be supported and prepared to best deal with changes throughout their career.
This week we caught up with Scotland’s Caitlin Pringle who has made a quick and successful transition from the elite badminton court to the elite netball court. There is much to learn from Caitlin’s experiences from what was ultimately her retirement from top level badminton as well as her quick journey to securing a spot in the Scotland A Squad and Strathclyde Sirens.
When we caught up with Caitlin, she had just finished training with the Thistles and is preparing for final trials on Sunday “I’ve always been very sporty” she commented, “growing up I enjoyed doing lots of different things. I’m one of four and my whole family played badminton, my Dad was a badminton played and represented Scotland at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.”
Was your Dad a big inspiration to you?
“He never pushed me to play, I was quite late to badminton. It was at about 13 that I thought I was quite good at this and got my first cap for Scotland in a triangular tournament. I had always played a bit of netball at school and actually trialled for the Glasgow Wildcats, but then had to make the decision between netball and badminton as there wasn’t enough time to do both.
I represented the Scottish Senior National Squad in Badminton from 2011 to about 2017 which included a European Championship, World Championship, Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and with my doubles partner we got to about World No. 57.”
How did your retirement from badminton come about?
“I got to a point when I was ready to finish, I had started to lose the enjoyment and my doubles partner and I decided to make the World Championships in Glasgow our last tournament. This was a really nice way to go out, to be able to finish in a big tournament, playing in front of family and friends. But, I knew I needed to find something else. Around the same time, my best friend also said she was really missing the competitive aspect of sport. We used to play netball at school together and we quite fancied going back and trying netball again.”
“We both trialled at the local club, Bellahouston and were really excited when we were both selected. I actually went for trials on a Monday evening, was back at badminton training the following day for my final World Champs, played my last badminton game and then went straight into netball the following week”.
From Bellahouston what has your progress to Superleague Sirens looked like?
“Bellahouston as a club is really supportive, I quickly moved from the 2nd team to the first team and it always felt like the coaches were looking at ways for me to progress. I had also met Claire Maxwell (Current Scotland Captain) in Delhi at the Commonwealth Games 10 years ago, when we both went to the games as part of the Achieve programme. We had kept in touch and often used to see each other as netball and badminton both trained at the Scottish Institute of Sport. She had always said about getting me on a netball court because of my height so when I was playing at Bellahouston she also encouraged me.”
How is the environment different in a netball club compared to badminton?
“I’ve definitely found netball to be a more supportive environment. All the coaches have been really supportive and pushed me as well as tried to find opportunities for me to progress. Even when I wasn’t in the Scottish squad, I was invited along to play training games with them. I also think my experiences in badminton have made me more likely to seek out people that can help me.”
How do you balance life outside of your sport?
“When I was playing Senior Badminton, I was at uni doing an undergraduate in Maths Statistics and Accounting and used to do a lot of badminton coaching on the side - it was a really busy time.”
“In 2017 when I started netball I was also doing a Masters and teaching Maths. Days are busy I am usually doing strength sessions at 7am before heading to school and then training on court in the evenings. That’s the way I like it though, being busy. Obviously the ultimate dream is to play full time”.
As a Scottish Player how do you feel about the support of the NPA?
“Specifically in Scotland and in reference to the league it is good to know there is a support system in place. That people’s opinions are getting across and that things are being done for the benefit of netball. Sometimes decision are taken forgetting about who this affects but because there are so many people that are able to come together, it is great to see where everyone stands.”
This article was written by Amy Cowd