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Better Badminton Footwork – Improve your Speed

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by shooting stroke, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. shooting stroke

    shooting stroke Regular Member

    Jan 6, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Professional / Badminton Coach
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Malaysia
    You can have all the exceptional badminton skills and technique while playing, however without having the correct footwork movement to complement it, no excellent skills and technique will make you a better player as you can’t address the birdie properly while playing and therefore, if you are playing with an opponent who is more agile on court that can address that birdie fast and early, then ultimately the outcome of the game will be at the mercy of your opponent.

    Badminton and footwork are symbiosis that is impossible to be separated and regardless if you are beginner who is new into this beautiful sport or a social player that want to improve how you play or a competitive player that wants to find that winning edge against any opponent in any tournament participated, then improving your footwork first will be your priority. By establishing better footwork movements in one’s game play, 2 important game play scenarios will occur:

    a. From the eyes of your opponent: You will close down all the empty spaces in your court faster making your court appear smaller to your opponent.
    b. From your own perspective: You will able to address the birdie earlier and most importantly, you can position yourself while addressing the birdie optimally, making a more higher chances of producing a winning shot or opening an opportunity for a winning shot.

    1. Improve your Speed

    In any coaching module, the phase for any strokes performed can be generally be described as below:

    Ready ------> Prepare ------>Hit -------> Recover------->Ready

    The theory of agility in badminton footwork is about speed and when we discuss about speed and correlate this with how your footwork moves while playing, theoretically it consist the below components:

    1. Speed at the initial acceleration from the stance of readiness (speed 1)
    2. Speed when addressing the birdie (speed 2)
    3. Recovery speed for the next following hit (speed 3)

    If this component is plot into a flow and we correlate it with the above phase, it will look like below:

    a. Initial acceleration towards birdie (speed 1) ----->b. Continuous acceleration of footwork to address birdie (speed 2) -------->c .Reaction to birdie (hit) ----> d. Acceleration to recover for the next following hit (speed 3)

    Since footwork is a continuous, dynamic force of movements, it is extremely important to understand that the speed from each component is connected to the speed in the other component, hence, if you start late then most likely you will end late.

    It is also important to realize the fact that whatever guides that being discussed here or elsewhere that a player can follow to improve his footwork movements, at the end of the day, like any experienced player, to conquer that total speed in any of your footwork as a whole package, you will require to purely dedicate your time and effort, training very hard your footwork movements continuously now and then.

    1.1 Speed 1

    Speed 1: Speed at the initial reaction from the stance of readiness

    Stance of readiness --------
    >initial acceleration towards birdie

    If your initial footwork movement is slow and sluggish, your reaction towards any incoming birdie will might be late. In view of this, how fast does the later acceleration of your footwork moves wants to compensate it but if at the start of your movements, you seems to be glued to the court with no fast momentum to trigger that initial acceleration, then, you will probably end up making a late hit against any approaching birdie thus reducing the chance of making any winning shot or opportunity for a winning shot. Therefore, improving your initial footwork acceleration is an important part as the key to better footwork movements. Let us discuss what approach you can adapt while playing to improve this:

    A – Your feet
    Always be” on the balls of your toes” rather than flat footed :
    When your stance is flat footed, theoretically, more energy is required to lift your foot since it touches a wider surface of contact area on the floor. That extra energy will in translate as lost of kinetics movements that will sluggish your initial acceleration. Therefore, by being more “bouncy” by standing “on the balls of your toes”, it’s more swift to lift your feet hence quicker acceleration.

    B – Your Knees
    Bent your knees
    : Bent your knee slightly so that while at this state, it’s quicker for you to leap since by bending your knee, your calf muscle and your foot can propel your forward movement faster as more grip occur.

    C – Your Body
    Relax your Body
    : While preparing yourself to address the birdie, your body should be in a state of “loose” or “relaxed”. Don’t be so tense while anticipating that next coming birdie; relax so that it’s quicker to react freely

    D – Your Eyes
    Focus your Vision :Your eyes must always focus and stay fix on the birdie regardless how your opponent style of racket swing or the way he looks at you while executing his shots or the way he positioned his body while hitting the birdie. Don’t be deceived by any of the above movements or whatever movements there are because your priority will be to always have your vision fix and focus at the birdie trajectory. By having a focus vision, you will send a clear message to your mind, body and legs to be on the highest state of awareness or alertness hence will improve your initial reaction.

    E – Your Strength
    Know your Strength to Optimally locate your Base Location :
    If you are a player that’s good at the front court, slightly shift your base location nearer to the front court and always prepare to momentum yourself forward to gain advantage for any incoming birdie. Similarly, if your strength is at the back court, consider shifting slightly your base location nearer to the back line and always prepare to momentum yourself backwards to gain advantage for any incoming birdie. Locating your optimal base location will give you a fast start since you’re taking the advantage according to your strength. If you are not certain where your strength lies yet, just prepare your base on the centre of the mid court area.

    F – Your Mind
    Anticipate :
    Understand and memorize your opponent typical movements and his strength. Combined with a clear vision and awareness, always prepare to gear yourself to any typical movements to anticipate that incoming birdie.

    1.2 Speed 2

    Speed 2: Continuous acceleration of footwork to address birdie

    Assuming that you’ve done a good job in improving the speed of your initial acceleration (speed 1), now it’s time for us to complement that speed by going into full gear so that we can go even faster while addressing that birdie. As earlier mention, the importance to have the speed in your footwork is that it will allow a player to address the birdie earlier and most importantly, positioned yourself while addressing the birdie optimally, thus making higher chances of producing a winning shot or opening an opportunity for a winning shot. Let us discuss what are the approaches that you can adapt to improve this:

    A – Your Steps
    Do a Lunge
    : Performing lunge to reach that incoming birdie will maximize the distance of your footwork steps and therefore increasing the chance to address the birdie earlier. Lunge with your racket foot and with the racket head level held high, extend your arm to maximize that reach.

    B – Your Body
    Be Balance :
    While moving with your racket foot, make sure that your movements towards that birdie is well balance because if you’re unbalance while on the move then you’ll highly land unbalance also and most likely you will make unsatisfactory hits. A good footwork is not just about able to reach that birdie early and optimally but also its done while on balance. So (i.e. for any lunge), make sure also your non racket arm and your non racket legs extends backwards to equalize the kinetic force and weight of movement forward. Come in with your heel first so that it can absorb the force of movements and weight better for a more balance control.

    1.3 Speed 3

    Speed 3: Acceleration to recover for the next hit

    There is no point just able to start and move fast to hit that incoming birdie but then the recovery phase to do the next following hit is slow. If your speed to do the next following hit is slow, then most likely you will be out maneuvered by your opponent in a long run and therefore you will end up as the losing side in that rally. Let us discuss what are the approaches that you can adapt to improve this:

    A – Your Eyes
    Focus your Vision
    : As earlier mention, your eyes must always focus and stay fix on the birdie regardless how your opponent moves. After your hit, focus on the trajectory of your opponent hit so that you can always stay alert to move quickly for the next hit.

    B – Your Position
    Position Yourself on the Optimal Base Location
    : After making a hit, observe and position your base accordingly after considering yours and your opponent's next hit and position. Don’t move quickly to the centre of the court without critically observing the above fact or else an experience player will just hit the birdie repeatedly back to the front court while you are on your way rushing back to your centre base.

    2. About Footwork

    Footwork is the foundation element in Badminton. It’s the core that any player must learn and train hard to improve. Even world class players train very hard with high level of self discipline to improve how they move on court and for them the agility they have today will not necessarily will remain perfect tomorrow and therefore they train again and again to continuously improve and maintain that speed. A player can have what it takes to be physically fit, mentally strong and mastered a sound technique of play but WITHOUT proper footwork movements to complement all of this then the path to be a better player is still far away and even if you had mastered all the footwork movements there are in any coaching textbook but still neglect to continuously train hard to further improve and maintain it, you will find that the quality of your game play will deteriorate. Continuously train very hard your footwork as it is the best weapon that you can possess.
  2. Fidget

    Fidget Regular Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    Likes Received:
    :) Very well put. Thank you shooting stroke.
  3. dlp

    dlp Regular Member

    Jun 19, 2002
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    Accountant / Coach
    Lot of good points here.

    I would add : On a lot of shots theres acceleration from base...decelaration before hitting (e.g. net shot), shot, then accelartion towards base and deceleration into base. On other shots you may hit while moving away from base (e.g. block jump), land further away than the hitting point and reverse direction.

    While "keep your eye on the shuttle" is good for beginners, better players need to have some view of the court and opponents position.
  4. Sketchy

    Sketchy Regular Member

    Nov 13, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Ski Tech
    The Westcountry
    Nice post ShootingStroke - very interesting :)
    Just a couple of things I'd say (feel free to disagree)...

    E - Know your Weakness to optimally locate your base:
    I'd say you have it backwards. If you're very good at the front, you can afford to set your base position further back, to compensate for your (relative) weakness at the back of the court. So if you have a weak backhand clear, you might set your base position so that when forced to play a backhand, you are giving yourself more time, to get into a better position, to play a better shot. And of course the same applies in reverse if you are stronger at the back of the court.

    In fact, it's probably not so much how good you are at the front, as how quick you are in getting there. Obviously if you are much slower moving backwards, you need to set your base further back.

    Also, if you look at it from your opponent's point of view - if they know you're weaker at the back of the court, and they can see you always positioning yourself towards the front, they'll just play more shots to the back of the court. You'll have fewer opportunities to use your skill at the front of the court, and you'll tire sooner because your're having to cover a greater distance to each shot.

    At the very least, it's a matter of taste - similar to if you have good defense but a weak smash, do you buy a light racket to make your defense an even greater strength, or do you buy a heavier racket to make your smash less of a weakness?

    F - Anticipate:
    Just one thing to add...
    Yes, you should definitely try and learn your opponent's strengths/weaknesses/preferences, but your #1 priority always has to be to cover the most threatening reply. For example, if you've just hit a clear that's falling a bit short, even if you know your opponent will usually play a drop in similar situations, your #1 priority still has to be to cover a potential smash (because that's the more threatening shot).
    Gambling is asking for trouble against better players - especially if they use deception to any great extent.
  5. nprince

    nprince Regular Member

    Jun 13, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I totally agree with Sketchy's points...Anyways, I appreciate the effort gone in to preparing this and other excellent articles by Shooting stroke. Little more clarity will help...
  6. shooting stroke

    shooting stroke Regular Member

    Jan 6, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Professional / Badminton Coach
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Malaysia
    Excellent points added above;). That's the reason BC exist at the first place, to share all the knowledge there are about badminton.:p
  7. visor

    visor Regular Member

    Dec 7, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Vancouver, BC
    Very well thought out. And the best examples would be a LD vs LCW match. It's like watching fencing mixed with martial arts footwork. :)

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