Badminton doubles tactics

A teams positioning in doubles is determined by both teams shots, however there are certain times in a match when both teams should be in specific positions. Here we explain doubles positioning as well as some top tips to give you and your partner an advantage.

Doubles positioning

On Serve: When a player is serving both the server and receiver should be in the up position just behind the service line. The other player on each team then takes up the back position near the mid court. This happens because both teams want to gain an early advantage in the rally and try and force their opponents into hitting a defensive stroke.

Receiving a high serve: When receiving a high serve, the receiver should move to the back of the court to return the serve and their partner should go to the front of the court, because a high serve gives the receiving team a chance to attack.

Hitting a high serve: When hitting a high serve switch to the side by side formation because the shuttle has been hit up giving the opponents a chance to attack.

When attacking: The up and back system is usually used because having a player at the front is intimidating, and they can angle the shuttle down more from that position to make it difficult for the opposing team to return the shuttle. A team should go on the attack when their opponents hit a shuttle up.

When defending: Players move into a side by side system because if the other team are attacking they are more likely to aim the shuttle down at the mid court. So being side by side each player on the defending team only has to defend one side of the court instead of the whole width of it, if they stayed in the up and back position. A team should move into this position when their opponents hit the shuttle down or they play an upward shot themselves.

Top tips

The following points are important to master if a team wants to be successful in doubles matches.

  • Always believe the team can win. If a team goes into a match thinking they will lose they almost certainly will.
  • Play to the teams strengths
  • Remember which position each player is supposed to be in within the team.
  • A short and accurate serve is vital.
  • Always keep an eye on the shuttle
  • Try to find weaknesses in opponents as early as possible and continue to exploit them.
  • Keep the opponents 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 opponents with signs of disappointment or anger.
  • Test the team against better players, the team should raise their game.
  • Communicate with each other as much as possible

Doubles strategy

The new scoring system has led to some players re-thinking their doubles strategies. This maybe because at the end of each rally a point is now scored, so having the serve is less important. The team that wins the coin toss can choose:

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

If the opponents win the toss and they choose the side, then the other team still have the choice of whether to serve or receive. Or if they choose to serve or receive the other team can choose the side to start from.

What to do: If a team wins the toss under the new scoring system they may prefer to choose a side to start from instead of receiving. In doubles a team should never opt to serve first, the first choice should be to take the bad side. Differences can include:

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

There are a few reasons why a team should choose the bad side. If a team win 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 the confidence, maybe upping the performance when going 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 a team will finish on the good side.

What to do: If the opponents win the toss and selects the bad side, 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.

Serving First: If a team does serve first, because of the rule in doubles about designating which player is starting from each side, the team may want to put their best server starting the match, therefore being on the even side.

Receiving First: If a team is receiving first then they should put their best receiver in the even court to try and win the first rally. This will also mean that their

Impact of the new scoring system: In doubles it seems the new scoring does not have such a great effect as it does in singles. The only real change that has been noticed are scores being closer, and rallies being longer due to the more conservative play.

More 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.

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