Tips for Playing Mixed Doubles in Badminton
While every mixed team’s situation is unique, there are a few basic rules and tips you can follow to help improve your mixed game. This guide provides not only useful strategies, but also weaknesses you can look for when playing certain opponents that will help you gain some awareness in your mixed game and create an advantage for your team.
Have a Rotation Plan
Since rotation for mixed is much different from doubles rotation, you’ll need to have a definitive plan for certain situations. Improvising during a rally is a risky move, especially if your partner is not on the same page. Here are a few common scenarios your team will need to prepare for:
- Flick service to the female: A long serve to the female will put her out of position and force the male to cover the front. With the roles switched from the traditional mixed style, you’ll need to either have a plan of attack in this formation or a way to rotate into the traditional formation. If the female possesses excellent drops or smashes, then stick with the reversed formation. Otherwise the female should drop or smash and immediately rotate to the front.
- Short serve to the male: The male should attack with every serve return, but it becomes a little tricky with short serves. In this situation, the male needs to come forward to return the serve, then immediate move back to cover the back half of the court. This sequence leaves the opposite back corner extremely vulnerable. Because of this, the male should generally avoid cross-court serve returns.
- Clears during rallies: Although your team should avoid clearing to mixed opponents, clears are inevitable. In a front-back formation your team will be susceptible to attacking shots. Although it’s not necessary to rotate into a defensive formation, you’ll significantly increase your chances of a returning a shot if you do. Decide what your team will do and stick with that plan as long as it works.
Put Opponents out of Position
You should know what your team will do during awkward formations, but you should also aim to put your opponents in those situations. The less comfortable and familiar your opponents are with a certain situation, the more likely they’ll make a mistake. The strength of this strategy lies in forcing your opponents to make shots from unfamiliar positions. Here are some situations to take particular advantage of:
- Clearing to the female: Keeping the female in the back position will force her to hit offensive forehand shots. Every case is unique, but the female will likely be less comfortable hitting these types of shots, which will quickly lead to a kill opportunity.
- Dropping to the male: Making a drop shot to bring the male partner towards the net will force the female to cover the back half. The biggest challenge in transitioning to the front will be timing and placement. With the male accustomed to taking powerful shots from the back, the timing and placement will be off.
Use Half-Court Shots
Half-court shots refer to shots halfway between the net and the baseline. In mixed doubles, these half-court shots are drops or drives directed at the alleys. These shots are effective against opponents in the offensive formation. There are two main reasons for the success fo half-court shots in mixed:
- Difficult to reach: Mixed teams are mostly concerned with the extremities of the court (clears and drops), which leaves the half-court area exposed.
- Confuses opponents: A half-court shot is essentially halfway between players in a front-back formation. By using a half-court shot, you’ll sometimes freeze your opponents to the point that neither player moves to take it. More often, though, your opponents will hesitate just a little and end up making a poor return.
While doubles service is fairly consistent from player to player, there is a notable difference in mixed doubles. The male partner will normally serve behind the female player, which is about a step behind the service line. This is notable because, in addition to the distance changing, the trajectory changes as well. The trajectory will end being flatter, which is something you can take advantage of. Combined with the slightly longer flight time, you should be able to aggressively attack the male’s service.
Utilize the Alleys
Aiming shots towards the alleys is always a good decision, but it’s especially true in mixed. Most mixed teams will play in a traditional front-back style, leaving the alleys extremely vulnerable. Even if the opponents manage to return the shot, it will likely be weak.
Of course, aiming towards the edges of the court will always run the risk of hitting a shot out of bounds. Fortunately, you won’t need to aim the shot perfectly. The key is to take advantage of open space, which is most vulnerable in the alleys for mixed doubles.
Although some doubles teams can win on the back of excellent defense, it’s much harder to do in mixed. Attacking is the name of the game in mixed doubles, and those who can’t do it will be left behind. As long as you’re looking to stay aggressive and take offensive shots, then you’ll only have to worry about execution.
This means you’ll need to stay active with your body and racket, cutting off shots and going towards the shuttle rather than waiting for it. Every second is crucial towards maintaining an offensive advantage in mixed doubles. If you and your partner make hustle and aggressiveness a priority, you’ll be in great shape to overwhelm your opponents!