Do you know what it’s like to use all the techniques in badminton, play a few amazing rallies, and feel like you’re ready for the pro tournaments?
… Only for your opponent to push you around the court as exhaustion creeps up on you?
Just like this insane rally from a recent tournament:
For us adult, casual players, it can be difficult to give in in the midst of an intense rally to catch your breath and that’s when we wish we were fitter.
Ironically, to get in shape, the most important thing is to play more and it’s easiest to keep playing if it’s fun.
In this article, you and I will look into a trifecta of techniques in badminton that’ll help you on court if you are back on court again but feel rusty. The techniques are based on how important they are for your game and how easy they are to practice if you have a career to prioritize as well.
The trifecta of techniques in badminton for casual players wanting to get in shape
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s look at an overview of all the badminton techniques you’ll come across in a typical doubles game.
I’m not going to dive deep into all the techniques in this table as I’ve written deep dive articles about many of them individually.
|Techniques in badminton|
(Backhand and forehand version of each stroke)
High or long-serve
High or long serve
|Stamina||Managing your energy throughout a session|
|Reading the game||Anticipating the next shot (and deception) from your opponents|
Finding the open space
Reading body movements around the court
Noticing an opponent being late, tired or off balance
|Attack – other||Counterattacks|
|Defense – other||Smash defense|
|Mindset||How you reset between each rally|
How you deal with being behind
How you handle an intense even score at game point
If you’re looking to improve, those nine categories can feel like one hell of a long and overwhelming list to work on. Fortunately, we can make meaningful progress by starting with just three items if we aren’t planning on reaching a professional level but play badminton to stay in shape instead of going to the gym.
Most skilled players will agree that provided you’re somewhat fit, you’ll improve your game more by doing technical drills on court than working on your fitness and stamina if your sole goal is to win games.
While that is true for many players, I’ve found that coming back from more than a decade long hiatus, us casual players will see the quickest improvements by getting to a reasonable stamina level so we don’t feel too exhausted when we play.
I bet you know the feeling of reaching the end of a tight game at 18-18 and eyeing a short break. You want to fight through it and win the last few rallies but exhaustion is creeping in and catching your breath gets harder and harder, as you hope the opponents will make a mistake or two so you’ll gain a few easy points.
I’ve found footwork, stamina and reading the game to be among the best things to improve upon to gain an edge. It’s easier to return every shot if it’s hit directly at you and you’re ready for it. The problem is that the entire goal for your opponent is to catch you off guard and most often it’s stupid errors or incorrect positioning that causes this.
The three items making up this trifecta can help you almost see into the future, anticipate where the shuttle will go and move there in advance to be ready when it comes.
Let’s look at each of them in detail.
1. Reading the game and other players’ badminton techniques
Since you’re likely an upper beginner or intermediate if you’re reading this, you’ll probably play against those levels as well. Us untrained players tend to have many similar habits and that means you’ll often be able to gain the upper hand with just a few tweaks to your game.
One of those habits is returning the shot to where it came from. If you look at it on video, it feels like feeding the opponent with easy shots that give them plenty of time to think, allowing them to easily put you under pressure while they somewhat casually wait.
Here, you’ll see me do just that (I’m the guy in the black t-shirt):
Tweaking your position just a little can make a huge difference. That is most noticeable for me and my somewhat untrained backhand when I leave just a bit more space for a shot to my forehand side rather than standing right in the middle of the court with equal space and chance of receiving a shot to the forehand or backhand on either side.
In case of a backhand shot, it buys me extra time to get far enough under the shuttle that I can perform an around the head shot or even a normal forehand shot. On the other hand, if they take the bait and play in the open space to my forehand side, it’s easier to react as I was expecting it.
Sometimes, you have to anticipate the player instead of the game.
It’s common to be impatient and attempt to win a quick point. Resisting the urge and instead waiting for the right opportunity or building it up makes a meaningful difference. For example, if you play it safe for a few extra shots, your opponent might make an error that either gives you the point out right or offers you an easy kill.
The same goes for resisting the urge to depend on shot techniques you don’t feel confident with. For example, if you haven’t practiced the flick serve, be careful about using it all of the sudden as there will be a high chance of error — especially, if you’re down 19-20 and looking for a quick point.
I’ve found that watching pro matches and match analysis made by other players can be useful in picking up specific tactics to implement into your own game. Especially, during the first few shots such as the return of serve and the shot following that.
2. Two rewarding footwork techniques in badminton
I think we can all agree that during any match, footwork is the technique in badminton that is used the most, rather than any shot in particular, as we can’t play without moving around the court.
Footwork can get complicated but there are two items I’ve found to give you the biggest bang for your buck when you’re playing casually to get in shape and have limited practice time.
One is recovering after hitting the shuttle, which comes back to reading the game and anticipating what’ll happen next. Far too often, we either don’t know what to do next or are too busy watching an intense rally unfold between our teammate and the opposite team (I’m guilty of that too).
Another part of the footwork is the split step. It’s a small preparation movement we make as the opponent hits the shuttle. There are a lot of technicalities in mastering the split step but I’ve found that even just getting into a habit of using it at its most basic and unsophisticated level has given me a meaningful advantage in speed and extra time to reach shots around the court compared to someone who doesn’t use it at all.
Besides during service where the split step isn’t used, it’ll help compensate if the rest of your footwork is less than perfect. It’s just one item which makes it simpler to practice than each of the other items within this category of techniques in badminton.
Compared to popular trick shots where the opportunity to do one just doesn’t occur that often, I bet you’ll find the split step useful and it’ll lift your game up as soon as you get used to it.
Combining that with improving your recovery movement and keeping your racket held high, instead of towards the ground, can make you feel as if you’ve made crazy big improvements because of the extra time you give yourself to react when there’s a fireball flying toward you.
The exciting twist to this trifecta is that each item is entangled into the others and enhances their value but most importantly, they are among the things you can most easily train at home without a partner. When you’re ready to master footwork thoroughly, it’s helpful to be on court with a sparring partner but for refreshing your game and nailing the basics, it’s perfect to do on your own along with building your stamina and practicing anticipating the game.
Another similar badminton technique is doubles rotation which is also epically important as I’ve found the root of many errors to be bad placement or failing to rotate. But it’s tricky to practice as you’ll need at least one other player and a third person to help organize and throw the shuttles causing the rotation.
3. Building your stamina without giving up
Stamina is the odd one out.
It’s the one thing required to do any sport and it’s necessary to get you “in the door” when playing badminton besides being able to hit the shuttle with your racket.
To most competitive players, this is a basic element and just something that comes naturally over the years. It’s often ignored in favor of drilling ultra-precise shots. However, for the rest of us, stamina tends to be the difference keeping those long, intense, and exciting rallies going.
Throughout my own process of getting back on court, I’ve found that there are certain counterintuitive things about improving your stamina and general fitness to get in shape with badminton. For example, we rarely run outright during a doubles game. Instead, we more often make a sequence of smaller well-timed movements while extending the body.
That means running a 5K isn’t as useful for your game unless you haven’t done anything in years, as that is more focused on maintaining pace for a longer period of time rather than moving in short explosive bursts.
Instead, I’ve seen better results doing circuit training with a series of short exercises at high intensity. The benefit is that they are less overwhelming than a 5K run and you can start with a circuit that takes less time to complete if you’re just getting into the rhythm.
A simple circuit sequence to improve your stamina today could be 30 seconds of each of these with 30 second break in between:
- Jumping jacks
- Monkey walk
- Crab walk
- Side steps
After warming up, this sequence only takes five minutes to finish (incl. breaks) and I bet you’ll break a sweat if you give each exercise your all and complete a few rounds.
- When it comes to technique in badminton, there’s a lot more under the hood than just the typical strokes
- For us casual players wanting to get fit, stamina, footwork, and anticipating the game is where we’ll gain the most in terms of fun as it helps us keep those intense rallies going
- These three items are great as we are able to train them off-court which makes it easier to prioritize when badminton isn’t our full time gig