Photo: Nicole Lee/ Sport Singapore
After mastering your badminton footwork, it's time to learn the different types of shots and when best to use them. Before we begin, it is good to understand the difference between a shot and a stroke.
Badminton Shots vs Badminton Strokes
While many may be confused with the difference in a shot and stroke, a badminton stroke is the swinging motion performed before you take a shot. In a nutshell, the strokes you execute is fundamental in producing a good shot in a game of badminton.
As a beginner, do not rush into learning all the different types of badminton shots. Learn and practice till you’re good with one then move on to learn new types of shots.
All shots in badminton can be classified broadly into either offensive or defensive shots. Here are some of the most popular ones.
Defensive badminton shots
The Clear Shot
Also known as lobbing, the clear shot is the most important badminton shot especially in a Singles Game. It is commonly used when you need to buy more time for yourself to return to base before the next return. It is also strategic to use when your opponent is near to the fore-court, forcing him to retract to the back to retrieve the shuttle. If the clear sends the shuttle right to your opponent’s baseline, it’s considered a good defensive clear.
In this stroke, contact the shuttlecock around the middle of your racket head. The aim of the clear shot is to cause the shuttle to go up high in the air and land at your opponent's backcourt.
The clear shot is one of the easiest badminton techniques; beginners should aim to master the Defensive Clear Shot to play longer rallies against your opponents.
The Drive Shot
The drive shot is a basic flat shot, directly hit over the net. It is a powerful, quick counter-attacking shot that is easy to execute. If the shot is played correctly, it will force your opponent to hit an upward return, giving you opportunities to counter-attack. It is widely used in a Doubles Game as players would like to keep the shuttle low.
The Drive Shot can be played both on the forehand or backhand. To execute the shot, your racket should be held with the head facing straight ahead locking your wrist as the shuttle comes in contact with your racket.
The aim is to deliver a flat and fast drive to get the shuttle behind your opponent causing them to make a weak return. Although sometimes it can be strategic to aim the shot at your opponent who will be unable to react or shift his body in time as their natural reaction will be to duck the shot.
Offensive badminton shots
The Drop Shot
The drop shot is best used when the shuttle is heading towards you in the first half of your court. To perform this stroke, the player must hit the shuttlecock downwards towards the opponent's fore-court, aiming for it to go just over the net. There are two types of drop shots, Fast Drop Shot: where the shuttlecock travels down steeply and lands further away from the net, Slow Drop Shot: the shuttle does not travel down steeply but lands nearer to the net.
When executing a drop shot, you want to make it look like a drive, but instead, you only use a little force to push the shuttle over the net. This shot is strategic to use when the opponent is near to the backcourt, anticipating your stroke to be a clear or drive.
For more advanced play, if you are in the mid-court, you can try slicing the shuttlecock so it will bounce nicely over the net. If the opponent is in the backcourt, this shot will make the opponent dash forward.
The closer the shuttle drops to the net, the harder it is to return. However, it also becomes riskier for you as it may not cross the net and cost you the rally.
The main objective of the drop shot is to force your opponent out of his position or the variate the pace of the game.
The Smash Shot
The badminton smash is considered the most powerful shot in badminton and is usually played on the forehand. It is often difficult to return because of the pace and the downward angle of the shot, think of it as a downwards drive. It is best used when the shuttle is high in the air so that it can be angled downwards.
When the shuttle comes in from a high angle, it will allow you enough time to arch and get in position to strike. At the highest point of contact, with a flick of the wrist aim the shuttle downwards in a steep gradient.
You ideally want to aim for spots furthest from your opponent, but another tactic is to aim it towards his upper torso, making it hard for him to defend.
Tips on improving your smash shot
Raise your non-racket arm to aim for the shuttle before you execute the smash.
When you extend your arm to reach out for the smash, make sure you fully utilise your thumb, wrist, forearm and shoulders.
Hit the shuttlecock when it is at the highest point, this creates a steep angle for your smash.
Take a deep breath and exhale as you swing your racket forward. Remember to follow through and complete the swing to give your smash more power.
There are other types of shots in badminton like the more advanced spinning shots, lifts and net kills. But the shots mentioned above are the core shots you should first learn to master.
Lastly, it is always important to disguise your shots so it will not become too easy for your opponent to predict. For example, your offensive shots should look like either a drive or a drop shot until the very last second. This will make it hard for your opponent to react.
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