Serving the Competition

Justin Ma - December 8, 2021 - 0 comments

Ensuring that you are using the proper type of serve can take you far in a game of badminton. There are four main types of serves: low, drive, high, and flick. Each one has its purpose, which can help dictate the flow of your match. Knowing when to use a particular serve in badminton is similar to knowing which golf club to use for a specific shot.

Low Serves

This type of serve is softly hit over the net with the racket. The idea is to hit it at the perfect height so that your opponent can not smash it or try and go for a net kill. A smash is a strategic hit packed with force and speed sent down the opponent’s court. At the same time, a net kill occurs when the shuttlecock is hit downwards at the net towards your opponent’s court. 

Low serves tend to receive a light tap that puts just enough force behind the hit to go over the net. The idea is for it to land just over the net on the other player’s serve. This shot requires some practice because if the hit is too soft, the shuttlecock may land on your side of the net, backfiring on you.

Most popular in doubles games because of the smaller court size. The players try and limit the range of motion and return options that their opponents have. Taller players tend to have difficulty returning a low serve because of their distance from the ground and the hit landing so close to the net.

Drive Serves

This type of serve can be classified as an attacking serve specifically. It is most popular with more advanced players due to the force and intent behind it. The shuttlecock is hit directly across the net to catch your opponent off guard and hopefully lower the number of return options they have. These serves have to be timed and executed well to be effective; if it is done incorrectly, then your opponent has an opportunity to smash it back to you

If you want to attempt this type of serve, you can do so by using your forehand in an underarm action and following through the motion. Ideally, the shuttlecock should be hit flatter in this case, with it being positioned sideways instead of in front of the body. This allows you to get the proper angle for the underarm action.

While it can be used in singles or doubles matches, it is a popular serve for doubles games. Primarily due to the position of the receiver along the shorter service line used. It can provide you with the element of surprise as long as you do not overuse the serve because the receiver may begin to anticipate it. Allowing them to effectively return it, ruining your plan, and putting yourself in a wrong position. 

High Serves

This serve is the complete opposite of a low serve, as the name suggests. This one aims to send a powerful serve into the air to land deep in the rear end of your opponent’s court. Finding the proper force to put behind the hit is crucial because too little can cause it to fall in front of your opponent, and too much can cause it to go out of bounds.

Most popularly used with this serve is a forehand grip, which may be enough to warn your opponent and let them know what you are about to attempt. Since this hit is popular with new players, most had tried it themselves before or used it against them. The type of game you are playing, singles or doubles, corresponds with the service areas that are in play, so remembering which areas go with each game type can help as well.

Those playing in singles games tend to prefer this serve technique as it tends to exhaust their opponent. Having to reach the back corner in time and applying the proper force needed to return the hit takes a toll on the player’s body. Using this type of serve against shorter or weaker opponents who can not return it with the same force can benefit you. If they have to give just an okay return or hustle for it, you will be in a better place than them, which is what you want as it works in your favor.

Flick Serves

A flick serve is similar to a high serve as it is played higher, just with less altitude. A flick serve can be used in singles or doubles games, depending on the circumstances. This type of serve is typically done with a backhand serve due to the lower trajectory the player is aiming for. Backhand hits tend to have less power behind them due to the grip used. 

A fun fact about backhand serves is that they tend to look like you are about to perform a low serve. There is a hint of deception behind a backhand flick because it allows you to switch up your serves, making this a fun and common tactic used by players during competitions. 

Flick serves will put a lot of strain on your wrist if you do not have the strength needed to execute the movement effectively. Once you feel confident using the serve and know that you have the force required for it, you now need to know when to use it. Ideally, you can use this serve when your opponent likes to stand near the short service line and aims to intercept low serves early on. This will require them to change their stance and move further back in the court. 

What Comes Next?

Knowing your options and what is most effective in each situation can be vital to helping you win a close game. If you notice your opponent is shorter than you, showing exhaustion early on in the match, or likes to play near the service line, you will be able to respond to the situation appropriately. 

Now that you know the different types of serves that can be used in a game of badminton, you can try a new one out the next time you play. Or, if you are a new player, you can practice a variety of shots before your next singles or doubles match. Playing to your strengths and knowing what serves can do the most can take you far in a game. 

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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