When you hit a match-winning badminton smash, the power in your shot comes from your hips, torso, chest, forearms — and yes, your shoulders.
Not only do strong shoulders lead to better smashes, but they also help you maneuver with more speed and control. And by keeping your shoulders in good shape, you can even reduce your odds of injury on the court.
So, what are the best badminton shoulder exercises to add to your routine? Read on for five top options to try, along with how to do them.
5 Badminton Shoulder Exercises for a Stronger, More Mobile Swing
Shoulder strength is a key part of your badminton swing, but that’s not all these exercises are good for.
Beyond strengthening shoulders, many of these movements also enhance your mobility — which can improve your range of motion and reduce your chances of injury in games.
With that in mind, here are five badminton shoulder exercises to add to your routine, from dynamic stretches to strength-building lifts and more:
1. Shoulder Pass-Throughs
Shoulder pass-throughs are a simple exercise that will engage your shoulders and dynamically encourage mobility. They’re great to include before you move into strength-building movements or passive stretches.
To try them, you’ll need access to a resistance band or long stick — like a broomstick or something similar. From there:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Use an overgrip to grab both sides of the resistance band or stick.
- With aligned posture, raise the stick up and out in front of you. Slowly make your way up above your head and behind your body. Go until you feel a stretch in your shoulders, back, and chest.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, and repeat for 8-12 reps.
2. Banded Overhead Internal Rotation
Overhead band rotations are an excellent way to engage and strengthen the muscles used in overhead throwing (or racket-swinging) motions.
To start, you’ll need a long band like this one. Then:
- Attach the band to a secure surface about 3–4 feet off the ground — like a sturdy door handle.
- Grab the band with one arm. Face away from the band, and walk a few feet forward until you feel the tension increase.
- Bend your elbow at 90 degrees, and raise your arm out to the side. Your bicep should be in line with your shoulder, and your forearm should point straight in the air.
- With your bicep still in line with your shoulder, pull the band by rotating your forearm forward until it points straight ahead of you.
- Move back to the starting position, and repeat for 2–3 sets of 12–15 reps.
3. Banded External Shoulder Rotation
Banded external shoulder rotations help target the rotator cuff and surrounding shoulder muscles. In turn, they can boost the strength and mobility behind your swings.
A bonus is that this exercise uses the same set-up as the banded overhead rotations — meaning it goes perfectly hand-in-hand with a full banded shoulder routine.
Here’s how to try it:
- Attach your resistance band to a sturdy object 3–4 feet off the ground, such as a door handle.
- Grab the band, and take a few steps away to increase tension.
- Rotate your body so that you’re facing sideways.
- Hold the band with the arm that is furthest away from the band.
- Bend your elbow at 90 degrees, and tuck your bicep to your side. Your forearm should point straight out in front of you.
- Pull the band outward by externally rotating your arm.
- Repeat for 2–3 sets of 12–15 reps.
4. Reverse Fly
Bands can be a useful tool for adding some resistance to your badminton shoulder training routine. But if you’re ready to add some extra weight to your workouts, reverse flies are a great place to start.
To begin, you’ll need to grab two light dumbbells. (Tip: They should challenge your muscles, but shouldn’t be overly difficult to lift.) Then:
- Hold the dumbbells at your sides, and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Slightly bend your knees, hinge your hips backward, and lean forward. Your chest should be close to (but not all the way) parallel to the floor, with your core engaged and spine straight.
- Let the weights hang with your palms facing inward.
- As you exhale, raise your arms out to the side. (Tip: Be sure to keep a slight bend in your elbows here.)
- As you raise the weights, pull your shoulder blades together.
- Then, slowly lower the weights back down.
- Repeat for 2–3 sets of 8–10 reps.
5. Dumbbell Arm Circles
When you need to warm up your shoulders before a badminton match, arm circles are a great dynamic stretch to try. But if you want to strengthen your deltoids while stretching your shoulders, you can take things up a notch with dumbbell arm circles.
These are slightly different from regular arm circles, and you’ll only need light dumbbells (1-3 lbs) to do them.
- Stand with your core engaged, spine aligned, and dumbbells hanging at your sides.
- Raise the dumbbells straight out in front of you.
- Next, with your arms still straight, bring your arms back so that the dumbbells are out to your sides.
- Lower your arms down.
- Repeat the motion by raising the dumbbells out in front of you, to the side, and then back down to your sides.
- Repeat for 2–3 sets of 8–10 reps.
The Bottom Line
Badminton shoulder exercises can help improve your range of motion, curb your odds of injury, and bring a boost of strength to your game. And by using these just a few times per week, you could start to see a difference in the way your shoulders feel and function on the court.
If you’re dealing with a badminton injury right now, be sure to talk to your doctor before adding any new movements to your routine. This way, you can ensure you’re getting enough rest — and doing the right movements — to get back in action feeling your best.