Badminton stars need quick reflexes

A player needs to be supremely fit to withstand the physical strain.

Top row: (From left) TRX Box Push Ups, TRX Rear Leg Elevated Squat and Explosive Vertimax Jumps. Bottom row: (From left) Barbell Lunges, Same Leg Single Leg Deadlift and Windmill.   -  R. Ravindran

Of all the racquet sports badminton is the fastest, involving flying foot, lightning reflexes, terrific body balance, excellent reach, quick recovery time and immense stamina to dominate. There is a high level of skill required to play badminton at the elite level, though to be a successful player you also need good reflexes, and have to be quick and agile around the court. However, which of these are important?

Badminton players need to possess a variety of fitness capabilities to be successful. Aerobic fitness, flexibility, speed, balance, reaction time, agility, power and strength are all components of fitness which can be developed with systemised assessment and training — all components of training specific to badminton with crossover from other sports like tennis and squash. There are no rest intervals between prolonged rallies, meaning a player needs to be supremely fit to withstand the physical strain, otherwise he is liable to lose long rallies due to fatigue and injuries.

The strength demands of badminton

Strength, according to the NACA, can be categorised in a number of ways: absolute strength refers to the maximum amount of force a muscle or a muscle group can develop; strength endurance refers to the ability to perform a high volume of sub-maximal contractions without fatigue; and speed strength, which is better known as power, is strength expressed at speed.

The low weight of the racquets and the low inertia of the shuttlecock means that badminton has a relatively low demand for absolute strength or max strength. However, the players will benefit from increased strength endurance and speed strength.

Strength-training process

The player can develop strength endurance and speed strength by using a variety of strength-training tools. Dumbbells, barbells and kettle bells, pin-loaded machines, rubber resistance power bands, medicine balls and body weight exercises are all effective strength-training modalities.

Prior to the strength programme, a good warm-up with myo-facial release and stretching would help in a range of movements and increase the core muscle temperature.

Post workout stretches to the comfortable range with good release on rumble roller would help in the muscle recovery and prepare for the next session.

Major muscles used

Badminton involves a lot of lunging movements, which engages the quadriceps and hamstring muscles of the thigh as well as the gluteus maximus or butt muscles. The adductors and abductors, respectively, are also heavily recruited, especially when one lunges in multiple directions and angles.

Loads of twisting and reaching movements place a significant demand on your core muscles, waist and lower back. Smashing the shuttlecock uses the muscles of the chest, back and shoulder, and the degree of recruitment solely depends on the shot being played.

Because strength training is one of the fitness components that needs to be addressed in your programme, perform compound exercises with multi-angle and jointed range for making it skill and functional specific.

Perform exercises for both anterior and posterior compartment for better effectiveness and to avoid injuries due to overuse.

STEP 1

Work on all components of fitness along with the strength protocols — speed, agility, quickness, reaction time, flexibility and breathing technique play a vital role in developing an overall fit player.

STEP 2

Establish a varied warm-up routine, from dynamic to PNF stretches. Incorporate skipping as part of warm-up to work on footwork. Myo-facial release pre and post workouts or skill sessions.

STEP 3

Footwork and on court drills specific to a particular skill set can be drawn up either with an assisted or resisted power elastic bands. and working on anaerobic-a lactic system.

STEP 4

Speed and explosive power work through plyometrics, Medicine ball and ladders can be used as tools with varied time interval and recovery ratios. Rally simulation can be done with recovery ratio timings.

STEP 5

Good aerobic regime plays a vital role in recovery and sustenance for long rallies and recovering between high intensity points.

STEP 6

Badminton requires well developed anaerobic a-lactic acid system from conditioning perspective, which influences the fatigue factor of the player. This system can be developed through proper anaerobic and aerobic energy systems for better recovery between each points.

STEP 7

One important element in increasing fitness is by restoration of muscle tissues during rest. Make sure you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night and adhering to a good active or passive recovery protocols, especially before badminton games.

STEP 8

Finally, strength and explosive power conditioning should form an important part of a training programme necessary to maximise speed on the court and powerful overhead smashes.