Have you ever stood on court in practice and had your mind full of thoughts, other than Practice?
Preparing for practice is as important as preparing for competition
I believe that you need to do more than just turn up for practice in the hope that everything will click and be great
Controlling your thoughts before practice is a skill that you may need to develop.
I’d say that nearly everyone reading this will have been distracted in practice or realised that they need to prepare their thoughts before they step into the practice hall or gym. Often players come straight from school or work and go directly to practice.
It is vital that you learn to prepare yourself for practice so that thoughts of home, work or school do not hinder your ability to progress in practice. Having a mind full of non-badminton thoughts can be tough.
What to expect
- Some of the ideas below apply equally to junior as well as fulltime players.
- Some ideas will challenge you to produce a written response.
- Others will ask you to communicate and share things with your coach.
- Please be aware that nearly all will require you to take time to try and master them, it’s not always an easy process, but it’s well worth the effort.
Preparing yourself for practice will enhance your development and hopefully increase your enjoyment
1 Non-badminton thoughts
2 Agree a plan
3 Determine specific goals
4 Fire up your Motivation
5 Contribute to the Session Plan
1 Non-badminton thoughts
Remember that the reason you are attending the training session
On the court or in the gym, you need to think about the time ahead. Are you able to ‘park’ or put aside those non-badminton thoughts? Thoughts about life, school, work, etc.
It’s easy for people to say “Focus” and “Concentrate”, but how and what methods could you try?
I’d like you to think and possibly try these ideas. Not all are easy and some may not be right for you at this time of your life. However, it should stop you from thinking about them
- Before training write down the top 3 or 4 thoughts that are filling your mind. Use a pen and paper or your phone. Doing this will allow you to put them aside, if only for an hour or two. Remember to read them again afterwards. They won’t be solved but you will escape then for a while.
- Try not ‘chatting’ about TV, music, Facebook, Tic-Tok. In fact, anything that isn’t related to improving you! Do you think you could save that talk until the end during your cool down?
- As you walk into the hall or gym imagine that you are stepping into your favourite world. A world where you feel completely at home and are able to only think about the work ahead. Tell yourself that everything that is about to happen is exactly what you wish for, then smile 🙂
Deliberately putting yourself in a positive mood can work wonders
2 Agree a plan
If you practice with a plan a goal, an aim you WILL be more productive
Having a plan will reduce the mindless, ’empty’ practice.
Have you ever been in those sessions when you wonder “why am I doing this practice?” or “I have no idea what I’m doing to do in this session, guess I’ll make it up as I go”
Please don’t be afraid to question what you are about to do. In fact, you should have at least a general idea of the session goal, the theme. Once you know what is about to happen you can prepare your head, your thoughts.
You’ll need to have good communication with your Coach or keep a training diary so that you can plan ahead.
- If you know the theme of the session you can prepare your mind.
- Is it physical, technical, match play?…. you need to know
- Do you think it would help to know what was about to happen?
Knowing in advance is vitally important if you are not sure ask your Coach before you walk into the hall
3 Have a specific session goal
- Before practice begins, identify and agree with your coach (or yourself) at least 1 or 2 specific things you want to achieve
- I recommend that you have them written down, read them twice before the session :- 1 hour before then as you walk into the hall before starting your warm-up.
- This is more in-depth than just having an overall plan, these are individual, identifiable aims. It needs to be memorable during the session.
- While you prepare, think about your goals. Part of the mental preparation is to read them and check if they are still applicable. Is your body ready for physical, is your mind ready for learning
- Think about writing the goals on large pieces of paper and sticking them to the hall walls as additional motivation and reminders. Ask your Coach to remind you at the right time.
4 Fire Up Your Motivation
Try to develop a mindset that looks forward to practice
You may prefer some types of practice to others, that’s normal. It could be that you really enjoy match sessions or love to perfect your net spins with just you and your coach. Having favourite practice sessions is ok, however, it’s important that you feel motivated for all sessions.
You need to have a plan, a thought process that allows you to Fire UP Your Motivation
Before you walk into the hall try these ideas
- Imagine the challenges ahead and how you will master them: yes you will improve today!
- Think about the sense of achievement you’ll get because you love to play and perform
- Take a moment to think how this session fits into your ‘journey’, every session adds to your development
- Ask yourself: would you rather be at home watching TV or standing on court doing what you love
- Talk with the Coach or your partner and find something to enthuse about (get excited!) as you walk in
5 Contribute to the Session Plan
If you practice without a Coach you will be doing this already. However, do you really identifying themes for the session, or do you just turn up and hit?
If you are in a ‘Coach controlled’ environment then ask the Coach if you could contribute to the plan for the next few sessions. What do you think your Coach would say?
Players that contribute to the session will develop faster
Planning a session will cause you to ‘think and visualise’ what could be included. Hopefully, you will find that your emotional states starts to change as you think about what you will be doing. I’ve found that players who take part in session themes or specific plans enjoy the session more and of course, develop faster.
I certainly know and have seen examples of players who have contributed the majority of ideas and themes for a session. Interestingly they are really good players, many being Worldclass or high ranked juniors. The Coach, well the Coach not only allowed this but, has encouraged and planned for this many months before.
Coaches: how often do you ask your players to contribute to the session plan. Not at the start but the day or week before.
Before practice think about how the last few sessions have gone. What can you take from reviewing them that will help today.
I’d recommend that you take about 5 to 10 minutes to evaluate what you noted in your training diary. Is there anything that will help you today?
Look for some of these and use the information
- What was my mental and physical state in the last session: do you need to change anything or just to remember the feeling
- What went well, so well that it could be a good idea to do it again
- Did you get distracted last time: what will you do differently today
You will be missing out on improvements if all you do is ‘turn up for training’ !