Guide to Advanced Badminton Shots
After you get a consistent feel for the basic shots, you should continue expanding your game by learning some of the more advanced shots badminton has to offer. While there are certainly many more variations of shots than this guide covers, it’s a solid starting point as you begin branching out your shot-making abilities.
Baseline Slice Drops
This drop is an excellent alternative to faster, flatter drops because it provides better placement and deception. Traditional drops tend to be predictable and are harder to place close to the net than slice drops. A slice drop in badminton uses a stroke that is specific to slice shots.
Executing a baseline drop shot requires a different stroke and wrist movement. Hitting a slice drop is much like brushing the surface of the racket against the head of the shuttle. This swiping motion is the source of the deception. While your body sends a clear right-to-left signal to the opponent, your drop is actually heading in the opposite direction. To do a slice drop, start by:
- Preparing yourself as you normally would for an overhead shot with proper footwork and positioning.
- As you begin to swing, make sure the motion of your racket is more diagonal than the usual back-to-front swing.
- When you strike the shuttle, focus on slicing the shuttle in a way that brushes across the cork. This slicing action forces the shuttle to go in a direction perpendicular to your swing.
- The slice drop should come off the racket relatively slow, which causes it fall sharply around the net. Like all drops, the slice drop should be aimed at the front corners of the court.
Although the slice drop is slower than traditional drops, the angle of the drop and added deception make up for its lost velocity. Keep in mind that slice drops do not replace your regular drops, but learning the shot merely supplements your options of viable threats from the baseline.
Backhand Baseline Cross-Drop
Most backhand shot variations are more difficult than their forehand counterparts. The baseline cross-drop is no exception. While the backhand clear requires a combination of strength and technique, the backhand drop is more concerned with the latter. Your backhand shots are all likely weaker than your forehands, which makes it that much more important to have reliable options. To hit an excellent cross-drop, you should:
- Have good positioning: Backhand cross-drops cannot be effectively taken while the shuttle is past the plane of your body. This means you should not be reaching back to take a cross-drop. The distance it must travel combined with the power lost in reaching back can only lead to a poor shot. Instead, use your footwork to get to where you can hit the shuttle while it’s still in front of you.
- Make contact at the highest point: A cardinal rule of badminton is taking the shuttle as early as you can without waiting for it. This is especially true for drops, because the higher you strike the shuttle, the sharper the angle of your drop will be.
- Notice the angle of your racket: Positioning helps, but a great backhand cross-drop requires excellent wrist action in order to angle the shot to the opposite corner. If you use a traditional backhand grip, you can rotate your grip to get the angle you need.
Like the slice drop, the flick shot also hinges on deception. Like the flick serve, the quick wrist action will surprise your opponents and likely score you an easy point. The flick shot also benefits from having multiple applications during a real game. A flick shot can essentially be used any time you take an underhand shot. Although it may not always be ideal to take one, you always have that threat against your opponent. Here are a few tips for executing a flick shot:
- Be in good position: Due to its offensive nature, a flick shot should only be used when you’re in good position to take it. This means you shouldn’t be reaching behind yourself or striking the shuttle close to the ground.
- Make contact at the highest point: Flick shots drastically lose their effectiveness the lower you hit the shuttle. An example of a great opportunity to use a flick shot is when your opponent drops the shuttle. If you reach the shuttle early enough you can hold your racket out in front at shoulder-height as if you were waiting to drop the shuttle. At the last moment, quickly drop the racket head and flick it forward like a drive.
- Avoid taking a flick shot from half-court: When hitting a flick shot, the closer you are to the net, the better. Taking a flick shot at half-court or further is not only a questionable strategic decision, but it can also put an enormous strain on your wrist. Play it smart and stay away from half-court flick shots.
Backhand smashes are undoubtedly one of the harder — if not the hardest — shots to execute in badminton. A backhand variation of your smash is absolutely critical in maintaining an offensive advantage during a match. If you’re without an offensive threat on your backhand side, then a clear to your backhand suddenly becomes an offensive maneuver. To make a well-executed backhand smash:
- Have good positioning: For all offensive shots, this simply cannot be stressed enough. Good positioning not only allows you to hit a higher quality shot, but it also allows you to get back to your base point should the opponent return your shot. This is especially true of smashes, because the speed of your shot will afford you less time to recover. As such, you should never take a backhand smash in poor positioning.
- Make contact at the highest point: Higher contact means a sharper smashing angle. If the goal of a smash is to force the shuttle to ground as quickly as possible, then the higher you take it, the better. Also, having full extension on your strokes will put less stress on your elbows.
- Snap your wrist: Unlike forehand shots, backhand shots do not have the luxury of using strength from arm rotation. The backhand stroke limits your arm’s range of motion, which forces you to rely more heavily on your forearm strength. While it’s important to incorporate your shoulder and triceps, the biggest contributor will be your forearm’s ability to snap your wrist to generate power.
- Aim down the sidelines: Like the backhand clear, backhand smashes should almost never be aimed cross-court. Hitting a shot in the opposite direction of your momentum while relying on your wrist for power is strategically dangerous. Aiming it down the sidelines also leaves you less vulnerable to a net kill from your opponent.
This is a sort of counterpoint to the last two shots in that an around-the-head shot sometimes replaces backhand shots. An ATH shot is basically any overhead shot taken on your backhand side with your forehand stroke. This means you must angle your body towards your backhand side while still reaching with your forehand stroke to hit the shuttle. By angling your body towards your backhand you’ll be able to hit a normal forehand shot while putting yourself just slightly off-balance. To hit a successful ATH shot:
- Angle your body: Some players will jump and lean towards their backhand while others will balance on one leg while leaning. Whether you jump before overhead shots or not, you must find a way to adjust your body to hit a respectable forehand shot.
- Swing normally: Although you’ll be striking the shuttle at an unfamiliar angle, you should be using the same overhead, forehand stroke. You only need to adjust how you aim the shuttle, but even then it’s slight and subtle.
- Just go for it: It may be a little scary at first, but ATH shots are fairly easy to learn. It’s okay if it feels a bit awkward at first because you are actually forcing a forehand shot on your backhand side. The main key is to simply trust yourself enough to give it a shot.
Adding, Not Replacing
Remember these shots are all techniques to build upon your existing skill set. By adding these shots to your repertoire, you are adding more threats, not just different ones. This is an important distinction because you should be constantly looking to expand your game as a player. As such, whenever you learn a new skill or technique, you should not ignore past ones you’ve learned. Having this mindset will prove to be indispensible as you grow as a player.