Playing Through Slumps in Badminton
A long layoff, an injury, or a change in technique could all be reasons for a slump in badminton. The reason, although not always apparent, could be the key to getting you out of your slump. If it’s conditioning or a change in your technique and form, then it will be important to return to your previous state. Everyone slumps occasionally, and for a variety of reasons. This guide will teach you how to work through yours.
Recognizing a Slump
Slumps are tricky to recognize because it’s mostly a judgment call on your part. You have to decide when normal, simple shots are becoming more difficult or less consistent. One or two bad games or even several games in a day doesn’t constitute a slump. Everyone has a bad day, no matter how good you are. Here a few characteristics you can look for to determine if you’re in a slump:
- Your “touch” is off: When shots are consistently traveling in a way that you don’t expect them to, you may be in a slump. For example, when you consistently smash the shuttle into the net when it feels as though it should go over, your feel for the shot may be off.
- Making mental mistakes: Playing on a consistent basis can make you a better player, but it can also develop poor habits if you play incorrectly. If you find yourself making poor decisions during a game, you may have to start actively thinking about your shots again. Your strategy against each opponent should be unique, which means you’ll need to turn off your “auto-pilot.”
- Ineffective shots: If you notice your shots beginning to become less effective, you may be in a funk. Either your smashes don’t have the same velocity or your drops aren’t falling at a sharp angle. Whatever your case may be, this is a tell-tale sign of a slump.
Fixing Shot Execution
While every player’s situation is unique, there are a few common causes for slumps. Fortunately, shot execution is fairly simple to fix because the evidence is right in front of you. If you see your shots returning to form and landing where you intend them to, you’re on the right path. Below are a few solutions to the common causes for slumping shot execution:
- Play regularly: An extended break from badminton can cause slumps simply because your rhythm will be off. This kind of break can be anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months, anything that breaks up your normal playing schedule. Losing that regular repetition will affect your muscle memory and ultimately leave something to be desired in your shot execution. It doesn’t matter if you play once a week or three times a week, just play on a regular basis instead of binging on badminton.
- Exercise regularly: A change in your conditioning can drastically affect your performance on the court. Your shot relies heavily on your physical state, so you’ll need to maintain a regular exercise regimen. If you don’t have convenient access to a badminton gym, you’ll need to find another form of exercise to keep your body in shape.
- Reexamine your technique: A subtle cause for your slump could be a change in technique. Whether it was purposeful or accidental, you may want to examine your technique and form for anything unusual. If you notice your swing or grip differs from your norm, then make the proper adjustments.
Fixing Game Strategy
Game strategy will be harder to fix because it’s also harder to decipher. Some strategies may be effective against some players and less effective against others. To decide if you need to adjust your strategy, you must be very observant. A shot or strategy that seems ineffective against all players may be an inherently poor tactic. For example, making a net drop on a serve return is a viable strategy. However, if you consistently strike the shuttle at knee or waist-height, then your opponents will likely kill it easily. Stay aware of the strategies you choose to employ and you should be able to make the correct adjustments.
Hot Tip: Opponents of Varying Skills
Sometimes a strategy will become obsolete as you play stiffer competition. You’ll find yourself constantly make adjustments as you move up the ladder. Don’t be discouraged; just take note of what works and what doesn’t against the more advanced players, and you’ll be rewarded.
Slumping During a Match
There may be times where everything seems to hit the net or fall out of bounds. If this happens during an important match or tournament, you won’t have time to fix it. Instead you’ll need a quick fix to get out of your slump. Here are some tips to help you through your rough situation:
- Take your time: Starting new rallies in quick succession works to your advantage only if you’re in a good rhythm and scoring points. Naturally, you’ll want to do the opposite when you can’t find your touch. Take your time getting ready in between rallies and refocus on how you’ll plan to attack the serve.
- Rediscover your touch: If you find yourself consistently hitting shots out or into the net, you need to readjust your mindset. While the shots likely feel “right,” you clearly need to adjust if they aren’t falling in. A quick way to adjust is by actively thinking about hitting the shot in a different way. For example, if your clears are consistently landing long, then the next time you clear, think: “Clear to the long service line.” Your body should respond by hitting a slightly weaker clear, but since you have been hitting shots long, your clear should still be strong enough to land just before the baseline.
- Make positional adjustments: Some problems are simple and can be solved with minor adjustments to your positioning. If you’re struggling with serves landing short or long, adjust your service spot accordingly. Similarly, if you’re struggling with your backhand, adjust your base point a half-step towards your backhand side.
Throughout your badminton life you’ll experience highs and lows; the key is to never accept your low points. Always strive to play in your peak form, whatever it may be. Your skills as a badminton player will never be handed to you — you must work for them. Bounce back quickly from your slumps and you’ll be come out a better badminton player for it!