There are many incorrect badminton techniques and bad habits which beginners pick up, and which lead to mistakes and errors, which have a tendency to surface when you’re under pressure.
Like all bad habits, while its easy to pick them up, it’s very hard to shake them off, so try and cut them out of your friendly games now…so that when you want to play well, they don’t trip you up!
So here they are – 5 bad habits and mistakes which are common in badminton doubles, and how to correct them.
1. Hitting cross-court too much
Hitting cross-court often seems like a good idea, but is often a foolish badminton tactic, especially if you catch your partner by surprise with your shot. Beginners invariably hit too many cross-court shots. Sure, your opponents may have to move further to get to it. But the shuttlecock has further to go too – and shuttlecocks slow down a lot towards the end of their flight – so your opponent has more time than you probably realise.
If you hit it cross court and your opponent anticipates well, he’ll usually have open space to hit it straight into – plus your partner will more than likely be caught off-guard. Particularly risky is the cross-court drop shot when your partner is at the front – he won’t realise where the shuttle is going until the last moment, by which time your opponent will be playing an easy net-shot return which your partner will be forced to lift. Also see this article about playing drop-shots to the middle of the court for more reasons why it’s a bad idea to hit cross-court.
Particularly beware of hitting cross-court from your forehand side – as you’re putting it on your opponet’s forehand and he can hit it straight onto you or your partner’s backhand side, which will immediately put you both under pressure. (Obviously it’s more complicated if left-handed players are involved).
So keep your cross-court shots infrequent – pick your moments carefully, and when you do play them, put them onto your opponent’s backhand.
2. Being too static
Just because your partner’s doing all the work in a rally, it doesn’t mean you should be patiently standing still, waiting for your chance to get involved. Every time a shot is hit the circumstances change, and you should be adjusting your court position to compensate.
If you’re at the front, shift sideways each time the shuttlecock is hit so you’re covering the main angles of return. If you’re at the back, you should be somewhere between the centre of the court and the hitting opponent’s position. For more about your positioning, see badminton tactics in doubles – attack and defence.
3. Serving badly
A good low serve is crucial in badminton doubles. Doubles is an attacking game so good opponents will try to attack your serves, putting you under lots of pressure. If you regularly serve out, into the net, or so high that your serves are regularly killed, then your opponents will get a lot of free points and it will be almost impossible to win. One bad serve in a doubles match is almost unavoidable. Two is forgivable. More than that is too much – you need to practice! So the low serve is one of the most important badminton doubles shots. I do plan to write about this thoroughly, in the mean time have a look at badminton bible, a great source for badminton techniques, which has articles about forehand and backhand serve. Also check out this badminton video:
4. Going for a winner when you’re off-balance
Like tennis, percentage play is important in badminton. This means not going for a more ambitious shot than necessary. You should only smash at full power when you’re on balance and you have time to hit it properly (see this advice on hitting a smash, which outlines principles applicable to other badminton shots).
If you’re moving backwards, hitting on the run, stretching or otherwise improvising, don’t try to win the point outright – hit at reduced strength, push the shuttle down into a space, or to be extra safe lift/clear as high as possible. If you go for a kill under difficult circumstances, then you’re likely to miss, and even if you don’t, you’ll be very vulnerable to counter attack.
So keep the rally going and wait for a better opportunity to win – even if you’re losing the rally, make your opponent work for the point. Of all the badminton techniques I’m describing, this is probably the one made most by experienced players – reducing errors in your game is very hard (as I’m all too painfully aware!) and takes a lot of self-discipline, practice and drilling.
5. Bad Footwork
Footwork is key in badminton doubles, and probably the most important of all badminton techniques in singles. If you can start, stop and change direction quickly, and move with economy, then you will have a big advantage, and will find the rest of the game much easier. This badminton video shows you some basic principles for moving to the rearcourt:
Once you’ve absorbed these principles, try shadow badminton during your warm up – move about on court, imagine the shuttlecock is being played to various corners of the court, and move and swing at them as if you’re really playing. Concentrate on your movement as you do this. It feels weird but it helps you absorb this technique into your game.
Another great way to understand the right footwork techniques style is to watch the top players in action. Here’s a badminton video of Lee Chong Wei moving in slow motion:
Look at how he moves, the footwork he uses and the way he starts and stops, and how the rest of his body moves at the same time. Try and picture this way of moving in your mind when you play.