4 Types of Badminton Serves to Master (& When To Use Them)

Justin Ma - December 6, 2023 - 0 comments

If you’ve been wanting to add more serve techniques to your badminton arsenal, you’re certainly not alone.

After all, knowing more serves means you’ll be less predictable — and it gives you the ability to adjust your strategy based on each opponent’s playstyle. But what techniques should you focus on, and how can you get the most out of them?

Keep reading to discover the four main types of badminton serves to master, along with when to use them.

4 Basic Types of Badminton Serves

Here are four badminton serve techniques that can help you stay unpredictable in every match:

1. Low Serve

The low serve is a basic badminton shot with a low, short trajectory that lands just over your opponent’s service line. 

Because it’s so short, it limits how your opponent can respond and can sometimes lead to an early advantage in a rally.

You can low serve on both your forehand and backhand side, but backhand is more common. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start with your backhand grip, with your thumb in line with your strings. (Tip: Keeping your hand further up the handle can give you more control.)
  • Hold your racket out in front of you, and tilt it down at a 45-degree angle. The face should be almost parallel to the net, but rotated slightly upward.
  • Grab the shuttle by the feathers with your non-racket hand. Hold it slightly above your racket, pointing the cork down toward your knees.
  • Line up your racket to prepare for the shot.
  • Use a short backswing, drop the shuttle, and flick your racket up and forward — aiming for a soft trajectory that gets the shuttle just over your opponent’s service line.

When To Use

  • Use this technique to stop a strong opponent from starting the rally on offense. A well-executed low serve can be tough to attack!
  • Opt for a low serve when your opponent is preparing to move back, as it could catch them by surprise.

2. Forehand High Serve

The high serve has a high, far trajectory that goes toward your opponent’s back service line. If pulled off correctly, it also ends with a steep vertical drop — meaning it can be tough to return.

To do it:

  • Stand near your centerline, with your non-racket foot pointing forward. Your racket foot should be one step back, angled slightly outward.
  • Hold the shuttle by the feathers in front of you.
  • Pull your racket out behind you to prepare for a wide backswing.
  • Drop the shuttle and swing in an underhand motion to send it flying to the back corner of your opponent’s service court.
  • Tip: As you swing forward, your body should rotate in one fluid motion. Your back heel should also come off the ground slightly as you shift your balance from back to front.

When To Use

  • Used primarily in beginner-to-intermediate men’s and women’s singles. At higher levels (especially men’s singles), high serves can be a riskier shot.
  • Choose only when you’re confident you can create a steep downward trajectory in your opponent’s back service court.
  • Avoid using it against opponents with strong offense — especially if your opponent has a deadly jump smash.

3. Flick Serve

A flick serve is a fast-paced shot with two main benefits: it forces your opponents to scramble backward and opens up the frontcourt for a potential attack.

The setup is similar to the low serve — but the flick serve’s faster speed, longer trajectory, and element of deception can help you catch your opponents off guard.

Here’s how to try it:

  • Start with your backhand grip. 
  • Stand in the front of your service court, near the centerline.
  • Hold your racket out in front of you, pointing down at a 45-degree angle.
  • Grab the shuttle by the feathers, and angle it slightly down toward your body. 
  • Pull your racket backward just as you would with a low serve. (This makes it tough for your opponents to anticipate where the shuttle will go.)
  • Keep your hand relaxed until it’s time to swing. 
  • Squeeze your grip and use a powerful flick to hit the shuttle over your opponent and toward their back service line.

When To Use

  • Use this technique to diversify your serves throughout a match. 
  • Choose this shot when your opponent is preparing for a short serve. The best flick serves are the ones your opponent doesn’t expect!

4. Drive Serve

A drive serve is a long serve primarily used in doubles. Unlike other types of serves, its trajectory is meant to be fast and flat — similar to a drive shot!

The official rules of badminton state that you must serve the shuttle from below 1.15 meters off the ground, so it won’t be exactly like a drive. Instead, the goal is to keep the trajectory as flat as possible while staying in line with the service rules.

To execute a drive serve:

  • Use the same setup as you would for a flick serve.
  • Aim to use a very short backswing. You should also keep your grip relatively relaxed until you swing, just like a flick serve.
  • Squeeze your grip and rotate your racket face at the last second to create a flatter shot.
  • Tip: Aiming for your opponent’s backhand side can make it more difficult for them to return the shot.

When To Use

  • Use in doubles when your opponent is expecting a short serve.
  • Use only when you’re confident you can pull it off well, as a poorly-executed drive serve can quickly lose you the point!

The Bottom Line

By mastering the four badminton serves above, you can diversify your shots and start more rallies with the upper hand.

The low serve is one of the easiest techniques to start with, but you can also add a mix of high serves, flick serves, and drive serves to your game to catch your opponents off guard and win more points.

Looking for more ways to level up? Sign up for virtual coaching to get training tips, personalized feedback, and more — all from a pro.

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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