What makes a great badminton player? Is it their skills, their overwhelming strength, and stamina, or something else? The truth is, it’s a combination of everything. But that’s one of the most generic answers out there.
Today, we’re going to take a look at what makes a great badminton player in the talent perspective.
Common View Of Talent Debunked
I have an unorthodox view of what talent actually is. My opinion of talent is that it’s a combination of everything in varying amounts with more ability to improve than actual skill. Talent is also something that’s in everyone. It is something that is nurtured.
My view of this comes out of the frustration of what other people always tell me. Let me tell you a story about this view.
Like many stories, I start in a place where nobody believes in me. Not my parents, not my coaches, not my classmates, and eventually, not even myself. They all told me some variation of the same thing, “Kevin, you have no talent.”
I absolutely hated it whenever someone said, “Kevin, you can’t beat that player because he’s more talented than you.” But I knew more. I knew that the player I just lost to trains three to four times a week while I was sitting at the measly once a week where the coaches barely even focus on me anyways.
I would tell my parents that if I train more, I can definitely bring my skill up and win. Again, they told me things that discouraged me from playing. “If you can win tournaments, you can train twice a week,” “If you were good, you’d already be much further than where you are right now.” One time, they even told me to quit altogether.
Every time I tried to prove myself, I would get even more discouraged. I would go into these tournaments and then lose first round, and my parents would be like, “See, you can’t win so you shouldn’t play.” Eventually, I actually thought that I had no “talent” and I wasn’t meant to play.
It wasn’t as if my parents didn’t support me at all. They actually first got me into badminton by sending me to a random Chinese school group playing session. It was just that in Canada, badminton training was hyper-expensive and my parents didn’t want to pay for it. And it made sense.
Why would you continue spending money on something that wasn’t giving results?
So I gave up. I gave up on playing badminton. One, badminton became a sport to me where only winning matters and two, it seemed like nobody wanted me to play anyways. I stopped training, I stopped playing for my school teams, and if there were anybody that asked, I would say, I’m suffering from an injury.
Quitting didn’t help me either. Deep down, I still loved playing badminton. I would be lying on my bed eating chips and watching badminton games wishing that I could be like Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei. But throughout these hours of watching videos, I found myself on an Olympic video about a Brazilian badminton player. I had my epiphany watching that video.
It wasn’t really a motivation video nor a video about badminton skills. It was basically a short documentary of a player called Ygor Coelho de Oliveira. I think he was the first Olympic badminton player to come out of Brazil. What was significant wasn’t his achievements, it was how he trained. In the video, there were clips of players playing on a mud court, on each other’s rooftops, and other places.
I realized that it’s not that I had no talent in the sense that I had no skill; I had no will or spirit of improving and that’s what I believe now to be genuine talent.
Now it’s all about the different creative ways to train without a coach or high-end court. It’s also one of the main reason why I started this site; to give players more angles and approaches to getting good at badminton.
Talent is your spirit and will to improve and also the speed at which you can.
Think about it. Almost all the great badminton players started in the same place as us. No hitting power, no control, no nothing. But because they spent the time and focused on improving, they became top players.
The best players naturally improve faster than everyone else. After each point, game, or match they lose, they learn something and never make the same mistake. Every significant loss only makes them come back higher.
In training, many pro players would focus on practicing their failure over and over again while the rest of us fool around or despair in our losses. Having the mindset and will to improve is talent that I admire much.
Strength and Stamina
Honestly, as sad as it is, some things will limit you. There are things that certain people are born with or get because of their living conditions. And they can’t do anything about it!
The main limiters come from genetics. Players that have more strength and stamina will automatically have an easier time improving. It’s one of the things that Carolina Marin’s coach noted about her.
The Spanish coach actually mentioned in a video that Carolina Marin’s technique was pretty awful, but he did take great notice of how fast she was and how strong she was. This also points to the fact that the technique doesn’t necessarily equal talent.
Another limiter which I first thought was an upper limit was some of our demographics. Some of the things I thought that was preventing me from getting really good was money and the Canadian winter. No money to play on a court and 6 months where I can’t even do footwork outside because of the ice.
Now that I think of it, it’s not so much the case. It still profoundly affects me, but I found that if I seriously had the will to improve, I would look for more creative ways to practice badminton despite my conditions.
The Small Part
If you have strength and stamina and the will to improve, you will dominate… mostly.
Unfortunately, skills still play a role. Although all of us can build skill to an extremely high level, I do believe that our talents cap out at certain moments and especially in combination with the natural decline of our bodies due to age, there’s no way everybody can be at the top.
Sometimes, even when someone trains harder, or even smarter, than others, discrepancies in skill can still make a difference. Just take a look at Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei. Lee Chong Wei trains and works much harder than Lin Dan, but Lin Dan has seemingly beat him in so many more matches.
I do believe that this small part which is skill mostly affects people playing at the professional level. At a provincial or even national level, strength and stamina will probably limit you way more than skill and the best players always come out from their ability to improve.
Skill isn’t talent. The ability to improve combined with good fitness is what makes a badminton player great. Without this ability, badminton players will never bring out their skill, and thus, they seemingly have no talent. But when they do become good because of their ability to improve, they seem talented, and that’s why I believe talent is actually the spirit to progress.
Let me know what you think in the comment section down below! As always, go out, train, and have a great day!