Guide to Game Management in Badminton
Playing a badminton match is a tough ordeal. As physical and mental fatigue begin to set in, it will influence your thoughts and actions. Having control and maintaining awareness during a match will help reduce some of the pressure you may feel. To grasp the concept of game management is to acknowledge that certain variables will always impact the flow of a match. Everything from the mentality of a player to the flow and rhythm of the game can affect the progress. Ultimately, game management will help you minimize throwaway points, and take advantage of a game’s momentum.
Playing with the Momentum
Momentum is a huge factor in any sport, and it’s no exception in badminton. Momentum generates positive morale and energy to gain a mental edge. You can gain momentum by scoring several points in a row, and lose momentum by doing just the opposite. Momentum can decide a match before it’s over and it can also directly end it. Naturally, then, you’ll want to maximize your opportunities to gain momentum. You can gain momentum by:
- Coming back from a seemingly hopeless rally to score a point
- Ending a rally with a huge shot, like a smash
- Scoring several points in a row
As much as you’ll want to do everything to maintain momentum, the reality is that momentum regularly swings both ways. The key is to take advantage of your gains and reduce the magnitude of your momentum losses. Here are some tips on how to take advantage of your momentum:
- Stay in the rhythm of the game: If you’re quickly racking up points on short rallies, keep the pace up and force the issue a bit by getting into service position quickly to begin the next rally. By setting up your service promptly, you’ll deny your opponent the chance to think up a counterstrategy to end the streak.
- Exploit weaknesses: If you’ve won several points in a row, it’s likely that you’ve found the weakness of your opponent. Continue to attack that weakness and force the opponent to find an answer.
- Keep the pressure on: Don’t let up on your opponent and keep attacking by moving them around the court. If you let up, you could lose your momentum just as easily as you gained it.
Playing from the Losing End
It’s easy playing from the winning side because, well, everything’s great when you’re winning. The hardest part about game-management is keeping your cool when you’re losing. You can lose momentum by:
- Losing several consecutive points
- Giving up on rallies
- Missing easy shots
The thing you must remember is that everyone is on the losing side at one point or another, so the key is to minimize the amount of time you spend losing. Here are some tips on how to combat scoring droughts:
- Mix up your ready time: When you start to lose, your first instincts are to score a point as quickly as possible. You have to fight these instincts and gather your thoughts to work out a specific tactic to end your losing streak. Interrupting the flow of the game will help you avoid doing the same thing that may be causing you to lose so many rallies.
- Communicate with your partner: If you’re playing doubles, a great way to turn the tide is to simply talk it over with your partner. It may be as simple as picking on the weaker player, one whom you or your partner may not have noticed before.
- Speak with your coach: Some players may not approve of this, but speaking to a coach or a friend in between points is completely legal. The coach should be able to provide a more objective view of how the game is going and how best to turn it in your favor.
Although you can only control what goes on inside of your head, inferring what frame of mind your opponent has will give you greater insight into how the rest of the match may play out. For example, if your opponent is slow to get into position between rallies, it may be a sign of fatigue. Every movement taken on the court is transmitting information. With that in mind, you should extract as much information as you can from your opponent’s actions while keeping yours subtle and consistent. Here are a few things that may hint at frustration or dwindling stamina:
- Negative reaction after a losing rally:. This can be a sign of growing frustration, which will mean your opponent is more inclined to make errors.
- Long recovery time between rallies: A player low on energy will typically take his time when getting into a ready position.
- Giving up on rallies early: When a player gives up before a rally is over, it is also indicative of fading stamina.
Naturally, you should do everything in your power to avoid falling into these traps. They may seem like trivial matters, but knowing that your opponent is tired and flustered will allow you to adjust your strategy. You can lengthen rallies by taking safer, consistent shots such as clears or drops. Also, attacking your opponent’s backhand is always a surefire way to drain more energy and further frustrate him. Even if you’re absolutely exhausted, your opponent can’t know for sure as long as you hide it. By appearing confident and ready, your opponent might feel as though victory is impossible.
Take Your Time
You should never feel rushed or forced to play faster than you’re comfortable with, even when you have the advantage. This doesn’t mean you should take as much as you need, but you shouldn’t ever feel the need to appease opponents just so they aren’t waiting. The strategies and tactics you employ throughout a game will be fluid, so stick with it until it no longer works. Only when your opponent gains the advantage tactically should you interrupt the game by manipulating your timing and strategies. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.