We have all done it at some point….meeting runs late, quick sandwich in the car on the way to a tiny village just outside Maidstone (with an even smaller village hall!). Change into sports clothes in the back of the car and burst through the creaky wooden door to aforementioned hall to find your doubles partner signalling your lateness by tapping their watch in between ‘knocking-up’ on court. Not bad, really – only ten minutes late, grab your racket from the bag, few practice serves and ‘love all’. Sounds familiar? The details might be slightly different but the end result is the same.
So, as you move gracefully to execute your first devastating ‘smash’, what will your body be doing? Struggling! Your heart rate will be fine; the pressured journey from work to court would have released enough adrenalin to see to that. The main struggle will be with the increased activity that your body has now been asked to undertake.
Suddenly, all the major muscle groups of the body have been asked to spring into action. Your thigh muscles suddenly need more blood than they have had all day and your upper body needs, not only the strength, control and power to strike the shuttle, but also the guidance and balancing properties of the inactive arm.
Inevitably, your first few ‘glory’ shots hit the net, or worse, your partner. That is if you are lucky! The majority of badminton players that I consult professionally are injured and when questioned regarding their pre-game preparation almost all of them report that they spend a few minutes knocking-up before a game. My response is always the same: ‘knocking-up is not warming-up!’
If I was perfectly honest, the majority of the injured players that I see could have prevented their ‘minor’ injuries by warming-up properly and this starts as early as the morning before the game. We should take light meals at regular intervals and drink plenty of water (avoiding tea, coffee and alcohol which are diuretics). Well fuelled, hydrated cells perform much better than dehydrated ones. We should manage our diaries so that we can be at the match venue at least twenty minutes before the match begins. This time should be spent performing simple stretches, especially concentrating on the arms, chest, lower back, thighs and calves. Stretching helps increase the blood flow and ‘drainage’ of muscles and prepares the fibres by elongating them.
We are now able to play some practice shots before the game commences. This should be a structured routine of short play, clears and overhead shots, not a quick ‘knock’ whilst discussing Eastenders! When the game starts you can rely on the fact that your musculoskeletal system is well prepared for the task in hand. With any luck, your first ‘smash’ will be a turning point in the game and your partner will not have any scars to show for their labours.
In future issues of ‘Badminton’ I would like to answer any questions that you might have. Please feel free to email me and I will endeavour to answer as many as I can in next month’s edition.