When I use a word like “momentum” while talking about badminton you might think I’m talking about footwork and movement around the court. While it is true that you need to be aware of your momentum for smooth footwork, that’s not what we’re talking about today.
The concept of momentum is something that people have used to become successful in many areas, including badminton. Let’s take a look at a recent example, World Junior Champion Viktor Axelsen and his recent growth as a player. Around this time last year few people outside of Denmark were aware of Viktor, and then he made the finals of the Swedish International. Suddenly he was on all of our minds as we watched him begin to perform at a higher and higher level. This all culminated in a history making performance at the World Junior Championships in April of 2010 where he became the first European to win a world junior title in singles.
When you observe a player like Viktor’s progress you can’t help but feel like he has some sort of invisible energy pushing him to even greater performances. This is momentum working in his favour. You see this happen within a single tournament where a player seems to play better and better with each round, and they seem unstoppable. You also see this happen over the course of several tournaments where a player’s performance seems to carry over from one week to the next.
The best players know how to harness momentum, and most importantly they know how to prevent it from disappearing. That’s the real key, because once you lose momentum it’s a lot harder to get it back.
The easiest way to lose your momentum in badminton is to hurt yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei, if you’re injured and have to take time off to recover you lose all of your momentum. The most successful people in this world know how to leverage one success into another. This is why Lin Dan is the most successful men’s singles player of all time. One tournament win leads to another, and another. People begin to fear you, and you begin to believe in yourself without compromise.
So what is the key to maintaining our momentum? We need to understand how growth and improvement works. Many of you may already be aware of this, when you train you are actually breaking down your muscle tissues. It’s when we rest between training sessions that our body and mind regenerate resulting in performance improvements. If we over train we prevent ourselves from building up momentum in our training.
So is momentum a straight forward process? No, unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. As we’re training we inevitably run into plateaus where we struggle to see improvements for a long time. Then as if from nowhere we see a sudden surge, improvements seem effortless and our progress unstoppable. It’s important to realize that we need to be realistic with our training. We will not improve constantly and we will have down periods. With this understanding in mind you will be much stronger mentally and emotionally when you do hit a plateau.
Here are some common ways that we lose momentum and how to deal with them:
Injuries – Perhaps the most common and most damaging way to disrupt your momentum. The best way to deal with injuries is to prevent them. To do this you need to pay very close attention to what your body is telling you. Do lots of off court training to deal with common injuries that badminton players experience and you’ll be far less likely to get hurt. If you’re already dealing with an injury treat it well, see a physiotherapist and don’t push yourself too hard. This was a mistake I made too often and it shortened my career.
Distraction – Whether it’s unavoidable like school work, or simply socializing, anything that distracts your focus from the game will hamper your momentum. That being said, balance is also important in your life although that’s probably a topic for another article. You need to have other things in your life so the game doesn’t get boring for you, but there is a limit to how many different things you can do at one time.
Lack of motivation – When you’re stuck in a rut and aren’t playing great it’s hard to stay motivated. Simply by understanding that this is inevitable you can be prepared and give yourself the positive self talk necessary to get through periods of frustration. Also, make sure that you are having fun with your training because the best sure fire way to kill your motivation is if you hate what you’re doing.
Taking time off – this is an important thing to consider, because we can’t always train and taking a short break can be very helpful, but taking too long a break can kill your momentum. With that in mind sometimes the best time to take a break is when you are struggling to see improvements. Oftentimes you return to the game with a renewed sense of motivation and you see what was blocking your progress previously.
Think back on your badminton, and how momentum has affected your performance. What could you have done to prevent the dips from becoming as bad as they were, and what could you have done to keep the good periods going longer? By paying attention to your momentum you will find ways to accelerate your progress.