While there are different types of badminton shots, with forehand and backhand variations of most of them, the crowning jewel of offensive attack strategy is the badminton smash shot. If you’re still working on mastering your smash shot in badminton, you’ve landed in a great spot. We’re here to break it down for you and provide you with the best tips on how to perfect your badminton smash shot.
What is a smash shot in badminton?
What is a smash shot in badminton anyway? If you’re pretty new to the sport, you should know that this type of shot is a powerful offensive tactic meant to end a rally. Though it is one of the most effective badminton shots and techniques to gain points, it can be risky. If returned by your opponent, you’re likely not going to be in a position to meet the shuttle, so knowing how and when to use the smash shot is an important part of using it properly.
A badminton smash shot is usually fired off a powerful racket swing from the rear of the court. The shuttlecock travels in a straight, downwards trajectory – a direct route to the opponent’s court surface. The net height coupled with the trajectory of the shuttlecock forces a landing that is usually midcourt or further back, though it can be closer to the left or right sideline. The height at which you connect with the shuttlecock will determine the trajectory, and the trajectory sets the landing zone. See Illustration A for a visual representation of the trajectory of a badminton smash shot over the net.
The shot is usually executed so quickly, and shuttlecock travels at such speeds that your opponent is unlikely to reach it in time to return it. There are four distinct methods to execute a smash shot in badminton, and we’ll take a look at each of them in turn.
Perfecting the Forehand Standard Smash Shot
One of the most important parts of properly executing your forehand standard smash shot with the greatest potential power is proper balance. If you begin the shot off-kilter, your body is going to exert energy to regain your center of gravity as you swing. This wasted energy robs you of some of your stroke power as your core muscles are being utilized for balance, rather than a supporting force behind your swing.
To gain proper balance for a forehand standard smash shot in badminton, begin with a smash-ready position. To get set for this shot, both feet should be facing toes to the sideline, with the non-racket foot and shoulder facing the net. Non Racket arm is elevated, and the racket arm is slightly elevated, bent at the elbow. Keep your feet planted firmly, but your muscles should be loose.
Be sure to have a forehand grip on your racket, When the shuttle sails at you, a fluid swing with a complete follow-through will deliver the most power. Your racket head should make a complete arc that ends at your non-racket leg. The base of the shuttlecock should connect with the center ?sweet spot? of your racket.
A great way to practice this technique is to position yourself at the ready, and practice swinging ‘through’ an imaginary shuttlecock. Repeating this complete arc will create muscle memory. Take that shuttle-less training and step it up a notch by having a friend, teammate or coach hit repetitive high-flies to you, and smash them back to the opponent’s midcourt surface.
Perfecting the Backhand Standard Smash Shot
The backhand smash shot is not nearly as common as the forehand. Even the most experienced professionals can struggle with pulling off an effective backhand smash.
Performing a backhand swing can send you off balance, as it’s not as natural a movement as a forehand swing. For this reason, proper balance is equally as important with a backhand standard smash shot as it is for the forehand. As far as positioning goes, you’re actually going to want your back facing the net at the time of impact for this shot. Your racket foot will be forward, and a lot of the speed from this shot comes from a last-minute flick of the wrist.
Adopt a backhand grip, positioning your thumb parallel to the racket grip to stabilize it and provide extra power with your swing. A weak or improper grip can really affect the accuracy of your shot. Keep your hand and muscles loose until you make an impact with the shuttle. If done properly, this shot can really surprise an opponent, and end a rally in your favor.
Perfecting the Forehand Overhead Smash Shot
The forehand overhead smash shot, also sometimes called the ‘around-the-head’ shot. This is a forehand smash that is performed on the NON-racket side of the body. It’s the most common smash performed on the non-racket side of the body because it is typically not as difficult as the backhand smash shot.
The grip is still a forehand grip, but the racket will swing over your head to connect with the shuttlecock on the other side of your body. As opposed to the forehand standard smash, the forehand overhead smash will require a stance with your toes pointed forward, standing facing the net, instead of toes pointed sideways with your non-racket shoulder pointing towards the net.
Perfecting the Forehand Jump Smash Shot
The initial stance of the forehand jump smash shot is the same as the Forehand Standard Smash Shot. Your non-racket shoulder is facing the net, and your toes are pointed towards the sideline. This is so you can use your core muscles to twist, creating a kinetic chain of motion that travels from your core to your wrist.
The key word in this smash is *jump*. As the shuttle heads toward you, quickly crouch and use your legs to power you vertically to meet the shuttle at a higher point of impact than the standard jump smash shot. If necessary, you can power vertically, and forward a bit to meet the shuttle slightly ahead of you.
Making contact with the shuttle at a greater height will cause it to land closer to the net, and likely further from your opponent. You can thank the steeper trajectory for this landing. (See Illustration A above and note the higher point of impact and it’s projected landing.)
Perfecting the Stick Smash Shot
Unlike the full smashes outlined above )where you use your entire body to generate power and follow through with a full arc), the stick smash uses only the wrist and forearm to generate the power. There is no follow-through after making the connection with the shuttlecock.
Because you’re not ramping up your entire body to make the shot, your opponent is likely not expecting a smash return. This use of only the wrist and forearm creates a perfect deception, though a stick smash doesn’t typically have the kind of speed and power that a full smash carries. Keep the elbow bent, and then snap your wrist, and rotate your forearm to make contact with the shuttle. The higher you make contact with the shuttle, the steeper the trajectory. Remember not to make a full follow-through, and immediately return to your base position at the ready.
Why should you use the stick smash as opposed to the full smash if it doesn’t carry as much power as the full smash? There are three good reasons:
- Shot Variety – Using only the full smash as your attacking strategy makes you predictable. A worthy opponent will adjust to your speed and predict your shot, returning them with more frequency and putting you at a disadvantage.
- Requires Less Energy – The stick smash requires less energy than the full smash, which also increases your recovery time to reach the return.
- No Raw Power – If you’re a smaller, less powerful player with a more moderate smash, the stick smash might be the strategy to use to end more rallies and tally up some wins.
What You Need to Know To Smash Effectively:
One of the most important things to know to perform a smash shot in badminton effectively is when to use this offensive weapon. This shot should only be used when the perfect opportunity presents itself, or it could backfire.
When to smash in a singles game:
When playing badminton singles, the smash is used much less often. Just because a high lift comes your way, resist the urge to smash!
It should only be used when you are sure that you’re opponent will have a weak return, or be unable to return it at all. These opportunities don’t coincide with every high shot headed your way.
Using the smash when you aren’t completely ready, or when your opponent is already in the ready position, and will likely return the shot, you could be setting yourself up to lose the rally.
Some signs that it’s a good time to attempt a smash during your singles game:
- Your opponent is dog-tired and it’s obvious.
- Your opponent is favoring one side of the court, and you can accurately send a smash shot to their weak side.
- Your opponent is not getting to their ready position at center court quickly enough.
- Your opponent has a weak backhand, and you are confident that you can accurately smash to their non-racket side.
Beginners don’t usually recognize the perfect moments. Significant game time will help you determine those golden opportunities to employ a wicked smash. Like other badminton skills and techniques, that ‘smash intuition’ comes with practice.
When to smash in a doubles game:
The smash shot in badminton is used much more frequently in a doubles game. The smash in doubles is used to keep the upper hand. You want your opponents to always be reaching, struggling, and barely making that return shot. It keeps your pair in control of the rally, and inevitably the match.
During a doubles game, you can rely on your doubles partner to offer support if your smash shot isn’t delivered at the very best opportunity.
How to Use a Smash Shot to End a Badminton Rally
There are a few different ways you can end a badminton rally with a well-played smash. If you’re in the throes of a heated singles rally, take stock of your opponent’s weak spots. Is there a corner, or a side they favor? The area they are tasked with defending is huge, and if you can penetrate an undefended area with an accurate smash shot, you can gain the point.
One of the most effectively aimed smashes hits your opponent’s court near the sideline, forcing them to cover the entire width of the badminton court. For example, if your opponent has a weak backhand, hitting a laser-accurate smash to their backhand side might be too much for them to return. A stick smash to the sideline will send them racing for the return, but allow you to recover quickly enough to send the shuttle to the opposite side for the court before they’ve recovered.
Deception is also your friend. A stick smash should be a last-second flick of the wrist that your opponent is unprepared for. A full smash should be timed appropriately, and not overused and predictable. Hitting a smash to a ready opponent will end the rally – and not in your favor.
Tips on Improving Your Badminton Smash Shot
Here are some quick and simple tips on improving your smash shot:
- Quick badminton footwork. While training, work on your footwork and getting behind the shuttle quickly.
- Try to get your racket up early. When you have your racket at the ready early, you have more options when it comes time to make the shot.
- Practice practice practice! Practice pulling off an accurate smash after a full training session to simulate game time energy levels.
- Take strength training time on your chest, core, and shoulder. These are all muscle groups that power your smash shot.
- Embrace the ‘Body Smash’. It is not poor etiquette to aim a quick smash directly at your opponent’s body. This makes it difficult for your opponent to get their racket into a prime position for return.
- Carve out time in your training schedule to work on your backhand smash. It’s a difficult skill but can come in very handy.
For up to date badminton tips, techniques, and training videos, follow BadmintonJustin on YouTube. In the meantime, see how I’ve used the badminton smash shot to win rallies in a recent training session.