“Badminton is slow. Badminton is not physically challenging. Badminton is a hobby”. Let us dispel such myths for you.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medallist Marcus Ellis was recently put through his paces by the University of Westminster in London to debunk such badminton fiction.
Badminton at the top level is an extremely physically demanding game and one of the toughest sports to feature on the Olympic programme. It requires strength endurance, muscular power, agility, speed endurance, anaerobic power and a capacity game to accelerate and decelerate.
Featuring on the Olympic Channel’s ‘Anatomy Of’ series, Ellis was put through a series of gruelling athlete tests to measure his fitness.
First up, is the BodPod test. A machine measuring your body composition covering volume and weight. It looks a bit like he’s about to be launched into space. He’s not. Ellis measured just four per cent body fat. That is one lean man. Four per cent body fat is comparable to that of a top long-distance cyclist or triathlete.
Measuring Ellis’s anaerobic fitness, he takes on the Windgate Test – a cycle test of anaerobic leg power, performed over 30 seconds. It’s a brutal one. Badminton players usually use anaerobic energy to fuel quick bursts of movement around the court, such as smashes and lunges.
After the 30-second test, Marcus measures 3.5 watts per kilo. Within five seconds, he has reached the peak power of that of an elite sprinter. Marcus trailed off halfway through the test, however, that’s consistent with his sport: quick bursts – reset – go again – reset.
So, he’s passed this one, too.
The penultimate test is the Counter-Movement Jump Test. A standing vertical jump. Now, you’d think a badminton player would be pretty good at this given the amount of time they spend smashing the shuttlecock? Well, you’d be right.
Marcus measures an incredible 51cm on the test. That’s phenomenally high. Compare that to a fencer (45cm) or a judo athlete (41cm). We predict he’d jump much higher in the right atmosphere; with a racket and a roaring crowd.
During lengthy matches, badminton players work aerobically using oxygen pumped around the body through the lungs and heart for high endurance exercise. VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilise during intense exercise.
Marcus is put on a treadmill for his final test and pushed to his limits to test his VO2 level. He gets to 15kph before he lifts himself off the treadmill after a gruelling run. Marcus topped 63 millilitres of oxygen consumed in one minute, per kilogram of body weight, comparable to that of top cyclists and marathon runners.
Marcus Ellis is clearly one of the fittest badminton players in the world. Not only capable of top sprinting speeds but also hardcore endurance to last those lengthy matches.
So, how does such an athlete maintain and improve his fitness during a pandemic? Watch out for Part II with Marcus Ellis later this week.