If you were to ask pros which cool down for badminton they do after each session, how do you think they would respond?
A stretch or two in front of Netflix?
Out of curiosity, I dug around to see if the pro players were sharing their routine and it turns out that Lee Chong Wei is one of the few players who did.
The major benefit to a cool down for badminton is the longevity it gives us playing – it’s much easier to stay flexible and injury free over time. Kinda like how brushing our teeth makes us go to the dentist less often.
Cool down for badminton: the fundamentals
While Lee Chong Wei’s clip is cool to see, Greg and Jenny’s explanation is better suited if you prefer your cooldown exercises for badminton with step-by-step instructions (they are professional players too).
In case you are reviewing this while following the routine, here’s a text recap for your convenience.
Part 1 – Active Recovery
- A light jog for a couple of minutes
Part 2 – Passive Recovery
- Lower back
- (Unnamed exercise)
- Glutes and Hips
- The pigeon stretch
- Lie down, pull your foot towards your glute (unnamed exercise)
- Lie on your back, interlock your hands behind your leg and pull it gently towards you (unnamed exercise)
- Downward dog yoga pose
- Start in child’s pose, bring your arm around, and put your index finger and hand down on the floor. Then bring your arm through and stretch out the back of your shoulder and arm (unnamed exercise)
Part 3 – Massage
I’m not going into detail on this item, see the video to the end to dive in.
Do you often forget to do cooldown exercises for badminton? Read this.
Since I began using a cool down routine in my own life, I’ve noticed that it can be easy to forget because it’s so unexciting… It’s an afterthought.
The secret to getting all the benefits without hating it is to turn it into an automatic habit like brushing your teeth before going to bed, so it becomes something you just do without thinking about it rather than something bothering you.
One simple way to approach that is by using a tracker like this one to follow your progress over time (this is a template you can’t edit, so click FILE > Make A Copy to get your own editable copy). It’s a yearly calendar tracker, and all you do is enter the number of hours (or minutes) you worked on your goal each day.
The idea is that it creates a chain of us working a little bit on the goal each day, which can motivate us to continue because we don’t want to break the streak.
Charles Duhigg, a habit researcher, found that there are three items that form a habit: the trigger leading us to the habit, the habit itself (in this case the cool down exercises for badminton), and the reward we feel after doing it.
We tend to focus most on the habit as if it should be a reward in itself but it turns out that we are more likely to stick to our new habit if we kick start it with a little help, such as chocolate or an hour of playing video games. The idea is that the intrinsic reward of feeling good will take over as the reward after a while.
But before all of that is the trigger that starts the habit in the first place. This could be doing the laundry after the training session or even something specific on the court at the end of your training. Maybe you always finish the session with your favorite jump smash and that can be the trigger.
If we continue to connect the trigger and the habit, it will eventually feel automatic for us and the hard mental work of doing something boring disappears.
Since you’ve bothered to follow a set of cooldown exercises for badminton, you’re probably someone who takes badminton more seriously than most other players. If that’s true, I think you’ll like this next chapter.
Why some players improve faster than others
There are surprisingly few details on which player went from playing seriously to going pro the fastest in badminton history, so I took it upon myself to see if I could figure it out.
The youngest player to go pro is Akane Yamaguchi and according to Yonex, it took her ten years to go pro from when she started playing seriously at the age of five.
So why do we see adult expert learners like Tim Ferriss or Josh Waizkin become terrific at a new skill in record time, while the rest of us feel as if we are barely making any progress?
Sure, it’s their full time job and they are experienced at the skill of learning new skills itself.
But it’s more likely that they are doing something different than we are, like cool down exercises in our badminton world would be.
(But that doesn’t take anything away from challenges like Tim Ferriss learning Tagalog (the language spoken in the Philippines) to give a live interview in just a week. It’s still hard.)
He takes a systematic approach to learning: he plans what he needs to learn before starting the project (and what not to bother with), which item to work on, in which order, and finally, putting himself in the right environment to learn.
He gives himself the opportunity to scrape more meat off the bone.
Just like most other things we do in life are based on habits, so is badminton. Habits are an underrated lens to look through when analyzing our own game because habits allow us to react instantly when we’re pinned down defending one smash after the other.
We aren’t thinking about what to do — there is no time — so it’s our instinct and habits that do the work for us and make sure it’s correct every time.
For example, I learned the split step when I trained growing up but forgot the habit along the way, so now I only get the benefits when I remember to do it. Not exactly ideal.
How to use it in your own life
In a perfect world, you have a specific goal that you’d like to work on. That could be smashing, something as specific as split steps, or something broader like stamina or footwork.
The next step is breaking it down into smaller components, such as split steps, chasse, and lunges for footwork so you have an overview of what’s required to master this area.
After that, you’ll benefit from recording yourself practicing and evaluating it against the correct way to perform it, either by getting feedback from a coach or by comparing it with how-to-videos from someone you trust.
The benefit of being able to judge and give yourself feedback without a coach allows you to train at different times than only when the coach is available and it fits your schedule. It makes things more fun because you’ll see a bigger difference between the times when you play other opponents.
… And they will too!
There’s nothing like seeing the shock on people’s faces the first time you surprise them with something new they didn’t expect.
As you rewatch your recorded session, ask yourself questions like the following:
- Where did I lose the most points?
- What did I struggle with the most? Tiredness? Switching grip? The backhand clear?
Then catalog your insights, so you can find them again after your next session (I use Evernote but use pen and paper or whatever works for you). It’ll be tempting to want to fix everything but multitasking isn’t an effective way to move forward and you’ll likely just slow yourself down even if it feels good at first. In my experience, it’s best to just take note and systematically pick a new thing to work on every now and then.
Kinda like a video game where you can level up different skills over time. You can also compare how you did in this session against the expectations you set for yourself during the routine for warm up exercises.
Were you able to make progress that you were happy with? Why/why not? Did you forget the thing you wanted to practice as the rallies began and things got intense?
That happens to me all the time.
Now you have a closed feedback loop to systematically make progress whenever you’re without a training partner but still want to get your sweat on. You’re in charge.
My own example
I’m working on my footwork these days, and so I follow a program where I systematically work my way from the stances through split steps, chessés, and through specific on-court scenarios.
I dive into just one at a time and repeat the habits necessary to drill it into muscle memory, so when I’m playing, the correct habit automatically happens. I do that by renting a court nearby for an hour, preparing exactly which drills to work on and in what order.
When I get in court, I record the session on my phone, follow the steps I prepared and do the cool down exercises afterward.
It starts with the physical cool down with stretches. Meanwhile, I reflect on how it went compared to my goals and if I feel I need to do another session in order to hammer home the points. In my experience, 3-4 sessions of an hour each tend to be enough to turn an item to a habit if I focus on just one.
Then I’ll go through the recordings to compare them against my goal for the session and my own observation. For example, one day my goal was to do a split step every time my opponent hit the shuttle. I can then go back and review if I did it and take note if there is a pattern where I didn’t.
To close the loop I’ll make notes in my training log and prepare any notes I might need for the next session.
All these extra steps are necessary if we don’t have a coach because we humans tend to be less self-aware than we might expect, so we might misjudge or misremember what we actually did during the session. To my surprise, one of the leading researchers in self-awareness pointed this out and also mentioned that the single best sign that we are not self-aware is if we think we are. It’s tough to realize and accept but powerful if we do.
- Finishing each training session by stretching the body is imperative if you are looking to play long term
- But cooling down can be so much more than stretching, if we are serious about making progress fast. Let’s look at what else we can do if we don’t have access to a coach for all the sessions we want to train for (or if we want to train extra)
- By reviewing our own progress during the session, we can get a more honest and real picture of our strengths, weaknesses and performance against the goal we have right now (e.g. the specific skill we are training)
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