Tactical Tips to Improve Your Badminton Double Game (For Social Players)

Playing with the right tactics is the key to victory in a badminton doubles game, not only for the professionals, but also for the social players. The following write-up introduces some of the tactical Do’s and Don’ts for badminton doubles games, which are useful to the social players especially, to increase the chance of winning the game.

The absolute objective of each modern badminton doubles game is to get into the attacking formation as much and as soon as possible, i.e. front and back formation (assuming that both competing sides have roughly similar level and standards of play). Most of winning points in modern games are scored from the attacking formation.

In order to get into the attacking formation, whenever you place a net shot from a defensive position (side by side), you must continue to move forward to the net and your partner must be able to observe that you are moving forward and he/she should get into the rear court to anticipate a lift from the opponent. Your role at the forecourt net position now is to anticipate a return net shot from the opponent, so that you could pounce or tap at it as soon as possible to kill the shuttle. This is how we get from defensive into offensive or attacking formation.

The most common mistake that social players commit is when they are blocking a smash or flat drive to the net, they do not move forward to the net to ‘follow through’. This opens up the opportunity for the opponent to return a soft shot to the net, causing both the players need to rush to the net to return the shot and most probably lifting it. An opportunity to get into the attacking formation is hence wasted, and even worse, causing difficulties to own selves.

Vary your play. It is very frequent to see a lot of social players getting into ‘habitual play’ where most of their shots are like ‘pre-programmed’. For example, when the opponent makes a smash, the player would most probably make a soft straight block to the net. An even more prevalent habit is when the opponent lifts the shuttle, the player would most probably smash it with all the energy that he/she has. This causes all the shots to be very predictable and making it easy for the opponent to anticipate it.

Many social players believe that by smashing with all the energy that he/she has, the point could most likely be won. While power is an important ingredient to modern badminton games, it is the mind of the player which will win the point. For example, if you know that your smash is weak, there is no point for you to keep smashing, instead try to hit an attacking lob shot once in a while to catch your opponents off-guard, because they will be most likely be defending closer to the forecourt because they know your smashes are weak. Even when you decide to smash, you need to smash with your mind ‘turned on’, i.e. smash with different power and different angles all the time. Remember that the hardest smash does not always win you points. In many situations we see that a point could be won even by doing a half-powered but acute angle smash.

Avoid cross court smashes for most of the times. A cross court smash is definitely interesting to watch, especially in professional singles game, as it is one of the most lethal and stylish shot to play. However many social players tend to employ this shot frequently in doubles game. Cross court smashes are the ‘sins’ in doubles, for most of the times. The reason is that your opponent could make an easy defensive straight flat return to the other side of the court that neither you nor your partner is covering. For example, you could execute a cross court smash from your left rear court (with your partner covering the front position) to your opponents’ left court. Bear in mind that at this position, your rear right court is awfully empty and uncovered, neither by you nor your partner. Hence your opponent could just make an easy defensive flat push to this area and it will cause massive difficulties for you to return the shot. This will be made worse if your smash is weak or if it is not sharp enough.

The only time when you should execute a cross court smash is when you want to surprise your opponents, or if you are very confident that at that particular situation, a powerful cross court smash will win you the point (for example, if you see both your opponents are defending closer to the middle court). Even professional doubles players employ cross court smashes cautiously.

The ‘safest’ area (for most cases) to smash at is to the middle of your opponents’ court (between both of the opposition players) or just execute a simple straight smash. The reason that these are safe is that if your opponent tries to perform a cross court push now to your rear right court area just now, it must travel diagonally through the middle and that would have been covered by your partner at the forecourt. In addition to that, diagonal travel has a longer distance compared to a straight push, hence giving you more time to recover and return the shot.

Protect your and your partner’s backhand area, especially if both of you are weak at this area. Many times a social player executes a shot without actually considering the consequences to his/her partner. For example, assuming that you are your partner are in a front-back attacking formation, with you being at the forecourt, and your opponent executes a soft net shot to your backhand side. Being the forecourt player, it is easy for you to make a flat straight push down the line back to your opponents. However is that the best shot selection? For most cases, it is not, especially when both your opponents are in good positions. The reason is that your opponent could just do the same to you by pushing or lifting the shuttle straight to your backhand area (with the shot just high enough to go beyond you). Hence this catches your partner at his/her backhand area, which both of you are weak at. The final consequence of this is a weak half-court return and your opponent would then kill it easily.

In badminton doubles game, the safest area to hit at your opponents is always the center area (between both your opponent players) because not only that it causes confusion to your opponents, it also reduces the possible angle of return and hence making it easier for you to return the next shot.

Smash at the best angle and position. If you observe that your opponents tend to defend far at the back, then do a half-smash with sharp angle to catch them off guard. On the other hand, if they tend to defend closer to the forecourt, execute a flatter powerful smash so that it is hard for them to defend. For most social players, the hardest area to defend is the right shoulder or the right hip area. So try to smash more to these two areas to increase the chance of winning the point. Having said that though, your opponents could have figured that out if you do it too frequently and hence you must always vary your smashes.

Stop showboating. Many social players like to showboat when they play, especially by executing cross court net shot. Again this could be the effect from wanting to emulate the professional singles players. How many times cross court net shot is successful in winning points? For most cases, it is very rarely, especially for social players where skills could be lacking. In fact even worse, most of the shots are badly executed and hence causing errors or open up the opportunity for the opponent to make a simple tap kill at the net.

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