When I was small and played badminton at the local club, the coach scared me and the other kids into using proper badminton warm up exercises before playing. He vividly explained how the achilles can snap if we don’t.
I’m not going to retell the tale but it certainly had an effect on me and it still scares me into warming up, now, 15 years later.
In this article, I’ll show you the 15 minute warm up I do before every session I play. I’ve noticed that the more thorough I do it, the less sore I become after each training session. If you’re a beast eager to work hard and get better, the warm up also offers an extra opportunity to scrape more meat off the bone without actually doing longer sessions or more of them.
We’ll look at that after this warm up section for the body.
Warm up for badminton
There are almost too many options in terms of badminton warm up exercises, and it’s not exactly the most fun part of the sport, so let’s get it over with fast and efficiently.
Off-court badminton warm up exercises
Greg and Jenny over at Badminton Insight made this terrific warm up video with the core essentials — it usually takes me about 15 min to go through and doesn’t include the on-court warm up.
If you’ve already seen the video and are looking for the recap, here it is.
Section 1: Mobility and activation
- Knee to wall
- Adductor activation
- Single leg hamstring bridges
- Glute activation
- Thread the needle
Rep recommendation: 8 reps each.
Section 2: Movement preparation
- Single leg arabesque
- Squat with rotation
- Clockwork lunges
Rep recommendation: 8 reps each.
Section 3: Pulse raisers
- Side Steps
- Forwards chassé
- Backwards chassé
- Side twists (2 lengths)
- One-leg heel kicks
- One-leg high heels
Rep recommendation: 1 full badminton court length per exercise except the side twists.
Section 4: Explosive movement
- Calf jumps
- Vertical jumps
- Split squat jumps
- Lateral skater jumps
- Fast feet (3 x 10 seconds)
Rep recommendation: 4 to 6 reps per exercise depending on how tired you are.
After the core warm up, there is also a point or two on warming up reactions by throwing tennis balls with the racket hand.
Next is the on-court badminton warm up exercises.
On-court badminton warm up exercises
Besides the physical warm up, we’ll also get a feeling for the shuttle and practice timing, shot quality, movement and consistency.
Exercise 1: Flat drives
Exercise 2: Clears
Exercise 3: Drops and lifts
Exercise 4: Smash
- Option 1: Relifts
- Option 2: Smash + mid-court lay-offs
- Option 3: Smash, block, lift
- Option 4: Slice + push (for singles)
Exercise 5: Defense
Exercise 6: Net shots (for singles)
Exercise 7: Serves and return of serves
General note: remember to practice cross-court shots as they are match realistic.
Do you know the feeling of being fired up and energized without being tired?
That’s what we are aiming for. The entire idea is to build confidence before going on the court but don’t kill yourself and use up all your energy.
The hidden psychology of winners and the habit of warming up
Most of us stick to warming up our bodies and reactions but forget the supercomputer that is our mind.
Warming up sends a subtle signal to our subconsciousness about how serious we are, but it also reminds us that we may not be able to trust ourselves as much as we’d like to when we know there’s something we should do but we choose not to.
Study shows that when we warm up, something happens in our mind. It’s almost like a trigger that subconsciously gets us into game mode (or ‘beast mode’ on this blog) and since matches only show what we’ve practiced during training, it’s key to get into beast mode before training rather than only before matches.
Training sessions sometimes feel boring even when we are well aware of the benefit of each particular drill. Many players want to make them more fun, and while that can help, it isn’t really what makes the difference in my experience. If all we cared about was fun without the hard work, we’d just stick to playing casual matches as many players do. Since you’re here, I bet you’ve got a reason to do more.
Instead, we need to ensure we make each session count. I don’t mean in an overeager, robot, David Goggins-type way (although the guy is impressive), since that’s hard to sustain in the long run. Rather a way to make each session feel like it made a difference in the grand scheme of things. A way to make it count.
One way to do that is by assigning ourselves a tiny mission for each training session along with a reward if we complete it. This is particularly powerful if you have a hard time sticking to training consistently as that is built from habits rather than motivation.
A simple example is the 300 clockwork lunges I do on leg day before I can go home (if you aren’t sure what clockwork lunges are, you’ll find them explained in the warm up video earlier in this article).
I’ve found that rewarding myself with something immediate like chocolate tends to work the best. Charles Duhigg explains in his book on habits how studies show that a large portion of people tend to give up the reward automatically after a while even if they stick to the new habit, so I wouldn’t worry too much about gaining weight if you like chocolate too.
In the next chapter, I’ll discuss more ideas to warm up for badminton but if you’re only taking away one thing from this, it should be to get more out of every session by using the warm up exercises to get into the right mindset before the session.
4 badminton warm up exercises to activate beast mode
There are what feels like a million tactics for badminton we could do, so I’ve narrowed it down to just four that have worked well for me. They are:
- Visualize scenarios (serve, smash, etc.)
- Manage your inner critic
- Work on only one or two things at a time
- Prep in advance
Let’s dive in.
The power of visualizing different scenarios before they happen have been recommended over and over again by pro athletes as a terrific tool to improve.
As a part of our extended badminton warm up exercises, the first one is visualizing each of the items you’d like to work on during the upcoming session.
If that’s, say, your smash, you can close your eyes and imagine the lift coming from the other player. Imagine its trajectory as it passes over the net, you’re moving backwards, getting into position, timing the jump with forward motion, rotating the arm, wrist and body as you hit the shuttle, land, and move back towards the center of the court.
Meanwhile, think about exactly where the lift is coming on the court, who the opponent is, which shot you played leading up to the lift, where you were positioned, where the smash lands, how the opponent reacts, how hot it is on the court, what you and your opponent are wearing, who else is around and every other little detail that can make the experience more vivid and real.
This is not as easy as it sounds. In my experience, most often when we don’t get the effect we are looking for it’s because we aren’t going into deep enough detail.
Manage your inner critic
One of the giant challenges many of us have is being too negative towards ourselves when we make a mistake.
It’s one of the things that can truly mess with our minds to the point where it affects our game in real time. Just look at Kunlavut Vitidsarn’s facial expression after Axelsen’s beautiful defensive reaction.
I bet you he’s wondering what the hell it takes to land that shuttle on the other side of the court. If you haven’t systematically trained good thinking habits, that thought isn’t far away from escalating to criticizing ourselves harshly.
If you feel annoyed with yourself the most effective way to kill that, that I know of, is to write down what you’re annoyed about. Then ask yourself why, answer that and repeat it a few times. When you read it back to yourself, it’ll often sound sillier than it did in our heads and unlikely to be anything we’d ever say to a friend who came to us with the same problem.
And that’s the point. Getting it out of your head tends to give us a better perspective and see it for what it really is: unproductive criticism that distracts us from the mission at hand.
We can change it by changing the language from “I suck at this” to “everyone struggles with this” or “I’ve only trained this in two sessions before — it’s not enough to be proficient yet and commit it to muscle memory.”
Work on only one or two things at a time
If you haven’t already, think about what specifically you’d like to get out of this session while you’re during your badminton warm up exercises. Is it better awareness of your footwork? What does that look like? Or is it getting into the habit of waiting a split second before the shot to find the opponent’s empty space?
It’s well understood that the fewer things we work on, the better we’ll get at them and the more we multitask, the more we’ll feel like we are working all the time but making no progress.
Prep your badminton warm up in advance
We tend to feel more confident when we’re properly prepared before an important session.
Plan both your badminton warm up prep work and the session in advance, so you have the opportunity to tell yourself that you can trust it should you feel nervous before the session. You might not need it but it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
- There’s no discussion that warm up for badminton is important. In this article, we looked at a quick and effective warm up program used by some of the top players, both off- and on-court
- Warming up the body is only scratching the surface. Badminton is in many ways a mental game and if we don’t warm up the mind, we lose a valuable practice opportunity even if it’s “just” a training session
- We’ll look at some of the most powerful tweaks we can make to our warm up game that helps us improve faster as we’ll scrape more meat off the bone without putting more time into the training sessions
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