There isn’t one ideal body type for badminton, there are many. However, you need to adapt the way you play to the way you’re built. This is a challenge for many coaches, as they tend to teach students to play the way they know how to play badminton, and that assumes that their students have the same body they do. It is of course rarely the case that a player will have the same body type as their coach. Badminton players come in all shapes and sizes, and while there are certain body types that will excel more often in certain events, you can adapt ways to play even if you aren’t built like Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei.
Something you may notice is that very few professional mens singles players are much taller than 6 feet. This seems to be the height at which you start finding fewer and fewer players. Each inch taller seems to be something of a disadvantage on the whole. There are of course some advantages to that extra height like the extra reach it provides, but in a sport that demands so much agility, it proves to be more of a burden. Going the other direction you find very few mens singles players that are much shorter than 5 foot 6 inches, or perhaps even 5 foot 8 inches. At this point your court coverage is going to start being hindered compared to the other players. There are of course examples of players who have been outside this range, like Ong Ewe Hock who was 5 foot 3 or 4 inches tall, and Thomas Stuer Lauridsen who was 6 foot 3 (I thought he was much taller, but wikipedia argues otherwise). Thomas Stuer was a great player, but he also battled with injuries that were no doubt caused by his size.
If you go into the other events you start to see a lot more variation is the heights of players. In mens doubles you see small players like Yap Kim Hock player with a much taller partner, Cheah Soon Kit. Yap was a lefty, and Cheah was a righty. While Cheah was the big gun from the back, Yap was a force at the net.
In mixed doubles Zhang Jun won the Olympics in 2004, and if you were to see him outside of badminton with no knowledge of his sporting success, you would assume he was terribly out of shape. He is a very stocky guy, and while he will never cover the court like Lin Dan does, he is ridiculously strong. I’m sure nobody looks forward to returning a smash from Zhang Jun.
So with these professional players in mind, what should an aspiring badminton player such as yourself do? How should you adapt your style to your build?
Well if you’re like me, short stocky, you probably need to rely more on defense. Unlike hockeyway players or any other ice sport, you should focus on deflecting and absorbing your opponents attack in order to tire them out, and seek opportunities later in the rallies. To go too aggressively at your opponent will tire you out quicker than them most likely. Playing flat will eliminate their reach advantage over you, and since you’re shorter, you’re more likely to be able to steal the attack during flat play.
If you’re tall and lanky you want to take advantage of the extreme angles you can produce. Push the play deep to all four corners of the court, your opponent who is shorter than you won’t appreciate the extra steps they have to take. Also, from the back court your drops and slices will be a source of frustration for your opponent who’s standing too far back because they’re afraid of your smash.
These are just a couple of examples of how you can develop your game around your build, do you have any suggestions?