Picture this: You’re in an intense badminton rally, about to hit your finishing smash. As your opponent’s shot comes towards you, you shuffle back, raise your arm in the air, and swing! But as soon as you make contact with the shuttle, you can tell that your shot is floaty and weak.
Or maybe you executed your smash perfectly, but your opponent seemed to have no trouble predicting it and sending it flying back to you. So, what happened?
The truth is, there are some common badminton smash mistakes that can cause your shots to be weak or fail altogether. Below, we’ll talk about the most frequent mistakes that players make, and the best ways to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Your Positioning Is Off
Positioning is everything when it comes to badminton smashes. When you go in for a smash shot, your timing and positioning should allow you to:
- Start your smash when you’re behind the shuttle. This way, you’ll be able to produce the “throwing” motion with your racket. If the shuttle is behind you or already above your head, it’s not the right time for a smash.
- Hit the shuttle at its highest point in front of you. This allows you to produce a strong downward angle and speed.
How to Refine Your Smash Positioning
Practice a contact point or positioning drill. Simply:
- Stand in one court, and have a friend hit shuttles towards you from the other side of the net.
- Using proper footwork, follow the shuttle as if you’re going in for a smash. But instead, focus on your body’s positioning. So, rather than actually smashing, try to place your body so that the bird lands right in front of your non-racket foot.
After getting comfortable with this contact point drill, you can start to ramp up the difficulty. For example, you can eventually upgrade it to a basic, full smash drill that allows you to work on both positioning and swing technique.
Mistake #2: You Overlook Your Footwork
Your footwork plays a critical role in your performance on the court. But footwork training often gets overlooked by beginners — and this can throw off every part of your smash technique, from timing to form.
On the flip side, having strong smash footwork offers the benefits of:
- Stabilizing your body before each shot
- Reaching the shuttle early enough to get a solid full smash (or set up for a smash variation)
How to Improve Your Smash Footwork
An excellent first step to improving your footwork is to start practicing shadow drills.
Here are some easy and effective drills that you can practice anywhere, as long as you have a little bit of space:
Mistake #3: You’re Only Relying on Your Arm for Power
Arm and wrist techniques are key for a good smash (and especially for the stick smash.) But they’re only one piece of the puzzle when you want to maximize your power in a full smash.
So, if you’re having trouble with shot power, ask yourself: Am I using my whole body in my technique? In addition to your swing, your body rotation and grip can help you generate some extra power behind the bird.
How to Harness More Power for Your Smashes
Here are some tips to help you get the most power from your smashes:
- Keep your body slightly turned to the side before you go into your smash.
- Push off with your racket foot as you go into the motion, rotate your hips, and bend your elbow as you prepare to hit the shuttle at the highest point above you.
- Try to hit the shuttle with your racket’s sweet spot.
- Use your non-racket arm for balance, and fully extend your dominant arm in a “throwing” motion as you complete the smash.
- Keep your grip loose up until the moment you swing. At that point, you can tighten your grip and tense your body for a more powerful shot.
Mistake #4: You Forget About the Other Types of Smashes
While a full smash or jump smash might be what you go for the most often (after all, they’re the coolest!), there can be downsides to choosing them too frequently.
Sticking to a single smash type will make you predictable — and, therefore, more likely to lose against an experienced opponent.
In general, keep in mind that there are several types of smashes that you can use. These include:
- Full smash
- Half smash
- Stick smash
- Slice smash
How to Mix Up Your Smashes
If you want to mix up your smash shots, it’s best to learn about the different types, when to use each, and how to execute them properly.
Here’s a guide that covers everything you need to know:
Mistake #5: You’re Using a Smash Constantly (Even When You Shouldn’t)
While using the wrong type of smash over and over can be detrimental to your game, so can overusing smashes in general.
It can be tempting to use smashes all the time. But when the shuttle’s too far behind you or you don’t have a good setup, you could run into trouble by trying to smash every shot.
How to Stop Overusing Smashes
The key to not overusing smashes is to understand timing, as well as how to use your opponent’s positioning and other shot types to set yourself up for a solid smash or kill shot.
If you’re not sure how to set up a well-timed smash, this tutorial goes over a few examples to help you out.
The Takeaway on Common Badminton Smash Mistakes
Every badminton player wants that incredible finish in a rally, and it’s always tempting to go for a good smash. But if you’re making common badminton smash mistakes — like not timing the shot well, overusing smash shots, or forgetting about footwork — it can take a toll on your game.
Practice is key if you want to avoid these mistakes. So, mix up your training by trying different drills, playing against friends, and learning from the many resources online. You can also ask an experienced friend or coach to watch you hit a few smashes and give feedback on where you could improve.
More Badminton Resources
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