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How to Serve in Badminton

As the serve is the very first shot in any badminton rally, I find it extremely important to understand the purpose of the serve clearly.

Many players simply focus on getting their serves as accurate as possible without realizing that other factors such as time, trajectory, deception, variety and choice of placement are equally if not more important.

Badminton serve tactics

The primary purpose of the serve should be to force the receiver to lift the shuttle, or at least prevent him from hitting an attacking shot, which in most cases, is a downward shot. 

In the worst case scenario that the receiver is able to hit a downward shot, the receiver should ideally be hitting the shot from an off-balanced position or be forced to hit to a direction that the serving pair is able to anticipate.

This can be achieved by applying a few simple concepts that focus on:

  • Serve accuracy
  • Placement
  • Trajectory
  • Speed or time
Badminton serve tactics

How to improve your badminton serve

Serve Accuracy

There is never any doubt that serve accuracy is crucial. Hours and hours of quality practice will help ensure that we are able to execute the serve well with a high level of consistency.

Placement

The placement of the serve is another one of the most highly overlooked aspect. Most players tend to categorize their serves as low serves, flick serves and drive serves.

However, even in the low serve alone, there can be many variations. You can serve to the center line, sideline, to the receiver’s backhand, to the receiver’s forehand, to the center of the receiver’s body and anywhere else in between.

The choice of placement depends on several factors including:

  • How far the receiver stands from the service line.
  • How far the receiver stands from the center line.
  • Whether the receiver holds his racket in a forehand on backhand grip.
  • How the receiver positions his racket, to the left or right of his body.
  • How fast the receiver can react to your serve.

The similar argument will also apply to the flick serve and drive serve.

So if each type of serve can be broken up further to 5 different target areas, then we can have up to 15 different variations of the serve! What is important is to keep the receiver guessing where you are going to serve to.

This split-second of hesitation on the receiver’s part is more than enough for you, as the server, to prevent him from hitting an attacking shot.

How to improve your badminton serve

Duration that the Shuttle is in the Air

The time factor in a serve is also one of the most important in badminton. The time taken between the contact of the shuttle to the point that the shuttle reaches the net determines the amount of time that the receiver has to mentally react to the serve and actually making the move to return the serve as early as he can.

It should be clear therefore that during the serve, the shuttle must be contacted as high as possible below the waist level and as close as possible to the net so as to cut down the reaction and movement time of the receiver.

Our primary focus in serving: The shuttle must dip below the level of the net on the receiver’s side of the court before the receiver contacts the shuttle.

Trajectory

The trajectory of the shuttle is also another important consideration. For a low serve, in order to achieve a lower trajectory, most players opt to stand further behind the service line.

However, as we can see in the previous section, this compromises the time that the receiver has to react and move to the shuttle. In addition, as the trajectory of the shuttle is a parabolic curve, it should be quite clear as well that the shuttle will land very far from the net on the opponent’s side of the court.

The receiver also has more time to react and move to the shuttle. So in such cases when the server stands further away from the service line to serve, in order not to allow the receiver to attack the return, he is forced to unnecessarily serve much more accurately than he actually have to.

Serve Accuracy

Other mental aspects in a serve

There are many other tactics that the server can use in his favor to force a weak or defensive return. An example of this is to rush the net immediately after a good low serve.

Most inexperienced returners, upon seeing the server rushing towards him, will tend to rush the return or simply lift the shuttle deep to the baseline. This allows the serving pair to seize the initiative and attack.

There are many more such “ugly” tactics. You only need to be patient, keep an open mind, and sit around badminton halls and watch. Even the “weakest-looking” players may have one or two “signature” tactics that you can learn.

In this respect, never underestimate older or weaker players. I believe that you can always find something to learn from other people regardless of their standard.

      Badminton Master