What is a Net Shot in Badminton? Exploring Net Shot Variations and Strategy

Published May 4, 2021

A badminton net shot is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a shot near the net.  BOOM! Post over. Right?  No way!  There’s so much more to net shot strategy, and if it were this cut and dry, we wouldn’t be dedicating valuable blog space to it.

A full color image of a feathered shuttlecock sailing just over the top of a badminton net in an indoor badminton facility.

Badminton Net Shot: Definition and Basics

In case you are a very new player, it’s worth making it a point to run through the definition and basics of the net shot.  A net shot is an offensive play that the shuttler executes in the forecourt, close to the net.  The birdie sails as close to the top of the net as possible and lands in the opponent’s forecourt, usually very close to the net as well.  Net shots can be executed with both a forehand OR backhand grip, depending on your position to the birdie.  

Let’s talk about execution, and then visit briefly the different types of net shots.  Though they are all shots taken from right at the net, there are subtle differences, and each type serves a different purpose.  Some net shots can get you into trouble if used at the wrong time, so knowing those differences in strategy next can help mitigate risk on the court.

Executing a Net Shot – Short Flight, Sweet Result

There are both forehand and backhand net shots, but the strategy for both are similar.  The difference lies simply in which side of the body the shuttle is going to end up on.  Here’s how to execute a solid forehand net shot:

  • Lunge toward the net with the racket leg forward.
  • Extend the racket arm – some coaches compare this forward motion to a fencing move.  The arm should be straight and the wrist loose and flexible.
  • The racket head should be parallel to the court or facing downward slightly, so that the shuttlecock bounces off the strings, without TOO much power behind it. You want the shuttlecock to leave your racket in a forward motion, without sailing too high over the top of the net.  The higher the birdie, the greater chance your opponent has of returning the shuttle – and ending the rally with a net kill.
  • A subtle slicing motion will add extra spin or a tumbling effect that makes returning the birdie even more difficult for your opponent.  Too much slicing motion will translate into power that sends the shuttle too high.  It’s best to try to use your body’s forward momentum to create the slicing moment, rather than the strength of your swinging motion.  
  • As soon as the shuttlecock leaves your racket strings, immediately return to the ready (base) position.

Types of Net Shots in Badminton – Not All Shots are Created Equal!

Like most badminton shots with multiple variations, the net shot is no different. Net shots can be used to force your opponent forward, backward, or even to set yourself up for the next shot.  But watch out!  Certain variations of net shots are risky and can backfire. Let’s break down the subtle differences between these useful forecourt net shots.

Basic Forehand/Backhand Badminton Net Shot

This is the most basic net shot, and the first one beginner players should focus on mastering.  The execution of this shot would be as follows:

  • Lunge toward the net with the racket leg forward
  • Extend your racket arm, keeping the racket head parallel to the ground or facing SLIGHTLY downward.
  • Let the shuttlecock bounce off the racket strings, using a straight arm with a loose, flexible wrist.  (Not too much power! Keep the shuttlecock as close to the top of the net as possible.)
  • Immediately return to a base ‘ready’ position after the shuttlecock leaves the racket.

When Should I Use A Basic Forehand Net Shot in Badminton?

The basic forehand net shot is primarily useful in two situations.  

  1.  This shot is used as an opportunity to take advantage of your opponent’s inability to reach the front of the court in time to return.  If your opponent is in the rear court, they aren’t likely to make a strong return when the shuttle drops just over the net.
  2. This shot is also a strategy you can use to proactively set up your next shot.  A basic net drop will pull your opponent to their forecourt, as you return to the ready position.  When they return the shuttlecock, you can quickly send it to their rear-court, sending them scrambling across a large area.
This image shows the point of impact at the net, and the trajectory just over the net of a basic forehand/backhand net shot trajectory.

Tumbling Net Drop

This shot follows the same execution as the basic forehand or backhand shot but also employs the use of some of that subtle slicing motion we talked about earlier.  Sending the shuttlecock over the net spinning and tumbling makes it harder for your opponent to return.  Be careful that your slicing action isn’t adding unnecessary power behind the shot, or the shuttle will get too high, allowing your opponent a possible net kill to end the rally.

Check out a simple net drop drill on Badminton Justin?s Youtube Channel that you can do with a coach or teammate, or even an automatic shuttle feeder.

Cross-court Net Shot

The cross-court net shot is one of the trickier – and riskier moves you can make.  You should only execute it if you’re sure that your opponent will be unable to make a strong return.  A cross-court net shot sails the shuttlecock (just barely) over the net but aims to land on the opposite service side.  If pulled off deceptively, this could be an impossible shot to return.

However, if it is returned, you have just set yourself up to clear a LOT of court space to get to the shuttlecock to return it yourself.  This possibility makes the cross-court net shot a risky strategy.

Net Kill

A net kill is not a smash.  Let me repeat, a net kill is not a smash.  It doesn’t require nearly as much power or preparatory positioning, and is executed at the net, not in the rear of the court.  However it does not involve the gentle lift over the net that the you wee with the basic or tumbling net shots.

This shot is perfect for when your opponent sends a slow, loose shot over the net.  You can use this opportunity to quickly bat the shuttle to the floor before they can react.  The trajectory of a net kill is sharply angled beginning almost right at the net and ending on the court service just behind your opponent’s short service line.

This image shows the straight, downward trajectory of the shuttlecock after being hit in the forecourt just behind the net.

Net Lift

A net lift, basically an underarm clear performed right at the net, is meant to send the shuttle high and to the rear of your opponent’s court. A net lift is a great option for returning your opponents net shot. This clear is a way to manipulate your opponent’s positioning, and send them scrambling backwards rather than forwards like your basic or tumbling net shot.  The landing zone is completely opposite. 

This net shot, like the cross-court net shot carries with it some risk.  Should your lift not quite reach the proper height, your opponent could grab the rare chance to send a mid-court smash your way.

An image showing the high arc and fall of a "Net Lift".

Hairpin Net Shot

This is a last minute connection with the shuttlecock that will have spectators holding their breath, sure that the shuttlecock is going to hit the floor.  This is a net shot that is executed very close to the floor, and is referred to as a hairpin net shot because the shape of the shuttlecock’s trajectory looks like a hairpin (bobbypin).  

This is an image illustrating the "hairpin shaped" trajectory of a net shot that has a point of impact very close to the court surface, just behind the net.

How Can You Improve Your Badminton Net Shots?

Perform drills at the net with an automatic shuttle feeder, or a playing partner.  Practice keeping the shuttlecock as close to the net as possible.  Create the muscle memory needed to know exactly how much power you need to put behind the shuttle to get it over the net, but not so high that your opponent can take advantage.

A net shot in badminton is an important and unavoidable part of the game.  If you want to achieve an elite level of play, you simply can’t ignore these shots.  They are very useful when you want to take control of the game, and set yourself up by forcing your opponent to the front, or the back of the court. Net play is a skill that must be honed and perfected.  The best way to improve is simple: practice practice practice.  

Ready to get serious about your badminton training? Check out tips, tutorials, and useful drills at with BadmintonJustin on Youtube.

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