Badminton is all about getting the mind prepared and focused. It's very important to have a correct mental and psychological approach to indulge in badminton and shine. Without these, you'll flounder like a directionless boat. In terms of both your training schedule and performance strategy, your mental approach should be appropriate. Likewise, you should motivate yourself psychologically for training as well as playing sessions.
These are the five ‘Cs’ which will form part of your psychological make-up for playing:
All of the above components are important for your success as a player, but you must know that all players are different with different approaches to the sport. The following areas are essential when looking at the psychological approach of any player.
- Motivation and goal setting
- Eliminating self-doubt
- Using match strategy in games
- Mental preparations for matches
- Controlling your nerves in the competition
- Controlling your breathing
- Controlling your emotions
- Turning stress into success
1. GOAL SETTING
This is linked essentially with performance. Quite simply, setting goals for yourself will give you a direction and it’s a measure of what is or will be required to achieve these goals. Clear and precise goals will be needed as this will increase your motivation to succeed as well as it will enable a well-ordered timescale to be worked out to achieve these specific goals. All goals should be realistic but also challenging as this will also increase your motivation and passion to achieve success, and therefore will improve the desire to win. Goal setting is also a major component of personal development.
2. ELIMINATING SELF DOUBT
Project a positive image through your body language on and off the court. You should always walk tall with your head up and with a positive attitude. Always look like you are having fun on court. Do not worry about making mistakes or losing a point, be courageous. You need to understand your strengths & weaknesses and accept them and learn from them. Keep to your style of play in a game and don’t be rushed. You should always have confidence in your ability.
3. USING MATCH STRATEGY IN GAMES
As with most sports, strategy in a match is useless, unless you have done your homework on your opponent. Elite badminton players do this by watching their opponents play either in a live match or on video and then they identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as understand their own. Every match is different, so each match will require a new strategy or game plan. Discuss your strategy with your partner if you are playing doubles and maintain good communication at all times. Make sure you are fit enough to carry out your strategy. For example, there is no point in having a strategy to rally your opponent and have long rallies if you are not fit enough. Ultimately, if your strategy or game plan is not working then change it. Don’t leave it too late to change.
4. MENTAL PREPARATION FOR MATCHES
Everybody is different and therefore will have different approaches to prepare for a match. Mental preparation helps players achieve a focused, confident and positive state so they can compete at the highest level. Confidence is the main objective of mental preparation. This can come from practice, game plans, strategies and even visualizing winning the match. Footwork and technique are all part of this and should all be rehearsed to enable your mind and body to cope in stressful match play situations. You need to understand that losing a match is part of the learning curve to become a better player, and should not be feared.
5. CONTROLLING YOUR NERVES DURING COMPETITION
Nerves in competition can heighten your awareness, and can also increase readiness and reaction times. Nerves stimulate various chemicals and hormones within the body chemistry. Your heart will pump more blood to the muscles, and so on. The more you are aware of your nerves, the more you can control them. Factors that may help you controlling nerves could include:
- Distractions such as music
- Positive imagery
6. CONTROLLING YOUR BREATHING
Practicing correct breathing techniques can decrease your levels of stress, give you more energy, relax your tight muscles and improve concentration. You should inhale slowly, deeply and evenly through your nose, and exhale gently through your mouth as though flickering, but not extinguishing the flame of a candle. After every inhale, you should exhale with positive thoughts such as ‘relax’, ‘stay focused’ and ‘be positive’.
7. CONTROLLING YOUR EMOTIONS
Emotions experienced on court could include:
Controlling your emotions on court can be the difference between winning and losing and many matches have been lost because players have lost their cool or become frustrated and gone into meltdown. Relaxation strategies are essential in addressing total control.
8. TURNING STRESS INTO SUCCESS
All players are different and therefore have different coping strategies for stress on court. Stress is a feeling that gets created when you react to particular events. It is your body’s way of reacting. There are external and internal factors that can create stress for you. External would be not wanting to let down your partner, team or coach. Internal stress could be the pressure you put on yourself to win a match or tournament. Once you understand that there are numerous ways of coping with stress and nerves, you can apply these methods to help in competition situations. If you want to become an elite player, then you must have the following: mental toughness, a strong will to win and an ability to make strong comebacks after losing points or a set.
The mental approach to badminton is something that needs to be applied, not only in matches, but throughout your training programme. For example, a high level of motivation is required for a hard on-court session or a gym session. Training sessions should include playing to a game plan and then being able to change mid game to a different strategy to build confidence. Using mental imagery for players is a major way of helping, both in training and in matches. Create a mental image or visualize your success during performance. Visualizing means drawing on everything that your senses pick up on in a moment, specifically:
To become a world-class badminton player it requires hard work, great mental power, supreme confidence, superb fitness, a positive attitude and hunger and desire to win. Many players have amazing, super high levels of fitness, speed, power and agility and the one major difference between them and a champion is that individual’s mental attitude. Being self-assured that all the hard work the player has done, either in the court or in the gym, will be enough to eliminate any element of self-doubt. It is a combination of this self-belief and will to win that separates the winners and losers. This self-belief will enable you to raise your game to the highest level. You should not let other people or the magnitude of a match distract you from what you need to do as part of your preparations.
Some tips from us -
- Bring music into pre-match routines. You should listen to music that keeps you calm and soothes you in the beginning and then listen to music that will get you pumped up for a game.
- Rest and sleep are important. You should make sure they you get a good night’s sleep the night before and don’t sleep in too much as it can make you too tired. Conversely, you should gauge your sleep so that you don’t wake up too early either.
- You should find relaxing techniques that work for you in stressful situations. You should identify what motivates you and keeps you focused.