Plyometric training for badminton by Alan Overy

Plyometric training has been around for several years now and is particularly relevant to any sport involving fast, explosive movements such as badminton. Defined by the dictionary as 'a form of exercise that involves rapid and repeated stretching and contracting of the muscles, designed to increase strength', there are numerous exercises which a badminton player can use to improve his or her game.

Part of the emphasis should be to focus on core exercises which mimic those you will use in badminton, so hopping, jumping and bounding as well as sprints will come under this category. It's fine to build up peripheral muscle groups too if you have time of course.

It may sound obvious but if you want to achieve a better jump smash, you should practice jumping. As with all plyometric exercises the key word is 'form'. You need to ensure each jump is performed correctly and explosively. As soon as you start to tire and your form goes, you should stop. Most studies recommend a break of between 2 and 3 minutes between sets of exercises. This ensures your muscles recover enough to perform another strong set at full or as close to full power as possible. Try 10 jump smashes and visualise yourself performing a perfect smash as you do this.

Tip: Warm up before any explosive workout to avoid injury. Dynamic stretching using gentle to medium action is best.

For single leg power, bounding is a good movement for a badminton player as this movement will frequently be used around the court. Try marking out an area or use the badminton court or even a tennis court as a guide. You can then 'bound' from one leg to another with a short pause between each leap. The bounds should be under full control and as explosive as possible, giving you maximum height and distance without overbalancing. This exercise will also help build up stabilizing muscles throughout your legs and torso as you land and spring again.

There are many other plyometric drills and exercises available. A good coach will be able to talk you through these safely. Used correctly, plyometric training will add visibly to your game.

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