National badminton player Derek Wong at the Redbull Smash Zone 2014 (Photo by Jonathan Neo/Sport Singapore)
In all kinds of sports, there are basic skills that every beginner has to incorporate into their play. In badminton, the forehand clear is the first and most essential skill for novices to learn. Most beginners will start learning badminton by going through rallies - continuously hitting the shuttlecock high up in the air back and forth for as long as possible.
So these beginners are actually already doing something similar to forehand clears! We will now explore the undying principles behind forehand clears and teach you how to perfect it.
When should I use a forehand clear?
In competitive play, the forehand clear is employed as either an attacking shot or defensive shot, with the aim of driving your opponent to the rear court.
With the attacking clear, the shuttle travels fast and flat running almost parallel to the ground towards your opponent's rear court. As these shots are generally executed with more speed, your opponent would have less time to react, returning weak shuttles to your advantage.
The defensive clear as its name implies, is defensive. It is used when you're put in a difficult spot and need to buy time for yourself. The difference lies in its trajectory. The defensive clear has a high and deep trajectory, causing the shuttle to take a longer time to reach your opponent.
Even though it would give your opponent more time to position himself to receive the shuttle, it also gives you more time and allow you to return to your base position(GC006 link) in preparation for your next shot.
Here are the 4 steps to execute a forehand overhead clear:
- Adopt a forehand grip and turn sideways with your non-racket foot forward.
- With your racket hand up, prepare for the incoming shuttle and with a throwing position, draw your hand back behind your shoulder.
- When the shuttle is around your 12 to 1 o’clock position, hit the shuttle by turning in your body and transferring your weight to the non-racket foot before finishing the stroke with a follow-through.
- Move back to your base position.
When playing a forehand clear, generating power in your shot is essential to obtaining a good shot. Top players are able to hit shots reaching over 250 mph but such execution requires excellent technique. It is not just about how well developed your muscles are. If you do not master the proper technique, you would have difficulty clearing the shuttles no matter how big your muscles bulge up from your shirt.
The difference between clears and smashes is the point of contact. Clears are hit with the shuttle directly above the right shoulder whereas smashes are hit when the contact point is slightly out in front of the body. This is due to the direction of the shot – smashes are hit downwards while clears are hit upwards.
As you practice more , you would be able to perfect your timing and exert less energy with each clear. Remember to perform this move with a relaxed grip(GC011 link). The importance of this shot lies in the fact that it forms the technical basis of many other types of badminton shots that you will soon learn about.