Good footwork is fundamental to playing badminton well. At a high level, it’s, arguably, believe that footwork contributes to more than 50% of the success on the pitch. Since badminton is a fast game, the techniques, the swings and the shots are greatly affected by the timing and effectiveness of a player’s footwork.
Footwork, arguably the most essential skill in badminton, is important because it allows players to move efficiently around the pitch while being able to meet and hit the shuttle with proper balance, timing, as well as technique.
Badminton: Footwork & Balance
Without great footwork, it’s quite challenging to excel in the game. Since badminton is a game of high tempo, all moves require excellent balance, and in the heat of the competition, players need to execute their movements with speed and effectiveness.
Badminton consists of many moves such as shuffling, jumping, gliding, lunging, among others. These have to be done accurately so that players maintain proper balance and remain in control of the game. Also, adequate footwork allows players to move around the court without falling and slipping, which reduces the chances of injury.
Types of Footwork in Badminton
How you position your feet when you move, hit and return shots, lunge and jump is what is meant by different types of footwork. Below, we’ll discuss some basic types of footwork that you should be familiar as a badminton player.
(Please note that the instructions are with reference to right-handed players, left-handed players will move the opposite way in each case)
1. Basic stance
In the basic position, you’ll be standing with your feet apart and parallel to each other. The distance between your feet should be approximately the same as your shoulder width. Your feet should point toward the net, and your body should be lowered with your knees slightly bent to increase stability.
This is the basic stance (a.k.a. as ready position), which will keep you prepared for all subsequent movements and shots.
2. Split step
This is a step that allows you to get in position and in balance to react for the next shot. It is a slight hop, done with both feet, which, simultaneously, gets you into the basic stance.
For example, suppose you had to move your left foot forward to hit the shuttle, you can return to the basic stance by bringing your left foot back and doing a slight hop (split step) to get your feet wide apart (shoulder width is sufficient) and parallel to each other.
A quick and efficient way to move around the court is by shuffling. It can be described as moving your feet parallel to each other, side by side. This is great for quickly moving short distances while keeping your body in balance.
Lunges are quite useful when playing badminton, especially when trying to reach for shuttles that are far and low. To make a lunge, you, basically, have to take a big step forward while bending your knee and keeping you back somewhat straight. Remember that the front leg is held bent and the back leg has to be kept straight while you hit the shuttle.
Check the following video to get a better idea on how to properly make a lunge while playing badminton.
5. Recovering back to the center
The base is the center of the court from which you move frontward, backward or sideways. It is quite important to come back to the base while playing badminton. Recovering back to the center of the court can shorten the distances, as well as your reaction time for the next shot. This is particularly useful because you don’t know where your opponent will place the next shot; it allows you to cover most of the court.
Ways to Improve Your Footwork in Badminton (Tips)
We all move different on the court, however, whatever your style is try always to maintain balance when going for the shuttle.
Covering the court with few and efficient steps
When it comes to footwork, it’s essential to be as efficient and quick as possible. So, we suggest you work on covering the court as following:
- When moving to the front or back of the court – use 2 to 3 steps (You can take a longer step first, and then a shorter one).
- When moving to the sides of the court – Stretch and take 1 long step. It should be enough to reach most of the shuttles that go to the sides of the court.
These are certain exercises that you can do to improve your footwork on the pitch.
- Forwards and backward jumps – With your feet together to each other jump forward and backward, while maintaining your balance. You can vary the speed and frequency of your jumps. Do sets of 20 – 30 continuous jumps.
- Ins and outs
jumps– Starting from the basic stance jump and bring your feet closer, and then jump again and place your feet far apart.
- Skipping – Skipping is an excellent exercise that focuses on the ankles and calf muscles, as well as to increase resistance and stamina.
- Practice with a partner – With a friend take turns in hitting the shuttle upwards towards different directions. You can make this exercise more challenging by hitting the shuttle away from each other. This will require a lot of constant movement, stopping, and changing directions.
- Jump Squats – Jump squats are excellent for the leg muscles. Here’s how you do it. Start with basic stance and then bring your body lower by bending your knees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, jump up as high as you can with the arms raised upwards for balance.
- Lunges – Work on doing proper lunges while keeping your back straight. It’s vital that your lunge technique is correct so that you avoid your chances of knees and ankles injuries.
- Sprints Drills – You can work in doing ladder sprints. This kind of drills will help you improve your agility, endurance, as well as speed.
Avoid making these footwork mistakes
- Incorrect foot pointing – avoid pointing the foot away from the direction you are headed towards; this can cause ankle injuries and loss of balance.
- Lose balance – Not putting attention to the proper speed and timing of your footwork while moving on the pitch. This can make it challenging to maintaining overall balance.
- Not practicing footwork – Most beginners make the mistake of not putting enough work and practice into how they move on the court. Efficient footwork is as important as hitting the shuttlecock.
3 Things to Consider When Practicing Badminton
1. A proper court
Footwork, ideally, should be practiced on a well-marked court with a suitable surface. You need to have a solid understanding of the dimension of the court, as this will help you develop good spatial awareness and give you a good sense of how much space you need to cover. Also, avoid practicing on an uneven surface as this can be dangerous, thus increasing your chances of injury.
2. Proper Shoes
Shoes are a vital part of your gear. Proper shoes will allow you to move fast and quickly change direction while reducing your chances of injury. Get shoes that are from an established and proven brand. Go for comfort and safety, rather than the style and looks.
3. Proper Racquet
If you are serious about badminton, then you need to get an appropriate racquet. The racquet should not be too light or too heavy and should be well balanced. To find more about how to choose the proper racquet, check the following article “How to Choose a Badminton Racket”.