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Choosing a Doubles Partner in Badminton

When deciding on a badminton doubles partner, your first instinct may be to play with the best player you know, because it gives you the best chance to win. Although that may be true, it’s not necessarily the smartest choice. Your ideal doubles partner would actually be a clone of yourself.

In this scenario, your chemistry, style, and skill level would be identical. Unfortunately, you can’t play with your clone, so you’ll have to settle for another player with similar attributes. Through this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know choose the doubles partner best suited for you.

Attitude

Getting along with your partner is a vital part of your success as a team. There will undoubtedly be ups and downs as you play together, which is why you both need to be in the same mindset. If you’re serious about winning, your partner should feel the same way. Your desire to win will only frustrate you if your partner doesn’t have that same competitive fire.

In the same regards, there needs to be a mutual respect between you and your partner. No one should play the blame game because any sort of conflict will only create more problems. Take responsibility for your mistakes and your partner will do the same. There is too much to focus on during a match to be bothered with petty distractions.

Style

There are three general styles that represent the majority of the badminton population: aggressive, defensive, and balanced. You and your prospective partner should have the same style of play. To help you determine which style best suits you, refer to the list below:

  • Aggressive: Aggressive players have a tendency to smash and drive more than other styles. They thrive on putting pressure on the opponents and attacking at every opportunity. While this style can lead to consistency, successful offensive shots are high-percentage plays. Ultimately, aggressive doubles play is high risk, high reward.
  • Defensive: This style is a safe, consistent way of playing that relies on your opponents to make mistakes. By using a defensive formation, they can return smashes and drops more easily. Also, this allows them to use energy efficiently since much of their own shots will be powered by the smashes and drives the opponents hit. Defensive players require excellent placement and footwork to be successful.
  • Balanced: Most doubles teams adopt this style simply because it has little weakness. Balanced teams will rotate between defensive and offensive formations depending on the state of the rally. Players using this style should be proficient with footwork, rotation, and general shot execution. This is also the most energy- and skill-intensive style to play as a doubles team.
Hot Tip: Don't be afraid to say "No"

Being asked to play doubles with someone is sort of like being asked to the prom. No one likes hurting another person’s feelings, but you shouldn’t agree to play with someone you’re not comfortable playing with for whatever reason. Don’t oblige simply to appease, because it’ll only ruin the experience for both sides.

Skill Level

From a competitive standpoint, skill level is the most important factor when deciding on a doubles partner. While mindset and style are generally fluid and easy to change, skill level takes much more time and effort. It’s crucial for you and your partner to be similarly skilled because the greater the discrepancy, the more likely your opponents will be attacking the weaker player. Also, being at the same skill level will lead to less conflict and frustration because you will likely make the same types of mistakes.

Be aware that the wider the gap in skill level, the more detrimental it becomes to your team. Your team is only as strong as its weakest link. This doesn’t mean one partner should hold back to maintain a similar skill level. Instead, avoid this problem altogether by finding someone on a similar level as you.

The difficult task isn’t in choosing a skilled partner, but determining who your equal is. Unfortunately, this isn’t an exact science, but here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Play with and against your potential partner: By playing with your partner you can simultaneously feel out the chemistry and skill level between the two of you. It is also equally important to play against one another to get a better sense of style and specific strengths and weaknesses.
  • Watch your partner play with other players: Taking yourself out of the game and watching your potential partner play can be eye-opening. By being able to focus on your partner, you can better gauge the quality of play.

Go with Your Guts

There are several factors to think about when deciding on a doubles partner, but it ultimately comes down to preference. If a player fits the bill in regards to style, skill, and attitude, but you just don’t feel comfortable when you’re playing, then move on. Decide whether you care more about the experience of playing or about winning, because they are entirely different paths.

If you enjoy playing with a friend who is less experienced than you, it would be a good opportunity for him to learn. On the other hand, if winning is your idea of fun, then you should find someone who feels the same way. As long as you’re comfortable with another player, the rest can be hashed out along the way.

Playing doubles with a friend can be fun, but that may not always be a good fit. Here are some guidelines on what to look for when choosing your doubles partner.
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