Can mastering your backhand defense completely change your badminton game? For many players, yes.
In doubles, it’s the go-to way to return most of the shots that come flying to your court. And in singles, it’s often faster and easier to control than forehand defense. But how can you improve your backhand defense, and where should you start?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about backhand defense in badminton, including positioning tips, shot techniques, and drills to practice.
First Things First: Positioning
When it comes to positioning, it’s key to start with a good defensive stance. This stance can vary depending on the rally and which shots your opponent can hit. But in general, you’ll want to:
- Widen your stance
- Lower your body slightly
- Face the net
- Keep your racket up at about waist height
- Use your non-racket arm for balance
(Note: For a more in-depth tutorial on the defensive stance, be sure to check out this video by Jacobs Badminton.)
In doubles, you’ll use backhand defense most of the time. But in singles, you may need to switch between forehand and backhand defense more often — simply because you’re protecting more court space.
With that in mind, you’ll want to start your defensive stance with a neutral grip in singles. On the flip side, some players may prefer starting closer to their backhand grip in doubles.
Backhand Defense Shots to Master
As you set out to improve your backhand badminton defense, here are some core shot techniques to master:
Drives are fast, flat, midcourt-to-midcourt shots, and they’re one of the best ways to counterattack in a rally. They’re not always a defensive shot, but they can help add more variety and power to your backhand defense.
Here’s how this shot works:
- Start in the ready position, holding your racket with the backhand grip.
- Use a split-step and lunge to your backhand side.
- Bring your elbow forward and pull your racket back as you prepare to swing.
- Straighten your arm and flick your wrist forward to hit the shuttle. As you swing, tighten your grip and use your thumb to generate power behind the shot.
- Tip: Be strategic with your placement to make it difficult for your opponent to return the shuttle.
- Don’t use too big of a backswing, and focus on control over power.
- Footwork tip: You’ll want your final step to go forward into the drive, landing just after you hit the shuttle.
The lift is a go-to shot for protecting your frontcourt from a drop shot or net kill. It’s one of the most common backhand shots in badminton — and it’s also one of the most beginner-friendly.
An ideal lift trajectory will start low in the frontcourt and arc high into your opponent’s backcourt to prevent them from being able to attack again.
Here’s how to do it:
- Use your backhand grip, and get into your defensive stance.
- Split-step and lunge toward your frontcourt.
- Keep your fingers loose and relaxed until it’s time to swing.
- As you get ready to swing, bring your elbow up so that your racket face is pointing down.
- Tighten your grip, extend your arm, and push with your thumb to swing upward. Aim to hit the shuttle high and deep into your opponent’s backcourt.
- Tip: To get the most out of your lifts, try to use a similar setup for both your lifts and net shots. This will make it hard for your opponent to predict whether they should back up or move closer to the net.
Mastering your backhand clear can help you defend against high backcourt shots from your opponent. (It’s also one of the most advanced shots in badminton — so don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to get the hang of it!)
With that in mind, here are the steps to pulling off this powerful shot:
- Since you’ll be hitting the clear from the backhand side of your backcourt, you’ll use the bevel grip.
- As your opponent hits their shot, split-step and use proper footwork to follow the shuttle to the backhand corner.
- Pivot your body so that you’re facing backward.
- As you lunge, raise your racket head in the air. (Tip: Plan to make contact with the shuttle at a high point.)
- As the shuttle approaches, bring your elbow up. This will cause your racket head to point downward and allow for a strong backswing.
- In one fluid motion, extend your arm. tighten your grip, and whip your racket upward to generate power behind the shuttle.
The block shot is one of the most trusted backhand defense shots in badminton. It’s a reflex shot with a minimal backswing — meaning you can use it to reflect smashes back into your opponent’s frontcourt.
To do it:
- Start in your defensive stance, using your backhand grip.
- Jump into your split-step as the shuttle approaches you.
- Move toward the shuttle. Then, use a short backswing to reflect the force of the shot, sending the shuttle into your opponent’s frontcourt.
- Aim to make contact with the shuttle in front of your body, when your racket is just about parallel to the net.
Tip: To catch your opponents off guard, you can also mix cross blocks into your backhand defense. Check out this video to learn how.
Practice Your Backhand Defense with Multishuttle Drills
Multishuttle drills are one of the best ways to practice any badminton technique — including your backhand defense. Simply:
- Grab a few dozen shuttles and a partner.
- Have your partner smash shuttles to the backhand side of your frontcourt, one after the other.
- Do your best to return each shot with a lift or block. (You can repeat this drill in the midcourt for drives, and in the backcourt for clears.)
- For an added challenge, you can ask your partner to hit shots randomly between your front, middle, and backcourt. This will allow you to practice a variety of defensive backhand techniques.
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