Badminton motivation: rookies rely on it, the pros do this instead


If you’re looking for a quick fix for your badminton motivation, here are four easy examples that usually work for me as a little “pick me up” on a rainy day.

  1. Listen to upbeat music
  2. Reading about Lee Chong Wei’s story of rising from humble beginnings
  3. Watch your favorite TV show
  4. Day dream about your perfect day or dream life
  5. Draft an outline to achieve your dreams

These fixes make us feel better for a little while but we end up creating a habit that depends on one fix after the other in order to stay motivated, and the more we do, the less effective it becomes.

In an earlier stage of my life, I was yo-yoing back and forth between different training routines and having none at all. I would train consistently for months before missing a session… then that slowly turned into another session here and another session there, and before I knew it, months had gone by.

It became a downward spiral as the reasons for skipping became less and less important until, eventually, I had no confidence in trusting myself to keep a training routine for a long period of time.

It sucked.

The cycle would go on for years with different types of training as if it was the routine there was something wrong with.

Looking back, it was easy to train when I felt inspired but on the days when I wasn’t, I relied on motivation outside my own control to pick me up. It wasn’t enough that I’m generally a positive person. When I had a bad day and felt demotivated, there was nothing pulling me back to train and I was counting on motivational “candy” to save me. Sometimes it worked but it would always fail sooner or later.

It wasn’t sustainable in the long run, and it took a bit of experimentation to change once and for all, but the results have been well worth it.

Now, I’ve been training five times a week for the last five years… and even if I’m on holiday and have to skip for a few weeks, it’s easy to get back into the routine after.

If you are serious about improving your badminton skills, sustaining your training consistently over a long period of time is a critical ingredient as we can beat many opponents by simply outworking them. 

Another subtle (but awesome) benefit is the confidence you’ll gain from sticking to it as you’ll prove to yourself that you can do it when most people can’t. That is underestimated because you’ll get used to not being at the mercy of externalities that you can’t control.

We’ll get into how I did it in the next chapter, so you can replicate the results for yourself if you also feel stuck relying on ineffective badminton motivation.

badminton motivation

Badminton motivation is ineffective compared to this

Motivation comes and goes but always arrives in short spurts, almost like waves. Rather than depend on motivational waves, we can use their power to kickstart new habits as those are proven to make routines happen on autopilot

Do you remember how motivated you were to brush your teeth this morning? Was it fun and exciting? I bet it wasn’t. Did you do it anyway? I bet you did. You’ve probably done it for so long that it has become a habit you don’t even think about.

Relying on habits rather than fleeting motivation is an effective strategy due to the consistency habits help us build. Imagine how effective it would be for your game if you wouldn’t have the internal fight with yourself: on one hand not feeling motivated to practice, yet on the other, feeling guilty if you don’t go. 

It’s like you can’t win.

Imagine not having negative emotions, and instead, you just go and think nothing of it. It just happens as if it is a natural part of you.

In order to do that, the first step is to notice when and why you’re relying on badminton motivation in the first place. The best place to start is by noticing what demotivates you by noting down the following items when you catch yourself feeling down, and you’ll notice a pattern over time:

  • How you feel
  • What you are doing
  • Where you are
  • Who you are with
  • What time of day it is

There are several reasons we lose badminton motivation and I’ve noticed five distinct examples in my own journey.

First, I’ll feel demotivated if I haven’t played in a while. It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten how much fun it is but getting back on the court or watching a live match on TV reignites my fire.

Another motivation killer is if it’s difficult to set up games, getting to the court is too cumbersome or if the session is at odd hours that doesn’t fit my schedule. I’ll generally go out of my way to play but if I can’t find a sustainable solution in the long run that is demotivating as it feels like I’m forced to give it up against my will. For example, if the nearest indoor court is an hour’s drive away.

I’m sure you’ve felt this too: it’s demotivating not being able to can’t find a good match up during a session. That could be that my opponents are more inexperienced than I and we struggle to get a rally going past just a few shots, or they are far better than I, and I feel I’m in the way all the time. Not to mention if I’m having a bad day, something is off and I’m playing worse than I normally would for no apparent reason.

Another lack of motivation is knowing that I’m too old to be the best or in the world’s top 10. Meaning that there isn’t much money to earn and thus only a tiny chance of living off of playing badminton. That makes it hard to justify dedicating enough time to train as seriously as it’s required (I doubt my landlord will accept video clips of cool shots I can do instead of a rent check).

4 items that converted my fleeting badminton motivation into powerful habits

I found that the biggest help for me to switch from relying on badminton motivation to habits came down to four items.

First, making it easy to get it done. To me, that meant having easy access without having to do much to arrive at the training spot. I made sure the training was just downstairs from my apartment and that I’d be able to walk there in a few minutes.

Second, I’d train with a friend whenever possible so I’d feel guilty if I had to cancel. The added benefit for me was that he could recommend exercises for us to do, which made it easier throughout the sessions as they required less preparation or thinking.

Third, making sure it was at the same time of the day, so it would be easier for the sessions to become a sticky part of my schedule without need for much organization or thinking.

Fourth: setting small goals. On rare days when we couldn’t make the training work due to other commitments, and in the beginning, when I was training by myself, I found that it worked well to allow myself to go home after 1 KM of running or 5-10 mins of training as long as I’d just get out the door.

I began by setting small goals such as those, with little worry about the activity I did, and then slowly piled things on top as that became a habit. It may sound silly but if you’re serious, it’s an effective way to get from zero to one.

To speed up the process of tweaking a habit once you’ve discovered what makes you look for badminton motivation, you can surround yourself with other people who are driven and pushing in life. If they are also serious about badminton, great, but you’ll get the same effect if they are driven in other sports or areas of life, too, as it helps create friendly competition and drive you both towards your goals.

There’s a fantastic movie about a true story from the world of car racing where a key point is that we can sometimes learn more from our rivals than our friends.

Being motivated for training sessions: the most powerful habit?

One thing is being motivated for badminton matches but a whole other is being motivated for the training sessions. They tend to be less exciting and it’s easy not to give it your all in every single one.

If you’re serious about improving your game, building a habit out of giving 100% energy during training sessions is critical as you’re able to leapfrog players who fall into the trap of taking it easy. It’s during those that we truly improve our game and get the confidence to pull off killer jump smashes or fast footwork when it counts.

That means wrapping your training sessions in a “package” to ensure you scrape as much meat off the bone as possible. For example, by arriving for training early, creating a pre-training routine to get your mind ready for the task at hand along with a cool down routine where you evaluate what went well and what didn’t. You don’t have to act on your insights right then and there but over time they will become critical as you systematically work to solve one after the other. 

This is the boring but powerful work that ensures we are constantly improving our game. Don’t let someone else leapfrog you with these techniques!


  • Quick fixes can help us get a boost of badminton motivation on a low day but isn’t a viable solution in the long term
  • Rather than depending on fleeting motivation, building habits that can carry us automatically is a more sustainable solution to reaching your badminton goals
  • To improve your game, an effective approach is to build a habit of giving it 100% during training sessions since that’s when you’ll practice and get better
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