How to Return a Badminton Serve
You would be surprised to see that you are able to improve on your return of the serve just by making a few minor adjustments. But firstly, you need to ask yourself what constitute a good return.
From my personal experience, a good return of serve is one that does not allow the opponent a chance to attack. So you will need to think of all the possible types of returns available and then decide which ones would be ideal to achieve your purpose.
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How do you return a serve in badminton?
In my many years of playing, I have yet to come across any player who is able to cover the whole width of the net and intercept or tap down all my returns. These players include former international and national players as well.
Hence I learnt that if we follow a couple of simple guiding principles, we should be able to hit a good return that can allow us to gain initiative early in the rally.
The Net Return
A good and safe return in most circumstances is the net return. The net return must be executed with the following key principles in mind:
- Take the shuttle as early and as close to the net as possible
Purpose: To contact the shuttle before the server recovers from his service motion.
- Your stance and the position of the racket face must portray as if you are hitting a push return
Purpose: To deceive the server so that he expects a push return and thus move back slightly from the net area.
- The net return should be more like a block than a push
Purpose: To reduce the pace of the shuttle so that it stays close to the net.
- After hitting the return, lift your racket up to intercept any counter-push/drive
Purpose: To be able to intercept any counter push. This stance sometimes also affects the server psychologically and forces him to lift the shuttle high.
- Use deception
Purpose: To force the server to hesitate a little before committing into the return.
Many players try very hard to hit the net return as tight as possible but fail to contact the shuttle early. As such, they allow the server to move in and cover their angle of return. So the key here is to contact the shuttle as early as possible and return the shuttle across the net before the server is able to recover from his service motion.
The Push Return
The push return is one of the more dangerous strokes to execute as the shuttle needs to pass through the server’s hitting range. As such, this return must be performed with deception. Otherwise, the server only needs to lift up his racket in order to easily intercept the return.
Another key point to note is that the target area should be along the side alleys of the court and between the server and his partner. The purpose is to cause confusion between the opponents as to who should be taking that shot.
The Drive Return
The drive return is similar to the push return. However the pace of the return is much faster and the target area should be to either corners of the rear court. Use of deception would be ideal but the most important point here is to contact the shuttle as early as possible so that the server would not be able to recover in time to intercept the return.
The purpose of the drive return is to force the rear court player to the corner of the court so as to open up the opposing side’s defense.
The Flick or Whip Return
The flick or whip return is most often used in doubles where the rear court players are slower and lack the power to hit a strong smash. This shot is hit above the hitting range of the server, as most times towards the backhand corner, so it is relatively much safer than the previous three types of returns.
Many players I observed have also incorporated good wrist work to deceive the rear court player into having to guess which corner the return will be directed to.
This is a very reliable return for social doubles but players who intend to go further into competitive standards should learn to use this type of return more sparingly and only as an alternative in order to keep the opponents guessing. Competitive players can usually hit very strong smashes from the rear court.