Reaction & reflexes are extremely important in badminton, especially if you want to improve and get better at the game. Unfortunately, we are all born with different levels of innate reaction time. There are some things you can do, though, to improve your reactions to a higher level. In this post, we will take a look at exactly why reaction is important and some different ways that we can improve our base level of reaction.
Why do we need Reflexes?
The top athletes of any sport need a good reaction time. Sprinters need the miniscule 0.1 seconds from the go signal to when they explode out to full speed to be able to beat their opponents. Basketball players need to be able to change their direction to follow their opponents to be able to successfully defend them despite their actions to get away. Similarly, badminton players need reactions for various different things:
Get to the Bird
The most important is to get to the shuttle. If your opponent hits a fast shot, like a smash, and you do not react fast enough, the bird will hit the ground before you even have a chance to move at all. At the same time, if your opponent hits a slow or a weak shot, if you do not react quickly, the shot will not be as weak and you will not have the chance to take advantage of it.
Keep up with the Speed
When your opponent hits fast shots like smashes or drives, you will need a fast reaction to move your arm out and return the shot. Even if you are already in position, the speed of the shuttle could fly by you before you have the chance to even try to return it.
Understand What You Need to Do
Fast reaction also means that you understand what shot your opponent hit and your body and mind can process this information and know what the right shot to hit back is. If you constantly just hit random shots, your opponent will find it easy to return them and win the match. In a split second, your body needs to know the game plan and hit the correct shot.
How can we train our Reflexes?
Now that we’ve established why reaction time is important specifically in badminton, let’s take a look at a few different exercises that we can do to improve it.
Train on Uneven Surfaces
Sand training (footwork or running) or running up hills is one great way to improve your reflexes. When you train on uneven surfaces, your mind and body have to take the time to process where your feet should step and how you absorb impact. By adding this into your normal training, you are giving your mind extra external stimuli to handle – this translates to the court by having the information processing of what you need to do come more naturally.
Reaction Time Sprints
I touched on this longer in a full sprint post, but reaction time sprints are a great way for your mind to prepare for one moment and have your body use all of its energy to get there. You can have a partner point to one direction or side at a sudden moment to have you sprint towards there. You can also have your partner just yell “Go!” and you take off from there.
Tennis Ball Drills
The tennis ball drills can be done alone or with a partner. The main premise of this group of drills is to be doing one exercise while having to focus on a small object (like a tennis ball). Some example drills are:
- Balancing on one leg while a teammate throws a ball back and forth with you. Catch these balls with one hand. To make this even harder, try balancing on a Bosu Ball or doing one legged squats while continuing to throw the ball back and forth. If you do not have a partner, you can throw the ball against the wall.
- Have a partner stand 5 feet away from you. They can bounce the ball anywhere in front of you. The goal is to catch the ball before it bounces on the ground for the second time.
- Do rapid fire or any other agility exercise. Your partner will then drop the ball on their left or right, and you explode from your agility exercise to catch the ball as fast as you can.
These exercises will keep you focused on two different things while having to react as fast as possible. This is just like badminton, where you will need to focus on your footwork, your opponent’s shot, and the shot you will have to return with all at the same time.
Do more Reaction Practice!
Try to add more reaction practice to your training sessions! Not everything has to be about pure speed or endurance, reflexes and reaction time play a big role in badminton as well. If you mix in this special type of training program, you might find growth in different areas of your game. As always, thanks for checking in and reading this post. If you’d like to see more drill highlights, training highlights, or more, please check out my YouTube channel and Instagram Highlight Feed, and feel free to reach out with any questions. See you guys in the next one!