Updated: Oct 4, 2022
With a full-time job, social life, and perhaps even a family to take care of, it can often seem like we have less and less time to pursue our hobbies as other responsibilities take priority. Further, we don’t have the luxury of being able to train or play badminton nearly as much as we would like to including one-to-one coaching. So rather than wishing we had more time, how can we train smarter and more efficiently with the hours that we do have, so that we can still improve faster, win more matches and potentially, impress our peers? I’m a former professional badminton player - and I’d like to share some of my top tips with you!
1) Know yourself
Whilst this may seem a bit ‘deep’ for a lighthearted game of badminton, this is the key to being able to improve faster. Do you know why you play badminton or simply, why are you training? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you know what you hope to gain or achieve out of your training and badminton? Do you know the root cause of what’s holding you back from performing to your potential? Simply put, listing down your aims and objectives with your training will help answer some of these and all of these questions will help you pave the way to reach wherever it is you would like to go with the sport.
2) Be intentional everytime you step onto court
Now that you’ve got all introspective, could you be more intentional every time you step onto the court? There’s a concept called the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the outcome results from 20% of the inputs. In other words, identify which 20% of your activities yield 80% of your results. Maybe if you improved the efficiency of your movement in and out of the corners of the court, or could you add that little bit of extra aggression in your shots, it would completely transform your game over time.
Are you intentionally working on these areas, or are you just going with the motion each time you play? I would suggest that every time you step onto the court, be clear in your mind what you are working on along with the key points for successful execution. One bonus tip would be to use trigger words to help you remember things more quickly during competitive situations when you may easily dip out of focus. To help with this process, you could even write those trigger words on the back of your hands to remind you whilst you’re on court.
3) Small and consistent actions
Being able to find the 10-30 minute pockets within your day to do some extra training at home (that focuses on your key development areas) is what will truly set you apart. To give an example, a huge work area of mine has always been wrist and finger power. So when I was training in Malaysia and lived a 5-minute walk from the training hall, I would do 250 reps on my grip strengthener during every walk. 2 training sessions/day meant I was doing 4 trips which meant I was doing 1000 reps per day, and I can’t tell you how much this transformed my strength, therefore game. These little things matter as they add up and compound over time.
So whether that’s waking up 15 minutes earlier, or spending a bit less time on the screens, there are always opportunities to practice more. Strengthening, practicing a technique, or even doing some match analysis are some great options. As James Clear famously states “If you get 1% better each day for a year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done”!
4) Utilise the internet
No coach? No problem! With the plethora of content online, learning badminton has never been easier and more affordable. YouTube channels such as Badminton Insight have dozens of excellent tutorials to learn from. Further, rather than watching professional badminton matches merely for entertainment, are there any technical, tactical, or other characteristics of these players that you can learn from? I mean what better way to learn than to learn from the best! Here’s an example of CK breaking down the tactics employed by Viktor Axelsen when he beat Kento Momota during the 2022 Malaysia Open final.
5) Regular tracking and reflection
How many times have you had the intention of practicing something specific, to then completely forget about it 5 minutes into the game? Well, did you know that writing things down activates a higher level of intentional thinking and therefore more focused action? If you think about it, the effort needed to formulate a meaningful sentence from your thoughts automatically helps to solidify what you need to focus on into your brain, thus you are more likely to remember it during practice.
How do you feel your progress is going? Write it down. Was there an exercise that you had never done before but found really useful? Write it down. Was there something you noticed someone else do that helps them to execute the perfect backhand reverse slice? Write it down!
So if you haven’t gathered by now, an overarching concept in this article is intentionality. I believe that for any change to happen, it all starts with self-awareness, small steps and gradual actions. So I would suggest picking which tip you resonate with most and just trying it out. Then gradually introduce the others once you’ve got the hang of it and find which ones work or don’t work for you. And as a final and perhaps seemingly contradictory note, remember to have fun! Everything is always better when you’re enjoying yourself, and you can certainly still make significant progress whilst having fun - after all, these tips are about how to train smarter not harder!
This is a guest blog piece by Fee Teng Liew for CK Yew's blog.
Fee's bio points:
Loughborough University graduate who studied Sport and Exercise Psychology
Former professional badminton player who represented England for 9 years
Spent 2 years living, training and competing in Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia)
Big interest and passion for mental health, self-development and what makes people happy!
Loves to keep active and find new ways of doing this - currently on the bucket list is to run a marathon!