You can gauge the popularity of badminton by seeing how packed the courts at local community centres are each night. It’s a sport that’s enjoyed by both the young and old as a recreational activity to keep fit. Badminton is a great all-round sport that not only builds up your strength, but also improves stamina, good reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
According to coach Ding Chao, from the Singapore Badminton Association, "Badminton is a sport that combines several different physical aspects such as agility, strength and stamina. At high levels of play, the sport demands excellent fitness: players require aerobic stamina, agility, strength, speed and precision. As a technical sport, it also requires good motor coordination and the development of sophisticated racquet movements."
Ding Chao is currently coach of the national women’s team, some of whom will be competing in the Li-Ning Singapore Open 2010, which takes place from 15 to 20 June at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Here are his tips to not just boost your game on the court but to help you prevent injuries as well.
Improve Your Mobility
The game is so fast-paced that you need to be able to cover various areas of the court quickly and recover yourself just as fast to prepare for your opponent’s next shot.
Says Chao, "Being agile enables one to feel balanced between speedy movements as well as have control and co-ordination. As there are several changes in direction during a game of badminton, agility is very important. Agility training can be considered one of the most tiring training aspects in badminton."
Tip: Practise your shuttle runs
Chao suggests,"Begin with low intensity and short durations. As you progress, gradually increase the intensity and duration. Some examples of agility training such as a shuttle run can also be modified by replacing runs with quick shuffling of feet sideways to and from the lines." You can also incorporate exercises to build explosive power in your legs, like lunges and squats. This video workout demonstrates how you can ramp up your training as such.
Build Up Your Strength
It’s no surprise you’ll need strength to be an effective badminton player. But it’s not just to send the shuttlecock flying to the other end of the court or to smash it for the winning point. Coach Chao explains, "To play a precise game, the strength behind executing shots is very important. Upper body muscles such as your chest and shoulder muscles are very important in executing powerful and precise shots. There are varying exercises that can be done to train them, but there are more specific ones for the sport."
Tip: Bench Press
Your shots won’t clear the net? Here’s a tip from coach Chao, "The bench press is one simple exercise to build up your chest muscles for executing strong smashes. It should be combined with medicine ball throws, which trains shoulder muscles like the deltoids, while push-ups train the triceps. This training can be done twice a week, with one session of heavy weights, and another with lighter weights."
A stronger grip will also translate into more power in your shots and this series looks into improving your grip strength. Or if you’re short of time, here’s a training session you can crunch out in just 15 minutes.
Don’t Neglect Your Stamina
Just like any other sport, endurance plays a part in badminton as well. Coach Chao says, "A full game will take, on average, about 30 to 40 minutes. Depending on the intensity of the competition, some may even take longer. Hence, stamina plays an important part in the game. Aerobic and anaerobic training are types of endurance training that helps to boost stamina. There are many cases whereby many players give up on their game due to the lack of stamina."
Tip: Try Interval Training
So don’t be that loser and don’t ignore your cardio training. Coach Chao’s tip? "Aerobic training can be done by taking a long distance run, covering 2km or more continuously with an average heartbeat of 140bpm-160bpm. Anaerobic training can take in the form of interval training; for example, sprinting for 50m-100m at 170bpm-180bpm, followed by jogging slowly for recovery for about 50m-80m. This cycle should continue for about 20-30mins. Physical training can be done twice a week, alternating between aerobic and anaerobic training."
Need more help to build up stamina? Experts suggest other ways to boost your endurance via various sports if you’re not all that into running.
Stretch To Prevent Injuries
A body that’s not properly warmed up will undoubtedly suffer injuries and in a sport like badminton, you’ll definitely need to warm up with all the stretch and lunging that needs to be done. Protect yourself from injury by staying flexible and maintaining a strong core.
Coach Chao recommends the following warm-up routine to improve your flexibility, "Stretch every day for about 15-30 seconds, doing six sets per stretch. Work mainly on the major group of muscles used in the game; for example, your thighs and shoulders etc. Warming up before the start of every session can also help to decrease the risk of being injured. You can choose to do dynamic or static warm-ups, whichever you feel more comfortable with. Cool down stretches after sessions can also help to reduce post-work out aches and pains."
Stretching also helps improve your range of motion that adds mass and length to your muscles. This helps generate more force and enables you to lift more weight, which in turn, builds up strength. This workout showcases the benefits of stretching.
Catch the world’s top badminton players at the Li-Ning Singapore Open 2010 happening from 15 to 20 June at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.