Improve Your Badminton Doubles: Basic Tactics – Overarm Shot Selection
Posted September 23, 2009on:
A good badminton player has a wide variety of shots at his disposal, most of which are overarm shots. This article will introduce you to the basic badminton tactics in doubles: it describes the attacking and defensive overarm shots available to you and when you should use them in a game of badminton doubles.
Note that this article deals with basic badminton shots – each shot also has variations (e.g. overhead backhand drop shot, attacking clear, tumbling net shot, sliced smash etc).
This article assumes you know the techniques for moving around the court, gripping the racket and playing the shots. If you are not confident in these areas then I can recommend the badminton bible as a particularly thorough resource. You may also want to read about the tactics of attack and defence positioning in badminton doubles.
Basic Overarm shots
- Drop shot
Each of these shots are described in the following terms:
- When to Play tells you what circumstances the shot is most useful (when playing badminton doubles);
- Quality Indicators tell you whether you played the shot effectively; and
- Common Mistakes warn you what can go wrong with the shot.
When to Play
Whenever the shuttlecock is high enough, though you should be more wary about smashing from the baseline if your smash is not so strong. The badminton smash is the most effective shot in doubles – there is no shame in playing this shot repeatedly until you win the rally! Read about the best smash technique here if you wish to improve your smash.
If your opponent manages to respond with an overarm shot then you didn’t smash steeply enough. You should usually smash at a pace that you can repeat many times consecutively – not many opponents can respond to more than 3 smashes in a row, so you should develop a smash you can repeat 4 times without getting tired or inconsistent. Ideally each consecutive smash should get a weaker reply from your opponent, so that you get an easier smash each time, until you can finish the rally.
I’ve also written an article: how to return a badminton smash – as this is also crucial in badminton doubles.
Common Mistakes with the Smash
- Playing too many cross-court smashes.
- Switching the opponent you smash at – its more effective to focus your smashes against a single opponent.
- Hitting the shot too flat so it sails out the back – usually because you were moving or off-balance when you hit it.
- Smashing on the move or when you and your partner are out of position so you’re vulnerable to counter-attack.
- Hitting every smash as hard as possible so you get tired and lose consistency while your opponents get used to the pace and improve their returns.
When to Play
When an opponent is out of position and towards the back of the court, when your smashes are failing to penetrate their defences, after you’ve smashed at an opponent repeatedly, which tends to ‘root’ them to the ground; play it to T when opponents are getting in each others way.
Opponent should not realise immediately that you’ve played a drop shot, and should have to stretch to return it.
Common Mistakes with the Drop Shot
- Getting ‘bored’ of smashing and playing a drop shot instead when you have your opponent under pressure.
- Dropping cross court is usually a bad idea – best to place them so your partner in the front court is in position to cover the return shots without having to move.
- Being too obvious – your preparation for the shot should look identical to your smash preparation.
- Hitting your drop shot too slowly – drop shots in doubles should be played fast – they don’t have to be very tight to the net.
When to Play
When you don’t have enough height on the shuttlecock to smash, and you don’t want to drop shot; also a good opportunity to play a cross court drive is when one opponent is covering the down the line shot and the other is not in position to intercept.
Making your opponent stretch and hit a weak return.
Common Mistakes with the Drive
- Hitting it slow enough or low enough that it’s within reach of front-court opponent so he can intercept it.
- Being too ambitious and hitting it wide.
- Lifting it too much so that back-court opponent has time to respond with a smash or a well-placed driving shot in return.
When to Play
When you have the opportunity to push the shuttlecock past the front player to the mid-court area so that the back-court player has to stretch forward to make a return.
No interception from front court opponent and back court opponent has trouble returning it.
Common Mistakes with the Push
Hitting it too slowly so front court player kills it. Hitting it too high/deep so that back court player gets an easy shot.
When to Play
When you or your partner is under pressure or out of position, when your opponents are too far forward or in each others way
Should go to the tramlines; if opponent smashes he should be far enough back that you can lift back to the tramlines again.
Common Mistakes with the Clear
- Clearing too often – you should usually smash, and occasionally drop shot.
- Not clearing/lifting deep enough.
- Clearing cross court and exposing your partner to a surprise smash when he’s at the front (best to call ‘sides’ when your clearing and he’s at the front).
While badminton smashes are the most effective shot in badminton doubles, they are a high pressure shot and it is easy to make mistakes. The key principle is to smash when you’re on balance and have time to prepare, and to prioritise placing it over hitting it hard. Balance your smashes with drop shots to keep your opponents guessing. Drive and push when you see a good opportunity. Clear sparingly – either when you have to because your out of position or off balance, or because you are confident you can surprise your opponent and get a weak return.
Finally, here’s a badminton video showing the variety of shots possible in an exciting doubles rally:
If you want to find out more about playing Badminton Doubles then have a look at my site: www.BadmintonDoubles.com.