I’ve always loved how badminton can be a social activity. But, for all its social benefits, there’s a place for going solo. This is especially true when you’re trying to get better and there’s nobody else around. So, is there any value in practicing badminton alone?
You can practice badminton alone! It may not help you get better at the activity of competing against another player who’s across the court, but it’s an effective and efficient way to tattoo the movements of badminton into your muscle memory. All you need is a large space, your racket, and a shuttlecock!
“How?” you ask? Follow these simple autodidact techniques and you’ll be smashing your way to badminton self-mastery!
Do Racket Swings
One of the first skills you can work on alone is how you strike the shuttlecock. To practice your shuttlecock shots, take a swing at racket swings!
Racket swings are a series of drills meant to consolidate your use of your racket. Racket swings enable you to practice certain shots like the smash, clear, and lift, to name a few. These drills will help you practice using your racket even without someone playing against you.
Here are some racket swing drills you can try:
The smash is a powerful shot delivered from overhead. You can do this while your feet stay on the ground. Or, you can perform this shot with an explosive lift for more height. It’s up to you. You can drill this on your own!
To perform a stationary smash, simply have your racket in hand. Throw the shuttlecock in the air, jump at a height you think you’ll be able to hit the shuttlecock, and smash. You can do this against a wall if you don’t want to retrieve your shuttlecock from a far-off point. You know that you’re performing this shot correctly the harder the shuttlecock slams into the wall.
Do this as many times as you want. And, of course, as the British say, “Have a smashing time!”
The stationary smash takes care of your offense. For defense, there’s the stationary defense drill. The stationary defense drill enables you to zero in on your defensive weaknesses, particularly your reaction time.
Ordinarily, you’d have a coach or another player throwing the shuttlecock at you as you try to lift, drive, or drop it. But, if you’re alone, you can still work on your defense even without the shuttlecock or coach.
All you need to do is grab your racket and hit an imaginary shuttlecock. As you chase after an imaginary shuttlecock, spring back to your original position. This trains you to react quickly. Also, the cardiovascular workout you get from this drill makes working on defense worth doing!
Front Wrist Workout
In badminton, the most important joint in your body is your wrist. Your wrist is the connection point for most of the muscles you need for gripping your racket. It’s also where a lot of nerves go through. These motor nerves give you the ability to control the force you put into the racket.
This is why wrist conditioning is a must in badminton. The front wrist workout conditions your wrist, moving it on all its axes of rotation. It also keeps the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the joint nimble, preventing injuries as you play.
To perform the front wrist workout, hold your racket in one hand and the shuttlecock in the other. Drop the shuttlecock from a high position and try to hit the shuttlecock with minimal arm movement.
Essentially, you’ll be flicking the shuttlecock. Only your wrist should be moving. The less your arms and shoulders get involved, the more you’ll get out of this exercise.
Hit the Wall
If you don’t want your badminton skills to hit a wall, hit the wall — pun intended!
Hitting the wall is as simple as it sounds. You use your racket to hit the shuttlecock into the wall. Unlike the stationary smash drill, the goal is to strike the shuttlecock in a controlled fashion. By controlled, I mean hitting a part of the wall you’re targeting. Besides your racket-wielding skills, you’ll be training your accuracy with this drill.
When practicing with this drill, here are a couple of reminders:
First, the purpose of this exercise is control and accuracy. This means that you shouldn’t be trying to hit the shuttlecock as fast as you can. Rather, you should be identifying a part of the wall as your target and hitting it as often as you can.
As time goes by and your accuracy improves, you can try changing the targets on the wall with each shot. This simulates how you’ll be aiming at different target points during an actual badminton game.
The second tip is simple — have a ball with this drill, if you know what I mean! Or, should I say shuttlecock?
Hit the Shuttlecock to the Air Again and Again
The previous drill will help you zero in on your accuracy and precision. But, precision and accuracy in badminton are just as good as your control of the shuttlecock. For control, nothing beats juggling — or hitting the shuttlecock into the air again and again.
Hitting the shuttlecock in the air repeatedly builds shuttlecock control. This is thanks to the repetitive micro movements the wrist needs to make. This drill requires no target or wall. To easily imagine what this looks like, think of it as bouncing the shuttlecock on the racket’s head.
To get the most bang for your buck out of this exercise, do it for as many repetitions as you can. If you’re doing this for the first time, aim to complete 10 bounces. Over time, you’ll be adding more bounces before the shuttlecock begins to wander.
Practice Your Footwork
Badminton is the fastest sport on the planet, not just because of the shuttlecock. It’s because of the speedy footwork athletes and even recreational players have. If you haven’t worked on yours, here are some ways you can work on being light on your feet:
You work on your footwork by incorporating workouts that require you to stay on the balls of your feet. Right away, skipping rope is a must in your training. Some agility drills like hops and lunges are also helpful. Lastly, incorporate some sprints for that added speed and power boost!
Lunges, in particular, will be helpful in training you to reach far-flying shuttlecocks. Besides the performance benefits lunges confer, you get the extra benefit of stretching your hip muscles. Learn more about these and other stretches in my other post!
Hops train your speed and truncal control on the court. Besides this, hopping to the sides will also enable you to be explosive as you chase after distant shuttlecocks. You can also work on your vertical jump with hops, giving yourself more power behind your smashes.
Do Shadow Badminton
Do you see how boxers train their movements as though they’re hitting and dodging an imaginary opponent? You can do the same thing in badminton by way of shadow badminton!
Shadow badminton is a drill where you move and swing your shuttlecock as though you’re playing against a real opponent. The goal in shadow badminton is to practice all of the movements you’re capable of. If you’re trying out new shots, shadow badminton is an excellent opportunity to try them, minus the risk of throwing a game! Shadow badminton builds everything from coordination to endurance to footwork. Plus, as long as you’ve got your racket, the world is your badminton court!
All you need for this drill is your racket. A shuttlecock won’t be necessary. This drill will attack your cardiovascular system, as well as your sense of balance and coordination. Shadow badminton is the ultimate drill for practicing all of your badminton skills when you’re alone. For this reason, shadow badminton has to be in your program when you’re trying to ace badminton alone.
Get Better Even When You’re Alone
Yes, in badminton, it takes two to tango. But, let’s face it. When you’re trying to get better, you won’t always be in your badminton club. Nor will you always have someone around to be your training partner. Be that as it may, you can still hone your skills alone.
With the drills I’ve provided here, not only will you be better with a racket but you’ll also develop confidence once you set foot on a court. Most importantly, each drill will consolidate every skill, etching it into your muscle memory.
So, the next time you’re alone, know that it’s an opportunity to get better!
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