Updated: Oct 4, 2022
How do I prepare myself to get on court and play or train at my best? I warm up.
In this post, I'll be sharing with you the warm-up exercises that I have personally found the most effective in order to get me ready to go on court and play to the absolute best of my ability. But let's not forget that the cool-down is equally as important to promote recovery and reduce injuries, so I'll be sharing these with you as well.
1. Gentle Jog
The first thing I like to do when warming up is a gentle jog, this helps to gradually start increasing your heart rate and gets the blood pumping around your body. Increasing your heart rate is vital before a badminton match or a training session, or any form of exercise for that matter, in order for us to perform at our maximum level as soon as you step on court.
2. Side Steps
After the gentle jog, I normally go straight into side steps, this again is a great warm-up exercise, particularly for badminton. A lot of my warm-up exercises will be mimicking what happens on a badminton court, just at a lower intensity as we get the muscles ready to play some badminton. As you can see I am side stepping across the width of three courts, changing the leg I lead with on the way back. This activity uses a different set of muscles when you move forwards or backwards, so it activates these potentially underused muscles, improving my general balance and side-to-side movements.
3. "The Chasse"
I then go into "the chasse", this warm-up exercise is particularly useful for badminton, as when you think about being on court, you are constantly changing direction, which is exactly what this exercise entails. You can see I am pushing off with both feet, doing two side steps diagonally before switching direction. The key to this exercise is keeping it controlled, staying on the balls of your feet, keeping your knees bent and focusing on the correct movement pattern.
4. High Knees and Heel Flicks
The next set of warm-up exercises I do is high knees and kickbacks or heel flicks, both of these activities are great full leg warm-ups, activating your leg muscles. High knees also activate your abdominal muscles, a lot of your balance comes from your core, so activating these muscles is vital for remaining stable on court and controlling your movements. Again, I am using the widths of the courts for this activity, doing high knees on the way there and kickbacks on our return.
Personally, I think lunges are one of the most important warm-up exercises. As badminton players, we lunge every time we go into the forecourt to do a net shot, so ensuring our lunges are controlled is vital for great performance. I prefer walking lunges, switching legs each time I move forward, and as you can see I am focusing on remaining stable and balanced.
6. "The Karaoke"
Another key skill we need as badminton players is agility, so the next warm-up activity I like to do is "the karaoke". This is a fast-paced activity that helps with my quick feet, an essential skill for speed on court. I also find this exercise helpful to my core or trunk mobility especially when I am always turning around and chasing the shuttle on the court.
Another heart rate-raising exercise is sprints. Now, it's important that sprints are done at the end of your warm-up because sprinting when your body is not properly warmed up is dangerous as it may cause injury. However, doing this at the end is great, it prepares your body for maximum intensity as you go into your game.
8. Skips / Hops
You can also do some hops and skips as part of your warm-up routine.
Moving onto stretches, I find it beneficial to do some dynamic stretches. I like to do some leg swings, arm swings, and "opening and closing the gate". All of these help with flexibility, agility, and acceleration before you go on court.
So here comes a part where I religiously do as part of my warm-up and it's related to the shoulder and the rotator cuff muscles!
The rotator cuff muscles are four little muscles around our shoulder and scapula that help us move our arm and shoulder around. Unsurprisingly, they get used a whole lot during badminton and most people often neglect them. I did too until I suffered a big injury in 2016 when I was competing in a tournament and two out of the four rotator cuff muscles gave up mid-way through a match, and my shoulder also decided to pop out at the same time. It wasn't pretty and I was out of action for two years and could not play any badminton due to pain.
With the help of a physiotherapist, my shoulders healed, and now if I'm naughty and miss my strengthening and mobility exercises on my shoulder, I won't be able to play. So here's the warm-up exercises I do to get my shoulder muscles and rotator cuff muscles activated before I start any hitting. The only thing you need for these exercises is a resistance band or Theraband.
10. Elbow Pull Apart
I start by tucking in my elbows and positioning them at 90 degrees angle, before slowly pulling the Theraband side-ways, about 15-20 reps.