[This is Chapter 1 of my book "Badminton Secrets, 7 Steps To Getting the Edge Over Your Opponents", now available free on badmintonsecrets.com!]
There is one factor that is the main constituent in determining how far
you go in badminton.
One action that you can take that will immediately open the door to a
higher, more fulfilling game – and it doesn’t even involve going onto a
It is in fact a true test of desire and how much you really want to get
better at your game, or whether you are happy to stay around the same
level, your ‘comfort zone’.
OK, enough suspense.
The biggest determinant as to how much and how quickly your game will
improve is the standard of players you regularly play against.
This may sound obvious, it may sound flippant, but it is vitally important
to you now and in the future.
In my early twenties, during a long break from badminton, I joined an
average standard club for the social side of the game more than anything.
I was easily the best player there, but never pushed myself to make this
Then, a couple of years ago after starting to play competitively again at a
much higher standard, I went back to the old club to catch up with
Of course I was looking forward to seeing my old friends again but
secretly deep down I was also looking forward to ‘showing off’ my new
skill and fitness a bit!
But then a strange thing happened.
I got there and my standard of play was nowhere near the standard it
was at my new club.
Sure, I was still winning most of the games, but I found my game
adapting to the level of the players around me.
It was almost as though I knew just how much better than the others I had
to play, and however much I tried, I couldn’t get above that standard,
even though I knew I was capable.
Do you see my point here?
Your game comes down to the standard of the people around you, so even
having twice as much ability as them does you no good. We will talk
about this later as well, in the part on how thought affects your game.
But even more important to us is the reverse side of that; playing with the
best players possible will take your game through the roof!
In fact just being around the best players possible will make a huge
To illustrate, I’d like to take you back to a tournament that I was in at the
tender age of 10.
I had just won the singles title for my age group in our city, and was
chatting to my equivalent in the year above.
We were talking about our respective doubles partners, and were trying to
work out what it was that made us better than them (as you do at that
We eventually put it down to the fact that we were from ‘badminton
families’, ie our parents and siblings played, but we couldn’t work out
why that should possibly make a difference!
Of course over the years I’ve come to realise the mere fact of being
around better players than ourselves made the difference; going with our
Mum or Dad to their club and just watching the ‘adults’ play. Probably
having picked up a racket at an earlier age, getting that familiarity with
the game on a consistent basis.
I’m starting gently here with you, but I urge you to take this simple fact
Consider who you play with/against at the moment.
Are there players of a higher standard that you would benefit from
Everyone has an imaginary ‘ceiling’ that they believe their current ability
is at and can’t rise above.
By associating with these better players you will be immediately raising
the height of this ceiling, and thus the potential of your badminton.
Taking this one step further, I’d like to introduce one of the best and
fastest ways of acquiring any skill or ability; harnessing the power of a
A mentor (in the context we wish to use it) is someone, whether someone
you know personally or someone who you greatly admire from afar, who
has done what you wish to do.
Most successful people can automatically name someone who has
inspired them, who they wanted to be more like, or from whom they have
learnt more than anyone else.
And you can use the power of this to gain more direction in your game
and to propel you forward like nothing else.
Think of the person that you most admire in badminton, who has done
what you want to do, or plays (and wins) the way you want to.
Now if you were able to find out exactly what they do to be as successful
as they are, you too would be able to replicate that success for yourself.
We’re talking mentally again here, for the same mental patterns that go
through say a world champion can be replicated in anyone and used for
So how can you go about doing this?
Find out all you can about what makes this mentor play as well as they
do. If you know them personally, ask them.
Say someone you play against has a better backhand clear than you. Ask
them how they do it. Ask them what they think, where they look, what
procedure they go through each time they play the shot.
Watch them closely, and compare their stance, racket angle, swing etc to
your own. What are the differences?
And then copy them, try to do the exact same thing that they do. It may
be difficult at first, but after a while you will notice the differences.
Or what if your mentor is someone famous or someone else that you’ve
never actually met?
Again, watch them closely as frequently as you can. Get videos and study
Don’t just watch their physical game, or their technical game, but look at
their faces and try to guess what they might be thinking.
Imagine you are transported into their bodies magically, so that you are
there on court as them, and can see all that they can through their own
Just take some time to adapt to this, observing what you see, how you
feel, how you now think.
Then play the game as them, through their own eyes still, and see what
If you do this long enough, your own thoughts and the thoughts of your
mentor will become entwined in your subconscious so that when you are
physically playing, you will take on the attributes of your mentor, and
thus some of their ability.
This is why I love watching badminton almost as much as playing it. You
can really get a feel for what each player is experiencing, which not only
can help your game, but if you then go on to play either with or against
them, you have a good advantage (and of course are more likely to win!).