Badminton can be played in two formats; either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles). They will then take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court which is divided by a net. The aim is to strike a shuttlecock with their racket so that it passes over the net and lands in their opponents' half. A rally ends once the shuttlecock has struck the floor. How difficult can this be?

At the very highest level, Badminton is a technically-intensive sport that requires great hand-eye coordination skills, agility and the fast ability to read the game before a 493km/h smash (a record set by Malaysia's Tan Boon Heong) comes straight at you. Your match preparation will directly determine the outcome of the match.

How powerful can your smash get? To open a watermelon

The factors affecting the state of your game vary from individual to individual. But for those who learn from their tournament wins and losses and thoroughly analyse their performance, it will only be a matter of time before they climb to a higher competitive level. 

These 10 steps can separate the most marginal of matches and identify the great players from the good ones. So read, repeat and rehearse till they become a part of your everyday's preparation to be the very best.

You definitely won't want to be in this state while training 1 - 2 weeks before an important and gruelling tournament

STEP ONE: 1 - 2 Weeks prior to the tournament
All professional teams and players will greatly reduce the amount of training. This deep recovery period is critical to make sure your body goes back to the very best condition. For many amateur players, even when the game is scheduled for tomorrow, they still want to train and play vigorously. This causes a lot of physical exertion, resulting in the fatigue and poor psychological state.

And then there's always the other extreme; players who take complete rest before the game, and not touching their racket a single time in days or weeks.

There's an apt Chinese saying that goes, "一天不打,对手知道。二天不打,自己知道。三天不打,观众知道" (After a day without training, opponent knows. After two days, you start to know. After three days, the crowd knows)

Before the game, you need to put in some form of practice, but strictly control the amount of exercise while letting the body adjust to the best functional state.

STEP TWO: 1 Day prior to the tournament
AVOID the following:
- Alcohol,
- Staying up too late,
- On the computer, phone, and etc. for a long period of time 

All these will directly lead to slower brain response and reaction time.

STEP THREE: The Night before the tournament
Do not wait
until the tournament day or when you are on the court, only to find out that you have forgotten to bring towels, socks, water, spare clothes and so on. This will greatly affect the mood to compete and play the match. Make a list of items and pack everything into your racket bag!

STEP FOUR: The Day of the tournament
Try to finish your meal one hour before your scheduled playing time
. It is advisable to eat easily digestible, high-energy food. Hard to digest and oily food like Fried Rice should be avoided. Otherwise, during a fiercely contested match, you may feel bloated and various stomach discomfort.

STEP FIVE: At the tournament
Now it's time to loosen those muscles and get them ready for high performance. Static stretch from head to toes for 10 minutes, then jog, footwork drills, and stroke with a partner for another 10 minutes.

It's essential to get a little sweat out and warm the entire body, so as to play the game to your full potential. In the event that there is no court space for you to perform any of the preparatory activities, then you can consider other off-site activities. 5 minutes of preparatory activities is definitely not enough!

STEP SIX: Before and during a match
You must adopt the right mental state as you approach your match. Being too conscious of winning and losing, seeking shortcuts to win a rally, being nervous, showing complacency, losing focus and so on should not be allowed to creep into your game.

Embrace the "Nothing To Lose/Underdog" mentality when your opponent is clearly stronger, while giving the due respect to your weaker opponent. Keep your body relaxed at all times! With laser focus and concentration, earnestly fight for every ball and be ready for every shot. This is the only guarantee of a victory.

STEP SEVEN: In the middle of a match
By the first interval (at 11 points), you should be able to find out the strength and weakness of the opponent. If you still can't figure your opponent out, it only goes to prove that you lack maturity and meticulous thoughts in your gameplay.

STEP EIGHT: Completion of the match
For most events, especially so if you participate in both Singles and Doubles, you will be required to play back-to-back matches at times. This will seriously test your physical conditioning. With whatever rest time you can muster, just try to sit down and relax. And take some high-energy bar or food supplement when appropriate.

STEP NINE: During a doubles match
There is no place for blame and criticism of your partner during a match. Rather, both should seek to encourage and spur on one another. Any argument or opinion can wait! Proper communication is key and remember that the victory will always belong to the pair that can coexist and complement each other well.

STEP TEN: Stay back and cheer on
You may have completed your match, but there's no need to hurry home or elsewhere. Find a suitable place to relax while cheering and rooting for your friends or teammates. Your support may very well determine a win and a loss in a fiercely contested match.