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How to Hit an Around-the-Head Shot in Badminton

The around-the-head (ATH) shot is an essential shot to learn if you intend to play badminton competitively. This shot requires you to reach over your head with your forehand to take an overhead shot on the backhand side. While on the surface it may look like an awkward attempt to compensate for the lack of a backhand, it’s actually a much stronger option in many cases. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to practice the ATH shot and utilize it as a part of your game.

Gripping the Racket

For the ATH shot, use your forehand grip because it’s essentially a forehand shot taken on your backhand side. The only change here is the angle of your body and the trajectory of your swing. It is essential to maintain your normal forehand grip because this is basically a forehand shot.

Swinging the Racket

To execute a proper ATH shot, swing as you normally would for a forehand, overhead shot. The only difference is the angle of your upper body, which will be tilted in the direction of the shuttle. As you swing the racket, your weight should be shifted to your non-racket leg. At the moment of contact, there should be no weight on your racket leg (and it may even come off the ground).

Positioning & Form

An ATH shot is a naturally off-balance shot, so don’t be discouraged if you feel a bit uncomfortable at first. To combat this awkward feeling, you’ll need to fine-tune the landing with your non-racket foot. As you take an ATH shot, your legs should be splayed below you to help you balance. Remember, your upper-body will be angling itself to reach the shuttle while your lower half helps counter-balance and stabilize your entire body.

Aiming the Shuttle

Any number of shots should be available to you as you take an ATH shot, but typically you should take an offensive one. If you’re taking an ATH shot, you’ll likely be trying to maintain your offensive advantage rather than assume a defensive one. It will take some time getting used to the angle at which you hit an ATH shot, but be patient and set the same standards for shot quality as you would for normal overhead shots.

Recovering to Your Base Point

Unlike other shots, an ATH shot will put you in a poor position to recover once you land. Your momentum will be carrying you away from your base point, so you’ll need to anchor yourself firmly with your non-racket foot. By planting your non-racket foot, you’ll be able to push off a sturdy base to help counteract your momentum.

Hot Tip: Know Your Limits

The ATH shot naturally puts stress on your body. It forces your arm to reach to the opposite side of your body, while putting you at an awkward angle. Such an unfamiliar and unnatural position can lead to injuries. Make sure you’re thoroughly stretched, and take your time as you adjust to this shot.

Practicing the Around-the-Head Shot

To think of it in another light, the ATH shot is just a modified overhead, forehand stroke. With this in mind, grab a partner to help you learn the ATH shot. Have your partner clear to your backhand side while you attempt an ATH shot, and repeat as many times as necessary to feel comfortable. This shot will come naturally to some, but if you’re having difficulty, follow these steps: 

  1. Make sure your partner gives you high clears to give you enough time to position yourself.
  2. Start by positioning yourself directly under the shuttle.
  3. Take a few overhead shots in this position.
  4. Next, position your non-racket shoulder under the shuttle.
  5. Continue to take overhead shots in this position to get used to the feeling.
  6. As you become comfortable with the distance, keep moving further and further away from the shuttle, which forces you to reach more and more.
  7. To challenge yourself, you can jump to reach the shuttle from even greater distances. 

Don’t Forget Your Backhand

As you become more and more comfortable with the ATH shot, you’ll find that it is simply a stronger shot than your backhand in most cases. In spite of this, you should not neglect your backhand entirely — it is still an important part of your game. There are many situations where the ATH shot is just not viable. Look at this technique as just another threat you have at your disposal.

The around-the-head shot is a valuable skill to add to your badminton repertoire. This guide will walk you through the process of learning this advanced technique.
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