Badminton is not as easy at it looks, just ask any coach or player.
"They don't realize how hard it is until they get out there and actually start playing," Desert Vista coach Richard Trujillo said. "The way they play it in high school is not the way they play in P.E. (physical education class). It is at a much higher level than that."
Badminton isn't in the limelight of varsity athletics but coaches say they have to train players just as hard as in any other sport. Players have to be quick on their feet and know how to use the racket to the best of their advantage.
"You have to be light on your feet, and it takes a lot of hard work to get your shots down," Westwood's No. 1 singles player, Katie Abbott, said. "There is a lot strategy that goes into it as well. The biggest part of the game is the mental aspect. You have to stay positive and not get down on yourself."
To polish skills, coaches believe that repetition improves any player.
"I think it is a combination of drilling the basics over and over until they become automatic responses and just letting them play," McClintock coach Jen Bielack-DePanicis said. "The overhead shots and the underhand shots. They have to be able to do some shots perfectly, whether it is the serve or overhead."
Westwood coach Barb Anderes has a routine she follows almost every day.
"We start out with endurance, running for five minutes, and then stretch," she said. "We do upper-body strengthening, abdominal exercises and lower body lunges. Then we move on to agility drills."
Agility drills to improve quickness are universally done with the shadow drill. The shadow drill is done in pairs, with one player pointing to six different areas on the court and the other sliding to them. The player pointing will switch directions quickly to increase awareness and speed.
"Once the footwork comes down, which they pick up the quickest, then we can start working on the different shots," Trujillo said. "Athleticism plays a huge, huge role but hard work is obviously part of it. That is one of the biggest things I have seen. You have to have good footwork and hand-eye coordination."
To go with agility, players must become a master with the racket and be able to control the birdie. Anderes has her team practice an array of shots — overhead drop, clear, serve, smashes — including several others.
Besides the type of shot, Bielack-DePanicis says the position of the shot is just as important.
"It's not just placement, it's placement and how it comes over the net. There is a lot involved in shot."