Badminton is widely known as the fastest racket sport. Specifically, as an intermittent, high intensity sport, badminton players demonstrate acute reaction and movement speed.
However, looking at the bigger picture, badminton is more than just speed, so what are some factors that determine one’s performance in badminton? First of all, Manrique and Gonzalez-Badillo (2003) had suggested in their study of competitive badminton characteristics that good badminton performance relies heavily on players’ systemic aerobic capacity, as well as anaerobic capacity for short recovery period between rallies (pg. 66).
Secondly, Lin et al. (2007) suggested that appropriate muscle warm-ups are effective in improving footwork performance (p. 1082). Also, interestingly, Abian-Vicen, D. Coso, Gonzalez-Millan, J. Salinero, and Abian (2012) mentioned in their study that dehydration can “negatively” (pg. 7) impact athletes’ badminton performance, due to prolonged capillaries constriction in high intensity matches. In addition, Felder, Fröhlich, and Wey had expressed that muscular characteristics like strength and flexibility leads to optimal “movement patterns” (p. 19) which can largely benefit athletes’ performance.
In this article, I am going to discuss how specific muscle characteristics contribute to badminton performance. Sonoda et al. (2018) found out that specific lower limb muscles benefit badminton players’ performance through enhancing agility. In addition, core strength has a significant effect on maintaining postural balance (Ozman & Aydogmus, 2015, p. 569). Sakurai & Ohtsuki (2010) had studied the specific muscles on the upper extremity that contribute to badminton athletes’ accuracy of performance (p. 914).
In a badminton match, players’ performance is tightly related to agility, which relies heavily on the lower limb muscle strength (as cited in Young et al.). Despite the existing studies about how agility relates to muscle power, Sonoda et al. (2018) suggested that there’s little information on the specific groups of muscle that enables athletes’ agility (p. 321).
The study involved “23 male university badminton players” with various years of experience in badminton. Participants’ agility data were collected through side-shuttle test. During the test, participants took side steps to cross the line drawn 1 meter apart from the middle line. The more crossing-overs they accomplish in 20 seconds, the higher scores they get (Sonoda et al., 2018, p. 321).
In addition, the muscle tests focused on the extension and flexion movements of hip joint, ankle joint and knee joint were measured using designated machines. As a result, the study found out that the more experienced the participants were, the higher agility score they receive. Correspondingly, those who scores higher in agility demonstrated higher lower limb muscle strength (Sonoda et al., 2018, p. 321).
Study also showed that gluteus maximus acts as a major hip extensor in maintaining squatting position in badminton. The ankle plantar flexors, which locates on the ground side of the feet, was proved to be important for movements in direction changing. Plus, strength of these two muscles are key to participants’ agility in the side-shuffle test, regardless of playing experience. However, Sonoda et al. (2018) suggested that this study could be expanded as it lacks the specific timing of when the muscle come into play during the movements.
While lower limb muscle plays a big role in badminton, core strength training is crucial in maintaining postural control throughout a match. As illustrated in previous studies, core strength trainings benefits badminton performance and reduce chance of injuries from muscle imbalance (as cited in Saeterbakken et al., 2011; Schilling et al., 2013; Stantonet al., 2004; Tse et al., 2005; Sekendiz et al., 2010; Davidson et al., 2004; Granata and Gottepati, 2008; Van Dieën et al., 2012).
Ozmen et al. (2015) further investigated the impact of Core Strength Trainings (CST) on “core endurance, dynamic balance and agility in badminton players” (p. 566). The study was performed with twenty adolescent badminton players. During the study, all three core-related performance tactics were paired with designated testing method, which were done both before and after a 6-week CST program.
By analyzing statistics, Ozmen et al. (2015) suggested that CST had obviously benefited participants’ core endurance and postural stability, while not as much in their agility (p. 569). To clarify, core muscles helps support lower limb muscles and thus maintain static and dynamic postural control, while explosive power training may be more helpful in improving agility (Ozmen et al., 2015, p. 569).
They also explained that because agility is also affected by other muscles groups and, core strength independently might not make a big difference in agility improvement. Nevertheless, they concluded that core strength training is beneficial to badminton performance enhancement as it helps improving postural stability throughout the high intensity, yet fast-speed badminton matches (Ozmen et al., 2015, p. 569).
Despite lower extremity stability and agility, badminton performance accentuates on “precision” of strokes. Sakurai and Ohtsuki (2000) focused on the relationship between muscle and performance, as well as the muscular activity related to smash stroke (p. 902). Participants in the study were 5 advanced badminton players and 5 novice players (p. 902).
Researchers collected participants’ electromyogram (EMG) that record the muscular activity of bicep brachii, tricep brachii, and the two forearm antagonists—flexor and extensor ulnar radialis (p. 903) to analyze their muscular activities. Bicep brachii was not analyzed due to unreliable original measurements from participants (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 903). 2 experiments were set up in comparison of muscle activity variance skilled and unskilled players under controlled conditions.
Experiment 1 targeted on individual’s muscular activity without intervention (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 902), while experiment 2 focused on individual’s performance change throughout a period of muscular training (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 907). Procedures in two experiments were identical, while experiment 2 emphasized individual’s progression under the same training scheme, in order to minimize potential bias towards experienced player.
Participants were assigned to perform smash stroke toward the set target (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 913). Amount of deviation was recorded on the graph (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 908). The result showed that skilled players indicated longer preparation latency of bicep brachii.
Moreover, skilled players demonstrated more intense and acute muscular activity at the time of the stroke compared to unskilled players. Also, from experiment 2, study found that experienced players tend to improve accuracy more than unskilled players in the same amount of time (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 908).
On the other hand, Sakurai and Ohtuski (2000) suggested, based on the EMG data, that skilled badminton players demonstrated more stable power production and longer preparation latency. Therefore, Sakurai & Ohtsuki (2000) concluded that skilled players had already formed an “automated voluntary movement” (p. 913) due to previous playing experience.
When looking at specific arm muscles, however, they found out the muscular activity of tricep brachii and trapezius did not differ much between skilled and unskilled players, while the two forearm muscles appeared to have higher activity in skilled players (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 913). Therefore, they suggested that the forearm muscles were the key to accurate badminton performance through controlling flexible wrist movements (Sakurai & Ohtsuki, 2000, p. 913).
From all the articles I have discussed above, we can see that muscle characteristics contribute to so many aspects of badminton performance. On-court practice is a vital part of badminton training, but specific muscle training should not be undermined as it plays such a big role in enhancing performance.
However, it appears that the existing studies had not talked too much about ethnic and genetic factors, or how ethnic and genetic factors may impact on muscular performance. Therefore, I suggest that further studies can include anthropometric in the process in order to make the result more application for people from all over the world and different genetic background.
Sakurai, S. & Ohtsuki, T. (2000) Muscle activity and accuracy of performance of the smash stroke in badminton with reference to skill and practice, Journal of Sports Sciences, 18(11), 901-914. DOI: 10.1080/026404100750017832
Ozmen, T. & Aydogmus, M. (2015) Effect of core strength training on dynamic balance and gility in adolescent badminton players,
Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 20(3), 565-570. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.12.006
Abián-Vicén, J., Del Coso, J., González-Millán, C., Salinero, J. J., Abián, P. (2012) Analysis of Dehydration and Strength in Elite
Badminton Players. PLoS ONE 7(5): e37821, 1-7. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037821
Sonoda, T., Tashiro, Y., Suzuki, Y., Kajiwara, Y., Zeidan, H., Yokota, Y., … Aoyama, T. (2018). Relationship between agility and lower limb muscle strength, targeting university badminton players. Journal of physical therapy science, 30(2), 320–323. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.30.320
Cabello Manrique, D., González-Badillo, J. J. (2003) Analysis of the characteristics of competitive badminton. British Journal of Sports
Medicine, 37(1), 62-66. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/10.1136/bjsm.37.1.62
Lin, H., Tong, T. K., Huang, C., Nie, J., Lu, K., & Quach, B. (2007). Specific inspiratory muscle warm-up enhances badminton footwork performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 32(6), 1082-1088. doi: 10.1139/H07-077
Felder, H., Fröhlich, M., & Wey, J. (2016). Explorative study on muscle strength and muscle strength ratios in top national and international badminton players. Kuala Lumpur: World Badminton Federation. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/57ec/75749a212e816da4d4311131460268d49b01.pdf