What Badminton can learn from the world of Formula One? By Samir Abid, MBA, CEng

As one of the most popular racket sports in the UK, badminton has continued to see investment in technology in recent years. Hawkeye technology has been leveraged to make better judgement calls and nanotechnology embedded within rackets to improve power and durability.
 
These technologies have the potential to play a big part in badminton matches, however, neither gives any insight into what might happen during a game. Their focus is purely on what just happened. Data on shuttlecock speed, flight paths and landing spots are all useful insights, but with this information only available after an event has happened, how much value is the resulting knowledge contributing to player performance? The result is coaches sat in the audience, unable to really add value mid-game. Badminton matches are fast paced, with very few breaks, so I see a significant opportunity to optimise performance before and during the game in addition to after.
 
The Formula One Opportunity
The engineering pedigree of high performance motorsport has meant the sport has traditionally taken a different approach to that of others. The thing Formula One teams are really good at is putting information in context. You see, or rather hear it, when racing coverage tunes into team radios and you hear engineers informing drivers that their speed was faster than the previous lap, or that they will catch the driver in front of them by taking a particular action.
 
What badminton can learn from Formula One is not how to deliver advice and support, but how coaches can deliver this as and when it is needed. Efficiency and processes is what engineers and by association Formula One is really good at. Implementing technology in the right places means people can do their jobs better, making well informed, intelligent data driven decisions.
 
Where I see the real opportunity in badminton is in this behind the scenes area. Using experience from Formula One coaches can deliver advice and support with much more confidence and objectivity.
 
For example, the challenge for competition players is always how to adapt to each individual opponent. Facing a stroke player is always going to require a different game-plan to an aggressive player. At the moment all of this is taken into consideration, but I’d question how many adjustments to equipment and strategy are made in game. For example, if rules allow, could changing racket tension throughout a game make a difference?  Is there an advantage of having a dynamic string tension manager with optimised settings? In general, thinner strings are more powerful but thicker strings are more durable - so a combination of both may be better for some player’s performance but not for others. In F1, drivers adjust their brake bias, the amount of braking force applied between front and rear brakes, constantly throughout a lap. This enables them to maximise the entry phase for each corner, for any given condition such as changes in tarmac, wind direction or gradient. Taking a more objective, engineered approach to coaching should involve questioning everything. 
 
Applying an engineering mindset
Engineers tend to follow a relatively strict approach when looking to innovate and develop new ideas, following a research, do, review and repeat process until the optimum outcome is achieved. Two areas this can be applied are simulation and aerodynamics.
 
Formula One teams regularly use simulators to prepare drivers to face different conditions and challenges. Race conditions can be simulated down to the smallest detail.
 
This approach can also be applied to badminton. Coaches already identify aspects of opponents their players should be prepared to face, so why not develop the technology to simulate these? It would enable players to actually practice their game plan weeks before a match, ensuring every return and serve is precision engineered to beat an opponent.
 
The same approach can be applied to aerodynamics. It is to an extent understood that a different racket can make a difference in various points of the game. Changing between rackets mid rally is of course not possible, so what if a racket could be adapted mid-way through a game? There has been some discussion around nanotechnology and applying this to produce a dynamic racket that alters its aerodynamic properties and formation at different points in a game.
 
The nature of the sport has meant that Formula One has always been full of engineering minds, but I believe it is now time other sporting disciplines learnt from this. The technical nature of the sport is not just down to the fact it involves cars, but because team members are fully dedicated to constantly looking for that extra millisecond. 
 
In short, I believe there is plenty that could be learnt through data sharing between Formula One and badminton. To learn how to maximise player performance success in an insightful way, I would advise the sport adopt these principles. 

Secure Card Payments

Secure Payments with Sagepay