Train right for results

CONTINUING from where we left off last week, I would now like to show you how to apply the training guideline to the second category of training on shadow badminton, multiple shuttle drill and stroke refinement.

Let us first take shadow badminton. Quite often I see players doing shadow badminton on court as if they are out on a morning jog . Not only that, they do not even cover the full dimension of the court.

Some coaches or physical instructors directing the exercise do not seem to fully understand the benefits of shadow badminton.

They do not pay particular attention to the speed of the footwork, whether the trainee covers the full dimension of the court and if the execution of the imaginary strokes is correct.

Let me explain what an effective shadow badminton session should be like.

Applying the guidelines to shadow badminton would mean that you must imagine you are playing against one of the fastest players in badminton. Not only that, this opponent of yours has the highest quality shots which would force you to the extreme front and back corners and length of the court.

This opponent would require that your footwork and your movements be very fast to retrieve his shots and your imaginary shots must be played with the touch and power as if you are playing an actual game although there is no shuttle to hit.

The rallies must also be longer than usual.

The trainee and his coach must know that for shadow badminton to be effective and beneficial, it must satisfy all these requirements.

It is a very strenuous and absorbing drill which can be used to improve your speed, stamina and movements on court by repeating many sets of footwork and movement until it becomes automatic for you. Some of these sets of footwork and movements should also be tailored to the footwork and movements which you perform when you play your strong points in your style of play.

For multiple shuttle drill, I find that not enough attention is paid to the quality of shots played to the player undergoing the drill.

At the same time, there is also not enough emphasis on the quality of shots and the quality of strokes played by the player undergoing the exercise.

Why does this happen? It happens because some coaches and players do not realise that when performing these shuttle drills or stroke development routines, they must simulate as closely as possible situations in very high level of competitive badminton.

How can this be done? Let us first take the multiple shuttle drill. This drill is usually used to improve the speed of reaction of a player towards executing a certain stroke and also towards improving his endurance and speed during play.

Quite often, what I find lacking in a multiple shuttle drill are:

1 The many shots continuously fed to the trainee greatly lack in quality, i.e. sharpness and/or length.

Take the example of a player doing the drill to improve his quickness in executing a smash.

More than half the high shots played to him do not reach full base , i.e. the player does not have to stand in between the two base lines, or at least near the first baseline, at the back of the court to smash and half of the time, the player is in a well balanced position an unlikely situation in a match.

Although the emphasis for the multiple shuttle drill is speed, it must be speed with quality or pressure, like when playing a very tough, high level opponent.

Otherwise, the benefits of training will not be there.

Imagine you are going to play a very tough, world class player. How many chances would you get to smash from half court ? Not many.

Also, how often do you get to be in such a balanced position to execute a smash? Seldom.

2 The many shots played by the trainee undergoing the multiple shuttle drill lack quality, i.e. sharpness, accuracy or length.

It appears the player’s only objective is to quickly get as many shots across the net to the opposite side of the court as possible.

Any ordinary player can do that. But we are not training to be ordinary players; we are training to become world class players.

So, what must we do?

Following the guideline, the shots and execution of the strokes must be sharp, powerful and accurate, as if you are playing the last winning point of a very important game.

And, in our example of the multiple shuttle drill, the smash must be consistently sharp, powerful and accurate.

That is the way to train to be a true champion.

When doing the multiple shuttle drill, it must be speed of play, combined with quality of shot not speed of play alone!

When you see players performing multiple shuttle drills, it always looks impressive, with hundreds of shuttlecocks all over the court and the continuous feeding with shuttlecocks flying in the air.

Unless the coaches implement match-like conditions, the drill will be ineffective.

Like shadow badminton, the coach and his charge can design some multiple shuttle drills which would build on the strengths of the player’s style of play.

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to watch one of our national singles trainees doing a multiple shuttle drill to improve his speed in going to the net and playing a net shot.

Not much attention was paid by the coach in feeding him with sharp net shots and the player was just running from approximately the centre of the court to the two front corners near the net, playing the net shots repeatedly, without much attention to how sharp his net returns were.

Yes, he was performing the multiple shuttle drill; however, the benefits would not be at its maximum.

I think by now you would be able to apply the guidelines to stroke refinement.

I will therefore not go into detail for stroke refinement only to say that, in stroke refinement, you must execute a particular stroke or a number of strokes as if in real match conditions, over and over again until you have the confidence to execute your selected shots very well, almost everytime under pressure.

My last example on applying the guidelines would be on match practices for singles play during your training.

There are ways in which you can make the practice matches tougher than competition.

One of the best ways is to have two players play against one player, i.e. the player we are training (call him player A).

To make sure Player A experiences very tough singles type of play against the two players, three conditions must be set before play starts:

1 The two players must not stand side by side but front and back on court. One of them must always be at the back of the court, ever ready to lob, smash or play a drop shot. And when he takes a smash, he has no need to cover the net at all. The player in front takes care of the net and takes the drop shots.

2 The two players must play the singles style of play. They should not introduce any doubles style of play (for example, low drives and push shots down the line or cross court, most of the time).

3 The singles player (Player A) must play a singles type of play, as if there is only one player on the opposite side of the court.

If these three conditions are not followed, Player A will not be playing a very, very tough singles style of play.

Some coaches do not care if the two players on the opposite side of Player A stand side by side or front and back on court.

It is very important that the two players position themselves front and back as it is much more effective and beneficial than the side by side position in training Player A.

The front and back positioning will force the singles player to play more high quality shots which are good for singles style of play. It will also make sure that his footwork is fast and correct.

I hope it is now clear to you and your coach on how the guidelines can be applied to your training. – Tan Aik Huang