Tips to improve your game

Fitness
In any sport, preparation is vital. Physically, you should practise until you are confident of having a strong game. You should walk on to the court having stretched and being fully fit. If you have any injuries, make sure they are bandaged and supported if you choose to play at all. However, be wary of playing if you have any niggling injuries, as they may turn into long-term issues – always get them looked at by a doctor and follow medical advice.

Mental game
You should also be mentally prepared. Make sure you know your opponent’s game – strengths, weaknesses, and favourite moves and shots. Shortly before you face your opponent, run through your ideal game in your head. Prepare some shots you know will highlight your opponent’s weaknesses. Make every point count. Attack constantly, no matter what the score is. Defensive tactics rarely win games.

Although badminton is a physical game, mental attitude can mean the difference between winning and losing. Have a look at Badminton Secrets to find advice on the importance of your commitment, composure, concentration, confidence and consistency.

Breaks
If you are struggling, and it is practical, try to take a breather. A quick drink of water or comfort break can help you regroup and a break in the game can change the pace to your advantage.

Hitting the bird properly The earlier you can strike the shuttlecock, the further it will be from the floor and the more space you will have. Hitting it early also means your opponent has less time to recover from the previous shot and react to your response. That said, avoid rash shots – always make sure you are in the optimal position to get the most from the shuttlecock.

Stick to basics
Strong shots can be difficult to play with a backhand, especially for players new to the sport. If possible, and practical, use a forehand – this is likely to give you more control over the power and direction of the shot.

Whichever shot you select, an overhead smash or a well executed backhand, stick with it. Wavering half way through the strike will leave you open to a strong and dangerous response.

Consider technical issues
If you find you are struggling to get enough power behind the shuttlecock, reassess your whole technique. If you alter your position, move your feet slightly wider apart, improve your grip or turn your body, you are likely to get more power than if you simply take a bigger swing. You will also be able to control the shuttlecock and where it lands with greater success.

Attritional tactics
Patience is a useful virtue in badminton players. Practise long rallies and your stamina will not let you down when you are faced with a long rally in a competition. It is a useful trick to have up your sleeve to tire out your opponent, physically and mentally. Loss of concentration means the opposition will make mistakes.

If you are looking for more advice on how to improve your game, have a look at Badminton TV. There is a monthly subscription cost of £3.99, after a month’s free trial. Membership will give you access to tips and advice from top English coaches. The content is also updated regularly, while members can read diaries and blogs from top players and coaches, and can even join online discussion groups to share ideas.

Badminton competitions

The main international badminton competitions are still the long-running Thomas Cup (for men) and Uber Cup (for women), which are run by the Badminton World Federation and held every two years. There are also several British tournaments.

The English National Championships, set up by Badminton England, have been held annually since 1963. The competition finds the best players in the country. In 2007, the men’s singles champion was Nick Kidd, and Elizabeth Cann was named the ladies’ singles winner. Robert Blair and Anthony Clark were the men’s doubles winners, and the women’s doubles champions were Gail Emms and Nicola Kellogg. Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg were mixed doubles champions. Have a look at the website for more details.

The Yonex All England Open began in 1899, and took place for the 97th time in 2007. Yonex, the sponsor, is an international badminton equipment manufacturer.

The Carlton National Leisure Centres Championship is a new competition for badminton players who are not part of a league, and have never played for a club at a senior level. It first took place in 2007.

For information further information about badminton competitions, keep an eye on the websites mentioned in the ‘resources’ section below for the country you are interested in.