Clearing the Court – Types of Clears in Badminton and Their Characteristics

Justin Ma - November 17, 2021 - 0 comments

Clears are one of the five types of shots you can make while playing badminton. They are essential in games, and many consider them to be the most critical type of shot, especially if you are playing a singles game. When appropriately used, the different types of clears can help you gain the upper hand during a game and prevent your opponent from returning at a good angle. Clears can be generally categorized as attacking or defensive. However, other factors come into play, such as the angles used and whether they are a forehand or backhand clear. 

Knowing Your Angles

When it comes to choosing a type of clear to play, you have a few different options. You can play the clear to the middle of the court, cross-court, or straight. Each angle provides various advantages to the shot, and we are going to break down each one.

Playing to the middle of the court will be covered more in-depth later on in the article as it primarily pairs best with a defensive clear. These are typically executed with the player’s forehand as they are easier to play and return. 

A straight clear is typically played most often as they are the most protective clear. As the name implies, the shot heads directly across the court with decent force behind it. Due to the lack of excessive force used and the angles being played, your opponent cannot make a solid defensive hit back. This allows you to maintain a strong position for your next impact since the hit is typically lower than, say, a cross-court hit.

Cross-court clears are a gamble depending on how they play out. They can often allow your opponent to intercept the hit and smash the shuttlecock back at you. Due to the possible interception, most try to hit higher than lower to prevent it from happening.

That being said, a cross-court hit can still work in your favor, especially if it catches your opponent off guard and goes to their backhand. Players tend to be more discreet and responsive with their forehand as it is easier for them to maneuver than their backhand.

Backhand vs. Forehand Clears

Clearing to your opponents’ backhand is a technique used often because of its effectiveness. No matter how advanced the player is or how strong their backhand is, the return they give will always be weaker than if they had used their forehand. Backhand and forehand clears can be done either overhead or underarm.

Overhead forehand and backhand clears can be both defensive and attacking clears due to how they are played. Forehand clears are completed from the player’s forehand side of the backcourt, whereas the backhand clear is completed from the player’s backhand side of the backcourt. While many players feel more comfortable and stable, playing with their forehand clears your opponent may try and force you to use your backhand so being ready for that to happen is critical.

Underarm clears are categorized as defensive due to their placement. Forehand clears are made from the net to the backcourt, hence the name, utilizing the forehand swing. On the other hand, the backhand clear, like the name implies, is a shot made from the net area using a backhand swing to find the backcourt. 

Defensive Clears

Some types of clears are played to force your opponents’ hand and get them to mess up. However, a defensive clear is played very strategically as it will allow you to regain your bearings and prepare for your next shot. It will not put any pressure on your opponent as the shot is more of a basic one, so you need to take your time and take advantage of the window it gives you.

This type of shot is played as high as you can get it to go, as long as it can still reach the back of the court. Placing your shot high allows you to recover and take some time, however brief, to recollect yourself.

The critical thing to remember about this clear, though, is that it tends to work best when you play it to the middle of the court rather than the corners due to the height it gets. Keeping the clear high also prevents your opponent from intercepting it and using an attacking clear against you.

Attacking Clears

The primary purpose of this clear is to aim low, lower than any other type of clear. This tactic allows your opponent to have little to no time to react, allowing the shuttlecock to go behind them. For this clear to be executed well, it should be high enough to go over them but not high enough to carry out of bounds.

As mentioned earlier, the lower the hit is, the higher the chance that your opponent may be able to intercept it. So, you do have to find the fine line between hitting the shuttlecock just low enough to go over them but not high enough that it carries too far.

If your opponent can intercept the hit because it was too low, that puts them in an excellent position to attack you. Allowing the rally to now work in their favor and against you. So, trying to avoid this and using good judgment when using an attacking clear is essential to executing it well.

One of the best ways to prevent an interception is finding a sweet spot to hit the shuttlecock, which for most is just out of their opponent’s reach above their head.

Or, as we mentioned earlier, when using an attacking clear, try to find an area where your opponent is more vulnerable.

Hit quick and with purpose, just low enough that they can not reach it, and make them work for it. This can work to your advantage especially if you can implement a cross-court angle into the hit. Catching your opponent off guard does a lot of good when it comes to an attacking clear. 

In Conclusion

When it comes to badminton and the different types of clears, there is quite a bit to know about each one. Whether you are interested in using your backhand or forehand to swing, getting the correct angle to surprise your opponent, or using a defensive clear, we covered it all for you. Next time you go out on the court, you may want to try out a new angle or clear.

Justin Ma

I am passionate about helping people find joy in playing badminton, while also showing them how competitive the sport can be.

Justin Ma


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