Following the success of Saina Nehwal who ranks No. 10 on the BWF World Rankings, several youngsters with a love or interest for the game want to take it up professionally. According to her column in the Times of India, Nehwal says that the sport is popular in India. She even describes how many parents now view it as equal in importance to studies, and that this shift has encouraged even more kids to get involved.
It is great to hear that so many people want to take up badminton professionally and even if one doesn’t reach Nehwal’s levels of success, it’s still a rewarding experience in its own right.
Taking up a career in professional badminton begins with a decision that you need to make first – whether you want to make a career out of it or aim at becoming a national level player.
First determine whether you’re really dedicated to the sport, especially if you are a student. A lot of young people assume that they will acquire what Nehwal has, but fail miserably and feel dejected. In many instances, you may have to change careers too, so it does help to have some kind of back up plan.
If you’ve decided on national levels, then you need to being as early as you can, coupled with investing in physical training to keep you in good shape. Remember you need to be in peak condition, flexible and be able to run….a lot!
A really good racquet for a really good shot
Professional badminton players have the best racquets, but they often keep one that with a string tension that exceed 13 to 18 kgs. Commercial ones, even the high end stuff can only support around 12-13kgs. In some cases, they have custom made ones from their sponsoring brands or sports organisations.
You can look at one of the more advanced versions of the Yonex racquets, for embedded lettering like CN, SP. You will find them at the joining, where the shaft meets the handle. This indicates various features like quality grade, region it’s supposed to be sold in and finally, their tension strength. Custom made racquets will not have these markings. Choosing the right tension strength will depend on your skill levels and other factors.
A lower tension strength between 8 kgs to 9 kgs should suit beginners. Intermediate players should consider something between 10kgs to 11kgs for striking a balance among power, comfort and an accurate shot. And finally, advanced plays should settle for nothing less than 13 kgs, varying down to 11 kgs if needed.
This string tension also determines the quality of the racquet too. Low end ones can’t handle very high tensions. If they are fitted with high tension string, they could break under pressure or not produce a good shot.
In this sense, if you’re looking for a low end racquet, make sure that the string is a little weaker so that it lasts longer.
You can decide this by looking at the thickness of the string. The thicker it is, the lower the tension.
You need a place to test this really good racquet!
Look around for qualified badminton coaching clubs in your locality. Apart from providing you with a rigorous training program, they can even keep you updated with current news on events taking place locally, at the district or national levels – recommend when, where and how you can get started or participate.
Another point with coaching is that you need to graduate from one coaching centre to the next as your performance gets betters, and this might even mean looking for individual coaches too.
Competition in any professional arena is tough and badminton is no different.And like other sports fields, you need to work hard and persistently to reach your goal.
Places where you can assess you skill yourself:
Register yourself for various tournaments, championships, to give you a good idea of how effective your training is. Most kids do this when they’re about fifteen to sixteen years of age before or in class 10. Usually, the tournaments organised by the School Games Federation of India or SCFI.
One advantage of playing badminton at a national level is that you’re immediately eligible for the sports quota in various colleges.Colleges and higher educational schools will have their own badminton teams too. So begin applying to any inter college or state tournaments that they might have.
If you stick to this and play well, then your college might add you to the cluster tournaments or nodals as they’re known. Excel at this level too and you might get picked for the state teams, where you get to play against others from various states.
Playing across the country… and the next, the world?
This part takes the most effort, moving from one state to the next, it’s also the most challenging bit as well – one where you’ll really tested.
Here, you want to focus on your training, because this is the place where national circuit scouts keep a lookout for talent that can represent the country on the national levels.
Next is the professional level, but here the steps to be taken are relatively simple.
- First you play out the district and the state levels and then move onto nationals.
- At the nationals, you need to complete the qualifiers or the main draw.
To be eligible for the main draw, you have to have a good ranking: this is will help you with ranking tournaments. The other way is to do well in the state championships – this is for the main nationals.
Professional or not, it’s these smaller tournaments that you really should begin with, as they give more ranking points, practice and experience and once you have that, only then can you move ahead. Remember that here, your opponents will be bigger, more skilled and might even outrank you!
If you do decide to go with national levels, then you have to complete all qualifying rounds. This can be extremely competitive and you’ll have play against several players and there are limited spots. Again, if do have the right ranking, you can skip this.