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Top 7 Badminton Tips for Intermediates

Are you an intermediate badminton player? Here are some tips I wrote from my experience that will help you improve your game.

If you are still a beginner please first read the top 10 badminton tips for beginners.

Tip #1 – Vary your Serves

Here’s how you can increase the number of variations on your service. The low serve can then be targeted to:

  • The receiver’s extreme backhand
  • The receiver’s extreme forehand
  • Straight towards the receiver’s body slightly on the forehand side
  • Right towards the receiver’s body slightly on the backhand side
  • Straight towards the receiver’s body between the forehand & backhand side

Similarly the high flick serve can be directed:

  • towards the center-line
  • towards the sideline & rear-court area

From this alone, you can see that we can have at least 7 service variations.

Try to be imaginative and creative so you will create more variations on your serve. This way, you can keep the receiver guessing all the time.

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Tip #2 – Watch your Opponent Before you Serve

Before you serve, you must study your opposing receiver and watch for (at least) the following cues:

  • Where the receiver stands relative to the net
  • Where the receiver stands relative to the center line
  • Whether the receiver grips his racket in the forehand or backhand grip
  • Whether the receiver’s racket is high or low relative to the top of the net

If the receiver is standing close to the net, then you can mix up a few flick serves to catch him off-guard.

Some players prefer to stand further back when receiving the serve. Such players are usually beginners or low intermediates. As a server, I have absolutely no pressure serving to such players as I know that they will contact the shuttle very late and hit a return that is high.

Studying the receiver’s standing position relative to the center and sidelines can also help you pull the receiver away from his base position to open up the opposing pair’s defense.

You can also add a bit of “spice” to your serve and watch closely whether your opponent holds his racket in the forehand or backhand grip. With reference to right handed players, a forehand-grip receiver generally have trouble returning serves that are directed towards his left chest or shoulder area.

At that particular point, the receiver faces a natural bio-mechanical difficulty to direct the return towards your left side with his forehand. So more likely, the receiver will return the shuttle to your right side. As such, get ready and lift up your racket to intercept the push or drive return!

Similarly, a backhand-grip receiver faces the same problem with serves directed towards his right chest/shoulder area. So serve to that area and be ready to intercept the return towards your left side.

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Tip #3 – Use the Warm-up (Stroking) Time Wisely

In my many years of playing doubles, almost every doubles player I have come across use the warm-up time as a time to practice their baseline lobs and clears only.

Now ask yourself this simple question and answer honestly:

“What percentage of your warm-up time do you usually spend practicing each of the following strokes? Lobs, dropshots, netshots, serves, pushes, drives, blocks, clears/lifts, smashes etc.”

I can bet that almost all the time, you have spent more than 60% of that time hitting baseline lobs. However, if we think about it, we hardly hit the baseline lob in an actual game! OK, maybe sometimes… but definitely not a stroke that I would spend more than 60% of my warm-up time practicing!

The strokes that are more often performed during an actual game are pushes, drives, netshots, dropshots, blocks, smashes and the low serve. So it becomes obvious then that those are the strokes that we should be practicing more during the warm-up.

badminton backhand grip

Tip #4 – Work on your Netplay

In a badminton match, points are almost never won with lobs, clears and lifts. Points are most often won with smashes and drives.

So we think we’ve learnt something new here. But here’s the bad news… no opponent is going to keep feeding you high shots for you to smash.

You must work on creating chances for yourself and your partner to hit those two shots. You won’t get a chance to smash if you keep lifting and lobbing those shuttles to the backcourt.

Play more shots to the net. That will force your opponents to return high shots to you and your partner. Practice your netplay right away. Work on your netshots at the frontcourt and dropshots from the rearcourt. THOSE are the shots that are going to create chances for you and your partner to attack with a smash or drive.

Switching badminton grips

Tip #5 – Fake It!

I am sure most of us have witnessed first-hand how professional players are able to get away hitting a netshot service-return right in the middle of the net area without getting the shuttle driven straight into their faces.

However when we try do the same, ie return a serve with a netshot (or netting) to the middle, the server is almost always able to tap or attack the netshot, no matter how tight our return is.

So what’s their trick?

Here’s a little tip based on my own observations of some former national and international players – Fake It!

When receiving, move forward quickly and contact the shuttle as high and as close to the net tape as possible. Pretend to hit a push return, but stop the follow-through of your racket upon contact with the shuttle.

Unless you’re playing against a top international player, the server will most likely move backwards anticipating the push return. That split-second of deception is enough for the shuttle to drop below the level of the net (on the server’s side) and prevent the server from attacking your return.

Here are some key points:

  • Contact the shuttle as high and as close to the net tape as possible
  • Fake a push return
  • Stop the follow-through of your racket upon contact with the shuttle

Try it, and let me know if it works for you.

kid playing badminton

Tip #6 – Play Within Your Own Abilities

Many of us have played badminton long enough to observe that most rallies in the game are won or lost by errors rather than winners.

By the word “winners” I meant attacking shots that win the points outright:

  • Smashes to the sidelines
  • Unreturnable drives
  • Fast drops that hit the ground before the opponent is able to contact the shuttle
  • Tight netshots that tumble just over the net tape

Most rallies actually end with an error:

  • Hitting into the net
  • Smashing out
  • Lobbing out
  • Crosscourt netshot that goes wide

As such, it is very important for every player to be able to play the percentages, to know when to hit “safe” shots and when to hit “higher-risk” shots. The key is to know your own strengths and weaknesses.

I have personally seen many beginners and low intermediate players trying to jump backwards and hit a crosscourt round-head dropshot, only to find their shots going straight into the net. Also trying to hit a crosscourt netshot but finding their shots hitting the net or landing wide. And I’m sure many of us have seen lots of players trying to jump smash 3 or 4 times in a row, only to find their smashes getting flatter and slower after each smash.

My advice is for every player to recognise their own abilities and to play within their own abilities. Let’s face it, we can’t all move and hit like Lin Dan or Taufik Hidayat!

If you are only able to hit a straight netshot, that’s good enough. Keep practicing and sharpen that shot. It just does not make sense for a beginner to keep hitting a crosscourt netshot as it is a high-risk shot and is difficult to execute even at professional level.

In short, keep your shot selection simple. It is better to keep the shuttle in play than to hit error after error. Remember, if you hit 9 shots in a row into the net and finally 1 that tumbles just over the net, that counts as 9 rallies lost and only 1 rally won. So in a real game, that’s 1-9 to your opponent!

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Tip #7 – Play More Dropshots to the Middle

In level doubles (not mixed doubles), it is always a good idea to hit more dropshots to the middle area than down the sidelines.

Here are a few reasons why you should do so:

  • Both your opponents will hesitate as they are not sure who should move in to take the shot
  • It is easier for your partner to cover the possible angles of return
  • It is harder for your opponents to lift the shuttle to the back corners from the middle of the court

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