Have you ever felt like your backhand shots in badminton weren’t strong or fast enough? Or perhaps you’ve got your backhand power down, but your accuracy still isn’t up to par. And maybe no matter how much you practice, it still feels like you’re missing something.
If you’ve ever wondered how to improve your backhand technique, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn everything you need to know about backhand shots in badminton, including the proper form and tips to boost your precision and power.
Mastering Your Badminton Backhand Form
First things first: If you’re having trouble with your backhand, try to let go of any attachment to your old techniques. It’s time to break down old habits and start learning new ones!
As you relearn proper backhand form, it can help to think of it in components. Each part of the entire motion — including the grip, footwork, and arm motion — is essential to a smooth overall shot.
With that in mind, here’s what you should know about the form for backhand shots in badminton:
1. Backhand Grips
Many players mistakenly use a forehand grip when hitting backhand, which can cause weak, floaty shots and throw off your accuracy. That’s why knowing your grips is crucial.
There are three grips you should master if you want to improve your backhand in all scenarios:
Basic Backhand Grip
The first is the basic backhand grip. You’ll typically only switch to this grip when the shuttle is headed to your front non-racket side.
The basic backhand grip goes as follows:
- With your racket face pointing up, wrap your hand around the handle. Your pointer finger knuckle and thumb should be at the same level, with your thumb at the center front of the handle. Then, lightly “pinch” your racket between your thumb and pointer finger.
- Keep your grip nice and loose until you swing. At that point, you can tighten your grip and “push” with your thumb to boost the power behind your shot.
The bevel grip (aka the grip you’ll use for rear-court backhand shots) is similar to the basic backhand. But instead of resting your thumb on the front side, you’ll rotate your racket about 45 degrees and place it on the beveled area.
Finally, the panhandle grip (aka the hammer grip) can help with late backhand shots. Switching to this grip can help you hit a straighter shot when the shuttle is behind your body.
It involves moving your thumb and pointer finger to either side of the racket handle, rather than the front.
Here’s an excellent video by Coach Lee to see how the different backhand grips should look:
2. Backhand Footwork
As with any aspect of your game, good footwork is crucial for a solid backhand in badminton. You can improve your footwork by going over the technique and practicing until it becomes second nature.
Here’s the basic process for backhand footwork:
- You’ll start with a split-step, standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Then, drop down with a slight hop. Your legs should be a bit further apart now, with your knees slightly bent. Keep a low center of gravity for more balance and control.
- Next, chasse step towards your non-racket arm side (either in front or behind you.)
- Pivot on your non-racket leg into a lunge, with your racket leg in front. The distance you pivot will depend on how far back the shuttle is.
- As you step down to finish the lunge, hit the shuttle. Then, push off with your racket leg to return to your ready stance.
The best way to master your footwork is to train your mind and body using drills. Here are five shadow footwork drills that you can practice anywhere:
3. Arm Motion
When it comes to backhand shots, certain tips can help you improve your swing power and accuracy. Of course, every shot is slightly different — but these are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Start your swinging motion with your elbow low. Keeping your arm higher in the air might feel more natural at first, but a lower elbow gives you a better range of motion and a more powerful backhand shot overall.
- Try to keep your wrist in line with your forearm. Don’t bend it too much, as a bent wrist can take away from your power.
- Keep your racket arm and grip slightly relaxed until it comes time to swing.
It’s also important to pay attention to your body positioning as you lunge for the shuttle. If it’s too close or too far away, you could be missing out on power.
Watch Out for These Common Backhand Shot Mistakes
Even knowing the proper techniques, it can still be easy to fall into bad backhand habits — especially when you don’t have a coach to help you identify your weak spots.
Here are four common backhand mistakes to look out for as you practice:
Practice Your Badminton Backhand to Master These Skills
Every backhand shot is unique and will require training and adjustments. And the only way to get better is to practice your backhand drop shots, clears, smashes, drives, etc., the correct way — over and over again.
The good news is that as long as you’re willing to put the time in, finding ways to practice is pretty straightforward. One easy way to train is to grab a partner and do a few backhand drills at your local badminton court.
To start, have your partner continuously toss shuttles to your backhand side, and try to return them with proper form. This gives you a chance to repeatedly practice a variety of front-court, side-court, and rear-court shots.
If you want to challenge yourself further, you can modify this drill to improve your backhand accuracy. Instead of returning the shots anywhere on your partner’s side, you can aim for a specific point or target.