Functional Warming Up for Badminton

Warming Up in Badminton as in any other sport is essential. Using a functional approach you can achieve much more while using functional warm up exercises instead of just jogging and stretching.

Five years ago the former German national football (or soccer) coach J├╝rgen Klinsmann with his new American Strength & Conditioning Specialist Mark Verstegen brought some disturbances in the German Football “World”. The new German team manager put a team of experts from the US under contract – for a German team who was known for decades in the world of football for its fitness and fighting spirit . Quite some discussion occurred if an America coach could help the German team. Five years later, the Americans are still working for the German team – who was managing to reach the semi-finales in both of the 2006 and 2010 world cups. But the start was not an easy one – especially the training with minibands, strange looking strength and warming up exercises were looked at by both German coaches and press very critical if not laughed at. Trainings tools that were standard ones in other countries (but also other sports in Germany, e.g. track and field or Olympic lifting) – but (not only by the following success) became standard tools and exercises in many game sports not only in football in Germany as well as in other European countries.

The keyword is functional or functional training – by now a quite overuse term – but still, if I take a look at many warm up programs being performed an idea that could help many coaches and athletes to perform better and hopefully prevent more injuries. There are two aspects of functional training which I want to highlight. One is, that instead of the thinking of traditional (strength) training not muscles are trained but rather whole muscle slings in if possible sports specific positions. The other one is involves the training of fundamental movement as found in almost every sports – fundamental movements for example are running, jumping, throwing, squatting and so on.
 
Two more pratical examples: squat movement are a foundation in many sports specific jump techniques if one looks at Badminton, Basketball, Volleyball and so on. The squat might be a better strength training exercise for athletes than the leg press for example – but this does not mean that the leg press is bad (e.g. good for rehabilitating injured athletes). Another famous example is the classic crunch on the floor. There are not many sports performed on the floor and in most sports as in Badminton, the trunk musculature is very important to prevent motion namely stabilize the upper body – so to improve this typ of action, one has choose stabilization exercises for the trunk instead of exercises that emphasize motion of the trunk. This does definitely not mean that one cannot use the crunch exercise in ones training, but you have to know why and when.   
This interesting question is always: what and how good is the transfer of an exercise from the weight room to the court or field and what is the limiting factor.
 
Warming up should prepare the athlete for the upcoming training session or match. To work efficiently one can choose far better exercises than the still widely performed jog and stretch of upper leg and calf muscles.  The keyword here again is functional and functional warm up. Not only it is known now that not static stretching, which should be performed afterwards, or better off-session is the way to prepare in a warm up program, but that dynamic stretches are more useful in the pre-performance situation.  While static stretching after a cool-down or in a separate session has shown to increase flexibility, it also decreases muscle tone – something we definitely do not want to have directly before a training session or worse, before an important match. A number of exercises you will find listed below – many of them are dynamic stretches in a sports specific position. Additionally one can use not only these better preparing stretches but you can also integrate some exercises with some strength training effects with low-medium intensity into a warming up process. Badminton is very demanding for certain areas of the body, it puts a lot of stress on the shoulder joint, the trunk and the hip-knee-ankle complex. So why not integrate some exercise for the sake of injury prevention into the program. After having done some general prep exercises you can perform “handwalks” for working the trunk and shoulder musculature or use miniband exercises for working the important hip rotators.
 
As sample warm up program can look as follows:
 
1)   Jog (80 m)
2)   Jog backwards (40m)
3)   Miniband Rotation (8/8/8)
4)   Miniband Lateral Walk (8/8)
5)   Ankle Run (40m)
6)   Toe Walk with Shoulder Rotation (20m)
7)   Heel Walk with Arm Rotation (20m)
8)   Knee-to-Chest-Walk (20m)
9)   Heel-to-Butt-Walk (20m)
10) Handwalk (10-20m)
11) Frankenstein-Walk (20m)
12) HugMe-HugTheWorld-Walk (20m)
13) Crawling Lunge (20m)
14) Reaching Lunge (20m)
15) Backpedal (20m)
16) Push-Up-Jumps (8)
 
An overview with pictures and coaching cues for the different exercises could be found here.

Enjoy,

Diemo Ruhnow

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