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How to Hit a Backhand in Badminton

Having to rely on your weaker side can leave you with an overwhelming feeling. The backhand stroke applies to any backhand shot, from the serve all the way to the smash. Unfortunately, this stroke comes from the weaker side of the body.

In this guide, you’ll learn tips and tricks that you can apply while practicing or playing with your backhand. The sections are set up to become more and more challenging so you can progress through each more easily.

Backhand Grip

The standard grip for the backhand is simple and straightforward. If you hold the racket out so that the strings are facing your body, you should notice that the grip is wider on the front than it is on the sides. Place the upper half of your thumb along the wide part of the grip and wrap your remaining fingers around the handle. If you’re holding it properly, you should be able to press your thumb into the handle to flick the racket forward.

You can slightly alter this technique to generate more power. This is done by combining the force from your thumb with your gripping power. To learn this technique:

  1. Place the upper half of your thumb against the wider part of the handle.
  2. Pinch the handle between your thumb and pointer finger.
  3. Without moving the handle, wrap your remaining fingers around it with your thumb still flush.
  4. Hold the racket up and loosen the grip with your last three fingers.
  5. Drive the racket forward with your thumb as you grip the racket with your last three fingers.

If your grip is correct, your palm should not be touching the handle of the racket. As you become more comfortable using this technique, you can begin to integrate it into each of your backhand shots.

Backhand Serve

Learning the backhand serve can be a rather daunting task for beginning players. Although the technique is simple, it can take a while to become comfortable with it. When practicing the backhand serve for the first time, focus solely on the short serve. With this serve, you are aiming for the short service line in the diagonal service court.

  1. Position yourself at the corner of either service court, where the center line meets the short service line.
  2. Put your dominant foot forward and the weak foot back. Your dominant foot should be right at the corner where the center line and short service line intersect.
  3. Shift all of your weight to your front foot.
  4. With your off-hand, pinch the tip of the shuttlecock’s skirt between your pointer finger and your thumb. Securing the shuttlecock in this manner will minimize the chances of hitting your fingers with the racket.
  5. While using the backhand grip, bring the racket head toward the shuttlecock. Keep the shuttlecock at waist level or below to ensure that your serve is legal.
  6. Make sure the shuttlecock is about a forearm’s length away from your body to allow enough room to swing.
  7. Serve using your forearm and wrist only. Using your shoulder will involve too many moving parts and make your serves inconsistent.

For these short serves, your goal is to keep the shuttlecock as low to the net as possible and have it land close to the short service line in the diagonal service court. If you’re ready to try the long serve, sometimes known as the flick serve, the setup will be exactly the same. Having a consistent setup will produce reliable serves and keep your opponent guessing. The only difference is using the strength and quickness of your wrist to generate power and catch your opponent by surprise. The flick serve is a fairly advanced serve and should only be used by intermediate players and above. Trying to flick serve before you are strong enough to execute it can injure your wrist.

Backhand Drive

The drive shot is vital to master for doubles players, because the pace of the game is much quicker than singles. Fortunately, the backhand drive isn’t too difficult to adjust to, as long as you have the proper backhand grip.

The purpose of a backhand drive is no different than the forehand in that you are attempting to either make a kill shot or put pressure on your opponent to make a poor return. Like smashing, driving is purely an offensive tactic. This means that you need to stay aggressive while you’re hitting drives. To do this, keep your racket out in front of you to deflect any shots immediately and quickly. By having the racket in front of you instead of by your side, you’ll be able to return the shot earlier and stronger. If time allows, you can step into a drive with your dominant foot to produce even more power.

Backhand Drop

There are two distinct types of backhand drops that are used in badminton: The baseline drop and the net drop. Both drops will employ the backhand grip, but in drastically different manners. The baseline drop will use the overhand stroke, while the net drop will use the underhand stroke. Some tips for hitting the baseline drop are:

  • Contact the shuttlecock high
  • Use shuffling footwork to get back
  • Use your body weight and wrist to generate more power

For the net drop you should:

  • Contact the shuttlecock high
  • Run toward the shuttlecock and lunge as you reach for it
  • Use a soft touch to gently guide the shuttlecock just over the net

Backhand Clear

Like the drop, there are two kinds of backhand clears: The overhand clear and the underhand clear. While a clear can sometimes be an attacking shot, backhand clears are strictly a defensive shot. As such, both backhand clears should be aimed high and deep to force the opponent to exert more energy to reach the shuttlecock. For overhand and underhand clears, the setup will be identical to the baseline and net drop. Ideally, the overhand clear should be taken with the shuttlecock just ahead of you. Doing this allows you to strike the shuttlecock as you move toward the net and simultaneously use the power from your momentum. Conversely, the underhand clear will only rely on your arm strength to guide the shuttlecock high and deep.

Backhand Smash

The backhand smash is not to be taken lightly, because excellent strength and technique together don’t guarantee a great shot. With this stroke, positioning is especially important, as it is not easily compensated with power. Additionally, the amount of strain on your wrist can take a toll throughout the course of a match. Due to all the necessary factors that are essential for a solid backhand smash, this is easily the hardest shot you’ll learn. This shot should only be attempted by advanced players who have had significant experience and training.

The setup will be the same as the backhand clear, but the smash should only be attempted if the shuttlecock is in front of you or level with you. Reaching back for a shot that requires so much force could seriously injure your wrist. Even if you manage to execute a smash while reaching back, it will likely be a poor one that leaves you vulnerable to your opponent’s return shot.

Break Out the Backhand

The biggest mistake any new player can make is simply being afraid to use the backhand. It will undoubtedly feel awkward at first and it may not always be your best option. However, it’s a vital stroke to learn. Many intermediate players have played the game for years and are held back by their inadequate backhand. The harder you try using your backhand now, the easier it will be for you to improve in the future.

You're not the first person to be flustered with the backhand shot. This guide will teach you the proper backhand technique and help you become a more complete player.
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