Do you know the feeling of being in the heat of an intense game, fighting tooth and nail, wanting to win… but at the same time being exhausted and desperate for a break?
By Aske from Beast Badminton
When it happens to me I begin playing more clears, more backhands, and cut corners on the footwork to keep up. I’ll eye every opportunity to force the shuttle to the floor to catch my breath.
I get impatient, take chances I normally wouldn’t, and attempt shots that need to be a little too perfect in order to land the point. Shots I might land under normal circumstances but being exhausted, it’s difficult to be that precise, and instead, I slowly lose the points one after the other.
This situation often presents itself toward the end of a set when I’m just a few points away from ending the game and earning a proper break. If I haven’t lost the set already, I’ve at least lost confidence and replaced it with frustration. Ironically, that is even harder to manage when tired. It’s the spiral of doom.
At that moment, it’s survival mode, but if you’re able to catch yourself before you’re totally off the rails, you might be able to find the extra strength to pull through, turn the tables and win the game.
This article isn’t intended to be about mindset but rather how we can avoid the spiral of doom before it even happens by understanding how to increase stamina for badminton.
We’ll dive into how to build stamina for badminton, so you can play at your best for longer periods of time and score more points, especially towards the end of games. We’ll also dive into ideas on how to preserve and manage your energy during sessions.
Let’s begin by understanding why stamina is among the best things to train for badminton players if you’re on a busy schedule or struggle to get access to on-court training.
How to build stamina for badminton: important comments
Before we start, I’d like to point out that I’m not a health professional, so don’t take these ideas as gospel. They are based on my own experience in the real world but your body might be different. Instead, consider these as ideas for your own experimentation.
When it comes to badminton stamina, diet impacts us too but I won’t be covering that here as I’ve prepared a separate article on diet for badminton players, where we look at how the pro players approach their diet.
How to increase your stamina for badminton: why a 5K run is a waste of your time (and what to do instead)
Stamina is perhaps the most convenient thing to train at home if you’re on an inflexible schedule, as it doesn’t require a court or even partners. For those of us who have busy lives and returned to playing badminton after years away from the court, this is good news.
In general, when it comes to our health and stamina, any exercise is better than none but that doesn’t necessarily mean the work will benefit us on the court.
In fact, when talking about improving stamina for badminton, the challenge is that many popular exercises people use to stay in shape, like running a 5K, don’t correlate that well with what we do on a badminton court. We need to be highly explosive and fast but also able to endure long games.
The preservation of energy that we know from the 5K run isn’t that relevant for badminton, and since both badminton and running tend to be hard on our knees and ankles, it makes sense to switch the off-court training out with more joint-friendly options.
During my experiments, I’ve found a few types of home workouts to be particularly effective for building stamina:
– Circuit training
Some are more friendly towards the ankles and knees than others, and you’ll have to evaluate what fits you the best through your own experimentation.
Swimming and biking are straightforward and not for everyone since it depends on the gear you have available and the climate you prefer to live in: jump on a training bike at the gym or your own outside if you prefer. For swimming, jump in the pool or ocean and consider experimenting with using your legs more while minimizing your arm strokes.
This comes down to your skill level and breathing technique, and personally, I prefer to jump on the training bike at the gym and listen to a podcast because it’s often the easiest and most accessible, no matter the weather.
I’ve also found circuit training to be powerful for me in building up my stamina. Circuit training is a training program where we do one exercise for a short period of time, say, one minute, followed by a short 15-second break before we move on to another one. For example, doing lunges for one minute, a break, then jump rope, then a break, then pull-ups, and so on, for ten minutes.
There is what feels like a never-ending list of circuit exercises on how to increase your stamina for badminton. Some of my favorites are:
– Skipping/jump rope
– Bulgarian side twists
– Jumping lunges
– Plank walkouts
– Scissor kicks
– Side plank
– Mountain climbers
– Dead bug
– V Sits
– Windscreen wipers
– Bicycle kicks
The most effective way I found to make a good routine is to start with just a few exercises and a few rounds and build it up over time by increasing them as you get better.
It’ll be tempting to lean into your motivation one day and go crazy out of the blue, but we’ll often get so sore the following day that we’ll never go again. That’s not the best approach since we can expect our competition to have a more long-term approach as it offers better results.
Instead, stopping a little early is okay at first if it ensures that we’ll go out and do it again.
How to improve stamina for badminton: measuring your results
The most accurate way to measure the effect is by using a heart rate monitor to follow your progress over time. If you’re not ready to invest in one, an easy way to tell is if you sweat less when you play and need to change your t-shirt less often during sessions or if it takes you longer to be out of breath.
If you’re particularly ambitious, you might even keep a short logbook for each type of session to compare how you improve over time. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference if we aren’t able to compare our performance with when we started.
Another alternative is to look for clues in your daily life, such as how easy it feels to walk up the stairs.
The pros seem to agree that training stamina a few times a week is enough unless you are particularly unfit. You might find that it makes sense to balance it with technical training or other items like footwork rather than only training stamina daily.
Avoid losing by better preserving your energy during games
One thing is beefing up your stamina with exercises and drills regularly. Another is using that stamina wisely during your games.
The way it seems to work for most people follows the standard progression of losing our energy linearly over time. At first, we have a lot of energy and we lose it minute by minute until the tank is empty at the end. It’s straightforward.
There are benefits to extending your energy or managing it differently. For example, imagine how much more your energy is worth at the end of a session if everyone is tired and you can continue to perform correct footwork, place yourself well and launch an artillery of powerful smashes one after the other instead of taking the shuttle late and being forced into a worse backhand. Not to mention that it’ll be easier to kill the shuttle when the opponent is playing a weak shot because they are exhausted.
This is easier said than done, especially if you enjoy the competition and intensity, as it can be difficult to take it down a notch to preserve the energy in the heat of the game. In my experience, it has to be built as a habit to really offer its benefits when we need it the most.
How to increase stamina for badminton: ideas to preserve your energy better
Here are some ideas I’ve noticed helping to preserve energy in my own games – feel free to leave your ideas in the comments as well.
Starting before the session, plan how you’ll use your energy in advance, for example, by peaking midway through the session (or match if it’s just a single one). You might also want to experiment with your pre-game diet in order to figure out what works best for you in terms of when you eat, what, and when the energy will kick in.
For example, if you eat carbs an hour before the session, your energy levels might be high at first as the session starts and then drop drastically halfway through, whereas if you eat later or eat something that burns slower, it might help later in your session.
When warming up, it’s important to strike a balance between being warm as is good for your body and not getting too tired and wasting precious energy since the shots and scoring is unimportant even if you’re excited and can’t wait to get the game started.
If you’re playing club sessions and social games for a few hours on the weekends, consider thinking about the first few games as warm-up games in order to remind yourself to slow down. Of course, you’ll already have warmed up; this is merely a mental exercise in slowing down.
To practice this, you might tell yourself that the first three games of every session should be played slower, and you might even forfeit certain points if they require you to move around too much, even if you know you have the skill to send the shuttle back. If you easily forget this in the heat of the battle, you might write a single word in the palm of your hand with a pen as a reminder to yourself when you’re on the court.
Work on your doubles rotation and footwork
During the match, consider not covering every shot, even if it’s tempting. Instead, practice badminton positions, rotating better in doubles and understanding which shot is yours vs. your partner’s, and leave the most difficult shots even if you lose the point. It will be frustrating and hard at first but worth it over time. This is hard for me to follow consistently because I get excited and competitive but whenever I remember to do it, it’s usually worth it.
Slowing down the game and forcing short breaks
In terms of shots during the matches, we can play clear shots to slow things down every now and then as we often see happen in professional matches.
Another, more sneaky trick is to catch your breath between rallies by changing the shuttle or tying your shoelace to let time pass.
- Badminton stamina can be the reason you lose the game if you’re too tired, and it can cause a negative spiral in confidence if you aren’t aware of it
- How to increase stamina for badminton: some exercises are a better fit for badminton than others and can be handy if you want to improve your game but are stuck on an inflexible schedule
- An essential and often overlooked part of building stamina for badminton is managing it well during your sessions and using it to strike against your opponent when they are the most tired
Aske writes about badminton for players returning after many years away from the court and eager to improve their game. If you want to score extra points in your games this weekend, consider learning about badminton stances next.
Thanks to Aske from Beast Badminton for providing the article!
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