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How to Play Mixed Doubles in Badminton

Mixed doubles is the only event in badminton that allows a male and female to compete together. Playing with the opposite sex can present a unique challenge. This guide will go over the three basic approaches to mixed doubles. Read carefully, as each approach has certain advantages and disadvantages.

Mixed Doubles Rules

The general rules of mixed doubles are the same as those for men’s or women’s doubles. One thing that tends to differ is the positioning of the players during the serve. Normally, the male will serve two to three steps behind the short service line, with the female crouched in front. This allows mixed teams to be in their attacking position at the start of a rally.

Traditional Mixed Style

Most mixed teams use the traditional approach, which has the male cover the back half of the court while the female covers the front. This is also known as the offensive front-back formation used for doubles. For this style, you and your partner will remain in these positions during the majority of the rallies. The female should:

  • Cut off any drives that are low enough for her to block or drive back
  • Cover drops that land near the front two corners
  • Kill any slow, high-arching shots that land in the front half of the court

Meanwhile, the male should:

  • Cover the middle area along the left and right doubles sideline
  • Attack any clears by dropping or smashing
  • Return smashes with drops or deep, high-arching clears

These responsibilities are important, because each partner is making the game easier for the other. Cross-court drives can be problematic for the male, but the female should be in position to cut them off easily. On the other hand, playing in the front will make it difficult for the female to return smashes. For the most part, that responsibility goes to the male. An unavoidable drawback of playing this style is that it leaves you vulnerable defensively.

Hot Tip: Put Them Out of Position Traditional mixed teams play with the male in the back and female in the front. Knowing this, you should long serve to the female and short serve the male. This will force them to play in a weaker, unfamiliar position. From here, your team can force a poor return for either you or your partner to kill.

Doubles Mixed Style

The traditional style is an aggressive style that may not suit every team. For those who are accustomed to doubles, this style will be similar to the doubles formations and rotations. Here, the male and female rotate between the offensive and defensive formations like they would in regular doubles. Similar to doubles, though, the weaker player can now be picked on more easily. As such, this is an ideal style for mixed teams with evenly skilled players. In effect, this style will make your team more well-rounded, as you will be less susceptible on defense.

Alternate Doubles Mixed Style

This style attempts to combine the strengths of the previous two while also minimizing their weaknesses. Like the doubles mixed style, you and your partner will rotate between the offensive and defensive formations. Here, though, the male will always rotate to the back on offense, with the female rotating to the front like in traditional mixed. In theory, this makes your team stronger on both offense and defense.

Although this style is strong, the rotation produces two obstacles. Forcing the male and female into their respective offensive positions can be tactically unsound. For example, take a case where the male is covering the left side in the defensive formation. If a clear is hit to the back-right corner of the court, the male will take more time to cover it than the female would. As a result, the return would likely be very poor. Using the same example, the male would also be expending more energy, causing his overall level of play to drop quicker. This is also true for the female when covering a cross-court drop. With this in mind, this style is suited for those with high levels of fitness that would be less affected by the extra energy.

Stick With a Style

While it’s important that you and your partner agree on a style, it is even more important to stay with one style. Switching between these styles can be confusing and will frustrate you and your partner more than it will help. It isn’t impossible to switch styles, but it will set your team back each time you change your mind (and your positioning). The more decisive and committed your team is, the more time you can spend fine-tuning the weaker aspects of your game.

It's difficult to choose which style of mixed doubles to play. Read through this guide to get all the information you'll need to help you make a decision.
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