From the start of January I’ve challenged myself to set goals and have a plan to achieve them. I like lists and my list for badminton is short. I want to improve my all round game and get good.
The progression from beginner to expert
The entry level in New South Wales is D grade. Many players in this grade are somewhat familiar with the strategy of the game but technique may be off or they may not have great fitness. D grade players seek to develop consistency. If a player is able to develop basic fitness this helps.
The transition up to a B/C grade player requires more consistency and some tactical strategy. Players move well with greater efficiency and demonstrate control along with a wide range of racket skills. A more mature strategy is seen, minimal lifting of the shuttle, taking time away from the opponent and avoiding exposing any gaps.
Moving up to A grade requires high accuracy of shots, the ability to maintain good depth as well as better strategy. A grade players’ physical, technical, mental and ancillary capacities are well-established with the focus shifting to optimising performance. Players make sound tactical choices and are consistently hitting quality shots. The game is a little faster and rallies are longer so another step up in fitness is required.
Open Grade is the highest level in NSW. Speed is essential here. Players are able to meet the shuttle early and recover quickly after hitting the shuttle. An understanding of start speed is essential and advanced racket techniques are key. At this level tactics are very important. Better players have the ability to employ a variety of game styles and incorporate deception with their shots. Open grade players can hit a range of shots from every position on court. Fitness and explosive power are also a key factor at this level.
Improvement takes time and practice. A regular training schedule is one of my core commitments, since consistent practice is necessary to progress. I’m fortunate to have a friend who is 6 foot plus, trained in China and competitive. Practising with him was great because I’ve adapted to a faster pace and switching between offence and defence which is crucial in badminton.
There are at least 5 areas of improvement for me:
- Stronger clears and quality net drops – hitting powerful clears that reach the baseline and deceptive net drops that fall before the service line. Especially with the backhand.
- Faster reflexes – better awareness of the angle and trajectory of the shuttle, preparing early and anticipating the next shot.
- More fluid footwork – moving more efficiently, taking fewer unnecessary steps, reaching the shuttle on balance and being able to recover quickly. This requires strength and fitness.
- Fewer off centre hits – hitting the sweet spot consistently, hitting harder more efficiently. Hitting high quality shots whilst under pressure
- Better control – minimising mistakes, controlling the net, etc.
Playing competition is a way to establish a relative standard and gather constructive feedback. But my coach advised not to take it too seriously or worry what other people think. Use any criticism as fuel for success. Celebrate achievements, work harder after failures. Above all, believe in yourself. Confidence is vital for a strong player and it comes with experience.