Whenever you play a badminton game or match, you will inevitably be playing a tactical game, even if you don’t know it. This may be very simplistic, especially for beginners when hitting the shuttle to the rear court followed by “dinking” the shuttle just over the net is all the player knows and needs.
I love tactical badminton. It’s the one area where the right tactics can completely swing the game in your favour if properly executed. Tactics can also be the great leveller when playing a pair who are slightly better equipped in their skillset. I’m not talking about a huge divide here but sufficient to win.
If tactics are so critical in achieving a positive result in a match i.e. a win, why is it so few players, especially at intermediate level even consider applying a tactical approach to enhance their chances of winning?
This has intrigued me for a long time. So I began talking to players before they walked onto court. The results amazed me…
Most players I interviewed hadn’t even discussed their opponents, never mind worked out a way to beat them. In fact, they rarely communicate throughout the match. All I could fathom from watching was an idea that when they were losing they needed to “try harder.”
Generally this “trying harder” resulted in a short burst of intensity and a more aggressive attitude.
Occasionally this will work, but for the most part it’s sadly lacking and will not help you win. Generally club badminton players are unable to maintain this intensity and run out of steam. Or they do not have the skills to execute shots at this level with any degree of consistency or accuracy which then leads to more errors.
Advanced players tend to have a far greater understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. They are also capable of assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and quickly adapt their tactics to change the game. They also tend to possess the racket and movement skills to carry out their change in tactics.
So how does an intermediate player bridge the gap and learn what the advanced players know?
In this series of articles I intend to answer this question and also discuss ways in which advanced players can increase their own tactical capabilities.
First of all you need to critically assess your strengths and weaknesses. How do you do this? In its simplistic form you need to consider in which areas of the court you are most comfortable and least comfortable. This acts as a guide only but would suggest you are strongest where you are most comfortable and weakest in the areas where you are least comfortable. Easy.
Let’s take an example. If you’re most comfortable in the forecourt then it’s more likely you are stronger at the net than perhaps the rear court.
Ask your club mates and badminton partner where they consider you are strongest and weakest, you may be surprised at the information they tell you. There is a potential flaw here as we need to establish how they are rating you. Are they rating you against yourself or comparing you to them or other players in the club. Ideally, you need to ensure they rate you purely based on your court prowess comparing your abilities in different areas of the court.
It’s worth taking this one stage further to close off the first part of this article. Let’s delve a little deeper and create a score chart without becoming overly technical… that comes later as you progress.
I’ve created a simple checklist where you score your ability in each area out of 10 for BOTH consistency and accuracy. The scoring system is simply 0-10 where 0 means you cannot play a shot at all and 10 means you can play it perfectly with extremely high levels of both consistency and accuracy.
Be honest otherwise you are only deluding yourself presenting a totally unrealistic picture of your capabilities.
- Low Serve
- Flick Serve
- Drive Serve
- Serve Return
- Forehand Clear
- Forehand Drop Shot
- Forehand Smash
- Backhand Clear
- Backhand Drop Shot
- Net Shot
- Net Kill
- Movement To Rear Court
- Movement Around Mid Court
- Movement To Forecourt
Of course I could have added to this list including straight shots and cross courts. If you wish to add these in then be my guest. However, for the sake of creating a starting point, I consider there are enough shots and skills listed to get a good feel for how this works.
In my opinion an intermediate player will rarely score more than 50% for any shot, with the possible exception of serve. So think very carefully as you complete this table.
In the next part of this article, you’ll learn how to use this information, how to take a snapshot of this to assess your doubles partner and how to use this as a check list to assess your opponents.