The first step is crucial in all high-speed sports. For sprinters, the moment the gun fires you need your first step to be explosive and quick so you can pull out to a lead. In basketball, when your team has the ball you need to be quicker than your defender to find lanes to score. Similarly, in badminton, right when your opponent hits you need a quick first step so that you can move faster to the shot and take advantage of the rally. In this post, we are going to take a look at why the first step is so important and share some drills and exercises that we can do to improve it!
Why is the First Step Important?
You Get to the Bird
Badminton is fast! If you are a bit slow in your reactions or your first step, you might not get there in time to reach the bird. Especially if your opponent is hitting a smash down the line, you have to react and step quickly to even have a chance to reach the shot.
You can Catch the Bird Earlier
If your first step is quick, you can catch the bird earlier in the front and the back. In the front, you will be able to move closer to the net and catch the bird higher, giving you more options to hit the bird. If you are slow and you catch it low, you are only able to hit recovery shots instead of attacking shots. Same thing in the back, if you take a faster first step, you will be able to jump earlier and choose the offensive shot you want to hit. If you are late, you will have to hit similar recovery shots.
You Surprise Your Opponent
Finally, you can also surprise your opponent. If you play at a similar pace throughout the whole rally or game, your opponent will begin to get used to your play style and speed. However, if you add in a sudden quick first step, you can easily trick your opponent by suddenly playing a new speed. This is a great way to win some fast points without expending too much of your energy.
How to Improve Your First Step?
Now that we know the importance of having a quick first step, let’s take a look at some ways that you can improve this.
Agility circuit is my favorite way to improve the speed of your feet. By working on staying on your toes and the strength of your calves, you should find that your first speed slowly gets quicker and quicker. Here, we have a great agility circuit that you can do virtually anywhere:
Jumprope is equally as important for players to improve their feet and calf strength. Take a look at the longer post linked above to find a good routine that you can add to your schedule!
Plyometrics are also an amazing way for you to improve your lower body stability and strength, especially in your quadriceps and glutes. This helps with your explosiveness either to the front of back corners, by loading up and exploding to the outside. Here is another circuit that you can take a look at to help with your plyometric programs: