Using Experimentation To Improve Your Badminton

On August 31, 2011, in Instructional, by Emmet Gibney

Experimentation isn’t just for scientists, badminton players can achieve serious benefits from experimentation.  As we’ve told you before badminton success requires a system, but not just any system will do.  Sure, it’s important to start somewhere, but how do we go about improving that system?  Experimentation.  To help illustrate the value that can be gained with experimenting in your game I’m going to use manufacturing as an example.

The Japanese are world renowned for their manufacturing, specifically their ability to produce high volumes of goods with low defect rates.  The more units of a good you’re producing the more likely that your system is going to break down and faults begin to show.  To compare this to badminton I would say that the higher level you play, the faster you and your opponents play, and the harder you both hit, the more likely you both are to make errors.  It’s hard for us to keep up, so this is where it’s important to experiment with ways to improve your game.

Now, back to the Japanese and their manufacturing.  They created a philosophy called “Kaizen” which means “improvement” or “change for the better”.  It’s a process of continual improvement of processes.  This not only means improving your existing processes, but deciding if certain processes can be removed altogether.  In badminton we tend to play in patterns because certain sequences of shots tend to go well together (ie smash, run to the net and kill), but sometimes we find ourselves running patterns simply because we’ve developed a habit that we do without thinking about the effectiveness of that pattern anymore.  This doesn’t just apply to patterns either, it can apply to single shots as well.  Here are some examples from my own playing experience.

I’m at the stage in my game where experimentation is increasingly important because my body isn’t what it used to be.  Playing against 18 year olds who run forever I have to be creative and find ways to dictate the rally and keep them off balance.  When we’re taught to hit our smashes we are instructed to contact the shuttle as high as possible and to hit the shuttle with as much angle as possible.  This makes sense logically, however it can really throw your opponent off if you mix things up.  I began waiting for the shuttle to fall a little bit further, hitting it much flatter than usual.  This causes the shuttle to land several feet further back than my opponent expects, and it passes them at a much higher point.  A similar tactic can be employed in doubles where you deliberately aim higher on your opponents body as they are bent over expecting a steep smash.

As for experimentation with patterns go, your options are endless.  Fairly early in the first game between two people who haven’t played each other before you will start to see patterns develop.  With opponents who have played each other a few times before they will start off almost instantly with clear patterns.  Patterns can be good, and bad for your depending how well you take advantage of them and how well you adapt.  If you adapt well to your opponents patterns you can begin to anticipate their shots and counter effectively.  If you can adapt your own patterns to keep your opponent guessing, that’s also great.  If you like to hit a slice and follow up with a push from the net, you could try mix it up by switching the push with a deceptive net shot (ie pretend you are going to push, and then drop).  I know this is hard to illustrate in written form.

The point of all this is to be willing to take some losses early on in the hopes of developing a more complete game in the future.  I may not be nearly as fast or fit as I used to be, but I am far more tricky and control my matches much better.  Go ahead, try some experimenting with your game as well and let us know in the comments some of your ideas or frustrations.

Coaching – Every Player Should Do It!

On April 20, 2010, in Instructional, by Emmet Gibney

If you were to ask any top ten, or even top 100 player, they would tell you they have coached at some point in their career. Often they are made to do it by their federation, or their club. Sometimes they have to do it because they need some extra money. Several players do it because they want to give back to the sport that has given them so much. Perhaps the most overlooked benefit of coaching is that it helps you to improve as a player yourself.

How Does Coaching Help You To Improve?

Think about your school work.  Is there a subject that you are particularly strong in?  Perhaps your friends often come to you for help with math, or science.  Maybe you even do some tutoring.  When you spend time helping others with something that you are already good at, you get better at it.  This applies to everything in life, even badminton.  By spending time helping others with their badminton, you start to really analyze what it is that you already do.  You notice some of your own bad habits and correct them.  You break down the fundamentals of your technique in order to explain it clearly to your student.  By doing all of this you further cement your understanding of the game.

When you watch your players playing games you have to break down strategy, and tactics.  You start noticing how to move players around the court, what their strengths and weaknesses are.  You take yourself out of the game and from the outside looking in you gain a new perspective on the sport.

I myself and currently starting my own training again.  My goals are much more humble than most, but still daunting for me.  I want to win the Canadian nationals, something I’ve never done before, and frankly it’s going to be an uphill battle.  Life often gets in the way of training.  You need to work, or perhaps for you it’s your homework.  Well that’s why I have decided to start doing some coaching again.  Make a little bit of spending money, while improving your badminton, nothing better than that.  It’s an excuse to keep you on the court, and keep you thinking about badminton.

Give Back To The Sport You Love

As I mentioned in the introduction, another major motivation for a lot of players who coach is giving back to the sport.  I think that is very important.  Many of us love this game, a lot.  Most of my life’s fondest memories have happened either at tournaments, or near a badminton court.  The sport doesn’t get as much respect as we all know it should.  I know that for me growing up in Canada, my friends and I would often be embarrassed to tell people that we played badminton, hockey was the big game in our city.  It shouldn’t be that way.  Kids should feel proud to say they play badminton, because their friends should like it to.  We need to get more kids playing badminton, but there are not enough coaches.  This is why it’s so important for people to coach if they have the knowledge.  Be willing to pass that knowledge on, share with others what has been so dear to you.

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It has been a long time since we told you anything about the new website, and we decided to give you a little bit more information. The website is almost ready, we just have a few last things to put together and then we’ll be ready to open it up to the world. The project got a lot bigger than we had originally planned, and while it delayed us a bit, it has resulted in a much cooler website.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UNYQgjn08M[/youtube]

What Separates The Best From The Rest: Nationality

On September 16, 2009, in Instructional, by Emmet Gibney

This article is a little different than the others in this series in that it offers no advice to the individual players (other than perhaps to leave your country), but instead offers up ideas to the organizations. Upon viewing the title of this article I’m sure that already many of you are prepared to start arguing with me. Where you’re from should make no difference whether you’re a good player or not you say, people from even the most remote places have the ability to succeed in badminton. This is true to a point, but it is undeniable that a small handful of countries, and one country in particular, dominate badminton. In no particular order here are the main countries I am referring to:

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Badminton Life Progress Update: September 11, 2009

On September 11, 2009, in Instructional, Video, by Emmet Gibney

We’re getting close to finishing everything for the coaching videos. The DVD and subscription website (www.badmintonlife.com) are almost ready for purchase. I went to watch Peter play a club match the other day, and then we also did a quick little video with Peter to tell you what’s going on now. Peter’s club played well, but lost very close after going to a “golden set”. A golden set is when the club match is tied 3-3, so they pick one event to play and they do one last set which decides everything. Unfortunately Peter’s team lost the golden set 24-22! Anyway, here’s Peter : )

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2xFz5HajFE[/youtube]

What Separates The Best From The Rest: Professionalism

On September 9, 2009, in Instructional, by Emmet Gibney

Doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, engineer… What do Lin Dan, Peter Gade and Lee Chong Wei have in common with these people? They’re all professionals. While these players haven’t gone to school to study badminton like a doctor went to medical school, they do take their sport very seriously. I can assure you that Peter Gade looks at badminton as his job, and has done so since he was 18 or 19 years old. This could very well be the number one most important thing that separates someone like Peter Gade, from some national level player.

How does someone treat badminton professionally? Here are a few things to consider:

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We travel to Odense, Denmark to speak with Rasmus Fladberg, one of the top juniors in Denmark, and Europe. Rasmus was participating in a camp for some of the top juniors in Denmark.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcgYgqJSIYk[/youtube]

I know it’s been a little while since our last progress update. We have been really busy working on the videos for the coaching program so I haven’t had as much time to spend doing updates. Today I got Peter to do a quick little intro video for those who wanted to finally see him in person. We are about 70% done shooting the videos, but we still have a lot of work to do to edit the footage, and get everything ready with the website. Finally, here is Peter : )

Production on the Badminton Life Coaching Program featuring Peter Rasmussen has begun. This video update is from the first day of shooting where I was lucky enough to have a chance to play Peter singles. I have seen Peter’s match against Sun Jun in the 1997 Worlds probably over 100 times, certainly more than any other match I’ve ever watched. It was a strange feeling to be standing on the other side of the court from this legend. I discovered that I have a lot more to learn about badminton than I first thought!

Playing Badminton With Rhythm

On June 3, 2009, in Instructional, by Emmet Gibney

In order to be able to move quickly on the badminton court you need to be able to move with rhythm. If the badminton court were much bigger, and all you needed to do was run straight lines all the time it wouldn’t matter, but that’s not the case. When we are waiting to see where our opponent is going to hit their next shot we can’t move from a complete stand still to super speed if we’re flat on our feet.

There are a couple advantages to playing with rhythm:

You can more easily anticipate your opponent’s next shot
You can more easily throw your opponent off of your next shot

The first point is fairly straight-forward. By maintaining a certain bounce in your step you are going to be able to change direction much more easily. The key is to train this and make sure that you are doing it in games and not just training. The second point is a little less obvious, but I’ll do my best to explain.

When I was a kid my brother bought me Bruce Lee’s book on Jeet Kune Do. In it Bruce Lee talks about the concept of broken rhythm. This means mixing up your rhythm between fast and slow, and doing this transition very quickly and unexpectedly so that your opponent gets thrown off. So for example you make your base rhythm a little bit slower than what you’re capable of. You make sure that your opponent falls into his own comfortable rhythm, and then suddenly you up the pace for just a couple of shots. More than likely your opponent will be caught off-guard and will either make an error, or won’t get your shot at all.

Do you play with rhythm? Is it fast or is it slow? Has your coach ever told you that you need to control the pace of the match? This ties into that perfectly. If you are in control of the rhythm of the match, you are in control of the pace of the match. Chances are if you control the rhythm, you will also be the one who wins the match. Badminton is a lot more like boxing or martial arts than you might realize, read up on broken rhythm and you’ll know what I mean.

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