How Caffeine can Improve your Jump Smash

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A coffee in a glass with two piles of ground coffee next to it on a wooden board

It is strange to think, but science has shown that caffeine, the world’s most popular drug, can improve your jump smash! In this article we are going to break down a randomised controlled trial that was published in the Journal of Sports Sciences [1] and how we can use this information to improve our game. The scientists in this study wanted to see the effect caffeine had on elite badminton players to enhance their physical and match performance. So let’s have a look at what they found. 

What is a Jump Smash?

A smash in badminton is an offensive shot played from the back of the court with power and speed in a downwards trajectory. A jump smash is simply when you jump to hit the smash from a higher point.

If you want a detailed breakdown on the badminton smash, check out our article Badminton Smash: Types of Smashes and How to Play Them.

Brief on Caffeine

So, first let’s have a look at what caffeine is. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, with most people feeling effects such as increasing alertness and attentional performance as well as making people feel less fatigued and drowsy, it is often called a cognitive enhancer. These effects are particularly useful for sports such as badminton that require quick reflexes and decision-making.

The caffeine is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and blood levels peak after 30–120 minutes. Caffeine levels remain high for 3–4 hours before starting to drop.

Caffeine acts by blocking the sites that a molecule called adenosine binds to, called the adenosine A1 receptor. This enhances release of acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter, meaning that your neurons fire more, which means your are cognitively enhanced!

Caffeine Symbol drawn on a piece of paper with coffee beans scattered around it
Caffeine Symbol drawn on a piece of paper with coffee beans scattered around it

Caffeine is naturally found in over 60 plant species, the most well known being coffee beans and tea. After consumption, caffeine is absorbed through the gut into the blood, circulated around the body before being broken down in the liver.

Caffeine is naturally found in over 60 plant species, the most well known being coffee beans and tea. After consumption, caffeine is absorbed through the gut into the blood, circulated around the body before being broken down in the liver.

In moderate amounts, caffeine is generally considered safe for most adults. But excessive consumption can lead to insomnia, irritability, nervousness and in some cases an increased risk of heart attack.

How Caffeine Affects Us During Exercise

As we have seen, caffeine is able to affect reaction time, wakefulness, concentration, and motor coordination. So now we want to know how this relates to us when we are playing badminton.

There have been numerous studies over the years that have shown that caffeine can improve athletic performance in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. A moderate dose of caffeine (around 5 mg/kg) has been shown to be especially effective for endurance sports, by delaying the onset of muscle fatigue, but can also improve sprint performances, such cycling and running time trial performance, and also cycling power output.

A man performing a barbell row in a gym

This increase in power output can also be observed in constant load exercises by increasing muscular strength and power. Though not entirely understood, it is thought that caffeine works by enhancing muscular endurance or by reducing perceived exertion (how much it hurts) [2]. This is also backed up by studies that show caffeine having a positive effect on exercise duration.

Scientific research showed that after consuming 330 mg of caffeine 60 mins before exercise, elite cyclists increased their time to exhaustion from 75 mins using a placebo to 96 mins by using caffeine [3].

Science suggests a dosage of caffeine to improve performance is between 3 and 6 mg per kg of body weight, 60 min before exercise and can improve performance by up to 8% [2, 4, 5, 6].

How Much is Too Much?

Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks. Keep in mind that the actual caffeine content in beverages varies widely, especially among energy drinks.

Caffeine in powder or liquid form can provide toxic levels of caffeine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned. Just one teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equivalent to about 28 cups of coffee. Such high levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems and possibly death.

Coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine per cup. Black tea contains 25-110 mg of caffeine per cup. Green tea contains 30-50 mg of caffeine per cup.

As with anything regarding your health, you should always get advice from a practising health professional first.

What the Paper Says

The overall aim of the study was to find out what effect a caffeine-containing energy drink had on the physical and match performance of elite badminton players.

Sixteen male elite badminton players participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomised experiment.

Sixteen male elite badminton players participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomised experiment.

Science Jargon Busting

Science Jargon Busting

The way the study worked is that on two different occasions, the badminton players ingested 3 mg of caffeine per kg of body mass in the form of an energy drink or the same drink without caffeine (placebo).

The way the study worked is that on two different occasions, the badminton players ingested 3 mg of caffeine per kg of body mass in the form of an energy drink or the same drink without caffeine (placebo).

After 60 min, participants performed the following tests:

After 60 min, participants performed the following tests:

1) Handgrip maximal force production
2) Smash jump without and with shuttlecock
3) Squat jump
4) Countermovement jump (Used to measure explosive lower-body power)
5) The agility T-test.

1) Handgrip maximal force production


2) Smash jump without and with shuttlecock


3) Squat jump


4) Countermovement jump (Used to measure explosive lower-body power)


5) The agility T-test.

In science, researchers use the data produced to determine whether or not the difference between the test group and the placebo group is due to chance or a real effect, this is called statistical significance. Out of all the tests performed, the researchers saw that the ingestion of the caffeinated energy drink increased height and the power of both the squat jump and countermovement jump!

This means that the use of a caffeine-containing energy drink can be a way for us to increase how high we can jump during a game, and therefore improve the effectiveness of our jump smashes.

Why Jumping Higher is Better

A jump smash is basically taking a jump before hitting the shuttle which can give your shot more force and power and it increases the angle to your smash, making it steeper. This makes it much harder for your opponent to return your shot.

So naturally, by jumping higher you can further increase the angle at which you can hit your smash, making your jump smash an even more potent weapon for your opponent to defend against.

Other Tips to Improve Your Smash

Jumping higher isn’t the only way in which you can improve your smash. Here are some other things that will help you bring the boom.

Body rotation

Body rotation is just as important to a jump smash as the jump itself. When you rotate your body correctly, you are able to generate more power and speed by using the forward momentum of your body. Incorrect body rotation, or no body rotation, can affect your balance, control and power.

To rotate your body correctly during a smash, you should start by turning your non-racket shoulder towards the shuttlecock as you prepare to hit it, pointing at the shuttle helps. As you start to swing your racket, you should continue to rotate your body, turning your hips and shoulders towards the shuttlecock. This will help you transfer the momentum of your body into your shot, increasing the power and speed of your smash. To learn more about how to smash read our article, Badminton Smash: Types of Smashes and How to Play Them.

Stay relaxed

Staying relaxed is very important. Tensing up will cause your smash a lot of problems, such as hitting it into the net or out the back of the court, causing you to miss time your shot, affecting your power and accuracy and also missing the sweet spot on your racket leading to a poor smash.

Accuracy

Often, accuracy can be more important than power. Sure it is great to blow your opponent away with a rocket of a smash, but when you come up against more experienced or better players, often their defence will be able to match your smash. So, aiming for the tram lines or even the opponent’s body itself, can be a much better way to win the rally with a smash.

Shoulder speed and strength

In our article on How Fast is an Average Badminton Smash and How to improve yours, we looked at the smash speeds of elite players and saw that the speed of rotation of the shoulder joint is the key factor for what determines a fast smash.

So by increasing the strength of our shoulders, for muscle power and endurance, we can increase the speed of our smash.

In that article we gave you 7 muscle strengthening exercises that can help increase shoulder strength and endurance.

We also have another article all about increasing your strength using just one exercise, if you’re interested, check out our article One Exercise to Improve Your Smash: Pull-Ups.

Conclusion

In this article we have shown, there are many studies that have shown that caffeine can benefit endurance performance, high intensity exercise, and power sports with a recommended dose of about 200–400 mg, taken 30–60 minutes before a workout.

However it is important to note that the effects of caffeine on physical performance can vary significantly from person to person, and may depend on factors such as an individual’s caffeine tolerance, the type and intensity of the exercise, and the amount of caffeine consumed.

We have also broken down the science of the research paper “The ingestion of a caffeinated energy drink improves jump performance and activity patterns in elite badminton players” which showed that caffeine can improve the height of elite badminton players’ jump and why this is a good thing.

And lastly we gave you some further tips for improving your smash.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.

References

[1] Abian P, Del Coso J, Salinero JJ, Gallo-Salazar C, Areces F, Ruiz-Vicente D, Lara B, Soriano L, Muñoz V, Abian-Vicen J. (2015) The ingestion of a caffeinated energy drink improves jump performance and activity patterns in elite badminton players, J Sports Sci. 33, 10, 1042-50.

[2] Maughan R. J., Burke L. M., Dvorak J., Larson-Meyer D. E., Peeling P., Phillips S. M., et al.. (2018). IOC consensus statement: dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 28, 104–125.

[3] Costill, D. L., Dalsky, G. P., & Fink, W. J. (1978). Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 10(3), 155–158.

[4] Goldstein E. R., Ziegenfuss T., Kalman D., Kreider R., Campbell B., Wilborn C., et al.. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 7:5.

[5] Grgic J., Grgic I., Pickering C., Schoenfeld B. J., Bishop D. J., Pedisic Z. (2019). Wake up and smell the coffee: caffeine supplementation and exercise performance—an umbrella review of 21 published meta-analyses. Br. J. Sports Med. 54, 681–688.

[6] Martins, G. L., Guilherme, J. P. L. F., Ferreira, L. H. B., de Souza-Junior, T. P., & Lancha, A. H., Jr (2020). Caffeine and Exercise Performance: Possible Directions for Definitive Findings. Front. sports act. living. 2, 574854.

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