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November 06, 2022 7 min read
I was pacing up and down the living room waiting for my delivery. The Coronavirus was in full flour and the country had decided that no one but authorized personnel were allowed outside their home. For those of us living in an apartment complex with no garden, it wasn’t exactly ideal but we’d found an area around the back that could work as a small badminton court.
The delivery guy brought with him our new garden badminton set. It wasn’t exactlyquality rackets the pros would play with, but it was the perfect time-pass given the dire situation as I figured the benefits of playing badminton would be great for our sanity.
What I didn’t know at the time was that it would spark my interest in the sport again, and put me on a totally new journey in life. Week after week, I began playing more and more consistently as the pandemic restrictions got lifted and it reminded me how much I love the game.
In this article, we’ll look at different badminton benefits, starting with the social and health benefits of playing badminton, followed by the non-obvious skills I’ve learned and used in other areas of life.
In an unscientific survey, I took the liberty of asking casual local players in my neighborhood here in Vietnam why they play badminton, and I discovered that it is generally believed to improve agility, which is confirmed bythis study.
Asian players tend to dominate at the elite level and many find the badminton benefits a good alternative to the gym as it’s affordable to get started, according toNikkei Asia. In fact, a quick glance atthis week’s top 100 rankings in men’s singles (25 Oct. 2022) reveals that more than half of the players are from Asia.
But the health benefits of playing badminton don’t stop there.This study suggests that badminton can help reduce type 2 diabetes,another study found that it increases skeletal strength, while a thirdstudy connects playing badminton to lower blood pressure and a better resting heart rate. It feels as if the list of health benefits of badminton is neverending.
My favorite thing about the game is the addictive quality it brings through friendly competition and the fact that it’s easy to get started but hard to master.
But things aren’t all rainbows and unicorns. One of the disadvantages of badminton is that it puts stress on the knees, ankles, and elbows which can turn into a problem if you are overweight and skip thewarm up exercises before playing.
Besides helping us stay sane during the pandemic lockdown, the mental benefits of badminton are among the most important as it can help us alleviate stress from other aspects of life and perform better under stressful conditions.
Imagine struggling with a tight deadline on a difficult project at work: when we are in the thick of it, feeling stressed and frustrated, we tend to get tunnel vision and over-judge the importance of projects in the grand scheme of things.
There’s nothing like getting away from the desk and onto the court to put our problem into perspective -- almost as if that tiring bliss we feel after an exhausting game kills any negative emotions and helps us discover the obvious solution right in front of us. I often find that it’s a remedy for breakthrough ideas in my own work.
When playing badminton, we also put ourselves in challenging situations and it can help us practice for more difficult situations down the road.
Imagine the pressure of an important presentation at work or an upcoming salary negotiation where we benefit from keeping calm under pressure.
If we go to a local tournament we put pressure on ourselves as well. People are watching and cheering, and while we might wanna do a good job, we can become self-conscious and play worse than we know we’re able to under different conditions. I like to believe that these types of situations are impossible to avoid in life but practicing them voluntarily can help us handle them better when it really matters.
According tothis study, playing badminton also leads to a stronger sense of belonging to a community which appears to be particularly important for happiness among both old and young generations - it may even help increase life expectancy as suggested inthis study.
Speaking of belonging, let’s dive into the social benefits of badminton.
People are often looking to combine exercise with social interaction, which has the downside that we depend on other people being available but with the added fun of not having to exercise alone.
Badminton is naturally a social sport as it's not possible to play alone and it’s even challenging to practice on your own compared to other sports like football or motor racing. Many players initially come for the exercise and friendly competition but stay for the community.
Although it isn’t guaranteed, there are a number of benefits to the people we meet through a shared interest besides the fact that we instantly have something in common.
Just a couple of weeks ago, someone at the local club handed out vouchers to one of my favorite restaurants in the city as it turned out he was the owner.
I’ve previously suggested ideas onhow to improve your badminton skills, and one of my favorite things about playing socially is the free advice I’ve gotten on improving my game by asking better players after a match.
The serendipity that naturally occurs when we say yes to things we’d normally say no to can lead to amazing things. Personally, it led me on an adventure to work on the other side of the globe and met amazing people that changed my life.
Recently, I was wondering when I’d run into players from the club in another setting, and that same afternoon I went to a friend’s birthday party when someone came up to me and asked if we had played a game of badminton together that very morning.
Things have a fun way of presenting themselves when we least expect it.
While there are several health, psychological, and social benefits of playing badminton, I’ve found that the most meaningful ones are in other areas of life.
There’s nothing that pushes us to train more than losing a match to an equally good opponent by just a point or two. Sports have a way of instilling self-discipline in us and badminton is no different. As children or teenagers, it’s especially useful in combination with a parent pushing us to stick to it on the days when we don’t feel like it.
The same is true with a spouse or friend for adults, but it’s harder to get into that habit the older we get. It took me three years of consistent training to thoroughly build up the habit to work out in a gym five days a week with no hesitation. It sounds like a lot but it has been totally worth it, and knowing that my friends were out there helped me get out the door on days when I’d rather sleep in.
Self-discipline is one of those things that tend to spill over into other areas of life. For me, it especially showed itself in my career as it has helped me follow through on projects, take on more responsibility at work, and as a result, earn a better salary along the way.
Playing badminton gives us an interest, a “thing”, that is just ours. Sports might not look like a creative pursuit on the surface, but it truly is -- you’ll especially feel it when getting in the zone and forgetting all about the annoying challenges at work and even the spectators watching you play.
A creative pursuit has beenstudied to bring a number of positive things along with it. Personally, it led me to explore a number of things that I thought I liked, and only when I began playing badminton again did I feel the difference between something that I liked andloved. It gave the overused word ‘passion’ meaning and I realized how little I really cared about all those other things.
Having a creative interest can also be a game changer if you dream of being self-employed and building something meaningful. It tends to be fantastic fuel for starting a side business that allows you to quit your job. Imagine playing badminton full-time without having to worry about salary, finding sponsors, or depending on bonuses for winning tournaments.
On the contrary, I built a little business to support my lifestyle but it was about a topic I didn't care about as much as I thought I did, and it turned out to be incredibly boring in the long run.
It’s easy to coast through life doing something that earns us decent money rather than challenging what more it could be. Every now and then we see these people who built something they wanted to see in the world and it turned out to be a major success because they were excited to work on it.
One example isRichard Branson who, as a student, founded Student Magazine in 1966 because he felt that the existing youth magazines were too boring for his new ideas.
Aske writes a badminton blog for adult players who are eager to improve their game. If you’re looking to score extra points in your games this weekend, consider learning about footwork drills in badminton next.
Jeff is an ex-international badminton player who represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games (twice as a player & once as a coach), World Championships, All England Championships and multiple Thomas and Sudirman Cups. He was the Australian National Coach, Senior State Head Coach and is the co-founder of Volant badminton & The Badminton Podcast. Jeff is extremely passionate about building the worldwide badminton community & showing the world how incredible our sport really is.
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