Badminton is such a fast-paced and exciting game that requires fast reactions and quick thinking. Even with over 15 years of badminton experience, I’m still learning new things about badminton every day. However, when it comes down to really getting good at badminton, it’s all about the fundamentals and knowing when and how to apply them.
Here are 7 badminton skills that all badminton players need to know and practice to get to the next level of their badminton journey.
- The Clear
- Switching Between the Forehand and Backhand Grips
- The Split Step
- The Around the Head Shot
- The Spinning Net Drop
- The Net Kill
- The Hold and Flick
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1. The Clear
Let’s start off with a simple, but fundamental (and therefore MUST know) badminton skill – the clear.
A clear in badminton is a high overhand shot where the player hits the shuttlecock from one end of the court to the other end. It’s one of the 5 basic types of badminton shots, and arguably the most important one.
I remember back when I first started playing badminton, clearing was incredibly difficult. Hitting from backcourt to backcourt felt pretty much impossible and I thought I simply wasn’t strong enough and just had to use more force. After a couple of months of training, I was able to clear much better and eventually found that technique was much more important than raw arm strength.
If you’re struggling with doing the clear, any coach or experienced badminton player can help you improve it considerably.
But you may be wondering – why is the clear so important? Why not other shots?
Simply put, learning the clear gives you all the skills necessary to learn other shots in badminton. Learning and practicing clears helps you with both power and control while being easier to execute. That makes it perfect to start off with as a beginning shot, but it is actually quite difficult to perform at first.
Further, if you don’t know how to clear well, it’s almost trivial for someone else to beat you – by simply hitting to your backcourt all the time. They won’t have to worry about any shots to their own backcourt and they will just hover around the net. So make sure to master the clear before doing anything else!
2. Switching Between the Forehand and Backhand Grips
Since badminton is such a fast-paced sport, it’s quite important to have good racket skills in addition to fast reaction times in order to respond to shots your opponent makes – especially if you’re on the defense. One of the most basic racket skills in badminton is holding your racket properly – namely the forehand and backhand grips – when striking the shuttle. Using the correct grip in each situation is important to give yourself the maximum amount of control and power.
If you get caught using your forehand grip on your backhand side or vice versa, it will reduce your options and increase your chance of error. In my experience, it’s especially bad to be caught having a forehand grip on your backhand side as it’s incredibly difficult to generate power. However, using your backhand grip on your forehand side when defending against smashes is usually not as bad as your wrist is flexible enough to maneuver the racket over while maintaining power and control.
In any case, being able to switch between your forehand and backhand grip quickly is a vital badminton skill to get to an intermediate level. Switching grips is usually done through subtle rotational movements of your fingers – most notably your thumb and index finger. It’ll take some practice to get used to it but it’ll be important to master if you want to get better at badminton.
3. The Split Step
The split step is an incredibly important part of badminton footwork and can be even considered a core part of footwork. It’s so common and useful that every professional badminton player has to use it. Those who don’t have already been left in the dust. If you don’t already know this technique, this will single handedly improve your game dramatically with some practice.
Before telling you exactly what a split step is, here are some HUGE benefits that you can get from using it correctly:
- Have explosive movement
- Change directions quickly
- Get in position quickly
Sounds pretty good right?
Movement in badminton is so important that such simple benefits can make a big difference. Now, let’s see what a split step actually is.
A split step in badminton is a footwork technique where a player steps down onto the floor and uses the transferred energy from the drop to quickly move to a desired location.
There are many coaches who may call the split step a “preparation jump”, but it isn’t really necessarily a jump, which Badminton Insight explains in their excellent video about the split step which I’ll show down below.
Here are some summary notes from their video:
- The split step is “an explosive movement which enables you to change directions quickly and move with speed to wherever your opponent is hitting to” according to Badminton Insight.
- The quick drop with your knees bent lets you use the energy to push off the ground in any direction.
- Keeping your knees bent helps you with your speed and balance.
- Lean forward – your weight should be on the balls of your feet.
- You can drop off from a bench to practice the movement like seen in the video.
- A directional split step is a split step with your foot facing in the direction you think the shuttle is being hit to. This is in contrast to just a standard split step where your feet are side by side.
- Start the split step right before your opponent hits the shuttle. Otherwise, you lose the momentum/benefit from the split step.
- Don’t do a full on jump for your split step.
- Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart
Keep in mind that the split step only helps for a short period of time, so make sure to use this technique right before you think your opponent will hit the shuttle! With some practice, you’ll get this mastered in no time and it’ll be second nature to you.
4. The Around the Head Shot
The around the head shot is a shot where you hit a shot on your backhand side with the forehand side of your racket by moving your racket above and “around” your head. It requires some flexibility in order to perform the motion as you are bending your body and arm to one side.
The vast majority of people’s forehands are stronger than their backhands, which makes the around the head shot a great skill to have to cover any backhand weaknesses. However, the around the head shot does require a bit more wrist strength than a regular forehand shot as you cannot get much power from your arm with this motion. If you rely on getting power through your arm, the around the head shot is a good way to train you to use more of your wrist power as it forces you to use it.
The around the head shot is generally a great shot to use, but will not completely replace all your backhand shots. Here are some criteria for when it can be a good choice:
1) The shuttle is above you.
If the shuttle is below your head, it gets significantly more difficult to execute the around the head shot as the shuttle gets too low.
2) The shuttle is on your backhand side.
Even if you’re able to move all the way underneath the shuttle to do a forehand stroke, it can still be beneficial to use the around the head shot as it saves energy and you will likely land closer to the center of the court and therefore follow up the shot more easily.
3) You are able to get into position quickly.
Around the head shots require you to be somewhat close to the shuttle, at least compared to a backhand shot. If you’re far away from the shuttle, it’s probably better to attempt a backhand shot instead.
5. The Spinning Net Drop
The spinning net drop is an essential badminton skill to know to become an intermediate player. Instead of simply tapping the shuttle over the net as a regular net drop, a spinning net drop attempts to make the shuttle spin erratically over the net by slicing the base of the shuttle.
The spin of the shuttle makes it more difficult for your opponent to hit since the base of the shuttle won’t necessarily face the opponent’s racket. Your opponent will have to either time the shot really well or wait until the shuttle is lower so that it is more stabilized before hitting it. In the latter case, a lift or counter net drop is essentially forced as the shuttle would be below the tape of the net at that point.
Generally speaking, spinning net drops are best performed closer to the net and close to the top of the net. The closer you can get the spinning net drop to the opponent’s net, the better as well, since it forces them to run further and have less room to execute the next shot.
6. The Net Kill
A net kill is a shot at the front of the court that is used to end the rally. You take the shot early and above the net so that you can angle the shot at a steep angle.
Most net kills are straightforward if you are there early and there is enough space between the shuttle and the net for you to hit downwards.
Performing a net kill gets considerably more difficult the closer the shuttle is to the net and if the shuttle is spinning (such as from a spinning net drop). The technique required in this case is more of a side swipe where you may slice the shuttle’s feathers. Remember, you can’t contact the shuttle on the opponent’s side of the net, so you need to adjust your technique to keep it legal.
Learning the net skill is important because it helps prevent your opponent from dominating the net. If you’re able to do several net kills on their net drops, they’ll be much more wary of doing so in the future and they’ll be forced to perform more lifts instead.
7. The Hold and Flick
The hold and flick technique is an intermediate to advanced badminton technique where a player places their racket in front of the shuttle as if to strike it but only strikes it at the last moment.
This technique is a deceptive technique that is meant to punish players who move before you actually hit the shuttle. If your opponents are in a rush or tries to predict your shot ahead of time, the hold and flick can stop them in their tracks. They’ll think twice before doing the same movement again in the future once they’re tricked by the hold and flick.
The reason why the hold and flick technique is so powerful is because of the difficulty of changing directions. Imagine if you start moving forward towards the net in anticipation of a drop shot but suddenly your opponent hits to your backcourt. Your momentum and body weight is already going forward but now you have to shift it all backwards. Further, you already took a step in the wrong direction, making you even further from the backcourt. In this case, it would’ve been much better to just stay in the neutral position and not move at all.
After learning the hold and flick, your opponents can no longer move preemptively and have to respect your additional shot options. Thus, this technique can catapult your games to the next level.
While there are certainly many other badminton skills that you will need to learn, these are the ones I found the most useful to rapidly improve my game.
What’s your favorite badminton skill and why? Let us know in the comments down below!
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