Badminton singles tactics

The new scoring system has led to some players re-thinking their singles strategies. This maybe because at the end of each rally a point is now scored, so having the serve is less important. Here we explain in more detail the rules and how to gain an advantage.

If a player wins the coin toss they can choose:

  • A side of the net to start from
  • Whether to serve
  • Whether to receive

If the opponent wins the toss and they choose the side, then the other player still has the choice of whether to serve or receive. Or if they choose to serve or receive the other player can choose the side to start from.

What to do: Having won the toss under the new scoring system a player may prefer to choose a side to start from instead of serving or receiving. This is especially true if there is a clear bad and good side to the court. Differences can include:

  • The court surface
  • The background
  • Reflections
  • Ceiling or wall lighting
  • Placement of windows

If there are differences it is advised that a player chooses the bad side first for a few reasons. If a player wins the first set from the bad side then they have a good chance to win the next set and the match from the good side. Playing from the good side should be easier, which will increase a players confidence, maybe upping their performance when they go back to the bad side for the first part of the third set if the match goes that far. Also choosing the bad side first will mean if the match does go to the third set they will finish on the good side

What to do: If an opponent wins the toss and selects the bad side, the other player should opt to receive the serve first. This is because of the new scoring system making it much easier to win points when receiving the serve. If the server now fails to hit the shuttle into the service area a point is awarded to the receiving player. In the old system if this happened the serve would just switch to the other player and there would be no change in the score.

The serve is often a defensive shot because it has to be hit from below the waist, meaning it has an upward trajectory to travel over the net. This allows the receiving player to attack and control the rally. However if serving is a strong part of a players game they may decide to go first. Every player is different and should choose the option they are most comfortable with.

Changes to the Game: Some players and coaches think the game is now more conservative because all players know that with 1 error they will lose a point whether they are serving or not. So they may be hitting the shuttle with less power and directing it more towards the center of the court to avoid hitting it out. This makes the rallies longer because the shuttles are easier to reach.

Under the old method the more talented player would win comfortably because they could afford to go for the more risky shots when they were serving, because even if they missed, they wouldn't lose a point, just the serve. This makes each game closer and helps the less able player to score some points.

Top tips

Badminton is a very tactical and strategic game. Basically you need to keep returning the shuttle for longer than the opponent whilst trying to outwit them, and move them around the court using a variety of shots, with disguise if possible. Being a quick thinker is important to make decisions about what shot to play, in the limited time players have to return the shuttle effectively.

For beginners to badminton the main points to focus on are:

  • Hitting the shuttle consistently high and deep to give time to recover.
  • Try to aim shots to the opponents weaker side (usually backhand), to give the advantage off a weak return.
  • Try to place shots before adding more power, because more power will usually result in more errors.
  • Try to keep the opponent on the move as much as possible and not play me to you badminton. This is when two players just stand in the center of the court and hit the shuttle back and forth between them. Try moving the opponent from the net to the back and from the forehand to backhand side to fatigue them quicker.
  • Keep winning, keep playing the same way
  • Keep losing change the style of play
  • Try to change the speed of play, by mixing up shots. For example hit some slower shots, such as, drop shots and net shots, with faster shots in between, such as, smashes, and drives.
  • Always play to personal strengths and try to exploit the opponents weaknesses.

Master all of these points then start to add disguise to shots or attempt to incorporate more advanced strokes.

  • Always believe winning is an option. If players go into a match thinking they will lose they almost certainly will.
  • Play to strengths
  • Always try to go back to base (centre court) after every shot.
  • A deep and accurate serve is vital.
  • Always keep an eye on the shuttle
  • Try to find weaknesses in the opponent as early as possible and continue to exploit them.
  • Keep the opponent guessing and moving
  • Keep playing and trying until the end, anything could happen.
  • Use deception wherever possible
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Keep calm at all times do not encourage the opponent with signs of disappointment or anger.
  • Play against better players to improve.
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