Taking Your Best Shot At Badminton

Published June 7, 2021

A Review

In previous articles, we went over the ‘Facts and Stats’ of the sport of badminton, which dates back to ancient Greece, China, and India. We next detailed the ‘Rise And Fall Of American Badminton’ detailing the popularity of the sport in the 1930s, and the decline in interest by the American public in the 1970s, as the media embraced the sport of tennis. 

If inspired to move from armchair to moving the feet and arms on an outdoor or indoor badminton court, it is essential to understand the ‘how-to’ of swinging a racquet to make the game-winning shots!

Badminton Strokes

Badminton play won’t mean a thing without coming to understand the swing! There is a time and place on the court for each of the 4 different badminton racquet strokes. A racquet stroke is not a racquet shot. A stroke is determined by the shot that comes at the player.

There are four different common badminton strokes

Overhead Forehand: This is the most common stroke and is done from the back of the court. It provides the most power when done correctly. To use this stroke, place the body sideways and move the arm holding racquet backward while extending the chest as wide as possible to execute the maximum racquet swing. Hit the shuttle when the shuttle is overhead; bring the arm down to follow through on the swing.  On swing completion, the body should be facing forward. 

Overhead Backhand: The overhead backhand requires much practice to master. Begin by facing forward and then turn the body to face the back of the court and hit the ‘birdie’ with a smooth and quick backhand action using wrist action. This stroke’s power rests with the wrist and gripping the racquet handle in the correct spot to flex the wrist. 

Underarm Forehand: The underhand forehand is performed from the front of the court. It does not require as much swing strength but will provide quality shots over the net. This stroke also involves flicking the wrist. The player should move forward, raising the racquet to the height of hitting the shuttlecock. Place the dominant leg in front of the body to support body weight. 

Underarm Backhand: The underarm backhand, also performed from the court’s front, provides shot quality as well. The value also rests with the flick of the wrist. The racquet’s upward motion should have enough power to send the birdie to the back of your opponent’s side of the court.

The successful application of strokes will determine the power of your shot!

Calling The Shots 

After the initial serve, there are five basic badminton shots to keep in mind of returning the ‘birdie’ to your opponent on the other side of that nylon net. 

Those shots are called:

Clears: Shots are usually done in a singles game to the opponent’s backcourt area and the most straightforward shot for beginning players to master. 

Smash: The most powerful shot, used with intent to end a rally back and forth by firing the birdie back at a steep angle. The player is positioned in the middle court when executing what usually results in winning a point.  Position the racquet over the head and hit the birdie in a swift downward trajectory to make the birdie hit the court floor on the other side of the net.

Drop, Drop shot, and Dribble: Badminton drops are played from the front net area to the opponent’s front net area. A drop shot is a shot played from the back of the court to his or her opponent’s front net area. The badminton dribble also referred to as a net drop, is a tight net-to-net return rally. Dribbles force the opponent to play a high lift backhand stroke, consequently allowing for a winning point smash shot!

Counter/Drive/Parallel: There are several ways to counter your opponent’s shots, continue the back and forth rally, and transform defense to offense. One counter shot is the direct drive shot.  This hits the birdie directly in a parallel path back and forth with either backhand or forehand strokes.  Fast and flat drive shots are typically played in doubles competition to get the birdie to fall to the court’s back and forcing the opposing players a weak return. Slow drive shots have the objective of landing in the court’s front area, forcing opponents to change position quickly.  

Net Kill: The net kill is similar to the smash shot used from the middle court, except that the net kill is used when the opponent hits a weak return high above the net. The alert player will rush to the net and hit the birdie in a swift downward direction.

The success and power of any badminton shot are finding the sweet spot of the racquet in the racquet center.

Becoming A Pro

Badminton play won’t mean a thing without coming to understand your swing! To play like a pro is to become a master in knowing when to use the four basic strokes relative to the birdie’s location with your body. When the birdie is below the chest, the underarm forehand or backhand is best. When flying above the chest area, use the overhead forehand or backhand. 

Also vital to the badminton match’s quality is knowledge of the best grip of the handle, footwork, and body balance.

The two grips that need to be mastered are the forehand and backhand grip. While both grips may look the same, ‘the devil is in the details of where you place your fingers and thumb. In a forehand grip, the thumb does not need to press against the handle’s wider surface. The index finger should be ‘in charge’ in a forehand stroke to push the racquet forward. 

When using a backhand grip, rest the thumb near the broader surface of the racquet handle; the backhand shot’s power is in the thumb’s push. While it may seem confusing initially, a true pro can quickly adapt from forehand to backhand grip, depending on how the birdie is coming at you. 

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