Monday, 30 June 2008

Your Badminton Racket is Useless Without Footwork

Your shiny new badminton racket will not be much use to you unless you can get in position to hit your shots, period. And this all comes down to footwork, the most important, and often overlooked part of badminton. Without good footwork you will spend most of your time stretching and twisting around the court, off balance and late to get to the shuttle, making accurate, consistent shots virtually impossible. The risk of injury also increases, and your stamina will decrease because you will be constantly chasing the shuttle.

I know this from past experience, and perhaps you do too. You can buy yourself the most expensive badminton racket available, string it to very high tension, and have the exact same equipment as a professional player, but this is not going to make you play like one. Without good footwork that £100 racket will just be used to scramble the shuttle back, you will hardly ever know if it will benefit your game because you will be too busy thrashing about to notice.

In my opinion, you need to learn how to grip the racket first. Then i would buy myself the best pair of badminton shoes i can get my hands on. Next comes footwork, then technique, then a badminton racket. You then experiment with different string tensions, there is no need to buy another racket yet, just change the tensions in the one you have. When you have found your own personal tension that suits you, you can then experiment with different badminton rackets.

Back to footwork. There is no one way to move around a badminton court, all players move differently. To get a good idea it is best to watch the best players move. Dig out your badminton dvd's and watch some games. Just look at one player all the time, look at their feet and how they move around the court. You will notice that the very best make it look easy, this is no accident, these players have spent countless hours practising their movement, using on court drills, practise games and by strengthening their leg muscles.

An example of the variance in movement can be seen in a match between Zhao Jianhua and Morten Frost from the 1985 All England singles final. Zhao is the perfect badminton player in my opinion, the best there has ever been. I truly believe that if he was around today he would still beat anyone, Lin Dan included. His movement around the court as perfect, and he took many chasse steps to get about with great speed. His leg strength was incredible, probably the best athlete ever on a badminton court. In contrast, Morten Frost tended to take small, quick running steps, but he also has very strong legs to move him around. Frost was well known for his court coverage and athletic ability, he just did it in a different way. Both players reached the top of the game for a long time, winning many major titles along the way. The point is that footwork is not set in stone, there is no absolute single way of doing it, it is personal to the individual player. If you feel comfortable in your movement then so be it. If you can get around the court in an efficient way then go for it.

The key word is efficiency, you want to be able to maximise your stamina so you can last the pace in hard games. Footwork will be the difference between winning and losing. Zhao was known for his deception, and it was all down to his footwork. He was able to get into position to hit his shots because he could move quickly, he got there early so his opponents had to react to what he did, not the other way round. Playing singles when you are constantly chasing the shuttle is exhausting, in the end you will be the first to get tired. When this happens, your footwork is put under more pressure because your legs just can't get you in position quickly enough. Eventually, you will become even more tired until you just can't get to the shuttle, your technique will start to crumble because you are playing shots out of position.

I spent an entire year with a badminton coach just practising footwork. I was taught to use chasse steps, and i would spend two hours doing drills, running after cricket balls with chasse steps all over the court. I would do shuttle runs to all corners of the court, over and over again, using chasse steps every time. I would then do multi shuttle feeds all over the court, it started with 10 shuttles and progressed to 70 after a year. The coach would stand at the net and then hit shuttles to every part of the court, which i had to return. As my footwork got better and more consistent, the coach would feed quicker, so that as soon as i had hit one, another was fed to a different part of the court. This made me move quicker, just to get to the next shuttle, until i couldn't move quickly enough. The speed was probably even quicker than it was in a real game, but the saying "train hard, fight easy" comes to mind. I was prepared for real game situations, my footwork was so much better than before, you only realise this when you actually play a competitive match, against a similar level opponent.

Practise as much as you can, go spend some money on a good coach and learn the basics first, your game will improve much quicker than spending all your money on the latest badminton racket. Watch the best players to get ideas, go to the sports hall and practise, but get yourself a coach, they can see you when you practise and give pointers and tips to help you in the right direction, more than you can ever do on your own. There are coaching manuals that can give you ideas, or videos on you tube that you can watch, just type in badminton footwork in the search bar and see what comes up. Any good coach will teach you the importance of footwork, or at least they should. Remember, footwork is the bedrock of badminton, being in position to hit your shots will give you a huge advantage, so go out and get practising.

1 comment:

刘锐 said...

I 100% agree with you
footwork is the inner force of badminton
I hope one day I can play as a professional player