Hear from our very own Badminton Legend Himself- Mr. Prakash Padukone, who details all the steps involved that can help any badminton aspirant or parents navigate this journey that is often filled with many questions along the way.
Making the right choice in a career is critical for individuals to become professional players. For passionate sports enthusiasts, this critical juncture occurs when they shift from playing it to pursuing it.
Badminton is a sport that enjoys much popularity and patronage across the globe. The visibility is such that there are umpteen opportunities for anyone to pick up a racquet and experience the game. With legendary players illuminating the sport, there are many individuals at a young age inspired to play professional badminton. If you are one of them, look no further than this blog for steps to become a badminton player!
The initial years define the orientation of the individual towards the sport and help build a foundation for a career in badminton. Generally, the age of 6 or 7 is the right time to be introduced to the sport and start hitting the shuttle or learn a forehand grip. Badminton is as technical as it is physical. Players need to combine physical fitness with technique and mental agility to excel at this sport.
The most important lesson to learn and top in terms of priority is the technique. Any and all levels of excellence are only built on a strong technique. This takes years to learn, hence beginning early is advantageous.
One cannot customize style and presence on the court without getting the basics right. At the age of 6-8 years, it is easy to understand and internalize technique. It goes without saying that any young badminton player needs to absorb the fundamentals like the grip, footwork, serve, drop shots, and jump smashes in the sport of badminton.
Just like a building whose foundation is strong and multiple floors can be built; it is easy to add new strokes, improve speed, power, smashes, and defense tactics if the basic technique is well imbibed and strong.
The initial years are needed to build awareness on how important physical fitness is in badminton especially for young people. The game is extremely physical and one needs to demonstrate the technique, stamina, and effective decision-making for extended periods of time.
At a young age, fitness regimes in the right doses go a long way in strengthening the player and his/her game. While learning technique, young players need to familiarize themselves with the physical aspects of the game.
In the beginning, swimming is a good physical activity. It helps build physical capability without injury. Gymnastics under a good coach will help build strength and enhance flexibility. It is worthwhile to note that motor qualities are best developed early (between 6 to 12 years of age). It is ideal to begin like this and gradually increase the load as per each player’s response and adaptability. This prepares the body for actually mastering the sport.
The mind and body need to work in tandem to excel at badminton. Intensity is another crucial physical aspect in the sport, which helps players sustain performance in a rally. As the rules of badminton go, each match is a set of three games, and each game is played for 21 points. Cruising through this format is tough, and needs endurance to match or surpass the opponent. Such rallies can go on for several seconds in a row. Players need to deploy swift skillful movements across the court. Hence, balancing strength with flexibility and agility is extremely important.
The first steps to become a badminton player can be taken wherever one is –in the neighborhood training centers/school sports complexes to identify interest and potential. These places give the best and easy access to playing facilities like badminton courts and the opportunity to familiarize with the game rules. What began as a daily activity of playing badminton may turn out to be an expedition.
Once passion and potential are identified, it is time for the next step. While local training and coaching arenas provide support, an advanced training academy opens new possibilities.
Repetition is the mother of all skills – what differentiates players and good players is the amount of time spent. Once the ability to play badminton is uncovered, the key is to keep at it. Going beyond recreational play, regular practice results in better game, confidence and strong understanding of self.
After keeping regularly at badminton for a year or two, if there is sustained interest and potential to be groomed, advanced centers are your next destination. Badminton is much different a sport today compared to what it was two decades ago. Growing enthusiasm and patronage for the sport means much better facilities easily accessible to young badminton players today.
Glory at the local school/community level is certainly an indicator of talent. However, it is important to explore the sport in its entirety, and not just as a game. Here is where patience is key. It is useful to follow a few steps before the crucial decision of pursuing a career in badminton. It is no more missing classes for a match, scoring physical training points to make up the overall grade. It is a stage where badminton takes precedence over every other aspect in life.
This is the right amount of exposure at the right age, with minimal disruption to daily life. It is ideal to repeat such experiences intermittently for a year or two. The coaching, infrastructure and feedback from such centers identify and sustain passion. For parents, this step is crucial, as it is imperative to go easy and let the child explore his/her passion and potential.
It is a win-win situation. Rather than uprooting entirely with limited information to an unfamiliar environment, one tests the waters before taking the plunge. Multiple such sessions will equip aspiring players and parents with information needed to make the final decision.
With positive feedback from the coaches, continued enthusiasm for the sport and resources in place, young badminton players can now adopt single-minded focus on the game. Focus on the game is the mantra for young players. For their parents, it is providing adequate support and creating the right environment. A holistic environment with no burden of undue expectations or responsibility plays a major role, even beyond facilities and coaching in success or failure.
Now that all boxes are ticked, it is time to pursue a career in badminton on a bigger stage through advanced coaching centers. It is useful to look for a badminton coaching academy with a track record, established infrastructure, knowledgeable coaches exposed to different levels of the game. These centers have state-of-the-art facilities, a well-rounded regime, and top coaches who hone each individual’s game and style.
This is where presence in tournaments at the inter-district and state-level is encouraged. Emphasis is on enjoying the game while applying techniques learned. Adapting to a competitive environment and learning at each individual’s pace happens at this stage. The balance achieved from individual talent, rigor, and discipline of the coaching centers and consistent support from parents/guardians ensures that a bright career in badminton is launched.
Well begun – is only half-done. What next?
Watch this space on what to do to after the perfect launch.