Warming Up During a Badminton Tournament
Tournaments are long, grueling affairs that can end in an instant if you go cold for a game. Knowing how and when to warm up will help you stay sharp. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and so being insufficiently warm will severely affect your ability to perform at your peak level. In this guide, you’ll find warm-up exercises and tips to give you the best chance to succeed on the badminton court.
Work Your Muscles
Part of being warmed up is making sure all your muscles and joints are ready to go. Although stretching is commonly associated with warming up, it can actually be detrimental to do before a match. When stretching, you are holding a pose to get your muscles to relax. This relaxation actually ruins your muscles’ ability to contract quickly, which effectively messes with your reaction time. If you do feel a bit stiff before warming up, you can stretch, but don't hold a pose for longer than 10 seconds. The brief exercises below will simulate badminton strokes and movement to properly prepare you before you hit:
1. Ankles & Wrist
Loosen up your ankles by putting the tip of your foot on the ground and rotating your ankle. Repeat this for the other foot. As you do this, rotate your wrists in a circular motion to loosen them up as well.
Warm your calves up by doing small two-foot hops from side to side and front to back. This exercise will make sure you’re adequately warm to do proper footwork come game time.
Here you’ll want to take a few big hops while bringing your knees to your chest. Do no more than three or four jumps to keep from exerting too much energy.
Hot Tip: Get Warm While You Wait
Warm up your muscles while you wait for your next match. Warm-up time is limited, so you won’t want your stretches interfering with that. This is also a great way to release tension before a game. The last thing you want is to feel tense or nervous during an important match.
Warm up your back muscles by rotating your upper body to the left and right. Keep your arms bent while trying to touch your elbow to your back.
Doing jumping jacks is an excellent way to incorporate lateral movement in both your arms and legs. This side-to-side motion in your arms and legs is especially prevalent in badminton.
Start by holding your arms back as far as you can while keeping your arms straight. Then bring them forward and cross your arms so that they wrap around your body. Repeat this action a few times to help simulate your forehand and backhand shots.
Warm up your forearms by holding your arms out in front of you with your palms facing the floor. Flap your wrists back and forth a couple times. Then repeat that action with your palms facing the ceiling.
Hit It Out
Now that your muscles are all warmed up, you can begin hitting with your partner. If you’re hitting with an opponent for a singles match, just kindly ask to work on a certain shot and your competitor should oblige. Here is a quick list of shots you should do in order:
- Drives: These will get your wrist moving and your reflexes going.
- Clears: These bring your arms and wrists up to speed.
- Drops: This refers to both baseline drops and net drops, which will help you establish your “touch” or “feel” for the shuttlecock.
- Smashes: Never smash at full power when warming up because it’s essential to get the right feel for the placement of your smashes.
- Serves: Most players tend to ignore serves during warm-up time, but again, it’s important to find the right placement for your serves.
It’s also important to use your time wisely because most tournaments will enforce a five-minute warm-up rule. If you feel one of your shots needs work, then allow yourself more time to work out the kinks. Here are a couple drills you can use to get the most out of your warm-up time:
- Clear-drop-drop: This drill is designed to work on your baseline drops and net drops. This sequence repeats itself to alternate shots. First you clear to your partner, and then he hits a baseline drop. You then return the shot with a net drop, and your partner then re-starts the cycle with a clear.
- Clear-smash-drop: In this drill, your will be refining your smashes and smash returns. Start off by clearing to your partner, which he will smash back to you. Drop the smash back, and your partner will then clear to you.
To simplify these drills, you can adjust them to either “clear-clear-drop” or “clear-clear-smash.” In addition to refining on your shot execution, these drills will also get you working on your footwork. Being able to work on multiple aspects of your game at once is invaluable during your short warm-up time.
Stretch When Appropriate
Although stretching before a match can work against you, this doesn’t mean there is never a good time to do it. You should stretch after a match while you are cooling down, and any time your muscles feel stiff and tense. Stretching after a match will actually prevent you from becoming too stiff or cramping during the next match. Cramping is a sign of a muscle being overworked, so if you feel that sensation, you’ll want to stretch to help relax the muscle and prevent further injury.
Value Your Time
While you should have ample rest in between matches, you should aim to find the balance between being well-rested and adequately warmed up. The key thing is to remember there is no set routine that works for everyone. Every player has a different skill set with different strengths and weaknesses. It is part of your responsibility as a player to identify these aspects of your game in order to best prepare yourself for a match. As long as you can accomplish that, you should have no regrets, regardless of the outcome.