A power difference in men and women
Specialized girls training is one of the topics Huynh Nhut Duong is working on in her coach education in Denmark. Her article 'No jump training for female players' is very interesting because scientific studies1 support her writing and it could change the way we are looking at badminton training.
I believe that the girls who are good at this moment are so because they CAN do male training, and it is not because they have been working on special girls elements in the training. We see also adoption to some problems in the women's single like the service. Most of the female players still use the high single service and that is mostly because of the lack of power to jump and intercept the service return and a general lack of power to be in control of the service return. The high service is therefor still the favorite choice in the women's single. It also brings you right to the problem in training girls, because it is fundamentally different than training boys.
To do footwork training for girls the same way as for boys is just as stupid as first learning Danish to try to understand Chinese. It is for 99% impossible for girls to do the same footwork. The women are approximately 52% and 66% as strong as the men in the upper and lower body. So women have 33% less power in the legs than men have. Where we make the men play badminton with a lot of interception and jumps from the center and therefor have the right foot in front, we have to give the woman a more neutral start position because they will do more steps to get to the shuttle.
The second step, so the step after the split jump is far more important for girls than the pre direction split step. When the 33% less power in the legs has been explained, you get to the next problem and that is the fact that men can power themselves out of problems on the backline if they are past it.
Woman miss almost 50% of the power that men have to get themselves out of the same situation, and still there is no significant difference between the way girls and boys do the training on footwork.
All training has it foundation in tactics. This also means that the tactic you use in a women's single is different than in men's single. Knowing that girls use more steps has a huge impact on the way you make your tactical plan for the game. To change your central position makes all the difference to get into the initiative strokes. Knowing that from the middle of the court girls have a neutral start with the split jump getting into the position just after the midcourt split jump gives you this initiative strokes possibility because from this position also girls have a good opportunity to use interception footwork.
There is still a difference with men's single because men try to play on interception from the service due to the short service and girls start neutral with the high service that will allow them to get out of the midcourt position to get into the interception area. The extra power men have makes it possible to use this footwork right from the service where girls need to work a little more to get there.
There is a slow change on its way in ladies' single to use the short service. But also here the training should not be the same as what we would do in men service return. Many of the girls play the short service with the tactical plan to get a lob (the shuttle is played 30 cm behind the serviceline) and because it's a half cross it has to be a high lob to avoid interception and the loss of initiative. Girls should focus on a real short service like in the double. This will lead to a net return and there the service will have a advantage. I refer to the training from Huynh Nhut Duong about tactical service on where to play the service in order to get almost for sure a net return.
In men's single they play constantly short service and the return can come everywhere. Men can make the compensation with the power to cover all of the court. In ladies' single the short service has to be played as an alternative and has to be focused on reflex from the opponent, as soon the service is done all the time the opponent will start to use non reflex returns and the advantage of the short service with a predictable return will be gone.
Where you can work on power as the basic element for footwork in the men's single all the time, you have to work a lot more in the tactical way to get the footwork to function in the girls single. In the footwork of the girls single you have to work a lot with calculated risks to leave space open in order to create an advantage in your own footwork. You can only do that in relation with pressure on the opponent to limit her possibility to play in any of the corners you don't want the shuttle to come.
I think we are already long ahead in the way we work with and think about girls single training on Oro, but we are still walking in children shoes if you look at how much different we really should think between boys and girls training.
The facts about difference between girls and boys don't lie and when you look to badminton training you don't see this difference back again. We can even go one step further and ask ourselves why we lose so many girls in our sport when they turn 14 to 16 years old? Maybe it is because we do boys training and don't focus on the strong sides of the girls in our sport? It is like asking girls to play very hard core computer games. There are some who like it, but most of the girls lose interest very fast.
I have asked Huynh as a part of her coach education to analyze the difference in training boys and girls and come up with conclusions that we can use in the training for future ladies' singles. In next year's summer camp we should have a new view ready and work with the conclusions we have made.
1) Vanessa Arellano (2011), 'Is There a Difference Between Female and Male Muscles?'
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