Training for Badminton Players: Quality Vs. Quantity
Every top badminton player wonders how to get the most out of their game. There is a constant debate in the Badminton world surrounding quality vs. quantity.
Some people believe strongly that to reach a certain level you need to be putting in an obscene amount of hours on a weekly basis. Others believe just as strongly that quantity is actually not necessary if you are really doing your best in the moment that you are working.
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The difference between badminton to other sports
Badminton is an interesting sport. Because it is so dynamic in nature it is difficult to determine a single clear answer. In other words a sport like darts has a slightly more direct answer.
Darts is partially a function of your ability to focus and execute on hitting the target. However, I would argue that is primarily a function of the amount of times you have practiced and rehearsed hitting those targets. Quality is important but a lot of it comes down to quantity.
Badminton, on the other hand is very different. Although there is a target on court- this target is constantly changing depending on the style of play of your opponent, the timing and game situation, and the particular tactic you are trying to execute.
So in this article I will make an argument for both sides of the story then give you my opinion at the end. I would love to hear your opinion as well in the comments.
The quantity training approach
Well, this argument is pretty simple – ASIA. Some of the Asian countries like Indonesia and China are renowned for putting in unbelievable hours. Some say that the top players are training 6-8 hours a day with sometimes very little break. They do this their entire lives starting from a very young age.
A lot of playing at a high level comes down to how many times you have practiced a certain movement so that it becomes muscle memory and it just becomes a natural part of your game. In other words to effectively hit a good drop shot you just need to do it a million times.
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule also supports this argument. Gladwell believes that to be an “expert” in any discipline you need to spend 10,000 hours practicing and consciously working on your form. It doesn’t really matter how you get those hours- it’s just important that they are happening. Gladwell does say that increased levels of focus and intensity will lead to an even more advanced “expert,” but the core is that you are putting in the hours.
I have one final argument for Quantity. His name is Ardy Wiranata. Ardy is known by many to be the hardest worker of all times. Naturally, I have been curious about what this really means so I have asked people who knew him and trained with him what he was doing. I have heard this was his training schedule:
Train with the Indo National Team for 2-3 hours in the morning. Mostly doing 2 vs. 1 often with a weight vest for the entire time. Before this training he was doing 2 hours of footwork on his own – again, often with a weight vest. Then he would break, and train again in the afternoon with the Indo National Team. Often 2-3 sparring partners were needed to keep up with him.
Then he would go downtown and spar with someone else for another 2 hours. 10 years of this and he is notorious for not taking a day off. I’d like to add that Ardy is the nicest and most humble man you could ever meet. The hours seem crazy but you can’t argue with the Olympic Silver Medal sitting in his closet.
The quality training approach
This is more of the European way of training. Top countries like Denmark are known for only training 2 hours per day. Denmark has consistently produced top-level players for the last 40 years and the next generation will be no exception.
Their philosophy is that it is not necessary to put in crazy hours when you can bring out the level in a shorter time. Some of the top Danes have reportedly only trained 40 minutes a day 3 times a week and reached the highest level in the world.
This also follows the 10,000 hour rule, but in a different way. You still have to put in the hours but with quality you are putting more emphasis on conscious, deliberate effort for improvement. In other words you hit a drop shot 1 million times, but each time you are being critical and aware of how you can improve that stroke.
I will give you one example that supports the Quality rule. He is a Canadian Badminton legend and my hero – Mike Butler. Mike is all about giving %110 effort in the time frame you have. Mike trained most of his career with sparring partners far less than his caliber. He was able to reach such a high level because of his day-to-day focus and mental consistency.
Unlike most professional athletes he was working 8 hours a day on top of training so when he was at the gym he really had to make the most of it. Mike made the r 16’s at All-England twice cementing himself as one of the best Canadian players ever.
My Opinion: Which is better for training – quality or quantity?
Your training method depends on the focus you are trying to attain. I will give you one specific example from my life. When I was in Vancouver I was training minimum twice a day and putting in lots of hours that way. At that time it was the correct training method because I was at such a low level that I could benefit simply from hitting tons of shuttles.
Now that my level has improved and the margin to rise becomes more difficult I have become a believer in quality. Specifically, I want to get faster and more studies show that speed is attained through short burst exercises with lots of rest. The only way I am going to improve is to produce better quality on court from day-to-day.
It also depends on your playing style and what you are trying to accomplish in your game. Some people simply need to put in lots of hours to get the touch and get the level out. Ardy was one of these people. On the other hand, some people have to ability to focus and prepare better with more rest and more focus on quality play.
There is no one true training method. It depends on your vision of your game and what you are trying to accomplish.