Last week, one of the more advanced players came up to me after the game with a surprised look on his face and said “you’ve improved a lot!” In that same game, his teammate was shaking his head laughing at what the hell it would take to land the shuttle on our side of the court.
It meant a lot coming from them, and I knew it was the outcome of the footwork drills I’ve been doing through online badminton coaching.
My point is not to brag but rather to show that it’s possible to improve our game even without a traditional coach.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows though. It comes with its own set of challenges as it lacks the social component of traditional offline training, and the push that gives us to get out the door when we feel demotivated. Not to mention that badminton is hard to train without a partner and solo drills can be good but get old real fast.
While badminton coaching online might not be as effective on court as working with a traditional coach, it’s often more affordable and convenient for those of us who have an inflexible schedule or don’t have easy access to a coach and courts, as it opens up new opportunities for badminton training at home.
In this article, you and I will dive into what’s worth training, examples of good programs out there, and the traits that make players able to seriously improve their game without a traditional coach.
Badminton training at home: the best ideas and programs available
I’ve found that the best way to look at online badminton coaching is as a training component that can help with certain elements of the game, for a specific group of people.
Before diving into who it’s best for, let’s first look at which parts of the game it can be the most useful for, as there are certain topics that lend themselves better to training badminton at home.
Total beginners, who have barely been on the court before, and beginners who can perform some of the strokes with some level of control, tend to need more help in person with a coach on stroke skills like performing all the badminton shots and making the shuttle go where intended.
On the other hand, the more we improve our strokes, the more we benefit from improving other, off-court, aspects of the game in order to win more points. For many of us that begin around the intermediate level as our opponents get better and are less forgiving, meaning we have to work harder to come out on top.
The difference is often obvious as imitating on-court gameplay requires someone else to play with us, while learning the different strokes requires a feeder and a court to figure out precision.
The off-court game elements I’ve found to have a meaningful impact on my own game are:
- Fitness and stamina
There are other, indirect aspects like sleep and diet too but let’s stick to badminton-specific elements for now. I’ve been exploring different options to improve my own game, and I found that there isn’t that much variety if we’re looking for quality products above the beginner level.
I’d like to show you examples of what I’ve found but keep in mind that I haven’t tried all the products, so this is intended to help you get a lay of the land rather than a review of each one.
Let’s start with fitness or what some might refer to as all-around energy, stamina or conditioning throughout games.
Fitness and stamina: having fun throughout the entire session without dying
The fitness aspect is one of those weird topics that you definitely need in order to have fun, but it won’t get you anywhere on its own since it’s hard to score points if you can’t hit the shuttle.
There are two key elements to stamina: being fit in itself and managing the energy throughout a match or session.
Greg and Jenny over at Badminton Insight are mixed doubles players and have some good training plan documents with videos showing each exercise. Rather than a full course, their plans are intended to be printed out or kept on your phone and brought with you when you want to work on your fitness off the court.
Gronya Somerville, who is also a mixed doubles player, appears to offer similar training plans.
Mindset: staying cool as a cucumber
Mindset is important since we can practice more than any other player, but if we’re riddled by nerves and anxiety on court, our skills disappear like ice cubes on a hot summer day.
I’ve found the choices in this category more limited than I’d like but I noticed that Badminton Famly has some modules on mindset and mental training within their app, and Paul from badminton-coaching.co.uk offers one-on-one virtual coaching for mindset.
Badminton footwork training at home: the winner
Footwork is perhaps the most useful topic for badminton training at home since it has a crazy impact on your game but is easily trained without a partner, and sometimes even without a court.
There are several high-quality programs out there such as Badminton Famly’s app and the online Peter Gade Academy. There’s also Swift Badminton school’s footwork program, which I’ve used with success.
Online badminton coaching: will it be worth it for you?
So the big question is: is it worth it?
As I described earlier, other players took notice of my improvements which is a good sign that it worked for me but that doesn’t help you much. Badminton coaching online certainly isn’t for everyone as it requires you to go out of your way to get better, even when it’s inconvenient and no one is looking.
In order for you to figure out if it’ll be worth it for you, let’s look at who tends to succeed with online training in general and the traps you’ll have to avoid if you want to make serious improvements to your game. The accountability has to come from you.
I’ve taken a number of online courses on different topics over the years and succeeded with some more than others. Along the way, I’ve noticed certain patterns in what it takes to succeed with this kind of training, both for myself and for other students I’ve met throughout, as online courses are notorious for often only having a few percent finish them.
The difference between students who’ll succeed practicing badminton at home and those who won’t
First off, the completion rate isn’t a good metric to use unless you’re a completionist. Finishing the program doesn’t matter, a certificate doesn’t matter, only the result you are looking to get is what matters (improving your footwork, serve, or overall game, for example).
Some programs will help you reach a goal you’re not interested in but covers a particular problem you are looking to solve, so it might still be worth the price. Successful students don’t change their goals or give up just because a course doesn’t fit 100% with what they want to do.
Instead, they focus on the part that solves their problem and move on when it’s solved, rather than leaning into the temptation of finishing everything just for the sake of finishing. Going through material that doesn’t contribute to our goal makes us feel as if we are making progress but is usually just a distraction.
Whether you have success with online badminton coaching comes down to you and your desires, not the program or the coach. It requires a certain level of drive to get success with as we don’t have that social element of other people training with us or a coach we need to show up for.
Instead, we need to be able to do the exercises instead of just watching the videos — and go beyond the bare minimum work in order to make sure the new habits and badminton techniques are committed to muscle memory.
Speaking of habits, the easiest way to build them is not to rely on motivation beyond helping us get going, since it tends to be fleeting and will disappear soon. Use it only to begin building habits as they’ll last a lifetime and make things feel as automatic as brushing your teeth.
This is a lot but you don’t have to be a master of any of these points (I wasn’t). You can learn them along the way like I did, with the intention to improve alongside enjoying your passion for badminton.
The best way to get started and figure out if online courses are for you is to buy an affordable one and try it out. But before you buy one, figure out how much time you can set aside for it, exactly when you can set time aside for it and what you’ll do on the days when you don’t feel like training.
Another option I like is test-driving the idea before buying: get out the door and practice with free videos once or twice to see if it’s something you could do before you invest.
The biggest trap of online courses and badminton training at home
We are used to thinking that throwing money at problems can solve them.
It often can, but when learning new things money can only help accelerate the process – not solve it entirely without us putting any effort in. An example is buying a new head heavy racket to improve your smash. It’ll give your smash more power as soon as you get used to the racket but it doesn’t make you better at smashing — only improving your technique by practicing can do that.
So we can’t just buy a course, watch the videos and let that be it. We also gotta do the hard work of practicing what we learn. We love the idea of learning because it feels like we are making our lives better while being easier and more fun than, say, a job in the real world.
Takeaways on badminton coaching online
- Online badminton coaching isn’t a good fit for all players. It’s most likely that you’ll get meaningful results if you are driven and used to training on your own without anyone forcing you out the door
- Certain areas of badminton lend themselves better to home training than others, such as footwork, stamina, and mindset training, and they tend to be better suited for players at the intermediate level or above as beginners need to practice the strokes in order to enjoy the game
- Companies selling sports gear are notorious for making us think that by buying their gear, we’ll perform better when it matters. When improving our game, we not only have to spend money to get help but we also have to put skin in the game and drill the exercises