Mind Over Matter: Tips for Mental Preparation
Your cognition has much more of an effect on your badminton performance than you may think. This, as with many other things in life, is simply a case of mind over matter. While it is true that adequate physical preparation and practice are very important to performance, in a competition, mental preparation is just as important.
It is paramount that you reinforce positive concepts before competing and during training as well. If you are in the process of a grueling conditioning circuit, say to yourself, “I am glad I worked so hard today. I will feel great tomorrow.” You could also say something to the tune of, “It was a good idea to run today.”
By affirming your efforts, you reduce the chance or quitting mid-workout as a result of poor mental preparation. This, in turn, makes it such that you are better able to perform when it comes time to compete.
You must realize that by suffering through long training sessions today, your performance is sure to increase in the future. The most important aspect of any training regimen is maintaining a positive attitude.
Without such a commodity, the probability of failure is much greater. Though you may not pick up on everything at first, by persevering you exponentially increase your chances for success in the future.
Play Badminton like Boxer Training
Do you ever see a boxer and the way they train? They are intense. They can literally do a lot of workouts to build their strength to greatness. They also train differently – they have spirit. If you want to become a top badminton player, you need to learn in this way as well.
The way a boxer train is unique. They go beyond just seeking to get strong, they capture something mystique. They become alive.
This “aliveness” is the strength. They are able to perform much better than brute strength in this way. And it’s all in the mind.
You know what I’m talking about; you have watched them or seen it before. Bruce Lee made this popular and contagious. It is the expression of the human spirit.
How Do Athletes Prepare Mentally?
Look at the top player in badminton arena, they seem to embody this kind of spirit, it permeates into everything they do. They sort of glide along, walk with a bit of a swagger, or they stand tall and powerful, you can see it come through them.
Look at the way a soldier stands or the softness of a Tai Chi master. My friend’s kung fu master has kung fu spirit – baggy pants, a traditional button-up shirt, and lightness in his step. He plays imagination by using little sound effects when he’s training as if it sounded like *kwaaa!* while he lets go a flurry of kicks and punches.
Another master I have seen training would have the fire in his eyes when he practiced.
This guy was intense. His whole ‘being’ was just charged up, there was no halfheartedness. He would attack with great determination like a lion in a corner. He knows what he’s capable of and not modest in training, he lets his ego and spirit shine through.
That’s how your workouts should be, every part of you powering in that direction. So it must be for you when approaching health and fitness.
If you are serious about playing badminton, get the gear, feed your ego, hold nothing back and do anything to build your inner spirit. Carry yourself with authority and power and your nature will change.
Most people run on treadmills in front of TVs. They stifle their spirit and distract themselves not knowing the feeling of running free, with no boundaries, no limits, just pure bliss. Some listen to music to lift their spirits and that is fine, but feel it from within, move and be free. All great artists could feel something from within and transformed it into something remarkable.
The human spirit conquers obstacles. If you develop the right spirit towards anything you can have it. It’s not so much of following the right plan, there are numerous plans that have been studied exhaustively but it is the spirit behind it that makes the difference.
Follow a way that expresses it and don’t resist or stifle it with the activity that you know is boring. Seneca says, “Man’s ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born. And what is it that reason demands of him? Something very easy—that he lives in accordance with his own nature.”
One of your purposes is to let loose and express your nature. It is an inherent part of who you are, don’t hold back, find a way to channel it.
Carry yourself with authority and power and your nature will change.
It’s not about getting more willpower or discipline but unleashing.
What badminton super achievers have more than anyone else is great spirit and passion for what they do, they follow their nature. That’s how they are able to go in day after day and train. It is only this way that they can survive the lows that inevitably come to everyone.
Discipline comes in when you are having a low, but it isn’t to be a daily thing. When things are hard, boring, and painful the spirit soon gets tired and quits. That’s why most quit. But activities that express yourself are very fun to do.
You will be seeking to train harder and go faster because it is this inner drive that is pushing you far beyond the daily grind. Channel your drive and become a powerful force. Channel it towards what you want and take on anything. Light it up – your attitude, your spirit, your passion, and your workouts.
How is it that you build this spirit? It’s all in your imagination and it works.
The human spirit conquers obstacles
What is Mental Training in Badminton?
You can carry out mental training by playing badminton games in your mind.
You can change it by pretending to be a puma sprinting up a hill, or a hawk falling on its prey. Animal forms are an inherent part of badminton training, they seek to capture their spirit and aggressiveness.
Or you can use it in other ways. When my master told me if you are fighting a larger opponent I a badminton match, imagine he is small so you feel you can easily dominate him, like Tom Thumb (puny).
What happens in your mind if he is big and intimidating, it creates fear and feelings of being inferior. So you will hold back and you will be far less effective. This is just a picture in your mind and you can change it. By using mind games the task becomes easier because you got your natural ability to flow and unleash. You aren’t holding back.
Here is a simple exercise showing how effective imagination really is. I learned this with another student I was training with.
Do a standing long jump, it’s more fun if you compete with someone, but don’t tell them what you’re up to.
Stand on a line and then jump to the furthest spot you can. Then do it again see if you can beat your previous attempt. Then on the third jump, use your imagination and pretend you can jump 5 feet past your best one, or theirs. Aim for it and really attempt it. How did you do? Did you shoot way past it? Did you make it to where you intended? I want you to try it, alone if you want, but see what happens.
You will find that just by using your imagination you performed better with no more real effort. It’s all in your mind.
Use your mind and imagination into all of your training the best you can. If you are doing pull-ups, be a monkey leaping and climbing up a tree, swimming, pretend a shark is chasing you, you will find your times really do become faster. This technique was taught to a group of swimmers competing for gold in the Olympics.
Doing sit-ups, pretend you are a springboard springing back up. Doing punching drills, have your fist go through walls or knock over trees. If you are doing all out conditioning drills follow Shakespeare:
“Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war” – William Shakespeare
These all work because where the mind goes, your energy goes.
Sports Psychology – Bruce Lee’s Philosophy
One of the biggest things I picked out from Bruce Lee is his quote,
The wheel revolves when it is not too tightly attached to the axle. When the mind is tied up, it feel inhibited in every move it makes and nothing is accomplished with spontaneity. It’s will work will be of poor quality or it may never be finished at all.
Today I was over thinking and my mind was becoming clouded and I thought of that statement. Then considered the concept of energy. I begin visualizing in my mind a spinning wheel and instantly I felt better and started humming. What I realized is that too much thinking impedes progress and slows the mind down.
Why is mental preparation important in sport?
I’ll give you an example. I like to challenge myself with little things, like walking across a high beam stretched over the road. Now the beam is not very high, but it’s high enough that if I fell off it would hurt.
The first few times I walked across it without much problem. But one night I went and tried it. But this time I started thinking about how I could get hurt and fear started building. Instantly my actions became tense and uncertain. I was ready to bail at any chance of slipping.
Then I calmed my mind again and I began to move along nicely. I reached the end and climbed down. The task didn’t change in any difficulty, but because I had fear in my mind, it became much more difficult. The philosopher Seneca said it well,
It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.
As long as you keep the mind spinning freely, things are infinitely easier than if you bind it up with thoughts.
The 5% Solution
For you to get fit and build the kind of strength you want to comes down to knowledge and motivation. You must know what to do and be driven to do it.
But when you hear the statistic that 95% of people gave up playing badminton after a while, you wonder why no one is focusing on that 5% that makes the difference.
Most plans out there are simply rehashing nutrition and exercise solutions in different combinations. Sure there is a lot of good advice on what foods you should eat and how you should train, but largely that’s not what the problem is.
If the current solutions (diet and exercise plans) are causing 95% of people to fail, do you think the answer is trying harder, or…doing the opposite?
When you reflect on the past 6 months or year, have you found you’ve gotten fitter, leaner and stronger? Or have you found it’s a vicious struggle to keep any kind of weight off? What about over the last 5 – 10 years? Have you become a better player even though you’ve read the badminton books, followed the badminton tips, attempted to change your eating habits and tried exercising regularly? Have you found your badminton skill is not improving even though you train like an animal and eat salads?
Does it feel like a natural lifestyle or an impossible way to live as you track down every bit of training you need to go through? Do you have to keep a constant focus or you will “reward” yourself on all kinds of sweets? Do you struggle with motivation to exercise? Do you enjoy that time you train or would you rather just get it over with?
If it’s not getting any easier and you are not getting the results you want, then it’s likely you are following the 95% crowd. And I got news for you, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten. This is the harsh reality, and it’s true whether you persist for a year, 5 years or 20 years, as many have.
What you need to do is the opposite of what everyone else is doing. When you do you will experience a transformation in your results. It will become effortless and enjoyable. You will enjoy every bit of your food, even more than you do now. You will find moving your body feels good and addicting. You will have more energy, feel stronger and move with lightness.
Your sleep will be sounder and your days will be brighter. Your social life will improve as people can feel your presence. Not only will your body be strong, but your mind as well.
Badminton Theories – Get Clarity and Results
Everything is theory including badminton. They are theories because you can’t possibly know them all.
You could test something 99 times and it would only take one failure to disprove it. New information is being produced every day and it can instantly change previously held theories as we deepen our understanding. So it’s what theory are you working with?
It is the theory that decides what can be observed. – Albert Einstein
Theories are models you used to help organize and make sense of the area that you study. You include, exclude, or interpret things differently depending on the theory you hold, which is also one part of your paradigm.
It acts as a filter as you observe the world around you.
People orient to information consistent with their attitudes and away from evidence that contradicts them – Fazio
If you have studied the health field at all, you will see that people hold a variety of theories, from western to eastern medicine, energy healing to chiropractic care. Or in badminton, there were the so-called “best styles of the jumping smash”, but that barrier is being broken down.
With badminton, people often hold the theory of “the warrior” going through brutal training and punishing themselves. So it ends up being. There are other theories to use when you go about training.
How can I mentally strengthen my mind?
When I was experiencing a serious motivational dip, I asked my master who had trained the Chinese Special Forces how to overcome it. The answer certainly was a surprise – “Do something fun”.
That is a totally different approach that I hadn’t thought of as I figured if you want to be tough, you need to be able to handle and bear more pain in the mind. But actually making it more fun is really the answer. Find a way to get yourself to enjoy it.
Mental Toughness Training for Badminton Athletes
Below are a few theories that I use when approaching badminton. Working with these theories help to keep you on track and stay rooted.
3 Levels to Badminton Fitness
This model for health and fitness is very important if you want to understand how your whole system works, making it easier to change.
I learned the concept from Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt M.D., Ph.D. who was elected Physician of the Year 2007 by the International College of Integrative Medicine for his deep understanding of chronic disease. It is the best model of healing that I have ever come across.
At the lowest level is the objective reality where you can clearly see what’s going on and what is being done. At the highest level is the subjective reality where it’s not as clear, people have different ways of doing things.
Just as badminton actions are easy, “eat less and practice more” the emotional and mental are shrouded in more mystery of how to manage them. This area explains why two people can follow the same plan and experience different results and enjoyment.
Mental Preparation Strategies – Each level influences the other levels
Mind: This is home to your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and paradigm (the filter you look through to view the world) – this is the control center of your life.
This is where 90% of your results come from, as the saying goes, it’s 90% mental. Taking control over this, you can control the lower two levels. This level can be influenced by strenuous exercise causing pain (2nd level) and giving you thoughts of quitting.
Changing how you view things brings great relief to your emotions and has a tremendous impact on your physical level, creating change.
Visualization and NLP are among the best at this level for reprogramming your mind.
Energy: Are your energy, feelings, and emotions. This is where “the mind meets the body”. At this level, it largely controls your actions and influences your thoughts.
This level there are two kinds of emotions: positive and negative. Positive propels you forward in all parts of life and negative restrains and holds you back. The key to change is to interpret everything positive and make it positive so it propels you forward effortlessly. Negative emotions like resisting will eventually tire you out.
Physical: Is your physical body, where the action takes place, and physically perform the activity. It is your 5 senses: see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.
Activity on this level will color your emotions and influence your thoughts as you have experienced when working out. This is probably where 80% of the badminton industry tends to focus.
On this level, you use workout plans, training, and supplements.
Effortless is the balance of Effort and Ease
I developed this theory after my crusade with badminton that nearly killed my spirit. Later I surpassed those results in a much more effortless way, which felt like I wasn’t even doing anything.
Everything is effortless but often elusive
Effort and ease are actually complementing that create a state of effortlessness. When your mind is at ease and your body is making the effort is when you will realize your highest gains.
The tension in the mind actually slows you down. This is known in kung fu where the more you try to use force in punching or grappling, the less effective you will be. One of the first things they teach you to do is to relax.
This concept is applied in badminton and even in the business world. It is a principle that is threaded throughout life. The more you can keep your mind calm and in a state of peace the better you can perform in any area.
How can I be mentally tough?
For you to achieve what you want it takes the right mind and the right actions. Goals are very useful for directing your actions, though how many of you have set goals but failed to achieve them, get started or couldn’t make it to the finish line?
Right mind entails that you create the biggest reason why you want to do something and become so emotionally wrapped up in it that you overtake it.
Right mind also means that you retrain the way you think of things so there is no resistance. If you hate it or don’t like it much, you will never succeed greatly; it may only get you through a period of time, like the common “crash diets”.
This is where most people get stuck in health and fitness as it’s full of desires and exertion.
Find a way to give yourself a large emotional reason why. Find some physical activity that you love to do. If your enthusiasm for something at the beginning is average, then when you have a motivational dip, you’ll fall off.
In order to stick to it and stay on, you need to find some emotional glue called passion and excitement. You will be heading out the door with excitement rather than dragging with dread.
Getting the right mind and the right actions are the key to your success.
Before I failed when I had goals and a wrong mind; when I changed my mind, I made a rapid change even when I didn’t have a laid out the plan and goals, like before. Having the right mind will get you to naturally take the right actions with no willpower.
Once you have the right mind, then all you have to do is follow the right plan for you that has been shown to get results and follow through.